A story of love and explosions
(Part One will be posted tomorrow night probably.)
It had been a long time since I’d last been to the Homeworld, and longer still since I’d stood before the Council of Thirteen. I’d been spending almost all of my time on the Nahara world recently, and to be honest it felt more like home to me than the Homeworld did now. I could have stayed there for the rest of my days, but a particularly urgent errand had finally sent me in the direction of home.
I looked at each of the Councilmembers, shrouded in their robes. I tried to glean some sort of reaction from them, to see how they felt about my request. Keeping our eyes at a careful, neutral blue, I searched their faces for any trace of empathy.
“We have not forgotten that it was you who secured the Nahara homeworld for us,” said one of the Councilmembers at long last. “And while Nahara hosts are less than ideal, the planet has provided the Empire with far more resources than initial projections anticipated.”
“Because you accepted my sustainability initiative,” I said. “And if you approve this grant, I may be able to similarly optimize the Nahara.”
“Yes,” There was a rustle of papers. “We have looked at your proposal.” A pause. “Unfortunately, we do not feel that we can spare the resources required at this time.”
I felt our heart speed up. “What?” I gasped. “Councilmembers, you must reconsider!”
“Our decision is final. We do not need Nahara hosts, and the resources you require would be better served in direct combat.”
Burning rage bubbled up in our stomach. “Are you telling me that you are dooming a host race to extinction because you feel the resources needed to repair their DNA would be better served chasing Andalites?”
“You forget your place, Emiki 255!” snapped the speaker. “And don’t think your unnatural affection for your host species has gone unnoticed.”
“What did you just say to me?” I shrilled.
<Emiki, you must calm yourself!> That was Osa Ren, my host. And she was correct. If I offended the council, I could lose more than just my rank.
I had heard the rumors, of course. I would be a fool if I did not listen to the gossip of the soldiers. Still, it was one thing to eavesdrop on idle conversations, and quite another to have an accusation thrown in my face.
I thought of Sia Ren, asleep in her nest, under the watchful eyes of six security droids. She was growing so quickly. Too quickly.
Osa Ren was right, as usual. I had to behave myself.
“I think we are done here,” said the Councilmember. He looked around at the others, and they indicated their agreement. “You are dismissed, Visser.”
There wasn’t much I could do about that. I stormed out of the amphitheater, regrets and fears swarming in my mind.
If only. If only. If only I’d been faster to act. If only I’d be slower to trust. If only I’d been older, wiser, more experienced. If only I had not underestimated the strength of my enemies and the cruelty of the universe.
<Meki…,> said Osa Ren, pushing through my thoughts. <Please don’t blame yourself.>
<Who should I blame, then?>
<Anyone else! You’ve already done so much for me. For us. The Nahara.>
<It’s not enough.> It would never be enough. I’d done the calculations. One birth per female meant the population was halved with each generation. The Nahara numbered maybe fifty thousand when I first encountered them, and they never lived longer than six years. Simple math said they had less than a hundred years before they were gone from the universe forever.
And my Osa Ren didn’t even have a fraction of that time. She was dying. The Roson had murdered her, and I was powerless to stop it because all of the great Yeerk scientists were busy building ships and weapons and whatever ludicrous thing Esplin was demanding this weeks.
Osa Ren went quiet as I completed the journey back to my temporary quarters. The moment we walked in the door, Sia Ren propelled herself off the ground and into our main arms. Her tiny wings were finally strong enough to carry her.
I let Osa Ren take over from there, cooing over her (our?) baby. I had all of a Yeerk’s parental instincts (that is to say, none), so Osa Ren acted as mother in terms of care and discipline. And Sia Ito was her father whether I liked it or not, so this left me to be the odd babysitter who happened to share a body with her mother.
Sia Ren was already unnaturally good at telling Osa Ren and I apart, and she seemed unaware that there was anything unusual about our arrangement. She would demand, “Miki!” when she wanted something her mother wouldn’t let her have, and present her case to me. Or she would tap on my leg and yell, “Osa!” when I was working at my terminal and she wanted her mother’s attention.
Right then, I was too upset over the council’s decision to enjoy Sia Ren’s attention.
<I need to go to the pool,> I told Osa Ren. I felt the acknowledgement and understanding in her mind.
We left Sia Ren and went out to one of the beautiful natural pools of the Homeworld. Bathing in the true Kandrona is far superior to any synthetic replica, no matter what the scientists claim, and it was one aspect of our visit that I was not regretting.
A few of my personal bodyguards trailed behind us. Most Vissers prefer Hork-Bajir soldiers, but I like the element of surprise that Nahara warriors provide. Few are familiar with the Nahara, and no one ever seems to anticipate just how vicious they can be. They look so delicate, with their enormous eyes and pearly exoskeletons, and their tiny claws are not in the least intimidating. When they move, they are scuttling and shy, and they approach new things like amazed children because they love to be underestimated. Centuries of slavery made them that way.
I stayed alert as we walked to the pool, the lightning casting long, multicolored shadows across the ground. Though an Andalite attack seemed highly unlikely, I knew too well that my fellow Yeerks could be equally, if not more, dangerous.
The Hork-Bajir guards on the pier smartened up when they saw one of their Vissers approaching. They’d already been told not to bother Osa Ren. She would not need to be dragged to a cage and I’d made it very clear that if they tried, I would have their blades for trophies. Osa Ren might wander away from the pool, but she would always return.
Osa Ren was more than my host body. She was my whole universe. I would be nothing without her.
Still, I was grateful for the moment of peace when I slipped from her ear canal into the warm amber waters of the pool. The other Yeerks around me were strangers, and none stopped to communicate with me, but I didn’t mind. I floated, dreamily, glad for the time alone—or alone as a Yeerk could ever be.
As I drifted, I thought the same thought I’d been thinking for the last few years. I thought about myself. I thought about time, and how I could never seem to have enough of it. Time was a thing I could not master; it slipped away the more I clung to it. Not enough, never enough.
Only enough time to think, and to wonder, and to regret, and to get lost in my thoughts and replay my memories over and over again and wonder if, somehow, I could have made things turn out differently…
to be continued