The Visitor
by MAC

- Chapter Two -
Rev. 0.5

Lillith of Velor, Copyright ©, 1998, 1999, Infinity Bridge. All rights reserved.


On the planet of Tetra, under the starboard engine of the Sabre

"Dammit! Where';s that damn wrench." William's angry voice filled the cramped area between the dusty ground and the giant Terran fightercraft. He struggled on his back to twist and turn to find the lost tool. A calm nine year-old voice helped. Mara worked on the same engine nearby and she didn't even have to look up from her work.
"Over your left shoulder, Daddy."
"Hm?" he grunted, looking back to his left. The wrench gleamed in what little light there was. "Oh... yeah. Thanks, Bunny."
Mara disliked when her father called her by that old nickname. It was childish and she was, in her eyes, no longer a baby. Her eyes rolled in tolerant annoyance before letting it go... this time. She was much too busy right now.
"Daddy?" she asked, still working.
"Yeah." William continued working as well.
"This LSC pump is toast," she commented, examining a metallic module closely. Mara spoke with the conviction of an expert. She had been working on the Sabre with her father ever since she was five. She knew every bulkhead and system, especially since they had to constantly work on it just to keep it flying. "We should pull it out and get a new one." She tilted her head to listen for her father's decision on that.
"We don't have a spare, Mara. Just laser-lap the cylinders and..."
"I know, 'and make it last a little while longer'." Mara mimicked the often said words of her Father with a sigh of resignation. "The thing is, Dad, we've already rebuilt it three times. I don't think it can take another..." Mara heard her father searching and grumbling again. "What're you looking for?"
"That damn photosplice. You got it?"
"In your right shirt pocket, Dad."
A brief rustling of clothing was followed by the usual mumbled words, "Oh, yeah." He had found it.
William had just begun tying circuits into a repaired holographic data relay when a few hundred pounds of blue, furry animal slumped lazily over his exposed legs, putting William in a very awkward position of not being able to get out from under the Sabre very easily.
"Flare, you bonehead," he yelled in mock anger. "Get offa me!"
The sound of his voice only made Flare's tail whump repeatedly against the dusty ground, kicking up clouds of tan Tetritian desert. William coughed as the dust found its way under the Sabre.
"Oh, Dad," admonished Mara, "she just wants to be near you."
"Near me is not ON me, Mara. I swear that mutt has a brain the size of a walnut."
"She just loves you, Dad." laughed Mara at her father's constant problem with the dog. "Besides, what's a walnut?"
"It's a small nut on Earth that grows on a tree. It's pretty small."
"If it's so small, why did they name it after a wall?"
William paused, sighing at the simplistic nonsense that his daughter had just spoken.
"Mara'Lyn," he commanded in his best fatherly voice, "I forbid you to ever talk with Phil again. You're beginning to sound way too much like him."
"Oh, Dad," crowed Mara, rolling her eyes at the thought.
"Will'm?" Lillith's voice came from outside and above the Sabre.
"Down here, hon," William called back. Flare's tail beat the ground rapidly just before Lillith's face peered under the spacecraft.
"How's it going?" Her bright smile immediately changed to a more questioning expression. "How come you put the dog on your legs?"
"I didn't 'put' the dog there," William sighed, "she just flopped on me."
"Oh, how cute!" Lillith's bright smile returned.
"Yeah," grumbled William.
"I'm heading out now. Is Mara with you?"
"Hi, Mom," called out Mara from somewhere up inside the engine. Lillith looked up in the direction the voice came from, her eyes flashed with a glint of intense blue light, seeing the Tachyon outline of her only child making repairs on some piece of equipment that Lillith had no understanding of. Lillith was content enough in knowing that her family was accounted for.
"You two have fun," she said. "I have to go. Need anything?"
"Yeah," mumbled William. "Take the dog with you."
"Oh, what a grouchy guy," scolded Lillith jokingly. She reached out her hand to collect his fingers in hers and mouthed a silent "I love you". William did the same to her warmly with a wink. Their open affection had become a bit more private since their fast-growing daughter had begun teasing them about it. It was simpler just to keep it quiet around her than to put up with the theatrical moans, groans, and comments.
Mara was a typical child in every way, including her total lack of any kind of Velorian superpower. Except for her instincts, she was more of a Terran than a Velorian. What she lacked in physical powers, she made up for with a keen mind. She seemed to have a different perspective that gave her a unique understanding of things and situations that she encountered. Lillith suspected that the Tetrites might have had something to do with Mara's intelligence. William preferred to believe that she was merely a chip off the ol' block. Whatever the reason for it, Mara was showing signs of extreme intelligence.
Physically, Mara would cause some of the more ardent experts on Velorian genetics some pause. At nine years old, she was already showing signs that she would be a remarkable beauty when she grew up. Quite tall for her age, the slender child had generously extravagant hair, wildly flowing past her shoulders and around her face. If the quality of her hair was like her mother's then, thanks to the interference of her father's Terran genetics, the natural color of it was not the golden blonde that one would expect of an offspring from a Velorian Protector. Mara's hair was a sandy-brown, almost as if she were born of the vast Tetra desert landscape instead of the natural child of a Terran and a Velorian. She kept it tied back, the excess length of it tucked safely inside the collar of her dirty blue coveralls to prevent it from tangling with the myriad hydraulic, photonic, ionic, and half a dozen other kinds of lines, fittings, and valving inside the tight compartments where she spent most of her time.
Mara was simply a smart, pretty tomboy.
Her young eyes though were pure Velorian Protector. Their bright, crystal-blue coloring seemed to glow in sharp contrast to her sun-darkened skin and her remarkable hair. This, Lillith concluded, was proof enough that Mara possessed the Protector gene. Even though nine years had passed without Mara displaying any outward signs of special powers, Lillith was convinced that it was only a matter of time. To support her point, Lillith reminded William that she herself had been a "late bloomer", not manifesting powers until the ripe old age of seven. True, Mara was even older now, but that didn't matter to a young Velorian mother who, lacking evidence or facts to either support or deny any idea or concept one could have, simply chose the "truth" of what she wanted for her daughter.
Lillith gave his hand one more squeeze with her smile and released him. Standing, she slapped her own hands together rapidly, calling Flare to get up and move. With a protesting groan, Flare struggled to her feet, clumsily tripping twice over William's feet.
"Thank you, dear," said William, but Lillith had already gone. Freed from his blue fur prison, William bent his legs slightly to discourage a repeat of Flare's affectionate, but misguided behavior. Flare merely slumped nearby, setting her massive head down on the ground where she could see William under the Sabre. William looked her way.
"Good dog, Flare." he said quietly to the giant blue dog. "You stay there." Flare's tail flopped twice on the ground before she sighed. It was boring when William and Mara were both working on the Sabre. There was no one to toss the ponka ball.
Work continued in silence for a number of minutes as William completed the installation of the relay. Wiping his hands on a rag, he called out to Mara.
"Bunny, let's take a break."
There was no response.
"Mara?" he called out, but still there was no reply. He suddenly felt a chill of worry shoot through himself. "Mara, answer me!" The tone of his voice made Flare leap to her feet. "Mara!" he called again.
"Daddy?" came the plaintive reply.
"Oh, SHIT!" exclaimed William as he frantically struggled to get out from under the ship. Once clear, he was on his feet, dashing around to the rear of the engine nacelle so fast that he was a blur. There he found Mara, sitting on the edge of the nacelle, staring at a forged steel wrench in her hand. She had been crying, the tears on her cheeks and the frightened expression on her face made William quickly look around the area before taking her in his arms.
"Mara? Honey?" he pleaded. "What's wrong? What happened?"
She looked up at him and quietly said, "I feel strange."
"What, you feel sick?" William began feeling her forehead with the back of his hand.
"No," she said, holding up the wrench for him. William saw the deep impressions in the solid steel that her small hand had made. The curved extrusions that had pushed out between her fingers were cooling to a dull blue.
"Well, I'll be..." muttered William, taking the wrench from her to examine it closely.
"Daddy," she said, swallowing hard. "I think it's happening."

Space, within the pull of the Tetrician Sun

The glaring light flooded through the windows of the bridge, brilliantly illuminating what had once been a cold and dark chamber. It was not only no longer dark, but the ambient temperature was steadily rising, now well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Oxygen was nearly depleted, replaced by too much carbon dioxide for life to continue much longer.
The male remained unconscious on the floor with his mate slumped next to him. She too was unconscious. Sitting up along a nearby bulkhead, the female child found one of the few remaining places of shade within the chamber. Barely alive, her blue eyes mere slits, she tilted awkwardly to the side, either unable or uncaring to right herself. She looked up at the intense light, its brilliance now just a haze to her failing eyes. How much worse, she wondered, could it possibly get before she dies. Her tongue uselessly tried to moisten dry lips as her eyes momentarily closed.
Slowly, her eyes eventually reopened to see a dark spot at the center of the windows. The glaring light almost enveloped the spot, absorbing it into the brilliance and heat that would eventually consume everything here. Yet, the spot remained... and moved. The young eyes widened with the understanding that something was there that had not been there before.
Innocently, the young girl struggled to her feet, staggering toward the spot. She could barely move her legs, yet she felt that she must go to it. She had been taught about Skietra. About how, when you are dying, Skietra sends a Messenger to take you to them. It must be the Messenger come for her. The importance of it all kept her moving. She must, she felt, see for herself.
At the window, the child struggled to hold on to the frame. Looking up, her eyes saw the beautiful face of Skietra's Messenger looking curiously back at her. So beautiful, so radiant, the face was a vision from a dream. Their eyes met and the vision... smiled. The child now knew that Skietra's Messenger had come for her.
"Skietra," the child murmured, closing her eyes, "I am yours." Within a moment, her eyes opened and the vision of the Messenger was gone.
The ship lurched forward, flinging the surprised girl to the deck with a scream. Her first thought was that they were falling into the sun, but the intense sunlight dimmed as she felt the great ship turn. Pulling herself up to see, she peered out through the same window the vision had appeared in. They were moving away from the Sun and toward a planet covered with water and what looked like one big spot of land.
Perhaps Skietra had changed their mind.

On Tetra, at the Habitat

Mara sat on the table, her legs dangling over the side. In her mouth, a temperature sensor stuck out at an odd angle. She alternately looked at it and at her worried father pacing the room before her.
"Dad," she mumbled around the sensor, "I don't think this is necessary. I don't have a fever or anything."
"Well, maybe you're right," said William, nervously removing it from Mara's mouth and looking at the normal temperature reading on the display. "I don't know. Maybe we should... Where the hell is Phil, anyway?"
"Now, Dad, Phil's been up in the Faldref for nearly a year now. You know that."
"Well, it's time he should come back down." William peered out the window at the distant mountains. "It's time, don't you think?"
"He's probably 'hearing' real well. No reason to come down if the 'hearing' is good."
"Yeah, that's true." William turned away from the window and took a breath. "Well, we can handle this. We've always been able to handle everything together before, right?" William slapped his hands together as if they were about to get down to the business of painting a room or mending a chair.
"Right," agreed Mara cheerfully.
"Right. Then let's get started." William sat down in front of Mara. "What other symptoms have you noticed?"
"Well, a week ago my boobs started to really grow and the nipples are really sensitive to..." William launched up from his seat and headed back to the window.
"Where the HELL is your mother?" he growled. "She should be home by now!"
"No, really, Dad. Look at this." Mara started to unbutton her overalls. William flung a hand up to stop her.
"No, that's alright, honey. We've all seen breasts. Seen one, seen 'em all."
"They sorta happened kinda fast, too, Dad," said Mara as she studiously looked under the front of her overalls.
"Yeah, yeah," responded William with a clinical nod. "Yeah, they'll do that sometimes." He glanced back out the window in the vain hope that Lillith would be there. Mara giggled.
"You don't like talking about girl stuff, do you, Dad?"
William leaned on the window sill and sighed. "Let's just say that I wouldn't make the list of experts on that subject, Mara." The fact was, William knew a great deal about a woman's anatomy, none of it suitable, in his fatherly mind, to be applied to his own daughter. To him, Mara was still "Daddy's Little Honey-Bunny". A frame of reference limiting to him and annoying to his growing daughter. He knew, of course, that he shouldn't be that way, but it was certainly difficult to do otherwise. She was, after all, merely nine years old. He had thought that he had much more time before he'd have to deal with problems like this. At least, he imagined, not until she was a teenager, at least. The realities of Velorian physiology had accelerated things a bit.
A casual glance out the window made William take a second look. A large alien spacecraft floated silently toward the habitat. Beneath it, the Protector of Tetra held the craft firmly overhead. Lillith was home.
"Mom's home! Stay here, Bunny," he rattled off as he vaulted from the room. Mara sighed once and nervously peered into her overalls again.
Lillith stopped her descent about twenty feet above the ground when she saw her frantic mate run out of the house.
"Lillith! Jeez, I'm glad you're home. We got a real situation here and..."
"Will'm," interrupted Lillith, her voice sounding a bit strained. "I sorta have my hands full right now." The huge ship groaned and teetered forward a bit. Lillith shifted her left hand forward to balance it better. "Could we talk after I put this down and let these people out?"
William's eyes scanned up to see the dark hull of the multi-ton vessel and nodded with a shrug.
"Oh, yeah, sure. Um, let me grab Flare and you can put it down over there, okay?"
"That would be nice, honey. Hurry up though, would you?" Lillith's arms were getting tired.
William reached up to take Flare by her thick collar. "Come on, knucklehead. Mom doesn't need you getting in the way." This ruined Flare's plan to bound along directly beneath Lillith wherever she took that big thing that she was bringing home, but Flare also understood by the tone of his voice that what William had said meant to sit down. She sat down.
They watched Lillith float slowly to the ground to settle the stern of the ship first before walking herself hand over hand to the front of the bow. There she turned to lower the tilted ship gently to the ground. Free of the heavy load, she shrugged her shoulders twice to work the cramped feeling out of them, her muscles quickly returning to their normal size.
Lillith rose rapidly into the air to look into the high forward windows of the bridge. She couldn't see anyone moving anymore and waved to William to come to the ship.
"Will'm! There's three people in there that need our help. Can you get the hatch open?"
William put his hands on his hips as he looked over the huge ship.
"Thesultic transport, Type 97," he remarked confidently. "Yeah, I can..."
"Type 93," said Mara more confidently as she walk quickly by him on the way to the ship. "There's no bilrun on the aft quarter and those are B-model engines."
"Well... I," William stammered, bending over to see the lack of any sign of a bilrun fairing along the hull and the external ducting of the ion regeneration pumps identified the engines as early B-model Farg/Koti's. William shook his head with a smile.
"That's my girl."
Pulling a torquer from her rear pocket, Mara called out to her mother, "Could you lift me up to the hatch, Mom? I'll..." William took the torquer out of her hand.
"Just a minute, young lady. We don't know who or what's in there. Let's let the invulnerable old folks deal with this. Lillith, up, please."
As Lillith took William up to the hatch, Mara crossed her arms across her chest and watched.
"That reminds me, Mom. We gotta talk about stuff when you're done."
"What stuff?" asked Lillith quietly of William.
"You know," he responded nervously. "Stuff."
"Stuff?" asked Lillith.
"Stuff." confirmed William.
"Stuff." muttered Mara as she pulled her now uncomfortable clothing away from her still expanding breasts. She didn't like them, they felt weird.

At the hatch, William used the torquer to remove the fasteners of the access panel. Dropping the small metal cover to the ground, he reached in and rotated the exposed manual release handle.
"As soon as the hatch releases, Lillith, be ready to..." The hatch flew off its mounts like a champagne cork, right at Lillith and William. An overpressurization problem within the hull launched it like a missile. Lillith was so startled that she reacted by instinctively grabbing for the flying hatch. Doing so, unfortunately, meant that she let go of William, who had also reacted to the oncoming projectile. He succeeded in catching it --- all 845 pounds of it.
The thirty-foot fall of William and the hatch ended with a thud, a burst of dust, and a loud grunt. William had landed flat on his back, still holding the broad curved hatch on top of himself. Lillith floated high above, her mouth pulled back in a grimace with the knowledge that she might have just done something wrong. Her left hand clung to her chin and her eyes were open wide.
"Will'm?" she called down to him. "Are you alright?"
"In the pink, hon," he groaned. An arm extended from beneath the hatch, forming a positive thumbs-up pose. Flare stepped forward and slurped the gesture with her tongue as if adding her congratulations. Unfortunately, her affection was not well taken. "Oh, for cryin' out loud!" moaned William, his hand drenched in dog slobber. He rapidly retracted his hand to remove the excess on his pantleg.
Shaking her head at the scene below, Lillith turned to look inside the ship. Three beings were strewn on the deck: an adult male, an adult female, and a young female child, the one Lillith had seen at the window. Lillith floated inside, touching lightly down onto the deck. No one was moving. The air inside the ship was very warm and smelled of steel, oil, electrical ozone, and all of the inadvertent aromas of living creatures living under adverse conditions.
Kneeling down, Lillith raised the young female up from the deck and smoothed her blonde hair away from the dirty face that remained so still. Her touch prompted the little blue eyes to flicker and open a bit. Seeing Lillith, the child remained expressionless, seemingly resigned to her fate.
"Danské, Skietra." the child murmured.
"N'ai." said Lillith warmly, shaking her head. "Kai'l'zü Skietra. Kai'l Lill'th'a Veloor."
"Veloor?" mumbled the perplexed child meekly, her eyebrows lowering to show that she wasn't sure that she understood.
"T'aye, velorinna," confirmed Lillith with a soothing voice and a smile, "Veloor."
As the child's eyes weakly fell closed again, her face relaxed and a faint smile came to her lips. Lillith took her up in her arms and out into the fresh air of Tetra.



The Visitor continues....


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