Left at Eden - Chapter 14

Left at Eden

They walked down the path towards the colony. It was a well worn path however. “There’s no real continents , there’s islands here, some are pretty darn large though.” Hailey said.

“I joined the girl scouts and a rock climbing club, just so I’d have excuses not to go home,” Amber laughed, adding, “I’m even a cheerleader. Or was.”

“Cheerleaders are snots.” Hailey grinned.

“Yeah, I got kicked off the squad for refusing to get rid of my naval piercing. Not my fault they wanted me to wear an outfit that showed it off.” She laughed and made a diamond shape with her hands. “Like literally, the skin was shown like this around the bellybutton, and I’m the one at fault.”

“Did it embarrass you?” Candy asked, “That sounds a little too clothed for my tastes..”

“Nah,” Amber laughed. “I wear midriff bare shirts all the time. I was even willing to put up with being an aerial and flashing my undies every time I dropped down off a pyramid.”

Candy giggled, “My Race doesn’t wear underwear, we know what it is. Sounds like they were just arrogant though. There’s nothing wrong with body piercings. I think they’re beautiful, like all body art.”

“Right?” Amber said, nodding her agreement. “It’s not even like it was tacky or ugly. I had it long before they ordered those stupid new uniforms. I think they just wanted me off the squad.”

“I thought about getting my belly button done.” Hailey said. “But I hate needles. Did it hurt?”

“Only when I rolled over in bed the first night. They gave me some mild anaesthetic for the actual piercing. My cousin’s girlfriend Maria, though, she got her tongue pierced with a barbell. She said it hurt like a mother.”

Candy slowly stuck out her tongue and stared at it, wiggling it around briefly, as if trying to imagine what it would be like to have a piercing there. She shivered. “Let me amend that to, I find body art pretty as long as it’s not me.” She giggled.

“You have piercings in your ears.” Hailey giggled.

“That’s different. Ear cartilage has practically no nerve endings. The tongue has billions, especially a Furran tongue.”

“And there’s all that muscle to get through, too,” Amber said, grinning as Candy shuddered.

“We have to introduce this girl to Vanessa and Fran,” Hailey laughed. “Vanessa’s the total classic goth girl, and Fran is more the old school punk goth type. They’re both awesome.”

“Sounds like,” Amber laughed. “I went through a bubblegum goth phase. Tons of pink. I’m over it now, but I still appreciate the whole subculture.”

“Hey there!” Ella called from a high tree branch, waving down at them as they passed. “New arrival?”

“Hey Ella.” Hailey called back, “Yup, we’re taking her to the colony.”

“Oh, wow, another human,” Amber giggled a bit as Karen came around the base of the large tree. Ella casually dropped down off the branch, landing on her feet with a loud thud, and a very small crater.

“Yep,” Ella laughed. “They’re everywhere. I’m Ella, and that’s my girlfriend Karen.”

“Amber.” the new girl smiled. “Nice to meet you both.”

“The aliens formerly known as Overseers dropped her right into our laps - almost literally,” Candy giggled softly, and held up the rainbow shell for Ella and Karen to see. “Look, they even warned us this time.”

Karen leaned closer. “Watch... the... sky,” she read slowly. Her Furran wasn’t exceptional, but it shared root characteristics with Ella’s native language, which she was fluent in. “Wow, Candy that’s amazing! Nobody’s ever communicated with them before!”

“Yeah, it was really cool they replied in my language.” Candy said.

“But um,” Ella said, “Why a shell? That just seems so random.”

Candy giggled. “Oh, that’s easy. I wrote my message on a shell just like this one, and tossed it out to the ocean.”

Ella stared blankly for a moment, and then laughed. “Only a Furran would find such a simple, elegant, and damned brilliant way to get their attention. I love it. We’re on our way back as well. We collected a couple of samples for Brie and Wendy to look at, but that weird star thing made us kind of bug out.”

Hailey giggled, “It was very pretty. We found some hot springs: 12 of them to be exact.” she was still holding her clothing.

“Well, that explains them dropping Amber on a mountain top,” Karen laughed. “They only drop you in water. It’s like a weird rule of theirs. Usually it’s the ocean, though.”

Candy laughed, “It was kind of amazing, she was headed for another pool so if we didn’t catch her, she would have been safe.”

“I um...” Amber said sheepishly, “I can’t swim.”

“We were there.” Hailey shrugged.

“I think she means you saved her,” Ella giggled softly as they started walking together. “I guess it depends how deep the pools are, though.”

“Not too deep.” Candy said. “There’s one that has a natural ledge you can sit on that’s purrfect.”

“Oh, Hailey,” Ella said. “You’re from earth. Settle a bet.” She took out a plant sample that, on the outside, looked like an ear of corn, but then Ella peeled it back, revealing dark purple kernels. “Is this corn?”

“It looks like Maize.” Hailey nodded, “Hand it here.”

Hailey pulled one of the kernels out and ate it to give it a taste, “Sweet Corn!”

“Damn,” Ella laughed. “I was sure it wasn’t because it’s so... berry-looking.”

“Corn changes color, in the sun.” Hailey spoke. “If it’s dried to a kernel, it can even be popped into Candy’s favorite Snack.”

“Oh!” Candy squeaked excitedly. “I love popped corn! Especially with butter, or a little caramel sauce and mmmm...”

Hailey giggled, “Sweet Corn is a little different than regular corn, but it’s pretty much the same stuff. I’m not sure if you can make popcorn from it.”

“I just happened to remember Wendy asking for corn or maize when she was talking to Brie this morning,” Ella nodded. “Karen said she was sure this was some variety of what she was looking for.”

“And now that I think about it,” Karen said, “ I swear I’ve seen it growing on one of the islands. I’ll ask Tera when we get back, if she remembers where.”

“She’ll probably need large quantities of it.” Hailey nodded.

“Well,” Good news, “Ella laughed. “This stuff grows like tangleweed, one small circle of it, but as soon as we picked one, a new one grew.”

“Wait,” Amber said, “So it was a circle... of crops... put there by an alien?”

Hailey nearly doubled over laughing. “Oh God,” she managed to squeak out between giggles.

Ella and Candy looked confused. Amber giggled. “Back on Earth there’s this phenomenon, a hoax really, called crop circles. People go out into fields and make big circle designs in crops, and other people see them and immediately assume aliens have nothing better to do than to make these things - even after the hoaxers admitted they did it.”

Hailey nodded, “But it’s good that they grow like that, We can ask Wendy how much she needs.”

Candy smacked Hailey on the butt, “You should atleast get dressed a little. Not that I mind.”

“Nobody else is complaining either,” Hailey giggled as she pulled on her skirt and top finally.

“I wasn’t complaining, I’m just not sure how the colony will react.” Candy giggled.

Hailey laughed. “I’m kidding. The truth is I was just so distracted with helping Amber that I forgot to get dressed.”

“Yeah,” Amber laughed, “Amber not dying to a loose rock is a good thing.”

“We haven't lost anyone yet, no plans on ever losing someone.” Ella nodded.

“Well,” Karen said, “Eventually the straight folks will probably pass of old age at least.”

“Well that’s fine. Natural death is fine.” Ella laughed. “When we die we return to the universe to be reborn; that’s a scientific fact and a religious belief shared by many cultures. But to have one’s life cut short unnaturally is still cruel.”

“At least until we crack the nano enigma,” Candy giggled. “But as far as I know, even Sartori haven’t figured that one out.”

“Oh,” Amber said, “You mean eternal life? Yeah some guy from Google says we’ll have that figured out by 2027. Something about using molecular nanomachines to repair DNA and keep it from breaking down in the first place” She shrugged. “Sounds like science fiction to me.”

“Unfortunately,” Candy nodded. “Nanomachines can do amazing things, but they can’t replicate fast enough to keep up with cellular decay in the advanced stages. They can prolong life, though.”

“We’re still not sure how the aliens that brought us here, made those of us who don’t reproduce, able to live forever,” Ella laughed.

“Really I won't die of old age?” Amber looked stunned.

Karen giggled. “Wow, another one? You know we’re supposed to be rare,” she teased.

“What being lesbian is not rare.” Amber laughed.

“It is here,” Ella laughed. “It’s not looked down upon or anything. It’s just unusual for the aliens to choose non-b over b, in my understanding. But yes. The oldest member of the larger colony has been here sixty years, and she looks 20 still.”

“In the last four days,” Hailey giggled, “We’ve had four lesbians and one convert that we thought for certain wasn’t, all of whom joined or were already a part of our expedition team.”

“In Brie’s defense though,” Ella nodded, “She never really talked about herself in that sense. That one was on me for just assuming because she seemed more anxious around males. I misinterpreted it as interest instead of disinterest. Normally I can tell just by cruising surface thoughts, but Brie is like trying to read a blank slate, covered in prickly spines.”

“Her species.” Candy nodded. “We’re easier to read than hers.”

“Not by much,” Ella laughed. “You share similar defenses, but Furrans make psychic races just plain not want to read any deeper,” she teased. “Not that I ever go below the surface, either. I’m a Praelian Guard. We’re taught to respect others’ privacy, and only read their emotions to help mediate peace.”

“Soo you’re a Jedi,” Amber giggled. “Awesome.”

“Clear the path!” someone yelled, “We have an injured newcomer! I think she’s pregnant too!”

“ She’s Furren,” Ella said quickly as they ducked off the path.

“I’m going with them then,” Candy said. “I helped deliver 6 of my sisters’ litters and two of my sisters-in-law’s.”

“WE have no clue how many she’s having the one medic spoke, I heard your kind can have 2-6 even more.”

Candy nodded. “Furran labor can last for weeks on end. We may need to prep the Victory to take her back to the big colony.”

“Jesus Christ,” the human medic said. “I agree. We’ll do what we can for her here, but by all accounts your colony’s better equipped to handle this than we are.”

“What are her injuries?” Hailey asked.

“Looks like she was beaten really bad.” one of the other medics stated

“Fell...” the woman groaned quietly. “Fell do... down... stairs try...”

“Shh,” Candy cooed softly. “You’re going to be okay. Does anyone have some water from the ocean? The medicinal properties may ease her pain.”

“Got some here.” A young 10 year old girl handed Candy a wine skin. Candy uncorked the top and poured just a tiny amount in the woman’s mouth, letting her drink it, before giving her a tiny bit more.

“I los... lost consciousness on th.. the stairs,” the woman said weakly. “Woke up here.”

“How many Kits are you having?” Candy asked.

“Seven,” the woman said with a wry laugh. “Oooh, hurts to laugh.”

“What’s your family name?” Candy asked the woman.

“Atross,” she answered. “I’m Mileena Atross.”

Candy smiled and kissed Mileena’s forehead, “My name is Candy. We are family.”

“You’re-” she paused to flinch, “You’re the galactic peace prize nominee. Congratulations,” she said, still smiling despite her pain.

Candy laughed, “No congradulations to you for becoming a mother.” she said, “You will be ok.”

Mileena laughed, “I’ve had kits before.. A liter of 10, but they were all taken..”

“Taken,” Hailey said, looking at Candy. “What does she mean?”

“Taken,” Candy repeated with a certain strength behind it. Hailey frowned.

“Oh... I’m so sorry.”

Mileena nodded. “And now I may... May lose these too.”

“You won’t we’ll make sure of it.” Candy said reassuringly.

Ella slowed back a bit and pulled Hailey aside. “She’s lying about her injuries,” she said quietly, knowing Furran hearing, even under duress, was keener than most.

“What do you mean she was lying?” Hailey asked.

“I mean,” Ella exhaled slowly, “She didn’t just fall down some stairs. I believe someone didn’t want those kits to be born.”

“Why wouldn't they?” Hailey sighed, “Makes no sense.”

Ella shook her head. “Who can say, but her injuries are not consistent with a simple fall, and she said her last batch were taken as well. I just wanted you and Candy to be aware. This is technically, an internal Furran matter, since I can’t do anything about it from this planet.”

“Well whatever was going on, it doesn’t matter anymore, they will be born here.” Hailey said. Ella nodded and gave Hailey a hug, before letting her catch up with Candy again.

~oOo~

Hailey waited around outside the clinic, she wasn’t very useful, but she stuck around for Candy. They had taken the ship back to the main island to induce birth, so they could treat the mother.

“Heard anything?” Wendy asked as she approached Hailey. Her breath reeked of sour apple bubblegum.

“You know that stuff’s going to be a nightmare to get out of your fur,” Hailey laughed.

“Old habits die hard,” Wendy giggled.

“Furran labor can last for weeks,” Hailey said. “They’re trying to balance helping her through, with treating her injuries, so they’re trying a new birthing technique. It sounds crazy to me, but I’m no doctor, so...”

“Whatever works, I guess,” Wendy nodded.

“I hope she survives and I pray to the overseers that she does.” Hailey said.

“If I ever get my claws on who did this to her,” Wendy growled, “They’ll wish for death. But knowing the Overseers’ sense of humor, I like to think that they dropped that person into some kind of specially tailored personal hell.”

“If they even know who did it.” Hailey shrugged.

At that, a single flower petal drifted down seemingly out of nowhere. It landed right on the tip of Hailey’s nose, and the pigmentation pattern seemed to have a message written right into the petal’s surface. A semicolon, followed by a dash, and then a closed parenthesis thusly:

;-)

Hailey sneezed, causing the petal to fall to dust before her as Karen poked her head out of the clinic. “Guys, it’s working!” she announced excitedly. “The aquatic birth tank is helping ease her pain and it’s making the birth process easier - three born so far, and all healthy.”

“So the kits are safe?” Hailey said.

“Yes and one has taken to your girlfriend.” Karen said.

“Uh oh,” Wendy giggled. “Someone’s going to be a godmother.”

Hailey giggled and stuck out her tongue, “Someone's Jelly.”

Wendy laughed and shook her head. “If maternal instinct was a mouse, then I am the 750 pound lion who accidentally steps on it prowling through the jungle.”

“I’m so not good with kids either.” Hailey laughed, “Remember when Greg brought his little niece to the bug out meeting?”

“Oh, God,” Wendy laughed. “I remember you said you had to wash that shirt three times to get the pee smell out.”

“Yeah.” Hailey sighed, “It was my favorite shirt too, I can’t believe I swore at her for that too.”

“So,” Wendy giggled, “You and Brie neglected to tell me we had regular gasoline here,” she teased Hailey, and then giggled. “But Brie did explain how it’s not as combustible either. I understand why the scientists have struggled with the problem. We need a higher octane fuel, as it were.”

“Sorry about that, will it be helpful for you in that pursuit?” Hailey blushed.

Wendy giggled. “It’s Brie’s fault for not telling me. But I can’t blame her. We’ve both been... preoccupied,” she teased Hailey. “But yes, actually, being able to study the molecular structure on the fly, comparing the new biofuel to gasoline will be extremely useful. And the regular gasoline isn’t useless, either. Just not strong enough to power a jet engine as we’re planning.”

“Ella found a ton of Sweet Corn like stuff, I hope that will help too.” Hailey said

Wendy nodded. “We managed to collect some samples before we left, and we’re having Expeditionary 1 collect even more for us, as much as an experiment to see how much it will replenish itself,” she giggled out.

“Hope they don’t kill it off, but we do have enough we can plant more if needed.” Hailey giggled.

Wendy nodded. “They’re using one plant as the control, and monitoring it closely. If they see any signs of wilting or nutrient drain, they’ll stop immediately, per Tricia’s direct orders. We’re scientists, after all, not monsters.” She giggled again. “God it is so great to be able to talk to you about this sort of thing though.”



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