Offspring Ch. 037byTalemaster©
She appeared in my cabin as I was getting ready to go to bed. At first I thought it was Mara, the same figure, the same eyes and facial features, except she was a lot younger. Not a day over thirty, I thought. I must have stood there looking like an idiot, staring at her. What threw me was that Talla had insisted that Feng and I were the only humans who travelled. But, there she was, evidently human and evidently travelling.
"You can call me Tikana," she said.
By that time I had composed myself a bit and remembered my manners. I offered her a seat and a drink. She settled for a beer.
"Who are you, Tikana, and what brings me the honour of your visit?"
"My people refer to me as the Goddess. I thought it was time we had a talk."
"But you are human!"
"Remember when you travelled as a bull, a dragon and a little monkey? I am as human as that."
I felt like an idiot. Of course she could take on any form she liked. I had done it myself, as she correctly pointed out. I apologised for being confused.
"I have never been visited by a Goddess before," I stammered, still a bit flustered.
"Perhaps not, but you've fucked a few. Remember Hera, Demeter, Aphrodite ... shall I carry on? You weren't confused then."
"No, I wasn't. At that time I still thought of them as exciting and very realistic hallucinations. I wasn't until Lata that I discovered the true nature of travel. I doubt I would have dared to screw Hera if I'd known then that she was the real thing."
By that time Tikana had finished her beer. I gave her another one.
"Tell me, Tikana, what makes me and Feng important and why now?" I asked as I filled her glass.
"Brace yourself for a long story. I have to go way back into the history of my people if what I'm about to tell you will make any sense. I have suspended time around your cabin. We could spend weeks in here and it would only be a split second in your universe once you left this space. You already know about this."
"Yes, I do."
"Talla already explained some of this to you. My people experience things, learn things, have feelings and thoughts like every other living thing.
"I don't know if other creatures do something similar, but my people, throughout their lives, make a copy of everything they perceive and deposit it on a different plane. It happens on a subconscious level. Call it a racial record, if you like. This record of consciousness became very large over time and by processes I don't understand acquired sentience. I am that sentience. I don't know if the males of my race did something similar, mine is exclusively a female perspective, there are no male memories in the things that make up my racial consciousness. All I know about males of my race was put there by females, including me, once I became aware.
"The males of my race were thoroughly detestable creatures. They lived in bands in the forests. They only cared about two things, food and inseminating females. They built nothing, they grew nothing. The females lived in small communities, villages, if you like, where they raised their offspring and grew a few crops. Periodically the males would raid these settlements, inseminate what they could and eat some of the females and even their own offspring.
"This went on for a very long time. I was still in my infancy, if you wish, still accepting things for what they were without looking for alternatives. The change came when a group of women decided they had enough and wanted nothing further to do with males. They moved their village to easily defensible ground and built fortifications. The males had never met violent opposition before. When next they tried to raid the settlement they were bombarded with rocks by females on top of barricades. Many were killed or maimed. After three unsuccessful raids the males decided to move on to places where the pickings were easier and left them alone.
"Our females can tell if a freshly laid egg will produce a male, a female or is infertile. The women in their isolated position noticed they were still laying eggs and that some of the eggs were fertile and could raise female offspring. They had discovered they were capable of sexless reproduction, parthenogenesis, as it is called by humans. Suddenly the males had become obsolete, or so they thought. The knowledge of this became widespread and females everywhere started to destroy eggs which contained male embryos. I was still young and inexperienced and encouraged this practice. Within a century there was no male alive on the planet. Everyone, including me, considered it to be a good thing.
"For a while things went well. With the constant irritation and damage caused by the males removed the settlements thrived. Production was at an all time high. Trade with the Darnaqs also increased. For a long time my people had known that the inedible parts of the plants we harvested were prized by the Darnaqs and that they threw away much that was edible by us. A trade developed over time benefiting both sides. At some stage it was suggested that perhaps a joint venture was better. The Darnaqs would plough and plant the fields and my people would tend the plants and harvest the crop. The roots and so forth would go to the Darnaqs, the to us edible parts would go to us. It was so successful that this method became standard all over the planet. Over time cooperation extended over many areas, both races did better than ever before. Everyone was happy.
"Then cracks started to appear. I was the first to notice that something was wrong.
"Each successive generation was a carbon copy of the one before it. New born were exact replicas of their mothers. The entire race had become stagnant. That's when I realised that the males may have had something of value to contribute after all. The Darnaqs noticed it too. My people became more or less a servant race, only good for lowly labour. There was no malice involved, it was just the way it worked out.
"Then the humans arrived. I was overjoyed when the first hybrids appeared. After centuries of stagnation my race was evolving again. The new cross breeds had many desirable characteristics. They were more alert, more intelligent and more curious than their mothers. Their bodies too had evolved to a more refined form with many human features The most notable change the human type hand, which afforded better dexterity and enabled my people to perform delicate tasks that had been difficult or impossible before.
"Then problems arose. At around age four the young ones started to get sick. They became listless, dull and showed poor coordination. We didn't know what to do. Since only the cross breeds were affected we thought it might be some kind of human disease and asked Captain Harkon for help. He wasted no time. He sent a team of scientists to find out what the problem was. They must have been good people. In less than a week they had determined that the children's diet was causing the problem. The doctors called it lithium poisoning.
"They immediately took the children off our traditional food and fed them a type of bread they had made up of native tubers, grain the humans grew for themselves and river fish. Within days the children showed improvement. We were told that our food was too rich in lithium for their metabolism. They designed a diet that gave the children the lithium they needed without overdosing them. For the next twelve months they monitored the lithium levels in the kids and adjusted their diets as needed. There were no new cases and all the children that had been affected had recovered.
"The next problem that cropped up was the food supply. There are only a few areas on the planet where human type food can be grown, mostly narrow strips along riverbanks where the lithium had leached out of the soil. Now that grain had become an important part of my people's diet shortages developed. There was no satisfactory substitute for grain. The native tubers and roots did not supply the energy needed to maintain my people's health. Only the native seeds and grain could do that and there was now a limit on how much of the native seeds we could consume. This problem did not get solved until we discovered Pumpernickel and started to import it in quantity.
"One more problem showed up when the new hybrids reached maturity. They were not capable of asexual reproduction. In other words they needed human sperm to produce offspring. Most human males find having sex with my people repulsive. Sure enough, there are always some who don't care what kind of an orifice they stick their dicks into as long as they get their rocks off. There weren't enough of them to fill the requirements though, besides, a much larger gene pool was needed if the new hybrid race was to have a chance at all.
"By that time Captain Harkon had passed away. The people who were running human society were not as enlightened and liberal as the old man had been. They solved the problem by introducing harsh rules that regulated people's sex lives. Masturbation was banned, human to human sex was restricted to producing offspring and men were forced to inseminate a certain number of my people every year. Any breach of the rules was punished severely. This regimen still exists today.
"Then the Torgons arrived. By that time the virus they had released had wiped out the Darnaqs. My people had no defence against them. They were put to work under harsh conditions and treated cruelly. They were even killed for food. The humans had scattered and gone underground. They were hunted mercilessly. But the humans fought back. Many Torgons were killed, mostly by explosions set off by humans who seemed to appear out of nowhere, struck and disappeared as if by magic. This went on for about a year.
"The killing stopped as suddenly as it had begun. The Torgons arranged some kind of truce with the humans and negotiated a deal. I guess by that time the Torgons had found out they were doomed. The humans must have demanded a better deal for my people as part of the arrangements, because many of the cruelties inflicted on my people stopped. They also received more and better food.
"For the next ten years they loaded up all the large ships and aircraft they could find with ballast, took them out to sea and sank them, creating an artificial reef in the middle of the ocean. On this reef a huge concrete platform was erected. They made contact with the Federation via the humans and the spaceport was built by the Federation.
"Then the Torgons started dying. It wasn't pretty. In spite of what they had done you couldn't help feeling sorry for them. Thirty years after the invasion all were dead except for the ones on the ships. My people had been decimated. The humans started trading lithium ore for things they needed.
"The turning point for us came when we discovered Pumpernickel. Since my people had started breeding with humans, each successive generation had become less tolerant of native produce and more reliant on grain, which was in ever shorter supply. Pumpernickel changed all that. It contains no lithium, is palatable and very nutritious for us. Since then we haven't looked back. My people are more numerous now than they've ever been.
"The humans developed a drug, a mixture of aphrodisiacs and hallucinogens that make sex with one of my people exciting and desirable for human males. It is expensive and difficult to produce. We use it to attract more genetic variation into the pool. In the beginning we had lots of success with it. When the traders and the Federation discovered they were losing too many good men to us they started appointing homosexuals. Since then our supply of genes has been reduced to a trickle.
"Now we have one major problem left that needs solving. We must make sure the Torgons will never return to the planet surface. My people would be doomed if that happened. If the Torgons can retrieve their weapons they will take charge again. Only their fear is stopping them, as you know. That will not last forever. If they become desperate enough they will invade again regardless of the consequences. We must not let it get that far. I know you have a plan to stop that from happening."
"Is that why you chose me and Feng and allowed us to travel"?
"No. You are here because you are unique. Feng is here because I made him your companion."
"I don't understand."
"Remember when you first arrived and went to get your sex permit? Something happened then that changed everything. When the liaison officer gave you your first lesson she made a duplicate record of the event to reside within me as all my people do. What completely threw me at the time was the fact that you did too. There I had two records of the same event, one from her viewpoint, one from yours. That had never happened before. No alien creature had ever deposited a record with me.
"Here was my chance to learn something about human consciousness. From then on I was with you every time you had a lesson. Your trip with Linette was still part memory and part hallucination. Your trip with Miss Manning however was genuine travel. That's why unexpected things happened. This was fascinating territory for me because I was there watching the event and I could look at your perception of it at the same time.
"Every time you travelled I learned more about the way you perceive things and about the way your mind works. By now, a large part of your consciousness resides in me. That's why I can talk to you like this, from human to human. I will leave now, you have much to think about. Ask yourself if you want to fuck me."
"You want me to fuck you?"
"Yes, but it must be your decision. If we do this our minds will fuse in a special way. You will become part of me and I will become part of you. Be certain you want this before you decide to go down this road. Call me when you have an answer."
She disappeared as soon as she had said this. I poured myself a large cognac and downed it in one gulp. I needed it.
The next few days were busy. New buildings were being erected all over then place as Jack's stuff was being unloaded. The containers the goods were shipped in are especially designed for colonisation. They dissemble into parts that can be used to construct a variety of buildings. Nothing is wasted. Every bit can be put to good use. Centuries of development resulted in components which can be assembled into useful forms which are aesthetically pleasing when completed.
I tried to tuck my conversation with Tikana into the back of my mind for later consideration; rather unsuccessfully, I might add. It kept bothering me.
It was Talla who broke the impasse. She turned up one night in my cabin, took two cans of beer from my fridge, poured us both a drink, sat down and said:
"Talla knows the Goddess came to see Frank. Talla wants to help."
"How can you help? I take it you know what the Goddess wants me to do?"
"Yes, Talla knows. It is a big journey for Frank and for the Goddess to make. Neither of you will remain what you are now. The Goddess wants you and her to be a bridge between your people and mine."
"I don't understand."
"Talla's people have become part human. By nature of what she is that made the Goddess part human too. It creates a conflict within us because human consciousness does not come with human genes, only the possibility of acquiring it. Perhaps it is that which enabled Frank to share experiences with the Goddess. It is not a one way street though. The bond between Frank and the Goddess that developed from there allowed Frank a glimpse into our psyche.
"Gradually Frank saw us as something different than dumb faeries and went out of his way to improve communication between the races. Not only did he accept Talla as an equal, he convinced other humans they should too. Trevor and his boys had no difficulty with that, they had worked with extraterrestrials before. Neither had the humans on Earth. They had no preconceived ideas about Talla and her people and accepted Talla readily into their midst. It took Feng and some of the others longer to change their minds about us, but in the end they did.
"The Goddess believes that a closer psychic union between Frank and her will enable my people to claim their humanity and give Frank's people a better understanding of us. She says a sexual union will bring that meeting of the minds about. There is no precedent for this and there may be dangers involved. That is why it has to be Frank's decision. The Goddess is willing."
"Pedro's fleet is arriving tomorrow. I need to work with him until he has his side of the bargain under control. I also need to brief Feng to enable him to take over in case something happens to me. Tell your Goddess I will do as she asks once I've done that."
The ships arrived on schedule. Pedro's people wasted no time. Within hours engineers were surveying the area where Pedro's town was to be built, crews unloaded some of the cargo and set up temporary workshops. Two days later construction began on the centre of town. The pub, the brewery, the community hall, a small clinic, the school and a play area for the children were the first facilities to be erected around a generous town square that was to have a fountain in the centre as a special feature. I was a bit surprised at this. I had thought that Pedro would start building houses for his people first.
"My people can live on the cruisers for now," said Pedro when I asked him. "As cargo is being unloaded conditions on the ships will become less cramped. The most important thing is that we maintain the social cohesion that makes our little society what it is. The townspeople need places where they can congregate. The rest can come later."
With so many people hard at work the project progressed quickly. Two weeks later the kids were back at school and the townspeople were drinking in the pub while workmen were still putting the final touches on the building. The brewery was in production, but it would still be a little while before fresh beer became available. In the meantime they drank the canned stuff. It was no great hardship.
There was much debate what to call their new home. Many names were suggested and rejected. It was the kids who said there could only be one name for the new town. They said it must be called Talla, in honour of their angel. The idea found resonance. Soon everyone started to refer to the settlement as Talla, long before the official naming.
Pedro had things well in hand. It was time to fulfil my promise to the Goddess. Part of me was excited, part of me was shit scared. It had to be done though. It was clear to me that I would no longer be human if the process worked. What Tikana proposed would change my perception in ways I could not even conceive. The idea to see the universe in the way Talla and her people did was immensely attractive to me, though it held its degree of terror. I remembered a passage in Carlos Castaneda's writing where Don Juan talks about the leap into the unknown. He maintained that only a warrior with an impeccable spirit could survive such a leap. If he did, untold realities would be open to him in which to act. I wondered if my spirit was impeccable enough for such a task. He also said that a warrior might be seeing the devil himself and be shaking in his boots, but he would not let anyone see that. If that is what he meant by being impeccable, perhaps I had a chance. I had made my decision, now was the time to live up to it. Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant. (Hail Caesar, those who are about to die salute you.)
I invited Jack, Feng Pedro and Juan to a meeting. We were in Pedro's briefing room. I told them about my conversation with Tikana and what she had proposed.
"I was told that since there was no precedent there for what she suggested, there was also no way of knowing what dangers might be involved for both of us," I said. "I have decided to go along with it because what is being offered here holds such great promise for both our races that it is worth the risk. You know what to do and will be able to carry on with this project should I meet my demise. Wish me luck."