Bait and Switch Ch. 21byDark_Brother©
The sound of a text message woke me up, and I groggily reached over to check it. Shanna and Gina had kept me up most of the night, and then when Nancy had come in... Okay, I couldn't help but smile at the memories from last night, but I WAS exhausted. I had quite literally stumbled back through my door, and fallen asleep before my head hit my pillow. I couldn't even remember the drive home. I was thankful that Lela hadn't come to get me last night, or I'd be even more tired than I was now.
"Get your rest today. Tonight we will take care of the demons." the text read, and it was from my sister. I wondered why she didn't use the nanites.
I sat up in bed, and only then realized that something wasn't right. I was still fully dressed, including my shoes, but my posters were gone, and someone had rearranged my room. A groan sounded next to me, and in shock I see Robin laying there next to me.
Did I get with Robin last night? I wondered, but can't see how I had. I was still fully dressed... Then I recognize my surroundings. I'm in Dennis's room! I must have been so tired last night that I turned right when I should have turned left...
As quietly as I was able, I tried to sneak out, but to no avail.
"Hey, dude," Dennis murmured just as my hand touched the doorknob, "next time sleep in your own bed. You were quite the buzzkill."
Embarrassed I made it back to my own room, and planned on going back to sleep, but after thirty minutes of just lying there, fretting about what I was going to do with the demons tonight, I finally got up, and showered.
I had intended on skipping classes today, but since I was already awake, I figured I might as well go in. Besides, it might help to distract me.
"Nick!" Someone hailed me, their breath misting in the early morning chill. "Hey, have you been studying?" The woman smiles at me, but I don't recognize her.
"Studying?" I ask in confusion. "It's only the second day of the semester. We can't have any tests already!"
She laughs at me, but I still have no idea who this is. Her hair is a mousy brown color, reaching down to her shoulders, and matching brown eyes. She stood a little shorter than me, and her skin seemed a little loose on her.
"No, for math club, silly!" she informed me, and suddenly I thought I knew who this was.
"Barbara?" I asked just to be sure.
"Sorry," she told me, her smile getting bigger, "I forget how different I look after losing so much weight. I know most people put on weight over the holidays, but for some reason I just kept shedding the pounds!"
I could see the old Barbara in her now. She could almost be cute, if she fit in her skin better. Then I remembered what I'd done for Mrs. Polkins, and turned up Barbara's skin elasticity, hoping that would help her.
"Yeah! Sorry," I said, happy for her, "You look great!" Then remembering how Mrs. Polkins had changed mentally, I think to ask, "How have you been feeling?"
"Good," she said, her smile never leaving her thin face. "I've had a lot more energy, and have been surprised by all the attention the guys've been giving me." She laughed again, and I can't help smiling with her.
"Well, good luck," I told her. "I'd better get to class." I thought of Donald and Adam, and hoped that everything I'd done for them has turned out as well as it did for Barbara.
I was almost to my class, when another female voice stopped me in my tracks. This one I knew from hours of lectures last semester. Professor Frankens was standing in the doorway to her classroom, as I turned to look at her. She was dressed pretty modestly for her, with a suit jacket on, and a skirt that actually went all the way down to her ankles.
"I need to have a talk with you, Mr. Xavier," she told me, as she opened the door wider to let me through. As I entered her classroom, wondering why she was being so formal, I saw that it was empty and guessed that she didn't have a class this hour. My first thought was that she was after a tryst, but I really didn't feel up to it quite yet that morning, and knew I needed to save my strength for that evening.
The professor stepped back in front of me, and led me down to her office. I was trying to come up with a way to gently turn her down, without having to talk too much, knowing that my voice still had an effect on her.
I still hadn't come up with a way, when she sat down behind her desk and looked me squarely in the eyes. Her brown orbs bore into me for a bit, and I realized that she probably hadn't brought me in here for sex, after all.
"First of all, Mr. Xavier, I want to thank you for being discreet about what happened between us before Winter break," she told me, her voice stiff and formal.
I gave her a quick nod, still wary of speaking.
"Please understand that what I did was wrong," she continued. "In my years of teaching I have never crossed that line with a student. I still don't fully understand why I did so with you. I hope you don't harbor any ill will towards me for what I did, or for saying that it can't happen again."
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I had truly enjoyed my encounter with the sexy professor, and even with the guilt of knowing that I'd manipulated her into it, I'd looked forward to further escapades with her. I saw that she was looking at me, waiting for an answer. I still didn't want to speak though, and influence her unduly. When I gave her another nod, she grimaced, but continued.
"I've put in my resignation here, and have already been accepted in another college across state." Her tone was sad now, and I felt sorry for her.
"No," I said, before I could think better of it, and saw her shudder slightly at the sound of my voice, but I went on. "You don't have to do that. I promise not to tell anyone, and we don't have to...to you know..." for some reason I had a hard time saying sex in front of this older woman, despite what we'd done together. I figured it had something to do with the formal attitude she was portraying, and didn't want to be the first one to say it.
"But I do, Mr. Xavier," she insisted. "Even as you speak, I feel myself being drawn to you. I can't risk losing my career over the desires of my body." Her face grew stern, and she looked at me harder. "Make no mistake; I'm not saying that I'm in love with you or anything of that sort, only that I can separate lust from love."
Only then did I realize that she blamed herself for what we'd done. It wasn't her fault, and I truly felt bad for my part in it, but could see that she was determined to go, no matter what I said. If I were willing to use my switches on her, I could change her mind, I knew, but I still wasn't willing to cross that line again.
"I understand," I told her. "You will be missed," and not just by me. I knew how most of the male students liked to ogle the beautiful professor, and not a just few of the females, too.
"I have already ensured that you will pass my class, this semester. I have no doubt you would have done it on your own. Professor Hallowburton will be taking over Math Club practices from now on. I will be here till the end of term, but would ask that you don't say anything to anyone until after I'm gone." She sounded depressed, and I wished there was something I could do for her, but short of making a 'happy' switch, I didn't know what else to do.
Professor Hallowburton was an alright kind of guy, but he was no Frankens. She would be sorely missed in Math Club practices as well.
"I won't tell anyone," I told her again, mentally thinking other than Shanna, who I'd already told, but I felt sure she wouldn't say anything to anyone about it.
In the end, saddened, but knowing that she was doing what she felt was best for her, I made the 'happy' switch, and put some effort behind turning it on. It might be that I would need that strength later, but Professor Frankens deserved it, after how I'd used my switches on her before. I wished her the best of luck, and left her office.
There was a commotion outside the classroom as I walked out, and I had to grab someone to find out what was going on.
"It's all over the news!" the other student yelled at me, before running on, somewhat fearfully, I thought.
I had no idea what he was talking about, so pulled out my android phone, and started looking at news sites, online. It didn't take me long to find out. Government satellites had picked up asteroids moving at a high rate of speed towards the Earth. If the objects continued on their current trajectory, they were likely to hit the planet. Estimates ranged on how much damage the supposed asteroids would cause, and which cities would be hit the hardest.
A spokesperson for the Whitehouse stated that the asteroids were moving faster than any other asteroids they've ever encountered, which was why they'd only came into visible range late last night, and would start impacting the Earth sometime tomorrow morning.
I read a few more stories on it, and even went to a religious link that started talking about the end of days, and the second coming. Everybody was scared, and the best advice I read stated that the smartest thing to do would be to stay home, unless you knew of a fallout shelter you could use.
The government stated that they were trying to figure out some way to disperse the asteroids, and that they were working with other world leaders to find a solution to the problem. I wished them luck, but didn't have much faith in it.
I knew better. Those weren't asteroids flying free in space on a collision course. They were the demon's fleet, coming to eradicate the human race. Staying home or even fleeing to the mountains as other sites had recommended, would be useless. Fallout shelters might work, but I doubted it. No, the best hope was that I needed to come up with some sort of strategy to stop them.
I didn't have much faith in that plan, either.
School for the rest of the day was cancelled, so that we could go home and try to be with our families.
The streets were packed, and I was thankful that I'd walked this morning, hoping the chill winter air would help me wake up. I passed a couple shops on my way home, and saw that the looters had already begun to deface property, and break in windows. If it was this bad already, I didn't even want to think about how bad it would be tonight.
Perhaps my last night on Earth. I shook, to rid myself of the defeating thought.
Shanna called me as I walked into my apartment. "Have you seen the news?" she asked excitedly, and I could hear the fear in her voice.
"Yeah, I just found out. Did you go to class today?" I asked back.
"No, I just woke up. I saw they closed the campus. It's not asteroids, is it?" Her tone told me she already knew the answer. "It's your demons, instead," she answered her own question.
"Yeah, I think it is," my reply was short, but I couldn't think of anything else to say.
"When are you coming to get me?" For a second I was perplexed, and then I remembered her demand to be there when I went up against the aliens.
"Shanna, you're safer here on Earth than you will be up there," I tried to tell her softly.
"No, Nick," she shot back at me hotly, "If you're going to be in any kind of danger, then I demand to be there, too. You promised."
I hadn't really promised, but I was still too tired to argue. I decided that when Lela came to get me, I would just happen to forget that she was to pick up Shanna too, in all of the excitement. Either she would understand, or she wouldn't, but she would be safer on Earth, than up in that ship.
I pulled up pictures of the supposed asteroids online, and saw that they were flying in formation. I knew the government couldn't have missed that fact, and realized that the asteroids were a cover up. I wondered what their real plan would be, and if it might interfere with whatever I was going to do.
It was impossible to tell just how many ships there were in the grainy photos, but I could easily see that it was a lot more than the seven ships Lela and I had at our disposal. This wouldn't be a fight, and it would take everything I had at my disposal, to make sure it didn't turn into a massacre.
"One more time," I heard coming from Dennis's room as I walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and wondered what was going on.
"But I'm exhausted," I heard Dennis say back.
"We may be dead tomorrow, dammit. Get it back up, and let's go again." I laughed inside, thankful that some people were coping with the crisis by other means than looting, and vandalizing.
'Go to your room,' the message flashed before my eyes. I set down my glass half drank, and walked into my room, for what I hoped wasn't the last time.
There was a short flash of light as I passed through the doorway, and I found myself on Lela's ship, in the featureless, blue-lit room. Summer was already there, and she was hopping from one foot to the other in impatience.
"Oh, good, you're here!" she spouted as soon as she saw me. She gripped me in a fierce hug, before pulling back, and searching my eyes.
"Good to see you too, sis," I tried to greet her cheerfully, but didn't have it in me right then. "Are we going after the demons already? I thought we were doing that tonight..."
Apparently she either didn't like my words, or what she saw on my face. I soon found out it was the latter.
"You look like shit," she told me. "Why didn't you try to get more sleep last night?" I almost laughed as I saw how tired she looked.
For a moment, I wondered if she knew what I'd been doing with Shanna, Gina, and Nancy, and knew that it was possible, as Lela was always watching me. I noticed how upset she seemed, and could feel her hands shaking on my arms.
"I'm sorry, stuff came up," as I said that, her quick glance at my crotch told me she knew exactly what I'd been doing. "Relax, will you? We still have some time before we face them." I tried to get her to calm down, but my soothing tone seemed to have the opposite effect.
"It's not that... Something...um..." Summer bit her lower lip, as she tried to formulate what she wanted to say. "Lela's been incapacitated," she finally blurts out, and I feel like my whole world has just been rocked.
"Lela? How?" I demand to know, gripping my sister's arms now. I felt a knot form in my stomach, as I worried about the gentle alien, but my logical mind took over. If Lela was down, it wasn't a complete loss, as there were still six other ships. Ships that couldn't fight and I had no experience in. Maybe if another alien piloted... "Where's Harana?"
The fear increased in Summer's blue eyes. "She is taking care of Lela," she whispered.
"What happened to Lela?' I demanded to know again, wondering why Summer was acting like this, and then it occurred to me. "The kids?"
She nods, and I can see tears running down her cheeks now. Fear grips my heart. Not the kids, too, oh, please not the kids, too! I have to get to Lela, I know, but I don't know how to open the hatch that leads to her.
"Lela, Harana!" I yell, hoping to get one of their attentions. "I can't open the door. Lemme back there."
"Nick," Summer's hand on my shoulder makes me feel claustrophobic, and I shake it off, "You can open it with the nanites. Just send the command to the ship mentally." I look at my sister stupidly. Could it really be that easy? I knew that she could have done it for me, but that had never been my sister's way. She was always willing to help me, but never one to do things for me. How ironic that her ability ended up being the same way.
Without hesitation, I mentally commanded the ship to open the door, and sure enough, it opened to my right. I dashed through it, headless of the blackness that surrounded me. I knew I had a few steps before the path turned, and my eyes adjusted to the infrared light, before I slammed into the wall. I ran the entire way to where I knew Lela to be, and held up outside her door, slightly out of breath, and full of dread.
Suddenly I was apprehensive, not certain what I'd find inside. Summer hadn't told me what had happened with Lela's and my kids. She'd only told me that the alien was incapacitated, and then she'd started crying.
No, I thought, they had to be okay. Something about the alien hatching process must have been hard for the mother. Try as hard as I might, though, I couldn't convince myself of that. How could eggs hatching be hard on the mother?
I don't know how long I stood outside that doorway, but finally I concluded that I had to walk through it. I had to face what was inside. Commanding the ship to open this door, I stepped through.
Lela wasn't on the incubator, as she had been every other time I'd been in here, and for just a moment, I wondered at that oddity, till my brain realized that the children wouldn't be in there, when they hatched. I sensed her switches in an adjoining room, and opened that hatchway before going in.
It took me a moment to comprehend the scene before me. Lela was lying on the floor, her arms around some small, unmoving objects, and Harana had her arm around the older alien, trying to comfort her, and talking in their dual-toned language.
I took a step forward, my eyes and even my senses drawn to the six or seven objects that Lela was cradling. I could hear what I took to be crying from Lela, and only then did it really hit me that our kids hadn't survived.
I didn't know what to think, or even what to feel. Yes, they were my kids, but they weren't entirely human, and it wasn't like I had helped incubate the eggs. The entire time Lela had been on that incubator, it had almost felt like she was taking care of someone else's eggs.
But now that I saw the tiny things, it struck home. These tiny things were the product of Lela's and my mating. I had helped create these tiny creatures, and there was some small part of me in each one. My eyes could see that they were gone, but my heart refused to believe it.
I dropped to my knees next to Lela, and only then did the other two notice me, but I ignored them. There was something...
I looked at the tiny creatures, marveling at how they looked. They had the pinkish skin of Lela's race, but it was tinged just a bit by the baby pink of a human baby. Their eyes were smaller than Lela's in comparison to the head, which was also smaller in comparison to their body. I noticed that some had four fingers and some had three. There were six in all, and they all had light tufts of hair on their peaceful heads. If I ignored the fact that they weren't breathing, I could almost imagine that they were all sleeping peacefully.
All of this I noted with the outside of my concentration, however. There was something... It almost felt like I could sense them, like I could with my switches, but I had never made switches in these little creatures.
"I tried to save them," Lela's voice penetrated the fog that surrounded my mind, distracting me. "Our DNA just didn't mix," I could barely understand her, as she tried to speak English through her tears. "They all broke their shells, but didn't live long past that." Lela choked up again, and Harana tried unsuccessfully to console her.
Why can I sense them, if their dead and I haven't given them a switch? The question played through my head a few times, before something occurred to me.
Without a word, I jumped up and ran back to the blue room. I didn't say a word as I burst in, only stopping long enough to grab Summer's wrist, and drag her after me. She yelped when she passed into the darkness, but I knew her eyes would adjust soon enough, thanks to her nanites.
"Nick, what are you...?" she tried to ask me, but I just kept running.
As soon as we were in the room with Lela, Harana, and my kids, I finally stopped, and felt for them again. It was fainter now, but I could still make them out. I had to hurry, or it might be too late.