Rewritten: Erish tries her enhanced weapon on a human subject
Moisture condensed on the exterior of the glass, running down onto the wood surface, pooling into a ring. Batresh stared at the clock on the wall, as if watching the passage of time would somehow save Namazu.
A curtain over the sink fluttered in warm evening air.
Batresh looked at Erish, “Thank you for coming with me.”
Erish placed her hand on her shoulder.
“I didn’t want you to be alone.”
“You have a lot of work to do.” Batresh took a sip of iced-tea. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“Just for tonight,” Erish whipered. “I will leave before sunrise.”
A radio announcer advertised, “At Todd’s Big Star in Calhoun City…” he droned on.
An Elvis song began to play.
“I know who he is now,” Batresh smiled.
“That was a big gap,” Erish laughed softly. “They have updated cultural downloads since then.
After the song, a reporter mentioned the riots from the evening before. They listened, looking at the radio, “…30,000 troops to the campus.”
Erish refilled her glass of ice tea.
The reporter continued, “…taken to local emergency rooms, overcome by tear gas.”
Batresh looked at Erish with her brows drawn together realizing there would be no mention of alien weapons or strange technology.
Erish rose from the table… “Do you mind if I sleep in your bed with you tonight?” She placed her empty glass in the sink. “I don’t want you to be alone.”
Batresh was awakened by sunlight shining through drapes. Erish had gone. Breezes wafted through open windows. Looking northwards, though the top of the window, she could still see the moon. On the other side of that moon, her sister lay in a medical bay.
She heard a ping from upstairs. She hurried to the stairway, and ran upstairs. The display was left on. A bluish rectangle of light floated above the desk. There was Erish’s smiling face.
“Good morning,” Batresh offered, her voice hoarse.
“I have good news,” Erish responded.
Batresh’s eyebrows raised.
“Namazu has improved,” she explained. “Nerve tissue is regenerating.” She looked to her left at a man passing behind her. “She followed me with her eyes when I went to see her this morning.”
Batresh smiled weakly, “Is there a prognosis?”
“The Tlaloc weapon is powerful.” She looked directly into Batresh’s eyes. “The beam was weakened by shields. Hilimaz has the data. We’ll work to upgrade them.” A medical bot passed behind her, “Then, they can make a more accurate prognosis.”
“I understand,” Batresh responded. “This gives me hope.”
Erish looked to her left. Sagar stood there, waiting. “I will contact you later.” The transmission ended. The rectangle of blue light dissolved, and Batresh was alone. She looked towards the small window facing north and could barely make out the shape of the moon, still visible in brightening morning. Soon, it would completely disappear.
She could detect the scent of autumn.
Closing her eyes, she saw a golden statue of a young woman kneeling, arms reaching outwards, long wings of blue, red, and gold stretched outwards. Black braids of hair framed her golden face. A reddish disk representing the morning sun, floated above her arching headdress. She remembered the Matriarch showing her how to light myrrh and frankincense resin in the bowl in front of the statue. It was to this ancient image of the Goddess, thin wisps of incense rising, that she prayed for her sister’s recovery.
She walked downstairs, and turned to the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator, she saw things Jerry left, a pitcher of iced tea, the remains of a BBQ sandwich, cold French fries. On the bottom shelf, she saw something new, a white box tied with a red ribbon.
She sat at the table, untying the ribbon. Inside, were two thin layers of pastry separated by a layer of whipped cream, topped with chocolate. Beside the pastry, was a note, now moistened by cream. “Batresh,” the note began, “Thank you for telling me who you are, Jerry.”
She closed her eyes again and sighed with satisfaction. “This is what I need,” she thought to herself. “…to see Jerry.” She bit into the pastry. The whipped cream squeezed out the other side onto her fingers, dropping onto the table. Cream and chocolate stuck to her nose. She took another bite, cupping her hand under it, catching cream spilling out. She licked the cream from her hand, getting sweet, white substance on her chin. She took another bite, and another. Whipped cream and chocolate stuck to her fingers, chin and nose. Clumps of cream melted on the table.
Someone knocked at the door. She licked her lips, and looked at her hand, sucking the sticky sweetness from her fingers. She went to the door. There stood Jerry, with three yellow roses in his right hand.
Seeing her, he tried not to laugh, looking towards his right, then back into her face. He couldn’t refrain from laughing. Looking back at her, he offered, “I see you found the pastry.”
He took the door handle in his hand and opened it. He was chuckling. He leaned forward to her face. She blushed with the realization whipped cream and chocolate were all around her mouth. He kissed her, bringing his tongue to her chin, he kissed the whipped cream from her lips, then, opening his mouth, he kissed away the sweetness from above her lips, licking the tip of her nose with this tongue. Dropping the roses on the floor, he kissed her mouth, pushing his tongue into sweet wetness. He pushed her gently backwards to the sofa. His mouth hungrily caressing the softness of her face and neck. He lay her gently on sofa cushions, and moved over her, loosening her night gown, and pushing her collar down over her shoulders. With his left hand, he lifted the hem.
A man lying on a cot, gently opened his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he looked dreamily at bots hovering around him. Soft restraints slid around his wrists and ankles. Through viewing screens, the women saw the beast around him redden. The beast sank talon-like claws into the man’s body, injecting cortisol and testosterone. His heart rate increased. Arteries extended from the beast into the man, wrapping around his spine. Tendrils extended up the length of the spinal chord, into his brain.
The man lay next to his friend in the same medical bay as Namazu. Medical-bots passed over them all. Erish, Hilimaz, and Gitlam, a male physician, watched as bots whirred around the beds.
Gitlam had never seen a beast so entwined. Thousands of tendrils, pulsating, growing, extending into his spine. Wrapping around the brain, nerve-like fibers extended into surface tissue. As the man woke more fully, string-like webbing expanded, completely covering the organ.
The white supremacist began to realize he was not dreaming. His face contorted, his breathing quickened, his heart rate grew faster. With clenched fists, he attempted to raise his arms. Looking down, he saw he was restrained. The beast reddened more, pulsing, injecting more chemicals. Vein-like extensions pulsed aggressively, pumping hormones into body.
“You are safe,” the Gitlam whispered to him.
The man’s face reddened. “What are you doing to me?” he screamed.
Gitlam walked closer, extending his arms through the screens. He attempted to caress the man’s forehead. But he lunged forward, opening his mouth, sinking his teeth into Gitlam’s forearm.
Erish fired the ocelotl. An orange beam emitted from the device, and the man relaxed onto the platform once more. Slowly, the beast grew dimmer. The man fell unconscious.
Gitlam removed a healing cylinder from his belt and passed it over the bite. The wound closed and healed, the blood on his wrist dissolved.
“We must remove the beast,” Hilimaz told Gitlam.
He nodded his head affirmatively.
“The enhanced ayullu,” Erish responded. “It causes the beasts to detach.”
“Is the strength of the beam variable?” Gitlam asked.
“In my version,” she responded. She held the disk in her hand, showing it to Gitlam. “This dial modifies the intensity. We saw humans and Potacas collapse, but we don’t know why. In the past, it only hurt Potacas.”
Gitlam looked at the man lying on the platform. “Start with a low level. The tendrils in the brain may behave unexpectedly.” He looked at them with concern, “The human may experience…” he paused, “He may suffer damage.”
Erish looked at the physician coolly. “We are exempted from the moral code,” she looked at Namazu sleeping on her floating cot. “We are at war,” she added, whispering. “We must defeat them.” Gitlam’s facial expression changed to one of concern, as he looked back at the unconscious man. Erish continued, “Understanding how to kill the beasts is essential.”
Erish raised the disk, pushing the golden metallic protrusion. A red sphere of light appeared around them and dissolved. They saw the beast grow dim but it did not detach. She moved the dial to the right two more clicks. “This is two settings higher.” Again, a reddish sphere of light appeared around them and dissolved. The tendrils shrank in size. Some withdrew. His heart beat slowed, his breathing became more shallow and his temperature fell. “I will increase it to the next level,” Erish stated.
Gitlam opened his mouth to protest.
Hilimaz interrupted. “We must destroy them!”
Gitlam looked at Erish, his brows drawn together, “I understand you are exempted from the Moral Code.” He paused, “But, this man is human. Putting him in danger, goes against everything,” he paused. “It goes against who we are.” Erish walked to a position above the man. “Can’t we have time to run models? Maybe there is another way?” Gitlam protested. He looked at Erish.
Her lips were set together, her eyelids half-closed as if she were turning off emotions. He saw that she felt no compassion for this man. “He is a victim.” Gitlam continued. “He did not ask for this.”
Erish turned to him sharply. “That is where you are wrong,” she assumed a commanding air. “He had a predisposition for the racism that brought him to that riot.” She slowly turned her gaze back to the man. “Otherwise,” she added, her voice calmer, “Otherwise, the beast would have had a different effect. He would have been angry, upset perhaps, but, he wouldn’t have turned his anger against an entire race. He was predisposed.” The supremacist’s face was still contorted with anger, even though he was unconscious. She noticed for the first time he had closely cropped red hair. The color had been hard to distinguish in bright light. His skin was pale. On his bare chest she saw sparse, curled hairs. Looking down towards his hands, his fingers still splayed in his attempt to free himself, she saw that his nails were clean, trimmed. This man was no common laborer. Erish looked back at Gitlam, who had moved away from her, standing against the wall. He looked at her with resignation. He knew her’s was the ultimate decision.
Looking back at the man on the bed, Erish lowered her hand and clicked the disk once more to the right. She pressed the gold protrusion. A more intensely red sphere of light appeared and vanished. At this level, the beast withdrew from the man. Tendrils seemed to vanish. The beast detached.
Gitlam watched the monitors. The human’s heartbeat slowed dramatically. The blood pressure dropped. His breathing stopped, his heart also.
They watched as the beast slowly disintegrated, vanishing into thin air.
Gitlam heaved a heavy sigh and looked at Erish and Hilimaz. “You have killed him.”