Alzabreah's Garden
by Gary Starta
forum: Alzabreah's Garden
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Alzabreah's Garden


           The tall lush grass of the tropical island surrounded the two lovers in a green canopy as their bodies rhythmically rose and fell to carnivorous pleasures. The lime-colored birds with the long beaks and red tipped wings flew overhead as sole witnesses to their illegal liaison.
If this were another week, Mavra and Thorpleen would have had the complete blessing of the high priestess to engage in all sorts of carnal delights. But on this day, the female known as Mavra was only permitted to have relations with the man drone named Doldross. Mavra did not care much for the schedule imposed by the island's founder. If she were a mainlander she could bond and permanently unite with any man she saw fit at anytime. Alzabreah promised her followers that their island home would free them from the chains of society. Mavra cursed the high priestess for her hypocrisy as she and Thorpleen came to their climax.

           Mavra did not have to worry about becoming impregnated by Thorpleen. He and all the other male drones were genetically engineered to be nothing more than love slaves.

           The male drones were only responsible for pleasing the female mate they were paired with on a rotating schedule. No form of natural procreation was desired or allowed on the island Alzabreah named after herself. Alzabreah's followers consisted of a dozen organically born women from the mainland, which had been colonized by the Olvids. This species was the only known race in the Quatomic sector to carry both sperm and eggs in their reproductive organs. Alzabreah worked diligently for nearly two decades manipulating reproductive gene sequencing in hopes to eliminate the need for the organic birthing process. Her dream came to fruition seven years ago when the first man drone was created with the aid of Alzabreah's highly innovative in vitro fertilization procedure.

           The male was the first Olvidian born outside a natural womb. He also carried with him the dubious distinction of having his entire destiny mapped out for him in genetic code.

           Alzabreah manipulated the unborn drone's genome with the aid of transposens—a shifting type of gene that helped the geneticist rearrange coding so any one desired trait could become dominant over another. Drones were therefore designed to possess an insatiable sexual appetite to appease the lust of the female Olvidians (Alzabreah knew she could never filter out this nasty compulsion) and a docile nature to comply with their owner's requirements. These needs generally consisted of physical labor. Alzabreah wanted her followers to believe manual labor was beneath them. She also wanted her female compatriots to be free to pursue academic endeavors. But to her chagrin, many of her fellow Olvidians devoted an inordinate amount of time to love making. For this reason, the self-declared high priestess mandated that the slaves serve each of the females on a rotating schedule so no female would become too enamored with any one drone. However, the needs of passion sometimes outweigh sense and logic. This was the case with Mavra. She wanted her physical love to belong exclusively to Thorpleen. And more dangerously, her sexual passion was becoming blurred with unexplained emotional longings the mainlanders referred to as life partnering.

           "Why do you risk your ranking in the New Order to be with me today?" Thorpleen asked Mavra while getting dressed. "I believe Doldruss is quite capable of satisfying your longings."

           "I cannot easily explain why you are most pleasing to me," Mavra began. "However, I have no fear of the high priestess like you do."

           "I would not label my concern as fear. I believe obedience is a better word."

           Mavra nodded politely at Thorpleen, indicating she was not offended by her drone's observation. "You may speak freely," she said.

           "My comprehension of the Olvidian language seems to be quite limited and sometimes I wish to become better read as you are. Do all Olvidian males share this communication problem?"

           Mavra hesitated before answering. She realized she could not lie to this drone after spending a moment lost in his gaze.

           "If they do, it is not due to genetic pre-sequencing. Only you and your fellow drones have been shaped and molded like clay to become what the New Order wants—or should I say—what Alzabreah wants." Mavra tried to stop herself from spilling her concerns about the future of the New Order but failed miserably. As she continued to speak to Thorpleen, a dark tone accompanied her. "I can tell you the one thing I do fear is what direction we are taking. I recently became aware of circumstances which may one day lead to our demise."

           Despite the trepidation in Mavra's voice, Thorpleen's facial expression betrayed little concern. It was as if his master had just been commenting on the island's pleasant weather pattern. Thorpleen did not attempt to ask what Mavra was alluding to. What's more, he was not even the slightest bit angry that Alzabreah purposely designed him to be inferior.

           "So do you wish me to become your permanent servant, Mavra?" Thorpleen bluntly stated without a trace of doubt.

           Mavra suddenly stopped thinking about island politics. She allowed a small smile to flicker upon her sensuous mouth. Her grin expanded to reveal pearly white teeth and voluptuous lips painted in a shade of lilac. "I will tell you more in due time, Thorpleen." Mavra said, placing a finger over her servant's lips. She removed a chain of violet colored beads from her robe and kissed Thorpleen's forehead softly before placing them around his neck. The drone laughed in astonishment—a reaction which would have seemed odd even if it had came from a naturally bred Olvidian male. Alzabreah had clearly engineered the drones to think and behave like females.

           On more than one occasion, the high priestess had spoken critically of the man's thinking process. She believed the male ego had only served to cripple communication between the sexes. Females, Alzabreah reasoned, would be much happier if their male counterparts would always produce a predictable response. And in this case, the response was intended to both flatter and deceive. Mavra sensed fear and reservation in her servant's eyes. Mavra knew this because she would have behaved in the same fashion. But her lust would not let her deal with this matter at present. She quickly changed the subject as pangs of sexual hunger overcame all notions of proper etiquette.

           "If you can catch me," Mavra interjected, "you can have me again." The 23-year-old Olvidian female could not resist the combination of Thorpleen's bronze-colored skin, slightly slanted almond-shaped eyes and rippling muscles. Mavra was stimulated not only by the drone's physical presence but also by a small voice in the back of her mind. Her reactions had also been ingrained in her—but without intentional manipulation. Even after their discussion regarding predisposition, Mavra did not realize her playful challenge to Thorpleen was a reflex behavior crafted purely from natural instinct. In a way she had been programmed as well—but unlike the drone she would never get to meet her maker.

           Mavra planted a quick kiss on Thorpleen's neck and scurried up a nearby tree, snickering like a child. Her laughs quickly turned into mock screams as Thorpleen effortlessly matched her stride for stride. He grabbed onto her left ankle and pinned her against the bow of a branch located about halfway up the tree. Swinging her body to face him, Thorpleen smothered Mavra's mouth in kisses until her laughter subsided. From this vantage point, the pair risked being seen by the villagers. But today they would be safe from unwanted eyes as a loud siren permeated their surroundings. The wailing continued for several minutes, indicating a crime had been committed. When Mavra and Thorpleen returned to the village, they discovered that Alzabreah's sister, Katyana, had been murdered.

* * *

           Nearly two decades earlier, Katyana lived a quiet but content life on the mainland
with her life partner, Jodek. Her older sister, Alzabreah, frequently reprimanded her about the folly of retaining a life partner.

           "Your research has cured countless illnesses and led to the perfection of neural wave modifiers. We are now at the dawn of a bright future for all Olvidians and yet you are content to spend your evenings with a simple fisherman."

           "And can you tell me, Alzabreah, are you happy sleeping in a bed with no partner? The bright future you speak is more about control than healing. I work to correct nature's mistakes—not to re-write its blueprints. I will not apologize nor do I see a need to defend my affinity for life's simple pleasures to stand taller in your eyes."

           Katyana did not press her argument further. She was well aware that acquiescence was not one of her sister's attributes. If something could be made better or even more beautiful then Alzabreah was justified to spend all hours of the day and night working toward that endeavor like an artist with an easel. Alzabreah chose to be alone because she would never settle for a partner who was less than perfect. It seemed that even the pristine beauty of a beach on a spring day would never satisfy her restless spirit. A slight breeze from the ocean rippled the two sister's robes as they stood speechless on the eastern shore of the mainland. Alzabreah knew it would take more than a mistral wind of inspiration to persuade her younger sister to abandon her old life. Alzabreah's plan centered around the small island, which was barely visible on the orange-red horizon. The burning glow of the vista called out like a siren for Alzabreah. But Alzabreah did not want to begin her new life without her only sibling.

* * *

           Opportunity knocked loud the day that Jodek began to suffer disorientation and memory loss. Katyana quickly grew suspicious of how quick her sister came to her aid; however, she kept these feelings shielded from the external world. Alzabreah offered to operate on Jodek to cure his malady. She would implant a neural modifier along the cortex of Jodek's brain. This artificial link would correct the chemical imbalance responsible for affecting the fisherman's short-term memory, she maintained. Katyana had little choice but to accept her sister's proposal. Alzabreah counted on the fact that her younger sister would make an emotional decision and opt for the surgery. It would take nearly twenty years for Katyana to confirm that her sister had done a lot more than just correct Jodek's memory loss.

           Alzabreah accomplished the task with the aid of artificial wave emitters. She hoped one day that this corrective surgery could be performed on living organisms without the need for artificial implants. But the likelihood of this happening on the mainland was unrealistic. Alzabreah knew the majority of Olvidian settlers frequently voiced opposition to the selective breeding of livestock. How would they ever agree to grow the next generation of children in this fashion? Still, Alzabreah remained undaunted. If necessary, she would convince one Olvidian at a time to realize her dream.

           The fisherman recuperated quickly from his operation but distanced himself emotionally from Katyana at an even faster pace. Bewildered, Katyana left Jodek and eventually moved back to her parent's hacienda-like dwelling in the mainland's southwest sector. An unannounced visit from Alzabreah followed a few months later. The older sister now had the leverage she needed to convince Katyana to leave for the island.

* * *

           Katyana's twisted body mingled with the jagged rocks of the island's shoreline. Tears flowed generously from Mavra's eyes as she surveyed the scene from above. Alzabreah had charged Doldruss with the murder. She alleged Katyana was pushed off the edge of the cliff by the drone.

           Mavra choked down a sob and cried out to the high priestess. "How can you accuse the drone? He was not designed for disobedience. What reason would he have for killing your sister?"

           "How can you speak of his innocence? Doldruss confessed to me he was not in your company this afternoon, Mavra. So now I must deal with your irresponsible behavior along with my grief."

           "With all due respect, your high priestess, I was not breaking any of your protocols. I simply did not require the services of Doldruss and used my own good judgment to allow him a brief respite from his duties."

           "And how did you spend your time alone?" Alzabreah accused her disciple. The high priestess stared at Mavra who broke eye contact by casting her sights towards the shoreline. "Never mind, you will provide me with a complete dissertation of this afternoon's studies at nightfall."

           Mavra swallowed hard in an attempt to regain her composure and resume eye contact with the high priestess. She knew Alzabreah had called her bluff. "I request to suspend the dissertation for this evening. Tonight I will dance around the fire in respect for your sister," Mavra proposed.

           Alzabreah nodded her head in silent approval. In the background stood a tall statue depicting the likeness of the high priestess. The eyes of the statue cast a dubious stare towards the direction of the mainland. No one but Alzabreah knew its interior had been equipped to monitor overseas telecommunications. Today, Alzabreah had made sure no mainlander would ever get a message to the island again.

* * *

           "I know Alzabreah is behind her sister's death," Mavra confided to Thorpleen the next day. The drone desperately tried to fathom his master's accusations. He seemed even more confused then when Mavra gave him her beads. He traded glances at Mavra secretly desiring a passionate kiss in place of her serious discourse. But the drone patiently listened in silence until Mavra finally conceded that her love interest was simply not capable of understanding. "It seems programmed responses and comprehension are two different things, my dear Alzabreah," Mavra quipped underneath her breath. She wished with all her might that the high priestess could be here now to hear her silent ranting. "But you've probably never even taken up with a drone to realize it," the angry young woman concluded. Speaking aloud to Thorpleen, Mavra stated: "I realize you were not genetically designed to perceive Alzabreah as anything other than the high priestess. For you, she is your god, your soul and your world. But to me, she is not above reproach. She is simply an Olvidian, cut from the same cloth as I was. And I certainly know all too well desire has clouded my judgment from time to time." Mavra's eyes opened wide as if she suddenly wanted to take back her last statement. She grabbed her lover's hand in a fit of panic. "I did not mean to infer that you are a mistake. In fact, this is all my fault. I foolishly aligned myself to Alzabreah's teachings and now must feel shame for wanting to live my life the way I choose. She promised all of her follower's freedom, but now I see this women had no concept of this ideal. I painfully must admit she duped me to believe her future was all about cultivating the perfect garden—a paradise free of weeds. But I now realize the weeds are often necessary. They serve to make us fully appreciate the flowers."

           Mavra paused a moment, fearing awkward silence. However, Thorpleen's eyes revealed a simple understanding. "I know you are grateful to Alzabreah for my creation even though I am flawed and cannot always understand the eloquence of your speech." Mavra's fist balled up as anger grew in her belly. She silently cursed Alzabreah for allowing the drones to suffer the awareness of their shortcomings.

           "You do bless my creation, don't you?" he repeated uneasily.

           "Yes—yes, I do," Mavra replied, blushing. "Still, you deserve the right to have a family, choose your destiny and pursue any occupation you wish. I should not be so selfish."

           "How can we remedy this situation?" Thorpleen asked innocently.

           "I need to retrieve a processor Katyana hid in the meadows. I believe it will reveal Alzabreah's motive for taking her sister's life. Katyana confided in me the high priestess feared she was losing control over the order during the last few months. She was not explicit, but I believe a revelation from her past was threatening to spread dissension among the followers. I do not doubt Alzabreah would violate every doctrine of her order to save it. And yes, Thorpleen, I realize the hypocrisy of the situation."

           Mavra paused to marvel at how Thorpleen could comprehend any of the complexities of this dilemma. Here was an individual who had grown to the age of a 21-year-old Olvidian in the span of eight months. Alzabreah genetically designed the drones to bypass childhood so they could serve as workers and love slaves. Each was created with a rudimentary understanding of language and mathematics. Higher education was deemed unnecessary. Alzabreah experienced the intellectual shortcomings of men like Jodek. She theorized male drones would best serve Olvidian woman as laborers. She in fact had condemned them to inferior intellectual capability—the one thing she most despised about the Olvidian male. As high priestess, she would see to it that no man would wastefully consume the life of a cherished Olvidian female in the name of love. Mavra reasoned if Alzabreah could willfully condemn all male Olvidians to a life of ignorance, she was also quite capable of sacrificing her own sister. Was Mavra correct? Could Alzabreah take the life of Katyana? The woman was largely responsible for procuring the lifestyle she now possessed. Without Katyana, Alzabreah may have never found a way to biologically engineer drones, much less cure Olvidian ailments with neural modification processors. Still, Alzabreah believed Katyana was wasting her time curing illnesses. Why try to correct biological failings, Alzabreah argued, when you could start from scratch? Genetic mapping would allow the sisters to create healthy male partners who would never become susceptible to disease or mental disorders. In vitro fertilization would also free women from the burdens of physical childbirth.

           But were all Alzabreah's followers content to spend their days in study and silent reflection like her? Alzabreah did not take into account that her Olvidian followers were not genetically designed to live the contained lives they now experienced on the island.

           The Olvidian followers still had free will and Mavra—to Alzabreah's horror—was a prime example.

* * *

           The first shards of daylight threatened to bring Mavra and Thorpleen's secret meeting to a close. Mavra knew she would have to devote a large portion of the new day scouring the meadow for the processor. But there was also another pressing issue at hand. Mavra felt a wave of guilt wash over her at this sudden realization. She had entirely forgot about the fate of Doldruss until Thorpleen brought his name up. "I somehow feel partly responsible for his predicament," Thorpleen began. "If I was not with you he would have a solid alibi regarding his whereabouts."

           "Speaking of testimony, I will appeal for the allowance of a jury trial. We certainly cannot depend upon intervention from the mainlanders. Even if they attempted to aid in our defection, the island's force field would disrupt the propulsion system of any sea or sky craft. How could I have freely consented to spending my life on a remote island shielded with an electronic fence?" Mavra asked out of sheer frustration.

           "Doesn't the shield get dropped when the mainlanders come to export our Rose Berry wine?" Thorpleen asked. The drone was only really attempting to deflect Mavra's sadness with the question. He really did not intend his query to illicit a call for action. Out of respect for Thorpleen, Mavra offered a response.

           "Yes, but the next delivery may not be for another month and Doldruss does not have the luxury of time. I would not count upon assistance from the mainlanders, as their only concern seems to center around the import of our fruits and spirits. They didn't seem overly concerned about monitoring Katyana and Alzabreah's eugenic experiments back on the mainland, so I can hardly fathom why they would be concerned about the rights of one genetically-cultivated drone."

           A strange feeling gripped Mavra so tightly she didn't realize she was referring to Thorpleen as if he were an object. She swore a strange, small voice was subliminally electing her to right Alzabreah's wrongs. Mavra's face fell into a cationic glaze as she listened intently to the sounds of the meadow. She was only able to mumble a few more words, which instructed Thorpleen she would rendezvous with him in 24 hours.

           Her intention had been to instill some confidence in the man she felt irresistibly attracted to in mind, spirit and body. She had failed miserably at this task and more tragically, Mavra did not even realize it. Thorpleen had wandered off in silent confusion. A chill ran up and down Mavra's spine as she headed back to the village. She would probably never forget the images of Alzabreah's icy cold stares that cut through the flickering flames of last night's remembrance ritual. Mavra felt she had danced in the honor of a fallen sister all alone. The deceased woman's own flesh and blood seemed preoccupied only with the ramifications of the death. It was as if Alzabreah had only been programmed to deal with success. And if that were true, Katyana's demise signaled failure. Unbeknown to her congregation, Alzabreah swore she would never again taste the bitter fruit known as defeat

* * *

           Mavra met with Alzabreah as soon as she returned to the village. The high priestess remained stubbornly silent, forcing Mavra to speak first.

           "High priestess, I come here to request a fair trial for Doldruss. Hearings on the mainland require the proof of guilt before sentencing."

           "I don't need you to recant the law. My New Order is no longer under the jurisdiction of the mainland... I am judge, jury and executioner on this island."

           "What do you mean by executioner? Is he on trial for his life? Surely, the New Order is not that barbaric." Mavra made sure she cast a sarcastic undertone to the words "New Order"—a tactic that did not go unnoticed by the high priestess.

           "I will grant your precious Doldruss a trial. But as soon as he is pronounced guilty I will alter his genetic coding. Just as his growth spurt was engineered to take only eight months, so will his aging process. In nine months, he will have aged to the equivalent of a 100-year-old male Olvidian."

           "But you said gene manipulation cannot work on a live subject. Or was that just another lie?"

           "I should punish you for your blasphemy, Mavra. You are insolent. I run the order,
not you. But I will forgive your emotional outburst as a natural flaw. If you bothered to study my teachings more diligently you would know all about the re-sequencing procedures I will use to one day rid us of all our shortcomings.

           "So is that all I am to you, now? Am I just another weed you need to pull from your garden?"

           "Why don't you spend your energies praying for Thorpleen? Wasn't it him that led you to this disobedience? You must understand I am only acting in accordance with the calling of a higher power—a voice which obviously has not spoken to you."

           Mavra's complexion had turned bleach white. The lack of sleep conspired with this latest confrontation to make her legs feel like wet noodles. Her head swam as she tried to fathom the viciousness of Alzabreah's so-called higher power. "Where is the benevolence of this higher power?" Mavra charged with anger.

           "The New Order is benevolent, Mavra, but you are too blinded with passion to see it. To prove my intent is good, I will also grant a fair trial for Thorpleen. I cannot ignore the evidence. I have proof that you illegally engaged in passionate acts with him while my sister was being murdered. You see, some of those pretty birds that fly overhead are equipped with surveillance cameras."

           Mavra could not speak. She turned and ran for the meadow. Sadness and anxiety conspired to make her hyperventilate. As soon as she reached the meadows, she dropped on the ground and rested her back on a tree in an attempt to catch her breath. Mavra inhaled and exhaled deeply until her pulse resumed its normal pace. Grasping handfuls of sand, she swore to herself that she would defeat Alzabreah. She cast white granules into the air for a few minutes, going over her options. Should she seek help from the following? And if she did, what could they do? It was very probable that the majority of the Olvidian women would never act to overthrow the high priestess despite the reality of her crime. They had been brainwashed and sometimes, Mavra sadly realized, this was sufficient to overcome free will when self-esteem was involved. As she looked for Katyana's processing unit, Mavra realized a drone could never have thrown anybody or anything over the sea cliff. The force field would have stopped the penetration, Mavra deduced. It was becoming more and more evident that Alzabreah had killed her sister. Evidence retrieval had just become Mavra's most important task in life. Without it, she thought, there was little hope of saving her lover or bringing a murderer to justice.

* * *

           Tears bleared Mavra's vision. The droplets cascaded off her face and onto the Vilsachron flowers she gingerly navigated over. The red and lemon flowers eagerly drank up the moisture as if they could not distinguish the tears from the rain, which frequently sprayed the island in light mists each afternoon. "Should I be more upset about the fate of the drones than Katyana's demise?" Mavra thought to herself. Perhaps they were unaware of their genetic manipulation just like the thousands of hybrid flowers that lavishly adorned nearly every path and roadway on the island. As she entertained this notion, Mavra realized Thorpleen was not completely ignorant to injustice. Perhaps the flowers and the drones lived sad lives beneath their pretty packaging. She had to admit to herself she cared little about the fate of the flowers. It was the pangs of attraction she felt for Thorpleen that she could not ignore. Her lustful daydreams washed away any justifications for Alzabreah's actions the way the tide eviscerates a footprint from a sandy shoreline. Mavra reasoned the high priestess was too smug to realize that one of her disciples would eventually attain enough courage to betray her even if it meant bringing the manufacture of Olvidian drones to a halt. And to Mavra's dismay, that manufacture was responsible for creating her one true-life partner.

           Mavra's train of thought was broken by a shimmering yellow light, which came into view a few feet ahead. Since the sun had disappeared behind a layer of clouds, Mavra theorized the beam was most likely artificial. Hopefully, it would provide the path to Katyana's processor. Mavra desperately flung herself in the direction of the flickering beacon as if she were a moth. Her feet unwittingly crushed dozens of Vilsachron flowerbeds that stood in her way. If she touched the source of this light, could she be giving rise to yet another monster? Mavra shuddered from this thought but felt fascination at the same time. The emanation of light continued calling out to her like a mother to a lost child. Mavra extended a shaking hand towards the source of the light—a tall Bendayen tree covered with red leaves. Its curved trunk reminded Mavra of a winding road. The light on the tree engulfed Mavra with a spiritual resonance. She marveled at the irony. "How could something created out of a pure technological design have the power to evoke such wonder and unexplained desire? For some odd reason, she contemplated if this machinery had once enslaved Alzabreah in the same fashion. No longer possessing the power to resist temptation, Mavra rested her fingertips on the shimmering glow of light. The scenery of the meadow had been erased. A blinding white ray of light permeated Mavra's entire spectrum of vision. Her mind told her she was in a free fall just like the one Katyana suffered in her rush to death. Seconds passed while Mavra braced herself for the inevitable impact...

           Just over two thousand years ago, a non-organic race was beginning to evolve from mere machinery into a sentient life force. These beings known as the Enlectites had pleaded with their flesh and blood makers, the Zapiens, to heed their advice regarding an impending geological disturbance. Both the Enlectites and the Zapiens had enjoyed over two centuries of peaceful life on what the Olvidians now describe as the 'mainland.' During that time, neither entity had real reason to question or ponder their reason for existence.

           When the cataclysmic event finally impacted the planet, the Enlectites found their creators had abandoned them. The Zapiens adhered to the scripture of their teachings, which they interpreted as instructions for evacuation. The humanoid creatures gathered male and female pairings of every organic species and migrated to the eye of the storm. The Zapiens beings believed they would either be transported to a higher plane of existence or suffer their total demise. "It all comes down to a matter of faith," one Zapien leader told the Enlectites. This same leader told the machines the disastrous event was a means to an end. "Our creator wishes us to expunge ourselves from all ties to technology," he prophesied.

           The electrically sustained beings could not believe these beings would barter with the life of every organic being of their species in this fashion. "Evidence suggests, you were not created—but were evolved," an Enlectite pleaded just hours before magnetic poles of the planet were projected to reverse. But the Zapien leaders adhered to their book of scripture and were sent far away from their home through a doorway created from the disturbance. The Enlectites also found they had been transported to another dimension. This one was located just below the surface of a remote island located on their home world. Some Enlectites pondered if their fate was actually a form of punishment handed down by a deity. The Zapiens had charged that all faithless beings would be exiled to the 'depths of damnation.' But the majority of Enlectites dismissed this notion as it could not be proved scientifically. Nevertheless, the Enlectites had been symbolically dispatched to a lower plane of existence.

           The Enlectites continued to evolve in their new dimension and unconsciously summoned the first Olvidian settlers to the planet once the atmosphere had been cleansed from radiation poisoning.

           The Enlectites called the settlers to the new planet to convince them change was necessary for their future survival. The machines believed an enemy located within the Olvidians was responsible for recurring sicknesses and brain disorders. Communicating telepathically, the Enlectites began to implant subliminal suggestions regarding the development of recombinant gene therapy.

           The Olvidians must learn to remove the rot from the vine if they hope to survive into the next millennium, the Enlectites proclaimed. Accessing the last vestige of power from Katyana's processor, the Enlectites connected with their lost world one last time to effect this change...

          ...But the impact never came. Mavra's body was in a state of suspended animation. Someone, or something, was attempting to communicate with her...

* * *

           Alzabreah's cameras could not detect the location of Mavra. Part of her boiled with anger. Another part of Alzabreah saw this as an opportunity. She could easily renege on her agreement and execute both Doldruss and Thorpleen without a trial.

           The high priestess sounded a horn to call her followers to the village square. She would order them to prep the drones for operation.

* * *

           Mavra's body hung in the air, perfectly balanced as if she were a butterfly. The
white light surrounding her segued into a purplish hue. She began to focus on a pyramid-shaped object that stood before her just out of arm's reach. The triangle spun on an invisible axis and gently came to a rest. Mavra tried to speak but only a strange hum emanated from her mouth. The sound she made was garbled and low pitched. The face of Katyana appeared on the triangle as she continued to struggle like a worm on an invisible hook.

           "The processor you just activated is providing temporary access to another dimension," the voice began. "The true founders of this island reside below its surface. The Enlectites felt the need to intervene when Alzabreah threw me over the cliff."

           "Then how can you be here, talking to me? Aren't you dead?" Mavra asked with a quivering voice. The being, which identified itself as Katyana, continued to communicate in a series of staccato chirps. Mavra realized halfway through her next sentence she was also now grunting in unfamiliar syllables. She deduced the presence that held her here was capable of reprogramming the speech center of her brain to communicate in its dialect.

           "The Enlectites were able to remove my memories from my brain before my body crashed upon the rocks. An electro-magnetic disturbance made this possible when Alzabreah tampered with the frequency shields of the electric force field. The Enlectites were able to use the remaining power from my processor to allow me one last visit to your material world. I believe I can offer you a solution to your dilemma. But you must hear me out now, as it is unlikely you will ever be able to establish contact with us again." The voice of Katyana explained the Enlectites telepathically urged Alzabreah to settle on this island. "They also were responsible for implanting the image of this planet in the minds of the original Olvidian colonists as a lure. The Enlectites witnessed the expulsion of a carbon-based species who were cast far away from this solar system through a doorway which was created by an electromagnetic storm," the voice continued. "This same storm created a second doorway, placing the Enlectites in a dimension located just below the surface of the island. Here, the Enlectites continued to hone their telepathic powers and evolve into sentient beings during the last millennium. In effect, they now have the ability to transcend dimensional barriers with their minds under certain conditions. My consciousness now resides here. And since we live outside your world, we must urge you to remedy the situation there on your own. The Enlectites have chosen you as a prophet. You must convince all Olvidians to genetically map the correct path for all its citizens. This is for their own good."

           Mavra's mind raced back to her last conversation with the high priestess. "How do I know these transcendental suggestions are for our own good?"

           The Enlectites provided the answer in what Mavra could only describe as streaming video. Mavra's eyelids closed and an image of Alzabreah as a child came into focus. She witnessed a doctor drugging the young female following a consultation with her parents. The high priestess had been an unwitting subject of genetic manipulation as a child, according to the imagery. The next scene portrayed Alzabreah as a fully-grown adult. She communicated with a higher power while standing on the mainland's shoreline. It was abundantly clear that her alteration was intentional. She had been mentally linked with the Enlectites.

           The scene switched abruptly to reveal an ancient tribe of people. These people differed in appearance from the Olvidians. They possessed either white or brown skin tones and their heads were adorned with hair in various colors such as yellow and black. Mavra was fascinated by their markings. Before genetic re-sequencing, Olvidian skin tone was limited to either gray or light green. These ancient settlers also had eyes that were quite smaller than those of an organically grown Olvidian's. Mavra's mouth moved involuntarily in response to these series of pictures. A word that sounded like "Zapiens" fell from her lips.

           The Zapiens were speaking in a tongue Mavra had never heard before. However, she could tell from their panic that a cataclysmic event was about to happen. Several leaders of the tribe were gathered around a large monitor on a huge platform. They were responding to its data. Words flashed quickly across the screen while Mavra's conscious translated the text: "The scientists have confirmed the threat as real. The magnetic poles of this planet will reverse. An electromagnetic storm is imminent."

           One of the Zapien leaders placed his hand around a globe-shaped object after the telecast. The rest of the Zapiens cast icy stares in his direction. Their arms flailed wildly as the image of a mechanical face appeared on the orb-like object. Mavra could feel the fear of the Zapiens in response to this unwelcome presence. A voice began to instruct the lone Zapien on how he could save the planet. It proclaimed evacuation was not necessary because the Enlectites could freeze the bodies of the Zapiens and awaken them once radiation levels were deemed safe. The voice also disapproved of the Zapiens' plan to retrieve female and male pairings of every species for the evacuation. Genetic engineering could easily reproduce any species even if all its members were eradicated from the planet during the pole reversal, the voice argued. The next scene was reminiscent of the desert-like area found on the southwestern coast of the mainland. Here, several Zapiens were hard at work bashing and smashing Enlectites globes into splintered pieces. One of the leaders held up a book. A painting of winged beings flying over a blue background adorned the jacket . The speaker proclaimed all the knowledge the Zapiens ever needed was contained in its pages. "Beware of these artificial sages who attempt to change our fate," he cried vehemently.

           The look on the lone Zapien's face was filled with despair as he surveyed the broken communication devices. His hands and feet were bound to a post, which protruded from the sand. He asked the leaders why they were so unwilling to accept assistance from the beings, which called themselves the Enlectites. "How could the machines be evil if we created them?" he charged. The Zapien leaders quickly reprimanded the imprisoned man for abandoning his faith. One of them went into a rage belittling the inorganic creatures as soulless tricksters. The bound Zapien came to realize he could not sway the leaders who felt obliged to endure the wrath of the impending storm as if it were a test of their faith. "If it is our fate to die a catastrophic death, then judgment has been passed down on us from above. We must voluntarily submit to our sentencing. The good book has advised us to carry our kind to a new world. We will succeed or die trying," the eldest Zapien proclaimed.

           Mavra despised the fanaticism of this leader who would summarily sentence his people to the possibility of death when alternatives were possible.

           "Now you see, Mavra," Katyana's voice broke in, "why it is imperative that you do not put a stop to Alzabreah's work. Her work must continue to save the Olvidian race. But it must now be tempered with good judgment. We never intended Alzabreah to manipulate your genomes for such self-aggrandizing pursuits."

           Mavra was awe-struck. This inorganic species was not only able to create a telepathic link with her but were a great student of the Olvidian race through years of silent observation. In addition, they could offer moral and biological assistance to those willing to take it without need for compensation.

           "We know we have virtually handed the keys of creation to you," the voice continued. "You must use this gift not for dominance, but for benevolence. Genetic selection is the only way you could continue to survive as a species. If you do not act to filter fatal diseases from the Olvidian gene pool, it will only be a matter of time to your extinction. It would have eventually condemned the Zapiens to extinction if they had continued to live here. Please understand we had to risk giving Alzabreah absolute power for the perpetuation of your kind. You must now intervene to remove Alzabreah's greed from the equation."

           "That is easier said than done," Mavra retorted.

           "You will understand how to remedy your situation one piece at a time by using the information we downloaded into your trans-processing unit. We must now sever our link so you can begin your task."

           Before Mavra could ask another question, the Enlectite had returned her to the meadow. She tumbled gently onto a patch of tall grass. Desperation grew in Mavra as she realized the yellow light no longer flashed on the Bendayen tree

           Accessing her hand held processor, it dawned on Mavra she had not just been proclaimed a prophet—but the Olvidian savior. The unit chirped and read aloud the following passage: "This data will enable you to perform multiple re-sequencing procedures on any living organic unit. We hoped Alzabreah would achieve this goal one day, but your people would have been victims to her narcissistic and dominant nature. You will have all the resources necessary to cure illnesses in the living without inflicting further pain. Information has also been provided as to how you can spread this education among the mainlanders." The paragraph abruptly ended with the phrase: "Nurture with conscious—Love, Katyana." The next section contained entries from Katyana's personal diary. The journal informed Mavra how a transmission from the mainland had leaked through the force field containment barrier during wine export. The communiqué revealed the mainlanders had recently discovered brain imaging. This technology confirmed that Alzabreah had violated Jodek without consent. Jodek's feelings for Katyana had been masked in the deep recesses of his mind as if they were contained in a long forgotten storage locker. Katyana was going to confront Alzabreah with this news on the day of her death, according to her last entry.

           The final lines of the journal described the anxiety Katyana had lived with day to day. She was the only Olvidian who knew genetic manipulation was not confined to the drones' birthing process. She feared the consequences of this knowledge more than death itself. "If Alzabreah became privy to this revelation," Katyana wrote, "there was no telling how far she would go to control a population solely for her benefit. I can't begin to describe the horrors all living creatures would face if Alzabreah was given the means to mandate gene re-sequencing procedures," the log read. "She would then have all the means necessary to play God as all future life would be created with weakness."

           Following the journal were the instructions the Enlectites had referred to. Mavra
sprinted towards a medical shack to retrieve the necessary supplies. She could only hope
Alzabreah had not broken yet another promise.

           Mavra fastened the supplies and a gun to a belt she hastily wrapped around her waist. She instinctively ran in the direction of the main temple. It was as if she knew this is where Alzabreah would conduct the operations. Were the Enlectites still telepathically linked with her mind? She was about to dismiss this notion when her eyes locked with a granatide. The winged and wild beast was thought to be indigenous to this island. But how did it initially get here? Could the Enlectites have been behind this occurrence as a means to send proof of their existence? How else could this beast have been put on this island except through the gateways created by the electromagnetic storm? It was true that she had a processor full of notes thanks to a being that claimed to be the essence of Katyana; but the data was not tangible. Now living proof—in flesh and blood—boldly stood before her to cast any further doubts aside. To Mavra's knowledge, the granatides had always scattered in the opposite direction of any Olvidian. Today, this magnificent creature stood its ground. Mavra felt like the granatide was silently calling her to mount its backside. Mavra believed she would have nearly died from embarrassment if any of the sisters were here to witness this event. Here she was in the middle of the village attempting to communicate with a large red and green granatide, which sported purple horns and translucent gray wings. Mavra strongly reminded herself that this was no time to philosophize about the creation of the island. If she didn't act quickly, the ramifications of Alzabreah's actions might threaten all life. It certainly did not make sense to charge into the temple through the main gate as the element of surprise would surely be squandered. No, the beast had been brought here for a specific reason. Mavra quickened her gait from a trot to an all out run to meet the granatide. Jumping into the air, she landed squarely on its back. A loud of rustling of wings ensued. In less than a minute, the beast had elevated Mavra to the temple's rooftop and proceeded to fly away from the village as suddenly as it had appeared.

           A skylight was the first thing to catch Mavra's eye. Red, blue and green stained glass filled the oblong panes, which stood two strides away from her. Mavra bent down and peered feverishly through the darkish hues of the glass in an attempt to confirm her worst fears. But it was no use. She had no way to tell what was going on within the confines of the room below her. Cradling her arms around her gun, she propelled herself onto the skylight. Mavra's weight sent tri-colored glass hurtling towards the ground. Her body followed in hot pursuit through the aperture. Using her hands to break her fall, Mavra rolled in a sideway revolution before her body came to rest just a few foot falls away from Alzabreah. The high priestess wore a long purple cloak and held a staff in her left hand. She was feverishly punching codes into the base of the long stick before the intrusion. She was clearly not happy about being interrupted. Directly behind her were Doldruss and Thorpleen. They had both been horizontally bound to operating tables. Several of the sisters stood around them wearing surgical masks. Alzabreah looked like she was just about to order the commencement of the procedure. In her right hand, Mavra could now clearly tell she held a scalpel. The blade of the instrument gleamed off a nearby mirror. Mavra felt the flutter in the pit of her stomach quicken as she realized the high priestess was not going to access the drone's genomic template. If she were, she would use a laser beam. The use of a blade signaled a form of torture, and nothing short of barbaric murder.

           Mavra was not about to waste another moment of time trying to dissuade Alzabreah. She recalled Katyana had frequently commented on the futility of engaging in verbal discourse with her sister. Reaching towards her waist, Mavra pulled the gun from its holster. But before she could fire, she realized her hands were shaking from the impact of her fall. She took another split second to aim. The brief hesitation would not be bought without a cost. As Mavra pulled the trigger, a body hurtled in front of her. She had seen the image emerge out of the corner of her eye just an instant before, but she could not stop herself from pulling the weapon's trigger. The gun released its payload into the chest of a drone named Chanuzam. He fell writhing in pain just an arm's length away from Mavra. The consequence provided Alzabreah with a clear path to take aim on Mavra. She gripped the blade of her scalpel in her fingers and reared back on her heel. The high priestess willed the steel instrument to carve a niche in Mavra's forehead as if she were a sacrificial lamb. However, Mavra's constitution was too strong to succumb to despair. Mavra squeezed off another round from her gun before Alzabreah could release her blade.

           The blast was right on target. The high priestess was knocked backwards upon impact and the knife was flung harmlessly into a corner. Paralysis had taken its grip upon Alzabreah. Her mouth fell slack. Her eyes froze in shock as she realized a dart-shaped object was now protruding from her chest. She toppled backwards onto the hardwood floor with a loud thud. The foul stench of failure had drained all her power to intimidate.

           Mavra rose to her feet. She signaled the sisters to back away from the operating tables with her free hand.

           After a moment's silence, she quietly asked, "Who's going to help me take down the force field?"

           In unison, the sisters raised their hands in compliance. However, Mavra could still detect fear in some of their eyes. Although many despised Alzabreah, Mavra knew they did not wish for a violent solution to their problem. Mavra quickly explained she had drugged both shooting victims and that they would soon recover. But she also reminded the sisters no dictatorship in the guise of religion would ever be tolerated on the island again. "When Alzabreah awakens, there will be nothing left in her nature to fear."

           The sisters could hardly fathom what Mavra meant by this statement.

           After a minute of awkward silence, Mavra added, "And while we're at it, let's take down her damn statue." The tension had finally started to subside. One of the sisters named Elinga let out a small chortle. Mavra suspected this sister had been engaging in an illegal romance with a drone named Sassoy. With her laughter, Elinga had silently confessed to what was once labeled as sin. "One day," Mavra silently vowed, "no liaison will ever be labeled as such again."

* * *

           Alzabreah awoke from her operation two days later. She opened her eyes and took in the beauty of the island from a nearby window. She no longer had any desire to be high priestess.

* * *

           "I can't believe Chanuzam felt compelled to risk his life for Alzabreah," Mavra said to Thorpleen. The pair was seated on a rock overlooking the shoreline.

           "I can," Thorpleen answered without hesitation. "He was designed for this. He had no other choice."

           "That's exactly my point," Mavra stated flatly. "I can believe he risked his life. But I can't believe someone would be evil enough to engineer him for that purpose."

           "I would propose that someone designed you for courage."

           "Would you believe me if I told you I was a prophet?" Mavra asked Thorpleen while keeping her eyes fixed upon the sea line. She felt embarrassed by Thorpleen's compliment, but there was no doubt she now possessed a stronger confidence in herself.

           "Once again, I remind you I was designed to please you. I will believe anything you say."

           Mavra exhaled a small sigh and extended her hand to Thorpleen. She met his gaze head on. "My work has just begun. My first task is to give you and all the other drones their free will. The gift of genetic re-sequencing was never meant to diminish abilities. I cannot live knowing that you are only by my side because of genetic engineering."

           "I don't think you really believe it's that simple," Thorpleen answered gently.

           Mavra grasped her lover's hand tighter, marveling at the reflection of sunlight in his eyes.

* * *

           The operation did nothing to alter Thorpleen's love for Mavra. The pair spent the remainder of their lives traveling the mainland as nomads. Mavra and Thorpleen ran several clinics using genetic re-sequencing techniques to heal their Olvidian comrades. Many of the Olvidians they helped never knew their real names. The pair relied solely upon faith to convince the sick they needed their help. Mavra never told anyone of the Enlectites' existence to garner his or her compliance.

           Today, a statue stands in the mainland's capital city. The lime-colored sculpture resembles Mavra in her youth. A plaque stands at the foot of the statue with the inscription: "The Nurturing Spirit."







copyright 2006 Gary Starta.

Gary Starta

I have been published in Circle Magazine and Neometropolis. An English/Journalism major, I have authored a print on demand science fiction novel entitled What Are You Made Of?

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