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Written by DTYarbrough “I think we've chosen a wonderful world,” said Anthony. “I wonder why intelligent life hasn't evolved here,” said Destiny. “All of the building blocks are present.” “You're as lovely as ever,” said Anthony. “I didn't think you could top your last creation.” “And you make a handsome knight,” said Destiny. “You're taller this time.” “We have this whole beautiful world all to ourselves,” said Anthony. “What could be better?” “Some of the creatures here may have something to say about that,” said Destiny. “We should be careful until we learn more about this world.” “But we can use all of our powers here,” said Anthony, “without fear of not fitting in.” “Our powers are limited in this form,” said Destiny, “and you haven't fully learned to control yours.” “I'll learn as we go,” said Anthony. “You've always been a wonderful teacher.” “Well, I can't say that you've been the perfect pupil,” said Destiny. “Always daydreaming that you are some place and someone that you're not.” “But this is the kind of place I dreamed about,” said Anthony. “No more daydreaming, I promise.” “It must be night here. The fireflies are almost as plentiful as the stars,” said Destiny. “We'll have to wait until tomorrow to explore this world. It's much too dark now.” “Aren't the stars beautiful?” asked Anthony. “Take my arm and walk with me under the stars.” “How gallant of you, Sir Anthony,” said Destiny, “I feel so safe holding your hand.” “As you should, My Lady,” said Anthony. “My sword will drive fear into the hearts of the beasts.” “Do they know that?” asked Destiny. “I wouldn't want there to be any misunderstanding?” “I will teach them,” said Anthony. “Come, let's walk.” “Enough of this fantasizing,” said Destiny. “It may be very dangerous.” “I realize that,” said Anthony. “But I've always dreamed of living in the days of chivalry with King Arthur and the knights. Can't we pretend for a while?” “Very well,” said Destiny. “It's your fantasy and your neck.” “Then come, My Lady,” said Anthony. “Our new world awaits.” “Watch thy step, Sir Knight,” said Destiny. ''It's deeper than you think. Do you need a hand?” “I've got it,” said Anthony as he wiped the water from his face. “Does My Lady require assistance?” “Assist me, Sir Knight,” said Destiny. “For I am but a poor damsel in distress.” As they reached the shore, the night breeze chilled them both to the bone. The sounds of animals echoed in the distance as the rustle of leaves whispered in the breeze. “Shall I build a fire, My Lady?”
asked Anthony. “Until the sun rises to warm us?” “Warm me within your arms,” said Destiny. “We will dry soon and continue our walk.” “My pleasure,” said Anthony. “We'll need to find a safe shelter to spend the night.” …........................... “This cave will suit our needs,” said Destiny. “If it's not already occupied.” “Let me toss in a stone and see if it arouses a beast,” said Anthony. “I hear only silence,” said Destiny. “Shall we enter?” “We'll need a torch,” said Anthony, “It's awfully dark in there.” “Let me see your sword,” said Destiny. “Now the blade will glow in the dark until I remove the magic. Be careful not to touch the blade. It's extremely hot.” “You excited the molecules in the steel,” said Anthony. “I could have done that.” “Let's go,” said Destiny. “Lead the way. It's your sword.” “This cave's bigger than I thought,” said Anthony. “There are tunnels going off in all directions.” “Pick one,” said Destiny. “If a beast comes out of one of those tunnels, we don't want to be sleeping in its path.” “This tunnel is rather small,” said Anthony. “A large beast couldn't have gone through there.” “I'm not sure we can get through either,” said Destiny. “We'll have to crawl.” “Just a little ways,” said Anthony. “Then it opens up into a larger chamber.” “Okay. After you,” said Destiny. “Watch your head.” “You could have dried our clothes as easily as you heated the sword,” said Anthony. “It must have slipped my mind,” said Destiny. “Besides, we're dry now.” “But we had to cuddle for almost an hour,” said Anthony. “What's your point?” asked Destiny with a dismayed look on her face. “Uh … nothing,” said Anthony. “Do you want to cuddle some more?” “Good answer,” said Destiny. “But we need to get some rest before the sun rises.” …............................ “It's still dark,” said Destiny. “I'm sure we slept at least eight hours, and we were up for at least four hours before we went to sleep.” “Look at those stars,” said Anthony. “They've hardly moved. At the rate the planet is rotating, a day here is equivalent to a month on Earth. We built these bodies for a 24 hour cycle.” “That could be a problem,” said Destiny. “How could we make such a simple mistake!” “Well, we'll just have to make the best of it,” said Anthony. “It would waste too much energy to
create new bodies.” “The temperature is up a few degrees, “ said Destiny. “I have a feeling sunrise is near.” “That's good,” said Anthony. “You'd better change my sword back to normal. We stand out like a one legged man in a butt kicking contest.” “You can do it,” said Destiny. “You need the practice.” “That's better,” said Anthony. “Should we stay near the cave? It took us a while to find this one.” “Where's your sense of adventure?” said Destiny. “Let's explore.” “The animal noises aren't as loud in this direction,” said Anthony. “Shall we go?” “Sure,” said Destiny. “We can be adventurous after the sun comes up. You're always thinking of my safety. That's so sweet.” “You can't read my mind,” said Anthony. “That's a shame. It's a good thing we know each other so well.” “It sure is,” said Destiny. “Do you want me to lead?” “If you prefer,” said Anthony. “I can't see very well in the dark.” “Stay alert,” said Destiny. “Something may try to sneak up from behind.” “My thoughts exactly,” said Anthony. “You know, we could walk side by side. I'd love to hold your hand while we walk.” “Stop worrying about me,” said Destiny. “I'll be fine.” “I hope those are vegetarians,” thought Anthony. “They don't sound like vegetarians.” “I think we're being followed,” said Destiny. “I have a feeling there are at least a dozen of them.” “What feeling?” asked Anthony. “Am I supposed to have that ability, cause it would sure come in handy.” “It's something you have to develop,” said Destiny. “I can't teach it to you.” “What do your feelings tell you now?” asked Anthony. “Would this be a good time to hide? Maybe we could ambush them.” “Maybe we should just avoid them,” said Destiny. “Let's hide over there behind those rocks. That should put us downwind.” “If you say so,” said Anthony. “You can't argue with feelings.” …............................... “I think they're gone,” said Destiny. “Shall we continue?” “It's a good thing,” said Anthony. “I really didn't want to have to kill them all.” “Especially on our first day here,” said Destiny. Destiny knew that Anthony was no killer. Oh, he would hold his own in a battle if it came to it. She had trained him well. She also knew it wasn't a battle that he feared. It was the taking of a life, any life,
that he wished to avoid. His compassion for others was starting to rub off on her. In her home world, dueling to the death was a favorite pastime. But death was only temporary where she came from. No one stayed dead unless they were beheaded, and no one would dare perform such a dastardly deed. It meant life in prison, forever, until the end of time. She too had never taken the life of another species. Unlike on her world, nothing was gained here by such an action. Self-defense was the only acceptable reason for such action, and only if other methods such as hiding did not succeed. Hiding was the honorable thing to do. Cowardice was not in their makeup. “At the rate the temperature is rising, even if the sun rose now, it will be near the boiling point of water before it sets again,” said Anthony. “We should head toward the nearest polar region and move as quickly as possible.” “That could take several months,” said Destiny. “If we reach a point where the heat is not excessive, the cold will be.” “The only other choice is to find a deep cave to spend the day when the heat is excessive,” said Anthony. “The cave we slept in is the best possibility we've encountered. We'll need to explore it further to see if even it will be suitable.” “We should head back there,” said Destiny. “If it isn't suitable, we won't be able to stay long.” “How do you think the animals are able to survive?” asked Anthony. “They may not survive this cycle,” said Destiny. “I believe this planet's spin is slowing down. If so, each cycle will be worse than the previous one. This could explain what happened to intelligent life, if it ever existed.” “Didn't those animals head off in that direction?” asked Anthony. “We'll need to be careful that we don't run into them again.” “Help me determine the rate of rotational decline,” said Destiny. “When the rotation stops, the dark side may be habitable. Especially if it stops before too many more cycles.” “But the rate of decline will have to decrease or it will start to rotate in the other direction,” said Anthony. “It will take several hours to determine at what rate the decline is decreasing.” “If it does stop, we need to be on the dark side when it does,” said Destiny. “Unless you plan on staying underground.” “There has to be some heat convection going on,” said Anthony. “We're seeing a rise in temperature even before the sun has begun to rise. Did you take that into consideration?” “Do I look like a novice to you?” asked Destiny. “Of course I considered it, but I can't confirm exactly how much effect it is having until I know when the sun actually rises.” “Sorry,” said Anthony. “I didn't mean it to sound like I thought you were incompetent.” “I'm sorry too,” said Destiny. “It's been a while since anyone questioned my calculations.” “Do you suppose the animals are heading for the cave?” asked Anthony. “That could be a real problem.” “They may be,” said Destiny. “We need to get there before it gets too crowded.” “Why don't we jump a thousand years into the past?” asked Anthony. “If we only move through time, and not space, it won't take much energy and we can keep these bodies.” “That's a good idea,” said Destiny. “Perhaps we'll have time to determine the cause of the planet's rotational shift. Maybe we can do something to prevent it.”
“Is time jumping dangerous?” asked Anthony. “I've never done a temporal only jump.” “In our energy form, it's not dangerous,” said Destiny. “But since we are jumping in these bodies, it may be possible to rematerialize inside solid rock.” “That wouldn't be good,” said Anthony. “Surely we can find a way to minimize that risk.” “If we were in the water, floating several feet above the floor, we should be relatively safe.” “Let go back to the pool where we created these bodies,” said Anthony. “It was deep in some places.” “And you found every one of them,” laughed Destiny. …................................ “Be prepared for our arrival,” said Destiny. “If this pool is dry, we may fall a few feet when we materialize, or we may be up to our knees in mud.” “I'm ready,” said Anthony. “Activate the portal.” ….............................. The sudden shock of the frigid water almost forced Anthony to inhale. The darkness was absolute. “I'm in deep water,” he thought. “I've got to get to the surface. Don't panic. Get your bearings first. Which way is up?” Anthony pulled out his sword and loosened his grip on the handle and felt which way it tended to fall. He then allowed it to fall and swam as quickly as possible toward the surface. His lungs began to burn and his limbs began to cramp. Suddenly he bent double in agony. “The bends,” he thought. “I've surfaced too quickly.” The pain was unbearable. Anthony gasped for air, but water filled his lungs. He began to drift slowly toward the bottom. In a moment he was unconscious. Suddenly the pain returned. The water stung his nostrils as it rushed out of his body. He could feel a pressure on his chest. Then he felt the soft lips against his, breathing air into his lungs. “Breathe, Anthony,” pleaded Destiny. “Please breathe.” Anthony inhaled a breath of air and coughed up water. “Take it slow, Anthony,” said Destiny. “Slow shallow breaths.” The pain began to subside. “I had the bends,” said Anthony. “What happened?” “When you drifted back down, your body was pressurized,” said Destiny. “I brought you up as slowly as I could.” “Where are we?” asked Anthony as he sat up and looked around. “We're on a small island,” said Destiny. “The sun's up and the temperature is pleasant. It looks like this world is now on a twenty hour solar cycle, and it seems to be consistent.” “We've got a huge lake full of drinking water, if I didn't swallow it all,” said Anthony. “But food could be a problem.” “I saw plenty of small sea creatures as we were ascending near the surface,” said Destiny. “Why don't you rest a while, and I'll catch lunch.” “I'll gather some of that driftwood for a fire,” said Anthony. “I never was fond of sushi, and the fire
may kill any possibly harmful bacteria.” …............................... “I saw what looked to be a submersible vehicle anchored in about thirty feet of water,” said Destiny. “A submarine?” asked Anthony. “After we eat, we could try to get their attention. They must be intelligent.” “But they could still be hostile,” said Destiny. “I'd prefer to know a little more about them before we make contact.” “What if they leave before we can contact them?” asked Anthony. “We may not get another chance. Who knows how long we could be stuck on this tiny island.” “We can use some of the larger driftwood to make a raft,” said Destiny. “There's plenty of drinking water and food. But you're not going to build a fire on my raft. You may have to learn to like sushi.” “What if they come ashore?” asked Anthony. “There's nowhere to hide. We should start on that raft right away.” “Too late,” said Destiny. “Look.” Anthony looked up to see a dozen beings wading ashore. They all wore scuba gear and wet suits so it was difficult to tell what they looked like. They were humanoid in form; two legs, two arms, one head. “They're armed,” said Destiny. “Don't make any threatening moves.” As they drew nearer, the leader motioned for the others to lower their weapons. “The spear guns were probably for protection underwater,” said Destiny. “I don't think they're hostle. But they're definitely curious about us.” “I can't read their minds,” said Anthony. “We'll have to pick up their language the hard way.” The leader began to speak and make gestures. His voice was calm and soothing. Anthony could see that Destiny was pretending not to hear him. Anthony did the same. The leader motioned for them to stand up. He gave orders to some of his crew, and they starting walking toward the center of the island about one hundred feet away. When they reached the center they stopped and motioned for Anthony and Destiny to follow. As they walked toward the motioning crewmen, the others followed. When they were all near the center, the leader stood on a small mound of sand and using a metal staff, he jabbed the sand near his feet. It made a hollow metallic sound. As he stepped down from the mound, they all took several steps back. Slowly the ground beneath the mound began to rise up about a foot. Then the risen area opened up like the lid on a manhole. A spiral stairway could be seen leading down into the bowels of the island. The same crewmen led the way again as they marched single file down the stairway. Anthony and Destiny followed and were followed by the remaining crew. The stairway was well lit, and they hardly noticed the lid closing behind them. After several minutes they reached the metal floor of a large circular room, much larger than the tube through which they had descended. The crewmen began removing their wet suits and scuba gear and placing them on a conveyor belt, along with their weapons. The leader motioned for Anthony and Destiny to do the same as he also began to undress. Wearing only their undergarments, they proceeded toward a glass door. Their skin color was slightly paler than Anthony's except for the darker muscular areas. Otherwise they were very similar to humans except for the webbed fingers and toes and of course the gills which were closed now and hardly noticeable. Once inside, a mist of hot water began jetting out of holes in the walls. This continued for almost the full length of the hallway. As they reached another door the mist dissipated. They each proceeded down another hallway where cool moist air blasted them from both sides. As they entered the next room,
each crewman removed their normal clothing from their personal lockers. The leader handed Anthony and Destiny some clothing and waited while they dressed. “You'd hardly know we were aliens,” said Anthony. “Maybe they don't realize how alien we are.” “If they hear you speaking English, they will,” said Destiny. “We need to learn their language quickly.” The leader motioned for them to follow. At the end of another hallway he led them into a room that looked like a crewman's quarters. He locked the door and left. Anthony and Destiny looked around the small but tidy room. There was a bed, a circular table with two chairs, and what resembled a sofa. Through an arched doorway was the bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower. Another archway led to a kitchen. “Do you think the room is bugged?” whispered Anthony. “I doubt it,” whispered Destiny. “It's not exactly your typical holding cell. I don't think they were expecting visitors.” “I think I picked up a few words,” said Anthony. “The crewmen were talking amongst themselves. Let's compare notes.” “Good idea,” said Destiny. “There's food and drink in the fridge. It's a shame we just ate. It looks pretty good.” “Why do you suppose they were wearing scuba gear?” asked Anthony. “They have gills.” “I think it was to help them breathe while out of the water,” said Destiny. “Have you noticed the high humidity since we entered that first room with the spiral stairway. They didn't remove the scuba gear until they were inside. I think the dry outside air is damaging to them.” “They're probably wondering how we were able to breathe it,” said Anthony. …......................... "Sir, I've got some bad news," said Leo. "They've beaten us too it. The Easterners have already developed terrestrials. I have a couple of them locked up if you would like to take a look." "Are you certain?" asked the Professor. "We were years ahead by last report." "We found them on the island," said Leo. "Sitting right out there in direct sunlight with hardly any protection. They were breathing the dry air like it was water. They've also been surgically altered. They have no gills and their webbing has been removed." "Do they show any bad side effects?" asked the professor. "They can't hear or speak," said Leo, "or they are pretending that they can't hear or speak." "All these years of work, down the drain," said the professor. "What about your other theories, Sir?" said Leo. "They are going to need land if they can create terrestrials." "You're right, Leo," said the professor. "This isn't a setback. It's an opportunity. We'll begin our research right away." "What should I do with our captives?" asked Leo. "They know our location now." "We can't let them leave," said the Professor. "Study them for a while and see it they can be of
benefit to us. If not, destroy them. And find out what they were doing on this island." .............................. "I've found some reading material," said Destiny. "Here, you study this one." "It's a technical manual," said Anthony. "Don't they have any scifi books?" "That's all I could find," said Destiny. "Unless you would prefer to read about their gastrointestinal system." "This is looking more interesting already," said Anthony."I think it's about supermagnets." .............................. "Anya, I'm home," said Leo. "How was your day?" "I think we may finally have a breakthrough,” said Anya. "We've solved the rejection problem." "That's great honey," said Leo. "But the program has been cancelled. We begin new research tomorrow." "Cancelled! They can't do that," said Anya. "Do you know how many years I've put into this program?" "Of course I know, darling," said Leo. "But the Easterners have already perfected it." "So what's the new research?" asked Anya. "Don't tell me we're going to be working on his new theory." "Don't you believe it could work?" asked Leo. "The theory sounds good to me." "Tilt the planet's axis in order to form polar ice caps and lower the sea level," said Anya. "Sure, it should work. If the research doesn't kill us all. It's far too dangerous." "I'm sure the professor will take every precaution," said Leo. "He may be brilliant," said Anya. "But when have you ever known him to be cautious?" "We can always go back to growing and harvesting sponges," said Leo. "That was a simpler time." "You were never satisfied with that life," said Anya. "Of course we're staying." "I found two terrestrials today," said Leo. "You've got to meet them. I'll take you tomorrow before you start your shift." "That would be fascinating," said Anya. "Tell me all about them." ….............................. “I guess we should get some rest,” said Destiny. “We may be here for a while.” “I never thanked you for saving my life,” said Anthony. “No words are necessary,” said Destiny. “No words are sufficient,” said Anthony. “But there are other ways to show my appreciation.” “I'll have to save you more often,” said Destiny. “And you're very welcome.”
….............................. “They don't seem to be able to talk,” said Leo as he reached for the door. “I'm not sure how to let them know that you want to examine them. Just smile and try not to stare.” Leo knocked on the door before entering. Anthony and Destiny were sitting at the table eating and drinking. “I see they found the food and drink,” said Leo. “It's quite tasty,” said Anthony. “It's good to see you again.” “You can speak,” said Leo. “Excellent. My name is Leo and this is my wife Anya.” “I'm Anthony and this is my wife Destiny,” said Anthony. “We're very pleased to meet you.” “How long have you been terrestrials?” asked Anya. “We just became terrestrials a few days ago,“ said Anthony. “Sorry to interrupt,” said Destiny. “But my husband doesn't seem to know when to shut up.” “Oh, don't stop talking,” said Anya. “I want to know all about you.” “We have a few questions of our own,” said Destiny. “Why are we prisoners?” “You're not prisoners,” said Anya. “Are they, darling?” “Well … uh … they may be spies,” said Anthony. “Nonsense. They would have sent normal agents that could blend in and go unnoticed,” said Anya. “They?” asked Destiny. “Who are they?” “The Easterners, of course,” said Leo. “Don't tell us you don't know about the Easterners.” “The name doesn't ring a bell,” said Destiny. “Should we know them?” “Their memories,” said Anya. “Maybe it's a side effect.” “Side effect of what?” asked Destiny. “You don't remember being genetically and surgically altered,” said Anya. “I can honestly say that we have no memory of that,” said Destiny. “The first thing I remember was almost drowning and waking up on the island,” said Anthony. “Maybe they were brainwashed and sent here to spy,” said Leo. “If you don't mind my saying so,” said Destiny. “That sounds a little paranoid.” “It sounds ridiculous,” said Anya. “You'll have to forgive my husband.” “It does, doesn't it?” said Leo. “So. What are your plans?” “We don't really have any plans,” said Destiny. “If we could stay here until our memories come back, maybe we can find a way to earn our keep.” “I'd like to study you,” said Anya.
“That research is over,” said Leo. “Remember.” “Research?” asked Destiny. “Sounds interesting. What do you research?” “Now that's exactly what a spy would like to know,” said Leo. “And anyone else with a sense of curiosity,” said Anya. “Get over it, Leo. A spy would know what we were researching.” “Not if she had been brainwashed,” said Leo. “Here we go again with the brainwashing,” said Anya. “They're moving in with us. We have plenty of room until other arrangements can be made. I can study them in my spare time.” “Maybe if you could teach us something about the research, we might remember,” said Destiny. “Aha!” said Leo. “Oh, give it a rest, Leo,” said Anya. “They could advance my research dramatically. You should talk to the professor about allowing me to continue my research. If I can develop terrestrials without the mental side effects, we could still get the contract.” “I'll see what I can do,” said Leo. “But don't get your hopes up. We'll see you guys later when our shifts are over, and we'll get you moved into our house.” …............................ “Why are we hanging around here?” asked Anthony. “Genetics isn't the research we're concerned about. I wonder what new research they are beginning.” “We'll find out soon enough,” said Destiny. “I just thought it would be good to learn more about them before we go out and save the world. Maybe they can tell us who is doing research that might possibly affect the earth's rotation.” “That book I was reading on super magnets,” said Anthony. “It was written by a Professor Harbinger. He could be involved in such research. We should ask about him.” “All in good time, Anthony,” said Destiny. “Let's help Anya with her research. She seems really nice.” “Okay,” said Anthony. “But do we only give her hints, or do we come right out and tell her how to do it?” “We'll see if she can figure it out on her own by studying us,” said Destiny. “Then we'll think about how to help her if she needs it.” “What if she figures out the truth about us?” asked Anthony. “She seems pretty smart.” “Too smart to believe in extra-terrestrials,” said Destiny. “I think our secret is safe.” …......................... Anya was excited as she knocked on the door. "Please come with me," she said. "Professor Harbinger has extended my research. But he wants to see results right away. My lab is only a short distance down the hall." "Professor Harbinger?" asked Destiny. "We were just reading his book on super magnets. Is that what the other research is about?"
"Yes," said Anya. "If I don't get some satisfactory results soon, I'll have to join that research. If they don't blow us up first." "Is it that dangerous?" asked Destiny. "I wouldn't think that magnetism could be that dangerous." "It's the power levels they will be working with," said Anya. "Billions of gigavolts can be very dangerous." "What is the world are they doing that requires that much power?" asked Destiny. "You could move the planet with that much magnetism." "That's what he intends to do," said Anya. "Or at least tilt its axis about 30 degrees to create polar icecaps and lower the sea level." "Just imagine the seasons that would create," said Destiny. "Seasons?" asked Anya. "What are seasons?" "I have a theory," said Destiny. "The temperature on the planet's surface is dependent on how much atmosphere the sunlight passes through before it reaches the surface. The rays are reflected and absorbed by the atmosphere." "That's very interesting," said Anya. "But we all know that it's the small diameter of the sun that only allows it to heat a small area directly. The rest is heated by convection and lit by defraction. But what are seasons exactly?" "If the planet's axis is tilted, as it orbits the sun it will cause any particular location on the surface to tilt more toward the sun during part of the orbit and away from the sun during another part of the orbit. This will cause a repeating cycle of cooler and warmer weather, like you would see if you repeatedly traveled north and then south," said Destiny. "You mean when the sun orbits our planet, a 30 degree tilt would be disasterous," said Anya. "We would see climate changes ranging from lows we now see 1200 miles north to highs we see 1200 miles south." "But what concerns me even more is core slippage," said Destiny. "A jolt strong enough to tilt the planet could throw the solid outer planet out of sync with the liquid inner core. This could adversely affect the planet's rotation." "We'll have to discuss this with Leo when we see him tonight," said Anya. "Meantime, let's get back to my research. This is my lab. Make yourselves comfortable." "So. How do you plan to accomplish these genetic enhancements that will help you to breathe air like we do?" asked Anthony. "We use nanites," said Anya. "They can be programmed to make certain modifications to the genetic code at the cellular level." "Doesn't the body reject the newly created cells?" asked Destiny. "You must temporarily disable the immune system." "That was our latest breakthrough," said Anya. "How do you know so much about this?" "I guess I haven't forgotten everything I knew," said Destiny. "Is there such a thing as selective amnesia?" "Well, it doesn't matter," said Anya. "You may be of even more help than I expected. I was thinking of studying your DNA to see what changes have been made."
"Do you really think you should base your research on what others have done?" asked Destiny. "Seems like they might have used a shotgun effect. They may have changed a lot to see what would happen. Well, it wasn't all good." “I just want to see if I can gain some insight,” said Anya. “Obviously we don't want to duplicate what they've done. I can't imagine why they removed the gills. Was it necessary?” “No idea,” said Destiny. “I sure could have used them when I was drowning,” said Anthony. “Maybe you could give them back to us.” “That's a wonderful idea,” said Destiny. “I don't feel like we fit in the way we are. We're just freaks.” “Don't say that, Destiny,” said Anya. “You're a medical breakthrough.” “I just want to be normal,” said Destiny. “At least I want to look normal.” “Well, let's see what they've done to you,” said Anya. “I'll do what I can.” ….......................... When her shift was over, Anya led Anthony and Destiny back to her apartment where Leo greeted them with a smile. "How was your day?" he asked Anya. "Fascinating," said Anya. "We've learned so much today. You've got to hear Destiny's theory about seasons." "Dinner's ready," said Leo. "I hope you like sushi." "If it's cooked right," said Anthony as he took a seat at the table. "That was a joke," said Destiny. "Anthony's always joking. He loves sushi." "So, Destiny," said Leo. "What are seasons?" "Let me tell him," said Anya. "Correct me if I get it wrong." ......................... "You explained that the sun orbits our planet and that it is much too small to heat up the entire planet directly, didn't you?" asked Leo. "That's where it really gets interesting," said Anya. "She says that the sun is hundreds, maybe thousands of times larger than our planet." "Where did you get such a strange idea?" asked Leo. "It's all about distance and perspective," said Destiny. "It only looks small because it is so far away. We discovered perspective when we were gathering firewood on the island. What looked like small pieces turned out to be too heavy to carry when we got nearer to them." "I've never spent that much time outside," said Leo. "And I didn't have time to look around all that much." "And underwater you can't see far enough to really notice it," said Destiny."Without childhood memories or preconceived theories of this world, our minds were wide open to create their own theories."
"If you look backwards through a magnifying lens, you can see the effect of distance," said Anya. "It's amazing." "So, you want me to recommend that we only tilt the planet a maximum of 5 degrees," said Leo. "I'll need more proof of these theories before I can do that. I can't convince the professor if I'm not fully convinced." "Fair enough," said Destiny. "How long before they will attempt to tilt the planet?" "A couple of months at least," said Leo. "We've got to be sure that the magnetic force fields protecting our underwater habitats won't destabilize." "You don't have any long range communications, do you?" asked Anthony. "Depends on what you mean by long range," said Leo. "I can yell as loud as the next guy." "That pretty much answers my question," said Anthony. "It's amazing how advanced you are in genetics and magnetism, yet so far behind in other fields." "Behind who?" asked Anya. "The Easterners?" "What he means is you're so far behind where you could be if you only spent more time on other research," said Destiny. "It's difficult to get funding unless you can show how the research can help to better our species," said Anya. "I can see where TV would be difficult to justify," said Anthony. "TV," asked Leo. "Is this another one of your theories?" "Never mind," said Anthony. "I was just thinking out loud." "Hold still for a minute," said Anya. "Your gills are beginning to form. You'll be looking normal in no time. We should go to the pool and get some exercise." "I love to swim," said Destiny. "Well, who doesn't?" asked Leo. "We have some spare swimsuits that should fit you two." .......................... “Nice pool,” said Destiny. “But it's not very big for a swimming pool.” “How deep is it?” asked Anthony. “About 200 feet,” said Anya. “Oh, that's right. You can't breathe underwater yet.” “We can hold our breath for a short while,” said Destiny. “Really?” asked Anya. “How do you do that?” “You just stop breathing,” said Destiny. “But how?” asked Anya. “It's an involuntary action.” “We discovered that we can control it,” said Destiny.
“That's amazing,” said Anya. “They can stop breathing, Leo.” “Why would they want to do that?” asked Leo. “They can't breathe underwater,” said Anya. “Haven't you been listening.” “Look, he's splashing around on top of the water,” said Leo. “What's Anthony doing?” asked Anya. “He's swimming,” said Destiny. “It's much better exercise than swimming underwater.” “I can see how it would be,” said Anya. “There seems to be a lot of wasted movement.” “Do that in the lake and you'll attract every hookfish for miles,” said Leo. ….......................... "It looks like your gills have fully formed," said Anya. "And my lungs have fully developed. How would you like to go outside today?" "That would be great," said Destiny. "Is Leo going too?" "Leo doesn't know that I've been growing lungs," said Anya. "I want to test them before I tell him." "Well, what are we waiting for," said Anthony. "I'm going stir crazy." "Follow me," said Anya. "I believe the sun is rising about now. Let me get a mist inhaler just in case my lungs don't work." "After a walk on the beach, can we go for a swim," said Destiny. "I'd like to see your world. Maybe it will bring back some memories." "Sure," said Anya. "We need to be sure that your gills haven't affected your ability to breathe air and vice versa." "Do you think Leo will be pleased?" asked Destiny. "It wasn't very wise to experiment on yourself." "He won't be pleased that I experimented on myself," said Anya. "But if it's successful, it will be worth the lecture I'm going to get." "Don't look directly into the sun," said Destiny as Anya opened the door. "It could harm your eyes." "I'm sure you're right," said Anya. "But how did you know all of this?" "I often wonder that myself," said Destiny. "Does it really matter?" "The sky is so big," said Anya. "It kind of makes you feel small and insignificant." "Small maybe," said Destiny. "But you're certainly not insignificant. Size isn't important." "That's not what you told me," said Anthony. "That was a completely different subject," said Destiny. "And you compensate very well." "A few nanites could fix him right up," whispered Anya. "He fine," whispered Destiny. "I just like to keep him guessing. He tries harder."
"Look," said Anthony. "See that small piece of driftwood. Let's go take a closer look." "You don't have to convince me," said Anya. "Leo's the one that's hardheaded about his beliefs." "Are you going to experiment on him next?" asked Destiny. "As soon as I'm sure I can breathe out here. Hey, I'm breathing out here. It worked," said Anya. "This is wonderful." "Shall we go for a swim?" asked Anthony. “I can't wait to see your world.” “I'm afraid it wouldn't be safe to swim that far,” said Anya. “We should stay in the shallows or go back inside and use the pool.” “Why isn't it safe?” asked Anthony. “Predators,” said Anya. “We have to live inside force fields to protect ourselves.” “Has it always been this way?” asked Destiny. “Ever since we started experimenting with nanites,” said Anya. “We injected some of our favorite species so we could increase their size and our food supply. The nanites were designed to be destroyed by chemicals unique to our digestive systems. Unfortunately they were eaten by other species higher up on the food chain. Needless to say, we now program our nanites to self-destruct after teo weeks.” “Haven't you been able to develop any nanites to undo this mess?” asked Anthony. “They outlawed the use of nanites on non-intelligent species. But something needs to be done,” said Anya. “Last week one of our subs was attacked by a cephalopod.” “An octopus?” asked Destiny. “How big do they get?” “Their arms can get up to fifty feet long,” said Anya. “That pool is sounding better and better,” said Anthony. “But let's walk around for awhile before we go back in.” “Aren't there other lakes that you can move to?” asked Destiny. “Probably,” said Anya. “But we could never travel far out of water until now. We're not even sure there is life in other lakes. Many believe we are unique. We may be the only intelligent life in the universe.” “The universe is a big place,” said Destiny. “That seems like a waste of space.” “We'll soon find out,” said Anya. “I can't wait to tell Leo that the experiments were successful.” ….................................. “I can't believe the professor chose us to deliver the test results to the council?” said Anya. “Who better than the one who developed it and the first four to be succesfully converted into terrestrials,” said Leo. “Besides, he's far too busy working on his other projects.” “Are we going to ride in the submarine?” asked Anthony. “Will we finally get to see your world?” “Yes,” said Anya. “I can hardly wait myself. I haven't been home in years.” “Has the sub had the new equipment installed?” asked Destiny.
“Just as you suggested,” said Leo. “I hope we don't have to use it.” “Better to be safe than sorry,” said Destiny. “You never know.” ….................................. “We're directly over the city now,” said Leo. “Ready to begin our descent.” “This is where it gets dangerous,” said Anya. “The really big ones usually remain in the deeper darker waters.” “Look at all the luminescence,” said Anthony. “This is truly beautiful.” “What was that?” asked Destiny. “Have we stopped?” “Look,” said Anthony pointing to one of the glass portals. “Suckers. It's a giant octopus.” “Electrify the hull,” said Destiny. “Let's see how the new equipment works.” “It seems to have tightened its grip,” said Anya. “Probably an involuntary reaction to the DC voltage,” said Destiny. “Switch to AC. Half power.” “It released us,” said Leo. “It seems to be having convulsions.” “It's heart is in fibulation,” said Destiny. “Remind me to change the frequency unless you want to kill them.” “It serves it right,” said Leo. “Go pick on something your own size.” “Look,” said Anthony. “Those lighted domes. Is that your city?” “That's it,” said Anya. “Isn't it beautiful?” “How many people?”asked Destiny. “Ten million,” said Anya. “This is the largest of the five cities. It's called New Aqua. Nearly all of the government is here.” “Is there air inside the domes?” asked Destiny. “Are the domes made of glass?” “Mostly ozone, created by the ionizing effect of the force fields that create the domes,” said Anya. “If the water can't get in, how do we?” asked Anthony. “Underground tunnels with pressure locks,” said Leo. “We're entering the first one now. Once its pressure is reduced, we'll move on to the next one, then the next. Finally we'll dock the submarine and enter the dome. It will take about 30 minutes to reach the inside of the dome.” “Use your gills to breathe,” said Anya. “The ozone will not be breathable with your lungs.” “And no flames of any kind except in specially marked locations,” said Leo. “There are small domes inside the larger one,” said Destiny. “Are these homes?” “And businesses, hospitals, stores, etc.” said Anya. “How do you get around?” asked Anthony.
“Monorails,” said Leo. “There's a station over there. Let's go.” …............................. “That's Central Lake below us now,” said Leo. “You can go for a swim without leaving the dome.” “Why would you ever leave the dome?” asked Anthony. “You've got everything right here.” “New frontiers,” said Leo. “Exploration of the unknown.” “You shouldn't place all of your caviar in one basket,” said Anya. “Some natural disaster could wipe out our entire civilization.” “Or an unnatural disaster,” said Anthony, “like a megagiant octopus.” “Exactly,” said Anya. “Tell that to the council.” …............................... “Well, that went well,” said Anya. “The concil has given us ten volunteers. Tomorrow we'll head back to the lab and begin the conversions. We'll build that floating ship and begin our explorations next week.” “Which way should we travel?” asked Leo. “Towards where the driftwood is coming from,” said Destiny. “There has to be an much larger island with trees somewhere in that direction. Maybe even the mainland.” “Are you sure the giant octopus won't bother us on the surface?” asked Anthony. “Spearguns may not be enough protection.” “I think we'll be fine,” said Leo. “They certainly can't spare one of the submarines for such a long journey.” “Let me get this straight,” said Anya. “We're going to use these things you call sails that are pushed by the wind to manuever the boat into the wind. That is what you said, isn't it?” “We have to zigzag,” said Destiny. “We can't go directly into the wind.” “That could make for a long trip,” said Leo. “Why don't we go in the direction of the wind?” “We would still have to get back home,” said Anthony. “And we don't know if there are any islands in that direction.” “If the world is round, we just keep sailing,” said Leo. “We would get home eventually.” “In four or five years maybe,” said Anthony. “Just how slow is this boat?” asked Leo. “I could swim faster than that.” “You don't realize how big the world is,” said Destiny. “The boat is fast enough.” “You have quite an imagination, Destiny,” said Leo. “But you haven't been wrong yet.” “Then you believe me,” asked Destiny. “about the seasons, I mean?” “I've already talked to the professor,” said Leo. “I think I've convinced him.”
“You've got to make him understand how important this is,” said Destiny. “We should be back before they do anything,” said Leo. “You can help me persuade him.” “Let's go out and celebrate,” said Anya. …............................ “Coming about!” yelled Leo. “Watch your heads.” “How much farther can it be?” asked Anya. “We've been zigzaging for 2 weeks now. Two of the crew are suffering severe sunburn and most of the others are constantly seasick.” “They're not taking their pills,” said Destiny. “I don't care how bad it tastes, it's better than being seasick.” “Some of them believe the pills make them sick,” said Anya. “They will eventually learn to trust you, as Leo and I have.” “Land ahoy!” yelled Anthony from his perch high above the deck. “Land ahoy!” “What does that mean?” asked Anya. “What's he yelling about?” “There's land within sight,” said Destiny. “We're almost there.” …................................ “Lower the sails and drop anchor,” said Leo. “We'll swim ashore from here.” “Is it an island or the mainland?” asked Destiny. “I think it's the mainland,” said Anthony. “Either way, it's pretty big. There's lots of vegetation. No signs yet of land animals.” “Land animals?” asked Anya. “What sort of animals could live on land?” “We'll find out soon enough,” said Destiny as she dove into the water. ….................................. “It's getting late,” said Anthony. “We should wait until sunrise tomorrow before we do any exploring. Let's make camp right here on the beach.” “We'll gather some firewood,” said Destiny. “In case we want to cook something.” “Most of us have our spearguns in case of trouble,” said Leo. “But all of our food in on the boat.” “Maybe you could do some fishing before it gets too dark,” said Anthony. “I'll get right on it,” said Leo. “Guys, girls, come with me. Bring your spearguns.” …................................ “Are you sure you guys don't want to cook your food?” asked Destiny. “You should try it at least once.” “We're going to try it,” said Anya. “We're adverturers.” The others sat back and watched as Anya and Leo took their first bites. “Um,” said Anya. “Not bad.
Not bad at all.” “I burned my toungue,” said Leo. “You should let it cool down just a little before you bite into it,” said Destiny. “Now you tell me,” said Leo. “You guys have got to try this.” As the other five couples gathered around the fire, Leo took another bite. “I could really learn to like this,” said Leo. ….............................. “The fire's dying down,” said Leo. “I'm going to activate the force field. Everybody try to get a good nights rest. We've got a lot of exploring to do tomorrow.” …............................... “We should climb that mountain and see what's on the other side,” said Anthony. “We should be able to get an excellent view from up there. If this is an island, we'll be able to determine just how large it is.” “I want to get a closer look at those trees,” said Anya. “They look fascinating.” “If there are animals here, I hope the nanites haven't entered the food chain,” said Anthony. “If they're mammals, their digestive systems would probably destroy the nanites.” said Destiny. “But what about insects and reptiles?” asked Anthony. “or birds?” “What are you guys talking about?” asked Anya. “I've never heard of these creatures.” “Just some theoretical lifeforms that may or may not exist in this world,” said Destiny. “You guys think about the strangest things,” said Anya. “I wish I had your imaginations.” “No you don't,” said Leo. “We have enough to worry about.” “Leo's afraid of the vegetation,” said Anya. “Tell him it's not dangerous.” “It's usually not dangerous,” said Destiny. “But there are exceptions. We should all be cautious until we know more about it.” “See, I told you,” said Leo. “Follow me and don't wonder off from the group,” said Anthony. “Don't load the spearguns. We'll be going through some thick brush and we don't want to shoot each other by accident.” ….............................. “My ankles are itching,” said Anya. “Mine too,” said Destiny. “Me too,” said Leo and Anthony. “Let's go back to the beach and check this out,” said Anthony. “It feels like chiggers or fleas.” “I can't stop scratching,” said Leo. “Don't you guys itch?”
“No,” said the others in unison. “We're fine.” “It a tiny mite that's burrowed under our skin,” said Anya. “But why weren't they affected?” “Let me examine one of you,” said Anya. “That smell. You're wearing sun block. Destiny, didn't you tell them they wouldn't need it in the forest.” “I thought you were going to tell them,” said Destiny. “Maybe we all need it, but not to prevent sunburn. It's also an insect repellant.” “Give me some,” said Leo. “Oh, that feels better already.” ….............................. “It's getting colder and more difficult to breathe,” said Anya. “It's the higher altitude,” said Destiny. “The air is thinner. We'll need to slow down a bit. We're almost there.” “And it's almost dark,” said Anya. “We should make camp and set up the force field to protect us from the wind chill.” “I'm a little disappointed that we haven't seen any larger animals,” said Destiny. “and not a single fruit tree.” “Tomorrow's another day,” said Anya. “Leo, activate the force field. We're making camp.” ..................................... “Well, it's not an island,” said Anthony. “Leo, hand me the binoculars.” “What do you see?” asked Leo. “Any animals?” “Take a look,” said Leo. “There's thousands of them. Over there by that river and around that small lake.” “They're tiny,” said Leo. “They're far away,” said Anthony. “Have a look, Destiny. Aren't those dinosaurs?” “I think so,” said Destiny. “But they do seem small next to the trees. They all seem to be grazing.” “Vegetarians,” said Anthony. “That's good. And small vegetarians are even better.” “Land as far as the eye can see,” said Destiny. “There's no need to lower the sea level. There's more than enough land for their entire race.” “Let's get a closer look,” said Anya. “It looks warm down there.” “What are we waiting far,” said Destiny. “Let's go.” …............................ “We're about to enter the woods,” said Anya. “Should we put on some insect repellant?” “Not unless we have to,” said Destiny. “The underbrush isn't as thick and it's much drier here. Maybe we won't need it.”
“That would be nice,” said Anthony. “The animals won't smell us coming from a mile away.” “These trees are different than the ferns near the sea,” said Anya. “What type are these?” “These are evergreens,” said Destiny. “But I think the ones we saw in the valley below are hardwood.” “They seem to be getting bigger as we get deeper into the forest,” said Anya. “Look how small we look beside one of these trees.” “Anthony, those dinosaurs may not be as small as we thought,” said Destiny. “I think the trees are just larger than we expected.” “I can hear them,” said Anthony. “That one sounds like a moose.” “That one sounds like an elephant,” said Destiny. “I can't wait to get a closer look.” “There's a clearing up ahead,” said Leo. “Should we stay in the shadows of the forest?” “The clearing looks empty,” said Destiny. “Let's climb to the top of that small hill. That should give us a clear view of the river.” ............................. “Stay low,” said Destiny. “We don't want to spook them.” “What's that sound,” asked Anthony. “Is it an earthquake?” “It's a stampede,” said Destiny. “Activate the force field, Leo.” “Did we frighten them?” asked Anthony. “Maybe they smelled our scent.” “But some of them are heading this way,” said Destiny. “Anthony, look at that shadow moving across the valley.” “Okay,” said Anthony. “What about it?” “Now look at the sky,” said Destiny. “There's not a cloud in sight.” “So what's making the shadow?” asked Anthony. “Wait a minute, that's not a shadow.” “That's what spooked the animals,” said Destiny. “The bigger ones have made a run for the river.” “And the smaller ones are trying to outrun the shadow,” said Anthony. “They're not all that small,” said Destiny. “Can we move while the force field is on?” “Sure,” said Leo. “Where do you want to go?” “We should make a run for the river,” said Destiny. “But without the force field, we could get trampled.” “Let's go,” said Leo. “I'll set the pace. Try to keep up.” “The shadow is getting closer,” said Anya. “We'll never make it to the river.” “Those look like army ants,” said Destiny. “They've cut off our path to the water. Stop.” “They can't penetrate the force field,” said Leo. “But we can't move while the shield is touching the
ground.” “Look,” said Anthony. “The ants are carrying leaves to the river's edge. They're using them to float out to where the dinosaurs are.” “Wow,” said Destiny. “Did you see that. That dinosaur used its tail to create a tsunami. Ants overboard!” “The ants are tunneling under the force field,” said Leo. “What do we do?” “Everyone hold hands,” said Destiny as she reached for the amulet. “Are we going to pray?” asked Anya. “Better make it short and sweet.” …............................. “My prayer came true,” said Anya. “We're home. But where's Destiny and Anthony.” “I saw them for a moment after we arrived back here,” said Leo. “Then they just vanished.” “Something tells me they will be just fine,” said Anya. “But I'm really going to miss them. I don't think they're coming back.” …............................ “That was a close one, Anthony,” said Destiny. “It took almost all of my energy to save the others.” “Is that why we had to leave?” asked Anthony. “I was hoping to stay a little longer.” “I know,” said Destiny. “But I didn't have time to look for alternatives.” “I think they've learned an important lesson about exploring,” said Anthony. “The grass may be greener, but the ants may be meaner.”
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