THE FREDORIAN DESTINY - First Chapter



Chapter One

Evaran was coming today. Dr. Snowden relaxed in his recliner and stared at the ceiling. It was almost 6:00 p.m. His nerves pulsated from all the excitement. The abduction experience was still fresh in his mind, even though it was three months ago. There were a lot of unanswered questions he wanted to ask Evaran. He had wrestled with the experience in his mind over and over. Some days he did not think it actually happened, and then he would see a nonhuman at work or out on the street. At least he was now sleeping better, but he was still adjusting to the new reality he was in. The smell of a warm dinner caressed his nose. His attention turned to Emily as she bounded into the living room. She had been a whirlwind of activity in the kitchen while making dinner. He had tried to help, but she kicked him out.

“Uncle Albert! Are you trying to take a nap?”

Dr. Snowden grinned. “I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Just sitting here thinking things through is all.”

“He will come. Stop worrying. Can you set the table?” asked Emily with a smile.

Dr. Snowden smirked. “Sure, as long as you don’t kick me out again.”

Emily put a hand on her hip and stared at Dr. Snowden.

“All right, all right, I’m moving,” said Dr. Snowden. He stood and then followed Emily into the kitchen. It did not take him long to set the table, and once done, he sat down at his usual spot and began bouncing his right knee.

“Uncle Albert! You’re shaking the house!”

Dr. Snowden sighed as he extended his legs and crossed his arms. He wished he were as calm as Emily was. She took the abduction hard for the first few weeks back. Now it seemed like it did not even register with her. She had moved on and was enjoying life again.

Knock! Knock!

The knocks echoed out from the curtain-covered sliding glass doors behind him. His heartbeat raced as he jumped out of his chair and turned around. A big smile crept onto his face as he peeked out the side of the curtains and saw Evaran standing on the other side. “Emily! He’s here!” He pushed the curtains to the side, unlocked the doors, and slid them open. “Evaran!”

Evaran moved his head back and smiled at Dr. Snowden while extending his hand. “Dr. Snowden. How are you doing?”

Dr. Snowden shook Evaran’s hand with gusto and gestured for Evaran to come in. He had missed the somewhat emotionally distant voice of Evaran. “Much better now that you’re here. Come in, come in.”

Evaran nodded at Dr. Snowden and stepped into the dining room. He looked around and focused on Emily.

“Evaran! It’s so good to see you!” said Emily as she rushed over and gave Evaran a bear hug.

Evaran half grinned as Emily released her grip. “Likewise. You both appear to be in good health, and it smells delicious in here.”

Dr. Snowden closed the door behind Evaran and gestured for him to have a seat at the table. “Please, sit down. We’re just about to eat.”

Evaran slid out the chair nearest the glass doors and sat. He eased back into his chair and laced his fingers.

Dr. Snowden noted that Evaran’s outfit was slightly different. The forearm pieces were bigger and more complex-looking. There was also a small device mounted on the top of both his shoulders. Evaran’s hair still looked like it was sculpted and unmoving. Dr. Snowden went into the kitchen and helped Emily bring over the various bowls of food and pitchers to the table. After the table was filled, he and Emily sat down.

Evaran looked at the feast before him. “You must have spent a lot of time on this.”

“Uncle Albert at least set the table,” said Emily. She took Evaran’s plate and filled it up with a heaping of food. She placed it before Evaran and then poured iced tea into his glass. “Feel free to begin.”

Evaran nodded and then took a bite of the meatloaf. He closed his eyes and hummed. “You outdid yourself, Emily. This is fantastic.” He wagged his finger in the air. “There is a hint of spice to it.”

“Thanks. Ever since the abduction, we’ve been craving spicy food,” said Emily.

“Interesting,” said Evaran as he narrowed his eyes and chewed slower.

Dr. Snowden furrowed his eyebrows and tilted his head. “You know, I never saw you eat or drink anything on the Krotovore ship.”

“I do not require sustenance. That does not mean I cannot smell or taste, however. I do enjoy a good meal.”

Emily glanced at Dr. Snowden, then back at Evaran. “Well, the meatloaf is actually Uncle Albert’s recipe with a bit of a recent twist, believe it or not. He was just too nervous to be useful in the kitchen today.”

Dr. Snowden snorted.

Evaran leaned forward and scrutinized Dr. Snowden. “You are troubled.”

Dr. Snowden filled up his plate while glancing at Evaran. “I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy these last three months. I have so many questions to ask you. I’m still troubled by the whole thing.”

“Well then, it is a good thing I came when I did.”

“We’re both glad you’re here,” said Emily as she took a sip of her iced tea. She scanned the room. “Where’s V?”

Evaran pointed up and to the left. V shimmered into view.

“Hello, Dr. Snowden and Emily. It is great to see you two again,” said V.

Dr. Snowden jerked his head back. “V? You … sound different.”

“Evaran has upgraded my voice synthesizer. It has slightly less of a digital rasp and slightly more of a masculine human tone. Jay helped me to select it. Evaran has also expanded my social routines. I now have a flexible arm that can be extended as needed in this mode, and my body mode has been upgraded as well.”

Dr. Snowden’s eyes widened. “Wow. That’s quite a few changes. How is Jay?”

Evaran laced his fingers as he relaxed back into his chair. “We will get to that shortly. I updated V’s media database with every type of media from Earth’s history I could find. The arm was added based on the events on the Krotovore ship. The arm ends in a four-pronged claw, so he can now carry small objects, like my universal interface card, or UIC, as needed. He has changed significantly. However, there are some kinks I need to work out, especially the slang routines. He tends to get them mixed up, even though the data is correct.”

“I apologize for my kinkiness,” said V.

Dr. Snowden and Emily laughed. V’s lights dimmed for a moment. “I see. I used it in one context, but it was interpreted in another.”

“We didn’t mean anything by it,” said Dr. Snowden as he extended his hand toward V.

V’s lights brightened. “It is quite okay.”

“Well, I love your new upgrades,” said Emily.

V’s lights brightened even more. “Thank you, Emily.”

Evaran shook his head and half smiled while picking up his fork. “I have a few things to discuss with you both. Before I do, though, how has your experience been these last three months?”

Dr. Snowden dipped his head and glanced at Emily, then at Evaran. “Well, the biggest issue for both of us,” he said, waving his finger between himself and Emily, “deals with these virtual simulation memories. Although we were only in there for three weeks, the virtual simulation put a year’s worth of memories in our heads. Will those memories ever fade away now that we are no longer in there? Like maybe the nanobots will remove them or something?”

Evaran narrowed his eyes for a moment. “I am afraid not. They are real memories. You will always have them. Have they caused either of you any issues?” He took a bite off his plate.

Emily looked down as she shifted on her chair and then sighed. “Mine was right after we got back.” She looked up at Evaran. “It happened on the quad at my college. I saw Jennifer, my girlfriend in the virtual simulation. I walked up to her and put my arm around her, and then kissed her on the neck. She turned around in surprise and pushed me away. She then walked away, looking back every now and then in disgust at me. I realized then that I had a false memory.”

Dr. Snowden recalled when Emily came home that day. She had been devastated. He had met Jennifer in the virtual simulation, and she and Emily were a good couple. Almost too good. Although the situation happened immediately after they had come back, it still haunted Emily. He could see it in her eyes. Apparently in the real world, Jennifer had a boyfriend. Emily not only had to suffer the clash of memories, but had to deal with the social ramifications from the event. He had tried to console her, but he knew it was something she would need to resolve herself. This was the first time since that event that she had mentioned Jennifer, so maybe opening up to Evaran about it was therapeutic for her.

Evaran put his hand on his chin. “I see. I am sorry to hear you had to deal with that. As time progresses, the real-world memories will take precedence.”

Emily’s eyes dulled as she took a bite from her plate.

“I assume you have had a similar experience?” asked Evaran, tilting his head toward Dr. Snowden.

Dr. Snowden nodded. “I did, but it didn’t involve another woman. Mine dealt with my close friend, Dr. Bryson.”

“Ahh, I remember you mentioned his name when we first met.”

Dr. Snowden exhaled. “Yeah, well, in the real world, he’d been trying to have a kid with his wife. They had some issues conceiving. In the virtual simulation, they had a healthy baby boy. So a few weeks after you dropped us off, I saw him in a busy hallway and asked him how his kid was doing. He gave me a dirty look and walked away.” He shook his head. “To make matters worse, some people in the hallway knew of his issues, and they gave me dirty looks as well. I tried to explain later to him in private that I meant no harm and was just kidding. He said it wasn’t an issue, but he avoids me now.”

Evaran leaned forward, putting his left hand over his right fist with his chin resting on both hands. “I am sorry to hear that as well. He may just be stressed out. I am sure he will come around if he is a true friend. On another topic, have the nanobots caused any issues for you?”

Emily put her hand on the back of her neck. “None for me, although I had a situation on the volleyball court where I sprained my ankle at the beginning of a game. I sat out for the rest of the game, but when a ball bounced past me, I jumped up and retrieved it. Everyone stared at me, and I realized my ankle had already repaired itself. I fell to the ground in surprise, but I don’t think anyone bought it. On the upside, I used to have sinus trouble this time of year but have had none so far.”

“You have adjusted quickly to them if they repaired you that quickly.”

Dr. Snowden glanced at Emily, then at Evaran. “I’m not sure I want them out. I have energy, and can think clearer than I can ever recall. I’ve even lost weight. I wear my glasses now to keep up appearances, but I don’t need them, even though they are prescribed. I sleep, smell, and taste better. I can even walk up the stairs without getting winded.”

Evaran half grinned. “Yes, those are good side effects of having them. The nanobots will adjust the light coming into your eye regardless of the glasses you wear. However, you both will need to deal with another unintentional side effect that is not obvious short-term.”

Emily finished chewing a bite and swallowed hard. She sat up straight and glanced at Dr. Snowden before tilting her head at Evaran. “And what would that be?”

“Your aging has slowed by roughly ninety percent. You will age approximately five weeks for every actual year that passes.”

A flash of excitement shot through Dr. Snowden. He licked his lips as he sat up on the edge of his chair. This was the last thing he expected to hear. The thought of longevity was enticing. He circled his left hand in front of him. “So as long as we have these nanobots inside us, we age slowly?”

“That is correct. I would assume if they were taken out, you would age normally again. The downside of not aging as fast as others is that it will be noticeable by others. That level of attention is not something you would like.”

“It sounds like the safe thing to do is take them out,” said Emily.

Dr. Snowden adjusted in his seat. “Well, wait a minute,” he said, motioning his hand downward. “Let’s think about this some before we make any hasty decisions. For me, though, I don’t want them out.”

Evaran turned to Emily. “And you?”

Emily paused while drawing her lips flat. “I’m not sure. I need to think about it.”

Evaran nodded. “Very well. I have something to show you.” He interacted with his augmented reality interface, or ARI.

V flew above the empty fourth seat at the table and projected a holographic display below him. It showed a Krotovore with majestic garb wrapped around its body.

The Krotovore’s eyes blinked slowly. “Hello. I am Matriarch De’zokaar.”

Dr. Snowden’s heart raced at the sight of a Krotovore. They were hard to forget. He wondered if the universal translator had adapted from the unusual speech pattern he had heard on the Krotovore ship, since her voice was not as high-pitched or garbled as he remembered. He rubbed his sweating hands and heard Emily inhale sharply. Apparently she was feeling apprehensive as well.

“I apologize on behalf of the Krotovore for the experience you went through. We had rules in place to avoid sentient species being used for research. The scientists on that ship went rogue after deciding they would never get home. I hope you can forgive us,” said De’zokaar. She motioned to her side at Evaran. “Evaran has provided us with the data from the ship. He said he can contact you, even though you are in the past and would be long dead from our perspective. We have given him a device to remove the nanobots circulating in your body. It is the least we can do. Please accept our deepest apologies.” She placed her hands over each of her four smaller eyes, then covered her two main eyes, then lowered them. The projection shut off.

“Wow, an apology,” said Emily.

A few moments of silence passed. Evaran turned toward Dr. Snowden. “Dr. Snowden?”

Dr. Snowden shook his head and exhaled. “Sorry. I was just thinking about things from their perspective. I was thinking that to them, we must have been pretty disgusting-looking. Nonetheless, you can take the nanobots out if we wanted them out.”

“I can, should you or Emily choose to do so. I have another projection to show you, though.”

Emily took a sip of her iced tea and looked at Evaran. “From who?”

“Jay,” said Evaran as he smiled and tapped at his ARI.

Dr. Snowden jerked his head back. “Jay! Did he stay on your ship for a month?”

Evaran swiped his hand across his ARI. “He did. Here is his short recorded message for you both.”

V projected a display showing Jay sitting in a hot tub. In the projection, V stood in body mode within arm’s reach of Jay outside the hot tub.

“Doc! Emily! Evaran said he got you both back to Earth. Hope you’re doing well,” said Jay. He put his beer down on the edge of the hot tub. “Evaran said he’s going to take me back when my arm is fully regenerated, but I should wait until he has visited you before trying to make contact. Whenever that is, he has my address and contact information. Give me a shout. We can grill out and catch up and shit.”

Several women called out to Jay in the background. Jay smiled. “Ahh, yeah. Well, looks like it’s time for V’s next lesson in human culture. Catch you later, man.”

The projection vanished.

Dr. Snowden cocked his head. “I don’t remember a hot tub on the Torvatta.”

“My holo room. It can transform energy into matter. Jay availed himself to it for the month he was around.”

Dr. Snowden chuckled. “So the women were just holograms, then.”

“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Emily, giggling.

Evaran pursed his lips while staring at his plate. He then looked at Dr. Snowden. “There is another matter related to why you were abducted. It appears a device on your car called the Krotovore.”

“Called them?”

“Yes. A signal was sent out that would have been easily detected by them, but not by anything on Earth. I had the Krotovore check it while I was visiting, and they said it was an emergency beacon. I do not understand how it got on your car, though.”

Emily gestured toward Dr. Snowden. “Uncle Albert usually handles all the car stuff, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t us.”

Evaran nodded. “I concur. Someone or something put it there. I have added it to my list of things to investigate.”

Dr. Snowden finished a bite of his meatloaf and waved his fork in a circle in front of him. “How do you plan to do that?”

“By checking on your car at various intervals in the past and seeing when the signal is present and when it is not. I can narrow it down from there. That will take some time to do, however.”

Emily pursed her lips. “What if we see you or the Torvatta back then?”

“You will not. I will be in stealth mode high above the planet.”

Dr. Snowden cleared his throat. “So if you do this in your future sometime, does that mean your surveillance has already happened in our past?”

“Possibly. There are many variables. It would be tied to my future, but your past. If my future changes, your past changes. Given the nature of this universe, nothing is set in stone.”

Dr. Snowden was always fascinated about the concept of time travel. To have experienced it and to discuss the finer points with someone who does it often was exhilarating for him. He took a long, measured breath and looked at Evaran. “I have —”

Emily reached out and grabbed Dr. Snowden’s hand.

Dr. Snowden glanced at her and nodded. “We have a question to ask you.”

Evaran tilted his head at them. “Yes, you may travel with me,” he said as he dove back into his plate for another bite.

Dr. Snowden sat in stunned silence. His eyes lit up, and a big smile crept across his face. He glanced at Emily, then back at Evaran. “How’d you know I was going to ask that?”

“I did not. V, however, calculated an eighty-six percent chance you would ask. He also calculated how you would ask. Your hesitation, breathing, and physical support from Emily moved it to ninety-eight percent. I have given it thought already and, since I enjoyed your company previously, agree to try it out.”

“You’re seriously okay with that, then?” asked Dr. Snowden.

“Of course. Both of you have already proven yourselves to be of sound mind. It is refreshing to have a different perspective on things. I will warn you, though. The places I go are not always the safest. Danger is ever present.”

Dr. Snowden nodded. “We understand it might not always be safe. I do hope not every trip is like the Krotovore ship, though.”

Evaran leaned back into his chair. “That was definitely not a typical trip for me. However, with that said, where I go does tend to have a bit of adventure to it. After we are done here, grab whatever you want to put in your room. You do not need clothes, food, or the like. The Torvatta will furnish those for you.”

“How will the Torvatta furnish clothes for us?” said Emily.

Dr. Snowden could see Emily was worried about fashion choices.

Evaran half grinned. “V will show you around your rooms and the ship, including the matter replicators in your room, which will allow you to create any type of clothing you wish.”

Emily looked around the room. “Speaking of which, where’d he go?”

Evaran crooked his thumb at the backyard. “He is in the Torvatta, preparing your rooms and gear.”

Dr. Snowden harrumphed. “I didn’t even see him leave.”

“He used his new arm to open the sliding door enough to go out, then closed it back. He is quite stealthy.”

“I guess,” said Dr. Snowden. Looking at Evaran’s cleared plate, he wondered what happened to the things Evaran did consume, as he did not need food or drink. A smile flickered on and off his face. He was going to get to travel with Evaran, through space, time, and beyond. What would happen with his day job? If they ever decided that traveling wasn’t for them, maybe Evaran could take them back to a minute after they left. He would need to ask Evaran about that at some point. For now, his mind was reeling with the possibilities.

“Care for seconds? And wow, you eat really fast,” said Emily, standing up.

Evaran nodded at Emily. “You do broccoli justice, but I am done. On another note, the Torvatta is in your backyard. It is stealthed, but you should see the tip of the ramp sticking out past the shield. Head on in when ready. V and I will be waiting. Sound good?”

“More than good!” said Dr. Snowden.

“Works for me!” said Emily.

“Oh, before I forget. You two will need these,” said Evaran as he stood up. He reached to his side and pulled out two pen-like objects from a container on his belt. He handed one to Emily, then one to Dr. Snowden. “These are your personal support devices, or PSDs as I refer to them. After the Krotovore ship event, I decided to make some upgrades and adjustments across the board. This was the result of one of those adjustments. The PSDs have a range of functionality such as scanning, augmented reality mode, and the like. I would suggest you familiarize yourself with them. They will enhance your survivability by quite a bit. V can show you the finer points if you have any questions, and you can test them out in the holo room.”

“Whoa,” said Emily as she flipped the PSD around in her hand.

Dr. Snowden looked at the PSD and saw four physical buttons lined up with a small digital screen underneath them. He pressed the top button, and the end of the PSD lit up briefly. The PSD split in half, with the right side extending out. A thin material connected it to the left half. A display appeared on the material. There were many icons on the display with names like scan, light, and communications. His jaw dropped as he glanced at Evaran. “I don’t even know what to say.”

Evaran wheeled around to go out the sliding glass doors. “Part of your journey with me will be learning how to use it. Just do not press and hold the green button on the bottom and point it at someone unless you want to stun them. It is a shortcut to the stun beam. It is off by default, so you will need to learn how to activate and use it. One last thing. Think about where you would want to go.” He slid open the glass doors and walked out, closing them when he was outside.

Dr. Snowden pressed the top button, and his PSD snapped back into a pen shape. He put it in his pants pocket and stood.

Emily stood and placed her PSD in her pocket as well.

Dr. Snowden walked over to and hugged Emily. “I can’t believe it! We get to go!”

“At least now you can stop worrying,” said Emily, grinning.

Dr. Snowden stepped back and nodded. He helped Emily clear the table and kitchen in record time. They then went their separate ways. A half hour later, they met back in the dining room. Dr. Snowden had a small backpack slung over his shoulder. Emily had a suitcase on wheels behind her.

“Evaran said we wouldn’t need clothes,” said Dr. Snowden.

“It’s not clothes in there, just some sentimental things,” said Emily with softened eyes.

“You’re bringing Mr. Smith, aren’t you?”

“Maybe,” said Emily with her face turning a slight shade of red.

Dr. Snowden grinned. Emily had been given the stuffed tiger as a kid by Dan. Although she did not sleep with it anymore, she kept it close. He suspected there were several other things Dan gave her in there. He missed his brother and knew how much Dan would have loved to go on an adventure like this. “Okay. We ready?”

“Let’s do it!” said Emily.

“Hmm, we better shut everything off. You get the upstairs, I’ll get downstairs,” said Dr. Snowden.

Emily bounded up the stairs as he turned off the lights in the living room and kitchen, leaving on just the light in the dining room. He double-checked the other rooms on the ground floor and headed back to the dining room. Emily had already come back down, as there were only three rooms upstairs.

“Now we can go,” said Dr. Snowden. He walked over to the sliding glass doors and opened them. He watched Emily go out and reflected on the journey ahead of them.


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