THE TIME REFUGEE - First Scene



Chapter One

Dr. Albert Snowden gazed into the clear sky lit by two suns. Looking around, it could have been any beach on Earth, but this was the resort planet known as Kamala. Coming out in swimming trunks was not his first choice, but after seeing how many bare-skinned aliens were around with their unusual bodies, it was an easier decision. His fair skin was taking a beating while soaking in the rays, but the cool wind helped even it out. The smell of salt water caressed his nostrils.

A loud guttural sound caught his ear. Off in the distance, a small group of reptilian birdlike creatures were hopping around. The birds on Kamala were larger and generally louder than what he knew from Earth. He ran a hand over his gray tufts of hair and bald spot. The other hand scooped up some sand, then let it slip through his fingers as he eyed his early twenties fair-skinned niece, Emily, sitting a few feet away. Her long dirty-blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail and swayed in the wind.

He and Emily were traveling companions with Evaran, a powerful being who traveled through space and time in his ship, the Torvatta. The Torvatta was disc shaped and reminded him of a hockey puck that sat between two thin layers on top of a wide-based cone. Evaran had rescued them from an alien abduction, and they had traveled with him ever since. They had traveled to a distant galaxy and several thousand years into the past to get to Kamala relative to the year 2012. It had become routine to travel like that, and he had learned much in his journeys with Evaran.

Emily’s guarded face was no surprise to him as a raptor-like couple walked by. She had been on a rough journey in their last adventure. Being separated for nine months and having to survive on a prison planet in a pocket universe had taken its toll. A lump formed in his throat at the thought that the full-of-life Emily he had grown up with was gone, and in her place was a much more serious version.

Emily turned her head toward Dr. Snowden. “You’re giving me that look again.”

Dr. Snowden snorted. “Well … I don’t think that couple is a threat. Relax. It’s why we’re here.”

“You never know,” said Emily with narrowed eyes. “It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.”

Dr. Snowden glanced at the survival suit lying next to her. She had picked it up on the previous adventure, and Evaran had tweaked it so that it was more durable and space worthy. Next to it was her personal support device. Her PSD, which was shaped like a pen, had the ability to open a small interface, shoot repulsion and stun beams, extend morphable metal, and store more than it was capable of, due to dimensional mechanics. It was her constant companion, and even now, her hand rested on it. Although she had on a swimsuit, she looked like she could jump into the suit and whip out the PSD at a moment’s notice.

“I think we’re safe,” said Dr. Snowden, chuckling. “We’ve been here for five weeks now, and I haven’t seen any sign of trouble.”

Emily exhaled from her nose as her eyes followed the couple.

Dr. Snowden raised his eyebrows as he wagged a finger at her. “They might think you’re a threat if you keep staring at them.”

Emily glanced away for a moment, then focused on Dr. Snowden. “Sorry. I’m … still getting used to being around others.”

Dr. Snowden sighed. He wished he could do more. Being available to her at any time was his top priority. He had tried to participate in her nonstop training in the holographic room, or holo room as he called it, on the Torvatta. Four to five hours a day was too much for him. He did enjoy some of it, whether it was fighting one creature or another or running across terrain and shooting with their PSDs. Although they both had nanobots that gave them heightened abilities and senses, she was in command of hers more so than he was of his.

Dr. Snowden looked around and spotted Evaran talking with animated hand motions to a lizard-like humanoid alien near a metallic high-tech shack. Evaran had mentioned that most residents of Kamala would have never seen a human, so there would be some interest from others wanting to know about them.

During this visit, Dr. Snowden had talked with dozens of different aliens from across the stars. The most common question was how humans could evolve with such soft skin. Sometimes they would ask to touch it or ask him and Emily to undress completely for further inspection. Touching was okay, undressing was not. He had told them that humans had intelligence and were good endurance runners. That often drew laughter, and he could never tell if they were laughing at him or with him. He was just glad that they had a spot to go where nothing was trying to destroy or capture them.

Evaran waved at the alien and turned to walk toward Dr. Snowden and Emily.

Dr. Snowden studied Evaran. Evaran strolled as if he did not have a care in the world, but Dr. Snowden knew that to be far from the truth. Evaran looked human, but was not. Even his dirty-blond hair with a small wave out front was unnatural in that it never seemed to move. He always wore a light-gray suit with rubberlike armor pads. Dr. Snowden thought Evaran might have had some swimming clothes, but Evaran had gone into the water with his suit. The pads with multicolored lines around the edges were visible even when Evaran was under water.

Dr. Snowden liked the metallic neck guard, boots, forearm guards, and utility belt. They always seemed shiny and free of scuffs. The belt had a utility handle similar to his PSD, except Evaran’s was much more powerful, and the handle was larger, akin to the hilt of a sword. He had seen the utility handle exhibit abilities not present in his or Emily’s PSD, such as an orange heat beam. There were also small orbs and a universal interface card on the belt. The UIC allowed Evaran to access any technological system, which he could then view through his augmented reality interface. The ARI could only be seen by Evaran. It did not surprise Dr. Snowden that even under two suns, Evaran did not tan. His fair skin was a constant.

Evaran arrived and took a seat in the sand. He crooked a thumb back at the alien he had been talking to. “They are an interesting species.”

Dr. Snowden looked at the alien, who had gone back to doing whatever it did in the shack. He had learned that the native denizens of this planet called themselves Rokki. Given how warm the planet seemed year round and in their history, it was not too much of a surprise they would have evolved here. The fact that they were humanoid was a data point that he would have found puzzling, but after traveling with Evaran, he knew that there were other forces at work promoting the humanoid form.

The Rokki did not deal only in rest and relaxation; they had a burgeoning scientific community, with many alien races participating. The warm weather and accommodations alone would have been a great lure. Dr. Snowden did not mind it at all and liked touring some of the scientific events they had.

“Are you enjoying the beach?” asked Evaran.

“Heck yeah. There’s science and good weather—doesn’t get much better than that,” said Dr. Snowden. He pointed at Emily. “I even think I saw her crack a smile once.”

Emily raised an eyebrow.

“It’s much better than, say … a space station with a timeline change,” said Dr. Snowden.

“Understandable,” said Evaran.

The memory of their last adventure shot through Dr. Snowden’s mind. Although everything worked out, there were many complications. He had learned a lot more about Evaran, but it led to more questions. The one thing that stood out to him was that they had discovered there was a different, female version of Evaran who was not a past or future version. It was something that Dr. Snowden had chewed on for over a month.

Evaran pursed his lips. “Kamala is very relaxing, yet you seem deep in thought.”

“Well, I was thinking that this is what I thought most of our travels would be like,” said Dr. Snowden. “Maybe a few more cultural events or scrounging around ruins.”

“I am usually not this active in my travels,” said Evaran. “The fact that I am would seem to suggest I am in the right place.”

Dr. Snowden glanced over at Emily, who was looking at her feet. She did not want to travel with Evaran at first, but now she did not want to leave. Traveling with Evaran was her safe haven, her new home. He had hoped some time away from everything would change her outlook, but it was not appearing that way.

Evaran drew his lips taut. “After the last few adventures you two have been through, I hope this can make up for some of it.”

“If you’re taking requests on the next place to go, it would be interesting to go through the various layers of reality you’ve mentioned in the past,” said Dr. Snowden.

Evaran observed Dr. Snowden for a moment. “You wish to investigate my origin.”

Dr. Snowden chuckled. “We could do that, and maybe … find out more about this other Evaran and the Torvatta.”

“Perhaps,” said Evaran. “It has been on my mind as well. It could be dangerous, though.”

“I’m up for it,” said Emily.

“I figured you would be,” said Evaran. “Are you not relaxing here?”

Emily shrugged. “There’s not much to do other than sit and look at half-naked aliens.”

Dr. Snowden wrinkled his eyebrows. “You could interact with others …”

Emily shot Dr. Snowden a look.

“Okay, okay, maybe not,” said Dr. Snowden. He missed the Emily who would have dove into the history of Kamala and the Rokki. Now it seemed all she was interested in was knowing who was a threat. He shook his head and then looked around for V. Evaran had created V as a flying orb that could scan, stealth, and project holograms and had an extensible segmented arm that could pick up and carry small things. V had taken on a male persona and was made to be Evaran’s mobile assistant, but Dr. Snowden considered him a friend. “Where’s V?”

V shimmered into view. “I am here, Dr. Snowden. I was observing the organic life-forms from above.”

“Did you find anything interesting?”

“Analysis. There are twenty-six different species on this beach. Some were engaging in reproductive activity.”

“Oh … uhh … wow … ,” said Dr. Snowden as his eyes popped open. He ran a hand down his throat.

“Are you thirsty?”

“Actually … yeah. I could use some iced tea.”

V scanned Emily. “You both could use some hydration. I will bring some iced tea.” He flew off.

Dr. Snowden had raised a hand to stop V. “I was going to suggest we all head back for lunch, but this works too.”

Evaran glanced at Dr. Snowden. “V wanted to help you relax.”

Dr. Snowden harrumphed as he shook his head. “That’s V.”

After a few minutes, Dr. Snowden’s gaze followed V as he came back in full body mode. It intrigued him that despite the fact V could be in a humanoid robot form, he chose to be in orb mode the majority of the time. Since he had to carry something, robot mode had to be used.

V handed Dr. Snowden a metallic container. “It is chilled, and replicated using your previous pattern.”

“Thank you,” said Dr. Snowden.

V gave Emily the other one. “This is for you.”

“Thanks,” said Emily.

V faced Evaran. “A summons has been initiated.”

Evaran snapped his head toward V. “When did it activate?”

“It activated one hour ago.”

Evaran sighed as he looked up. “Okay. I will check it out once on board.” He glanced at Dr. Snowden. “Since I know you will ask, summonses are something that came with the Torvatta. It was part of the package. A summons sends me to a point in space and time where I must intervene in some unknown situation and use my judgment to render a decision. The timeline will adjust to it.”

“Whoa,” said Dr. Snowden. “You make it sound like the Torvatta’s alive.”

“I get that feeling sometimes. The Torvatta actually has a list of places for me to investigate. If one activates, I must go, but I have ignored them for a while now,” said Evaran.

Dr. Snowden raised his head a bit. “Because of us … right?”

“Yes. It would appear the Torvatta does not have patience.”

“How does it have a list of places across space and time?”

“I am not sure,” said Evaran. “That was never explained when the Torvatta was given to me, and I have not found anything in the Torvatta’s database on it. However, it was responsible for me going to the Andromeda galaxy long ago.”

Dr. Snowden’s eyes narrowed. “Maybe the person who gave you the Torvatta is sending these summons …”

“It is possible,” said Evaran. “I understand your concern, but the summons I have responded to needed my presence. The friend who gave me the Torvatta is someone who I would trust my life with.”

Dr. Snowden adjusted his glasses. “What happens if you ignore an active summons?”

“The Torvatta will transport itself to that location the next time I step on board. I do have some time before that occurs, though.”

Dr. Snowden’s eyes widened. “Yeah … that should probably be checked out then.”

“Will this delay my orb upgrade?” asked V.

“I am afraid so. I still have some work to do on it,” said Evaran. “Once this summons is resolved, it will be my top priority. You have my word.”

“Acknowledged.”

Emily picked up her survival suit and put it in her lap. She glanced at Evaran. “I’m ready to go when you are.”

Evaran rubbed his chin. “A summons is potentially dangerous. Maybe you two should stay here. I can handle it and be back in less than ten minutes from your perspective. Then we could take Dr. Snowden’s suggestion for our next place to go.”

Dr. Snowden grinned at Emily, then shook a fist at Evaran. “No way. We go as a team. Evaran and the gang.”

Emily snorted as a smile fought for control of her lips.

Evaran shook his head. “Humanity. Always up for a challenge, even at this young age. Very well. Let us head to the Torvatta.”


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