THE EVARAN ORIGIN - First Scene



Chapter One

Only a half-inch transparent kinetic shield separated Dr. Albert Snowden from the crushing depths of the alien ocean. From what he understood, the more pressure exerted on the shield, the stronger it became. At the surface, he could walk through it, but several miles underwater, it was a steel wall. The shield possessed a slight reflective quality, which allowed him to see his brown twill pants, bow tie, jacket, and cotton vest that offset his white shirt and fair skin in the reflection.

He raised his eyebrows at the two four-hundred-ton gerus swimming outside the shield. At least they had each other. He thought about how close he had come to being with someone compatible a few months ago. It was clear that having any relationship would be difficult, if not impossible while traveling with Evaran, a powerful being who had rescued him and his niece, Emily, from an alien abduction a while back. After spending the last two months visiting several worlds and exploring various levels of technology, he enjoyed the nice change of pace from the hectic nature of some adventures.

Emily, V, and Evaran were his constant companions. V was Evaran’s trusty mobile artificial intelligence that often took the form of an orb but could also fly into the chest of a humanoid robotic shell and operate in that mode.

Dr. Snowden recalled that during the abduction, V had been referred to as male sometimes, and other times gender neutral. V’s male persona was cemented in Dr. Snowden’s mind after V changed his voice due to his interaction with Jay Beerman, one of the other humans who was abducted alongside him and Emily. Even with V becoming one of Dr. Snowden’s closest friends, it had been a challenge adjusting to traveling to any point in space or time, and even beyond the universe. With a sigh, he ran a hand through one of the gray tufts of hair that sat on the sides of his balding head while taking in the salty scent that seemed to permeate the area. He adjusted his glasses as he leaned back into the bench.

The underwater city around him was not quite as bustling as he had imagined it would be, and despite the shield humming, the silence invited a nap. As his eyes began to close, footsteps echoed out from behind him. His nanobots started to tingle. They had been injected against his will by the aliens who had abducted him long ago, but he had come to rely on them now. Their enhancement of his senses told him that the footsteps belonged to Emily.

“Uncle Albert?”

Dr. Snowden turned his head and watched as she sat next to him. In her early twenties, she stood out among the city’s denizens with her muscular build, fair skin, and dirty-blond hair. He raised an eyebrow at her. “Yes …”

“You were about to take a nap, weren’t cha?”

He snorted. “I thought about it. It’s actually quite peaceful out here.”

Emily shook her head with a small grin. “You could nap through a hurricane.”

He studied her advanced, lightly armored power suit. She did not go anywhere without it. Compared to her, he looked like a tourist. She had been through some rough times since they had asked to travel with Evaran, and even though it was now in the past, the aftereffects were still visible in her. Still, seeing her crack a grin or a half smile here or there gave him hope. “Glad to see you’re in a good mood. Where’s Evaran?”

She pointed back the way she had come. “Him and V are at a plaza overlooking the city. The view is breathtaking.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. Maybe I should’ve stayed with the tour, but I wanted to be by myself for a bit.”

“I can leave if you want to be alone,” said Emily, lowering her head.

Dr. Snowden shook his head. “I might nap and you all could take off without me.”

She swatted his arm. “Now you’re being silly. Evaran said he would be there for a while. I was just making sure you were okay.”

He knew she could have used her personal support device to contact him. The pen-shaped PSDs that Evaran had given them were like smartphones on steroids. They could extend morphable matter and shoot stun and repulsion beams, and they had dimensional mechanics and provided an augmented reality view that was useful when doing analysis. He figured she wanted to get away from the tour too. “Well, since you’re here, you can enjoy watching these gerus with me.”

She observed the gerus swimming outside the city shields. “Amazing they grow so big.”

“Yeah … from what I read on them, they have a large, flexible backbone, with a strong skeletal structure. Two hearts, multiple organs … pretty advanced.”

“You think they were created?” she asked.

“I didn’t read that, but I’m thinking there was some genetic manipulation. Blue whales are half this size.”

“Huh,” she said, looking around. “Wow, it is quiet over here.”

“It’s why I like it,” he said.

A whooshing sound emanated from a tube nearby. Inside it was a Dukashzeer, the natives of the city.

He initially thought she might have been repulsed by the bug-like nature of the Dukashzeer, but instead it had been he. Although he appreciated their city and technology, their appearance made his skin crawl. They stood about eight feet tall, with a segmented body and a pair of legs on each segment, except the last one, which was more of a tail. Their antennae and multiple-eyed faces were not something he would ever want to meet in the dark. They also had a strong smell that almost made him gag the first time he smelled it. He bobbed his head. “There were some Dukashzeer that slithered by earlier, but other than that, just me and the gerus.”

She chuckled. “The Dukashzeer make you uncomfortable, don’t they?”

“Well … I mean … I know they shouldn’t … but they remind me of what a centipede would look like if it lived in water.”

“I’m with you there. Come to think of it, we’re probably the first humanoids they’ve ever seen. It seems all the other aliens here are insect-like.”

Dr. Snowden drew his lips to the right. “And crab- and lobster-like. Evaran did say that the humanoid form was not quite as common outside of our galactic cluster.”

The fact that they were in a galaxy on the edge of the Laniakea supercluster and that the date was September 9, 2012, relative to Earth, did not escape him. Of the one hundred thousand galaxies inside it, including the Milky Way, Evaran took them to a remote one and to the planet they were on: Bluizra. It was not a true water world, in that it had small islands with volcanic vents. The Dukashzeer had evolved around them and into quite a technological society both on the islands and in the water.

Emily eyed him. “You’re thinking again.”

He chuckled. “Yeah … guess I am.” He cast a sidelong glance at her. “I thought you wanted to go on the tour.”

“I did,” she said. “However, it’s moved on. Evaran and V stayed behind at the plaza, just like you stayed behind here.”

“So they stayed back … and you came to check on me.”

“Well … I get the feeling Evaran wants to talk to us. Given that you wanted to be alone, I think he wanted to give you some space. It’s been two hours, so …”

“It’s only a little past eleven, not even lunch time yet. And who does a tour at nine a.m. Bah,” said Dr. Snowden, tossing his hand out. “Evaran must have sent you.” He sighed. “All right. I think I’ve had enough of making eye contact with this geru.”

Emily looked at the geru.

It paused as it stared back.

“Yeah … let’s head back,” she said.

Dr. Snowden chuckled as he stood and gestured out. “After you.”

She nodded and took off down the metal walkway.

He surveyed the city architecture as he walked. The Dukashzeer zipped around in large tubes filled with ocean water. Although there were walkways like the one he was on, he got the feeling it was meant more for visitors in general. Their buildings reminded him of large upright pills with a pyramid-shaped base. Everything looked rounded to him.

The city was a patchwork of buildings, and the walkways linked everything together. Because the city itself was encased in a bubble shield, it seemed like every available space had a purpose.

After twenty minutes of walking, they reached the plaza that overlooked a large portion of the city. Evaran sat at a table out in the open area, with V in humanoid robot form next to him.

Dr. Snowden knew V wanted to be in flying orb mode, but the Dukashzeer were strict about flying machines, especially ones they did not build. Evaran, in his light-gray suit, with pads all over and segmenting, multicolored lines, stood out next to the tables filled with insectoid aliens. His dirty-blond hair with a wave out front never moved, even with the slight breeze that Dr. Snowden could feel brushing over him.

He squinted at the shimmering of Evaran’s boots, utility belt, neck guard, and forearm guards. They always seemed to be squeaky clean. Hanging off his belt was a utility handle, which Dr. Snowden had learned could be extended and shaped as needed as well as shoot a variety of beams. Evaran’s fair skin stood out compared to the darker hues on the surrounding aliens.

Evaran waved them over after spotting them. In a moment, they joined Evaran and V at their table.

“Is everything okay?” asked Evaran.

Dr. Snowden nodded. “I was just enjoying a bench and the view out into the ocean.”

“Understandable. Are you hungry?”

Dr. Snowden observed the aliens around him. Although he was not trying to stare at them, the various thoraxes, legs, and antennae turned his stomach. “I … think I’m okay.”

“Very well,” said Evaran. He half smiled at Emily. “Was he napping?”

Dr. Snowden harrumphed.

“I caught him right before he was about to,” said Emily.

Dr. Snowden shook his head.

“Emily said you would be, and V gave it a ninety-six-percent probability,” said Evaran.

Dr. Snowden raised an eyebrow at V.

“I apologize. I calculated that the serene environment you were in would lead you to nap.”

“It’s okay.”

Evaran cleared his throat. “Well, now that you are here, I wanted to discuss our next journey.”

Emily scooted to the edge of her chair.

Evaran wagged a finger at Dr. Snowden. “You were curious about my origin. I think we can explore that. However, there is a risk. We would move out of this timeline, out of this universe, and out of this plane. I am unsure how your form will react, given that your three-Ls are tied to this universe. Maybe I can record my trip and you can view it later,” said Evaran.

Dr. Snowden recalled that a three-L was a life link layer that sentient beings possessed, a link to a life layer that resided outside the universe. The concept that a universe was filled with nonintersecting timelines fascinated him. Their universe was one of many in a plane, which itself was part of a larger system. It boggled his mind how many layers of reality there were. “I think it’s worth the risk.” He glanced at Emily.

She nodded.

“Besides, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s out there, and maybe even learning more about the Torvatta. After six months of traveling with you, we’re ready,” said Dr. Snowden. He extended a hand out. “Nothing against this lovely place, but I think I’ve seen enough of it.”

“I figured as much. One thing to note. Although we are going to investigate where I came from, I also want to see if we can find out more about this female version of myself.”

“Do you have any more information on her?”

Evaran shook his head. “I do not. However, there are some possibilities I have considered that would require extenuating circumstances. We shall find out.”

Dr. Snowden nodded. He remembered fighting the timeline invader known as the overlord, who had tortured and killed a female Evaran in a pocket universe and then stuffed her life energy into a large rift stone. The look on Evaran’s face when he realized that the rift stone had her energy was ingrained in Dr. Snowden’s mind. “Another mystery we’ll figure out.”

Evaran eyed Dr. Snowden. “Your curiosity is refreshing. I too look forward to seeing what has changed since I arrived in this plane. We will check in with my main form.”

“I thought that you came in to the plane and took on a form?” asked Emily.

“I did, but only a portion of me. The rest of me is still out there. I believe I have found the beginnings of what I was looking for in this plane, so I should probably update my main form.”

Dr. Snowden shook his head. “I get the feeling this is going to be confusing.”

“Keep an open mind, as I know you both will do. Whatever happens, know that I have been honored to have you travel with me.”

Dr. Snowden gulped. “You make it sound so … final.”

“I did not mean to alarm you. However, I cannot predict what will happen once we leave this universe,” said Evaran.

“Gotcha.”

“Now, are you ready to expand your mind?”

“Let us do this,” said V.

Emily chuckled.

“I think V speaks for all of us,” said Dr. Snowden.

“Very well,” said Evaran as he stood. “To the Torvatta.”