Read Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy) Online

Authors: Andreas Christensen

Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy) (8 page)

BOOK: Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy)
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“So I take it I have to sit in on meetings with George Havelar? Colonel Quellar will remain in charge of the military? I’m not sure I can take orders from that woman, Kenneth, even if I really tried.” Kenneth was growing weary of this argument.

“No, you will not have to take orders from Quellar. I know she officially outranks you. After all, she was to be in charge of security on the ground, while your role was supposed to have ended when we set foot on this planet. But I dare say all that is moot now. Those were plans laid back on Earth more than a century ago, and everything has changed since then.” Kenneth looked right into her eyes, and spoke firmly.

“You are the war commander. Colonel Quellar is a capable officer, and she will retain her status, except that she will be your subordinate, regardless of formal rank. She has promised to serve, and to follow your orders, and that should be enough. I’m counting on your cooperation here, Tina.” Tina suddenly realized this was the president of Aurora speaking. She had never heard Kenneth Taylor being so firm, and though she didn’t agree on everything, she found his newfound firmness suited him. She half-smiled.

“Yes, sir.” Kenneth smiled briefly, before continuing.

“As to sitting in on meetings with Havelar, well, I guess that’s something we’ll both have to endure. But don’t you for a second believe that I like it any more than you do. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still a scumbag. Unfortunately, as it turns out, he’ll be our scumbag from now on.”

Ben waters

 

The order had been to stand ready to act as soon as the attack began, to go where the defenses most needed bolstering. Ben, Lisa, and Drew had taken turns watching the hilltop, where the signal would go up. Since they couldn’t rely on radio or other high-tech means of communication, the positions defending the paths leading through the mountains south of the Stronghold had been equipped with signal flares, each with a different color. He had expected the red, as that was the most likely route for the attackers. But no signal came. Day turned to night, and with the daybreak, a messenger came for them. The messenger panted as he tried to calm his breath enough to give them the message.

“Fort Andrews… It’s fallen.” That had brought them all to their feet.

“What? How did that…” Lisa asked as the messenger breathed deeply and continued.

“They say someone attacked Andrews, and Havelar made it out with most of the people there. Looks like they’re making peace at the Stronghold as we speak. Got bigger things on their minds now, I guess.”
Yeah
, Ben thought.
And just like that, everything that bastard and his cronies have done is forgiven
. He felt a simmering anger rising as he spoke to the messenger.

“So what are our orders?”

“You’re to come back to the Stronghold ASAP. We’ll need to join forces. Actually, Hammer wants you to report to a Dr. Bowers for treatment. Maybe he’ll find some sort of cure for the… Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing if my brother is down there. He was with the security forces…” The messenger trailed off as Ben sneered at him.

“Your brother fought for
them
?” he said. The messenger didn’t reply, but took a step back.

Afterward, he didn’t remember what had happened, but Drew was shouting at him, and Lisa was trying to move in between him and the already dying messenger. Ben shoved her out of the way and looked down at the messenger writhing on the ground, throat cut wide open and blood spurting out. Had he done that?

Lisa slapped him.

“Hey!” she shouted. She slapped him again, and he slowly looked at her, before turning to Drew. He looked back down at the younger boy, again ignoring Lisa’s shouting.

“What the hell did you do that for? What did he ever do to you?” Drew screamed at him. Ben didn’t listen, or care. He didn’t care about anything, except the knife in his hand, bloody from cutting open the messenger.
The messenger with a brother who had tried to kill them all
. All his nightmares flashed in front of him: his days of service with General Hayden's rebels back on Earth, drafted to carry ammunition for the adults, but ending up serving on an artillery battery, far too young to vote or drink, but not too young for war; the ride into orbit, getting on the New Discovery, the final shuttle to leave Earth, taking charge of the younger kids when they panicked; seeing his friend Harry fall as he was shot by Havelar’s security guards; killing the enemy soldiers, killing, killing, killing.
Flash
!

“No, Ben…” he heard Lisa say from behind him, voice quivering. He spun away from Drew, who slumped to the ground, clutching his bleeding stomach. She was too close. He lunged for her, but she was too quick for him. She rolled to the side and spun around. When she faced him again, she had her knife up. Still, she hesitated.

“Don’t do this, Ben,” she pleaded. There was no fear in her voice, though, and if it came to it, she would try to kill him, as well. Drew lay bleeding on the ground. Ben cast him a look, while he remained focused on the greater danger. He had to kill her. He wanted to kill her.

“Come on, Ben. This is not you. We’re your friends!” Lisa went on and on, but Ben hardly heard her anymore. They wanted him to get treated. To kill the part of him that made him feel alive. He growled and bared his teeth. Then he lunged for her again, only this time, he anticipated her evasive movement and managed to take her by surprise. He pushed the knife into her belly, felt the blade penetrate her flesh before entering her abdomen, pushing deeper. Her wide eyes stared at him, and her mouth opened and closed again and again, as he held her tight. Neither of them uttered a sound, and when he decided to let her go, she fell into a heap.

Someone was shouting in the distance. He turned slowly, mind blurred, and saw a familiar face. The adrenaline seemed to seep out of him as he realized it was Tina Hammer. The woman who had saved them all, back when they were just a bunch of kids. Memories washed over him. He was Benjamin Waters, the oldest of the children sent on the New Discovery, the last shuttle to leave Earth. On the ground lay his friends, Drew and Lisa. He had killed them both. He looked down at his own bloody hands. Then his gaze rose again, at the woman to whom he owed his life. The disappointment in her eyes was mixed with fear and disgust. Or were those emotions his own? He couldn’t tell anymore. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. The blood lust was gone, but now another instinct took over. Flight. He quickly scanned the woods and saw more armed men approaching. There. An opening. One area not covered, a way out of the situation. He darted across the clearing in an instant, almost close enough to touch one of them, and jumped over a fallen trunk as he disappeared into the woods. A shot rang out behind him, but he heard Tina bark an order to hold their fire. He peeked over his shoulder, but no one was even close to following him. He kept running, away from it all. Away from himself.

Chapter 8
 

Maria solis

 

Maria staggered out of bed, almost gagging. She felt sick and needed to take off her mask. The problem was that her cabin wasn’t airtight. Throwing up inside the mask might choke her, and taking it off could prove just as dangerous. The parasite
changed
people. She didn’t want to turn out like Benjamin Waters.

She had felt pretty bad yesterday, as well, bad enough to postpone the trip north. But not like this. Not like this all-consuming need to throw up. Had she eaten something bad? She felt sweat break as she hurried to get dressed, not even caring to tie her shoelaces. Then she ran out the door. The hospital tent was just a hundred meters away, right next to where the soldiers from Fort Andrews had settled. Tears welled up as she covered the short distance, and by the time she entered the tent, she was holding her breath, afraid that the next might produce an uncontrollable reflex.

“Come, come. Let’s get you through the airlock,” Doc Bowers said, and Geena rushed to help. She spent the longest thirty seconds of her life waiting for the outside air to be pushed out by the pressure, before Geena helped her take off her mask. Then she threw up on the floor.

“How do you feel? Have you taken off the mask before?” the doctor asked. Maria shook her head. Geena took her temperature by sticking an instrument into her ear, and then helped her over to a bed, where she could finally lie back and breathe freely.

“I felt bad yesterday morning, too, but it got better after a couple of hours. Nothing like this though.” Doc Bowers checked her pupils, her pulse, and made her open her mouth. Then he took a small blood sample and put it in some kind of machine.

“You seem fine, but I need to run a few tests to be sure. And we need to know what this is. Can’t have you doing this every morning now, can we?” He smiled. Both the doctor and Geena looked tired. And Maria knew why. They had so many to tend to, especially Lisa Hayden and Drew Simmonds, who were still drifting in and out of consciousness. Yesterday, Geena had told her, the boy Drew had flat lined, and they had to shock him. The day before, he’d been the stable one, and Lisa had stopped breathing for a couple of minutes.

If not for Doc Bowers, both of them might have died by now, and Maria had a feeling she would be far worse off, as well. As frantic as the evacuation of Fort Andrews was, everyone knew the importance of taking as much of the doctor’s equipment as possible, and they had managed to fill up one of the quads with this inflatable tent and all kinds of medical equipment. And now, it was saving lives. Before, Kim and Geena were the closest thing the Stronghold had to a doctor, since the three real doctors had stayed back in Fort Andrews. The other two had gone out again with the soldiers manning the defensive positions in the mountains, leaving Bowers with the civilians here at the Stronghold.

“So, do you know where Thomas is?” Geena asked, smiling. Everyone seemed to know, and Maria blushed.

“No. He left a few days ago, headed south. Probably searching for answers.” She paused. “Don’t you find it strange that no one has any idea who attacked Fort Andrews? I know everyone down there thought it was us, at first, but it’s as if no one even saw the attackers. Or maybe, all those who saw them are either dead or captured.” Geena nodded.

“Yes. It frightens me even more than when we heard the soldiers were coming here. After all, they were our kind, our people, no matter the differences.” They both trailed off, as Doc Bowers seemed to be chuckling as he read off the results from the tests. Then he came over and smiled at Maria.

“Young woman, you’re not sick at all. You’re pregnant.”

Tina hammer

 

“Will they live?” Tina asked. Doc Bowers shrugged.

“No way to tell. I can tell you that the prognosis is not good, but they are young and healthy…” He paused for a moment, choosing his words carefully. “The parasite seems to be fighting to keep them alive, as well… It’s actually quite remarkable. It looks like it powers the white blood cells, I’ve never seen any so actively searching out alien elements. It seems to be boosting their anti-infection abilities, and their erythrocytes, the red blood cells, are multiplying faster than I thought possible…” He trailed off before looking up at her again.

“They have been given the best treatment we can offer, and now all we can do is hope for the best.” Tina nodded. She had seen death before, and cried for lost friends both back in the North African wars and here on Aurora. But these two were so young…

And this situation was different. She felt sorry for Drew and Lisa, but she felt just as sorry for Ben. The things he’d been through had changed him, damaged him. She was no psychiatrist, but it seemed to her that he was clearly suffering from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, she thought the wars had damaged her, as well, but looking at Ben, she knew she was just tired of it. As anyone who’d been in the thick of fighting too many times would be. But Ben had lashed out at his closest friends, and ultimately, may have even killed them both.

They had given up the search for Ben after a few hours, and Tina was the one to pull back the search parties. There was no use trying to track him down; he’d be too far ahead of them, with his inhuman speed. Besides, they didn’t have anyone to spare. There was a storm coming, an enemy of unknown origin, and they would come through the mountains, from the south. Their only hope was to try to hold them with everything they had.

She thanked the doctor and walked away, knowing that Lisa and Drew were in good hands. If anyone could keep them alive and help them recover, it was Doc Bowers. He had even mentioned that he planned to study them, to learn more about the parasite that was both keeping them alive and trying to control them at the same time. She was relieved that the refugees had brought a lot of medical supplies. They even had a multi scanner, which would be immensely helpful in diagnosing everything from small fractures to cancer. They still had to solve the power issue, though. The batteries, many of which were essentially mini-reactors, would only last for so long. They had taken a few from Port Hammer and reserved them for essential uses only. She wished the refugees from Fort Andrews had brought some, as well. As with the food, if they didn’t come up with some creative solutions soon, by next winter, they would both starve and freeze.

Kenneth had mentioned that some of the refugees who were headed north to the coast were reactor workers, electricians, power technicians, and engineers. Coming up with a reliable power source was one of the issues they were going to work on up north, in addition to establishing the fishermen and the farmers in order to cultivate enough food supplies for the growing settlement. She wished she could have gone with them, instead of staying here, directing the defenses. She was so sick of war! She wanted to build and explore and see this wonderful new world. She sighed. She knew her duty, and though she ached for something else, she knew her dreams would have to be put on hold for now.

Kenneth taylor

 

Kenneth stood, waiting for the nausea to subside. He would be late again, but while the spell lasted, he just had to fight the dizziness and keep his stomach contents down. They came more often now. It had been just a few days since the last one, and he was worried that the stress of being in charge was getting to him. After all, he wasn’t used to this, and while he had Tina to take care of the military matters, he was still the elected president. In the end, what happened was his responsibility, no matter how many shared the burden with him. It wasn’t something he had sought out, either; he’d never wanted to be a leader. But for some reason, the Aurorans at the Stronghold had turned to him, and now it seemed the refugees from Fort Andrews had turned to him, as well. He shook his head as the spell faded; he really had no idea what he was doing.

As he walked toward the others, he noticed the general bustle around him. The refugees seemed to be settling in, though, and some were already at work putting up more cabins. Others were talking, generally about relatives, friends, or just idle chatter. Some were mixing, north and south; others stayed with their own, not trusting their former enemies. That would take time, Kenneth thought as he approached the group sitting by the fire. The one topic he heard the most was the question no one could answer: who attacked Fort Andrews? Everyone had their ideas, but no one really knew, and none of the refugees had seen anything. All they knew was that someone had attacked them, and they were lucky to have escaped alive. Kenneth wanted to add that they had been lucky they had a governor who realized the danger before anyone else, and who took action quickly and saved most of the population. He’d never thought he’d say that about George Havelar, but what he had done was nothing short of remarkable. Granted, the help of people like Isabella Solis and others made it all easier, but still, to turn their backs on everything in an instant, and make everyone follow them like that was truly a feat not many others could have managed.

And now, here they were. Friends and former enemies, gathered around the fire, to discuss strategies to face this threat that no one saw coming. Except George Havelar. Kenneth sat down next to Tina, and eyed her sideways. He knew the older kid, Ben, was still missing, and the other two were hanging on by a thread. Luckily, the parasite worked in their favor, increasing their likelihood of survival, and Dr. Bowers had been stitching them up for most of the day, with the help of Geena, who was quickly turning into some sort of apprentice to the doctor. They might actually survive, but nevertheless, Ben had turned on his friends and tried to kill them both. He’d killed the messenger sent to get them back also. Kenneth knew how Tina felt about these kids, and he thought he saw the weight of responsibility heavy on her shoulders.

“So, what do we know?” Kenneth asked of the group. He noticed Rajiv Singh sitting there lost in thought, but he didn’t expect the Dehlian to have much to offer at the moment. Tina didn’t say anything. As soon as the refugees were safe, she had sent Thomas and his team out to search for answers. None of them expected any information to reach them for a while yet. Dean and Kim would be escorting Maria Solis and Karin Svensson back up north in a couple of days, to search for more answers at the cave. Kenneth knew Maria had discovered something up there, among the little creatures she considered to be intelligent, and he wished he could go with her to meet them. He suspected there was something very significant about them, and there might even be some answers concerning their attackers, too. But so far, only a handful of people knew, and in this situation, his leaving for some scientific discovery might not be the correct course of action. No, he wasn’t just a scientist anymore, and at this time, his governing responsibilities had to take precedence. And, if he was honest with himself, he wasn’t really feeling fit to travel. Havelar coughed lightly, and all eyes turned toward him.

“Well, we do know they have technology that is different. Advanced, but not so far out there that we don’t understand it. No laser guns or anything like that. But weapons that are far more accurate from great distances than ours, and body armor that seems extremely effective at stopping our bullets. And they have the ability to scramble our communications, but not take it out completely.” Kenneth saw Tina was nodding, and he almost chuckled. Her approval of Havelar’s assessment was nothing but astonishing.

“So… fighting them from a distance is out of the question then. They have the advantage there,” she said.

“Well, we do have rocket launchers…” Havelar said, but Tina cut him off.

“Which will come in handy, yes, but we only have a limited number and no way to manufacture more.”

“I’m worried about their body armor,” Havelar mused.

“From what I could decipher from speaking to Major Carroll, I don’t think our guys took out a single one of theirs. Granted, the security guards at the shuttle field only had rifles and light machine guns, but this is something that concerns me. How can we fight if we can’t hurt them?” No one answered that, and Kenneth looked at Rajiv again, who hadn’t said a word.

“Mr. Singh, what do you think?” he said, startling the ambassador. The Dehlian thought for a moment before he replied.

“I don’t think you will find a way to fight them yet. You don’t know who or what they are. I do have a theory that… No, it will have to wait. Do what you can with what you have, but for now, you need more information. Know your enemy,” he said and sat back. Kenneth spread his hands.

“Well, I agree. We need to know what we’re dealing with. The good thing is that we’re now united, finally. And whatever happens later, we will figure out a way to hurt them,” he said, and paused. He looked at the Dehlian. “We’re not going quietly, you know.” Rajiv Singh nodded quietly, while Havelar chuckled and Tina actually smiled, a wolfish smile.

“Yeah, that’s for sure,” she said.

Thomas dunn

 

This better be worth it, Thomas thought as he cautiously made his way across the field, toward where two of his team members were holding down a black humanoid shape. The five of them had been positioned just outside Fort Andrews, observing it for days to make sure they knew the enemy’s schedule. Once they were sure, they had waited for the right time. An enemy patrol had come right on time, two figures, humanoid shapes in black combat gear. It had been a close call. Knives only, to keep it quiet. They captured one and killed the other in the scuffle, proving that, no matter their body armor, even these creatures could be killed. As he approached his team, Marco, originally one of the Fort Andrews conscripts who had shown enough talent to be recruited onto Thomas’s team, gave him a thumbs up with one hand, while holding the prisoner in a headlock with the other.

BOOK: Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy)
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