1. Marta and the Mystery of My Origins
When I was a little girl I never questioned the fact of my mother's interest in the Apollo space exploration program. At an early age I imagined myself living in space, possibly on Mars. My mother certainly did nothing to inhibit me from speaking about my idea of one day moving to Mars.
When I grew up, I quickly accepted the reality of space travel; that I would not become and astronaut. By then, I'd become particularly interested in biology, although I never neglected the physical sciences and I never lost my enthusiasm for the idea that the people of Earth must some day spread outward from this world and explore the vastness of outer space.
I collected a new sample and repeated the experiment, being very careful to avoid any possible contamination. The source of the DNA was myself.
I had simply wanted to use my own DNA as a control sample for my analysis of DNA patterns among the native peoples of South America. I'd grown up, from the age of nine, in Salinópolis, Brazil, then I'd become a scientist and come to be involved in tracing the genetic origins native Americans.
Of course, the second sequencing run for my mitochondrial DNA gave exactly the same results as the first. That's when I started thinking. Just who was I? I'd never really known my father well. I do have memories of him and I remember my early life on Annobón, but as a small child my life had revolved around my mother. When my father was home from working at sea, he seemed like a visiting uncle.
Growing up, when the weather was fine my mother and I spent long days on the shore. Other days were spent in exploration of my budding scientific interests. Later, when I was allowed to go to school and spend time with normal families I began to realize how unusual it was that I knew nobody in my family except my mother.
I'd always assumed that my mother was uncomfortable talking about the death of my father and all aspects of her life before we arrived in Salinópolis. How could I have imagined what she was hiding from me?
When I arrived back in Salinópolis, I found my mother's house deserted. Neighbors told me that they had not seen her since about the day when I had called to say that I was coming home for a visit and for a sample of her DNA. For a week there after, a cleaning crew had come to the house every day, apparently trying to remove from the house every stray cell and strand of DNA from my mother.
I was mystified by my mother's disappearance from Salinópolis. I had still been able to reach my mother by phone, right up until the previous day when I was flying home. However, when I got home all I found as a remaining link to my mother was a computer and an email address through which I could contact her.
In our email exchanges, she apologized for running off, but was firm in her insistence that I would never see her again if I persisted in the investigation of my unusual DNA. She refused to explain anything about her early life and my ancestors.
2. Grean: the Mary Olwen identity
Months later, when I was only a few weeks away from submitting for publication an article about my unusual DNA, I finally began to make some progress towards understanding my mysterious origins. I received an email from my mother telling me to expect a visit from someone named Mary Olwen, but who was actually Grean, a Kac'hin.
My mother told me that "Mary" could explain my origins and why my DNA was so unusual. When Grean arrived at my home it was late in the evening and she appeared on my door step like a mysterious ghost shrouded in a gray robe. When I swung open the front door, she asked with her strangely metallic voice, "May I come in?"
When I first saw Grean I thought she might be some sort of genetic freak. She had a hood up over her head and I could only see small flashes of light reflecting from her face. She was skinny and seemed to move oddly, like a patient with a movement disorder. We sat down in my living room and I offered her some tea, which she declined. I suppose my nervousness was obvious and he tried to put me at ease, "You might well need something to steady your nerves, but I'm fine without."
I asked, "Your name is Mary Olwen? Are we related, somehow?"
She laughed, making an odd chittery sound like a drunk bird. "Yes, we are, although not closely. 'Mary Olwen' is a fake name, a ruse to get me into your home so we can talk. If you accept my offer then you will learn my real name."
I felt myself slipping into a vortex of lies and deception. Why couldn't my mother be honest about our past? What horrible secrets were there waiting for me, and why must I hear them from this strange woman? "So, my unusual DNA is from your side of my family?"
"That's correct, I have mitochondria that are similar to yours. One Kac'hin is much like another...there simply are not that many of us."
I could not really understand what she had said. Only later did I know she had said "Kac'hin". In my ignorance, I was asking, "Did you say 'cock in'?" while at that very moment she allowed her hands to emerge from the sleeves of her robe, revealing her long inhuman fingers.
I got out of my chair and approached her: I needed to touch her and try to confirm that this was not some trick, not just a person in a costume. She allowed me to touch her and she seemed real enough, but I asked, "Will you allow me to analyze your DNA?"
She asked, "What good would that do? Do you really think it is wise to tell the world about your...alien origins?"
Weak kneed, I returned to my chair, only half believing the idea that my grandmother was a visitor from another world. I managed to stammer out, "This is a...the most amazing discover since...ever."
She did not care about my perspective as a scientist who had stumbled onto genetic proof of alien visitors to Earth. Her voice was now tinged with impatience, "I've come to ask you not to publish your genetic findings. The people of your world are not quite ready for this knowledge."
By that point, I'd spent months excitedly planning how I would astound the scientific community by publishing my findings. Until Grean's visit, I'd imagined that I was part of some previously unrecognized human lineage that had evolved on Earth. That I could trace my origins to a distant planet was even more astounding. It came as a shock to me that anyone -besides my mother- would ask me to keep my discovery secret. "What if I refuse to take your advice and I go ahead and publish my own DNA sequence?"
Grean patiently explained the situation to me. "You are free to do so, but I ask you to hear my views on this matter first. In about 20 years a spaceship will reach Earth and then the time will be right for Earthlings to learn the truth, but now is not quite the time. If you reveal your unusual DNA then you will become an object of study and your family will be hunted down and harassed, all in a futile attempt to understand what cannot be understood by Earthlings."
Somehow, I believed her. I sat there, taking note of the fact that something in her alien features did remind me of my mother. Strangely, I had quickly become more surprised by my own sense of familiarity with the alien Kac'hin form than I was shocked by her alien features. Later I learned that Grean had taken control of my brain so as to artificially calm my fears and allow me to think. Still, I felt the need to press my point. "Why should I trust you? What is this spaceship? Were you left here on Earth, are your people returning to pick you up?"
Grean sighed. "It is all rather complex. The people who will arrive in 20 years are members of the Buld Clan...they are not Kac'hin. I am not stranded here....this is not some Hollywood movie plot."
I knew, somehow, that Grean was not a personal danger to me and that the Kac'hin were not a danger to Earth. Even then I knew that Grean was not even a "she", but that was an issue that could wait to be resolved on another day. I asked, "Why are you here?"
She was too warm in her robe, so she stood up and took it off, draping it over the back of her chair. I could tell that she did move gracefully, just oddly, not like a cripple. "Her" body contours were boyish and from that moment on I could no longer think of her as a woman. There, in my home, was an alien visitor from a distant planet, gently trying to tell me that my life, as I knew it, was over. She moved to a bookcase and spoke with her back turned to me, "I'd rather not go into all that unless you intend to take my advice. If you go ahead and publish your DNA sequence then I'll have to make you forget everything you know about me."
She'd spoken with simple directness, but I sensed a firmness in her voice, a voice that was not that of the tomboy my eyes told be was standing in my living room, casually glancing over the titles of books on a shelf. I knew I was missing the point of her words, but I was forced to ask, "Is that a threat?"
She turned around and approached me, then she paused and stood there, gazing calmly down at me, "It is a fact. Think about your poor mother. She planned to live out her life among her friends in Salinópolis. Friends that she had worked so hard to cultivate. Now she has been forced to move and go into hiding. She does not want to become an object of investigation, no matter how well intentioned you and your fellow scientists might be. Sure, you might be able to engineer yourself into a position of fame and notoriety by revealing your unusual genetics, but do you want to live your life as a prized biological specimen?"
At that moment I was struggling to imagine a future in which I would abandon my goals and my scientific career. "Do you really just expect me to forget..." Watching her glossy and inhuman eyes, I began to imagined what she might do to me. I interrupted myself and asked, "...do you intend to erase my memories of this discovery?"
Grean nodded with approval. "Yes, exactly." The weight of her great eyes was upon me and I knew that Grean was a hermaphrodite and that I should think "thon, not "she". Thon continued, "I could do that, but I won't. You are free to publish your discovery. But first, listen to me. There is an alternative...a better future for you. Come away with me right now. Abandon your plan to publish and I will take you to a place where you can learn the truth about yourself, your family...a place where you can participate constructively in the process of preparing this world for contact with the Buld."
Fine. Enough of that. Grean is not female, but so as not to confuse you, I'll continue to refer to "her" as "she", even though "she" had successfully inserted into my mind the fact that on "her" home planet a different pronoun was used for the hermaphroditic Kac'hin.
Imagining some kind of alien abduction scenario, I asked, "You intend to take me away from Earth?"
"No, your place is here, on this world, with your family."
"My spaceship is hidden here on Earth. Your family lives aboard my ship."
"You're holding my mother on your spaceship?"
"No, she refuses to return to her home. She was born on Many Sails, but she prefers being out among the masses. Your sisters live with Many Sails and they need your help, particularly Anna."
"I have a sister?"
Grean seemed to have satisfied herself that I was accepting her alien nature without suffering an anxiety attack. She stopped standing there over me, standing too close for my comfort, and she returned to her chair. "Yes, you have sisters. Actually, they are clones of you. Anna is the oldest...only five years younger than you."
I was not really surprised. Growing up with my mother I had sometimes been lonely, but I had always imagined that I was not alone. Only later did I learn that my ability to converse with myself, to hold dialogs in my own mind, actually arose from telepathic contact with my "sisters". I could sense the truth of what I had been told by Grean, but the idea of cloning was a shock. "Clones? Reproductive cloning? You have made...copies...of me?"
"Ivory, don't blame me." Grean jumped to her feet and came back across the room. She sat on the arm of my chair and pushed "her" long thin fingers through my hair. "No, I was not clever enough to recognize the importance of your biological excellence nor imagine the role that you must play. However, it now is my duty to make sure that you understand these mysteries and make it possible for you to play your role in liberating Humanity."
Her words seemed overly dramatic. I took hold of her hand and traced the spidery delicacy of her fingers with my own. I felt a cold chill up my spine and I had to ask, "Liberation?"
Grean leaned forward and squeezed my hand between hers, "You Earthlings have been carefully confined to this world...your coffin. Think of all the species that have come into existence, had a time under the Sun, but are now gone...returned to the dust. You, Ivory, can give your people the stars. I offer you the chance to participate in that great adventure...or you can stay where you are, dutifully nailing up the coffin of your life on this dingy little planet."
By then I had already decided to accept her offer, but I was curious about the details. "Where is your spaceship hidden?"
Grean pulled me to my feet and we walked slowly across the room. "I will, show you." She led me into my bedroom and went right to where I had put the pair of red running shoes, the one material piece of my past that my mother had left for me. Grean handed the shoes to me and I knew that I should put them on. Sitting on the foot of my bed, I changed shoes. I stood up and Grean took my hand and led the way back to the living room. She explained, "These shoes contain a targeting system for access to the Hierion Domain." A moment later we were aboard Many Sails. Our teleportation was so smoothly instantaneous that one foot fall was in Brazil and the next inside Many Sails. There, leaning over a bench in her lab was my sister, Anna. She turned her head and smiled.
Anna exclaimed, "Ivory!" Grean released my hand and I embraced my "sister". Anna was an image of me, the "me" as I was five years before. I marveled at the sensation of holding myself, but something deeper than my sensory system was responding to the feel of her warm body in my arms. Anna took my hand and quickly pulled me from the laboratory into a corridor. "You must meet your family. Can you feel them?"
Strangely, I could. In particular, Angela was there, in my thoughts and I knew she was running. Then I saw her, a tiny little girl running towards us along that wide corridor inside Many Sails. I picked her up and we hugged. Of course, she knew my name and I could almost hear her saying it. But that was all in my head.
Anna was speaking, "Angela has not yet begun to speak, but she will. Her older sisters were also delayed for speech, but they are now using their voices."
I had to say something, so I foolishly said, "Telepathy."
Anna nodded, "It is technology-assisted telepathy, if you must use that label. The Kac'hin find it convenient to impregnate Earthlings with microscopic devices that allow us to connect our minds."
I looked around, realizing that Grean was no longer with us. Anna knew that I was looking for Grean. "Grean leaves us to ourselves. Thon simply did thons duty and brought you back to us."
Standing there and looking around myself, I was suddenly remembering having been inside Many Sails before. Strange childhood memories that had never made sense were there in my mind, meshing with what I was now seeing. Then Many Sails spoke, "Yes, Ivory, you were like Angela, late to speak. Your memories of being here inside me are pre-verbal memories." The spaceship projected an image of another little girl, indistinguishable in any significant way from Angela, running down the corridor. "There you go." And there, in the projected image from decades earlier was my mother, picking me up and holding me just as I was now holding Angela. The image faded away.
|Angela, Anney, Cory|
Cory nodded to me, but I was saddened to sense that she and I did not share any of the telepathic connectedness that I felt between myself and my clones.
Angela wanted to be placed on the bed, and I could "hear" her plea for help in my mind. I set her on the bed and she began to bounce. Soon the room was filled with shrieks of joyful play from Angela and Anney and Cory was hardly any less rambunctious.
With all my old memories rushing back into my consciousness, I said to Anna, "This was my bedroom."
She nodded, "And it later became my bedroom after you had left Many Sails to go live among the masses. But I never knew how to find you until I saw you in Angela's mind. Of course, Grean knew exactly how to find you when I finally discussed you with thon."
I already knew what Anna was telling me, but I was still getting used to knowing things by way of telepathy and the Interface. "Thon? Grean?"
Anna explained, "The Kac'hin who brought you here is Grean. This is her ship. Grean is a Kac'hin hermaphrodite, although she can morph into any physical form she likes."
Anna and I sat down at the far end of the room while the kids continued their noisy play with Cory. Anna and I were holding hands and I felt at peace, knowing that Grean had told me the truth...this was where I belonged. However, my mind was racing to assimilate the strange facts that were now all suddenly revealed to me. "Anna, tell me: just where does Grean come from?"
"She was born on a world of the Galactic Core and soon she'll return to her home. She's not really happy here on Earth, but she had a job to do. Actually, she's been so much happier since I found you and we decided to bring you back here. Grean thinks you are 'the last puzzle piece' and now that you are here there is nothing remaining for her to do on Earth."
I could sense that I was needed to help with Angela and Anney, but I could not immediately guess exactly what I was expected to contribute to their care and upbringing. Anna spoke quickly and sternly, "I was so afraid that I had done wrong. When it became clear that Angela could not only tap into my mind but also access...other sources of information...we had a crisis. She could not make sense of what was open to her mind. I thought she might become insane. Of course, I need not have worried. Grean knew what Angela was experiencing because I had managed to provide Angela with access to what all the Kac'hin normally experience: the Bimanoid Interface."
It took years for me to understand the Interface. On that day of my return to Many Sails Anna did her best to explain it to me. I'll provide an "explanation" now, but this is really a topic that Earthlings can only slowly come to comprehend. I'll leave it to the Editor to do the heavy lifting, but here is the short version...
The Kac'hin were designed to have full access to the universe. Most Earthlings lack the special Kac'hin gene combinations that allow them to use the Interface. One of the great discoveries of 20th century science on Earth was the fact that most of the universe exists beyond the subset of things that are perceptible to human senses. In a way, humans evolved on Earth like blind mice trapped in a deep cavern...with limited senses appropriate for our environment.
What is there beyond the limited subset of the world that is revealed to us by human senses? Most importantly, there is the Sedronic Domain. Existing in dimensions beyond those we can enter and composed of exotic matter known as sedrons, the Sedronic Domain is the 95% of the universe that normally escapes human attention. However, there is a technological path by which primitive biological creatures can gain access to the Sedronic Domain and the Huaoshy went down that evolutionary path and crossed over into sedronic existence hundreds of millions of years ago.
The Huaoshy originated in a distant galaxy as biologicals, as life forms not too different from we humans. Existing as advanced artificial lifeforms within the Sedronic Domain, the Huaoshy gradually lost interest in the mundane affairs of biological lifeforms. Then, there was a crisis that originated right here on Earth. To deal with that crisis, the Huaoshy needed the Kac'hin as a way to interact with Earthlings. That is why Grean came to Earth.
Imagine being born blind while all around you is an unseen world of light and color. For you, as an Earthling, that kind of blind existence is your life. Angela was the first Earthling who could see. As Grean admitted, it never entered thons mind to try to give an Earthling the ability to use the Bimanoid Interface. But it was Grean who brought her sister Lili to Earth. Grean was playing the role of sentimental match maker for Andy, my grandfather. That all too human weakness is what made it possible for me to come into existence.
Lili suffered some embarrassment about her children. Now, here, at this point in the story, this is when I'll start lying to you. I'm not going to use the correct names for the rest of my family members. Anna, Angela and Anney will never interact with you Earthlings so they gave me permission to use their names in the telling of this story. However, other members of our family are out among the people of Earth and they need to be protected.
Anyhow, the children of Lili, who you will know as Peter and Marta, have tried to construct lives for themselves on Earth among the masses. Peter is an extrovert and gregarious and it is he who "recruited" Cory to Atlantis.
This is an inside joke, but the "code word" for Many Sails is "Atlantis". Grean arrived on Earth in the 20th century and used her spaceship, Many Sails, as a base of operations. Peter was the one who coined the term "Atlantis" to refer to Many Sails.
Over the years, Peter has managed to fall in love with several different Earthlings and the general rule is that his relationships have a finite lifetime. Peter is not cruel, but the idea of monogamy is foreign to him. Cory was one of the Earthlings who was impregnated by Peter. Without the assistance of medical nanites, such a pregnancy had little chance of coming to term. Cory went through a difficult pregnancy and so Peter brought Cory to Many Sails. By then it was too late and their child could not be saved. However, Anna stepped in and played a trick on Cory.
Anna performed an exchange and implanted one of my clones into Cory's womb. Thus, Cory became the surrogate mother of Anney. Similarly, Angela's birth mother (Charlet) was also a "Peter recruit". While Cory was happy to stay inside Many Sails and raise Angela and Anney, Charlet was bored with life at Atlantis and soon went off to be with Peter. Angela knows that Cory is not her biological mother and not her birth mother, but Cory is her spiritual mother, the woman who raised her and has given her a life full of motherly love and devotion.
In some sense, Angela is the center of a perfect storm. Lili's meddling created the conditions for my birth. My arrival on Earth gave Lili the idea to create Anna, and that started the production of what we jokingly call the "Atlantis Clones". It was Anna who imagined the possibility of access to the bimanoid interface. When Grean realized what Lili had done, how Lili has violated the Rules of Intervention, Lili was abruptly removed from Earth. However, Anna ran with Lili's scheme and brought it to fruition.
I feel foolish for all this name dropping. None of this will have meaning to awe-struck Earthlings who are finally learning the hidden history of their planet. However, allow me a second chance. The story of my family and my own genetic uniqueness begins with my great grandfather, Deomede.
From the perspective of Grean, Deomede was an irrelevant example of temporal momentum. Because Ekcolir had been needed in the previous Reality, Deomede would exist in the Final Reality, by default. Grean did not care about such fussy details and gave the existence of Deomede no thought.
Oh, my! Now I've mentioned the matter of time travel. Ignore that! Accept the fact that Deomede was trained for a mission to Earth. Deomede was told nothing about time travel or Asterothropes and could easily have lived out his life with no awareness of the fact that genetically he was an Ek'col. However, Trysta could not leave it at that. Trysta was lonely and bored and correctly guessed than an analog of Ekcolir would exist within the Reality that she found herself in. Trysta hunted down Deomede, teased out the facts of his existence and seduced him.
Most importantly, Deomede made the natural assumption that there was no woman on Earth who could be a mother to his children. But Trysta did bear his children. He had no training in how to guide the cognitive development of Gwyned and Andy, so they grew up like both Trysta and Deomede had: shaped to the physical form that is typical of Earthlings, but without any special awareness of the Interface. Gwyned got herself in trouble and had to be removed from Earth, but Andy remained on this world and became an object of pity for Grean.
Of course, pity would naturally turn Grean's thoughts to Lili. Lili: the heterosexual freak of Tar'tron. Andy and Lili...it was a match made in the Sedronic Domain...or as Earthlings might say, a match made in Heaven. Of course, Lili despised the years of her imprisonment on Tar'tron and she could not accept the idea that her own children would live as prisoners on Many Sails. With guidance from Lili, both Peter and Marta took naturally to life outside Atlantis. With Peter and Marta living out among the masses, each year that passed was a victory for Lili.
Of course, Lili knew about the Interface! However, she also knew that Grean was watching Peter and Marta. If they were to freely mingle with the masses of Earth then there must be nothing to make them stand out, nothing to draw attention to Atlantis. Grean would make certain of that. But Lili made certain that her cubs were not sent out unprotected into the jungles of Earth. I lived with my mother for many years and I've seen Peter in action: they were well equipped for survival on Earth. Beyond the perfection of their bodies and intellects, they did have a rudimentary capacity to unconsciously tap into the Interface. If you've ever met someone who seemed to know your thoughts before you did then you know what I mean. Marta has always known what I'm thinking. Nothing I ever did surprised her. I grew up taking for granted that she was my soul mate, the one person in the world who understood me completely. Only slowly did I realize how freakish that was.
I have no real memory of Lili. Not long after I was born, Grean realized that Lili was modifying my brain's development in an attempt to push me even closer towards Kac'hin-like abilities to use the Interface. Lili was sent back to Tar'tron and I went out from Atlantis to find my place in the world. Of course, Lili was not ready to concede defeat. Being removed from Earth was the best thing that could have happened to her, from her perspective. Out of sight, out of mind. Grean let thons guard down.
Anna was the first clone and she got only a glimpse of the Interface. She knew it existed. In time, Anna worked to make sure that Angela was given access to the Interface. I've never heard how that was accomplished, but I suspect that both Many Sails and Peter do know. However, they don't want to stir up Grean's wrath, so they say nothing about such dark matters to me.
I suppose that Anna was born to another one of "Peter's recruits", one of the women who Peter brought back to Atlantis, a woman whose name I've never heard. When Grean realized that Anna was a clone of me, it was too late. I'm sure that Peter cajoled and endlessly badgered Grean. By then I had grown out of my awkward early years of cognitive delay and I suppose that even Grean knew that it was not fate, not the chance circumstance of an ocean storm that had brought together my parents. Was my father eliminated so as to prevent any more such "perfect pregnancies"? If I had evidence linking Grean to my father's death I would...well, I have no such evidence. It hardly matters. My collection of genes was "in hand", in Anna, and that perfect ensemble exerted irresistible attraction on Peter and Lili.
So, with a bit of meddling performed by Lili, Anna got even closer to the Interface than I ever could, but not close enough to make a big difference. Anna's mind has always resonated with mine, but on her own she has no more ability than I do to actually use the Interface. However, she grew up knowing that the Interface existed. Her conscious awareness of that fact turned the direction of her life down a path that had not been open to me. Anna became the first Earthling to study nanotechnology and the science of guided brain development. I have no doubt that Many Sails provided an information channel to Lili on Tar'tron, a channel that allowed Anna to guide Angela's brain growth along the path of typical Kac'hin development. Anna's first try was perfect. Anna took things too far with Anney, much too far. With Anna present to accelerate everything, Anney was pushed beyond a pattern of behavior that could be sustained on Earth. Anney has gone her way out among the stars...I miss her, but I know it is best that she is not imprisoned on this dreary planet.
So, that is all I have to say. Angela can tap into the Interface and reveal the hidden history of Earth. I have the motivation and the means to pass along her knowledge and prompt her with specific questions. The Exode Trilogy tells the story that has been revealed by Angela. Enjoy.