Episode 5: Phea
written by M. Sydnor Jr.
Two thousand years ago, Uridians launched the first ever mission to explore the known universe. In doing so, they discovered life on the planet Schlora. Four Uridian astronauts then traveled to their sister world to learn more about their neighbors. But they weren’t received well. The Urdian voyagers were taken by force, interrogated, then executed for trespassing.
The Schloran people used the technology from the alien spaceship to develop their own. Five years later, the space wars between Uridia and Schlora began. But the conflict was not limited to the stars. Cities were destroyed, countries left in ruin, millions of lives were lost in the four-year-war until the world leaders agreed to a cease-fire. Tensions remained high but the peace between the two worlds lasted for two thousand years.
The Schlorans were known warriors, loyal soldiers who watched each other’s backs and did whatever they felt possible to ensure the safety and future of their people and world. While some Uridians were also skilled in combat, they were primarily scientists and engineers; their eyes constantly on the future and life beyond their world. They wanted to explore, discover…expand. “Uridians everywhere!” a popular scientist had coined the phrase. “Expansion beyond Uridia.”
Those phrases would be their undoing.
During a weapons tests on one of their moons, a team of Uridian scientists and engineers had unleashed a wave of radioactive decay that expanded to not only their world but Schlora as well. Disease spread and contaminated the water. The Schloran people saw this as an attack. Thus, began the second war—the last war.
The fighting was limited to the stars, but both armies lost their space fleets and most of their soldiers. And with both worlds dying, the people had to steer their focus to something else, somewhere else…in their galaxy or another.
“And then I was born,” Phea said to Etos.
“How do you know of Uridia’s histories?” The commander asked.
“With respect, it is our history too. After mother died, I was given to the elders. My third eye gave my people a new purpose, a real reason to leave our world for a new one.”
“I’ve heard the tale. Triloptic they call your kind. Said to be a myth—”
“They sacrifice you to the fire Gods of the Torrance System. And then, he will reveal them a brand-new world, a new Schlora, right?”
“That’s what they believe.”
“But you don’t?”
“I want to live,” she said. “I don’t care if the prophecy is true or not.”
Etos sighed. “Your people are not equipped to search for new worlds. They don’t have the knowledge nor the technology. If they don’t have you, this means the end for Schlorans.”
“I understand.” Phea leaned back in the co-pilot chair, her attention drawn to a flickering light on the panel indicating Kee’s continuing search for potential worlds. “Our elders give the planet a hundred years before everything—everyone is gone. The ship that crashed on Sapa was our last.”
“They’ll be after you, that’s for sure. The tech they stole from Ada’s suit is more than capable of fixing their ship. Let’s just hope by the time they realize that and repair it, they won’t be able to track us.”
Phea scoffed. “Then may I suggest we stop stopping.”
“Sir?” Kee interrupted them.
Etos ignored the ship’s computer system. “I like you Phea, I do. But my wife and I left our world illegally to start over. We saved ourselves, yeah. Selfish—yeah. But the quicker we find a planet, the faster we can return home and share the news with our people—”
“Commander,” Kee said again.
“Just a minute, Kee.” Etos leaned away from the pilot station and swiveled his chair to the young Schloran girl. “We will not divert our plans for you or those Schloran kidnappers.”
“I do think you’re special though. And I granted you asylum. But we have our mission and nothing or no one will stop us from seeing it through.”
“So, about what happened yesterday?”
“Sir?” She squinted her eyes, her third covered by a cloth she borrowed from Ada’s belongings.
“Your eye. How come you didn’t tell me you had this kind of power. What else can that eye do?”
“I don’t know, sir. I promise you. Like I told you, up until yesterday, I just knew certain things about people, what their intentions were, how they were feeling and so on. I didn’t know that I could do…that! I was terrified of that thing…thought I was going to die. So, I thought of my mother and it just happened.”
“Hm.” Etos stared at the Schloran girl, studied her face, and that hidden eye.
“I’m telling you the truth.”
“So, you say you know things about people, they’re intentions—thoughts?” Etos crossed his arms.
“Yeah but doesn’t work on you or Ada. Only Schlorans.”
“Commander!” Kee raised her voice this time.
Etos stood and snapped at the roof of the bridge, glaring at the speaker. “What is it?”
“Sir, it’s Ada.”
The glare fell to a frown and as he scurried between the pilot and co-pilot chairs, the bridge doors opened. “Ada!” his eyes widened.
Phea jumped up from her seat as Kee spoke again. “Sir, we need to—”
“Not now, Kee.”
“Kee, go offline,” Etos said, then Kee disconnected.
Ada stepped onto the bridge with a wrap around her chest and another around her waist. Her brown skin shined, and her yellow hair fell over each of her shoulders, stretching past her breasts, longer than Etos had ever seen it.
They hugged and he felt the scar on her back. A nasty bumpy thing that felt moist. “Ada.” He pushed her away from their embrace. “Are you okay? What are you doing awake?”
“I feel fine,” she smiled.
He turned her around and saw it; a black, glossy scar, sprouting up and down her spine. As he leaned closer to investigate, Ada approached the girl.
“Phea!” Ada gave her a squeeze around the shoulders.
The young girl kept her hands at her side and tried her best to smile.
“Thank you for saving me,” Ada said. Then, she pointed to the scarf. “Looks good on you.”
Phea nodded and looked at the Commander.
Etos stood, dumbfounded in the doorway, waiting for his seemingly okay wife to return to him. “I don’t understand,” he said as Ada walked away from Phea.
“What do you mean, husband?”
“You sound funny. You sure you’re feeling okay?” He met her at a window that looked at the stars zooming by. “That scar looks pretty bad,” he touched her head, “and you’re burning up. Maybe we should get you back to sickbay. Run some more tests.”
“Whatever you say,” she said, then walked off the bridge.
Etos followed her, but looked behind him. “Get some rest, Phea.”
The young girl remained frozen with her arms stuck at her sides and her chin pointed up. She hadn’t moved since Ada hugged her.
“Phea? You okay?” Etos asked.
She released the tension in her limbs and returned to the co-pilot chair.
As Ada disappeared around the corridor, Etos hesitated to follow, walking over to Phea instead. “What is it?”
“It’s nothing.” She avoided eye contact with him.
“It’s Ada, isn’t it?”
She looked up at him. “I don’t know, but something is wrong. I can feel it.”
“What do you mean feel it? From your eye?”
“How?” Etos demanded with a frown. “You said it only worked on your people.”
“I don’t know, sir. I can’t explain it. I just feel like something is off.”
“Just—just stay put, okay?” he stammered. “I’ll be back.”
He left the bridge and stomped down the dimmed corridor. “Kee… come back online.”
“What is Ada’s status?”
“She is sleepwalking, sir.”
“Yes, sir. But that is not all.”
Etos stopped and paced in the hall around the corner from sickbay. “Well…?”
“The infection is deep within her cells, sir. She is changing.”
“Changing? Changing into what?”
written & created by
M. Sydnor Jr.
copyright © M. Sydnor Jr.