WARNING: This product may have come into contact with an insane imagination. Read at your own risk.
‘This is where you live?’ Blake asked. Caleb’s only response was a smirk.
Blake stared at the small mansion in front of him. It was at least three stories and finished in polished wood of some kind. Flag stones lead the way to the carved front steps, as well as veering off into the trees.
‘How much does this cost?’ Blake asked.
‘Let’s just say when you’ve been around as long as I have you amass something of a coin collection.’ Caleb said as they walked up the stairs.
Blake didn’t need to think about Clava’s offer too long. It was true what she said, he did need a teacher, and any answers would be welcome answers. That, and Jared still wasn’t talking to him. It had been two days, and Blake had to make sure Jared was alright. The few times he tried the link Khamon created he got nothing.
::It is possible I made it incorrectly.:: The simbiont admitted. So now the only thing Blake could do was physically go and get Jared.
Be on your guard.
::I always am.::
Caleb opened the door and beckoned Blake in.
The inside of the house was more elaborate than the outside of the house. Pine floors stretched through the entire place. The walls were adorned with old paintings and prints and the entire house seemed littered with ancient artifacts from various cultures.
‘I travel a lot.’ Caleb said as they made their way into the living room. A huge television and a plush couch greeted them. A cable ran from an x-box to the couch and a racing game blared loudly on screen.
‘Jared.’ Caleb said. Suddenly the jock’s head popped over the top of the couch and twisted back. He smiled when he saw Caleb. He smiled at Blake too, but this time he had a wounded look in his eyes.
‘Hi.’ Blake said.
I’m such a dork.
::You’re not a dork.::
‘Hey.’ Jared said. He spun around and paused the game as Blake and Caleb sat down.
‘How’ve you been?’ Blake asked, rubbing his palms on his jeans.
‘Good.’ Jared said.
::You’re going to need to do more than that.:: Blake head Clava whisper to him.
‘So…uh, I’m sorry.’ Blake said. The words were genuine, but he wasn’t exactly clear on why he was sorry. There were a few reasons. But it seemed to be all that was needed. Blake felt the flood gates open and suddenly he could sense Jared again.
::I understand now. He shut you out completely. He must have been very angry.::
Thanks for the update.
‘It’s okay man.’ Jared smirked, ‘I was being a bit of a douche myself.’
Blake smiled and shook his head.
‘Well, now that reunions have been completed, how about something to eat?’ Caleb asked.
As their host left Jared sat down beside Blake.
‘So…how’s Caleb?’ Blake asked.
‘He’s a cool dude.’ Jared said. ‘Pretty wicked in the sac.’
Blake felt himself blushing.
::I wouldn’t stop it for the world.::
Khamon you snide little…
Jared draped an arm around Blake’s shoulders.
‘I can’t believe how much you’ve bulked up, dude. Where can I get me one of them simbionts?’ Jared asked. Blake’s humor suddenly died.
‘Don’t joke about that Jared.’ Blake said.
‘It’s not all fun and games. The only reason you can still talk to me is because I have a mutual bond with Khamon. Other simbionts posses their hosts. Take them over.’ Blake said.
Jared looked worried.
‘Posses is such a harsh word.’ Caleb said as he re-entered the room. ‘I think of it as borrowing.’
Jared raised his eyebrow.
‘You? You’re a…um…’
‘Simbiont, Jared. Say it, don’t worry it doesn’t offend me.’ Caleb said.
Jared pondered this then shrugged, taking a sandwich of the plate that was offered.
‘He took that rather well.’ Caleb said.
‘He’s pretty awesome.’ Blake fought laughter as Jared dug into several sandwiches at the same time, oblivious to them in the presence of food.
The rest of the evening was spent talking to Jared. Caleb made himself scarce and quiet, answering questions when directly asked, but otherwise allowing the tow friends to play catch up.
Before long it was dark outside, and Blake found himself waving goodbye to Caleb, who returned the gesture with a smile.
Think she knows what you...we, are?
::No. I was careful to maintain the filters at maximum power.:: Khamon said. Jared stopped him before he hit the door.
‘So, Blake. You really okay now?’ He asked, hand resting on the atavist’s shoulder.
‘Yeah, Red. I’m good.’
‘Going back to Rob’s then?’ Jared asked. Blake felt his face flush a little. Jared grinned.
‘You two getting it on?’ Blake looked away.
‘Holy shit! You are!’
‘It was just a kiss, Red.’ Blake said. Jared elbowed him in the ribs.
‘Go for it. Rob is a looker. Bet he’s good in bed too.’ Jared smiled and Blake felt an odd lurching inside. Jared, sensing something was wrong, began rubbing Blake’s arm.
‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything, dude.’ Jared said, pulling Blake’s face up to meet his eyes. Blake knew what was going to happen next. He could taste Jared before the jock’s lips even met his own.
The kiss was intense and deep, lasting only for a few seconds, but to Blake those few seconds felt like a lifetime.
‘Wow.’ Jared said with a goofy grin plastered on his face. Blake felt a matching one surface. The sound of thunder cracked in the distance. Blake looked to the sky as a light rain began to fall.
‘I should go.’ Blake said with a smile, holding onto Jared fingers.
‘Good luck with Robby.’ Jared called as Blake ran down the drive to the street, where a cab waited for him.
‘We come from a place far beyond the reaches of this solar system.’ Caleb said, sipping his iced tea. Blake found it easier to think of his host as two people. The first, physical voice was Caleb. The second was Clava, mental communication only.
‘Why are you here?’ Blake asked. His own drink was sweating in his hands. He wasn’t thirsty.
Caleb shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
‘I’ll answer that later. For now, a brief outline of things here on earth.’ Blake leaned forward, eager to hear.
‘There are four factions here on Terra: Those who followed Grau Peor--His Koda. I believe you have already met them, or at least know of them.’ Blake nodded.
‘Good. The first step to avoiding a snake bite is to recognize a snake.’
‘The second Koda belongs to Grau Baurom. Equally as unpleasant as the first, but less…aggressive. The third group in this quaint little drama is the Vard Hedda. They were here long before either Koda arrived. They have a sacred duty and answer directly, and only, to the Vard.’ Caleb said, taking a sip of his drink.
‘Who are the Vard?’ Blake asked.
‘The Royal Four. Rulers of our home galaxy.’
‘Must be a pretty good reason they’re here then.’ Blake said after thinking. Khamon was being unusually quiet during the whole exchange.
‘Very important. Regardless, they are for the most part harmless. They won’t even bother to reveal themselves unless you prove a hindrance to their mission.’ Caleb said.
‘Which is?’ Blake asked.
::She is lying.:: Khamon said.
I know. Blake reassured him.
‘The fourth group?’ Blake asked.
‘Rogues like you and I. The only difference being that you were free-born and I rebelled against my Koda.’ Caleb said.
‘If you haven’t noticed by now, I tend to like things a certain way. Life in the Koda did not suit my desires, so I left them to build my own life here. Back home I am nothing but a solider-here I am a queen.’
Blake sunk into his chair. Was he a rogue? A free-born?
::I wish I could answer.:: Khamon offered his earliest memories-the coldness of space. Rapid speed. The feeling of falling.
It’s okay. Blake said.
Things had become increasingly difficult. In the past few weeks Blake had lost his job, meager as it was, and he had been suspended from school unless he was able to bring his marks up. And he hadn’t been to kendo in a long time, though he practiced on his own. Sometimes Rob watched him.
The thought of Rob sent Blake’s head reeling.
::It will all be clear in time.:: Khamon said.
I wish I could be as sure as you are. Blake retorted.
Caleb raised his eyebrows.
‘You want to talk about it?’ He asked.
‘What? Yeah, tell me more.’ Blake said.
‘No,’ Caleb smiled, ‘about your man trouble.’
Blake could swear he heard Khamon snicker.
‘I don’t have man trouble.’ Blake said, hoping his blush wasn’t too bad.
‘Oh it is. You’re as red as a kite.’ Caleb said.
‘Aw, come on. It’s not that bad is it?’ Caleb asked.
‘Are you really qualified to give relationship advice?’ Blake asked.
‘Believe men, there’s no one you want more. I’ve had a few hundred relationships—with men and women. As both genders on this miserable little stink-rock. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing by now.’ Caleb said.
::What can it hurt?::
Thanks a lot.
‘I like Jared.’ Blake said with Caleb nodding.
‘I can see why. He’s pretty…blessed.’
‘No.’ Blake frowned, ‘That’s not it. I mean, great, but I don’t care. I mean, I care but…ugh. I like Jared because he’s Jared. But being Jared I know he’s completely incapable of any kind of long term relationship beyond friendship.’
‘How do you know this?’ Caleb asked.
‘I’ve seen the way he breezes through girls. And apparently dudes too.’ Blake offered. Caleb nodded.
‘So you’re unwilling to even try.’
‘No! I…I just don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to lose Jared. And…Rob.’ Blake said softly.
‘And? Wait. There’s another male you have your sights on?’ Caleb said sounding far too excited for Blake’s liking. Much to Blake’s embarrassment, he felt his cheeks burning red.
‘This is too good.’ Caleb said.
‘Rob is a friend too. Just a friend.’ Blake said, trying to emphasize his point.
‘But you want him in the sac.’ Caleb said.
‘No!’ Blake said before memories of waking up beside Rob filled his head. ‘Yes! I mean…I don’t know! It’s driving me nuts!’
‘Well,’ Caleb said, ‘the obvious answer is a three-way.’
‘What?!’ Blake said. ‘I pour out my soul and you tell me to have a three-way?!’
‘It’s what I would do, kid.’
Of all the stupid things...
‘Relax, relax.’ Caleb said. ‘I was kidding.’ Blake could tell from the glint in his eyes that he wasn’t.
‘So, you’re not just after sex then.’ Blake shook his head. Caleb sighed. ‘Pity.’
Blake’s stomach lurched. Caleb was good looking…
::Think with your head, not your pants.::
Thanks. Blake said, shaking the feeling off.
The conversation took several turns. Suddenly, Blake remembered the golden stranger that saved him the day in the alley.
‘I’ve seen another…of us I mean.’ Blake said. Suddenly Caleb was listening very intently.
‘What? Where? When? What did she look like?’ Caleb asked.
‘Well, it was a he, not a she. And it was almost two, three months now.’ Blake said, giving the description of the golden one, leaving out a few choice details as Khamon advised along the way. The entire time there was a look plastered across Caleb’s face. A look that spoke of complete, undivided attention. When Blake finished, he could see Caleb reluctantly open his mouth to speak.
‘The man you met is called Noble. If you see him again, I’d recommend running.’ Caleb said.
‘When we first came here, there was a crash. Many died. Of the few survivors, most reformed into the Koda. But some of us were…injured in other ways besides physically. Noble isn’t…whole. He’s unallied and unpredictable.’ Caleb said.
‘So he’s rogue?’ Blake asked.
‘No…he just is. Like a rabid dog wandering the streets. Sometimes he can be quaint, even composed. Other times you never know when he’s going to bite. And his bites usually kill you on the first try.’
Blake mulled this over.
‘What was the armor he had on?’ Blake asked, eager to know more, even though Caleb seemed too uncomfortable.
‘He wasn’t wearing armor, kid.’
‘He was. It was gold and brown and…’
‘That armor wasn’t on him, it was part of him.’ Caleb said, finishing off his drink. ‘Some of us can manifest weapons. Some can produce incorporeal effects. Others can generate an armor to protect themselves. It is a very rare and difficult talent.’
‘Could I learn it?’ Blake asked. It would be very useful in battle.
Caleb shook his head.
‘I don’t know. Mostly the powers you have are the powers you are born with. Sometimes they can be taught, but even back home that’s a rare occurrence. I don’t see it happening o this planet at all.’
‘So even if I tracked this Noble down—‘
‘What did I just say? Stay away from Noble! He’s unstable!’ Caleb said, agitated.
‘Alright.’ Blake said, sipping his drink.
‘Sandwich?’ Caleb asked.
Three days later Blake began training with Caleb. The older simbiont had a vast repertoire of exercises that could be used to better control power. He had Blake shattering cups all on his own within a week, though it was doubtful that particular power would get any stronger. Blake was fine with it being the size it was already.
He was hesitant to tell Caleb about the barrier power, but it was so natural to him, he decided to fess up. Caleb had been quite impressed, though lacked the knowledge of such a power.
‘It’s more than likely a combination of your genetics and Khamon’s bonding.’ He said. ‘There are a few other unique powers I’ve seen only on Earth. Must be something in the water.’ Caleb mused.
Blake tried to broach the topic of Noble and the armor again, but Caleb flat out refused to talk about it, only telling him to stop thinking about it and to leave Noble alone.
Of course, this made Blake think about it more. With armor like that he could wade through battle and use most of his others powers to protect others. He was sure Noble wouldn’t hurt him. The way the simbiont had acted when they met made Blake think he was being watched over. Besides, he didn’t have to tell Caleb he was searching for Noble. He didn’t say anything about the Mown Chaal.
Blake decided that he would have to find Noble and convince him to teach the secrets of making the armor, or at least try. He only hoped that Noble wasn’t really as crazy as Caleb made him out to be.
It’s been sometime, but I’ve been really busy with school—writing scripts and filming projects, as well as working on my novel, which I might start posting here, and various short stories. Soon my website will be up and running and you can get The Atavist straight from the press.
In other news, I still don’t have an editor. I mean, I guess I don’t need one, but it would probably help the story flow a little bit better.