Chapter 8Mature

So. I'm in with the "family" of monsters, as Iqab calls it. I have to be one of them, if I want to protect my earth. My home. 

So I worked with the people all day, switching stations when I got sick of looking at the same old algorithms or electronic plans and I didn't go near the dismembered bodies. I'm crazy, perhaps, but they look too much lik humans. Especially when their eyes are closed. 

I've been trying to figure out what I am. Mbali says I'm "extra special" in some way, that I have something extra to all the others. I don't know what it is. He says he doesn't want to tell me.

But I have solved a few problems today. Little things like not knowing what a valve or switch did, I just knew. I could almost see the aliens making it. It was a bit weird, but at least I feel like I'm helping. 

We worked until 5. We were allowed to leave whenever we wanted and take lunch whenever, but most people worked really hard, partly out of concern for the planet, and mostly out of pure curiosity and a need these guys seemed to posses to understand what's going on. 

We're encouraged to keep our fitness up, just like everyone else. If it comes to a traditional fight, we need to be ready for trenches. I doubt it will, but, in a sick way, target shoot, wrestling, archery; they all make me feel alive. I guess that's what being able to kill does to you. 

That boy I killed in the meadow keeps coming to my mind. I've never killed anyone before, and I guess I technically haven't now, but it feels like I have. 

Especially since that boy was a real alien. Of course, the boy I speared was just a simulation, but based on a real alien. He's lying down, cut open by the biologists. 

How many lives did his one death affect? How many friends, family members felt their hearts break at the news? Did someone love him? Did their heart rip apart to think of him, that they'd never see his oddly bright blue eyes, or hug his wide shoulders, or touch his dark skin? Were we so sick that we didn't even give the body back?

But that wasn't me. I can't take responsibility for what my race did. I took the life of a simulated boy in a meadow, not a real one in the sky. I had no blame here. 

The aliens keep coming. There are 7 large ships in the sky, enough to hold roughly 10,000 people. And we keep firing at them. And they keep getting hit, and falling back. And then they just wait and start coming towards us again. And I do not understand why.

I do not understand why, after they basically have nothing, that they keep trying to attack us. We must have wounded a lot of people. We must have blown engines, we must have nearly dropped them out of the sky. Why do they keep fighting for a land that isn't theirs, that never was theirs, that they have no claim over, as if it were their own native land that they'd lived on and dammit they were gonna die here too? I did not understand. 

And I did not like not understanding, either. 

 It hurts to spend every day in the large room with both Mbali and Iqab. They both represent pivotal parts of my life that I don't want to have to remember. I flinch whenever Mbali comes near me. He says he's evaluating what we're good at so he can assign us tasks. He keeps touching me and I don't like it. 

Adoni helps. He tells me I'm so brave to stare Mbali in the eye each day. He says Mbali comes from a background of female oppression, since he's from South Africa. He's scared of strong women like me, apparently, so he wants to keep them in their place. He uses drugs and violence and sexual harrassment to do so. I'm the first one he ever raped. 

I suppose I should feel priviliged. 

Adoni is sat on his bed, reading a book on war strategies. He looks very beautiful in his own way. He's got quite thin eyes and thicker eyelashes, and they're dark like mahogany. His hair is dark too, and I see his stubble in the morning graze his face like dark rain shadowing his jawline. His hair is short and quite tufty, and his shoulders are wide and squishy when unflexed. He hugs me sometimes, usually when Mbali is too free with his hands, and I fit snuggly under his chin. My cat used to snuggle under my chin at home. I don't think she misses me. 

I have an odd feeling. Something bad is happening. Something furrowing my brow and making me frown. Something is making me get up and run out the door. Something bad is happening, no, something bad is going to happen, like - 

The ISS shook about. I fell to the floor, almost knocking myself unconscious in the process. We'ce been hit, oh my Gods, we've been hit. And Adoni is chasing me as I run along the corridor because in about 3 minutes, if untended, the fire in the earthside hall is going to spread and kill us all. I grab a fire extinguisher off the wall and keep running and running, while Adoni follows.  The hallway here is empty, but I can hear panic. I run as fast as my legs will pump and eventually barrel into the earthside hall and find the fire a metre high. The engine room is below us and part of it must have been damaged. There are no lights to warn us about air quality so I assume no real structure has been damaged. Adoni had caught on and we put out the flames together. The thick foam is surprisingly satisfying to fling about. 

Once the flames are gone I turn to see the situation in the engine room. I feel a heaviness on my back, followed by a seeping chill. I turn to see Adoni grinning at me, extinguisher raised. He squirts it again, getting white foam all over my black top. I gasp at him, giggling for the first time in ages, and fire mine right back at him. We keep going until we're both drenched and splitting our sides. 

Iqab, of course, is the one to interupt the happy scene. He takes in our wet hair and for the first time, seeing us in compromising states doesn't make him jovial. 

"What the hell are you 2 doing in here?" He yells. It doesn't seem like his voice should be able to be that loud. It sounds wrong in his mouth. 

"We were putting out the fire. After a while, it got fun." 

He looked at us like we were demented. 

"Ok, I'm not going to get mad. All I'm going to say, is that our station, our peaceful station, just got hit. From 93 million miles away. These aliens could hit the earth! And you're playing with foam? People could've died!" Iqab was flushed.

"They would've. We all would've, if it weren't for me." I surprised myself with my words. They just kept flowing, out of my control completely. "I saw that there were flames in this hall before they happened, and that if they continued, we'd all die. So we didn't. Because of me."

Adoni reached an arm round me and squeezed. He didn't leave it round me. 

"Go and get cleaned up. The ship's stable now. We're having an emergency meeting tomorrow morning. The aliens are unlikely to attack again soon, they have so few resources."

I walked, dripping, past Iqab. He recoiled visibly from me. Charming. I realised only one of us, Adoni or I, could have a shower first just at the same time he did, at the end of our corridor. We started off running at the same time. I may be better long distance, but he was way ahead in the sprint. He laughed and skipped into the bathroom. I stood awkwardly by the door for 20 minutes, not wanting to touch anything or sit on my bed in case they got wet, which they would. Adoni sauntered out after half an hour, clearly having taken his time to annoy me on purpose. I flicked foam from my sodden fingers onto his nose. 

He smiled, well, grimaced, and flicked mine back, but that just got his finger more wet. He wiped them off on his dark jeans. He was pretty sexy with wet hair. 

I took a very quick shower because I was quite rediculously hungry, meaning that I had to blow dry my hair which made my hair quite rediculously poofy. I restrained it by twisting it into a bun. I couldnt wear the clothes I was wearing before, so I changed into some burgundy trackies and a black vest-top. I don't know why, but the foam-fight had made me want to wear comfort clothes. It had reminded me, I think, of the snowball fights I used to have with some of the older girls that knew me from the arena and wanted to beat me outside of it. They never did, and although I always came home freezing after being thrown in a frozen lake after they lost, my mum made me hot chocolate ad wrapped me up in a duvet and I had the knowledge that I was better than them. Added bonus was my mum acknowledging my existence, even though I knew she always talked about me and how odd a child I was to all her friends. 

In the food hall Nturan and Adoni were sat alone, joking with each other. That was nice, I hadnt realised they were friends. I sat with them and listened to them chat about the blast. Apparently Nturan had been in the library and a shelf of books had fallen on him. It was rediculously funny, the way he built the image. 

Morcant walked in, and Adoni excused himself to go and sit with him, so I was left alone with Nturan. He caught me up on everything he'd been doing. He'd performed well in the biological sections of the test, so he was currently very carefully disecting an eye of an alien and comparing it to an eye of a human. He was grotesquely accurate in his description. He used a high level of scientific language, so I wasn't entirely sure of what he was saying; only that it was disgusting. 

Apparently Nancy got hurt trying to wrestle Chauffer, so she was in the infirmary. I was not aware until now that we even had an infirmary. She wasn't badly hurt, just had a small fracture in her wrist. Apparently Chauffer hadn't left her since she'd gone in, despite her repeatedly asking him to leave because he kept making bad puns. He did not give in. If anything, it just made him think of more. 

Both Nancy and Chauffer were working on "Plans for the Worst", ie plans of action for if the earth is taken over. It must be quite a depressing job. 

Adoni is working in the battle strategy part of it. He's very practical and very good at thinking in 3D, meaning he sometimes helps with the electronic analysis as well. He loves problem solving. I don't think he thinks of the aliens as even real. Just another problem to solve.

He says that they're preparing to attack again. He thinks they didn't mean to hit us, they were just testing. Now he thinks they're preparing for a big attack. It could take days or months for them to get ready. It will take at least a week for them to get with a mile of us, given the rate they're going. So preparation is key. 

We make quite a good team, he and I. I work on the creatures themselves and try to figure out their motives and who they are, and he uses this to make a battle plan to destroy them. But I have to get to know them first. He doesn't. 

 

 

The End

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