Chapter 3 Mysterious Identicals
Trekker V travelled deeper into the unknown with constant velocity. Although in the ship kept a load of cosmological maps that plotted a few galaxies, they were still unable to determine where would they end up in the vast, endless space, mainly because the locations of the stars changed with time, including orbits, moons and planets. Without any guide, they just had to move on blindly, hoping they could come across something.
“We’ll move on until we find a neutral colony,” said Gerard, “and while we’re on this unpromising journey, perhaps you’d better explain yourself, stranger.”
The Nyuek arose from his seat, and politely said, “certainly, Shjrousassam. My name is Zurho Kalari, Class-2 Guard, secret agent of Raunoblean Year 201.”
“And why, exactly, you’ve been in Neo Harbour?”
“This supposed to be top-secret matter, but I’ll certainly tell you everything. But firstly, you must know about the two-thousand-year war between Raunoblean and Tharac before you can understand this whole situation.”
“I know,” said Sarah, “the conflict between the Nyueks and the Amorphos have been for quite a while. But your home colony is at least a few hundred light years away from here. What does this war have to do with us?”
“A lot. I’m a Biochemical spy sent by the Congress to keep an eye on the Amorphos’s activities concerning their possible chemical attacks, and I traced them here.”
“Interesting it may seem, that I’ve discovered two of their grand plans. One of them is developing some kind of gene-mutating agent and infecting life organisms. There’s this serum, which is said to mutate a person into a monster. And this is where Neo Harbour comes in as a place to collect these experimental guinea pigs. Remember one of your teammates whom I said jumped into a ravine? I’ve seen green fury in her eyes: she’s infected.”
“Crystal?” Sarah exclaimed, “but how? Unless she was infected ever since at Neo Gamma.”
“Is she dead?” asked Reuban.
“Rest assured she’s not,” answered Zurho, “but be wary if she comes back to haunt you as anything she turn into.”
“What’s the other plan?” asked Gerard.
“I don’t really know the second affair very much, because there’re too many missing pieces to the whole puzzle. But lucky for me, I found the person who might be the answers to all of these!” and pointed towards the sleeping Lieutenant, lying on the couch.
“Gunter!” Gerard shook his head disbelievingly, “but I knew him since he’s a kid! And he never got out of the colony, only on recent which I was with him. How possibly can he be involved in this whole business?”
“If you want some confirmation, perhaps you should read the bulletin. One of them is on the Roxos Bulletin Board, dated 5, Gandalav year 3040.”
Reuban turned to the computer, and accessed the Galaxy HyperTerminal. The address to Roxos Bulletin Board was typed, and in a second the page opened. On issue 5, Gandalav year 3040, the headlines read:
Hijacker Stole Radus 17
Montron City, Nexus Colony – A lone hijacker rammed his vehicle into the Vanguard Trailer in broad daylight, stealing a powerful radioactive chemical codenamed Radus 17. Officers believed the heist involved a local man by the name of Gustaph Enral….
Below, there was a photograph of the hijacker at the scene of the crime. “Magnify it,” ordered Zurho. Reuban boxed the hijacker’s face and enlarged it a hundred times for easy viewing. When the magnification was complete, they could only gape in astonishment.
“It’s… it’s Keith!” shouted Sarah. Though sceptical, Gerard too cannot deny the picture he saw with his own eyes. In the photograph was a man who resembled Keith very much, totally alike.”
“Don’t be too surprised yet,” warned Zurho, “now flip over to the Chira Bulletin Board, dating 25, Xjon 54022, equivalent to 5, Gandalav year 3040.”
Reuban did as he said. Immediately, another site was accessed, and another shocking headline:
Missing Professor and Cellobeam
Ventica, North Gharazy Star – Professor Jerenech, the famed researcher of the Cellobeam, which is to be used to upgrade the Colony’s infantry firepower, had gone missing altogether with the beam generator yesterday….
And below, there was a picture of the professor, who also turned out a resemblance of the Lieutenant! “What the hell is going on here?” cried Gerard, “don’t tell me there’re still millions of Gunters out there!”
“And exactly three days later, our capital, Toron was attacked using these powerful technologies, which were one of their kind in this whole universe. I was immediately put on duty to monitor the Amorphos’s any possible moves to terrorise our cities again.”
“Maybe the Amorphos have used Keith’s features to carry out their jobs. Amorphos are well known of their shape-shifting abilities, it’s not that you don’t know, Mr. Zurho.”
“You may have your reasons, anything to protect your friend. But how do the Amorphos get to mimic his face in the first place?”
All were silent.
“Then there’s this problem of the savage Arzankans. I don’t know where did they come from, but apparently, they’re working for the Amorphos. They appeared everywhere when I went searching the Amorphos’s bases. Well, it looks like only Shjrous Gunter holds the key to these uncertainties.”
Turning their attention to their leader, they saw him still unconscious on the couch, looking pitiful. “Should we tell him?” whispered Sarah softly in Gerard’s ear. They were at a loss, not knowing what to do face to face with the Lieutenant. They understood things went terribly wrong when he actually lost his love in the expedition, which he held too much responsibility to himself. They were clueless of anything that would comfort him, hoping only that his mood would be better after some time.
“What’re you all whispering about?” thundered Zurho, sickened of their behaviour. “You’re all soldiers, warriors of war! He is your leader! He must get over all these common things in warfare, or dare he call himself a leader? No matter, I’ll talk to him after he wakes up.”
It was all like a bad dream, but the sores in his heart were still there, and he did not even doubt reality. Coming back more to his senses, he realised that Crystal’s presence was now merely an illusion; perhaps, leaving a dark shadow that followed him around. At that time he was only obsessed over his beloved’s death, but after the censure from the Nyuek soldier, it dawned on him that life must still go on, as the way nature wanted it to be.
“Treat distance as a test of your faithfulness,” he remembered that Gerard advised him before whenever Crystal was away and he was eager to have her by his side. He might not have hold on to her flesh and blood forever, but perhaps, continue to embrace her spirits, as true love and a sacred soul never dies or weakened by detachment.
Looking through the slits of his sleepy eyes, he could see his saviour, whom he was so ungrateful to, polishing a gleaming sword with a cloth, standing with one leg higher on an armrest as he worked. Keith observed, but did not say a word. Albeit the silence, the Nyuek somehow noticed him watching and turned around, giving him a fright, thinking that the alien might kick him again.
“How do you feel, Shjrous Gunter?” asked Zurho. “Don’t worry, you’re back on your own ship now, safe and sound.”
For once he misjudged the Good Samaritan, for the alien spoke with an air of highness and dignity. The alien whom he thought to hate was actually for him to respect, and spit on his own foolishness. Realising he was in the wrong, quickly, he sat upright, and apologised remorsefully, “I’m sorry. You’ve tried to save my life and I repaid your deed with shameless mockery. I’m very, very ashamed of myself.”
“It’s indeed a shame to cry over a small matter like casualty in war!” the Nyuek raged, but then lowered his voice, “but nevertheless, I heard from your friends about you and Shjrousae Griffin. It’s okay, my friend, to be upset once when you lost someone whom you really care. I feel sorry for your tragic story, and I too, need to apologise for my rudeness when we first met.”
It was something different that Keith saw from the person before him. His eyes showed great spirits and valour as he spoke, they were qualities of a true, noble warrior.
“My name is Zurho Kalari, and, we might as well be friends?” said Zurho as he extended his hand towards him.
Keith grabbed the offered, firmly, and shook it hard. And this marked the birth of their great friendship, fostering strength between different races to stand united against the powerful adversary.
“If you may allow me, let me be a crew in this ship for the time being, until we successfully foil the Amorphos’s plans.” Keith readily accepted the generous volunteer.
“There’s something I’d like to show you, Gunter,” he said. Then, from his pockets he retrieved a small crystal screen, pushed some buttons, and showed it to Keith. “Do you have any opinion about the man in the picture?” he asked.
Keith stared at the small mini-display, focused his attention on the small photograph of a man about his age. At first he could not recognise anyone, but then, he uttered a cry of disbelief.
“But… this is, me? No, this couldn’t be me! Who is this?”
“The same thing I wanted to ask you long ago, Gunter,” said Zurho. Then, explaining the rest of his story, he made Keith even more bewildered.
“Life’s full of mysteries, my friend,” Zurho sighed, “but never give up on living, Gunter. Once your life reaches the turning point, you’ll know where your destiny lies. It’s all up to you to shape your own future, or just leave it be.”
“I’ll help you,” said Gunter, standing up and giving a hard slap on Zurho’s shoulder, “as long as your countrymen were besieged by those rogues, as long as they continue to threaten the peace of Generon, I’ll see to putting a stop to it. Zurho, you have my word, and you make sure I don’t go back on my words. I’ll investigate to the bottom of this.”
Both of them smiled, as their intentions were made clear to each other. Though having different pursuits and ambitions from the beginning, but eventually, in the same ship they embarked on a same course, to explore the depths of the vast space, searching for an answer out there waiting to be unravelled, and save their own homes from being destroyed.