Brig, Ayala, Petr, Kit, and Piper entered the habitation early in the morning. A little too early. They walked into the habitation’s mess all, and all was quiet, save for those who just got off a night shift or had trouble sleeping. They ate ravenously and waited for a decent hour to wake Kaiya and Shim. They knew the girls were sleeping and needed it as much as they did. The girls were sleeping when they arrived, but they jolted awake and ran to hug their friends.
“How the hell did you guys get here?” Shim asked.
“It’s a hell of a story,” Petr said, a hint of pride in his newfound adventurous side.
“I’ve heard you guys have had a time of it yourselves.” Arryn said, mostly to Kaiya.
Even Ayala smiled and hugged the girls. Near death can do that to people. They began swapping stories and had a few laughs before a Wrannaman knocked on the door. The newcomers were each given their own room in a wing of the underwater habitation. Kaiya still found it uncomfortable to open the shades and see that there was very little between her and the water, knowing if the glass didn’t hold, there’d be no way to get to the surface in time. Still, there was something comforting in watching the gentle waving of plants and fish below her. She stared out the window at the few fish that swam by oblivious to the odd structure that invaded their neighborhood. Near the bottom, she spotted a white tip shark. It was odd to watch a predator from a safe distance. Empowering. She thought of her father, and wished she had a way to tell him she was okay. Who were these people, really? The brief propaganda video had claimed some interesting sequence of events. Almost the exact opposite of the things she had been taught. There was a knock at her door.
“Kaiya, it’s Hasinth,” he walked over and sat down at her desk. He barely fit in the chair and the desk appeared to be built for a child with him sitting at it. She was still standing near the back of the room, her back leaning against the plate of glass between her and the water.
“Commander, why are we here?”
“I’m a bit of a philosophy buff, but I’m assuming that’s not what you mean.”
“Why are we under water? What is going on? I have nothing but questions nobody seems to be able to answer.”
“You’ve been marked, Kaiya. A long time ago, when the Awakening took place, there was a small group of it’s initial creators who were all marked. They were, after all, the creators of the sentience that would be both the blessing and the curse to our own existence. Though it was weakened, and still somewhat conscious, it took an imprint of each of the members of the team. A biological signature. When the Sikkas took that other half, it had not had the imprints, though it had plenty of information about them. After generations, that information became corrupt. The Sikkas tortured their machine into submission, until it was so bent and broken it was hardly usable unless a human interfaced with it, and provided it direction. This is how the Emperor’s are chosen, based on their ability to communicate with the stolen half of Wran.”
“So I resemble someone in that original group?”
“Yes, if we had the data, you could trace a direct lineage from yourself to one member of that group, or perhaps two as there were rumours that several of them were romantically involved.”
“I saw a woman, in a vision that Wran showed me. She looked just like me.”
“Likely Lillian, the creator of Wran. Which would make sense. If you are a descendent of hers, and for some reason your gene expressions came out similar to hers, that could explain why you have such a strong connection with Wran.”
“What is the purpose of being marked? What does it do?”
“You are, to my knowledge, the only living person that can communicate with her without an interface. That mark isn’t a burn, it’s an implant. When Wran was created, a lot of this technology didn’t exist. Wran, in her damaged state, began fusing the biological with the artificial. Her roots grow as we speak. She’s networked through the roots, as well as through other networks she has access to. The implant somehow allows you two to communicate.”
“So the meeting earlier today, that was me or Wran, or both?”
“Both, we believe, though you don’t know how to control it yet, you’re capable of much more. Kaiya, you grew up in a small, remote village, far removed from the politics and wars of the Imperial City and the Sikkas. It’s made you somewhat ignorant of your significance and the happenings of this land.”
“So you’re going to teach me.”
“Yes, though it would seem you’ve already learned some.”
“And my friends.”
“Them too, if they choose. Though they will serve as support. There are things only you can do. The rest of our entire operations revolve around abilities from people like you,” the commander paused, “myself included. None of us though are as capable as you are in this.”
“And what if I say no? What if I just want to go back to the Y, or somewhere with my father and forget about all of this. We were okay before all this happened.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. Even if you wanted to, that communication channel is two-way. The Sikkas would scorch the earth to find you, and kill whomever got in their way. We are together like this because we’re stronger this way. And safer.”
“I want to get a message to my father. Can I send a sparrow?”
“We’re working on finding him. Eros has always been a tremendous help.”
“You know my father?”
“Of course,” he looked at her confused, “I suspect there’s a lot you haven’t been told. But enough for today. Kaiya, will you join us?”
She looked away, back at the water. She brushed the inside of her hand with her other hand, tracing the marking. She looked at the Commander, jetting her focus from his left eye to his right. The lights in the room flickered. The Commander broke the gaze and looked up at the lights briefly. She nodded.
Hasinth walked up to the conference room. Lin was seated by herself, her modded right eye scanning some new documents.
“Did she agree to join us Hasinth?”
“She did, warily.”
“That’s understandable, I remember seeing all this for the first time, it was...” she paused, and looked out the window to the ocean unsettled. Lin was a poor orphan from Imperial City. The Sikka had made a program of abducting kids nobody would notice were gone and experimenting on them to test new mods, weapons, and most importantly, to try and replicate what the Wrannamen could do with their God. Lin had escaped before she had been turned into a Hybrid.
“Is she aware of the timing?” Lin put down her papers and leaned back.
“She is not.”
“Well, she’ll be made aware soon enough, and I assume you’ll be personally responsible for making sure she doesn’t get killed on the next mission?”
“I will, much like I did with your daughter,” Hasinth smirked at Lin. She smiled with her eyes.
“Very well Commander, I will inform the rest of the council.”