Artemis 9: Part 5
Taste the ‘Sanebow’
We had descended onto a railed platform inside a massive submarine, at least that is what it appeared to be.
“Follow me,” Astaria said as we walked along a shining metal catwalk surrounded by more ceiling to floor windows.
The world beyond the crystalline windows was an incredible sight to behold. Bioluminescent fish danced playfully around a dark, watery stage.
Their dance portrayed the night sky as if it had come to life and began playing out the stories of the very constellations.
“Are they trained to do this?” I asked.
“Only for you,” Astaria smirked.
“I don’t know what that means,” I said as we descended a spiral staircase made of more shining metal, “Who cleans this place? It’s incredibly… polished.”
“That would be the Argentum Master,” Astaria said as we came upon a tall silver door engraved with symbols that seemed familiar, although I could not place them.
“Why is everything plated in silver?” I asked as Astaria placed their hand upon a crystal plate protruding from the door’s frame.
“That’s just for you too,” they said as the door opened silently and they motioned for me to proceed through the door ahead of them.
“Can you elaborate a bit more on the ‘just for you’ stuff?” I asked as I walked ahead through the door and into a silvery hallway, “I have no idea what you mean by it.”
Astaria spun me gently by the shoulders to face them as they locked their hypnotizing eyes with mine, “You’re telling me that the first time you were hospitalized you didn’t tell the doctor that you were hearing strange voices in your head and seeing unexplainable visions? You’re saying that you didn’t tell them that you haven’t felt like you’re from ‘here’? That there’s something inside you telling you that you’re different, that you are something incredibly special?”
“What the hell is this?” I whispered as fear welled inside me.
“Look I’m going to need you to get used to the idea that everything that you thought made you ill, is what makes you special,” Astaria said as their cool, grey eyes shimmered back into mine, “the fate of humanity depends on it.”
“Do you know what you’re asking of me?” I said as fear boiled into anger like bubbling lava, “Do you know how dangerous that is?!”
“I understand that you’ve been told differently by earth professionals but-“
“What you are asking of me, is to take everything I’ve learned about why my brain does what it does and just throw it out the window! Everything that has kept me relatively sane!”
Astaria’s eyes fell for a moment in contemplation and then met my eyes once more, “I am not asking you to throw all of it out. I am only asking that you consider a third option.”
I trembled for a moment as I tried to calm myself, “I’m going to need you to stop being so vague with me. I want to know what the fuck is going on and I want to know now. No more dancing around my questions.”
“Everything you want to know lies beyond that door at the end of this hall,” Astaria said, pointing down the silvery hallway lit by strange, blue flamed torches leading to a door made of gold.
My body shook again, “You’re not coming with me?”
Astaria looked at the floor and then up at me, “I can’t. It’ll be okay. You’ll be safe.”
I faced the hallway and followed it down to the golden door. An amethyst door handle glittered in the light of the blue flame torches.
It holds a striking resemblance to the door handle from the vision in my bathroom…
I turned the knob and walked inside.
The door opened into a bubble-like room with a polished wooden deck that was elevated into a sort of observatory, surrounded by more crystal windows.
In the center of the room, someone sat at an elaborate mahogany desk in front of a matching bookshelf that appeared to support the observation deck.
“Hello?” I said as I slowly approached the desk. I stopped a couple meters away as I waited to be acknowledged.
An elderly man with white hair and a wild white beard looked up at me. One eye covered with a black, leather eye patch. The other eye was an icy grey and seemed to sparkle, “Well hello, my child. Sit, please,” the man gestured to a chair that I was certain was not there upon my entry.
“I understand that you have been told a great deal of information in a very short amount of time. I imagine that you have many questions and it appears to be my task to answer them. So, where would you like to start?” He smiled softly beneath his rather wild facial hair.
“Who are you? Where am I? And why the hell am *I* humanity’s only hope for a positive future?” I said bluntly.
The elder was taken aback for a moment and then began to guffaw.
“My apologies for the laughter,” he said, apparently greatly amused by my questions, “My name is Heldur. I am your advisor, your majesty.”
My face wrinkled in confusion, “Excuse me?”
“You are the biological descendant of a great king from the constellation of Orion. That is why the marks on your skin form the constellation itself. It is a reminder of your home,” said Heldur.
I stared at him in disbelief. I’d never noticed my freckles having any particular shape before. I only thought they were freckles.
Then I looked at the markings on my arm. There it was. Orion. Club in hand. I snickered and said, “Well no wonder they called it Project Artemis.”
The old man chuckled, “Indeed.”
“Wait…at the mountain they told me there were more like me. Where are they?”
“Well the first eight were… Not very successful.”
“What do you mean? Did they not survive or something?”
“The first two didn’t. But the other six were unsuccessful for other reasons.”
“You noticed Astaria’s insistence on knowing whether you can be trusted, yes?”
“So they were killed because they couldn’t be trusted?”
“No. One died of natural causes, three were released from the Project and permanently hospitalized, and the last two joined the other side.”
“Jesus,” I said shocked, “why’d they switch?”
“Fear or lust for power mostly. Promises of great wealth and power over other humans can be quite tempting for those attracted to it. And fear of destruction can motivate just about anyone to do despicable things,” said Heldur as he twisted his marvelous mustache.
“So were they all royal too? How did this work?” I asked.
“Well we originally received various seeds from many star systems to help our research. The first two were from Orion like you but after they didn’t survive, we tried the seeds from other systems. When those six failed we were going to give up completely. That was until your father offered his assistance. And here you are. The first successful result. Artemis 9,” Heldur beamed at me.
“Okay. So I’m from the constellation Orion, my father is a King, and I’m here to help the people of Earth survive?” I asked, trying to ensure I had heard all this correctly.
“Survive what exactly? Greed?”
“In a way. There are many different species of interstellar travelers. But some species are destructive and we currently have some here on Earth that plan to enslave us,” Heldur said bluntly.
“Enslave us?… Wow the irony,” I laughed again.
“Yes, it seems humanity’s history with enslaving each other has come to bite them in the rump,” he laughed.
“So why do they want to enslave humanity? What could humanity possibly have that they want?” I questioned.
“Well these particular species of interstellar travelers don’t really eat things that humans eat,” Heldur hinted.
“They EAT HUMANS??”
“Not really. You see, they feed by covering their skin in our bodily fluids like blood, saliva, urine, and sexual discharge,” Heldur explained.
”That’s fuckin’ gross,” I proclaimed as I scrunched my nose.
“Yes. Although it behaves more like a drug to them than nourishment. We suspect they are behind the sex trafficking rings as well as other things but we need more evidence. We have discovered that they prefer younger humans. The younger the human, the more addictive the fluid.”
“Gods that’s sick. So what do you expect me to do? I’m no warrior, the Army wouldn’t take me, I tried,” I said.
“Well they couldn’t because you were already taken. We are going to show you how to use your abilities and focus your mind. Your mind is what’s going to save humanity,” he said as he leaned back far in his chair.
“How? Spy?” I asked flatly.
Heldur leaned forward in his chair, “No. You’re not created to be a spy. You can understand people. You can hear their pain. So we need you to find what’s causing it.”
“You want me to hunt it for you,” I said and (I couldn’t help it) I laughed again, “Let me get this straight… I’m royalty from the constellation Orion, named after the Great Greek Hunter Orion, and you want me to hunt down these beings trying to enslave humanity?”
He held his gaze.
“You want me to solve world peace while I’m at it?” I asked bluntly, “How in the hell am I supposed to do all this by myself?”
“You’re not alone; you have a sister. There were also millions of other seeds planted all around the world from all over the universe. All sent from numerous star systems to help humanity. They have all started to awaken by now,” Heldur explained.
“Awaken? Like what happened in my bathroom? That whole freaky ass situation?” I asked, a little pissed off by the presentation of it. I held up my hand and showed him my stitches, “This hurt like a motherfucker.”
“You obtained that because you tried to close the door. You were the first to be able to interact with anything during the awakening. Most times we had to open the door for them. And when they saw the other side: three of them went catatonic, one had a heart attack and died, and the last two succumbed to what appears to be a rare form of mind control that exploits their darker sides.”
“Holy shit. So you want me to find those guys? Or you want me to find who is controlling them?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said smirking, “to both.”
“Right. And I’m supposed to use my mind to do it? There are so many people smarter than I am, why is my mind special?” I inquired.
“Perhaps, but you are the only one with your power level. Your mind is capable of far more due to your insistence on therapy and following medical treatments. I understand you may feel conflicted in being told by Earth professionals that your power was an illness while simultaneously being told by us that those treatments helped-“
“Not really. I’m quite familiar with dualities,” I quipped, “Though I am pretty interested to see how this one takes shape.”
Heldur smirked again, “Indeed.”
“I So I’ve got a sister huh? What’s her name? When will I meet her?” I asked him.
“Her name is Artemis 10 and you’ll meet her when we are done here,” he smiled again, “do you have any more questions?”
“Yeah. When do we eat?” I asked as my stomach growled loudly.
“Ah yes, breakfast is about to be served in the dining area. I’ll escort you,” he said, standing.
I stood and followed him out of the bubble room, back to the room of shining silver walkways.
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