Author’s note: This will be my last chapter until after I move out of my parents house and up to New York. I apologize for delaying for so long, but my priorities right now involve getting out of here and up to live with a good friend of mine.
The day of official landing had come upon the four crew members. Keldin kept his head straight and his body poignant, he was calm. Raynor was nervous with the potential capture of his first friend in twelve thousand years and Cassandra was feeling equally anxious, but for differing reasons.
Keldin walked with a blank stare across his face, as if lost in deep thought. Maybe he was dreading what was to come, or maybe he was truly at peace but his movements seemed fluid and normal. He wasn’t nervous, he wasn’t shaking or anxious, and he never once turned his head to get one last look at his new friends. He was strangely aloof, which infuriated Cassandra as she thought it was rather insensitive by her standards. But then, it wasn’t just a goodbye they were saying, it was a planned death, not something that just sparks the creativity of orators.
As they walked, her eyes shifted to Andre, and his to her eyes. Then they shifted back. As two armed guards grabbed Keldin’s arms as he touched the soil of the new earth with his bare feat, Raynor almost immediately went hysterical. Both Andre and Cassandra knew this would happen as Andre grabbed raynor and restrained him while Cassandra produced a syringe, injecting him with a potent sedative, knocking him out. It would be a couple of days before he awoke, well after the execution is to take place.
Both Cassandra and Andre stood and watched the execution, a machine was brought down with a pointed tip. Andre described what would happen, a beam would fire from the machine medically inducing a coma, and then it would slowly and painlessly shut down Keldin’s brain. Cassandra clasped her hands over her mouth and face as she burst into tears; it didn’t matter how humane the execution was, it was still a death and one she was not prepared to witness again.
Hours after the execution, Cassandra got her just rewards, and she was both delighted and disgusted with herself as she ran into her fiancée’s arms.
“I…I’m not sure how I got here or…where exactly this is. I remember we were maybe four or five months away from starting the first few tests on the cryogenics experiment, and I had just taken you out on our first date a week ago…but who are all these…creatures?” He asked.
Tears welling up, and subsiding at the same time, she grasped his hand with both of hers, “I’ll explain everything, I promise, but right now I just wanna be held,” Cassandra said. With an open invitation he held out his arms and wrapped them around her, and she smiled feeling the warmth of his body. It felt the same, he sounded the same, he smelled the same and even his memories were the same even if off by a few months.
Three days passed, there was no deliberation or bureaucracy that the humans needed to go through, the Etherians gave them a nice home, one with all the technological features of every other Etherian household, however it was segregated from society. They were afterall, a different species. Cassandra was able to accept it immediately considering her views on the Etherians and their rather brutish ways of life.
Raynor awoke in a new bed, in new surroundings, his head still groggy from before and his body aching all over. “Ugh…did I have a few too many last night or something,” he mumbled. Then, like the waves in an ocean, it all came rushing back to him; the guards, the syringe, the betrayal, everything.
He nearly jumped out of bed and began exploring his surroundings, trying to find Cassandra. He eventually came across a kitchen-like area where she and Professor Richton were having a cup of tea together. She stood up and walked over to him, “Your awake? Wow I thought you’d never come to,” she said, almost innocently.
That didn’t stop his rage though, as he grabbed her by the shoulders and pinned her against the wall. “The FUCK?! What the hell is wrong with you you arrogant bitch! You stopped me and let him die?!”
He looked over at the Professor, who had jumped out of his seat rushing over to aid Cassandra, noticing subtle differences on his face and body. After remembering how the cat was made, he immediately realized just exactly what the “new” professor was.
“Oh great, so you helped execute Keldin just to get your stupid husband back, are you insane?! You’re no better than those god damned Etherians for what they did to Keldin in the first place.”
The three of them heard a voice from behind, “While I appreciate your sentimentality and your…enthusiasm for me, I can assure you all, I’m quite fine.” They turned to see Keldin walking into the room, and the three were almost immediately ecstatic as well as confused.
“H-how are you alive? I watched you…well I was there when they performed your execution,” Cassandra asked.
“Come, sit and I’ll tell you all how it happened,” he said, taking a seat at the kitchen table.
Five days earlier-
Both Raynor and Cassandra were in their room and were told that Keldin was taking a shuttle to meet with a Djinn on a planet in a nearby solar system, and he’d be gone for a day or so. Keldin said it was a small diplomatic trip, Raynor knew what it actually was and Cassandra, having just gotten out of the call from the Etherian thug, knew something was up.
Keldin left on a small shuttle, avoiding detection from other Etherian ships with ease. As there were still dozens beyond dozens of meteorites circling the newly formed planet creatng a ring akin to Saturns ring, the interference made it easy to simply sneak right by.
He made his way to the planet where a small delegation of Djinn were waiting for him. Sparing no ounce of humility, Keldin had no issue immediately bowing to them, downing his head nearly to the ground. “I have come seeking assistance at the behest of a…friend,” he hesitated. They told him to speak his business.
“I am used to the way my brethren behave and their standards and ways of life, and so it was easy for me to accept the punishment I was to receive. However, recently, my priorities have shifted. I….I want to live.”
“Hmph, and what do you expect us to do about it?”
“I am unsure, I do not know of a way I can get out of this. That is why I requested your assistance…” He pleaded.
“You wage war on our land, killing hundreds of thousands of our kin and expect us to save you from your own execution? The audacity of such a…”
“Calm yourself,” A female Djinn stepped in. “This isn’t just any Etherian, this is the one that stopped our race from going extinct. He alone cannot be blamed for the actions of his people, especially when he’s done everything in his power to cease the fighting.”
“Your majesty, this…filth is not your concern, if you request we don’t kill him immediately, we won’t but I do not think it wise to help him either.” A third, more calm but equally infuriated Djinn spoke.
“And I do think it’s wise.” She spoke. "If not for him, our war with the Etherians would still be, and our numbers would dwindle every day until nothing is left.
We will help him, and I know exactly how."
Keldin paused, and Raynor chimed in. “So…what happened? Did they just bring you back to life or something?”
“No, I actually never died to begin with,” Keldin exclaimed. "I knew if the conversation Cassandra had with the Etherian about preventing you from interfering with my execution, and with what the Djinn gave me, I knew exactly how I could get away.
I needed Cassandra to go through with the plan the Etherian proposed, but couldn’t let her know what was really going on."
4 days ago-
Keldin walked into Cassandra’s room, she was still quite dejected and anxious over the idea of aiding in taking a life.
“I know what was said during that call you had with Ajak. Listen, I want you to go through with his plan, I’ve accepted my fate and you deserve your partner back,” he projected his thoughts.
Shocked, she sat their in silence, not knowing what to say. “But…how…what am I supposed to….I can’t do something like that.”
“Trust me Cassandra,” he said. “I’ll be fine. I don’t want you and Raynor and your partner to suffer for my mistakes, everything will be alright,” he explained, and then did something curiously human. He winked one of his eyes at her.
“I didn’t know what was up, maybe it was all just a bluff or something but I had to grit and bear it and go through with the plan. I’m sorry I drugged you Raynor, but I didn’t have a choice. I knew that if I didn’t go through with it, they wouldn’t just stop at taking James away from me again, they’d come after you and I too,” she explained. “I wanted to trust Keldin knew what he was doing.”
Raynor’s rage had long since depleted at this point, “So then…how exactly did you get away?”
"The Djinn gave me an invisibility device, the same one they used when fleeing from planet to planet avoiding the Etherian battleships.
I used the synthesizer to create a clone of me, I programmed some basic memories and motor functions in it but otherwise it was an empty vessel if you will like a robot without artificial intelligence. The day we landed, I was standing right behind my clone as we walked down and it was arrested."
James chimed in for the first time, “That may be good and all, but I hate to put a damper on your parade. What if you need to leave the house or the planet even, what if you get caught, or we get caught.”
“I have solved that problem as well. The Etherians like their laws so much that I found a loophole I could use to my advantage. When cloning technology was invented, a law was passed, that as odd as it may be, we were allowed to exchange samples of our DNA to our loved ones after being betrothed.”
“That’s all well and good but even if they kill you and you simply get cloned again, wouldn’t they just kill the clone?” James asked.
“Normally, yes, but therein lies the loophole. Didn’t you wonder why the entirety of the Djinn hated me except for one single person, the princess of the Djinn no less?”
“You can’t mean, you and her are married?” Cassandra asked.
“I see, I see. Ha! That’s an amazing plan, truly fit for someone of your stature,” James said.
“Wait, I’m not sure I understand. How does marrying a princess of a different species protect him from assassins and executioners here?” Raynor asked.
“Diplomatic immunity is I believe the word you humans use for this,” Keldin explained. “By marrying her, I am not only a member of my own race, but an honorary one of hers and as such gain all the benefits of the treaty that was signed today. If they kill me, it would be considered an act of war on the Djinn.”
“And any nation that holds laws to their absolute values, enough to execute a person who ended an entire war through a modest act of betrayal, values politics too. And the leaders of the Etherians probably don’t want to appear weak or immoral to their citizens,” James continued.
They spent hours talking that day, catching up with both Keldin and James. When the evening finally settled in and they were quite exhausted, they returned to their rooms, all except for Raynor who had a rather dejected look across his face.
Keldin stayed with him, “Is something the matter?”
“I’m sorry, I just can’t sleep right now. I thought I lost you.”
“I assure you I am not lost nor dead in any way, I won’t be attempting that again.”
“I know, but…well look, I kind of lied to you. You aren’t just my only friend in twelve thousand years, you’re my only friend period. I’ve been a loner most of my life, and when I lost my brother, I didn’t have anyone I could talk to about…things, and you kinda fill that gap a little,” Raynor explained.
“I am honored you think of me in such high regard, but I can never take the place of a family member.”
“No, you can’t take the place of my brother, but you are family, and I don’t want to lose you too.”
“I understand, believe me I do. I feel an unfamiliar string of emotions around both you and Cassandra, one’s I’ve never felt before. I’ve never had a friend myself, and I’m glad I have one now,” Keldin states.
“By the way, you may not be tired but you might want to head back to your room anyway. I left you a few surprises there.”