Part I: Welcome to Earth Aleph
Two Months Ago, July 2016
My head was a complete blur. I couldn’t tell where or when I was. A second ago I’d been standing in the hills at night, then a bright flash of many colors had appeared and the next moment it was sunset. My head splitting with a migraine like no others, I stumbled down onto my knees and braced myself with my hands as I tried to make sense of what had happened.
Where was captain O’Malley? He’d been only a few steps away. I tried to look around but he was gone… I replayed the last few hours through my mind, the events slowly coming back to me. We were investigating missing cattles in the hills, thinking it would be thieves.
I didn’t have time to ponder what had happened as a helicopter arrived, landing nearby as men dropped out of it. I’d only seen the flying contraptions trapped on the ground, having long ago become inoperable, but wherever I was, they still operated.
I painfully stumbled to my feet and grabbed my rifle, getting ready for whatever was coming. A half dozen men in camouflage gear came toward me, brandishing firearms of their own.
“Put down your weapon!” One of them shouted in a language I didn’t understand.
“My name is Yikaru Kensuke, cadet of the Narragansett Bay self defense force.” I answered loudly, they looked at each other and I repeated the phrase.
“What is that, German?” Another one said.
I repeated my name and affiliation but they did not understand, fanning out in a circle around me.
“Put down your weapon!” They shouted, motioning to the ground.
I was surrounded, I had no chance to make it out. I felt the call of the blood stir, begging me to unleash it, give in to the infection. I resisted it, I didn’t have the time to transform. I let go of my weapon and raise my hands.
“I am not your enemy.”
They pushed me onto the ground and tied my hands behind my back, removing my weapons, before dragging me into their vehicle. They brought me to a base bustling with activity, hundreds of men and women in uniforms walking around, dozens of intact machines working.
They gave me clothes and had me strip down and change before putting me in a room with nothing but a table and two chairs firmly bolted to the ground. A man came in, asking what I presumed were questions I couldn’t understand. After quite some time, he left me alone and two soldiers came, guiding me to a cell.
I was alone for a while, left to inspect the cell which had nothing but a sink, a toilet and a cot. I couldn’t see anything but a cement wall outside of the cell, couldn’t hear anything.
Hours later, a woman walked into the cell, she was wearing this strange purple outfit with a color-matched mask.
“My name is Indigo, do you understand me?” She asked.
“What is happening, who are you, where am I?”
“I’m sorry, but this is going to hurt.”
“I don’t unders-” I began speaking but she touched my head. My head burst with a thousand thoughts all at once and more coming by the second until it reached a point I couldn’t take it and everything went dark.
I opened my eyes what felt like a moment later and I was alone once more, a splitting headache preventing me from focusing. It took me a moment to notice the needles in my arms, attached to bags of fluids. My whole body felt sore, as if I hadn’t moved in a long time.
“She’s awake.” Someone said, still in that strange language, but this time I understood the meaning.
The woman in purple came back into my cell. She smiled at me. “Took you long enough.” Again, I understood what it meant… She came forward and reached out and this time I recoiled back.
“I’m sorry bout last time. This won’t hurt, I promise.”
I didn’t move, not that I could go anywhere. She put her hand on my head and the pain washed away.
“My name is Indigo, I’m here to help you. What’s your name?”
“My name is Yikaru Kensuke, cadet of the Narragansett Bay self defense force.” I didn’t even think about it, speaking her own language myself. I brought a hand to my mouth. “How did I…”
“I know it’s a lot to take in, everything will be explained in due time.”
“Where am I?”
“On another world, we call it Earth-Aleph. You were transported through a rift.”
“How do I get home?”
She shifted uncomfortably before answering. “You don’t… At least not for now. The rifts are one way and we don’t know the coordinates of your homeworld.”
The news hit me like a sledgehammer. I maybe I wasn’t going to see the captain, the other cadets or anyone else ever again…
“Come on, we’re leaving.”
I didn’t question her, following her out of the cell. I mean what else could I do?
“What do you think you’re doing?” A man in a decorated uniform asked.
“I’m taking her away.”
“Like hell you are, lady.”
“She’s a perfectly ordinary teenage girl who has no idea where she is or what is happening. She’s no threat to national security. By holding her you are in violation of the Brussels convention, which states that all extra dimensional material or living being should be directed to the International Dimensional Survey Corp within forty-eight hours of discovery. As of two hours ago, that time is past. You can release her into Legion custody or have the international community informed.”
They continued to argue for a moment, most of which my newfound understanding of the language did not help understand, until the man in uniform gave up. She guided us to a desk where a man waited for us, she spoke to him and he brought out a large box containing my things.
“One pocket watch, one journal, one pen, one coat, one hat, one button shirt, one pair of trousers, slightly worn boots, a duffel-style bag, a utility knife, a compass, two unopened packets of unknown content, a lighter, a water canteen, and nineteen coins in three separate denominations.” The man enunciated slowly, putting the items down one by one.
“What about my rifle?”
“Weapons and ammunition will be given back when you are off perimeter.”
Indigo nodded and I grabbed my things before following her outside. She guided us to a flying machine and had us sat down in it. A soldier brought my rifle inside a sealed box. The machine took off and I clung to the seat tightly. Never in my life had I flown, I’d sometimes dreamed of the old machines working, wondering what it would be like, but now that I was experiencing it, I wasn’t keen on it.
We passed through the countryside until we reached a massive city, gleaming skyscrapers dotting its skyline. I sat breathlessly at the sight, even more glorious than any pre-cometfall image had ever shown me. The flying machine brought us to the roof of a building and landed on it.
“Welcome to our headquarters.” She said as we walked out. “You’ll be staying here a while, on one condition.”
“What is that?”
“I lied to the colonel. Said you were an ordinary girl, when you aren’t. I could feel it when I touched you. You’re more than human.”
“I…” I couldn’t finish my answer, looking away.
“You’re safe here Yikaru. There are many people like us, people with powers.”
“You wouldn’t understand, this thing, the naht bluot is a curse…”
“I know how you feel, I’ve reached into your mind. But we can help you, but you have to let us.”
Her words hit a cord, I felt like I could trust her. So I let the blood out, letting it pour out of the pores of my skin, converging around my arms and hardening into a blade and shield-like form on my left and right arms respectively.
“This is a start.” She said with a smile.
Weeks passed as I learned what I could about this new world. Everything was different, I didn’t recognize any of its recent history, we had had the roman empire and shared some of the early medieval period as they called it but beyond that everything was wrong…
This world has never been hit by the comet, never had its future ravaged. Instead they were experiencing a golden age, technology rapidly advancing. And then there were the powered people, not feared like the black blooded were, not cursed to eventual insanity and death…
Although Indigo and her allies, the Legion as they called themselves, graciously hosted me, I could feel myself dying inside from the inactivity, I didn’t understand this world and couldn’t do a thing in it…
“You’re still wearing that coat.” Indigo asked, coming behind me and interrupting my somber thoughts as I watched the city from the balcony. “Isn’t it hot? Is there something wrong with the clothes we got for you?”
“No, it’s just… that it’s the only thing that’s really mine. Everything is so different, wearing my old clothes helps me…”
“I understand, having something familiar to cope with things you don’t understand.”
“I’ve been keeping notes.” I said, taking out my journal. “Things I see, people I meet. I think it helps too. Gives me something to do too…”
“I understand how frustrating it must be to be so still. You told me about your home, how you served the people, protecting them and I had an idea.”
“What would that be?”
“There is a school, where people with special abilities like you train to protect others. You might like it there.”
“Well, not exactly like you, we don’t have this naht bluot, on this world. Although there is someone like you.” I turned around at the news. “We believe she comes from the same world you did.”
“How do I sign up?”
“No question, no hesitations?” She asked, raising a brow.
“What else am I going to do?”