Unhidden: Part 9

Turning back to Marcus, she said, “He’s close to death, but not there. I can bring him back by reversing time.”

That didn’t surprise me. It fit with everything else. If she could slow people or speed up herself, why couldn’t she move backward in time? Then another thought struck me, “You could have brought back Maru or Alanna.”

She shook her head. “No. Well, I could have, but it’s not simple. Both of them died before I could do anything. People knew they were dead. When people die, it affects everyone they matter to. That sets events in motion that spread and can’t be easily stopped. Bringing someone back in that situation stops or changes everything that stated, pushing the future in new directions. One of my people would notice and I don’t know who or whether it would be Live faction, the Destroy faction, or both.”

Her eyes wide, she continued. “Less powerful races would think that I was a miracle worker, but they already think that after I live among them. What I fear is my people noticing that the future changed and that the cause exists outside of time. That shouldn’t be true with Marcus. He hasn’t died and no one knows but you and I. My people still might notice, but with almost no one knowing, it’s so much less likely.”

As she said the last line, she almost sounded like Tikki again.

Her eyes drifted back toward Marcus and then back to me. “I’m not going to tell him until people stop trying to kill us. It’s hard enough to survive without being distracted by heartbreak too. I don’t want to see him die again.”

Standing there in the tunnel, darkness around us and dead bodies on the ground, I took her point. I didn’t want him to be distracted either. On the other hand, “But you will tell him, right? This can’t hang in the air unsaid. I’ll tell him if you don’t, but not until the fighting’s over. I think I agree with you there.”

She took a breath and nodded. “I’ll tell him. I don’t have any choice. We’re not even the same species. As soon as I was fully myself again, I’d find him too limited and I’d grow bored. I wouldn’t want to hurt him, but I know I would. I can’t make him into one of us even though all of you have the greatest potential for that that I’ve seen so far.”

She looked me up and down. “When we talked in my store, I told you that you glowed. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were one of our young—which is one more reason to end this. I don’t know how so much of us got into your DNA. The Abominators experiments weren’t enough to explain this. And Lee, if he’s behind this, I don’t know how he managed it. It’s not all him, and he’d only be interested in contributing DNA the easy way.”

In the silence that followed that statement, I decided to ask a question that could destroy the Earth if I asked it of the wrong being, “You know who Lee is?”

She laughed, and she didn’t sound like Tikki. Tikki’s laugh had a high, but not irritatingly high, pitch to it. To me, she’d sounded innocent and optimistic and hopeful all at once. This laugh had some of that, but deeper notes among the light. Beyond that, I felt that it existed on levels beyond sound, levels that I couldn’t name or describe, but I knew they were there.

“Yes,” she said when she finished. “Lee isn’t really his name, but I’m sure you know that. Lee fought for the Destroy faction until he left, taking their greatest weapon with him. I designed that weapon. I’d only stayed to spy for the Live faction and to see if I couldn’t convince him that he’d chosen the wrong side. The battle where he first used my weapon convinced me that I couldn’t stay any longer. He remained and I despaired that anything would change his mind. Later, he left on his own and I never knew where he went.”

Deciding not to mention Earth for all the good that would do, I said, “I don’t know for sure, but it sounds like a lot of different places.”

She laughed again. “I’ve heard stories of the chase from our spies. He hasn’t changed. Now, give me a moment.”

Turning toward Marcus, she closed her eyes and the distortion surrounding him changed, emitting a dim glow as the rocky surface of Marcus’ chest turned from rocky, but with smooth edges to defined, rocky muscles and Marcus’ costume came back together undamaged. An echo of the energy blast that hit him flowed away from his chest, dissipating in the air in front of him.

Then the distortion around him ended and he lay on the ground opening his eyes and taking a deep breath.

At almost the same time, Tikki opened her eyes, bending down to hug him. He hugged her back, asking, “Are you okay? When I took that last shot, I thought I was dead.”

“I’m fine,” she said. “I was worried about you. I thought you might be dead, and I tried moving time backward to make the damage go away and I think it worked.”

“Wow,” he said, and kissed her, shifting back into his normal form as he did. She kissed him back and I thought I saw tears at the corners of her eyes.

As much as I thought that she should tell him the truth, I couldn’t blame her. Loving someone and being loved in return had to be better than being an ancient being fighting against former friends who hoped to destroy all other intelligent life.

Saying nothing and scanning the area behind us, I let them enjoy the moment.

13 thoughts on “Unhidden: Part 9”

  1. Somehow I wonder if she’d really get all that bored with this crew. They seem to keep Lee amused. And they keep getting involved in higher and higher level stuff all the time.

    1. Debatable. Kee said she hid so much of herself away that Tiki took over. Lee is in hiding, and keeps the majority of his power locked away. Maybe it is enough so he doesn’t get bored?

      Me, I am interested in the fact she thinks Lee isn’t the source of the eternal DNA in Nick.

      1. And sudden thought. Kee made the eternal’s super weapon. Lee used it. But presumably never returned it to the destroy faction after the one time he used it. But we don’t know the nature of the weapon. As Lee put it the real traps of their devices is the powers it gives and how subtly they work to bring ruin. Nick registers as barely powered at all. But has enough eternal to him to almost seem one of them. What if Lee hid the weapon among humanity? And Nick is the current bearer of that hidden doomsday device? The ability to enter into a fog and design and build way ahead of the curve?

        1. What if Nick was the doomsday device? It would help to explain why Nick/Future Nick/Future Nick’s kids would be able to stand with Lee against Lee’s kin folks

      2. Maybe more than one great ancient mingled with Nick ancestry. Or Lee stoles bits and pieces when he left and grafted them on the first Rocked to grown a line of suitable helpers?

      1. Are we certain “the easy way” for Lee’s kind isn’t emitting controlled, directed bursts of radiation at a person’s DNA from across the room or something? That could be way easier than sex 😉

          1. It’s meant to sound like a reference to sex, but I decided to leave that ambiguous since it opens a huge can of worms.

            If you think about it, aliens like Lee certainly wouldn’t have DNA even though they’d have to have a similar system. Plus Lee as he appears here is loosely this universe’s avatar of a larger being and one that can change reality such that it’s almost as if his current form has always been the one he uses.

            That means that if it is sex, he’s reencoded his DNA equivalent into a way that makes things work in regular DNA or he’s found a way to allow his totally different system to tag along in a way that’s not easy to detect.

            Or something else. Either way, the important thing is that Lee’s more of a soldier than a scientist, so his options are more limited in that area than Kee’s for example.

  2. Okay, so here’s a question. Kee said “When people die, it affects everyone they matter to.” While that was in reference to saving people who died – didn’t she just kill Agent 957? Presumably he matters to some people? How is that not a trigger for her species? I can see a few ways out of this…
    -Without a body, 957’s not officially “dead”, he might just be in hiding, something it sounded like he’d want to do anyway. There’s nothing to investigate.
    -It was actually his time to die, but in some different way. Maybe the bomb would have malfunctioned or Nick would originally have dropped rocks on his head after his shield went down or something. You’d have to look closely to see the difference.
    -“Tikki” was always going to kill him, so nothing’s changed, which is the one I have the most trouble wrapping my head around. Because of the reality warping as she came into being.

    The question is then, which of these was it, or is there something else I hadn’t even considered? Good reveal, by the way, I hadn’t seen it coming, or even really anticipated anything until the foreshadowing elements. Pity we won’t get a time manipulator on the team though. 🙂

    1. My thinking about this is less of a, “how does this affect the timestream,” question and more of a, “how will people respond to this,” question.

      By that I mean that when everyone knows that someone’s dead and has been brought back to life, that’s the kind of thing that they’ll remember and tell people about. That in turn will tend to get around to the point that Kee’s relatives might investigate because manipulating time in that way (turning it back) is beyond what is typically possible.

      Kee is able to shield the time manipulation from being noticed, but if people talk about it, it’s a clue for Destroy. Once they start looking in the right place, they may pick up her trail.

      Here, Nick is pretty much the only person who knows and he’s not telling. The two four-handers who saw Agent 957 die don’t really care about the guy. They’re not telling anybody and they didn’t stick around to see Marcus come back to life. Plus, this is in a cavern that might fall in. That can only help.

      So as long as there aren’t people talking about what happened in a way that spreads, Kee/Tikki is in the clear.

      1. Ahh, okay, so people wouldn’t necessarily talk about 957’s death, only about something they’d consider a “miracle”. Interesting. And it’s a nice link back to the problem of speaking Lee’s name too, now that I think about it. Makes me wonder how many other amazing things happen out there that we don’t know about, because no one can talk about them.

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