Where I was, I didn’t know for sure. I’d asked before, but she told me that I didn’t have words for it. My best metaphor so far was that it seemed to be Kee’s personal breakout room in ancient, eldritch social media.
She’d raised her eyebrow when I’d suggested it the first time and while she didn’t roll her eyes, it felt like she was nearly there. Anyway, I knew better so I didn’t push it. To me, it seemed more likely that it was her personal demiplane. I mean, if you’re basically a deity, why not create your own mini-universe for conversations that you’d prefer to keep private?
Points of light hung in the darkness around us. If I concentrated on them, some would resolve into stars, others into star clusters, or galaxies, some with familiar spiral shapes. I didn’t bother to in this moment. Kee held my attention.
She appeared as I’d first met her in K’Tepolu, an artificial world that was less a world and more a collection of massive asteroids joined by supports. Her short, straight black hair was in the same style I remembered. Between her plain features and brown skin, she wouldn’t stand out in many cities on Earth. If I’d been forced to guess her ethnicity, I’d have guessed Indian, but I wouldn’t have been sure.
Her flowing blue and brown jumpsuit didn’t fit any Earth style I recognized, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t recognize many clothing styles from any planet.
As we had many times since I got back from space, we regarded each other. This time, she spoke first.
“Nick, what did you do?”
I took a breath of whatever passed for air here, “That’s a good question. I powered up a piece of a device the Abominators appeared to use for hunting uh… you guys. So far as I can tell it was some kind of sensor, but I’m beginning to think it had more potential as a communicator than I expected. Maybe an ansible, I’m guessing, because now you’re here.”
She shook her head, “It’s not an ansible. The Abominators were experimenting with other ways to communicate and this one was meant to be hidden from us. After they attacked me, I made a point of analyzing one of their ‘godkillers and understanding the technology they used. I’ve been monitoring it ever since.”
Two memories came to mind and a question that I might get answered now, “I’m guessing that the Abominators used the godkillers because they wanted to harvest your DNA or your species’ equivalent. When we last talked about it, you told me that you weren’t sure how I became as close to your species as I am. You didn’t think Lee had contributed much, if any, and the Cosmic Ghosts’ abilities only become active in human women…
“There’s something I didn’t think of then. When I was on Hideaway, I was told by the colony’s doctor, Iolan Mekus, that the Abominators captured one of you and translated his abilities into human DNA. They couldn’t keep him long. He destroyed the team that captured him and the moon their base was on. Does that ring any bells? Do you know who that might be?”
She paused, mouth tightening, her eyes seeming to look at a spot far behind me, “I don’t know. My worry, and the reason that I contacted you is that I know others of us encountered godkillers, but I might not be the only one to have analyzed them. If someone from the Destroy faction did the same, they might try to track it down. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. We’re all aware that the Abominators are no more. Still, there’s a chance, however small that someone from Destroy might visit.”
Meeting my eyes, she said, “Since Lee and I are traveling together at the moment, I’m not worried that they’ll find him and destroy the planet. I’m worried that they might find you. I’m not sure what they would do then, whether they’d study you or kill you.”
I cocked my head to the side, “I suppose they could do both.”
Nodding, she said, “It’s possible.”
Then she paused again, “If it’s not someone from Destroy, I think I might know who the Abominators caught. Lee and I have been visiting members of the Live faction as well as friends who hate Destroy, but haven’t joined any faction, and there’s one of us missing. A friend of ours is missing. He joined the Live faction early on, but no one’s seen him in the last century or two. No one thinks he’s dead, but he’s not responding when people try to contact him. He’s always been prone to disappearing and reappearing and that would have made him more likely to encounter the Abominators than most of us. I don’t suppose any of your cultures record visits from a godlike being named Nataw?”
I shook my head, “I’ve never heard the name, but I’m a lot more focused on technology than mythology. What should I do if I run across him?”