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Chapter Eleven

  Lyca stood on the balcony of of her and Trys’ apartment, overlooking the Bluefull sector or Pioneer 2’s inter city. She leaned against the railing and stared off into the distance, the lights of the city a blur to her. It was now early morning, and she hadn’t slept the previous night. Not that she would have been able to if she had tried. In the course of a few minutes her entire life flashed before her eyes. She thought back to when her sister had been explaining how they were created in a lab, grown in tubes, genetically altered. Lyca felt violated, she felt dirty. And she felt that somehow, it was a kind of stain she would never be able to wash off. She wanted desperately to have things go back to the way they had been. She wished she had never learned the truth. She looked down at the street, the people seemed so oblivious, so happy. They walked, talked, they smiled and laughed, yelled and cried. They followed their routine as they did every morning, and Lyca envied them. She wasn’t sure how, but she knew that her life would never go back to what it had been just a day before. Three slow knocks on the apartment’s front door called Lyca’s attention away from the cityscape. She slowly turned and walked into the apartment, through the living room, and to the front door. As she approached the door, a simple white envelope slid under the door. She bent over, picked it up, and opened the door. The hallway outside the apartment was empty, save for the two unconscious army guards. Lyca closed the door and walked back through the living room to the balcony. She opened the envelope, contained within was a simple white paper card. On one side of the card, printed in simple black lettering, a message read:

The truth shall set you free.
Today-12:30, Restaurante Blanc, Bluefull Sector

  Lyca stared at the card for several minutes. She contemplated who it may have been meant for, or what it meant. She glanced at the time display on her hunter’s datalink. it was 8. She would have plenty of time to get ready, Blanc was a famous restaurant, she would have to dress accordingly. She neatly placed the card back in the envelope, walked through the living room to the kitchen, and placed the envelope on the table. She turned and walked into the living room, down the hallway past Trys’ rooms, and entered her room.

  Lyca slowly made her way through the crowd of people in the streets of Bluefull sector. She wore a simple blue sun dress, by far the nicest article of clothing she owned. Trys refused to indulge Lyca’s obsession with materialism, and Lyca had to fight for every trinket, piece of “non-essential” clothing, and object she owned. Lyca had tried to keep he appearance simple, she wore very little makeup, no earrings, and had even removed her datalink. She had brought Trys’ antique pocket watch with her to tell the time, and her credit chit with a few hundred thousand deposited onto it, in case she had need of money while she was out. Holding the watch tightly in her palm, Lyca stopped walking and stared at the watch. She didn’t know where Trys had acquired such a rare item, but it didn’t seem to matter now. Lyca pressed the small button on the top of the watch with her thumb, the front of the watch sprang open. It was twelve twenty. Lyca closed the watch and resumed walking through the crowd of people. After several more minutes of wading through the massive crowds of people, Lyca came to a stop in front of the famous Restaurante Blanc, a huge four story restaurant famous for it’s exquisite, and very expensive, cuisine. The curtains of the establishment were drawn shut, a very nicely dressed human man stood near the grand double doors leading into the entryway. Lyca walked to him.
  “I’m sorry miss, but we’re closed until four today.” The man had a beep baritone voice. Lyca opened her palm and again opened the watch. It was twelve twenty nine.
  “I’m expected,” she quietly said, “to be here at twelve thirty.” The doorman carefully looked Lyca over.
  “Very well miss, allow me...” The doorman opened the door, bowing gently and motioning for Lyca to enter. Lyca took a deep breath, and waked into the entryway of Restaurante Blanc, the doorman shut the door behind her. As her eyes adjusted to the lower level of lighting, Lyca marveled at the decor. Authentic carved wood panel walls, lavish furnishings, ornate decoration everywhere she could see. Lyca was very impressed. From around a nearby corner, a tall man wearing a very nice, and expensive, business suit appeared.
  “Miss Lyca, please follow me, you have been expected.” Lyca took another deep breath, and followed the man as he began to walk back around the corner he had come around. Lyca followed him silently as he led her down a carpeted hallway past several large empty dining rooms, to a large grand staircase leading up to the second level. The man bowed, and motioned for Lyca to go up the stairs. A look of apprehension slowly too shape across Lyca’s face as she slowly and nervously climbed the massive staircase.
  Lyca arrived at the top of the stairs to find a massive dining room on the second floor. It was dark. Near a far wall opposite the staircase a hanging lamp above a large group table was on. Lyca could make out three shapes near the table. The one in the middle seemed to be sitting, while the two on either flank appeared to be standing. Lyca slowly walked in the direction of the figures, trying desperately to hide her nervousness. She walked rigid and took deep breathes. As she approached the table the center figure spoke to her in a calm voice.
  “Thank you Miss Lyca, for being so prompt.” Lyca neared the table and could clearly distinguish two tall men in very nice suits standing on either side of a shorter man with a dark complexion sitting at the table. The man had shoulder length white hair, though he was clearly not elderly. His face held a look of serene peacefulness and calm. “Please,” the man spoke calmly, “have a seat.” Lyca looked at the end of the table nearest her, and noticed a chair had been pulled back from the table. Lyca slowly sat in the chair, her gaze not leaving the man sitting at the opposite end of the table. he returned her stare, his deep green eyes seeming to stare beyond her eyes, peering into her soul. For several moments, neither spoke, but Lyca had too many questions to remain silent.
  “The truth,” Lyca began, “shall set you free.” A faint smile appeared on the man’s face.
  “Indeed, it shall.”
  “What truth?”
  “Yours. Mine, his, hers. Everyone’s...”
  “You brought me here, so start talking.”
  “No, you brought yourself here. Your own curiosity drove you to visit me, you could have easily ignored my invitation.”
  “But you knew I wouldn’t.”
  “Then, tell me whatever it is you have to say.”
  “I have a better idea,” the man responded, “Ask a question, and I shall answer to the best of my abilities.”
  “Okay, who are you?”
  “I am he who has inherited the name of ‘Sols’.”
  “What does that mean?”
  “I have become the persona of an ancient line of those who have inherited this title. The most noted of which was the man named ‘Sols’ who is credited with the discovery of photonic live forms.”
  “I still don’t understand. Explain to me why this is relevant.”
  “A very long time ago,” the man began calmly, “on a world very far from here, a people lived in peace and splendor. They build fantastic marvels of science, floating cities, great space colonies, they even began to terraform other planets. But their prosperity was not to be had without a price. In their serendipity, they forgot their ancient duty. When that which they were supposed to guard against slowly began to infiltrate their utopia they turned a blind eye. In the eventual chaos that followed, many lives were lost. Many more forever altered. These survivors swore that they would never again falter from their ancient duty. They banded together and established what they called the ‘Society of Shadows’. For generations and generations, whenever the menace that had manifested on their home in the past reappeared, they stood ready to fight from the shadows. That menace was a creature called ‘Dark Force’. The very same menace which has been reawakened on Ragol. And ever since those times long ago, the one who has led the Society, has been known only as ‘Sols’.” Lyca sat silent for several moments, contemplating what she was being told.
  “Then, this ‘Society of Shadows’, is still in existence?”
  “And you are it’s leader.”
  “In a manner of speaking.”
  “Over time, as the people spread to the worlds of Algo, factions of the Society went with them, to carry their duty as far as possible. In time, these factions developed a separate identity, but always maintaining two constants, they followed the will of the one who inherited the name of Sols, and they maintained their sacred duty to defend against the Dark Force and it’s agents. As time pressed on, for some even these constants washed away. They became the shadows they sought to emulate, puppet masters pulling strings for their own agendas. The Society became divided between the three factions. As different as they became, it was still possible to exert some control over them by the two constants. They followed the will of Sols, and they continued to stand steadfast against the darkness. However, twenty five years ago, after we first learned we would have to abandon our worlds, something slowly changed. A small part of the Society, began to follow a different path. Led by a bright young and upcoming member of the Society, they began to research photonic life forms. As their skill and knowledge grew, their leader became obsessed with the story of how a Sols of the past was possessed by Nilla, a Greater Photonic. He began a project in secret, gathering the finest geneticists and scientific minds he could acquire. He called the project simply “Sols”. Genetic samples of the Sols possessed by Nilla were used as base material for creating a new breed of Numans. Numans designed to absorb and utilize a greater photonic’s power. For a long time, even this was hidden from the rest of the Society. It was years before we learned if this project, and by that time we were too late to stop it. We however, could delay it. One of our operatives modified the genetic data for the initial eight test subjects, making them unsuitable for use. To our surprise, the four female subjects were ‘born’ anyway, and subjected to tests and experiments for years. We leaked information about the lab where these experiments were being conducted to the government, which instigated a raid of the facility. Simultaneously, our operatives were to infiltrate the lab in the confusion and acquire the 4 subjects, but we encountered a situation we had never expected. The eldest subject, seizing the opportunity, had killed her guards, and was freeing her sisters. Our forces caught up with the girls as they were being attacked by Tygrin.” Sols hesitated a moment before continuing. “Tygrin was a being never meant to exist, he was... another of our failed experiments. Created by the progenitors of the Society many, many years ago. Those who had been overseeing the project called ‘Sols’, reactivated him and used him as a guard. Somehow our ancestors were able to make him invulnerable to every kind of photonic technique we know of. he is a monster that should have been left in the past. Unfortunately, to this day, he continues to work for those who oppose the rest of the Society. That night during the raid, Tygrin very nearly defeated our operatives. Fortunately we were eventually able to recover two of the subjects...” Lyca’s face held an expression of pale shock.
  “Me and Trys.”
  “Exactly... Iris and Tear had already left the facility. Unfortunately, we were unable to hold you and Trys. You were placed in government care. Some time later one of our agents found Iris and Tear, and for many years cared for them. That too, however, eventually came to an end.” Lyca stared deeply into the eyes of the man named Sols.
  “Why are you telling me all this? What do you get out of it?”
  “At this very moment, Iris, Tear and Trys are down in the ancient ship. Their paths bound to cross. The last time that happened was several years ago, and it did not end well. We have also learned that Tygrin has been in the first area of the ancient ship, waiting for them. We do not expect any of them to return alive. To be honest, we would have preferred Trys be our first contact, but in these circumstances...”
  “We would like you to work with us. We are responsible for all the pain you have endured in your life. We would like to make amends if possible. Additionally, we have use for someone with your skill and unique... talents.”
  “You mean my condition.”
  “Yes. We have produced a variant of the medication you take. It will stem your own passions, but not the effect your uncontrolled state has on others.”
  “What about my sisters... they can’t defeat this ‘Tygrin’?”
  “We have sent agents to aid your siblings, but they may not arrive in time. If they survive and are able to return, we will be extending the same offer to them.”
  “And if I refuse?”
  “That,” Sols broke eye contact and peered down at the table momentarily, “is a choice you are free to make.”
  Lyca stared at the table. She knew already the answer she would give. There was no going back, no returning to the way she had been. Her old life was nothing more than sunlit memories gently blowing through her mind, moments of another life in another time and place. Things had changed more than she could have ever imagined. Lyca firmly gave her reply, “I need time to think it over.”
  “As you wish.” The light above the table suddenly switched off, and the entire second floor was suddenly pitch dark. Before Lyca could think about what was happening, all the lights on the floor suddenly lit, revealing a very large, and devoid of people, dining room. Sols and the two men had vanished. Lyca opened her palm and looked at the watch, she pressed the button on the top with her thumb. It was five past one. Thirty five minutes that had felt like an eternity. She closed the watch, stood up, walked down the stairs, down the hallway, around a corner, and out of Restaurante Blanc onto the streets of Bluefull sector.

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