Inheritance (Rise of the Empire Book 5) (3 page)

BOOK: Inheritance (Rise of the Empire Book 5)
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“Ah, Adrian. Thank you for coming,” she said.

“I couldn’t refuse a call from you, Seo-yun,” Adrian said, smiling at the older woman. Hyeon Seo-yun was the Empire’s Minister of Science and the partner of Emperor Tomas Klein. Also, one of Adrian’s closest friends. She and Tomas had been together for a long time, and although they’d never married, they did make their relationship public. Marriage was something that occurred less and less in the Empire; people didn’t feel the need to validate their feelings with a written agreement. They just started being a family. Adrian was envious of their relationship; it was something that he desired for himself, yet had never found.

“I gather that you finally have something to help with my little problem,” Adrian said.

“I’m sorry that it has taken so long, Adrian,” she said seriously. “But yes, I think that we finally have a solution.”

Adrian looked at her expectantly as she gestured for him to take a seat. Seo-yun shook her head as he made himself comfortable and she sat across from him on the two couches to the side of the room.

“Times have changed so much since Earth. For the newer generations born here, this is their way of life; they have never known anything else. But we from the old world know, and remember.” She looked at him with a sad smile. “Did you know that we were just a few generations away from awakening the psionics by ourselves naturally?” she asked, but continued before Adrian could answer. “Fifty years, a hundred at the most, and the code in our DNA would have unlocked on its own. But we meddled…”

“So have you found a solution?” Adrian asked.

“I am confident that we have. But it will not be easy, nor painless,” she said.

“I figured, but I still need to do it. Having these abilities and not being able to use them to their full potential is frustrating.”

“Are you sure that you want to do it? We are just at the cusp of figuring out how to trigger the change in embryos; in a few years, we will have children who will be able to take advantage of everything that Axull Darr engineered. In a couple of decades, there will be plenty of people with psionics.”

“And what of us who were born without them? We will be inferior; we need to change too. And besides, we know that it is possible for us to trigger the failsafe if we push ourselves far enough. We need a way of making ourselves as able as the new generations.”

Seo-yun sighed. “Alright,” she said, defeated.

“Tell me what you have in mind.”

“We can’t trigger the same upgrades as what Axull Darr imagined to come naturally; for those, we require an undeveloped body, so we can only trigger those switches in embryos. But there are other ways of upgrading your body. It won’t be the same. Actually, if we succeed, your body will be better in some ways, and worse in others.”

“What do you mean?”

“What we need to do is reinforce your skeletal system, muscles, and skin, make them strong enough to handle the stress of your psionics. Your nervous system is already on par; it has been upgraded fully, so it is the same as that of the People. Axull Darr made sure that our nervous system evolves along a strict path, but for the rest of our bodies, he left some room for natural evolution. The change affected your organs, too. They have been reinforced a bit—not fully, but enough that it doesn’t matter. It is the rest that Axull Darr couldn’t change with the failsafe, partly because we have already meddled and changed things, and partly because our natural evolution differs from that of the People, courtesy of the environment we evolved in. It is just something that he didn’t anticipate. The same would happen to the Nel if they triggered the failsafe,” Seo-yun said.

“Alright, and how do you intend to make that happen?” Adrian asked, leaning forward.

“We possess a lot of genetic material that Olympus brought here, samples from many animals from Earth and such. What we are going to do is infuse your bones with the DNA of limpet sea snails; more precisely, their teeth. We will change your bone structure to that of limpet teeth, with a few of our own additions.”

“Snail teeth?” Adrian asked incredulously.

“Yes, they possess the strongest biological material we have ever discovered. We can apply that unique structure to your own. But we will add some other things that we have developed precisely for this procedure. We will add carbon net over the bones to make them even stronger. The drawback is that this will almost double your bone density, which will make you heavier. But we will also reinforce your muscles. We can use one of the genetic upgrades that the People used for themselves; it is not something that they were born with, but an add-on. They were in the habit of altering themselves constantly, at least in the early days of their civilization. It is an old treatment, but we have managed to rework it a bit and adapt it for you. It will make your muscles denser, giving you more strength and speed.”

“Wait,” Adrian interrupted. “You have access to the treatments that they used on themselves?”

“Yes,” Seo-yun said slowly.

“Why don’t we just use another one of those for my skeletal system?” Adrian asked.

“We can’t,” Seo-yun said. “Those were developed for their genetic makeup, and while we do possess a lot of their DNA, Axull Darr infused it in a lifeform from Earth and made sure that we could be shaped by our environment. Our bones are different from theirs; we can’t upgrade them by using their methods once they are developed.”

“Okay, then. What else?”

“We will add a bit of our own upgrades to your muscle fibers, like carbon nanotubes coated in a graphene net, which will add a significant boost to your strength. Your skin is a bit easier, as it resembles that of the People
enough that we can again modify their methods. We can give you a high resistance to radiation.” She stopped and looked at him. “That’s it. We have already tested these upgrades on a clone body grown from your DNA, so we know that we can do it.”

Adrian looked at her, impressed. They had already tested it out using a clone body. Cloning was forbidden in the Empire, technically. Humanity had experimented with it even back on Earth, but quickly they’d realized that there was something wrong with clones. Some said that they lacked souls, others that it was simply a mistake in the process, but every human clone that had been born had gone insane. And there had only been a few before cloning was banned. Technically, it was forbidden for a brain to be cloned. They still grew body parts and organs for those who couldn’t be helped without them. When she said a clone body, she referred to exactly that—an exact body double to Adrian, only without a brain. No consciousness, only flesh, mechanically kept ‘alive’ by machines.

“You said that these changes would have some drawbacks?”

“Yes. You won’t be able to use Vitakinesis to heal your bones or muscles. At least, we don’t think it would work, but we know very little about psionics. We believe that you would need to rely on our medical nanites. You should still be able to affect your flesh, organs, and blood, but nothing else. That psionic wasn’t designed with our upgrades in mind, and we still don’t know enough about them to be able to modify them. Also, you will be needing more oxygen in order to function, so we will need to increase your lung capacity.”

“And how long would this procedure take?” Adrian asked.

“Three months for the procedure, during which you will need to be put under. And another four months of recovery and rehabilitation,” Seo-yun said.

Adrian grimaced. “Seven months…I was hoping that I could have this done faster.”

Seo-yun smiled at his comment. “We can’t rush if we are going to do this, Adrian. There is too much room for error.”

“She is right, Adrian,” Iris said as she appeared above his shoulder. “Nothing like this has been attempted before.”

“I know. But that means that I won’t be able to do it now. Not when we are about to restart the war with the Sowir,” Adrian said, disappointed.

Seo-yun twitched when he mentioned the war. “Actually…there was one more thing I wanted to talk with you about… ” she said hesitantly. “I think that there is another way that we can approach the Sowir problem, perhaps with less bloodshed.”

Adrian raised an eyebrow in interest. “Laura didn’t tell me anything,” he said.

Seo-yun shrugged. “I think that she is a bit overprotective of you. And I can understand that, but there is something that we haven’t tried yet.”

Adrian was just about to ask her what when it came to him. He narrowed his eyes at her. “You want me to talk to the Sowir prisoners.”

Seo-yun looked away guiltily for a moment, then turned back and looked him straight in the eye. “We have been trying to figure out the reason for their actions. And while our prisoners have been adamant that it wasn’t because of telepathy, I know that it is a part of it. The Sowir have never before encountered another intelligent race that possessed it. We have a chance to learn more about them, maybe even open a line of communication. Don’t tell me that you don’t want a better solution than us just wiping them out,” she said loudly.

“You know the reason why I haven’t been allowed near the Sowir,” Adrian said slowly. “I know nothing about my telepathy, I can’t even make it work on other humans; I have no one to teach me how to use it, let alone how to defend myself from other influence. And the Sowir have shown that they can use their telepathy to reach into our minds. We don’t know if me having telepathy will make it harder or easier for them to influence me.”

“I know, but we need to take this chance. You might even learn something about how to use it. And I promise you that I will lower the risks as much as possible. We will have the prisoner restrained, and at the first sign of something off from you, or on your signal, I will release sleeping gas inside the room,” she said eagerly.

Adrian narrowed his eyes again. “You have already put things in place, haven’t you? You knew that a chance of learning more about my psionics is something that I couldn’t turn down.”

She gave him an impish smile. “I have known you for a long time, Adrian. I understand what makes you tick.”

“Fine, but no word about it to Laura. And we need to do it fast. The war summit is in five days.”

Seo-yun clapped her hands happily. “We can do it tomorrow, I’ll make arrangements.” She stood and looked fondly at him. “Thank you, Adrian.”

Chapter Two

Sanctuary

 

“You’ll knock us out if I start acting strangely?” Adrian asked, for the tenth time.

“Of course. I’ll have Luna monitor your vitals, but I won’t do anything unless Iris says so,” Seo-yun responded, reassuring him. In the background, people moved around the mobile station.

Adrian sighed, trying to get rid of the last of his nervousness. The Sowir prisoner had been put to sleep, then restrained and transferred outside to a specially built container. They would wake her after Adrian entered so that they could see her reaction, which he thought would be pointless, as the Sowir telepathy translator wasn’t in the room; the Sowir wouldn’t fit inside with restraints on. The only reactions they would see would come from Adrian.

The data from the sphere suggested that Adrian’s telepathy could adapt to telepathy of any other being, and allow them to understand each other as if they were speaking the same language. Only they had no idea if Adrian’s telepathy was properly developed.

“Don’t worry, Adrian, I’ll make sure that we shoot you in the head at the first sign of you turning into a mindless zombie,” the floating holo of Iris said.

“Ha, ha, ha,” Adrian retorted dryly. “You are not making me feel any better.” He took another breath to gather himself, and then he started walking down the long path to the container. Akash and Sora, his constant shadows, stayed behind, watching him go. It had taken a lot of convincing to get them to stay, because while they couldn’t speak with him, they were incredibly intelligent, and could understand him perfectly.

The Sowir telepathy had a tentative range of around 150 meters. Which was why the mobile monitoring station had been placed outside of that range. The container was rigged with sleeping gas canisters that would knock both Adrian and the Sowir out if anything went wrong.

He reached the container and entered, hearing the click that confirmed he was locked in with the Sowir. He didn’t worry about his safety physically; he knew that he could take the prisoner even without any weapons, especially now that he had limited access to kinetikinesis. What he worried about was that he wouldn’t be able to keep the Sowir outside of his head. To date, the Sowir hadn’t been able to influence an intelligent being to the extent to take over, only distract. But they didn’t know how him having telepathy would factor in that.

“Okay, wake her up,”
Adrian said over his implant’s comms to Seo-yun and her team.

Adrian saw a light on the band attached on the Sowir’s head go from green to red, and then over the next few minutes he watched as she woke. First, she moved slowly, as if she was still asleep, but the restraints prevented much movement. With every moment that passed, Adrian felt something else. Like a noise, a presence that he could see not with his eyes, but with his mind. A shiver passed over him. In some ways, it felt like the sphere’s beacon, only this one wasn’t distracting him. The beacon had been focused on him, a call, Adrian had realized. This was simply
there
. It felt similar to how it felt when he was in a room with someone but didn’t see them. He knew that they were there because his senses told him they were. Actually, it was exactly like that; his telepathic sense was telling him that there was someone with him in the room with the same ability.

“I can feel her,”
he said over his imp both to Seo-yun and Iris.

“Can you speak with her?”
Iris asked.

“She is not fully awake yet,”
Adrian said, convinced that he was right. He could feel the presence grow. Then, as consciousness returned, he could see the moment the Sowir realized that she was restrained, because she stilled. Her small all-black eyes opened and probably saw him.

For a while, nothing happened, and Adrian just stood there looking at her. Then he felt the Sowir reach out to his mind. It was nothing like what he’d imagined it would be. As soon as she made contact, he felt her shock, longing, and joy. It surprised him, threatened to overwhelm him, and he felt as his telepathy cut her off, throwing her out. He had acted on instinct.


Are you alright, Adrian?
” Iris asked.

“Yes…It overwhelmed me for a moment, but I threw her out on instinct,”
Adrian said.

“She tried to take over your mind?”
Iris asked, alarmed.

“No, no,”
he said quickly.
“I think that she was just surprised, like me.”

“You want to continue?”
Iris asked.

“Yes,”
he answered.

Now that he had seen how she’d reached out, he tried to do the same. The Sowir had retreated back, her eyes open, watching him. He tried to use telepathy to reach to her, but it proved harder than he’d thought it would be. He sighed in frustration. “Can you do it again?” he said in Nel, knowing that it was likely that the Sowir understood the language.

For a few moments, nothing happened, and then he felt a presence on his mind again. Only this time it was more controlled. Then, again on instinct, he tried to reach out. He felt something change, like he made a connection.

“Hello?”
Adrian tried to say. When she didn’t immediately respond, he prepared to try again, but was interrupted by a voice in his head.

“Who are you?”
he heard in his head. Caught a bit off guard with the clarity of communication, Adrian took a moment to compose himself, and then he answered.

“My name is Adrian Farkas, I am leader of Warpath Clan of the Empire,”
he sent, deciding to go with a more professional exchange.

“I am Clear Waters,”
she returned, and Adrian got an impression of an immense body of water that was completely clear and pristine. She then continued. “
How are you speaking with me? I see no device. But your Empire is devious in its advances. Perhaps something like your implants?”
she asked.

“No implants. I am speaking the same way you are. Through telepathy.”

“That is not possible, your kind do not possess it. What is the purpose of this?”

“We did not possess it, true. But we have evolved. I am the first to have awakened this ability. More will follow,”
Adrian sent. Clear Waters remained silent; he could feel that they were still connected. But somehow he knew that the connection was small, only for the purpose of communicating. He was certain that if he wished, and knew how, he could push further and read her mind. He allowed her time to think, and waited silently until she decided to speak again.

“How are you mimicking a connection to the Spirit of the Universe?”
she asked, and Adrian could feel her unease.

“What do you mean?”
He tried to feel around him, to try and see what she was talking about, only to fail.

“You do not appear closed off, like the rest of your kind, like all other races that we have encountered. You have an imprint and connection to the Spirit of the Universe,”
she sent.

“Can you explain to me what you mean? I don’t understand.”
Adrian asked.

She deepened the connection, and showed him what she meant from her perspective, showed him how she saw him. Adrian immediately recognized what she was talking about; he had been familiar with it for some time. What she had shown him was what the People called a telepathic echo. He could feel her reverence for what she believed to be some higher unifying force. Yet the People had believed the same thing to be nothing more than ambient noise.

He looked at what she called the connection to the Spirit of the Universe, what the People knew as simple telepathic feedback, feeding into the echo that existed everywhere in the universe.

But to the Sowir, it was so much more. Adrian could imagine how it had happened. From early in their development, they’d had telepathy; they could always sense the echo. Unlike the People, who had added telepathy to themselves after they had encountered it in a lower lifeform—after they had enhanced and improved it—the Sowir had evolved with it. And they had no mechanism to tune the noise out. And for a race that had evolved deep in the oceans, it made sense that they’d looked for answers to their existence. And it had been there, always in the background. They’d interpreted it as a force of creation, the same way as the early humans had looked at the sun, the moon, and the stars and had seen gods.

“I can feel it too,”
Adrian sent slowly, showing her how he saw it, taking great care to keep his opinions to himself.

“That is impossible,”
she sent shakily.
“We couldn’t have been wrong.”

“You told us that you believe that only those that are connected to the Spirit of the Universe are true beings. And that you fought against other intelligent races because they weren’t true beings, according to your belief, at least,”
Adrian sent forcefully.
“But you never entertained the possibility that we could eventually evolve to the point where we could make a connection.”

“It never entered our thinking that you could one day become true beings. That we would not be alone,”
Clear Waters sent, and Adrian could feel a river of emotions and thought go by too fast for him to identify them. But the stream calmed and he could feel her horror and shame.
“We made a mistake.”

Adrian took a few steps closer, looking up at the taller Sowir, and yet he could feel her being intimidated. He locked his eyes with hers.
“You did. Every life that you took was precious. Your belief might be wrong or it might be right; it is not on me to judge a belief. But you should not have taken it upon yourselves to wipe out other intelligent life just because they were different than you. But there is still time for you to help save lives. My people are about to start the last offensive against your kind. We will win. And if you force us, we will wipe you out completely.”

***

Emperor’s palace

 

Tomas Klein, ruler of the Empire, sat in his small office with three other people. Two of which were currently sitting on one of his couches, cowering under the wrath of Fleets Master Laura Reiss.

“The risk was minimal. I took all the precautions to make sure there weren’t any incidents,” Seo-yun, his longtime partner, defended herself.

“Minimal!” Laura yelled out. “There wasn’t supposed to be any risk at all!”

“Everything went according to plan, and I am perfectly fine,” Adrian chimed in.

Laura swung towards him and prepared to rip into him when Tomas decided that it was enough.

“Laura,” he said firmly. She stopped and turned to look at him. For a moment, he could see her debating whether to ignore him or not, but finally she turned and walked to the window that overlooked the city.

Tomas cleared his throat and then turned to the two sitting on the couch. “What did you find out?”

“For starters, I know why the Sowir started wiping out other races,” Adrian said.

“We already knew that, because we don’t hear the Spirit of the Universe,” Tomas added.

“I mean, I know what they think this Spirit of the Universe is.”

Tomas raised an eyebrow, and made a Nel gesture for him to continue.

“Well, they think that this Spirit of the Universe is what binds all life, or rather all true life, together,” Adrian started. “In reality, what they call the Spirit of the Universe is actually a telepathic echo, the background noise of the Universe. At least, that is what the People thought. But I didn’t tell her that.”

“And how does this help us?” Tomas asked.

Adrian started to speak, but Seo-yun interrupted him. “When she realized that Adrian now fits into their belief of what makes a being real, she felt horror. She knew that her people had made a mistake; they hadn’t taken into consideration that a being could eventually develop telepathy and the ability to hear what they believe is the Spirit of the Universe,” she said enthusiastically. “If we show them that Adrian can hear it, they will understand that all life has potential to become what they believe is to be ‘intelligent.’ We can start talks, make peace.”

Laura turned and looked directly at Seo-yun. “Peace?” she asked scornfully. “After all they have done? They have wiped out two other races!”

“So, what, we will wipe them out in turn?” Seo-yun threw back. “What gives us the right to decide that they cannot be redeemed?”

“We can’t just leave them be, Seo-yun.” Tomas said. “And how would we even give this information to them? They don’t respond to our comms, and even if they are listening, they would not believe in it, not even from their own. Not from those that were captured. They will suspect a trick. The only way would be to get to their bigger worlds, directly to their leaders. But how would we do that? They keep millions of their agents close to them.” Tomas shook his head. “Let’s assume that you get them to listen, and we come to agreement. What then? We just let them go? Why even get them to talk if we are not willing to let them go unpunished?”

“We have no right to judge them, Tomas,” Seo-yun said.

“Why not?” Tomas asked. “What gives anyone in the universe the right to do anything? Nothing; we take the right ourselves. And the Sowir have committed genocide twice, maybe even more. Those they killed deserve justice.”

BOOK: Inheritance (Rise of the Empire Book 5)
13.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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