Caradorynee: Kin #1

Post date: May 14, 2017 12:47:49 PM

Caradorynee: Kin


Star Wright woke to the sound of music. Not the usual soft toned melody of her favourite cellist, but the steady drone of male urine hitting metallic tile.

Star groaned and rolled over. Vanport, her roommate’s boyfriend, was yet again taking a whizz in the dormitory sanitary unit instead of the retractable commode.

“Oy!” Star hollered and immediately regretted her action as her shrill voice began a fierce jackhammering deep within her brain tissue.

Star moaned pathetically and burrowed her face into her pillow. She bolted into a sitting position when something prickly and rough gouged her right cheek. Her hand flew to the spot and came away with a streak of red. Blood.

“Good, you’re finally awake.”

Star jerked her head around to locate the voice. Her gaze collided with a man kneeling not three feet from her.

He wasn’t a big man nor was he small and the hair on his head was so white and wispy it shone like a closely cropped halo around an overly tanned face.

The man’s eyes were blue but Star knew she’d seen them as a vivid green.


The man didn’t reply. He simply turned his attention back to his task.

The droning urine sound started up again and Star’s eyes widening when she noticed that the man’s fingertips glowed orange.

“How much do you remember?” he asked. The droning abruptly stopped and he held out to Star a bowl that was misshaped and chipped along one side.

The Artemis. Crash landing while returning to earth. Every last one of the crew dying. Her friends and family, all gone. This barren planet. The Shegata Battles. The inhabitants trying to kill her. Him.

Star’s chest tightened and her insides began to tremor.

“Too much.”

The man looked to her. When Star made no move to accept the bowl, he withdrew his hand and cupped the other underneath the bottom. He raised the bowl to his lips and drained the contents in two healthy swallows.

“I once knew a girl with hair like yours,” he said conversationally. He licked his lips and set the bowl down beside him. “She was beautiful and kind-hearted. Optimistic to a fault and often misguided at times, but then,” he smiled faintly as if replaying a distant memory, “that was my doing more than hers.”

Star stared at the man incredulously, wondering what craziness he was spouting on about. Who was he? What was he doing on Caradorynee since he was human? And then again, after what she’d witnessed, was he even human after all?

“Oh, Darek tried to change her,” the man continued, his thoughts obviously elsewhere, then he sighed, “but…well, Baylee was simply…Baylee.”

Star’s mind screeched to a halt. Did she hear correctly? Did he say Darek…Baylee?

“So,” the man finally said, giving himself a mental shake. “How did you die and which Dueanian brought you through the rift to Caradorynee?”

Star blinked. Maybe she had died in the crash of the Artemis and was now experiencing some whacked-out afterlife. Except the man looked real and the gnawing hunger in her stomach was certainly a tangible fact.

“What rift, eh, and what’s a Due…any…what’s it?” Star asked.

The man frowned.

“Look,” Star informed him, “all I want to know is how to get off this bloody planet.”

The man stared at her for a moment then said. “I’ve failed to introduce myself. I’m Lark and you are?”

What did it matter, who she was? She just wanted to go home, except she didn’t technically have a home. The Artemis had been the only place she’d ever lived. So she guessed she wanted to go to earth or the closest inhabited planet. Inhabited by humans that is.

“Not much of a talker are you,” the man named Lark chuckled. “Neither am I. It’s only I haven’t had many conversations with fellow Earthlings in oh, I’d say four hundred years and those I’ve had didn’t last long since most people perished before they even reached the competitors circle. Anyway I can count the number of Dueally I’ve encountered in the past two hundred years on one hand, so-”

“I’m hungry,” Star blurted.

“I imagine you are. You were pretty banged up after I swept you off the cone.”

Star visibly winced. She didn’t want to remember her failed attempt at scaling the final challenge of the Shegata Battles: the cone climb.

She looked at her hands and the exposed skin of her forearms. The cuts and scraps that should have lined her skin were conspicuously not there. Nor were her tunic and pants drenched in blood or caked with mud and grime.

Obvious whoever Lark was, he’d not only rescued her from certain death but had healed her wounds and washed her clothes.

“Why did you save me?” Star voiced.

Lark busied himself preparing another bowl of whatever passed as sustenance on Caradorynee. His fingertips glowed orange and the droning began again.

“Apart from the fact that you may be the only other inhabitant on this planet with human blood,” he answered, “I need to understand why the Dueanian elders sentenced you to death?”

Star frowned in confusion.

Lark added a few more tiny pieces of something that was greenish in colour to the mixture, then with a satisfied nod handed her the bowl.

This time Star accepted it. She peered at the contents, her eyebrows raised.

“It doesn’t look like much,” Lark said, “and you’ll find it rather salty, but suegat reed was the only edible plant I could locate. We are in hiding after all.”

Star looked at the strange man over the rim as she brought the bowl to her lips.

The slurpy concoction smelled of an odd mixture of sardines, pineapple, and burning fall leaves. Which of the latter she only knew the smell of because one of Artemis’s botanists had accidentally set fire to the ship’s atrium during the annual harvest festival. The chunky slop certainly didn’t smell very appetizing but the gnarling in her stomach along with Lark’s nod of reassurance convinced Star to take a sip.

She tentatively tipped the bowl and took a small mouthful of the steaming hot slurpy mush.

Star sucked in a breath and her eyes immediately began to water. She lowered the bowl and choked down the food. “You weren’t kidding,” she said after a moment. Tears were now clouding her vision. What did you do, add your weight in salt?”

Lark chuckled again. “Suegat reed is the cleanest source of water Caradorynee has. Every other liquid is a derivative. You’ll get used to it.”

“If I don’t first die of iodine poisoning.”

“As a Dueally you’re going to need the extra salt.”

“That’s just the bloody point.” She gathered saliva and turned her head to spit several times. “I’m not whatever you think I am. I’m human, only human.”

©Human in Inhuman Worlds by Janet Merritt