To keep this short and sweet, this month's Khai story is split up into multiple parts. I'm not deliberately dragging out this chapter but I am trying to piece meal it to the benefit of the overall tale. Since this chapter is called "Storm and Stories", that's what is taking place. While our characters are hunkered down from the storm, they will be sharing tales back and forth about characters we've already met in past chapters and more. Lots of world building here. Enjoy the read!
YEAR: 723 WEEK: 2 DAY: C ERA: A.X.
LOCATION: North side of Mt. Maduriomo
I never thought I would make it past this morning. Though you could hardly tell it was morning due to the storm that then quickly flooded our campsite. We also encountered a Romonah… I’ve never seen one up close before. I mean, we’ve all seen the Chunar but these soldiers… they’re much different. Timoh referred to it as a “Pulser”. Apparently, each Romonah has a particular class and that one was a tracker meant to hunt and capture. He said that if it wanted to kill us, we wouldn’t have made it this far. So I guess… you can say we’re lucky.
We’re still about 3 cycles out from home but with the storm still raging on, we’re hunkered down pretty good in this building constructed off the North side of Mount Maduriomo. The jungle around it has grown so much over time that I honestly thought we were entering a cave when Timoh found it. Inside, it looks like an ancient medical facility. Lots of rooms with lots of beds. I thought I also saw a nursery but when I pointed it out, Timoh just gave me a look. While a Vor, he’s trained to be quite a well-tempered individual so it takes a lot to bring an emotional response out of him. That room gave me a look I haven’t seen before and well… I’m sort of too afraid to ask about it.
I also feel incredibly ill. Like I’m painfully hungry but our food-stuffs aren’t resolving the problem. I think it’s a side-effect of that strange gas well ingested this morning. The enemy must have pumped something into the air so when it either rained or fogged, it created a toxin. I was never more terrified in my life. Not since well… never mind.
KHAI OF Q'WENU
CHAPTER THREE: 723.2 A.X.
STORMS & STORIES
“History isn’t defined by who held the pen… it’s who carried the parchment.”
“Yeah, it’s not home but any kind of shelter shall do,” Timoh says as he accompanies Khai in search for wood around the small medical facility. Each room is grey, blue, and covered in moss and mold. Some rooms are exposed and worse than other while most that are built into the side of the mountain appear clean and untouched. Time wasn’t as kind to this place as its last visitors. It’s eerie for both of them. Nearly no light to speak of besides the few flutters of silent lightning flashing through the cracks.
“I’m afraid the string of good fortune will soon run its course. After that escape and then finding…” Khai stops and looks around, “this place, we may need to start worshiping The Old Ones again and in hopes to loan some luck.” Timoh grins to himself a bit as he finds a broken chair. He shines a greenish glow stick above it and a few bugs scatter about.
Timoh’s voice perks up, “Ah! Something to start the fire. It’s a hide of some sort but it should burn strong.”
“Isn't that going to smell?”
“Eh… this building is over 4 hundred years old. It should be shredded by now or even dust, but the kind of oils they used to put on hides made them quite durable and could stand the test of time. The only problem… they’re quick to flame. Should be good for a few hours.” Timoh clears an area on the floor of the hallway between the main lobby and the surrounding 9 rooms that spider out from that point. Khai sits on the cold concrete tiled floor where Tim drops the mangled leather chair. He cracks open his glow stick and pours the green substance onto the kindling and it catches almost immediately. A quick burst of green flame flares and then turns to a deep, almost dark orange and begins to warm the room.
“Huh,” Khai gestures while looking being him. “It says ‘DE97’ on the wall back there. Any idea what that means?”
Timoh just shakes his head. “It stands for Destination Encampment #97. It was a darker time.”
Khai looks confused, “Like after Xie?”
Timoh nods, “Exactly after. Most of these facilities were destroyed well over 5 hundred years ago but our great nation of Soah kept a few in operation. I’m surprised and… disappointed that we actually found one. Or bitter sweet, I suppose. Prefer shelter over drowning.”
“My apologies sir but… what's a Destination Encampment?”
“It’s exactly what it sounds like, Khai. A place where you’re given a purpose. A reason to live. For the good of Soah.”
“Sir… is that where you came from?”
Timoh leans back from the fire unintentionally obscuring his face in shadow, “Yes.”
“Before I say anything about myself… let me tell you about your people. The Ka’shasi race after the Unification Treaty was decimated. Our population was nearly wiped in half. As a planet or… a people… we created large medical compounds where we forced our women to give birth throughout most of their natural lives. Until they were more or less… used up. At first, for at least a generation, they met a lot of resistance. Riots and the like. It was horrific. They... the woman never got to choose their breeding partner. They were assigned a male and they would copulate multiple times a day until signs of pregnancy would emerge.”
Timoh pauses while he takes off his shoes and stretches his out toes toward the fire. “Depending on the size of the room,” he points around, “there could be up to 20 or so pregnant women in each of these. The mating was still considered a ritualistic act at the time so there was a room meant just meant for that alone. After giving birth to the child, they would be reassigned another male to perform the act all over again. The purpose of this was twofold. We would be repopulating our planet well past its original state and each child born within a Destination Encampment would be assigned a duty to perform for the rest of their life based off their genetic heritage and body type.”
Khai carefully says, “And you were assigned to be a Vor?”
“Precisely. That’s why you’ll never see me as a higher ranking officer. Or choose to retire. Born within walls such as these, your life is bound to your destination.”
“But that was so long ago. Obviously we don’t take part in such traditions now. I attended one of the finer education houses in the Capital and I never even heard of--”
Timoh smirks, “I’m not finished.”
Khai flinches, “Apologies, sir. Please continue.”
“As you can guess, I never knew my mother. Since I came far after the beginning of these encampments, in the later years, some facilities worked like well oil machines. Mothers were now referred to as ‘Designators’ and given a number. Scientists were finding ways to speed up the process. Artificial insemination became the primary delivery method. And over a quarter of the female population that was born were genetically altered for the purpose of giving birth at an earlier age and for a certain type of Kas. You know, even after all these years… I still remember her Designation number. 47-44381.”
Timoh begins to pop his knuckles and joints. With each crack echoing down the hall, he lets out a small grunt. Khai stares down at the fire in awe in near shock. Khai clears his throat before asking, “What about everyone else? Those… not in encampments?”
“Well, they either already had a purpose or they had power. Sometimes it was luck… other times…” The Vor shrugs. “Such is the way of things. Much of the other nations and territories ceased these encampments near half a millennia ago but Soah turned it into a science experiment. I was one of those projects. A normal Kas only lives about 180 years. I’m 309 in a month” Khai raises his head in disbelief, jaw nearly unhinging in awe. “I know, I know, but my mother was bred to produce a Vor that could travel in space but that never panned out. So now, they’re all supposed to be closed. I’ve sworn myself to the Queen not to speak about these matters because well… it’s a thing of the past. None of us are proud of it. And if we live through all this... don't say a word. You just... you saved me back there against that Romonah. No one has ever saved me before.”
“Wow, thank you... I mean wait, the Queen knows about this? I can’t even grasp—“ Khai cuts himself off, “do you think those extreme measures were worth it? The encampments?”
Timoh sits there for a minute and for the first time; he ponders his response, “No… Most days, I want to die. It’s selfish to make it about myself… but I really want to die.”
“Excuse me sir, but why haven’t you? Why haven't you just killed yourself?”
“I don't want them to win... and I want to die for something other than the good of Soah.”
To be continued…
COMING NEXT WEEK!
Prepare yourself for next week, yet another Supara Update will be posted where we'll talk about Reader, Agent Pierce, & Khai. It has been an interesting month thus far. Reader was told to you by another character of ours, "Elijah Watson" or as we like to call him, "Kinetico." Agent Pierce's mission was told in first person and split up between this month and next and I'll go into detail about that on the update, and the third Chapter of Khai is made up of different kinds of short stories about different characters. This week's one was relatively straight forward but believe me, it's gets deeper.
So thanks as always for taking a little time out of your day to read our little stories. See you next time!