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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2110664-Pasina-Then-and-Now
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2110664
What happened to the planet of Pasina. You have to read the story to find that out.

Pasina: Then and Now


A Long
Short Story


Written By


PureSciFiPlus aka
PureSciFi@Writing.Com


Part One
THEN


How many deaths now?

     Running down a very busy crowded hallway, Wadis bumped into another Medical Professional dressed in a solid red dress like his. That professional fell toward a floating metal plank with a body in a blue dress lying on it, as Wadis continued running. Wadis swung around another professional and almost skidded into an empty floating metal plank as he rounded a corner into another hallway. His four-toe toe tight shoes continued running down that hallway.

     Wadis hit the door at the end of that side hallway. On that door read, ‘Death Room' in big letters. And right under it, ‘Only Medical Professional allowed in’ in smaller letters. A few seconds later that door slid open, and Wadis caught the side of the door frame with his six-fingered red pulsating pimple bumps hands to prevent himself falling forward.

     After straightening up and catching his breath, Wadis entered that room. His two-large red bumpy flatten globes stuck together stopped flapping against each other. Wadis suddenly stopped to scan a large lightly lite room with several rows of floating metal planks. Each plank had a body on it covered head to feet with a white cloth.

     Walking among those planks were five other professionals talking with each other and tapping on their MiniPads they held. Wadis walked up to Molline. “Another group are dead! How many this time? Where were they found?” His large oval globe head pulsated with each word he spoke.

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     A female body hovered just above a moving sheet of thin metal as she went through a partially oval glass tube. Wadis only saw her insides on the glass as she passed through that tube. “Is she one of them from the group that was just brought in?” Asked Wadis after turning toward Shanus.

     Shanus gestered over his shoulder to the other side of what appeared to be a lab where several rows of the dead floated. “No, she was brought in alone. The ones you are looking for are over there.” Shanus never took her buggy eyes off glass tube. “Our Death Room is overflowing with the dead. They had to put them anywhere they could until they can process them.”

     Wadis looked at the floating dead. Then at another professional next to them. She clipped off a piece of a plant. A faint scream could be heard. The three other different plants on either side of it started shaking. “Yes, I know about the Death Room and the overflowing. I was just there. They sent me here.”

     Just before he started walking over to the floaters Wadis looked back at Shanus. “Thanks, Shanus.” Wadis turned back toward Shanus a few seconds later. “Shanus, have you found out anything new from this group?”

     Shanus who continued tapping away at the control panel sticking out from the glass tube. “Nothing new. They died like all the others. If we don’t figure out what is killing us off soon, it’s going to be too late to stop it.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Leaning over the desk of Janese Wadis shouted at her. “There isn’t any more room in the Death Room.” Wadis glanced down at the embedded nameplate on the front of the desk that bored Janese’s name on top and ‘Head of Healthcare’ underneath it. “There are so many of them that they are putting the dead anywhere they can put them. Including the hallways.”

     Wadis continued after a few seconds. “I just came from Analysis. They are starting the put the dead in there too. How can Analysis find a cure if they don’t have the room to do it?”

     Janese sighed. “I know all about the dead. I’m the one who told them what to do with the extra bodies.”

     Wadis’s pulsating green head started slowing down. “I just came back from the other three Healthcare Centers here in Hicte. And they aren’t as bad as we are. Why can’t we send some of our dead over to them.”

     Still tapping away at an information monitor in front of her Shanus said, “I’m working on that. At least I was until you burst in here. You are my Head Medical Investigator. Have you found anything to explains what’s going on here?”

     Wadis shook his head. “No, I haven’t. We have been too busy looking for these deaths over the last two months to do anything about it.”

     After taking a deep breath Wadis continued. “Analysis is supposed to be doing that. But they can’t do that if they don’t have the room to do that. How soon before they get Analysis back?”

     Looking up at Wadis but still tapping away Shanus answered Wadis. “Per Molline the latest processing should be completed within a couple of hours.”

     Wadis didn’t say anything for several minutes. Finally, he did. “How Many deaths does this make now?”

     Janese sighed again. “Per Shanus, we have had just over five thousand deaths so far. If this death rate keeps up, we will all be dead within another month or two.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     A tall glass tube with a big opening in the front of it sat on the corner of a large building. “That isn’t exactly true. There are a lot of us that might just survive this disease,” Wadis mumbled to himself as he walked up to that tube. He disappeared almost instantly. A few seconds later he reappeared in a large cavern with a row of iced up glass tubes in front of him.

     Yeanin, another professional, quickly walked over to Wadis. “Have you brought more of the living for us to save.”

     Wadis sighed. “No, I haven’t. I haven’t had a chance to look for anyone else. Seventeen more deaths have just brought into Healthcare. Haven’t my investigators been bringing any of the living in here?”

     Shaking her head Yeanin responded to Wadis’s question. “Yes, they have. One of them just left to find some more.” Yeanin suddenly perked up. “If you're not here to help with more living, then why are you here?”

     First Wadis looked at the ice chambers. Then he looked back at Yeanin. “I know I’m a little early today. But I’m here for my daily totals. How many have we saved so far?”

     Yeanin glanced down at his MiniPad. “About sixty thousand. We still have a long way to go to ice five hundred thousand. Do you really think we can do that?”

     Wadis sighed. “I hope we can. I’d like to save all four billion of us. We created these chambers just in case something like this happened. Of course, we planned on putting the dead in here instead of the living.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Wadis came running into Analysis, and suddenly stopped. He glanced over at where the floaters used to be and smiled before he walked over to Shanus. “I came as soon as you contacted me. Is it true? Did you figure out what the disease is that’s killing us? Your contact message was hard to understand. Too much celebrating in the background. Does that mean you have found a cure for it too?”

     Shanus started to laugh. “I know you’re as happy as we are. But you need to pace yourself.” After Wadis, didn’t respond Shanus continued. “Are you done? Can I speak now? We still don’t know what disease it is or how to cure it. But we do know where it came from.”

     After about a minute Wadis broke the silence. “So, are you going to tell me or not”

     Glancing down at his MiniPad Shanus tapped it once. The light emitting from it went out. “It came from one of the underground cities. We’re not sure which one. But we are sure it’s one of them. After seeing how mad you were getting we went all the analysis' again.”

     Wadis took a deep breath. “I’m not angry. I just don’t understand why you haven’t discovered what we are dealing with yet. True, I can understand why you haven’t found a cure. But you should have found out what is killing us by now.” Wadis breathed deeply again. “So, how do you know that it’s from one of the underground cities?”

     Shanus smiled. “Because there are trace amounts of structural decay in almost all of those who have died. The amount was so small that’s why we didn’t see it until now. One of the last victims to die had a lot in her. That’s why we checked the others. We still don’t know how it got there. But it’s there. You find that structure, and you find that disease.”


Structural Decay

     Glancing at an image of Hannia Tamma sighed. “I’m sorry to keep coming to see you. I know you are still upset over the death of Hannia. But we have discovered something that might explain it.” Tamma sat in a chair across from Pauleani who lounged on a long chair.

     Pressing that image to her chest Pauleani just stared out her living area window at some children playing with some animals. “I don’t care why she died. She was barely ten. All I care about is that she’s too young to be dead. And there’s nothing you can do about that. Unless that information can bring her back from the dead?”

     Tamma sighed again. “No, I’m sorry it can’t do that. But it can help to save the rest of us from dying too. Did Hannia explore the underground cities?”

     Pauleani didn’t say anything for several minutes. Then she looked at Tamma with sadness in her face. “Yes, she did. Why?”

     An animal came running into that room. It looked like one of them from outside. “Because there was a small amount of structural decay within her. There isn’t any here in Hicte yet. So, it must be from the underground cities. Do you know where she explored?”

     Putting down the image on a cluttered floor littered with leftover food and food containers Pauleani picked up an image and showed it to Tamma. Tamma looked at the image. In that image an adult male stood next to a child about ten. They had on matching clothing. “No, I don’t. She probably did it all over the cities. This is all my fault. Hannia loved to explore like the love of my life did. And there’s nothing in Hicte for her to do that. I know it’s against The Law. But the underground Cities are the only place she could have done it.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Seated behind a desk in a large room with nine other empty desk around her Tamma thought to herself as she tapped away at the Information Monitor in front of her. I have talked to the family and friends of the first victim, Hannia, of this illness. And the first group that died from it. They all say pretty much the same thing.

     Tamma stopped tapping. Her mouth moved as she stared at the Information Monitor. They said they don’t know how their dead got exposed to structural decay. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’m going to talk with the other victim’s family and friends. but I think I’m going to get the same responses.

     Leaning back in her chair Tamma continued a few seconds later. That’s why I came back to The Law offices. Not only do I want to get this into my record for this assignment, but I wanted to think about what to do next. I do that best when I’m here. Especially, when I’m here along.

     After several minutes of staring at the Information Monitor Tamma started tapping again. It’s too late to be talking to anyone tonight anyway. I’ll start talking to them in tomorrow. Maybe a good night of relaxing will help me decide what to do next.

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Walking down an almost empty hallway, Tamma saw several medical professionals tapping away on their MiniPad or talking to one another as she headed for the Death Room. Tamma stopped in front of the doors. They didn’t slide open. So, Tamma passed her palm over a small black cube next to the door. A few seconds later the door slid open and she walked through it.

     Tamma walked up to Veroc. “Is Wadis here. I was told he would be here.”

     Veroc started turning toward Tamma. “You shouldn’t be here. You’re not a professional. How did you get in?” Veroc completed his turn. “Oh, it’s you Tamma. Sorry about that. A lot of those upset have tried to come in here, and a few have somehow done it.”

     Almost laughing, Tamma responded. “That’s okay. I get that a lot on my assignments.” Tamma glanced around an almost empty room, and saw several other professionals. “What about Wadis? I don’t see him. Is he still here?”

     Another professional came up to Veroc and they mumbled quietly to each other for a few minutes. “Sorry, about that. A minor problem.” A few seconds later he continued. “What were we talking about. Oh, yeah, Wadis. He was here, but he left a few minutes ago, I think he said he was going to Analysis next.”

     Tamma smiled as she saw all the empty floaters. “I see there are only half the floaters occupied now. Does that mean they have the structural decay, and the cure?”

     Veroc sighed. “No, unfortunately it doesn’t. It just means we have caught up with processing. They are still coming in several times an hour. Only now it’s about thirty instead of seventy.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Tamma glanced up at the Timer above the glass tube as she entered Analysis. It had only been a few minutes since she had been in the Death Room. She walked over to Shanus who continued analyzing another victim. “Is Wadis here? Did I miss him again?”

     Shanus didn’t look at Tamma. He just continued looking at the male in the glass tube. Every so often he would tap something on the control panel. “I don’t know what you are talking about. He’s not here. He never was. We haven’t seen him for several days.”

     Turning toward the door, Tamma started walking to it. “I wonder where he is. Maybe he’s avoiding me for some reason.”

     Shanus chuckled. “I doubt that. Everyone knows how you feel about each other. He’s probably just trying to find the structural decay too.”

     Tamma turned back toward Shanus. “Speaking of structural decay, have you found out anything more about it? Does he have any of it too?” Tamma pointed at the dead body within the glass tube.

     Glancing at Tamma Shanus saw where she pointed. “Like most of the others, he does have a very small amount of it. As for your other question, we haven’t found anything new. We’re not even sure that it’s the structural decay that’s causing the deaths. After all, not everyone who has died has had that within them.”

     Lifting the MiniPad she had in her hand Tamma glanced down at it for s few seconds. “That’s something else I was going to ask you about. There are a lot of victims who haven’t been in the underground cities or connected to anyone who might have been. Does that mean this illness is floating around us?”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Tamma leaned over the desk of Janese. “I need all the paperwork from the dead. There is a connection between these deaths. And I need to find out what the connection is.”

     Janese tapped the Information Monitor on his desk. “We need another set of papers. You and Wadis were right. She did show up asking for it.”

     Looking confused Tamma started to speak. Her mouth open up. But no words came out. “You don’t think this is a structural decay disease either, do you?” Janese asked as she looked back up at Tamma.

     Tamma shook her head ‘no’ slowly. “If it is, then this city is in more trouble than we thought we were. It means that structural decay has already started in this city. And we need to find it.”

     Janese looked up at Tamma suddenly. “That can’t be the answer. Our city isn’t old enough yet for that to begin. We still have another fifty years before that happens.”

     No one said anything for several minutes. Tamma broke the silence. “Unless something has happened to cause it to start now. I hope I’m wrong about that. If I’m right that means someone or a group is behind it.”

     A shocked look came over Janese’s face. “Who would do that? Why would they do it?”

     Shaking her head ‘no’ again Tamma responded to Janese’s questions. “That I don’t know yet. I will once I find the connection with the deaths and the structural decay.”

     Tamma continued a few seconds later. “All I know right now is that it’s not in the underground cities. It can’t be. No one has been allowed down there since this city was created.”


The Underground Cities

     Tamma shooed some structural particles around her face as she walked through a structural particle filled part of the city. She bumped into a partial piece of a wall. “This dust is so thick I can’t even see where I’m going.” Stepping over the wall, she almost cut herself on a sharp extension. She pulled her leg up just in time.

     Continuing to walk around that city it didn’t take long before walked into another structure wall. “What am I doing here? I still can’t believe that I am here. But after looking over the paperwork of the dead for the past two weeks I finally found a connection. The structural decay might have come from here after all.”

     Shooing away some more particles Tamma continued to walk about that city. “There is a lot of structural decay on this top underground city. I’ll collect some for analysis before I head down to the next city.”

     Tamma coughed. “The connection is these underground cities. Some of the dead probably were down here. They are GraveDiggers. And since they can’t check out the ruins on the surface yet they have to do it in the underground cities.”

     Taking another small cylinder about an inch long out of her clothing Tamma replaced it with the one in her hand. “I know I have a bad reputation for talking to myself. But that’s not why I am doing it now. I’m doing it so that I have a record of this just in case something goes wrong down here.”

     Shooing away some more particles Tamma continued her walk. “I didn’t think any GraveDiggers existed anymore. But apparently, they do. They just keep themselves a secret because it’s against the laws to be down here.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Lifting herself up Tamma stood on are large piece of a structure. “The second city down from us doesn’t look too bad.” Tamma thought to herself as she walked among the ruins. “There are some structural particles floating around here. But it’s not as bad as the city above me.”

     Using her hands to circle around her eyes Tamma scanned the city she was in. “At least I can see the almost the whole city from anywhere I go. There were a few small areas in the above city. But not too many of them.”

     After getting down from that wall Tamma walked over to some Structure decay. “There is a lot of structural decay around here. This could be the city our illness came from. Then again, they might not of have gotten past the city above me.”

     Tamma didn’t think about anything for several minutes. She just continued looking around that city. “Then again, I might be wrong about that. The structural particles were pretty thick up there. They might have had to come down here to study these ruins instead.”

     Walking up to the cavern wall of that city Tamma started patting with the palm of her hand. Suddenly she stopping patting, took a deep breath, and wrinkled her nose. “What’s that smell? Whatever it is I think it coming from the next city down.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Bending down Tamma scooped up some structure decay with a small clear cylinder about three inches long. “This definitely could be the city where the illness started. There aren’t very much structural particles here either. But the city itself looks worse than the first one I was in. At least from the parts of the city I could see, clearly it’s worse.”

     Tamma slowly scanned the city all around her. Structural decay appeared to be on every structure there. Some had more decay than structure. “I’m not going to have any trouble getting samples of the decay from this city.”

     Every so often Tamma would scoop up another cylinder of structural decay as she continued her walk around that city. “I almost didn’t come down here because of that smell. If I hadn’t of found the hidden opening a few seconds later and floated down to this city I wouldn’t have. Why I started patting the wall again, I don’t know.”

     Suddenly Tamma stopped. She scanned the city with her hands. “The smell got stronger the closer I got to this city. Several times I thought about hovering back up. But I didn’t. I have got to find the cause of this illness. And it sure does smell like it’s coming from this city.”

     Placing another cylinder on her clothing Tamma removed another one and opened it up. “Once I got down to this city the smell didn’t exist anymore. I could still smell it faintly. But it’s not as bad as it was. It’s about the same as it was when I first smelled it.”

     Tamma suddenly stopped and looked down in shock. “The GraveDiggers definitely got to this city. Now I know why I read in some of the paperwork that several of the GraveDiggers said something like ‘there are others' and ‘help the others' just before they died.”

     Two pairs of legs and feet could be seen by Tamma coming from behind a large structure wall. After she circled around that wall she saw eight individual Hicteans bodies.

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Grabbing hold of a large structured wall Tamma lifted herself to the top of it. “Maybe the GraveDiggers didn’t get to this city. After what I just found that is a very good possibility.”

     Tamma stood on top of a large structured wall and scanned the city before her. “After what I discovered I tried to contact medical to get some professionals down to take care of the dead. But I could do it. That’s one of the reasons I came down here. I could have gone back up to the second city down. The reason I didn’t is because I still have an illness to find.”

     After scanning that city for several minutes Tamma got off that wall. “I don’t think that smell was the illness. The smell did surround those bodies. But it wasn’t just there. It was everywhere. I did go back there briefly to leave the samples to be taken back to Analysis, though. Including the ones, I have already collected from this city.”

     Walking among the city Tamma shook her head sadly. “This city looks a lot like the second one I was at. But this one has almost no structures left. It was hard to find decay to collect. There was some, though.”

     Tamma walked up to a cave wall and started patting it. “I don’t think the GraveDiggers got this far down. There hasn’t been any indication that they have. Of course, I didn’t find anything until the last one either.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Tamma carefully looked into a large hole in the center of that city. “This is definitely what caused the illness. It’s always the last city that you look in.”

     Grabbing a small oblong metal box off her clothing Tamma placed it over her eyes. With a single tube sticking out the front center of it Tamma peered into the hole again. What Tamma saw was what appeared to be a tall metal structure with a pointed top and four legs holding up its metal structure. Coming from the side of that structure was a lot of smoke. It drifted up toward that hole.

     Glancing around that hole all Tamma could see was a city almost as bad as the other ones she visited that day. “Whatever that is it’s leaking smoke. That smoke must have drifted up here and somehow it turned the structural decay deadly.”

     Tamma just stared at that thing for several minutes. Then she returned her metal eye to her clothing, and removed a hand weapon from it. She pointed that weapon and fired ten two inch thin glowing red cylinders at that thing. The ten cylinders separated from each other about halfway to their destination. Each one struck a different part of that thing.

     A few seconds later a large explosion shook the ground beneath Tamma. It shook her up too. Smoke and small pieces of metal shot through that hole right at Tamma. It knocked her back. She struck her head on a large mass of structural decay.

This Cure Could kill All of Us

     Shanus and nineteen other medical professionals sat on tall metal chairs or stood behind four oblong tables. Each table had a Length wide metal box with holes in it that ran down the center of that table. The five per table were placing small glass tube filled with structural decay into those holes.

     Three professionals worked on one side of the table, and two on the other side. Each one had twenty tubes in front of them that they were putting into the holes. They placed a tube into the first hole for a few minutes. Then moved to the next hole. This process continued until they reached the last hole. After the last hole, they returned it to the group in front of them. Then started all over again with the next tube.

     Wadis and Janese paced among the other professionals. Janese walked up and down in between the first two tables while Wadis walked in between the last two tables. They meet in the end and center of the four tables after Wadis gesture Janese. “You don’t look too good. What’s wrong? Do you have the disease too?”

     Janese shook her head ‘no’ in response to those questions. “It’s not that. But I am worried about something, though. Do you really think they will be able to find a cure for this disease?” Janese asked.

     Shaking his head ‘no’ too Wadis answered her question. “I don’t know. But if there is a cure to find they will find it. I don’t think it’s a matter of if they will find it. It’s when they do it. And how many of us are left when they do.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Janese sat behind her desk working on paperwork. Every few seconds she would tap something onto her Information Monitor, she also looked up at Wadis pacing in front of her desk every minute or two. “Would you stop doing that. If you have to do it then do it in your office.”

     Wadis stopped and looked at Janese. “I would if I could. But I can’t. They are going to contact you, not me, when they find a cure.”

     Still looking and working at her monitor Janese responded. “They are going to contact you too. They’re just going to contact me first. And they should. After all, I am Head of Health for this side of Hicte.”

     A few seconds later Wadis started pacing again. “That’s why I’m here. I want to know as soon as they find that cure.”

     Janese smile as she looked up at Wadis. “Then why aren’t you at Analysis. You will hear about it instantly if you’re there. In fact, you will hear it before I do.”

     Wadis sighed but continued pacing. “I have been there for the last two weeks. Twenty-five hours a day for two weeks without any relaxing. They get to relax a few hours every day. But I haven’t.”

     Returning to her monitor Janese started tapping again. “You could have relaxed too. They would have contacted you when they found it”

     Suddenly Wadis stopped pacing and looked at Janese. “I know they would have done that. But I was afraid that if I relaxed that was when they would find a cure. And not tell me about it.”

     Just then the Information Monitor started glowing and flashing red. A few seconds later Shanus appeared on it in front of Wadis and Janese. “We haven’t found a cure yet. But we will now that we know what kind of disease we are dealing with.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Looking at the ice chambers Wadis smiled. “How many have you iced up so far?” Wadis asked.

     Yeanin finished on another ice chamber occupant before he turned toward Wadis. “Almost two hundred thousand,” answered Yeanin. “Why?”

     Wadis’s smile got even bigger. “Because I don’t think you are going to have to ice anymore up. In fact, you can probably start de-icing them soon.”

     This time it was Yeanin who smiled. “They finally found a cure for these deaths. That’s great.”

     Wadis shook his head. “No cure yet. But it should be any time now. They discovered what the disease came from. It’s a chemical weapon that was used to destroy the surface of Pasina.”

     Yeanin looked shocked. “I didn’t think we could survive on the surface yet. Where did they find this weapon? How did it kill so many so quickly? Is it because of the chemical used?”

     Once again, Wadis shook his head ‘no’ before he responded. “We still can’t live on the surface. This one came from Pasina's core. And before you ask, we don’t know how it got there. All we know is that it somehow broke open and the chemicals affected the structural decay.”

     First, Yeanin looked at the ice chambers. Then he looked back at Wadis. “Chemicals could also explain the deaths that didn’t have any decay within them. Some chemicals can float around undetected. This must be one of them.”

     Wadis responded after a few seconds. “It also explains the deaths not connected to the GraveDiggers. They must have brought it up from the underground cities unknowingly.”

     Yeanin looked shocked again. “What underground cities? And what GraveDiggers? I thought they died out when the surface of Pasina died.”

     No one said anything for several minutes. Wadis opened his mouth a few times. But didn’t say anything. Finally, he did. “That’s right you don’t know about the underground cities. Most Hicteans don’t. We live in the sixth city of Hicte.”

     After a few seconds, Wadis continued. “The only reason Tamma know about them is because she’s The Law. When she found out about the structural decay and the GraveDiggers she went down there to find out what we were dealing with. Tamma is the one who discovered the weapon, and destroyed it. Unfortunately, it destroyed her too. She did manage to tell us a little before she died. But it wasn’t what we really needed to know.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Wadis came running into Analysis. “Is it true you have finally found a cure for this disease?”

     Shanus braced himself with outstretched arms, fist up, to stop Wadis from running into him. “Yes and no.”

     Wadis’s smile faded to a frown. “What does that mean? It’s either yes or no. It can’t be both.”

     As Shanus and Wadis started walking toward the other professionals in Analysis Shanus looked at Wadis and responded. “Yes, we have found a cure. But no, we don’t know how to use it to stop the disease.”

     Wadis still looked shocked. “And that means?”

     Shanus sighed. “Not only do we have to destroy the disease within everyone affected, but we also have to destroy the floating chemical and the disease decay. And the only way to do that is with a sonic blast from the center of Hicte.”

     Suddenly, Wadis stopped and looked at Shanus. “So, what’s the problem? We go to our Leader. What is she going to do, refuse? We selected her five years ago, and she still has five years. One more year before we can't take away her Leadership. She must help us. Besides, if she doesn’t she can’t be selected for her final third time.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Deona stood in her living area looking up at her small rock embedded ceiling. “If we do this it’s going to destroy my ceiling, isn’t it?”

     Wadis stood next to Deona with Shanus and Janese next to him. “Yes, it will. Probably your whole residence.”

     Shaking her head vigorously ‘no’ Deona had to ask. “Isn’t there another way to distribute this cure of your?”

     Shanus answered before Wadis did. He opened his mouth. But she responded first. “If there was we would have done it, but there isn’t. We have to be in the center of Hicte so that when we hit Hicte's ceiling with the sonic blast it will be distributed to the whole city.”

     Deona had another question to ask. “Won’t a sonic blast destroy Hicte?”

     Wadis looked up at the ceiling. Then out a nearby window. And finally, back at Deona. “There will be some damage. Maybe even a lot of it. But it shouldn’t be that bad. The sonic blast will be powerful, but not that strong. Hicte should be okay.”

     A few seconds later Deona said, “Maybe Hicte will be. But what about us? Are we going to survive this?”

     Janese answered those questions. “There’s a slight chance that’s going to happen. But I don’t think it will. There will be a lot of injured, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

     “So, let me see if I understand what you are telling me. We will definitely destroy this disease,” said Deona. “But we all may be destroyed too.”




Part Two
NOW


Finding Something?

     Cormin swatted and put his palms on the side of the miniature display. He very slowly and carefully lifted it up and placed in on the partially intact table. After doing that, Cormin got on his knees and came within an inch of it with his nose almost touching it.

     After staring at it a few minutes from different angle Cormin stood up. “I think I might have just found something.” Cormin leaned over the table, and came within an inch of the top of the display too. He only stared at it for about a minute, studying both sides, before he placed his fingers on both sides and slowly began lifting it up.

     A few seconds later after looking at both sides and seeing only a little open space between the top and the rest of the display Cormin lifted the top off the display. Cormin carefully but quickly placed the top next to the display.

     Cormin leaned over and stared at the next level down liked he did before. He noticed the seams on both sides. So, he gently slid that level out toward him.

     Once cleared he put it next to the top. “I definitely have found something.” Cormin stood up and put pressure to the side of his neck. “I’ve found something.”

     A few seconds later the head of Masion appeared. “What do you think you have found?”

     Cormin stepped aside so that Masion's head could float over to the display. After looking at it from different angles too Masion said, “I’ll be right there. Where are you at?”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Masion pulled his head out of a data monitor that sat on a portable hovering table in front of him. “After three months, here we have finally found something. Did you just see what I saw?”

     Patreana continued staring at a data monitor next to Masion’s. “I sure did. What I mean is that I think I did. It was kind of hard to see it without joining you. But I didn’t want to scare the child like the last time they found something.”

     Looking at Patreana Masion smiled. “Don’t let them hear you call them children. They’re not children. They are young GraveDiggers. I lost count how many times they pointed that out to me on their way here.”

     Shaking her head with her head drooped, Patreana responded. “They may think they are GraveDiggers. But they aren’t.” Patreana continued after a few seconds. “So, what did this one find?”

     Masion grabbed three cloth containers from a table next to a door. “Come with me and see for yourself.” One he placed on his back by the extended metal hooked bars. The other two hooked around his upper arm.

     Patreana left that room right behind Masion. “I was going to do that anyway. We have already had sixteen found things. And I want to be there when this turns out to be the same thing.”

     Walking down invisible steps Masion and Patreana came out the sliding door. Once out, Masion pushed a button on the side of his pants, and the door slid shut. Masion glanced back at the door as the seam around it disappeared. He smiled as they walked away from the large hovering metal oblong container toward a hovering nearby transport.

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Hovering just above what remained of a once huge city the transport floated across the ruins of Hicte. Masion sat behind the controls of that transport tapping away at the controls as though it was a data monitor control panel. Patreana sat right next to him doing the same thing.

     Masion glanced down at a group of GraveDiggers below. They waved up at him. A few seconds later a male voice echoed within that transport. “Found something else, have we?”

     After tapping a single blue button Masion responded. “Yes, we have. This time it’s what we have been looking for. It’s what is going to help us discover what happened to this planet. At least it will be for this city.”

     Patreana tapped the same button on her side. “I disagree with Masion. This one is going to be like all the others.”

     Masion tapped the blue button again. “You didn’t see what I saw.” He glanced over to see Patreana hit her button too. “You’re just mad that it was a young GraveDigger who discovered it. You have been here over a year, and you didn’t find it yourself. I told you they would do it and I was right.”

     Shaking her head ‘no’ Patreana responded. “They’re not GraveDiggers yet. They have to prove themselves, and they haven’t done that yet.”

     Smiling, Masion looked at Patreana. “They have now. You will see for yourself here in a few minutes.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     The transport landed in a small clearing in front of a partially remaining three-floor building. A few seconds later a door seam appeared on the side of the box-shaped transport and a door slid open to allow Masion and Patreana to exit it.

     Masion looked at Patreana as they walked up to that building. “You were one of them that was against letting young GraveDiggers try to discover what happened here, weren’t you? The Committee thought it was a stupid idea. So, did you.”

     Patreana shook her head. “Yes, I was. And I still do think it’s a dumb idea. We are professionals. They aren’t. What are they going to find that we haven’t?”

     Suddenly, Masion stopped walking and looked up at Cormin waving down at them from about half of an opened third floor. “You are about to find out here in a few minutes.”

     Looking up too Patreana’s mouth dropped open. “That’s not where we are headed, is it? What is he doing up there? Is he trying to get himself killed?”

     Masion didn’t look at Patreana that time. “You would like that, wouldn’t you? Then you could tell The Committee they were right about the young GraveDiggers.”

     Patreana shook her head ‘no’ as she responded. “Of course, I don’t want him dead. It’s bad enough we have already lost fifty-six GraveDiggers. We don’t need to lose anymore.”

     That time it was Masion’s mouth that dropped in shock. “We have lost that many? The last thing I heard it was twenty-four.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Patreana glanced over the edge of that open level. “No wonder we didn’t find anything. We were never this far off the ground. These structures are unsteady. You would know that if you really were a GraveDigger.”

     Cormin took a deep breath. “Maybe it’s not official yet, but I am a GraveDigger. As for this structure, that’s why I came up here. When I saw, this level was still partially intact I had to come up here.”

     Masion looked at Cormin and asked. “Why did you do that?”

     First, Cormin looked at Patreana then at Masion. “I did it Because of all the images on the walls on the first level of it. They were all damaged. Most of them very badly. And it was hard to recognize them. But they were recognizable as different kinds of businesses.”

     Patreana shook her head ‘no’ vigorously. “You still shouldn’t have come up here. Especially not alone. At the very least you should have gotten one of us to come up here will you.”

     Cormin responded after a few seconds. “I thought of that. But I didn’t think anyone would come up here with me. Besides, I wasn’t even sure I would find anything. In fact, I was about to leave when I discovered it.”

     Sarcastically Patreana responded. “So, where is it? let’s see this great discovery you found.”

     Cormin gestured toward his find as he walked Masion and Patreana over to it. “It’s right over here.” It remained where Cormin had left it. Only now the top sat next to the display and the five levels under the top were in front of it.

     The top and each level looked almost the same. They all looked like Hicte. Masion smiled at Patreana. “Do you still think it’s not a find?”


Searching for a Way Under

     Gravediggers occupied all three levels. Masion saw them every few seconds. He noticed most of them searching through the levels were the young GraveDiggers. But each level did have a couple of adult ones too. Masion didn’t see them as often, but he still saw them.

     Masion put pressure to the side of his neck. “Level leader update.”

     Yanne’s voice could be heard all around Masion's head. “Level one, Yanne here. Nothing new to tell you about. If we find anything I’ll let you know.”

     Xandus spoke next, “Level two here. We have found a lot of building related things. Most of them almost unrecognizable. But nothing to help us with Cormin's display.”

     The next to speak was Erria. “Erria here on level three. We haven’t found anything else to help us find our way into the other cities.”

     Masion kept pressure on his neck. “Keep trying. There must be a way to get into those cities. All we have to do is find it.”

     Xandus asked. “Why can’t we just dig our way into them? After all, we are GraveDiggers.”

     Erria answered Xandus. “We can’t do that. If we do there could be a massive collapse and all the levels could be destroyed, including this one.”

     Yanne also had a comment. “If that happens we might not ever discover what happen here. That’s if we survived it too. I agree with Masion. The only way down there is the way the Hicteans did it.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Sarie, twelve, picked up a large piece of a building and tossed it onto a pile of other pieces. She considered a small hole. “I thought this was a way into the other cities. But it’s just another hole.”

     Inic, thirteen, tossed a piece onto the pile from a pathway. “I still don’t understand what we are doing here. Yes, I know what we are looking for. But not why we are doing it here in the center of Hicte.”

     Torie walked among the young GraveDiggers. “We are searching the whole city. This is just the part of it that we are searching.”

     Just then Louri, ten, came running up to them. “I think I have found a way into the other cities.”

     The seven young GraveDiggers and two adults followed Louri to the bottom half of a glass tube. “I’m sorry Louri,” said Forill. “We have seen these all over the city. And they all look like this.”

     Torie also had a comment. “In fact, this one looks like the worst of all of them. If this is our only way into the other cities, we are in big trouble.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Patreana placed the fifth level onto the table in the large metal container. She then picked a black metallic patch next to the first level. Then she placed it over one eye and closed the other one. Patreana tapped the patch once. Now she could see everything close-up from the inside of that patch.

     Bending over, Patreana started looking at the top level. She began in the upper left corner and went across the top edge, then she went down the right side, and across the bottom. Patreana finished by going up to the top left. After dropping down a little she did the same thing. She continued doing that until she got to the center. Then she did the same thing to the other five levels.

     After probing the six levels, Patreana started with the display frame. Patreana began with the back of it. She scanned its smooth surface the same way she did the six levels. But she did it at the slots the different levels slid out. Then she did it to the same thing to both sides. “If there is a way to the other cities I can’t see it.”

     Just then Masion entered. Patreana turned toward him and stepped back with a shocked look on her face. Masion looked like a giant in her patch. She quickly removed it. “Have you found anything yet?” Masion asked.

     Patreana shook her head. “Not yet, but I know it’s there. All I have to do is find it.”

     A few seconds later she continued. “I was thinking while I was looking at this display. Could it be we have been wrong about the Hicteans. Maybe they aren’t dead. They could be living in these other cities.”

     Masion didn’t respond for about a minute. “You might be right. I have been thinking the same thing ever since we found out about these cities. That could explain our missing GraveDiggers.”

     Patreana looked at Masion with a sadness on her face. “They are probably dead. The Hicteans probably killed them because they don’t want us here.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Bollic, fourteen, tossed a large piece of the ceiling that had fallen to the level of the sleeping quarters he was in out the window. “What are we doing searching here for the way into the cities below? We are going to find it in the residential section. Especially not in the single residences.”

     Vivi walked up to Bollic. “I don’t think they are here either. But we have to check out the whole city. They could be anywhere, especially if the Hicteans are still alive.”

     Kelina, eleven, stood beside Bollic. “Do you really think that?”

     For about a minute Vivi didn’t say anything. “I don’t know. But anything is possible. You would know that if you were real GraveDiggers.”

     All sixteen young GraveDiggers stopped what they were doing and looked at Vivi. But it was Gorin, twelve, who spoke. “So, you are one of them that doesn’t want us here.”

     Vivi nodded her head. “Yes, I am. I never wanted you here. It’s too dangerous. Especially if it’s true about the missing GraveDiggers being killed. You do know about them, don’t you?”

     Rebbell, fifteen, returned to his searching along with others. “Of course, we know about the missing GraveDiggers. We are also the ones who discovered the other cities. If we weren’t here, you would never have known about them because you are too afraid to search above ground level. You forgot that too, didn’t you?”

     No one said anything for several minutes. They just continued their searching. Finally, Viva did. “There’s nothing here to help us. Let’s head over to the next residential building. We still have two more to search.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     The head of Patreana floated in front of sixteen young GraveDiggers and two adults. “I couldn’t find out anything from the found display. But I did from the dead GraveDiggers. They all disappeared from this part of Hicte.”

     No one reacted to Patreana. They just continued staring up at the floating head. “Don’t panic children. You aren’t in any danger. The dead GraveDiggers were alone when they were taken and killed by the Hicteans. All we need to do is find the way into the other cities. And us adults will go down there to talk to them.”

     Patreana's head suddenly disappeared. “You heard Patreana,” said Oppus. “Let’s started searching. No one searches alone. Since there are eighteen of us groups of three should be okay.”

     The young GraveDiggers started selecting search friends. Only Helinie, ten, didn’t have one. So, she walked off with the two adults with her between them holding their hands. She looked back at the others as they headed out in different directions with a sad look on her face.

     Wava, eleven, Quene, twelve, and Jeanon, thirteen, started patting the side of a cave wall. “You don’t really think this is the way down there, do you?” Quene asked.

     Jeanon shook his head. “No, I don’t. But I don’t really want to find it either. Let the adults find it since they are the only ones allowed to go down.”

     Quene stopped patting. “I want to find it. Once again, it will prove we’re not children.”

     Wava looked at Jeanon. “So, do I. I want to find it too.”

     They continued patting for several minutes in silence. Wava leading the way down that wall. Suddenly Wava's hand and lower arm disappeared. She quickly pulled it back out. “I think I just found the way.”

     Jeanon turned away from the wall to shout. “We found the entrance, we found it.”

     A few seconds later the other came running. Three young GraveDiggers stumbled over some loose pieces of buildings right into the three discoverers. All six of them fell through that hidden entrance.


Checking out the other Cities

     Nissei, fourteen, got on her hands and knees before carefully peeking into a large hole. She glanced over her shoulder. “I think I have found our way down to the next city.”

     A few seconds later Stanish helped Nissei get up. “That's good to hear. But we still have over half a city to explore.”

     Icca stood next to Stanish. “One of the things we are exploring is the entrance into the next city. But this can’t be it. We are pretty sure all the entrances are hidden among the cave walls.”

     Nissei responded sarcastically. “I didn’t say it was an entrance. All I said was it was a way in.”

     Stanish glanced into the hole Nissei pointed at and sighed. “It’s just another hole. There are hundreds of them all over the city.”

     Looking back into that hole too Nissei sighed. “Not as big as this one. It’s big enough almost all of us can go through it.”

     Icca carefully peered into the hole. “I can’t see all the way through it.”

     Stanish took his cloth bag off his back and started rummaging through it. “That’s an easy problem to solve.” A few seconds later he pulled out a long metal tube with a button on the end of it. He pushed that button. A reddish yellow beam came out of the other end of that tube and showed them a city below.

     Icca peered into that opening. Nissei and Stanish joined her. Stanish squinted his eyes and saw the city below. “That’s too far to jump,” said Icca. “How do you think we are going to get down there? I don’t think we can float down like we did to get to this city.”

     “We will use the metal connectors if we choose to go down this way,” said Stanish. “But I doubt we will use them. By the time, we get finished exploring this city we should have found the entrance to the next city.”

     Nissei looked at Stanish. “That’s why I started looking for this size hole. I don’t think we should all be exploring each city. It would go a lot faster if we split up.”

     Just then Patreana and Masion joined them. “I don’t want to agree with a child, but I do. We should split. Us being all together puts us in more danger for when we find the Hicteans. If we are all together they might panic and kill us.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Patreana and Masion sat on a large piece of building overlooking a small group of GraveDiggers. “It wasn’t easy, but we did it.”

     A few seconds later Patreana continued. “It took a lot longer than I thought it would, Masion. But I’m not surprised. They all wanted to stay in the first city.”

     Masion looked at Patreana. “We should have known it would by the way they all stormed into it once they realized it was safe to do it. I knew it would be hard because of the fear you have put into them. That’s why it was so hard to do it.”

     For several minutes Patreana and Masion didn’t speak. They just watched the other GraveDiggers searching through the ruins. “Masion, has anyone come up with anything to tell us what happened to Hicte and Pasina?”

     Shaking his head Masion responded. “I’ve seen a lot. But nothing I haven’t seen on that top city. Maybe we are wasting our time down here too.”

     Patreana returned to looking at the GraveDiggers, and the children. “Maybe, we are. But I don’t think so. The answers are down here somewhere. All we have to do is find them.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Bending down, Masion picked up a small metal object. “I thought I saw something. But it’s just another piece of a building.”

     Patreana smiled. “How many somethings have you thought you found in this city?”

     Masion glared at Patreana. “It hasn’t been that many. About a hundred or two.”

     Suddenly, Patreana started laughing. “That sounds like a lot to me. Have you found anything to help us yet?”

     Before Masion tossed the metal object aside he looked at it from different angles. “Nothing so far. But I know it’s here in this city. If there is anything to find, it’s here. This city is the best one we have seen. The other two above us have been hard to explore. But not this one. It’s even better than the top city.”

     Just then Forra, eleven, came running up to them. “Is this something good?” She handed a piece of metal over to Masion. “I think it’s from some kind of a machine. But it smells funny.”

     Masion examined it from all angles. Then put it to his nose and took a deep whiff of it. “I think you are right about it being part of a machine. And you’re right about the smell. But it doesn’t smell like it’s part of a machine, though.”

     Handing over the machinery metal to Patreana Masion said, “I think we have found something. What do you think? Has another young GraveDiggers found something?”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Masion took a deep breath and kept it in for several seconds before releasing it. “It’s not very strong, but the smell is in this city too. But it’s still worse on this one compared to the last one. This one it’s everywhere, but on the last one it was only on a few pieces of metal.”

     Patreana didn’t appear to be listening to Masion. She just stared at a group of young GraveDiggers they were about to walk past. “I think it’s time for the children to leave while they still can. It’s way too dangerous for them to be down here now. They shouldn’t have come down here at all. I know you insisted they be a part of each city. But you were wrong.”

     Laughter make Patreana stop and look at Masion. “You’re only saying that because you’re afraid they will discover what happened here before you can.”

     An angry look on her face Patreana responded. “That isn’t true. I’m really concerned about their safety. Look at them. We have protective skin to protect us. But they don’t. Protective skin doesn’t come that small. That’s because children aren’t supposed to be in situations like this.”

     Masion looked around at the young GraveDiggers near them. They didn’t look too good. Some were still trying to search the city. But they did it shakily. Most of them were on the ground appearing to be breathing with a lot of difficulty.

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     After taking a deep breath Patreana started coughing. She stopped after only a few seconds. “Maybe you were right about the Hicteans not being still alive. There haven’t been any updates on anyone seeing them or anyone who thought they saw them. But you were wrong about us finding out what happened to Hicte.”

     Squatting Masion picked up another metal piece of a building and put it up to his nose and took a deep breath. “I don’t know about that. You could be wrong about that too. The smell is strong in this city. Even stronger than the last one. And it was stronger than that in the one before that.”

     Patreana suddenly stopped their walking around that city. “I know it is. Not only is it the smell it’s also all this smoke. We haven’t encounter any of that in the other cities. But it’s bad here. It’s so bad we can barely see each other. Let alone the other GraveDiggers down here.”

     Masion started walking again. Patreana hurried to catch up to him. “Speaking of the other GraveDiggers, shouldn’t they have contacted us by now.”

     After taking a few deep breaths Patreana started coughing again. But only for a few seconds. “Would you stop doing that. Every time you get ahead of me I must run to catch up. And when I do I have to take a deep breath. We both know what happens when you do that.”

     Looking at Patreana after stopping Masion started laughing. “Maybe you should have returned to Hicte six with all the young GraveDiggers.”

     Patreana started coughing again. “Maybe I should have. You know that I have trouble breathing in ruins like this one.”

     Just then a bright white light shot out from the cave wall. They put up their hands and arms to block it. A few seconds later Wadis stepped out of the hidden entrance. “Sorry it took me so long to get down here. I only learned you were down here a few hours ago, and I have to take care of the upper cities first.”

     Patreana's jaw dropped in shock. “You have already killed all the other GraveDiggers?”


The truth is out there

     Wadis walked into the second city from the top in front of a group of GraveDiggers. Some of them still floating up before they exit. Patreana and Masion walked right behind Wadis. “As you can see no one has been killed.” Wadis gestured toward a group of young GraveDiggers nearby. “I just brought them all to this underground city where they would be safe.”

     Patreana and Masion gestured for the others to check on them. They never stopped staring at Wadis as the other GraveDiggers ran past them. Wadis glanced over his shoulder and noticed it. “Is there something else wrong?”

     Masion shook his head. “No, nothing. We were just wondering who you were.”

     A few seconds later Patreana continued. “What are you? How do you know our language?”

     Wadis bowed his head. “Oh, I’m sorry. I should have introduced myself before now. My name is Wadis. And I was the Medical Investigator in section four before all this happened.”

     After a few seconds, Wadis continued. “The only reason we survived is because it came from our Leader residence.”

     A few seconds later Wadis sighed. “The sonic blast was supposed to destroy the disease that was killing us off. But it also killed us.”

     They started walking among the GraveDiggers. “It’s all my fault they are died. I killed them. That’s why for the past four hundred years I have come out of the ice chamber every few years to take samples to see when we might be able to return to Hicte.”

     Wadis continued after a few seconds. “At least I did until you showed up a couple of years ago, and I haven’t been back in the ice since then. I have been too busy watching you. That’s how I learned your language.”

     Suddenly Wadis stopped and looked at Patreana. “As for your other question, I don’t understand what that is.”

     Masion didn’t say anything for about a minute. “Oh, that. For a long time, we thought you were humans like us because of all the images we found of you that were recognizable. You looked human in them. At least you did from the shoulders down.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     With their mouth dropped open, Patreana and Masion stared at row after column of ice chambers. “How many of these are there?” Masion asked.

     Wadis stood in between Patreana and Masion. “Just over two hundred thousand. That’s all that is left of my race.”

     Masion asked this question too. “How many of them where there to begin with? I mean how many have died over the last three hundred thousand years.”

     After stopping their walk around the ice chambers Wadis looked at Masion. “No one has died. What did you mean by that? Maybe from where you come from it has been that long. But for us it’s only been a little over four hundred years.”

     Suddenly Patreana ran up to one of the ice chambers and wiped the rest of the ice off the glass. “I was right. The Hicteans did take the missing GraveDiggers.”

     Masion and Wadis walked up to join Patreana. “You also said they killed them. They don’t look dead to me. Maybe you were right about them being taken. But not about their deaths.”

     Wadis looked confused. “Of course, we didn’t kill them. We are not killers. At least they aren’t. I am, but only of my own race.”

     A few seconds later Wadis continued. “The tunnels leading to the other underground cities haven’t worked since I killed everyone. When your people found them, and fell through, they got hurt. So, I put them in the ice chambers to heal them. The ice chambers can do that too.”

     After a few more seconds Wadis continued. “When the sonic blast was over the others came on down here to get iced. I stayed around for a few hours to see what I had done. Then I joined them. The transport tubes had all been destroyed. So, I had to use the hidden tunnels we used to get here.”

     Patreana smiled. “I told you they were transports. All I was wrong about was where they went.”

     Masion sighed. “At least we have gotten something right.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     First, Patreana and Masion looked around what remained of the Leader’s residence. Then they looked up at the opened ceiling. “This is where our death began,” said Wadis.

     Masion looked at Wadis. “A lot of us noticed this place was more structurally solid than all the others. Now we know why.”

     Wadis started walking around with Patreana and Masion. “I could just tell you how it happened. But I know how you feel about telling versus showing.”

     A few seconds later Wadis continued. “Not all of our technology died with us. We did save some in the ice chamber caverns.” Wadis took a small metal cube from his side and tapped the top of it a second before tossing it toward the open ceiling.

     Seconds later the cube opened and a small looking piece of glass came floating out. Once clear the glass expanded into a large data monitor without its backing. Masion walked to the other side of the hovering glass and smiled at Patreana on the other side.

     An image of that room suddenly appeared. Only it was what it used to look like. Patreana and Masion watched as four Hicteans carried a large device and placed it in the center of that room. Wadis stepped up to it. He looked the same as he did now. After pushing a few buttons on a control panel Wadis stepped back. A few seconds later the top opened and a white light with multiple colored small streaks within it shot up toward the ceiling.

     The white light got bigger as it headed for the ceiling. By the time, it got there it almost completely covered it. When it hit the ceiling, it destroyed it. Pieces of it came thundering down toward Wadis and the others below. Wadis covered his face with his arms and bent over as several large pieces struck him. The others there were doing something similar. They either protected themselves as best they could or they dropped to the floor.

     Suddenly that image disappeared and an image of the sonic blast headed for the cave ceiling appeared from outside. A few seconds later the sonic blast hit the cave ceiling and spread out all over it before the small multiple colored streaks came raining down on Hicte. As the streaks hit the structures it destroyed them. Sending pieces of them in all directions. Some of those pieces struck the Hicteans within or near the structures. But most of the streaks struck the Hicteans themselves.

     The ones struck by the streaks themselves fell to the ground or floor. A few seconds later they became ashes then disappeared. Those infected with the disease started screaming and didn’t stop until they died too.

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Wadis pointed at a small piece of metal partially hidden among the pieces of a structure. “This was where the device was that showed the images of the sonic blast hitting the cave ceiling. We had similar devices all over the city. Why did we do this? Because we wanted to show what happened in case it happened again. Instead of showing that it showed our deaths.”

     Patreana asked. “What about the ones in the other cities? Did you put any image devices in them?”

     Shaking his head ‘no’ Wadis responded. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to do that. We barely had the time to do in the sixth Hicte.”

     Masion opened his mouth to speak. But Patreana beat him to it. “So, you don’t know what happened to the other cities below or the other cave cities. You did know about the other cave cities, didn’t you?”

     Wadis shook his head. “We knew they once existed. But not if they still did or that they were going through the same thing as we were. Apparently, the weapon that infected our structural decay also affected theirs at the same time.”

     Patreana asked another question. “How do you know all this?”

     For several minutes, Wadis said nothing. “We could always communicate with each other. But we all chose not to. At least they didn’t with us.”

     After a few seconds Wadis continued. “Anyway, just before I entered my ice chamber I heard them communicate with each other. I heard them shouting at each other in panic. They were saying thing like 'Is this part of the death killing us? Why is this happening now? Who is doing this to us? Is this happening to everyone in Pasina? Things like that.’

     Wadis sighed. “When I said, I killed everyone I didn’t mean just Hicteans. I meant every Pasinan in Pasina. The only ones, left are me and the ones in the ice chambers.”

=====-=====-=====-=====-=====-=====

     Tapping away at the control panel in front of her data monitor Patreana looked over at Wadis seated next to her. “What about that smell in the other cities. The one that put our children in danger. Where did that come from?”

     Shaking his head Wadis responded. “I don’t know for sure. But I think there were other weapons in the core of Pasina. When the sonic blast went through the underground cities it destroyed them too. That destruction sent the chemicals back to us.”

     A few seconds later Wadis continued. “The same thing happened to the other cave cities too. At least I think it did. When the sonic blast bounced off the core and headed back to the surface it brought the chemicals with it.”

     Wadis looked at Patreana. “It’s one of those things you will never really know about. Why are you asking me all this?”

     Patreana smiled. “I’m sending in our finding to our main office. I think we can help you get your people back to Hicte. To rebuild it like it used to be. We might even be able to get you back up to the surface again once we find out what happened up there. But I don’t think that’s going to be a problem to much longer.”

     Masion, who was seated next to Patreana, smiled. “You’re not as mean as you want everyone to think that you are. You just don’t like young GraveDiggers.”

     After Patreana started tapping again she glared over at Masion. “I love children. You know that.”

     Wadis started laughing. “You two act like you are a couple, lovers, together, mated, whatever you call your family units.”

     Masion sighed. “Unfortunately, we are. Don’t get me wrong. We do love each other. But we are always fighting like this.”


Word Count = 11,567

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