"What? How? That doesn't..." my voice trails off, not really believing what I would have said. I mean, I don't even know what a conduit is. And that vision, it felt so real. Was I hallucinating? This is a dream. I'm having some sick dream. No, at this point it's a nightmare.
But why does it feel so real? I look down at my hand, dirt packed under my nails and dust decorating my skin. This is the reality I live in now. And reality no longer makes any sense.
"I'm sure you're confused, but would you please stand up? We have to get going." I look at him, and my fingers curl into a fist.
"Go where? Why should I trust you?!" I seethe. "You just come in, assault my friend and so many others... and you expect me to follow you?" I grit my teeth and dig my nails into my palm.
"And how do you plan to return to your normal life? We're bonded, and you can't change that. You can't take the soul harness off your neck." He smirks as if he were moving his final piece for the checkmate. "Besides, if you don't come willingly," suddenly, my body goes numb, my limbs moving on their own. A cold sense of dread comes over me as my body stands up to face him, twitching and trembling against my will. "I'll just make you."
Suddenly, I'm released, and my body crumbles to the ground, not prepared to keep my body standing after so long of it acting on its own accord. I gasp for air and slowly stand up to look at him.
"You're... serious. I-" Tears fill my eyes, and I try to keep them in. With my checks wet, I look down. "I'll come... there's no point in resisting, right?" I choke out, my resentment seeping through my words. Suddenly, he seizes my arm, but unlike the other times, it's softer. No Iron grip, just a firm hold.
"Then let's go. And stop being so pathetic. It's starting to get on my nerves." He says coolly, his expression calm and emotionless. I look at him, full of hate and malice. Wishing I could somehow hurt him, somehow undo all the pain and damage he caused. But I can't. I'm helpless. And even if I could, I wouldn't have the heart to do it.
For the second time, the forests' calm silence is disrupted. The crisp pop of a tranquilizer dart being shot and landing on the tree behind us makes my heart freeze. But my body moves, by force as suddenly the man thrusts me downwards as he kneels in front of me, a meta shield forming in front of his outstretched hand.
"Wha-" I say in confusion as I try to stand up.
"Stay down! Some humans are shooting at us. Suddenly, the metallic surface of the shield turns a glossy transparent color, showing a sizable patrol of police at the top of the forest ridge.
"Release the hostages! We will use lethal force if necessary." A loud voice echoes loudly from the top of the hill. I hear the sound of more tranquilizer guns being loaded, and my mind starts racing. If they switch to bullets, then Audray will be in danger!
"Calm yourself. Here," his voice is calming as he guides my hand to where the center of the shield is. "Keep your hand here and you will be safe." I look at him in shock. How has he turned from such a menacing presence to trying to keep me safe? I have a million questions, but before I can even blink he's gone.
My eyes follow to see where he moved, and I glimpse him in the air, having jumped from my side to fifteen feet above me. His movements are too fast to trace as he blurs across the sky. I can vaguely see him taking down the police through the translucent gray shield, but about halfway through I close my eyes. This is too much.
Within a heartbeat, I feel a hand on my shoulder. I gasp in surprise and turn to see his face inches from mine. I tense up knowing that he just easily took down several trained adults.
"You can let the shield down now." I blink and move my hand. As soon as I do so, a small dark gray tablet lands in my hand. It weighs a decent amount, and it feels warm.
"How did that..." I start to ponder, but I shake my head. There are too many questions to ask, and I can't even start to ask them.
"Hold on." He says as he wraps his arm around the waist. My body freezes as I clasp tightly around the small gray pebble in my hand. I look at him, refusing to put my arms around a strange man who has harmed so many people. But in a few seconds, I regret my decision.
I hear a whirring sound, and then a boom as we take off into the sky. His feet have somehow propelled us from the ground in a matter milliseconds. My eyes widen, and and I start to close my eyes, expecting us to come crashing down, but then I realize. We're flying, and the entire world is getting smaller as we're pulled by some unknown force into space. I blink as I take in the sights and sensations that are mixing around in my awareness.
The air around us shimmers with energy as it hits me. My friend. My forest. My city. My county. I'm leaving everything behind. There wasn't any goodbyes, any closure. I don't know a single thing about this person who's holding me hostage, yet I wrap my arms around him since he is now my only anchor in this vast empty sky. We pass through layer upon layer, everything suddenly becomes a blur. My country. My planet. My life. All gone, and I'm face to face with the dark loneliness of space.
I gasp, anticipating my body to start freezing and my lungs to lose all the oxygen I managed to get during our ascent. But I breathe in air, and my skin is warm. I look up, seeing a spaceship that would rival the Mars Traveler. A warm white light surrounds us as we slowly float into the gaping maw of this floating machine, the embrace of reinforced metal and smooth plating.
There's a moment of darkness as the entrance closes smoothly behind us before the vast inside of the ship is lit up by a sterile blue light. I look dumbfounded at the large inside, with screens and door leading to other rooms, catwalks around the edge and bridging up and down, and a small glowing orb of white fire in the center. But soon my awe is erased as I turn behind me, trying to get a glimpse of my planet, but the white walls bear no windows to my former life. As my floating body is set on its feet on one of the catwalks, I realize that in the seconds it took for us to breach the atmosphere and enter this ship, my entire life has gone from shattered pieces to dust.
"It's... gone. Everything." I fall to the floor, gazing at the cold spherical walls around me. I place a hand on the cold white surface that now imprisons me. My life just got turned upside down, shattered and burnt to ash... and I just let it happen. Tears flood my eyes as my mind stumbles through the different possibilities.
I'm pathetic. I could've resisted... but, he would just have made me come. And if I dropped the shield, all that would've done was open me up for accidental tranquilizer darts, and he still would've gotten away, taking my unconscious body with him. This is too crazy. And it's real. And for what reason? Because I'm some weird chosen alien thing?
I stand up and look over at the man, determined to get some answers. "Who are you, really? And why did you come to earth and... do this?!" I say, gesturing at myself and the strange new environment I'm in. My head buzzes with a million 'what if's and 'why's and 'what's, but I need to try to organize my thoughts. But this is too much. Am I weak if I want to cry? If I just want to fall apart at the seems?
"Humph. For a species with above average deduction skills, you seem to be very blind." He sighs and looks at me critically "I can't believe that I got the worst of a mediocre race. I had to get assigned when you were the conduit up for grabs. I should've let Rendev have you." My face grows hot, though I don't know if it's out of embarrassment that this man just insulted me, or of fear of the fact that I was being fought over by other people like him as if I was the latest weapon.
"I never said I wouldn't answer your questions. Now, as for who I am, my designation is Channeler Kason, formal General of the 3980th regiment." He interrupts me, looking at me like a teacher would a misbehaving toddler. "I came to your planet because of a massive Apieroplanar leak that was picked up as a result of your conception and soul separation as a Conduit. After we had pinpointed the rough area of your existence, I was sent to become your Channeler." My ears buzz as my brain tries to make sense of all these strange words and motives. My conception? How does that make this 'Apieroplane' thing happen? And why does that mean I have to be taken, or have to be given a Channeler? And soul separation?! This is just a bunch of crazy!
"Why do I need you as my 'Channeler'? What makes me a 'Conduit'? Why did you have to hurt those people?! Why did this have to happen to..." I trail off, trying to forget that last part. I'm fine, right? I wasn't hurt. That's a stupid question.
"A Conduit is a sentient being whose soul was separated from their seat of consciousness when they first gain awareness. The soul is separated and sucked into the apieroplane by the overlapping of two dimensional tears, one in the apieroplane and one in our dimension. Conduits, when not harnessed by a Channeler, can become dangerous. Plus, my society depends on conduits for a large amount of our technology, especially ever since we've started the war against the Cy'geth. And, if those people weren't unwilling when I put the soul harness on, it would've stuck whether or not they were a Conduit. But since a Conduits soul is separated by a reality, the soul is powerless to stop a bond attempt, and will be harnessed, willing or not." He sighs and looks at me with a bored expression on his face. "I'm tired, so I'll go regenerate in the recuperation room. It's labeled if you need me, but the computer in the training room should be sufficient for your questions."
I look around, noticing the ports on the sides of the walls. I blink, unable to read the strange markings.
"I can't read the-" I start to say before he tosses a strange device at me.
"Put this around wherever your brain is." I look at him confused as he opens one of the doors, walking in and closing it behind him.
I stand there and look at the ring on the floor nearby. It's tiny, with a similar design to that 'Soul Harness' on my neck. I pick it up, wondering how I could fit it around my head. Moving it around with my hands, I experiment with trying to stretch it. When it doesn't budge I examine it's surface, trying to find a button to press. Finally, I spot two small glowing dots and put my fingers on them. The device turns warm and I easily stretch it over my head. When I release it, it automatically for fits to my head, and gives me a skull-splitting headache.
After seething in pain for a while, it fades. Looking at the once gibberish symbols, I find that I understand them. They don't turn into English or translate in my head. I just, know what they are. In fact, I feel like I'm thinking in a different language.
"Holy- What? What am I saying? Wait, I understand, It just... isn't English." I start saying things, my mind thinking in an entirely different language than before. After shows where the universal translators make everything sound like English and just 'fix' the alien words into readable text, this is different, Like is erased my old language and taught me a different one. I tap on the band, and suddenly start thinking in English. The words still make sense, so that's a relief.
I don't want to deal with this right now, and decide not to mess with the band until I can get some answers. I find the training room, and walk into a large circular room, with a computer that looks like those holographic supercomputers you see in movies, except less hacking text and more alien login screen. Besides the futuristic PC, the room is decked out with dummy weapons, from sword like things to staffs and blasters, basically everything you could use to hurt someone. It's creepy, so I'll leave that stuff alone.
Sitting down at the monitors, I look to try to find a keyboard. When I look down, I can see one, but it's made of the letters from Ivrean, which is what the alien language is called, I guess. It popped into my head when I looked for the word. I go to type, but for some reason can't think of the words. Grumbling, I tap on the side of the band and endure the strange sensation of my thoughts being conjured in Ivrean. I look down at the keyboard, and my finger quickly types out random words as a test. Just to see what happens, I press the enter button.
'Please log in or create a new profile.' I look at the screen, realizing I forgot to do the most basic thing when using a new computer. I use the- wait, where's the mouse? This is unbelievable. How can I use this interface if to access the answers to the question of how to use it I have to use the interface.
Okay, maybe it's a touchscreen. Waving my hand around and poking the screen proves inefficient. Maybe it's audio?
"Create a new account," I say out loud. "Create a new profile." I'm getting tired of this. I inspect the desk, trying to find anything that could serve as a mouse pad. A small ring embedded in the desk draws my attention, and I attempt to pry it from the table, though the thing seems welded to the table. Then, I notice the obvious button next to it and press it.
It works, and I can't believe how much trouble I'm having with this. The ring pops out with a click and I pick it up and slide it onto my index finger. A glowing orange dot appears on the screen. I try moving my finger around, getting used to the controls. It's sensitive so I only have to move it slightly, so at least I won't get tired waving my finger around like a band conductor.
I hover the dot over the new profile option. After waiting, I realize that I should probably press the ring or something. I tap it, and the screen shows a profile creator, with several options. I start with my name, putting in my full name using the letters and spelling phonetically, but my name doesn't really translate that well. It seems like Ivrean has more vowels and consonants. Filling out other more alien-like information, like my home planet, species, and maturation level. I place myself at middle adolescence, but it may be late.
Then there is occupation. I look at the pop-up list, with everything from botanical scientist to military. I search for student but hesitate. I'm not going to school anymore. I mean, usually when you get kidnapped by an alien that stuff goes on hold, right? I look at the list, finger trembling as I move it over to a small option. Conduit. I guess that's my identity now. Someone who's 'soul' is stuck in another dimension.
I fill out the rest of the information, then click submit. Then it gives me an alert, saying that I must name my Channeler. I stare at the search bar and type in Kason. The name brings up his name, with the title channeler. I select his name and feel the weight of the harness on my neck feel a little bit heavier.
Finally, there is a desktop with different app-like icons, though they fit together more like a checkerboard. I find one labeled "Conduit Question A.I." and my heart skips a beat. I click on it and start typing out all the questions that have been trapped inside my skull, and I feel the pressure start to release.
I don't know how long I spend, pouring out every question, every little wonder and all the things that have been buzzing in my brain. Some answers give me relief, some just cold facts, but one just makes my heart sink.
What can a Conduit do? I mean, it's simple, right? But the answer... the answer.
"A Conduit must answer to their channeler, and cannot go anywhere, do anything, or talk to anyone without their consent. The soul harness does not allow a conduit to go out of a certain radius, depending on the channelers desires. It can be as close as one meter, and as far as several lightyears, though more commonly it is less than 10 meters. A Conduit can by no means have any contact with their previous civilization, even if the channeler allows it. Finally, a Conduit can be called to perform any task by the Ivrean Conduit Department, whether refilling power plants or stocking colonies, to eliminating targets."
My cheeks feel raw and my eyes sting. I can't do anything. I can't even escape... I'm helpless. I may as well be a tool or a weapon, their little magic wand to give them infinite resources and energy. I hate being used without my consent, but at this point, I'm just a slave.
[A/N Wow! This is my longest chapter yet. Hope you enjoyed, all kind a critique is wanted, from grammar to story (especialy story)]