Escape | Invulnerable pt 2 ch 5

I didn't know what was going on, but is seemed they were actually helping me escape.


Part 2 - A Believer's Visitation

Chapter 5 - Escape

Within a few minutes, they had me garbed as a guard, although I would never have passed close inspection as one of my thin, elegant captors.

Zach put a plate — a thick viewscreen sheet thingy — on top of the remaining stack of TV dinners, and with a brief crackling and a flash of light, they disappeared.

I didn't know what was going on, but it seemed they were actually helping me escape. And they were, at last, my friends, companions I trusted. My impossible confidence blossomed into hope. I remembered how to hope!

When they seemed ready, they looked at each other, they looked at me, and Doctor Bluewings said, still aloud in English, "Thank you!"

And then said, cautiously, "We've got to go now."

We all moved toward the door. I looked up at Doctor Bluewings's face, happier than I had first known her, yet somehow terribly sad.

I turned to her, and asked, in a blurting rush, "What is this all about? What is this war? Where are we going? Who…? Where…? Bluh…." And as I stammered to a halt, she broadened that broad, strange expression I took to be a smile. She held out her communication screen for me to touch. (It had been so long!) This time, at first, there were no thousand blaring videos; there were no sensations at all, even a feeling of empty nothingness. Then, I felt her, gently, patiently, but still urgently, for we were in a hurry, asking, inviting my question.

My blur of questions cleared.

I could ask, through the device, "How can the gift of peace be a weapon?"

For just a moment, her mind was clear. The device, I realized, no longer linked her to the rest of the ship, to the general web of communication. There was us. There was silence. And she wasn't used to being isolated, ostracized. These three, I heard from her mind, were outcasts, pariahs, diseased, infected; marked for extermination. Contaminated by the Gift. By me.

Then, she answered.

A flood of answer in moments.

Purely by chance, one of their agents on earth had discovered our Community early-on. He had been passing for an earthly vagrant, functioning as a kind of soldier-spy-anthropologist. They were studying our dominant mammalian culture, assessing our threat level. They noticed us.

They realized something anomalous was occurring.

They identified me as the source of the anomaly.

The nature of the anomaly appeared to involve an effect upon quantum randomness by consciousness. Mind over matter, or at least over circumstance. Moments of quantum divergence, when matters might go this way or that, had a trendency to non-injurious, if not outright positive potentialities.

The upshot is, harm flows around you. You're invulnerable.

Our soldiers identified you as the Primary Agent, by rumor first, and then we gathered some of your DNA for testing. There were complex variations we hadn't seen before in mammals… humans. But genetics only told a little. We needed to study your every gland and your nervous system.

I'm sorry about the pain we put you through. We were bad.

General Silverbreast was the one who commanded it all. He saw the potential in the earliest reports of the anomaly. He ordered the tests, the taking of the subject, the analysis, and, ultimately, the Extraction (Paul cringed at the word) of the propensity for invulnerability.

What all the scientists had thought would work turned out to be fruitless. What they extracted had no effect upon their soldiers. The desired invulnerability project was a complete disaster. I was there when Silverbreast received the news and, unperturbed, moved on with the war.

So, I was a footnote to an alien war, thought the man from Earth. A dead end.

They thought I had something they could use as a shield in their war.

They tried to… they did take it from me, but found it was no use to them in the end. And I am forgotten.

The unfamiliar feeling, anger over being imprisoned, returned, redoubled, at being just a thing to be used and then thrown out.

And the Gift, what of it?

They thought it was real.

Now, have they destroyed it?

I looked into Doctor Bluewings's eyes and there were tears.

It was not all in vain, she thought to me.

The doors suddenly flew open, and there stood a guard, surprised and confused to see us all in the room. Zach and Ike grabbed him and pulled him in and began chattering at the newcomer.

At first, he seemed horrified, about to explode with fear of us all.

Then, as Zach and Ike spoke with him, he relaxed. He smiled.

This seemed familiar.

Zach waved his wing, and Doctor Bluewings turned toward the door. Ike hesitated, but also moved with us. Zach seemed intending to stay behind with the other guard.

Ike opened the doors and the three of us were running, running, running down corridor after corridor. They lilted. I ran.

Here and there, a viewport or vidscreen would show, by camera or diagram, their vast armada, amassed for invasion and specicide.

Flat against my chest, under my soldier's uniform, my diary, recording everything. In my pocket, absurdly, my spork and dinner knife.

A moment's thought of defending against a whole spaceship fleet with a spork made me laugh, which drew strange looks from my fellow fugitives.

We came to a point in a hall, a balcony without bannister, dizzyingly high up, overlooking a great hall full of people, and far below us, in the center of the great hall, I recognized General Silverbreast.