Waking Gods Page 63

—Vincent and Kara.

—Among others. Why do you think we sent them to you?

—You sent them to me?

—Is it true they had a daughter?

—They did. Her name’s Eva.

—Such a great name!

—You seem genuinely happy.

—Why wouldn’t I be? I love children. How is she? Is she OK?

—She’s fine. What do you mean?

—That was a simple question. Never mind.

—No, not never mind. What do you mean, is she OK?

—Does she see things?

—She does. How do you know about it?

—Just a guess. Her parents had more of our DNA than most. Their child could be…closer to people like me than most humans. Our people sometimes have some sorts of…episodes, visions.

—They can see the future?

—Not really. They get…glimpses into what might be. Some of it will happen, some of it won’t. Not all of us see things. I never did. Those who do sometimes have a hard time adjusting. Without the proper guidance, it might be a bit…overwhelming at times.

—You could call it that. The poor child is scared to death.

—She’ll get over it. Children are more resilient than we give them credit for. I was saying something, wasn’t I?

—I don’t remember.

—Oh yes! Pilots! My point was, back then, you couldn’t control Themis, so they left behind a small group of people who could.

—Your ancestors.

—No! My ancestors had chosen to mate with humans. They were dead by the time the robots left, but their children were alive. There were a dozen or so families. The pure aliens were instructed to protect the bloodline.

—What does that mean?

—They were told to slaughter them, and their children, and their children’s children. Then they were to return home.

—With Themis?

—Of course. What would you do with her? So they went on their mission, probably thinking the half-humans wouldn’t put up much of a fight. But they did, they protected their families. They killed all the aliens. Then they dismantled Themis, buried her pieces all over the world so she wouldn’t be discovered.

—And the people who sent Themis didn’t notice that she never came back?

—I’m sure they noticed. They knew something happened to her. It’s a big universe. A lot of things can go wrong. My ancestors tried to make sure they wouldn’t think that happened.

—What did they do then?

—Who?

—Your ancestors.

—Oh, nothing. They tried to stay out of history’s way as much as they could. They were instructed to mate only within the group, to avoid…well, to avoid exactly what happened. They were very strict about it. But over the centuries, a few people ran away. And here we are!

—Why did they run away?

—I imagine they fell in love. People will do the craziest things out of love. That includes refusing to marry your cousin. Maybe theirs weren’t attractive enough. Do you find your cousins attractive?

—But the chamber I fell in, it was left for us to discover, wasn’t it?

—Indeed it was. When you were evolved enough, they wanted you to learn about them. But it wasn’t a hand you were supposed to find.

—What was it?

—A communication device. It could send a message to their world. It could also reorganize matter, so that, in time, you could transport yourselves and visit. It’s a big round thing with light in the middle. There’s one of these very things inside each robot.

—That’s how Themis can teleport herself.

—Yes! My ancestors took the device, replaced it with a hand so you’d have something to find. They used it to scatter the body parts all over the world. We used that same device to re-create you, so that you and I could be having this conversation when the time came.

—How did the aliens find out?

—You found Themis! You found Themis and you used her. Finding her was one thing, but you shouldn’t have been able to do anything with her. They knew something was up. They probably figured out what happened to their pilots way back then and they came to finish the mission they started three thousand years ago.

—Then we all died and they realized their own genetics were now part of ours.

—Exactly. To them, that’s a tragedy. It’s the worst kind of interference. They don’t want to kill you all, because…because that’s bad, and it’s also interfering. But the alternative is to deny you the future you were supposed to have! They believe that they have, however unwillingly, robbed you of your destiny.

—So they stopped killing us. Now what?

—Now they’re looking for a reason not to finish the job. Like I said, they don’t like to interfere. They’ll do it if they think you wouldn’t be where you are without them. They’ll remove their genetic footprint from mankind’s. You’ll get a do-over.

—They’ll kill everyone but those of us without any alien genes.

—Exactly. You get to rebuild an Earth all on your own, free of anyone’s influence.

—What about you?

—Oh, my people die no matter what. We’re criminals by birth. Our very existence is a capital offense. There’s no changing that.

—You won’t even try?

—I didn’t say that—

—So how do we stop them? You said they’re looking for a reason not to finish the job.

—You show them you could have gotten here all on your own.

—Could we have?

—How could I possibly know that? Does it even matter? It’s possible. That’s all that matters. Their DNA only makes a tiny fraction of yours. The point is, you have to convince them, give them an excuse to let you continue on your journey. They believe that, had we not contaminated human genetics, you might not have evolved this far, reached this level of technology, that you might not have fiddled with atoms and discovered what they left behind. All you have to do is show them they could be wrong. They won’t wipe out an entire civilization without being one hundred percent sure.

—Reasonable doubt.

—If that’s what you wanna call it—

—How can we show them something we don’t even know is true?

—Show them what you’re made of. Show them that pure humans can be better than they think.

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