Beneath It All, Part 1
Transcribed and translated from the spoken Cirronian by Satinette
It had never occurred to Cole that his Mel was anything other than fully Human ... A troubled Cole's mental ramblings the night before "Remember When."
Serious spoilers for "What Lies Beneath" and "Remember When."
More or less minor spoilers for the Pilot episode, "Roswell," "The Beast," "Breach," "Eye of the Storm," "Dark Road Home," "Back Into the Breach," and likely some others.
It's so very cold up here on the Watchfire's roof, Mel. And as I said once before, this city blows. Twenty-two degrees, the weather report said, the wind-chill factor dropping it down to below zero. For once the weather report got it right. Even as heavily bundled up as I am, here exposed to the sharp bite of the wind it's almost more than I can endure. But far better I be up here on this bitterly cold and windy night than remain down there in the deceptive warmth of the apartment. Far better I be here than a helpless witness to your torment, your door firmly closed as an unbreachable barricade between us, knowing there's nothing you'll allow me to do and nothing I can say.
Do you think I haven't noticed the hours you've been spending these past few weeks, staring sightlessly into the mirror, an utter stranger to yourself, no longer knowing who or what you are, believing your entire life, your very existence, has been a sham, a manipulated lie?
Do you think I can't hear you through the walls, sobbing yourself into the oblivion of exhaustion night after night, no matter how quiet you try to be over your despair?
Do you think I can't see how reddened and swollen your beautiful eyes are by the morning's light and the sick look of haunted betrayal swimming within?
Do you think I can't feel your turmoil, your anguish, your pain, your confusion, your as-yet-unfocused rage?
Yes, Mel. I'm well aware that you're trying to hide all this from me, still stoically thinking that I'm as a child in need of sheltering, one who requires your care and protection and who shouldn't be seeing you so grieved. I'm even aware that you're still trying to hide it from yourself beneath a facade of brave acceptance, strength and normalcy, afraid to face the enormity of it and what it all might mean.
But I've been attuned to the patterns and rhythms of your lifeforce from the beginning and nothing about you, nothing you feel, has ever been wholly hidden from me. I see it, hear it, feel it, know it all, now magnified beyond your imagining because I know that my people are responsible for it.
And worse, far worse, I think I might know the real reason why and what it means.
I can only hope it isn't what I think it is, that it's actually for the reason I gave you and only for that reason, nothing more.
But the legend of The Keepers of a Dark Secret' that I spoke of is far older than that of the Stra'da-Brac, predating it by eons. In fact, The Keepers' and The Stra'da-Brac' are two entirely different legends, each with several versions that, over time, were somehow interwoven in their repeated telling and retelling. Whether there's a true connection between them or not, I don't know, but I do know that merging is not an uncommon fate for tales so ancient. Certainly none can positively say where one leaves off and the next begins. Or exactly how much of each is myth and how much of each is fact.
Once we'd hid the Brac and the danger was over, you closed yourself off and retreated, defensively withdrawing in on yourself like a gravely wounded animal. Since then you've steadfastly refused to allow me near, shrinking away from my touch and not permitting me to offer whatever comfort and solace I may. You've made it very clear that I'm to leave you alone and I can do nothing but obey.
You no longer trust yourself, you don't trust me, you don't trust anyone any more. And it's all perfectly understandable. How can you? Those you loved and trusted and believed in, those you relied on and depended upon most in this world did the unthinkable. They blinded you by withholding so many basic and important truths. They betrayed you by not passing on the Knowledge, by not allowing you to know there even is such Knowledge. They denied you the full flowering of your true self by omitting an important part of your heritage, of who and what you are, the most vital and important part of all.
And as a result, the last of your precious innocence has been shattered beyond redemption.
I know you loved them very much and don't wish to think ill of them. I would prefer to believe, as I'm sure you do, that both your father and grandmother thought they were somehow sparing you, that you would always be safe, that nothing would ever happen within your lifetime or within the lifetimes of your children or your children's children and beyond. While I can understand and completely agree with not informing a child, this is something you should have known about for at least the past ten years.
Maintaining ignorance of this magnitude has never spared anyone anything and here it amounted to the worst order of dangerous abandonment. There are prisoners on Sar-Top serving life sentences for committing far lesser crimes of omission.
Perhaps your grandmother thought your father would tell you or perhaps it was the other way around and the two of them failed to communicate. Perhaps they themselves weren't told enough to be fully aware of the trust in their keeping, although your grandmother's diary surely indicates that some of it, at least, was known.
Yet for whatever reason or excuse, ultimately they failed in their responsibility and in so doing left you without any defenses at all, as brutally exposed and vulnerable as a sacrificial beast set up for slaughter. Had I not been here and been able to take the situation in hand, your ignorance would've likely cost you your life, perhaps even doomed your entire world, not to mention worlds and lives well beyond this one.
And you wouldn't have even had the saving grace of knowing why.
I can see how fragile and unsure of yourself you are now, how very raw and brittle, how you need the time to heal your wounded soul. Now you've become the child and I'm the adult you've always had trouble fully acknowledging as such. And I'm afraid to push, so afraid your withdrawal might become permanent if I did.
I've rarely ever felt so useless, so meaningless, so worthless ... And never before so overwhelmingly guilty and so deeply ashamed for being a Cirronian.
But my feelings here don't matter at all. The only thing that does is that I must never allow you know how much this all corrodes at the fabric of my own damaged soul, how much your agony is tearing me apart and has become the reflection of my own inner horror. I would never be so cruel or heartless as to burden you with my pain and knowledge on top of all that is your own. Such would be an unforgivable betrayal.
I don't know what to do for you, don't know what I can do, except...
Please believe me, Mel. What I'm thinking is the very last thing want to do.
I can see Migar shining clear and bright in your night sky, especially now in late winter when Earth's atmosphere here is still so crystalline cold. Even Chicago's light pollution can't conceal her from my eyes. She's one hundred light years away, yet the heat of her red light beckons me across the cold black void of space, calling me back, although I've long since ceased to think of her as my home.
Does that admission surprise you, Mel? It really shouldn't. You know I've spent nearly a third of my adult life without any true home at all, Tracking in and around and far beyond the Migar System, a hunter among the stars. Actually, it would be nearly half my adult life, if I count my tour on Sar-Top.
And it wasn't just the combination of thorazin and sodium penathol talking that night either, Mel. Well ... perhaps some of it was. Sodium penathol is, after all, a supposed truth serum'. But whether it works on a Cirronian's physiology or not isn't important here. What I told you in the Folcroft Psychiatric Institution's parking lot was indeed the truth, the greatest truth I've ever known.
Do you remember when I said that I wanted to go home? You asked me where home is and I told you that home is where you are.
And it is. It's been so for quite some time now and, for the rest of my miserable life, it probably will always be. But I hadn't recognized the full truth of that or even all that it meant until you asked.
Yet I'd always thought there would be time.
That you and I would have time, a lifetime of years ahead of us.
But this completely changes everything, doesn't it?
Ever since my return visit to the U.S.D.A.S. facility when I set up the satellite technology for you to safely guide me through, an idea began formulating in the back of my mind. Now I believe I know exactly how to accomplish what I must do, how to Collect the remaining fugitives all at one and the same time by remote and imprison them within my containment vessel. This is my own invention, based on very solid science, and the tests I've conducted thus far assure me it will work.
Just one or two more computer simulations to be absolutely certain...
But do I dare do it this way?
For your sake, do I dare not do it?
We both know what it will mean.
With my job done I'll have to leave you and your world behind and return to Migar, return to the star system that is no longer my home.
I don't want to go, Mel. I don't want to leave you. Please believe that. I never want to leave you.
Especially not like this.
Your head may fully understand the why, even agree with it, but to your heart it will likely feel as yet another abandonment.
But it's the only way I can think of to even attempt to find the real answers, the only way I can truly help you rebuild yourself from the wreckage you've been left with. Without the truth, the entire truth, how can either one of us be free?
Then IF the High Prime will agree to speak with me on this ...
Then IF she'll agree to release me ...
Then IF I can ever get the wormhole to reopen or somehow open another one or find the second one I believe Zin or one of his cohorts has set up ...
Oh, my beloved Mel. There are more ifs' involved than I could ever begin to tell you about and my chances here aren't very good.
I never told you that I initially came to your world without any authorization to do so – in violation of a direct order, in fact; one I pretended not to have received. But as you're aware, I've been out of touch for a long time now. For all I know, I might find myself on the wrong side of a Collector when I get there.
To be honest, I might find myself in that position anyway once I seek an audience with the High Prime. If the truth is available anywhere in Migar, it is within her House for it's her line that has been in the descendency for nearly fifty thousand years. The problem is, such a request is unheard of.
And it doesn't help that she thinks I'm insufferably impertinent to begin with.
Unfortunately with good reason.
If I asked you to come with me, would you?
Would you even want to know me as Daggon?
Would I want you to know me as Daggon, to see me as I was, as what I had become?
Could you even understand him and the world that gave him birth?
You simply don't know, Mel. How could you? So much of the greater whole is beyond your comprehension. Your species is still so very primitive, still strutting with all the brash ego and naivete of its untested youth, still playing ... Hot dog'? ... Top dog'? ...
Sometimes I don't think I'll ever grasp all these maddening expressions.
King of the hill'?
The truth is, if Humanity somehow manages to overcome the odds weighted against it and succeeds in being that one in fifty ... If it survives beyond its current stage to reach the next level without destroying itself and its world ...
Too many questions, too many ifs' at every point and turn.
Yet primitive or no, my home is wherever you are, Mel. If you can believe nothing else, believe this. It will always be wherever you are. Always. Even if I'll never be able to come home again.
Over and over my mind keeps replaying the conversation we had just a few short weeks ago, seeing and hearing every nuance... Remember? Suddenly everything fell into place and made perfect sense to me, the pull I'd felt from the very first moment I sensed you shortly after I arrived on this world, the feeling of connection that drew me to your side and has kept me here in place ever since.
I had to drink you in with my eyes then, seeing you brand new, for the very first time knowing you as a true part of myself.
"Stop staring at me!" you cried out, your every nerve drawn agonizingly taut.
I apologized, of course. Such was a most unseemly and disrespectful thing for me to do. But I couldn't help myself. I couldn't refrain from staring.
"I feel ... so..." you went on, struggling for words just as I still so often do.
"You're not going to say ... dirty' ... are you?" I asked, knowing you were likely thinking it.
Please don't be ashamed or embarrassed by that. Your entire self-image had been destroyed, leaving you with ashes. It was quite understandable for you to feel that way.
"Cole! This is not funny!" you protested in your pain and confusion, fully answering my surmise by not answering it at all.
I tried to reassure you, tried to tell you that I knew, but you just kept talking, as you so often do when you're very upset.
"I mean, one minute I'm a ... perfectly normal female Homo sapiens and the next minute I'm a ... Now I don't even know what I am!"
Then you sighed, nearly sobbing, trying so hard to come up with another logical reason. Grasping at straws', I think you call it.
"Maybe it was a mistake!? Maybe the Collector malfunctioned or..."
But only a Cirronian's energies can activate a Cirronian's Collector, so I knew that couldn't be the case. And so did you. I'd taught you that much. The proper synergy for that was within you.
"Then ... what ... happened ... to me?" you haltingly asked, so very fearful it pained me to the quick, both desperately needing an answer yet afraid to hear it.
"It was always part of you. You just didn't know it," I said, trying to soothe, trying to determine exactly what to say, not wholly certain of the entire truth myself, just as I'm still not.
"And you did?" you angrily threw at me, as if I'd known all along and been deliberately not telling you. I wish I had known sooner, but you were born on this Earth and have lived here all your life, are fully part of the energy fields of this sphere, so it never even occurred to me to think along such lines.
"There's always a basis of truth to every myth and every legend," I told you, carefully setting a plausible stage for the biggest lie I've ever told in my life.
"Meaning?" you demanded.
Please understand me, Mel. Lying doesn't come easily to a Cirronian. And I'd never out-and-out lied to you before. Yes, there have been times I've stretched some truths and completely ignored others. And yes, there have even been times I've evaded giving a direct answer or misdirected a question. And yes, I'll even admit there have been still other times I've chosen to remain silent when perhaps I shouldn't have. But I've never before openly, deliberately set out to lie to you or mislead. Ever ...
Well, only once before. But I was okay by then save for the memory and what was past was past. You always have worried too much, you know, and I didn't want to give you still more to worry about.
And at that moment, for your sake, for your peace of mind, even for your very sanity, I had to at least try to soften the truth as I knew it with a lie. Is this what is meant by a white lie'? Or is this one of a different color? No matter. I had to at least make the attempt.
And as I said, I wasn't sure of the truth. Please remember that. Even now, I'm still not. There is still so very much I haven't told you and I can't seem to quiet my strong suspicions of what the full truth may actually be.
"Meaning that explorers from the Migar Galaxy have been coming here for centuries," I told you, trying to be matter-of-fact and unemotional about it. "You know that."
On later reflection, did you catch it, Mel? And if you did, did you know what I was trying to do? Could you tell? I had very nearly exposed my lying right then and there just by my inept bungling of terminology, too nervous to remember the proper words in your language. Migar is a solar system, which is a star with orbiting planets, of course. It's not a galaxy, which is a much larger unit comprised of billions of stars and solar systems. The two terms simply aren't interchangeable, as you well know.
"Yeah," you quickly agreed, thankfully not hearing my stupidity, hearing only what you wanted to hear, then going on to recount what I'd told you several weeks before: "And they were responsible for everything we thought Humanly impossible ... Stonehenge ... the Pyramids ... Easter Island..."
"... Christopher Walken," I then added as you hesitated.
You had thought it mildly amusing the first time I'd said it so I tried using that actor's name again. With us trying to adjust to my weakness, Nestov's treachery and this revelation – and with Zin all the while busily drilling down below us – it was a diversion both you and I sorely needed right then.
It worked for only a moment as you asked: "You weren't serious about that ... Were you?"
And I tried to follow through by feigning innocence, saying: "About what?"
But, as usual, you were not to be deterred and refused to be sidetracked. Even for a female, you can be unusually stubborn when you've set your mind on a course, Mel.
"Never mind!"you irritably snapped, returning us to the subject. "Okay! ... So we've had a lot of visits from your ... people ... Explain to me how that results in ... well ... this..."
So I outlined part of the old legend of the long-ago mythic Cirronian breeding program, again ineptly bungling the galaxy/solar system terminology in my nervousness over censoring the most important part: "The story goes that many thousands of your Earth years ago we traveled to a distant galaxy to create bloodlines ... People who would eventually become ... Keepers of a Dark Secret."
"And?" you anxiously prodded.
"The place must have been Earth..." I continued. "And the two species must have..."
Then I choked on the last word, couldn't get the lie of it to pass my lips, just as you, but moments before, had trouble making the shift from thinking of Cirronians as alien beings' to thinking of us as full-fledged people'.
"Have?" you pressed. I'd gone too far by then and you wouldn't allow me to stop.
"Mated," I flatly stated, deliberately using the wrong term.
"You positive?" you blurted out, dumfounded. "I mean ... Is that physically possible?"
Oh, my dearest love! If we both hadn't been so tense and anxious, if the situation hadn't been so grave, I think we both might've had a good laugh over that comment. Of course mating is possible. We both know it is, even though we've both been pretending it isn't so, each of us for our own reasons.
But you weren't referring to the physical act, were you, Mel? At least I don't think you were. You probably meant the likelihood of our two very different species not only being able to produce progeny from that intercourse, but fertile progeny to establish a continuing bloodline. While a Human-morphed Cirronian and a Human can certainly mate, inheritable genetics are an entirely different matter from the physical body. Despite whatever morph I'm in, my DNA is still Cirronian.
Your sci-fi fables to the contrary, it's virtually impossible for two different species from two different worlds having completely different evolutionary histories – in this case a being of light and energy such as myself and an Earthly flesh and blood mammalian Human – to be reproductively fertile together. That's even more far-fetched than saying that a Human could be reproductively fertile enough with a jellyfish to produce equally fertile hybrid offspring.
Just look around you for the truth of this, Mel. Hybridization isn't the natural order of things on any world, even yours. There would be no such word, and so such thing, as biodiversity' if this wasn't the case, if species made a habit of interbreeding with each other. Likely, if this were the case there'd be no such thing as discrete species at all.
The bloodlines of which the legend tells were not done in unions of loving joining, a true mating, for such is impossible. Most interspecies hybrids, even those from the same world, are sterile. Differences in chromosome counts, base pairing and gene sequencing are just a few of the reasons why. Even with fertile hybrids, a bloodline of them can't be maintained for more than a few generations before overall health begins to decline, life spans drastically shorten, birth defects become common and fertility begins to suffer – then at some point abruptly ceases in virtually all individuals. The only way around this is for the hybrids to be consistently backbred into one of their parent stocks until they've become well and thoroughly diluted.
And therein is the reason for my lie.
As a Human could no more have offspring with a Cirronian than they could with a monkey, so the bloodlines we created weren't done through mating at all. They were done within the clinical confines of laboratories and under rigorously controlled conditions. They were manufactured with raw amino acids and enzymes and through molecular manipulation of the DNA from dozens of individuals both Cirronian and emerging Human, creating something which had never existed before, something which was both and yet neither.
Hybrid crops and domestic animal breeds are completely artificial entities, Mel. How long do you think any of them would endure if their matings weren't controlled? If they weren't constantly maintained with new blood, with sterilization and the culling of stock?
It was no different with these bloodlines. Time and again through the millennia they were established, re-established and added to as various Human species evolved. And time and again they either naturally died out or were absorbed into one or more of the Human gene pools.
But there came a point when we had to end it, when it was no longer morally or ethically possible to justify managing and controlling the reproduction of the Human species as if we were deities directing the evolution of a lower form of life.
It was supposed to have ended. I thought it had ended. That was the conclusion of our long ago Venture Project, that it had to end.
The fact that you even exist says that it continued, that it still continues.
Can you understand now why I had to lie to you?
Can you ever forgive me for it?
Continued in Beneath it All, Part 2.