In the first novel (fully edited – needs beta) the Shell began operating on its own, touching Sofita’s mind without permission, taking over for moments at a time, etc. In the second novel, Sofita follows up with an examination at the holistic lab, but Fyla Uym (Shell’s designer) isn’t there. In her place is Riltav Gwo. The young Hizak is a character that will feature heavily in the series, but in this scene, she makes her debut.
Currently editing this first draft…
Marixitak Ridge, Orta Main — Ramaxia
0130 Hours – Bamx (July) 17, 2228
The Femitokon Divisional Center resembled the skeletal head of a ramxkul taking a bite out of Lake Ortosk’s southern shore. It’s suspended arch defied gravity, looming over mission offices, holding cells, and a single laboratory tucked away in the basement.
“Komad? When you’re up in this thing, is it like being airborne?” Dox stood upon the circular Shell Injection Platform, staring up at the darkened space overhead. Her first time in the Holistic Lab, she wasted no time examining its operational kiosks and warding off the resident Tenth-Gen Bizak with her inquisitive nature.
“Being sucked up into the cloud is comparable to being underwater,” Sofita replied. “There’s a few moments of unpleasantness before you force yourself to breathe.”
Dox jumped in place, “Like you’re in a Delphic?”
“That platform isn’t a citbluz dancefloor, Donmat,” snapped Doctor Gwo, the young Hizak that had examined Sofita and the Shell. “Remove yourself from it, please.”
“It’s an energy cloud, not a solid liquid,” Sofita said to Dox.
Dox grinned, “It’s fluid, but not a fluid,”
Doctor Gwo aimed an unimpressed eye at the Donmat before collecting her tablet from the exam table beside Sofita’s bed.
“Your patience Doctor Kul, is admirable,” said Gwo.
The Holistic Lab was the domain of Doctor Fyla Uym, a Tenth-Gen Bizak that harbored an intense dislike of Hizaki young and old. Fyla’s aversion to Sofita’s caste had been earned during her years among them in Mynu. Uym purposely surrounded herself with Bizaki staff and allowed the occasional dull-hided Subak to give them something to talk about.
Fyla’s medics avoided interaction with anyone in a World Oceans uniform, but this young Hizak showed no inclination to evade.
Gwo’s long white jacket and stylishly pressed trousers indicated a nature suited for a vocation in Orta. Tall for a Hizak, she didn’t require a heeled dress boot like others of her caste working among Marixi, but Gwo’s hourglass hair was molded high enough to warrant attention.
“Have we met, Doctor Gwo?” Sofita asked, wondering why Gwo had opted for bangs, as the webbing on her hide at the hairline was attractive enough to get away with displaying her forehead.
“Doctor Kul, I had the honor of attending a lecture you gave many years ago, in Mynu. There’s no need to rise and embrace, given your current capacity. What you wish to inquire I suspect, is why I was chosen by Doctor Uym to oversee this lab in her absence.”
Gwo’s haughtiness prompted Dox to mock being at awestruck.
“Doctor Gwo,” Sofita said, “While I appreciate your recognition of my previous station, I’m no longer employed in that capacity. I’m a Komad,”
Gwo inhaled and said, “Komad Kul, as you wish.”
“Komad Kul, as it is,” said Sofita.
“What are you a Doctor of anyway?” Dox asked, jumping in place back on the injection platform.
Gwo glared at her, “I believe I told you to refrain,”
“Doctor Gwo received her doctorate this year in Applied Genetics,” Sofita said. “I was made aware of you, and your placement in the Mynu Index.”
“The scores achieved by Sernatae Second Gizul, and yourself, remain unseeded,” Gwo said with a smile, “My overall performance ranked one point shy of Administrator Gizul,”
“You’re still at the top, right Komad?” Dox raised a pinky.
Gwo rolled her eyes.
“Your graduate field was Neurological Science?” Sofita asked.
Gwo smiled, “Forgive me, I’m flattered by your awareness.”
“My awareness is of your mako, Tee, how is she?” Sofita said.
Gwo was deflated.
Tee Gaz was a noted behavioral-studies instructor who’d shared classes with Sofita during her post-graduate period in Toxis. Gaz had bonded to a Hizak classmate of theirs named Fevi Gwo, whose career in donational psychology had made her wealthy.
“She continues to educate in Mynu,” said Gwo.
Sofita added, “The Subak they bonded too, remind me of her name?”
“Galxacari,” said Gwo, as if bored.
“I know an Acari,” Dox moved closer to them.
“Doubt we’re related Donmat,” Gwo said, dismissive. “I was cultivated from a select pair of patches sensibly chosen by my kerma’s sibling.”
Dox crossed her arms over her chest, “Aren’t all patches paired with some sense?”
“No Donmat, most are blindly random,” Sofita said. “Neuro Science, Doctor? Advantageous opportunities abound in the citizenry sector,”
“I recently acquired my doctorate in applied genetics,” Gwo was adept at discussing herself. “My focus remains on the evolution of biological material designed to house operative forms of energy,”
Dox asked, “What is she talking about, Komad?”
“Your Ornith has a brain, yes?” Gwo attempted to temper her hostility. “All brains have within them a natural energy that allows them control of their body parts, higher programming, and the ability to communicate with Femmar like you.”
Dox uncrossed her arms, “I know what operative energy is,”
“All organic constructs age, just as we do,” Gwo spoke to Dox as if she were a donat. “Those designed to serve as Fleet like your Ornith will have their operative energies transitioned, that means moved, to better bodies, when their old bodies become too elderly to function.”
Dox looked to Sofita for permission to slug Doctor Gwo.
Sofita delivered a no with a quick nod left.
“Doctor Gwo, where is Doctor Uym today?”
“Doctor Uym is on another of her deep-sea dive excursions, she’s to return at month’s end, Komad Kul” Gwo replied.
“Did she follow up on my concerns before departing?” Sofita asked, and Gwo suddenly retrieved her tablet.
“Your query as to my presence is tangential. The nature of the Shell’s operative energy, its adaptive processes within the anatomic spheres, they’re my specialty,” Gwo set the tablet on a wheeled chair behind her, and backed up, casually moving the chair into the leg space of the kiosk. “I reviewed the Shell’s hyperactivity during its dormant unconsciousness, and found nothing I hadn’t expected given its age,”
“Explain?” Sofita asked.
“The Shell’s more than just a manufactured energy Doc-Komad Kul,” Gwo established eye contact. “It’s a higher form of energy, a sentient being in its own right that evolves with each new mission.”
“I was unaware of its complexity, though I entertained such a paradigm and thus took it upon myself to review the neurological-log of its previous host.” Sofita said, “Upon reviewing the prior hosts neurological-logs I found no report of conscious, or unconscious, interaction.”
Gwo put her hands behind her back, “The deceased Komadon Kul never achieved total operative cohesion. The amount of time required for a sentient collaboration, conscious or otherwise, hadn’t transpired.”
“It was my understanding, Doctor Gwo, that conscious collaboration was never part of the Shell’s evolutionary path,” Sofita said.
Gwo shook her head, “I’m unaware of how you came to believe such a thing and noted so in my report to Doctor Uym.”
“Doctor Uym has yet to respond?” Sofita asked.
“As I indicated,” said Gwo, “She’s under water somewhere between the poles.”
“I requested a review of all spherical energy records going back to the prior host’s adhesion phase,” Sofita slid from the exam table and moved toward Gwo.
Gwo took a step back, her hands remained hidden, “I reviewed all the spherical activity from her first day of adhesion, along with all Komadon Kul’s neurological records prior to and during, her albeit brief state of adhesion, and found no anomalies Komad Kul.”
“There must’ve been anomalous activity on the day she died?”
“I’m barred from those reports Komad—”
“—why is that, Doctor?”
“I was assigned to this Division only two months ago—”
“—yet you’re Doctor’s Uym chosen prime while she’s away from the Lab,” Sofita said as Dox moved closer the wheeled chair.
“Komad Kul, I assure you my qualification are above reproach. However, strict primada protocol remains as required by Orta Main,” Gwo remained calm. “I found no anomalous activity in any of the spherical-cerebral interface data collected from the prior host, in the timeframe that you requested.”
“Does Doctor Uym limit your scope for a reason?” Sofita asked.
“No—” Gwo took a quick step back and snatched the tablet from the chair and smacked Dox up the side of her head. “—no! I took it upon myself to examine all the reports available to me of Komadon Kul’s history with the Shell—”
“—except the day, she died?” Sofita said, amused.
“Those were the only reports I hadn’t been cleared to review,” said G’wo.
“I’m ordering you to review Komadon Fusada Kul’s spherical-cerebral interface data, before adhesion.” Sofita put herself between an angry Dox and an agitated Gwo.
Gwo took a breath.
“There would’ve been no spherical-cerebral interface to report before—”
“—humor me, Doctor Gwo,” Sofita said, amicable.
“As you wish, Komad Kul,” Gwo said. “If you’ll excuse me,”
“Thank you, Doctor,” Sofita said, motioning for Dox to lead their exit.
Dox moved alongside her when they entered the stark whiteness of the corridor, “That Gwo is smarter than the other ones,”
“Yes, and that begs the question, what’s she doing in Orta,”
“She claims she’s an expert in the Shell’s energy,”
“The netting on her hide was unique, what’s her color?”
“She’s got some light red and orange patches in her yellow. Her webs remind of wet sand,” Dox said. “She’d be icy if I didn’t want to kick her girs for whacking me with that Biv-tab.”
Sofita stopped walking, “Why were you late to muster?”
“I wasn’t late to muster,” Dox said, walking on.
“Remind me, Donmat, what is the standard time of arrival upon notice of a mission alert?” Sofita walked ahead of her and into the curative bay that housed Orny.
“Twenty-minutes,” Dox answered.
“How long did it take you to arrive?”
“Do you have another definition of the word, late?”
Dox stopped on the floating platform, “No Komad!”
“Get on board, we need to get moving,” Sofita snapped.
“Yes, Komad!” Dox jumped into Orny’s open hatch ahead of her.