Baek & Zatalia 2

Chapter One

Edith groaned as her phone rang again, whomever was calling was obviously unwilling to go away so she finally grabbed her phone off the night stand and sleepily answered “Hello”

“Finally, are you okay?”

“what?”

“Edith, go look at yourself in the mirror”

“Honey I”

“do it now Edith!” The woke her up completely, her husband had never yelled at her, not once. She got up and walked into their bathroom “Honey I’m fine”

“Check on our daughter, hurry, if she’s off at all you need to just take her to the hospital. The news is urging people to stay in their homes and just call 911 if someone in their home is sick but the news is also saying the ambulances can’t collect people fast enough so just take her. Screw anybody who tries to stop you, she’s not dieing in her room, you can’t let her Edith”

“what’s going on” she asked in panic as she rushed to her daughters room. Before he could answer his wife her scream told him Zatalia was sick too. Edith dropped the phone as she ran over to her daughter. Blood drained from her eyes and mouth and she was laying in an awkward manner surrounded by what she thought must be throw up but it had this odd color. All throw up looked odd but this was weird, horrifyingly weird. Her husband yelling made her grab the phone again “whats happening”

“is she alive?”

“I dont know”

“Edith” his voice was breaking “check if shes breathing” Zatalia didn’t look like it but upon investigating it turned out she was “Edith, I’ve been trying since this started last night to get home but the airports are closed and I cant find a road thats not blocked by police officers. Try to take her to the hospital, she’ll die, millions have already died since just last night. They don’t know what this is” She could hear him sobbing at the thought of losing their daughter. “I love you” she weepily said before getting off her phone and lifting her daughter off the floor to carry her to the car. When she went outside she was taken back by the chaos and grew defensive instantly when a man in a hazmat suit who had been walking by suddenly was coming up to her and Zatalia “give her to me” he demanded “I dont know who the hell you are so no”

“There’s no time for introductions unless you dont care if she dies. Give her to me now and get back inside”

“You sure as hell aren’t taking her without me” He pulled out a gun “Give me the girl and get back inside your house now mam. I will shoot you, do not test me. Whatever this is is going to kill us all if we don’t contain it”

“No.”

She watched as his finger tightened on the trigger and was ready to spin around and protect Zatalia. The creature came out of nowhere, it hand slapping the man away so he flew across the yard, the gun falling from his grasp, and landed on his back. She just stared, she couldn’t even scream in her shock. “Dad, I made sure the military personnel with him are unconscious.” Baek said as he came running up next to the creature.

“B…Baek?” Edith said

Baek’s eyes moved to her then to Zatalia, all color draining from his face. “No, no, no, please no.” He was across to them in and instant. “Zatalia? Zatalia, baby?”

“We have to get them home, Baek.” Neek said.

“Dad, I can’t lose her.”

“Baek, we have to get home.”

“Yes, I know.” He then grabbed Edith, forcing her to look at him. “You have to come with me right now.”

“Wh…”

“Just please trust me, I’ll explain later, but she will die and it’s not safe.”

“My husband.”

“As soon as we have you two safe, I’ll get him.” Neek said. “Now, come.”

She followed them, finding herself shocked all over again when they were suddenly boarding what looked like a space ship. She felt like she was on the verge of a mental break down. Her daughter was barely breathing and more frighteningly had been slowly bleeding for an unknown amount of time since she couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and answer her cellphone. Millions were already dead and this sickness hadn’t even started a full twnety four hours ago. Then on top of that someone actually tried to take her daughter away then shoot her when she refused. Her daughter could have been stolen from her and at the mercy of obviously heartless men. For all she knew millions were dead because they were killing the sick to attempt containing it.

Now, the father of the young man her daughter was dating looked like something off a scifi movie which had to mean Baek was whatever Neek was. Her head was reeling, did her daughter know? Once inside she saw Johana, the woman going just as pale with fear as Baek had when he took in Zatalia. “please tell me she’s still breathing: Johana said emotionally “she is but” Edith tried but her own tears choked her too much to talk “Follow me to the medical part of the ship Edith. We need to hurry, she’s drowning” He wanted to be more comforting but he didn’t have that kind of time, not where his sons girlfriend was concerned.

She followed Neek and his family to the medical part of the ship and laid her daughter where Neek asked. He soon grabbed his scanner explaining “I want to know fully what’s going on with her before I start trying to help to make sure I don’t make a mistake Edith” Neek scanned her then rushed to a drawer, pulling out a few things which had Ediths heart rate spiking even further. “what’re you doing?” she asked fearfully “I have to empty her lungs right now and this will be the most efficient way. I just need you to trust me right now. I promise to explain more but Zatalia doesn’t have time for me to stop and explain what I’m doing, please understand”

Edith nodded as she sobbed and Johana spoke to someone Edith hadn’t even realized was there “go make her something calming to drink. She’s getting too worked up” Johana held Edith, doing her best to comfort her. Suddenly she heard her daughter take a deep, sharp breath then was breathing normally when before you had to be incredibly close to her to even detect she was alive. “see, Neek is just helping her. You can trust my husband okay Edith” She wiped at her face “thank you so much” The man returned with a drink and Johana asked “Edith, please drink it.”

“what will it do to me?”

“It’s going to relax you”

“I need to tell my husband she’s breathing better now first”

“okay, do you have your phone” she pulled it out of her pocket “It’s almost dead..” she wondered just how long her husband had had to call her to get her up. “then use mine, keep my phone until this is all over so you can talk to him” Johana handed Edith her cellphone and allowed her to text her husband an update before she handed Edith the glass “drink it, you need to calm down. It’s not healthy to be this worked up”

“I just don’t understand what’s going on? Why is she sick? What is he?”

Johana guided her out of the med bay of the ship and into another room where she had her sit. “Neek is an alien, that’s the easiest way to explain it and he’s going to save Zatalia. Trust us okay?”

“Yeah, I just…I want my husband and I want her to get better. I’m so scared.”

“It’s okay, everything is going to be okay.”

Baek gently cleaned Zatalia’s skin as his father worked. The way she looked terrified him and he hated that he couldn’t find his usual calm. “Dad, I’m not going to lose her am I?”

“You know I will do everything I can, I’ll fight for her, I promise.”

“Why is this happening?”

“Someone could have released it or someone sick could have escaped from somewhere, it could be someone from another world.”

“What are we going to do?”

“First, I’m going to get her stable and then take samples from her. We also need to get Edith’s husband, then we can head over to Freg’s and check in with them.”

“do you think her parents are still going to be okay with us dating..” Neek sighed “They seem like good, understanding people, and in the worse case scenario you both are eighteen now and here that means they can’t stop her but hopefully there are no hard feelings. I am just grateful you told Zatalia when you did so when she wakes up you two will still be okay. I know Freg and I were probably annoying but you know what happened with Johanas parents, we didn’t want anything like that for you caused by waiting too long”

“Thank you for doing it…for making me swallow my fear and tell her before she found out by waking up on this ship. I should have sooner, she was going to tell her parents, I hope they believe that so they aren’t hurt by the fact she didn’t say anything…She just wanted her dad to be home first” They were tending to her as they spoke. Neek didn’t rest until he was sure she was in a stable state. For cautions sake he put a mask on Zatalia that would help her breath and had an IV of fluids going into her “I will collect my samples now son. I know it might be hard to leave her side but would you mind going to tell Lim that it’s time to search fro Zatalia’s father”

“yes sir”

“I wont leave her side until youre back”

Lim was already sitting in the pilot’s seat when Baek came in. He looked worried and jumped when Baek called his name. “Sorry, I was just so focused on what’s happening I didn’t hear you.”

“Dad wants you to find Zatalia’s father then we are to go to Freg’s.”

“Do you know where he is?”

“Zatalia said he’s in Washington.”

“Alright, I’ll just track her genetic sequence.”

“Thank you, we should hurry.”

“I will, go ahead and be with her, I can handle everything up here.”

“Thank you.” He hurried back to Zatalia, his heart breaking and how bad she looked. She was so pale, her veins were standing out dark beneath her skin. He took her hand in his, terrified of how cold she was and pressed his lips against her forehead. “Can we warm her up?”

“There are extra blankets in the heater.” Neek replied. “I’m going to examine all of this and contact my home world to see if they know anything. I’ll get your mother and hers to come in and change her into something clean.”

Baek nodded as he retrieved a couple more blankets and placed them over the one she already had then went back to holding her hand. “Please wake up, Zatalia, please wake up.”

Neek walked out, carefully carrying his samples. He didn’t want to have to take more from her than he had to in her state. His little girls saw him and started to run over but their brother Iseul who had been tasked with watching them for the moment lifted each in an arm, settling them on his hips. “dads busy okay, it’s really important”

“Thank you Iseul”

“I’ll try to get them to nap so I can be more useful”

“If you can’t don’t worry, you’re doing plenty keeping an eye on Tarryn and Arli. It’s not an easy task with them being only one” Iseul smiled, though there was little joy in it given the situation this world and Zatalia were in. Once Neek had done everything he could do with the samples at the moment he went to check on his wife and Edith “How’s Zatalia?” Edith asked right away. “alive…she’s still not awake yet and I don’t have enough results from the tests I’m running to say more but I have her breathing and I am going to keep her that way. No matter what it takes I’m going to keep her alive”

“Thank you…” Edith didn’t have any more tears in her, her eyes hurt too much. “You two should probably change her so she’s more comfortable when she wakes…theres…well” Edith nodded “okay but into what”

“My clothes, she isn’t that much smaller than me” Johana offered and Edith nodded “I’m going to contact my home planet then. Hopefully they will have insight”

Chapter Two

Baek was talking softly to Zatalia when their mother’s came in and his hugged him, trying to comfort him. “I just want her to wake up.”

“I know baby. Edith and I need to get her changed into something clean.”

“Do I have to leave? I mean, I could turn my back, but…”

“That’s fine, Baek.” Edith said. “I understand.”

“Thank you.” He turned his back, waiting as patiently as possible for them to change her and when they gave him the all clear, he was back at her side in an instant.

“Do you need anything sweetie?” Johana asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

“How about something to eat?”

“I’m not really hungry.”

“I’ll make you something easy, you need to keep something in your stomach.”

“Zatalia would want you too.” Edith said. “She wouldn’t want you neglecting your health.”

“Okay…for her” Johana began to walk out but Edith found herself paused, looking at how heartbroken he was, finding comfort in the fact Baek loved her daughter so much. He was an alien, apparently his whole family was. It was hard to grasp and a little startling once it sank in but looking at him sitting by her daughter, the obvious pain and worry in his expression, she felt happier than ever Zatalia chose Baek to be with. Edith felt when her husband found out he would feel the same. Edith hurried after Johana once she got out of her own head then asked on their way to the kitchen”May I ask what brought your family here? I need something to think about other than my daughter being so ill and my husband still not being with us”

“Neek is a researcher. His people value knowledge, it’s more precious to them than anything else so they send their kind to different worlds to study them. They are able to do that because they are shifters and in the most awesome way. They can shift into anything they have seen before. It enables them to study things without them knowing”

“You’re human though right?”

“Mostly, I have an alien way back in my line”

“so you met Neek on earth?”

“yeah, I didn’t know I wasn’t fully human before him. Can I ask a question?”

“Of course”

“How’re you feeling about our children being together? If that’s even crossed your mind now that you know about us”

“Baek loves my daughter…thats all a mother can ask for…her dad will feel the same” Johana felt relief, it had been scary to ask but if Zatalias mother was having doubts about the relationship now she wanted to have a chance to comfort her before it worried her son. Lim felt triumph when he found Zatalias father. He stopped the ship then ran to Neek “do you want me to take Edith to get him? He doesn’t know me so I’m sure we’ll need her”

“if you don’t mind, I’m waiting on another response” Lim found Johana and Edith, the later looking about ready to cry again. He was arguing with a police officer when they were approaching him which only added to Ediths fears. “Sir I am going to arrest you if you don’t turn around right now. The road is closed, I’m sorry about your daughter, I really am but they wouldn’t let you near her anyway”

“Holt” His head practically jerked “Edith” he ran over to them and the officer just seemed relied he was going away. “come on, we must hurry back on so we can get to Freg” Lim insisted and they rushed back to the ship.

“Wh…what’s going on?” Holt said as he turned in confused circles, taking in the interior of the ship. “Am I sick? Is this real?”

“It’s very real.” Edith said as she continued to pull him. “I’ll explain in a minute.”

“Where’s Zatalia?”

“Safe and alive, come on.”

Baek jumped when Zatalia’s parents came in, followed by his mother. Holt crossed over quickly, his eyes filling with tears as he looked down at his little girl. “Zatalia, sweetie.” He gently hugged her and Baek had to swallow down his own tears. “Please tell me she’s going to be okay.”

“Neek is working on it.” Johana said. “He’s fighting to find a way to stop this.”

“What’s going on?”

“Why don’t we go and get you something to eat and drink.” Johana said. “I know you can’t have even though of food while you were so worried.”

“But…Zatalia.”

“She’s safe with Baek, baby.” Edith said.

“I’ll also explain everything and you can come back here at any time.” Johana assured.

He reluctantly left with them. He wanted to help his little girl but at the same time he knew there wasn’t much he could do and he’d give anything for at least some answers about what was going on. Iseul, who was now in the room with his father was startled when Neek exclaimed his name suddenly “I need Lim right now, go get him, please, the ship can pilot itself to Fregs home” Iseul hoped whatever that letter back said and those supplies were the cure for Zatalia so he ran as fast as he could. Lim immedietly asked once he was in the room “what can I do?”

“do you remember when you were a teenager, the planet Efrars”

“Its that?”

“Yes, go get everything ready, I’ll be in there with Zatalia when I’m done making this” Lim ran out and Iseul asked “Is she going to be okay?”

“If I hurry son, she’s going to get worse and possibly soon. She’s surviving only the first part of it. It took so long with Efrars to figure out how to stop it we learned this has many stages. Their people survived this part easily, it was whats coming if I don’t help her soon enough that may take her. It must be harder on human bodies but this also explains why we’re fine, we’re immune, your mother is too. Not all species can carry it, for most in the galaxy it dies by contact”

“But it wipes out those it can infect”

“Yes but it was contained, Jean is looking into how it could have possibly gotten here”

“you think someone did this on purpose?”

“I dont know but let me work son. Maybe you can help Lim”

Edith and Holt jumped a little when Lim came running past them and Johana, his face a mask of seriousness that had them worried. They didn’t have time to call out to him to ask what was happening, but when Iseul came running after him Johana called to him and he skidded to a stop. “Any news?” She asked.

“Dad says he found out what it is, he’s going to save Zatalia, but he has to hurry. Sorry, but I have to help Lim.”

“Go on then baby.” He kissed his mother quickly on the cheek then continued after Lim.

“Oh thank god.” Holt said, his voice and body shaking as he hugged Edith. “She’s going to be okay.”

Baek sat in a chair he had pulled up to the side of the bed, his head resting next to the hand he held. His thumb stroked Zatalia’s wrist, hoping she knew he was there. He pressed a kiss to her fingers, feeling like crying. He felt so helpless, like he should be doing more for her, but this was all he had and he swore he was going to do something amazing for her when she was better. He hadn’t realized he had started to drift off until his father came into the room and he snapped up. “Dad? Anything?”

“Yes, but I have to work quickly.”

“Truly? She’s going to be alright?”

“Yes.”

He stood and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Did you hear that baby? You’re going to be alright, just hold on for a little while longer.”

Neek and Lim were still working on Zatalia when they reached Fregs home so she checked on their girls happy to see them sleeping peacfully. Just in case she ran into any trouble before she got inside she asked Iseul to come with her. He was just glad to have something else to do to help so he eagerly agreed and left with his mother, rushing over to the large house and running inside. The house appeared empty but Johana knew better, they wouldn’t have left with this going on. The only reason they had gone anywhere was because of Zatalia. As soon as they saw the news of what was happening to the humans none of them could sit easy not knowing how she and her parents were.

She rushed to a hidden hatch and knocked, smiling with relief when Freg opened it and hugged her “Johana, you’re okay”

“we’re all going to be okay, we’re immune. With the help of Neeks home world we know what we’re dealing with. He’s trying to save Zatalia now. By the time we got to them she was sick, her parents are okay though. You guys should get on our ship with us, you know it has plenty of room. The humans who govern this world are scared and not thinking at all with their hearts. They threatened to shoot Edith because she wouldn’t let them take her daughter away. We need to figure out what to do, especially if we’re going to give them the cure. When we explain things who knows how they’ll react”

Chapter Three

“I agree, just give us a moment to pack and then we’ll come with you.”

“Alright.”

Johana and Iseul helped where they could packing clothes and getting luggage out to the ship. They nearly ran into Lim coming back out again which surprised them. “Trucks are coming up here, I saw the lights and Neek told me to come get you.”

“Just give me a moment to lock down certain rooms.” Freg said as he took off. Everyone knew he had things in his home he refused to give up and he didn’t want the government knowing of his family until they needed too.

“Where’s my dad?” Johana asked when he came back and was loaded on the ship.

“Off planet, I let him take my ship. I sent him a message so he would know to stay away.”

“good” Johana felt relief rush through her for multiple reasons as they closed the ship. Her father was far away from any potential danger if the humans decided they were some sort of threat instead of a friendly group trying to help them and now everyone she loved was in the ship so they could flee themselves if they were forced into it. When Johana reached the medical bay Zatalia was just gasping for air, her face indicating she was in pain. Neek gave her something a little stronger for it then comforted “you’ll feel better soon okay. Try to breath normally, I know it feels like something is sitting on your chest but I promise you’re breathing just fine. It’s a mental side effect” She looked confused, almost panicked so Baek hugged her “it’s okay Zatalia, you’re going to be fine. My dad cured you and your parents are here”

“What are we going to do about delivering the cure to the rest of the world?” Johana asked her husband.

“We find noble people who won’t try to sell it and have them deliver it to everyone.”

“Is there going to be enough?”

Neek nodded. “My people are going to help manufacture the cure.”

“Thank goodness.”

“How long until Zatalia is back to normal?” Baek asked as he stroked her hair.

“We should see more improvement in half an hour.”

“I…feel…dizzy.” Zatalia managed to say.

“That’s the painkillers.” Neek explained.

“Do you think I could take her to my room where she’ll be more comfortable?” Baek asked.

Neek nodded. “Johana, would you take one of the oxygen machines into Baek’s room?”

“Of course.”

“And Baek, if she starts to vomit, make sure you turn her on her side and call for me if you feel she’s getting worse.”

“I will.”

Her parents had so many questions but they allowed Baek and Johana to walk away with her. Holt couldn’t help but ask “Neek, did she know you all weren’t human?”

“She hasn’t known long. It’s my understanding she was waiting until you got back from this last trip to talk to you two. If you’d allow me just a few more moments I will happily sit and answer any questions you have. That way when you get to talk to my son and your daughter all that will be left is simply talking about them”

“Thank you…you’re doing something important right now. I can wait” After Neek had done all he could for the moment he sat down with Zatalia’s parents and answered their every question about his species and his home world. They were still deep in discussion the next day when Zatalia was able to walk around. She seemed nervous as her parents hugged her but they assured her they were okay with everything and absolutely grateful to Baeks family for saving her life. They knew in their hearts they wouldn’t even have a daughter any longer if she wasn’t dating Baek. She would have died before they cure was distributed.

Baek was relieved when he finally had Zatalia settled in his room and she seemed to relax a little more when he was able to climb in next to her and hold her in his arms. Her breathing was still a little labored, but as he ran his fingers through her hair and rubbed her back, it started to even out. “How are you feeling?” He asked softly.

“Exhausted…nauseous.”

“Do you want me to get my dad?”

“No, just stay here, I’ll be alright.”

He held her a little tighter, a knot forming in his throat as he fought back his tears. “I thought I was going to lose you. I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

“Baek.”

“It would kill me, Zatalia. How could I go on without you? Fate was kind when it brought us together.”

“It’s okay, I’m okay.”

Baek calmed himself, feeling selfish that he was causing her to comfort him. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Rest, I won’t leave, okay?”

“Okay.”

The two were inseparable and spent most their time cuddled up in Baeks room until dinner one evening where Neek brought up “so we need to determine how this got to earth. I already have the people picked who will distribute the cure adn there will be enough tomorrow but if this was done on purpose who knows what will be released next being only someone not of this world could have brought it.” Lim spoke “I’ve been scanning along with a few of the other family members and we can’t find any alien life form we didn’t already know was here and all of their ships check out, I’m not sure what else we can do. Maybe someone made a visit where they werent supposed to and spores fell from such a passing ship into the earth somehow. The humans..most of them anyway have been destroying the earths protections for a long time now. This could all just be a terrible accident”

“true, I guess we’ll just have to hope it was. I’m still not prepared to leave earth. I want to be completely sure I have been everywhere there is to go and since we’ve discovered those portal systems, most of which can only be accessed to our belief on this planet I still have much to see and document. I’d like to write this off as a passing nightmare”

Neek helped Lim do more scans, looking for any signs of sickness or reports of a missing person. If an alien became sick, he or she may have gone into hiding in hopes of not spreading it. While they did that, Johana vaccinated Holt and Edith. Baek fussed over Zatalia unless he was needed for something else, but the moment he finished, he was back to her side. She was still recovering and he didn’t want her straining herself. “Do you think we’ll be able to stay here?” Zatalia asked.

“I don’t know, especially after my father gives the cure to everyone. We may even be blamed for this disease.”

“But that’s stupid.”

“I know. If…If we have to leave, will you come with me? I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you?”

She didn’t hesitate for even a second “Of course I would Baek. I love you, I can’t live without you. No matter where you and your family go I want to go too” He hugged her, just those words meant so much but the fact she hadn’t paused for even a moment before saying them meant so much more. “If we have to go I’m sorry that means you wont be going to college..you’ve been so excited about it”

“i wont be sad about that. I mean, your dad will probably be assigned to study a different planet. I’ll get to spend my entire life with you studying different places. He was on earth so long I imagine I’ll only live long enough for the next assignment but that’s exciting to me Baek. Much better than living an ordinary human life”

Baek held her a little tighter, letting his lips brush the top of her head. A normal human life. He had very nearly forgotten that. She had a much shorter lifespan than he did. “You know I love you, right?”

“Yeah, are you alright?”

“Just relieved.” He wouldn’t discuss his worries with her right now. She needed rest, not to worry about him.

Lim jumped a little at the alert sound coming from the ship and moved closer to the screen as Neek enhanced the image of the location. “Are those spores?”

“Looks like it. Go let everyone know we’re going to land so you and I can check it out.” Lim nodded as he headed out to alert everyone and Neek grabbed a syringe full of the cure just in case the person who had spread it was still alive and not immune.

Baek and Zatalia were the last to be informed “do I need to come too?”

“No, you have her to comfort. Your father and I have this.” Lim looked at Zatalia “are you feeling okay? Do you need anything before we leave?”

“Baek has me covered, thank you” Lim hurried off, not knowing how to feel. “what do you think they’ll do if this was brought here on purpose Baek?”

“We have a small holding cell. If they did do this on purpose dad will probably take him back to our planet to let our leader decide.”

“where? I thought I had been everywhere”

“On my ship but dads is bigger than it appears, like that show you like so much”

“Dr who?”

“yeah, if you feel okay and really want to see it I can take you”

“I’d rather just cuddle”

Neek and Lim were surprised to find that the spores were much thicker than they had previously thought and seemed to be coming from a small shack hidden in the trees. “It’s quiet.” Lim said.

“It is.” Neek agreed as they moved closer to the shack and he tapped on the door. There was no answer and he slowly pushed the door open. “Hello? Is anyone in here?”

There was a shuffling sound and they both froze. “Who is it?” A voice asked, sounding shaky.

“We’ve come to help. The disease here has spread.”

“Wh…what? But…” The person who stepped out of the shadow was pale and sickly looking like they hadn’t eaten anything in awhile. Both Neek and Lim could smell sickness and knew he had been bleeding and vomiting. “I…I quarantined myself. I…I…” He doubled over as if he were in pain and his stomach tried emptying itself, but nothing came up. Lim caught him before he fell and hurt himself and the man tried shoving him away, but was too weak.

“How is he even still alive?” Lim asked.

“I don’t know.” Neek answered.

“Maybe his species bodies are better at fighting this than the humans or the first race that caught it”

“In any case help him lay down and I’ll give him the cure” Lim took the man to the nearby couch and laid him down so Neek could cure him. He looked so bad off they hoped it would work in time.”I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, you have to believe me. I got caught up between two waring space monsters and was flung into the quarantined planet.” The man sounded so weak, like it was near impossible for him to even speak “You can explain later” Neek tried and the man shook his head “No, just incase there isn’t a later I want you to know that when I got away one of the monsters caught me in it’s jaws. By the time it flicked my aircraft out of its teeth I was barreling towards here. I took shelter in this place, I’m sorry”

“It doesn’t sound like your fault”

Chapter Four

“I should…should have blown my ship up, I should have died.”

“Easy, it’s going to be alright.” Lim said. “Rest.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m really…sorry.” His weakness got the better of him and he closed his eyes. His breathing was so shallow, they had to assure themselves he was still alive. Lim lifted him over his shoulders.

“What do you want to do about this place?”

“I’ll come back and burn it down once the cure is distributed. I want a controlled burn that won’t take out the whole forest.”

“I’ll come back with you then when it’s time.”

“Let’s get him to the medical bay first, I want to monitor him. Hopefully with enough time, he’ll be back to the way he was before all this.”

“He’s going to keep blaming himself.”

“Then we will help him see it was all an accident.”

They hurried him to the ship and got him settled in the medical bay. Neek then hooked up IVs to make sure he got hydrated then put a similar mask he had put on Zatalia to make sure he got all the air he needed. Once he had done all he could for this poor stranger he called everyone into a meeting about the man. He wanted to be sure everyone knew the story before he woke so he wouldn’t have to go through the shame of explaining again. Not a soul on board blamed him but Neek had known before the meeting they wouldn’t. “can I ask a possibly stupid question?” The question was from Edith and it was Neek who responded “you are always welcome to ask questions.”

“If there’s nobody there for the disease to thrive on how is it still living. There’s no way to clean the planet”

“There were many attempts and if part of your concern is worrying over the earth being saved it can be. It took so long to figure out how to fight it it had largely taken over the planet. It was deep in it’s very soil. It hasn’t been on earth long. I know we can handle it. My leader is already sending people to as you might call it disinfect your earth”

“what’re you going to do if your help isn’t welcome.”

“If they blame us?”

“Yeah”

“Hopefully we can work it out but if we have to leave we will”

“what does that mean for my daughter and your son”

“You two and Zatalia are welcome to come with us. I’d rather die than ever leave my wife and I wouldn’t expect my son to leave the woman he loves but you two don’t have to think on that for now. The cure should be waiting, I’ll go retireve it and make sure it gets in the right hands”

The men and women Neek had chosen were startled when he came to them and even more so when he revealed the fact he was an alien. They were surprised he willingly gave them the vaccine they needed and couldn’t even speak when he left. “Do you think they’ll tell anyone?” Johana asked.

Neek shrugged. “Maybe after, when everyone is cured and vaccinated.”

“What now?”

“Now we wait. I am sure Jean will be contacting this world’s leaders to let them know what’s going on.”

“Do you think they’ll ever recover?”

He pulled her into his arms at her obvious worry. “Of course, I have learned that the human race can be quite resilient and it could have been much worse.”

They all waited, some of them nervously as Neek’s people arrived and hoped that they wouldn’t be greeted with hostility. Neek had found that sometimes in a crisis, humans would see anything strange as dangerous and he was ready to flee with his loved ones should things take a turn for the worst.

Thankfully all went well, they were welcomed and actually thanked instead of blamed. They weren’t so ready to accept the being that brought the disease but Neek promised he would take him to his home planet personally. The humans and their leaders weren’t happy about it but they were so grateful they didn’t give Neek trouble about taking the healing man named Berbeoka home. “sir” Berbeoka said as they were flying back “Please call me Neek” He urged yet again “I feel I have something else to apologize for”

“What is it?”

“Your kind likes to study planets in secret…I’ve blown your cover”

“Oh, thats alright, I mostly am still at this planet because there are so many portals to other worlds on it. They will know nothing so it’s all good”

“really”

“Yes, its amazing. They have the most of any I’ve ever seen and as far as we know they are only linked to earth”

“I’m glad I didn’t cause you trouble then…well…any more trouble”

“Nothing was your fault. I’m glad you didn’t kill yourself, your family, I’m sure, will be happy you didn’t either”

“I still can’t stop thinking about it though…my life cost the humans so many…”

“It’s unfortunate what happened but will never be your fault”

“Yeah” Zatalia said, surprising both of them that she was in the room “Oh…Za…Zatalia” she seemed to make him especially nervous since he knew he had gotten her sick too. She took his hand “I meant it when I said I forgive you.” He teared up a little bit and she said “come, hangout with my boyfriend and I while we travel”

When they arrived at Berbeoka’s home world there were so many relieved to see him back alive and well, it touched all their hearts aboard the ship. “keep in touch okay” Johana said as they began to return to their ship “I will, thank you, thank you so much”

“Yes, thank you” a woman who seemed like she could be his mother said gratefully. Over dinner that evening Neek said “so Edith and Holt, now that you’re aware of what I do on earth I was wondering if you two would like to start traveling with us, when we go to other worlds within your world. I can see to it you wont lose your home and even without a job I promise to show you ways in other worlds that you can still be taken care of. Baek hardly comes because Zatalia can’t come but maybe we could all go together”

We’d love too.” Holt said. “I mean if our little girl is going to be with Baek then we should experience all of this.”

“It’s still all a little confusing, but we’ll do anything to make Zatalia happy.”

“You two really mean it?” Zatalia asked.

“Of course baby, especially after everything that’s happened.” Holt replied. “And if anything happens that makes it so we can’t go home, then we’ll gladly relocate.”

“Thank you.” Baek said. “I know she’ll be happier with you here.” They talked more about Neek and Johana’s people, the former telling stories about some of the planets he had explored and the wonderful events he had witnessed. The more he talked, the more at ease and eager they seemed about space exploration. He would take them anywhere and if they had the patience, he would show them how to pilot his ship.

As the evening came to a close Baek spoke to Zatalia “why don’t you head on to bed so I can talk to my dad”

“alright” she kissed his cheek then expressed “I love you so much Baek”

“I love you too Zatalia” He pulled her close, giving her a deep kiss then letting her go. He pulled his dad to the side and asked “so that thing we talked about when I was a kid, figuring out how to make humans like us…did you ever finish that. I know we started but…I never want to lose Zatalia…she’s irreplaceable.”

“I was simply waiting for you to ask. Let everyone rest for now, tomorrow we’ll talk to them about living forever” Baek hugged his father “Thank you so much, you’re the best dad”

“and I couldn’t ask for a better family Baek” He hurried back to Zatalia, nestling happily into her in their room. Everyone but Neek, Lim and Johana slept late that night, only waking the next day when they were promised food. Neek went ahead and brought it up during breakfast, knowing how eager his son must be. Holt was the first to say anything once Neek was done explaining “will it hurt”

“Thankfully it wont, I’ve found in most things it does when species change but the one person whom I did it with successfully didn’t feel any pain at all. They said their stomach felt like it dropped about a hundred feet but they were fine” Holt looked at his daughter “do you want this baby?”

“Yes” No hesitation yet again. Baek held her hand tightly, wanting to kiss her. “Then we’ll do it” They are, waited a few hours then began the process, starting with Zatalia then changing both her parents. Zatalia remarked “huh, I really don’t feel any different”

“but it worked right dad”

“It did, you have her forever now son” Baek nearly cried as he held her and she smiled “I’m the luckiest girl in the world Baek” she whispered to him, causing him to hold her even tighter. It felt like everything was perfect once more. The earth was recovering, they’d be traveling together and now he could truly be with Zatalia until the end of time.

~ The End

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