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Denizens: 35 - Metamorphosis

...Tom pointed at the sky. “You call that non-violent?”

Karen nodded. “Yes. This is not destruction we’re seeing. I believe we are witnessing a birth. Something has happened here, just as Jonathan said. Something awesome.”

They all turned to look at the sky again, wondering what it meant. Then Arnold made his way to the bridge and instructed the captain to set course for Guam. The Halsey pointed her bow away from the Technicolor sky, and headed for home...

As Brian William Neal's magnificent sci-fi novel moves towards its conclusion something epic is happening in the Pacific Ocean.

For earlier chapters of this great story please click on Denizens in the menu on this page.

Fifteen minutes before the twelve-hour deadline elapsed, Cal and Karen appeared on deck. They seemed, to any casual observer, to be very much in love, as if they had been for years. Arms around each other’s waists, they made their way to the bow of the ship, where they found the scientists. The lovers moved up beside Arnold and Tom and Jennifer, who were watching the horizon to the southwest. Arnold nodded a greeting, and Cal asked, “How long?”

The institute head checked his watch. “I make it about eight minutes.”

Tom, his arm around Jennifer, said, “Colonel, you obviously knew Professor Edge pretty well. Do either of you have any idea what’s going to happen?”

Cal shook his head. “No, none at all. We’re as much in the dark as you are. The first we knew of this was when we saw the hologram.”

They all stood at the ship’s rail watching the sea, and Arnold said, “Chances are we won’t see anything from this far away. The site of the alien ship is well over the horizon. It will have to be something awesome indeed for us to see it from here.”

Karen and Cal exchanged glances, and smiled. “It will be,” Karen said. “Bet on it,” added Cal.

They stood at the rail, and watched as the clock ticked down to zero hour. Tom looked at his watch. “I make it time. Any moment now, we should…”

Jennifer gripped his arm, and pointed. “Look!” she gasped. “What’s that?”

They all turned their binoculars on the distant horizon. An orange glow was beginning to spread into the blue of the sky, rapidly eclipsing the bright sunlight.

Klaxons whooped all over the ship and a voice over the p.a. system warned them to prepare for turbulence, but the small group at the bow remained where it was. If there was a wave approaching, and if it was of sufficient strength to swamp the ship, then running would accomplish nothing. They watched the glow spreading, outshining the sun so that they had to shield their eyes. Their fate was in the balance, and although Karen and Cal had faith in Jonathan, and knew they were safe, they wondered about the alien ship, and the beasts, Jonathan’s Denizens. What had happened to them?

The brightness spread, and the people on board the Halsey waited; for what, they did not know.


*

On board the alien craft, time had also ticked away. The huge, luminous creatures surrounded the ship, thousands of them, an enormous mass of silvery life forming a living cylinder the width of the lower trench, and a thousand feet deep.

Then the time elapsed, and the red glow of the ship began to brighten. The miraculous metal from an alien world pulsed with a life independent of the ship’s power, and the creatures drew nearer until those closest to it touched the hull. The red glow was immediately transferred to them; they, in turn, passed it to their fellows, and the chain reaction was begun. It spread rapidly, unstoppable, the power of the ship combining with the metallic content of the creatures’ bodies.

With a surge, the mighty metamorphosis was begun, and the incalculable power of the reaction engulfed the Denizens. This was their destiny, the reason for their extended existence on earth, for the extra life they otherwise never would have had. The water boiled, and the light grew in intensity as craft and creatures alike were consumed in a final titanic eruption of energy, and a gift from a world two millennia dead was bestowed upon the earth.

The people on the Halsey braced themselves for the tidal wave they were sure was approaching. All except the two astronauts were certain the forces that were being released would overwhelm the ship.

Suddenly the sea calmed, and Dennis Crafter raced to the bow from the control room where he had been monitoring the forces being released by the alien craft.

“There’s no wave!” he shouted, “nothing at all!”

The watchers stared unbelievingly, then burst into cheering. The glow still dominated the sky, and it was spreading; it looked as if the northern lights had come to the Western Pacific. Tom turned to Cal, and asked, “What do you make of that, colonel?”

Cal smiled. “Beats me. You guys are supposed to be the experts; you tell me.”

Jennifer said, “All the same, you don’t seem very surprised.”

They smiled again, and Karen said, “Let’s just say that we had faith that Jonathan wouldn’t allow us to come to any harm. Knowing him the way we did, we knew it would be something non-violent.”

Tom pointed at the sky. “You call that non-violent?”

Karen nodded. “Yes. This is not destruction we’re seeing. I believe we are witnessing a birth. Something has happened here, just as Jonathan said. Something awesome.”

They all turned to look at the sky again, wondering what it meant. Then Arnold made his way to the bridge and instructed the captain to set course for Guam. The Halsey pointed her bow away from the Technicolor sky, and headed for home.

A short time later, Cal and Karen stood at the stern with Tom and Jennifer. Karen slipped her arm around Cal’s waist and said, “So, it’s over. We’re home, safe, and it’s over.”

Cal pulled her gently against him. “Our part in it is, anyway. But for the rest, I don’t think so. Jonathan was right; something… majestic has happened here, I can feel it. I’m certain he had more in mind than just a light show. This isn’t over yet, not by a long way.”

The four of them continued to watch the sky; already, a friendship was being kindled between them that would last a lifetime. Together they watched the sky as the ship steamed away, leaving behind the deep, and the priceless treasure it held.


***

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