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Fantastic Children 2 Ch.23Chapter 23: UnforeseenDumas swore. He ought to have worn his bodysuit under the designer outfit, even if it did ruin the lines. Still, he was not a complete idiot. The bodysuit was in the escape pod. He made his way to the pod through the killing winds, away from the shelter of the station. The parka did little to shield his face or bare hands, and did nothing at all to protect his thinly clad legs, but he managed to get to the pod and activated the hatch control.A message flashed: Not Recognized. The hatch did not open.Somebody had coded a recognition lock on the escape pod.Dumas tried again and again to open the hatch, with the same result. Inside were shelter, protection, warmth and life. He was left out in the cold.The backs of his legs were numb and nerveless already where the wind was hitting them. His only hope of survival now was to get back to Sei station. He turned into the wind and it howled in
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.22Chapter 22: Cold ComfortDumas swore as he piloted the escape pod toward Sei Station. He had not realized until he entered the pod and started the engine that there were no scanner controls. But he thought leaving the pod and taking one of the hovercraft's utility vessels instead might make him look foolish and indecisive in front of the scientists.So he had made the truly foolish choice to take the pod. The storm and the snow blowing off the landmass made it difficult to see where the island was.But Dumas was not nearly as absorbed with the difficult flight as he was with the strange sensations in his own heart, an emotion creeping through him so unfamiliar that he had to wonder what it was.Is this what hope feels like?Dumas had spent his life being cursed by Georca and insulted by enemies and rivals. He had found it amusing at times, or used it to stoke his hatred and anger at the man who called himself Dumas's father.Nothing before had stung him like Mel's
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.21Chapter 21: Clearing SkiesPollux was gone.Castor fidgeted. He had spent the last few days under constant supervision, finishing his project and being displayed to all the visiting executives and dignitaries by Doctor Mellert. He had felt that something odd was going on with Pollux, but hadn't had the time or opportunity to analyze the situation. And now, where he usually felt the presence of his twin, there was a frightening void.Pollux was gone.Castor could feel him out there, somewhere, but far away, and
altered somehow. Could he be dead? Could Pollux actually have taken that final step that he had considered so often?Pollux had always been weak, too weak to survive. Castor had learned to be strong to protect both of them. Pollux had been soft, so Castor had turned his own heart to stone. Pollux had been timid, so Castor had become hostile. Pollux had been miserable, self-loathing and ridden with guilt. Castor had learned t
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.20Chapter 20: A Scattering RegatheredIf not for the shielding wall that protected the landing pad from the wind, it might have been dangerous or impossible to start the helicopter. Once the engine was running and the rotors safely whirring, it would be simple to fly, Cooks thought. The wind was blowing in the wrong direction, though: it might take more time to reach South America than he had planned on. Cooks had a friend in Chile. Hadn't seen him for years, but he was still pretty sure he'd be able to land his helicopter on the ranch quietly and depart from there with some forged identity papers. A cop always knew where to get forged papers. Of course, getting there was the tough part. Cook had a map of Brightwater's fuel dumps, and expected to have to make several stops."How far does this thing go on a tank of fuel?" he suddenly asked Pollux."I have no idea," Pollux said. "You're the pilot.""You're the genius. I just took a few
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.19Chapter 19: Daybreak"Wake up, Tarlant!"Soreto was pushing at his shoulder, calling his name urgently. Groggily, Tarlant opened his eyes and looked at her. There was something different. She was...smiling. He sat up and rubbed his eyes."You did it," he said. Above the sound of the wind he could hear the choppy, static-filled transmissions of the research stations, and a projected green field glowed above the control board, sparkling with bright flashes whenever snowflakes were driven by the wind past the aura of warm air the robots radiated."There's some tea for you, there," Soreto said, lifting her own mug. "It might still be warm. Belle brought it out. What did you do, threaten to feed her to the penguins?"If he had been Soreto, Tarlant wasn't sure he would have risked drinking anything Belle brought unexpectedly, but Soreto's mood seemed so much improved that he said nothing. He tried the tea. It was not exactly w
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.18Chapter 18 Falling DarknessAs the work on the Atalanta proceeded, Hasmodai felt himself less troubled by thoughts of the team and the mission. Random thoughts that brought his former colleagues to mind tended to provoke more anger and resentment than guilt. He remembered every rebuke, every act of disrespect, every time one of them had hurt him or failed him. Then, he let thoughts of them go completely. There was no room for those people in his life now.If Pirya had not been there, Hasmodai felt he would have loved the Atalanta with all his heart. The ship needed him as much as the woman did, and it was beautiful and full of potential. It offered him challenges that, unlike the challenges of the outside world, he was always capable of handling. He explored every room, he examined every system for possible enhancement, he even reassembled Poromet's generator, though only from curiosity, and with no intention of ever activating it.But in the presence of Pirya, Hasmodai felt
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.17Chapter 17: Alien"Yeah," said Belle. "Right."What did they think she was, stupid? Belle supposed that it might be a sign they were forgiving her that they would try to play this sort of prank, but seriously."It's the truth, Belle," Flo said. "Haven't you wondered at all? About the technology? About
""How about the spaceship?" Kalie asked. "And the robots?""Please." Belle rolled her eyes. "We didn't go into space, did we? And the robots are lame. In Japan, they have a robot now that can take you out on a date, order dinner, flirt with you, and kiss you goodnight. Your robots just do machine stuff. They can't even talk. Why don't you have super-powered androids, if you're really advanced aliens?""We don't make human simulacra on Greecia, for various reasons," said Flo. "Our robots are useful, practical utility machines. Surely some of the equipment you saw at the Rugen Institute""Well, yeah, but that's a science place.
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.16Chapter 16: Crossing LinesThe walrus didn't even look up as the pod silently flew by over its head."Sorry," Belle said miserably."It's fine. It's better to follow a hundred false leads than to risk missing that one time
"The scouting flight was going much better than Soreto had feared. Belle kept her eyes open and her mouth shut, for the most part. Now, when Soreto was dazzled and worn out from the glare of the sun on ice, Belle still was managing to pick out dark spots and movement.It wasn't her fault that all of those spots had been seals and walruses and oddly, tourists. Where had all the tourists come from so suddenly? Surely this was the wrong season.They passed over yet another enormous iceberg, both examining it closely. They flew on."I never want to see another penguin in my life," Belle announced.Soreto made an annoyed sound. "Helicopteragain!" She took the pod under water. For a frozen desert, Antarctica seemed to have a lot
Fantastic Children 2 Ch.15Chapter 15: Embraced by WaterPirya had awakened from suspended sleep many times before, but it had never been this blindingly, sickeningly awful. She collapsed to the deck, her legs too weak from the stasis to hold her, cold and wet with the remains of the preservation gel that still clung to her clothes and hair. Supporting herself on trembling arms, she struggled to cough up the slime that remained in her lungs.As she did, she felt the touch of a hand on her shoulder, and a voice speaking to her, frightened, earnest and repetitive. The accents and intonations were so strange that she didn't realize for some time that it was speaking in her own language, and the words it spoke over and over were, "I'm sorry
I am so sorry
"She turned her head for a look at the man, and suffered a jolt of fear. Through her blurry vision, she could see that his head reached little higher than where her knee would have been, had she been able to stand. He was one of the little Eart