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  • Kendra Lisum

4/5/24 "An Embryo"

The embryo rotated slightly, suspended in the yellow liquid, its umbilical cord dangling down to a port at the bottom of the container. The light in the warehouse shifted as outside a cloud drew over the sun. The shadows stretching from the abandoned machinery lengthened. 

Jayden knew she'd have to be quick. She put a hand on the glass. The embryo stirred slightly. Did it recognize another ethersworn? 

A prickle on the edges of her consciousness. She pivoted, hand going to her cupretta. The warehouse had been abandoned for years, the Mantors operation eroded first from the inside and then raided by the authorities once it became clear what they were doing here. 

But that didn't mean they'd left the place unsurveyed. 

Heart pounding, she squinted into the shadows. The only thing that moved were the dust mites suspended in the ray of light filtering through the window as the clouds parted once again.

She turned back to the embryo. The yellowish liquid burbled slightly as the generative box below it did its thing, as it had done for twelve years, keeping the embryo alive.

Twelve years suspended in time, alone, its only companion the generative box itself.

Jaden's heart went out to the little one.

She reached into her pack and drew out the travel-gen box. A mini version of the generative box made specifically for this mission. She pressed  the button on its side, its own motor powering up with a soft whirr. 

“Time to go buddy,” she said. The embryo kicked a tiny leg as Jayden reached behind its box to search for the power switch. She found it: a smooth indentation in the plastic. 

Here we go. She took a deep breath and pressed the button. The generative box powered down with a soft groaned and clicked several times before settling into silence. 

“Okay,” she whispered, steeling herself. She opened the front of the gen box, revealing its inner machinery. She found the tube that attached to the embryo’s umbilical cord and yanked it. It came off easier than she expected. Thumb over its opening, she reached into her pocket and took the clip. She clipped its end shut. 

That’s done. She breathed a sigh of relief.

With both hands against the glass, she lifted the glass container. The embryo shifted from side to side in the liquid, its tiny features showing slight signs of stress.

“Just a second, buddy. Only a second,” she cooed as she lifted the jar high overhead to draw the tube free of the generative box. “There we go.” She guided the container over the travel-gen, positioned the tube over its opening and lowered it. 

This would’ve been so much easier with Candon. Ignoring the rush of grief, she re-focussed, guiding the tube into the opening. Sensing it, the hole closed around the tube, sealing it. 

The engine of the travel-gen whirred stronger now, sensing the lack of oxygen in the glass container and working to fill it once again.

As Jayden twisted the container into place, she noted with satisfaction that the embryo’s distress faded as its home once again filled with oxygen.

With the hardest part over, Jayden let herself relax. She sighed. 

We did it Candon.

She slid out of her backpack and set the travel-gen and its container inside. She zipped it closed. Carefully, she lifted the pack to her back and turned to leave.

And that's when the first bullet struck. It hit her just above the hip. She cried out and nearly dropped to the floor but caught herself at the last minute. A jolt like that could dislodge the container from the travel-gen. 

Then her etheran took over, filling her with a sense of peace and a clarity of mind that sanserans only dreamed of having. 

She drew her gun at the same time that she picked up the presence of three men, tucked behind the machinery near the front of the warehouse. By the feeling like the slime on her skin, they were Mantors. 

Protect the little one. The thought spurred action and she dove behind the now-defunct generative box as another bullet whistle far too close.

“Don't be scared,” she whispered to the embryo.

I could really use you right now, Candon. She checked her cupretta. They were fine guns, made of the best copper alloy one could buy. They'd been Candon’s–he’d stolen them from some snooty aristocrat. 

“When would he ever need them?” he’d said with a smirk when he first showed her the guns. When Candon had been shot, Jayden took them. He would’ve wanted her to have them. 

“By the gens,” a man’s voice called out, followed by a hail of bullets. 

Jayden peered over the edge and fired. True to aim, one of the Mantors cried out. She looked behind her for a way out. She could duck and weave through the equipment and pray no bullets found her…or the embryo. It was her only chance. 

Taking a deep breath, she went for it. She ducked and weaved, sending a volley of bullets over her shoulder as she went. 

The Mantors returned fire and it was only her etheran that kept her one second ahead of bullets. Even so, several grazed her skin, tearing flesh but ultimately bouncing off. 

She reached the back door of the warehouse and threw her weight against its metal handle. It didn't budge. She smashed into it. Locked.

The two remaining Mantors drew closer, running between the machinery, firing shots. 

Jayden fired three shots at the door’s lock. It swung open at the force and she dove outside. The clouds had once again swallowed the sun and the sudden chill was like a slap. She shouted for Arturo and ran down the alley. She reached the road just as the aeroney bounced into view, Arturo at the helm. He flung open the door.

Jayden ducked out the backpack and tossed it to him. She turned, intending to give the Mantors one last flurry of bullets. 

But she hadn't expected them to be so fast. 

The tall one burst from the doors, aimed and fired. Her etheran, distracted by getting the embryo to safety, desensitized to the threat coming from behind. The bullet caught her in the chest. She fell backwards hitting the aeroney.

“Go!” she cried. “Go!” 

Arturo, eyes wide, face pale, whipped the carriage into motion. 

Her life force fading, Jayden dropped to her knees as the aeroney turned the corner, carrying the embryo to safety. 

The Mantors’ heavy footsteps drew closer. 

She closed her eyes and let her etheran fade.


 

What the hell was that? 👆

That's a prompt I used to get the creative juices flowing. Sometimes the prompts come out as snippets of stories and sometimes they come out more fully-formed and eventually lead to short stories or books.


If you liked it and want to read more of my stuff, you can get a free short story at https://free.klwriting.com/

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