the tour of the cities, it took Trevor several minutes to adjust his thoughts. It had been quite an experience. One he never
dreamed possible. The clarity of the visions, unlike dreams, was amazing. He could remember every detail as well as every
word spoken. The tour must have taken several hours, as the sun was setting once more. There were still questions he wanted
answered, but most could wait for another time when he was rested.
are the Scuddar going to attack Earth?" he asked.
We don’t know. It may be soon or many of your months. They will attack when they have the need
to feed again. It took a long time to absorb our people. They…‘died’… slowly over a period similar
to ten of your years. We believe the Scuddar will not need to feed for some time yet.
answer Trevor received only created more questions.
way you said ‘they died slowly’ implied they are not actually dead," he said. "Are they dead or alive?"
They are living, but apart from a few thousand, they are no longer the same. They have become Scuddar.
The ones that have not yet become Scuddar have stronger resistance but they are getting fewer.
wondered how he would feel if only a few humans were left on his world. In spite of the ancient world wars, the human bond
was very strong. Earth was overcrowded and population controls were enforced but racial differences were a thing of the past.
Few humans had proper education to do any real work. That was why the clones were created. Robots, cybernetics and artificial
intelligence had failed miserably by lacking human elements.
do the Scuddar look like? What kind of bodies do they have? How big are they?"
They are invisible to us but we understand that they are like strands of gossamer. They float and drift
toward their victims. The largest is no longer than your hand. They adhere to
a victim’s head, usually at the nape of the neck. Once attached, nothing can remove them. Most individuals didn’t
even know the Scuddar had attached itself until it was too late. They couldn’t feel them settle.
imagined a cobweb probing through the back of his neck and into his brain. He shuddered at the thought. The voice and its
people expected him to destroy these creatures.
do they move?"
By willing themselves to be wherever they want. You could call it teleportation but it is more like
the way we travel through space, only without the use of spires.
had delayed asking his next question as long as he could, however, the desire to know was too strong. "What can I do to destroy
them? As far as I can see, the task of destroying the Scuddar is impossible.”
You need to enter the home of the Scuddar and destroy the nucleus. First, you must sleep and we will
release the powers you possess so that you can control them. We began the moment you arrived here. Your journey from the desert
to this spot was necessary for us to evaluate your endurance and abilities. Each time you were exhausted and slept, we enhanced
the powers you have.
that why the birds are always above my head?" Trevor needed to know what part the birds played. Again, he sensed the feeling
in the voice. This time it was amusement.
The birds are creatures of this planet. We discovered that their eyes are able to see the Scuddar clearly.
Through the birds eyes we can see them too. The birds are not intelligent creatures and therefore are of no use to the Scuddar.
We can control the birds.
the flies, thought Trevor. They had not bothered him since that first evening.
No. You were keeping those at bay. You have already begun to use your powers.
don’t understand. You can do all this and yet you can’t destroy the Scuddar. Why?”
Several reasons. We have no destructive powers. We cannot see or communicate with the Scuddar. They
are invisible to us and for some unknown reason; our minds cannot reach the Scuddar’s mind. Your people had no qualms
about destroying ‘dangerous’ enemies in the past and we believe you are capable of seeing the Scuddar as the birds
of this planet can. We also believe that you will be able to communicate with the Scuddar.
sun had set during Trevor’s conversation with the voice. The vision journey had tired him more than he realized.
Yes. You need sleep. You have visited fifty-two worlds and seen the ancient cities that once existed.
You have done well. Rest now.
lay down on the grass and closed his eyes. Although mentally tired, it was the first time he had laid down to sleep without
being physically exhausted. As before, sleep came swiftly.
* * *
first light of dawn was spreading across the sky when Trevor awoke with an inexplicable sense of danger. He sat up, allowing
his eyes adjust to the dim light, and looking around to see what danger he might be in. He hadn’t heard anything, only
an unusual feeling of impending peril, like a sixth sense. Seeing nothing that appeared to be dangerous, he stood up, peering
as far as the available light allowed.
hairs on the back of his head stood up as he recalled the voice saying the Scuddar were invisible. His hand reached for the
back of his neck, almost expecting to feel a web-like substance there. As far as he could tell, nothing had attached to him
and he breathed a sigh of relief, but the sense of danger remained.
slowly to the edge of the swamp to look in the direction of the Scuddar’s spacecraft. A dull red glow illuminated the
dome, slightly brighter at the center and becoming fainter at the extreme edges.
on the surface of the swamp caught his eye. He whirled around, crouching low in readiness for an attack. About ten feet away
the vegetation on the swamp rippled then erupted. A creature about five feet tall reared up, dripping slime, mud and vegetation
-- so much that he could not define its shape. He couldn’t discern any eyes but he knew it was staring at him. Its jaws
opened revealing awesome fangs, long, yellow canines with sharp pointed teeth between them. The creature had an upturned snout.
warning, it rushed at him at a surprising speed. He leaped backward instinctively. A low shrub caught his foot sending him
sprawling on his back and knocking his breathe out of him.
webbed foot stamped on his chest as the creature’s momentum carried it over Trevor. The mud and slime from its body
showering him as it passed over him. He sprang to his feet and spun around to face the beast again, crouching with arms and
fingers poised like a wrestler in readiness for another attack.
confused monster turned slowly, dropped on all fours and snarled. Now, Trevor saw its eyes. Yellow and wicked, they stared
viciously at him as it gathered its rear legs beneath its belly.
it attacked, springing forward, mouth wide and forward claws stretched open. Trevor waited until the last moment, and then
dived to one side. Trevor winced and groaned as a claw caught his shoulder, penetrated his tunic and tore his flesh.
time he got to his feet again, the beast was charging him again. Fear and anger flooded into Trevor’s mind. He was certain
he could not survive the fight without some weapon to defend himself. Once more, he waited until the monster was almost upon
him before diving to one side. As before, its momentum carried the creature forward, its claws missing him by an inch or two.
knowing how long he could keep avoiding the sharp claws and teeth, Trevor looked around for something to use as a weapon.
A fist sized rock lay nearby; he reached for it and rose to his feet, hurling the rock with all his strength at the beasts
head as it sprang at him again. He imagined it striking and the head disintegrating.
white flash almost blinded him for a split second as the rock hit. The beasts head exploded. Mud, slime and remains of the
creature’s head spattered Trevor. He jumped aside as the headless beast continued its rush and passed him before falling
heavily to the ground.
stood still, his heart racing at his narrow escape. He said a silent prayer of thanks that the voice and its people were watching
We didn’t save you. You saved yourself. Well done. You used your powers instinctively.
hardly believing his ears, looked up to the sky.
you set this up?" he demanded.
Of course not. We were as surprised as you were when it attacked. However, your powers saved you.
I didn’t do anything. I was scared it was going to kill me."
Auto-reaction. Self-preservation. Whatever you like to call it, it is a defence mechanism that is going
to help you when the time comes.
what do I do? Put myself in danger and throw rocks at every Scuddar that tries to attack me?"
It wasn’t the rock that killed the creature. It was something else that you did. You have other
powers beside that one. You will know how and when to use them.
walked over to the creature he had killed. The head was gone but the rest of its body remained intact. He prodded it with
his foot to make sure it was dead. For all he knew, its brain might be in its stomach or anywhere else in its body. It didn’t
move and looked quite dead.
his boot, Trevor scraped the slime and mud off the carcass. It had broad, muscular shoulders and strong arms that ended in
webbed hands with three clawed fingers and a small thumb. Its torso, comparatively slender and almost tubular, blended into
a tail about four feet long behind two short but powerful legs. Its feet were also webbed with thick claws. A mottled, greenish-gray
skin covered the carcass offering a perfect camouflage in the swamp.
stared at it with distaste and wondered what creatures it fed on. What other monsters lived in the swamp? His thoughts turned
to the owner of the voice and his people. The voice had said they were humanoid. Why did they never show themselves?
you have bodies now or are you like the Scuddar?" He remembered the voice said his people had a collective mind like the Scuddar.
Yes. We have bodies. We are assembled deep in an extinct volcano on this planet. Our physical appearance
is not too dissimilar to that of your people. Would you like to see us?
if it means being paralyzed again," Trevor said, shaking his head. He didn’t mind the tour of the worlds but didn’t
relish the thought of going through the numbing of his body and brain again too soon.
waited several minutes, his curiosity increasing as each second passed.
Look behind you.
spun around. Standing a few feet away were two people, a male and a female. Comparing them to his own height of six-two, Trevor
judged the male was about six feet tall. He was skinny by human standards. Wavy fair hair, almost honey blonde, fell to his
shoulders. His head, a little longer than the average human’s, sported a high brow. His eyes were a deep, deep blue
and apparently without pupils. A long thin nose that turned up at the end revealed he had three nostrils. He wore a thin,
very loose, pale blue blouse with wide sleeves drawn in just above his elbows and around his neck. The blouse hung over white,
closely fitted pants, which also covered his feet like shoes.
female was shorter, about five feet eight inches tall. Her hair, also fair and wavy, reached to her waist. She, too, was thin
by human standards but not as skinny as the male. The last two inches or so of her hair looked dyed green to match her blouse.
Her eyes, although still deep in color, were a lighter blue and much rounder than the male’s. She was similarly dressed
but her pale green blouse had strange patterns in various colors. Small, boyish breasts protruded when the breeze caused her
blouse to press against her.
am Neegon. This is Losin." The man smiled, revealing small white teeth. He seemed to have some difficulty in pronouncing his
I am Trevor Donegan." Trevor wondered whether he should bow or shake the man’s hand. He decided to do neither.
approached him and Losin followed.
know who you are, Trevor Donegan. I have been talking to you from the first. Losin has studied you and your mind since we
found you. She was the one who discovered the talents you have that gave us hope of destroying the Scuddar. You must forgive
my speech. I am not used to speaking your language. Thought transference is so much better."
noticed Losin seemed a little uneasy. Her eyes darted from his face to where the Scuddar were and back at regular intervals
as if fearing an attack. Then she looked at Neegon and he returned her gaze.
believes your powers are enhanced sufficiently. She also says our people that have become absorbed by the Scuddar are succumbing
more quickly now. She has just had contact with them."
looked into Trevor’s eyes and smiled.
are very grateful for your assistance," she said. Her voice was softer than Neegon’s. "We want you to know we appreciate
your help." She reached out and touched Trevor’s chin lightly with two fingers. Neegon did the same.
is our way of showing our appreciation," he explained. "Now we must return to the others. You are our friend and we want to
are our friend and we want to be yours," repeated Losin.
walked away for a few feet, and then turned to face Trevor. There was a sound like a cork being pulled out of a bottle and
of stickiness beneath his tunic, Trevor remembered the wound he had received from the beast’s claw. Gingerly, he lifted
the tunic to see how deep the wound was. It had stopped bleeding and the pain had gone.