Chapter 3 – Identity
The act of staring at long, smoothly muscled legs tapering upward from deceptively delicate-seeming springheels and feet was accompanied by spikes of panic.
They were admirable legs, but where they joined, something was missing.
In the place where one might expect those organs, a mons pubis framed by hips forming a distinctive feminine curve remained despite all expectations.
A narrow, well-formed hand reached out and explored the small breasts that formed double arches above the ridged muscles of the abdomen.
The nipples were incredibly sensitive.
Darkness eclipsed the view as eyes closed tight.
Did the laws of geologic precedence that had served before fail as a logical anchor? Perhaps there were earlier memories that had now been excised. The notion brought on a dizziness that made the room swirl.
The memories of ShwydH’s birth had come before the memories of Riniana Tiana’s birth. The analogy of geologic precedence must logically guide, and a guide was needed before sanity failed.
But the control of this body had not come until the childhood memories of Riniana Tiana had been accessed. The knowledge of how to use this body was clearly tied up in those memories.
The awareness considered.
Memories had not been invaded. It was not what DuGwaedH had done to HumanaH. All the ShwydH memories were in place, so far as they went—ShwydH’s memories, poured into an empty brain. Then, after awareness was established, new memories had been added from Tiana’s childhood, and both were now housed in a nii branch body. HumanaH had told him enough for an idea of how the nii went about their longevity procedures—methods unlike the cannibalistic tactics of the niiaH who took over the bodies of their own offspring.
There was still the overwhelming question that needed an answer.
Who am I?
At least there was only one awareness.
That was a useful place to start.
Did one have an attachment to the ShwydH identity? Certainly more memories were collected there. The surprise, of failing to find a penis, attested to attachment to the identity. Perhaps the answer might lie in the memories.
One opened the eyes again and looked around.
In the dim chamber, the straight-lined shapes invited.
One might explore.
With caution, one put feet on the smooth rock, bracing on the elevated stone table. The smell of the rock suggested it might be limestone. Though the odor—filtered through different synapses—was odd. The Riniana Tiana memories, spanning only about seven years, held no formal study of geology, especially Earth geology.
After staggering, one quickly found balance and moved to the nearest object—it proved to be a shower stall. Though light was dim, one could make out writing, in HumanaH’s familiar style, that covered the glass door.
Clearly HumanaH thought one would be ShwydH, but one was not yet convinced.
… the water for the shower is plentiful and drinkable, but read the letter I left in the trunk before doing anything else.
An arrow drawn on the door pointed the way to another straight-lined shadow, lower and near the wall. One continued past the shower to the trunk and lifted its lid. The chamber filled with light. Somehow, a lighting system had activated. The entire chamber, a cave roughly spherical and twenty meters across, was now clearly visible.
An envelope labeled ‘Read First’ lay on top of the chest’s other contents. One took the envelope in hand and opened it easily. Riniana Tiana must have achieved very good small-motor dexterity at seven.
The letter was written on tough stone paper.
ShwydH, I am sure you have many questions, but I will only answer one at this time: I have not told anyone else about this.
For now, however, you have more immediate concerns. Your body needs sustenance right away, and you may be unable to sense how urgent the need may be. You need to follow these directions immediately.
At least 24 hours will have passed from when you first woke, and your body could soon have a dangerous reaction to its lack of fuel.
The shower is safe to drink from while you wash off the residue from the crèche. But, before eating anything, insert the gourd-shaped pod that hangs above the bench into the opening of your genitalia. The contents will be subsumed there automatically. After the contents drain in, move the pod deeper inside until it too is subsumed. Do this soon. Your life depends on it.
One put the letter down and looked back at the bench where the pod hung suspended from a lattice network above the body-sized opening at the lower end where one had rested.
The pod certainly seemed large to take inside oneself in the manner described.
One opened the shower door, stepped inside, and turned the handle. Needle-fine jets of water hammered one’s skin, making it tingle as the integument’s sensory net hydrated. A bar of soap in a wax paper wrapper rested in the soap dish. One opened the wrapper and tentatively soaped the female body. It felt as though one were taking liberties that made one want to ask pardon. One hardened one’s resolve and continued, even washing between the legs.
Besides, who could one ask? The childhood memories that had granted one the ability to move?
As water sluiced over skin into the dust-dry mouth and down the throat, one’s eyes strayed again to the spot above the bench where hung the enormous pod that one would have to deal with next.
Your life depends on it.
One turned off the water, opened the door and walked to the pod, leaving a trail of footprints puddling behind. Placing both hands beneath and on the pod, one pulled, testing the connection to the lattice. The gallon-sized pod popped free of the connection unexpectedly, settling in one’s grip and oozing a milky liquid from the narrower end.
Startled, one clutched the container, in fear it might fall, then settled it on the bench and climbed up to sit straddling it.
Your life depends on it.
It would certainly not do to endanger the body simply because of squeamishness, but the body reminded the ShwydH memories of Ayleana—the hands, the legs and all other visible parts were nearly identical—a person ShwydH had become more attached to than he would have ever admitted to himself when alone with only his own thoughts.
But now we are one.
ShwydH had been devastated when Ayleana’s gathering memories had given her the knowledge of what it meant for ShwydH to be niiaH. It had severed their brief friendship and left him with her disgust.
One focused on breathing for a few seconds. Though there was only one awareness, clearly one could be of two minds.
Spreading legs, one moved the tip of the pod, relying on the memories of a young Riniana Tiana’s early bodily explorations to find the path. Three drops fell onto the folds at the forking junction during the process.
The liquid lubricated the surface area with tingling warmth, distracting the ShwydH mind from the sensation of the pod’s invasion and delighting the young Riniana Tiana mind with the pleasure of subsuming THERE as the tip, about the size of two fingers together, slid home and the drops of the nectar became a warming trickle inside.
One carefully brought one’s legs together, brought one’s tail up to steady the pod, and balanced it between the thighs. Warmth from sublimation spread out from the center. A quiet well-being permeated the body, seeping into one’s divided mind as sleep fell.
One woke to ten more years of new memories from the Riniana Tiana mind and the resulting mental tools. One now had time sense awareness, which indicated that a little more than a day had passed since she’d fallen asleep. The lights of the chamber—still burning—added to the daylight filtering down from the panel above. The pod was gone. One had the dreamy recollection of one’s body somehow pulling the pod within by gradual stages as it dissolved.
The Riniana Tiana mind’s latest memories had ended with her sexual maturation threshold. One pondered the differences between the nii and niiaH cultures’ and the ways they structured that pivotal event and how the feedback loops from the emphasis placed on the methods of each culture had influenced their societies and resulted in two diverging races.
The nii guided females through a controlled awakening using moderation and meditation during the sexual joining that brought forth a nii female’s first experience with orgasm and the cascade of physical development it engendered.
The niiaH encouraged a more martial approach…
Feasting, Fucking and Fighting.
One felt a certain dark amusement at the alliteration of the English words that came to one’s mind.
The nii had become a cooperating race of mutualistic symbionts while the niiaH had evolved into a warrior-caste predator juggernaut bent on conquest.
The war between them had been inevitable.
One rose from the stone platform and moved to explore the containers in the chamber. Scattered across the top of the chest opened the day before were packets of dried, nii-compatible food. HumanaH’s scent lingered on them, recognizable even through one’s unfamiliar senses. One unwrapped a packet, ate it then stacked the rest to the side. The lower layers held four sealed packages of sturdy clothes in styles ShwydH had not seen since the late 1930s. The clothes were custom-tailored for one’s body and included skirts that would conceal tail and lower legs where the springheels would give away alien origin. Custom-made boots lay beneath the clothes in another sealed box.
The next layer revealed old financial documents—likely useless except perhaps outside the boundaries of the United States where currency still functioned. The five kilograms of gold coins would still be valuable, though heavy.
At the very bottom, ammunition containers held box after box of .45 caliber ACP ammunition and two 1911 semi-automatic pistols. Along with the pistols were two gun maintenance kits.
One would need to make sure the weapons were ready to operate as soon as the remaining containers were inventoried. The guns and a maintenance kit went on top of the crate before one moved to the standing wardrobe. An inspection of the wooden closet revealed: five sealed outfits hanging from hangers, two Browning Automatic Rifles with 20-round magazines and .30-06 ammunition in boxes on the floor. A mirror hung on the back of the door. One examined the face and body that held one’s awareness.
A young female nii—much less-muscular than HumanaH—confronted one. The face, not yet sculpted to blend with human norms, swirled with the deep brown and red stripes almost identical to the post-adolescent one in the Tiana memories. This was a beautiful young adult, no longer adolescent. Hands touched the face.
Had one willed that to happen?
Was that a sense of satisfaction?
One might need to work on making it a little more human though… as soon as Riniana’s memories of her body controls woke.
Mentally, one shrugged, a learned gesture from time with humans. The reflection’s shoulders twitched.
The mind/body connection tightens, but unconscious movements can display vulnerabilities and must stay under control.
As one closed the mirrored door, an object fell from the ledge, and one caught it reflexively. It was a fine-tipped marker with HumanaH’s scent on it … no doubt she had used it to write the message on the shower door. One opened the marker and applied the tip to the shower door below the message. The tip released fluid readily. Not much time had passed since HumanaH had been here. The date marked on the door below the message was another message. She had been here not long ago. Since there was no reason to imagine she would lie about the date, one would still be almost current on events outside.
One turned back to the guns. Current events required well-maintained weapons.