WHO IS VELULI?
Veluli is a very strong female protagonist who was illegally abducted from a space colony for her ancestral gene to replicate foreign DNA and progress at an evolutionary pace. She was brought aboard a scientific space vessel along with other specimens for experimentation. Escape is futile in the middle of space. Experimentation led to a clone combining two species in order to produce a biological shield to be introduced into their clones. Veluli is that clone and has plans of her own: escape or revenge. She and her surrogate son Kai, a small creature called a Manga recruited rebels in the Block who share the same fate and are willing to join them. In return, Veluli and Kai introduce them a unique gaming ground for military training. Military exercises kept them focused, helping them forget a tormented existence.
WHY DID YOU WRITE VELULI?
If you have the knowledge to make drastic choices for the sake of freedom, what would you choose? The book is about breaking barriers and giving birth to new ones. Using chaos to produce opportunities. No matter how chaotic and dangerous life is aboard ship, benefits, improvisation, solidarity and opportunity go a long way towards that goal.
The life of a specimen on a scientific vessel can be frustrating and downright fatal unless there happens to be a Manga aboard endowed with very unique abilities to stave off boredom. Kai and his friend Veluli, who is now only discovering her own latent talents, plot to escape their fate at the hands of Nleverian scientists, but the odds keep stacking against them. For one, they live aboard a ship flying across the galaxy light years away from home. Second, your usefulness is as good as it gets and it’s off to the disposal chamber. Thirdly, the United Vessel Community of Intergalactic Scientists (UVCIGS) has a vested interest in the Nleverian DNA experimental outcomes performed on Veluli. Lastly, the owners discover her DNA tag and are out to reclaim their property.
READ THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS
1 THE NADIR
“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans. ”
A long line consisting of large, rectangular floating carts move quietly along a wide, white, spotlessly clean corridor. Two very tall scantily clothed humanoids accompany each cart. They are called Nlevers. The Nlevers have thickset and hairless bodies. One of them has skin of gray, the other rustic red. Their gaunt faces with deep-set eyes of brown give them a solemn and drab appearance. A tuft of wide strands of colourful hair protrudes from their head, animating the lackluster of their overall appearance. As the male Nlevers move along, strands of veil like hair flow like seaweed. The strands of hair color are a mixture of mauve, silver to pastel blue.
Two Nlevers accompany each cart. Not all Nlevers have red or gray coloured skin; some are brown and others are tan. But they all share the same hair texture and color. The floating carts they accompany are filled with various cages containing small to medium sized creatures. Other carts display freshly cut fish alongside rare and cooked meats. There are also various vegetables, fruits, grains and vitamin enhanced gels. Eventually, the first cart comes to a halt. The gray Nlever pulls out an electronic key card from his white top tunic pocket, and slides it down a black metal box. Seemingly out of nowhere, a very large white door slides from left to right and the entry is wide enough to accommodate the long train of food carts. Inside the room a pandemonium of sounds resonate. An expanse of seemingly endless rows of transparent cells appear housing various creatures collected throughout the galaxy for experimental purposes. The area is known as Block-13. The carts are split into four teams. The first team moves down the right corridor. The others split into three groups to distribute provisions for their inmates. Meals are placed into slots that open wide enough to slip and slide down the grub.
The walls on the right and left sides of Block-13 have fewer cells, but are much larger. Center row cells are more compact in size. The key-card holder and his companion break off from the team and pass down many empty cells and finally stop before two occupied cells facing each other. From the wall side, loud snapping jaws are heard. It sounded like metal grinding and it triggers a defensive pose from other imprisoned specimens within hearing distance. The jaws belong to a very long and very big creature slithering over to the food side of the transparent cell, anxiously awaiting its meal. Unnerved by the sound, the gray Nlever pulls out a screeching and wriggling small animal from a cage. He opens the food slot and drops the terrified creature down the shoot. The ferocious serpent-like creature plucks its meal with its incisors within seconds. The Nlever then opens another cage and repeats the previous motions. The rustic red Nlever on the other hand delivers two meal packs on the opposite side of the cart, dropping a vegetable container, bottled water and a vitamin gel tube. The Nlevers then move on to four other cells, and distribute dried meats and vegetables. Done, the two Nlevers return from whence they came. Many unusual species live in these transparent cells aboard the Nadir.
The Nadir is one of many research vessels across the galaxy. Unlike many other ships, the Nadir is uniquely operated by Nlevers. Other than the flight crew and military personnel, the research vessel is home to a large number of scientists who collect inter-galactic species for various types of experiments.
Their most prized possession is a Serka named Distrya—a colossal find in the advancement of science. Distrya has a unique ability: she emits a yellow luminescent glow from her body, which in essence is a protective biological shield enclosing her entire frame.
Distrya’s is a serpentine predator stretching approximately 3.9 meters long with a width one-third her length. She has a large head, a snout for a nose with a mouth housing T-Rex incisors. Nevertheless, she is quite beautiful due to her colourful scales. As she slithers and coils gracefully in her rather huge cell, the scales reflect light and like a kaleidoscope animate the room. The upper torso is equipped with hellishly long bat- like wings. During slumber, the wings wrap around her like a cocoon, veiling a dangerous sleeping beauty. When aroused, which does not happen often, the wings spread out the length of her body. Distrya is asexual, a singularity much appreciated by the scientists since two of her kind would prove fatal to their well being, not to mention the safety of the ship for that matter. Her shield blocks anyone and anything from harming her. Unfortunately for her, the shield drops once she becomes pregnant. Ironically, a Serka’s ovum cannot survive with the shield up. The biological shield can only be raised once the egg is hatched externally. The mother lowers its shield during feedings for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, and less if she senses danger. Being overly protective does have its downside especially in a cell fit for one. Long ago when she first gave birth, she had forgone a mother’s instinct in favour of sole occupancy, choosing to devour her pup when the shield had become overly crowded. It was a bloody mess.
Facing the Serka from across the hall is a female Earthling named Veluli, who enjoys watching the Serka’s coloured scales. The deep, bluish-burgundy and green scales refract light and shimmer across the glass-like surface of cell walls. Veluli is mesmerized by the reflections bouncing to and fro the serpent’s large green eyes. It is moments like these when the two specimens, unable to break eye contact, gaze into one another’s eyes for long periods of time, seemingly reading into the soul of the other. To Veluli, time is inconsequential: never being able to see the stars as the Nadir scours the Milky Way for unidentified species.
Veluli was abducted fifty years ago. She is tall, around 1.77 meters, well built with broad shoulders, and her most attractive features are her gold-coloured eyes and long black eyelashes. Salt and pepper hair reaching down to her ankles is her only sign of aging.
She lives in a cell across a large serpentine creature called a Serka. She is always fascinated by the huge creature’s coveting look: a meal so close, yet impossible to reach. Veluli named the Serka, Distrya because she saw her as the mother of destruction, and she could very well be, given that the field emanating from Distrya is indestructible so long as it glows. The iridescent yellow shield emerges whenever a crewmember observes her through the transparent wall, making it unfeasible to examine her physically.
All creatures big and small are caged in similar cells with amenities in the middle of the room. Privacy is not an option. The material used for the production of cells is a mixture of hard crystalline substance and unknown metals mined from uninhabited planets and asteroid belts. Unlike most cells, the one housing Distrya is reinforced quadrupled, in order to protect the crew from her uncanny speed of movement and bite. She is the oldest specimen on board, and all nearby specimens in her quadrant are surrogates for her newborns.
During pregnancy, Distrya is monitored for the purpose of extracting a large ovum the size of an ostrich egg from her womb during the first week of pregnancy. Distrya produces an egg approximately every five to ten years. The egg must be removed and implanted into a suitable host to keep it warm and damp for about ten days. The scientists monitor her protective shield for signs of dissipation. Of course, sedating the Serka is a humongous task in itself. It takes all day to knock her out cold for the procedure. The scientists sedate her by releasing huge dosages of gaseous narcotics through the feeding slot. Once unconscious, there is no guarantee she will remain inert for very long. During that time, a team of masked Nlevers attach specially made metal straps to restrain her should she awaken during the procedure. The ovum is extracted as quickly as possible and is injected into an awaiting surrogate.
Few surrogates survive the incubation period, and that is when an unwilling Veluli comes in. Surprisingly, Veluli surrogated thirty newborn aliens and ten of them were Serkas. Her first two attempts with serkan incubation tore her uterus and ovarian tubes apart due to premature hatching. Nleverian scientific technology repaired her via DNA grafting. It was thanks to all the victims before her that she survived at all. The deaths of her predecessors produced preventive measures for a more perfected incubation period. During the entire procedure, Veluli is strapped to an examining table to prevent her from attempting suicide. She is constantly monitored in order to retrieve the ready-to-hatch egg. When the egg vibrates within the womb, it is time to remove it from its host through caesarean section. Otherwise, the hatchling develops a voracious appetite, consuming anything the womb has to offer. Distrya’s offspring is extracted from its host within three minutes of the first vibration and taken to a lab environment for observation. When an offspring is taken away from its mother for more than twenty- four hours, the mother no longer recognizes its scent as family. Placing an offspring back with its mother is a death sentence.
A newborn develops a shield within two to three years from birth under parental supervision. Without parental guidance, it will not produce a shield. But there have been instances where a young, motherless Serka managed to produce a shield in self- defence on its home world. Baby Serkas are basically used for research. They are put through unimaginable tests for DNA manipulation. The objective is to discover how the biological shield is produced and to recreate it. Due to previous experiences resulting in the death of crew and mayhem aboard ship, the Commander of the Nadir decided it was much too dangerous to retain more than one adult Serka. Therefore after two years of research, the scientists are ordered to destroy a young Serka. Before that time, the young is dissected for detailed anatomic analysis. A young Serka hasn’t a chance in hell of surviving aboard the Nadir. Despite all their scientific advances, the Nlever scientists are unable to rid themselves of their adult pet, who mysteriously never seems to age.
2 THE NLEVERS
Today is buzzing with activity. The Nadir is about to be boarded by a replacement team of scientists and engineers. Every eight years, members of the scientific community rotate to other vessels to prevent personal attachment to their specimen. Information is shared, verified, catalogued and finally sent on to other ship laboratories. This is usually followed by a visit to a local planet or space station for refuelling along with a little R & R, and to replenish much needed supplies. Space stations also provide markets for the purchase of various species, as well as ship maintenance.
The Nadir runs on V-Crystals. Its components are found on uninhabited planets. Robots are programmed to excavate the crystals, which are then manufactured into E-cells on the surface of an inhospitable planet. This is done to avoid polluting the Nlevers’ home world. E-cells are then shipped to a space station. Once E-cells are processed into V-Crystals, they are activated in the core casing of the engineering V-Chamber of a ship. Exposure is lethal, therefore only inorganic entities are allowed in the V-Chamber.
The new in-coming chief engineer, named Nblarko arrives to replace old Ndokan, a brown Nlever. Nblarko is a rustic red colour female. Unlike Ndokan, she is known for the development of unique multitasking robots using nanotechnology. Robot size is irrelevant. Her various multi-arm robots perform synchronized arm movements, each performing a different task simultaneously. These robots are called lomots measuring 12.7 cm tall: thin, elegant to watch, and they are able to extend two arms 152 cm to attain hard to reach places. The lomots are also utilized for injecting nanobots into the reactor core casing. Nanobots can withstand extreme temperatures for short periods of time, thus making them quite practical to record physical changes in and around the reactor and for sending wireless signals instantaneously to the engineering mainframe computer. Their taller siblings, the lomots, retrieve the nanobots using small tube casings that attract the little bots. Once inside the tubes, the bots are injected into their home chambers in order to verify their status, such as decontamination, repairs and to recharge their minuscule bodies.
Another newbie boarding the Nadir is a brown named Nblangu, a famed neurologist and linguist. It is said that he is able to understand well over 2,000 languages. His droids are programmed to process over 10,000 languages. He was requested by the United Vessel Community of Intergalactic Scientists (UVCIGS) to work on this particular vessel for his expertise on migraines along with his cognitive research on neurologically enhanced beings and clones.
The Nadir is the only vessel uniquely manned by Nlevers for the purpose of conducting secret military research. Ironically, Nlevers are known for their tactful approach, peaceful observations and willingness to share technology with occupants of other planets belonging to the UVCIGS territories. Of course, selective discoveries are shared only when the scientists have successfully controlled every aspect of their work. The possibility to re-create a biological shield to protect spaceships and individuals is not only of great military significance, but of economical and medical purposes as well. It could provide Nlevers free reign on specimen collections throughout the galaxy, making them the number one distributor of specimen and precious minerals. Specimens are often sold or traded in exchange for V-Crystals and rare metals used in the fabrication of space vessels and medical equipment.
Unlike most scientists, Nbleeru and Ndili are permanent fixtures of the scientific team aboard the Nadir. Both are prolific DNA sculptures. Their work is crucial for prolonging life and enhancing the abilities of their subjects such as Veluli. Genetic engineers, Nbleeru and Ndili welcome the neurologist to their fold. Ndili, a gray female Nlever is the first to greet the renowned neurologist: “Bokut! Dr.
Nblangu, we look forward to
your research baka.”
“How kind Dr. Ndili. Bokut! You look well, and, as do you Dr. Nbleeru. But Nbleeru seems out of sorts and replies impatiently: “Please enough with the formalities. We are all scientists, titles and small talk are tedious, baka.”
“Hmm… quite right.” Looking a bit perplexed, he asks, “As to the patient, whom I am to treat, Veluli is it not?”
“Yes, replies Ndili. We are at a lost on how to treat her migraines. She is crucial to our surrogate program, baka.”
“Yes, and also a promising candidate for the Mogoto project, baka,” adds Nbleeru.
“I see, answers Nblangu, still looking a bit confused. “Were you able to replicate her?”
“Yes,” adds Ndili, “but their life spans were short-lived … quite inexplicable really”.
“How so,” asks Nblangu?
“Well, for one, Veluli’s clones died from massive strokes within days of their release. Her fellow humans cloned to adulthood with no problem, but eventually died from the same disease within five years. Quite perplexing, baka!”
Unable to temper his linguistic curiosity, Nblangu directs his next question at Ndili: “Excuse me, but I could not help but notice how you keep repeating “baka” when you end your sentences. What does this baka mean?”
“Oh, I beg your pardon, says Ndili. Veluli spoke a different language from the other earthlings, but was unwilling to share her language with us until recently. She started opening up with vocabulary from her ethnic background. The word baka is placed after a sentence expressing a complete thought. It’s very catchy really.”
“Huh… was all Nblangu could utter.
“Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.
The Nadir is equipped with a fitness block that includes a track surrounding an Olympic size swimming pool. On the outskirts of the pool are training equipment, weights, a boxing station, and pole station.
The door to the fitness block opens and in pops a gray Nlever towering over a mountain of hair. Nbleeru walks slowly with Veluli in tow, both are barefoot. Although Veluli scurries alongside him, she appears more like a child keeping up with a parent. Her very, very, long hair is braided mid-way and tied at three sections to keep it from obstructing her vision and hampering body movements. She is wearing a tight fitting red halter-top with tight red shorts. A bare- chested Nbleeru is wearing white Bermuda shorts. He stops and explains her exercise routine for the next two hours, and then sends her off jogging around the track. As she scampers off, Ndili unexpectedly arrives and joins Nbleeru at the pole station to do bench presses and pull-ups. Ndili is dressed in a white, loose-fitting halter- top covering a long chest with barely protruding breasts. She is wearing a pair of black fitted shorts that make her thighs appear much longer. Both scientists bare long, thick limbs. Their skin glistens from perspiration as they work out at the bench presses. Veluli finds Nlevers to be heavy looking, but not clumsy. If not for their wide shoulders, their huge limbs would appear too big for their torsos. Nlevers have great strength and endurance. There is nothing elegant about them except for their long tufts of soft flowing, veil-like and colourful hair. As air conditioners blow a cool gust into the room, their hair flows sideways, reminding Veluli of swaying palm leaves during a fresh, warm, summer breeze. Yet Nlevers do appear graceful when running swiftly around the track, as their lower limbs make each stride look effortless.
Ndili sits up on the bench and her eyes follow the red speck around the farthest turn. She tells Nbleeru, “Your specimen seems to be making good time.” Looking up midway from his squats, he too notices the red speck. The gym clothes he provides Veluli are brightly coloured so that he can locate her easily. Ndili adds, “Do you think she will resort to her devious ways”? Nbleeru ignores her question and grunts from his fiftieth squat.
Ndili decides to stretch before hitting the bars. By that time, Nbleeru stands and grabs a towel to wipe off perspiration. He stretches and afterwards moves on to the next station still watching Veluli jogging at an even pace. Looking at Ndili he says, “Let us hope Nblangu will be able to solve the cause of her blackouts. We cannot afford to lose this one—just when we’re so close to a working specimen.”
Ndili regards her colleague’s resolve, and adds, “Will you be able to cross DNA’s with one of our own soon?”
“What makes you think otherwise,” he grins ruefully?
“Why my dear Nbleeru, what are you hiding? How far have you reached? Is it anyone I know?”
Before he could answer, he catches a glimpse of flashing red. Veluli had already picked up great speed upon reaching the fifth circuit. As she completes the sixth round, she triples her last speed. She imagines the ecstasy of the wind rustling through her hair, saying to herself: I am a cheetah. I am swift. The grass flows beneath my stride. Ha, ha! My hair is off the ground.
Observing her incredible pace, Nbleeru stands up and clocks her speed. He then motions her to slow down a bit. She pretends not to notice and runs even faster. Letting out a long sigh of disgust, Ndili stops her pull-ups and takes matters into her own hands. She immediately presses a blue gem on a bracelet wrapped around her left wrist. At that very instant, Veluli halts and screams in pain.
Ndili shouts out angrily, “Veluli! How many times do we have to tell you to follow directions?” But Veluli is in too much pain to pay heed, and doubles over. A disappointed Nbleeru turns around and sees Ndili still pressing her bracelet. He tells her to please stop. Ndili reluctantly releases the neural control transmitter. Veluli sits motionless on the floor, dropping her hands from her ears and breathing heavily, she looks up seething at Ndili’s insensitivity. The scientists approach and hear a reproachful Veluli swearing under her breath, “What the dmuck was that for? You sick ngokem!” Nbleeru responds with a kick to the stomach. “Watch your tongue Veluli!”
Veluli laughs and responds, “Who are you kidding? You’re nothing more than a couple of violent, sexually depraved maniacs.” But Nbleeru is in no mood for her antics, kicking her a second time, he shouts, “Quiet, you insolent bot!” He then reaches down, grabbing her by the hair and pulls her upright. Standing in agony midway up his chest, she yells.
“AIEEE! Just how is pulling my hair going to quiet me down, BAKA!”
“Yeah, right! Like you guys want me docile. You really get off on torture! Scientists my dbokim!”
“Dmuck! Veluli, behave yourself. You know what happens when you run too fast. I do not want you passing out. Just follow the routine.”
“Dmuck! Aren’t you the least bit curious too? I’m dying to see how fast I can go.”
“Follow the dmack routine Veluli!” Still slightly sad at missing the last completed round. He clocked her speed at 140 km an hour. He was hoping for a good 200 thinking, why had Ndili come so early?
Ndili interrupts his thoughts, “Nbleeru, you have the most uncooperative specimen. You know, I can help you with obedience training.”
Veluli glares at Ndili and retorts, “So you’re saying that you would like to cut me up into little pieces and train the parts separately. I’ve always known you were a sadistic ngokem. But is there no limit to your knife wielding experiments, baka?”
Ndili’s large frame hovers over Veluli and she returns an even colder glare, “Nbleeru, when you have no further use for it, please be sure to send me a sample.” And with that, Nbleeru replies, “In due time my dear.”
Veluli laughs aloud, “Wow, a match made at the gates of Gehenna.”
Nbleeru knew what was coming next, so he tugs at her braid so violently the hair bands snap off. Still gripping a clump, he drags her across the track, and shoves her into the pool. “Swim around for an hour to cool off, DMACK!” Knowing Ndili all too well, it was best to execute the clocked run for another time. He could not have Ndili unnecessarily damaging his specimen over a spat.
Both scientists look on as Veluli swims the length of the pool in peace with hair uncluttered flowing loosely in her wake. Veluli found the water soothing, sensually uplifting; I am one with the element. She always enjoys being thrown into the pool and thinks to herself, Nbleeru is so easy to read.
Seeing her in the pool annoys Nbleeru. He knows how much she loves the water: it went against his principles on punishment. Nevertheless, it was moments like these when he could spend quality time with Ndili. Acts of violence thrills his lover. He looks forward to Ndili’s excitable responses to his acts of manhood. He was never sure if Ndili was jealous or extremely aggressive. Her impatience and aggression put her in an amorous mood for long periods of time. He knew she was his for the rest of the day. To think he spent years trying to impress her, trying to figure out what made her tick. All it took was a verbal war a between the two females. On that momentous occasion, Veluli was her usual self: docile and obedient, doing whatever exercise he had planned for her physical routine. Then Ndili interrupted the training with a crude remark aimed at Veluli, goading her into a verbal battle of profanities. But Veluli’s quick wit triumphed over Ndili’s limited comebacks. Angry, Ndili pressed her bracelet and laughed aloud as Veluli screamed from the pain. Nbleeru saw the excitement in Ndili’s eyes when he quickly but gently removed her finger from the bracelet. Ndili seemed more alive than she had ever been. When he told Veluli to jump into the pool, he observed how Ndili smiled, and hugged herself in delight. Nbleeru was not prepared for what happened next.
Lately however, Ndili is again showing signs of mental instability in regard to their specimens. The last neurologist, Dr. Ngo forced her to take a leave of absence for three months on the space station Glok, where she underwent treatment for psychoses. The physicians on Glok urged Dr. Ngo to release her from active duty at the next exchange of scientists. However Nbleeru pleaded endlessly with Dr. Ngo to wait until the one after. He needed her expertise a little longer. He promised to look after her, and should she show signs of regression, he would take matters into his own hands. Ngo, knowing he, himself was to be transferred at the exchange, sighed and said, “Nbleeru, we cannot lose any more of our clones to satisfy her excesses. She should be admitted to Naka Rehab to undergo cellular brain therapy.” But Nbleeru argues, saying the treatment causes memory lost. Ngo reassured Nbleeru that Ndili would regain her memories as she gradually becomes re-accustomed to her work. Nbleeru replies that could take a few years. Shaking his head and seeing his colleague’s resolve, he yields, “I cannot believe I am doing this”. Ngo reaches into his tunic and pulls out a silver coloured ring. “My dear friend, I want you to wear this ring at all times. I had the medical staff on Glok wire Ndili’s neural responses to this ring. Whenever she acts up, press this side with your left thumb. The signal will produce a lethargic response long enough to warrant sleep for hours.” Those were Ngo’s last words. Nbleeru has Ndili work out her aggressions as much as possible in the fitness block and in the bedchamber. At times, he went so far as incorporating mild sedatives in her drinking water so as to avoid overuse of the transmitter. They are so close in designing a perfected clone and he wanted to make sure Ndili holds it together for as long as it takes.
In the pool, Veluli holds her breath, and dives like an excited dolphin.