The boy, the third son of a respected chief, knew he was a disappointment to his father. On the brink of manhood, he desperately sought a vision.
The young woman, a renegade visionary from the future, was a survivor. Could she shape his world to match her vision? She couldn't do it alone. Could the boy be the one?
Others secretly watched, planned, and manipulated. Did either of them really control their own destiny
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The procession of vehicles crawled through St. Mary's Cemetery, following the freshly plowed single lane. One by one, the cars pulled to a stop, tires crunching the packed snow. In no hurry to join the others as they exited their cars, he pulled his stocking cap down to the top of his sunglasses and then pulled the hood of his parka over his cap. He took a quick look in the mirror, smiling at his pale cheeks and chin. His skin would be back to its normal tan color before he returned to New Mexico.
The clear blue sky and bright sun did not deceive him. The fifty people huddled together around the gravesite looked miserable. He hated the cold. Even New Mexico was slightly cooler than his native planet, but North Dakota in the winter was unbearable. As soon as he stepped out of his rental car, sub-zero gusts would blast him, so he waited until the priest announced that they would begin before joining the group.
Even though the deceased, Anita Evangelista-Schmidt, had not known him, he knew almost everything about her, her husband, Frederick, and their nine-year-old daughter, Naamah. Frederick had been killed in a car crash a year ago. The Highway Patrol had ruled it an accident, but he knew otherwise. Anita's death had also been ruled an accident, but again, he knew otherwise.
While priest spoke, he watched Naamah and the people surrounding her. Naamah. What an interesting human name. Pleasant one. Or… a demonic legendary creature, the mother of divination.
He knew almost everything about the fifteen humans huddled closest to Naamah. Naamah's grandmother, Dr. Maria Evangelista, stood on her right next to Naamah's cousin, Dr. Rebeka Lee Johnson. Dr. Larry Lieber stood on Naamah's left with his hand wrapped around her. Dr. Ben Lieber, his son, stood next to him. Ben's wife, son, and daughter stood behind them with the Carlson family. Next to the Carlsons stood Dr. Geoffrey Freeman, Dr. Miguel Rojas, Raul Martinez, and Joe Martinez.
This group had included eight, now six, of the top ten human experts in nanotechnology and genetics. Dr. Larry Lieber was the chairman of the second largest biotech company in the world. His son, Dr. Ben Lieber, was the CEO. Anita and Frederick had become board members six years ago when one of their companies had been acquired. Together, the Liebers and the Schmidts had held fifty-one percent of the company's stock. The Schmidt's stock would now be held in trust for their daughter. Mr. Carlson, Dr. Evangelista, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Freeman, and Dr. Rojas held another seven percent of the company's stock. Between them, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Freeman, and Dr. Rojas owned controlling interest in four more companies.
The Liebers were well known outside of academia. Dr. Freeman and Dr. Rojas were mainly known as the two eccentric professors who finished off the diamond cartel with their synthetic diamonds. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Evangelista kept very low profiles, even in academia, publishing only the most mundane of their work. He knew what humans outside of the group did not. Most of the breakthroughs made by the group over the past fifteen years were kept secret, even from others in their own companies.
All sixteen humans shared something else, genetic modifications. About eighty-seven percent of his DNA was the same as a typical human. Although it was against regulations, he had meddled with the genetics of eighty humans during his four millennia on Earth, mostly during the last century. Prior to the last century, he had limited the changes to less than ten thousand base pairs. Over several generations, he had introduced more than a million base pairs to some of the younger humans in this group. Naamah had more than three million.
Beyond this group, there were three others with genetic enhancements. One teenage male had almost two million base pairs. Naamah and the teenage male were the only humans who shared any of his shapeshifting DNA. While he was capable of significant physical change over a period of hours, it was extremely unlikely that either of them would manifest his ability. He did sometimes wonder if Naamah might be subconsciously drawing on these genetic enhancements to make tiny continuous changes over much longer periods of time, or maybe she was just exhibiting unusual human growth.
He had been almost certain until a year ago that neither other humans nor his enemies knew of his work. With Anita's death, he was no longer certain.
She and her husband had introduced their own genetic modifications into humans, including their own daughter. A shadowy group of right-wing religious zealots, opposed to any kind of genetic modifications in humans, was responsible for their deaths.
As you predicted, the cemetery is being observed.
Six human males. I can tie one of them to Lilith and Samael.
Four millennia ago, the Confederation of Planets had selected him as the lead advocate for humans, and he had chosen Sarai as his assistant. While this was her first assignment, he had been lead advocate twice before and an assistant advocate once before that. All three planets had been offered memberships in the Confederation. He was proud of his record, and he wanted to retire with one more success.
Lilith and her assistant, Samael, were prosecutors. This was only the second time that he had to deal with prosecutors. In the previous case, he had established a synergistic working relationship with them. However, in this case, Lilith and Samael had ignored all of his attempts at direct communications for nearly a millennium.
Historically, seventy-two worlds had been assigned advocates, but only eight had been assigned prosecutors. Three times, prosecutors had filed for an order to minimize a species. Twice, the Confederation had voted to minimize.
He didn't disagree that the humans were the most violent species since the Azazelites, and like the Azazelites, humans had an extremely high birth rate. The humans now numbered almost ten billion people, thirty percent more than the Azazelites had numbered when they began their conquests for more living space thirty millennia ago. They had conquered fourteen planets over two millennia before their empire collapsed during the final hundred standard years, even their home planet minimized.
Most Confederation planets had populations between fifty and three hundred million. Ganadn, his home planet, had the highest population in the Confederation; at just under a billion, it was spread across an area almost twice that of Earth. Lilith's home planet, Idumea, the first planet conquered by the Azazelites, had a current population of just over twenty million. During their subjugation by the Azazelites, the Idumean population had been reduced from fifty million to less than three million.
Lilith was the first and only prosecutor from Idumea. When she had been assigned as prosecutor two millennia ago, he had worried that the Idumean experience might bias her view of humans.
While advocates were permitted limited interaction with the natives, prosecutors were not. Unfortunately for the humans, Lilith was even more biased than he had expected. He knew she had been covertly manipulating humans, almost from the day of her arrival, but he couldn't prove it because Idumeans had the ability to hypnotize humans. Humans had no idea that what they thought were their own ideas were hypnotic suggestions from Lilith or Samael. He was certain that the religious zealots were among those influenced by Lilith.
Two millennia ago, less than one percent of humans were resistant to the Idumeans' hypnotic suggestions. Today, almost a quarter of humans were resistant, thanks to his initial genetic modifications. Just as he couldn't prove Lilith's manipulations, she couldn't prove that his manipulations hadn't been a random mutation that was inherited by many humans over the two millennia.
She had also been unable to prove the existence of the two time portals. The portals permitted travel back in time from any time in the future back to any time after the portal was built. She had come close to discovering the Chaco Canyon time portal nearly 800 years ago. After only three uses, he dismantled it, fearing that Lilith suspected its existence.
The other portal buried beneath Dr. Rebeka Lee Johnson's farm had never been used, and he was positive that Lilith didn't suspect its existence. He had hoped that he would never need to use it, but now, he wasn't sure.
The priest finished the short ceremony with the words, “May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.”
He watched Naamah, seeing through her calm exterior to her tortured soul as he said, “Amen.” He prayed silently, Adon, bless her, show mercy to her, immerse her in your love, and show her the path to peace.
He became aware that Naamah was studying him from across the gravesite. He looked directly at her, and gave her a small bow before retreating to his car. I wonder what Lilith would think if she knew that Naamah had a little Idumean DNA in her. He chuckled to himself.
Renegade World Book I