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The Observer by Tucker Spolter 

Chapter 1

“And we’ll remember you. We love you. Krista, you’ll always be part of my thoughts. Of everyone’s thoughts. If anyone can solve the mystery of the Tineke virus . . . I know you can. I wish you the best in your quest for a solution. I won’t say goodbye. Till the next time. 

     Krista pressed the disconnect and looked to the shuttle door. ‘I’m an observer. I have an entire world to explore and a shuttle and some new friends to help me.’ I know I can make a difference.’ 

     Krista looked out of the control room window. Hanar and Tyree hadn’t moved. They looked anxious. Krista waved. They returned the wave but seemed perplexed. 

     Krista wondered, ‘What are they concerned about? The people of Iuama are some of the most handsome men and women I’ve ever seen. Don’t know how much is true about the increased libido, but I’m differently feeling a bit randy,’ she laughed.

     Krista stood by the control room window, pointed to herself, and motioned that she would be joining Hanar and Tyree shortly. They returned a friendly wave. 

     ‘I need to get some of what I’ve learned recorded while it’s still fresh in my mind,’ she thought. ‘Then I need to take inventory of all the items that might —'    

     A long flash of white light poured through every portal of the shuttle and disappeared. Krista looked upward. Tears rolled down her cheek. ‘The Erebus is gone. They’re all gone. On their way home. . .’ She sighed. Collected herself. ‘No time for pity. Regrets. Get busy!' she admonished. “Back to your plan.”  

     After one final glance at the sky, Krista dropped into the pilot’s chair, activated the vis-screen and shuttle recorder. A pencil-thin mic extended from the top. Krista cleared her throat, “Observers Report. . .   Krista Aanya Tay title – Ob5-MD.  Star date  2554-092-2. Planet Iuama. Outer edge of the Perseus arm of the Milky Way.  

     “The following will be an account of recent and ongoing events of my sojourn on the out-world planet Iuama. This account may be opened by any senior member of The World’s Oversight Council using code translator beginning  R3#Tt9a*6^/z. 

     “Of my own volition, I stowed away on the Starship Erebus space shuttle B203 and landed on Iuama where I was drugged and – 'Wait a minute. how much do I really want to put in here,' she thought. . . Where I met Sagra Kalam. . . Who was originally introduced to Captain and crew as Sagra Kalam the fifth.   Sagra Kalam is not the fifth, but rather one of the original colonist and current leader of Iuama’s governing body – the Council of Equals – Mr. Kalam and his children related the following . . . 

     Upon arrival on Iuama the colonist believed they'd found Eden. Though a tropical paradise, they quickly discovered Iuama's biosphere brought with it strange, and what would first appear exciting series of biological oddities.


   [Observers side note 1]


     The following list is in no particular order of importance—I hope to learn more about each oddity. And look forward to discovering more about these people and their incredible world in the ensuing months. Cultures change over one hundred and fifty years. Even without a new generation to push it along [see comments below ] – words, music, and mores change and on Iuama have a chance to put all my years of study to use. Better yet – this is an incredible opportunity to add to my education. 

     Krista paused. Leaned back and began again. “According to Mr. Sagra Kalam, the first biological change that was immediately noticed upon arrival was a huge upswing in the populous’ libido. 


   [Observers side note 2]


     I suspect the leaders and citizens have had to make dramatic changes in mores and human relationships. An intriguing dilemma, I hope to learn more as I further integrate myself into Iuaman society.

     The second revelation came during my interview when I was asked to look at the assemblage in the great council hall. As a trained Observer I was embarrassed.  I'd failed to notice that none of the hundred plus gathered appeared to be older than forty. It was at that exact moment Mr. Sagra Kalam told me the people of Iuma were not – 


     A loud THUD and CLANG startled Krista out of her chair. Her heart raced as she looked out of the control room portal. 

     A boisterous crowd had grown around Hanar and Tyree and a small contingent stood next to the outer hull of the shuttle. One large man in sandals, shorts, and the odd blue head covering she'd seen earlier was wielding what appeared to be a rubber club. He glared up at Krista.

     “Who the hell is – ”

     The man WHACKED the side of the shuttle several times then pointed his club to the shuttle door.  

     Krista understood the gesture. She stiffened and glared right back at Blue Head, “Don’t know who you be, Mister, but I’ve been through a lot lately, and I don’t like being told what to do. I’ll come out when I am ready. And you are not getting inside this – ” 

     Blue Head whack the hull of the shuttle again. Two other folks in blue caps and   rubber clubs joined him. The THUDS drummed through the belly of the shuttle and control room. 

     ‘What the hell is going on?’ Krista thought.

     Suddenly, Hanar rushed to ‘Blue Head’ and seized his arm. The group of onlookers seemed to immediately take sides. 

     ‘Damn it – The Erebus’s takes off, and now I’m alone and under assault.’

      A rock SMACKED against the control room window.  Krista almost laughed.  'Your rock won't do much against acrylic-silica –'  A storm of rocks pelted the window.       

     “Who are these assholes?”

     Outside the shuttle Hanar wrested the club from ‘Blue Head.’ Tyree grabbed a second club from a blue capped woman and dragged her away by her hair. Sheepishly, Hanar held the club aloft for Krista to see and smiled. Though Krista couldn’t hear the voices outside, the posturing and watching Hanar and Tyree attempt to placate the mob was enough to make the decision.

     'I’m out of here.’ Krista sat back at the control panel and hit the automatic sequencer. The engine gyro kicked in with a low hum. Krista toggled the switch. The shuttle powered up.

     Blue Head’ Hanar, Tyree and the whole crowd disappear over a mound. ‘They think there’s going to be a rocket blast,’ Krista chuckled. ‘Of course, when a five hundred-ton amalgam of ceramic and plastic goes into gear people pay attention. 

     ‘Maybe a long life and increased libido aren't the only things going on in this Garden of Eden. Krista touched the anti-grav. The vehicle rose with a soft purr. From a far corner of the shuttle bay came a plaintiff MEOW.




     Krista directed the shuttle back toward Lakal. By some directive or common cause people had returned to the streets. Some pointed skyward as the shuttle passed. Others were oblivious continuing on their way crossing bridges, moving up and down avenues, and disappearing into the narrow rabbit warren of streets and alleyways. Twice Krista had to shield her eyes from the reflection of the Tineke glass city of Lakal. 

      From her down-world bag Krista retrieved her mother’s mem-cam present; attached it to one corner of the portal and pressed record. ‘Time to get to work Miss over-qualified Observer,’ she laughed.

     Krista used the Nuaka River as a guide. The further from Lakal the lower her cruising speed and altitude. Krista eased the shuttle west following the flow over a lush expanse of tropical forest. Gazbags and several other avian species darted in and out of the yellow-green canopy. On huge green fond-leaves basked some sort of brownish primate that was neither startled or disturbed by the approach and departure of the shuttle. Krista snapped several close-ups and made a mental note to study the creature in depth at some juncture. 

      Below the shuttle, the Nuaka disappeared over a wide cliff crowned by a rainbow of mist. Krista descended into a long, narrow valley of high mountains and jagged cliffs. The waters of the Nuaka raged over miles and miles of rapids vanishing again and again over series of magnificent waterfalls. ‘Starting to really like this place. ,’ she mused.  

     The shuttle zigged and zagged away from the river and over terrain that morphed from tropical rain forest into yellow hued desert far to the south. 

     Returning to the Nuaka River the shuttle was pelleted with hail-sized salt particles as it passed over a small mountain range. And for the first time Krista got a glimpse of the    ocean far head. 

     Nature hates a vacuum,’ Krista thought as she saw and recorded at least a dozen arboreal creatures including gazbags. She hovered the shuttle over a flock of huge bird-like creatures, at least twelve feet long, mostly iridescent tail plumage that flipped up and down, and side extensions that seemed to be doing the breath-stroke for forward motion. 


     Two hours later Krista reached the river delta which expanded north and south as far as she could see.  Far below were billowed colorful specs of color. ‘Fishing boats,’ she realized. “Oops.”  Krista gained altitude. “Don’t know when the thug in the Blue Cap or Hanar or Tyree will come calling? But sailors have good eyes. I have a feeling it’s best I stay incognito for a while. Don’t need the good folks below reporting where I went.” 

     Krista accelerated the shuttle south until the delta disappeared behind her and made a long arc over the ocean, then turned north and back to shore.

     For the most part, a verdant forest jungle edged the shore giving way to bluegrass and a kaleidoscope of sand. Mostly crimson. On several occasions, she hovered when shadows of different sizes appeared in the grass or jungle, but she was never quick enough to catch good visuals.  

     Over the ocean it was different. Each wave had thousands of miles to build and two moons to pull them. Until the floor of the ocean dropped to unimaginable depths, the water was clear. Turquoise. The huge waves were the playground and graveyard for a variety of sea creatures that bounded through, along, and over the crests. Krista saw a gull-like flyer pluck a gelatinous blob from the bowl of a wave. . . And seconds later a tentacled creature snatched the gull from the air. “Nature abhors a vacuum,” she repeated.    

     For several hundred miles the shuttle hugged the coast passing above two rivers that were fed by a distant range of mountains in the east. It was the third river, more of a stream, that caught Krista’s attention. She cruised inland until the stream vanished in vegetation and then turned back to the ocean following a smaller branch.  

     The stream wound its way through a field of amber grass and reeds to the top of a picturesque cove.  'Perfect place for a luxury hotel,' Krista grinned. 'Twelve foot waterfall dropping into a shallow pond.  Small stream meandering through a beach of crimson sand to turquoise ocean. One of those umbrella cocktails I have heard about.' Krista sighed.  'Well at least a swim and a real shower.' Krist goosed the shuttle into a wide loop out over the ocean and approached cove head-on.  

     She hovered. The right side of the cove was in shadows. Krista eased the shuttle forward. “Bingo!” she said aloud. The right side of the cove was covered by a large overhang of rocks and a high curtain of thick vegetation. ‘Perfect garage to park a shuttle,’ Krista laughed. ‘Then it is a swim, a shower, and lunch.’

     It took half an hour for Krista to jockey the vechile under the overhang of rock and through the curtain of vegetation. When she discovered how deep into the cliff the grotto went she said, “Not bad for a rookie shuttle pilot.”

     Minutes later, in the semi-dark of the grotto, Krista paused at the open door of the shuttle. She inhaled the salty air from the ocean and the more musky smell of the cavern itself. Her eyes roved through the shield of green vines and tiny lilac buds  to the ocean, the stream, and the small waterfall beyond. ‘Definitely a place for luxury hotel complete with room —‘

     “Meow” cried a familar calico cat rubbing its cheek against Krista’s ankle. 

     'Scared the –  !” Krista stumbled forward almost falling off the shuttle ramp. “Simba, where the hell did you come from?” Again, the cat mewed wrapping himself around Krista’s leg. “Poor thing you must be starving.” Krista bent to pick up the cat. Simba was having none of it. The cat bounded down the ramp. Looked back at Krista and disappeared into the vegetation bordering the cove. ‘That is not normal,’ Krista thought.’ Cat’s do not bound. They move slowly. Cautiously. Especially in a new environment. Does this planet affect everything?’

     Krista returned to the shuttle and carried selected gear back to the beach. A growling stomach encouraged her to open a food packet. She looked out over the ocean and bit into the cocoa-flavored energy bar. 'Going fishing after this. . . Time for some real food and that poor cat has to be hungry,’ she thought. ‘Simba's a survivor. Probably got bored with Erebus and decided to do some exploring— Can a cat decide?’

     Krista took a satisfied look at the small encampment she'd created.  ‘Time for a swim. Where the hell is my suit?. . Who needs a suit?” She laughed and headed for the ocean.

     Near the water, she piled her clothes, and naked, timed a dive into one of the smaller waves. ‘Hope there’s nothing in here that would like to munch on me.’ This time, there wasn't. Krista swam and body-surfed exalting in the tepid water and her freedom.

     On the beach she called several times for the cat, then lay naked in the sun using her dis-guarded clothes as mat and pillow. It may have been the sun. The ocean. Or just Iuama itself. Her thoughts turned to Dominic. Tall. Strong. Chocolate cream. His wonderful laugh. 

     Krista’s hand crept between her legs. The motion was familiar. The image was new. She was above. Dominic below. She pushed down on him again and again. Dominic dug his fingers into her buttock and pulled.  Her fingers circled. Dominic pulled. Encouraged. ‘Come for me. Come for me.’ The first rush was wonderful. Dominic’s face slowly vanished. Hangar was on top of her. She moaned in a drape of his long black hair. He thrust again and again. He smiled. White teeth glistened. He was beautiful. A shadow covered her face. Lips brushed her mouth. Female lips. The tip of a tongue teased. Pushed. Krista opened her mouth. The tongue entered. Explored. Washed. Teased. Nipples were bitten. Hanar thrust. Tyree nipped on Krista’s lip. Krista moaned in ecstasy.  

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