by Nix Winter
All rights reserved
This was written from a writing prompt on the writing group I'm on. I think I could see Vin and Katheryn as a pair.
“Oi. No good will come of this. Mark my words, Chickie.” Vin said tiredly. He had no idea why he’d agreed to this. Being planetside was always a strain, even if it was needed sometimes, but watching an old mate’s new children was one of those things that always seemed like a better idea in the early hours than they did a few days later.
There were three kids, identical triplets with big dark brown eyes, faces like Shiva, and long black braids. Kira, Sira, and Tira, and as far as Vin felt in the moment, they might as well have been the triple incarnation of Kali.
“Oh it’s going to be fine,” Sira said sweetly, hands on her hips. She wore a sari with yellow flowers and bells around her ankles. For a thirteen year old human, she gave off a remarkable sense of authority. “It’s a very small portal.”
Vin, who was an exo-archeologist, which was how he’d met their mother. Their relationship had lasted for ten expeditions, a couple of interplanetary incidents, and outlasted a couple of side lovers who couldn’t keep up, had finally come to an unofficial end because Hellie wanted children and Vin just couldn’t see his way to making such an implied contract with an intelligence that didn’t exist until the contract was enacted. She’d tried endlessly to explain recombinant sexual reproduction and how it couldn’t possibly be immoral. He’d explained that his species had given that up several million years before he’d met her and he didn’t want anything to do with such a barbaric practice.
Yet here he was, standing watch as guardian to three small Hellie’s each with a different personality and slowly developing human brain. Hellie promised it would be an experience that would change his understanding of her species. She was almost always right.
Kira, who was dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt, replicas made out of a small picture book that she called a ‘comic’, laced her fingers behind the back of her head and grinned. “Besides, Father Vin,” she said, trying to blackmail him into being obligated to her as he’d at some point accepted Hellie’s proposal to mix their genetic material, “Your maths were so perfect.”
And gods, he thought about that concept for a moments, the concept of gods, as if there might be some external sentiomorphic being that would save his knickers from what the child had to be hinting at. “What have you done?”
“It wasn’t my fault,” Tira said, blushing bright enough to darken her caramel cheeks. “I said we shouldn't do it.”
The other two rolled their heads in perfect timing, the mirror image of each other, and Vin imagined their future... one police detective and two criminal masterminds. Great. Just great.
“So what is it you’ve done?”
“We might have expanded the portal... a little,” Sira said, fingers now laced behind the small of her back. “We wanted some artifacts from the Titanic.”
“And shifted the time target, just a bit,” Kira leaned her head back so those wicked little brown eyes were studying the ceiling. “Just to make sure it was in the water.. but not to ruined, you know?”
Vin growled in his own language, baring teeth that were several inches too long to be vestigial. He threw his hands up and shook them at the ceiling, imagining all his anger and frustration channeling up into the sky and beyond, fading away into peacefulness.
The tiny little portal snapped, crackling with sudden energy.
The girls jumped back, actual fear showing on their faces. Tira covered her mouth so she won’t scream, as a figure staggered through jumping and vibrating light.
Saltwater splashed, ionizing in the energy of the portal, filling the living room with a terrible acrid stink. The figure, shoulders slumped, head hanging, staggered a bit, then looked up and right at Vin.
The girls stared... whatever it was.. it was pale and nearly gray, bluish, especially its lips. Dark thick mass hung by it’s face, clung to puffy skin. Dark blue skin clung around it, hobbled it, like it was some kind of mutated octopus. Katheryn St. Mathews was not having a good day.
First there had been a decided lack of decent food that day and then the damn ship had sunk. She had heard screams coming from below decks and no one would explain exactly what those people were doing still below decks. She was a journalist, a lady journalist, but be that as it may, she had a dedication to the truth that demanded she investigate.
What she’d found was beyond what she could have imagined up until that point. She needed the keys! That much she remembered quite vividly and then there had been a heated argument with ship staff. Well, she hadn’t been having any of that nonsense! She’d found a solid steel crowbar and gone back. If anyone had gotten in her way, she was fully intent on doing then bodily harm. Those people needed to be freed!
Then the world had shifted, sliding and she remembered clinging to the crowbar as the most unimaginable cold had swallowed her. Down stairs, into water made of icey fire, and then just as suddenly she’d been walking, the ground firm and well, there she stood with a tall screaming demon. His skin was green as death, eyes like moonlight, and a nose like a cucumber, but it was the teeth as he growled at the sky, raging so much that the three young goddesses quaked in fear of him. He was a vile fellow, draped in purple cloth as thin as spider webbing and ears like the devil himself.
She found the strength to get her crowbar up with both hands.
The beautiful young girls, who were maybe sacrifices to this demon by some horrifically primitive culture, screamed more, hands covering their faces. The world was as it was, which was something Katheryn had always known. It didn’t matter what hell or heaven she’d gotten into, she would defend the weak with all her will. She drew her crowbar back, as if it were a baseball bat and ran at the monster, all her rage and frustration from the last moments of her life pushing her forward.
He looked down at the last minute, mouth open, teeth caught in a threatening snarl. She lowered her strike and took him hard in the side of the knee. He howled in rage and pain, screaming out some ancient occult spell at her as she brought the bar back to deal him a killing blow and rid the world of such a vile monster.
The girls tackled her as one, baring her over fairly easily, what with the nearly eighty pounds of wet velvet she wore. They kicked the weapon away and fairly sat on her as Vin continued to scream in a tongue no human mouth could manage.
Arms drawn beyond her and bound with the bright yellow cloth one of the girls had been wearing, another of them sat by her head, playing with a pendant of gold and silver, that glowed with a blue light. Then the girl began speaking in Gaelic.
“Do you speak English?” Kathryn said sternly.
The girl played with a few more jewels on her pendant and then tried, “Hello! My name’s Tira. That’s Sira and Kira. And the man you hurt is our kin father Vin. Are you human?”
“What on Earth kind of question is that? Of course, I’m human. It’s perfectly obvious to see that you and I are human. We’re not monsters.”
“Well, really,” Sira said, still sitting on her. “I rather thought you were a squid.”
Kira was holding Vin’s hand as he sat up and poked at his oddly bending knee. “Seriously! Humans are violent,” he said, sounding as if he were speaking perfectly decent English with a slightly Victorian accent. “How your lot evolved well enough to get off planet, I really must devote more time to studying. Sira. Get off of her. She’s not a squid and you might injure her further.”
“I wanna call mom,” Kira said, holding onto Vin’s arm. “Are you sure it’s not a squid? It came out of the water and it’s all... long and droopy.”
“I am not a squid!” Katheryn said, sitting up. A pool of cold Atlantic surrounded her, dark hair hanging in her face, lips still blue. “He looks more like a squid than I do!”
“Madam,” Vin said, slightly offended. “Have you ever seen a squid? I assure you, you do indeed look more like a squid than I.”
“Oh you’re in trouble,” Tira said haughtily. “He’s offended when he takes that tone.”
At that point medical services arrived. Accidents do happen, after all.