Canto Twenty-Seven – In the Bio-Dome
The delicate creature was four-legged and long-necked. It looked a lot like Bambi to Alden if Bambi had been a reptilian creature with hexagonal violet-colored scales all over it. It had large indigo eyes that made it look fawn-like and vulnerable.
“It is called a zhar-doe,” said Sizzahl sadly. She was standing next to Alden and Gracie with the creature in front of them. She reached out and stroked the side of its Bambi-like head fondly. “It is the last of its kind, and when it dies, its species will be extinct.”
“Is Zahr-Doe its name?” Gracie asked.
“It is the species. Why would you give it a name? When we had vast herds of them, they were a domesticated food animal.”
“Will you eat this one?” asked Alden. He still had his hands clamped over his private parts, but he reached out with his left hand to touch the thing’s velvety-soft ear. It was an exquisitely beautiful creature.
“Only if it is a last resort. It is too beautiful and precious to be butchered without great need.” Sizzahl was petting the creature tenderly. Hard to believe it didn’t have a name already.
“Is there no way the species can be saved?” asked Gracie, stroking the creatures neck with both hands. Alden had loved Gracie since the moment he had first met her, but now, looking at her standing in the Bio-dome’s artificial forest of dying trees and plants petting the Bambi-thing, he noticed how lovely she looked as a completely nude young girl in the middle of a browning pastoral setting. He was attracted to her in spite of the fact that her body was now a child’s body, but it was so much more than that. Gracie’s simple, loving concern for a gentle creature of another world… well, it was looking more directly at what he knew to be Gracie’s soul than he had ever done before.
“I have the cloning technology at my finger tips,” said Sizzahl. “This place was my parents’ attempt to save our natural world from the predations of the greedy and ruthless creatures that dominated our society. But, the question becomes, should we save the species by cloning it if we cannot feed it and the new creatures will only starve, suffer, and die?”
“We brought you the plants you needed, didn’t we?” Alden asked.
“You did. I thought being on the space station would protect those plants and I could bring them here to grow new food sources.”
“Is something wrong with the plants?” Alden shivered, not with the cold of being completely naked in an alien place, but with a sudden fear that he already knew the answer to the question.
“They are all blighted and dying. I asked he Tellerons to verify it with the instruments, but I’m nearly certain.” Sizzahl was actually crying. Alden saw tears in her snake’s eyes. It was difficult to comprehend a lizard-person crying, but the little-girl alien was so human-like as she was crying…
Gracie, bless her Iowegian heart, wrapped both her arms around Sizzahl and held her in a comforting hug.
“My goodness, girl,” Gracie said, “You are warm and soft to hug. You are more like us than the Tellerons are.”
“My people are warm-blooded just like yours. We are not really reptiles, you know. We are more saurian… like your birds or your dinosaurs on planet Earth.”
“How do you know so much about Earth?” asked Alden.
“Well, I am a genius among my kind. I have what you would call an I.Q. of about 195 in the terms of your science on Earth. Besides, the alien visitors that used to come to our world, like the Sylvani or the Zeta Reticulans have brought specimens of your people here for study and to perform certain special tasks that aided in their off-world agendas.”
“Earth people have been to your planet before?” asked Gracie, cuddling the lizard-girl close to her warm heart.
“Oh, yes, and I imagine some of our people have been taken to your world too. The governments of both our planets have been contacted long, long ago by space-faring races.”
“Really?” Alden was skeptical. Walter Cronkite and Bryant Gumbel never said anything about aliens contacting the government. “Why haven’t we been told about this?”
“Judging by your television broadcasts, I believe your government believes the average person is too stupid and easily upset to comprehend the truth. Our leaders were like that for many years before your leaders even were told. There will come a crisis point one day, though, that people will have to find out. Here it came shortly before we started to destroy ourselves with unending war for profit.”
“You are going to save your planet, aren’t you, Sizzahl?” Gracie asked, suddenly seeming alarmed.
“I don’t know. Sometimes I think they are not worth saving. Sometimes a people on a planet can become so self-centered and terrible that they don’t deserve to survive. The alien visitors gave up on us a few years ago and left.”
“We are alien visitors,” said Alden, “and we aren’t giving up on you yet.”
“You are not afraid I might eat you or take advantage of you?”
“Of course not,” said Gracie. She patted Sizzahl on the back in a way Alden knew was meant to be reassuring.
“I do want to take advantage of you, though.”
“Oh?” asked Gracie. “How?”
“Your DNA is somewhat compatible with my own. Not yours, Grace, because you are a simuloid now, not a real person. I want some of Alden’s DNA to use to make a fusion race, half Galtorrian, half Earth human.”
“You mean you want me to make babies with you?” Alden gasped.
“Not the way you think. I want to make them in a sealed jar and grow them in vats. I will just need samples of your blood and tissues. It doesn’t even need to hurt.”
Alden felt a bit shaken. Could he do that? Or was Sizzahl right to suggest her people deserved to go extinct? And what did she mean when she suggested Gracie wasn’t real?
At that moment, Davalon and Tanith came in looking sad. Both were naked. Both were holding each other’s hands.
“We have bad news,” said Tanith. “The plants we saved from the space station are all diseased according to the instruments.”
Sizzahl only nodded, then buried her scale-covered face in Gracie’s shoulder to cry more loudly.