Red walked into Norquays library, that’s how she liked to think of his home office. He had several large tombs open as well as several of the readers he used. He was going back and forth like a whirlwind between them all. Watching him for a few minutes was enough to make her dizzy.

“Norquay, stop. You’re going to make yourself sick, if not, you’ll make me sick.”

“I’m so close, love. I can almost feel the breakthrough. It’s right at the tips of my paws. If only.”

“If only you don’t make yourself sick. That answer you’ve been looking for has been hidden for how long? You’ll unearth it now that you know the question.” She wrapped her arms around him slowly backing up until they reached one of the overstuffed chairs in the room. Pushing him down she climbed onto his lap. “What’s the question?”

“I thought the question was, why did your car return to that side of the barrier. I was wrong. The real question is why is that side of the barrier important to us.”

She thought it over, common sense made her want to discard the question and go back to square one. On earth, a barrier was simply something that protected you from the outside world, but that was on earth. Norquay wasn’t human, she knew it, yet, it got lost in translation a lot of times.

“Alright, on earth, a barrier is simply a means of protecting one’s self.”

“That’s what it is, a means to protect our people.”

“Did the barrier come before or after the compound?”

“First, we paid for the land.”

“You paid for this land?”

“Did you think your government was that altruistic?”

“Nope, not even close.”

“Once the land was ours, we came and placed the barrier.”

“Okay, so the barrier came first. Could that wall be some kind of cornerstone or have the cornerstone in it?”


“I’m no builder so hang in there with me. I remember reading that a long time ago before computers etc.… when a house was built, they placed a cornerstone. It was the first stone, and that stone determined where every other stone would go. I assume they still do it that way today.”

His legs bounced; he was trying to pace even though she was on his lap.

“What happens if the cornerstone is disturbed?”

“Not a builder. I don’t know. I imagine if you hurt the cornerstone you hurt the building. Like if one of your legs is injured then your balance becomes precarious.”

He nodded not seeming to understand she was making this up on the fly. It was all she had, but it made sense somewhere deep inside of her.

“Have you ever played Jenga?”

“Is that a game?”

“Yeah, I thought I saw it around here.” She got up and walked through his office until a high shelf with games on it caught her attention. “There it is, can you get it down?”

“Jade supplied us with games. She said we needed to relax.”

“I’m not sure this game is relaxing, but it’s a great demonstration of when the wrong building block is removed.” She set up the game then showed him how to play.

The more blocks that came out the more on edge they were until he finally took a block that made the whole thing collapsed.

“That’s Jenga, but that also how I imagine a house. Take the wrong block and down it comes.” Norquay nodded walking around the table that held the Jenga blocks on it.

“Our planet had a natural barrier. History taught us it was set up before the first royal family. What if…” He went to the window watching the snow that fell in a light pattern of white to the ground.

“What if?”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

“I am married to an alien from a different planet. Oh, and I can turn into a prehistoric creature. Tell me, you’d be surprised what made sense to me.”

“We now know that porcoyan’s have different gifts. What if those gifts ran in a family’s?”

“Go on.” She thought she got him but needed to be sure. Was he thinking of gifts the same way she would think of genes? You get blue eyes if your mom had them and your dad? Or you got them if both your mom and dad had the recessive trait and passed it along to you.

“What if the protective barrier around our planet was diminished because all or most of a certain family were no longer living to fuel it?”

It didn’t make sense until she thought about genocide and the mass murderers that participated in it. Experiments meant to help mankind that masked the ones that were used to breed out unwanted traits or looks. It made sense. If you got rid of one group of brown-eyed people or brown-skinned people, their genetics wouldn’t be passed to the next generation.

“You think that the shields around your planet were weak because a certain group or family was targeted?”

“I do. They didn’t weaken overnight. More like a lifetime of looking for and not finding the energy that kept them strong.”

“Spell it out for me.”

“My parents were each the end of their lines. No one knows what happened considering we have extreme longevity. They disappeared or had accidents that most didn’t think was suspicious. When I was born, I was told that I was cherished by both my parents. A few years after my birth my parents were pulled in different directions. The next I remember is my mother in her byema mourning. My father was dead. Then she distanced herself from me. I was rudderless, anger pressing between my shoulders. Then she was brought up on charges of being a traitor. They killed her, there was no one left.”

Red bent her head trying to camouflage the tears in her eyes. He stated his history matter-of-factly, but she heard the pain laced in his voice.

Jumping up she went to him. He didn’t need pity, but he deserved her tears and her anguish for what he had gone through. She rocked him gently while she laid her head on his chest.

“They sacrificed themselves so that you could live.” She heard her byema whisper the words. It didn’t make sense, but she knew it was the truth.

She held him tight as she was pulled out of her body into a memory. It wasn’t hers it was one of the ones that byema-Norquay gifted to byema-Red. In front of her stood a beautiful woman. Mythical blue eyes slanted, black hair spilling over like a waterfall. She looked like Norquay.

“Mother.” They were in some high alert facility. Red couldn’t read the words on the wall, but the translation was clear in her mind. This was a prison facility.

Norquay had been smuggled in to see his mother for the last time. He didn’t know it at the time. She could feel his hope that this would be over soon, and they could be a family again.

“They’re going to read my testimony to the whole planet, my child. In it, I will disown you, it will say you were never mine. It’s the only way I can save your life. When tomorrow finally becomes today, my child, we will see each other again. When we stand on the plane together, I will tell you the story of a male child born to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.” She backed away from him until only her fingers touched him. “When the time is right, remember the words anay matay.”

The memory was gone. She was holding Norquay up as tears and sobs were torn from him. They stumbled back to a chair, she held him while he cried.

“I loved her, my father too. I was so hurt when she publicly disowned me. I thought I would die, but my body kept going on. Then I was called to serve under the great general Lyrek. The laughter, the whispers behind my back. Everyone knew I was going to fail. When you’re going to go down, make sure it’s in a blazing ball of glory. I failed spectacularly.

“I thought it was the thing to do. Giving people their money’s worth. Lyrek told me he didn’t have time for a wet behind the ear’s child. I was older than him, I didn’t act it. He handed me over to Teak. You know that story from there. He never gave up on me. I asked him once why. His only reply was your mother would have my hide if I did.”

“You carry the shield within you?”

“I think so. I was there when we placed the shield standing in the spot your car came back to.”

“You’re the cornerstone.”

“We are the cornerstone. You became blood of my blood when you agreed to receive the mate of my byema. The same way Jade became royalty.”

“Then why is the barrier showing stress?”

“It needs both of us. The stress is because it’s under attack.”

“The attack when we went shopping, it was aimed at me?”

“Someone knew what you meant to me. How? That I don’t know yet.”

“Your mom?”

“She disowned me to save my life and the people she loved. She died so we could live. Dress warmly.”

“Where are we going?”

“To strengthen the barrier.”

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