A few hours later, I had a message pop up on one of my personal screens in my room. My console in there has four flat panels linked to it. I was using three just to break up and organize Lucy’s message. Colonel Vaughn was trying to web cam me. I accepted his call.
He looked exhausted. “Logan. I need you to do it again. They won’t let me near a cell phone, much less a transmitter. We have to let her know we got the message. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, but…” He interrupted me.
“No Buts. Just tell her I love her. They're shutting down my computer soon. Let me know if she sends anything back. And date stamp it. We need a delay ratio.”
“Of course. Hopefully, I’ll get something soon.”
He ended the video call.
Great. Now what am I supposed to say?
After about an hour I finally decided to just start recording. Kayla would understand.
“Hey Kales. Your dad’s been detained. You know how the general likes to overreact. Anyway, I’m supposed to tell you he loves you. Your dad I mean. Not the general. You get it. So…funny thing. Your dad was totally cool about me taking you out when you get back…yeah…and…are you okay? You sounded weird and your dad thought maybe Lucy made it up. And what is a Talix. Lucy left some stuff out. Did you reprogram her? It almost seemed intentional. And how did you burst so much info at once? Where’d you get the techno boost? Enough boring smart people questions. Sorry… Date and time your reply so we know the delay. We all miss you.”
Before I could double check myself I just burst the whole stupid video in the direction of her first transmission. Assuming, of course, she was even listening.
To my complete surprise, the general stormed into my room an hour later.
“Logan. You have a message from Kayla.” He marched out.
“Already?!” I gasped, scrambling after him.
“Yes.” He barked.
We entered the lab again. It was once again busy and bright.
“How?” I asked the tech I was pushing out of the main seat.
“Just open it.” He shrugged.
I put it up on the large wall screen in the front of the room. A video of Kayla appeared but it was obviously doctored. She hadn’t changed since we’d last seen her.
“Hey Logan! Try this algorithm. Maybe we can really talk if you can boost your signal. I pick you up to slow right now.” She cheesed, but the video was choppy.
“Why does she look like that?” The general asked from behind me.
“It’s doctored. She doesn’t want us to see her now.” I turned to look at him. “I can make these changes within the hour. Can I call her?”
“Do it.” He ordered, then turned to leave.
“General?” He paused at the door. “I’ll need her dad.”
He exhaled. “Fine.”
We were ready in record time. The colonel couldn’t keep a straight face so he insisted I make the next message.
“Kales. I made the changes. Are you still out there? Why the strange overlay? We know you’ve changed? You’re scaring your dad.”
In seconds the computers were lighting up. A signal was being streamed in. I jacked the backup supercomputers into our systems to be able to handle it. Kayla appeared on the front wall.
“Hi Logan.” She looked resolved.
“Still playing dress up?”
“Hey Daddy.” She smiled past me to her dad. I could hear him choking back the emotions that had to be plain on his face.
“You still suck at avoiding touchy subjects.” That earned me another smile.
“Logan. It’s just that I have changed more than your ready for. Lucy was scared to show you. And Talix is a who, not a what.”
“Show us.” My voice sounded way more stable than I felt.
The colonel finally found his voice. “It’s alright, Sweetie. I promise.” The man sounded on the verge of tears.
Kayla kept glancing off screen.
“Who’s there with you?” I asked before I could stop myself.
A strange harmonic noise answered me and Kayla flinched and growled. Not a normal growl. She definitely sounded like an animal. “Shush you.” She muttered before focusing on my again.
“What was that, Kales?”
Her mood swung suddenly. “Not what, Logan! Who! And don’t worry about it.” She snapped. The just as quick she was calm and cherry. “What have I been missing from our crew since I’ve been away?”
The harmonic noise happened again and she glared off camera. This time she didn’t flash back to peachy.
“Yeah? Everything okay?” She was chaotic.
“Would you like to see Talix?” That had every tech in the room staring at the screen.
“Yes.” I hesitated then turned to the colonel. “Yes?”
“Yes.” He agreed.
She looked off screen glaring. “Fine.” She addressed him. “Scare the crap out of them.” She looked away.
I braced myself. So did everyone else. There was a harmonic grumble and a figure stepped into the frame. The picture was blurred from Kayla’s doctoring. She moved out of the frame and it cleared. There were several gasps. I think I was one of them.
The guy was huge. Probably 6’5” at least. Solid muscle. And…RED?! What the crap?!
He opened his mouth and started speaking, but it was the harmonic grumbling again. There was a few seconds of awkward silence. “Hi.” I managed.
He smiled. Whoa. How does an alien have a better smile than me after all my years of orthodontic surgery?! More harmonic noise then Kayla’s voice interrupted. “I told you they won’t understand you, Stupid.” She sounded irritated, and a little off herself.
“Kales.” I asked breathless. “Can you step back in the frame?”
“Are you sure you’re ready for this, Logan?” Her fear bothered me enough that I could focus.
“Yes. After that, I’m sure it can’t be that bad.” Talix, I assumed, frowned at my reaction and leaned back against something I couldn’t see. Kayla stepped back in and a one of the girl techs passed out.
She had similar features, but her skin and ears were different. She looked healthy at least. I heard the colonel gasp over my shoulder. “Baby…” he tried. “What…how…” he wasn’t really coherent.
I saw her starting to panic so my first coping mechanism kicked in. “Wow, Kales. You’re a freak.” I cheesed. It worked. She exhaled and smiled. “Just kidding. What the hell happened to you?”
She took a few more deep breaths and glanced up at Talix before launching into all the details of how she’d almost died and they had to alter her DNA to save her.
“What was that?” Is there an animal behind her?
Kayla giggled nervously. “Whoops. I guess I forgot to mention I have a tail now.” Her fake cheese was a dead giveaway that she was lying.
“Yeah,” I tried to sound cheery, “you did forget that little gem. When did that happen? When you almost died?
“Logan,” She pleaded, “it’s not like I really had a choice in the matter.” She swung to defensive rambling on a dime. “Besides, I happen to like it. I get way better balance and versatility. No more ‘Clutzy Kayla’! And who asked you anyway?! I mean…”
“Whoa!” I interrupted. “Easy Kales. No offense, but you’re a little nuts. You went off the deep end over nothing. De---ep breaths.” Maybe I could get her to relax.
Someone must have pushed a chair up just as the colonel sank, because he was suddenly sitting next to me.
Talix leaned forward and whispered something harmonic in her ear. She nodded and he disappeared.
“What?” I asked. Some of my annoyance must have leaked into my tone. She gave me a sympathetic smile.
“He has a council thing,” she said dismissively, “but he’ll be back.”
Great. He’s important.
“Who is he?”
She smiled proudly, which bothered me more than it should. “He’s High King Talixaredianol. His council of elders is adamantly against this whole thing. They want him to order me to end contact.” She shook her head again.
“Poor him.” I grumbled.
The colonel finally recovered. “Baby…I’m glad you have powerful friends, but is that why you can’t come home?”
Her face fell. “Look at me, Daddy. I can’t go back there anymore. I’m sorry.”
Talix reappeared quickly leaning into her. I glared as he whispered again. Kayla nodded. “Logan,” She said quickly. “I have to go for now. Reboot and clear the memory for another transmission in 12 hours. It was good to see you.”
Before any of us could protest, the connection broke. The techs were scrambling in the next second. Me and Colonel Vaughn just sat there.
“I don’t like him.” I finally grumbled.
The colonel finally stood. “Tell me about it, kid.” He said patting me on the shoulder. “I thought I only had to worry about my daughter dating the wrong guy, not the wrong species.” He shrugged and left.