Adam and Sage were brought by a Magnacar to their apartments and true to the word of the man at the Council of Living it was clear they were a stone's throw away from each other with only 3 other houses separating them. The area they occupied was a lovely green tropical oasis with moist flowerbeds and wild wingless birds that roamed the paved walkways.
Adam stopped outside Sage's building and looked up and around him seeing huge trees that towered above them. They had blue-green trunks and their leaves were a pale yellow colour that softly rustled in the calm breeze.
A narrow canal maybe just 2 feet wide wound its way through the residential plot, parallel to the path outside the buildings. Adam walked over to this small water flow and placed his hand in, splashing it about lightly. The crystal clear liquid was warm to the touch heated by the sun, or so Adam thought.
"It's a cooling river Adam. The water comes through your compact fusion reactor that powers your home and cools it."
"Cool!" Adam remarked, laughing. Relshek, as usual did not seem to get the joke.
Sage stared at the strange looking buildings, noticing they almost looked like huge footballs and contained the trademark hexagonal design his bed sheets had been made of on the Trandor. The front doors, also round had a hexagonal window towards the top making the whole design very pleasing on the eye.
"Why are they that shape?" he asked, his tone now civil to Relshek.
"For efficiency and to protect against high winds in the cooler months. The design minimises the friction."
"Why don't you go inside Sage, take a look around. Adam and I will meet you back outside in thirty heshtons."
"Thirty what?" Sage asked, looking confused.
Adam laughed. "It's about twenty two minutes sage," he said, quickly doing the math. Sage rolled his eyes and started walking towards his new home wondering what was on the inside. Relshek led Adam up the walkway to his place and stopped outside as Sage called back to them.
"Hey… uh, can I have the key please, its locked."
"Sage, to the left of your door is a button, press it and say your name, the door will open." Relshek called back to him.
"Oh, ok, I thought that was the doorbell."
They waited until they saw Sage had opened the door and carried on up a small pathway to Adam's door.
"Just press this?" Adam asked, pointing at the small interface.
"Ok, uh… Adam Smith!" he said holding his finger on the button. The door clicked and automatically opened. "Hmm, smells odd… like new."
"It is new Adam, your home was installed seven days ago."
Adam saw straight away that the whole building was complexly open plan apart from the bathroom area which was sectioned off and had its own door. Even the bedroom was on show and seemed to quite naturally blend into the living area. At the other end was an identical door which led out to what looked like a rear recreation area.
"Can I go look?" Adam asked, looking at Relshek.
"Why of course, this is your home now Adam."
Adam made his way to the door and this time this just opened without any input. "Neat!" he muttered as he stepped out back into the heat. A white shiny fence appeared to section off the different properties as he then focused his attention on the pond he had chosen. It was actually two ponds with one flowing into the other. It was decorated with blue blocks that ran around the edge and in the middle of each section was an odd looking plant with red and green petals.
"Your furniture will be brought to you in a few hours Adam, you do not need to be here but I do advise it so you can tell the men where to put it all."
"Wow, that quick?"
"Since you have made your choices why would there be a delay?"
Adam looked back at Relshek standing at the door. "Just used to things taking an age to reach you. I remember my mother saying that she ordered a new suite of furniture for their lounge and it took three weeks to come. Dunno why, but I was expecting the same time frame here.
After looking around his lush garden Adam made his way back to the coolness of his new home and stepped inside.
"I keep meaning to ask…"
"You know when we were back on Earth, how did you get that job with the Salvation Army?"
"I did some research on the organisation and applied at their local office."
Adam laughed. "Why did I think it was going to be more complicated than that?"
"I don't know Adam, but that was how it went."
"So they said yes?"
"It goes back to an argument Sage made earlier Adam, about people working to better themselves rather than for monetary value. You'd be surprised how many vacancies there are for volunteer work."
"Didn't they notice you were… different?"
"Come to think of it no, and I can't figure out why now."
Relshek went back to the front door and closed it before coming back towards Adam and taking off his mask.
"Look at me Adam, what differences do you see from that of a human?"
"Hmm, well your ears are a little different, and… and those markings on your temples that look like triangles."
"Yes… anything else?"
"Uh, no I guess not."
"I had a pair of humanoid ears made up on the Trandor which I brought down to the pod we worked from, and the markings are easy to disguise with a touch of what you humans would call makeup?"
"Ok, but why go through all the hassle of coming to see me via the Salvation Army, why not just knock on my door?"
"I had to assess you Adam, gain your trust and get to know you. That way I could better help you when the time came. I also needed to covertly scan you for the disease you had, something I could only do when up close, like on the vehicle we arrived on."
"The bus you mean."
"Yes. Actually, being able to interact with my fellow volunteers gave me great insight into human behaviours and your ways of life. Just like you were excited to come to Purity, I too was excited to be with humans and be on earth for the first time."
"But you always diss our planet."
"Diss? Sorry I do not understand."
"You always say it's a bad place."
"No Adam, the words I use are seen through a prism which your friend Sage attacks, by doing this he leads you to believe that I am being negative. I actually have much respect for the planet you come from, and if there were any negative feelings I had towards your home world it would only be sadness… sadness because I see so much that your people could have done differently."
"There are many, many things Adam, but since my area of expertise is genetics I will use a problem you have on earth which claims millions of lives. You call it Cancer."
"Yeah, my nan died of it."
"As upsetting as this may be, she needn't have, Adam. One thing I find distressing about your planet is the medical knowledge humans have is actually very good, however because certain powerful people seem to hold the keys to your destiny, your science is held back."
"So my Nan, she could have been cured?"
"On Purity, as you know, we call them repairs, but yes, had your nan been in our care she would have been cured in seven days, and the sad thing is, it can be done on earth too."
"Huh? Would you mind explaining that?"
"Certainly, let me start with the fundamental different approaches your planet and my planet take when dealing with diseases."
"Earth's way of trying to cure or control a disease is to spend vast resources on chemical based medicines. This is a hugely inefficient and slow way of doing things. Not only that, these chemical based formulas often do more damage than good."
"Ok, so what do you guys do?"
"The secret sometimes, is to look inwards Adam, not outwards. On Purity, our specialists use the person who is diseased and focus their own defensive capabilities on the issue and let their own body go to work on it. It is how we have undertaken medical science for hundreds of years."
"Yeah but Christian, this is not the common cold we are talking about, we were discussing Cancer and just leaving a person to fight the disease their self does not work, even I know that."
"You are somewhat correct but somewhat incorrect. We use a method called Cell Manipulation, something that I have a great interest in. You would be surprised, but your human body, just like my Puritan body already has all the tools it needs to cure any disease it is faced with. Now where I said you were correct is that YES, just leaving a person to fend for themselves when diseased will not solve the problem. But where you are incorrect is that with the right cell manipulation you can be cured of anything."
"So how does that work?" Adam asked, now getting really interested.
"Let me ask you something, Adam. Who do you think cured you of your HIV?"
"Those two laser machine things that were zapping me all over."
"No, Adam, the person who cured you… was you."
"The laser devices you affectionately called them were manipulating millions of certain cells in your body essentially telling them to wake up. Granted, the technology we have on Purity allows us to accelerate and rapidly reproduce those cells needed, but even without this extra boost, the eventual outcome would be the same."
"Which would be?"
"Cured, Adam… which is what you were."
Adam scratched his head. "So, I cured me?"
"Is this not what I said?"
"So what about Cancer, like we were talking about?"
"Same principle. For cancer, you humans, like us Puritans have a particular cell in your body called mitochondria which is a natural cancer fighting cell. The issue lies with its activeness in your body."
"It's activeness?" Adam asked, raising a brow.
"Yes Adam, it is a dormant cell. In order for it to do its job it has to be activated. On Purity this would be done by the laser machines you know them as. But exactly the same thing can be done one earth using more primitive procedures."
"Well, you do have a substance on earth your scientists have already developed but choose not to use and that is called dichloroacetate as I understand it."
"It is a chemical based medicine which could be used to trigger the mitochondria cell just the same way as our lasers do."
"But… But you said these chemical based substances were bad."
"Nearly all are, but if that's all you have to work with from the start then you have to use it. Also your people tend to use multiple kinds which can be unnecessary and detrimental, but using just one as a catalyst to… to, hmm a Salvation Army person I was with used a good human phrase that you might understand, but I can't think of it."
"A catalyst to… to, oh… get the ball rolling?"
"That was it yes! So using the dichloroacetate to get the ball rolling is fine because after this is done you are then leaving the body to fight its own disease by harnessing the mitochondria cell, and there you have your cure for Cancer."
"Wow!" was all Adam said, shaking his head. "But I do have one question?"
"You said we already had this drug developed, so why aren't we doing exactly what you said?"
"Adam, during my time on earth I spent limited time looking at the systems you have in place. I also had previous research and knowledge from Purity that I was able to get access too. You see as far as I could tell it is the organisations who make all these other chemical based formula's that seem to put a stop to the very procedure I have just explained and I am highly confused by this. The only explanation I can figure out is it has something to do with the vast amounts of wealth these people are making from human suffering. This is why I tried to put the argument across to Sage about why placing a monetary value on something is bad."
"Yeah I get it, because if what you are saying is true, by these companies not letting this procedure happen like you explained, then they carry on getting rich off the shit they pump into people's bodies right?"
"As sad as it is to think about, Adam, I do think this is the case."
"Yeah, fuck this is all making sense now. So if the medicine companies suddenly agreed that this other method worked and there was a cure for cancer, then… then they would be out of business wouldn't they."
"And that is why we don't have currency Adam, very good, you are starting to open your mind."
"You know what Christian; I think I wanna be a scientist." Relshek let out the biggest laugh Adam had yet witnessed making him laugh almost as hard himself.
"What's so funny?" Sage asked, walking through the front door."
"I thought I closed that," Relshek remarked, talking more to himself.
"Somehow we went from the Salvation Army to curing cancer, Sage. Fuck knows how but I enjoyed the ride. Like your new place?"
"Swell, just a little empty, I gather we have to wait forever to get the stuff we chose?"
"Just a few hours actually… yeah I know, it blew me away too." Adam replied.
"Boys listen, I realise you may be getting hungry, would you like to try some Puritan cuisine?"
"Depends, will I live after?" Sage asked, before chuckling.
"I'm sure Christian can make it so you don't."
Sage stuck his tongue out. "So what's in it?"
"Nothing you will have ever heard off, but I am hoping you might like it."
"Do you eat animals?" Adam asked.
"Yeah, such as those birds wandering around outside, they look like fat quails." Sage said, pointing towards the front doorway.
"We have three creatures we deliberately terminate for food purposes if that's what you are asking."
"Well, I'm a meat kinda guy so show me what you have on the menu." Sage replied, licking his lips.
Back on Earth, Adam's older brother Brandon sheepishly made his way into Heidgate after hearing about the visit from a guy known only as Tony. Fearing his parents would wonder where he was going at such an hour he had crept out onto to his balcony and slipped down a drainpipe, gashing his leg on a rather evil rose bush. He knew blood was trickling down his leg and oddly he welcomed the distraction from the nerves he felt from visiting a place with such a reputation.
Up ahead he could see the flickering of a smouldering fire in a doorway of some building together with a three person shaped shadow that danced on the surrounding walls. Feeling a sudden chill he pulled his collar up on his three quarter length and tried to walk as lightly as possible.
"If I could just find someone alone," he muttered under his breath as a mangy dog ran past him searching for food no doubt.
It was a clear night, calml and still but equally cold as Brandon kept tightly to one side of the rotting street. The shadows were getting nearer now and soon there would be no way to avoid being seen, given away by an almost full moon. He stopped to survey the area realising he was now a quarter of the way down the street.
From behind he could hear the faint sound of footsteps but they didn't seem to sound like men's. They were more like high heels and reminded him of the sound his mother's shoes made when she was getting ready to go out with his dad. Frozen to the spot he couldn't find the courage to look round as he was now focused on making sure the three men by the dim fire didn't see him, plus the fact he really didn't want to know who, or what, was approaching him.
"My, my, you're a well to do guy, nice coat you got on there," came the voice he assumed was attached to the shoes. Hearing it was a woman he felt able to turn his head and see who was addressing him.
"Oh hello I just-"
"Awww, look at you, you're just a baby, so what is it your looking for, sex drugs, or rock and roll, Kiddo!" The woman fell into a cackle causing Brandon to look back over at the men. They didn't seem interested.
The woman, who appeared to be in her early forties and wearing a fake fur jacket stepped closer to Brandon and breathed in deeply. "I like the clean ones… you ain't from around here are you."
"Uh, no, I um… I was actually looking for someone."
"Well darling you just found me," she declared with a dirty giggle before plunging her hand deep into Brandon's trousers and grabbing his cold flaccid cock. Brandon froze again, not sure how to handle the rather direct violation of his private parts.
"What's the matter, afraid you might like it?" she said in a slimy east London accent.
"No, it's just, I really should be getting going as… oooh."
"Hmm, that's the spot I see," she said, massaging his rapidly inflating manhood. "How old are ya son?"
"Nineteen… really, well how cute is that… you know rumour has it that guys around your age don't tend to…"
Brandon cut the woman off as his knees suddenly jolted before letting out a grunt.
"… last long," the woman finished after having her hand coated in the young man's seed. "Well, I don't really suppose I can charge you for that, can I?" she said, flicking her hand free of spunk. "Call it a free taster for better things to come." With that comment she wiped her hand on his coat and started to walk away leaving Brandon trembling and not really sure what had just occurred.
Across the street, Brandon could see the three men who he had let out of his focus for a few minutes laughing and staring straight at him. "Do your load did you son?" one called out. Brandon felt his face fill with heat against the cold air and decided to walk on past as quickly as possible. The men were now belly laughing at him as he quickened his pace further until ending up outside an old abandoned children's play area. He headed towards the sound of a rusty swing that was gently creaking and sat down on it to collect himself.
Hoping it might calm his nerves he pulled out a packet of secret cigarettes he hid in his coat and pulled one from the packet. Searching around in the other pocket he found a trusty zippo a friend had brought him back from Spain and spun the wheel a few times until a flame burst into life.
"Whoa!" he cried, as standing not 2 feet away from him was an old man with a beard. "Jesus, you scared the shit out of me."
"They call errrr Tasty Tina, you know." Said the man, as Brandon stared at the man, seeing the flame from his lighter in the man's eyes.
"I'm… I'm sorry?"
"That woman who just made you spill some… they call her Tasty Tina."
"I'd rather not talk about it."
"twenny years she's been doing the rounds… young girl when I met her."
"Seen plenny of people like err round ere' in my time… most of em' dead now though. It's the drugs ya see, nasty drugs!"
"I'll bet… say you don't happen to know a-"
"I remember when this street was teaming with life… they even had a street party to celebrate the Queen's jubilee. Bunting everywhere there was, and tables and tables full of food. My wife took part you know… dead anall though now she is." The man sighed and took a seat on the swing next to Brandon.
"You… you live here?"
"Lived ere all me life son, they can't get rid of me. They keep telling me to go into one of those old people's homes… it's not safe in Eidgate they'd say."
"The council, nosy buggers. I said look, these homeless kids have got nothing to take from me so just leave me where I am… cos thas what they worry about ya see. They think I'm gonna get robbed."
"Don't you get worried… that you'll be attacked or something?"
"Naaaah, I know most of these boys anyway, sometimes even feed a few of em' when I got leftovers."
"Oh really, you um… you didn't happen to know a guy called Adam did you?"
"Adam, Adam… rings a bell. Hmm, skinny guy, dark brown hair… only a toddler if I recall. Ad big brown eyes that always looked sad."
"Around fifteen years old?"
"Could be, but he looked pretty beat last time I saw him, always hungry that one… they say its thee age."
"When did you last see him?"
The man lurched his head to the side and stared straight at Brandon before moving in towards his ear. "They took him you know… no one believes me but they took him." He whispered.
"Who… who took him?"
"Those guys in masks!" the man hissed, trying to be quiet. "Everyone laughs at me, but I see things, I knew they would be back."
"I'm sorry I don't know what you mean, who are the guys in the masks, you mean robbers?"
"Always came at night you know, when… when they thought everyone was asleep, but ahhh, I was watching. People think I'm crazy… think I need to see a shrink, but I saw it all even if they didn't."
"These men, do you know where they live? I mean, if Adam is in danger I think I should call the police, at least then people might believe you, right?"
"No point calling them son, they can't do nothing… what you need, is a spaceship." Replied the man looking aimlessly into the sky.
"Uh, right ok… I um, I think I better be going. You don't happen to know where I can find a man called Tony do you?"
"Tony eh? Rings a bell."
"Here we go," Brandon muttered.
"Carry on down the way you were going… house with the big brown door."
"Thanks… and hey, how did you know where I was going?"
"I see everything boy. You just be careful out there, they might come for you, next."
Brandon flicked his chin up at the man and gave a polite smile as he walked back onto the street. "Fucking weirdo," he said, starting to scan the derelict houses and old shops for his poorly described building. He had the feeling it could be a long night.
A Magnacar is a vehicle which runs a few inches above the ground suspended by magnets. It is the main form of ground transport on Purity and it's sister planets.
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