Outcast, Heathen

The year is 2413, and humanity is no longer free. After encountering an alien race called the Heathen, hope was lost. They let us live to serve, and some are more than happy to live in peace this way. Others can't resist an opportunity to fight back. **NOTE** Due to dire disagreements with my chosen operating system, Outcast will sadly be going some time without an update, either until the data is recovered or I have managed to recreate the scenes. Thank you, sorry, and I hope you enjoy what's there while I work like mad to update!

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8. Chapter Seven

 

I arrived home after seeing Azrael off, still numb from the shock of it. I didn't know what to do. What was I supposed to feel? I should be happy for him that he was off to Academy, that he was making his father proud. I should be relieved that we both might finally be safe from punishment, now that we were separated.

Why was I crying?

“Oh, Mint, honey...”

Whoever had spoken to me, I fell into their arms sobbing, a total wreck. This shouldn't hurt me. He was a Heathen! I shouldn't care. It wasn't my place to care, it wasn't my right to become attached to them, not even my own master. I had no right.

“What is it?”

My father was the one to answer, and through my tears I saw him staring out our window. “It's...raining.”

“There wasn't any forecast for rain, not until next week,” reasoned my mother as she held me, and I froze. I knew this conversation, I'd had this exact conversation with Az not three weeks ago, when I'd...

Dad sighed, leaving the window to join Mom in holding me. “Seems it's just one of those days.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day blurred by, the only topic of interest coming in the final class, Superior Studies. The class was comparatively large, seven students in total to the one teacher. She was very stern, her red eyes making her look like burning coal, with how ashen her black skin was. Her choice of burnt crimson garments didn't help the image, either, eliciting a disgusted scoff from me when her back was turned. Whatever gaudiness had possessed her only offended me, despite the obvious infatuation my peers seemed to be expressing.

All I wanted was the opportunity to put the woman in her place.

I sighed and shook the thought from my mind, focusing on her lecture. “This semester we will be focusing our studies on humans, as a species and as a workforce. They are a lesser creature, but you are likely to encounter them if you are to venture anywhere outside of our First Worlds. While they have not been integrated into society quite so flawlessly as our noble Symbiotes, there are those who find them to be preferred escorts and acceptable artisans. Does anyone have any questions so far?”

One boy, Shax, nodded with a cocky smile. It was obvious he had never been anywhere worse than a Secondary Planet, by the way he held his head like he was about to challenge anyone who even made eye contact. “Yes, I do. Why do we associate with humans in the first place? Why not just exterminate them, since they seem to cause more trouble than any labors they can provide.”

“An excellent question, Shax,” she acknowledged, looking over us all with a pleased expression. I fought the urge to glare at the punk who opened his mouth, reminding myself that it shouldn't upset me. They weren't my species; I was a Heathen. “In the early days of occupation, just after the Mass Trials, there were experiments conducted on both average and Witch humans alike. With these tests, we discovered something vital—a defense mechanism that humans evolved some time ago. Just as it is with any defense, however, there are a select few that are stronger and better attuned than the rest. These are the Witches.

“The term humanity developed for this mechanism is a 'soul', an energy form that binds the creature's entire life experiences to itself and makes it possible to transfer between host bodies. That this transference only happens at the time of death, it has been deduced that this is indeed part of the human cycle, rather than a parasitic energy form that could detach and reattach regardless of the conditions of the host or its species.

“Furthermore, the older this soul becomes, the more powerful it becomes and the more aggressive its host. Commonly, the soul passes down the generations of its bloodline, only a few dozen or so souls belonging to any given family at a time. This is why, during the Trials, not only were the Witches killed three times, but the closest members of the family also received this treatment so that the soul could not latch onto a new host when it was born, being that the most common place for hibernation is in the female's reproductive organs.

“Now, with all that in mind, the answer to your question is that it has been observed that souls can host in an animal outside of humans, such as their 'totem animal', or whichever vermin they had an attachment to, similar to family members. In this culture, many reports say that bonds can be made in the moment of death, and for this reason all Heathens are tested before and after attending a Witch Trial. As it is still unclear the limitations of their hosting abilities, we have been unable to give the safe release of order for extermination, nor are we certain what may happen to the souls if their primary species is eradicated. Does this satisfy your question?”

Shax nodded again. “It does, thank you.”

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