CHAPTER THIRTY ONE – Run!

One creature came into the light and stared into the bush. It stood there, wary, not paying us any attention. We all raised our guns towards it, it couldn’t see anything and Tu shot it. It died as dark blue blood spilled from its neck. It wasn’t an unusual thing to watch this grey furred, large wolf creature dying. Its red eyes seem to stare as death came to it. It wasn’t unusual when the wolves in the forest began howling. They all singing in unison in response to the death of one of their own. What was unusual was the sound of a Tuhingan shouting amongst the chorus of wolves. 

“What is that?” Caroline asked as we heard it.

“I don’t want to know!” Tu said as his head was darting left and right, trying to figure out where the things in the bush were. 

We could hear rustles of the bush as we heard footsteps of a different creature. It was the sound of two feet walking along, crunching the overgrowth.

“What brings you to our forest?” A voice asked, coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. 

“Your forest?” Caroline asked. “Are you one of the lost tribes?”

“Why do you call us lost, we’re right here!” The voice in the woods continued.

“Well, why are you apart from Tuhingan society? Why are you hiding in the woods?”

“We are not hiding! These woods are our home! We do not care for the things of ‘high society’. We care only for the simple things!” 

“Why do you hide from us?” Caroline asked.

“It is you that hide from us, shrouded by your bright technological lights!” 

“We can’t see without these lights!”

“Ahh, you do not allow yourself to see the forest then!” The voice went silent at that moment as the bushes started moving. We all looked in that direction. Emerging from the bushes was a Tuhingan who had pure white eyes. He was blind and yet seemed to know where he was going and what he was doing. “The forest is full of many wonders if you allow yourself to see!” He said in a soft tone. We all just looked at him, unsure how to take this situation. 

He knelt down and stroked the wolf that had died by Tu’s hand. The Tuhingan went into himself as he stroked the wolfs main. “This wolf was my favourite. He was a wondrous beast!”

We looked at each other in bewilderment, wondering how to treat this situation. There was a silent awkwardness in the air as he looked into the air as if listening to the sounds of the jungle. “Your drones scare many creatures!” he said after a while.

“Our drones keep us safe!” Caroline replied.

“That, I am not so sure of. You are on the run from your group, why?”

There was a wolf that jumped out of the bush and attempted to attack the crouching Tuhingan. He didn’t move, instead he raised his hand and appeared to concentrate. Another wolf jumped from the bushes and pounced on the attacking wolf.

The attacker then whimpered off after being bitten hard by the new wolf. The wolf looked around at all of us and backed off a little, wary, close to the blind mans side.

“I see you are all apprehensive! Don’t worry, you are safe from me. I’m sorry, from the wolf.” The blind man continued.

“Why do you say it on the wolves behalf?” I asked, curious by the strange sight of this Tuhingan.

“Because, he is. I am many wolves.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

The Tuhingan stood up and touched me to find out where I was. “This body that you are talking to. It is only a part of me. I am more than this blind, frail thing you see before you. The wolves you see and hear in the woods are also me. It is how I see you. It is how I know all things around us.”

“You have linked yourselves to the wolves!” Caroline said.

“That is correct!” 

“But that is so dangerous! Many have gone crazy because of attempting such things!”

“It takes experience to make it safe.” The man seemed so confident in his presentation. 

“How long have you all been doing this?”

“This does not matter. I have answered enough of your questions, now answer mine! Why do you run from your group?” the man persisted.

We all looked at each other, wondering how we could explain the situation. “We are running from someone dangerous!” I said, breaking the silence.

“Do you know this person?”

“No!” I replied.

“Then how do you know they are dangerous? Maybe it is not them who is the danger?”

“Stop talking riddle, old man!” Tu boomed at the young looking Tuhingan. 

The Tuhingan took a deep breath, frustrated with the conversation. “I have many eyes in the forest. Yet what I see is that you a running from no one. But you have brought these drones with you!”

“Are you saying someone has hacked them?” Caroline spluttered.

“He’s saying he is paranoid!” Tu responded.

The blind man turned to Tu. “Many people fear you, don’t they? I bet you like it that way? Don’t like anyone else to threaten you?” Tu just stood there looking at this short entity that stood under him. “Some would say we are paranoid. The only thing we don’t trust is the way technology can be exploited!”

“Are you saying you prefer it if we turned them off?”

“And leave them behind, if you are coming to the village?”

“The village?” Caroline asked.

“Yes, you’ve come for the child, yes? Your entire group has?”

“How do you know that?”

“The forest has many ears!” this strange Tuhingan replied. 

Caroline stood for a short time staring into space. She seemed to concentrate on the Tuhingan. She then turned to me. “I can’t shut them down!” She said. “Security says they don’t have access to them anymore either.”

“What!?” I asked, my eyes wide open.

I could see Tu activating his weapon and just as he began turning, the drone fired, disintegrating Tu there and then. Caroline lunged at me and pushed me to the ground as the drone fired at me. We looked across and the Tuhingan had disappeared into the bush. Caroline looked at me, “Run!” she said. 

With that we got up and ran. The drone had continued firing the EMC turret as it began disintegrating the surrounding environment. The beam coming towards us. I glanced down and behind me to see the shrubs disappearing in an intense light. Caroline grabbed my hand and then we twisted around a tree. Then again twisted another. Jumping over logs and pushing through shrubs as we did so.

The drone was hot on our tail and we could see the other drone was trying to cut us up. Caroline spun around onto her knee, brought her weapon up and fired. She shot a clean shot through the pursuing drone. It fell from the sky as it exploded with the impact of the energy weapon. 

She grabbed my hand and then we ended up running to the side. The other drone chasing us through the forest. We found a log we jumped over and hid ourselves behind. The hum of the drone vibrated in my ear as it got closer, so we pushed ourselves under this large log, Caroline facing her weapon up. We could see the lights of the drone searching the area in front of us. Moving the lights across the environment, searching for us.

As soon as the drone was hovering over us, she fired and it came crashing towards us. Caroline pushed me back as we tried to continue going under the log and come out the other side. The drone exploded on the other side of the log where we just were. I sat on the dirty ground, panting. Caroline collapsed next to me. She placed her weapon by her side. 

“I’m thankful that they weren’t military drones!” she said as she stared at the remains of the drone in front of us. 

“What are those drones like?” I asked, curious. 

“Quick, armoured, tough! We wouldn’t survive against those! Let’s hope we don’t come across them!”

I took a deep breath as I realised the real danger we were in. Darkness was surrounding us and only the glow of the fire from the drone was lighting up our environment. “What do we do now?” I asked, feeling the hunger becoming quite intense.

“I don’t know!” Caroline replied. Then a wolf appeared next to us and seemed to just stand near us, not doing anything. “I think that wolf is the Tuhingan we were talking to before.” 

The wolf then turned around and then looked back at us, moving its head in such a way as to guide us. We followed with our torches lighting the way.

Eventually we came across the blind Tuhingan again. He didn’t waste any time with his next statement.

“I would like to enact my right to exercise article four of The Galactic Union Charter!” he said to Caroline.

He took Caroline back for a second. “But that is used to hide advanced technologies from lower life forms. How can article four be enacted here?”

“For the safety of my people’s way of life, I implore you to enact it!”

She stood for a moment as if thinking about something, staring into thin air. After a few seconds of doing this, she came back and announced her next statement, as if declaring a grand verdict in a trail. “We have processed your request and assessed your situation. We will not enact your request under article four of The Galactic Union Charter. However, the Galactic Union will follow the Tuhingan right to secrecy act revised in abbreviated thirty six eleven. We would like to request data on what you would like to keep secret?”

The blind man looked confused for a moment and then came out with an answer soon after. “The whole dark forest on The Liberty!”

“Confirmed. All documents pertaining to the existence of the dark forest, dark side of the Liberty, or anything else that refers to this space within The Liberty has been deemed classified. From this point forward, only The Cores will have access to this information. They will be sworn not to pass on this information unless effecting another law of any species or the safety of any species.”

“Thankyou!” the blind man continued.

“What just happened here?” I asked, standing there feeling confused and delirious after not being able to eat for so long. 

“The Galactic Union has just promised to keep this place a secret.”

“So you can’t talk to anyone about it?” I asked.

“No, that also means that I won’t be able to talk to you about it!” she told me.

“What?” I said, surprised.

“I’m sworn to secrecy now, James. That means, right now we are standing somewhere that doesn’t exist!”

“The Galactic Union was always on a bit of the extreme side! But its why I trust them!” The blind man continued. “As for you James, I can see you are noble in what you try to do!”

“How do you know, everyone else thinks I am some murderer!”

“Annihilator!” the blind man corrected.

“Huh?”

The blind man gurgled a strange laughter. “You still have to get used to this world, don’t you, James?”

“It is strange!” I replied.

“Good, lets keep your experience in this dark forest as one of those strange experiences you can’t quite explain, yes?”

“I understand!” I replied, nodding. 

“Good, good! I can see you understand more than most!”

“What do you mean by that?”

The blind man leaned forward and whispered in my ear like to tell me some secret. “I can read minds!” I pulled my head back to look at him, quite confused. “Yes, I can see that thought as well!” he continued.

At the time I was thinking about how they are trying to hide their existence out of the eye of the media since their life is not conventional. Controversial in the eyes of the average Tuhingan. I understood their need to keep away from the Tuhingan media and the rest of The Liberty as much as they could. My last thought was me wondering what he mean’t.

It was true, this blind man could read thoughts. At the time he swore me to secrecy, but now I can tell this story since there have been many things changing since. The blind man connected to quite a few creatures that surrounded us. He did this through the BCI chips that were in our heads.  They found a way of networking the chips together and enabling a connection between the minds. It wasn’t telepathy, just an extension of the original host’s brain as we rewired the creature’s brains to take commands from it. 

A lot of the creatures in the forest that the blind man was connected to were Tuhingan genetic experiments gone wrong. Some had telepathy, therefore the blind man had telepathy. He seemed to know a lot about me and Caroline as we discovered in our conversation as we walked. For a people that try to avoid technology where they can and live simply. They know how to use technology to their advantage in certain situations. 

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