Chapter 3: The Unexpected Guest

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"W-Who are you!?" Genuas shouted, pointing at the old woman. She simply stared at him, but upon hearing the footsteps of the guards, she disappears. Next thing he knew, he was being held by the back of his shirt, hanging from something, the floor of the palace rushing before his eyes. He felt a strong heat on his back, and upon turning to look at the source, he was shocked to see the mouth of a lion.

In bewilderment and fright, he screams. He realizes that the old woman had, somehow, turned into a giant lion--and she's carrying him by her mouth. His body lifted by the shirt as the lion fought off guards with her paws. She swiped at what seemed to be hundreds of guards at a time, befalling them with one single swoop each time. Special-forces attempted to shoot several tranquilizers at her back and sides, but nothing was stopping this beast.

Impossible, Genuas thought. Those tranquilizers are filled with etorphines, propofols, and Type-A lethal chemicals! A drop of that stuff can kill 10,000 Aqari easy. Still, the beast claws at the guards, completely unaffected by the needles hanging from its furry skin. That is, until Genuas is violently flung against a nearby wall as the beast falls on its side. Through blurry eyes, he can see that the giant lion was being shocked by something Genuas was all too familiar with just by the shockwave it creates. Before fainting from the impact of the wall against his body, he could see the magnificent beast fall on its side with a loud thud.

When he opened his eyes, he expected to be back in his bed, or at least on a metal table with a sleuth of medical personnel tending to his wounds and poking him with needles and other instruments. Instead, he felt gravity being pulled down at his feet, being held by chains. He looks around, and he was someplace unfamiliar for once. Below him, a gaping maw with metal teeth was opening and closing rapidly. Next to him, hanging by chains just like he was, was the elderly woman, who had traces of her lioness form along her body. She was knocked out, hanging limply.

He hears the all-too-familiar clacking of his mother's heels as she enters the huge chamber, glancing up at her hanging victims once as she walks up to a panel on a wall, revealing buttons and a lever. Upon reaching for the lever, Genuas shouts, "Wait!"

Queen Gwendalynn looks up with steely, gray eyes.

"Mother, please," Genuas begs, trying to stare into her eyes even though he was hanging at least a hundred feet high. "Please, don't do this. You can't do this. I'm your son!"

"You are experiment GE-273440," Queen Gwendalynn corrected. Shock crosses Genuas's face.

"You were nothing but a simple exercise to test our new formula for brain growth. You have shown exponential results in our tests; however, we were told from the beginning that if you serve no more use to us, you will be eliminated," the Queen continued. "Part of our policies included any danger you possess to our civilization, thus it counts towards the prior statement and equal consequence coincided with it."

"Danger? Danger!?" Genuas shouted. "That thing took me by force! I did not command that beast to cause such a disaster!"

"Yes, you are correct. You had no control over that lion's actions. But, the risks with adding you into the palace was calculated based on your ancestry and knowing the Ekaheer's history as notoriously reclaiming their family members, it was not a surprise that this circumstance would occur."

Blood drained from his face as his anger quickly declined. His heart sank. "I'm...I'm not Aqari?"

"Of course not, you imbecile!" Queen Gwendalynn almost scoffed. "My scientists have discovered you among the remains of your original parents, one of Ekaheer, and one of Arhiin. You're a human," she stated matter-of-factly. "Why else would I execute you?"

"I--I--"

Without hesitation, the Queen pulls the lever, and Genuas, as well as the unknown elderly woman, began to descend towards the sharp, munching maw that would provide their death.

"Pity--you showed great intellectual promise," the Queen says as the echo of her clicking heels pierces the inner walls of the chamber. Closing the panel behind her, the only light available was the fire coming from the giant hole beneath them, flashing as the metallic teeth opened and closed. He struggled with the chains, knowing there was no use--those chains were made with the same material as the walls, floors, and ceiling of his room and adjacent hallways.

"Mother!" he called out into the air that was slowly becoming hotter the nearer he came to his execution. "Please, mother--I beg of you. Even if I am human, it doesn't mean you have to get rid of me. Even though you weren't there most of my life, you still kept me after I went against your orders several times. You kept me, knowing that this was going to happen--knowing that hundreds would get injured or killed, even though you execute personnel on a daily basis for other things they've done. I am your son whether you like it or not--I'm the only child you could ever have!"

On the other side of the chamber lay a one-way panel. Queen Gwendalynn was watching through it as Genuas and the old woman were descending to their deaths. She could hear everything--and at his last statement, she stood up from her chair. Holding a button down, she speaks into a hidden microphone: "Elaborate."

Genuas sighs. "When I was a boy, you know how often I escaped my room--well, there was a time you were never notified of when I snuck into your office once again. I managed to hack into your computer system without alerting security, mainly by using your DNA." For a split second, shock crossed the Queen's eyes. Monitoring agents were next to her and can hear everything as well.

"I discovered a very fine piece of hair that was on the floor that was yours. I knew I could use it to unlock your computer system. Even though it requires a fingerprint to gain access, any piece of DNA of the admin was enough to get into it."

The monitoring agents kept quiet, and although they had perfect poker-faces, tiny beads of sweat formed on the sides of their heads.

"Once I gained access, I looked through your files--over ten-thousand terabytes of data with no information about myself. Just as I was about to give up, I found a suspiciously different-looking folder on your hard drive. With untrained eyes, it would have been missed--but, I saw it. Opening the folder, the first thing I see are pictures of me. They were taken through the security cameras that were in my room and anywhere else I happen to be in the palace. Pictures of me as a baby, as a child, as a teenager, and now. If you didn't care about me, how could you possibly keep something so personal?

"Another thing," Genuas says after a brief pause. "I found your medical records. From what I could see, there were reports that you were diagnosed as infertile. You had tried to conceive before, but your womb was barren. I'm not an experiment--you adopted me for a chance to be a mother. You disguised me as an experiment because of this 'Aqari code' you're so used to--to not show emotion, or sentiment, or anything that shows human-like behavior--yet everything I saw, hidden in your hard drive, shows proof that you cared about me. If I'm not mistaken, you have loved me as your very own."

The air was still as the Queen stared out into the panel. She seemed calm, her face reflecting the glass showing perfect indifference. She releases the button from the microphone. "Leave," she orders the monitoring guards. They do so without question, opening and closing a panel out of the monitoring room. With no camera within the room, Queen Gwendalynn sits. Crossing her legs, she stares out at the one-way panel. She thinks, watching as her son and unconscious old woman descend towards the knawing pit of fire. The boy isn't wrong, she thinks to herself. 

"Please, mother!" Genuas shouts. "I beg of you."

Right before the fire licked their feet, the descent stops. A second later, the lights of the chamber turn on, and the maw closes. Upon the Queen's orders, personnel unhooks Genuas and the old woman from the chains. Once the old woman was taken away, Gwendalynn comes up to Genuas and stares at his face. "I believe it's time you knew the truth."

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