The tips of my fingers touch the brittle piece in the inner pocket of my robe as I walk to my room. The edge is rough and unexpectedly jagged as though a jarring reminder of something out of place. Once inside, I prop a chair under the handle of the door to at least delay an intrusion, should there be any. I pull out the piece and examine it, peering at it intently, sniffing it, even tasting a bit of it. To have a kit with me to analyze it even further would be better.
The piece is made up of layers, one piled on and meshed with another repeatedly until they formed this … crust of an exterior. It is smooth on one side with the faintest outline of a textured imprint. On the other side it is rough with what appears to be fine hairs sticking out of it at regular intervals. I review everything that I witnessed, realizing as I do how much I was in an observation mode at the time instead of participating as I should have been. I may have to excuse my behavior later on when we all gather. I pull out the other piece that came from the head. It features a rough exterior as well, like something that’s been exposed to the elements for too long or aged beyond what’s viewed as healthy. By the weight of it, this second piece feels like it is made of denser components than the husk part. Looking around my room, I spy a heavy stone sculpture and use it to smash an end off the piece with it. Instead of breaking into pieces like I would imagine, the object breaks in two. In the center of one of the halves there is a small black blob, surrounded by a hard, white substance. Right now there is an urgent need to piece this mystery altogether.
I was in the Esteemed’s bed chamber. If Carnesol is the new Esteemed, that must mean the old one is … dead and that what I saw on the bed was his … remains. The small, sleek form in the center of the mess was …
A gasp escapes me as I realize the truth of it all. I’ll need blood and living tissue samples to confirm. As though using the re-enactor on the ship, I see it all play out before me. The Bormeas were once a sleek and muscled race of predators. They each carried the ability to self-replicate by means of eggs. At some point they must go into gestation whereby they shed a layer of skin and with it their eggs. As predators they’d be ingesting massive amount of proteins which they’d pass on to their offspring. Way back when, they took on the traits of what they ate. If at one time they feasted on members of a tribe, they learned to stand upright and talk.
All that destruction in the beginning and all that blood. There must have been a population explosion which would explain the hastily built cities for protection against the tribes and perhaps each other. Too many predators in one place and not enough prey, they would have torn each other apart after a time. Living in buildings, becoming more … civilized with each generation, the hunters became less fearsome and physically weaker.
The layers … Esteemed and the others … they haven’t been going into a gestation period regularly and shedding their skin. The Bormeas no longer hunt and eat raw meat either. That’s why they’re so large and slow-moving. That’s why I feel so trapped within their hide, because I am. This isn’t how they’re supposed to be at all. They are a dying race because of their greed. Instead of giving up what position they have amongst their own kind, perhaps out of fear of being destroyed while in stasis, the Bormeas no longer shed their skin and give birth to eggs.
The eggs are part of the skin … which is a nest for the young. The Nekko must have been an experiment. The Bormeas implanted their eggs within other life forms as a means of protecting their offspring from … each other. Of course, whoever lays the most eggs dominates the next generation. From my own form of stasis I know that when I’m in it, I’m at my most vulnerable. Their deceptive ways can only have intensified over the ages.
The Bormeas’ eggs, their next generation, instead became calcified and they adorn them with baubles. In their greed for longevity, the Bormeas sealed the fate of their kind. They’ll die out in time and their calcified eggs, their cronacs, will be ground into dust. They can’t claw out of their old hides as they’re too thick now with so many layers.
The small figure amidst the husk reminded me of my kind though in an dark and twisted way. We have no sharp edges in form of claws or pointy teeth. Our behavior isn’t governed by a lust for blood or any other element that could corrupt us. I can only wonder if all the memory of the Bormea’s previous life was wiped from its mind as well during a gestation. They probably have to start all over in status, most likely at the bottom until cronacs appear on their head to help establish their hierarchy.
Staring across the room as this new information takes hold, I have to wonder how old the current Bormeas are. They can’t be the original Bormeas, but when did they stop replicating? And why, after all of this time, did the Esteemed attempt to do so?