The man two cages down from me gave a hearty laugh. “Come en fight me, ya lily-livered foul beasts!” He shook the cage as he spoke, taunting the beings tending to us. It was Caddock. At this point, I’d recognize his voice anywhere.
“Why don’t you just be quiet?” I couldn’t think with his yammering on.
“Wot er yer doin’ in these cages, undergrounder? They should put ya with yer own kind.” Caddock obviously knew it was me.
“I am with my own kind,” I replied. “Alone.”
Caddock let out another laugh. “I see Beneberak gave yer the ritual. Ya been touched by the Great Mother now, ya have. Yer still not one uh us, undergrounder.” He shook the cage again ferociously.
I had no intention of being one of them. They were brute and crude and they appeared to no longer have any regard for human life. I supposed I could understand to some extent, given they had tried to teach people how to be more respectful of the Great Mother to no avail, but still I wanted to retain some of my humanity.
“I’m thrilled that I’m not one of you, Caddock. You’ve become selfish. You care for no one and nothing but yourself,” I fired the words off without thinking. Caddock grew quiet, though I wasn’t sure why. Maybe what I’d said had struck a nerve.
“You think about the female often.” My captor had returned and was now standing in front of me, studying me curiously. “You are not exactly like these.”
“My name is Kai,” I said, trying to find some way to relate to the being. “Do you have a name?”
“I am called Oscilius,” the alien replied, giving a smile. “Why do you think about the female so often?”
The question seemed genuinely innocent. “She is my friend, my best friend. She’s the only person who has ever been able to understand me. I am concerned for her safety.” I hoped that he would be able to understand.
“I understand you quite well, Kai. I am not unintelligent.” Oscilius seemed offended at my thought.
“I didn’t mean to be offensive,” I said. “I just don’t know if you can understand the depth of my emotions.” The beings did seem unbelievably intelligent, but I had yet to see any of them display any kind of empathy.
“We have evolved beyond emotional attachments,” Oscilius said as he marked something down on a chart. “They are not necessary in an efficient society.”
“Then how do you know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong? How do you experience love, happiness, frustration, anger?” I was unaffectedly curious. I, more than most, understood the need for logic in regard to efficiency, but I couldn’t imagine a life where I felt nothing. “How do you know that you’re alive?”
Oscilius thought for a moment. “Because I am here. I am here and you are there.” He seemed perturbed. “Perhaps we have placed you in the incorrect group. I will have you moved.” Something had worried him. For a being that had evolved beyond emotional attachments, he seemed to be feeling something. I needed to find out what.