“Hi Doc,” Han said. He grasped the side of the door frame with a thumbed foot and hurled himself into Zimmerman’s lab. The small green primate cannon-balled across open space and through Wisp’s little cloud form. Wisp dissipated and reformed. Yellow and pink light shone from her misty body in bright bursts.
“Is this laughter?’ Dr. Zimmerman asked. He prodded the cloud, in an attempt to tickle.
“She thinks I’m funny?” Han asked, walking in circles on his hands.
Wisp trailed behind the boy, and gave Han the impression she was eager for more of his antics. Han batted at the cloud with his tail, and Wisp reacted by compressing into a dense ball and dodging from side to side.
“Amazing,” Dr. Zimmerman said, leaning closer. “Han, you are getting more of a reaction from Wisp than my team and I have coaxed out of her in twelve years!”
“She’s fun Doc.” Han opened both arms wide, grabbed Wisp in a bear hug and squeezed until he cinched her into an hourglass shape. “Too bad she’s cooped up here all the time. I could use a playmate.”
Wisp replied with a near blinding flash of pink. She whirled in a gusty swirling motion over to Zimmerman and nudged him toward Pringar. She held out a hand to keep the poor man from colliding with her. The girl was clearly excited.
Wisp whirled the doctor about so that he and Pringar faced Han, then flew beneath the boy in a gust and lifted him off his feet and right out Zimmerman’s open door. Han whooped in surprise and giddy delight.
Despite her concern, Pringar smiled broadl, her wedge shaped head splitting open to reveal pointed teeth. The Anki ruffled green wings and retracted them tightly against her back. Her long tail wagged slowly across the ground.
From the doorway, Zimmerman and Pringar watched Wisp carry Han about the open lobby, an enormous space that stretched from ground level to the building’s high rise sky lights. She held him timidly at first, until Han found his feet and stood in a slight crouch, like a surfer. Wisp seemed to fly where the boy’s hand, outstretched for balance, pointed. Han directed Wisp to fly them straight up and they tipped gently until the boy was nearly sideways. Wisp grasped his feet by wrapping smoky tendrils of her vapor around his ankles and sped them to within inches of the ceiling glass. Then she reformed as a mat under Han’s back and drifted back down toward Dr. Zimmerman’s office.
“She seems to have formed a connection with Han,” Zimmerman mused.
“Has Wisp ever carried anyone before?” Pringar asked.
“She carried a teddy bear around years ago, a Christmas present. Never a living being, and never to her delight.”
Wisp didn’t communicate verbally. The bright flashes of yellow and pink light from her cloudy center indicated happiness, small lightning bolts crackled about her cloud when she was angry, and a chilly gust of wind blew when she seemed sad.
“Alright Wisp, please bring Hanuman back to my office for his exam,” Zimmerman said.
A chilly wind blew past, Wisp’s cloudy form taking a grey pallor. The little Nefilim deposited the boy on the exam table and floated in the corner of Zimmerman’s office.
Han’s mental development had been a topic of intense curiosity for Zimmerman. The boy had excellent speaking skills and a good vocabulary for his age. He struggled a bit with reading, concentrating on a story while the world turned about him taxed his attention span. Action novels occupied him the best, drama and love stories never took him beyond the first chapter. He was not quick to learn math, but science and humanities came naturally to him.
Physically, the boy was strong enough to lift a sofa on his own. He had done it to grab a lost toy with his tail one morning. Elsaap had been dozing on it and fell onto the floor. He had never been sick and no one could not recall him being hurt beyond a scrape or a bruise.
Zimmerman took samples and Han complied to various requests for physical demonstrations.
“Have you had any more dreams of life before you came to the colony?” Zimmerman asked.
“Just the same one, Doc.” Hanuman smiled at the man and his orange eyes glowed brilliantly. “About Pringar and Elsaap’s gemstones. I dreamed that I was a little monkey, like my cousins in the woods, and I ate a gemstone. Did that really happen Doc?”
“We don’t know lad. All the colony’s gemstones are accounted for, but you appeared under quite mysterious circumstances. Your blood tests do reveal traces of the Anki gemstone, so it is a possibility.”
“I’m going to find some gemstones of my own! I feed them to my cousins, so they can be like me.”
“Let’s not be hasty Hanuman.” Doctor Zimmerman replied. “We don’t know how a test like that would turn out. The lives of those creatures would be jeopardized by such an experiment.”
“I know,” Han said. “I just don’t want to be alone. No one is just like me.”
“We are all unique, my boy. The Crispin family loves you like a son.”
Hanuman smiled once more.
About a half hour into the appointment, Wisp seemed to get anxious. The cloud began circling the room, like a whirlwind. Zimmerman asked her to settle down and little bolts of energy crackled her discontentment.
“My Wisp…” Zimmerman stammered. “She hasn’t been outdoors since I brought her here after Free Day. I was afraid she would drift off to join the other clouds, or trail her parents about the stratosphere. She never showed interest in going out before. Come to think of it, she never showed interest in anything before.”
“It’s good for Han to have a friend that is every bit as unique as he is,” Pringar replied. ”It’s really good to see her come out of her shell. Do you think she is mentally whole?”
“I think Wisp is in command of mental faculties similar to humans her age. I think what she suffers from is a severe introversion and a speaking disability. She expresses emotion clearly, as you have seen, and my assistants and I have seen numerous displays of intelligence, especially in the recent years.”
“Maybe Han brought her out of her shell. Have you considered asking her to attend school?”
“We teach her here. It is part of our observation process.”
“Look how happy she is around other children,” Pringar replied. “Maybe what she needs is to experience a home life and a social life.”
“While I love to provide for her, I’m hardly the person to ask. Ninma and I go on dates when she visits and when I visit Beltyre, but most nights I eat and sleep here. I have a maid clean my quarters, simply because food grows mold and dust accumulates before I return home. I even keep my wardrobe here. Wisp is part of the life of a man who has nearly no social life, I’m afraid. A perfect existence for an academic like myself, but a dreadful bore to a unique being like her.”
“She can stay with us,” Pringar said. “Who better to relate to than other unique LARC1 citizens?”
Zimmerman considered it carefully. “I suppose it would be best for Wisp. With the breakthrough we’ve seen today, I feel like it is the right time for her too.”
The doctor gave Wisp a smile and she swept up Han, who giggled at the contact, and flew him out the office, about the lobby, and then straight out the door.
Zimmerman walked Pringar out the building and they gazed skyward for a minute until they spotted the green boy and his yellow friend performing stunts at the shuggara corps practice grounds. “I’ll call your slate tonight to let you know how she settled in.”
Pringar stretched green leathery wings a dozen feet to her sides and took to the air after the children. She waved to the shugarra corps as she approached. Their silver masks and wings glinted in the morning sun. Veteran and recruit alike paused their aerial combat drills to take in the spectacle.
Han and Wisp raced through the air from city wall to lake’s edge in the blink of an eye. The girl’s speed was incredible. The pair flew out over the lake. Han directed Wisp to turn him sideways, parallel with the water, and his hand skimmed the surface, casting spray in their wake.
The girl finally set Han down in the late afternoon. Poor Han had to beg. He was unwilling to take company into the bathroom. That night, around the dinner table Pringar set a place for Wisp. Zimmerman mentioned that she ate and drank, though the substances were enveloped into the cloud and disappeared.
Elsaap, Hanuman, and Pringar began eating pizza and the little cloud nestled into her spot. No one noticed it happen, but when Han glanced in her direction between bites, a petite translucent, yellow hued girl sat in the chair, holding a slice of pizza, chewing contentedly.
“You are a girl now!” Han declared.
Han held up an open palm and Wisp slapped it, causing a puff of vapor.
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