Part 1- Qbit: Chapter 3- Literally, it’s an Egg

Literally, it’s an Egg

{Chapter 2390 of the Book of Keepers}

Qbit looked up when he heard the distinctive tones of a passcode as it was entered into the keypad on the outer door lock. The door buzzed and slowly opened. A head poked in and whispered, “Q? You in here?”

Qbit shot up. “Professor Birshtein? Is that you!”

She stepped into the room. “Yes, it’s me.”

Qbit said loudly, “Guess what? I’m here to save you!”

She quickly threw her hands up and looked toward the door. “For goodness’s sake, shh!” She turned to him. “Someone might hear.”

“Right, sorry.”

She went up to the cell door and gave him a look. “And what do you mean save me? I’m not the one behind bars!”

“Well, (he leaned back and looked at the bars) that’s true concerning right here and right now but I’m looking at the big picture.”

The professor crinkled her face. “What? What big picture?”

“You know, the whole ‘getting-you-off-the-island’ picture. I’m here to rescue you and get you to safety!”

“Well, that sounds to me that you think I’m some sort of helpless woman. I am not a helpless woman!” Her voice grew louder as her temper gained momentum. She slapped the bar nearest to him for extra emphasis.

Qbit’s response fell on deaf ears. “Well, no, but…”

“And, like I said, you’re the one behind bars!” She looked a little closer at his drooping mustache. “And you call that pathetic thing a disguise?”

Qbit reached up and tried re-sticking his moustache. “Well, yes, I guess. I mean this is my first time and…

From directly behind her, the professor heard someone say, “You know what Qbit, maybe you should stop right there.”

Startled, the professor spun around to see someone move out from the shadows. She paused for a second then said, “Jeez Q, you scared the crap out of me!”

Qbit came up to stand next to her. “Sorry about that.”

She glanced back at the captured Qbit and said, “I’m hoping that’s your neutrino clone and you’re the real one because that one (she jerked her thumb towards the other Qbit) was starting to make me think I should leave you here!”

“Yeah, I’m afraid my duplicates tend to lack the smooth conversational wit that only the original can possess.”

The jailed Qbit grabbed the bars in front of him and said, “Hey, give me a break, I’m new at being you!”

The real Qbit ignored himself. He asked the professor, “And besides, do you really think I’d get myself captured this easily?” He pointed at himself behind bars.

She paused for a second too long, “Mm, yeah, I guess not.”

Qbit pouted. “Gee, wow, thanks for the vote of confidence. I do believe I’m offended.”

Still a little worked up she said, “I’m sure you’ll get over it.” Quickly realizing that was uncalled for she added, “Anyway, I’m glad to see you made it here safely.”

Qbit waved his hand in the air. “It was a piece of cake.”

The professor took a step back then motioned toward the convict Qbit. “Let me guess, your plan needed a diversion?”

“Yep, I figured if they thought they’d captured me and had me in here, it might give us some extra time to get off the island.”

“How’d you make sure they found you, uh, him?”

He walked over to stand next to himself. “I had him come in with the cleaning crew. I knew they do facial recognition checks on everyone that comes to the island, so I made sure to make it easy for them.” Qbit reached into the cell and tried to re-stick the drooping moustache. “It worked like a charm.”

The professor wasn’t so sure about that. “I don’t know Q, that sounds a bit too easy. They’re usually pretty tight with security around here. It sounds to me like they knew you were coming.” She pulled a piece of dust from his hair. “How’d you get yourself past the guards?”

“Ahh, that part was easy.” He quickly switched himself into his natural state; groups of neutrinos swirling around a central core of dark matter. “It helps when you’re made up of the smallest particle in the universe!” The groups of neutrinos swirled into the air then reformed themselves on the opposite side of the professor.

“Show off! Besides, you’re the smallest known particle.”

The neutrinos, like tiny mirrors, redirected the surrounding light to reform Qbit. He looked at her sideways and said, “Always have to try and burst my bubble don’t you professor?”

“It wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t try!”

He smiled and said, “I guess.” He walked over to the door and put an ear to it. “So, changing the subject, how’d you know I was in here?”

She held up her arm and pointed to a band attached to her wrist. “Security alert on the company communications device.” She dropped her arm. “Everyone got a notification that you’d been caught trying to sneak in.”

“That sounds odd, do they always notify everyone like that?”

“No, and what makes it even stranger is they included your name, they’ve never done that before. I think we better be extra careful because if you ask me, it sounds like a trap.”

“Hm, maybe you’re right, but one thing I did notice is that this place seems to be very short handed. I thought it would be much more crowded for an operation of this size. Maybe that’s why they didn’t have time to check my double out more thoroughly. Where is everyone?”

The professor went over to the door. “The whole operation is getting ready to move back to the dome…”

Qbit shook his head in agreement. “Mrs. P told me you said that.”

She looked back at him. “Me? I didn’t tell her that!”

Qbit looked confused. “But she said you told her that Chad was sending people back to the dome.”

“That’s impossible, the last time I talked to her I didn’t even know that. All I said was I needed to get out of here because I heard Chad was closing the place up and I didn’t think it would be safe for me to stay.”

“Then who told her?”

The professor put her hand on the door latch. “I don’t know that, but I do know that we need to act quickly because the labs, the equipment and everything else is already staged at the hanger where they keep the spacecraft. I heard they’re planning to take it and some of the nonessential staff out of here starting tomorrow.”

The captured Qbit asked, “What’s happened that Chad wants to leave in such a hurry?”

They both looked at him.

His shoulders dropped. “Um, sorry, I kind of got drawn in. It’s all very fascinating!”

The professor shrugged her shoulders and said, “That’s okay. I’ve learned from a friend here that it might be because they’ve come up with a new animal cloning technique that doesn’t require all the space this place has. It’s called the Egg.”

The real Qbit asked, “The Egg? What the heck is that? Is it an acronym or something?”

“No, it’s an egg.”

Impressed, Qbit asked, “Like a high-tech 3D printed incubation system?”

“I guess you can call it high-tech but it’s an egg.”

“An egg?”

“Literally, it’s an egg. A big egg.” She held her hands about a foot apart.

“Like an ostrich egg.”

“No, a little bigger than that.”

“Is it made of calcium carbonate crystals?”

“Exactly, just like a regular egg.”

“So, what’s so high tech about a regular egg?”

“Well, (she went and sat on the edge of the security guard’s desk and used her hands to aid in the description) the outer shell protects the embryo just like a normal egg however, the yolk is something completely different. It looks the same, but it’s made up of tiny nano bots that work to increase the rate of the embryo’s development.”

“Nanobots! That’s pretty impressive. Chad must have a pretty good research and development staff.”

“Yeah, he does, he hired them from out of the Oasis.”

Qbit’s face lit up. “Really! From the Oasis? The Oasis?”

“Well yeah, I guess, that’s what my friend said. What’s so special about that?”

 “I’ve never met anyone from the Oasis. I’ve heard they’re not like anyone or anything else out there! (He looked up) I’ve got to meet one.”

“Well, good luck with that. They’re pretty much top-secret so nobody can get near them. And besides, we don’t have time for an alien meet and greet it’s the Egg I’m worried about.”

Qbit refocused. “Oh, right, sorry. Um, just how much of an increase in development are we talking about?”

“The animal will become full-grown in weeks not months.”

“What? That’s incredible…and scary at the same time… and they’ve been doing that here, on the island? Using what animals?”

“They’ve been re-creating the animals from the dome, but I don’t think they could have tried it more than a couple of dozen times because there’s a problem with the egg that only a few people know about.”

“What kind of problem?”

“Usually, once an Egg animal reaches full maturity the aging process is supposed to cease at a predetermined time but, in some cases, it doesn’t stop at all. After hatching, the animal rapidly gets older and older until the internal organs can no longer function correctly. It’s a terribly painful process.”

“Wow, that is horrible. I can see why you’re so desperate to get out of here and let Mrs. Privet know. And you’re sure there’s been only a couple of dozen successful animal hatchings?”

“I’m not sure of the exact number but it couldn’t have been many more or I would have seen them in the outdoor pens.”

“Hm, but that doesn’t make sense.”

“Why not?”

Qbit put his hand to his chin. “You know the animals that Chad stole from the Dome? Well, they’ve been bringing them all back and then some.”

She put her hands on her hips and looked confused. “What? Back? How? I thought he sold all of them off?”

“I don’t know about that, but I do know there are a large number of them being brought back.”

She looked away and started to say, “That doesn’t make sense. How could…” A look of fear flashed across her face. “Oh no.”

“What?”

“What if they’re not the original animals? What if he has been making clones from the Egg somewhere else that I didn’t know about?”

“But why bring them back to the Dome? Why not just keep them where they were created?”

She thought for a second. “The food sources.”

“Food?”

“Yeah.” She glanced up at Qbit’s clone in the cell. He was still trying to re-stick his moustache. She turned back to the real Qbit and said, “Maybe the animals they’re bringing back are clones of the original. Maybe they need to eat the same food as the originals. So, maybe that’s why they’re taking them back to the dome.

“That’s a lot of maybes to consider but it does sound highly probable.” He paused for a second. “I hate to tell you this but that’s not our only problem, there’s are a couple more things I need to tell you.”

“Uh, oh, this can’t be good.”

Now it was Qbit’s turn to sit on the desk. “Chad taken Kulkukan and from what we’ve been able to find out, he’s bringing him to the dome.”

“What? How the world did he get Kulkukan?” Before Qbit could tell her, she blurted out, “Oh no! You don’t think he’s going to try to clone him? That will be disastrous. He’s the alpha animal. You can’t have more than one, it will be chaos.”

He put his hand back to his chin. “Hm, I didn’t think of that.” He dropped his hand down and said, “Uh, oh.”

The professor’s shoulders dropped. “What now?”

“Mrs. P has Tau and I rounding up the Pure Keepers to start their training.”

“So, what’s wrong with that? It’s about time they learn exactly what they’re capable of.”

“Well, I kind of suggested that we bring them to the Dome to help out with Kulkukan but, after what you just said, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

The professor shook her head. “If Chad is going to try and clone him, I think that’s unwise. There’s no way they’ll be ready to handle that!”

Qbit pulled out a tablet out of his pocket, swiped his fingers across it a couple of times then said, “We’ve got to get you back to Mrs. Privet so you can fill her in on all of this. Plus, we really need to get going, we don’t have much time.”

“Time for what?”

He made a final tap on the tablet then put it back in his pocket. “Our way off of this planet.”

Chapter 4- I Don’t Want to Leave Her Alone

{Chapter 2391 of the Book of Keepers}

Professor Birshtein dropped her arms to her side. “Ohhh, man, I hope you don’t mean a gate.”

“I do.”

“I hate gates.”

“It’s the safest way out.”

“I know but it doesn’t mean I like using them. Too many variables.”

“You’re a geneticist for goodness sakes. Isn’t that all about unknown variables!”

“It’s different. I don’t like gates. I don’t understand them.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you all about them, again, once we are out of here.”

The professor looked at her feet. “Um, there’s something else and I’m not sure you’re going to like this but, we need to bring Aura with us when we go.”

“Who’s Aura?”

She looked back up at him. “She’s one of the last cloned animals, a Griffin to be exact.”

Qbit tilted his head a little to the right and said, “Hm, that’s going to make things a lot more difficult. Are you sure we can’t leave her and come back later?”

The professor shook her head no. “I don’t think she’ll live that long. Plus, I want to continue my tests on her to see if I can figure out how to reverse the ageing problem.”

Qbit thought for a minute. “It’s a big deal for you, isn’t it? Saving her, I mean.”

She looked him in the eyes. “Yes, a very big deal. She’s been with me since she hatched, and I don’t want to leave her alone.”

Qbit thought for a second then said, “Okay, I’m sure we can make it work.”

She looked surprised. “Really? Just like that?”

He shrugged. “If it were anyone else, maybe not, but because it’s you, I’ll make an exception.”

She gave him a quick hug. “You’re the best Q.”

He hugged her back and said, “I know. Now let’s get moving.”

He went over to the door, slowly opened it and peered out. “Looks good, c’mon.”

She stepped up behind him and pointed down the hall. “That-a-way.” They pulled the door shut behind them and slowly crept down the hallway.

The detained Qbit said to an empty room, “Um, I’ll wait here then?” He noticed his moustache was still hanging so he reached up and tried re-sticking it. It fell to the ground as he turned into a stream of neutrinos and vanished through the wall.

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