For several minutes, no one spoke. Gorrmunsa even sniffed experimentally, but with both twins side by side even he could make no distinction, as they seemed to give off the same complex scent.
Carsius almost grinned. "Sho'rockheena twins... I'll be damned."
The Ra'dith on the left glanced at him, "That is indeed the people of our heritage, but what is this twins you speak of?"
Laurel shook her head, "That's what you are," she explained with a chortle, "twins; that's what we say when there are two identical persons."
"There is only one Ra'dith," the one on the right told her.
"Blimey," Barmier whispered to Atis, "even their voices sound the same!"
Laurel still tried to find some exclusive trait to distinguish them. "Yes—but which one of you is Ra'dith?"
"We are Ra'dith," they answered in perfect unison.
Deej figured it out first. The portly Ewok mused, "Two children, born as one, raised as one, under one name."
They both looked at him approvingly. One said, "Two faces of but one coin. Two parts of one life."
"Yes," Laurel huffed in exasperation, "but surely one of you was with me while the other gave aid on the surface."
The right-hand Ra'dith stepped forward, "I, Ra'dith, gave you aid in the caverns."
Laurel paused to think about how best to approach the question. "Well, then what is your... face?" she used their own language of duality.
Ra'dith nodded, "My face was called Tharvera." She pointed to her twin, "He was called Do'metian. But we are Ra'dith," Tharvera stressed again.
Carsius was still glancing between them, wondering how a girl and a boy could look so incredibly similar.
"Truth is honored," Do'metian spoke to his sister as if in reminder.
Tharvera turned, "Our honor is true," she responded. She turned back to Laurel.
"Ra'dith must depart, but we wish to commend you for the success of this operation." She presented Laurel with a number of carpules. "Should the Elitinati resurface anywhere, we give these to be analyzed, duplicated, and used in the same way wherever their influence can be found."
Laurel nodded. "Thank you."
"Farewell," Ra'dith said in unison, and together they vanished into the crowd and, presumably, off-world.
The nine members of the Eillumaeian Resistance glanced at each other.
"Well," Atis broke the silence, "I suppose our work here is done." He glanced at Barmier. "Do you have the beacon?"
Barmier nodded and produced the silver device. "Back to Shinaa for us," he said gruffly. The two shook hands all around and even accepted hugs from Laurel and Renata. With a wave and the click of a button, they were gone.
Deej and Gorrmunsa departed next. Deej shook hands with Scander, Augustus and Carsius, and bowed to Laurel and Renata. Gorrmunsa stood and said nothing, but his eyes were fixed on Renata until the two vanished.
Scander frowned as he saw that only four remained. He looked back at the crowd. The Inoculated citizens, deprived of independent thought and external influence of any sort, sat numbly on the ground, as incapable as newborn infants.
"What's going to happen to them?" Scander asked.
Carsius joined him, "Well, no doubt the new influences we've introduced to the collective consciousness will provide a suitable foundation for a new, healthy society. My guess is the Vaccinated people will be more than willing to nurture and educate the Inoculated ones back to normal function, and they'll have a better community." He glanced down at the young man, who watched the milling folks below.
"The country I left has been laid waste by evil," Scander mused. "I have no family, no friends—" he looked at the four of them, "Until I met you all," he finished. The tears glimmered at the edge of his eyes.
Carsius laid a hand on his shoulder. "Would you like to stay and help these people?"
Scander shrugged and scratched behind his ear. "This place would feel as much like home as Ungvilia, and I might actually be able to make a difference here."
Carsius nodded and handed Scander a teleport beacon. "All you would need to do is program this with the coordinates of whatever world you wish to go to, and it will take you there. Till then, you may stay and help these people as faithfully as you have helped us. It has been good to have you by my side, Scanderilian Hokron. Well done, soldier."
Scander grinned and snapped a salute.
Carsius and Augustus shared a glance; Augustus nodded.
"It is time we returned to our baseworld," he announced to the two Murindans. He extended his hand to Laurel and Renata, and Augustus did the same.
"It has been an honor serving with such valiant fighters," Carsius continued. "May we meet again."
Laurel smiled, "Aye, and under more peaceful circumstances." She looked from one man to the other, "I never met anyone offworld before you joined us. Thank you for all you have done."
Augustus bowed, "If you ever have need, you may consider the Syndicate of the Black Hand your allies."
Laurel nodded, "Thank you, sir. I will see that likewise any Black Hand operatives called to Murinda will be warmly received by my people."
Carsius and Augustus departed by the latter's teleport beacon.
FIVE WEEKS LATER.....
Commander Carsius paced the flight deck of the Black Hand space shuttle. They had succeeded on Eillumaeia—but it seemed but a pinprick of glimmer on the fringes of the vast darkness all over the galaxy.
He heard the familiar stamp of boots behind him.
"What is it, Lieutenant?" He turned around to face the officer.
Lieutenant Augustus gestured down the hallway with his head. Mystified, Carsius nodded and walked with his lieutenant.
"You remember that business with Eillumaeia?" Augustus murmured.
Carsius frowned, "What of it?"
Augustus showed him a holographic news bulletin. "This was released to the galaxy just a few hours ago."
Carsius read the article. According to official sources, all travel to the planet Eillumaeia had been canceled because of a series of unfortunate natural disasters that leveled the planet and decimated the population.
Carsius glanced up at Augustus with a raised eyebrow.
"Natural disaster?" he asked.
Augustus shook his head, "I thought we defeated them!"
Carsius gazed out over the starry space. "Something tells me we just lopped a head off the hydra, but by no means did we strike at its root. No, they have no cause to retreat if just one planet decides they don't want them anymore. The Elitinati have footholds all over the universe. I think it will only be a matter of time before we hear about them again, and we will hear of them for many years to come..."
Complete Series: <Prologue> <Chapter 1> <Chapter 2> <Chapter 3> <Chapter 4> <Chapter 5> <Chapter 6>