Colors swirl around me as my eyes crack open. The colors alone tell me I'm not in my white hospital room anymore. But instead of relief like Ms. Cummings promised, my body feels worse than ever. I can't even lift my head. I immediately get nervous and scared. Why did I believe her? I probably sold myself to some weird experiment place that tortures people in the name of science.

   "Hello," I croak, and I hear footsteps approach me from my left.

  Someone touches my arm, and I manage to roll my head in their direction. My eyelids flutter as my brain tries to recognize the face looking at me, but the person's appearance is all wrong... Their skin is a shiny light purple, and they are towering over me at such a high height.

  "Who are you," I ask, and the strange person tilts their head to the side before holding their finger to their mouth.

   I instantly shut my mouth in fear. I don't want to upset whoever this is, but I keep my eyes on the purple being. As I stare, my vision slowly clears, and the details of the person's face become sharper. I realize the person is a beautiful purple woman with black hair and green cat-like eyes. She is elegantly tall and built like a buff model. Other than her eyes, her face is completely human-like, which comforts me a little. She is wearing simple clothes that don't do her justice but clearly indicate she is a part of a medical team.

  "Heal. Process. Talk," she states bluntly in broken English, and my brows furrow a little before I understand.

  She needs to heal me and then do some kind of process, and then we can speak to each other. Right now, I won't be able to understand her. I nod, and she smiles.

  She gently pats my shoulder and then moves behind my head. Her tall figure is still easy to see, so I watch as she presses a green button. A bright light flashes over me once, and an almost transparent screen manifests in front of her.

   "Holograms," I whisper, trying to explain to my mind what I might be seeing.

  She ignores me and looks at the words on the screen. After about five seconds, the screen disappears. She again presses a button, but this time a yellow one.  Three beeps sound out, and multiple lights begin to flash over me. As they flash, they change color and grow in brightness until I have to shut my eyes. As soon as my eyes close, my other senses begin to focus on what is happening to my body.

With each flash, I feel stronger. My breathing is improving. My spine feels as if it is getting straighter. My scalp and brow bone feel itchy. My heartbeat sounds louder. My toes and fingertips are no longer cold. I can smell the scents of the room better. After about three minutes of flashing lights, the machine beeps again, and the flashes stop.

  I open my eyes, and the colors in the room seem brighter. Above me, the woman presses the green button again. One more flash goes off, and the high-tech screen pops up again. My purple caretaker smiles at the new words, and the screen disappears.

   The purple woman moves away from my bed and comes back with some kind of remote. She smiles at me, and this time I notice her canines are sharp like a vampire but not in a scary long fang kind of way. They make her look like a cute cosplay girl.

She motions for me to sit up, so I do slowly. When I am positioned on the edge of the bed, I grin at the color in my legs before looking up at her again. She shows me the remote she grabbed in a weird way, and I nod because I don't really understand. She presses the remote to the side of my head, and a prick of pain makes me flinch. She steps back and sets the remote down without taking her eyes off of me, and I touch the spot on my head.

  As soon as my fingers graze the spot she pricked with the remote, my vision is blocked by a black wall and waves of electricity pulse through my brain. I gasp loudly, but surprisingly, the jolts aren't painful. After a few moments, the jolts cease, and my vision returns. When I glance at my audience questioningly, she smiles again.

  "Can you understand me," she asks, and my mouth pops open dramatically as I realize what she must have done.

  "I am assuming that is a yes, and you have figured out what the device does. But just to clarify, I used a language educator on you. Most children receive their language chip at the age of three. It allows an individual to understand all known languages. That is why I shushed you earlier. I could understand you, but you wouldn't have understood me if I had spoken to you. I have forced my tongue to learn a few English words for the women coming from your planet, and I hope I spoke them correctly enough for you to understand. My name is Zalu (Zay-lou). I am your correspondent for the Harvest. I am to care for you and answer any questions you may have," she says, and I just stare at her for a moment before responding.

  "So the contract was real," I ask, and she nods.

  "Yes, it is. I understand your planet is still unaware of the existence of other human-like beings in the universe. But it is true. Your planet is obligated under a peace treaty to send women to harvest every ten years. It is a great honor to be chosen for the Harvest on all other planets. Earth's women typically see it differently than we do. But understand the males who will compete for your hand are honorable and will treat you with nothing but love. I will personally see to your care before your champion chooses you. Harvested women are treated like royalty. Before I explain things in more detail, I must get you fed. Your body is now healed, but it is depleted in calories. The cell copying and deletion process tends to use all of a patient's calories," Zalu explains, and I look at the buttons on the wall.

   Questions swirl in my head before I look at the more evolved being again. I lick my lips, and for once, they feel soft.

  "Will you look down on me because I am from earth," I ask, and her thin black eyebrows draw together?

   "Look down on you? I must look down at you. I am taller than you. But that is not a bad thing. I am one of the taller species. We are very accustomed to the height of humans," Zalu replies, and I smile a little.

  "No. Umm, look down on means... Will you behave as if you a better than me? Will you be condescending towards me because I am from earth? Will you be rude to me," I ask, and her eyes widen before she shakes her head?

  "No. The earth is brutal in many ways. Your people fight over money, and many of your people starve all over the world if they don't have it. Your people also hurt each other...sexually and murder one another over minor slights. I will admit murders do happen on our planets, but it is rare for there to be killings outside of the war. But Earth does one thing right, in my opinion...they send the dying to live. Other planets send their most beautiful women. They tend to be spoiled and full of themselves...But Earth sends the sick. I have never met anyone as thankful as a human woman participating in the Harvest. You appreciate life more than the beauties. You look around yourself instead of at yourself," Zalu says, and I smile big.

   "Thank you...Makes me a little scared about being chosen. I'm going against the galaxy's top beauties," I reply, and she grins.

  "Earth's women are often picked in the first rounds. You are a stunning species. Once you see yourself, I am sure you will agree with my assessment. Let's get you fed. Then I will show you to your living quarters, and we can discuss more customs," Zalu says, and I nod before stepping onto the floor.

  As I pass room after room of colorful walls and buttons, I can't hold my tongue anymore.

   "Is everyone here purple," I ask, and the graceful woman looks down at me with a smile.

  "This is my home planet, Kea (Key). We have hosted the Harvest since its conception. My people are like the rainbow. Each person has a different color. My mate is blue, for example. Many human females have commented on my planet's colors. They have told me your Earth is primarily green and brown, which sounds boring to me. Our planet is like our skin. Every plant here is bright. The animals match us. The soil is orange. Our water is blue like yours, but that is where the similarities end," Zalu explains, and as she stops talking, a door in front of us slides open, revealing my first look at Kea.

   I gasp as I look around at a bright, colorful world full of trees.

  "It's like a rainforest that has been dipped in paint," I whisper, and she laughs.

  "I understand paint, and I am assuming a rainforest is a forest that gets quite a bit of rain," Zalu says, and I nod, unable to peel my eyes off my surroundings.

  "What do you think," she asks after a few seconds, and I glance at her.

  "It's beautiful. I hope my mate is from here," I whisper, and she chuckles.

  "Unfortunately, none of the soldiers from my planet qualified this year. Only the males who showed outstanding honor and strength get to participate in the Harvest. Sometimes males from different planets don't make it. This Harvest has many Coks (Cokes) this time around. Their people are strong and often have many in the Harvest. Eleven planets participate in the Harvest.  Each planet sends five women, but the fifty-five males participating have to earn their spots. Millions fight in the war, and every ten years, the strongest soldiers are chosen for this honor. They get to unite planets while being rewarded for their sacrifices with a woman to love and cherish. My planet did choose five women, but they will be mating with someone of another planet," Zalu explains as she begins walking again.

  I follow quickly as my mind tries to piece together the information she just laid on me.

  "Who do they fight," I ask, and she looks at me with a hesitant smile.

  "The Jahns (johns), the Rusckods, the Gafrops, and the most vicious...The Muysocks. All are large and powerful. They believe since they are the largest species of beings that, they should run the Galaxy with an iron fist. They have formed a treaty with each other, and if they win, a dictator from one planet will rule for twenty years. After his reign ends, the next planet in line gets to choose a ruler, and so on. They would enslave all other people. No one would be free unless you were from one of their planets. Your Earth was almost lost to the Muysocks when it was discovered. The alliance immediately came to Earth's aid, so your planet joined the Harvest treaty. Many mixed-race beings are now in the Galaxy, making fighting amongst the allied planets difficult which was the plan of the treaty," Zalu says in a whisper, and I have to lean in to catch everything.

  "It was a good idea," I whisper, and Zalu smiles brightly.

  "I agree. It has unified many," Zalu says, and I smile back.



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