Fried Chicken of the Gods
The blue-skinned vragstaaki howled and screamed in fury. Bram and Readwyn turned and ran for their lives into the canyon.
"You had to ask them about the fried chicken!" Raedwyn shouted as she vaulted over a boulder. "We were warned not to talk to anyone about it!"
"I thought a carnivorous human-variant would understand," Bram shouted back, ducking under a tumble tree limb.
"Save your breath and run!" Raedwyn shouted.
They ran for a mile, slowly outdistancing the vragstaaki. They breathed normally, their genetically engineered bodies granting them the ability to run at full speed for hours.
Raedwyn relaxed and slowed her pace down to a jog. "What now?" she asked.
Bram looked over his shoulder. "Those blue-skinned meanies are slowing down. I think they've given up being able to chase us."
"I don't think so," Raedwyn said, despair creeping into her voice. "We've run into a box canyon. There's no way out except through the vragstaaki."
Bram patted his unobtanium belt buckle. "If it comes down to it, we can apothesize and get rid of them."
"Is this fried chicken worth destroying lives?" Raedwyn asked.
"You don't understand," Bram said. "This isn't just fried chicken. It's the fried chicken of the elder species, the original homo sapiens from old Terra. It's said there is nothing like it anywhere else in the galaxy."
"And that's worth killing others?" Raedwyn said, peering into her mate's eyes.
"Absolutely," Bram said, conviction in his voice. "As galactic food critics, it's our duty to try this cuisine. Think of our readers!"
Raedwyn sighed deeply as they jogged. The end of the box canyon approach. There was no way out, the cliff walls were a thousand feet high.
"Once we apothesize we have five minutes of superhuman ability," Bram said. "So we'll wait until the vragstaaki are almost upon us."
"Bram, this is wrong," Raedwyn said. "Not even fried chicken created by the elders is worth killing for."
"I'll remind you this isn't about us," Bram said. "It's for the readers. For the people who will never get the chance to come here and try it. Our cyber-senses will allow them to experience what we do. Besides, do you really want to die again?"
Raedwyn sighed again. "No, dying is such a pain. Reloading a new body itches. I just feel uncomfortable with what's about to happen. If only these cliff walls weren't so high we could apothesize and climb them instead of murdering those blue meanies."
"I could apothesize and try to scare them off," Bram said.
"That's not going to work," Raedwyn said. "The vragstaaki believe the elder species to be gods and we just asked about the food of the gods. They are all going to die trying to kill us."
"Here they come," Bram said, pointing at the approaching blue skins. They shared a distant human ancestry with the approaching vragstaaki, separated by a thousand years of genetics and evolution. Where Bram and Raedwyn had teeth and fingernails, they faced fangs and claws.
With a heavy heart Raedwyn put her hand over her unobtanium belt buckle. In moments she and her mate would become superhuman for five furious, violent minutes. They would rip the vragstaaki to pieces. She knew she would have nightmares about this for months.
"Hold!" A powerful thought entered Raedwyn's mind. Her cyber-defenses were bypassed as if they were nothing and she found she could not move. Twenty feet in front of her, the mob of blue skinned vragstaaki came to a sudden halt.
From the heavens descended a dark-skinned man and woman. They wore a white suit and dress and had white hair. Their faces were lined, in the way that the ancient elders aged. The man had short facial hair, carefully trimmed into a tight, white mustache and beard.
"You have finally come," the white-dressed woman thought at Bram and Raedwyn.
"Are you ancients?" Bram asked.
"Yes, and we have waited for aeons for you to come and try our chicken," the ancient man thought.
"How and why did you know we were coming," Raedwyn asked.
"Our fried chicken is the best," the ancient woman said. "It is a breed of fowl and a recipe perfected thousands of years ago on old Terra, a million light years away. Of course someone was going to come to taste it."
"Why do the creatures of this planet try to stop people from visiting you for the friend chicken?"
"We're not a restaurant," the ancient man said. "We're just two people in love who enjoy making fried chicken. We can't cook for the universe. So we set up this planet as a deterrent for most people."
"But we almost killed all the blue meanies!" Raedwyn shouted in anger. "They don't have resurrection machines!"
"Your apothesis was deactivated the moment you set foot on our world," the ancient woman said. "The vragstaaki or any other creature would have ended your current bodies. We take precautions you cannot comprehend."
Bram tapped his apothesis buckle. When nothing happened, his face turned as white as the ancients' clothing. "What happens to us now?" Bram whispered.
"You come to our home and taste our fried chicken," the ancient man said. "You'll record the flavor, aroma, texture, and temperature and send that memory out into the universe. We'll even share the recipe with you, although it will take your kind thousands of years to understand it."
"This is a marvelous gift," Raedwyn said. "We'll be remembered forever."
"Come, let us go to our kitchen," the ancient woman said. She took Raedwyn's hand and the ancient man took Bram's hand. Then they ascended into the sky.
Behind them, the vragstaaki were released from their immobility. As one they bowed to the ancients, those that they called gods. And as they did so, they saw that each had at their feet a paper bucket filled with the fried chicken of the gods.