The love of her life died when they were teens, and Idalia had no plans for any kind of future. When a woman named Minerva arrived near the lighthouse where she spent her days escorting tourists and made Idalia an offer, it was a no-brainer. Nothing or something. She chose something to bring her life out of the lock she had been in.
The process to change her body to enable her to survive Los was detailed and altered every bit of tissue and bone she had.
Taunting a planet’s avatar into reappearing using sex isn’t something one can train for, but Idalia has a good instinct for it, and he soon rises to claim her, body and soul.
Idalia finished bringing her group of huffing tourists to the main floor of the lighthouse, and she smiled. “So, as you can see, you had to be fit to head up and down those steps every day, and it makes sense that the most common deaths for lighthouse keepers were falls.”
One of the teachers wheezed, “What was next?”
“Fire and then death trying to rescue wrecked sailors.” Idalia paused. “It is a simple way to go, but it left so many loved ones behind.”
A woman with eyes that gently swirled said, “Were you left behind?”
Idalia paused, and all eyes moved in her direction. “I was. We were in love, we were teens, and he died trying to rescue someone who didn’t know how to swim. They both died.”
The woman nodded. “Idalia, may I speak with you?”
“I am not done my tour.”
The group was wheezing, and she looked at them. “And that concludes my tour of the lighthouse.”
The woman nodded. “Please, come with me. I will buy you a coffee somewhere out of the wind.”
Idalia shrugged and headed out with the strange woman in the designer suit. “Who are you, and what is going on in your eyes?”
“Ah, you noticed that? Well done. I am Minerva-Gaia, and I do the recruiting for the Reset Project. You applied to be a Terran Volunteer decades ago, but you were rejected at the time.”
Idalia walked with her and nodded. “I was. They said I was emotionally unstable, and in hindsight, I was. Grief is a harsh mistress.”
“Yes, but your genes were tested, and we recently got a request for a young woman of your genotype.”
Idalia pulled her grey braid over her shoulder. “I am hardly young.”
“Ah, that is where the reset part comes in. Let’s get that coffee.”
They got their beverages and settled in the corner, talking.
“Using off-world DNA, we can reset your body to the time where you were the strongest, physically mature, and most intelligent. We can give you the benefit of every gene that sleeps. You will be taller, stronger, healthier than you have ever been.”
Idalia laughed. “Can I be warmer? I don’t think I have felt warm in nearly thirty years.”
“It is funny you should say that...”
Idalia listened as the tasks and duties were outlined, and she laughed. “I have to walk over a volcanic crevice and stand there every few days?”
“Yes. The rest of your time is your own.”
“How will my body take the heat?”
“That is the point of the reset. You will become impervious to heat. You will take it into your skin and use it to keep you warm. The issue arises with the urgency of the matter. Los is in desperate need of someone to bring the fire to the surface. Will you do it?”
“What happens after I bring the fire?”
“You live with the resources of a world at your disposal. You can do whatever you like. Perhaps you can even travel to other stars.”
“When would this happen?”
“Well, we rather need you to leave immediately. There is a flight window, and we want you travelling as soon as possible.”
“Why the rush?” She hunched around her cup and looked into the dark brew.
“Los is dying. Freezing. The fire must be pulled to the surface and held there if the planet is to survive. To hold the fire on the surface, they need you.”
“I don’t think that I am actually needed.”
“The physiology required to survive the fire on Los can be found in one place on Earth, and that place is sitting across from me with a rapidly cooling coffee.”
“How does that happen?”
Minerva smiled and shrugged. “No one knows. Random combination, an alien ancestor, or just your mother craving something specific during pregnancy, but you are what the Los need, and if you agree to the contract, we will deliver it.”
Minerva held out a tablet and nodded to her to read it. Idalia pulled out her reading glasses and began to read. Her cup was refilled twice before she finished the contract on a comprehensive read.
Idalia sat back. “If you can do what you say and this is accurate, I would really go back to appearing young?”
Minerva grinned. “I am glad you didn’t say being young because that is something else. But, yes. Your body would be reformed into the best shape you can possibly be. Muscle tone, skin tone, and mental acuity. You will be reset to the best you can be.”
“And then the alien additions kick in.”
“Correct. It will be a long trip, so there is plenty of time for you to be reshaped.”
Idalia tapped her finger. “According to this, there is a warship waiting for me. They will transport me.”
“Are they threatening Earth?”
Minerva shrugged carelessly. “A little. They are making threats, but we have bigger defenses at our disposal. They wouldn’t even make a dent. They will refer to you as the sacrificial maiden, but there is no sacrifice, and you are not a maiden. That is just ridiculous. Most of those guys wouldn’t know a hymen if it snapped them in the face. It is just a tense band of tissue, not a freshness seal.”
Idalia snorted. “I had been terrified, but we went slow and then nothing happened but joy. I remember that much about it.”
Minerva smiled slowly. “You had a good man for as long as you had him.”
Idalia rubbed her arms. “I was warm then. I remember that. He was my sun and my warmth, and we were going to spend every day together, and then, he was gone.”
“And he will always be gone, but have you mourned him enough?”
Idalia looked up and at her worn and grey reflection in the window. “I have.”