“The human is in High Orbit Station,” Damkina’s voice came on over the radio of Anzu’s craft. “Baak will begin testing any time soon. Avoid any type of unnecessary conversation with him.”
The engines burst on full throttle, and the spacecraft reached escape velocity. Once in outer space, Anzu punched in the coordinates towards High Orbit Station.
He sighed and cut the communication line. For a moment, he wanted to be at peace.
In a distance, the faint, yellow gleam of Yaro Orbital Prison reminded him of his fate if he refused to comply with any of Damkina’s orders. That cold piece of orbiting metal would be his next home, forever, only if Damkina decided to spare his life, of course. At this thought, he clutched his nape.
These past days had been his worst. Living with a nanobomb inside of him, knowing that at any given moment, for any mistake he could commit, Damkina could blow him up, caused shivers to run down his spine. Each day, sleep deprivation took its toll on him.
He reviewed his task file and shuddered at the thought of his assignments. Then he looked at the human’s image and rubbed his forehead. Taking an innocent life in exchange for his freedom was cruel, but Zaoni’s scientists would murder her anyway, so what difference would it make? He would do this human a favor.
It remained best for her to die at his hands than living her entire life as a prisoner at the mercy of Zaoni’s sick scientists. At least that bit of reality offered him some council. But murdering billions of humans, cloning the survivors’ fittest, and taking over Zaoni, he in command, became his biggest nightmare.
If only Damkina could die, he thought. But I can’t murder her. Or can I?
Shifting his thoughts away from havoc, he spoke into the radio, “Craft 5678 requesting entry.”
“Affirmative. Door 297 opening in 10.”
He maneuvered the nose of his ship to align with the Station’s entrance and slowly locked in.
Damkina had sent Anzu to pick up the human, but before doing so, she had also requested him to verify if Baak had processed the human according to the given standards.
“Can you please provide me with your last procedure’s data,” Anzu asked Baak, one of the head scientists responsible for the bio-program production.
Baak, with a suspicious glare, swiped his fingers across the glass screen.
The information then popped on Anzu’s screen. Anzu detested Baak’s animosity, one that was earned, for Baak definitely suspected Anzu felt.
So, ignoring Baak’s penetrating glare, Anzu zoomed into the human’s test results. Baak had inserted, successfully, the first nanobots in the creature’s brain, the ones responsible for mapping her memories and the associated emotions.
“It seems you’re good to go,” Anzu said.
“What could a machinist possibly have to do with scientific research?” Baak asked.
Anzu disregarded him.
Baak shut off the screen, turned Anzu’s chair, making Anzu face him, and tapped the table. “I was forbidden, suspiciously, from peacefully abducting the creatures. I still cannot comprehend why a machinist—”
“Pilot,” Anzu interrupted.
“Machinist. We have robots who do a better job than you. For the same reason, your inferior medical knowledge immediately disqualifies you to have, if not, any, contact with my creatures. But somehow you, not only, have to oversee my work, which you don’t understand, but take away my scientific rights. Who do you work for?”
Anzu rubbed his forehead and swallowed. Now that was inconvenient. Then Anzu stared into Baak’s deep, black eyes, and said, “Obviously, for the same commander giving you orders.”
“Absurd. Prove to me that you are qualified.”
“I don’t have to.”
“Don’t try to bluff me,” Baak said. “What is up with you and Damkina?”
“I follow orders.”
“Last minute orders?”
“May I ask, sir, why take away….” Anzu paused, read the human’s name. “Eliza’s emotions? What for? Isn’t that a tad too cruel?”
“So a machinist, for the first time in my life, is questioning my ethics.”
Anzu said, shaking his head. “Yes. Of course I am. I always will.” They stared into each other’s eyes. Then Anzu continued, “In fact, let me give you my unbiased, unscientific opinion about your dehumanizing project.”
“I cannot wait to hear this nonsense.”
“It must be terrifying for Eliza to become devoid of her positive emotions…for the creation of an absurd mind-controlling bio-program.”
“Now, don’t be so hard on me. Wouldn’t you benefit from this program?”
Anzu looked him in the eye, took a deep breath, stood up, and, for the sake of his life, he stiffed his expression. “Please, inform me when you are finished with the human and, for her own good, tie her up. I’ll receive her at the hangar.”
Baak said, dodging him from leaving, “I’ve been noticing frantic reactions in you, especially your attitude towards this task. It is not proper. A logical thinker argues with factual arguments, whereas your defense is emotional. I may be forced to file a complaint and have you tested for emotions.”
“None of that.” Anzu grabbed his crystal cube and walked out, pondering about his urgency to finish his task and flee with Damkina before Baak could sign him up for rehabilitation and, afterwards, if he didn’t pass the exams, be executed.
Then Baak said, “Stay away from my project, machinist.”
Anzu stopped at the door, then said, “Insults are emotional.”
“Why do you argue?”
“You are right, please excuse me,” Anzu said.
Anzu hated living in this world, surrounded by senseless idiots, but he loved his life too much to give it up because of one fight.
THE UNIVERSE BETWEEN US is a Sci Fi thriller about a young woman who struggles to survive on an alien planet.
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