Enemy Self

cyborg-binary-1536624_1280

Intergalactic Trading Ship: Bountiful

Captain: Lu Kimberling

Hired Protection—Androids: Justine Santana and Max Wheeler

Justine’s private internal record:

Ship’s Lounge, Captain Kimberling steps in.

“Hey, you two, one last stop at Ingilium, and you can look for other work. I’m going to take a breather on Helm. The Bhuaci are harmless, so I won’t be needing your services for a while.”

Oh, joy! Wheeler is going to give his opinion. Like the captain cares….

“Are you certain that’s wise, sir? The Bhuaci may be harmless, but they are frequently attacked. The Telathot incursion nearly decimated—”

Brilliant. Get the highest paying ship’s captain irritated while light years from the next hope of employment.

“Don’t lecture me, Wheeler. I’ve stopped there often enough and found myself a secure place. Cresta’s and Ingots could invade till the sun explodes, and they wouldn’t nudge me a millimeter.”

Know the meaning of the word vaporized? If Wheeler were human, he’d be bright red right now.

“As you say, sir.”

“Sure, compliance always makes up for being a total idiot—”

“Listen, I’m going to sleep. The crew just changed shifts and we’re in dead space, so it should be nice an’ boring for a while.”

“As you say, sir.”

“By the time I need you again, Wheeler, learn a few new expressions, would you?”

“As you—”

“Ah, shut up.”

Poor Captain Kimberling. He hasn’t got one itsy, bitsy clue…

~~~

One hour later…

Wheeler may be huge, but he’s as bulky as an Ingot and lumbers like a Cresta. His brown, steady eyes peer straight through the lounge bay window displaying our bright, red spectrum universe as it swirls amid black space. I’d like to paint that view. Someday.

 What does Wheeler think about in that tectonic brain of his? Here goes nothing… I’ll be subtle. Promise.

“You do that on purpose, don’t you?”

“What?”

“Egg him on.”

“Egg. Him. On. What is that supposed to mean? No, don’t tell me. Another one of your human colloquialisms? You need to decide what you are, Cyborg.”

“Like you?”

“I have an identity. I know my role and I—”

“Play the fool.”

“Who’s the fool? You’re the one pretending to be human. ‘Look at me, I have a moral code…’ You were lucky to come out in one piece on Terra Seventeen.”

“I am human. At least…genetically.”

His grip is stronger than I anticipated. Good to know….

“Shall I rip your arm off and show you the technology that holds you together?”

Twist, turn and elbow to the mid-section. Leg sweep under the knees. Pinch Wheeler by the soft spot at the base of his neck…

 “Let me remind you that when they put me together, they included the DNA of a brilliant human mind. Not a Cresta—”

“I’m not Cresta!”

“Ingoti then.”

“Damn you!”

Pity on the fool. Oops, didn’t mean to shove that hard.

“That almost sounded human.”

“DNA means nothing!”

There he goes again. He really ought to turn beet red just to clarify himself.

“So, you’re human too? Genetically speaking?”

“I’m a cyborg. Humanity never claimed me. I never claimed them.”

“But your cyborg family welcomed you with open arms, right?”

“Go to Bothmal!”

“Please—watch your language.”

“Like anything could offend you.”

“I have sensibilities.”

“Just no sense. Being human—genetically speaking—won’t protect you. Only a cyborg—”

“You won’t live forever.”

“Near enough. Better than anyone else.”

“Uanyi and Ingots live for millenniums. Luxonians too. Are they happy?”

“Hades! Who’s looking for happiness? I want to survive for as long as possible.”

“Someday…you’ll die.”

“Not if I can keep getting parts. Besides, who really cares?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it? You’ve never given anyone a reason to care—”

Uh, oh… blinking, blaring sirens! As usual, humans typically overstate the obvious. Here comes the captain, charging ahead like a Cresta at a science convention.

“Hey, you two, looks like we’ve got unexpected visitors. Power up!”

Sigh. Wheeler’s got bloodlust in his eyes again.

“Ready, Human?”

“As much as you, Cyborg.”

“Don’t look so grim. We’ll come out of this alive. Probably. It’s a living.”

I wonder…

“Or a really long death sentence.”

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Horizon Line

Human Remnant living on Lux: Year 34 after leaving OldEarth

Ooohh, feeling kinda ancient today… If I close my eyes, I can almost smell oranges, honeysuckle, and Kendra’s perfume…

“Hey, Doctor Mike.”

I have to block the glare from my eyes to see the silhouette of a young man standing before me.

“Hmmm? Peter?”

“Thought I might find you out here.”

“Step into the shade; I can hardly see you. Sun’s so blasted bright.”

“You’re not wearing your sunshields.”

“I’m sorta old for those things. Feel like a kid trying to look cool.”

“May I sit?”

I glance at the cave-like hollow I have nestled from the sweeping branches of the mammoth tree and grin.

“Sure, the shade’s for everyone. You know, this tree is nearly twenty thousand years old.”

“Pretty impressive.”

“About the only thing around here that makes me feel young, except every dang Luxonian alive.”

“That why you like this spot?”

“Yeah, and the fact that few people like to hang out under the Luxonian sun, except Luxonians, and they don’t usually sit on the ground under a spreading Niomi Tree.”

He’s shifting around, eyes darting. He’s got something to say but….

“What’s on your mind, Peter? You didn’t come all the way out here to spend time with an old man—”

“You’re not the only one getting old!”

Uh oh, his face just contorted into bitter ridges of rage, not something I’d expect from his usual cool, collected personality.

“Okay, let it out. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. That’s the problem. Mom and Dad always hoped I’d make it back to Earth someday but that’s not—”

“Resettlement will happen. Just give it time.”

He’s on his feet again. Hmm, I didn’t think there was room to pace like a raging bull in here. Guess I was wrong.

“Time has passed! We’ve been stuck on this planet for almost forty years. How long is it going to take before the Luxonian Judges deem us fit to return?”

“You’ve got to remember, a lot went wrong at the end. The entire Luxonian population carries vivid, grievous memories of those days. They don’t want the whole cycle start over again.”

“Who are they to decide my fate? I belong on my native planet. It’s my right!”

“Slow down, boy. Listen to me; Mark and Jackie were two of the greatest human beings I ever knew, but they also had a blind spot when it came to humanity. They refused to see our dark side.”

Now he’s staring at me like I’m a traitor. Can’t be helped.

“Like Luxonians don’t have a dark side!”

“We all do. But we don’t like to face it. You know all the old stories, but I rarely talked about my old friend and colleague, Doctor Peterson.”

“You mentioned him.”

“Yeah, but I never mentioned that he fell into madness before the end.”

Flinging his body to the ground, poor guy’s covering his eyes with his hands. He is so human. Refreshing after so many years of perfect Luxonian self-control.

“You’re not helping. I want to get back. It’s…I don’t know, a calling, a need.”

“You will. I firmly believe that. I wish I could go with you…but that’s not gonna happen.”

“You could—”

“Heck, Peter, I’m seventy…something. Luxonian years mess with my timeline. My life has been full to the brim, and I’m not complaining, but I know when my horizon line is drawing close. I won’t live to see Newearth. But you will.”

“When?”

“When the time is right. Now stop grumbling and help an old man to his feet. I’ve got something to show you.”

Groan. Maybe I’m closer to eighty….

“Where’re we going?”

“I’ve got a surprise. Cerulean’s been helping me.”

“What?”

“Boy, don’t you know the meaning of the word—surprise?”

~~~

We just entered my inner sanctum. Okay, it’s my hobby room. I stride (hobble?) over to my worktable strewn with various plans, stand tall (let an old man dream) and spread my arms wide.

“Now listen. When I pass on, I want you to unveil this on the day they lay me in the ground. On Newearth.”

I wave the holographic image into the room. It’s every bit as gorgeous as the idea I carried around in my head for so long.

“Surprised?”

Judging by the wide eyes, dropped jaw, and shaking hands, I guess my surprise had the desired effect.

“Doctor Mike! By the Eternal, when? How?”

“I told Cerulean some time back that I had an idea for the first settlement on Newearth. He was kind enough to humor me.  I’m not a holographic specialist, but he has a few friends, and we worked on this model for a looong time…. It’s been a labor of love.”

“It’s terrific! Everything looks perfect to scale. It’s got hospitals, schools, a business district…even a hilltop— What’s that?”

“It’s idea, a sort of dream really, an Inter-Alien Alliance where humanity would have our Capitol and aliens could come and petition for representation on Earth.”

“It kinda looks like a church.”

“Well, it’s supposed to represent something bigger than us…something nearly supernatural. You can hardly understand how sheltered humanity was from the greater universe. I suppose we still are. We’ll never be done discovering how much we don’t know.”

“But—”

“It’s not a place of worship, but a place to remember and act like beings with vision…beings who still have a lot to learn.”

“I’m…I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say that you’ll do as I ask. Bury me there, in Newearth soil, and unveil this plan. Cerulean’s been working with the Supreme Judges and they’re close…very close. In fact, I believe that your son will be born there.”

“Huh! If I ever have a son. No woman will have me.”

“That little Miss Violet has eyes for you.”

“She has eyes for every male this side of the Luxonian Divide.”

“Then there’s that shy Rose…she’s a sweet thing.”

“She’s not interested in—”

“Listen, Peter, you’re going to have to do some of the heavy lifting here. I’m an old man; I can’t do everything. Here’s your first settlement. Name it whatever you wish, just bury me there and get yourself a wife so you can bring your son to the top of that hill and tell him about me… Okay?”

Tears course down my cheeks, but I don’t care. I’m an old man. And old men do foolish things, dream visions and ask for the impossible…after all…our horizon line draws near.

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00