Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Agents of Us - Killswitch

At first there was the sense of heaviness, like a boulder rested on top of her body. The next sense came suddenly like a surge of electricity races from her feet to the top of her head. She was cold. Next she could feel that she was exposed, completely naked. Finally she could feel the nerve endings running down the middle of her torso were tingling and warm not just on the outside but on the inside as well.

Sounds and smells followed. A steady rhythmic, mechanical breathing and a low beep reminded her of the hospital where her grandmother had died. The small too was sterile and cold, so very much like the room where she had sat watching her only living relative slipping away.

Sight was the last sense to awaken and slowly. First there was only black and then a gray muddled world without color or form. Things, strange things took shape, and the dimensions of the small room took shape, though still clouded by an addled and drugged mind.

She had been sight-seeing along the coast of Nevu'memelli Unguli'do in the south of Quio, the second largest Gob'Jaffer world. During the day she strolled along the concourses of the Markets overlooking the chocolate brown seas of the Unguli'do, taking pictures of the inhabitants who lived very much like the first settlers to Quio did a thousand years before, slaves of the Tu. She tasted ancient delicacies and purchased rich linens she's wear the next day. The days were light and airy.

At night she danced with the lower castes around bonfires built atop the great cliff that stood like sentinels overs the port cities of Hu, Tra, and Wot. Hundred of fires dotted the hills those hills, thousands surrounded the flames, while the dour upper classes shook their fists and hurrumped from their places of power at the ancient tradition.

Amongst the crowds whispered the treasonous words, the seditious words... Liberty... Equality. Young women pulled at the ears of young men to whisper them. Old men debated their meaning. Mothers held their young and discussed the means to implement them. The winds of change wiped up the flames of the bonfires and of the collected hearts of the downtrodden. Of the...

Pain sheared across her stomach to her neck. What feeling she had told her that her insides were missing, so she strained to raise her head and look down. She was completely naked, her brown skin flayed away from her belly button to her throat, the flaps of skin held open by armatures, and inside where organs should have been were tubes connected to arteries and openings normally reserved from things like the heart, stomach, or lungs. She felt faint, but forced herself to follow the tubes and was rewarded to see them connected to metal bays to her left and her right. She could not see inside, but she could guess that her organs rested inside.

"You are not a Gob'Jaffer."

A long and lean form stood in the now open doorway. He was old and wrinkled, but his bright blue eyes shined brightly and his bearing suggested energy and vigor.

"You're a spy, that much is obvious, but for whom and for what purpose? I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of taking you apart. A hobby of mine, to keep the mind fresh."

Doj Verroanak.

He had greeted her politely as she entered his home. It had taken years to get the invite, even longer to arrange a time in his hectic schedule, and now she was walking into his spacious home located far off into the wilderness of Quio. It was very modern, multi leveled, and no doubt full of secrets. How could it not when it held the greatest mind of the Gob'Jaffer race?

"Oh, yes, there are many secrets in this and my many other homes."

His guards eyed her closely, their staffs ready to strike at the smallest sign of threat.

"You of course wish to learn them? No need to deny it. You've been more persistent than any of the others and that has intrigued me. Indeed you have intrigued me greatly Jin Eleastra. In a world of castes you seem to be casteless. In a world where women are defined by their ferocity in battle or by the number of young they've hatched you are defined by nothing. You, Eleastra, are an oddity."

"My mother was very much the same. Had my father not been as persistent I would never had been."

"Are you hatched," he asked. The Doj Verroanak walking beside her in the sun lit hallways of his expensive home was replaced by the Doj Verroanak standing over her, studying her exposed body in some laboratory.

She could not reply.

"It doesn’t seem possible, based off of your construction. I see no pouch for gestation, unless this orifice holds it. Of course, the Dine do not hatch. They are a species that suffers live birth and you're arrangement resembles theirs very closely. However you lack the redundant heart and lungs of the Dine. I dissected many Dine during the Contact Wars, that long period where star nation after star nation bumped into one another with haphazard first steps.

"If not a Dine, then perhaps a Wessslefff? You have an obvious gender though, so that seems unlikely. There are two extinct or near extinct races you could be; Voth or Subbok, but you have neither the height nor the elongated neck. Constructive surgery is a possibility, but your body shows no indication of such. Such a procedure would require delicacy and precision neither the Voth or Subbok were known to possess."

Verroanak used a long metal rod to poke at different parts of her insides, talking to himself in a soft voice as he did so. She strained to hear him.

"I am at your disposal of course, since you've worked so hard to gain my time. There is one question I would like answered."

She leaned forward on the seti to listen as he spoke softly.

"Is your intent to kill me or gain my trust?"

"Doj Verroanak I can assure you I have nothing but respect for you and your work. I want nothing more than to record for posterity your life so all can understand and marvel at the long and fruitful life you've had. I could no more kill you than I could kill a star, it is simply beyond me."
Verroanak continued to poke.

"You sought to gain my trust then or at least plant your listening devices. Clever, but not clever enough for the greatest mind in the universe to suss out. Your association with the dung around their fires of sedition aroused my suspicion, so I had you followed and watched. Curiously some of the best men in my retinue simply disappeared whenever they were tasked with watching you. It became a pattern that I thought I had worked out. You were a rebel, working with the rabble to overthrow the Jed, and so my choice was clear. I would draw you in like a vii and then spring my trap. Of course it worked, but it appeared my hypothesis was wrong.

"You were no rebel. You were something else." Verroanak smiled a wane smile. "Even my great mind cannot conceive all options and the possibility that you were some interstellar provocateur... shows that there is still so much for even I to learn."

"My examination of you is almost complete however and I'm afraid I am needing to return to the pressing research I abandoned before the might Jeb'relesh handed you to me. There is one final bit of information I'd like to gather before I hand you over to the Jed. You might find this interesting actually. You see, we are each born under the light of a star and that star has its own frequency, its own song if you will. No matter where you are that song still rings in you."

Verroanak picked up a metal fork and tapped it to her knee. He then placed it on a pad.

"Match the song to its star and we answer the burning question of who you are? Interesting... the frequency doesn't match and known world... unsurprising, so we'll expand the parameters..."


"What was that?"

"Earth," she said, forcing strained voice muscles to speak. There was a soft crunch in his mouth and then she smiled a faint smile.

"A name, no doubt a falsehood, but it bodes well to your... what's this? A match at last." He turned the pad so she could see it, it showed a blurry image of a yellow star. "Your Earth? I look forward to visiting it so I can validate some of my findings."

Verroanak looked very pleased with himself and even patted her on the head. "Goodbye Jin Eleastra, you've been a wonderful diversion."

"Janice," she whispered.

Verroanak heard nothing.

* * *

"Spectrum activated Captain."

He looked to his comm officer and then turned to his weapon's officer. "Spectrum Protocol Mister Bruce."

She went to work immediately and a few seconds later the ship shuddered. The Captain put his head in his hands and closed his eyes.

"Open ship wide comms please."

"Comms open."

"All hands. All hands." He paused to steady his voice. "Spectrum has been activated; Agent Wobbart has activated her killswitch. Recall all recovery teams and set condition two. Thank you all for your diligence and effort."

The comm officer cut the feed after the Captain left a pregnant pause. They all watched the large heads-up-display that tracked Spectrum's trajectory.

"I'm sorry Janice," he whispered.

* * *

"The planet-wide sensor network is being examined to find how a space object could have entered atmosphere without warning. The tragic loss of life is unacceptable and those who failed in their duty have already begun the purifying rituals. While many will wish to mourn close to the site, we do also ask that the area be given a wide berth as radioactivity has been detected. Appropriate sites have been erected by the Jed in safe zones in accordance with Safety Officials and due custom. Please now join the Jed in the mourning ritual for Doj Verroanak and the others who lost their lives here." Ruin Calthro took the vii venom and poured it along his forearm, the acid instantly attacking the exposed skin. As one all who gathered did the same, their muted moans of pain mingled with the ashes that still rained down from the site of the asteroid impact that had vaporized Doj Verroanak's home.

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