Mar 17, 2022

Chapter 16 - Peas in a Pod

Tiberius had never been in a worse mood than this.

First, he got chewed up by the assembly on the ship for bringing the stray human on the ship.

He stood by his decision and told them nothing more, but it grated on his nerves how a group of humans could make him feel this way.

Second was the order from the assembly to train a new person for admission to his squad. Two new people, one that he wanted, the other unwanted. He knew he should not jeopardize his judgment of the two even before they’d stepped in the training hall, still he could not help but feel a sense of unbridled rage towards everyone and everything on the ship.

He took a deep breath and stilled his nerves.

Nysha had pinged him that she was bringing Skiz in to meet Tiberius. The other guy was given directions to his office as well.

Tiberius placed his hand palm down on his desk and took another deep breath.

There was a knock on his door and a second later Nysha walked in. The tribal from the planet below walked in behind her. He was dressed in a standard fare brown shirt and trousers. His hair was cut and his intelligent brown eyes were taking in everything around him, storing away the information for later. From this angle, the man looked huge. He was as huge as the gene enhanced beings that were specially created for the missions that would pulverize regular humans. 

“Please, come and have a seat,” Tiberius gestured to the two empty chairs on the other side of his desk. The man looked at Tiberius, grunted an understanding and walked up to one of the chairs and sat in. He stared at Tiberius with no hostility in his eyes, only naked curiosity. 


There was another knock on the door. Nysha was still standing near the door and she opened it. 


It was a kid with a backpack. She stood aside and pointed her thumb towards the empty chair next to Skiz. The boy said nothing and walked to the chair. He took a look at Skiz and spared a glance at Tiberius. He removed his backpack and put it between his legs as he sat down. 


Tiberius looked at both of them.


He had no idea what he would make of those two.


----

Hi!


Feb 20, 2021

Chapter 15 - Box of Pain

X2
It did not take X2 much time to gather his belongings from his modest cube. He had few personal effects that he gathered up in his duffle bag. He carried his toolbox with him, even though he was not sure if he would be needed in his capacity as a mechanic with the marines. 

He had seen the work that marines did first hand and somewhere in his scared little heart, he did not think that he was suitable for the job. But the men and women in the marines were capable and deadly when push came to shove. X2 looked around the cube that had been his home for the past many months. 

His bed was made up and the walls were bare. The spare uniform was in his duffle bag and he was wearing the other one. He went out of the door and did not look back. 

Skiz
In another part of the ship, Skiz was in a new room and looked at the strange clothes on the small table. He sat on the metal bed and put his head in his hand. 

The heartache he felt had nothing to do with not being able to see the sky of his home world or to feel the grass of the mountains between his feet. He felt alone because he was alone. 

The last of his kind. 

He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, he knew what he had to do. He was going to live and he was going to exact his revenge. He picked up the clothes, the fabric felt rough in his hand. He unfolded the garment and started to figure out how to put it on. 

There was a knock on the door of the room and the woman who called herself Nysha walked in. She took one look at Skiz and a smile divided her lips. 

"I am so sorry, I should have seen this coming."

She walked towards Skiz and put her hands around his waist. Her fingers were fast and the garment on Skiz's lower body fell down, bunching around his legs. She looked down and raised an eyebrow.

"This is going to be a problem," she sighed. 

"Skiz, you need to wear these pants the other way around. I cannot escort you to the boss if you are dressed wrong. Fix it. You seem to have gotten the hang of it already."

Skiz frowned and started to fix the pants the other way around. 


Jan 31, 2021

Chapter 14 - Where Do Killers Go?

His teeth would not stop chattering and his heart would not stop hurting. A physician came by his cube and gave him a patch to control the palpitation of his heart. He slept for a little while, but he woke up screaming once again. The manager of his shift visited him. He sat there. Looking at X2. A proud expression on his face. Eyes almost tearing up on seeing X2.


"How did you find out about them?"


X2 said nothing.


"They were planning to blow a section of the ship. I don't know which loophole they used to get on board the ship, but their presence alone was a risk that we would have paid dearly for."


X2 looked at the manager with a sore expression on his face. 


"You saved us, X2. I don't know how you found out about the man, but he was carrying encrypted blueprints for an explosive device on him when we found his body. The system raised a flag on his ID and when we decrypted his device, we found the plans. The only person he had been in regular contact with was his girlfriend."


X2 put his hand over his eyes and stifled a cry.


"She was one tough nut. We had to really dig into her files to find the evidence that she had been planning the explosion with her boyfriend. We decided that you should be the one to space her for her crime of plotting against our home."


X2 kept sobbing and the manager put a fatherly hand on his back. "I know it can be a little too much to take in. You should relax for a while. And when you feel like it, you can come to my cube and collect your resignation letter from your post."


The words shocked X2, but he wasn't surprised. He had known ever since he'd seen the manager that the final news would be something drastic. 


"Where will I go then?"


"To the marines, where else? That's where all the killers go.


Jan 29, 2021

Chapter 13 - Right Hand of Doom

When Skiz woke up next, the girl in the strange blue and white clothes was nowhere to be seen. In her place, another woman stood looking down at him. She was unlike the women in his village. Her hair was short, almost to her skull on side and only slightly longer on the other side. There was suspicion in her eyes and she stood next to his bed with her arms crossed, lost in thought, her eyes looking at some point beyond him even if they were looking at him. She blinked and focused on him. 

"Hello. My name is Nysha. What can I call you?"

This time, the words made sense in his head and he was surprised that he could understand her. She picked up the surprised look on his face. 

"We have given you a medicine to help you understand us. Does that make sense? I need to know your name."

"My name is Skiz." 

His own name sounded alien and rough to his ears. 

"You did well on the ground, Skiz. Not many can stand against a marine in armor. Boss was impressed. He has an offer for you."

"I don't understand. What is all this? Where am I?"

Nysha sighed. "Alright. I'll be quick. Your village is gone. Your people are gone. Your planet is going to get mined in the coming few weeks. You are the only survivor from your planet. You are in space. On the ship Oya. Things will not make sense for now, but stay here and you will learn soon. Do you understand any of this?"

"My people...my village..." 

"They are gone, Skiz. You are here. So what are you going to make of that?"

"What can I make of it?"

"I think only the boss knows. And he wants to meet you. You'd have been dead if he had not intervened. Make sure you thank him when you see him."

"My hand..." he raised his right forearm at her in a question. 

"We'll fix that. We've got ways to fix many things here. Don't worry about it. Up to meeting the boss?"

Skiz nodded at Nysha. He was confused, but the only way he was going to end this confusion was by learning things about his environment. Meeting the boss was a step in that direction. Besides, what option did he have?

Nysha tapped her ear once and spoke, "We won't need to space him. He is ready to meet the boss."

Skiz didn't know what the term 'space him' meant, but he gathered it was not something good. He wasn't worried. He would learn. 

Jan 25, 2021

Chapter 12 - Price of Sins


Tiberius III stood in the small cabin that was his home on the ship and looked out of the window at the endless expanse of dark space around him. They were moving again. The planet that his team had helped to seed with poison was left far behind. Another ship will take care of that planet, using it for whatever means necessary. 

He looked at the stars twinkling by, some of them dead for aeons, others barely in their infancy in this galactic drama of pain and horror. He had seen dark things in his service and his deeds were darker than any general that led men under his name, but of all the things, he could not forget the calm resolve of hatred on the face of the tribal man. 

Most men would cry or beg for forgiveness or a swift death, but this one was different. It would have been another death on Raster's killcount, but something had made Tiberius give the order to stop. And then he had done something so out of character by bringing that man on the ship. He hoped that he would not regret his decision. 

The stars continued to twinkle outside as thoughts wrestled for supremacy in Tiberius' head. 


--

There was going to be little ceremony to the verdict. The eye witnesses were too many and the weapon of murder was found in X2's possession. His fingerprints and the other man's blood on the tool sealed his fate. He realized that he did not give a fuck anymore. He was born in space, he was going to die in space. He had made his peace with the fact. The official who came to his cell to pick him up was a guy he had often seen around the bar. The man had thick set eyes and a paunch that did not feel like it belonged to a life lived in space. The man had a kind, fatherly expression on his face. He sat down on his haunches near the bars of X2's room. 


"Kid, do you pray?"


"Only to the machine gods."


"Well, I guess they heard your prayers. You lucked out."


"What do you mean? I thought you were going to space me today."


"No. Not you. We are spacing someone else."


"Who is it?


"Come with me, you might want to take a look at this."


There was a sense of uneasy relief in the middle of X2's chest. Like he had escaped an accident, but he did not know what to do next. There was nothing in his control, and he felt slightly numbed by this sudden revelation that he was not going to die. He got up from his bed and walked to the unlocked door. The fatherly policeman was already moving ahead, without waiting for X2 to follow. X2 followed. At some distance, a small crowd had gathered near a porthole. He walked up to the crowd with a growing feeling of dread in his stomach. The crowd slowly parted on seeing him. Some slapped him on the back, others squeezed his shoulder as he walked by. The crowd parted further till he was face to face with the glass of the porthole. Her face stared back at him from the other side of the glass. There was a defiant expression on her face, a burning visage of hate and anger. She puckered her lips and spat at the glass. The spit flew in an arc and splattered on the glass like a snowflake. X2 could not understand what was happening. Someone in the crowd was speaking his name. There was a note of celebration in the tone of their voice, but X2 could not make any sense of their words. Someone else took his hand and raised it up in the air above his head. He stared at everyone with a dumb expression on his face. Another big hand took hold of his palm. 


A face swam in his line of sight. The heavy voice spoke with a measured tone. "You did the first one, it's only right that you do this one too."


The face took his hand in its own huge paw and slammed it on a red button that protruded from a plate on the wall. 


The girl from missile control looked at X2. 


And then she was gone. Vanished. Sucked away by the cruel vacuum of space. 


X2 felt like his heart shattered into a million pieces in his chest. A keening sound rose in his throat and transformed into a yell of rage and horror. He was still crying when stronger arms carried him back to his cube.