My regeneration pod opened with a hydraulic hiss. I winced from the pain of the stray cosmic rays as it struck the marrow of my bones. I was not built for space life, none of my people were. I felt a wash of humility when I looked over my surroundings. Our high and mighty council room was little more than a conference table and five regeneration pods. The wild forest had become nothing more than a faded memory.
The other chancellors woke from their regeneration pods a few moments later. As they shuffled into their seats, I considered what I was going to tell them.
One of the regeneration pods did not open.
The elderly Chancellor Zeevan had been the first to succumb to the radiation poisoning. No matter where I looked, my eyes were drawn back to the empty chair. Perhaps that is how it is with all things, you really never notice how much you relied on someone or something until it is gone.
“Before our home-world was consumed by the wormholes and our empire collapsed, the merest whisper of our name would have struck fear into the hearts of our bravest enemies. Do you think that those same enemies would be afraid of our genetically engineered offspring that we worked so hard to create?” I had meant to sound strong, perhaps angry, but my voice sounded only wistful. I was Supreme Chancellor, I did not have the luxury of regret.
I continued in the void left by my question, “We engineered our offspring to survive the harsh aspects of space life, but we failed to take into account that perhaps they would come to enjoy the nightmarish existence of living in space.”
“Surely, they long to feel the sun, to breathe good air and feel the solid ground beneath their feet...” Chancellor Aadi spoke gently, “They have spent their entire lives cocooned inside their spaceships without a place to call their home...”
Aadi had been invited to our group because of her family’s background in child raising which gave her a strong mothering instinct. It was a pity that she had spoken up rather than one of the others, I had taken a liking to her and had hoped to cultivate a relationship in the few years we had remaining. I was given no choice, but to put her in her place.
“They see nothing wrong with it.” The authoritative tone in which I spoke was more effective in communicating my point than if I had raised my voice. “We engineered them to build a new empire and I’m afraid that they would be more than happy to live out the rest of their miserable lives in the depths of deep space. Our offspring do not understand what they are fighting for, they retreated at the first sign of losing. You can see it in their eyes... They lack that blood-lust and urge to be the master of everything.”
“What do you propose as the solution, Supreme Chancellor Varik? We cannot undo the mistakes we made when we rushed to engineer them, it is built into the fabric of their DNA.” Chancellor Rekha was at a loss.
She was getting tired very quickly lately, which worried me because it presented two unfortunate theories. The first theory was that she was being affected by the radiation and our life span was shorter than we had calculated. The other theory was that she had made the mistake of associating too closely with Chancellor Sion or Zeevan and was with child. Ah, yes, her swollen bosom and the shallowness of her skin confirmed the second theory. It was a pity, with Zeevan gone and Rekha with child, I was the only scientifically minded individual left in the group.
“We cannot change their inclination towards submissive behavior because it stems from a lack of purpose, a lack of wanting for something which belongs to someone else.” I turned my back on my fellow chancellors and looked through the one of the transparent alloy windows which lined the council room.
The movements of our gray-skinned offspring were random and chaotic as they floated through their daily life in the zero-g. “We must arrange visitations to Earth for our offspring so they understand the importance of living life on a planet.”
“Impossible!” Chancellor Sion cried. “If our offspring cannot fight their way past the space fleet of Earth-”
I looked away from the window in disgust and interrupted Chancellor Sion’s outburst, “We will make the resources available because their eyes must be opened! Our offspring must be given a taste of paradise, so as to recognize the hell they live in. Only then, they will fight with the same passion which flows through our veins! For them to fight any other way would be to throw away their lives and their future along with our resources.”
He had been challenging me more often. Obviously, Chancellor Sion had let himself succumb to his basic instincts and strove to replace me as the alpha male. Chancellor Zeevan had been my staunch supporter, my first co-conspirator, and a genius in our field of genetic engineering. Chancellor Sion, on the other hand, had been invited to join our group because of his superior physical genetics rather than for his mental ability.
How could we have been reduced to this? There once was a time when we had been revered as the cruelest and most beautiful creatures in all of the galaxy. Our golden hair, pointed ears, pale skin, thin, but healthy, strong bodies that elicited envy from even our enemies. But now?
You would have never guessed that we shared DNA with our offspring with their skeletal gray body, bulbous head, arms which reached past their knees, unblinking black orbs for eyes, slits for a nose and mouth.
“I want them to be just as desperate as we were when we transformed our race into the creatures they are now.” I grumbled the words darkly and scowled.
Oh, how desperate we had been when the wormholes we used to travel to other worlds, the entire fabric of our society, had begun to collapse into a black hole around us.
Thank you for reading this sneak peek of my upcoming novelette, Questions! You can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AmeliaNicholeD