“What in the name of, what happened?” Groaned Alexander as he came too and rubbed the temples of his pounding head.
Lying on his right side, facing a wall, all he saw as he moved to a sitting position was a smooth blue white ceramic surface. He knew there were others in the room, but as they currently didn’t appear threatening, he focused on where he was. So far there was nothing that appeared helpful.
He was tall with dark brown hair and brown eyes. His build was a perfect balance of lean muscle, and low body fat, even the simple white one piece he was in could not hide his perfect specimen of a body.
There were no visible light fixtures, but the whole room was bathed in a strange, shadowless light. Other than people, there was nothing in the room, in fact, there was no real distinguishing features of the hotel room sized cell.
“Whatever happened, I’m sure it’s your fault, shit for brains.” Scoffed Kyra, to Alexander’s left, “Men are so unfocused.”
Kyra was tall as well, and her form was lithe and sinewy. Her shoulder length, strawberry blond hair gleamed with youth. She also wore a white one-piece suit, it stretched pleasantly around her four, perfectly sized mammaries, and somehow allowed her long and fluffy tail to whip about. Apparently, whoever put them in this box also took their clothes, not a pleasant thought to dwell on.
“Hey,” Alex was immediately on the defensive, standing up and turning to confront his accuser, “I am the result of three hundred years of selective breeding to make the smartest, strongest… and I am the most human here.”
The voice had been pleasant to hear, but when he noticed the source, he was deflated. He had grown up his entire life being told that the cult of transgenics, those that combined their DNA with that of animals in an attempt to improve their attributes, were at the very least, misguided. But, despite himself he felt a twinge of arousal, fortunately his body did not follow suit. She was, other than being a transgenic, perfect.
“Yeah, that’s the problem, you’re only human.” She harrumphed, immediately hating herself for entertaining pleasant thoughts about his voice.
For a moment, he was lost in her jade eyes and the music of her voice disguised the words meaning, “Uh, well… Better than being a transgenic cat-bitch…”
At that, Kyra’s tail twitched in indignation, her ears folded down in an aggressive stint, “Better than being a eugenic ape-turd…”
Only a eugenicist would use her heritage as a curse word. Her heart skipped a beat in grief, he was so good looking. For a moment they both looked at each other waring with themselves, forgetting the third presence in the room.
“You are both pathetic meat sacks.” Finally Announced the third, androgynous voice, “But that is not the most pressing issue.”
Ohoneseven Sixnine was a cyborg, though there was no gender in the hegemony, most organics preferred to use masculine pronouns for all of them. Through the selected replacement of parts of their biology, including bits of their brain, with cybernetic components, they achieved physical and mental capabilities far in excess of others. One of the organic bits they removed was the amygdala, they had no emotions, and no ‘need’ for organic propagation. They countered this bit of bad news by artificial means, hence the lack of gender.
Alex and Kyra looked over Ohoneseven trying to wrap their minds around his sight. The Hegemony of Augmenters had left the solar system centuries ago, and neither had expected to see one, ever. Despite the nature of him, not all organic, and no, outer organs to cover up, their captors had given him the same type of strange synthetic white suit they had on.
“Oh, great, an augmenter.” Kyra finally sighed, “You’re a cyborg, that means you are mostly organic too.”
“For your information, I am seven thirteenths augmented.” Ohoneseven calculated the most efficient means of antagonizing the fully organic pair.
Normally it was not a good idea to provoke organics, in fact the hegemony had left for that reason. But, these were not normal circumstances, it was best, most logical and tactical, to have all the options possible. That meant the organics had to work together, that meant they needed a common enemy. That meant he had to attract disdain; A to B to C ect, logic always prevailed. Fortunately, while emotions were not logical, anger was at least quasi predictable.
“Fuck you, cyborg.” Kyra groaned, turning back to the better sight of Alexander, and crossing her arms.
“We have moved beyond the need for the inefficient and un sanitary act of copulation for reproduction.”
“That’s, actually, kind of, sad.” Kyra turned to regard the cyborg, this time with pity.
“Yeah, I can’t believe I’m agreeing with a transgenic.” Alexander returned, stepping up behind Kyra, “But that is pretty sad.”
His proximity was confusing to Kyra, she liked the feeling of strength she received from him, but he was a eugenic, a sworn enemy. Her heart palpitated with a need for closeness and her head strived to stay focused. Meanwhile, Alex regretted his movement as the proximity filled his mind with thoughts that he now had to turn a fire hose on.
Ohoneseven noted the tension in their eyes and knew the reasons, he only hoped the common enemy tact would last, “Now that you have found common ground, in so far as each of you fornicate like demonic weasels, perhaps we can focus on the most pressing issue.”
Alex was unaccountably repulsed by the cyborg, and curious at the same time. He wanted to see how far he could antagonize the cyberman, despite the danger such antipathy could mean.
He had no idea what his name was, but did know the names of a few cyborgs from cinema past, “And what would that be, Murphy?”
Choosing to ignore the insult, it was planned to attract ire after all, and he could not be insulted anyway, Ohoneseven elaborated, “This is in essence a captive situation, we should consider the pros and cons of escape.”
“Really,” Kyra laughed, “And what would the cons be?”
“Well, For one we don’t know who or what our captor is, or why we are incarcerated, there could be a good reason.” Alexander shrugged, for a reason he couldn’t place, wanting to impress the girl, “like a hostile environment.”
“Yeah, I’m still going with your fault.” Kyra scoffed.
“I was actually only following your colony ship…”
“Why the FUCK!” she demanded, glad to have something to be angry about him.
“We, of the Eugenics Cooperative keep tabs on all our potential enemies, especially cat-bitches.”
“You realize ape-turd that a ‘cat-bitch’ as you call me, well, we are the Alphas…”
“Yes, the ones bred to be in charge, brilliant….”
“You can’t tell me you guys don’t breed for a specific purpose.”
“We are matched for characteristics, yes, but after that, it is individual’s responsibility to progress…”
“It seems we are, again, off target.” Ohoneseven interrupted, “We need to be prepared for any opportunity that presents itself...”
“First, I want to know what you were doing, C3P0.” Alex returned.
“Yeah, spill, Heimi.” Kyra reluctantly agreed, liking the idea of cinematic nick names for the third wheel.
“To progress in the plot, it seems I have no choice.” Ohoneseven appeared to shrug, “For future reference, my official designation is Ohoneseven Sixthree…”
“Designation, hunh. My ‘designation’ is Kyra Ariana Kell-Soma R’tin. How about you, ape-turd?”
“Alexander Orpheous Wells Smith, let Ohone-whatever continue.”
“I was sent to investigate a gravity well and EM emissions. Turned out to be a Dyson sphere. I was then attacked…”
“That was you?” Kyra demanded, “Son of a bitch…”
“It appears you are at fault for our current predicament.” Ohoneseven returned, “Rest assured, I do not, cannot, and will not hold it against you; fear is an emotion and meat sacks tend to be overly emotional…”
“Hey, you watch your mouth!”
“Great, it’s that time of month.”
“Shut the fuck up, ape-turd.”
“Continuing,” Ohoneseven insisted, “It appears something on the sphere acted, presumably in self-preservation, then, apparently saved us, once the danger to the structure passed.”
“What about our ships…” Alexander started.
“And our crews.”
“Discovering the answers to questions pertaining to those lines of thought, would count for the pros for escape.” Ohoneseven observed.
“So would the fact that there is no visible ventilation.” Kyra walked to the nearest wall and looked closely at it.
“What are you doing?” Alexander asked, wishing he wasn’t enjoying the view.
“We got in here somehow, that means there a door somewhere.”
“Not necessarily.” Ohoneseven began scanning the walls himself, “A race advanced enough to build a Dyson sphere may have other options. There could be some kind of mass transfer device, like a transporter or tesseract.”
“Not helping Hal.” Alexander sighed keeping up the name game helping to keep him calm as he reluctantly joining in the search.
Meticulously the trio search in silence for the better part of eternity. Whenever each was certain they were not being observed, both Kyra and alexander snuck looks at one another, with expressions alternating between forced disgust and awe. Ohoneseven, for his part, did his best to ignore the bickering love birds. Suddenly, a change in pressure prompted them to look across the room.
“That’s a little too convenient.” Alexander grimaced, cautiously approaching the new opening, “Unless one of you touched something?”
“Don’t look at me, ape-turd.” Kyra groaned, pissed that it was suggested that she did something wrong.
“You could have taken credit, you know, try to make yourself look better for me.”
“As if.” She scoffed, wondering why she didn’t, “Should we, you know, go through it?”
“Convenient or not, it is an option, whereas before we had none.” Ohoneseven stepped with a purpose to the hole, “Here, we have nothing, there, is a possibility space.”
“Seven-of-nine has spoken.” Alexander stepped to the side to let Ohoneseven full access to the door, “Your idea, lead the way.”
“What’s the matter, ape-turd, scared?” she stepped up to look menacing, “Thought you might want to make yourself look better for me.”
“You want to take point?” Alexander shrugged, no woman was worth getting dead over, especially a transgenic, though beautiful, cat.
“After you, E’cheb.” She stepped back to direct Ohoneseven to the portal, deciding it was easier to call him names than remember his number.
Ohoneseven exited without protest and the bickering partners followed on high alert. They entered a long sterile white corridor, with smoother than porcelain walls, celling, and floor. With the exception of doors, there were no seems to be found, even the corners where walls met celling and floor were rounded.
As they passed some of the doors, pictures of the room interiors shimmered into existence about a centimeter above the ceramic walls next to the doors. The rooms were empty.
“No way!” Kyra marveled, “The walls are hologram projectors…”
“Technically, they are volumetric displays…” Alex tried to sound nonchalant, while he too was awe inspired.
“Alexander is not wrong.” Ohoneseven offered without turning around or slowing.
“Stuff it, Tinman.” Kyra growled, falling back into step behind.
The passage extended forever, there was no way to distinguish where they were in relation to their ships or any surface, or anything. The tro trekked further and further, their feet starting to ache with the lengthy workout. Finally, they made it to the end of the passage, which spilled out into a grand chamber reminiscent of an ivory thaig.
Stretching away further than they could see, with ceilings higher that the sky, entire countries could fit inside this room. Light selectively illuminated only certain things, but was still bright enough see almost everything. The vast chamber was arrayed in a grand fashion, there were scientific paraphernalia, work benches, and equipment that defied explanation. Tubes bubbled with colored water, screens hovered above work stations, readings flashed in a strange alien language. One could spend years in this room and not see everything.
“This, is kind of cool.” Alexander approached one of the work benches.
The apparatus on the table was vast and varied. There were containers of fluorescing multicolored fluids, some of which looked like lava lamps. Most of the equipment was beyond any of the trio’s ability to comprehend, there were no visible controls.
“Well,” Kyra shrugged, “I see no bodies. That at least means they weren’t planning on dissecting us.”
“We have to assume that we are in the sphere, that means the facility could be much more vast than we can comprehend.” Ohoneseven suggested, “This may not be a lab that does the biological research.”
“Wow, Lore, you really know how to lighten the mood.” Scoffed Alex.
The splendor of the scene overtook them as they drifted from one workstation to another. Despite spending an eternity exploring the room they were no closer to uncovering anything about this complex.
“We should move on, find a source of food and water and stuff.” Alex finally gave up figuring it out.
“Stuff, hunh? Real descriptive, here I thought Data was the walking thesaurus.” Kyra laughed as they converged, examining the nearest stuff in passing.
“I am not certain of an action to take.” Alex sighed, “I mean, we know nothing about this place.”
“Our needs remain the same.” Ohoneseven replied, “We still need food and water…”
“And though we are technically inside,” Kyra started, “We are still exposed to potential threats, and I haven’t ruled you out yet, ape-turd.”
“Together, we stand a better chance at survival.” Ohoneseven returned, “After all, we know something about each other and nothing about anything here.”
“I wasn’t suggesting splitting up, Alpha-5,” Kyra scoffed, “Just know I am warry of you two. We know there is nothing but space here, and back the way we came there is at least a point of origin to expand from.”
“So we follow the nearest wall so we have at least a little warning from enemies, and a decent enough op point able. Nice plan, chop chop.”
The decision made they went back to the corridor and started along the wall. Eventually they came to another passage and in an unspoken agreement, decided to delve down the corridor. They continued in silence for some time, the stillness becoming oppressive.
“So, Ape-turd, got any one back home?” Kyra started, finding the silence to deafening.
“Familial relations are frowned upon, we keep things professional.” Alex shrugged, “They do not want any undue pressure regarding individuals. How ‘bout you, Cat-bitch?”
It was a piss pore life, he knew, but the Council knew the horrors of letting people get to close, and they knew more than he. He, like most others he knew, liked companionship, coitus being a small part of that, he did not want to risk getting too close to Kyra, it was the trangenic’s fault after all. He knew it might be too late to avoid feelings for her, but it could not be helped.
“Kind of the same, all our offspring are raised in a Creech, equal starts and all.”
For her part, Kyra was relieved, she too felt a bit of attraction that she did not want to admit to. So even though agreeing was agreeing, the ideas she was kept them both together and separate at the same time. She just had to remind herself that the eugenicists started it.
“Interesting,” Ohoneseven spoke up from the rear, “I was under the impression that most organics regard kinship with an almost religious reverence, despite the fact that the ideas of ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘son’, ‘daughter’ ect, spawn irrational belief in abilities, capabilities, and manifest destiny, ad infinitum, despite concrete evidence to the contrary. We must all struggle to advance, and those bonds are well known to cause errors in judgment.”
“Wow, something all three of us agree on. Anyone else creeped out?” Kyra asked as they came to an intersection.
The paths diverged to their own infinity. So far as either could tell, there was really no difference in the choices. For the longest time, the trio analyzed the options. Each choice lacked any difference. Finally, Kyra caught sight of some movement in the distance down the right passage.
“Hey Chip, looks like your friends have shown up.”
Coming in their direction, as if on some kind of patrol, from the far right was a few dog sized, six limbed robo-beasts. Each limb of the beasts were jointed in three places and they were all ball in socket joints, the paws had long claws that ticked with each step, the organic and non-organic blended almost perfectly, making it difficult to tell where biology started and technology began.
Suddenly one of them noticed the trio, and all started to sprint down the hall towards them. Almost naturally Alex and Kyra stood back touching back Alex faced the robo-beasts, Kyra facing the other end of the hall, and Ohoneseven turned toward the way they had come standing a step away.
The beasts engaged without a sound, darting around in an effort to flank. Thankfully, it appeared the creatures had no ballistic capability. They rounded in concentric circles, nipping and scratching. Then on bounded of a wall, jumping at Alex’s throat, spinning in the air. Alex countered with an outside crescent kick. The force of the beast’s impact on the corner chipped wall, but it got back up and went on the offensive with all six limbs.
As Alex had turned with the kick, Kyra orbited to face the foes. One reared up and attacked with what could best be described as its right upper elbow. She countered with a pak sau to the left, then back spun heel kicked to its head.
“The metal is soft, like aluminum!” She called out.
“The squishy bits would be a better target, no cyborg can operate without its organic structure intact, and it will cause less damage to your own limbs.” Ohoneseven countered as he punched through a beast’s rib cage to pull out its heart.
“Whatever works, kill now, talk later.” Alex grunted squeezing one of the thing’s torsos, partially crushing it.
The beast managed to contort itself enough to knock Alex upside the head. Alex let go and staggered, applying pressure to a gaping wound just above his right eye. Ohoneseven kept his cool as Kyra’s eyes turned to berserker rage.
“Fucker!” Kyra exclaimed launching herself off a wall to come back down and elbow smash the thing’s skull.
Another beast attacked her and she countered with rolling punches. Ohoneseven moved to guard Alex from behind as he struggled to regain his senses. Even dazed, Alex was a force to be reckoned with, a trained fighter he did not need to think for his body to react. The simplicity of the creature’s fighting style was animalistic, and easily countered by the trained fighters. Each of the trio had a situational awareness rivaling hindsight. They all used the environment to their advantage, chipping away at the defenses of their enemies waiting for the coup-de gras.
The fight was furious, but the simple nature of the enemies kept it from getting to be more than they could handle. Eventually there was three left, one was fending off Ohoneseven, one was engaged with Kyra, the last was sneaking up on her.
As the last raised a limb to club Kyra to the ground Alex snapped to full alert. With a howl of rage, he caught the club and snapped the arm in half. Kyra finished with her enemy and turned to assist Alex in bludgeoning the sneaky one.
With its blood all over their faces, they stared at each other, centimeters from each other. Eyes wide with adrenaline, and something more, they breathed shallowly, enjoying each other’s scent. Ohoneseven collapsed the skull of the last one and took in the pair.
“There will be time for coitus later, now we still have to move on.”
Alex and Kyra suddenly realized they were easing toward each other, and snapped away.
“Like I would ever, have, uh, make, do that with the offspring of warmongers!” Kyra panted, pacing, trying to come to terms with her feelings.
“Warmongers, what are you talking about?” asked Alex, confused about so many things.
“The eugenicists started the Schism!”
“It was a group of people on Mars that wanted to make themselves and their offspring better, nothing more.” Alex returned loudly.
“Then, the general populous started getting antsy about an attack and started augmenting themselves.” Ohoneseven continued, performing an examination of the contusions on Alex’s face, “Then fear about the augmenters prompted others to perform genesplicing, creating the transgenics.”
Ohoneseven was equipped with a laser suture device and he carefully closed all the wounds he could find. While his bedside manner was lacking, he did function with upmost efficiency.
“Yeah, and at that point, the eugenicists attacked our civilian doctors in our labs on Venus…”
“It was a recon in force, we wanted to see what was going on, you attacked us!” Alex jumped up, causing Ohoneseven to burn a line in his cheek.
“History is full of contradictions, one side will always remember even the slightest of slights of their enemy and not their own.” Ohonseven moved on to Kyra, “While you cannot forget and will not forgive, you two need to start judging each other as individuals, not for the sins of your people.”
“Oh, and what makes you so high and mighty?” Kyra scoffed as Ohoneseven closed a wound on her forehead.
“During the Schism, The Hegemony of Augmenters sacrificed more and more biology for the tiniest edge we could. It was finally decided, in a fit of heated emotion, by the way, to sacrifice all emotions for the edge of pure logic.” Ohoneseven finished fixing up Kyra, “It was at that time, that we realized, we had no emotional attachment for a ‘home’, no need to be sacrificing person after person in the emotional desire for a piece of land. It was more logical to sacrifice the land in favor of an undisputed base of operations. It was then that we left. And now, three hundred years later, you still hate each other for things your ancestors did in a fit of passion. I am not high and mighty, just cold and distant. We should move on.”
“I think we should try to learn more about these things.” Kyra approached one of the bodies, “Know your enemy, right…”
While she hoped she sounded confidant the revelations about the past rattled her. Like Alex, who also hung back, she needed something to occupy her mind while she struggled to cope. Ohoneseven, for his part was content to let the wholly organics come to grips with their new situation. The three took in everything while they performed a hot wash of the evolution.
“Hey, you two…” Kyra called while kneeling over one of the corpses, “This place is pretty clean, right?”
“I’d say almost immaculate, why?” Alex returned striding over.
“This thing has some kind of fungus on its servo control node…”
The group examined the inner workings of the creatures, and it was odd. Despite no apparent damage or age, hair like growths covered the electronics and biological components, wherever light was unlikely to shine. In fact, the wisps writhed in the light, as if in pain.
“Perhaps it is an imbedded design?” Alex suggested, “After all, there are some trees back home that use fungal pods as an interconnecting neural net…”
“Unlikely,” Ohoneseven replied, “That type of fungal transmission is inefficient for lifeforms with motive capability.”
“Yeah, and there are design features that suggest these things are invasive, i.e. they are not supposed to be there.”
“That is worrisome, if it can contaminate these cyborgs…” Alex struggled not to step back in concern.
“These growths are not mature enough to produce spores, they were infected else ware…” Ohonseven reassured, “And this part of the facility does not appear infected either, in any event, we would already have been exposed during the fight.”
“Fungus doesn’t like light, and it is pretty bright here, we should be fine, Ape.” Kyra smiled despite herself.
For his part, the reassurances of Kyra helped, darn the luck, “Well, this is another check in the pro column for finding a defensible position, we need to move on, and deal with these corpses later if we have to.
For the next eon of travel, the trio was silent, the revelations stirred in their head. Eventually they came to a massive door, in front of which, they stood for quite some time.
“Do we want to know what’s, beyond?” Kyra’s unintended double entandre hit home for Alex.
“Just another option.” Alex eventually sighed, “It’s probably a good idea to at least check it out.”
They approached, for the first time, dreading the possibilities. At their approach it opened outward letting in a brilliant blue white light.
“Hunh, spectral “O” type, that’s a super-giant, or not.” He looked up, shielding his eyes as they walked out into the light.
“It does appear to be the size of a main sequence yellow dwarf.” Ohoneseven calculated.
“Like the sun?” Asked Kyra squinting at the light, “How could you know that?”
“The outer edge of the Dyson sphere is approximately three AUs in diameter, that puts the inner surface at a distance of between Mars and Earth, and that star is visually the size of a dime.” Ohoneseven explained, “That makes it about the size of Sol.”
“And this sphere is amazing,” Alex marveled, “That ocean must be bigger than Earth.”
They all took in the splendor of the inner surface. The surface starched upward to the sun; mountains rose, valleys sunk, oceans swelled, plains undulated, forests and jungles heaved, and there were even patches of white that indicated tundra. Each feature was more massive than a single planet. Surrounding the star was a network of panels that orbited in three directions, casting night on about half the visible surface.
“It looks like you two will have plenty of opportunity to be fruitful and multiply.” Ohoneseven observed.