6:30 AM – Aboard the Firebrand
Today is going to be hell.
Not that most days aren't, but today's going to be worse. The Galactic Federation of United Noobs has another of their ethics meetings planned. Ethics. As if those corrupt, pencil pushing pissants know anything about ethics. The biggest ethical delema they've ever faced is whether or not to lie on their tax returns. They call me a tyrant but they've never actually had to run a country before. They pretend that because their mommy was rich and bought them a slice of the intergalactic pie, that makes them powerful. It's not the bureaucracy so much as the pretentiousness of it all that bugs me.
Money doesn't give you power. Control gives you power. I could kill each and every one of those slugs in the time it took them to vote on whether or not to fight back. I don't think they realize that, otherwise they wouldn't be so very keen on annoying me.
I take a sip of coffee and turn to the funnies section of the newspaper.
Nigel suggested that I wear a dress to the meeting. He found a number of human comics claiming that I don't know about or value human culture, that I'm gay because I don't dress like their emaciated pre-pubescent looking beta females, and that Azulian females are all collectively trying to look like men. By his logic, my wearing their traditionally feminine garb would mock, and at the same time demonstrate my knowledge of, their culture.
Which is fine by me, I’m sure Ellis and the other solders will get a kick out of it back on the ship if they decide to air the meeting on TV as an insurance policy to prevent me from attacking their board of stuffy old men. As if. Maybe the more familiar cultural attire will put them at ease and they won’t spend the entire time looking like they want to piss their pants.
I skim through a few more comic strips.
Phiede these jokes are bad. How do you fit a giraffe in a refrigerator? You dice it, obviously.
"Agatha." Jillian states in the same demanding tone she always used when she used to call me 'mom.' Ever since she found out that I'm not her mom, I'm no-ones mom, she's switched to my birth name as a means of distancing herself. Kyle still calls me mom, but he was never lied to about our lack of genetic relation.
“Kyle wants to know if he’s invited to the convention-thing tonight.”
I sigh. “Jillian, you’re going to have to be a bit more specific than that. I have two conventions and a legal hearing then the international criminal court is trying someone we want to get at two in the morning and I have to be there in case things go south.”
I can see the disgust start to spread across her face.
“Is Nigel going?”
“Of course he’s going.”
She looks out the window into the empty void of space. Probably thinking about how much of a shit bag I am.
She changes the topic. “Well was Kyle invited to the convention-thing or wasn’t he.”
“If he’s not he can just invite himself. It’s an ISRS nerd fest after all, I’m sure your aunt can get you two in if you want to go.”
“She’s not my aunt.”
“You know Jillian, just because you don’t like me doesn’t mean you can dis everyone I’m related to. For all intents and purposes, related by blood or not, she is your aunt.”
“She’s also your buddy. Just like Ellis, just like dad, they’re all part and parcel with your whole…”
“My whole what?”
“Jillian, if it’s justified, it isn’t homicide.”
She rolls her eyes to the ceiling. “Yeah. Only because you changed the laws to say that. Now the solution to everyone’s problem is, oh, they stole my credit card, I’ll just kill them. Oh, they hit me, I’ll just kill them. Oh, they grabbed my bum, I’ll just kill them.”
“That is not what goes on and you know it.”
“It is. It’s exactly what goes on.”
“Jillian. The only instances where killing is justified are unjustified murder, child abuse, rape and certain extreme, life threatening forms of extortion. You can’t kill someone for theft. That wouldn’t be proportional.”
9:00 AM – ISRS "Annual" Science Convention
“Today, I’ll be your tour guide.” Izze recites as it hops around the corner to a group of rather intrepid looking graduate chemists seeking admission to the ISRS program. Upon seeing it, their expressions all slide towards a familiar mix of fear and apprehension. This was normal so it addresses the problem directly. “Yes, I’m an Acirian. No, I’m not violent nor inclined to recite anyone’s criminal history. I have deprived myself of key vitamins and minerals so as to prevent me from becoming provocative. Also, because of the way my species replicates, I ask that you not shoot, stab or otherwise attempt to dismember me because I do not have sufficient nutrition to divide properly.” About 50% of the prospective interns nod.
“Right this way then.” Izzie states, walking back around the corner towards Hilbert’s hotel. It gestures to the line of modular apartments extending through space off into infinity around the blackhole’s event horizon. “This is Hilbert’s hotel. It’s the actualization of the theoretical concept that is infinity, we will literally never run out of rooms because we move the occupied pods down one slot and the unoccupied ones forwards, which generates another room, except it’s not generated, because you cannot run out of points on a sphere.”
It walks past the viewport and gestures to the deconstructed teleporter. “Our scientists were the first to create this technology which, as you may not know due to the board of intergalactic travel’s meddling, does not actually teleport you. Instead, each time you step into one of these metal chambers, the machine reads the location and energy of each particle in your body, subatomic or otherwise, incinerating you in the process. The data is then transported to a 3D printer on your destination planet via quantum entanglement, after which a perfect duplicate of you is constructed and continues life in your place. This is but one of the many truths you will be exposed to here at ISRS that the rest of the universe doesn’t want you knowing about.”
You can see the realization dawn on them, fear and abject horror twisting their faces into a series of sneers and grimaces, or whatever the equivalent of that for their species is.
"I would also advise against sharing said information as the teleporters moving such people have been known to glitch."
One of the applicants balks for a second, "What are you saying, that the people who get printed wrong were printed wrong on purpose?"
Izzie shrugs."I'm pretty sure that the people who review the scans know that your organs belong on the inside and you would think they would correct the mistake before generating you. If, they had your best interests at heart that is."
Riding the conspiracy theory train, one of the applicants asks, “Is it true that the ISRS created the Azulians by splicing together human and Acirian genes?”
Izzie looks visibly annoyed. “No. The ISRS had nothing to do with that. That was all down to rouge agents acting without supervision.”
“So you didn’t give a serial killer a time machine.”
“No. That technology is in it’s infancy, even if we wanted to do something that insane, we don’t have anything that can do what Agatha has claimed.”
Two people pull out their phones, either recording the exchange or updating their statuses, it's impossible to tell which.
“But you are developing it.”
A verivora twists their antenna behind their head as their species does when they think they're being clever. “So in the future you could have given it to her and you wouldn’t know.”
It takes Izzie a few minutes to realize that it can’t talk it’s way around that one. “Yes I suppose if for some reason our ethics went out the window. Which I doubt would ever happen. It’s much more likely that they were created by the Enigma or another criminal organization.”
One of the Acirians in the group decides to get clever, it's pointy teeth flashing as it's expression gets progressively smug, “Why would a criminal organization create her? That’s like Batman creating the Joker.”
Izzie takes a calming breath. Pushing back the urge to smack the insolent greenie. “They probably didn’t foresee the experiment backfiring this spectacularly.” it explains, “Psychopaths make up less than 2% of the population, high functioning ones make up less than half of that, and successful criminal hunting psychopaths are practically unheard of. I can’t imagine they anticipated being screwed over like that.”
“Yeah, but it’s convenient isn’t it?” The first human states while images of internet memes play across their contacts. “The ISRS clearly doesn’t approve of the actions of the GFUN, what better way to drain the swamp then to create the Azulian government?”
“Look kid, I know you probably read this stuff on Fartbart, but it’s simply absurd. Do you honestly think we would create a race of super soldiers, create a sadistic tyrant to expose them to all manor of abuse in hopes of making one of them snap, prompt that person to kill the tyrant and everyone associated with her, before guiding her towards the creation of a new system of law based on vigilantism? Do you honestly think we could have planned all that, or that the criminals that did create them would expect it to happen? It sounds completely absurd as it is, you start adding conspiracy theories on top of it and it becomes a joke without a punchline.”
She shrugs. Izzie waits patiently for more accusations and when none come it gestures for the applicants to follow it to the next exhibit.
9:30 AM – ISRS "Annual" Science Convention
The ISRS is normally the only place where I'm safe from my many many self-declared arch enemies. It is to me, equivalent to what primate species consider their home.
The many research locations, experiments, missions and outreach projects are in a way sacred to my species, as science is to us what religion is to the unenlightened. Discovery is the one pursuit higher than all else, and the STC research station with its twisty acrylic halls and modular web of apartments, laboratories, green houses and education centers are like the grandiose cathedrals built by the primitive.
So you can understand why I hate these conventions.
Every year they drag in politicians, government leaders, rich people, wannabes, reporters, activists and other such filth in the name of the all mighty starbuck.
Which inevitably means they drag in people who want to kill me.
This year as I peruse the side tables in search of sushi and avoid rubbing shoulders with the rich and douchey, I'm forced to watch as my alter’s creation calmly strolls through the crowd of my admirable co-workers and mortal enemies, towering over most of them by at least two feet.
Her two kids are here too. I can't tell if they're actually related to her, but the scarf wearing one is acting like she's not. I hope they're not because that would be bad parenting and bad genetics combined.
Another reason I'm glad to be an acirian. No parents. Just Izzie who's only annoying feature is its propensity to call me a foot and blame everything I get wrong on the fact that I was evidently such a shitty foot that it was glad when I got cut off.
Which doesn't even begin to compare to being dependent on someone who has spilled enough blood to fill an above ground swimming pool.
I look around the room. They chose one of the smaller halls this year. The walls on either side are glass and look out into space, one providing a view of the black hole the station orbits and the other the fourth arm of the galaxy. Upon finding a huge chunk of sashimi and scarfing it down, I try and move closer to the Azulian dictator without being noticed.
I need to know why she's here.
The lack of secret service agents guarding them is interesting, though it makes sense. Why would you guard a kill/death ratio is in the triple digits?
According to speculation, she's here in addition to her sister because both of her kids evidently test highly in STEM fields so she's going to black mail my progenitor, Izzie into admitting them into the ISRS.
But that's just speculation. And to prove how worthless that is, there's also speculation that she's immortal being that she's survived an impressive number of assassination attempts.
I think she may also be a cannibal or something as I have a distinct memory of her biting Zalphar's hand off and then not spitting it out.
I get the feeling that someone’s watching me and look up to see two reflective yellow orbs staring down at me from about ten feet away, just out of earshot. She flashes a purely predatory grin with way to many teeth before switching to a normal calm expression and continuing her probably boring conversation with the very pale looking director of admissions.
I would continue moving closer but I'm pretty sure she'd rip my head off or something.
Instead, I watch.
From the clothes she’s wearing I can tell she’s going to a meeting populated primarily by human males, though given her species in general, she's probably not wearing the dress to look appealing. From the briefcase she’s got tucked under her arm, I can tell that she’s going to some kind of legal hearing as she only ever carries that thing around when she’s planning on doing lawyer-y things, and judging by the way “Bonnie” is holding that heavy backpack of his, they’re going to go kill someone afterwards.
From the way her fellow Azulians keep looking at her attire and snickering, and the completely smug look she's got plastered all over her face, I conclude that the dress is a gag of some kind. She's probably wearing that to make the humans even more uncomfortable than they were already.
The director of admissions is a human. One of the very few in the ISRS I might add. He looks extremely uncomfortable.
It's the muscles isn't it? Human females are very petite. Like painted stick figures. And Azulian females are a lot like a eight foot gator crossed with a kangaroo. So you stuff that into a symbol of passiveness and you can see why it's confusing. Make that amalgamation a notorious people-eater and I can see why the humans present all look like they want to run for the hills. The whole thing is just inherently wrong.
From what little I can lip read, the director of admissions is trying to back out of admitting Kyle, and she's- well I can't see around the back of her head but I assume she's threatening him in some way.
Oh, definitely threatening. Her creepy little sidekick, boyfriend, or whatever he is, just said something about Hydrofluoric acid.
Which doesn't make sense.
Why are they, a pair of rich upper class yuppies, trying to get their kids, who may or may not actually be related to either of them, into an organization that is a monetary dead end? It doesn’t make sense.
Maybe it’s some kind of bid to get control over the ISRS. If they get sleeper agents into the organization and amass resources they could eventually stage a coup which is more or less Agatha's specialty. Outside of killing people of course.
I need to warn Izzie before she gets the chance to threaten it too. Otherwise she might offer them funding and at that point it's game over. Azulians: 1, science, 0.