Author : Chinmaya Dabral
“We must use The Weapon. I see no alternative.”
Most other Council members nodded in unison, but Salah seemed surprised. Hesitant, she finally spoke.
“You mean a Torkh? Do we even have those now?”
Hohn looked at her.
“You are new, aren’t you? There’s a single unit buried on the Old Earth. Last used seven centuries ago, but telemetry shows it’s still functional.”
The expression on Salah’s face morphed into that of anger as she realized the implications.
“So you let 8 star systems come under Tsalek control, endangering 80 billion and killing a billion humans and droids? You diverted civilian blood supply to defence systems, letting another billion starve to death? And you’ve had a solution all these months?”
Salah had now risen and was leaning on the conference table, staring at Hohn. Her hesitation had clearly disappeared.
“It was a conscious decision, Salah. Recent events have made powers far greater than the Tsalek interested in Republic space. Our unit only has a few decades of runtime left and if what our intelligence tells us is true, it won’t nearly be enough. But we must not waste any more time. The excavation team is standing by. All in favour?”
Robert woke up to the warm rays of sun hitting his face. Another day, another adventure. His escort was already waiting outside the chamber.
In a few minutes, he was standing in a gigantic hall which looked like an ancient relic. The air was stale from centuries of decomposition and the walls were crumbling in places. People in white lab coats were running around with equipment. Their centre of attraction seemed to be a large bionic apparatus consisting of a high-rise throne surrounded by control panels. The flesh-like material of the throne appeared to pulse and throb in a steady, but not perfect, rhythm.
“We begin immediately,” announced Robert. “Status?”
Hohn walked up to him. “System online. Blood supply steady with nominal oxygenation and nutrition.”
“Good. You can order your troops to abandon their spacecraft.”
Robert took off his shirt to reveal a series of neural taps running along his spinal column. As he lowered his body on the throne, it rose to meet it as if eager to engulf him. He leaned back and a strange expression took over his face as his neural taps met with the receptacles on the backrest. He let his head sink into the warm flesh, which now completely engulfed him except his nose and mouth.
“I am beginning the Torkh routine. Connecting to comm systems.” His lips stopped moving mid-sentence as he switched to the comm speakers. There were multiple voices now, announcing simultaneously.
“Bypassing defence systems… Taking over physics simulations… Taking over scenario processing… Psionic amplifier online… Connecting to sensor grid… All weapons psionically augmented… Commandeering spacecrafts… Conceiving attack strategy…”
“Two months straight! Took longer than I expected.”
Robert was visibly exhausted and seemed to have a severe nosebleed. Seated across from him was the Council head Hohn.
“You did great.”
“Now that it’s all over, though, I plan to take a long vacation.”
Hohn stared at him for a moment.
“I’m sorry, but that is not possible.”
“What do you mean? I just saved the butts of a quarter trillion people! If not a vacation, surely there must be science to be done? Engineering problems solved? Mathematical breakthroughs required? I’m sure you could assign –”
“I’m sorry Robert. Cerebrals have become a rarity in the human population. Some say it’s because of artificial genetic selection. In fact, we haven’t had one in centuries. Each second of your life is too precious to waste. Besides, you are state property. You volunteered to be a Torkh, remember?”
Robert felt a hand grab his shoulder and a needle pierce his neck. He felt the all too familiar sensation of his body shutting down for hibernation.