Author : Malcolm Carvalho

“Do you have to leave so soon, Arun?”
Arun slipped an arm under Eliya’s head, allowing her to snuggle closer to him.
“Eli, that’s the nature of my job. I can’t stop at just one place.”
“Hell, why not?” Eliya said. “You’ve already set up the inhabitation of seven planets.”
“Whatever. And spent around 200 years on each. Add to it, how old you were when you left Earth, and that makes you…”
“1892 years old,” he said with a wink.
“Listen, hun. How far can you go on like this?”
“This is my job. Finding habitable planets, setting up a human colony, watching it prosper over a century or two. Ensure the new settlers can take care of their world, and my work is done there. Then I must go wherever the Planet Finder directs me.”
“You think you are young enough for this now?”
“Doesn’t matter. So long as my brain functions well enough, I’ve got all the organ harvesting devices on board Columbus. And every now and then, I run into a planet with enough silicon to replenish my reserves. Enough to synthesize organs for another five hundred years.”
Eliya sat up and shook his shoulder. “Seems like you’ve got this all covered. Ever thought about me?”
“I wish I could take you along, if only that was possible. You were born here on Alferan, you’ve lived all your life here. Twenty-six years. You’ve adapted to this world. Leave the planet, and you’ll struggle like an Earthly fish out of water.”
“What if I go for a transplant of those synthetic organs from your lab?”
“That’s not possible. The organs are regenerated using my stem cells and can only be used in my body. Transplanting them in another body would result in chaos. You won’t survive for more than a week.”
“Fine then, go about this adventurous job of yours. Settle planets, feel like a god, and find a new woman on every world.”
“Eli, darling, listen to me. I know it seems like I’m shrugging you off. You might even think I’m a player. But that’s not true.” He pressed her lower lip with his thumb and kissed her. “I love you. We both have been marked out for our place in the galaxy. Me for advancing colonization, and you for running the administration on Alferan. This is our calling. Who knows, someday I might be done with this job and come back to be with you.”
“Excuse me, you’re the immortal one. Not me. By the time you come back, I might be resting in a grave. A memorial if I am lucky.”
She pushed him away. “It would be good if you just leave tomorrow without letting me know. Would save me further heartache.”
He stood by the bed and watched her fall asleep. How many women would he have to leave behind like this? But no, he could do something about it now. The Galactic Council would not approve of it, but they would never know either.
He drew out a scalpel and scraped the skin off her thumb onto a dish. That would be enough. Columbus already had a good stock of egg cells he used for establishing colonies.
He was being selfish. So be it. There was no way he could stay on Alferan and be with Eliya. This could work out though.
He bent and kissed her forehead. He’d have to wait for just a year. What after that?
Would the clone love him just like Eliya did? No one knew. He’d be the first to find out.