Author: Russell Bert Waters
“I’m a reliable courier,” she whispers to herself while entering the lobby.
After the Great Purging, the remaining Humans had been allowed to live, provided they remained useful to the Galactic Council.
Trade was the most important function of the Human race, as Earth was nicely positioned at the intersection of three of the five major trade routes.
She confidently approaches a security desk she has approached many times before.
The entity behind the counter seeks connection, she accepts, and it speaks into her thoughts.
She shares the skeleton of a story, the framework of her mission, leaving out some of the nuts and bolts.
The briefcase she carries is made of living flesh. It is Psionic, and its very strong constitution and mental stamina make it nearly impossible to open.
“I’m a reliable courier,” she whispers again.
The being studies her, studies the case, studies her some more. There is the needling sensation of additional probing.
The sedatives have done their trick.
These beings rely on anxiety and other exploitable characteristics to gain information if their suspicions are aroused. She has very little anxiety.
The being beckons and she approaches the large desk. The desk appears to be living, but not sentient. There is a slight ripple to its sheen occasionally. She briefly wonders if desks ever get nervous.
She is being needled some more. She made the mistake of becoming distracted. Allowing your mind to wander sometimes lets them sneak in with their probing inquiries.
No luck. If it could sigh, it would. Instead, it compels her to turn toward the Portals.
The sign on the wall behind one Pad reads “240 – 440” and she heads to that one. She stands on the Pad, and feels needled again, this time a bit more roughly. She sets her mind to a scene from her past, where she had eaten chocolate ice cream in a park. The needling eventually stops, and a more gentle inquiry comes. She informs the Portal telepathically that she needs Pad 317.
HARD NEEDLES! PAIN! MAKE IT STOP!
The probing seems to last forever, and the briefcase is being probed also. It twitches in her hands.
Suddenly, her mind again becomes her own.
She has been asked to end the war. She will end the war.
There was to be a final purge, as artificial intelligence and other devices were rendering humans obsolete. The room she is being whisked away to contains the Assistant to the Emperor, as well as a secret Pad leading to the connecting point of four enemy homelands. This building often holds meetings composed of several, if not all, of the Galactic leaders simultaneously.
She feels the slight shift of her balance which accompanies Portal travel. She trains her mind on chocolate ice cream in the park, and a bright sunny day.
As she steps off the Platform the needles come again, so forcefully she’s afraid her head will split.
The Emperor’s Assistant regards her without surprise or suspicion.
She quickly strides to the wall beside the Assistant’s desk, and strikes a wall-plate that is so subtly painted one would not even notice it unless they knew where to look.
A portion of carpeting across the room moves mechanically, as startled suspicion enters the face of the Assistant for the first time.
The Pad is now exposed, and the briefcase leaps from her hands popping open in mid-air.
A glowing orb emerges, floating to the Portal Pad.
As the orb explodes into the pad, with the intensity of many suns, she whispers once more:
“I’m a reliable courier.”
And everything goes white.
I liked the sentient items, I feel like sci-fi always takes the metal technological route and only glosses over the biological advancement that is possible. I love the flow of the story, it really pulled me in. Thanks for writing it!
That’s a well-wrought slice of strange. Very tidy.