Almost Human

Sci-Fi Story written by AlexScribe on Thursday 25, October 2018

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Loyalty is relative

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Acting Commander Ganti pressed the information cylinder to the receptor implanted below the antenna on the left side of his head and absorbed the latest report from the covert agent on planet. Hissing in exasperation, the Commander addressed his second in command, “Since Captain Kuru’s assessment of the situation is based on first-hand observation, Subcommander, I suppose we should approve his request despite the risk: there is no data to indicate the probability of long term survival with that much genetic alteration.” Subcommander Akishin wryly noted the Commander’s use of “we” in the decision: should the operation fail the guilt would be dispersed. Regardless, Akishin replied, “I agree. The humans are progressing faster than predicted with genetic science and there is too much chance the Captain might be detected as alien without the further genetic enhancements requested. Working in a human genetic laboratory, the Captain is better able to produce the required serum than we are.” The Subcommander paused, then remarked, “After this, Kuru will be more human than Arkalan, but so long as the mission is completed before any adverse effects prove fatal, it matters little. Once the transformation is complete, there will be no place for such a hybrid monstrosity.” “Yes, sadly, any honors will be posthumous.’ “It would be so much simpler just to exterminate the humans. The results are the same either way: they go extinct. Besides, all our predictions show a high probability they’ll manage to kill themselves off anyway. This way they get another seventy revolutions – excuse me, I’ve got to get used to local parameters now – they get another ninety revolutions to devastate the planet, making the transforming that much harder.” “The more I learn about them, the more I tend to agree with you,” the Commander replied, “However, the council was adamant: ‘Sterilize and wait for the living to die off.’ That was a compromise between the faction that wanted immediate extermination and those who insisted we wait for them to self destruct. So instead we wait for the Captain to develop a sterilization pathogen. After twenty thousand revolutions since the nova destroyed Homeworld, what’s another hundred or so?” “Long enough for something to go wrong,” the Subcommander retorted. * * * “Great news! The Captain has found a way to solve the pathogen mutation problem,” the Subcommander exclaimed, offering the latest information cylinder to his superior. “About damn time! Give me the short version.” “There’s still no way to totally eradicate the pathogen after all the humans are infected, and it remains prone to mutation that could make it sterilize or kill us. However, the Captain has developed a vaccine that will immunize all Arkalans to the pathogen. The only problem is that we can only tolerate this vaccine in tiny doses and therefore it will take a long time to become completely effective. Considering how long the humans will last plus the transformation time, that’s manageable.” After absorbing the report, the Commander acquiesced, “Well, it is a solution although not an ideal one. However, at this stage we’ll take what we can get. See that the vaccine is replicated from the sample and introduced to the sustaining fluid in all the suspended animation tanks. The AI has already been programmed to begin the transformation once human life-signs have completely ceased. Unless there’s a problem, there’s no need for any Arkalan supervision, so have us revived when everything is ready, or, as a failsafe, in, oh, say, two hundred revolutions. Once you have attended to that, you and all active personnel are to join me in the tanks for a well deserved nap!” * * * The Commander was still groggy from his ‘nap’ when the Subcommander dragged him to the viewscreen, “Look, Look!” The planet was blue, just as it had always been. “Why isn’t it pink, the way it should be?” the Commander demanded, then looked at the wall display and verified that two hundred revolutions had indeed passed while he slept, “What went wrong?” “AI reports that the human life-signs never ceased,” the Subcommander answered, “But that’s not the worst of it. Look at my buds; look at your own.” “My buds? Why... Damn, I don’t have any! After that long, even suspended I should have at least two!” “None us of have any,” the Subcommander replied, “My tank was revived first and I checked everyone there, then all the other tanks: nobody has any buds. Nobody! I put AI on it: initial results show none of us even have any budpods any more: no budpods, no buds. Ever! AI’s trying to figure out what happened. And if it can be reversed, although that looks impossible so far.” “There’s only one thing new,” the Commander stated, “That’s where AI should look first.” “You mean the vaccine? But how, why?” The Commander paused a moment, then solemnly replied, “I think you mentioned the reason, Akishin, when the Captain got that last mod. Remember? You said after that, Kuru would be more human than Arkalan. Sadly, it appears you were correct.” The End
   

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    Very good! Excellent ending!