Beyond the End of Time Chapter 2
Beyond the End of Time Chapter 2
Author Ben Snyder
The piercing wail of an alarm split the air in the control room. Krachka whipped around in her seat facing the computer bank, the magnetic suspension pad wobbling slightly. Over the scaly heads of her research staff, she saw the distinctive, tall figure of Chkra forcing his way through the sliding door. Clearly, he had “forgotten” his entry pass again; she was sure that it was simply his irritating way of reminding her who was really in charge.
Clacking her mouth pieces together resignedly, she waved a foreleg to deactivate the security system. He walked over to her, back legs rippling. Heads turned in their direction, but Krachka gestured for the curious researchers to continue working.
“This is the third time you’ve come here this quarter cycle. Why are you here?” Krachka spoke impatiently, rubbing her mid legs together and snapping her jaws in the way customary of her species.
“You failed to release the most recent preliminary reports to the government,” he replied simply.
“Have I broken any agreement? It was simply scientific protocol to make them publicly available to the research community.” She struggled to keep the defiance out of her voice.
Krachka’s furiously blazing eyes locked on Chkra who stared back unyieldingly. After a long silence, he folded his foreleg and gave a vocal command. A hologram flickered to life in between them and revolved slowly. Krachka didn’t bother to count the zeroes on her budget, but Chkra gestured rather smugly with his foreleg and the zeroes evaporated like water under the midday sun. She quickly slashed through the hologram before anyone else could see, deactivating it, and beckoned him to an adjourning room.
“Are you crazy?! If you cut our budget by sixty percent we will have to drastically shorten our field testing!” She closed the conference room door so that no one else would be able to hear.
“That was the most conservative plan. Some people want to stop funding you completely,” he responded evenly.
“With that level of funding,” she did a rapid calculation in her head, “we would have only a half lunar cycle more to study them at most.”
Chkra appeared unmoved; “Minds can be changed. If you present the government with your report on Directive A, full funding might be granted.”
“We have not completed data collection on those objectives yet. Now if you are done here, I will escort you out.” She ground her jaws together, giving her words a growling sound.
“Very well. I will be back.” He strode out without so much as a glance backward.
Krachka drummed on her head frustratedly and turned to the monitor behind her. She quickly tapped out her personal passcode, gaining authorization to the most secure files; no other individual had complete access to all of the information that lay in front of her. Knowing she would have to face her duty eventually, she slowly traversed the maze of video logs, reports, observations, photographs, and notebook entries. As she watched clips of the strange, fleshy humans, she felt a feeling of attachment.
They’re only clones she reminded herself, suppressing her emotions.
Records slid across her screen: she saw the electrode muscle strengthening, the knowledge implantation techniques, and finally the release of the humans into their enclosure and then the repetition of the entire process for each trial. The computer electronically tracked her thoughts and matched her desires, sifting down to an unnamed, eye pattern locked file, and with a building sense of foreboding, she gave the necessary authorization. She scrolled through the genetic data sprawling across the display to the analysis and compiled report, written in pieces by different researchers to avoid bias.
Her words to Chkra had been true: the report was not yet complete, but enough evidence was assembled to clearly answer all the questions outlined in their governmental directive. At first it had been a terrifying, earth-shaking revelation, but she had long since come to terms with this new reality.
The public however... she shuddered at the thought. And who knows what conclusions untrained officials might come to. For the benefit of society this report must not be released. At least not yet.
The code of ethics drilled into her as a juvenile prevented her from destroying the information, so she had it transcribed into long term physical storage. A nearby machine hummed for a few seconds and deposited a tiny frozen droplet of encoded DNA into her pincers. Delicately, she transferred this precious drop into an unlabeled, metal box and dropped it into the storage chute. It slid off into the darkness to who-knows-where and Krachka crackled in relief.
Unbeknownst to her, the unblinking metal eye of a single security camera continued its silent vigil as she strode calmly out of the small meeting room.