Beyond the End of Time Chapter 6
Author Ben Snyder
Krachka watched the monitor closely as the six humans approached the force field. She was curious to see how they would react to the storm and grudgingly impressed with their progress. Despite all her memory wipes, the humans always seemed to retain some fragments of knowledge buried deep in their subconscious. Last trial it had taken the full lunar cycle for them to discover the force field, but it seemed that this time, assisted by the appearance of the giant insect, it would take only a few days.
She leaned forward attentively and almost protectively as Julius collided with the barrier. Witnessing Elizabeth and Henry tend to Julius, she was again amazed how much compassion humans openly displayed. Many of the other researchers insisted it was a mere social ritual, but Krachka was almost certain the humans exhibited some form of altruism.
The dreaded, bad tempered alarm began its unbearable chirping and Krachka snarled in annoyance. She looked up, hoping that the source was nothing more than a forgotten security pass. Krachka’s expression flipped from frustration to trepidation when she saw Chkra flanked by two Society Lieutenants enter the room. Krachka knew all too well that Society Lieutenants could only be dispatched on a crisis vote in the Society Council and when that happens, carrion flies tend to follow close behind.
The formidable trio walked to the elevated platform at the fore of the room, blocking view of the live feed of the subjects. On cue, the alarm’s wailing ceased, plunging the room into stifling silence. Chkra gently clacked his fore-legs together. The utter stillness was so perfect it seemed like a frozen hologram. Chkra’s deadly gaze slowly rose to Krachka; she could almost feel a gun at her head.
“The Human Investigation Project is temporarily disbanded. You will all return to your residences with the exception of the security staff who will await further instruction. You will exit silently or forego financial compensation.” Chkra’s voice radiated total control.
The statuesque Lieutenants seemed to suck the invigorating excitement out of the air, leaving behind only fear. No weapons or insignia adorned their solemn figures, but their dark blue uniforms betrayed the total power vested in them by society. Krachka’s mind finally wrapped around Chkra’s statement and immediately indignation filled her. Battling the current of dazed researchers, she worked her way towards the front of the room. Her head swam with a flurry of thoughts before crystallizing on one thing: Directive A.
“It was Directive A. You broke into our files. And now you plan to kill the humans.” Krachka went cold, her words escaping in a low whisper.
“It is no longer a concern of yours.” Only a slight twitch betrayed his surprise at her deductions.
“You shouldn't, you can't do that. This is a sentient species we're talking about.” She no longer felt fear for herself but for the humans.
“What we can and cannot do is no matter of yours.”
“So you would destroy an intelligent species? An intelligent species that holds genetic secrets we have yet to unlock?”
“To ensure the survival of our own species? Of course. You forget the highest duty is to society. This genetic disease in your clones could spark a devastating epidemic. You have sacrificed your impartiality as a scientist for the affection of these aliens,” the contempt in his voice struck Krachka hard, “as you would destroy your own race. Even now you try descend from your high horse of science to speak to us flawed mortals on Earth. You're just as flawed as the rest of us and you know it.”
Despite the deep barbs, Krachka was immensely satisfied to see Chkra lose his temper: “Complex social rituals and communication. Altruistic behavior. Tool construction. Playful attitude. All of these behaviors have been observed in humans. Recovered human works show concern with morality and good versus evil. How can you possibly justify their second extinction?”
“It's not as if humans have returned. Six clones do not constitute a race.” He regained his composure
“Do you not see that we have a responsibility to–”
“Any race that poisons its planet and then kills each other over the remaining scraps does not qualify as intelligent.”
“You still don't understand. If you look carefully at the evidence you can see evidence of struggle between humans and arthrids. We were the ones who killed off the last of them! We have a duty to undo the damage of our ancestors!” She was growing desperate.
“The decision has been made. And you two,” he called to the Lieutenants, “arrest her for obstruction of Council business.”
“That falls outside of your jurisdiction. We will however escort the head researcher to her residence.” The Lieutenant to Chkra’s right spoke, and even he shrunk back from her powerful intonation.
The other Lieutenant bore down on her with a fluid, regal gait. Unable to resist the underlying power of law and order, drilled into her since birth, she walked defeated towards the door. She looked up and saw Valek’s strangely guilt ridden face. In a fraction of a second, something beyond words passed between them and then she was gone.
This is beyond my control now. She thought helplessly.