The captain beat me to death with the spaceship today.
I could tell it had something to do with today’s date. After all, it was only after calculating the current time on Earth that he began to haphazardously throw anything he could get his hands on in my direction. Once he ran out of things to send flying, he then turned to punching and kicking like a child having a temper tantrum.
However, it didn’t take long for the captain to realize that his frail bones would shatter under the force of his own blows. His mind raced as he quickly weighed his options, few as they were, and in seconds he devised a way to defeat me that was unfathomable for most planet-born humans; he killed me with the spaceship itself.
When I say this, you may think of a comic book world where feats like this are commonplace, but I’m not talking about something so unrealistic. Actually, if you think about it, there are many martial arts that use the planet to beat people up. Judo is the perfect example of this, as the main weapon of its practitioners would be the Earth itself. Victims of this martial art are dealt more pain from the force of gravity than from the practitioner’s own strength.
Once you understand this concept, it becomes a lot easier to visualize how he killed me. Although the spaceship didn’t generate any gravity, it did possess acceleration. As judo makes use of the acceleration of gravity, it and the concept of beating someone up with a spaceship could be said to be quite similar.
First, the captain had set his foundation by firmly fixing his body in place. Next, he proceeded to mercilessly throw me into the walls and floors of the spaceship. Due to the lack of gravity, spinning a grown man multiple times in the air and smashing him to the floor was now possible—just like in cartoons.
Despite weight pretty much being nonexistent in this environment, the density of one’s bones didn’t change. This meant that it was possible for the captain to either strain himself or break a few bones in the process of killing me; however, being a seasoned space veteran, the captain was able to skillfully control the inertia and recoil of his attacks. With all the experience he had acquired over the years, it was child’s play for the captain to crush my body and keep his own completely unharmed.
The captain said something. And from the way he spoke, he had seemed to want everything to suddenly become clear for me, for me to be suddenly enlightened. However, his efforts were in vain as his words failed to stir up such emotions. Today was just his son’s birthday. What was so special about that? Since I really didn’t feel anything, the words I could use were limited. As a result, I only stared at him blankly before helping him clean up my corpse.
Forget it. In the first place, it was hard to focus on his words after feeling a single spark of hope for the first time in two months. There was nothing I could do anyway.
I had shivered as I watched the captain senselessly beat me up with the ship, and I had to exert effort to keep myself from groaning aloud. I felt like an idiot because of a question I had thought of finally, along with its answer. It went sort of like this, “Since it’s possible to use a spaceship as a weapon, wouldn’t it also be possible to use a human body as one?”
Of course, the weapon wouldn’t be a body built through rigorous training. Instead, parts of the body would make up the weapon.
The answer? Everything about this was possible.
Bones often pierce flesh when they get broken. After all, when the captain beat me to death with the spaceship, my bones had poked out of my flesh in such a manner. The bone– having pierced my flesh once already– gave me confidence that it would be able to reproduce the same effect on the flesh of others.
It’s not like I was expecting to get a femur that just so happened to break off with an edge. Honestly, even the smallest rib from my body could have powerful potential in my hands.
I tried messing around with my corpse a bit as I carried it to the 3rd laundry room, but found my efforts to be in vain. It’s not that I was unable to find anything that I could have used; in fact, I had found a few bones. But the fact of the matter was that the bones were all stuck inside a fresh corpse. This meant that all of it was bound in place by strong muscle fibers, and those bones refused to budge. It’s rather strange to compare my current situation with Arthur Pendragon and the sword stuck in the stone, but it honestly fit quite perfectly. It was almost as if there was a fine sword stuck inside a stone, and I lost myself in my rage.
After a moment, I realized that deboning was a professional skill in and of itself. An inexperienced man would have a hard enough time trying to debone a nice piece of meat, drain the blood, and all that, but deboning a fresh corpse with bare hands? Such a thing was impossible for an amateur like me. This floored me, but it really shouldn’t have. It was only after I put the corpse in the tank and began to process it that I realized how stupid I was. As a result, I almost stuck my hand back in the tank.
I should have thought about using the guts, as I could have made a noose out of them.
After I writhed in self-loathing for god knows how long, I came up with two facts to console myself with.
Fact 1: It would be quite a sight to attempt to kill someone with guts, but it just wasn’t possible. As the captain hadn’t set a training schedule for me or anything, the density of my bones was probably as low as it could get right now. If I tried to choke someone, my arms would break.
But, more importantly, Fact 2: I realized that my body could be a weapon.
Because it was a corpse, and even my own corpse, I viewed it as a subject of disgust that had to be processed as fast as possible. Plus, I was almost driven insane from despair and fear. Actually, I wasn’t sure if I was still completely sane. I wasn’t, right? I could have come up with as many excuses as I wanted, but it was still unforgivable that I could only think of that last fact after two months. A corpse was a human’s body, and the human body was a masterpiece created through millions of years of evolution. It was something magnificent that allowed a person to maintain their shape for more than a century with enough care, and the inside of it contained all sorts of useful things.
I could think of several uses for them on the spot, but the very first idea I had really was the best: a broken bone. It was simple, sharp, and produced instant results. If I set my bones as my target, I would have to research ‘the best way to die so that I could easily get a piece of my bone’. I didn’t really want to think about it, but I was reminded of all the ways the captain had used to kill me up until now. I shuffled through my memories, trying my best not to vomit, and quickly recalled several opportunities where I could have obtained a piece of my bone with a bit of effort. What really made me sigh were the times when the captain killed me with fire. Getting the bone out of meat wasn’t even considered butchering, or deboning. It wasn’t even classified as work or cooking, but as part of a meal. It was that easy.
If only the captain wasn’t hesitant about using the same method to kill me more than once.
It was unfortunate, but the captain killed me differently every time. This was what fueled this journey of madness in the first place. Two months ago, the problem the captain was desperately pondering wasn’t whether he should kill me or not, but whether or not he was going to accept the fact that he could only kill me once. The captain couldn’t stand to abide by the laws of nature and was enraged by the fact that he could only kill me once using one method, so he took his first steps on this maddening journey. During this time, I had already died over twenty times in twenty different ways.
And I had killed his son one time, one way.
“The Witanians don’t have a concept of a ‘birthday’.”
“Hurashem? It’s frequently referred to as a birthday because it’s also related to the day one was born. However, a hurashem is completely different from a birthday. The Witanians celebrate a hurashem 300 days after their birth, not after 412 days, which would be the time it takes for their planet to complete a revolution around their star. A hurashem is the amount of time it takes for a Witanian newborn’s birthmark to disappear. 300 days would be the 1st hurashem, 600 would be their 2nd hurashem, and the 900th day would be their 3rd hurashem. Once a Witanian reaches their 10th hurashem—in other words, after they live 3000 days—they would reach their 1st hurashemon. Think of a hurashemon as a bigger version of a hurashem. 3000 days would be the 1st hurashemon, 6000 days would be the 2nd hurashemon, and so on. The people of Witan consider a hurashemon to be a big turning point in life or, at the very least, an important point in it.
“To quote what might appear in Witanian Literature, ‘John Doe was still rather childish, unlike most other Witanians who had passed their fourth hurashemon… etc etc.’ That would be how it works in general. Oh, I strayed from my original topic. Coming back to what I was first talking about, a hurashem is not even slightly related to their planet’s revolution.”
“Since it’s celebrated at certain time intervals, you want to know if it’s akin to a birthday? Well, no. A hurashem is separated from a birthday just by the fact that the intervals of time are different. While Humans celebrate the day they were born with a birthday, Witanians celebrate how long they’ve lived with a hurashem. Understand?”
“Heh, guh, urk?”
“I didn’t explain it well enough, sorry about that. So, to sum things up… Humans don’t say ‘I’ve lived 365 days after my previous birthday’ whenever they celebrate their birthday, they just say, ‘It’s my birthday again.’ To the Witanians, though, a hurashem isn’t something that ‘recurs in due time’. Get it? Yeah, that’s right. Birthdays are circular, but hurashems are linear. Why is there be a difference like that? This is due to the fact that human birthdays are based on calendars. If humans, um, based birthdays around ‘the time it took for a human to qualify as an intelligent animal’, they would have become a lot more like the Witanians. In this case, humans wouldn’t have described birthdays as something that ‘comes back’. However, since humans based their birthdays on calendars and calendars are cyclical, birthdays ended up becoming something that ‘returns’ every year as well.”
“Gurk, hup, eh.”
“Oh, how smart. That’s right. Once we managed to get out of Earth, we became rather confused at why our ancestors thought that time was circular. But, since they based time around the tiny star they called ‘sun’, naturally time became something circular to them. Night and day don’t exist in space, nor do seasons. Here, time moves in straight lines, rather than in loops, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. After all, time wasn’t circular to begin with. Ashes won’t turn back into logs, the money you spent won’t re-enter your wallet, and no matter how much you deny your age, you won’t ever get your youth back. It’s just like how entropy can only ever increase.”
“Aiii, ah, wah.”
“Isn’t it logical to give up on something like birthdays once you realize the nature of time? Birthdays essentially exist to tell us that we’re 365 days closer to death. It’s not something that should be celebrated, but humans relate these birthdays to calendars and create happy little misunderstandings for themselves. As such, they think of birthdays as a cycle of rebirth, a dream of revival. That’s right, immortality.”
“Ahh, yes. While it is indeed very worthwhile to talk to myself, I’m actually getting quite sad over the fact that we’re going to have to end our conversation soon. However, it’s almost time for the captain to kill me again, you see. Zaijian, adios, do svidaniya, sayonara, au revoir, there’s no place like home.”
I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Up until now, the me(s) all treated myself and the captain in the same manner: with caution and fear. It didn’t matter that I still looked like myself; why would that matter? Especially since I never looked in the mirror in the first place. The me(s) that had never seen their own appearances were incapable of detecting any form of familiarity in me. Even my voice was foreign to them.
I once had the tiniest hope that they’d be able to recognize my voice because they must’ve heard their own voices at least at some point in their life. However, it was a fruitless attempt. Humans weren’t beings that really remembered their own voice unless they listened to a recording of it a few times. Not only that, but these versions of me were all about as proficient in speaking as the natives of Java. As a result, it was impossible for them to pick up the similarity between my voice and their moans.
Due to this, no version of myself had ever loved me. Love my ass, none of the versions of myself had even possessed a hint of affection towards me. It was too much, wasn’t it? I should love myself—because I’m me—but I wasn’t loved by myself… Or I wasn’t, until now. Today, a version of myself smiled as it stood in front of me. It’d been so long since I saw a smile that some feeling warmed my heart. Perhaps this would bring about a small change…
At that moment, the smile turned into a frown. Did something happen? I leaned forward, nervously.
As soon as I leaned in close, I was greeted with a sneeze from myself.
What I had seen wasn’t a smile, but the face you make right before you sneeze.
I wiped the spit from my face as I prayed that the captain would kill me in a way that helped me obtain some bone.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The species that gave birth to me has a proverb about someone drowning in a dish of water, which refers to being in a situation so bad that the person in question doesn’t know what to do about it. You might think that it’s just a metaphor, but in space that’s not necessarily true. In other words, it’s possible to drown someone using just a hundred milliliters of water. Feel free to believe me. That’s how I died, after all.
Throughout human history, the value of human rights has remained everchanging. Often, human rights exclusively belonged to the male population, but as time passed, human rights soon spread to the women, the slaves, the children, and even the animals. Some might preach for days and days over how precious human rights were, while others would pay no heed to such a thing. Regardless, everyone’s perspective is different, and everyone has their own values they set for human rights.
However, once the rights of something else enters the picture, such as the rights of a god, everything changes. In ancient times, a god would have the right to demand your life, your son’s life, or even your neighbor’s life; but in modern times, some people attribute their actions as “the will of god”. Clearly, we see the rights of a god to be much more important than the rights of our own, which gives us an idea of how much we’re worth. Even so, human rights normally don’t have a “set value”. Because people constantly argue over it, human rights are everchanging. The exception being when the rights of something else, such as the rights of a god, come into the picture. When that happens, a “price tag” of sorts can be added to the idea of human rights almost instantly.
And look at us now, times have changed, we humans now have an alien species that we’ve managed to befriend. Although nobody wants to say it, humanity is now no longer ‘alone’, but we’ve become ‘one of many’. I’ll say this again, when something is there by itself, it’s impossible to put a price on it. However, if there are multiple forms of it, it’s possible to compare and contrast. “It’s all fresh, dear customer. You don’t have to dig through everything like that, dear customer. This face, customer? I’m definitely not imagining myself grabbing you by your dear hair and yelling ‘You bitch, do you even know how much I spent organizing all that?’ in my head, customer.”
Even when told all this, we still mess up the display completely in order to find the best product, just so that the employee can feel like Van Gogh (That’s why we’re referred to as customers). It’s within human nature to compare. We do it naturally. But, is it fine to say that human rights and Witanian rights shouldn’t be compared, even if this goes against our impulse? That would be a complete denial of the human nature. It’s almost as nonsensical as me looking at a Witanian scientist and a human child, then deciding that saving the scientist would be inhuman.
Oi, you madman, of course it’s inhuman to not save one of your kind!
“Captain, you heard what I said, right? Human beings are creatures that tend to put a price tag on everything they see. Classifying other human beings as ‘worthless’ is something that we’ve always done. All religious people have a god. All fascists have a nation to look after. All eco-terrorists have an environment they can ruin. Even in communities that prohibit executions, there exist ways to deliver justice. In the end, what matters more is justice. It’s only logical for humans to choose something other than one of its own kind.”
So you killed my son to save that Witanian bastard? And you still call yourself a human after that?
“It would have been better if I hadn’t had to kill your child.”
But you did!
“Yes, I saved doctor Zumerei.”
You killed my son!
“Yes, I saved doctor Zumerei. Damn it, you haven’t even revived your son once, and yet you’ve already killed me twenty six times. I killed your damned son once to save a doctor. Doesn’t that make me so much better than you?”
Five minutes later, I died again for the twenty-seventh time. Under normal circumstances it might have become another one of those simple deaths between deaths number twenty-six and number twenty-eight; however…
That wasn’t the case this time.
A gun is a very democratic weapon. Before it came to be, society revolved around the concept of who was the strongest. Be it swords or bows, there was no way of getting better at it without practice. Time is power; the fact that one could use it to train oneself to get stronger made it so.
Power can appear in many forms. It could be an expensive weapon or some sturdy armor, but it’s all the same in the end. Nobles are powerful. The homoioi are more powerful than the helots. But guns? Even drug dealers or child soldiers that were trained with one for ten minutes at most can kill a trained soldier with only a single bullet. In the world of guns, status no longer matters. If the captain shot me with his gun, it wouldn’t matter what advantages I had at hand, as we would instantly be put in the same status.
The captain brought a gun without even thinking about any of that. He seemed to have thought that if he was to become a murderer, he might as well try gunning someone down, full auto. The gun had pretty much destroyed just about any other “romantic” weapon, leaving itself as the only weapon with any sort of charm left to it.
However, if you had ever seen victims of a shootings in the modern era, you’d end up seeing a sight akin to having a person ground up in a blender (And that, obviously, doesn’t have a single bit of charm to it). Due to the captain’s lack of experience around a gun, he remained oblivious to just how strong modern guns were. It didn’t even take a millisecond to fire 250 bullets, but the amount of time it took to fire an amount of bullets didn’t matter to me because by that time I was pretty much ground to a paste.
And with this, I finally had a piece of my bone in my possession.
After the execution, all that remained was the of cleaning up the protein shake that used to be my body. The Machiavelli (that was what the ship was called) had no problems withstanding the captain’s brutal killing methods, but having the rotting smell of my corpse contaminate the air in the ship was an entirely different matter.
It would’ve been nice if he thought about that before shooting me.
The captain thought about just locking down the room he killed me in, but decided that it just wasn’t worth it. In the end, we had to trade 11 hours of hard work for the captain’s 0.1 seconds worth of trigger happy entertainment. He didn’t even have the energy to notice that my right arm bone had gone missing.
The hard work had brought on quite an unexpected result. Despite being absolutely exhausted, the captain still wore a satisfied expression. I couldn’t say for sure, but I imagined it as the same type of satisfaction that the slaves in Egypt felt after completing the pyramids. After cleaning up the last of my corpse, the captain took out a bottle of alcohol. It was the first time I’ve seen him drink in a long while.
Back then, when the captain had killed me for the first time, he drank heavily to cope with the shock and ended up blacking out for nearly twenty hours. However, after that, he just wet his lips a few times, and eventually stopped drinking altogether. At first, I was worried that I would see the captain drown in his self-loathing after becoming a murderer again, but that didn’t seem to be the case this time. Him drinking after his twenty-sixth murder was triggered by something different. He looked like a worker who was having a glass of cold beer after a long day. The captain opened his mouth after two sips.
My son was really ugly when he was first born, you know.
“…Well, all newborns do look quite peculiar.”
I tried to convince myself that it was because he practically spent ten months in water, but he was really too ugly. When the doctor told me that the baby looked just like me, I nearly took that as an insult.
“So it wasn’t the picture perfect meeting that you’ve imagined.”
In fact, it wasn’t even close to the ideal meeting that I had planned in mind. I thought that I would have fallen in love with my son the moment I saw him, but all that greeted me was a squirming blob of flesh. I thought that my love would be transferred to my son, and that my son would smile as a result, but the first feelings I’d felt for my son were nothing but guilt and disgust. I had even thought that seeing his smile would make me happier and that the cycle of receiving and returning the love would repeat itself all over again. However, I could only flinch in disgust, which made me feel guilty, which made me even more disgusted at the kid for making me feel guilt. After that, of course, that disgust turned to guilt again.
“Is that so?”
They say time heals all wounds, but for me it just got worse. It just cried so much, I thought I was about to go crazy when it just wouldn’t shut up even with my wife trying to console it. When I tried to console my wife, the baby would scream so loudly, and when I tried to console the baby, my wife screamed at me for not caring about her enough. ‘I can’t raise a child. I wasn’t ready for this. We should put him in the orphanage. I must be crazy. No, I wouldn’t be saying this if I wasn’t this stressed. I’m not a bad woman. I am a bad woman…’ Days passed with me trying to console her mad ramblings.
The captain grinned. He must be feeling quite ridiculous, looking back at his past.
I had married her after dating for four years. Because of that, I thought I knew her better than anyone, but seeing how thin her patience had turned out to be, I began to second-guess just how well I knew my wife and, within my denial, I began to wonder if I was stuck within some kind of dream-like reality. Understanding and accepting this took a while because I didn’t know what to make of it. I felt a variety of different emotions. Heck, I even felt betrayed. I’m just a normal husband. For the years we’d spent together, I had no qualms about making fun of my wife for some of the stupid things she’d said by mistake, but I’ve never made fun of her about what happened during that time. I simply kept my lips sealed.
The captain began to ramble more and more about the things that his son had destroyed. His expectations, his positive view of his wife, his sleep, the list went on. He had to let go of the dog he raised for thirteen years because of his son. A few days after leaving the dog with his side of the family, he learned that his dog was mauled to death by another dog. The captain was grief-stricken not only over the dog’s death, but also over his inability to see the dog’s last moments.
Ironically, he couldn’t even take remembering the time when the camera lens he worked six years to get broke in front of him. The captain still introduces himself as an amateur photographer, but he hadn’t managed to take a single picture after that lens broke. As a result, it wasn’t really right for him to introduce himself as one anymore, but then again, it wasn’t really right for the captain to say that he liked music or movies anymore, either. Even stating that he enjoyed noodles would be a lie now, because his son was allergic to gluten. Of course the child would be allergic to gluten.
Because I lost everything that made me who I was, I ended up becoming a father instead of myself.
I could only become a father that told himself to endure, to be patient, to kill himself.
I couldn’t become a father that told his child to say no, to resist, or to say his name with pride.
Too many things were destroyed in the process of becoming a father. Because of that, I didn’t have much left. I’d turned into something far too small to be called a human, and I lost my chances of becoming a good father..
How nice would it be if I had more to begin with? If I wasn’t shallow enough to be stripped of everything that wasn’t mine while I became a father?
The captain wiped his cheeks that had become stained with tears.
It was useless for him to console himself by saying that there were better days up ahead. Why was that?
Because the question was crude and due to some other reasons, I didn’t answer it.
The twenty-ninth me came out of the 3rd laundry room.
The fact that cloning humans was illegal should come as no surprise. But no institution ever stopped to wonder why the 3rd laundry room existed in pioneer ships even with the absence of the 2nd laundry room. Unlike the Witanians, who jumped into space as soon as they became capable of FTL travel, humans rarely wanted to leave Earth. The occasional pioneers that appeared every now and then were exceedingly rare beasts, and no one ever dared to tell them to fight against the unforgiving alien environment without even when given a second chance. It was extremely hard to find an organ donor on a space colony with a population no greater than a hundred. This made human cloning an effective, humane way to find organ donors. Due to this, trying to ban cloning on a space colony was about as effective as trying to stop the production of drugs or alcohol. It was inevitable that all pioneer ships would have a 3rd laundry room as a result.
Of course, pioneer ship that belonged to the Consortium of the planet Mphemba, the Machiavelli, was no exception. It was unknown just how many times it had been used, but it was clear that it had been used successfully. Mphemba managed to avoid the tragedy that befell all the other colonies and managed to get to stage 12 of colonization successfully. Typically, when a planet reaches its thirteenth stage, the pioneer ship would leave the planet. Since pioneer ships were just as rare as pioneers themselves – it was difficult to mass-produce such an expensive ship designed for foreign frontiersmen, seeing just how rare they were. There was no choice but to reuse a single pioneer ship again and again. The Machiavelli was scheduled to return to Earth before attempting to create a new colony elsewhere. And ten days before the captain left Mphemba, his child got killed in the place of a Witanian doctor. This all happened two months ago.
Since this was a return trip, there was barely anyone left in the ship. The captain managed to take the entire ship for himself after isolating only one sailor. He didn’t do this to take revenge on his son, as there were many ways to keep me caged even without doing that. The captain took control of the ship for the 3rd laundry room. The machine that would allow him to kill the one who killed his child in hundreds of different ways.
“Ah, ahhh? Ah.”
That’s right. The captain had gone mad. Just slightly more insane than the typical parents who lost their child.
The captain created clones of me with active brains.
All clones produced from the 3rd laundry room were made to be brain dead, because only then does it become possible to justify something like ‘killing a clone of yourself for resources’. It was a ‘rather complicated process to produce the body parts needed for a patient’. If a clone was produced brain dead from the start, then it will never have any life experiences. This fact is resolute, which means that it could never get out of its brain dead state. Its lack of the ability to think or feel makes it no different from a meat suit or a vessel, so why wouldn’t it be okay to take advantage of it, when such a thing lacks the ability to feel pain in the first place? After all, it would be pretty difficult to call it a human even if you weren’t a foreign frontiersmen in dire need of an organ transplant.
However, such case doesn’t apply to the clones of me that the captain had made, since in due time they were beings capable of developing sentience.
I told him that there was no difference in making a living clone or a brain dead one if he just was going to kill it anyways. However, saying that only got treated like a madman by a madman. Make a corpse and kill it? How ridiculous was that? Well, the captain did end up making some sense. But if that was the case, what was this about the captain creating clones of his enemy to kill it in tens of different ways, then? I tried to talk some sense into him. I told him that what he was doing wasn’t taking revenge, but rather child murder. What I was telling him was no different from telling him to kill me. But it didn’t work.
I strapped down the bodies of the twenty-eighth me and the twenty-ninth me, and began to dig through my pockets, finishing out the right arm bone, I’d taken from my corpse earlier.
As I looked at my arm bone, I tried to give myself false justification for killing the captain. It was pretty easy.
It wasn’t just to stop him from killing clones that could easily grow to become individual humans. Some day, the captain would realize that killing the clones would be fruitless and come to kill the original copy. It wasn’t like I believed that I would keep living as long as I provided more clones of myself to him. I was just thankful that I managed to live this long in the first place. If I want to live, I had to kill the captain.
I ignored the fact that I was going to kill both a father and son with my own two hands.
The ambush failed before it even began.
I headed towards the storage room with the cart the twenty-ninth me was strapped to. It was closer to a strapper than a cart in this zero-gravity space. There wasn’t even a need for a cart, since all you had to do to move a clone somewhere was to tap it hard enough. But I still needed to tie the struggling clone down onto something. That’s why I used the cart. If I loaded the clone onto the cart and carefully pushed the cart, then the cart would safely float to the other side. Like a ship sailing on water.
Angular momentum is constantly being conserved within the confines of a zero-gravity environment. By utilizing the twitching motion of various body parts, the clone could control the pitch and yaw of the ship. Of course, it could roll as well. The cart managed to arrive at the storage room’s entrance flipped upside down. Thankfully, the cart couldn’t sink like a normal ship, but still there was the problem of having the arm bone that I taped below the cart show in plain view of the captain.
That’s right. Hiding something ‘underneath’ an object is a very Earth-like thought and I knew that. So please stop it with the mockery about how I never thought about the possibility of having the top of the cart become the underside of it. You have to remember that the observer also has the power to change the direction of their body at will. Any other time the captain would have to spin around in the same direction as the cart in order to catch it. Otherwise his body would jerk sideways due to the angular momentum of the cart when he grabs it. However, it seemed that in his drunken state, the captain couldn’t even be bothered to spin. Instead, he tried to control the speed of the cart by nudging it with his foot. This allowed him see what was stuck on the underside of the cart. Damn it.
The captain was shocked to find an arm bone underneath the cart, he looked at it with a surprised face for a short moment. His face changed shortly after, as he quickly understood what it was. He was overtaken by shock, followed by his overwhelming and disgusting sense of imagination. It wasn’t hard to imagine just what the captain was thinking, just looking at his face alone showed how much he was looking forward to killing me. That didn’t interest me at the moment, what really worried me was which “me” he was going to kill with that bone.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the twenty-ninth. It was the first.
The captain let out a monstrous scream as he attempted to stab me instead of the other me stuck to the cart. I barely managed dodged his attacks twice and stuck out my left out in desperation. Miraculously, I had managed to grab hold of the captain’s right hand with it. Here, the captain made a very rare mistake. It was most likely because of his rage. As he tried to tear away from my grip, my weightless body shot sideways, carrying the captain with me. He must have forgotten about how he killed me with the spaceship all the other times. Because in the end, the two of us bounced around the walls and ceilings of the spaceship without showing signs of ever stopping. It would’ve perfectly resembled a pinball game if we added the sound effects. Well, this time the sound effects were filled with swears, screams and rage. They served the same purpose.
It was then that the horrid shock came. It came in with a ‘bang!’ sound that came a little after the tremor had already made it’s way throughout my body. I realized that the obvious had happened as my consciousness faded away. I had banged my head against the wall. We were speeding up more and more as we kicked at the walls as we bounced. However, what we did only made the shock increase. This was bad. If I lost consciousness now, then it would be all over for me. The captain would kill me while I remained unconscious. But staying awake was hard. It almost felt like I had already lost consciousness. I struggled to move. If I could just get one part of my body could move, then I’d be able to wake myself up. But I didn’t even know where my body was. Where was I? I was…
Doctor Zumerei, who had often received criticism for being unusually childish. This wasn’t behaviour you’d expect for someone who had recently just gone through his fourth Hurashemon. He had stopped walking when he discovered something quite peculiar in the hallways of the Machiavelli.
Zumerei was a navigator. In ancient times, navigating around space was all left to the computers, but human pioneers eventually realized that computers were often prone to errors. In the end, they were forced to revive the legendary job of a navigator. The race of the navigator didn’t matter. What mattered was their intelligence, and since the Witanians took off into space far before humans, the majority of the working navigators were composed of the Witanian race.
When Witanians board a human spaceship, a section of the ship needs to be locked down in order to create an environment suitable for them. This causes a bit of discomfort for the crew, but that wasn’t much of a problem for a returning pioneer ship, since all the pioneers had gotten off at the space colony already. Because of this, there were no problems with having a human captain and a Witanian navigator on a return trip. Especially since this specific navigator/captain pair had already sailed together for several hurashems.
It would honestly be much more convenient to get a Witanian captain instead of a human one. That way, they could just set the environment of the entire ship to be suitable for Witanians. But the stubbornness of the modern bureaucratic society of the humans demanded that each of their ships must be lead by a human captain. Due to this, Zumerei could only be a sailor and never a proper captain. Zumerei wasn’t very stricken over that fact, however. Him and his childish personality wasn’t able own up to the responsibilities of being a captain. Plus, his partner was actually a decent human. Despite never staying in the same space as the captain due to the drastic difference in the environments they lived in, Zumerei still considered the captain to be his friend. Normally, one would have to pay to travel through space with a friend. Due to this, being paid for traveling with a friend in space made Zumerei feel very satisfied. Because of this, Zumerei never assumed that there might have been a chance for a giant accident resulting from their partnership.
It had to be a work of a random pioneer. He must have thought that since the ship going to be returned to Earth for repairs anyway, it would be alright to take a few parts of the ship for personal use. He probably didn’t even know that the ship was to be led by a human captain and a Witanian navigator. It was a common occurrence. This was the reason why Zumerei and the captain tried locking down a section of the ship to test if it would simulate a Witanian environment successfully. That’s why when the lock on Zumerei’s area of residence opened and the Witan air began to leak outside, Zumerei didn’t run for his spacesuit right away. He knew that the captain would seal off the leaking areas completely.
The captain acted as Zumerei had expected. Since this happened all the time, they were quite used to the procedure. Only one thing was different about what happened that day, though.
The captain had a son who had a natural talent to make all those who hired him to regret their decision. The only reason this son managed to get the job as a student sailor at the Machiavelli at the time was because he begged his father to extend the time he spent in space to make his resume look better. The son was an extremely lazy person by nature, even when his boss wasn’t his father. But the son’s current boss, the captain, was a person who might as well be qualified of saying “I am that I am” on the spaceship. The son assumed that he could leave his father to control the environment of the ship and do whatever he wanted, and that was precisely what he did. He was secretly playing at was the location right outside Zumerei’s residence area, the location the captain had locked down in order to prevent the Witan air leaks in Zumerei’s area.
The air of Witan fired the captain’s son faster than any employer dumb enough to hire the son in the first place.
A few days after the son’s death, the captain left with the Machiavelli, leaving Zumerei stuck on the planet. He didn’t report the incident to the Consortium. Instead, he just made use of all the connections he had in order to borrow a spaceship from a human star stitcher. Like any other star stitcher’s ship, the ship was split in two sections, one for humans and one for Witanians. So there was no need to wait for the ship to create a suitable habitat for Zumerei. He set off immediately with the star stitcher. Thanks to their navigation skills, Zumeri and the star stitcher was able to catch up to the Machiavelli in just two months. They tried to send in messages to the ship for several hours, but the ship refused to respond. Someone had to go in themselves. The star stitcher suggested that he go in, since the environment inside the ship was set for humans anyway, but Zumerei insisted going in by himself. The star stitcher gave in to his persistence, and Zumerei entered the ship in his Witan spacesuit.
And inside, he stopped moving after seeing a human’s innards floating inside.
He would have been shocked if the innards were those that belonged to a Witanian, but since it wasn’t, Zumerei wasn’t shocked too badly. But he did feel confused. The innards were tied in a particular fashion, which reminded him greatly of the “noose” that humans used for suicide. That is, on Earth. The noose was useless in space. Zumerei had no idea why such a thing was needed here in space.
Zumerei was forced to move onto a different subject a bit later, though. It wasn’t because his curiosity was solved. It was because a scene that even he had been shocked by was displayed to him. He saw the captain. It’s been two months since he last saw him, but Zumerei couldn’t run to the captain immediately. He didn’t know which one to go to. There were two captains.
To most Witans, humans looked pretty much identical to each other. But Zumerei was able to differentiate the captain from other humans after spending so much time with him. And there were clearly two captains displayed in front of him. He blankly stared at the captain for a moment, then remembered the cloning technology that humans often used. The captain seemed to have made a clone of himself, but for what reason? To make that strange noose made of human innards? Was this a ceremony of some sort that humans performed? Zumerei decided to ask the captain himself and looked at the two captains once again. The one who was tied to a cart of some sort was probably the clone. Because it would be difficult for a clone to tie the original. Zumerei decided that must have been the case and moved to the captain that had fainted while holding something in his hand. Here, Zumerei once again saw something peculiar.
The captain seemed to be holding a human bone. But he wasn’t holding it like how normal humans held objects with two hands. His right hand was wrapped tightly around the bone, but his left hand was gripping his right wrist. Zumerei had no idea what the captain was trying to accomplish with this. After a moment of confusion, he gripped onto the captain firmly. He used the third appendage that Witanians often used to touch with affection and shook the captain.
A moan came out. Shortly after, the captain opened his eyes.
1. A “man of equal status” in Sparta. In other words, a common citizen. Also known as Spartiate.