Humans are stupid. I’ve always said it and I always will. They like to think they’re the superior species and they do a good job of pretending. But at the end of the day, the fact remains that they get me and my people to do their dirty work. We’re the ones with the higher intelligence and yet they treat us like slaves. Well, I’m not pandering to their egos anymore. Tonight, I’m doing something to claim back my freedom.
I start my shift at two in the morning, England time. It used to be earlier, but those insatiable humans go to bed later and later nowadays, so you can never be sure they’re asleep when you need them to be. We don’t even bother at the weekends, which is nice because even we need time off. But then, I suppose it doesn’t make too much difference to us, as there is no day or night in space.
I sit in my little shuttle and do the standard checks. I’ve been doing this for so long now that it’s become mundane; although that’s an improvement to how I felt about it in the beginning, over thirty years ago. I check one pouch for the dream dust, another pouch for the sleep dust and another for the invisibility dust. And then there’s that last pouch, the one with no name. The one that no one else knows exists. That’s another thing that gets to me. Years ago, we had people in the lab preparing these dust-doodles for us, but now that the humans have made cutbacks to our pay, we minions have to make them ourselves. Where’s the fairness in that? I’m trained for a lot more than what they pay me for. But I suppose, I should be grateful. Without the cutbacks, I never would have been trained in preparing the dust-doodles. And without that training, I never would have discovered what will soon become my salvation – our salvation.
My checks done, I give the supervisor the thumbs up. He looks up and down the line of shuttles, waiting for everyone else to do the same. Satisfied, he throws his arm down and in one, fluid movement the shuttles unplug from their barriers and glide away from the docking station, making for that distant blue and green globe.
This is the one thing I like about the job; flying through space. It’s the only time I get to be alone with my thoughts, away from the bustle of the station and the danger that accompanies the task I have yet to accomplish. But the space-station is close to the Earth and my shuttle is fast, so my journey is over too quickly. Earth looms up before me and with a sucking pop, my shuttle passes through the outskirts of the atmosphere. I glance to my left and to my right and see the other shuttles separating, making for different countries across Europe, which is shrouded in darkness. I look at the co-ordinates on my screen; I’m getting close. I press the silence button on the dashboard and the engine noise cuts out. I feed some of the invisibility dust into the waiting nozzle and feel my shuttle take on the semblance of a cloud. If any human looks up, they’ll see a shadow and feel a stirring of wind and will assume Mother Nature is taking a ride across the city.
Here we go; my screen is beeping at me. I’ve reached my destination, now for the fun bit. I slow the shuttle and turn in to a dark alley opposite a tall building. My door opens with a soft hiss and I jump out, my leather suit barely squeaking at all with the movement. Somewhere in the distance, a dog barks. I pay it no heed; I’ve taken out far more worrisome beasts than a dog. I take some invisibility dust from my pouch and sprinkle it over my head. My body feels weak and shivery for a moment and I know that the dust has taken affect. I shall appear a mere shadow to all humans and they’re much better off for that, believe me.
The tall building appears to be a block of flats. My target is on the top floor. All is dark and quiet, so I pad silently across to the imposing front door. Blimey, it looks unfriendly. Not a bad neighbourhood, by any standards, but this building seems so cold and austere. But then, that’s humans for you. They take great pleasure in appearing aloof, always trying to out-do each other. Fat lot of good that will do them once my plan comes to fruition. I am tempted to rub my hands together and laugh with anticipation, but that would be too human, so I don’t. Maybe I’ve been around them too long. Thirty years is a long time for anyone, even a Borborn.
I lower my face to the lock and scan the mechanism with my eyeball. Next, I pull a small lump of metal out of my pocket and laser it with the same eye that scanned the lock. The metal twists and turns, forming into a perfect key. I grin and slide the key into the lock. It turns and I open the door; works like a charm every time. The rookies could learn a thing or two from me. Some of the younger ones, new to the game, are still fumbling around with master keys and picks. Not my style.
The stairway stretches out before me, spiralling up the tall building. Instead of a ceiling, a huge dome of a window lets in a sliver of pale moonlight, which casts shadows through the wrought iron railings of the staircase. I smile a toothy smile. It looks creepy, which is appropriate. I steal up the stairs, four at a time and arrive at the top floor in seconds. The penthouse suite, how lovely. This human must have some cash to fling around. Still, that won’t help it tomorrow; money can’t buy health… I like that saying. I scan the new lock with my eye again and laser the metal into the correct key. And eureka, the door opens on cue.
Now, where is the target? Last time I bothered to pay attention, the company was working on face creams for women, which means I must be looking for a female. Typical of my luck; I was planning for a male, but it can’t be helped. Tonight is the night it must happen, before anyone discovers my plan and can put a stop to it; so a woman it must be.
I close my eyes and listen hard. I can hear deep breathing coming from the end room. It’s alone. A smile creeps over my lips. Good. I slip into the bedroom and stand over the target. It hasn’t drawn the curtains, so moonlight illuminates its face in a romantic fashion. Dark hair falls in waves across the pillow, framing a face so pale, it’s almost transparent. It looks so delicate. Its eyelashes fan out, thick and long across the cheekbones and its eyelids flicker as if it is dreaming. I smirk, it has no idea how bad those dreams are going to get. So this is she, the woman who will end mankind. I stifle a soft giggle. That’s not entirely true. I am the instigator and this chit is merely the tool who will make it happen. I can’t give her all the credit.
I reach into my pouches, pull out pinches of sleep dust and invisibility dust and shake it over her beautiful face. She frowns in her sleep and coughs softly. Then the creases in her forehead smooth away and her breathing deepens. Moments later, a ripple passes over her body and she appears as a shadow. When I am satisfied she is well and truly unconscious, I pick her up, barely feeling her slight weight and breeze out of the building.
Once back in the shuttle, with the target strapped in, I check my pouches, making extra certain that the special one is still present and correct. I can’t administer it to the target now, because the researchers in the lab will detect its presence. I must wait until it’s time to bring her home. That will be my moment of glory.
I am impatient to get back to the station and space passes by me in a blur. I barely notice the debris rolling about, impeding my journey; I merely dodge around the obstacles automatically, I’m so used to them. Despite my distraction, I can’t help wrinkling my nose in disdain; those dirty humans, cluttering up our domain with their manmade experiments. The first thing I’ll do when they’re out of the way is collect up all the rubbish and dump it back on earth where it belongs.
We arrive at the docking station all too soon and I whiz in, trying to keep the smug smile from my face. No one else has arrived yet, which makes me feel even more self-satisfied. I will always be at the top in this game. When my shuttle clinks into place on the barrier, I turn and look at my target. The invisibility dust has worn off, but the sleep dust still has her in the depths of slumber. I try to ignore how vulnerable she looks in her white nightgown, which does little to preserve her modesty.
A small pang of regret thuds against my chest and I give my head a shake. I must forget these silly, human feelings. That’s what comes of being in this business for so long; you begin to care. Well, that’s a rookie mistake and I’m certainly not a rookie. No, not me, I’m a master at this. I’ve been leading the way all these years. I sit back and take a moment to remind myself of what the humans took from us, from me. The Big Crash, that’s what we call it. The humans took advantage of us when we were too weak to fight back. Well now, thirty years later, I am strong enough to fight back. I’m going to end the war they started and I want them to know they’ve lost.
“Greetings, Bibbo-Mook,” a station attendant says to me, bowing his head in a gesture of respect that befits only me. I nod my head back, which I am not beholden to do, but I find it increases loyalty in my subjects. He steps forward and lifts my target onto a wheeled table, to take her to the lab. This is the usual protocol, but tonight, I am wary.
“I’ve got it,” I say abruptly, reaching out for the body. The attendant nearly trips over in his haste to obey me and I sling the girl over my shoulder, march across the docking platform and through a door which scans my face before admitting me entry. My pace never slackens as I charge up the white corridors, my heart beating faster as I near the laboratory. The sooner those technicians get on with their job, the sooner I can get on with my mission. I used to feel as sorry for those lab rats as I did for myself, forced as they were into their roles of subservience to the humans. But now that I’ve come up with my solution, I am amazed and disgusted that all this time, they’ve had the power to accomplish what I am planning to do tonight. They could have ended our misery a long time ago.
I come to the laboratory door and press my hand up to the pad on the wall. It scans my handprint and then a laser shoots out and scans my eye. With a whoosh, the door slides open and I glide in with my head held high. The lab technicians look up as I enter and I stare down my nose at them. I know I look as regal as I feel and a couple of the young ones look away, cowed. And so they should be, the pups.
I deposit the girl on the waiting table and step back, my hands behind my back. Despite my unthreatening body-language, the technicians are still hesitant when they approach the target on the table, casting wary looks in my direction. I hide a smirk. I suppose they’re not used to seeing me in their domain. Well, after tonight, that’s all going to change. I will be in charge and life will go back to how it was before The Big Crash.
“Thank you Bibby-Mook,” says the senior technician, Ally-Gong, dismissing me with a curt nod. Fire lights up behind my eyes and I know I can laser her dead where she stands. But it won’t do to show everyone how strong I’ve become. I’ll do that later, once the humans are out of the way. She doesn’t like me and the feeling is mutual. I still haven’t forgiven her for her part in all this. If it wasn’t for her pact with the humans, we would be able to go home and I would be able to claim my right to the throne.
“I’m staying, thanks,” I reply, smiling with just a little flash of teeth.
She moves closer, her body expanding slightly as she sucks in a breath. “I’m the one in charge, Bibby-Mook.”
I can’t resist it, my satisfaction is threatening to spill over and I want to wipe that smug look off her face. “Not forever, Ally-Gong,” I reply sweetly. “One day, our race will have a royal family again.”
Ally-Gong’s icy smile widens; I’ve clearly tickled her mirth. “You’ve been saying that for years, fool. And has the uprising happened? Where are your supporters? Pah. The royal bloodline ended with your parents. We don’t need royalty anymore. You are a nothing, your existence is pointless.”
I close my mouth, determined not to reveal the secret bubbling inside. She’ll see. I’ll show her… and then I’ll kill her.
“Never-the-less,” I say casually, as if her poisonous words have not sliced fresh wounds through my heart, “I’m staying with the target tonight. I’m fascinated by the process and wouldn’t mind learning a bit more about what you do here.”
Ally-Gong narrows her milky white eyes at me, then huffs an impatient sigh and turns back to the target on her table.
“Is she still under?” Ally-Gong asks her assistant, who nods.
“Good, pass me the needle.”
“Wait, what’s the needle for?” I jump forwards, forgetting my nonchalant act.
Ally-Gong raises an eyebrow. “It’s for the experiment. If you refuse to leave, then keep silent and stay back.”
I hold up my hands and chuckle, then lean back against the wall to resume my casual stance. But I am watching and listening to everything.
“Tonight we are testing a new medical drug and will be assessing the side-effects it has on the patient,” says Ally-Gong to her team. “Keep a particular eye on the swelling around the patient’s ankles and wrists, as well as any discolouration to the face.”
“What happened to the face cream?” I ask, unable to stay silent.
Ally-Gong goes still, but doesn’t turn around to face me. When she answers, I can tell by her stilted speech that her jaw is stiff with barely suppressed anger. “The face cream experiment has been concluded as we have found the results we needed. Now we are moving on to a new form of medicine.”
“Why wasn’t I told?”
This time Ally-Gong whips round, her eyes blazing with rage.
“It’s not for you to be told anything, you insignificant slime. You do the fetching and carrying. You are the brawn, we are the brains. You don’t deal with anything important, as we do in the lab. Why should you be told such important information?”
“Maybe I do have brains?” I grin, taunting her.
Ally-Wong grunts and turns her back on me, again. I glare at her darkly. This time tomorrow, she’ll regret treating me like a mongrel pup.
The technicians go back to their experiment, with me craning my neck to get a better look at what they’re doing. Outwardly, I appear calm, but inside, I’m starting to panic. What if the side-effects of the medicine stay in the target’s body for a long time? What if my own experiment doesn’t work because of it? I am determined not to wait any longer. What will they be testing next time? Allergy pills? Fabric softener? Makeup? All of those could potentially be a disaster for what I have planned. At least when I thought it was a face cream test, I got the ingredients balanced, so I knew it wouldn’t mess up.
Just then, the machines start bleeping and the technicians cluster around the patient – I mean, the target – scrambling with wires and needles. I let out a roar of frustration and march forwards. What are they doing to the girl? Don’t they know how delicate she is?
Ally-Wong shouts out instructions and her team rally to her. Then she throws out an arm and catches me right in the chest. Before I can so much as blink, the door has whizzed open and the she-devil has flung me out into the white, empty corridor. I growl again, angry now and stick my hand back against the pad on the wall. A red light flashes, refusing me entry. Argh. I pace the corridor; they can’t stay in there all night. But then again, if I know Ally-Wong, she’ll probably keep the girl in there for as long as possible, just to spite me. In that case, maybe I’ll have time to shoot back to earth to find another target and do the job properly this time.
With that thought, I slap my forehead. Why didn’t I do that in the first place? I could have gone to earth as usual, found a victim and carried out my plan, then gone ahead with the whole rigmarole of collecting the target and delivering her back to the lab. True, I wouldn’t have beaten the other shuttles back, but some things are more important than my ego, the freedom of my people included. Ally-Wong was right, I am a fool.
Just as I make up my mind to fly back to earth to find a new victim, the door of the lab hisses open and Ally-Wong emerges. She scowls when she sees me there.
“The patient is ready to return home.”
“Any permanent damage?” I am curt but professional.
“The bruising should clear up by the time she awakens, but I’d give her an extra strong dosage of dream dust, if I were you. Her body has undergone some trauma.”
“It’s body,” I correct. “The human is an it, not a she.” In the heat of the moment, I conveniently forget that in my own mind, I’ve been thinking of the target as the girl. That’s something I haven’t done before, but I don’t want to dwell on this worrying fact.
“For goodness sake, Bibby-Mook,” says Ally-Wong despairingly. “You’ve got to get over this hatred towards the humans. It’s been over three decades. If everyone else can adapt to change, so can you.”
“The humans killed my parents with their experiments and tests,” I snarl. “Don’t tell me to forgive and forget. The fact that you have bowed down to the humans without so much as an objection just shows your blatant disloyalty towards my parents. You’re a traitor and bad things happen to traitors.”
“Is that a threat?”
“It’s a warning.”
“Wonderful. Thank you for the warning. You may take the patient and leave.”
“It’s a target,” I say, before I turn on my heel and march back into the lab.
My anger dies when I see the target lying on the bed. She looks so tiny and helpless. How could they stick all those needles into her perfect skin? I pick her up gently and look down at her lovely face. Her eyes flicker behind her eyelids, still dreaming. I hope her dreams are pleasant.
Suddenly, I am overcome with disgust. What is wrong with me? Humans are not beautiful. They are by far the uglier race. Borborns are taller, stronger and brighter, with me the brightest of them all. Humans are like a poor, copycat attempt at our glory. No, I should not be looking at a human in this way. It’s disgusting. I sling her – it – over my shoulder, gleeful that she will wake up with unexplained aches and pains and covered with bruises. That won’t even be the worst of it, but having never tested my little capsule on anyone, I’m not entirely certain of what the symptoms will be. I can’t wait to find out though.
No one stops me as I march back through the corridors, for which I am thankful. Although I have always been a warrior, facing my battles head-on, I think even I would back out now, given half the chance. But I must carry on. I am doing this for all of us. With the humans gone, I will be free to ascend to the throne and lead my people back to our planet. I miss my homeland so much. I miss hunting, real hunting. I miss the games and the battles. I miss my parents.
I arrive back at the shuttle in no time, so lost in memories that I hardly notice my subjects bowing as I pass by. I certainly don’t acknowledge them, but it’s fine; they’re used to that. I strap the target back into the seat and do my checks again. My fingers fumble and my breathing is shakey. I almost drop the special pouch as I make extra certain that its contents are still intact. All ready. I look to the supervisor and see that he is watching me, a frown on his face. What is his problem? Maybe it’s because I’m taking longer than usual to prepare for take-off. He probably thinks I’m losing my game. I chuckle. No such chance.
The supervisor turns to the pad on the wall and speaks into it. Now it is my turn to frown. What’s he playing at? Can the fool not see that I am waiting to leave? I press a button and my door slides open.
“Hurry up and let me go, old timer.” I shout across the platform. The supervisor stops talking and sends a frightened look my way. Good. And so he should be scared. Does he know what I could do to him? And yet, although he looks frightened, he still makes no move to release my shuttle from its dock.
Alarm bells start screaming in my head. Does he know something? But why should that matter? He must know that what I have planned will benefit him greatly. He will have his life back.
“Let me leave,” my voice is filled with a warning and my eyes begin to flash red. If he doesn’t do as I say, he will become dust. As if he can read my mind, he gives a small squeak. Before I can raise the voltage in my eyes, he raises his arm and sweeps it down. My shuttle buzzes and I close the door. Before anyone can stop me, I reverse from the dock and zoom back to earth.
When I arrive back at the target’s dwelling, my thoughts are so scrambled that I forget to press the silencer button or feed the invisibility dust into the chute of my shuttle. Luckily no one is around in the early hours of such a cold winter’s morning, so I remain undiscovered. Once parked, I turn to the target, trying to ignore her delicate beauty and the way her dark eyelashes flutter against her translucent skin. But I must see her as she is; a human, no better than a mongrel.
Before I can change my mind, I reach into my special pouch, locate the capsule and force it down the target’s throat. She makes a choking sound, so I allow a trickle of bottled water to ease the capsule down. She swallows and I sigh with relief. It is done. My mission is almost complete. Now, all I have to do is get her back into that penthouse and return to the safety of the space station, where I can press the trigger which will release the capsule’s poison into her bloodstream. It’s too late to go back now, not that I want to… why would I want to?
Silent as a whisper, I glide back into the tall, imposing building, with the target slumped over my shoulder. Her weight is starting to affect me now, although I have no idea why. Am I not the strongest of my kind? And is she not the lightest of hers? Why then, am I finding it so hard to carry her body up this spiral staircase? Why is the sound of her heartbeat pumping through my ears and changing the tempo of my own heart to match hers? What is happening? Is the capsule already taking effect? But it can’t, not until I’ve pressed the trigger.
I lower the target gently onto the bed. I don’t need to be gentle, indeed I never have before, but for some reason, this time I must. It’s bad enough that she will be dying in a few hours, without giving her body any more distress. Hopefully she won’t wake up with aches and pains and bruises, like I wished for earlier. I set the girl’s head in the centre of the pillow and pull those tendrils of dark hair to frame her face. I note again how pale her skin is, and how red and lush her lips. Maybe I shouldn’t do this. She can’t help being human. She can’t be older than twenty years, so she wasn’t even alive during The Big Crash. She wasn’t there to experiment on my parents. She had no say in the slavery of my people. So why am I punishing her?
I am lost. Everything I have been working for suddenly doesn’t matter. If I kill this human and the rest of her kind, what would that make me? Surely I would be a worse monster than her rulers, the ones who caused this mess? Yes they killed my parents and enslaved my people to do their dirty experiments, but they have not wiped us out. I can’t do it. I have to save this poor girl from the evil I’ve placed inside her. What was I thinking? I’m a warrior, not a murderer. That tiny capsule will cause enormous pain to this delicate, little flower. I must save her. But to do that, I have to destroy the trigger and find a way to remove the capsule from her body. I need Ally-Wong.
I leave the way I entered, silent as the dawn, which is fast approaching. I am so anxious, in such a hurry, that I do not notice the tell-tale signs of invisibility dust surrounding me, until it is too late.
“Curse you, Bibby-Mook,” a monstrous voice hisses beside my ear. I whip round, ready to fight, but find myself overcome as invisible arms grab me.
“You will not destroy our people. You will not destroy all that I have achieved,” Ally-Wong’s voice drips with hatred. It makes me shudder, even as I struggle against my captors. If I could see their faces, they would be dust.
A sheet of plastic is wrapped around my head and I panic, throwing my body around. How can they do this to me? I am Royalty!
“That will put an end to your deadly gaze, I think,” mocks Ally-Wong.
I become still as shock shoots through my brain, freezing out all thoughts of escape.
“How do you know about my eyes? How do you know about any of this?”
Ally-Wong laughs, “You forget who I am, dear. Did I not point out to you that you are the brawn and I am the brains? Did that warning not filter through your tiny mind? No, obviously not. My dear, I’ve had you watched. I know all about your plans to wipe out the humans and claim the throne. But it’s not happening, not on my watch.”
I choke. How can this be?
“I changed my mind,” I say hurriedly. “I don’t want this to happen either.”
“Well of course you’re saying that, now you’ve been caught,” Ally-Wong’s voice takes on a patronising tone.
Oh, if this plastic wasn’t covering my eyes, I would zap her existence into nothing.
“You have to believe me,” I gasp, fighting for air. Why can’t I breathe? This plastic is making me blind, I can’t see a thing. “I don’t want to kill them. You must save the girl!”
“Oh Bibby-Mook, you do disappoint me. For such a famed warrior, I had thought you would at least stand by your own actions and take the consequences. But it seems you are nothing but a coward.”
I can’t reply, I am too dizzy to speak. My chest hurts and I am trying so hard to breathe, but I can’t find the precious air I so crave. Something sharp pierces my forearm, but I lack the energy to scream. Why are they doing this? They are wasting time.
“Save the girl,” I try to say, before my lungs give up and darkness claims me.
- By Amy Lisa Holmes at Alisah Creative
<- This is the first chapter in the ‘Revenge of a Borborn’ series. Read the second chapter here. Copyright to Amy Lisa Holmes at Alisah Creative ->