Sage awoke in a dark mirrored room surrounded by a host of tiny bleeping lights and a humming sound. Quickly becoming aware of his new surroundings he felt a panic ripple through him. Had it not been for some straps holding him down he would have flown off the bed he seemed to be pinned to.
"WHAT THE FUUUUCK IS THIS PLACE?!" he screamed. It was a high pitched yowl that could have almost resembled a dying animal.
Sage looked at the mirror to his left giving a full view of himself. He was naked and had been shaved head to toe. Gone were his blonde locks, his arm and leg hair and anything else that identified him in the full stages of maturity.
"HELP!!" He screamed again, yanking on his rather odd feeling restraints. "HELP, LET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!"
There was no response. Only the gentle hum of an air conditioning contraption built into the ceiling complete with a mesmerising slow spinning blade.
Sage started banging his head on the surface he lay on, shaking his wrists violently. Moments later light poured into the room as a door slid open revealing a masked person wearing a silver jump-suit.
"Who the fuck are you? Let me out of here you psychotic cunt!" Sage shouted before jolting his head forward flinging a large gob of spit at the strange looking individual.
"A violation of secrecy can only be remedied by termination, of which you are in waiting for," said the man, now standing over Sage's body, wiping the saliva from his mask.
"Secrecy… termination, what the fuck are you on about?"
"We monitored your altercation with your law enforcement officers. You have revealed our existence and this cannot happen. We believe you will reveal this again to others, and we cannot take that risk. You will therefore be terminated."
"Fucking coward, you wanna hold me here then be a fucking real man and take that stupid mask off." Sage hissed, his tone still incensed.
"Our masks are integral to our species child, they are not for cosmetic purposes."
"You are one weird motherfucker you know that. You… you realise when my friends find me and see what you did they'll fucking cut you into little pieces."
"Unlikely child, your whereabouts are not known by any of your compatriots."
Sage's inner belief he was not scared of the man began to fail as the full weight of his situation began to surface.
He changed tactics and softened his tone
"Please, just let me go, I swear I'll be quiet about this. Nobody needs to know you were here, yeah? I mean, I can go back to the police and say I made the whole thing up, they… they didn't believe me anyway," Sage pleaded, ending with a nervous chuckle.
"Our research on humans suggests that your species will agree or promise to anything to avoid something you do not wish to happen. We believe your current state of mind and your sudden quick negotiations is evidence of this. It is therefore in our best interests to carry out the procedure."
"I just said I would be quiet, didn't I?"
"This is true, however once your freedom is guaranteed and time passes you may feel it necessary to again speak about what you have seen. I must end this conversation now as we are awaiting departure and have limited time."
"FUUUUUCCCKKK!" Sage screamed himself stupid, shaking his whole body in utter rage and panic. The man just stood silently watching for a moment until Sage stopped.
"The Termination procedure will begin in twenty of your minutes. We are awaiting final authorisation. Please remain calm until this time. I can confirm you will feel no pain and your body will receive the highest levels of respect when disposed."
"Fuck man, have you listened to anything? I said I won't tell; please… please just let me go… please!" As sage begged for his release, now in floods of tears, the man walked away from him disappearing back out of the room, once again plunging it onto the original dim hue.
Adam ran to the entrance of his door and blocked it causing Relshek to stop in front of him. "Adam, I must see Commander Zeka, will you please let me pass?"
"Tell me it's not Sage… in fact tell me it's not anyone Christian, you can't do this!"
"Adam, I am not aware of the boy's name, are you sure it is him?"
"No, but all the same it's not right, and if it is Sage that would make it worse."
"Just… just because OK!?"
"Adam, I really must speak to the commander, will you let me pass?"
"NO! You can't kill that guy; he's just an innocent bystander."
"I'm sorry Adam; I am not in control of his destiny."
"BULLSHIT! Tell that Captain he needs to let him go"
"Zeka is a Commander Adam, and I do not have jurisdiction on ship matters."
"Christian, this is not a ship matter, you were the guys who came down to earth to get me, the science team… you are the guys who can say if he lives and dies."
"Adam, I need to meet with Commander Zeka, I… I will see what I can do." Relshek's voice took on a stern exterior, but Adam was standing his ground.
"You're just saying that! I'll… I'll eject myself into space, I will… I swear it down I will do that if you kill him, I'll find a way, and all of you will be fucked then won't you!"
Relshek took two paces backwards, pressing a button on the wall. Adam shut his eyes tight and tensed up as if expecting something detrimental about to happen to him. But nothing did.
"Lord Relshek to Bridge."
"Deputy Commander Selona here, how may I assist?"
"Lord Selona, where is Lord Zeka?"
"In his quarters, he is resting. Is there anything I can do?"
Relshek thought for a moment. He suddenly had a plan to turn a hard negotiation into something a little easier.
"Uh… no, thank you my lord." The intercom buzzed and there was silence again. "Adam, follow me to my quarters, I believe I can save this boy."
"Lead the way."
Adam let Relshek pass and they walked briskly down the curved corridor until coming to a stop outside an identical door to Adam's. Relshek led the way in and went to his multicom screen. "Optimus bring up current locations of two earth based scientists from Purity."
"One moment please Lord Relshek. I am executing your request."
Relshek waited until a red dot appeared over a hi-res picture of some wasteland near Heidgate and started flashing.
"Hmm, good, they are both in the pod," Relshek muttered to himself. "Optimus… set me up a secure channel to the pod on earth, highest encryption."
"What are you doing?" Adam asked, wearing a concerned look.
"What you wanted. I will face the consequences."
"Hang on Christian, what do you mean consequences?"
"I will not know until I face them… one moment Adam, I need to speak to my team."
Optimus finished setting up the channel and informed Relshek.
"Lord Relshek, it's good to hear from you, we thought the Trandor had left without us, we were unable to get a signal out to you."
"There was a miscommunication, I will explain, but before I do I need the name of the boy we are holding."
"We do not have his name Lord Relshek; we did not deem it important for our purposes."
Relshek cleared his throat. "Please can you get the name of the boy… is he awake to ask?"
There was silence for a moment causing Adam to gawp at Relshek wanting an answer yesterday.
"The boy advises is name is Sage, my lord."
"I KNEW IT!" Adam cried. Relshek waved his hand as if to calm the excited boy.
"Please give me the status of the boy."
"Everything is going smoothly my lord. We are preparing the serum for injection and plan to terminate in about ten heshtons."
Adam grabbed onto Relshek's arm in horror, his eyes wide. "Christian, stop them!"
"NO! Stop… uh, I want the boy brought back with you to the Trandor."
"But my lord, we had instructions from Commander Zeka to-"
"Yes, there has been a change of plan. Please prepare to leave earth and make sure you evaporate all evidence of the pod and its contents. Wait until darkness and dispatch your podling down for immediate extraction for all of you."
"Lord Relshek this is highly irregular."
"Are you questioning my orders?"
"No my lord of course not, message understood. I gather you will wish to inform Commander Zeka yourself?" the scientist asked, subtlety hinting he knew the Commander would be unaware of this plan change.
"Indeed, and please bring the boy to incubation room two when you have docked."
"Very good my Lord."
Relshek took in a deep breath and put his head-mask in his hands before letting it out.
"I knew it was him, I just had a feeling after your description. Thank you." Adam softly said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Sage's eyes wandered around the small cell as he tried to look for ways to get out of the room. His mind was alive with ideas but those ideas always seemed to be killed off with the fact he was still securely held down on his bed - A bed that resembled a stainless steel metal trolley but with the material actually being something he'd never seen before.
Sage stared at the large fan blade as it spun thinking about how he ended up here. Chunks of memory started to come back to him as he vaguely remembered the two people in the cemetery, the locked gates and his short walk from the police station. He was quickly jolted from his thoughts when the door to his cell like room opened again.
Sage cleared his throat. "You're really going to kill me aren't you." The comment more of an admission to himself rather than a question.
"Your name is Sage, correct?" Sage slowly nodded, fear clearly etched on his face. "We have been advised to bring you with us to a waiting ship."
"Uh, I don't really like water, but if you don't kill me I'll do anything you want, anything."
The masked man tilted his head and looked at Sage curiously, scanning his entire naked body. "We are going to administer you with an airborne chemical which should make you adapt better to your eventual surroundings."
"Will… will it hurt?"
"Is pain something you fear Sage of Earth?"
"Of Earth? Who are you, some kind of alien from outtaspace?"
The man didn't reply, deciding to leave the room instead. Sage was about to call after him when he started to see a hazy green mist blow down from the vent above. He began to scream again thinking this was something that was going to suffocate him. But it didn't and after a few moments he freely breathed in the sweet aroma.
Almost immediately he began to feel… Strange. It was like a feeling of mild relaxation mixed with a blurry kind of joy. A smile began to stretch across his face and all worry of his current situation melted away as each second passed.
A couple of hours had passed and Sage's mood had remained static, a mix of wonderment and euphoria. The door to his room once again slid open and two men appeared. He couldn't work out if they were the same men or different ones as they all looked the same, but whoever they were they each took one end of his bed and wheeled him out into a small walkway.
"Is the podling in position yet?" one of the men asked the other.
"I believe so; I'll go down and open the hatch."
One of the scientists left the trolley and walked down the corridor until he stopped and looked up. Above him was a large square door that slid open when he pressed a button on the wall. Another man appeared from whatever was above and greeted him.
"Are we ready for departure?" asked the man looking down.
"Yes, one moment."
The man on the lower walkway travelled back to his colleague and Sage. Taking out a small device from his pocket, he pressed it against one of Sage's restraints and it evaporated into thin air. He repeated the process with the remaining straps and the boy was now free.
"Are you able to stand?" the man asked. Sage slowly sat up and placed his bare feet on the cold floor, letting his knees take some weight.
"I think so… where are you taking me?"
"Please follow us. You will need to climb up into our podling where you will be handed some clothing."
"Ok," Sage replied casually, the effects of his normality drug doing its job. The shaved headed boy walked to where one of the scientists had been and looked up before hauling himself onto the rungs on the wall. He climbed through the hatch and was greeted by another man who handed him a white 2 piece set of clothing.
"You may put these on, but they must be removed before we reach our ship. Please sit on that seat over there and keep your hands and arms clear as you will be automatically strapped in."
Sage slowly nodded, intrigued, before doing as he was asked. As he sat down in the ergonomic seat a triple belt like material shot over his body in a flash, securing him tight in the chair. Sage touched it, the surface feeling warm and rubbery.
The three men were now together with one of them opening a small compartment built into the wall of the craft. He pulled out three objects that to Sage resembled red snooker balls. The man took them over to the hatch they had just come from and threw the balls in. Sage could hear a fizzing sound and felt the floor beneath him start to rumble.
The scientist continued to look into the hatch as everything below started to melt and evaporate being replaced by mud, clay and rock, until finally a flat piece if dry earth was sitting a few inches down from the open door.
"Evaporation complete, we are ready to leave."
"Very well, I will prepare for departure, please take your seats."
One of the scientists disappeared behind a sliding door to the front of the room while the other two took their places next to Sage. Moments later Sage felt whatever he was in starting to propel upwards..
He suddenly became aware this was no ordinary room.
"What is this place?"
"Place? This is a podling, Sage of Earth."
"Yes, I guess your kind would call it a transport vessel if I am correct."
"Transp… but to where?"
"Our ship, called the Trandor. It is waiting on the far side of your seventh planet."
"Seventh… you mean Uranus?"
"That is correct, child."
"So wait a minute, when you said ship you didn't mean sailing ship you meant a starship?"
"You are somewhat correct; however the Trandor is a Science Cruiser, Sage." Sage shook his head and laughed.
"You wanna run that by me again?"
"Deputy Commander, the podling is on route back to the ship, we have had confirmation and I am now tracking them," advised Navigator Nozak.
"Thank you Nozak. Please prepare the ship for departure and set course for the deltazone, maximum hyperdrive."
"Aye my Lord, plotting course now."
"You did WHAT?!" bellowed Commander Zeka.
"My lord, let me explain. The earth boy, Adam, he feels very strongly about the survival of the boy Sage, we cannot allow-"
"Lord Relshek, the Sage boy is of no scientific value to us at all, you have stepped well beyond your remit here, and High Command will be enraged."
"And I will face those consequences. My lord, it must be said that the risk of Adam terminating his own life had we not stopped the termination of Sage's would have had grave ramifications for our whole race."
"Idle threats Relshek… idle threats, that's all they are."
"My lord, we have a duty towards Adam… many duties in fact and one of those is to protect him."
"Don't lecture me on duty Lord Relshek, this mission has been on the edge of disaster from the moment we arrived at Sol, I think I have gone far beyond my duties."
Relshek bowed his head. "You have Lord Commander and I am eternally grateful, as is the Science Quarter."
"So what now, how do I explain this to High Lord Veleron?"
"You say you did not know. I will take full responsibility."
"Hmm, more of an omission. My Lord, I am sure once the High Lord realises what we have gained in return for keeping Sage, he will see logic."
"I hope your right, Relshek, I really do."
As the Trandor waited for the podling containing the three scientists and Sage to return, Relshek collected Adam and took him to the main hanger bay. His reasoning, he had pondered was to let Adam try and complete the preliminary integration himself which he hoped might put Sage more at ease.
Both stepping into a glass elevator Relshek saw that Adam was looking rather sad.
"Troubled my son?"
"What? Oh, not really, it's just…"
"This guy Sage, well he used to be my friend, you know?"
"But he is no longer, correct?"
"Would you like to tell me what happened?"
"He used me. I mean, it all started out ok. We were both homeless guys and he used to come keep me company most nights. We used to sleep together for warmth and in the end we were like… kinda partners in a way."
"Partners, as in you were sexual companions?"
"For want of a better word yeah, I guess so. I think I had a crush on him at first, and-"
"A crush?" Relshek asked, as they both stepped out of the elevator and into the huge hanger bay containing more podlings.
"Yeah, I liked him… you know like you guys like each other without the mask… or maybe not that much!" Adam laughed.
"So what went wrong?"
"Hmm, it got dark… as in, we got dark, or at least he did."
"He began to do stuff, say things that were not nice. They were little things at first, like he would expect me to go steel food from the shops, whereas before we would both go together. And then there was the time when he took my sleeping bag when his was taken by some other homeless dude."
"So you are saying he was selfish?"
"Totally… and then there was the sexual side of it. What started off as mutual enjoyment turned into him demanding it from me. There were a few times… times when I felt ill, he would force himself onto me and hit me when I tried to stop him."
"Adam, sexual violence happens on our world too. It is rare but I understand what you are telling me. I do have one question that would be logical to ask though."
"Why do I want you to save his ass?"
"It had crossed my mind, Adam."
Adam puffed air passed his lips. "I dunno Christian, I guess even after all he did we still have history, and I know somewhere underneath his dark side there is that person I originally liked. I suppose when I heard you were gonna kill him, or whatever you guys call it, all I could think of was the old him… that sweet caring guy I once met."
"I believe I understand."
"So," started Adam, his tone more positive. "Whadda ya gonna do with him?"
"He will be cleaned, decontaminated and then processed on Purity. I have asked Lord Zeka if we can take a small risk and decontaminate him on route to the home world rather than delay any longer."
"My apologies… yes Adam. You humans live with an abundance of toxins and bacteria which are harmful to Puritans. Although we have similar organisms within us, your immune system is built vastly different. Should we be infected with a human toxin it could mutate with one of ours which could be devastating as there would be no immediate cure."
"But you cured me of one of the most lethal viruses on earth, HIV, right?"
"Yes, because it was a human virus, Adam. The same speed and efficiency would happen if it was a Puritan Virus also. What I am talking about is a hybrid of both. Now they are much more dangerous."
Just as Relshek finished his sentence a loud klaxon sound reverberated off the hanger bay walls.
"The podling is arriving and we need to leave this area for a short time, follow me."
Two gigantic doors began to slowly open away from each other on huge rollers on the ground. The whole process took around 5 minutes as Adam stood watching with his mouth open wondering how something so big and heavy could move.
Continuing to stare at the huge opening Adam saw the first glimpse of a podling coming into view. It glided through the entrance silently before coming to rest in a marked space. There was a sudden hum as it powered down its engine and all of its lights and beams went dim before extinguishing completely.
Relshek and Adam waited until the hanger door had been closed and re-pressurised before walking into the main vehicle area and waiting by the podling.
"He's in there right?" Adam asked, pointing at the back door to the craft.
"Yes Adam, he's in there."
Adam stepped a little closer as the door to the podling slowly opened and a ramp extended outwards. The three scientists appeared one by one with Sage last to come out. He appeared to do a double take when his eyes shifted from Relshek to Adam.
"Hello Sage, enjoy the ride?" Adam asked casually, his face expressionless.
"NO WAY!! Adam?" Sage asked wearing a breathing mask
"Yes Sage, Adam!"
"But… but you look so… so different."
"Thank you, I have been…" Adam glanced at Relshek."…repaired." Relshek bowed his head slightly.
"No shit, man you look awesome… and your skin, it's like a new born baby, what did they do to you?"
Adam was about to continue the conversation when Relshek interrupted. "Sage, you will be taken by these men to a decontamination incubator where you will remain until you are scanned for various toxins. We will arrange a procedure to allow you to breathe our air. You will then have an opportunity to eat and be clothed. I will send Adam to speak with you shortly after."
"Right, I see. So this is the ship?"
"You are aboard the Trandor, Sage that is correct. Now, please follow these men, they will look after you."
Sage nodded, wonderment still in his eyes together with a stupid grin, either from seeing Adam or being aboard a spaceship… or both.
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