[Destiny] Chapter 52: Engineer Many

~~~

Green text on the health guidelines

green skin on the Kontolian

green laser fire

green exhaust fumes

before the reactor blew

green mood from Captain Wong

green assistant engineer

green cum

turned pale-green

oxidised wiped up and replaced by

cartoon green particles

up to her knees and rising, a trigger going off in her brain, hand-dragging her back to this shade of reality, putting her face to face with the same purple orb that god knows how many minutes, hours, days earlier had absorbed itself into her and

it wasn’t purple sparkles engulfing her

they were green

why?

Ignorant or non-telepathic, the purple orb flexed some of it mist leftwards and spelt out a list in cloud particles. The heading text: Frequently Asked Questions [that may not be asked].

What is this place?

Who are you?

What are you?

Where’s my friend/lover/sibling/parents/actor/pet/prey?

What’s this green stuff around my legs?

Why is it rising?

Is it sentient?

How did I get here?

Where is here exactly?

Can my species and your species fuck?

Are those really two moons?

Joanna finished reading the list and tried to go back and double check, but the particles appeared to be linked directly to her neural cortex, re-dispersing into the purple mass, leaving her with nothing fresh to ask except, will this hurt?

‘The process will be relatively fleeting. In tube, it is a mode of transportation. Please, no follow-ups. This is an interview. I will be the question master.’

‘Interview for what?’ Joanna managed, eyes pointed down at the green specks swirling round her chest.

‘Do you often take ferries?’

‘Ferries?’

‘Is Cantonese superior to Mandarin?’

‘I don’t-…why are you asking me that?’

‘Do you consider all Japanese people to be thieves?’

‘No response?’

‘Is aluminum real to you or your species?’

‘Okay, another question.’

‘Time is objectively slow, ne?’

‘This is ho mo liu.’

‘Krsnik can keep victims alive in their lairs for up to two years.’

‘You don’t even care if I answer…’

‘Mimicry is not respect.’

‘Do you?’

‘Pink and orange are the same colour.’

‘Where’s my friend, Sila?’

‘Fishfinger in a koi pool.’

‘The human guy who came here a few weeks ago. Have you seen him?’

‘In some cases, acrobats cheat. Agreed?’

‘Can you at least tell me what this green stuff is?’

‘Humans take damage every two frames.’

‘Before it…’

Joanna suspected she wouldn’t be able to finish the line and that there would be some irony to that, very light irony, not significant in any way, and she was right, the green funnelled itself into a narrower stream of mist and conquered her throat in one shot, popping back out her ears and nostrils and quickly consuming the rest of her face.

Sucking in an emergency breath didn’t help.

‘Transfer time,’ said the purple orb, bobbing a slow orbit around her now green and wispy head. ‘I’m Drrrrrv-Rrrvvrrkd by the way. Don’t try to pronounce it. Chut fah!’

~~~

Two windmill totems in the distance

one dull indigo

the other bright lilac

both shifting in jagged flow as the green mist she was entrenched within drifted forward, aiming it seemed for a dome structure in between

the lilac windmill brightening as she grew close

a kind of burning smell hitting her nostrils

an electronic theme

sounded like vapour-wave, only with motorbike revs disrupting the flow and

Drrrrrrv rrrdddrvvkd floating to the side and then ahead as a circle opened on the surface of the dome and pulled them both inside on an invisible rope.

A voice without audio sounded out

informing her that she was safe now, safe within the Immigration Garden Waiting Dome, and there should be bracing of the self as a reunion was imminent.

Sila, she thought, picturing his body attached to Yute Long’s head

then correcting

to a tall silhouette, her brain fluxxxxxxxed beyond all alien green shit wrapped up in her ten billion atoms and up quarks and dry muon sub-flakes and white hole at the centre of her essence that kept insisting she was dead, deluded, dying, didactic, and this green and purple dance would

An electronic boom, ending the drift.

She floated, waiting, adjusting her hopes back to the more likely form of Sila, and perhaps Søren, if the little monster hadn’t killed him already.

Just like in her thoughts, a silhouette appeared.

In a room with pale green slashes on the walls.

And another silhouette, smaller.

Søren?

She tilted her head redundantly and saw that, no, it was herself, a little too short, and the other silhouette was Sila, the light showing both to be straw-stuffed dummies, like the Romulan back in Cesky Krumlov.

A ridiculous sight.

Two obvious dummies that didn’t look even a tiny bit like the humans they were supposed to represent.

What was this? A play?

‘Focus-discipline,’ transmitted the purple orb, partially obeyed.

The light deepened

an invisible force moving both figures closer and closer and closer and closrrrr until they collided and

that was a hug?

That was not a fucking hug.

Nope.

Not fucking either.

Her head jerked back, as did her dummy’s, one in disbelief, the other potentially getting eaten out by Sila bot and

another dummy, tiny, blonde hair

yanking at both their hands,

poking its face between their hips and

‘Reunion complete,’ announced the purple orb.

Joanna made a guttural sound in Cantonese, checking that her vocal chords were still active, then followed up with, ‘what the king of hell was that?’

‘Now for further focused discipline.’

‘Were those dummies supposed to be-…’

The words vanished from her throat and her head stiffened as the room darkened into a ruthless, edgeless void.

It stayed that way for several minutes.

Then the purple orb spoke, saying it felt sorry for her re: its native name, and from now on, would allow her to call it by its secondary title, Engineer Many.

Joanna tried to say okay, but there was no voice amplifier.

And Engineer Many was telling her to focus-discipline again.

‘Try not to compare any of this to your human surrealists, that would be very offensive. And, yes, that includes the Varo creature.’

A strange line, she thought, fixing her eyes on what she suspected was the centre of the ruthless, edgeless void, visualising a small white dot in the distance, spiralling almost imperceptibly towards her.

At first she thought it may have been an hallucination

but then it grew to the side of a melon

a basketball

a Mongolian wrestler’s head

and she knew it was genuine.

‘Focus-discipline,’ Engineer Many repeated, an echo effect making it more mesmeric.

And that’s what she did.

Not bothering to wonder why.

No point.

It was either too alien to comprehend or bleakly mundane or purple orb trolling or an eye test.

Nothing else.

~~~

Time was objectively slow

and ungovernable

ending only when the white dot showed pattern

the radioactive face of Jupiter

manic, above it all

and after that the room was lit purple again. A very soft purple. Then it filtered out completely until a normal person would’ve believed it ghost white. But not actually ghost white. Just white. Like shopping mall walls.

In the corner to the left was Sila.

Søren parked just behind.

Joanna felt her feet touch floor and was about to walk forward when Engineer Many said stop.

‘Watch first.’

‘Sorry?’

‘To drain the emotion out.’

She didn’t really understand what it meant but there was an invisible forcefield backing it up so all she could do was stand there and watch.

It was a short play.

The Sila character moving forward, stiff arm movements, head spasms, shaking the hand of the Joanna character.

Then tipping his head and saying, ‘good to see you again, Joanna. What are you doing here?’

‘I also fell down the portal hole.’

‘Oh. That is odd. And insane. I cannot believe that you have followed me here.’

‘We are together now. It is part of the past.’

‘Yes. We will move on.’

‘Great idea.’

The two performers, that Joanna guessed were holograms as every now and then they would buffer, leaned in for a kiss then turned to Søren and beckoned her to join them.

With glowing purple eyes, the demon child acquiesced.

Then the curtain came down.

A literal one, dark purple.

And Joanna was left in a space with grey haze instead of walls, blinking at Engineer Many floating out an infinity loop sign in front of her.

‘You have been suitably flattened.’

‘Err…should I speak?’

‘Now you are ready to function within the Garden Dome.’

‘With Sila?’

‘Look behind.’

It wasn’t transmitted like a command, but she interpreted it as one, her body rotating in three awkward turns, until she could see Sila and Soren sat inside two luminous green rings

or hovering inside

it wasn’t quite clear from her current position.

‘I will leave for privacy reasons,’ said Engineer Many, receding backwards and up into the ceiling then out of sight completely as the lights in the space grew brighter and then dimmer and then evened out into a normal, slightly pale-green glow on dark grey walls, not that different from Iranian nightclubs back on Earth.

‘Welcome to immigration,’ said Sila, lifting himself out of the ring, and moving over towards her.

‘I didn’t-…’ started Joanna, but there was nothing beyond that as Sila absorbed her with his arms and said, ‘I can’t believe you’re fucking here,’ over and over until words phased into sounds and sobs and

~~~

Riding the air currents outside the dome

Engineer Many drifted

reflecting on its performance, the surprising lack of irritation at the new human’s expressions, the disgust of potential merging, violence of the heart, delusion, grey primitive activity without full understanding of cosmic ley lines

Was this worth it?

A whole dome for these…things?

It drifted on, over the induction village and its semi-human design, its orb chimneys, up the slope of the base mountain, into the alcove, through the REV-Detection Field, down into the filter room and

what do you think, comrade? it asked, stopping next to a cratered stain of purple flesh on the far wall, flashing a darker shade of lilac on its left hemisphere as it took in its work.

There was no answer.

Could never be.

The telepathic stem was dead.

Mush.

A slew of particles spun near the console nearby, attracting Engineer Many towards it.

The purple orb read the message, shedding mass.

Are there new arrivals?

Yes.

But no.

No.

Definitely no.

‘False alarm,’ it replied, swirling some of its own mist onto the console. ‘Another stray armadillo. No damage. Nothing beyond this to report. Talk in five cycles.’

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