Across The Universe

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Chapter 11 (v.1) - 11

Submitted: May 23, 2018

Reads: 76

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Submitted: May 23, 2018



It wasn't long before people knew what had happened, but in a way, no one expected everyone else to remain in the dark.  It would require everyone else to be terminally stupid, in that case.  With the darkened faces, peeling skin, and the occasional visible burn, it was rumoured that Daisy was purposely torching the supras to speed adaptation.


Both Evers and Ortega yelled at her, ignoring her protests that she had been overruled, that she had tried to obey the captain's mandate.  To make matters worse, several supras jumped to her defense, encouraging the belief that they thought she was their unspoken leader.


"They will follow you to their deaths," Evers warned, pointing at her chest.  "You either start listening to me, or you'll have the honour of being the first person on this station to be held in contempt."


"I doubt that, I find many people on this ship contemptible," Daisy retorted.


Evers put his hands on his hips and leaned in.  "Does this sound better?  Mutiny," he told her.  "Do you know what the charges are for mutiny?"


"I did what they asked me," Daisy repeated.  "I don't know if you recall, but they outnumber me twenty-eight to one."


"But you were the one to start this nonsense of forcing them to go faster," Goethe jumped in.  It was as close as Max had seen him to being furious.


"I didn't force them!"  Daisy snapped angrily.  "They had a choice!  They know how the control panel works, it's idiot-proof, for Heaven's sake!"


Ortega glanced casually at Max.  "Evidently," he muttered, and Daisy rounded on him.


"He didn't know the risks, don't you dare attack him for making an uninformed mistake," she said, waving her hand under his nose.  "The others know the risks, they've seen it or at least heard of it.  If you want me to stay apart from them, fine, difficult though, seeing that there's no room to spare here, but I will.  But they will continue to do what they deem necessary even if you deem it foolish because they were chosen to be stubborn and tough.  You want them to stop?  You tell them, you inform them of their foolishness, because they don't listen to me either!"


Evers grimaced and looked at the few supras who had gathered when the yelling had started, and they just watched him in silent judgement.  "You have a week before the fall," he reminded them.  "There's no point it rushing the adaptation to the light.  There's no reason to cause yourselves misery as well as injury because you simply want this over with sooner."  He gestured to Ortega.  "You should be aware that our supplies are limited, and it will be over five years before it gets replenished.  You should not be going out of your way to eat up the first aid."


"We won't use any, then," Lee shrugged, arms crossed over his chest.  It might have seemed casual enough if he didn't have a hole starting in his cheek.


"You're going to get infected," Ortega said unhappily, torn between preserving his stores and his patients.


"I have the right to refuse treatment," Lee argued.  "I've had worse cuts."


"But not worse burns," Ortega countered.


"We have the right to refuse treatment," Margaret repeated, hugging Lee's arm.  "If you're so worried about supplies, we won't use any.  I've had enough of waiting, I want action."


"We will not leave any sooner," Evers reminded her.  "The date's been set, I'm not shifting from it."


Daisy gestured to the supras.  "Are you going to blame me for this too?"  She asked quietly, turning to face Ortega and Goethe in turn before leaving.


"I'm going back," Margaret said in a whisper.  "I don't care, I'm not dragging this out longer than necessary."


"Have fun," Max said, before going after Daisy.  He couldn't help it, there was just something that he liked about being near her.  Maybe it had to do with her being cute, but he liked to think he was above that.


It wasn't surprising that she was in the life science office, trying to work the drawer loose, as if it was a good outlet for her frustration.


"Charlie said we could just move them into another container," He offered, watching her bounce on her toes, trying to jiggle it loose.


Daisy gave him an annoyed look over her shoulder.  "Go away, or help me," she told him, and he went over to pull on the drawer, seeing where it caught.


"I think there's something stuck in the underside," he said touching her shoulder, his middle finger grazing the side of her neck.  That was when he felt it for the first time; it was like a vacuum, an electric current rolling through it.  It felt warm, like she had store the light of Solas Lux under her skin, then it felt cool, like water in a stream.  The temperatures oscillated back and forth while he became more calm than he supposed he had ever in his whole life.  This was where he was supposed to be, this was where he belonged.


Turning, Daisy broke the momentary connection, apparently oblivious of what had just happened.  She bent to the side, trying to peer underneath the drawer to see what was wrong.


"I'll do it," Max said quickly, crouching down and maneuvering under the drawer.  He felt her step close behind him, gently wiggling the drawer side to side to loosen it.  Easing his hands across the bottom, he felt the drawer list to the left and pushed up experimentally.  He heard Daisy sigh and he leaned against her shins.  Working his hand further to the left, he felt that it had jumped the track.  "Do you have a screw driver?"  He asked, and nearly fell back when she moved away.


"Certainly," she said, opening a cupboard.  "All the tools like this belong to the station.  I don't think they'd appreciate coming here and not having them on hand."


She returned and passed it down to him, resuming her position.  Max was just about to get to work, when he noticed that her shirt had ridden up slightly.  It was common to see people tie their coveralls around their waist by the sleeves, and now her shirt rested in a rumpled fashion on them.  Turning, he brushed his fingertips underneath it, gently moving the shirt up a little, mesmerized by the currents running through his fingers.  He pressed his lips to her warm flesh, brushing them across the exposed skin, feeling the current race through his lips, his face.  Softly, he touched his tongue to her, tasting more than the salt on her skin.  It was like he could taste everything she was composed of.


He put his hands on her hips and she rested her hand on the top of his head a moment before gently pushing him away, taking a step back.  Max was stuck in the moment, trying to figure out what do after the disconnect.  He looked at her, but couldn't see above the bottom of her ribcage.  She was calmly tucking in her shirt and pulling her coveralls over top of it, zipping it shut, the statement clear. 
He wanted to apologize, but he didn't think she'd believe him, it was too easy to apologize after being caught doing something without permission.  He turned back to the drawer and slid the screwdriver in, trying to lever it into place.  He felt her step up behind him and pull upward.  With a snap, the drawer was back on both of its tracks.  Max leaned back, pushing the drawer in then pulling it back out.


"And this must be why we have you here," Daisy murmured as he stood up, moving the drawer back and forth.  She placed her hands on the sides of it and pulled it out, tipping the front up so that she could remove it from the shelf.  Max looked at it, dangling at her side like a ridiculously large briefcase.


"I'm sorry," he told her.  "It won't happen again."


Daisy seemed to consider his words, before coming near and pointing between his eyes.  "Things are changing, you're not yourself, you feel alone, and you have no one to talk intimately about this with, yes?"  She said, and he was frozen like it was gun not her finger she was pointing at him.  "You need reassurance . . . comfort . . . but self-control is good.  Without it, what are we?"


In his mind, Adam continued to batter himself to death.


"I don't know what we are to begin with," he heard himself saying, and she touched his cheek, and it was like tame electricity coming off of her when they connected.


"There's nothing to go by," she said, "set the mold."  she looked into his eyes.  "Maybe try socializing more, hm?"


He felt himself blush.  "I am sorry," he repeated.  "I know everyone on the ship," he added, following her out of the office.


"Intimately?"  He wished she had used another word.


"I wouldn't say that, no," he said, and she held up a finger. 
"There are sixty-five people on this ship, not including you," she pointed out.  "Average life-span of a human is late nineties, early hundreds, so you'll be spending, roughly, seventy years with these people.  Seventy years is a long time for small talk."  She looked at him.  "Have you spoken with your parents yet?  I don't know if the cell you guys brought was used to fix the communications."


"Not yet," he hedged, not caring to state he didn't have the guts to do it.


"Do you love them?"  She asked, switching hands, he offered to take the case, but she refused.


"Of course," he said quickly, glancing at her.


"Then you might want to see if you can drop them a line, seeing as how as soon as connection is established, Evers will contact the launch and the world will know we're alive and can accept calls," Daisy stopped in front of the shuttle doors and punched in the code, opening it with her card.  There was a hiss and she yanked open the heavy door and stepped into the chamber between station and shuttle.  Max lingered outside.  He was fine travelling through space, he was fine on the shuttle, but he couldn't stand being in the airlock.  For some odd reason, he felt the most vulnerable there.


"You're probably right," he said, turning away and leaning his back against the wall.


"Of course.  I'm smart; I'm always right," he heard, echoing out of the chamber.  "Go away, do something fun.  After this I'm going to chase the others out of the light-box, and you'll want to be somewhere else so they don't think you ratted them out."


"How do you know?"  He asked, peering into the airlock.  "How did you find out?"


Daisy came out with a wry look on her face.  "Because I'm smart," she said sarcastically.


"Oh, right.  I keep forgetting that," he smiled, and she held up her hands.


"I mustn't be that smart then," she patted him on the arm, shooing him away.  Falling back a step, Max turned on his heel and walked towards the hub.  He wondered if things like the airlock was why science fiction movies set in space were banned viewing.  Evers didn't want people having nightmares, thinking they were in Alien.


As he walked, his pace slowed as he saw Niemand coming towards him.  He sighed, lowering his head, as if that would make him leave him alone.  "Freak," he heard muttered, and he stopped in his tracks, turning to watch Niemand keep walking.


"What exactly is your problem?"  Max asked loudly, crossing his arms.


Niemand stopped, and Max wondered if it would have been better if he had kept walking.  "Nothing," Niemand shrugged, turning to face him.  "I'm not the one with the problem, I'm not the one who felt that I should be made into--" he gestured to Max.


"No, you just decided, stupidly, to go to a planet that's designed to kill you, thinking, what?  That in a few years you can breathe the air?  Okay, you can crack a window," Max wiggled his hand side to side.  "But what about the sun?  That's stupid as well as arrogant.  I'm like this because that's just . . . impossible."  He pointed at Niemand.


"I'm not the one playing god, and you're saying I'm stupid?"  Niemand said indignantly, taking a step towards him.


"Yep, and that's the dumbest fucking thing I've ever heard," Max said, and laughed in his face.  "You don't play god?  That's bullshit.  Look at where you are!  If God wanted us in space, by your logic, then God would have given us the ability to walk amongst the stars, right?  Too much to think about?  How about the clothes on your back?  That's simple right?  You wear clothes not just out of shame, right, you wear 'em because going without is going to make you cold and sick.  Don't you think that if God wanted us to be covered with something, we would have been given fur?  Stop pontificating, you're just being a self-righteous prick because you made a stupid decision, admit it."


"You speak so cleverly for something that's no more than an animal," Niemand said.  "But you shouldn't talk about things you don't know."


"We're all animals, dumbass," Max called after him.  "Check your taxonomy; you're more monkey than angel."


Max stood there for a moment, and ran a hand over his face.  His heart was jumping, and he didn't know if that was because he always expected Niemand to start a fight, or because he wanted to hit him.


"You don't believe in God?"  A voice said from behind him, causing Max to jump.  Goethe stretched out a hand and caught his arm.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to give you a fright."


"You listen to people's conversation?"  Max said, bending to rest his palms on his knees.


"When it's shouted, I don't think it's classified as a conversation any more," Goethe said with a smile.  "Besides, I think you'd be used to the fact that everyone knows everything here.  It's hard not to."


True, and it was the number one reason why Max had sworn off dating until they had landed.  There wasn't any privacy.


"I believe in God, just not as an excuse to be a jerk," Max said, standing up.  "The way I was taught, was that God gives inspiration.  Y'know, God helps those who help themselves?"


"You think if we strive for something, the divine will give it if we work hard enough," Goethe said, and Max smiled.


"Oh, yeah, forgot all scientists are atheists, right?"  Max pointed at him, wondering if he was sounding snappish.  He leaned against the wall, telling himself to relax, that Goethe wasn't his enemy.


"No, just some find it hard to compromise religion and science," Goethe replied, seeming unhurt.


Waving a hand in the air, Max said, "So what do you believe in, then?"


Giving a queer smile, Goethe shrugged.  "I don't know any more."

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