Across The Universe

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

Chapter 28 (v.1) - 28

Submitted: August 13, 2018

Reads: 65

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Submitted: August 13, 2018



They storm was unbelievable.  it tore around the hub, lashing it with sand and rain, the occasional plant ripped from the ground.


Inside the hub, both groups listened apprehensively to the howling winds, fearing not for their lives but for the vegetation left to the ruthless elements.  Both Nymadawa and Lee paced restlessly, watching the sway of the changing winds carving rain across the roof, imagining the carnage they'd have to deal with when this was over.


Max sat at a table, shuffling a deck of cards, listening to the hush of the people and the threat of the storm beyond.  He wasn't going to deal, he felt a peace in moving them around, fitting them between each other.


"-It's psychological," he heard Charlie saw, and Max opened his eyes, turning slightly in his seat to watch Charlie talking to a few supras and humans.  "Xenophobia is natural to protect people from-"


"I really don't like it when you say stuff like this," Daisy cut in, shaking her head, her book forgotten in her lap.


Charlie looked at her for a moment.  "It's true."


She grimaced and shrugged.  "Maybe, but a lot of people use that sort of thing as a reason to be bigoted," she countered.


"But it's true, not hat it should be used as an excuse for anything, but any wariness people feel it- it stems from all the way back to the divide between humans and Neanderthals," Charlie said, and Max saw Goethe give a little bit a lurch, a frantic look on his face as he tried to silently get Charlie's attention.


"Didn't the humans kill off the Neanderthals?"  Margaret asked, squinting, her one foot twitching on the table as she leaned back in her seat.  Goethe ran his hands through his hair, his eyes shut tight.


"Well-" Charlie began, and Goethe sat up.


"There's no way to know what happened to the Neanderthals," he said firmly.  "That all happened over forty thousand years ago.  There's been evidence that they not only travelled together, but also cross-bred, something that is probably apparent in the DNA of at least eight people in this room.  It doesn't really sound like they had an animosity to each other beyond scrambling for resources."


"But the Neanderthals were inferior," Lee put in, looking away from the ceiling.  "They were stupid and weak, just dragging down the other group with them."  The words seemed to echo around the room, and everyone tensed, not liking where this was going, what was being said under the words.


"They were stupid," Max agreed, barely glancing up from his cards.  "But they weren't weak.  They were designed for strength and were stronger than their cousins."


Goethe cleared his throat loudly.  "It really doesn't matter, does it?"  He asked, irritated.  "They're dead and gone.  You can only divine so much from gnawed on bones."


"I wonder if that's what they're going to say about us," Nymadawa said slowly, leaning against the wall.  "That here was the beginning, and they lived together . . ."


"I say they killed them off," Margaret said, dropping her foot from the table and sitting up.  "In nature only the best survive.  Something stupid and strong is a danger, something that is clearly inferior and-"


"Stop," Daisy said, an edge in her voice, at odd with her relaxed posture.  She looked at them.  "That's enough."


"You really have them on a leash," Niemand said, tapping his fingers on the table beside him.


Watching him a moment, Daisy got up and went over to his table, splaying her hands on it.  "Don't do that, don't speak about people like that, removing their personhood and treating them like animals," she said in a low voice that carried.  "Do you want to talk about genocide?  From my understanding it starts with humanity.  Dzungar, Selk'nam, California, Assyrian, Armenian . . . Too long ago?  How about Burundi, East Timor, Rwanda, Bosnia?  Any of those?  Do you know them?  No?  I'll give you a hint as to how it starts; it starts with alienation.  It starts with comparing people to animals.  It starts with saying 'them' and 'you', with a curl of your lip.  It starts with you seeing something you don't like done by a person you hate, and you attribute it as a characteristic." 


She forced her inner eyelids to blink, and Niemand quickly looking away, his mouth twisting in a grimace.  She touched the back of his hand and he slapped her away, disgusted.  "It starts here," she stated firmly.  "It starts with othering, hate, and fear.  It ends in heartbreak, shame, and war.  You think you're better than us?  Prove it!  Become a bigger man and overcome your prejudices, kill us with kindness.  If you can't do that, why don't you do me a favour and take all your opinions, barbs, xenophobia-" she cut a look at Charlie- "and whatever else you have against us, roll them into a big ball, and fucking choke on it, because I don't need to hear your negative shit on a daily basis."  She went back to her seat, snatched up her book, and left the room.


"You're going to have to accept that they're not killer aliens," Goethe said with a sigh.  "That, while there are differences, obvious differences, these people started life just like you did.  Give them back their humanity."


Niemand nodded to himself and looked at Goethe.  "Just because you want to fuck that freak doesn't mean the rest of us do," he said, and Max set the deck down, getting to his feet.


Ignoring the other supras, Charlie, and Goethe, Max went over to Niemand.  "Get up," he ordered, and Niemand laughed at him.  Max kicked his chair.  "I said get up," he repeated, jerking his arm out of Goethe's grasp, ignoring the repeated declaration that it was what Niemand wanted.  No, no the man did not want a broken jaw, to forget for a moment what it feels like to breath or how it's done.


Grabbing the front of his shirt, Max ripped Niemand out off his seat, causing the voices around him to rise.  Charlie looped his arms around Max's middle while Goethe tried to pull Neimand free, unable to avoid the blows Niemand was aiming at Max.  Tired, Goethe hit Max in the edge of his ribcage and elbowed Niemand hard in the stomach, standing between them once they let of each other, Goethe looked from one to the other, waiting for them to fly back at each other.  Kicking Charlie in the shin with his heel, Max was the one to come straight back, but Goethe was ready for him, ignoring the taunts that Niemand was throwing at them.


Max tried to shove Goethe away, but he was immovable.  Goethe gave him a shove, and Max had to stop for a second to keep from falling over.  "He wants you to be a monster!"  Goethe said too loudly, then closed his eyes, his regret plain.  "He wants you to be the monster," he repeated quieter, deciding to just keep going.  "You hit him, and he has all the proof needed to prove that you, all of you, are dangerous.  Don't do it."


Max looked at Goethe for a long moment, then at Niemand, who was still being held onto.  "We are the future," Max said firmly.  "Humans are not part of the long term plan here.  You never were.  You don't belong."


Exhaling, Max saw the look on Goethe's face, his expression saying that it hadn't helped saying that.  It was hard to care right then.  He couldn't stand to stay there, so he left finding his pod.  He had been there a grand total of twice, and generally he avoided it, not feeling the need to have a hideaway, but he wasn't surprised to see that it was totalled, his few belongings picked over and destroyed.


Sighing, Max leaned against the wall and slid down, sitting on his heels.  He didn't know how much more of this he could take.

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