The General for the Galactic Republic’s elite branch of the army waited to meet a Master. He had met Humans before, of course, even some important ones – political figures and CEO’s from a few transplanetary corporations. But he had never met an immortal. At least, Aalam assumed the Master would be one of the immortals. Isn’t that what it meant to be a Master? Masters were mystics who had achieved the secret of immortality: another step on the way to full Enlightenment. Though many mystics still used technology, they were advanced beyond the need of many devices. They knew secrets – the secrets to powers and energies some of which galactic technologies were still uncovering. Aalam smiled and stretched his mechanically augmented wings as he considered the power of the Masters. Even machines weren’t immortal.
The Qera servant had led the steel winged General in through a back entrance. A military leader of the Republic was not to be seen involved in shady dealings; seen being the priority. The last thing the Senate wanted was the General of the Core Sectors watched on a galaxy wide Orbcast liaising with strange Humans. Especially as most dealings with Humans were shady. Or, at least, a being never really knew the nature of such dealings: good, bad, legal, illegal. Humans followed their own codes, being the oldest race in the galaxy; the only race to have lived with the Ancients, to have been taught by them. The crystal bodied servant was a mystic too. The Ajira could tell. The Qera reeked of that inner knowing all mystics prided themselves on. Inner arrogance more like it! Aalam respected what mystics could do, but that didn’t mean he had to like their characters. The fact that a Republic General was here, about to meet a Master, was indicator enough that something was sketchy.
The Qera stepped from an opaque crystalline door that melted away into the walls as he approached.
“Master Idyrius will see you now, General Aalam.”
The General stood, the same height as the Qera; of greater worth, however, being from an older and more important race. Aalam knew this; not that it mattered. The Qera – a silicon life form – could be formed to any shape or height their progenitor wished. They were designed to fit a purpose for their race. But while race was always relevant, beliefs were the measure of a being. Everyone knew that once Enlightened, race became pointless (something about all beings coming from the same essence – or some such propaganda). All the Ancient races had agreed on the notion. So all that mattered now was how close or how far a being was from Enlightenment. Since the Ancients had taught that beliefs were critical to spirit-energy evolution, or SEE as it was called, politics had become the defining feature of the galaxy. A being was what a being believed. And Aalam believed in the Republic and in, well… he was still figuring some stuff out. Ideology couldn’t be decided over night. At thirty years of age, Aalam still had time to decide. Though, he thought, he did like his drugs.
“Yes you do, indeed,” the Human said as Aalam stepped through the Qrystal portal and into the Master’s chamber.
“Excuse me?” Aalam said, surprised.
“I was just commenting on what you said,” Master Idyrius replied.
“I said nothing.” His voice was hardened and far louder than the average soft spoken Ajira. His voice was the voice of one used to issuing commands and orders. He was a militant Ajira, not a feathery angel like some of his race.
“Well, you thought it. So close enough I say!” The Human smiled. “Have a seat, good Senator.” Idyrius indicated a hovering stool. There was no back on it, nothing to impede the Ajira’s folded wings.
Aalam began to move, “but I am not a Senator, Master. You know that.” Only respect kept Aalam cool. Arrogance seemed to exude a lot of heat; it also left a nasty taste in his mouth; and this Master simply overflowed with arrogance.
The Master smiled again, kindly, “I know many things, Aalam, and they’re not all as restricted to minor physics such as time or verbalization, as you would imagine them to be.”
“Fine,” Aalam had stopped moving. His wings were more still than any feathered Ajira’s could be.
“Good. Now sit down.”
Aalam did so, not taking his eyes from the Human.
The robed Master returned to sit behind a baseless desk. “Aalam, I have a favour to ask of you.”
Aalam sighed. “I am a General in the army of the Galactic Republic, my duty –”
“Yes, yes,” the Human interrupted, “I know about such things. Now, do me a favour Aalam.” The Human met the Ajira’s eyes – one natural, one augmented by an implant. “All those thoughts rushing though your head, rattling around in your SateX drugged brain: put them aside. Assume I know them. Can you do that for me, Aalam?”
Aalam just stared at the Human, his fists tightened, his knuckles white.
“Yes, even those thoughts.” Idyrius smiled. “And, they are all welcome.”
Aalam exhaled and cast his eyes to the floor.
“I have a new drug.” Idyrius spread his hands and paused. He watched Aalam with quite a bit of joy as the Ajira looked up at him, a single obvious thought crowding out all others in his mind. Idyrius smiled and answered the thought. “Of course you can try it.”
The luminescence that entered Aalam’s natural eye could only be described by one word: glee. His mechanical eye was wide, registering the various temperatures and rhythms in the Human’s body, as well as numerous other energy waves in the room. There were no outgoing signals; nothing from inside the room was being relayed elsewhere.
The Human Master pulled a pill case from his robe and stepped toward Aalam. Idyrius lifted the metal lid and showed Aalam the five black pills inside. “It’s called SatietEX, and believe me when I say it will bring the galaxy to a new level of fulfillment. The next generation of SateX – which, as you know, was a hitherto unknown pharmaceutical and recreational success.”
The Ajira began to reach for one. He stopped his fingers. “What do you want from me?”
“Why, assistance in legalization, of course. This ought to be the new SateX; it’s the pill of the future. Leisure for Pleasure, isn’t that the Ajiran credo?”
Aalam raised an eyebrow at the reference to his race’s popular culture. “But why do you think I will be of use in this? I am not in politics, I have no sway. I’m just a military leader.” But then Aalam realized: both what the Master had first called him and the irony of his mistaken comment. He had power and he knew it. He smirked.
Idyrius just smiled.
“You want me to become a Senator, you said.”
“You will become a Senator, Aalam. That is what I said. I do not create the future. I just see it.” He smiled, “well, most of the time.”
“In the Party of the People?”
“And you think this will work?”
“It may.” Idyrius sighed, “and it may not. But I must try.”
“Can I know why it matters?” Aalam got his militant tone back. “Can you tell me what this is really about?” Though just a military being, Aalam knew there was always more to things than appeared, to absolutely every single thing a hidden substance, an energy lived within. His augmented eye squinted.
The Human laughed. The laughter of a Human could be the most mocking sound in the galaxy, masters of emotions as they were, wellsprings of depths and a variety of feelings that no other race possessed. Some thought them unbalanced. Others crazy, or even psychotic. But no one doubted the power possessed by members of Humanity.
“My aerial friend, the pieces are in play. They are spread before you like so many zeros and ones. Learn to read the signs, the markings that are traced by the galactic spirit upon every microcosmic form; if you can read the one being, you can see the display of all.” Idyrius smiled again, reading Aalam’s mind. “Yes, it is mystical gibberish, I know. But if it makes sense and helps you along, so be it.” Textured Human fingers reached into the crystal pill case and picked up a black SatietEX tablet. He held it out to Aalam. “We must be pragmatists, good Senator. We must do what works!” His eyes gleamed as Aalam dropped the pill into his mouth, paused a moment, and swallowed it.
“How does this work? Should I lie down?”
“No,” he shook his head. “Follow me.”
Idyrius led the Ajira through the portal, the liquid Qrystal parting as they passed. Down a hallway and eventually turning left, Aalam followed the Human through another door that melted into the wall.
The General stood in a room, similar to the Private Rooms of the Pleasuredoms. Only this room was even more lavishly furnished. Pillows and divans were everywhere. Curtains of a lush fabric spread to reveal several being sized windows that showed the planet’s landscape. Three drink bars strategically positioned throughout the room supported numerous decanters of all the beverages a being could want. And a brazier stood in the very centre of the room, thick smoke wafting from its shining red metal. The scents filled Aalam with desires. The embers of his desires were ignited more by the sight he saw in the room’s most decorated niche. Two oiled and skin tinted female Ajira lay stretched on divans. Their gossamer clothing was draped in designedly revealing styles.
“Enjoy yourself, dear Senator,” Idyrius handed Aalam the pill case. “Do give one to each of your playmates. I want you to see the kind of experiences that await the galaxy once SatietEX is on the market.”
Aalam and the Human looked at each other. Then the Ajira stepped into the room and walked toward the waiting females.
“You two beauties want to see what I have brought for you both?”
They slid from the fabrics covering their soft seats and glided on tiptoes to the General.
“My servant will assist you later, Aalam. We shall be in touch. And Aalam, something to consider in the aftermath of the fun you are about to have: that gibberish you mentioned earlier, it is the codex to immortality, you know. Perhaps, one day, when you are not quite so young and preoccupied, such things will matter more to you.” Idyrius smiled and exited through the sliding Qrystal.
Aalam heard the portal cover over again. He sighed, and might have regretted his general situation if his immediate circumstance were not so appealing.
“Who wants to go first?” He asked his pretty new friends.