My name is Angela Rashin. I began life as Female # 334782.
The day was overcast. I was in my dormitory, which I shared with # 450069. I was weeping, she consoling. You must understand how strange it is to be born in isolation, decanted from a vat, after floating there for three months, as my body quickly went from infancy,(teething=agony) toddler-hood; in which I dreamed chemically inspired dreams of playing baseball outside where the sun was warm, the wind mild, then to puberty in my third month. It was then that my gene designers gave me the gift of beauty, in a curvy way, but not out of the goodness of their hearts, but only because the clients usually requested this of their made to order concubines. Then, I dreamt. I dreamt of. . .but I haven't told you, dear diary of what it was like to be born! Twice!
I came into the world to the sound of air hissing. We women were genetically engineered, born from nameless mothers, supposedly perfect, but something about the gene editing created, in me, as in so many others, an interesting problem. I was born with a very weak heart, which should have been caught before my birth, but it wasn't. What that meant was that I was sedated seconds after being born and when I arrived at the place which was to be my new home, brought out of cryogenic fugue, I had to have a transplant—immediately. The hissing was a pneumatic pump inflating the freeze dried heart (then thawed) in my chest, so that blood could begin to flow after the procedure was most of the way done. More about the dormitory later.
So there I was, crying in my dorm, inconsolable. That day was, you see, the day I was to have left and gone into the hell I'd been fabricated for. My client was set to pick me up at 3:00 p.m. It was 2:40. Earlier that day I had been told my purpose, in a condescending, soft voice, by a balding lady doctor—I was to be a bride for the man who had bought me, to do everything and anything he asked of me. # 45 was patting my back gently when we heard a loud bang, a tinkling as glass fell on the floor outside and muffled thumps, followed by gunfire, sharp pops of hyper-kinetic shotguns being used mercilessly (I learned the names of the weapons later, but then I could only be puzzled). There were footfalls on the other side of the door to the room.
There was no locking mechanism, so 45 and I could only hug each other in mutual terror. We heard a whooshing whine as the door opened and standing there was what looked to me like a bug man, with a black helmet, faceted goggles, strange protrusions sticking out seemingly at random from Ceramo-steel body armor, holding a gun so big that no unaugmented man could ever carry it. He lowered his gun, took off his goggles and revealed a strikingly handsome face, then pulled off his helmet and uncovered his short, spiky black hair.
“Captain Barlow,” he introduced himself. “The dropship is outside. We have about fifteen minutes before enemy reinforcements arrive. I suggest you ladies come with me.” Seeing us hesitate, he went on: “If you want to escape, that is.”
45 and I exchanged a fraught look. I tried a brave smile. “Let's go.” The building was thoroughly wrecked. As we hurried down the hall and took a left through the atrium, I saw gaping rents in the walls, the skylights lying in pieces on the floor and dead guards littered about, helter-skelter, other soldiers allied with Captain Barlow holding intersections until he reached them, after which they turned and fanned out in front of our small group. We reached the garage area and went out the shattered door, to the waiting transport (there were seven others, I found out later, but they'd already left). It was then, for the first time in my life, that I knew hope.
Today I live on the ice world Korylos. There are only a few of the resistance fighters Captain Barlow is one of: most of the defense mechanisms are automated, shielded rom hacking by a resident A.I. called Tegathis. I've talked to it at one of its terminals. It can be unintentionally quite rude at times, but it mostly looks at us as a kindly mother would her children.
Captain Barlow comes sometimes to check up on myself and the other women. He and I often sit on the walkway by the North Observation Tower and talk. He's twenty-five, single, and sometimes I catch him looking at me in a way that makes my heart skip a beat. The other women, who have chosen names like Ariadne, Persephone,Myconis and Pandora, tease me about it occasionally. I laugh it off because, even though I'm rather fond of him, I don't yet know where our relationship is going. Can a woman who was born to “love” a stranger, to be both mistress and slave ever find romance? Can I honestly say that my feelings for him are genuine, when I have so little experience? What happens if I fall in love and he dies on some far-off campaign? I don't have any of these answers yet, but I am grateful that I have a choice in the matter. For what are we, if not our choices?
Author Sergio Hartshorne is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author interested in things like Free Will, Fate, Choice, Love and how we see it in Literature, as well as Serpents as Sacred Symbols. He believes in writing to inspire, even when his stories are at their darkest