Immortality

Online Translation Software Version - Richard the Odd
00:00 / 00:00

She could not move, she could not blink, she could not feel, she could not hear, she could not speak, she could not sleep, she could not shriek, she could not die.


A few years ago, or perhaps a few hundred thousand years, she had no way to tell; the independent merchant freighter Broken Verse had been waylaid by a Nydaruku privateer vessel. The Captain of which gave a very straightforward ultimatum; send one crew member to their vessel as a sacrifice and the freighter could go free, otherwise, and here the alien Captain couldn't quite keep a clicking laugh at bay, the freighter would be destroyed.


Everyone had heard stories of the Nydaruku's 'japes'; there seemed to be a new one each week. Freighters and survey vessels beyond the Imperial border were, with increasing frequency, being set upon by their black and grey, spiny vessels. They had no interest in stealing cargo, nor it seemed with provoking a conflict with the Empire as they only attacked non-military vessels which were owned and operated by the expendable 2nd class citizenry. The Nydaruku only wanted people, and sometimes like in this case, not even the entire crew. What they did with those they took seemed to grow increasingly unimaginable with each new example.


With all of thirteen minutes to decide and respond, the fifteen-strong crew drew lots to decide who would go, and when the young deckhand, Jennifer Thew, picked the short one, her shipmates wasted little time in sedating her and putting her in an escape pod, just to be sure she couldn't have an attack of nerves, or worse still, trouble their already troubled hearts by pleading on account of her youth.


When she woke up, she was already in the capsule, already speeding through space towards the outer edge of the system. In a blind panic she tried to call out and bang her fists against the hatch three inches in front of her face, but her body would do nothing despite all her efforts.
How long ago had it been? Was she still in known space?


It had taken her a very long time to calm down, and when she did and figured out what had been done, by rights she should have been driven mad with the vileness of it, but something the Nydaruku had done, some feature of this capsule, forced her mind to remain aware and able to appreciate the situation, and there was nothing else that she could now appreciate; here she was, sealed away, banished into the void, literally unable to do anything except lie perfectly still and stare at the dimly lit roof and tiny screen in her field of vision. She could not sleep, though her mind didn't seem to suffer for it; she never felt hungry or thirsty, which suggested she was being fed intravenously somehow, she never felt anything, except the misery and rage that she had no way to express.


Time passed... probably, and nothing happened, she just lay there, silently screaming, silently cursing at the crew who had handed her over to the Nydaruku, trying in vain to keep hold of pleasant memories from her old life through the onslaught of overwhelming monotony and all the while silently trying to die through sheer force of will.


Finally, one day, displayed in the screen a message in green, digital, English characters, a message appeared before her, confirming much of what she'd long suspected:

'You will linger on for a seeming eternity in this pod. No chance meteor shall strike it, no ship shall see you through its reflective shield, no malfunction from within shall disrupt our work of statuary, the pod will do whatever is necessary to keep running and keep you alive in this state, you will go on... by now the jape has likely ceased to amuse us, by now all have probably forgotten you, but you will go on.'

And indeed, on it went, as the Empire and the Nydaruku had finally died out after the count of long millennia, until the stars of Sol and Nydar-yiarh were dead, until Jennifer Thew was the last living human and ultimately the last sentient being in the ancient, collapsing galaxy.