Home > Zero Recall (The Legend of ZERO #2)

Zero Recall (The Legend of ZERO #2)
Sara King

CHAPTER 1:  Forgotten

Approximately three and a half billion thoughts raced through Forgotten’s mind at the moment the Congressional ships surrounded him, but foremost among them was that if things did not go exactly as planned, he was finally going to join the rest of his species in prison.

He was very close to sixty-three percent sure he didn’t want to join the rest of his species in prison, though that percentage had been on the decline for the last thirty nanoseconds.  The loneliness had grown difficult for him to bear.  The extreme solitude was depressing.  The lack of conversation—however inane—was painful.  He didn’t want to contemplate what would happen when his desire to maintain his freedom finally dipped beneath fifty percent.

Thus, watching the ships converge on him, Forgotten was actually looking forward to the company, vile as it would be.

The vessels sliding out of the void around him had been modified to appear old and partially decrepit, but the uniform perfection of their dilapidation gave their true natures away.  Even poor merchants took pride in their ships.  If they couldn’t afford a new heat shield or decent com equipment, they found other ways to pamper their ships—a lovingly-painted mascot, the addition of teeth, a flourished name, an unknown logo.

Instead, the ships pulling up from the blackness around him were perfect in their poverty.  They had no shiny features, no new paint, no teeth.

Once Forgotten identified them for what they were, it was simple enough to peer through the disguises and analyze the armada Congress had sent against him.  And it was certainly an armada.  Manned by Huouyt and Ueshi, if their reaction times upon noticing his ship were any indication.  He was somewhat impressed he had ranked so high on their list of Dangerous Criminals, considering how painstakingly quiet he had been all these turns.  He did everything he could not to attract attention.  Not to create waves.

Yet, Forgotten was lonely.  And, he’d decided, it was time.

Therefore, he held course as sixteen battleships, five carriers, thirty-five cruisers, and a command flagship slipped into place around him.  They were static metal and polymers instead of the sleek black, spherical Geuji-conceived nanotechnology favored by the Space Force.  His enemies were hoping to catch him unawares, though their choice to abandon Congressional technology for the rougher, less versatile static materials greatly increased his chances of eluding them, should he try to escape.

Instead, Forgotten left his systems at idle and waited for them to surround him.  He could have evaded them with only an infinitesimal chance of getting caught by stray fire in the chase that would follow, but, as time went on and his body grew, he was bored.  And the Huouyt, psychopathic creatures that they were, were interesting.

As the strange ships slid into place around him, Forgotten idly calculated his chances of being sent to Levren to be with his people increasing with each passing nanosecond.  The chance that his pursuers would simply kill him, out here in the cold of the Void, surrounded by Congressional Space Force, was increasing as well.  If they did, he found a certain poetry in the fact that it would be as it always was—the Geuji were used and forgotten, their deeds taken for granted, then lost to history.  Stuffed inside some cold, dark cell in silence for eternity as the world passed around them.

Still, he let them come.  While Forgotten was by no means brave, he had reached the point he would do anything to break the solitude.

“Silence, this is the Jahul trading caravan Green Fist.  What is your purpose on this trade route?”

The dispatch came from the flagship, though Forgotten doubted the true power lay on board the frontrunner.  It, like everything else about the armada’s appearance, was a decoy.

He scanned the other ships as he listened, finally locating the likeliest command center at the left rear of the group, a fighter that would have been inconspicuous had it not been for the single additional lump on its belly.  The shape and size of the lump suggested a coded, long-distance communications node, the brand of which was only used by the power-players of Koliinaat, which meant Representative Rri’jan was along for the ride.  As expected.

Forgotten stretched himself, enjoying as much stimuli as he could, in case the encounter took an unforeseen turn and they wrenched him from his ship and imprisoned him with the rest of the Geuji.  If he failed, it would be the last time he would see, hear, or feel anything…possibly for the rest of his existence.

Because, as Forgotten had learned long ago, one and a half million turns after Congress had betrayed and imprisoned the Geuji, their existence was a myth.  A breath of wind that brushed scattered minds here and there throughout the eons, only to disappear again.

Forgotten.  His people were forgotten.

Only one creature in the universe still cared about the Geuji, and Forgotten had spent enough time thinking about them for the rest of the galaxy combined.

A Huouyt’s musical voice hailed him.  “This is the Jahul merchant caravan Green Fist out of Whuo.  Identify yourself.”

Forgotten cleared his mind of everything but the task at hand.  He could go back to worrying about his people later, once he had dealt with the Huouyt.  He didn’t like the Huouyt.  They, aside from the Geuji, were the smartest creatures in Congress.

They were also psychopathic killers who did not play well with others, and Forgotten’s desire to live had not quite dipped below the fifty percent mark just yet.

“This caravan is armed, Silence,” the Huouyt replied, when Forgotten took an extra moment to reply.  “Please identify yourself.”  The pitch and crispness of the Huouyt’s voice indicated a seventy-eight turn old Northern Gha’Salaoian from Sh’ai.  It took only a moment to recognize which one.  Da’najo, one of the sixty-eight billion Huouyt in his memory.  This particular Huouyt had thoroughly failed his tests as captain and had paid off one of the administrators to switch his results with the stellar marks of a poor, common-blooded classmate.  Evading Da’najo would be easy.  It was the lower-class Ueshi pilots that made up the rest of the armada that would be challenging, should the upcoming meeting go unexpectedly wrong.

Forgotten watched the Congressional fighters get into position around him and, for one of the few times in his life, found himself wondering what the hell he’d been thinking.  Conversation was one thing, but the probabilities were rapidly ticking further into the unacceptable range with each moment he waited to flee.

He, Forgotten realized with a pang of alarm, was beginning to get reckless.

It’s the loneliness, he thought, as every mental pathway he had was suddenly overloaded with that bewildering, earth-shattering revelation.  Geuji were never meant to be alone.

Indeed, on their home planet, they had spanned entire continents, sharing and discoursing and comparing notes as they analyzed the skies together.

Disturbed, Forgotten selected a Huouyt voice from his ship’s database and said in Sh’ai-accented, Northern Gha’Salaoian Huouyt, “Shall I give you the AR controls or do you intend to board?”

The Huouyt captain hesitated.  In crisp Congie he said, “This territory is known for its space pirates.  Our escort believes you might be hostile.  It would put everyone at ease if you would identify yourself before we pass.”

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