Setting the fire inside the warehouse seemed like such a good idea at the time.
Paulo 7 hated Master Zie-Mac-Ken. The being was reprehensible. More cruel than the average Cyric, Zie-Mac-Ken took pleasure in abusing every Human he held psychic dominion over.
Humanity once had an empire of fifty beautiful worlds for a thousand years.
The Cyric Columbus found our most distant outpost of two million souls. He mentally dominated the entire planet in secret, alone and in a single year. Their Trait of Domination allowed them to conquer their planet’s other, more numerous, intelligent species, enslave them and reach the stars in a sinister symbiosis. We were no match for them.
Our species Alpha Trait of Adaptability couldn’t trump theirs. It got us to the stars, but in a contest… Individualistic, the Cyric don’t cooperate well. They tended to live alone so it took thirty years for them to conquer the Outer Worlds. Only on the Core Worlds with their dense populations were Humans safe. Two hundred years and the Core hadn’t rescued us.
It’s said, once enslaved, no species ever escaped. Without a choice, we adapted.
Paulo toiled at the Resource Warehouse for twelve years and had been both re-educated and sanctioned by his boss for being difficult. Gene-engineered by one of the Cyric’s other slave species, Paulo was adapted for his life as a laborer on Cyris Prime. He hardly noticed the extra labor.
The Cyric promoted docility using subliminal sonics applied to everyone on the farm, hidden in music, piped everywhere. Its harsher cousin, re-education was used as a punishment.
Re-education bypasses normal barriers of attention and became a painful form of brainwashing. Paulo was often scarred, his mind permanently altered. His father died due to the constant pressure caused by the mental assault. Paulo refused to surrender and paid a terrible price. But Paulo’s resistance revealed a flaw.
The impulse to attack the easily squished and diminutive Cyric masters was overridden with a powerful fear. Psychographs are permanent conditioning able to cause any Human, even the stronger Remaps, to break down into a blob of whimpering flesh. With the Cyric Alpha trait boosting the psychograph Cyric were able to control any number of Humans without effort.
Until the day when Paulo imagined a bonfire with Zie-Mac-Ken in the center of it. He felt no fear; there was no dry mouth, no dread or awe-inspiring terror. It seemed so obvious in hindsight.
As a Remap, every aspect of Paulo’s psychic conditioning was thought accounted for except for aberrant behaviors. The Cyric didn’t have insanity traits, so such weren’t even considered among their slaves. Paulo 7 was more than aberrant. He was a closet pyromaniac. Fearful of the danger, his mother had trained him to keep his fascination hidden.
Cyris was a forest world, rich in organic chemicals, a flammable, pharmacological paradise. Ever vigilant, even in his private moments, he had never considered fire and Zie-Mac-Ken in a single thought, until today. He tried it a few more times. Nothing.
He drew Zie-Mac-Ken’s ire to force him to try to bind him mentally. As long Paulo immersed himself mentally in flame, he was able to move, if only a tiny bit. Then, a little more each day. It took a year until he was ready.
On the last day of harvest, warehouse nearly filled to the ceiling, he sent everyone home early. He took the unbelieving Zie-Mac-Ken to the warehouse floor. It resisted and raged as he tied it to a pallet of Rin-Ba, the most beloved food of the Cyric.
He knew the Cyric had Called out for help. Too late. As the Rin-ba ignited, he left the warehouse. Having turned off the fire suppression systems, Paulo heard the screams as the fire spread. His only regret was he wouldn’t get to watch.
Adaptability, he thought. It’s how we reached the stars. It’s how we’ll take them back. Paulo 7 whistled a jaunty tune all the way home.
Traits © Thaddeus Howze 2013. All Rights Reserved
Now that’s scary!