Echo-1: Part 14
The battle bridge looked like the kind of room I would’ve expected to find on a spaceship. There were robots and synthetic humanoids in front of computer screens monitoring stuff. Six more Zero-G giants posted strategically around. Off each side of the room, there were cannon bays with turrets projecting out into space, apparently at the ready. The far end was one big window and for the first time, I got a look at the outside of the ship, the front part anyway. It was like an endless metal landmass stretching out to the horizon with a sea of deep space stars above it. Standing with his back to us and peering out the window was Major Uzi Unger the military head of the ship. Another person I would have to report to.
X punched another guard in the stomach, this one didn’t flinch.
I walked up to the front of the room, stood next to Uzi, and looked out for a long time in silence with him. Views of space have such a hypnotizing effect. I’d always been one to enjoy looking out into vast expanses of nature. I loved mountain ranges, long stretching landscapes, and looking out at the oceans of the world from long stretching beaches. Gazing out into the depths of space trumped them all. I know it was just nature on a grander scale, but it humbled you.
“It’s so peaceful.”
I looked over at Uzi for the first time. He nodded his head and hummed in agreement.
Though Uzi was clearly the same base synthetic life form as myself, he like X looked utterly unique, but possibly less intentionally so. He was the same size and build, though he somehow seemed taller. Maybe it was the boots? He was wearing a long jacket much like the trench coat X had put on and the same kind of dark gray clothing I was wearing. He had metal shin and knee guards as well as a kind of thin armored chest plate and a shoulder holster with two handguns` sticking out of his jacket. He was the first armed person I had seen in this new world. I knew behind each guard post there was a weapons closet, but none of them were holding any weapons at the time.
Uzi’s face was his real point of character though. He had a huge silver scar that ran from the top of his head, down his forehead, through his left eye, down his face, over his chin, and down his neck, disappearing under his collar. His hair was black and cropped into a flat top, with white streaks growing out of the top part of his scar. His left eye glowed red and was clearly a mechanical replacement. It glowed in sharp contrast to the soft yellowish glow of his natural triple pupil eye. The red eye had a single black pupil and though a single pupil was my old normal, it now seemed odd. It’s funny how quickly we adapt to new paradigms.
Uzi had a kind of smirk on his face in regard to my enjoyment of the enormity of the cosmos. This soon changed to what was his normal day to day severe expression of seriousness.
“Vronsky says you are ready for space flight. You think you’re up for a fighter run?”
Here X chimed in for me. “He’s ready, you should have seen him handle the Robo-a-gogo, he’s a natural. He’s ready to fly a fighter, man.”
“I do have the basic skill set and I’d love to go outside.” I felt like I was asking a parent for permission.
Uzi walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. I wasn’t sure if he was bonding with me or if he was going to attack me.
“I’ve been briefed on your background and what skills you have. Since you were able to handle an extensive whale dive and a cycle ride with X in stride, my confidence in you is rather high. How are you adjusting to the real world? Not everyone makes it.”
He was bonding with me, so eastern in his style and mannerisms. Though he looked like a caricature of an evil space villain, his composure was that of an intelligent, stoic, compassionate, middle eastern old man. The life he lived before showed through.
“Uzi, if I may call you Uzi, sir?”
“Of course, and you are the Hands?”
“That is what everyone keeps calling me. I’m adjusting, though sometimes I’m not entirely sure this isn’t an elaborate dream. But I’ve never felt so alive and engaged.”
This seemed to please Uzi, who only then took his hand off my shoulder and slapped me hard on the arm.
“Tov! Go with the Lieutenant here and take out a couple of flyers. I’d like you to get some basic combat training as well. I’m going to download some skill packages for you. I want you to understand and practice Krav Maga.”
He walked over to a computer interface and slid his hands around above the screen. He was missing two fingers on his left hand. He had only the middle finger, index finger, and thumb. His damaged appendage only added to his intense presence.
The lightning flash in my mind came and reminded me that I knew everything about the Israeli close combat system. I suddenly felt a bit like Bruce Lee. I wondered if I could put it into play. The techniques emphasized situational awareness, applied force, and something that we synthetics would call a type of sixth sense.
I couldn’t hear them, but I knew X and one of the guards were moving closer behind me. I shifted my weight back on my right leg, sprang forward, attempted to kick Uzi in the knee, but he moved at the last second so my foot landed on his thigh. I twirled around and simultaneously pushed off his thigh, hitting X dead center in the chest with two open palms, knocking her off balance. The hulk of a soldier was moving fast right at me. I grabbed a nearby robot out of his chair and threw it at the guard, who caught it with his face. He smashed the bot down on the floor and swung at me with his huge left mitt. I ducked under the oncoming fist, grabbed his ankle, and attempted to destabilize him. He was really strong, so I punched him in the knee and jumped back putting X between me and the towering pile of muscle.
Uzi was laughing a deep and oddly affectionate happy laugh.”Ah, so you’re a fast learner.”
He raised his arms signaling everyone to stop.
“Please, my friend, we want you to be the best. There is a mission we are putting together, Jonas wants you to be a part of it, but it’s my strike team and I will determine who goes along. Now, go, you have nothing to fear from any of us. We are your new family. Lieutenant, teach him to fly. When you first go out into space, remember; it is deadly.”
He waved us off, returning to his perch looking out the window.
The guard picked up the robot and righted him back in his chair, though he was clearly broken beyond functionality.
“Let’s go, tough guy.” X led me out of the room.