In our world, everyone has a place.
I was born the runt of the litter in a servant’s nesting chamber and my lowly fate was sealed.
It is said that there are servants who managed to advance their station through valour, but I have not crossed paths with any witnesses.
Those of us who survive are never allowed to sire cubs. We will live out our years serving our commander across far-flung colonies. Serving the clan.
In our world everyone has a place — if they are willing to stay there. Sometimes they are not, leading to unsavoury outcomes.
It’s easy to make the argument for equal space rights but history shows that some species are too effervescent to be granted such a boundless gift, or to be satisfied with such a courtesy, even. They would seek to upend the prevailing order and catastrophy would result.
Humans are the most unstable.
The politicians believe they’re simply more curious than others but I know that’s a pile of excreta. If I have learnt one thing on this forgotten station, it is that every human is feral. Many just haven’t proven it yet.
Faced with the option of existing quietly, they would rather be destroyed, all trace of their civilization vaporized into cosmic dust.
Their very existence is an unfortunate chain reaction. They are driven by some intransigent force to seek the tail end of infinity, and so will never be content with a planet, star system or galaxy. Everywhere the light touches, they will seek to conquer.
But I am certain of one thing.
They will progress further than anyone imagines. They possess surprising courage and luck. Through toughness and cunning, they conquered their monkey planet and journeyed into the stars.
We are genetically hardwired to be territorial. Centuries pass, new colonies are formed, yet most species never truly escape their evolutionary brackets. That is why vessels of other civilisations leaping across our space is such an irritation.
A small craft manned by human Leapers has just been intercepted, and this is my chance. I might possess neither honour nor valour, but by my sire’s whiskers, I will leap beyond this station.
I can smell them before I arrive at the holding cells. The cells are designed for single prisoners but all four humans have managed to fit into one.
‘Is there a female amongst your crew?’
There’s no response.
I try again, carefully modulating my speech.
‘Do you not harbour hope of release? I have a.. errr… favourable proposition for you.’
A muffled murmuring. Slowly, one steps forward and faces me through the huge iron bars.
‘One of us is female. What do you want?’
And then I lay out my plan. I will ensure that they are not slain like they deserve. They must take my commander along with them when they depart. There must be no proof of my dishonour.
‘How are we to convince your master to follow us in our ship, exactly?’
‘He is honour-bound to accept a challenge from a female.
The man raised his head towards the glare of the lights, defiant.
His hands didn’t automatically rise to shield his eyes, but clenched into fists at his side. The commander fired a second bolt from his stun gun; 500V, enough to kill a full grown griff, and he finally tumbled to the ground.
A servant pounced on cue and lugged the unconscious form away. This one would be euthanized alongside the others. He was useless to the commander now. Experience had shown that once one turned feral, they would resist the drugs until they were killed by an overdose.
‘Bring me another one.’
The commander’s voice boomed from the catwalk high above the quadrangle below.
‘There is only one left, commander. A female.’ The servant replied a bit hesitantly, stepping out from the shadows below.
‘Perhaps there is a position reserved for it in your sire’s harem?’
The servant blanched at the mild insult. He quickly disappeared to the cells and arrived carrying the tiny figure of a human female. He dropped the limp form a little too gently on the stone floor and retreated into his place in the shadows.
‘It’s a pet, not a cub.’ The commander spat.
He now addressed the human, ‘Where is your mothership?’
The woman rose slowly. She smiled — a baring of teeth which signified mirth, rather than aggression. The commander did not really comprehend this emotion which humans seemed to display quite often; like when you sire a litter of solely male cubs, he had been told. But then he understood little of human social behaviour.
‘You unintelligent freak of evolution. Do your pets best you in battle? You killed all my friends for your sick political game, you pathetic brute. You will gain nothing from me.’
The commander smiled, crinkling his muzzle and revealing canine teeth. He knew honour, and this tiny human standing before him was brave — almost honourable. Even their females knew honour, he growled to himself.
He fired a blast from his stun gun and the human convulsed to the ground.
It was useless. They weren’t going to divulge any secrets. He turned to leave just as a weak voice rose from below.
‘Allow me take you to it — alone — if you are not afraid.’