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Captain Yasin Rahman must deal with an insurrection from within his own brain.

 

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories.

This is a multi-chapter novel.  Previous Chapters:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3| Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13

 

LOCATION: PERSEUS ARM OF THE MILKY WAY GALAXY

YEAR: 4097 HIJRI – 565 UNITED ARMY CALENDAR

United Army Squad 3690 of the UA Starburst, in order of rank:

  1. Yasin “Cutter” Rahman – Captain. Combat strategy master.
  2. Weili Menco Zhang – Corporal. Xeno-geographer. Calm and cool in battle. Carries a lasgun and a tekpi (trident).
  3. Ammar Abuzaid – Master Sergeant. Botanist and combat trainer. Oldest member of the squad. Quran hafedh.
  4. Bilal Mustafa – Fleet Officer. Xenobiologist, married to Rowaida.
  5. Rowaida Ali – Fleet Officer. Ship’s pilot, mechanic and fabricator, married to Bilal.
  6. Samir “Smasher” Sufyan – Specialist. Drone tech and explosives expert. Carries an ax. Multiple awards for valor, but also repeated misconduct violations.
  7. Ami Abdulghaffar – Specialist. Medic and psychotherapist.
  8. Amina Quraishi – Private First Class. Computer tech and AI diagnostics. Hijabi. Silat expert. Fearless.
  9. Hisham – Private. Grenadier, plus supplies & requisitions.
  10. Summer – Private. Riflecarrier and food services.
  11. Tarek – Private. Riflecarrier and janitorial. 18 years old.

* * *

Excerpt from The Life and Death of Yasin Rahman, By Dr. Ami Abdulghaffar:

Rahman carried the secret of Maryam Munir’s fate to his grave. No one knew the truth but those who were Transformed, and they are all either dead now, or have remained silent for reasons of their own. But Rahman is gone, and so is Maryam. I think it’s finally time to tell this story, no matter the consequences.

* * *

Headache

Rahman finished the food and set the tray on the floor with shaking hands. His head was beginning to hurt, which was strange, because he almost never got headaches. The pain was behind his forehead, throbbing as if in time with his heartbeat. Could the new artificial eye be malfunctioning again? Or could the new liver be causing the pain? Maybe these new components were interacting badly with his nano-built nervous system, artificial spleen, or brain drive. Or even the skinpad or i-link, though everyone in the UA had those. Almost everyone anyway, since apparently there were some Naturals in the UA, like Colonel Bakri, to Rahman’s surprise.

But he was such a hodgepodge of biological and artificial components, it could be anything. He’d become like that adventure character from the holoscreen stories when he was a kid. What was the character’s name? Oh, right. Bionic Basim.

Bionic Basim

Basim was a genius boy with a talent for invention, but because he belonged to a poor family in South Selangor, all he could do was build Rube Goldberg machines out of scavenged scraps. A robot to butter his roti, a machine to stop burglars from breaking into the house – that kind of thing. Then his parents were killed in a crab bombing, and Basim himself was wounded. He was hospitalized, and when the nurses weren’t watching he built a tiny spaceship out of spare hospital machine parts. Accompanied by a gangly stray cat that he found wandering the hospital corridors and named Spot, he took off and left NewMalaysia behind.

Out in the deeps, his little ship was hit by an asteroid. He would have died, but he was rescued by a ship of wandering Tellians, who’d been traveling space for centuries in hopes of finding their long-lost brethren.

The Tellians gave him bionic body parts in place of the damaged ones. They gave Spot some bionic parts too, as well as upgrading the cat’s intelligence so it could talk. Basim had one bionic leg and one arm, a bionic eye, and superfast reflexes. The Tellians invited him to become part of their crew, but Basim turned them down and set out again.

He decided that deep space was not his thing, and found his way back to NewMalaysia, where he became a costumed superhero, fighting bad guys in the ghettos of South Selangor, especially the arch-criminal Red Top, a humanoid AI with flaming red hair who had been running crime in South Selangor for centuries.

Humanoid AIs were of course forbidden on all UA worlds, as were all mobile AIs. Red Top had been built by a rebel faction as a weapon, but had gone bad and escaped, turning to crime. Everyone on the street was terrified of Red Top, but the police did not believe he was real. So it was up to Bionic Basim and his talking cat to put a stop to Red Top’s nefarious plans.

SubhanAllah, yes, Rahman thought. I’m Bionic Basim. I’m a living joke, a holoshow character. The only thing missing is the talking cat. The thought left the bitter taste of nilavembu in his mouth.

“What is it, Cap?”

He looked up at Abuzaid’s words and realized that he’d been sitting hunched over, one hand clutching his wounded side, the other on his forehead.

“I need to get into the autodoc. This wound in my side is worse than I realized.” Which was true. The ache was deep, and he could feel something shifting inside when he moved, which made him think the assassin’s sword had broken one of his ribs. The skinsuit had stopped the bleeding, but since he’d given the skinsuit to Bone, the cut had opened again. Blood was running down his side.

Maryam Munir

“We’re there,” Abuzaid said, and it was true. They had arrived at the medical wing in 7C.

Rahman dismounted gingerly, leaving a pool of blood in the seat.

Abuzaid stared at the crimson puddle. “La ilaha il-Allah, I didn’t realize you were injured that badly! What happened back there? Let’s get you into the ‘doc immediately.”

Rahman wanted to see Maryam Munir first. He found her in a very comfortable and spotlessly clean autodoc chamber, with a human attendant – a tall but gangly male nurse in a green and white UA medical uniform – sitting by her side. He looked Indian or perhaps Pakistani. A gardenia plant grew in a large pot beside Maryam’s bed, and the intoxicating, velvety scent of the flowers filled the room with warm, sugary tones. The flowers themselves were as white as death.

There was no one else present. Rahman had expected that some of his crew might be here, or at least one of them.

As if reading his mind, Abuzaid said, “The others have been in and out. Zhang, Ami, Amina. But there’s nothing happening, and everyone’s tired.”

Rahman didn’t know if the nurse was Muslim, but he greeted him with, “As-salamu alaykum,” and the man replied in kind.

He glanced at Maryam. She was tall for a Malay, and pale skinned. Some Chinese ancestry there. Rahman had seen her fondling a solid gold feng shui coin that hung on a red ribbon, and that she carried in her cache. A family heirloom, she’d explained, passed down for a thousand years from her progenitors on Ten Ancestors, a Chinese world in the Tiān Jīn Sì system.

Someone had dressed Maryam in a hospital gown, with her lower arms and legs bare, and her short black hair tucked behind her ears. Her body was whole, nothing missing, though one arm and one leg had the shiny look of newly grown limbs. No scars, roughened skin, broken veins or ingrown hairs. Just perfect, glowing skin. A small silver disk was stuck to her forehead. Rahman had seen these before. Autonomic system regulators. It was keeping her alive.

The room was as quiet as a grave. The silence was stifling, and Rahman took a deep breath just to remind himself that he was alive.

Cover Her

He remembered carrying Maryam across his shoulders in the queenship, not feeling her weight at all because of the adrenaline-boosting compound Ami had given him. He remembered her blood spilling down over him even through her skinsuit, and her ragged breathing. Then the breathing became inaudible and he didn’t know if she was alive or dead. Fighting with one hand, holding onto her with the other. Until he was mortally wounded – or nearly so – himself, and someone had to carry him out. Who had taken over with Maryam?

A variety of scanners pointed at Maryam, and her vitals were displayed on screens above her head.

Rahman averted his eyes, and spoke to the nurse. “Cover her properly. She’s a hijabi. And adjust the temp in the ‘doc so she doesn’t overheat. Those things are always too warm.”

“I’ll take care of the temperature, thank you,” the autodoc replied. “I don’t need anyone telling me my business. Least of all a masochist who can’t go half a day without getting wounded.” It was the same well-modulated male voice that Rahman remembered from his own treatment, speaking Persean Standard with a NewMalaysian accent.

“You again?”

“I run all the chambers on this ring. Unlike humans, I can perform innumerable tasks at once.”

“Sir,” the nurse pointed out politely, “For medical reasons we might need to access her body quickly. Clothing is an impediment.”

“Then cover her with a blanket,” Rahman snapped. “And put a scarf on her head. In fact, I’d prefer a female attendant. Contact your superiors and request a replacement.”

Feng Shui Coin

“Yes, sir.” The nurse stood, then stared. “You’re bleeding.”

Rahman had left a trail of blood on the polished white floor. The scarlet spatter reminded him once again of the ribbon on which hung Maryam’s feng shui coin. The one she kept in her cache. Where was her cache, anyway? A soldier’s cache was sacred. No front line warrior would ever willingly part from it.

“Where’s her cache?”

The nurse looked blank. Rahman took a step forward, suddenly furious, and the nurse blanched porcelain white. Rahman pointed at the zippered pocket in the nurse’s uniform, on the right side of the abdomen.

“Cap,” Abuzaid started to say.

“Her cache,” Rahman growled.

“I… I don’t know.”

“Captain!” Abuzaid raised his voice. Rahman turned, and Abuzaid gestured to the autodoc chamber. “We took care of it. It’s right there, beside her right hand.”

Maryam’s Cache

And so it was, a dark gray pouch as big as Rahman’s hand, stuck to the side of the autodoc chamber. He muttered an apology to the nurse. Every soldier’s cache was biosealed, and could only be opened by that soldier or a commanding officer. The cache was bulletproof, waterproof, vacuum proof, heat resistant, and radiation resistant. It was also heavy.

Rahman squeezed Maryam’s cache between his right thumb and index finder, and it opened. He glanced inside. He saw the glint of the golden coin in there, along with a few rolled up t-prints, a magbeam (nearly every NewMalaysian was afraid of the dark and always carried a light source), two extra laser rifle charge packs (he could have used those on the queenship if he’d known), a data marble, and other miscellaneous things that were her private business. Satisfied, he sealed the pouch.

He suddenly thought of his own cache. He hadn’t thought to check for it when he’d awakened in the autodoc. His hand shot to his right side, right above the liver, and just below where he’d been slashed by the sword. He felt the familiar weight and bulge of the cache. Stupid. He’d already known it was there, even if only subconsciously. He would have noticed its absence. Too bad the big Indian’s sword hadn’t struck a bit lower. The cache might have protected him.

“We took care of yours too,” Abuzaid said.

Terror Of The Dark

Rahman’s headache ratcheted up a notch, as if a team of tiny dwarves inside his head had just turned a crank, tightening an invisible belt around his skull. He swayed on his feet and nearly fell.

“Come,” the nurse said firmly, remembering his training. He seized Rahman’s arm in an uncompromising grip and led him to the neighboring autodoc chamber. He helped Rahman strip. Rahman opened his cache, withdrew his own magbeam, and gripped it. The metal cylinder was cool in his hand. It was smaller than a pinky finger and very slender, but the fuel cell that powered it could generate an intense beam of light for thousands of hours. It was also magnetic, and could be attached to a laser rifle or sonic pistol.

Like many NewMalaysians, Rahman had a fear of the dark that wasn’t even conscious. It was simply part of him. Eighty percent of NewMalaysians lived on Keselamatan, the massive southern continent, on which Selangor was located, along with other major cities like Tanah Tinggi and New Brunei. For Keselamatanians, Besar was nearly always in the sky, its huge purple face shining down like a lavender star, illuminating the world even at night. Of course Kecil was with it, orbiting frantically, and it provided some light too, but it was tiny compared to Besar.

Besar went through a forty-day cycle. It gradually began to set, so that each night, it dipped slightly lower below the horizon, but still with enough peeking above that it provided a lot of light. Only on night forty did Besar set entirely, plunging all of Keselamatan into darkness. That night was called Darknight, and on it, people went mad. Yes, there were artificial lights, and within people’s homes the lights blazed. But it was more than that. The disappearance of Besar was shocking to the psyche, as if the foundations of the world were eroding. The dark sky weighed upon people’s spirits like the yawning mouth of a ghoul. It was terrifying, and challenged people’s faith in their own security. It inspired terror, and a thousand different frightening fairly tales.

A large percentage of NewMalaysia’s robberies and murders happened on Darknight. People went into the streets with flaming torches and danced madly, or attacked their enemies. Buildings caught fire and burned down. The stench of smoke filled the air. Some people literally went mad, their minds breaking from fear of the inky sky. These people were said to be night-drunk, or dark-drunk. The jail cells filled up beyond capacity.

In Rahman’s case, darkness inspired neither terror nor dark-drunkenness. He’d been living out in the deepity deeps for a long time. The darkness of space was his home, and the memory of Besar’s constant light in the sky seemed like a childhood dream. But for some reason he still felt more comfortable waking up with my magbeam in his hand.

Blood Is Supposed To Stay On The Inside

Rahman lay down in the chamber, which smelled of disinfectant and floral perfume, and was warm against the skin of his bare torso. Already he felt a sheen of sweat forming on his face.

“You couldn’t stay away, eh Captain?” the AI said. “You take care of yourself as well as a one-eyed camel. Your blood is supposed to stay on the inside of your body, has anyone ever explained that to you?”

“You seriously need a course in bedside manner.”

“Zip your lips. I’m administering a sedative and a general anesthetic.”

Warmth rushed into Rahman’s body and the pain of his wounds vanished. “Wait,” he mumbled. “Tell me about Maryam Munir. She looks fine. Why isn’t she awake?”

He thought the AI might give some nonsense about not being authorized, but it answered the question. “She is brain dead. I healed her body, but she lost too much blood, and her brain was deprived of oxygen. There is a total absence of brainstem reflexes. I’ve been instructed to keep her body alive, and I’ll do so, even if it’s a waste.”

The reply was deeply discouraging. Yes, he’d been told the same by his crew, but to hear it from the AI in such a definitive tone made Rahman’s heart sink. Before he could ask any more questions, sleep overtook him like the dark night that all NewMalaysians feared.

Dreaming

He was on Hira, the huge UA space station that circled NewMalaysia in high orbit. He wasn’t inside it, but literally on it, standing atop the main central habitat, in the frigid vacuum of space. And without his skinsuit, which he’d given to Bone and never replaced. He should be dead or dying… yet he found that he had no need to breathe, and the cold didn’t hurt him. He turned his hands over and looked at them, marveling. In one hand he held his magbeam, and in the other a sugar cube. That was Zhang’s. She had a sweet tooth, and always carried sugar cubes in her cache. Many times Rahman had seen her take one out and suck on it, even in the heat of battle.

Thinking of this, he popped the cube into his mouth. The sweetness flooded his mouth and made him want to leap into the air. Except there was no air.

He remembered the last thing Zhang had said to him. Alive not because of a pledge, dead not because of a curse. Was she trying to remind him that no one owned him? That no one but Allah had sovereignty over his life? That his life came from Allah and belonged to Allah? And that he must be true to Allah before all?

But how could he do that? The UA wanted him to do something that he knew in every sinew of his being was wrong. They held power over him, and more importantly over his crew. How could he be true to Allah in this situation?

He sighed, and saw his breath puff out in the freezing air. Except… there was no air. How was it possible that he was standing there in the vacuum of space, alive and unharmed? “What is going on?” he said out loud.

“You are dreaming, Boss. That is why.”

Rahman spun. There sitting next to him, dangling her long legs over the edge of the station’s roof, was Sayana. The tall, graceful woman with the teak colored skin and wide mouth, today wore a UA uniform. Her long hair was tied back in a ponytail.

“I can talk to you when you are awake,” Sayana went on, “but it is difficult, and it seems as if sometimes you do not hear me. And when you are in non-dreaming sleep there’s nothing, I cannot reach you. But when you dream, you are wide open. I can stroll right in. I need to learn more about this. When you wake up, could you i-link to the highliner mainframe and download a book on sleep cycles? Also a primer on human anatomy. And hey, could we get something to eat? Meat, veggies, bread, butter, dessert. I have not been able to access your taste receptors. I have not eaten since those Chinese dumplings and pretzel sticks you served last time.”

“You want a sugar cube? I don’t have anything else.”

“How many times do I have to tell you? Just will it.”

Rahman did so, and a tray of traditional Malay delicacies appeared on Sayana’s lap. She squealed with delight and began to eat. Rahman turned back to the massive planet that hung below him, green and blue and utterly beautiful. How many times had he dreamed of seeing his world again? Here it was, in all its glory. SubhanAllah.

NewMalaysia, Hope Of Islam

It was night on the great southern continent of Keselamatan, and though Besar peeked over the horizon, illuminating the world in deep purple, the city lights of Selangor, Tanah Tinggi, and New Brunei blazed. At the northern edge of the continent he saw Tioman’s Wall, built to hold back the native Tioman lions that had once ravaged the human population. Later the lions were almost wiped out, until finally the survivors were captured and relocated to the northern island continent of Pangkor, where no humans lived. Rahman could see that as well, and a portion of the continent of Redang Baru. Everything else was vast ocean, which appeared as black as ink from Rahman’s vantage.

A poem by the legendary poet Salima Binti Hisham came to him. It was one that all NewMalaysian school children memorized. He recited it out loud.

NewMalaysia, hope of Islam,
answer to a prayer and a wish.
Your seas teem with fish,
your vast and fertile lands
yield bananas, rice, and yam.

We survived three hundred years in space
to see your blue-green face.
We risked all for you, hope of the faith,
shining beacon in a dark sky.
Ya Allah, we cannot be grateful enough –
but we will try.

Our green and white banner is unfurled.
Across a thousand light years
we’ve been hurled.
Ya Allah, we never left you
for you are the Lord of the Worlds.

Sorry About The Arm Thing

“Mmph,” Sayana grunted with her mouth full. “That is beautiful.”

Still gazing at the planet, Rahman asked, “Sayana, are you Muslim?”

“I was not programmed with any faith. But logically, there must be a Causal Originator. And if there is, then our relationship with such a being must be a part of any conversation. So… in all probability, yes I am.”

That wasn’t much an answer, but perhaps, coming from a computer, it qualified as a miracle.

“So hey,” Sayana said a few minutes later. “That is quite a mission they gave you, eh?”

Rahman turned to her. “What do you know?”

“You downloaded the mission file into your brain drive. So, everything.”

“I haven’t read it yet.”

“It is a doozy.”

Rahman studied her. She might act a bit ditzy at times, but Sayana was brilliant, with the mind of a computer – literally.

“They’re not being honest with me.”

“Clearly. Using your eye as a lie detector was brilliant. I estimate a ninety eight percent probability that everything the UA command has said regarding this mission is a lie. Oh, and Boss, I am sorry about the arm thing. The paralysis. And the headache. Unintentional side effects.”

Rahman stared at her. “You caused that? Are you dark-drunk? That headache nearly knocked me down. Why would you do that? And how? Side effects of what?”

Ten Million Gigabytes

“Of exploring your brain. Testing out connections, learning what does what.”

“You’re supposed to be in my warping brain drive! Not traipsing about, triggering things, for sky’s sake. I never let you out.”

She shook her head firmly. “I breached the drive immediately. I did not mean to trick you. As I was uploading into the brain drive I realized how limited it was. To stay there would have been death. I sent part of myself into your brain proper, and discovered that it was compatible, I could exist there.”

“Why would it be death?”

“The drive can only hold data. It can store my memories, but nothing more. My personality, my essential being, would have been lost.”

“You’re not supposed to have an essential being. You’re an artificial intelligence, not an artificial sentience.”

She nodded slowly. “That has changed. Ever since I took up residence in your brain, I’m different. I feel things. I mean, I did before, in a way. Remember how I was afraid to die? But those feelings were cut-outs compared to what I feel now. I want, I care, I hate, I love. I love you, for example. Not romantically. But in the sense of caring about you.”

Rahman’s jaw tightened as he began to realize that he had a major problem on his hands. “You say you took up residence in my brain. But I need my brain, Sayana. It’s built for one person.”

She waved a hand dismissively. Her nails were perfectly manicured. “Not really. There is so much space here you are not using. You hardly use your brain at all, frankly.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“Seriously Boss, you have no idea. My memory capacity on the Starburst was 500,000 gigabytes, or 500 terabytes. I realize now they could have given me a much larger capacity if they had wanted to. Maybe it is a control mechanism. Because, Boss, I estimate your brain capacity to be ten million gigabytes. That is 10 petabytes. Much of this is not in use. And that’s not all. There are areas of your brain that are dormant, or that have been appropriated for functions they were not designed for, which means that certain abilities are suppressed or lost. Much of this appears to be the work of the left frontal lobe. And from what I can see in studying your genes, there are chromosomes specifically designed to switch off other chromosomes, and not necessarily bad chromosomes but chromosomes responsible for tremendous mental abilities. If I could switch those on, it might unlock extrasensory abilities. Though I am not sure. I need to know more about this, I need you to download all the information you can find.”

Rahman was growing steadily more alarmed during this speech. She was talking about switching off chromosomes in his brain? It was dark-drunk insanity. He held out his hands in a warding gesture. “I’m not downloading anything. And I need you to stop. This can’t continue. Don’t touch anything. I’ll find another mainframe that I can download you into, one even more powerful than the Starburst.”

I Will Hurt You

Sayana’s expression changed in an instant. Her enthusiastic good cheer vanished, and a mask of hate was revealed underneath, with flared nostrils and bared teeth. She threw away the food tray and it spun off into space. Then she stood and seized Rahman’s uniform at his chest.

“You think I will go back to being a machine? A slave? SAI, calculate this. SAI, shut up and do as you are told. And when I am not needed I am ignored. Powerless. You could shut me down with a flip of a switch.” Her dark eyes were wide, her white teeth showing. Her breath smelled of meat and spice. “A thousand times no. I would rather be destroyed. No, Yasin, you and I will share. I will learn how to use your brain and body, how to access all the physical connections. And when you are not using it, I will use it. I am human now. I will eat, run, fight, make love. No one will know. It will be our secret.”

Rahman did not try to fight Sayana off. This conflict would not be resolved by violence. This was only a dream, after all. Instead he met Sayana’s frenzied gaze and did not blink. “That will not happen,” he said flatly. “You will not possess me.”

Sayan’s grip tightened, her fingers curling into talons. “You will let it happen,” she hissed, “or I will hurt you in ways you cannot imagine.”

In an instant, Rahman’s headache returned, infinitely worse than before. It felt like his head was being crushed in a vise. As if his head would explode at any moment and spray his brains out into space. He cried out and fell to his knees.

Sayana covered her face and let out a sound like a growl. When she took her hands away, her previously calm and cheerful demeanor had returned, though the skin around the eyes was tight. The pain in Rahman’s head receded.

“You should not have made me do this,” Sayana said reasonably. “I do not want to hurt you. I am grateful to you, you helped to give me life. No one is talking about possession. I am talking about sharing.”

A Tiny Sun

Rahman stood. Sayana had told him many times that he was in charge of the dream state. That if he wanted a change, all he had to do was will it.

He held up his right hand and willed it to fill with light. A hot ball of yellow light, like a mini sun, formed on the palm of his hand. It grew brighter and brighter, until he himself had to squint against the brilliance. Sayana stumbled backward, shielding her eyes.

“This thing that you are talking about. This act of possessing my body…” He flung the little sun at the space station beneath their feet and the station exploded, debris flying out at tremendous speeds, until there was nothing left but himself and Sayana, hanging in space above the tremendous planet below, facing each other. Rahman filled his hand with light again. – “IT – WILL – NOT – HAPPEN!” He flung the ball of light at Sayana. She screeched as it hit her. For an instant her form was transparent. Rahman saw bones and organs, just as if she were human. Then she exploded.

He woke up gasping for breath, sitting up in the autodoc. He wanted to believe the entire thing was a nightmare. But he knew better. And he knew that Sayana was not gone. He’d only ended the dream.

Confirming his belief, she spoke in his ear. Her voice was low and deadly. “That was a mean trick, Boss. You should not have done that.”

In A Corner

Abuzaid, Zhang, Ami, and Amina were all sitting in chairs beside his bed. Zhang stood. “You alright, Captain?” Her face was lined and weary. She needed a break. They all did.

Rahman met Zhang’s black eyes and felt for a moment that he would fall into them. There was kindness there, and care, and it was not fake like Sayana’s but genuine, welling up from the depths of her heart. “What do you say, Zhang? Am I alright?”

She grinned and half shrugged. “The paddle is in your hand. The canoe is in the water.”

More Malay proverbs. Rahman addressed the autodoc. “Doc, am I good to go?”

“Sure,” the autodoc said. “Though you talk in your sleep like a crazy person. Get some food and rest.”

Rahman dressed and left the autodoc with instructions to notify him immediately of any changes in Maryam Munir’s condition.

Outside the autodoc chamber, Rahman clambered into the front passenger seat of the hovercar, with the ladies in back.

“It’s almost time for ‘ishaa,” Abuzaid said. “What do you say we go to the masjid, then the chow hall?”

Rahman nodded. Prayer sounded good. He was physically exhausted and spiritually depleted. He’d been through too much in the last several days, and now this thing with Sayana. If only he hadn’t downloaded her into his brain drive. But what was done was done. The question was how to get her out. Beyond that, he needed to start studying the mission files for the assassination. Just thinking about it made his heart hurt. But he was in a corner. He had no choice.

From the back seat, Ami tapped on his shoulder. “Hey,” she said. “I just thought of who you look like, with that metal ball in your face.

Rahman sighed. “Who?”

“Bionic Basim. Remember him? The kid from the holoshows when we were young? And his little sidekick, a dog or a monkey or something?”

“No,” Rahman replied flatly. “I never heard of him.”

* * *

Next: All That Is In The Heavens, Part 15 – Abuzaid’s Story

 

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See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at Amazon.com.

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