Netphren Feelings

(Written for this.)

Hermes listened to the hum of the ships’ low powered engines. He swung his legs over to the side of his bed, stood up and stretched. It was quiet here. The ship was empty save for him. There was nobody else here. He’d been left aboard, destined to watch over it as it slumbered. He left his room, door sliding shut behind him as he began to make his long rounds for the day. He had to make sure the ship was safe, and that nobody tried to tamper with him.

“Moring, Nietzsche…” Hermes said. A screen in the hall flickered on, and the face of a young man with curly black hair greeted him.

“Good Morning, Hermes!”

“How are all your systems?”

“My systems are perfectly fine. Engines are at low power. We’ve been on standby for so many years now. I doubt that anything strange will happen.”

“Ah. I hope so. It would be horrible if anyone came here. But I think there’s nothing to worry about. We’re safe because only one person knows the cloaking codes. As long as they aren’t told, nobody will ever see this ship here.” Hermes sighed.

Deep down, though he would never admit this to Nietzsche, he was really lonely. However, a controller stayed with their ship at all times. That was the fate of those selected to link up with a ship’s mind and control its most advanced weaponry. The Nietzsche was a dreadnought, put out of use under a treaty signed by Empress Rose’s grandfather, Lucian and Empress Elthene of Silica after it was used to destroy several colonies scattered throughout their universe. Hermes put himself into a deep slumber, unable to stand the pain of knowing that everyone had to abandon the ship.

A loud thump startled Hermes out of his usual routine of checking on the ship. He ran down a dark hallway that lit up with each step he took, searching for the source of the sound. “Nietzsche, what was that? Please tell me what it was!”

“Someone has crashed their vessel into the left cargo wall. They broke through somehow.” Nietzsche said the ship’s voice in a panic. “I have sealed the wall with a field, but that hole is going to need repairs. You will have to contact someone.”

“Why? Why should I depend on anyone? They are the ones who told me I had to stay here and rot!” Hermes yelled. He couldn’t stand it. The moment he was created, they bound him to this damn ship. He wouldn’t be able to leave it, ever. He had a twin brother, one with a better fate than his. His brother’s ship, the Messiah, was inhabited by a crew made of members of Silica’s Holy Order. They wouldn’t be going anywhere. Artemis wasn’t lonely.

Hermes put his hands up to his ears and began to sob, falling to his knees.

“Get it together already.” Nietzsche hissed. “The shuttle is in the cargo bay. Go down there and see if the person who crashed survived.”

Hermes let out an angry snarl. “I’m sick of listening to you; I’m tired of being stuck here!”

“Why? You’re not a true living being anyway? Why do you crave the company of others? Most people even now only see netphren as beings created for specific purposes, and programmed to carry them out. You were made in a lab, Hermes. Designed for me, after all.”

“Don’t you ever, ever say that I was made for you! You’re a ridiculous ship! The controller before me fried his own brain because he couldn’t stand you, I read your archives!” Hermes yelled. “Shut up and don’t you ever talk about me like that again!”

Hermes ran to one of the elevators and took it down to the level of the cargo bay. He punched in a code and the door slid open. The shuttle’s front end was badly damaged, but he walked over to the door and pulled it open with little effort and peeked inside. A person who looked like an exact replica of himself, save for the blue hair, lay curled up in a ball with a gash across his forehead. He was dressed in blue, and Hermes ran over to him.

He touched their face, his eyes starting to fill with tears. “Wake up, please wake up!” He picked the young man up and carried him out of the damaged shuttle.

“Nietzsche, this is bad- this is really bad- something’s wrong, controllers are never supposed to leave their ship!” Hermes said, carrying the arrival on his back up to sick bay, a room that hadn’t been used in forever. He put him down on one of the beds, and gently turned him on his side. He lifted up the blue hair away from his neck and ran his finger across the skin gently. A connector port appeared. He plugged a cord in, and then wiped the blood that was on his face. A screen came on, and began to play his memories.

There was a lot of screaming, and a fight. “They want our ship! We can’t let them take Messiah over! Send Artemis out of here!”

Static, everything was garbled. Hermes began to cry, laying his head against the young man’s shoulder. “Artemis… I was lonely, but I never wished for this to happen! I knew what my fate was from the beginning, I was programmed to know! But is it so wrong, so wrong to wish that there was someone else here with me- someone just like me?”

Hermes was crying in earnest now, and all Nietzsche did was watch over him. “I have looked over his data. The Messiah was seized, and they sent him away to keep the attackers from using the ship’s full potential. They will look for him.” Nietzsche told Hermes.

“I never wished for him to get hurt like this. I never did.”

“H…erm…es? I’m…scared.”

“I’ll protect you.” Hermes grabbed a cloth and wiped Artemis’ forehead. “And you’ll be feeling better in no time at all.”