Jakhani watched as the soldiers brought more humans to the conversion chamber. Some cried, some begged, but most fought, struggling uselessly against the inhuman guards in their green armor. Their efforts were wasted. Each was strapped to a table in turn. Their shrieks haunted the chamber, echoing its vast length in a tortured chorus of protest and despair.
He turned his attention to the cables and tubing running above, carrying the green biosynthetic fluid used to replace their blood, ready for the bionic implants that would come later. It had taken him years to perfect the system. The room was a factory that took in raw humanoids and converted them into Tyra-Lee’s indomitable cybernetic army—the power behind her growing empire.
A sigh escaped his lips. It would take weeks to complete the latest batch, even at the rate of hundreds at a time. How many failures might there be in this harvesting? Hopefully, the latest adjustments had reduced it to a small percentage, perhaps two or three wasted per batch. There would always be those too weak or flawed to survive being transformed, or who reacted badly to the process. The final figures for this current collection should prove interesting.
The prisoners seemed never-ending, and they’d become a faceless blur by the time the scanner system flared red in alarm. Jakhani snapped out of his reverie and signaled the guards to halt. The last two through the arch dragged their captive along the ground, and he sighed again. Efficient they might be, but they rarely retained their intelligence after conversion. An unconscious, injured, or sick specimen was useless, even if it had proved his detection system functioned correctly. He gestured them to step aside and allow the process to continue, before grabbing the hair of the rejected one and lifting his head.
A tremor of uncertainty shook him. This was no human—at least, not of a kind he’d ever seen before. Intrigued by the anomaly, he instructed the guards to lay him on the end table so he could examine him. They then returned to their steady work, collecting more prisoners, while he investigated the unusual one. Blood smeared his skin, and dust and dirt obscured but could not disguise the odd color. A ragged cut following the hairline above his left temple and dark bruising around it explained the alarm.
Jakhani cleaned the wound, his interest piqued by the blue coloration as he worked. Humans came in a wide variation of forms and colorings, but never like this one. He was of medium height and slim build, well-muscled but still lean. Jakhani estimated the man to be in his mid-twenties or so, his body heavily tattooed. His personal scanner confirmed the stranger as human, genetically speaking, and yet the readings didn’t quite match anything in the records.
He shook his head, puzzling over what to do with this odd one. The usual procedure for rejects would be incineration, but medically he saw no reason to do so. Should he process the man anyway and see if he survived? Unconscious, he was no use to anyone, so Jakhani restrained him and left him to recover. There were more important things to be done.
|A Science Fiction Romance Novel|
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