Chapter 2 - Farmer Jack(s)

Our young man that we met in the previous chapter, Lixir Isdryrite, had been 23 when the Earth had become uninhabitable and had been on the ISS when the ships were flying up.

Isdryrite had been a young science blogger when he was on Earth and had somehow found his way to the International Space Station when he was just 21, with just a minimal amount of sweet-talking.

Isdryrite's role on the ISS was originally supposed to be an agricultural scientist with a degree in biochemistry, however, when he turned 23 he became the head of the biological experiments in the Australian wing.

Had Isdryrite done poor/okay? in school tests, until he was 15 when he suddenly burst onto the scene as one of the best students in the school. He was in a selective school and had been since he was 12, however, he struggled due to bullying and distractions in class.

Isdryrite now had a new role: find a way to duplicate the food that the robots had grown in the past 200 years easily, safely and cheaply so that they could last until the wormhole was ready to be used.

As already mentioned, the robots had grown 20 months of food, however, due to the late awakening of the humans, almost all (about 14 months) of the food had to be used almost immediately to get them back to full strength. Jack calculated that they could create the 2 months of food needed (it would take another 8 months to get the wormhole ready and there were only 6 months of food left) in less than a week with exactly 8 matter duplicators. 

After this stunning revelation, he went down into his office to e-mail the techies and say:

"I have calculated that we need another 7 matter duplicators. Please reply. Lixir"

After sending this email, he slouched to the cafe outside his office and poured himself another glass of water. Isdryrite only ever drank water, he had never even drunk milk when he was a baby. 

Coming back from the taps, he paused when he heard raised voices coming from the presentation room. Wondering what he should do, he decided to listen at the keyhole before barging in. 

The keyholes on all the presentation rooms on this particular station were round with a small pip on the top, so it resembled an upside-down wine glass.

-----

"must proceed cautiously, my lord. The computers in the control room are already picking up some of our radiation signals."

"No. These humans on this ship are dimwitted and insignificant. Especially their chemist, Isdryrite -" at this moment, Lixir's hands clenched "- who unknowingly gave us the tools we need for our matter duplicators. We can create a Doppelganger of ourselves so they do not get suspicious. We must then set fire to this ship and proceed through the wormhole in our shuttle. I have made contact with the group of aliens on the moon. They were exiled from their home planet, and they want to lead a war against those that exiled them."

"But, my lord, there is someone at the door right now, listening to every word we say. Currently, he is trying to escape and send his recording to his officials."

"Jam communications!"

(Technician): "Communications JAMMED."

Right at this moment, the rogue agents banged open the door and grabbed Jack with a grappling hook. Pulling Jack through the door, the agents proceeded to tie him up and light a match near his face.

"You've got a lot of nerve coming here, Dr. Lixir. What did you hear, and what did you send?"

"I heard enough. I heard that you thought I was dimwitted. Then I walked away because I was gonna cry in my room."

"LIAR. You were sending a transmission through your watch to the command center. Sergeant, take off his watch and give it to me."

Unknown to the rogues, Jack's real watch was hidden inside his skin, with a control panel hidden by a pull-down sheet of skin. He willingly gave his fake watch to the sergeant and slumped, pretending to be defeated, back in his chair.

"Uh huh. Mm. You were sending a transmission saying that there was a problem with the matter duplicator plans. What was the problem?"

Jack had planned all this. He knew that they would be interested, and he could trick them.

"I'll never tell you!" he said. This was a sure-fire way to get the sergeant to threaten to torture him, and would, therefore, make what he said seem more legitimate. He also knew that the "problem" would make the sergeant go ahead with his plan, however, he would not know that it would ultimately lead to his downfall.

"Okay. Mmmm. Okay. Prepare the torture rack!" the sergeant said.

The torture rack was not just a stretching rack, it would also pierce the skin on several of the most sensitive spots of the human body. It would also be able to slice off parts of the body without warning, pull hair, puncture eyeballs, and the eardrums, and even dislocate joints and break bones. Only the bravest - or the most foolhardy - trainees would brave the torture rack for more than a minute. Especially if they knew what it did.

Isdryrite knew that he had to stay on the rack for as long as possible to make his answer seem sincere. No-one had ever stayed on the rack for longer than two minutes - while it did not kill (it could not slice off the head, cause severe blood loss or destroy the brain's nerves (ultimately killing)), it would render you deaf, blind, crippled and broken. If you ever lasted that long, you would be beheaded by the machine when it was set to the "death" mode. If you didn't last that long, but you told the truth, you would be considered "useful" and become a zombie drone with an implant in your ear.

A minute went by. Isdryrite didn't flinch. He didn't, but he needed to, to make his answer sincere. The sergeant decided to turn it up a notch. He used a small arrow to make a hole inside Jack's stomach. Then he turned it around part of the intestine. 

The sergeant obviously didn't care about killing Jack, or he knew that he would be able to save him without too much blood loss. Either way, he wound it around the intestine, stretching it to breaking point. 

Just before the intestine started to snap, the sergeant turned the torture rack to "traditional" mode. Suddenly, the rack started stretching Jack with a few cracks. This was what made Jack suddenly realise to snap out of it and tell them his answer. He had lasted over a minute.


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