The chair was the first thing I felt rocking, clanging loudly as red flames painted the windshield. Soon the whole room joined the symphony of falling, each part of the room adding it’s voice to the song.
“Retros 60%!” Kleinit barked after a particularly rough shake.
“Yeah, yeah!” Mr. Banana called back, his voice quite higher than usual.
“Is it supposed to be this rough?” I called out, over the din.
“If I say yes, will you shut up and let us focus?” The insult thrown by Mr. Banana would have been more intimidating if it wasn’t followed by a shrill squeak as one of his feet lost their grip, causing him to swing freely by his tail for a moment. I sunk back as far as possible into my seat, closing my eyes. Letting go of the triumphant feeling from the start of it, I focused on keeping the contents of my stomach where they belonged.
Gravity rapidly shifted and I felt myself being crushed into my seat as we rotated from directly falling to flying once more. Opening my eyes hesitantly, I found us below the clouds. A sprawling city lay beneath us. What it meant for me, why I was here was still a complete mystery.
The city was built in the middle of a desert. An amalgamation of technology and ancient airs, it seemed to be built haphazardly over time. Newer buildings looked to be perched on top of the ruins of older ones, waiting for their turn to be built over. In the center of the city sat the obvious palace, looking pristine. It appeared to be some bizarre combination of a man, and a lion. The landing strip we headed towards appeared ancient, gas lights directing us where to land.
As we landed, the last rays of sunlight faded over the far, flat horizon. A small group of what I assumed were guards stood at the ready to meet us. They carried tall staffs equipped with wicked looking blades at the highest point. Mr. Banana lead me by my neck rope, Kleinit following behind me. He carried no weapons on him as he exited the ship, which surprised me. I had seen Mr. Banana arm himself with multiple small guns, knives and a grenade. They didn’t seem to trust these people, but Kleinit only grabbed a small, glowing container that he slipped into his pocket on his jacket.
A cold night breeze kissed my face as I exited the ship, and I shivered. It wasn’t caused by the breeze though. The men waiting to meet us were disciplined and dead eyed. Their bright red uniforms with a white sash contrasted against the sand around us. Patiently they stood, waiting until everyone I was with had exited the ship. They turned from us, and marched in pace with us, leading us to a transport ship.
Not a word was spoken as we travelled through the city. Even Mr. Banana, who always was muttering something was entirely quiet. Kleinit seemed most at ease in the situation, his eyes closed, shoulders slouched, leaning his head back against the headrest of his seat. His metallic hand gently massaging his real one. Feeling like some beast captured for a prize, I examined my shoes in as much detail as possible.
As engrossed in my shoes as I was, I did catch a few glimpses of the city in my brave moments. Most people seemed to avoid the sight of our ship as much as possible. Blinds were drawn, shutters slammed, children pulled inside as we approached. My stomach sank lower and lower as we went further, wanting to run if it was possible. Soon the strange man lion building loomed above us, a large path leading up to it’s open mouth.
“Not a word about fetishes.” Kleinit muttered to Mr. Banana as we were escorted off the ship, sending him into a fit of snickers he tried desperately to not laugh loudly.
Large, eloquently carved statues lined the path as we ascended. Depicting human-like beasts, they radiated strength and power. Their dead eyes carved into sand coloured stone were eerily similar to the guards that flanked us on either side. The entrance to the palace was at least twenty feet high, intricate pictures carved into the frame of the doors.
At the back of the main hall he lounged, on a tall throne covered in luxurious pillows. Upon his head perched a tall, ornate crown. One eyebrow cocked in disdain, he exuded arrogance and boredom as we approached. He broke his lazy inspection of us to examine his nails in detail. Moments stretched to minutes as we waited to be addressed by Lord Tut.
“You took longer than you said it would Kleinit.” His words were daggers, being thrown to injure. Kleinit took the complaint without response. “But you did succeed in the least. Or so it appears. Take a sample!” The last statement was not directed to Kleinit, but to a nearby servant. He rushed to my side and poked my arm with a sharp needle. Blood was drawn, and taken in a vial somewhere beyond the room.
“It’s him. Like you wanted. Orphanage wouldn’t give up his location so it took a few more days.” Kleinit bowed in a sweeping motion, graceful for a man of his stature.
“That impertinent beast is still with you I see.” Lord Tut hissed the s in ‘beast’ directly at Mr. Banana, causing the hairs on his back to raise. But to his credit, Mr. Banana made no verbal response to the jab.
“Aye, he is my partner. For all his faults, he’s gotten me through many scrapes.” Kleinit’s simple, short way of speaking seemed to fit perfectly to dealing with people of higher stature than him.
“I guess that’s as good as a simple clone like you can get isn’t it?” Lord Tut’s words caused me to turn to Kleinit in shock. A clone? I had nothing against them, in fact seeing him a free man was rather impressive. Most were kept as slaves or organ donors for their original species.
“Aye sir.” His metal hand let out a small shriek as it curled into a fist, the only indication he was upset in any way at all. “It is indeed as good as it gets.”
The shriek was all Lord Tut needed to feel as if he had won the exchange. He returned to his nails, a sliver of a smile on his face. Mr. Banana pulled my rope tight again, and I looked down to see his knuckles white, squeezing tightly in the silence. Kleinit and him shared a look, their eyes determined to finish with this asshole and get out of here. A few more awkward moments passed until the servant returned with a note for Lord Tut. He read the note, and his smile grew larger and more sinister.
“Well, my dear friend,” he proclaimed as he stood up and started walking towards me. “It appears as if you are out of luck. Through no fault of your own, we share what is seemingly a rare trait nowadays. You are entirely human, as am I.” He paused for effect, though my face just scrunched up trying to figure out his end game in response.
“I see I am the last one gifted with some semblance of intelligence though.” He stood within a foot of me, and gently flicked me on the nose. “Don’t worry, I will keep the pure species safe within my own genes. You’ll soon be released from any need to worry about such higher matters.”
“But why kill me? I was living out of your way on some backwater planet, far from any of this. I don’t wish you any harm, or want anything from you!” I fought my restraints, but Mr. Banana kept his grip firm on my rope, and the knots elsewhere were too tight. Both him and Kleinit avoided my gaze, keeping theirs fixed forward.
“Ah, that is where you’re misguided. Even though you didn’t bear me any ill will, your presence was an affront to my claim. Ancient Egypt, on our sweet mother Earth, had strict governance rules. Claim to the throne had to be seized and confirmed. Many times usurpers came forward and took the people away from their rightful ruler. So I must follow their rules… to a grander scale. I rule a planet, so the entire galaxy much be searched.” He retreated to his throne, his hands splayed outward in a display of benevolence.
“You want to kill every human? That’s an impossible task! You’ll have to kill billions of people!” A lump was rising in my throat, getting caught causing me to choke up. I continued to fight against my bonds, causing Mr. Banana to give a sharp tug on my tether, bringing me to my knees. Tears started to fall from my eyes, and I shuddered uncontrollably.
“Not every human. Those who intermingled with other species gave up their right to rule. You and I, are the last two left who are entirely human. These two,” he pointed at Kleinit and the monkey, “are the last in a long string of Cleaners I employed to get the necessary job done.”
“You’re mad,” I whispered to the floor.
“Well, enough ceremony. Guards? If you please.” I was hauled to my feet by two sets of rough, strong hands at the command.