Part VI

Pytheas sat in his cell looking at the figure that stood before him like some beacon from the beyond. This Dr. Habakkuk was certainly bad at timing, for he waited till his life was in complete ruins before making any sort of proposal. Any proposal that he had to offer would be worth taking at this point he concluded, after all, he couldn't see the stars from this cell, and he was probably going to be here a long time.

"What do you want from me?" Pytheas asked in a weak voice. He didn't really feel like doing much of anything at the moment, he missed his wife still, and most especially he missed the stars; they may have glared at him for nearly twenty years, but he still yearned for them.

Dr. Habbakuk picked something out of his teeth with one claw, and then opened his mouth in amusement, "I just want your brain."

"My brain?"

"Yes, the only part of you that concerns me is your brain."


Dr. Habakkuk tapped his own head, just over the membrane. "Inside your head is a mind that is capable of thought and independent action. I am trying to remove the mind from the body, and keep it working independently. I was wondering if you might want to volunteer for the experiment."

Pytheas recoiled from the man, "That sounds awful, never!"

"Hear me our, Mr. Pytheas, I have not told you the whole story." Habakkuk cautioned him.

Pytheas looked at him speculatively. If there was some benefit that would get him out of here, he might be willing to try the idea of living outside himself for a while. However, he was sure that there was something along the line of life service or imprisonment if he wasn't careful. However, if Habakkuk offered a chance to get to see the stars again, he didn't know how he could say no. "Go on then."

"All right, the reason that I am doing this is simple. I am sure that you know that given the limits of space travel, only people with certain genetic code can go into space. Now, with this procedure, I am going to possibly eliminate that barier completely. The only difficulty is that you cannot take your body with you. A mechanical box has been created that sustaints the brain in even the most adverse of conditions. Does this sound like something that you are interested in?"

Pytheas had by this point stood up, and was gripping the bars, looking into the eyes of this deity before it, completely enraptured with the idea. Here it was, his chance to go into space, right before him, and he could almost taste it. He felt his whole body quiver in anticipation. This skin, who needed it, his scales were nothing to him if they kept him from space. He would gladly cut his own tail off if it gained him purchase to the stars. How could he resist the offer of placing his brain in a container when the reward was space?

"I guess you are interested, shall I continue?" Habakkuk noted form the pleading look in Pytheas's eyes.


"Well, the only thing is that the uses of such an entity are rather limited right now. What I can do is get you set up to work planetary sampling. Basically you would be outfitted with a mobile unit which would be equipped to do samplings on various rocks and other matter that you would find on a planets surface. I can't say that it would be the most exciting job in the world, but it is the least thing I can do, and frankly the only option that is available to you at the moment.

"The reason that you would be so limited is so that I can prove that my device works. I need to come back with certain results, psychological, scientific, and physical to make sure that I can proceed with further subjects. I was hoping that you, who seem to be quite eager to get into space, and are quite familiar with the procedures already. However, if you do agree, you realize that any harm that comes to you is your own repsonsibility, and not mine?"

"I'll take the responsibility, just take me to the stars!" Pytheas moaned.

"All right, you will be my subject." Habakkuk held out his hand, and Pytheas shook it firmly. Habakkuk looked down the hall and called out, "Guard!"

The guard returned looking at the man very cautiously, "What can I do for you, sir?"

"You can release this man, he is mine." Habakkuk told him, pointing a claw at Pytheas.

The guard fumbled with the keys, until finally he pulled the gate open, and Pytheas scrambled out, feeling himself exult like he had never exulted in his life before. Even when he had been a hatchling with hopes of flying in space he could not remember such joy as he felt swelling in his chest. He felt as if he would burst already, leaving his mind jiggling in ecstacy to save Habakkuk the time of cutting him out. He followed after Habakkuk as they left, knowing that finally his life was on the right direction.

As they reached the last gate of the prison, Pytheas turned to Habakkuk and asked, "Can I call Lethia, my wife, and tell her the good news?"

Habakkuk turned and faced him with a very sorrowful expresison on his face. He shook his head, his tail drooping, "I'm afraid not. Nobody is even supposed to know about this technology yet. You will have to wait until your term of service is over."

"How long is that going to be?"

"Two years." Habakkuk patted him on the back, "Two years picking up rocks and sticking them into a compartment for analysis."

Pytheas heard the words, did not hear what he would do, for it was among the stars, what else mattered? Two years with his precious stars, two whole years that he could bask in the ecstacy of finally being somewhere other than on the earth. Why should he even waver in his determination. All his life he had sought them out, denied by the genetic code in his body of ever pursuing such a career while his brother was given the gift that he deserved! How dare fate have handed his brother Pytheas's dream and left him on this boring planet!

"If it takes me to space, I'll do it." Pytheas replied.

"I thought you might. However, you must be physically able to survive the launch, because the actual operation will take place at the space station. The physical therapy will last unitl you are ready. When would you like to begin?"

"Now sounds fine."

Habakkuk laughed dryly, "I thought you might say that too."

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