Number zero stood atop the Tower of Truth gazing out over the great city of Tozenki. From a distance the city seemed orderly and at peace. She wondered what the people of the great city were doing now. Were they trying to escape? Trying to make peace with their gods? Trying to be with their loved ones? She shook her head; she honestly didn't understand emotions like love or fear. To her it was all the same, the prospect of dying held no terrors when there was nothing in life that much mattered.
She turned her head as she heard the footsteps of someone approaching. The girl coming towards her had her exact same face and body, and a matching emotionless look on her face.
"The Grand Premier is summoning us," number four told her.
"It's time then," number zero replied.
Number zero and her nine 'sisters' all stood in the Great Hall patiently waiting. The Grand Premier was an old man nearing three hundred now. He was the leader of the Free Western Republic. He was the man charged with protecting their freedoms and their way of life form their enemies in the Glorious Eastern Empire. Over the last seven hundred years there had been a constant series of wars between the two sides. Always, 'limited' with the area where battle would take place agreed to beforehand. Within the war zone the two sides were free to butcher each other in any way they pleased. But outside the war zone civilian and military targets were safe.
The two sides would fight until one or the other grew exhausted and a ceasefire was negotiated. The ceasefire would last until both sides on the location of the next war. This was the great achievement of their civilization, the solution for their natural longing for violence while safeguarding society from the excesses of war. This idea of limited war and ceasefire had worked for seven hundred years, allowing both east and west to flourish. Her existence and the existence of her sisters were just one small part of that. They were clones, genetically bred to be super soldiers with far greater powers than those of ordinary members of the race. Technically they were not members of the race at all. Created to wield fearsome power and trained to feel no emotion and to be obedient to all orders from superiors. They were among the most powerful of weapons and feared by their own military and government. Which is why they were always created in such small numbers. Now it seemed they were about to go on a mission very different from what they had been trained for.
"We've received an ultimatum from the empire," the old man said slowly. "They demand we hand over Batku peninsula to them or they threaten an all out attack with phase and anti-matter weapons. They have given us twelve hours in which to comply. The terms are of course wholly unacceptable." He looked up at the ten of them and saw no response at all. "All life on this planet is about to be wiped out, does that not matter to you?"
"Death is death and war is war," number zero replied. Though exactly the same as the others she was the designated, 'leader.' "Whether it is one soldier, an army, or a world, what is the difference?"
The old man shook his head sadly. "If you'd ever had a family you would know the answer to that."
"I was not born, I was manufactured," she stated. "I was created for a purpose and it was not to have a family it was to destroy all enemies and follow the orders of my superiors."
He stared into her young face. "I wonder if this is merely what we deserve," he said quietly. "We create life solely to kill and be killed. For all our achievements maybe we really are still just savages with more powerful clubs."
Number zero frowned. "I don't really understand."
"We've eliminated disease and sickness, eradicated poverty, extended the normal lifespan, leaned to travel into space and yet we are about to massacre each other like two tribes of savages fighting over a hunting ground. Why? Why when we have come so far in so many other areas have we not been able to eliminate the savagery in our own hearts? Why do we still feel the need to fight?"
"Is this not part of what makes us what we are?" Number zero questioned.
"Sadly I suppose that it does," the Grand Premier replied. "Very well, here are you final orders…"
Less than an hour later she the others were on shuttles bound for space station alpha. There ten modified freighters with warp drives awaited them. As she left her home planet for what she knew was the last time number zero recalled the commands from her superior.
"In order to preserve our race ten ships have been fitted with new stasis chambers that will allow us to maintain life on board for hundreds or even thousands of years. Though we have been exploring the quadrant for generations now we have found no other worlds capable of sustaining life. Our scientists have done a survey of all the stars within our section of the galaxy and have selected the ten they believe most likely to have a planet capable of sustaining life."
"What are the odds any of them will actually have such a world?"
The old man shrugged. "Our best estimates put the odds at about 10,000 to one. In the end the galaxy is a big place and not very hospitable. As long as we've had warp drive we've never found anything. So the odds you will are daunting. But this is the all that we can do to preserve the race."
"Understood," she replied. The thought of going on a suicide mission did not affect her in the least. It was one of the many contingencies she had been brought up to accept.
"Your journeys will take you all over this galaxy, immense distances even with warp drive, far beyond anything that has ever been attempted. Obviously communication will be utterly impossible. So once you depart you will never know the final fate of the others or of this world. Once your ships launch hey cannot be recalled, so even if war is averted you and your precious cargos will still be sent out into space. Your journeys will last from fifty three years to two hundred and eleven. If you find nothing at your destinations you will be able to chose another star and continue searching for as long as your ships have fuel."
"What do we do if we find habitable planets?"
"Use the ships medical technology to activate the embryos and fetuses on board to begin our race again. The ships will all contain sufficient information and technology to allow you to recreate a safe environment. It will fall on you to be both guardian and teacher to the next generation. Do what you can to avoid making our mistakes again. The ratio of male to female was deliberately kept low to allow for the fastest possible repopulation."
"What if we should find a sentient race on our new world," number one asked.
The answer she got surprised her. "Do all that you can to live beside them in peace! Cooperate with them as best you can and whatever you do you are forbidden to conquer them! We've destroyed ourselves with our own lust for war. To destroy another innocent race would be unforgivable!"
"What if the inhabitants are hostile and the only way to survive is to rule over them or exterminate them?"
"If that is the case I give you a very specific and absolute command as your superior. Should our people ever attempt to conquer or wipe out another race of sentient beings you are ordered to eradicate all members of our race on the planet."
All ten of them gasped; even for heartless killers this order seemed unbearably cruel.
"To confirm for you the seriousness of this command each ship has had a pulse generator installed and broken into eight pieces. Its frequency has been preset and will only affect beings with our metabolism. If necessary activate it by bringing the eight pieces together and carry out this order."
"Understood, if that is your order we will carry it out." She and the others all nodded, obedience to authority was ingrained deep into every one of them."
"There is one more thing," the old man told them. "No historical data will be entered into any ship's data base. You alone will know the truth of who and what we are and why we sent you out to the far reaches of space. Let that knowledge die with each of you. Our unborn colonists will belong to their new worlds, not to this one. Don't tell them of our disgrace, of how we conquered disease and space but could not conquer our own destructive instincts. Let them dream of whatever they want instead."
"As you wish."
Number zero felt nothing at all from looking at her home world for the final time. She'd been trained to have no attachments and she felt none, not even for the race that had created her. She felt a very slight tremor of sorrow when she was parted from her 'sisters' for the final time. They had been trained and brought up together and were the only ones who really understood what is was like. In a very real way, as clones and as super soldiers, they were all the same person.
Entering the bridge of her ship she was naked and ready to go into the stasis chamber. There were 108 chambers in all and 107 were occupied. If they found a home world she would be mother and protector to all of them, a very strange fate for an emotionless killer. The star she was going to was designated XDR-145687, a yellow class star that was 89% likely to have planets. Traveling at warp her ship would arrive in 133 years.
As she slid into the honey colored liquid of the stasis chamber she calmly wondered what she would see if and when she opened her eyes again.