From two million light year’s, Planet Desna’s atmosphere was nothing but a twinkle that could be seen with the right telescope. For now, though, one individual was experiencing it up close and personal with less sparkle and all its flavours of pain. Rugu hunched his aching back in defeat. He could hear the roar of the crowd as others duked it out. He was done though. This planet had chewed him, swallowed him, let him stew in its septic bowels, then at its final moments, when there was hope it would absorb him, it had vomited him out, spit on him and it looked like it would cover him in dirt before they separated.

His fighting days were over, that was certain and all he had to show for it were scars and stitches. He stayed in his room for so long that the roars became murmurs and eventually, silence. He was jolted back to reality by the sound of the janitor coming in to clean the place. To him, it was one of those intelligent androids, those made so life-like that were it not for the customized skin you’d have sworn it was human. This one, in dark green shorts and same coloured t-shirt, had the generic plastic skin that the cheap ones had. It was not meant for glorious work.

“Excuse me,” it started in its mechanical voice. He moved a bit as it cleaned where he had originally sat. It seemed to analyze his injuries, “rough night?” it asked.

“You could say that.”

“Isn’t this the part where you tell me I should see the other guy.”

He laughed in pain, it’s speech must have been set to witty. “I wish I could but I’m the short end of that scrap.”

“Oh well, I’m sure there will be more.”

He got up wincing, “Afraid not. This is the end of the line for me.” As he stretched, he felt a shock streak through his back. It coursed across his right hand and he lifted it with difficulty as he saw his fingers vibrating as if he was a second hand diesel generator.

The machine turned to him, “Are you all right?”

He balled it into a fist and hit one of the lockers, “I’m fine.”

“It looks serious, will you not see a doctor?”

“I saw one. It’s partly why I’m quitting. He says I should stop, which I am. Hopefully, the arm can heal. If it doesn’t I could lose it.”

They sat in silence as he contemplated his fate. The machine was now nearly at the door.

“You know you’re lucky, your parts are easily replaceable. This is all I have.”

The machine’s eyes seemed to sadden a bit.

“I’m human too.”

“You’re what?”

“Human. I’m a human being as well.”

“Really?”

It half-nodded in weak agreement. He looked at its plastic legs, plastic arms. Its head was metallic alloy. The eyes though, they were windows to the soul and although it had been stitched together with glue and soldering sticks he could definitely see a human resided within. Too late, he realized he should have had some tact.

“Must have been some fight,” Rugu said in sadness.

“On this planet, everything is a fight,” said the janitor as he walked out.

 

 

 

 

 

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