Aphelion Issue 281, Volume 27
March 2023
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A Really Powerful Inward Energetic Star

by Florin Purluca

Since it was a high demanding job, part of the training to become a collector-engineer started from a fragile age. But that was to be the selection of the next generation of collectors, and not any dolt could became one. So, at eight sharp, the driver stopped the school shuttle in front of the power plant and a small group of students and one teacher boarded.

"I've been really looking forward to see a smasher like this," said one of the anxious students.

"You tell me, Kattm?" said another one, as anxious as the first.

The gates of the plant glided and one employee, who stopped in their center, asked them to follow him. They did just that, forcing the female teacher to wave her hands in a desperate attempt to chasten their advance.

"Oh, my!" said Kattm to his colleague Taar, scarcely tempering his steps. "We'll be escorted by a full time coll-e."

"Quite nice, dude." said Taar.

Inside the gigantesque building they were told to be quiet and to go in single file, until they reached a transluced glass wall. The group stopped and the engineer pressed some hidden button on the wall. The glass became crystal clear. Beyond it, an army of operators. They swarmed like ants between dozens of squared stands.

"As you all know from classes, but not seen yet, this is a real collection center," said the engineer. "I am very proud to let you know that the engineers working on this center make great efforts to process a special kind of energy source: the inward energetic stars. Because of them we have artificial light, we grow food and our ships can fly."

Children's voices weave a rug of amazement with their gently sounds.

"So, any of you has questions?" added the employee.

As all kids, Kattm shook his hand impatiently. The engineer pointed to Taar.

"Mister, do we get to see a collection up close?" said the kid.

The coll-e smiled, turned away from the group, then pressed some other hidden buttons and a zoom target triangulated, then zoomed in, a part of the working area beyond the glass wall. An animal clasped on a transluced metallic stand struggled his way out. Considering the heavy webbings, the fight seemed pointless.

"There you go!" smiled the employee.

All students stood quietly absorbed by the view, but Kattm, who continued to shook his hand.

"Ah," wailed Taar, folded over and rolled into a demonstrative defensive position. "This kind of hairless creatures are just hideous."

"Oh, that is certainly true," added some other kid.

The whole group chuckled.

"Ok, ok..." intervened the female teacher. "Any other questions? Yes, Kattm."

Above the transluced metallic stand glided a robotic arm. Stopped right in front of the creature's head and issued a photonic beam. A trickle of smoke rose and the animal stopped his senseless struggle.

Kattm wanted to spoke, but the call-e signs made him to swallow his words. After a fast set of input commands on the apparently invisible console, the glass wall run some visual filters and the engineer decided on a termic one. Everything seen on the wall took on a shade of matt gray. All but what appeared to be an interesting sketch of the dead animal. That strange halo was hovering above the corpse, imitating the colors of a shape-shifting rainbow.

"By Daa's will," marveled Kattm. "That is a really powerful inward energetic star."

"Indeed kiddo!" agreed the coll-e. "This is the reason why we prefer to harvest this species' stars."

"What is its power energy level?" added Kattm.

The employee stood still, smiling one bright smile with its two vertical jaws. He winked slyly to Kattm, using his fifth eye.

"You can't find any other kind of energy sources than those we found when we discovered this planet. This stars never die."

"Wow!" wondered Taar. "A never-ending source of energy."

"In a way, yes. Because it never dies," added the engineer. "Nevertheless, after being used for a while needs to recharge itself."

"And how does it do that?" Kattm intervene.

"We find her a organic host and send it back to the planet," it clarifies the employee.

"Ok, ok..." intervened yet again the female teacher. "For an A+, who can tell me what kind of animal do we have here?"

The entire hall reverberated with the students' whispers. Taar leans toward Kattm, he puts his tentacle before his mouth, as if being in possession of some kind of big secret.

"I think is homo. Homo something."

"Homo sapiens, I believe,'' looked Kattm in high doubt. ''But I'm not that sure."


2016 Florin Purluca

Bio: FLORIN PURLUCA is a Romanian writer, living in Focșani, Romania. He has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and works in a psychiatric hospital in his hometown. His fiction has been published in several Romanian periodicals, online and paperback. His short story “The Observer” has been nominated at the 2015 RomCon festival for Best Short Story of the Year, 2014. His short story “Dust“ was published in the UK based magazine The Singularity.

E-mail: Florin Purluca

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