She looked up at me emotionless. “Five,” she said.
“Excuse me?” Not understanding what she meant by simply stating a number.
“Landing bay five. Go stand on the marked spot and wait there.” She looked back down at her pad and motioned for the next Pallid Slave behind me to stand before her.
It didn’t seem I had much of a choice but to proceed forward and scan the large landing stage for my assigned number. The roar of the engines from all the transport ships reverberated against the soles of my feet as I walked on the metal dock. It appeared that about ten ships were landing as twenty were taking off. Pallid Slaves lined up all around me awaiting their fates. Even though there were Drenken soldiers everywhere, armed and ready for a fight, there was no need for them to even be on guard. Everyone seemed so compliant, as if when the lifeblood left our bodies, so did all our fight. Colorless figures stood at attention, but rather than going to war as we were all trained to do, we were standing in line to be a slave. Shoulders drooping, heads down, these once legendary Lifeblood Twins now stood as broken, milky, and chalky shells. I understood the pain. Losing your Lifeblood Twin was the same as dying. There was nothing left to give.
As I walked by all the others, I finally saw the number five etched into a metal post. Unlike all the other numbered bays, no one stood there to join me in the journey to wherever my vessel took me. Actually, it was better that way. I had no desire to talk with anyone unless I had to. Friendships did not exist in my world. Killing machines did not have connections, bonds, or any feelings toward another person—unless you count your twin. Your twin being the one person you needed…for lifeblood.
Approaching the landing pod, I saw what I could only assume was my transport vessel coming in for a landing. It seemed older than some of the others, and definitely much smaller. This ship wouldn’t have a chance in transporting the larger numbers of Unins who waited on different bays, and I actually wondered if there would even be enough room for me with the crew. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter what my ship looked like, how big it was, or where I was even going. I just wanted to leave Unin and all the sadness this planet possessed. Disappointed, defeated, and dead. That is all that remained. Anything would be better than this.
Standing with my hands behind my back, legs shoulder-width apart, as any good soldier would do, I watched the ship’s cargo hold open and a man walk out from the depths of its belly. His dark hair, dark eyes, and muscular body were all lost on the fact that his prismatic skin shone bright with a golden glow. The lifeblood ran beneath his skin. This man…was a Lifeblood Twin. What was he doing working as a slave carrier? He was one of us! Why was he not on the battleground fighting for his people and fighting for the cause?
He marched forward, squinting against the bright lights that beamed down onto the landing strip, blinking and then focusing his gaze on me. Taking a quick moment to size me up, he continued to walk until he stood right in front of me.
“I guess you are the lucky Pallid Slave who gets to come with us.” He didn’t reach out to grab me, or seize my arm or anything of hostile nature like a Drenken would, but merely stood awaiting my next move. He didn’t smile, but he did have a somewhat pleasant demeanor about him.
“You’re a Lifeblood Twin,” I said, almost accusingly so.
“Yes,” he simply stated.
“Inside. Waiting. And he doesn’t like to be delayed long, so let’s get going.” He offered his hand for me to take. I looked down at his palm and studied the way the golden lifeblood flowed beneath his skin. The lustrous effect almost took my breath away. It had been too long since I last saw such flowing beauty. His body lit up from within, much like mine once did.
“Where are we going?” I asked, not wanting to take his hand, but I still walked toward the ship.
“They didn’t tell you?”
“I didn’t ask.”
As we crossed the cargo threshold, I turned to look at my planet one last time. I silently said goodbye to the place I’d called home. Trees were long gone, birds now extinct, and a constant white haze hung low in the horizon. This was no planet. It was just a white box threatening to suffocate anyone who remained. Swallowing back the lump in the back of my throat, I looked up at my carrier, who seemed uncomfortable and uneasy.