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‘ – You may have to kill somebody’, she tells me, straight out of the blue, one day.

I stop what we have been doing, which until then had been quite pleasant, and I look around. Then I call up the ’scopes and scan them, one after the other. I do not speak yet, do not ask her. This is not my way.

Nothing.

‘ – You may have to kill somebody quite soon.’

Alarms would have run a long time ago, but still I cannot help myself: I go through the ’scopes again.

There is nothing out there. No raiding party or even a single boat. No slaver ship. Nothing.

‘ – Stop this for a moment’, she says. ‘Talk to me.’

I wrench myself from the instrument and look down at her. My baby doll, my Goddess. The sum of all my dreams and fantasies, lying there on the floor. I cannot look at her for too long. It is rather an unpleasant feeling.

‘ – Kill? Kill who?

– You told me you always wanted to be a hero,’ she simply says. ‘Heroes kill people.’

This sounds like philosophy. Deep stuff. Trouble. Better to stay way out of it. Concentrate on the practicalities.

‘ – We are in the middle of nowhere, Isis. There is nobody else alive for maybe sixty light years. Who am I going to kill?’

She says nothing, merely lowers her eyes.

Philosophy, man. It can get you into trouble.

 

‘ – Anyway’, I try to recover some kind of grip on this exchange. ‘ Anyway, I have killed people. You saw me kill people.

– Please,’ she recognizes the argument for the bullshit it is. ‘ That was not killing. It was merely pushing a few buttons, making a few quick calculations, setting up a long chain of complicated events that somehow, at the end, may or may not – remember, each of them has a rather high improbability factor – result in someone dying, so far away you will never see them. That was not killing.’

I have reluctantly to acknowledge her point.

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