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(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

Moolora was the ugliest mutant in Spock City.

Now that is saying something. Spock City, after all, as anyone who’s ever gone there is aware, is crammed to the brim full of mutants, and no wonder too, given the amount of hard radiation raining down on it all the time. In fact, there are so many mutants that a normal homosapien like you or me is so rare as to be almost an object of suspicion. And, of course, mutants are ugly.

But even among them Moolora was unique in her ugliness.

"That Moolora," a Spockian would say to another when they saw her pass. "Her looks would melt the teeth off a sandworm!"

"We should stick her out in the Chekhov Desert and watch the sandworms run for their lives," the other person would reply.

Now, of course, this was very unfair, not just to Moolora but to the sandworms, who, as everyone knows, are despite their huge size gentle beasts which wouldn’t hurt a fly, if only there had been any in Spock City – or on all of Enterprise for that matter. But nobody thought of what was fair or otherwise when it came to making fun of Moolora.

All this, of course, probably made poor Moolora very sad, but she never said anything. One of the reasons she never said anything was that she found it difficult and exhausting to talk; the other was that it would have done no good.

Nobody wanted to listen to anything Moolora had to say.

Nobody was even sure where she came from, who her parents had been, or anything else about her. She seemed one day to be just there, hanging around the corners of the town, dressed in ragged clothes too big for her. Even she didn’t have any memories of the time before that. Most people thought she was the child of one of the mutant families living in the slum settlements around Spock City, who had abandoned their daughter in the town rather than bring her up themselves.

They didn’t blame the parents. Times were hard in Spock City, and one couldn’t expect them to bring up a half-dumb daughter with a face that could stop a clock.

But though they didn’t like her, and they made fun of her, they didn’t, of course, harm her in any way, for mutants know perfectly well they must always stick together. They even fed her and took care of her when she needed it, giving her their cast off clothes. And as the years passed, she grew tall and gangly, her hair the colour of a red giant star, and uglier and more silent than ever.

This was all before the discovery of shatnerium on Enterprise, of course, and the planet was still very poor and hardly anyone ever went there, and even fewer to Spock City. So Moolora grew up almost never seeing an offworlder, and possibly unaware that such beings even existed.

How did she spend her days? Nobody seems to know much about that. She slept on the streets, curling up in corners where it was warm, and adamantly refused shelter when offered it. Most of the time she seemed to spend hanging around the machinery spaces – the workshops, the ventilation systems, the powerhouses – which kept Spock City going, until the machinists all became so used to her that they learned to ignore her completely. She never said anything, never got in the way. She seemed happy just to be there.

They decided that she was crazy, but harmless, and best left alone.

And then one day the pirate invasion struck Enterprise. The pirates came down from space, their longships shrieking through the air as they glowed white-hot from the friction of their passage, spraying mindbombs behind them as they went like malevolent dew. By the time the last had landed outside the towns, almost all the minds of the people had been temporarily neutralised – with a few exceptions.

The mindbombs had been constructed to be used on homosapiens, of course. They didn’t work on those mutants whose minds were too mutated, too strange. One of those mutants was Moolora.

Now the pirates hadn’t used their mindbombs just to wipe out resistance. Part of the way they made money was in the slave trade, which, as you doubtless know from history classes, was an unfortunate feature of that dismal time. The pirates would wipe out the minds of their captives till they could reach the markets where they could be sold; it made them easier to manage and transport. Once the effects of the mindbombs wore off the captives would recover their faculties, but by then it was far too late anyway.

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Short story
Rating:6.55 / 10
Rated By:13 users
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