by Adriana Kantcheva
I have her body. If I’d also had her life, would I have lived it in the same way?
I make the mistake of voicing my thoughts to Seven, who promptly activates what I call his melancholy setting. I can tell from how the blue signal lights in his communication subunit start blinking in a slow, hypnotic rhythm.
“Why are you thinking about her again?” he says. “You’ll never encounter her circumstances.”
I walk over to my porthole. The Salvagers’ wing of the space station blocks part of the view, but I see enough of Earth—all brown and beige and rust. “I also won’t encounter any answers if I can’t get around the firewall in your memory.” I wave at the wires I have so carefully rearranged in his data storage subunit, which is splayed open on my cabin table. But I’ve stepped back from my work, my ribcage tight with unease.
Humanity killed Earth. The Salvagers revealed to me that bit of history, at least. How and why, my alien benefactors won’t tell. I’m allowed to delve into Terran science and technology, but they’ve put a digital gag on Seven about history, culture, politics, or society. For my protection, they say. For the sake of a clean slate.