Humans were not alone in the universe. Through the ages, they'd found countless life forms around the galaxy. But intelligent life forms were a different matter. No matter how hard they tried they could never find intelligent beings. As though the universe only favored humans explicitly.
"But I want you to do it discretely."
"What do you mean?" Theodore could smell trouble in the man's voice. His lifelong dream would come true, but there was more to it and even he could guess as much.
"I want you to take one of them and secure it. After that, you'd hand it over to me."
Trafficking alien specimens without the consent of the space federation was illegal. Theodore knew that. "We have permission I assume?"
"Of course. But since this mission is a secret one, you're not allowed to discuss it with anyone or make contact with anyone regarding that."
Space association was an intergalactic organization focused on exploring and enlarging human's domain while Space Federation was a rival organization focused on ensuring security and enforcing the law.
'That doesn't sound like you got permission.' Theodore wasn't dumb. But he wasn't too smart either. And he was often driven by emotions. 'But I'll never get this chance again.' "Why me?"
The man sighed. "Let's just say you're fit for the job. I don't need an answer now. Think about it. Why don't we meet back tomorrow at my office? I assume you know where that is?"
The term 'fit for the job' was actually very fitting. Theo lived alone, had basically no money, and was looking desperately for a job. And he suddenly gets the job he always wanted?
The man had him right where he wanted.
"Yes. I- I'll let you know tomorrow." Theo took a deep breath and reaffirmed his resolve.
"Well then." The man got up. "It was a nice evening but now I have other business to attend to." He went for the door. "My god, you're still using one of those archaic doors?" He looked back at Theo with a disapproving glare. Among everything in this house, the door was the one thing Deberie could never compromise on. "Anyway, good day Mr. Black."
Theo bowed his head in a gentlemanly manner and locked the door. He was lost. He didn't know what to think of it. There was a very high chance all of this was illegal. But the company vice chairman wouldn't lie like that, would he?
He would. People in high positions would do anything to get what they want. That's how the world worked.
And Theodore had firsthand experience.
"What do I do?" Theodore sat on the sofa, lost in thought.
His Holo-live floated to him, glowing. Maybe John had called again.
'Should I really take this offer?'
With a sigh, Theo touched the Holo. "Who is it?" He saw the silhouette of a girl instead of the guy he expected. So naturally, he was shocked.
"Have you finally ruined your eyes? Do I have to order an artificial pair for you?" A stern womanly voice spoke up: a cold melancholic voice. She looked almost the same age as Theo: she had chestnut-colored hair and soft black eyes. Her facial features were rather attractive and definitely sharp. But that wasn't quite right. There was something about her that would make one think, if she was real or not. Perhaps that was just a consequence of the Holo-live.
"Unfortunately no. Did you need something from me, Mother?" She was also Theo's mother. Theo had mixed feelings about her. He loved her, like any son would. But he also feared her… and secretly, he hated her. There was a mysterious side to her mother that he could never understand. "I see you've taken another operation."
"Yes. It turned out rather nicely too. I'd say I've dropped about ten years." She looked at her body, nodding with a satisfied grin. "Anyway, I want you to board the Ainmester and accept the mission you've been offered."
"SO I take it, it was you who made the arrangements?"
Theo's mother was an Astro-biologist, and a board member: a Regent. She had connections with the Space Association, and the Space Federation as well. So it wasn't as shocking as one would think. But even so, Theo was shocked regardless. After all, till now his mother never bothered to bother with him.
"Shouldn't that be obvious? You're my son and yet it took you so long to understand?" She sighed in disgust. "I should have never listened to your father."
Theo didn't like the sound of that. It wouldn't be wrong to say, he was a little upset. "About the job, what do you think?"
"You're asking me?" She furrowed her brows. "I suppose you're skeptical. Fear not. This is an official quest. But the secrecy is a must-have. I trust you and that's why I recommended you for the job. However, if you should say you don't want to, I'd be happy to take back the offer."
"No, that's… not it." Theo thought about it for a second. This was his one shot. And now he had insurance and approval from his mother. This was all he needed. "I'll take it," he murmured.
"What? You're getting cut off. Did you cheap out on the packages again?"
Theo sighed. "Never mind. I'll head to the HQ tomorrow anyway. Would that be all?"
"Yes and be sure to check on your father. He hasn't left the lab in a month. Who knows, maybe he plans on making a new family with his lab assistant there."
Theo didn't know how to respond.
His father was a little on the naughty side. He was a robotics engineer with fair knowledge in artificial humans known as R.I, which were basically high-class robots. He also had a history of spending nights with more than three hundred women. Some of them might not have been human.
"Okay," Theo managed. That was the best he could do.
"It was good to see you again. Take care out there." Theo's mother's lips curled up to form a faint smile.
"I will Mother. And it was good to see-"
The call ended. Theo sat there silently on his sofa: It hurt a little. It had been months since he last talked with his mother, and yet his mother paid so little time on him.
'I guess I should be thankful I even got a call.'
He quickly recovered and gave a call to John almost immediately.