Author's note: This is a short Starbound story I wrote originally for a contest. Give me any feedback you have. The Apex struggled. Of course he did. Everyone struggled at first. “You filthy unevolved human scum!” he spat, his muscles bulging as he attempted to break his bonds. What a strange behavioural trait. Every species seemed to exhibit it in one way or another, and it never seemed to die out despite its uselessness. The primal urge to be free manifesting in the futile battle against captivity. The scientist watched a while longer, fascinated by the zealousness of his newest project. “I am trained to withstand torture and loyal only to the Miniknog!” the Apex had still not given up. “You’ll get nothing from me.” “Oh, that’s where you’re wrong.” The scientist finally spoke. His voice had to calm and measured tone only those in complete control of their situation possessed. “You see, what I’m after is not yours to give.” The Apex kept struggling even as the operating table moved into a horizontal position and the terrifying limbs of the machinery descended upon him. The project’s screams were stopped only when his throat was sliced open and his vocal chords removed. The remaining sounds cut off as his lungs were pulled out. The scientist began walking back to his office. The machines would take apart and scan the body without him, and he had other important business to attend to. Just like always, he went on a round of the laboratory to check on each of his projects. The Floran was still alive. It had survived by eating its own plant-like flesh and drinking its urine. It looked more feral than ever, chunks of its legs and arms missing and its eyes full of fury and hate. It thrashed inside the primitive metal cage, exhausting the last of its energy and injuring itself even more. The Avian eggs were doing fine as well. Two of the embryos had died. That was to be expected- they had been in conditions far too cold to survive. One of the eggs was showing signs of hatching. Maybe that would make for a pleasant experiment. The Novakid lay still in her containment pod. The bandaged stumps of her limbs seemed to be growing longer, as if she was regrowing her body. The arms and legs seemed to be slowly disintegrating in their own containers. Not even the artificially generated plasma shells seemed to be as effective as that of the chunk of metal inside the beings head. This warranted further analysis. Finally, the scientist came to his most prized experiment. All the other ones were minor side projects, mere distractions, compared to this one. He looked into the pod, and his own body stared back at him. It wasn’t quite him, of course. He’d used his own DNA as a base but incorporated many others into it. It was the pinnacle of ingenuity. As soon as he had enough information on the Apex, he’d add their physical ability and brain power. The peak of evolution from a combined effort of almost every race. Past projects, both failed and succeeded, had been building up to it, paving the road for the final experiment. Those that were incompatible had been discarded, of course. There was no need for them in the perfect creation. They had been interesting past times, nothing more. Anyway, it didn’t matter now. As soon as he had enough data, and the current projects were complete, he’d upgrade. That wouldn’t be the end of it, of course. There was always more. He felt no regret for what he done. Everything had been worth it. What goal was more worthy than the pursuit of perfection? This would be a momentous occasion. The whirring of his machines brought him back to reality. He turned away from the stasis pod and walked into his office. A few calls had to be made, and maybe an apology letter sent to one of his sponsors for stealing their employee. They’d understand, and even if they didn’t, there would soon be nothing left to fear. The scientist turned to his computer, already composing the message in his head. He was suddenly overcome by a surge of excitement. Soon, he’d attain absolute perfection, a goal many could only dream of. Nothing would compare, not even the Vestigi-Evo Process. The scientist smiled. A momentous occasion indeed.