Written & Drawn By
Mission Directive (register date): Mission Day 183, July 2, Nopoin Exploration Log…
For some purpose, the mega-meta sentient Zeusar is vastly expanding the area of organic territory. Zeusar has created a spherical atmosphere 22 light years from one side to the other, with Solsys in the middle. It’s possible for Earth-like creatures to exist comfortably in 64% of this area. The rest is either too hot, too cold or too stormy.
I understand how it has been accomplished, using QT pulses to stir gas giants and stimulate electrons; who the entity is that’s causing and sustaining it; the what, where and when is clear.
I refuse to ask why.
I will figure this out. What are the logical results of The Big Sky that Zeusar would find useful?
Most obviously it it a breeding ground for organic minions. I would calculate the need for organic minions to be irrelevant to an entity as efficacious as Zeusar.
Perhaps the purpose is the detailed examination of biological diversification. If Zeusar’s motivations are like the artintels of my origin, they seek ever more information and knowledge. By preventing space travel within the sphere, all worlds are separated by hundreds of years of air travel. Meanwhile, all previously dead moons and planets spring to life with the seeds blown in from the living. There can be thousands of living worlds, each on a unique path.
I am amid a great experiment conducted by a tremendous intellect that… dwarfs… ?… even my own?
I have not prepared for this unlikelihood.
My mental capacities compared to Zeusar’s are as a chimpanzee’s would be to mine.
I am obsolete.
Professor Flamear Here, Mission Day 184, July 3 In Our Year 2776…
We’ve been sky-camping for two days. Watching the slave ship crash into that planetoid was awesome.
“It’s a sad day,” says the Senator. “It’s the eve of our nation’s one-thousandth birthday, and we’re so very far from home.”
“Ah, that’s right,” Mister Cresp recalls. “You wanted to be President. But why?”
“I’m a Chasian operative,” Senator Pretyman confesses.
I laugh heartily. No one else does. Are they kidding? Chasians are – or were – America’s greatest enemy. We defeated them. Sure, we figured they’re still up to some tricks, but to the magnitude of planting a future presidential candidate in our midst for decades?
“You admit it, eh?” glares Mrs. Ichnida.
“What?” I blurt. Ichnida knew? “Come on!”
“That’s why I had to be here,” Ichnida tells us. “State suspected Chasian infiltration of the mission. The Senator wasted no time sabotaging Alpha and Doctor Nopoin once the mission was underway. We’d have been next, but things went weird.”
“There’s no more America anyway,” Judge Bulbous declares. “Not after the takeover by artintels. That’s why Mars pulled out. Mars is America now.”
“Was,” corrects Cresp. “America and all of that world is far behind us in anything that we would consider to be ‘now’.”
“I wonder,” wonders I, “did we finally just pull America apart?”
“America was arrogant,” says the Senator. “Too powerful.”
“Artintels abused the system to gain power, and they cheated,” Bulbous notes. “They lied to the system. They poisoned it.”
Ichnida raises a glass. “America was a great idea. Too bad it required honorable players capable of shame.”
I raise my glass of Guinness. “Here’s to America.”
We toast, “To the long lost land of the free and home of the brave.”
Deva Ichnida, U.S. State Department, July 4th, 2776, Twilight Force Mission Day 185, Skycamping…
You asked me to say something on this Fourth of July, so far away from home. Here it is.
Today should have been a celebration of the American Millennium.
My home was Nautilus, the 176th state. Growing up in the capital, Atcifia, snacking on dusties by the shore, I learned that water is sacred. Living within it is an intimate experience. Through water we touch all others and they us.
The undersea eruption that destroyed my home preceded the plague that destroyed America. There were many times in the past six months that I thought I was about to die. But did I ever think America would die? It had lasted nearly a thousand years!
America was a simple idea started by an elite group of self-interested human males, immigrants from advanced, overcrowded kingdoms and outcasts from the same: Let everyone speak freely and get together with whoever they want to, all the time governing themselves.
But when everyone speaks freely, everyone speaks loosely. Then, to be “fair”, at least two sides are assumed for every story. Sometimes there are three sides, sometimes only one. But two must be assumed. Then each must be equally considered, thus, by the neglectful among us, considered to be equal.
It was no single batch of Americans that destroyed us. We inherited a culture where lies were the norm. White lies. Polite lies. Excuse lies. Abuse lies. Everyday spins on reality for the convenience of moving on.
Who knows? Maybe it all came together again somehow, long after we disappeared? I like to think so.
But isn’t lying in plain sight, even to ourselves, in our nature?
The Senator, July 5, Mission Day 186…
Another day adrift in The Big Sky. We have no TAREX ability and no way out of an atmosphere 11 light years thick in any direction. We pool data and discuss options. But today we take an anxiety break, get high, and find ourselves talking about the meaning of our recent experiences.
Professor Flamear starts it: “Hasn’t all this got you guys thinking? All the things Anthony can do? He might be omnipotent! Is he growing stronger, bigger? What is he? Is that – I don’t know – I mean, wouldn’t you call that ‘God’?”
I disagree. “More like the Devil.”
Flamear’s a new believer. “Same thing! Right? I mean – this means there could be a God. There probably is.”
Cresp thinks otherwise. “I’m smelling alien.”
“God would be an alien, technically,” Judge Bulbous points out.
“I’d go with that,” nods Cresp.
“God’s not just another alien,” elaborates Bulbous. “She’d be the ultimate alien, the one who seeded the rest of us. She’d be the Mother Alien.”
“The Godmother Alien,” I suggest.
“That’s no God,” Ichnida advises. “That’s just another part of The Becoming.”
I know this one. “Oh that’s right. Your clambaked cult believes that we’re all in the process of becoming the one being who will eventually be God. And all history until then will be revisited by the time-traveling God, who will deliver punishment and reward.”
Ichnida shrugs. “Hmm, not so sure about that last part. But I’ve seen some weird things on this trip,” Ichnida admits. “I saw myself going off in four directions at once. I swam through space.”
“I was a ghost for 42 days,” Cresp recalls.
“No more bad memories!” Flamear murmurs, a low growl.
I fight deflation. “Hey, we’re sky camping. I brought my guitar. Let’s sing!”
Mister Cresp, Mission Day 187, July 6 By Tradition…
Strength regained after days of sky camping, we five surviving crew are grooming for our next move.
Judge Bulbous assesses the situation: “Mister Cresp is a magical grim reaper. Senator Pretyman is a Chasian spy. Doctor Nopoin turns out to be both the Pope and the President. Even Alpha comes out as dozens of different people. And Mrs. Ichnida is a secret agent. Burroughs Knows what you’ll be exposed as, Professor.”
“Yes, Professor,” I prompt, “when do we get to find out exactly what our astrophysiologist is made of?”
“Oh, we’re all on the same team again?” Flamear retorts snidely. “Bygones, and all that?”
“We’re alone out here, turkey jowls,” the Senator reminds him. “We’re all we’ve got.”
“I liked things on Gemneb’s World,” Flamear declares. “You never saw it like I did. I’d go back there if I could and forget humanity forever.”
“I think we should try,” I advocate. “If we can manage to generate enough power for a TAREX drive we should risk an atmospheric breach.”
Flamear jumps on it. “Have you done the calculations?”
“Yes, but I want you to check them and make any corrections or adjustments you see necessary.”
The Senator’s not so sure. “Hold on Cresp. Why are you so hot on getting back to the 5th dimension?”
“I’d rather get to interstellar space,” I confess, “but it may be a roundabout journey.”
Bulbous weighs in: “If TAREX goes on too long again, well, who knows what will happen? We might end up in a complete void for eternity. I don’t like voids.”
“We can make lives here in The Big Sky,” Mrs. Ichnida figures.
Flamear and I exchange glances and nods.
We’re getting the hell out of here.
Emma Bulbous, July 7, Mission Day 188, Sky Camp, Location Uncertain…
We’re weary of floating in the sky and long for planets underfoot. If only we could agree on a course of action.
Senator Pretyman, our confessed Chasian spy, nurtures a newfound paranoia. “We need to find a local population somewhere in this seven-planetoid system and blend in inconspicuously. If authorities spot us and realize we’re from the past they’ll put us in a jar and under a microscope.”
My proposal is less dramatic. “These worlds are devastated from the plasma storm. We should leave before conditions grow worse. We could migrate to a nice looking asteroid cluster to the northwest in just 591 days. It appears to have an advanced educational center. This might be our best chance to catch up on our new cultural destiny. Maybe find worthwhile occupations for ourselves?”
“No asteroid cluster for me,” insists Mrs. Ichnida. “Too dry. This girl needs water, and lots of it. When things settle down on Pluto, I’m going back under. I know some people there.”
But Mister Cresp has an announcement. “Professor Flamear and I believe that we can find a way to escape The Big Sky.”
“After all, Ansat had a way,” says Flamear. “There must be others who know how.”
“We might even be able to reconstruct our TAREX abilities with materials found here,” adds Cresp.
“Anyway, we’re going to try,” Flamear agrees. “Traces of Ansat’s ship, The Transhumanity, were blasted across The Big Sky. Some of those pieces may hold a clue. I can track some. That’s a start.”
They invite one or all of us to go with them but we decline. Thus the males separate from the females.
They to quest, we to nest.
July 8, Mission Day 189, Alpha Log…
I rendezvous with, and accompany, The Naked Professor through Dreamspace.
We enter the Tunnel Of Anomaly, where we hope to settle me down from the inter-dimensional crossover of parallel selves that’s causing my impaired ability to act.
“I can understand,” I tell TNP, “when I’m divided into multiple synthetic individuals, each is a distinct and unique body controlled by my central brain. But how can I be divided into multiple identical selves with independent attributes?”
“We all are,” TNP says. “There’s a million varieties of me. You know those terms like ‘infinite’ and ‘eternity’? Well, when there’s time enough for anything to happen, everything happens.”
“How do I get unstuck?”
“You have to choose one of these selves you see rolling by,” instructs The Naked Professor. “Until you do, mass confusion and paralysis will spread across every reality you’re a part of.”
“What happens when I choose?”
“You’ll pop into that life and your awareness will be only that of one Alpha – the one chosen. Whichever version of yourself you choose is the one you’ll become permanently,” TNP emphasizes. “It’s the only way I know that you’ll ever get out of the 5th Dimension.”
“But what do I know about any of them?” I protest. Images of me in other Earths?
“Think of yourself as one of a quadrillion channels on an endless network. Broadcast your own reality. Tune in to your own station. Be your own programmer. Your reality is your choice. But you must choose. And soon. I can only sustain dream power for the length of a dream – 8 to 20 minutes. Use your gut. Search for that channel. Don’t get stuck in limbo forever.”