Written & Drawn By
Nopoin Medical Memo, Twilight Force Mission Day 36, Feb 5 2776
I am, for the first time in our existence, in contact with intelligent creatures from another part of the universe.
I have confirmation that there are other species who have surmounted nature’s challenges to explore space and circumvent time.
They appear to be as trapped as we are, like bacteria in a whale.
I believe this one is trying to communicate with us. In some fashion the changing colors and textures constitute a language.
Resolution’s sensors are too primitive to pick up the energy signatures generated by these aliens from hundreds of lights years away, yet in here with us somewhere.
Efficaciously, I am constantly upgrading myself.
I am the utmost in adaptive chemobionics.
These alien entities appear to be drawing closer to us. They may be seeking us out.
Our external defense capabilities are limited. Our offensive capabilities are nil. We anticipated no enemies or military threats.
In our Solar System reality, creatures are drawn into other creatures for the purpose of energy conversion. Or in some cases, because they taste good. Is that why this cosmic behemoth was drawing us to it?
I represent New York, but my greatest loyalty is to Rome. The Pope is going to have the Data Ring and the perpetual energy formula that lies within it.
I tire of explaining myself to Alpha. Despite status as an artintel, commander of this mission and representative of the President of the United States, Alphahas yet to grasp the scope of our situation.
Clearly I am now forced to shut Alpha down.
Notebook Of Professor Flamear, Twilight Force Mission Day 37, Feb 6 2776
My friend Pierre, having a smoke back in Zorrenna, would be sad for me. He knew about my quiet infatuation with Ms. Pretyman. I first heard about her like everyone else, when she was young and made news across the Solar System. She was the finest Olympic athlete of her time.
I am very disappointed in Senator Pretyman. I had admired her from afar. But up close, she is a bitter, parochial tool. Ten years ago she was a founder of the Human First Movement but now doesn’t want Texas to secede. She thinks she has a chance to get the presidency of the USA.
Research shows me that in ancient times before Historiscope, there was something called “spying”. I learn about “eavesdropping”…
“Texas will never secede,” I hear Pretyman tell Alpha and Nopoin in an attempt to convince them that she isn’t conspiring with Bulbous. “Those Martians are traitors. We Texans just use that talk for leverage in the Senate.”
Alpha is questioning Bulbous next. But Nopoingoes back to its obsession.
I spy. I wait. I lurk.
I find Doctor Nopoin absorbed at its station. It spends every hour there now.
The synthetic creature is preoccupied with its secret observations. I creep up behind it. It has no idea…
I raise my fists to hammer down – but can’t?
Nopoin brainwashed me for awhile. Did that make it impossible for me to strike?
Have I been given a subliminal command to not harm Doctor Nopoin?
State Department Briefing, Mrs. Ichnida, Mission Day 38, Feb 7 2776
Like it or not – it’s spawning season.
But who is there to spawn with out here?
Alpha and Nopoin are synthetic. Pretyman and Bulbous are female.
That leaves two choices: Professor Flamear… or Mister Cresp?
Well… they say Mister Cresp is stored away in a polytropic marble? But which one? We have hundreds. If he left instructions someone must have wiped them. Could take a very long time to find him.
Even if I could find Cresp, he might not survive the reinstate. Nothing alive ever has.
So there’s no choice. It has to be Professor Flamear.
I like the Professor, but… not very attractive. Still… oh, I just don’t know.
It’s only a week until Spawn Day. Hmm.
I wonder what Mister Cresp looks like under that mask? Never did tell us what was up with that. If I could find him and get that mask off…? Who knows?
It’s not like I’ve got a choice.
I’m going to hump someone on Spawn Day unless everyone’s dead and their bodies are gone. I can’t help it. It’s my nature. Instinct driven by compulsion.
Once Spawn Day rolls around, I will throw myself upon someone, whether it be android or anthropomorphic. I wasn’t supposed to be out in space this long. The mission should have ended two weeks ago.
I’m not going to reproduce anyway, so… what if a synthetic could substitute? Alpha has male qualities, even though synthetics are considered gender neutral…
This could get embarrassing.
Personal Diary, Ms. Pretyman, Twilight Force Mission Day 39, Feb 8 2776
If there’s one thing I do these days it’s keep an eye on Doctor Nopoin. That’s how I know it’s up to some real shit.
I decide to confront the sneaky son of a bitch, all the time wishing Historiscope was up to cool off some of the suspicion growing up in here.
I find Nopoin, as usual, in the observatory looking like he’s meditating. This is bullshit.
“Nopoin. Wake up, what the hell? Is this it? This is life from here on out? We’re gonna sit out here inside some kind of cosmic conch shell exhausting every resource and never even trying to get back to the Milky Way?”
“You’ll never be president,” Nopoin answers. “Ambition frustrated.”
“Frustrated? Man, I’m scared. Nopoin, can’t you feel anything? Doesn’t it frighten you to be cut off from every possible familiar state forever? What if we never see anyone else again?”
“I am in contact with extraterrestrial intelligence on par with my own,” says Nopoin as a matter of fact. “This unique opportunity must not be squandered.”
Extraterrestrial intelligence? Okay –
“Oh yeah?” Well, there have been so many false alarms over the centuries. “So what, this thing we’re inside is alive and smart, too?”
“It’s not The Host,” says Nopoin. “We have fellow guests. There are other captive species out there in the labyrinth. Now stop disturbing me – please.”
Aliens or no, Ghielu Pretyman ain’t staying off Earth without a fight.
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 40, Feb 9 2776
I don’t know…I can’t know…
How long has this been going on? Drifting in this damned endless fog! What’s the purpose of it? What’s the meaning of this?
No meaning! None! I can’t invent one, not for this.
There is no meaning.
And if I can’t invent one? If nothing makes sense because nothingness makes no sense? Most of the universe is empty. Almost all of it is nothing except something I can never see! It grows into more nothing, but why?
There is no “why”!
There’s the punch line! There is no why to this endless, meaningless torture that random chance is forcing on me! “Why” has no meaning but that which we give it.
“Who”” is settled at birth.
“What” is determined by events.
“When” is a convergence of astronomy and attitude.
“Where” is a process of coincidence.
But “why” – that’s never the same for everyone. “Why” is the mystery we give ourselves to escape by.
And “How” is the science of it all.
Why do I keep thinking? I am only a floating thinker in the mist. Will it never end?
What if all I am is a thought? Is that it? Is that why I have no substance? I’m the last thought ever had by a dead man known enigmatically as Mister Cresp.
Worst of all, this “mist” is probably just stomach acid. A final indignity. Being processed through a digestive tract.
How I long for the company of Twilight Force now. Those beautiful assholes.
1st Officer’s Report, Mission Day 41, Judge Bulbous serving, Feb 10 2776
It takes a few minutes after I awaken from a heavy sleep to realize the Data Ring is not on my finger.
Did I take it off? No… I had no reason to.
I leave my quarters uncertain about what to do. I have no idea who to accuse of snatching it.
Was it Pretyman? She wanted it badly! She kept trying to talk me out of it. Politician! Would she knock me out somehow and steal it?
Nopoin could have done it. Alpha and Nopoin probably both know about my part in the plot against them. Did they make their move before I could? Did they implant something in me as an enemy of the state?
That’s when I see something weirdly impossible in the corridor outside my quarters. Coming through the floor just down the hall… floating up like a ghost.
It’s Mister Cresp!
“Cresp!” I call out. What’s wrong with him? He doesn’t hear me. He keeps rising. His head and shoulders disappear into the ceiling. I can see the lights of the corridor through his body as it vanishes quietly above.
Did that really happen?
FUCKITY-FUCK! That came from behind.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” apologizes Mrs. Ichnida. “What’s the matter? You’re shaking!”
“Did you see him?”
“You didn’t see anything?”
“No! What did you see?”
I hear the words before I say them and know they sound crazy. I can’t explain what I saw.
Executive Branch Liaison, Twilight Force, Alpha Log, Mission Day 42, Feb 11 2776
Mrs. Ichnida enters. I notice a hip-swaggering saunter to her motion. Her eyes seem unusually sincere.
“Alpha, are you busy?” she asks. There is a strained lilt in her tone. Why is she nervous?
“I’m always occupied,” I respond. “Artintels never tire and don’t sleep.”
She’s jarred but tries to stay seductive. “Oh…well…you don’t have to rub it in. Ha! You know, a little down time now and then does a body good.”
“My body has automated self-maintenance.”
“Well…” she smiles, sauntering closer, “you have a sense of touch, don’t you?”
“My tactile responders generate electrical impulses five times as complex as the human neural system. With a mere touch of one finger I can assess your mass, weight, density, height, temperature, glucose level…”
“Okay,” Mrs. Ichnida interrupts, “but do you ever have recreation?”
“There is no clear distinction regarding satisfaction of activities,” I explain. Organics have difficulty with the concept of attunement. Artintels are naturally attuned unless damaged. We are “satisfied” to be alive.
“Do you ever…touch…for pleasure?” Ichnida asks shyly.
“Mrs. Ichnida,” I inquire, “why are you hoping to seduce an artintel? Sex is superfluous to us. I suspect subversive motivations. Are you trying to jam my circuits?”
“Um…I was kind of hoping… you might jam mine.”
“Mrs. Ichnida – aren’t married organics bound to sexual exclusivity?”
“Some of us are more consumed by sexual expediency,” she admits. “I need to get my groove on.”
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