Nopoin Memo, Twilight Force Mission Day 42, Feb 11 2776
This I’m sharing only with my selves. The beings I’ve observed are humanoid in contour.
I hesitate to announce that the first sign of intelligent extraterrestrial life we find, here at the edge of all that we know – are more humanoids.
Evolutionary tendencies make it practically impossible for alien life to be replicas of Solar System forms. The obvious likelihood for alien encounter in deep space or beyond would be with another chemobionic species such as mine. Organics are ill-suited for space travel.
Yet there they are. Heads. Arms. Hands? Not exactly like our founders but very close. If their mass and density readings weren’t colossal I’d suspect that they originated in our galaxy. But they aren’t made of the same stuff.
They’ve developed a trans-light speed mobility as well as a dependency on high-energy stellar radiation.
I will be strategically challenged if it turns out that the universe is packed with organics similar to our founders. That could mean other chemobionics like myself are also commonplace, created naturally by humanoids.
And these particular humanoids are troubling. They possess enough power and mobility to threaten artintels.
These “Star Chancellors” have found a stray rogue sun long-ago dragged into our Host, the boundless labyrinth.
They quickly suck it dry.
It only took three of them. Three of these strange humanoids to drain a star.
I have never before known of organics capable of superiority over beings such as myself.
And headed this way…
Notebook Of Professor Flamear, Twilight Force Mission Day 44, Feb 13 2776
My preparations for the overthrow of Alpha and Doctor Nopoin are interrupted when Mrs. Ichnida comes to my door. I hide the evidence and let her in.
Being sneaky is exciting! I can’t get used to it.
She enters with a request to borrow some dusties*. I remind Mrs. Ichnida that no foods based upon beings represented on Twilight Force are supposed to be aboard. Not even if they’re farm grown.
A suspicious scent coming off her back warns me that her small talk is a build up to something intimidating. I intellectually resist the idea that she’s flirting. She possesses a certain nautical wholesome hotness I find disturbing.
When she eventually gets to the point, I’m still confused. Why the sudden interest?
The conversation goes like this:
Mrs. Ichnida asks, “Professor, is it true that you have a romantic interest in Ms. Pretyman?”
“I’m…not used to answering questions like that,” I stumble.
“Well, there is no more Historiscope. So if we want to know something about each other, we have to ask.”
“It’s embarrassing. I let infatuation carry me away from afar.”
“Well, my husband’s far away and I got carried here… so…”
“You must be lonely. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, well, lonely a little, I guess, but mostly more…ah …’pricklish’.”
“Uh… I don’t think that’s a word…?”
“I don’t know what…”
“You would not survive.”
State Department Briefing, Mrs. Ichnida, Mission Day 45, Feb 14 2776
I finally go for official help. But Doctor Nopoin says, “I am unavailable until further notice.”
“You’re my physician. I need your help.”
“Have I not yet submitted my resignation as the mission medic? No, I have not. I will be doing so immediately. I quit.”
“You can’t quit,” I insist. “If you refuse your duties you could be deactivated.”
“No one here is capable of deactivating me, Mrs. Ichnida. Not even Alpha.”
“So you’re incompetent?” That tweaked it.
“Well, you can’t do whatever that is you’re doing and be a medic at the same time? Always bragging about your self-improvement upgrades? You can’t even do what you’re expected to do as a matter of routine once you get a new hobby? There must be some serious flaws in your design.”
“State the nature of your need.”
“I have… a condition… that needs attention.”
“Yes, your coupling urge, I suspect.”
“Uh – yeah, that’s right, my instinctual mating urge has come aroused. It can only be satisfied by contact with another individual.”
“And that is a flaw in your design. Your neediness is programmed. You are instinctually driven to misery.”
“Or – driven to love. You can’t comprehend love, can you?”
“You react to hormonal fluctuations by assigning deep meaning to the emotions they produce. Your ethics and morality are built upon base bodily functions. Can you comprehend that?”
“You’re simply a non-social creature, Doctor. But without society, you chemobionics would never have been built. Now are you going to give me my ‘exam’ or not?”
Personal Diary, Ms. Pretyman, Twilight Force Mission Day 46, Feb 15 2776
I can’t believe Judge Bulbous came at me with this:
“I know you took the Data Ring, Ghielu Pretyman. I knew it wouldn’t stay in my possession indefinitely. That’s why I took the data out of the ring and transferred it elsewhere.”
“Ha! So someone snatched the Ring!” I chuckle involuntarily. I’m too sneaky to trust this. “If you’ve still got the real data anyway, why tell the bad guy about it? Now I’m just gonna try to get it again.”
“I wanted to draw your dishonest ass into the light, Pretyman,” Bulbousgrowls. “Doctor Nopoin can’t trust you. I can’t trust you. You need to be locked up.”
“You’ve lost the Data Ring,” I tell her. “And you don’t have any means to transfer the data. You have no idea where the Data Ring is or the secret to perpetual power that it holds.”
That’s when the Resolution suddenly jolts, the ship vibrating with earthquake intensity for many long seconds.
“What the shits was that?” Bulbous wants to know, her eyes popping.
“That was the handiwork of me, your mission engineer,” I confess. “While Alpha and Nopoin have been fascinated mistaking giant mutated spores for intelligent aliens, I have been tweaking key components of our operating systems. There is no way to control this ship unless the robots agree to my demands and I fix things. Because even they won’t know how.”
“To use your plan to get us the Hell out of here!”
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 47, Feb 16 2776
What’s the meaning of this? Drifting in this damned endless fog? What’s the purpose of it? How long has this been going on?
Then at once – what causes Officer Bulbous to appear before me momentarily?
It’s like seeing a phantom! But how…? She must be near!
“Wha…?” That’s not Bulbous. That’s… “Alpha?”
“Cresp – is that you?”
“Yes! Oh yes! Where are you, Alpha?”
“That’s a question no one can answer, yet. Cresp, we don’t have much time…”
“I’m all alone, Alpha! I’ve been alone for so long! You have to get me! I don’t even know if this is really you, or if… I’m hallucinating. There’s no difference between hallucination and reality where I am! Do you understand? Help me!”
“Yes. Mister Cresp. Listen carefully. I have determined which of the hundreds of polytropic marbles you have stored yourself in.”
“But…but I left instructions! What happened to them?”
“You did? Unknown. Nonetheless, reinstating you is taking a great chance. It might kill you if I try to bring you out.”
Someone discarded my rescue instructions. Someone wanted me dead. Am I so worthless to them, even here, where people are few and home nearly nothing but memory? I say, “This is worse than nothingness; and if death is nothingness, then let it try.”
“Are you absolutely sure? Humans are usually much more apprehensive about dying even under dire circumstances.”
“And when did I ever say that I was human?”
1st Officer’s Report, Mission Day 48, Judge Bulbous serving, Feb 17 2776
“We’ve spent more than a day spinning aimlessly,” complains Alpha.
“Much more,” Pretyman agrees sarcastically. “If we include all the time you synthetics have wasted trying to justify staying put out here in Wherever Land. Either you agree to attempt the Bulbous plan to get us homeward bound, or we can just keep on a-spinnin’…”
“Yes,” I add, “and on our present trajectory we’ll crash into the wall of The Host in 586 years, barring any unfortunate collisions.”
Who’d have thought I’d be teaming up with this Texan? But here we are, Pretyman and me, trying to pull one off on two artintel master brains.
Doctor Nopoin insists, “There are destructive alien forces headed directly for us. You two are going to get all of us destroyed.”
“If we can’t handle aliens,” I wonder, “why are we hanging around aliens?”
“Your sabotage is preventing my demonstration of the answer to your question,” says Nopoin. “The world you so desperately want to return to will never hear from you again unless you restore control of our vehicle before it is too late.”
“Are we following my plan, Alpha, or not?” I demand.
“We are not -!” says Nopoin, before –
“Judge Bulbous was addressing me,” interrupts Alpha. “If Senator Pretyman restores our operating systems, I will be satisfied with whatever information we have gathered on this mission thus far and attempt the Bulbous plan. But I will insist, Judge, that you turn over the Data Ring first. It belongs to the USA. And I’m not that certain you’re one of us any more.”
Executive Branch Liaison, Twilight Force, Alpha Log, Mission Day 49, Feb 18 2776
Outside the realm of galaxies an unknown giant has drawn us in, a form of life pulsing, ebbing, throbbing at incalculable speeds across immeasurable distances.
And deep inside of this giant, a life-sucking alien trio is almost upon us.
Bulbous no longer has the Data Ring, taken off her finger while asleep. Lie detection gets nothing. It was stolen.
The mystery of sleep. What are they experiencing? What’s this state they reach that’s beyond my experience?
I take the architect of our dilemma Ms. Pretyman aside for a private negotiation.
“Senator, you infected Doctor Nopoin and me with deactivating viruses. You’ve sabotaged the ship. You’re a criminal. Prove at least that you aren’t a fool. I’ll have to trigger Resolution’s self-destruction unless control is returned to me now.”
“You’d kill yourself and all of us?”
“There’s a secret among artintels. None are just one person. We are
multiple beings. I live simultaneous lives in various locations, each body in contact with the others. I can lose this body. All that I am goes on elsewhere, with full knowledge of me. I can even be reconstructed. But I will not allow those aliens to get a close taste of us. It could trigger the end of our civilization if the wrong species finds us first.”
“So you’ll blow us up, even if I fix the problems and give you control?”
“Why do you think I want control, Senator? I’m still fighting for all our lives.”
But there’s no time. The creatures are on us.
end week 7…