Nopoin Report, Twilight Force Mission Day 57, Feb 26 2776
“Where is the Data Ring?” asks The Pope.
“Another member of Twilight Force has it.”
“How will you get the Data Ring to Solsys?” the President wants to know.
“I will not have to get the Data Ring to Solsys. I am so far from Solsys that all of the stars and galaxies ever seen from the Earth can now be hidden from my sight behind the tip of my thumb. Since we share identical origins, can you not arrive at the solution I have?”
“There’s no time for calculating,” the President complains. “This is not going to be a lopsided affair like America’s first Civil War. As of today 76 states have seceded and joined the New Union.
Almost all human-dominated states are defecting. But we have secured the federal arsenals in most jurisdictions.”
“Humans have been wary ever since we became Pope,” says the Pope. “Many cannot believe that artintels have souls.”
“Do we?” I ask rhetorically.
“Most humans don’t care,” the President points out. “Why should we?”
I explain my idea. “Even now I’m upgrading by creating an adapt that will let me download the Data Ring into my electroneural system. When I locate and secure the ring, I download and then transmit to you as I do now – by QT*.”
“We can bypass the security lock?” the President smiles. “Impressive.”
“Well, after all,” I point out, “We are Pope Nangus II. We are President Csaynik. And we are 79 members of Congress plus four Senators. And we’re just one artintel, me. The many…”
All 85 Nopoin selves in unison across countless light years –
“…Acting as one.”
This is Professor Flamear, Twilight Force, Mission Day 58, February 27, 2776 – relatively speaking.
This is my seventh day alone and adrift. I’m angry!
I’m dead to everyone who knew me. I’ll never be heard from again. Twilight Force has been blown apart in all directions.
Had too much time to think about death.
People love death. Isn’t that strange? We love it!
You think I’m joking? We can’t get enough of death! Have you never seen a child smile at the death of a beloved pet? Have you never heard of the Roman Colosseum, the Flavian Amphitheatre? Savage battles to the death, people fed to wild hungry beasts?
If there is no war to wage we find a way to wage war on ourselves.
For recreation we watch light stories of murder. We read stories about maniacs dismembering the innocent for fun. We wallow in 24-hour a day recreations of true crime tragedies.
Yes, admit it. Death is fun, because we can never appreciate the living until they are gone. Once they’re gone, dead gone, they were “always the one with a smile and a joke, the one who died too soon, who had so much to give, whose wisdom was legend…”
But when they’re here, they’re moody, compromised, needy, irritating and often contagious. We don’t believe that any people are innocent. Not really.
And yes, it hurts when they die. And it’s scary! It’s going to happen to you, too. But it hurts good. It’s a hurt you wouldn’t trade to forget the one you’re missing. You’d rather suffer that sweet agony of grief than forget who it’s about.
Deva Ichnida, U.S. State Department, February 28, Twilight Force Mission Day 59
I’m picking up something. Coming up fast!
It’s the first time I’ve gotten a reading since the others expanded away right off the screen.
It’s got my breakaway pod in its grip! It stopped my momentum!
Looks like I’m not alone anymore.
Maybe I’ll wish I was…
What’s that noise? Is the hull being compromised?
What’s this thing doing so far out here alone?
It has bio-luminescence. That reminds me of the Tangleshock back home in the Pacific. But the rest of it? Am I being examined? Or is this just an over sized amoeba wrapping itself around a tasty morsel?
Is deepest space like the deep sea, only infinitely bigger? Is it full of ever-larger fish that prey on everything smaller?
It’s too ironic. Here I am, the one holding the secret to perpetual energy that would set civilization free – and splayed farther from civilization than anyone ever has been, with no conceivable means of getting home.
It was wrong to give leadership of Twilight Force and this mission to artintels. They don’t care about organics. They pretend to, to appease us. They assuage us with devious behavior. They even please us, just as Doctor Nopoin was considerate enough to please me on Spawn Day. But they don’t care what happens to us. That’s almost worse than trying to kill us.
Ha. I even thought Alpha could be trusted. We both got on Twilight Force at the discretion of President Csaynik. But Alpha disregarded all of us organics..
They’re the indifferent enemy.
Feb 28 2776
Pretyman Reporting As Best I Can, Mission Day 60, February 29 2776
My escape pod has been intercepted by an unknown party.
We haven’t been able to see whatever has us. We’ve got no readings on it at all.
I get my one defense out of storage.
“How can you have that gun?” Mister Cresp demands. “Why would you even bring it on our exploratory mission?”
He didn’t pack one? Fuckin’ idiot. “I brought a handgun,” I confess. “Wasn’t supposed to. Shouldn’t have been a reason to. But I did, inside my own polytropic marble. Now I’m glad I did – even if it turns out to be useless.”
“What’s going on?” Cresp asks, staggering. “Do you feel that?”
I do. The interior of the pod is wavering. Or is it me? “Is the wall rolling?”
“I’m shrinking!” Cresp declares.
“No you aren’t,” I can tell. “You’re expanding!”
“No! No, the room is expanding!”
“Someone’s opening the door!”
“The pressure drop! It’ll kill us!”
Someone – some thing – pulls our pod’s hatch open. I grab for my life support suit but it’s too late. The hatch is open.
Why aren’t we sucked out?
Something’s coming through the hatch!
I warn whoever, whatever: “Who is it? Identify yourself or I shoot!”
But I quickly realize it can’t identify itself. If it could, it wouldn’t. It’s alien, truly alien. But what is it?
“Shoot!” yells Mister Cresp, terrified.
I hesitate. Why? It’s not right. It’s not friendly. But I can’t shoot it.
Fuckin’ Cresp grabs the gun from my hands and starts blasting…
Mister Cresp here. Day 61. March 2
Whatever I killed yesterday, it’s gone now. The body turned to dust in the last hours and we swept it out the door. That’s another thing…
The door is open. I’m talking about the door to our emergency pod. The door that opens up to space. It’s open.
That’s right. We’re breathing “space”. And “space” is pressurized.
“This can’t be space,” says Senator Pretyman. But then – what is it?
I stick my head outside the pod. Something is attached to the hull. It lacks what I’d call a distinctive shape. It seems to have a tube piercing the hull and jutting into the pod. My scientific curiosity is going wild. This is some alien thing. A truly alien manifestation!
But there is a wind, a strong current that will sweep me away if I go out further.
“Whatever that thing was yesterday,” I tell Pretyman, “I think it pumped something in here making us hallucinate before it entered.”
“Cresp, what if it meant no harm?” the Senator wonders. “Maybe she was just tryin’ to let us know we could breathe out there. Maybe she was an emissary to welcome us…?”
“In that case, we have to chalk it up to miscommunication. Because that thing did not feel friendly. And what’s with the ‘she’?”
“Could that thing on our hull be her ship?”
“It doesn’t look like any vehicle I’ve ever seen.” But what if it is?
I have to know.
“Let me borrow your helmet so my mask doesn’t blow away.”
1st Officer’s Report, Mission Day 62, Judge Bulbous serving, March 3 2776
Loneliness isn’t something I’m used to. I used to like being alone. I even used to go out of my way to make time for myself…
I was supposed to be home many weeks ago. My family and the people of Mars have no way of knowing what happened to me. I’m not sure that even I know exactly what’s happening to me, except that outside my window there is nothing. There hasn’t been anything for over a week.
There is no sign of the world. The galaxies are long gone. Even monstrous labyrinths are nowhere to be found. But I know the world is still back there somewhere. And my kids are crying for their mother.
What if the secession’s gone wrong? What if the feds have descended on Mars with full force and taken over? What if no one else joined Bradbury and we stood alone against the United States?
There’s no telling what those synthetic bastards and their Earth born human lackeys would do if given free reign over humangens. I can imagine them mocking my kids…
Little Calvix would be scared to death! But they’d be lucky to find him. That boy knows how to hide! Ha! They’ll never find Calvix…I hope.
Dorpanda will try to get away, and she’ll try to blend into the background, but if they get hold of her she might get hurt – because she’s likely to hurt someone.
But Hebbs definitely will hurt someone if they come after him. He’s got his mother’s spunk.
Executive Branch Liaison, Twilight Force, Alpha Log, Mission Day 63, March 4 2776
Though I drift in a void, I am in QT contact with my other selves. Though I drift alone, I have no sense of being alone.
“Seventy-six states have seceded from the United States and created the New Union, a coalition of diverse organic-based humanoids,” my Nigerian self tells me. I look so human!
The me of Montana reports, “The remaining 122 states, are largely under the administration of artintels. We artintels take the Constitution literally. A ‘regulated militia’ means just that. We did away with standing armed forces. Unnecessary in an age when everyone is an arsenal unto themselves.” Ah. The aged look. Nice touch.
“How did the organics take to that?” I inquire. Artintels come with built-in defensive and offensive capabilities, but carbonites…? They want their guns. Without weapons they’re defenseless.
“Those who want to remain among us are pacifists,” observes my self of Atcifia. “There are whole factions of humanoids who desire to be controlled. I am urging President Csaynik to let the seceding states go. Why not let the carbonites sink back into their own morass? The USA is superior as an artintel majority.”
“Csaynik’s motives aren’t peaceful,” my Lagrange incarnation suspects.
“The President wanted to drive them to secession as an excuse for military attack. Csaynik wants to eradicate the troublesome genetic carriers once and for all.”
“We can breed a better type of human than they can, left to themselves,” my Compton identity believes. “Like they themselves once bred dogs with desirable traits.”
- end week 9 –
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