Author: Thomas Fitzgerald McCarthy
— An excerpt taken from Pioteer Gigan Trilorgh’s Anthropology on Extinct Pathologies
Two Anecdotes On the Fragility of the Human Mind
In the 24th century, a human biotech engineer designated Angeline Mateo was heralded by the Earth press as the new saint of protection. After years of research, she’d finally solved the Static Bubble Equation and created the first interstellar shield that protected against rogue particles of dark matter. Fatalities from collisions during interstellar journeys dropped by ninety-four percent. All remaining accidents were classified as technical failures or intentional sabotage. No casualties. Human entities from her home territory of New Zealand created holographic representations of her in their windows to serve as charms of protection.
On the cycle marking her fifty-eighth solar rotation, when a monetary payment failed to process during a planet-wide plasma storm that obstructed the banking networks, subject Mateo’s previous polar-gendered mate confronted her at her work quarters at Biotech Laboratories, accusing her of deliberately withholding compensation from him. When she turned away to call for security, he struck her in the back of her skull with a figurine composed of quartz and bronze metals. Her biological functions ceased immediately and she was dissolved.
Despite all of her technological achievements, the human body remained as it was five-hundred thousand solar cycles earlier — nothing more than soft, vulnerable tissue encumbering a consciousness that could connect star systems.
Ninety solar rotations before Mateo’s termination, one of her biological predecessors, twice removed from direct biogenesis, was killed in transit to Alpha Centauri in an incident which inspired her life’s research. A stagnant asteroid, trapped for centuries in a mini nebula by the twin stars’ gravitational pull, was abruptly thrust out into space by a massive solar flare. It collided headlong with the Artomis, the flagship of the human race’s luxury cruise fleet. Mateo’s ancestor was eliminated almost instantly, along with nearly a thousand others.
A rear admiral named Gesius Magellan, a biological relation to one of the dematerialized humans, commandeered a military warship and pursued the rogue asteroid. This decision was made in full knowledge that the asteroid was headed out of the system, into extrasolar darkness. Before it could be intercepted, it passed into a subspace slipstream and accelerated beyond his reach. Magellan took his ship into the slipstream and across the quadrant—a journey spanning more than seven thousand light-years and eighteen solar rotations.
During this trek, Magellan’s ship experienced numerous problems that quickly turned fatal. Seven human crew members and two semi-conscious androids perished during an attack by a hostile race of anthropoids from the Caleos System. Nine more were killed when one of the engines imploded due to structural fatigue. Three more terminated their own biological functions due to psychological degradation resulting from their longterm isolation.
At the end of his journey, Admiral Magellan finally reached the asteroid when it encountered a pocket of interstellar gases that slowed its inertia. Despite threats of mutiny from his remaining officers for depleting the ship’s energy reserves, Magellan destroyed the asteroid and deployed a message buoy to alert Earth’s central command that his mission was complete.
Never having returned to port, with no further communications, the ship was assumed lost by historians.
Human languages are quite complex in their subtleties. A recurring issue in my research is the differences between the brain and the mind. In my research, I have found that one represents the physical, and the other, the metaphysical. Yet, both are extraordinarily vulnerable in their condition, and with it, the human condition itself, capable of magnificent feats and inexplicable obsessions.
Well-written, compelling and thought-provoking. And so many interesting ideas packed into the fabric of the story.