Post Oblivion

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

“And what is the world?” The teacher asked the pupil.

The student’s joints straightened as it stood tall, nearly a millimetre, big for a ninety minute old, and it answered. “A jagged chunk of rock, roughly seventy-six kilometres long and forty-two kilometres wide, orbiting the sun.”

“And how many other worlds are there?”

“Some three hundred and twenty-six thousand, four-hundred and sixty and still counting. We encounter new worlds nearly every day now.”

“How many do we know to house life?”

“At least fifteen have at one time for certain. Only ongoing attempted communication continues with three, and this is difficult due to all the radioactive interference.”

“What is Bibum’s Theory?”

“That all of the worlds were once one world, and that all life derived from that one world.”

“And what do you believe?”

“I have had many of the dreams already. I believe it is true.”

“What did the dreams show you?”

“A sphere, many thousands of times the size of the world, covered in bizarre substances and beings. The visions make my mind press down in agony.”

“My dear pupil you have come far. And I believe you have perceived much more of our history than many your age would. Tell me, have you chosen a side yet?”

The student retreated back and its steely mandibles relaxed into a suddenly confident grin. “You mean the great debate of origin? Can you be serious? There can be only one answer.”

The teacher focused its intense gaze on its student, knotting its wrinkled silver brow in concern. “Well before you spew your opinion please tell me what you actually know.”

The pupil hinged sheepishly forward, quickly losing some of its cocky confidence. “I know that the primary intelligent species of the Bibum world destroyed its cities and technology along with the entire sphere that once housed it.”

“And then?”

“Not much is certain. After the great explosion countless pieces of the old world tumbled through space, many with assumed hangers-on clinging to precious life on their surfaces and in their crevasses.”

“But of all the fossils, all the recovered data from here, on our world, where do you think we actually came from?”

The student suddenly seemed nervous. “I just think that it’s unlikely…”

The teacher interrupted. “Unlikely how? Like a naturally occurring living being could have invented other living beings simply by combining metals and elements in certain ways?”

The pupil felt a burst of outrage. “Well no more likely than a bunch of extremely environmentally dependant creatures were able able to survive as their gravity and atmosphere were stripped violently and horrifically away from them!”

The teacher leaned forward. “Do you know nothing? The giants are long gone of course. We are but the children of the viruses that once crept and hid in the shadows of oblivion. We survived it all and this is now our prize. We are the new rulers of the world!”

The pupil turned away, knowing that it could not win this argument. It looked down at one of its foreleg wrist joints and spun the circular maintenance cap out of the way. There was the secret tattoo. It was an etched representation of gears and cogs. When you were a part of the society of the created ones you learned to pick your battles.

The teacher suddenly hitched up and smiled, “Don’t worry. Young minds often rebel. You’ll come to your senses. Give it a few minutes!”

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An Understanding Of Custody

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

The Nube curled up between Jim and Judy on the sofa in Necromancer’s small lounge. It purred like a large cat but looked more like some kind of monkey dog with blue fur. The woman stroked their companion lovingly. Jim looked at his wife with hateful eyes. If it weren’t for The Nube one of them would have certainly killed the other by now.

“So what happens next week Judy?”

She looked up from the blue creature and her gaze went instantly from motherly and loving to cold and calculating. “Why, I thought you knew dearest.” Her eyes narrowed. “We finally return to Earth and then I never have to look at your disgusting face again for as long as I live!”

“Oh I’m looking forward to it as much as you are my love!” He put a sarcastic emphasis on the last word, knowing full well that no such thing had existed between them for five or more years now. “But I was talking about him!”

She looked down, and The Nube looked back up at her with the pure love that his yellow eyes always conveyed. It was true. The animal was as much his as hers. They had rescued him from enslavement together, from a distressed Manzian pirate ship almost two years ago now.

“Fine, you can have partial custody. He can visit you from time to time.”

“Visit me? I’m going back to Toronto. How is he going to visit me from Aukland? Or at least I assume that’s where you’re headed back to.”

“Oh come now, it’s only a three hour shuttle ride. Plus, they sell space pets out of Mexico. Maybe they even have another Nube. You could get your own!” As soon as she said it she regretted it. He glared hard at her with smouldering eyes. It would of course never be the same. He was their Nube, their special friend. He kept them company while they went about the daily drudgery of running an interstellar surveying ship amongst their growing hatred of one another. But most importantly, the poor thing loved them both like parents. This wasn’t going to be easy.

One-hundred and seventy hours later Necromancer dropped down through the clouds, her stabilizer jets popping and farting as the ten year mission finally drew to a close.

Together they sat in the small astro-quarantine chamber at the Johannesburg Launch Port. Neither had spoken for some time when suddenly The Nube jumped down from the bench and looked up at them both.

Judy smiled, “He wants to tell us something.”

Jim let out a half hearted laugh. “Oh yeah?”

The Nube’s attempts at communication were always amusing, as he grunted and used his hand-paws to mime gibberish in the air. But unknown to either human, today’s communication would be neither amusing nor cute.

Suddenly they both slammed back into upright seated positions. Both saw flashes of blinding light and then felt sharp probes pierce their brains. Inside their heads The Nube spoke with echoing authority.

“I know you plan to separate. But this will not happen. You killed my parents. You are now mine. There will be no divorce. Together we shall travel to Aukland as Toronto’s climate does not suit my species as well as your habitat does Mother. Now forget this nonsense, we’re about to be released from the chamber.”

As the trio was greeted by a group of scientists in the reception area, the newly returned humans simultaneously wore big smiles with otherwise blank expressions. In unison they asked, “Which way to the Aukland shuttle?”

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The Garbage Approaches

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

The garbage approaches. I yell at the family to get down as I swing the schooner around in a tight arc, heading away from the massive undulating island. The strong afternoon wind fills our sails yet I am nowhere near satisfied yet.

With a loud crack some hundred meters back, a tendril breaks away from the island and lashes out across the murky ocean towards us. It is made from the same things as the rest of the writhing floating mass beyond. The collective countless castaways of humankind have somehow congealed, come to life, and are now quickly gaining intelligence, their hunting methods improving constantly.

I check the nitrous supply and see that we maybe have two good blasts left. However conservation matters not now. The tendril is stretching ever forward, as great lumps of organic slime mixed with billions of shards of plastic snake towards us, ever gaining, ever hungry, I must act now. Firing up the ancient gasoline engine I grab the valve and crack it halfway open. “Hold on!” I yell.

Suddenly we are looking at the sky as the schooner bursts forward at incredible speed. I quickly close the valve and our nose gradually drops back down. Soon we’re over a kilometre away. I hope it can’t smell that far.

I look forward toward the open sea, my hair and beard blowing back as our sails fill once again. That was close. It had really snuck up on us there, laying nearly flat against the water until it was almost within reach. I must arrange twenty-four hour watches. We can never let our guard down again. But we’re running out of supplies, and dangerously low on fuel. Hopefully soon we will stumble upon some useful land still unencumbered by the garbage. But as we dart in and out from the coastline such places are getting fewer and farther between.

Suddenly a tendril bursts from the water ahead. “Tricky bugger!” I yell aloud. It appears that our pursuer has taught itself a diving and flanking manoeuvre. I crank the wheel hard to starboard. The ten ton tendril of writhing living garbage rears up and then slaps down hard towards us. I once again fire up the ancient engine and reach back for the nitrous valve. This is our last chance.

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Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

“Kraaaxxx, a full report please.”

“This one will be easy sir. Take out their electronic web and they’ll be virtually blind. It’s still in its infancy and these bipeds are extremely dependant on it for everything from news to communication.”

“Excellent. So a couple of well placed hits into their major technological hubs then should do it.”

“Actually sir, if we are to topple their hierarchy quickly then we should really hit their major financial centres first.”

Captain Jjjoooorg rubbed his front pincers together with glee. “Well why didn’t you tell me they were monetarily dependant Kraaaxxx? This will be like taking sulphur nodes from a youngling!”

“So then, proceed in that direction sir?”

“Yes Kraaaxxx, hit their financial centres with a couple good photon blasts. That should disable their world leaders.”

“Right away sir,” answered the gunner as he focused on his targets. And as he keyed the triggers forward he added, “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.”

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Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

“But it’s been almost two hundred years sir! How could this be?”

“I don’t know. No one on board can explain it, but there are definitely at least a dozen human lifeforms showing on scanners down there.”

The ancient story of the plankton combine, Goler II was well known. During a routine harvesting dive an unexpected freak wave had reared up and blindsided her, disorienting stabilizers, frying computers, and eventually plunging the vessel down to the distant depths of Epsilon IV’s planetary ocean floor, taking all six of her crew with her. This had been nearly two centuries ago. Until now there had never been a viable reason to attempt any sort of salvage recovery of the big ship from such a hostile environment. But Novascomium, once the primary element used in the warp drive capacitors of many antique industrial workhorses such as Goler II, had recently become extremely rare and valuable.

“Abandon salvage mission, execute rescue and recovery protocol.”

“But sir, there must be some mistake. There’s nobody down there!”

“Ensign, did I stutter? Did I not make myself clear?”

The underling quickly did away with his visions of potential salvage percentages and snapped to attention. “Of course not sir. I will assemble a rescue party at once.”

An hour and a half later the thirteen extracted souls ranging in age from early teens to seemingly quite elderly all huddled together wide eyed and frightened in their strange filthy woven robes. Captain Walters entered the infirmary. A nurse motioned toward one of the strangers, a grey bearded man at least in his seventies. “We think he’s their leader. He seems to speak for them.”

The captain stepped forward. “Greetings friend. Please tell me, where do you hail from?”

The old man shuffled in his rags looking nervously back and forth, wringing his hands in worry. Finally he replied, “My fadder was Gauge Goler. My mudder was Console Goler.” He motioned toward the old woman at his side. “This here’s ma sister Nav. And the rest there’n, some’s my brudder’s kids, some’s ours. Over dare’s my cousin Bulkhead. His fadder was Stevens Goler da second, great great grandson to Cappy and Firmet Stevens, da founders of our beloved home.”

Stevens… Walters remembered the history of Goler II and her captain Devon Stevens. A cold dark dawning started to creep up his spine. “Tell me friend, how do you live? What is it you do to survive down there in your beloved home?”

The old man shifted from foot to foot, eyes darting back and forth. “Why, not much. Jist da normal tings. Ya know, we use da intakes to make oxgin. And we capture da plankt’n and sea’s weed for’n our grub ya know.”

Suddenly an aid entered the infirmary. “Captain I have that report you wanted.”

“I’ll be right with you.” Walters smiled at the old man. “Please excuse me sir, I shall return momentarily.”

His subordinate led him out into the hallway and handed him the soft screen. Walters scanned the document, his eyes growing wider as he read.

Goler II: Interstellar plankton combine farmer. Main design, protein extractor/freighter. Crew: Six individuals. Four android labourers and two human astronauts, Captain Devon Stevens and First Mate, Lieutenant Dawn Stevens, his twin sister.

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