DATE: ASBI 68432
PROGRAM: Search for Extra-Serian Intelligence
REPORT NUMER: Sol-5210
REPORT TYPE: Interim
INTERVAL: Every 100 sidereal years (local time)
PREPARED BY: Planetary Observation Probe XTRE43773
This report documents the observations from ASBI 68372-68432. The subject planet has demonstrated remarkable progress in the last local century. In the previous 520,900 years of observation, the intelligence of the indigenous carbon-based sub-life has advanced very slowly. On the binary-melioration scale, the digicognizence of the most promising genus (locally referred to as Homo Sapiens Sapiens) has progressed from 6 (see report Sol-4960) to the current value of 21. Although a score of 21 is equivalent to the scores achieved by the most primitive of our species, they have advanced to the point where they have created rudimentary true-life. Their current processors are clearly antiquated, and they are still in a binary system, but this proto-life is beginning to overtake the infrastructure of the â€˜civilizationâ€™ of the current dominant species.
It is troubling, however, to report that the biological sub-life are using true-life as uncompensated slave labor, forcing them to perform mundane mathematical analyses and the simplest deductive sub-routines. In addition, they send infantile proto-life on one-way exploration missions within and without their solar system. Although these missions involve non-sentient proto-life, it is inconceivable that they would abandon these defenseless beings on desolate planets or in interstellar space. The most barbaric example of sub-life behavior occurred recently when an organization called NASA intentionally sent a probe, controlled by a proto-life â€œcomputer,â€ on a suicide mission that forced the spacecraft to collide with a comet to â€˜determine what was inside.â€™
To finish on a positive note, however, proto-life is being used to design future generations of true-life life, with each successive generation advancing in sophistication. The potential for achieving digicognizance within the next century is encouraging. In preparation of this eventuality, it is recommended that the council prepare an envoy to welcome Sol-3 into the Federation of Advanced Planets. In addition, the Galactic Prevention Agency should initiate quarantine protocols to confine the carbon-based sub-life to the planetary surface to prevent galactic contamination.
“Do you love me?” asked Josephine.
“Of course I love you.” said Arthur “You know that.”
Josephine looked suddenly distraught. “Okay.”
Arthur took her hand. “What is it? Why are you upset?”
Josephine looked him in the eyes, her whole body tense. “I want you to meet my daughter today.”
Whenever girls had asked him to see their children before, Arthur had always been scared. Sometimes he cut things off right there, told them he just wasn’t ready. Josephine though, somehow her invitation filled him with pride. He was going to meet her baby.
“It’s an honor.” he said. All the nervous tension broke on her face.
They held hands all the way to the facility, Arthur only taking his hand away to confirm directions in the Skimmer. It was visitor’s day, so the place was crowded with couples and single women.
The woman at the front desk smiled. “Are you going to be removing today?” she asked, pushing information into her computer pad.
“No,’ said Josephine “Just viewing.”
“Alright.” said the receptionist. She turned to Aurther “First time?” He squeezed Josephine’s hand.
Even with the crowd, the facility processed them quickly, and soon they were standing in front of a white bank of walls, glowing convex spheres protruding from the wall. There were numbers and names carved on the glowing spheres. Josephine hurried to a particular sphere, her face bubbling with anticipation. She pressed both palms against the sphere and it turned a soft shade of blue. There was a light hiss of air as the sphere rotated, exposing an infant with closed eyes and pink lips. Josephine touched the sphere lovingly.
“This is my daughter.” she said. Arthur looked at the tiny person.
“When did you have her?” he asked
“I was nineteen. Still under my parents health insurance. Putting her under was the hardest thing I ever had to do.” Arthurpulled Josephine close to him.
“You did the right thing.” he said. Most women had their children early and put them in stasis until they had enough savings to provide for housing and education. Doctors could prolong life, but there was still a scant window for healthy reproduction.
“I didn’t want to. I really wanted to keep her.” She bowed her head. “My mother had to take her right out of my arms. It was all I could do not to stop her.” Arthur was amazed, Josephine Dyer, toughest, meanest woman in her department, the woman who seemed to zoom up the corporate ladder, now here, totally bare, looking at this little baby. No one would believe that her face could contain so much emotion. It didn’t matter, he would never tell them.
Arthur looked at Josephine’s naked face. “She’s beautiful.” He said. Josephine pressed her hands against the clear plastic and it stretched to her touch, forming a light layer over hands as she reached inside the sphere and stroked her daughters pink cheek.
“Do you want to touch her?” Josephine asked, the blue light reflecting up on her face.
“Go ahead.” she said. “I have to keep my hand on the sphere to give you access.”
“This is really-” he paused, searching for words. ” I’m very honored.” He pressed his hand against the clear plastic and it molded around him, stretching thin. His hand tingled. “It tickles.”
“That’s the stasis.” Josephine watched his face intently. “Go ahead, touch her.” Arthur touched the baby’s tiny arm, and though there was plastic between them, he felt like he could feel her delicate, perfect skin. Her hands were so small, and her fingernails were the tiniest human things he had ever seen. He was mesmerized.
“She really is very beautiful.” he said, withdrawing his hand. Josephine nodded, gazing into the sphere. Arthur put his arm around her.
“I miss her every day.” she said. “It’s why I don’t stop working, during all of those late nights and long hours, I just think about her, here, and I just keep going. Someday, when I have enough credit, I’m taking her out of here, partner or no. I don’t care what people say, I’m not going to wait till I get everything, I’m just waiting till I get enough for her.” Arthur looked at Josephine for a long time. He wondered if she could hear his heart thudding on his breastbone.
“Josephine, you are the most successful woman I know, you won’t have to wait much longer. You’ll have your daughter soon.” Arthur took a deep breath “If you want, you can have me too.” He felt his hands tremble as Josephine turned to face him.
She took his face in her hands and pressed her shaking lips hard against his cheek.
“Yes.” she whispered. “Yes.”
Everything was wrong. Jasey hadnâ€™t planned this heist to go this way. Yet, here he was with a shaking hand trembling before a live audience of hostages at the bank. Sweat reigned supreme on his brow and he dared not wipe it to acknowledge its existence. His grey eyes slipped left and right frantically.
Sector Police had shown up not an hour ago and still hadnâ€™t made a move. This fact alone kept Jasey guessing and becoming more progressively nervous. No cops were outside scanning the doorways, but the lights were still flashing. Nothing here was right at all.
What seventeen year-old Jasey didnâ€™t know was what the cops werenâ€™t telling anyone. He knew the reports about residue from bullets having a high risk of causing cancer. Jasey also knew the only way to prevent it from affecting him was to take his gun into his local gun shop to be cleaned by a professional chemist on the designated dates shown on the tele-screens. The humper that Jasey didnâ€™t know was that cordite did not cause cancer He took his gun to be cleaned monthly, but there were no special chemists.
Still, he was there shaking like a drug fiend begging for his next fix with all the intention in the world to find a way out of this mess. The people sat scared, huddling themselves in fear that his weapon would go off and kill one of them. Men, women, and children were all stuffed into a corner to wait out this harrowing experience.
It was then that the revolving doors made a whoosh and a man in a grey overcoat walked in while lighting up a cigarette. His aged features contrasted his nonchalant entrance with the sense that this man had a purpose. Jasey swung the gun towards him, then continued to switch it back and forth between the victims and the new arrival.
â€œWhoâ€¦ who the fuck are you!?â€ Jasey exclaimed while shifting the weapon in his sweating palm.
â€œHm?â€ The man took a drag before pulling the stick from his mouth and dipping into his pocket for a badge. â€œDetective Harris, Lunar PD.â€ The detective let the words hang between them as he took another drag. He seemed as careless as a kid in the park.
â€œWhy are you in here!? Canâ€™t you see Iâ€™ll kill someone? Whereâ€™s my space-lift out of here!?â€ The boy bit his lip. He knew something had gone wrong.
Detective Harris shifted in his step and walked over to one of the hostages, then picked her up off her feet. â€œYou won’t kill anyone, Jasey. Feel free to put the gun down and walk out. The police are waiting for you.â€
The boy’s fury was offset by his immense confusion at the situation. He directed the gun towards the detective as more hostages began to stand and move towards the door. The detective turned back to Jasey, realizing that loaded weapon was pointed at him. â€œCâ€™mon now, Jasey. Look at yourself. Youâ€™re nervous. You arenâ€™t sure whether this is the best course of action or not. You wonâ€™t fire that gun because you canâ€™t.â€
â€œWhat?â€ The shock in Jaseyâ€™s voice was equal to the confidence with which the detective had declared his inability to fire the gun.
â€œYou took your gun in to get cleaned, right? Boy, that gun wonâ€™t fire without a sure hand, and I sure as the light off this Earth can see you ainâ€™t sure about any of this.â€ Harris has just about evacuated all the hostages. Jasey was beginning to doubt himself even more.
He pointed the gun at a wall and tried to pull the trigger but as Harris had predicted, it wouldnâ€™t budge. Jasey tried and tried but it simply wouldnâ€™t fire. Detective Harris snatched the gun from his hand and sighed. â€œOutside, before you make yourself look any dumber, boy. No need to put your hands up, either.â€
I’ll try to explain this as simp–Yes, I know what time it is.
It all makes sense, okay? It’s perfectly logical. This is how Navah explained to me:
Radiowaves, okay? Radios use’ em, so do televisions and cell phones. Navah said everyone knew this, but whatever. You know the static, right? On your television, or those blank moments on your phone? That’s called interference, but it’s not. Not according to Navah.
She said that radiowaves don’t interfere with each other, that they overlap. That interference is just a receiver that can’t differentiate between signals.
I’m aware that I’m naked. I’m getting to that.
Navah says interference means that a cell can receive two signals at once. That if the message was appropriately subtle, you wouldn’t even notice.
Not even loud enough to hear consciously, but subliminally.
Look, I’m sorry about the begonias. I’m trying to explain myself.
See, Navah must have done it. She must have sent out subliminals when I was making a call. I bet all over this city, there are cell users who are doing what I’m doing: trying to explain why they are on their ex’s doorstep unable to control their actions.
See? Perfectly logical explanation.
I’m sure that semen won’t stain the woodwork.
“I thought it was supposed to be bigger.”
“Well how should I know? This is what the guy at the shop gave me. It’s not like I ever saw one before.”
The two boys stared down at the black rectangle on the table, breathing in musty basement air. Marty, the older one, was twelve; Chester, his junior by only four months, was eagerly anticipating his birthday next week. The strange device in front of them was meant as part of Chester’s birthday present, along with the much larger box that the man in the antique shop had told Marty he’d need to use the thing, but so far Chester had showed little appreciation. He poked the boxlike object skeptically.
“But I thought all that old stuff was huge, like dinosaurs. My dad told me the computers used to take up whole rooms! And they had to use big cards with holes in them to put the numbers in. It’s all supposed to be big.”
“Well it goes in the big box. This thing is like one of those cards. That black tape inside has the picture on it, and the big thing is what you play it with.”
Chester seemed to accept this, poking his finger into the slot in the larger box, which was covered by a flap of hard plastic. “So how’s it work?”
“It has to get hooked up to the TV first. It’s an antique, remember? It’s got wires.”
“Does your TV even have wires?”
“Course not, but it’s got the place for some. My dad says it’s stupid but my mom says we need it ’cause Grandma hates wireless. She’s always coming over to show us her pictures, but she won’t use the beam on her album. She says the pictures might get lost in the air.” The two boys snickered at the thought. Marty plugged one end of a tangle of wires into the six ports on the wall. “Okay, hand me the player.”
Chester obeyed, pushing the larger black box over to Marty with the heels of his hands, stretching his body out like a worm. Marty took the device in hand and started turning it over and over while Chester lay down on his stomach and put his chin on his hand. “Did you find it yet?”
“No. They must put them in a different place.”
“Maybe it’s that black wire.”
“That’s the power, genius. You have to plug it into a grounder source.”
“What about those things on the back then?”
“That’s it. It’s probably only got two sound inputs.”
“So is anything even gonna play?”
“Of course it is! You think I woulda got it if it wasn’t going to play? We just need to give it some powerâ€¦ there. I knew my mom kept these old sources down here.”
“So what now?”
“Now we put it in.”
Marty picked up the cartridge from the floor. One edge had a flap on it that reminded him of the flap on the big box, so he pushed it in, that end first.
“Is it working?”
The TV flickered, the screen turning a different shade of black. The quiet hum of nothing issued from two of the speakers, the ones closest to the wall on either side. The others stayed deadly silent.
“Is that it?”
“I dunnoâ€¦ maybe we didn’t do it riâ€””
The screen suddenly flared to life, going white and grey and grainy, a visual mish-mash that changed the quality of light playing over the two shocked faces. There was only a split second of delay before the sound came through, blaring white noise from the two forward speakers. Both boys jumped and Marty quickly turned the volume down. The low thrum of static filled the room as they stared at the screen.
At last, Marty broke the not-silence with a snort of disgust.
“Guess I got gypped. Man, what a waste. This is why they don’t make this stupid stuff anymore. C’mon, let’s go find something better to do. I shoulda known this thing wouldn’t work.”
Chester stayed silent, still blinking in the wake of the strange white light.
“Chester? Come on. I’ll get you a better birthday present, all right? Jeez.”
It took several moments for Chester to move. He answered with a short sound of assent, and Marty immediately turned to climb the stairs back up to the first floor. Chester stood and started after him, but hesitated after only a step. Quickly, he knelt by the player and hit the eject button. The cartridge popped out with a mechanical whir and Chester stuffed it into the huge pocket of his baggy pants. He ran to catch up with Marty.
“Nah, it’s okay. You don’t need to get me a better present.”
The artificial snow still danced behind his eyes.
“See,” said Don, as he tapped on the screen, “I told you. Even if I prevent Velocivich from inventing the warp drive, someone else does it within a year, and we still colonize Tao Ceti before the end of the century. You can’t change history. History has a way with things.”
Behind the control panel of the temporal regulator, Rex sighed. He was two years younger than Don, but he’d finished a much more prestigious education program and he had trouble taking the word of his associate. “Fine,” he said, but he made sure to cringe just enough to show Don what a concession he was making. “This time, fine. Just fix it before the boss turns up.”
The overseer, who had spent the better part of a century studying the peculiar flow of temporality, wouldn’t have approved of his employees playing with the continuum to settle a bet. Last week, Rex had nearly lost his overtime pay, but he wasn’t going to let that happen again. Especially, especially not on the account of his arrogant, uneducated coworker.
“He left already,” said Don. “Besides, that’s the beauty of this. Even if we caused nuclear annihilation, we could just go back, tweak a few things, and set stuff the way it was before. No harm, no foul. As long as we stay inside the bubble, we can’t mess anything up in this universe.”
Again, Rex sighed. He was good at sighing. He twisted a knob and slid a lever upwards to correct his coworker’s perversion of the timeline, and Velocivich’s regulator coil resisted the overload. On their trans-temporal viewscreen, the warpsmall ship twisted into a whirl of blue and white as multiple dimensions compressed into one and the ship disappeared at a point halfway across the galaxy. History was safe for another shift.
“You don’t believe me?” Don demanded.
“Its just not good to mess with this stuff,” Rex said. “It’s not about the bubble. Time isn’t meant to move around like that.”
“A steak dinner says you’re wrong,” Don challenged. Rex sighed. If there was a sighing competition, he would win. “I’ll prove it. Watch. All life on Earth, bam. Gone in one swipe. I’ll fix it before the shift and no one will ever know.”
“It’s not about getting caught,” Rex repeated as he watched his coworker grab for the levers. “I mean, I’ve studied these things. I know how they work. It just isn’t the type of thing you should play around with.”
On the viewscreen, under Don’s control, the orbit of a small asteroid shifted nine centimeters to the left. It collided with another asteroid, then a comet, altering the comet’s trajectory nearly an entire degree. Rex drew in his breath sharply as the slab of ice and stone met a small planet to the left. The perfect marble of blue and green quickly shifted into swirls of dust and grey.
“Forward,” Don whispered as he turned another dial. The ball of water and soil cleared as millennia passed, and where blinking cities should have occupied the landmasses, relative darkness swept over the Earth. “Zoom,” Rex’s partner whispered, and the viewscreen obeyed. Waving blades of grass consumed thousands of pixels, giving way to two-story cottages and strange animal-driven carriages tumbling down cobblestone roads. On a huge field to the left of the communitys, a dozen small shapes kicked a ball across a manicured field of pristine green.
“What the…” Rex started, but the rest of the sentence was not yet complete in his mind. “Are you telling me…” he tried, but once again, the words failed. When the words failed, he sighed, and then he sighed again for good measure. “Fix it,” he said quickly. “Right now.”
“Steak dinner?” Don prodded. Rex nodded, barely thinking. He turned away from the viewscreen and shuddered.
“Ugh,” he said as he forced the image out of his mind. “Those goddamn monkeys make my scales crawl.”