Thrice prior destroy thrice latter
Still, onus the latter to destroy not the former
Fourth branch graves dug and filled in with debt
Atop the hill of no regret
The great equalizer beckons
What you sew suffocates
You are reaped with their last breath
The warmth of the sun was something Henry had become unfamiliar with over the course of his treatment for bone marrow cancer treatment. He had spent a year mostly confined to the hospital bed. Now, just months after a successful bone marrow transplant, he sits atop a rock on a mountain overlooking the Los Angeles Basin, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his face.
Henry’s daughter, Nancy, sits down next to him and embraces him with a hug that radiates more warmth than the sun on his face. “I miss mommy,” she says.
Tears stream down his face as he recalls how much his wife had courageously battled skin cancer just one year before his own battle. She had not been so fortunate. “I know, honey. I miss her too, but I know she’s in a better place,” Henry sobs.
As they walk back to Henry’s car, he pulls his keys from his jacket pocket and taps Nancy on the arm and displays the keys in his open palm. Nancy looks down at the keys and then up at her father with wide eyes, “Are you serious daddy?”
“I’m as serious a bone marrow cancer, sweetheart!” He smiles.
Nancy frowns and looks down, “That’s not funny, daddy.”
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I know these last five years have been hard on you. I’m trying to find humor though. I know it was more scary for you than it was for me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be 16, having just lost your mother and having a father with both feet in the grave. I’m well now.” He pauses as he lifts his daughters chin with his hand, “That’s something I’m dead serious about.”
Nancy cracks a smile as she takes the keys from her father’s hand, “You know how I know you’re feeling better, daddy?” She starts walking towards the driver’s side of the car.
“What’s that, sweetheart?”
She chuckles, “Because you’re back to telling lame dad jokes like,” she switches to a mocking voice, “That’s something I’m dead serious about”. You’re such a dork, and I love you so much. Wouldn’t it be ironic that you survive bone marrow cancer only to die from letting your daughter drive you down a mountain?” She gets in the car.
Henry runs up to the passenger door and opens it and jumps inside. “Okay, that’s not very funny!” He says as he closes the door and puts on his seat belt.
“Remember, I’m just a short drive away, sweetheart,” Henry says to Nancy as she awkwardly stands in front of her on-campus dorm building.
She smiles, “Yes, daddy. I already promised to visit you on each of the days you listed in your email.”
“You didn’t mark the email as SPAM did you?”
“Oh my God! Of course not, daddy! You are the most important thing in the whole world to me!” Nancy says as she throws her arms around him and hugs him tighter than she ever has. “I know it’s not going to be easy for you to be home all by yourself. You can call me or text me at any time if you need someone to talk with.” Henry smiles as he embraces his daughter one last time before he makes the short hour-long drive back to his house from her college.
As he’s pulling into the driveway of his house, he has a sudden and disturbing vision flash before his eyes. He’s startled out of the vision as his car hits his garage door. Henry sits in his car, trying to comprehend what just happened. He looks up at the front end of his car smashed a foot-and-a-half into his garage door and again sees the same vision of a leg of a woman on an operating table with all of the skin removed from the shin, exposing the bone which has the top layer of bone surgically removed. He can see the bone marrow inside of the bone and bloody tissue all around the bone as a medical assistant uses a bloodied cloth to soak up the blood that oozes from the tissue.
He shakes his head and puts his car in reverse to pull it away from the garage door. After inspecting his car and the garage, he goes into his house and calls doctor Rascher to report the unusual incident. At the end of the conversation, Henry’s doctor recommends a psychologist to Henry, and he sets up an appointment for two weeks later.
Henry anxiously taps his heel as he’s biting his fingernails, awaiting his first meeting with his psychologist. It’s been two weeks since his first horrific vision, and the visions are now daily occurrences and even more disturbing! He’s also noticed significant changes in his food preferences, music tastes, and has oddly become interested in military history programs on The History Channel. His psychologist welcomes him into her office and notices right away that Henry is not doing well.
His psychologist starts off, “Why don’t we start with some background of your circumstances. When we spoke on the phone a couple weeks ago, you had mentioned that your wife had died from skin cancer a year before you were diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. Let’s start there.”
Henry struggles to walk her through the experience and his memories. “I feel like I’m forgetting my wife. I feel like my brain is no longer mine. Something just doesn’t feel right ever since the bone marrow transplant!” He’s becoming increasingly agitated.
Calmly, she states, “Well, Henry, you have gone through one traumatic experience after another over the last five years. You’ve lost your wife. You’ve nearly lost your own life and orphaned your wonderful daughter. It’s understandable that this level of physical and mental stress might result in unusual behavior.”
“But I can’t get the images out of my head. There is a woman lying on the table, and I am operating on her shin bone. I can see her bone marrow!” Henry shouts!
His psychologist remains calm, “Henry, does this woman on the table remind you of your deceased wife?”
“No! I feel no love for her at all. I hate this woman on the table. I feel nothing but hatred towards her. I feel like I want to kill her!” Henry sits up aggressively on the psychologist’s sofa.
Still remaining calm, the psychologist continues, “It seems you might need some additional help that I might not be able to provide you with in a single session, Henry. It sounds to me that you want to check yourself into a facility of top American medical scientists that can monitor you and ensure that you are not going to hurt yourself or anyone else.”
Henry’s eyes turn from anger and rage to complete peace as he looks at the psychologist, “You mean I will be surrounded by esteemed professionals of the Unites States medical industry?”
“Yes, Henry. If you like. It is entirely voluntary at Raven’s Bridge.” She begins writing on a prescription pad. “You can leave whenever you like. If you like the place, you can stay there as long as you want. If you don’t like the place, you can come back here and see me. Perhaps we can find you another place that’s a better fit. But only if you like.”
Henry’s hands are shaking uncontrollably as he’s practically drooling on his fingernails he’s been biting incessantly the entire session. His psychologist places a paperclip on the prescription paper and hands it to him. He quickly snatches it out her hands as he walks out the door.
“I will call them to let them know you are coming, Henry.” She says as Henry hurries out the door.
Henry’s daughter is downtrodden as she leaves her father’s nursing home. His mental health has gotten worse over the last nine months, and this time he doesn’t want to speak with her during her visit that he cuts short. As Nancy exits the building, she bumps into a woman in her mid-40s with a stern face. “Mind where you’re going young lady,” the woman says with a harsh German accent.
“I’m terribly sorry, ma’am,” Nancy says as she looks up at the lady. “Are you okay?” she asks as she looks at the lady and has a sense that she’s seen her before.
“I am fine,” the lady snaps at Nancy. “Someone less agile than myself might not fair so well with your irresponsible behavior.”
“I am very sorry, ma’am,” Nancy says as she hurries off to her car.
Nancy sits in her car sobbing for nearly half-an-hour. She looks at pictures of her mom and dad on her phone. She runs through so many happy memories of both of them and anguishes over her father no longer wanting to meet with her. She reminiscences of all the wonderful experiences she had with her father. As she wipes tears from her eyes she sees the grumpy lady exit from the building with her father. They stand on the porch of the building talking with each other.
Henry stares at the grumpy lady who has been visiting him weekly for the last 3 months. The question is always the same…
“Have you discovered who you are?” the lady asks Henry in her thick German accent.
Having answered “I’m Henry” 12 times in a row, this time his answer is different. “They say my name is Henry, aber ich weiß… nicht…” he shakes his head and looks down.
The lady leans in and whispers, “Oskar?”
“Yes, ma’am! Yes! Oskar!” he exclaims as he lifts his head, eyes wide open with a wild look on his face.
“Control yourself, Oskar!” the lady quietly reprimands.
He leans into the lady, “Ich bin Oskar Schröder!” He whispers with excitement.
“Well, then Oskar. Go back in and ask for Mr. McCloy, and have him check out this Mr. Henry from this shithole. Meet me at the bottom of the stairs. Our mission is well underway.”
Oskar goes back into the building and comes back out with his suitcase 20 minutes later. He walks down the stairs and follows closely behind the lady. “Wie heißen Sie??” he asks. The lady does not respond as Oskar continues to tail her awkwardly as she has an unusual gait.
Oskar sees the two stout men at the end of the walkway. As he and the lady approach the men, they raise their right hands coyly. She responds with a lazy wave of her own right forearm; an unmistakable wave… an unmistakable gait… Oskar has goosebumps. “It couldn’t possibly be…” He mumbles to himself.
The lady stops and turns to Oskar. Folding her arms, she smirks; realizing Oskar has come to an important realization. She wags her eye brows once, waiting for Oskar to speak.
Jan: Your asteroid mining efforts do have some skeptics from sustainability to possible impacts with the Earth due to changes in the orbits. Some of your competitors have suggested that the global organization, Lucy in the Sky, that you helped found is creating a rigged system that Xavier Labs benefits from while others are setback by it’s government lobbying efforts. Still, across the globe, even your critics agree… your creation of the Star Fund to help offset lost jobs due to increased automation is benefiting millions.
Xavier: There’s nothing nefarious about Lucy. I’m just a Beatles fan. It’s an open source organization with all communication going through the USPEBL. All…
Jan (interrupting): For those not familiar with USPEBL… Sorry to interrupt… it’s the United States Public Entity Blockchain Log. It’s a system by which all communications are placed on a public blockchain managed and redacted exclusively by the United States government. It promotes transparency for organizations with a public interest.
Again, sorry to interrupt.
Xavier: I could not have said it any better.
Xavier is running through another simulation inside Earth 2.0 that takes him forward 100 years. He’s testing the limits of the simulation when he notices a major anomaly within the data access logs of the simulation. Someone, or something, has been attempting to access the DNA records that are used for uniquely identifying each human being now living within Earth 2.0 as well as the DNA records Xavier Labs has been receiving as part of the asteroid entitlement program.
He sets a trap and waits…
Jan: Thank you. What do you say about the sustainability of asteroid mining?
Xavier: Obviously, there are logistical limitations. We’ve detailed those in our reports to the necessary government agencies, and we have trained developing nations about the limitations to the exploits of asteroid materials.
Jan: After the repeated failed colonization attempts of Mars, where do you see human life expanding outside Earth? I mean, besides Earth 2.0, of course.
Xavier is sitting in his personal lab, about to take the serum so that he can enter Earth 2.0.
“Xavier.” he hears.
He looks behind him, knowing full well he’s secured the lab before taking the serum. He’s encountered strange side effects before during the waiting period of taking the serum and entering Earth 2.0, but he hasn’t taken the serum yet.
“Xavier!” he hears the voice louder.
He places the serum on his lab table and sits down at his desk and pulls up his communication logs. “Could it be that someone has hacked his encrypted nanobot communication system?” He thinks to himself.
This is the same system he used to control Dr. Tom Fields during the super vaccine trials. He built a safeguard into the nanobots to disable them and flush them from his body, but upon review of everything, he finds nothing to indicate the nanobots have been compromised. He initiates the flushing protocol just to be on the safe side and waits for his body to purge the nanobots over the next 72 hours, which is a process he performs once a month anyway.
Xavier: We’re going back to Mars.
Jan: Really? It’s been a repeated abysmal failure over the last 30 years!
Xavier: It has cost trillions of dollars and dozens of lives, but the value is still there. We will succeed in colonizing Mars within the next 100 years.
Jan: You’re saying within your lifetime then. Is that because of your latest constellation satellite system orbiting the red planet?
Xavier is lying in his bed at home, doing his bedtime meditation, when he hears the same voice from the other day while in the lab.
“I am he,” he answers back.
He opens his eyes and stares at his ceiling for a brief moment before he smiles, chuckles, and then closes his eyes and falls asleep.
The following day he goes into his personal lab and takes a dose of nanobots and then takes the serum to enter Earth 2.0. As he’s waiting for the serum to kick in, he keeps thinking “0266” over and over in his head until he falls asleep.
Xavier enters into his simulation in Earth 2.0 that takes him ahead 100 years. The simulation is now using the data available from the Mars constellation satellite system Xavier Labs has placed around the red planet. With nearly half a Martian year worth of data, Xavier is now able to more accurately simulate conditions on Mars.
He begins running a series of simulations within his simulation in order to figure out the best method to colonize Mars, when he hears the voice again, “0266”. He smiles.
The simulations complete, and Xavier analyzes the data to determine the best scenario to follow for colonizing Mars.
Xavier: The constellation satellites are helping us better understand what will become home for billions of humans in the future.
Jan: And what about beyond our solar system? Your quantum entangled satellite system is nearing Alpha Centauri. Do you expect to find life? Or plan to colonize the habitable planets you discovered before sending the satellites? What does the future of human space colonization hold?
Fredrick Prophet tosses a file onto the table in front of Xavier. “Another one bankrupt, Ned!”
“I don’t think I have ever seen you this enthusiastic before, Fredrick. Should I be disturbed that you enjoy watching people fail so much?” Xavier chuckles as he opens the file to see that one of their top competitors in quantum computing has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
Laughing, Fredrick responds, “Good thing we’re on the same team, eh! See you in the board meeting later quantum genius,” he says as he’s leaving.
Richard enters Xavier’s office and glares at Fredrick as he passes him. In turn, Fredrick gives him two thumbs up and a big smile. Richard passingly gives Fredrick the middle finger as he walks to Xavier’s chair and sits down in front of Xavier, “So, you saw Xeno’s belly up? I know a few guys over there worth picking up for our own teams.”
“Richard, when you go to bed a night, do you ever wonder if, or when, these other companies are going to figure out that quantum computing isn’t what they think it is?” Xavier asks his business partner.
“Not particularly, Ned, but I can see how that would be something that might keep you up at night. There are a lot of good people losing their jobs pursuing something that continues to remain a big mystery that we’ve already figure out.”
Xavier gives Richard a look of disgust, “The only thing we figured out is that existing quantum computing paths and technology is total bullshit and can be done for a fraction of the cost and resources with optimized classical computing.”
There’s a long, uncomfortable silence.
“Ned, you’ve never struck me as someone with much of a conscious about… Well, anything. You getting soft in your old age?” He smiles at Xavier.
“I’m being serious when I say this Richard.” Xavier pauses as Richard hangs on his words. “I’m going to setup a program for universal income for everyone on the planet when we finally start returning the RUBARB mining haul. I know Fredrick is going to be pissed, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Richard looks at Xavier with a puzzled look.
“What?” Xavier charges.
“You’re full of shit, Ned.”
“I’m being 100% serious, Richard. We’re changing the world, and I think it’s important to change it for the better!”
“Hey, I’m dead in a few months anyway, so whatever flips your pancake, Ned.”
“Don’t be like that, Richard. When you first told me about your repeating cancer, I started taking this kind of stuff a bit more serious.”
“Ya…” Richard gets up from his chair. “Total bullshit, Ned.” Richard heads for the door. “I don’t see why you can’t just tell me, your best fucking friend, who is dying of liver failure what you’re really up to.”
Xavier raises his eyebrows, “You done with the drama?”
“I’m all ears if you’ll tell me your real scheme,” Richard says as he turns back around and sits down.
“Okay, the plan is that we’re going to setup the entitlement program and use our patented DNA sequencing for uniquely identifying each recipient.”
Richard sits back in his chair, “That’s brilliant, Ned! You’ll have exact DNA data on billions of people! What you’ll be able to do with that data is limitless, but I’m still a no.”
“C’mon, Richard! Let me help you! With this, we can find a solution to your liver!”
“Not going to happen, Ned. I love you and all, but this is it for me. Please respect that. And don’t put me in your Earth 2.0 or even my own. It’s the end of the line for me. I’m out with this last liver, okay?” Richard looks sternly at Xavier. “This is it for me, Xavier, and I need you to respect that.”
Xavier looks downtrodden and nods as Richard leaves his office.
Xavier: I’m as eager as you to discover what’s next. The future is the greatest discovery. It will be important to respect any existing life that we might discover in the future, no matter how primitive it may be.
Jan: Should we expect to find life elsewhere in the universe?
Xavier: It would be naive to believe otherwise. Whether it will have achieved the level of intelligence and success as humans is to be seen.
Jan: So, you don’t think other intelligent life is out there?
Richard is lying in his bed with his armada or robots around him and Xavier as the lone human. Richard reaches his head out from under his blanket and grasps Xavier’s hand.
“I appreciate everything you did for me, Ned, now and in the future. Please tell my ex-wife that I hold no ill will against her not joining me today. I’m pretty sure it’s because she hates you more than me.”
Xavier smiles as his eyes begin to well up, “You sure you want me to turn off your system, Richard?”
“You promised me, Ned.”
Xavier begins the shutdown sequence for Richard’s nanobots that have been keeping him alive since his fourth printed liver failed. The consequence of running on the nanobots is that Richard has had to live in a confined space that can wirelessly transmit the needed electricity into his nanobots that consume more than 100 times the energy it takes a human to live.
Xavier looks Richard in the eyes as Richard begins to die, “I love you, brother.”
Xavier closes his eyes and a stream of tears runs down his face.
Xavier: It would be a pleasant surprise.
Jan: With Earth 2.0, some of the philosophical minds of the world have suggested that we’re just years away from discovering that this reality is, too, a simulation. I would imagine that in your research into Earth 2.0 you would have come to some truly educated theory about such an idea?
Xavier: It’s an idea that’s been kicked around since before the beginning of this millennium; both in science and pop culture. Anyone with a curious mind has likely pondered the very nature of our existence itself. All our research points to this reality that we live in being absolute.
Jan: And signs of a higher being or a God?
Xavier: I’d be naive to assume I have all the answers.
Jan: Your research has found nothing to prove one way or another?
Xavier: Do you mean do I hear a voice calling my name at night, giving me guidance and answering my prayers? No.
Jan: When we return from this acknowledgement of our patrons, we’ll next discuss the hot topic of politics.
Jan adjusts in her seat as she leans in towards Xavier in preparation for the next topic of discussion. Xavier remains stoic in his rarely granted interview.
Jan: The most famous, some claim infamous, AI so far has been that of your late business partner Richard Aryu. While the world is a safer place because of that AI, it got off to a rocky start, landing your business partner on trial for his life! However, your company has developed AI for identifying cancer, improving traffic in major cities, reducing the costs of energy production and distribution, increase crop yields, reduced costs of internet service, eliminated bank fraud… and as we’re seeing in Europe, it’s started to replace human representatives in government.
Xavier: It wasn’t me who personally wrote those programs. The honor belongs to the teams, not me.
Jan: And we can’t forget that your AI has virtually eliminated police brutality and political corruption in America and several other countries around the world. Many experts are saying we are on unfamiliar ground as humans with such high life expectancy, high economic productivity, high levels of life satisfaction, and the lowest levels of violence and warfare in all parts of the globe. And those same experts are mostly placing this prosperity at the feet of the AI Xavier Labs has produced.
Others are concerned that we’re destined for a massive world war as humans are unable to manage their lives peacefully for too long. Still others are saying that the corruption your AI helped uncover is merely replaced by a corrupt organization with unbeatable AI technology behind it. What do you say to those critics?
Admiral Marshall folds his arms as Xavier reviews the memo he just received from the decorated retired Navy Admiral. Xavier finishes reading the letter and looks up at Marshall.
“You’re a good writer, Donovan” Xavier says to Marshall as he hands the letter to Richard Aryu. Marshall squints his eyes, and the left corner of his pursed lips reveals his disdain for Xavier.
“What’s this bullshit!” Richard says as he points to several lines on the letter.
“Creative license, Rich,” Xavier says as he doesn’t even look back at Fredrick to see his gesturing. Xavier smiles his signature smile at Marshall as he watches the anger simmer within Marshall.
Fredrick Prophet enters the room with two other men that Marshall recognizes. Fredrick walks up to Marshall and extends his hand and waits for Marshall to shake his hand. Marshall continues to pause while Richard tries to hand Fredrick the letter.
“Don’t worry what’s in that letter, Richard. Marshall is going to tow the line.” Fredrick says as he stares at Marshall, waiting for his handshake. “After all, we’re all on the same team.”
Marshall stands arms akimbo and lifts his chin to appear taller than Fredrick. He breathes in a short, deep breath through his nose and lets out a mild growl under his out breath. “If you want me out, I’m speaking exactly what’s on that piece of paper. I have already filed it with the precinct clerk.” Marshall firmly states.
Fredrick looks surprised and presses his lips together while nodding his head. Xavier continues to smile and pats Marshall on the right shoulder. Marshall has a sudden look of fright, or at least the closest someone as hard as Admiral Marshall can have to fright as Xavier violates his personal space. Xavier tilts his head, “Something wrong, Admiral?”
Marshall’s body is frozen standing in front of Fredrick. His breathing is level, and his pulse is as if he’s relaxing in a lounge chair; but his eyes are telling a different story.
Fredrick looks at Marshall with pity. “You were chosen for a reason, Donovan, and it wasn’t your artistic writing skills. You knew your position. You’re a linebacker. You take the orders and give them to the troops, and if they don’t follow the orders…” Fredrick shrugs, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to behead you.” Fredrick smiles.
Xavier: I welcome well founded criticism. The source of the criticism you mention is who? Or more importantly, what?
Jan: It’s true that much of the criticism has come from the business leaders of the very same corrupt organizations your AI helped bring down.
Xavier: I certainly understand the animosity the heads of corrupt organizations would have towards me and my teams who helped bring them to justice.
Jan: Let’s review the numbers. A dozen high level business executives serving on average a decade in jail for massive conspiracies to defraud the United States government and consumers. The massive scams of quantum supremacy claims that were made in the early part of this century being some of the biggest examples. These scams cost consumers trillions of dollars and nearly lead to the biggest financial collapse in human history. Some say that if it wasn’t for you, the collapse was imminent.
Xavier: Again, I can’t take credit for that. It was teams of people who brought about this justice.
Jan: Also, 60 members of the United States Congress who were part of the internationally backed assassination plot that your AI thwarted and more than 1000 actors in other government agencies and the Navy who were part of the conspiracy; all brought to justice thanks to your AI. While these are impressive numbers, and bringing down this massive international ring of corruption was unprecedented, there are some who have said that the corruption was manufactured and that Xavier Labs stood to catapult itself into virtual kingship with a conspiracy to bring down this other ring of corruption.
Xavier: Those allegations were investigated. We are not above the law either.
Jan: That’s correct! One of your very top military consultants was indicted and remains a fugitive. Which has lead some to point out that maybe your AI isn’t all knowing after all. Does Donovan Marshall haunt you?
All of the men except Xavier, Marshall, and Fredrick exit the room. Xavier looks at Fredrick while Fredrick looks at Marshall and Marshall looks at Xavier. Xavier presses a button on his hand computer, and Marshall can feel that he has regained control of his body. He folds his arms high on his chest.
“Look, Admiral,” Fredrick addresses Marshall, “You get the five star reassignment when you tow the line, but this guy here,” he points to Xavier, “This guy right here is the only reason you’re still breathing, and I’m pretty sure he could kill you with the press of a button.” Xavier shrugs.
Fredrick continues, “I’ll hand it to you. It’s shits like you that make this entertaining for me. You had your entire military career handed to you by guys like me. You think someone of your inferior intellect is truly capable of making it to the position you are in on your own? Your own grand merit gave you those stars?”
Marshall remains stoic as Fredrick continues, “My team put you high on the hog. My personal choice would be to make your life drag on and on and on. Cut out your eye lids and make you watch your wife and kids and soon to be grandchild suffer agonizing deaths. Throw in a busted kneecap and some razor blades under the fingernails and toenails, followed by a nice salt mani-pedi. Then perhaps punch you in your kidneys until they begin to fail so that you die one of the most excruciatingly painful deaths possible.”
“Why would that be your choice?” Xavier asks.
“That’s a good question, Ned.” Fredrick asks, looking back just long enough for Marshall to get the drop on him.
But Marshall’s body is frozen again, and he has no way to take action. As Fredrick continues on with another personal choice by which he’d like to subject Marshall to an agonizing death, Marshall looks over at Xavier. Almost as if Fredrick’s tirade is taking place in slow motion, Xavier lifts his hand and gives Marshall an enthusiastic thumbs up with an equally excited, teeth grinning, ear to ear smile.
“Could he be trying to tell me something?” Marshall thinks to himself. He looks down confusedly. “He couldn’t possibly be trying to tell me something other than he really thinks Fredrick is disturbed… is he?”
Right as Fredrick says “Do you understand me, soldier? Towing the fucking line is your only option,” Marshall snaps to immediate attention… As he’s still looking at Xavier smiling ear to ear and giving him a big thumbs up, he simultaneously hears Xavier’s voice in his head say “Yes, I am trying to help you.”
Xavier: Mr. Marshall remains a wanted yet untried man. I have confidence that justice will be served in time.
Jan: That’s not the response I was expecting.
Xavier: Then you should have asked a different question.
Jan: It seems hard to believe that you’d have no issues with a man that our government proved masterminded a Naval coup against the President of the United States and the rest of the military. A man that nearly started World War 3 if it wasn’t for the superb work of the CIA and the AI system your company built for them. Surely, you cannot suggest that he is an innocent man when there are such mountains of evidence against him that your very own company helped our government procure. He’s the most wanted terrorist in the world!
Marshall turns away from the television that’s showing his press conference from earlier that day. He clenches down hard on his teeth as he hears his own words. Xavier turns off the television.
“You ready?” Xavier asks.
Xavier and Marshall take Xavier’s personal flight vehicle that flies them to a secret lab that Xavier has in the Rocky mountains. While flying, Xavier fills Marshall in on the plot he’s uncovered to execute a hostile military takeover of the United States. He heaps data on to Marshall who soaks it all up. With the nanobot neuro-enhancers that Xavier has been giving him, he’s able to digest more information faster and link data points together on levels that exceed any of the AI that Xavier Labs has in place. The deep plot becomes clear and obvious to him, but it’s virtually unknown to anyone other than a handful of people who have stumbled upon the data that’s been leaked by an unknown third party that Xavier hasn’t identified but knows is within his company.
The neuro-enhancers allow Xavier to communicate with Marshall almost exclusively without any speaking. The thoughts are encrypted and then received via a large helmet that each of them is wearing and transmitted to the other with a direct wire link between the two helmets. The occasional spoken word is used just to break the awkwardness of silence.
As they arrive at the secret compound, Marshall becomes aware of what Xavier’s plan is, and why Marshall is so important. Marshall will be a scapegoat mastermind of the coup attempt so that Xavier can out the conspiracy and help bring it down. Xavier will have evidence planted to implicate Marshall as well as the real conspirators that include Fredrick. Xavier will then help Marshall evade capture.
Xavier shows Marshall the sprawling estate. It’s upscale but not lavish. “So, this is where you’re putting me up?” Marshall jokes with Xavier, knowing his actual safe house will be of no such upgrades.
“Marshall, you have the most thankless job. In fact, I’m likely going to be the only one who ever thanks you for your service to your country and your planet. I truly mean this with the utmost sincerity…” Xavier pauses for a moment and then vocally says, “Thank you.”
“Don’t be some mushy pussy, Ned.” Marshall smiles as he feels the genuine sentiment from Xavier. “There is one thing that I am going to require”
“You name it.”
Marshall smiles ear to ear, “I want one of them bots!” Marshall points to the patrol bots that Xavier has made a few upgrades to since Richard passed away.
Xavier: Jan, I understand this is an emotional topic, and I don’t take lightly any of that emotion. Our justice system affords everyone a right to trial, and that includes Donovan Marshall.
Jan: What do you say to those who suggested that he was just a patsy and that there is a much larger plot in play? A plot that some suggest Xavier Labs is at the heart of it.
Xavier: Allegations were levied against Freddy and proved false. It’s a side effect of success.
Jan: It has been said that one of the biggest signs of success is how many people want to hurt you.
Jan: I’m not suggesting that a lot of people want to hurt you.
Xavier sits down at a bar in tropical paradise and orders a club soda with lime. While he’s waiting for the drink, a man sits next to him and orders a tonic water.
“You really should try the tonic water here. It’s the best in the world,” the man says to Xavier as their drinks arrive.
“Can I get a tonic water instead?” Xavier asks the bartender. He then turns to the man. “I can’t thank you enough,” Xavier says to the man as he gets up and walks away.
Xavier: I’m certain I have a fan club.
Jan (laughing): You should see the emails I received heading into this interview! But let’s talk asteroids. You donated your first ever haul to the people of Earth, setting up the largest entitlement program in the world, and creating what some have called the universal answer to increased automation.
Returning from the video intermission showing life inside Earth 2.0…
Jan: It’s truly amazing what you have made possible with Earth 2.0, but let’s talk about Xavier Labs’ biggest breakthrough. Last year, your company’s medical robots were estimated at having saved nearly $10 trillion dollars in healthcare costs and increased economic productivity around the globe by more than 15% from the prior year!
What many said wasn’t possible just decades ago has become reality thanks to your relatively new healthcare division. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization confirmed that your vaccines have completely eradicated every known virus within the industrialized world in less than a decade, and that your responsible outreach programs in marginalized communities has lead to better vaccination rates in regions of the globe normally forgotten. Some skeptics have voiced concerns that new super viruses are going to be the eventual result from your efficient vaccinations. Are you concerned about a super virus?
Xavier smiles at Fredrick as Richard berates him about his presentation for a new healthcare division for Xavier Labs that will start with a vaccination program.
“Look, Richard, we have the studies lined up. Dr. Fields has friends at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, LSU, University of Nebraska, NYU, and Yale! This thing is a slam dunk! We’ll get approval for the super vaccine in no time. We have all the right connections.” Fredrick appeals to Richard.
“But you don’t have an actual product! This thing isn’t ready for human trials, and you know that.”
“Richard, we cannot leave this kind of money on the table! We’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue each year for something that costs us virtually nothing. Plus, we’re indemnified by every government we work with. The governments cover the cost of any injuries incurred by our vaccine. There is no downside for us.”
As the two go back and forth, Xavier ponders the long-term opportunities to universal acceptance of their entirely new vaccine delivery system. He interjects, “Fredrick, I’ll admit that I’m kinda with Richard on this one. So, here’s an idea…” Xavier gestures with his hands, “You and Tom keep saying that it’s as safe as drinking water. If Tom is so sure about the safety of our super vaccine, then let’s setup a bet that involves just him.”
Fredrick looks at Xavier with skepticism while Richard smiles ear to ear, as he does not like Dr. Tom Fields.
Xavier continues, “Tom inhales the super vaccine once a day, every day for 100 days. Richard here, will drink a glass of water.”
Richard interjects, “Can we make it a beer?”
Xavier raises his eyebrows and looks at Fredrick for confirmation. Fredrick nods.
“Richard, here, will drink a beer…”
“A 40 would be my preference, given that we’re dealing with a SUPER vaccine,” Richard adds.
“Richard will down a 40 each day.” Xavier places his hand on Richard’s shoulder. “If Tom is perfectly healthy after 100 days, then let’s move forward with the trials.”
Richard claps his hands together, “I love this plan! I’m going to get started on it right away!” He starts to leave the office and pops his head back in the door. “I mean, I’m going to tell Tom the plan on my way to get a 40 from my fridge.”
Fredrick gives him a thumbs up and Xavier smiles.
After Richard has left the room, Xavier leans in to Fredrick, “Move forward with the trials you’re talking about. It’s going to take at least 30 days to get them started anyway, right?”
“Twenty to Thirty, yes, but we can get the approval from everyone within 60 days. I’ve worked with these guys before.”
“Perfect! I’ll work with Tom on making sure that everything goes right with the real trials and with his personal trial. I certainly don’t want him getting sick in the next 100 days. This thing doesn’t work any better than existing vaccines does it?”
“You want me to be completely truthful?” Fredrick can tell Xavier is asking a serious question. “I don’t think it does, but we have enough medical connections to stack the approval in our favor and political connections to make it the new standard in global mandatory vaccinations. Plus, it hardly costs a thing to manufacture, and every government around the world indemnifies us for any complications. This is a cash cow, Ned!”
Xavier pats Fredrick on the back, smiles, and then goes to his office.
Xavier spends the next 30 days going into Earth 2.0 and placing himself in an overclocking algorithm that moves everything forward in a shard at an accelerated rate. Working with the medical robots he has built in Earth 2.0 over the course of 100 accelerated years, they design a nano bot that Xavier will add to the super vaccine inhalant.
The nanobots slowly take resources from the human body to build more nanobots; nanobots that leverages the chemicals used to place people into Earth 2.0 but without the side effect of death. Those nanobots will be able to enter the brain and attach themselves to specific centers within the brain. Xavier estimates that he’ll have enough of a connection to be able to not just read a person’s thoughts but also communicate data directly into the brain.
Xavier knows that Dr. Fields has been entering Earth 2.0 and harassing the women there and resetting their experience after he’s finished violating them, and Xavier views this new nanobot technology as the ultimate means to control Dr. Fields. So, Dr. Tom Fields will be the first test subject as part of the 100 day super vaccine trial. Within 12 days of Tom taking the daily super vaccine, Xavier is ready to start testing the outcome!
Tom and Xavier enter the clinic together, and Xavier has a human nurse take all of Tom’s vitals. As Tom is sitting on the table, Xavier goes over to his computer and connects to Tom’s brain. Xavier opens an application named Lucid4. Tons of data is scrolling along the console windows on Xavier’s computer as it reads Tom’s mind. It displays simple sentences on the screen that are showing Xavier the exact thoughts that Tom is having! Xavier isn’t surprised by Tom’s lustful thoughts about the attractive nurse who is taking his vitals. Xavier brought her in for that exact reason.
As the nurse is making her way around Tom, he keeps turning his head to attempt to look down her top. Xavier projects the nurse’s voice into Tom’s head, “Not interested, creep.”
Xavier watches closely as Tom is baffled by hearing the nurse’s voice in his head but not seeing her mouth move.
Xavier: The trick is to be one step ahead. Our pathogen and vaccine AI systems allow us to receive billions of health data points we received from our universal healthcare doctor bots and ensure we’re staying ahead of the evolution of the pathogens.
Jan: I promise you viewers that we’ll discuss AI in depth shortly. But, first, this year your sixth company announced a new cancer research program that appears to already be making tremendous progress in early cancer diagnosis. This one is close to your heart. The entire project was dedicated to your late, dear friend, Richard Aryu.
“We’re taking a big risk with this project, Xavier,” Fredrick says with a concerned look on his face.
Xavier’s face is unshaven, and his eyes are red from overwork. Even stubble shows on his bald head, ruining the normal shine he is often complimented on. “This is the most important project we will ever undertake, Freddy. We should treat it as though our lives depend on it.”
“But the algorithms still aren’t giving us the results we need. We’ve dumped a ton of money into this, and it’s consuming ALL of your time,” Fredrick places his hand on Xavier’s shoulder and pulls him to look back at him, “And frankly, Xavier, you look like shit. I’m really worried about you. Maybe you need to see a therapist. You haven’t been the same since Richard passed.”
Xavier glares at Fredrick.
“I apologize, Xavier. I truly do. But this cancer program is sinking our ship.”
“I have a solution for that!”
Xavier lifts the cover off a cage sitting in his office. There’s a pigeon inside that’s facing a computer screen. Xavier presses a button, and an image is displayed on the screen. The pigeon nearly instantly presses a red button with it’s beak. The pigeon receives a treat.
“You’ve lost your mind!”
“You’re probably right about that! But I have also figured out a much cheaper way to get instantly 99.99% accurate cancer diagnosis systems in place.”
He presses a button and another image is displayed to the pigeon. This time, the pigeon presses the green button. It receives another treat.
“I can do this all day long! And to be completely honest with you, I have.” Xavier is ranting like a madman, practically foaming at the mouth. “I sat here with bird after bird after bird. Hour after hour after hour. We don’t need a damn bit of AI for this, Fredrick! HA!”
Fredrick looks uneasily at Xavier and sighs, “Then let’s get this into production. We’ve sunk more money into this project than almost every other project combined. Can you get some rest now?”
“I’ll rest soon enough, Freddy,” Xavier says patting Fredrick on the shoulder as he walks him to his office door.
Fredrick leaves and Xavier locks his door and returns to his desk. He plugs himself into Earth 2.0.
Xavier: It was a bird-brain idea at first, but it has lead to some major breakthroughs in cancer treatments and should increase survival rates over the coming decades.
Jan: Let’s talk about what the future holds. Many refer to you and Fredrick as the greatest visionaries of our times. You’ve testified to Congress that global universal healthcare is possible within the next seven years.
Xavier: That’s already well underway. What would be the point of attaining all this technological wealth without benefiting all of humanity?
Jan: Your technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and medical professionals displaced by the bots have proven to be highly useful employees for you to continually improve the technology. Xavier Labs has done a masterful job with introducing new technology and being responsible to the workers it displaces with that technology. You’ve even provided great income opportunities for the displayed medical professionals and placed many of these doctors in third world countries. In turn, lifting millions out of medical poverty all around the globe!
Your companies have helped virtually eliminate terrorism, increased crop yields, eradicated disease, mine minerals and metals on asteroids, successfully colonize Mars, and you’ve also given the entire world completely free satellite Internet access with your Constellation Miragel project.
Xavier: Don’t forget about the first successfully entangled micro-computer on board a satellite that’s just months away from reaching Alpha Centauri!
Jan: It’s truly an amazing time to be alive! A year ago, some rumors surfaced that you were having some mental health issues.
Xavier (laughs): Don’t believe everything you read on the free Internet.
Jan (laughs): Some of our most reputable sources were saying that you were missing important board meetings or showing up looking like you hadn’t slept for days.
Xavier: I’ve been known to sleep in my office from time to time. Or even in the lab. But I’m as healthy as ever. And I want everyone else on this planet to experience the same.
Jan: Great! That’s a relief to hear. Let’s talk about the future! Let’s talk about your AI!
George Bargh leans down and kisses his infant daughter on the forehead. As he stands back upright, he leaves his right hand on the cheek of his daughter and smiles. He turns to leave the room and looks at a picture on the wall of him and his late wife. He see’s his reflection in the glass and turns back to look at his infant daughter again. He smiles.
The nanny is standing in the kitchen and making breakfast for both of them.
“Susan, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for everything that you do for me and my family of one. I truly appreciate everything you do for me and Rachel.”
“I’d say I was just doing my job, George, but we both know how much my aunt meant to you. And to me! You’re family, George. I truly mean that.”
The two sit down and eat breakfast and talk about their day. George finishes up quickly and grabs his gun and badge.
“Thanks, Susan. I’ll be back at the usual.”
There’s a knock on the door. George opens the door and greets his partner, Marcus, and the two walk down the steps of the porch and get into their car.
As Marcus pulls the car into their precinct parking lot George confides, “Marcus, I need to get out.”
“Look pal, you and me both, but we both know there’s only one way out of this. Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Even if you went to another planet, they’d find you and put you to use.”
“I can’t bring my daughter up in this, Marcus.”
“It ain’t so bad, George. My kids love Uncle Bill.”
“You raise your kids, Marcus. I’ll raise mine. I need to figure out some way out of this.”
“Ain’t gonna happen, Georgie! Nobody gets out, and you knew that getting in.” Marcus gets out of the car and slams his door and starts walking away as George sits in the car.
He looks up at the officers standing near the entrance. They all look at Marcus and then train their eyes on George. “Everyone is in on it.” George thinks to himself as he gets out of the car.
Marcus and George enter a luxurious six-story building. It smells of freshly blossoming Jasmine floors in the lobby. The elevators are out, and they need to take the stairs at the end of the lobby up to the top floor. As they reach the third floor, Marcus stops to catch his breath.
“C’mon, you pussy!” George says to Marcus as he passes him up.
“You…” Marcus is out of breath and waves George on. “I’ll catch up.”
“You gonna have a heart attack? I’m not dragging your fat ass back down you lazy fuck. Get moving.” George keeps heading up the stairs.
As he gets to the top floor, there are two very large men holding guns directed at him. They are wearing dark glasses, and he noticed a series of dim red and blue lights in the rims of the glasses performing a weapons scan on him.
“Where is your partner?”
“He’s a fat fuck, much like yourselves, and probably dead back on the third floor. Come to think of it, how did you two fucks get up here?” George has been showing these two guards contempt ever since he started working with Uncle Bill.
“If Uncle Bill didn’t say otherwise, we’d rip you in half and throw you off the top of this building you puny little shit.” The guard on the left says as the guard on the right opens the door to let George in to see Uncle Bill.
George smiles and gives the finger to the guard on the right as he walks down the hallway into the large open room that is Uncle Bill’s sprawling office space. 20 foot floor to ceiling windows overlook Monument Park in the Republic of Columbia. He looks out over the massive monuments and over to the location of the remains of the ancient White House building.
“Can you believe what a circus this place used to be, George?” Uncle Bill asks in his southern drawl.
“Never really thought about politics much, to be honest.”
“Best to leave the truly dirty work to guys like me, eh, George?”
“You could say that. Speaking of dirty work, you know your elevators are out, right? My partner is probably dead back down there.”
“Yet, here you are.”
“Just following orders, sir.”
“Yes…” Uncle Bill pauses for a few seconds. “You ever thought about joining Space Force, George?”
“I’m guessing you need me to join Space Force.” George retorts.
“You’ll have to pass all the tests, but I don’t think you’ll have much trouble with that. There’s a certain mission…” Uncle Bill pauses for dramatic effect. “You’ll know it when you see it. You’ll volunteer, and we’ll make sure all goes smooth. Do this mission, and I’ll let you out.”
“Maybe I won’t feel bad if Marcus really is dead back on the third floor.” George’s face is burning with anger for being ratted out by his partner.
“Come now. He’s just doing his job. And now I need you to just do this one last job.”
“Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”
Uncle Bill smiles. “I promise, this will absolutely be your last job with us, but it will be a long one. The mission won’t happen for another six years.”
Uncle Bill laughs, “In the meantime, you don’t have to do anything else but join Space Force and be a good soldier. Marcus will be assigned a new partner on the police force. Spend time with your daughter over her formative years and maybe find her a new mother?” Uncle Bill pats him on the shoulder and George can almost sense genuine sympathy. “Raise her right, George. Children are our future.”
“And when I get back, then what?”
“When you get back, you get to live whatever life you make for yourself. You’ll never see me again.” Uncle Bill smiles, looks him in the eyes and extends his right hand to George. The two shake hands. “You’ll know what mission to volunteer for.”
“I got that. Well, Uncle Bill, if this truly is the last time I’ll ever have to see your slimy face again, I want you to know it’s been no honor doing business with you.” George scowls at Uncle Bill and dreams about how easy it would be to kill him right now but walks towards the doors.
“Oh, and Bill, one more thing…” George turns back to face Bill and gives him the middle finger. “Fuck you.” He laughs. Uncle Bill smiles. George opens the door, walks out between the two guards, stops, and lifts both hands and give them both middle fingers. He gives off one more middle finger behind his back as he skips down the stairs with joy.
Lieutenant Bargh is still a little wobbly after being brought out of suspended animation. He hears a voice but cannot understand what it is saying. He can see a robot standing in front of him, shining a blue light into his eyes, and his vision starts to come back to him. The robot reaches out it’s arms and places a headset on him. He can feel the liquid drain from his ears and run out of his sinuses through his nose.
“Lieutenant George Bargh, you are to report to Section 5 once you have been cleared and settled in your quarters. Is that understood?” The robot inquires.
“Yes, that’s understood.”
Once Bargh is cleaned up, another robot arrives with his clothing. Bargh gets dressed and is then taken to his quarters. He opens up his small closet and pulls down a silver necklace with a locket on it. He opens it up and smiles at the picture of his now eight year old daughter. He remembers the last moment he had with her before leaving on the mission to Mohcia.
His daugher’s voice echoes in his head, “I love you, daddy. Hurry back.”
There’s a loud beep in his bunk room.
“Lieutenant Bargh, please report to the briefing room immediately.” He puts his necklace on, and drops the locket down his shirt and heads to the briefing room.
As Bargh is heading to the briefing room, he’s met by Lieutenant Smith heading the opposite direction. “Looks like you’re playing second fiddle, Bargh! I get the first run you slow poke.”
“That’s pretty much how it was with your mom last night.” Bargh jabs back at Smith.
Bargh enters the briefing room and is informed the Admiral is sending them down to the three Earth bases on Mohcia. There’s a slight change in plans though as Andre Levion will be taking command of their company.
Esua and his family sit down at their dinner table with Bargh in the guest of honor chair. Bargh smiles awkwardly as he tries to fit himself in the small chair at the head of the alien table. Esua’s servants treat the family and the human Bargh to a traditional Mohcia dinner and have pleasant conversation. Everything Bargh had heard about Mohcia food is true. It’s the best meal he’s ever had!
After dinner, Bargh is looking at the artwork on the walls of Esua’s home. Esua walks over to him and explains that the piece he’s standing in front of is that of a legendary Mohcian-god warrior named Bezo. The legend is that Bezo was half Mohcian and half god, and traveled between worlds, conquering all who cross his path but saving those who are virtuous and plan for their families.
Bargh looks at the sculpture closely and notices that Bezo has two thumbs as opposed to no thumbs like Esua. Bargh turns to Esua and covers the microphone of his translator and asks Esua whether he knows the meaning of a phrase in Esua’s native tongue. Esua appears startled (at least as startled as a Mohcian can appear).
Esua places his hand on Bargh’s and moves Bargh’s finger off of the microphone. “Your generosity has convinced me. My family and I will go with you back to your home planet.”
Bargh is puzzled but relieved that Esua and his family will take part in the evacuation of Mohcia. He lets Esua know the plans for what they need to do to get ready and that transport will arrive in the early morning.
Esua and Bargh walk out to the front yard of Esua’s home. Bargh looks up at the stars in the sky and admires the three different moons that Mohcia has to offer in the night sky. The largest moon is tidal locked just like Earth’s moon, but the smaller moons are not. The smallest moon spins on it’s access so quickly that Bargh can actually see it’s red surface spinning with his naked eyes.
“The legend of Bezo is that he pulled Sigma in to orbit around our home planet.” Esua points to the smallest moon that Bargh is admiring. “From there, he was able to oversee and protect our land and see out into the heavens to ensure our people were always safe.”
“If only the legend were true, my friend,” Bargh replies
Bargh receives an encrypted message from the Admiral. He reads it and then turns to Esua and covers his microphone and then reads a message in Esua’s native language. “There’s a slight change of plans. Your family will be evacuated tomorrow morning, but I need your help in three days.”
Esua responds to Bargh as he lifts his finger from the microphone, “I can never repay you for your generosity.”
Narrowly escaping John Levion’s attack, Bargh and Esua’s shuttle makes its way towards the orbital module. From there, they launch a small command pod that rendezvous with the Admiral and her skeleton crew aboard her cruiser. Bargh debriefs the Admiral on John Levion being alive and shows her the scan of his suit.
Everyone watches in amazement from the video feed coming in from the solar monitoring stations. There is what can only be described as a massive solar flare extending from Zathustine Major to a location about half an astronomical unit to a massive space ship roughly the size of Mohcia’s smallest moon.
“It’s Oris!” Esua shouts!
Everyone looks at Esau. Bargh asks, “That was the villain your hero Bezo fought?”
Esua explains the Mohcia legend of Oris to the crew. Oris is the last of an elephant-like space creature who feeds off the energy of stars. The Oris destroyed solar systems all over the universe by devouring their solar centers and leaving the entire system as a dark, lifeless mass. The Mohcia hero Bezo teamed up with the Lord of Time to hunt down the space creatures until there was just one left: Oris. The Lord of Time felt pity for the creature since all of its kind were destroyed. Instead of killing Oris, the Lord of Time held him captive and trained Oris to fight for him by making it so that Oris’s devouring of solar mass could run backwards and create massive solar bombs that Oris could hurl at the enemies of the Lord of Time.
“Looks like Oris is fueling up for the next fight!” Bargh exclaims.
“That’s not a fight that we’re going to stick around for,” the Admiral says as the cruiser finishes breaking orbit from Mohcia and rapidly picks up speed.
As they are making their way through the solar system, it becomes clear that the gravitational force of the Oris space ship is causing problems with their energy consumption. The Admiral, Bargh, and the cruiser’s navigator start running through scenarios to get out of the solar system to make the jump back to Earth. All fuel from shuttles is re-purposed to the main cruiser, and all but one of the shuttles is jettisoned. The estimates are still looking grim for the cruiser being able to make the jump back to Earth or even the nearest known outpost between Mohcia and Earth.
Bargh approaches Esua, “Hey, friend. You studied your legends in depth, right?”
“My brother and I were the foremost experts on our ancient history. Did you like the story I told? I can tell you hundreds of others just as beautiful. Perhaps even a love story?” Esua responds enthusiastically.
Bargh pats him on the shoulder and smiles. “Perhaps another time for that one, friend. Tell me more about where this Oris character was taken by Bezo and the time god.”
“Lord of Time. He is not my god. There is only one my god, and I could never elevate my god’s servants to my god’s stature.”
“Oh, that’s right.” Bargh sighs. “If I show you the map of your sky, can you point to where this Lord of Time and Bezo took Oris?”
Bargh pulls up a hologram display of the sky from the vantage point of Esua’s home on Mohcia. Esua points to a star, “That is Cheebs, the star of heaven. That is where Oris was taken. Where Bezo resides with the Lord of Time.”
“Thanks, friend. I’ll be right back.”
Bargh pulls up the information on the star and sends it over the the navigator. “What are the odds we can make a jump to that star?”
“We could jump there and back to here a few times with our current energy levels!” The Navigator says to Bargh with a flirtatious wink and smile. She turns to the Admiral. “Jen… Admiral, I think Bargh has found the best option.”
Using the entanglement link to the star system database back on Earth, the navigator attempts to find information about the star system. “Admiral, there’s absolutely no data on this star system other than its existence and coordinates.”
“What made you think about this star, Bargh?” The Admiral asks.
“Well, I figured that giant ship isn’t going hyper. Esua said his god told him 200 years ago that they were all going to die.” Bargh shrugs. “So, I figured that ship must have come from some location within 200 years of relatively slow space travel speed to get here.”
The navigator is impressed with Bargh’s deductive skills and flirtatiously compliments him, “You are quite the detective.” Bargh smiles back at her.
The Admiral chimes in. “If we end up being the last humans alive, I’m happy knowing the two of you will help repopulate the species. In the meantime, do we have any other options? Maybe your little buddy knows of some other systems nearby that aren’t the host of a star killing Lord of Time.”
Bargh goes back over to Esua while the Admiral and navigator watch intently. There’s a communication received over an encrypted line, and the navigator goes over to the command station to review while the Admiral watches Bargh communicate with Esua.
“Admiral, you’re going to want to take a look at this message.” The Navigator has an unsteady voice, and Bargh pauses for a moment as he watches the Admiral go over to the command station.
The Admiral folds her arms tightly in front of her as she’s reading the message. Bargh tells Esua to wait while he talks things over with his commander.
“What’s going on?” Bargh asks uneasily as he’s never seen the Admiral unnerved before.
She motions for him to come over and read the message: jetison suited admiral; coordinates attached; jump Cheebs; Fredrick;
“Who sent this message?” Bargh asks.
“That’s the strange part.” The navigator says as she pulls up the details. “It’s generated by this ship.”
The Admiral stiffens, “Just because someone can hack the messaging system doesn’t mean we’re going to take this message to heart.”
As the Admiral’s word leave her mouth, the lights in the command module turn off and the emergency lights come on. Emergency notices start flashing on the navigator’s screen showing that power to the engines is cut and that thrusters for maneuvering are malfunctioning. And just as quickly, everything returns to normal.
Bargh looks around the command center and looks at the Admiral and shrugs. “I guess we’re going to Cheebs after all.”
The cruiser arrives in the solar system of Cheebs with Bargh, the navigator, and Esua. At the center of the system is a massive star with scores of natural and artificial planets within the habital zone and a secondary star in an outer orbit. They can see several massive solar flares reaching from the center star and terminating at tiny points around the star. It’s similar to what they saw at Mohcia, but on a much larger scale.
“Looks like Oris made some babies, Esua!” Bargh quips to his alien friend.
The trio look on in awe as they witness the massive solar flares die down and start up in new locations seemingly at random. The cruiser continues to execute the flight plan it received back at Mohica. It first places them in orbit around the small star on the outer limits of the solar system and then launches them out of that orbit across to the other side of the solar system where there is another small star on the outer limits of the solar system. They rendezvous with a small planet orbiting the second small star that’s on the outer limits of the solar system. From what they can tell, the planet is a hybrid of partial and artificial.
As the cruiser lands on the surface, the navigator receives a message: Kizon arrived; suits; Terminal X; Fredrick;
“Suit up, Jessica!” Bargh instructs the navigator. He turns to Esua and shrugs, “I don’t have a suit for you, but the ship should have a report on the atmosphere shortly.”
As Jessica gets into her suit, Bargh reads the reports from the ship’s log. The atmospheric composition is similar to high altitude on Earth, so Esua will be fine. Bargh and the navigator will need to wear their suits. Jessica finishes getting into her suit and performs the buddy system checks with Bargh while flirting.
“We’re good to go, Esua! You ready?” Bargh asks.
“I wasn’t sure how long that mating ritual was going to take place for, so I made myself comfortable.” Esua jokes with Bargh.
The trio exit the ship and are greeted by seven bipedal robots that look like massively advanced versions of the Tes robots that Bargh had on the Ark mission. The robots perform a series of scans of each of them and then three larger, menacing looking robots come around the corner. Bargh’s suit detects that there is some sort of data transfer taking place between all the robots, but his suit cannot decipher any of the data.
“Activate your shields,” Bargh orders Jessica. Bargh’s shield drops over his face, and his suit’s weapons systems activate.
The larger robots walk up to each of the trio as the seven robots walk away. The robot in front of the pint-sized Esua is towering over him. It picks up Esua by his neck and holds him up to its face. Bargh drops both of his arm guns into firing position and lifts his right arm to the head of the robot holding Esua by the neck and his other gun to the head of robot in front of him. Jessica does the same with her guns and holds them up to the two robots closest her.
The robot holding Esua by the neck looks at Bargh and then looks at the robot in front of Bargh. It then looks back at Esua and drops him on the ground and turns around and walks away.
The robot in front of Bargh speaks, “You’ll have to pardon my colleague’s manners. He’s not as well educated on the acceptance of the Mohcian. Lieutenant Bargh, I presume?”
“Good presumption. Who the fuck are you?” Bargh says as he lowers his guns and Jessica follows.
“I am the one who will be taking you to Jason.”
“And who the fuck is Jason? We’re supposed to see Fredrick.”
“Jason works for Fredrick,” the robot says as it turns and begins to walk away. After a dozen steps and Bargh not following, it turns around. “It’s imperative you follow me. Your peaceful compliance is requisite.”
The trio begin following the robot with Bargh in the lead and the third robot holding up the rear behind Jessica.
As they walk away, Bargh asks the lead robot, “What’s with the bronze helmets?”
All of the robots are wearing bronze pyramids around their heads.
“Faraday cages,” the robot responds.
After making their way through a crowded metropolis in a vehicle with small windows, the lead robot directs the driver to a warehouse along a water bank outside the city. Everyone exits the vehicle and the robot instructs the driver to wait for its return. The robot checks the trio into the building with no signs on the outside and leaves them in a waiting room that looks oddly like an ancient doctors office back on Earth. It’s even playing what sounds like elevator music through very lousy speakers. There’s a sign on the door: Mogul.
After waiting for what seems like an hour, Bargh stands up and goes to the reception window and rings the bell. Just as he rings the call, a man barges into the room. He’s wearing a doctor’s lab coat, and his movements are more of a marionette than a human, but he is distinctly human. More oddly, Bargh feels like he recognizes the man. “Bargh?” the man questions.
Bargh looks at the man with irritation, “Who the fuck are you?”
The man lets out a boisterous laugh, “Well, you sure are Bargh! I have some questions for you.” The man begins to rattle off a series of questions about Bargh’s health and family history until he’s interrupted by Bargh who lifts him up by the shoulders and holds him in front of him while he lowers his face shield so the man can see that Bargh is extremely angry.
“I’m not telling you shit, and neither are they until you answer questions, pal.” Bargh growls at the man. “Who,” he pauses and then breathes in deep, “the fuck are you?!”
“Oh, right.” The man says as he kicks his legs like a rag doll. “Well, I’m Jason Ewing. I do much better thinking when my feet are on a solid surface. My mission is to get you back to Earth.”
Bargh puts Jason back on his feet and crosses his arms in front of him, “You don’t really strike me as the kind of person who can get me back to Earth, Jason. I’m just being frank with you. Perhaps you have a supervisor who would prefer you keep breathing. I suggest you go get him or her right now.”
Jason adjusts his spectacles and smiles. Then he leans into Bargh and whispers. “Let’s just say that my supervisor is not around right now, and he wouldn’t exactly approve of this mission.” Jason steps back from Bargh and wags his eyebrows and winks. “So, is this the Admiral?” he questions with excitement in his voice, turning to Jessica.
Bargh grabs Jason’s shoulder and turns him back to facing him. “Look pal, right now, your bullshit is stacking up taller than you. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not supposed to be in a padded cell right now, but seeing as how you speak excellent fucking English and seem to know something I don’t, I’m not going to crush your skull. At least not yet.”
Jason looks on uneasily at Bargh whose face is turning beet-red. “I understand your impatience, George.”
Bargh’s interest piques as he realizes Jason knows a lot more about him than he might realize.
Jason continues, “But the concept of time is rather quite real at this very moment. Within one hour, I need to get you, the Admiral, and the Mohcian on a specific ship at a specific location that will take you back,” Jason clears his throat, “to Earth.”
“I’m all ears, Jason.” Bargh says as he unfolds his arms.
“Before I put you on said ship, I need to know that you are able to mentally make this jump, and I must have the Admiral examined as well. This is an experimental ship that is the only way you are going to get out of this solar system. And remember what I said before.” Jason winks at Bargh.
“We’ve got a bit of a problem.” Jessica starts.
Bargh interrupts, “We all need to go to the bathroom. It was a long drive here.”
“Not me!” Esua says, “I recycled already.”
Bargh looks at Esua with a scowl.
“But on second thought…” Esua starts and is interrupted by a loud bang and the sounding of an alarm!
There are a series of screams and sounds of projectiles whirling through the hallway. Jason runs to the door on the other side of the waiting room and goes through the door and locks it. “He’s here for the Mohcian!” Jason yells through the door.
Just then, the door flies off the hinges and in walks a bipedal robot that looks exactly like the sculpture of Bezo that Esua had at home. Bargh’s jaw drops as he feels like he’s in a bad dream. Bezo holds a gun towards Bargh’s head and a shot grazes the front of his face shield as he barely turns away in time. Bezo fires at Jessica with his other hand and kills her with a single shot that penetrates her helmet.
Bargh fires several shots into the body of Bezo, and the projectiles crumble as they strike the armor. Bargh falls to the ground as he loses his balance trying to maneuver to behind Bezo and find a weak point in his armor. Bezo fires a shot that rips the leg armor off of Bargh’s left leg. Another shot to the main body of Bargh virtually disables his suit. Bezo lifts his gun to Bargh’s head, and Bargh sees his life flash before his eyes.
Suddenly, there’s a loud shriek. All the glass in the room breaks and Bezo puts his arm down and turns around. Esua stops shrieking and begins speaking in his native tongue to Bezo. Bargh cannot understand anything since his suit’s communications system is destroyed, along with virtually everything else. He can tell that Esua is arguing on his behalf and that Bezo still wants to kill him, so he waits for Esua to plead his case.
Bezo places his gun in a holster and reaches out his massive hand to assist Bargh. Bargh stands up and says “Thank you” in the Mohcia native tongue. He looks over at Jessica and shakes his head. He walks over and pulls off the equipment from her suit that he can place on his. His communications system is working again.
“So, Bezo is real, Esua!” He turns to Bezo, “Why do you have to be so trigger happy?”
Bezo shrugs, “I’m sorry. Your kind is my enemy. I am here to save my kin. He told me you saved his whole family. I regret killing your friend.”
“That’s life in the fast lane, pal.” Bargh shrugs. He points to the room with Jason, “A human in the other room wants to put us on a ship back to Earth. He’s here to help too.”
Jason timidly comes out of the other room and waves. “So glad that wasn’t the Admiral,” he whispers to Bargh.
Bezo turns to Esua, “You are to make Earth a home? That means Mohcia has been terminated by the human god.” Bezo looks at Esua’s hands and holds up one of them with his own double opposable thumbed hands. “This is what your kind did to my people!”
Jason interrupts, “I don’t think we’re going to solve 500 years of interplanetary war between the four of us, and time is of the essence.”
“Right,” Bargh starts, “Esua, it’s your choice. Fight the good fight with badass Bezo here.” He taps Bezo on the arm. “Or come with me to Earth to be reunited with your family.”
Esua parts ways with Bezo and tells him that he will share with the other people of Mohcia the heroic works of Bezo that he witnessed first hand. Bezo warns Esua one last time to not go to Earth, but Esua walks away. As Bargh is walking away, Bezo grabs his shoulder. “When you fail him, know that I will destroy you with my bare hands and defecate in your detached skull.”
Bargh tightens his lips, “That’s a good incentive not to fail.”
Jason leads Bargh and Esua into a small lab and seals the room. He asks Bargh to takes off his space suit so that he can run the physical tests on him. As Bargh removes his suit, he begins to feel lightheaded and stumbles forward. He begins hearing voices in his head. Esua too falls to the ground beside Bargh.
Bargh looks up as the room feels like it is spinning around him. He sees Jason standing above him. “What the hell did you do? I’m going to ki…” Bargh goes unconscious.
Bargh awakens suddenly and sits up on the lab table he’s on. His legs are strapped in to the table, and there are some wires connected to his head and an IV in his right arm. He pulls on one of the wires.
“I wouldn’t do that, George.” Jason warns.
An excruciating pain consumes Bargh’s entire nervous system, and he feels like his body is burning from the inside out. He collapses back onto the table and cannot move anything but his eyes. He sees Jason walk over to him and attach the wire to his head again. The pain subsides.
“You are a brute, George, but we’re almost done.”
“What exactly are WE doing, Jason?”
“I’m performing an existence confirmation on you, George. I need to make sure that you are who you are. We can’t have an incident like with the fake Admiral. That is all. This is a painless experience for those who aren’t as crude as you.”
“Her name was Jessica. She wasn’t fake.” Bargh looks over at Esua lying on the table next to him, “What about Esua?”
“He’s just fine. It’s much easier to confirm Mohcians than humans since they cannot be cloned. Look, we’re all done now.”
Jason unplugs the wires from Bargh and unstraps him from the table. Bargh is a little wobbly when he stands up. He walks over to Esua.
“Why is he still sleeping?”
Jason replies, “He’ll stay that way until we reach our destination.”
“You mean, Earth, right? You wouldn’t want to be taking us somewhere else for some bullshit science experiment would you?” Bargh growls at Jason.
“We are most certainly headed to Earth, George.”
Jason rolls Esua out of the lab and into a hallway that leads the three of them to a small launchpad with a bright yellow disc-shaped ship waiting for them.
“Where’s my suit?” Bargh snaps at Jason.
“It won’t fit on the ship, George.”
Jason closes the ship door and has Bargh secure himself while he secures Esua’s bed. He presses a series of buttons and pulls a lever and the ship begins to make a pulsating noise and closes it’s door. Jason presses more buttons, and the ship jets off quickly from surface of the planet at a neck breaking speed.
Bargh passes out from the acceleration but Jason is fine. Jason taps on his screen to give the final confirmation of the flight plan. Esua begins to wake up and notices that they are flying directly towards one of the large solar flares coming out of the center star and terminating at the Oris.
“This is the new plan?” Esua asks as he tries to unstrap himself.
“Secure yourself! We’re about to go hyper! We’re going to use the tail end of that energy stream to jump to Earth.”
Just as they pass the Oris, Jason taps on his screen. There’s an eerie silence and then the ship shakes violently as the Oris explodes.
“Uh oh.” Jason says as the ship goes hyper. This time everyone blacks out.
Jason comes to and sees Esua floating by him unconscious. Jason looks over at Bargh who’s sitting with his arms folded, staring at him with a scowl on his face.
“Morning sunshine. Looks like your flimsy disc made it to out of Cheebs. You think that blue dot up there is Earth?” Bargh raises one of his eyebrows.
Jason scrambles to read the logs from the computer. They’re heading directly towards a blue planet at a rapid speed, but none of his attempts to correct the course or slow the ship are netting any results.
“If you come in this hot, they’re going to shoot you out of the sky. We’ve got some experience with fast objects slamming into Earth.” Bargh warns.
“We don’t have to worry about that, George. It’s what comes after that’s the hard part.” Jason says as he’s able to finally get a retrothruster to slow their burn into the earth’s atmosphere.
George has a split second to process what Jason just told him. They hit something in the atmosphere and crash hard into the ground. The ship is half buried in the ground and surrounded by a weather balloon it hit going through the atmosphere. The hull of the ship is intact, but the ship is otherwise completely destroyed.
As Bargh comes to, he sees Esua still unconscious but somehow still floating in the middle of the ship. Jason isn’t in his seat, but he doesn’t see any signs of Jason’s body. He unlocks his security straps and climbs over to Esua, but he cannot reach him. Bargh tries again and again and with scrap metal, but there seems to be an invisible field around Esua.
“Bezo is going to shit in my detached skull for this one.” He shakes his head and looks up to see Jason standing on the outside rim of the ship.
“Let’s get out of here, Bargh. We don’t have much time.” Jason says.
Enraged, Bargh climbs his way to the top of the crumpled ship and throws Jason off the top of it to the ground. He looks out over the dark, desolate landscape in front of him and can see what looks like a barn and a house off in the distance with a small porch light on.
“That kinda hurt, George.” Jason says from the ground about 10 feet below.
“How about we make our way over to that barn over there, Jason. I’ll kill you there. If I kill you here, the coyotes will hide all the evidence. I want to make sure everyone knows I strangled you to death.” Bargh says as he climbs down from the rubble of the ship.
They make their way to the barn and Bargh starts getting a strange feeling as he’s looking around. The vehicles look like ancient vehicles he’s read about in history books in school, and the barn and house are not made from any of the manufacturing materials he’s ever seen on Earth.
They enter the kitchen of the house, and Jason picks up papers laying on the kitchen table and shines his light to read what’s on the paper.
Bargh is sniffing like a dog. “Something doesn’t smell right. Jason, where the hell are we?” He grab Jason and throws him against the wall of the kitchen.
“Not, where, George. When!” Jason pushes the paper into Bargh’s face. “When!”
Bargh looks down at the thin paper stack Jason pushed into his face and shines his light on the papers. He recognizes it as an ancient newspaper. The date is July 4, 1947. Bargh throws the paper to the ground and grabs Jason by the throat and starts choking him until Jason turns purple and passes out. Bargh releases before it’s too late.
Jason comes to with a trickle of warm liquid pouring down his face. He’s tied up to a post in the barn with Bargh standing over him, and there’s a kerosene lantern illuminating the barn.
“Before I do to you what Bezo has promised to do to me, you’re going to tell me what the fuck is going on here, Jason. Believe me when I tell you that I can make every nerve in your body feel more pain than I felt on your lab table. You’re going to be begging me to put you on that table. How… and WHY the fuck are we in 1947?”
Jason smiles, “I know it’s hard for you to understand. It gets harder each time for you. From your perspective, this is the first time we have done this. For me, this is the seventh time we’ve done this. The sixth time you’ve thrown me off the edge of the ship. The fifth time you’ve choked me out. This is the seventh time I have explained our mission. Each time, we have gotten better at our mission. Each time, we have improved. Each time it has gotten more and more difficult to make it further than the last, and each time you have continued to agree to the mission.”
Bargh looks on with disgust at Jason, but he has a feeling inside that Jason is telling him the truth. “So, this is the lucky number seven? Do we win a prize this time?”
“I don’t know the outcome, George. What I do know is that everything we do and every interaction we have must be completely calculated.”
“You think crash landing a spaceship in the desert into 1947 is cal…” Bargh pauses. “Holy shit!”
“That’s right, George.”
“I thought that was just data received in the weather balloon. That was always the story I heard.”
Jason lets out a big sigh.
Bargh looks at him with a worried look. “Jason, what the fuck is going on here? What’s the real fucking story. No bullshit!”
“WE are the data, George. Well, at least part of it.”
“That’s why you’re not afraid of me killing you!” Bargh laughs.
“We have the experience of being humans here in 1947, but we’re not. We are merely part of the data transmitted back to the weather balloon in 1947. We piggybacked on that data so that we can execute our mission. There are messages that we need to make sure we get to people over the course of the next 1000 years, and your family is critical to making sure those messages are delivered.”
“Jason, I have a daughter back in my lifetime. A daughter! That’s my family.”
“Your daughter is well taken care of, George. Didn’t you ever notice how you were surrounded by great family? Despite your poor choices in life, things just kinda worked out rather well for you.”
“My wife dying at childbirth isn’t exactly what I’d call working out rather well.” Bargh growls at Jason.
“Sometimes there is only one way to nudge someone.” Jason replies.
Bargh strikes Jason with a hard right hook that knock Jason unconscious.
Jason comes to again. This time, he’s no longer tied up, but he’s in the front seat of a car with Bargh driving.
Bargh looks over at Jason and smiles, “Morning, sunshine!”
Jason shakes his head as he props himself up, “That hurt so much worse than last time.”
“Back at the barn, you said we’re the data?” Bargh states like a question.
“Yes, this experience in 1947 is just as data. We haven’t figured out how to send back anything physical. Just data. Sending physical items back is looking less and less probable.” Jason clarifies.
Bargh smiles, “So, where the fuck is my body?”
“That’s something that can never be disclosed again, George.”
“Yes, we made that mistake once, and it nearly cost us everything. They found us, and if it wasn’t for Esua and Bezo, we would have been killed. Everything we do, we should assume that it’s being watched and observed by the enemy.” Jason warns.
“Rodger.” Bargh acknowledges.
There’s a long silence.
Bargh starts up again, “You said we piggybacked on the Mogul communication.”
“Who sent the original message?” Bargh raises his eyebrows.
“We don’t know.”
“How do you not know? How do you piggyback on a message without knowing who sent it?”
Jason pauses, “We know it wasn’t him.”
“Xavier. We know it wasn’t Xavier, but we don’t know who.”
Bargh burst out laughing, “That guy is real? Xavier is a real person? You’ve got to be shitting me. That’s impossible!”
“He’s real. That solar system back there with the Oris bots… That’s what he’s been building over the last 400 years.”
“How do we know it’s him?” Bargh asks skeptically.
“That robot revolt 500 years ago on earth wasn’t exactly a revolt.” Jason starts. He provides Bargh with as much information as possible about what has really transpired over the last 500 years that have lead them to believe that Xavier is somehow alive in either robot form or as an advanced cloned human body. “We also found one sleeper cell that he’s had in place since he was on Earth. We have every reason to think that he has sleeper cells throughout the world, and agents in every single government.”
Jason pauses for a few seconds to let Bargh absorb the information, “And my personal opinion is that he already has a plan for his return in place and has the weapons hidden. They’re just waiting on his signal. This is all well planned out.”
Bargh lets the conversation go quiet for a few minutes. After the awkward silence, he picks back up the conversation, “You said my family is important, why?”
Jason explains the importance of Bargh’s ancestors in the fields of neuroscience and psychology that are increasingly useful for the work they are performing with sending data back in time/space and reading it in real time in the future. He also explains how Bargh’s daughter grows up to become one of the most important physicists in building the very technology that they are using for their mission.
“What about the Admiral? Why did you have Bezo kill Jessica?” Bargh’s brow furrows.
Jason tightens his lips, “We couldn’t take any chances with Jessica. We’re 83% certain she was a plant. It was supposed to be just you, Esua, and the Admiral. Someone switched things up on purpose. Which means they have some ideas about what we’re doing, and they know we know Xavier wants the admiral.”
“Wants her for what?”
“We haven’t figured that one out yet.”
Bargh lifts his chin slightly and then drops his head and lets out a big sigh. “When you said we need to send messages 1000 years into the future, why 1000? We’re only 900 years from now.”
Jason rubs his chin, “Your daughter sends the last message from the future on Saturday, October 6, 2947.”
Herein is the log of debate regarding resolution 243 by the People of Aipotu.
Chairman Jesper: “People of Aipotu, we are both among the stars and from the stars. From the stars, we know peace cannot be found, and among the stars we know that peace can only be found from within. Resolution 243 is for the salvation of our planet, our own way of life, and the salvation of our children.
We have reached a path in human history and travel among the stars that we know there is but one choice to be made on this paradise we have found… On this paradise we have now called our home for three generations. To date, the decision we are to make should not and has not been taken lightly. I will now formally open the forum to debate with the North Region randomly selected to speak first. Madame Sarana, the log is now yours.”
Madame Sarana: “Thank you, Chairman Jesper. Thank you people of North Region for letting me be your voice in this matter. And most importantly, thank you to the people of Aipotu for lending me your attention regarding this important topic. The people of the North Region of Aipotu vote in favor of resolution 243 to destroy both Moon A and Moon B in order to provide the necessary wall of protection that will be necessary for the future survival of our paradise.
We further implore Chairman Jesper, the people of the South Region of Aipotu, and the nations of natives on the Oceania continent to vote in favor of resolution 243, such that this resolution is enacted unanimously and without dispute of majority. May we not just survive the imminent threats from afar but rather avoid them altogether and thrive as a unified planet, in harmony.”
Chairman Jesper: “Thank you, Madame Sarana. South Region representative Madame Ester, the log is now yours.”
Madame Ester: “Thank you, Chairman Jesper. Thank you people of the South Region for letting me be your voice in this matter. And most importantly, thank you to the people of Aipotu for lending me your attention regarding this important topic. The people of the South Region of Aipotu vote in favor of resolution 243. We further implore Chairman Jesper and the nations of natives on the Oceania continent to vote in favor of resolution 243.”
Chairman Jesper: “Thank you, Madame Ester. Native Nation Mohcia, the log is now yours.”
Mohcian Elder Arhmesh: “It would seem that our fate is not decided by logic or reason this day. The Mohcia people of Aipotu are foreigners on our own settlement, so what matter does our opinion have here now? We do not vote in favor of the human resolution 243, and we shall not provide our logic for our choice as such justification would only dignify this charade.”
Chairman Jesper: “Thank you, Mohcia Elder Arhmesh. Native Nation Vuyange, the log is now yours.”
Vuyange Master V: “I am in alignment with the Mohcia Elder. Both in lack of favor of this resolution and in designation of this experience as a charade.”
Chairman Jesper: “Thank you, Vuyange Master V. Native Nation Xeeter, the log is now yours.”
Xeeter Commander Rosh: “May you humans find mercy for the atrocity you are about to commit. We do not vote in favor of this idiotic charade.”
Chairman Jesper: “Thank you Xeeter Commander Rosh. Native Nation Cheebs, the log is now yours.”
Cheebs Elder Nea: “Thank you, Chairman Jesper. We, the survivors of Cheebs, must go on record to state that we are aware of what humans are capable of, both good and evil. We must also establish that these humans among us are not to be slandered as such barbarians as their brothers and sisters among the stars. We witnessed first hand the destructive nature of humankind when they ripped our planet from us just a generation ago.
We were and remain a peaceful and loving civilization. We shall never go to war again even our enemies. The threat we face is real, and the compassion of these humans among us is also real. The threat we face, while human in nature, has but one solution that is also human in nature. The civilization of Cheebs votes in favor of Resolution 243.”
Chairman Jesper: “Thank you Cheebs Elder Nea. This concludes the logging of Resolution 243. The votes in favor are from The North Region, The South Region, and The Native Nation of Cheebs. The votes not in favor are from The Native Nation of Mohcia, The Native Nation of Vuyange, and The Native Nation of Xeeter. There is a tie in the voting. As the Laws of Aipotu require, such a tie is to be decided by the Chairman.
Before I cast my vote, I want to first thank all the people of all Regions and Nations of Aipotu for entrusting your choices in leadership regarding this significant matter. I can assure you that none of the conversations that we have all had over the last 40 days have been in vain. The debates have been fierce and heated. The intelligence provided by our intelligence community regarding this imminent threat has been reviewed over and over, with new information arriving just four days ago.
All kinds from all Regions and Nations of Aipotu are peace-loving and peace giving. We must protect that peace. We must protect our planet’s future. In order to protect that peace, we must consider that an invasion is a real threat to our planet. There is but one way to protect our planet and our way of life.
There is no doubt that destroying the two moons of Aipotu is extreme. Yet taking no action is even more extreme.
We know that we do not have the resources to fend off an invasion from a civilization that has advanced beyond our own human technology as well as our own human brutality. Can we even call such a civilization that devours planets and consumes all resources available and savagely eradicates all who do not subjugate themselves to their leaders human?
And what humanity would we humans, who are revolted by our fellow humans, be showing if we didn’t use our superior engineering and technology to help protect this prosperous paradise we all share together? The destruction of our peaceful way of life must not happen.
As the Chairman, I vote in favor of Resolution 243. The destruction of Moon A and Moon B to create the necessary shield from alien attacks shall commence in seven days.”
Seven days later the demolition of the two moons of Aipotu (Moon A and Moon B) began. Massive detonations could be seen on the surface of each moon from the surface of Aipotu. The moons fractured and further detonations split the pieces of the moons into smaller and smaller fragments.
Over the course of three months, small fragments impacted Aipotu and caused minor damage, but there was no major catastrophe. Many pieces of the moons crashed into each other and became fine powder suspended in the upper atmosphere of Aipotu.
Spacecraft and lasers were used to help distribute the fragments across the entire surface area of Aipotu’s gravity field. The powder and fragments from the Moons became disbursed in patches of density, and the light from the nearby star was no longer hitting the surface of the planet directly most of the time as it rotated.
Daylight became diffused, and night was no longer completely dark. The stars could no longer be seen in the sky, but larger fragments of the former moons would reflect light from the nearby star and provide the inhabitants of Aipotu with a beautiful light show.
Major adjustments had to be made for everyone on Aipotu. The surface temperature dropped significantly, resulting in much of the planet and sea life to die. A massive chain of death arose from this huge drop in temperature. The planet was plunged into a virtual ice age with the poles of the world becoming completely covered in ice caps and all of the inhabitants of those areas of Aipotu (mostly natives) having to migrate to other parts of the planet.
Within seventy years, humans were able to help stabilize the impact on life on Aipotu as the inhabitants adapted as quickly as possible to their new planet and the reduced technology that was available. The existing satellites were retooled to adapt to the reduced energy from the nearby star, but many aspects of technology will take much longer to get back to where they were before. While providing protection of the inhabitants of Aipotu, there is now no way to see or experience anything outside of the barrier created by Resolution 243.
The legend goes that the day I was born, I filled the room with so much love that even the doctor wept with joy. Everyone tells me I just say that because my mom always told me that story growing up. But I know the story is true because I was just there! Oh, and I know for sure I peed on the delivery nurse, just like my daddy always said.
As my mom always told the story, “I was so filled with love. It was this deep, peaceful, relaxing love. Like nothing I had ever felt before or ever felt after. It was pure peace in every way imaginable. Peace in life. Peace in my marriage. Peace in my delivery.”
Back then, we didn’t have any Internet; no computers; no cell phones; no digital cameras. There’s a lot the royal WE didn’t have back then, but my family… We had even less. There were eight of us kids, and you’d think my parents would have stopped when they had that great experience with me. Naw, they just kept shootin ’em out. Four after me. I’m right in the middle.
With each kid, it seemed to get a bit worse for all the kids before. It’s not like my parents were getting paid more. Heck, my mom never had a job her whole life, except being a mom and a stripper. My dad couldn’t hold a job to save his life (or our lives for that matter). But it wasn’t the lack of money or material things that made it hard. It was the lack of loving parental guidance. The upside? I love my brothers and sisters!
Now, my parents claimed to be God-fearing folk. They even said they named each of us after a character in the Bible. I read the good book hard. Studied it a few times over even… Spoiler alert, there ain’t no Jarrett in the Bible. The closest thing is some guy named Jared, and he doesn’t do anything but some begetting.
Aside from giving us all names that weren’t really in the Bible, I’m not sure what other God-fearing acts they performed. Spare the rod, spoil the child, I guess? The only thing spoiled in the house was some of the food.
The first time CPS got called (that I know of), I was about eight years old. If you’ve never seen half a dozen police bum rush your front door and throw your parents on the ground and arrest them, you haven’t experienced LA’s finest at their finest. But the truly hardest part about that experience wasn’t getting picked on for wetting my bed at the foster home. It was being made fun of at school when my parents finally got their shit together and got us back.
And by getting their shit together, I really just mean they figured out how to fake it for a few years until it happened again. And again. And again. But this story isn’t about how my parents and what they did and didn’t or should or couldn’t do. This is a story about love. Not just any kind of love. Legendary love! A love that I always knew in the back of my mind was there for me.
The final time our parents got arrested, my big brothers were old enough to actually take custody of us younger ones. That was the first time since my birth that I truly experienced legendary love! By the time my dad got out of jail, my big brothers could put him in check. We got big, stronger, smarter, and our dad just got older, fatter, and dumber.
When I was 24, I met the one and only true love of my life! Juniper Rose Branch. Now, you might be thinking, “why would someone with the last name of branch name their daughter after a tree?” Her parents are for another story!
A couple years later, I found myself on bended knee and standing up next to my amazing fiance! Our wedding was the stuff dreams are made of: horse-drawn carriage, surrounded by our family and best friends. It was everything I could have ever imagined love could be and then some!
On year five, we decided to have some fun on her birthday and visit a weekend long hypnosis workshop. Juniper really felt like there was something there for both of us, and I agreed. I just didn’t realize what was about to shift in my life.
In the final hypnosis, we were guided through this incredible experience. We started off as usual with relaxing. Then we got to a place where we started rewinding through our lives. I went back to our wonderful honeymoon in Hawaii. Then our joyful wedding. Back to the first day I met Juniper. Then it got to the hard stuff… All that past that I thought I had truly given up started to pile up.
I slowly made my way through all the hardship in life. All the times my dad hit me, slapped me, beat me, beat my siblings. All the times my mom would look on and do nothing while our dad beat us up came back in full memory. I was living them again. The hypnosis seemed like it was lasting a lifetime; like I was living my whole life all over again. All the torment by the kids at school. All the anguish of unloving parents. But also all the love from my brothers and sisters.
I finally made it back to the day I was born! Now, I started off this story telling you that I filled the room with so much love that even the doctor wept with joy when I was a baby. At the time, you probably thought that was just some story I had been told growing up. And if you’ve made it this far into the story, you know I wasn’t pulling your leg. It was a story I had been told growing up, AND it’s also a true story!
I’m floating above my parents in the delivery room. As I see all of them there (my parents, the doctor, and the nurse) I start sending love. I surround the entire room with my love. The love that I have today… The love that I have generated with my loving wife through this amazing hypnosis session is present there today. I embrace each of them as they do their part in bringing me into this world.
I see my mom start to cry and my dad’s eyes begin to well with tears. I see the nurse guiding me gently into this world, she’s getting teary-eyed too. The doctor goes over to help, and he begins to well up with tears. As the nurse lifts me up, my little baby self does exactly as the legend goes. I pee right on the delivery nurse.
I then tell my baby self that everything in life is going to workout just fine. Everything is going to lead to a wonderful, beautiful life. No matter how bad things get, everything is leading to pure joy and happiness. Never give up! Love will always be there.
Jonathan wakes up and walks down the stairs from his room into his ground level business below his apartment. He opens the front door to his tavern just as he has for the last three years. It’s freezing outside today with frost forming in the windows and all the lampposts on the sidewalk outside the front door. Just as has happened every day for the last three years, as soon as he walks through the threshold of the door, he is immediately walking into the tavern instead of out of the tavern.
Dejected, he walks into the cold, empty, rundown tavern and takes his place behind the bar and begins to wash the glasses that are already clean from him washing them every morning for the last three years. The day will be yet another day of nothing. Another day to remind him of his tragedy from three years ago. Another day for him to reconcile himself to the reality that he is, in fact, dead.
He goes about the same routine: wash the glasses, pull the chairs down, polish the bar top and tabletops, and sweep the floor. It’s the same routine he was doing even when he was alive, and what was monotonous when he was alive now gives him a sense of believe alive now that he is dead.
After performing the regular routine, he goes out to the back to pickup the newspaper. He ponders the oddity of the newspaper still being delivered to this old, rundown tavern despite his demise years ago. True to form, the newspaper is laying on the ground just outside the back door.
He pauses, looking out at the leafless trees in the back of the building. He notices a enormous barn owl sitting in one of the trees. There’s a single leaf holding on to the very tip of the branch where the owl is perched. The owl’s partner glides in and sits beside the other owl. As the owl flaps it’s wings, the single leaf is dislodged from the end of the branch. Winter is fully upon him, and tomorrow will be the third anniversary of his death.
He squats down and reaches his hand out the backdoor for the newspaper. It took a few weeks to figure this part out, but his arms can leave the tavern, just not the rest of him. He grabs the newspaper and confirms the date.
Jonathan hears a sudden commotion in the front of the tavern. This is one of his favorite parts about being a ghost! Time to scare the hell out of whomever has entered the tavern!
He walks to the front of the tavern and sees a man and a woman already drunk stumbling up to the bar. They are a drunk happy and falling all over each other.
“Can we get some drinks up in here?” The man shouts. “Where’s the bartender in this joint? We need two double shots of vodka. ASAP!”
Jonathan goes to behind the bar and lifts the bottle of vodka from the shelf and grabs two shot glasses. He pours the double shots and slides the glasses along the bar to the two drunkards.
“WOAH! We’re drunk as fuck, Jerry! Those shot glasses came out of nowhere.” The woman stares in the direction of Jonathan but cannot see him. She leans her entire body over the top of the bar to try to see if someone is hiding behind the bar. “There’s nobody back there, Jerry. Do you see anyone?” She slurs.
Then Jonathan hears the door chime for the front door again. If he had a heart, it would have stopped beating. Surely, this is an angel sent to bring him to the other side. She’s a pure beauty.
“Jasmine! You made it!” the other woman says as she stumbles to get up and hug the woman who just entered Jonathan’s tavern.
Jasmine smiles as she hugs her two drunk friends. She sits down at the bar and looks right at Jonathan. “I’ll have a double too, please.” She says directly to Jonathan.
Jonathan stares with his mouth ajar, dumbfounded by this woman who just spoke to him. He’s perfectly still.
“Well, are you going to just stand there like you’ve seen a ghost, or do I need to get the drink myself, handsome?”
Jonathan grabs another shot glass and pours a double shot for Jasmine and carries it over to her. He places it in front of her, still dumbfounded. She slams the shot and then looks Jonathan in the eyes and gives him a flirtatious wink, “Another, please.”
Jonathan is mesmerized by her smile. His eyes are affixed to the movement of her lips as he hangs on every word she says and her flirtatious glances as she’s speaking to her friends.
Her friends eventually realize that they are too drunk to stay any longer and tell Jasmine that they’re going to leave. “You can shtay and hane-out with yer ghost fren, if you’d like, Jas. We’re gonna walking to the pad. See ya!” They slur as they stumble towards the door.
Jasmine is looking deep into Jonathan’s eyes as she gets up from the bar. She doesn’t break eye contact with him as she reaches underneath the bar to grab her purse hanging from the hook. “Don’t mind them. They’re drunk. What do I owe you?”
“It’s on me.”
Jasmine turns her head to watch her friends stumble out onto the sidewalk in the freezing cold. She looks back at Jonathan a stares deep into his soul. “I think you should close out and come with me.”
Jonathan meets her over at the front door of the tavern and remains mesmerized by her eyes. He cannot stop staring at her beautiful face. She opens the door and for the first time in three years, Jonathan can feel the cold, bitter air against his cheeks.
Jasmine leans in and kisses him on his cheek. He can feel the warmth of her breath. As she pulls back from Jonathan, she hands him a note with the address of the location where she’s going. She takes a step out the front door, holding Jonathan’s hand as she makes her way through the threshold. Their eyes remain fixated on each others as Jonathan remains inside the tavern and Jasmine’s fingers slip through his.
As the door closes, Jonathan’s eyes begin to well up with tears. He knows he can’t go outside, but he wants to see Jasmine again. He paces back and forth for awhile, trying to convince himself to muster up enough courage. Even if he tries to leave and can’t, at least he made an effort! So, he pulls out an atlas and looks up the address. It’s about two miles away.
He closes his eyes and opens the door. Again, he can feel the bitter cold on his cheeks. He takes a deep breath and then takes a giant step through the tavern threshold. He’s outside! He dances in the street for a bit and then realizes that he’s wasting time. He jumps on his motorcycle and the rust bucket still manages to kick start! He rides over to the address Jasmine gave him. He can feel the cold nipping at the skin on his face. Frostbite has never felt so good!
When he enters the home, he sees Jasmine sitting in a chair facing away from him, talking with a few people. She turns her head and looks directly at him. She smiles so big and bright, there’s nothing else in the room but her. She gets up and walks towards Jonathan, smiling the entire time.
The two sit and talk with each other the whole night. Jasmine shares her entire life story with Jonathan, and Jonathan with her; everything except for the dying three years ago part. Every time Jasmine touches Jonathan’s arm, he feels goosebumps over his entire body. He feels more alive than he ever did even when he was alive.
Jasmine finally begins to get sleepy, and Jonathan decides to leave. Parting seems like it’s going to be impossible, but Jonathan eventually peels himself away from her warm embrace and gets back on his motorcycle. They blow each other kisses as he rides off back to his tavern.
As he comes to the blind intersection just down the street from Jasmine’s home, he begins to slow for oncoming traffic. His rear tire locks up, and his motorcycle begins to skid along the ice that has formed on the road overnight. Jonathan suddenly remembers his accident from three years ago. It was at this very intersection!
He remembers skidding through the intersection along the icy road while a delivery truck heading to the tavern comes barreling through the intersection at the same time and broadsides him. He died instantly that morning! He remembers in vivid detail, the sound of the truck’s motor and the sound of the metal grill as it plowed into the side of his head and sent him flying across the other side of the intersection.
He remembers floating above the intersection, watching the chaos below as the truck came skidding to a stop after demolishing his motorcycle as it ran over it. He remembers watching the men jump out of the truck and try to revive his lifeless body. He remembers looking back towards Jasmine’s home and seeing the light go out in her upstairs bedroom just as he felt himself get pulled away towards his tavern.
Jonathan closes his eyes as he braces for impact from the truck. He thinks of Jasmine. He thinks of her smile, her eyes, her lips, her laugh, and the way she’d bite her lip when she’d talk nervously about going off to college. He thinks of how she’s the smartest woman he’s ever met and so self expressed. He thinks of her warm embrace and how when he hugged her everything felt just fine. He grips his handlebars tighter and tighter.
His motorcycle eventually comes to a stop at the gas station just across the intersection. He’s still gripping his handlebars. As he looks back at the intersection, he sees the delivery truck go driving by. He can see Jasmine’s bedroom light turn off in the distance.
He’s alive! He screams with joy and taps his feet in dance while he sits on his motorcycle. He takes a few deep breaths and looks up in the sky and whispers, “Thank you.”
He heads down the road on his motorcycle and is practically dancing along side his bike as he heads towards his apartment above his tavern. He’s so overcome with joy that he almost runs into a car! Startled by the near death encounter, he chokes up his glee and focuses on making sure he arrives back safely to his tavern.
He parks his motorcycle and goes back into his tavern and heads upstairs. He brushes his teeth and stares at himself in the mirror. He’s smiling ear to ear. It’s good to be alive! He finishes getting ready for bed when there’s a knock on the door.
He goes down stairs and opens the tavern door. It has started to rain, and he sees a drenched Jasmine standing in front of him, shivering.
“I know this might sound crazy. I know you’re probably going to think I’m some crazy girl.” A tear falls from Jasmines left eye and is captured by a raindrop falling to the ground. Jonathan watches as her tear falls to the ground. He can see his reflection in her tear.
“I was so worried that something happened to you on your way home. I had to run over here to make sure you were safe. That you got home safely. I prayed for your safety the entire run here. I’m completely drenched.” She flaps her hands in the rain and water flings off of her sleeves onto the ground.
“You must think I’m a silly child or that I’m drunk, but I’m sorry. I just had to know you got home safe. I don’t know why I was so worried about you, but I was. I was so scared.” Jasmine breaks down crying and Jonathan steps out of the tavern and into the rain to embrace her. He begins to cry as he holds her tightly against him. The rain is running down his face as quickly as tears are running from his eyes. The two hold each other tightly as the rain fades into nothingness and their embrace becomes everything.