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by Catfish Russ

Table of Contents
Part 1 appeared
in issue 157.

installment 2 of 4

Part Two

Roscoe awoke naked. He was lying on a flat, soft bed, made of a material he could not recognize. It looked like leather, felt more like plastic, and made a buzzing sound when he ran his hand over it. He was in a large cream white room, with transparent walls and he could see walls of a bigger room beyond it. There in his fishbowl room was the bed, large and triangular, what looked like a table, and his personal effects: (what he had in his pocket when he went to the bathroom, his wallet, a joint and a $100 bill, keys, cell phone, and free pass to the 44th street Titty Cabaret.

There, against the transparent wall were his clothes. He picked them up and put them on. They were clean.

Above him the ceiling was also transparent and he could see a different ceiling above it. He thought of Land of the Giants, an Irwin Allen TV show he had seen on syndication.

OK, so he wasn’t home. Am I dead, he thought.

Gently, in the same voice as the women who answers: “Meridian Mail, you have one unheard message” he heard his own thoughts repeated.

Her voice rang out in the room: “This is like Land of the Giants.”

“Hey, you’re my answering machine lady.” Roscoe wasn’t sure whether he had said it or thought it.

Her voice rang out again, this time tentatively. Slowly. “Hey. I am your answering machine lady.” There was no particular source of the voice. He heard her at the same volume, no matter where he stood. He spoke again: “I sure am hungry lady. I would love a Roy Rogers Cheeseburger.” He waited. She spoke again: “You are hungry.”

“You’re trying to figure out how to speak to me.”

A moment later she said “I am trying to speak to you.”

“Good,” Roscoe began walking around the room. “OK. Great. I am hungry. I want a cheese burger and a case of Bud. I want a big fat joint. I want a TV and some porn. Figure that out. Also, I want jeans and a t –shirts and short sleeve Guaya bera. I want a bed with a blanket.”

He turned and noticed a stand alone hut inside his giant fishbowl room. He walked over to it and a door opened as he approached. A toilet. A sink.

He smelled a chesseburger. He turned and on the triangular night table was a tray with burger and fries. The burger sat on a folded white cardboard container you would see at White Castle. The fries lay steaming on a non descript white plate.

In a white cup was a bubbly fluid. He smelled it and drank it. Some kind of soda. Not Coke. Not anything.

This bitch is reading my mind, he thought.

“Excellent. Thank You,” he spoke out loud.

“Good. Yes.” the Meridian lady remarked.

He wolfed down the burger,

“I am not a bitch. No sex here.”

Whatever that means, he thought. He grabbed a fry closed his eyes and thought of mayo. He opened his eyes and a dollop of mayonnaise lay upon the plate.

This is going to be good, the thought.

“Yes,” she said. Or he said.

He finished the fries and she said finally, “I am coming to meet you.”

Uh oh, he thought. “I hope you’re a babe.”

* * *

The Krig Proconsul rose up on his segmented legs, roved forward to an opening in the chamber walls and delivered a high frequency chirp into the countryside. He was angry beyond anything he had ever felt. His hive was inundated with his pheromones and ophthalmic cues. The drones lumbered near to the hive walls for fear of angering the King any further. Milk larvae, very sensitive to fear and anger scents, twisted and turned in their incubators. Warrior Drones turned up the alerts and crawled into their warfighting stations.

He picked up lounge furniture and tossed into his chamber wall. It broke into four pieces. He chirped again. Two nervous female warriors scraped into his room and across the floor and picked up the mess.

With a mandible he turned on the com center. “Get me my assistant. I want to send a communiqué to the Eridani Prime Minister.....NOW!!!!”

“Yes Prosonsul,” came the response.

His assistant, herself an Eridanian, floated into his chamber in her artificial environment. Eridani’ s are carbon life forms that resemble insects hanging under hot air balloons. Huge sacs cover their backs. They metabolize hydrogen out of the sugars in their plant systems and fill the sacs which then rise. The actual brain and limbs hang from the sacs, something like a maze of probusci and mosquito-like legs hang below. Wing like appendages push them through their thick atmosphere.

Epsilon Eridani was a gas giant with a small solid core and a thick oxygen content near the core. Oxygen came from thermals vents below the only ocean there known as The Great Soft. Imagine Earth inside Jupiter. No sunlight penetrated the core but heat from thermal planetary vents allowed cellulose like plants of all sorts to recycle nitrogen and carbon and oxygen. A naturally ionized upper atmosphere reacted with rising oxygen to create a constant, if not wavering low red flame. Imagine a 24 hour sunset.

The assistant’s artificial atmosphere and anti gravity bubble was all Eridani technology. The Eridani’s created the Quantum Jump technology, and in fact were the prime creators of science artifacts in the Coalition. The Krigs made nothing. Except deals. They were the ultimate traders, and the Krig Credit was still the top trading currency.

“Yes Pronsul. You wish to send a message.” Bioluminescent membranes signaled her quantum communicator device was on.

“Yes, assistant. Right away. Send this-Honorable and Just Prime Minister and Genius of our Times, it is time that we move forward with the plan. Car Tarsus Ra’s latest mistake is too much to bear. He is old and slow and this almost became a catastrophe. How long before the phase...whatever it-is-you-call-device is finished?”

He was still as she sent the communication. In his chamber a moment later, a hologram of the Eridani PM appeared, a big bug floating under hydrogen filled membranes. “Calm down my friend. Even my projection can smell the anger and heat in the room.”

The Krig Proconsul was bleating and chirping mad. “I cannot take one more minute of this nincompoop. Car Tarsus Ra should put the Proconsul position to a vote. But he won’t. Because he knows I will take his place. He and and his Silicoid race should fold them selves into some other dimension and go calculate math problems. He is a poor leader and the Coalition is losing prominence among the Explorers Group. And that is where the money is.”

“Power. Money. The Krigs make this mistake of confusing the two time and again.” The Eridani PM answered contemptuously. The Krigs and the Eridani did not go back one second before the Coalition was formed decans ago. But there was no love lost. The Krigs were aggressive, conniving deal makers. The Eridani were scientists who had more to trade than anyone. Strange bed partners commerce makes.

“Don’t lecture me you gas bag. Plenty of Krig money sits in your account,” The Krig Proconsul shot back.

The Eridani excreted excess gas, a sign of derision. “Krig money is in everyone’s account. The point is you cannot push this. If we release the Matter Phase Shifting Device without protocols, it can be copied. If anyone else ends up with the Phase Shifter, they can do to you...whatever you to do them. We are trying to create a Phase Shifter with an algorithm that will erase itself if any other protocols are input. In other words, in the wrong hands it would be worthless. Can you not see that we are doing this to prevent buyers remorse?”

“How. Long.”

“Two militurns.”

The Krig chirped loudly. “You said ONE militurn at the counsel meeting.”

“We had a setback.” The Eridani’s signal started to fade.

“Don’t you cut me off...”

He blinked out, only a small light floated in mid air reporting the last degraded audio. “Must be our deficient Eridani technology....sorry Proconsul...I will call you in two militurns.” The signal ended.

“Call him again!!!!”

The assistant’s membranes glowed again. “He is blocking the feed. Shall I continue?”

“You gas bags. If you weren’t so smart, we would feed on you.”

“Will that be all?” The assistant asked.

The Krig stormed passed her out of the chamber. She floated out behind him.

* * *

Roscoe figured out who was who now. The soft slithery transparent jelly-fish man-thing was talking to him in the Meridian Mail voice. He owned Rsocoe. Whatever he was, he was making his food and his wishes come true. Jelly Man.

Once Jelly Man made an appearance, tenuous and flowing, a living prism that refracted light towards him, just outside the transparent wall.

“Where am I?” Roscoe asked.

“In my home. Far away from your home.’

“I am on another planet, right?”

Her...its voice rang out ever softer.

“Almost. We created this place; it was not in orbit naturally. Nevertheless we placed our own home on orbit around a star that your astronomers have seen and dubbed L 10352.”

“What will I call you?”

“As you can see I have no mouth. I have no body whatsoever. You can call One. In a sense we are hardly even a species. We are not carbon life forms. We are silicoids. Computer life- forms created by carbonoids eons ago.’

“You’re a toaster.” Rosoce tried to push a button.

“More like the descendant of toasters.”

“You’re a laptop. A Blackberry.”

“The most powerful Blackberry ever created.”

“I’m not impressed.”

“Were you impressed with your former life Marvin? Or is it Roscoe? Do you want to go back to Manhattan? Or do you want a life of untold riches? You can have anything you want simply by thinking of it. You can see worlds and beings you have never imagined. You can be a celebrity the likes of which would make your biggest stars literally nothings. Or you can go back to stealing cell phones.”

Roscoe sat silent.

Car Tarsus Ra went on: “ There are worse things than your dingy apartment on 56th Street Marvin.”

The statement shocked him. He hadn’t considered that he probably looked like a dog on a chain to Jelly Man. He had considered that he was alive because he was worth something to someone. Or maybe they needed him. It’s always great to begin negotiating from a position outside of fear.

“The atmosphere on the other side of the wall is chlorine and nitrogen. You would die a most painful death.”

Roscoe sat silently. He reached for a remaining fry on the plate. It disappeared.

“You would have no cheeseburgers ever. Now, there is something I want from you. I will bring a guest in later to see you.”

“OK. Fine. I’ll play. How will I know it’s him? Shall I rollover and play dead?”

“He will appear something like a nine-legged nine-foot tall locust with serrated combs around his breathing vents. He will lean forward to view you in his four multi segmented eyes. Then he will chirp in your audio frequency. The wall will protect you.”

What will I”

“Him,” the Tarsian said. “ Call him Species Two...or perhaps...Grasshopper Man.”

Roscoe didn’t blink. Jelly Man’s trying to make a move, a show that he can reach into Roscoe’s mind and choose words and images and descriptions.


“No Marvin. Not lovely. This one is horrible. Absolutely horrible.”

Jelly Man disappeared.

“Great,” Roscoe said. “I’m working for another small minded jerk.”

* * *

In the Eridani Quantum Labs in orbit around Eridani Prime, the Eridani chief physicist hovered waiting for the Prime Minister.

“Idiots,” he thought to himself. “They cannot rush this technology. Krigs. Power. Idiots.”

An Eridani scientist com-linked to the Chief, “ Doctor, the Prime Minister is here.”

“Thank you, send him through.”

The Eridani PM floated in among a throng of assistants. Oddly there was no security detachment with the PM. The security technologies each Eridani traveler carried represented technology so advanced it was impervious to all existing weapons or countermeasures.

“Greetings Statesman,” the scientists said.

“Greetings back,” the PM answered. “Oh how I weary of commerce. I wish we could join the Puritan movement and reject science and run Kittle ranches.”

The scientist klicked and snapped, laughter as it were. “The Prime Minister would be bored.”

“No. I would love to escape this tension and the lies. We should put a security shield around our home and say goodbye to the worship of Krig credits,” the PM said.

The Scientist spoke up, “Money corrupts. Unfortunately money funds our research and products.”

“Yes. That said, how long before this mad insect gets his toy?” The PM rose and sampled the flowers hanging above the lab.

“Toy? My dear Statesman, this is a weapon. One that would give him power over everyone,” the scientist protested.

“Except us,” reminded the PM.

“So death and bad luck to those who do not have our protections. “

“How much did you make last year Scientist?”

The Eridani physicist stopped where he was. He was totally silent.

“How many of your off spring have been furnished with ultraviolet protected caves? How many Eridanis have been saved with anti oxidation lotions for old and weary gas sacs?” The PM turned and waved tentacles and mandibles in the Physicists direction.

“You would go back and tend flowers again instead of live in abject wealth...” the Prime Minister challenged him.

“Yes Statesman,” the scientist answered. “Yes, I would.” After an embarrassed silence, the scientist answered the original question. “Two militurns.”

“Well, I guess that is that,” The PM turned and floated among his throng. ‘No way I can accelerate that...’

The scientists remained motionless, a sign of open disregard.

“I will see you in two militurns then. Take care friend,” The PM left.

The Chief Physicist sent his students and researchers out of the room. He lingered at a control panel. Eventually the PM would find out. A few of these researchers knew the bitter truth... that the Phase Shift Weapon had been finished and ready long ago.

It was one thing to finish your job for the Republic faithfully. It was quite something else to release a weapon of this power to such a band of self-serving idiots. It was he, the Chief Physicist who had decided to hide the finish. He had stalled long enough. He had two milliturns. Enough time to hide the weapon, or create a false copy that did not work at all.

The Phase Shift Weapon was another Eridani Quantum technological leap. This weapon operated by projecting a layer of Protium over the surface of an object. The Phase shift then creates a similar Protium surface over a bubble that contains say a person or a ship. Then it performs a quantum entanglement of captured outer electrons on both surfaces. Then an artificial ‘observer’ collapses the wave function and only reveals those quantum values that agree with an intended quantum value. Then the entangled particles and the objects connected to them and the obstacle it wants to pass through sort of ‘trade places’ with the single outer electron; then the object continues its momentum forward and through the object. Even though it has the exact quantum number as the object it passes through, it is still a solid object and still moving through space. On the other side of the obstacle, another artificial observer brings the ship back into phase, or its original quantum number, only on the other side of the object.

In effect, the phase shift device allows to you move an entire armada of warships through a force field or a mine field or a wall without suffering a single casualty, because you have effectively matched the quantum wave phase of the obstacle and passed through it. You in effect did not touch the obstacle because you became the obstacle for a millisecond. A Quantum Phase Shifter would make your weapons literally unstoppable. It also makes it possible to go into match phase with the weapons coming at you so as to allow them to pass harmlessly through you.

Controlled by high speed processors and slaved to a simple AI and voice protocol and this would give anyone who possessed it infinite powers.

Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2005 by Catfish Russ

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