Prose Header

Floozman in Space

by Bertrand Cayzac

Table of Contents

Chapter 6: Far Away, on a Mediciean Moon

part 3

Schtroumpf is the first to answer. “The tests will soon be suspended in order to focus resources on program finalization. However, all platforms shall be equipped with all the necessary systems to continue research. Only experiments requiring high energy levels will be postponed—”

“Objection,” Kaliyuga interjects again, smiling with all her bright smile. The decision-beat accelerates in a minor mode. “I know the constraints fairly well. But you are telling us, aren’t you, that we are to undertake a hundred years' journey — if we achieve the scheduled speeds — with reduced research.

“We are just now beginning to exploit vacuum fluctuations and have almost succeeded in modeling the operation of a space-time bubble. And I am not talking about our first destination. Nothing tells us that that we can easily settle at Proxima.”

“Stop,” Jay Beeh says sharply. “I want us to leave within five standard years. The progress you claim is little more than thought experiments. Don't try to make us believe otherwise. WARP models are facing fundamental theoretical problems with the wave packet. Anyway, Earth will not be capable of sending an expedition to another star before we do. Light platforms will make the trip in less than two centuries.”

“Good, good, good...”

Frail Brigitte Kaliyuga interrupts the ritual. “The passengers on those ships won't be human.” She speaks in a determined voice in spite of the decision beat's pulsation. She ignores the Executive Director and looks Jenny straight in the eye, without flinching. Great is her psychic power.

Jenny-Millicent is staring at Brigitte, too, and is quite surprised. Everyone holds his breath. The cyber-palotins shiver. The power of the President is theoretically unlimited. For one thing, it is why she is entitled to gendered life. She can fire Kaliyuga, she can suspend her, dismiss her, punish her, vaporize her. She may also take the challenge and prove herself an exception to the rule.

But Jenny’s mind is ebbing. She is no longer able to focus. The analysts know that power drains from her a little more every day. Millicent tries to hold on to this vanishing consciousness. She feels in her scoreboards all that the real scenery loses in weight as Jenny's awareness dims.

It's gonna be all right... Just say something. That is, in its transcoded form, the signal that Jenny sends from beyond the ineffable horizon beyond which she is disappearing.

“We will keep control remotely, with the spatial protocol,” Millicent answers at last to Kaliyuga.

Jay Beeh activates the performance report and adds bluntly, “As for me, I suspend you for RESISTANCE TO CHANGE! You'll take an appointment for an interview with the Director of Performance. Now you can leave.”

A wave of emotion runs through the audience. They all know what is awaiting sweet Brigitte if her case is transferred to the Department of Organic Resources. She rises, upright in a cascade of hair and leaves the room without a word.

Millicent remains speechless. Schtroumpf continues the presentation. He is a small bosun eager to command proud ships. With no soul on the decks and no sail in the sky, could they not turn their stern on him and fly away by themselves on the violet ether by themselves and without any notice?

* * *

One sees the SLUMBER PROGRAM with its risk profiles and corresponding financial instruments. In the ship, duration is abolished. The machines are the tomb of time and mind. They stay the course and maintain vegetative functions.

Nervous systems are modified to accommodate a minimum motor ability. Consciousness is contained. Humans live in a permanent dream guided by bio-control and porn-beat. During the choppiest phases, comparable to REM-sleep phases, they speak the lost language of desire, they love without knowing and breed in a hallucination, assisted by the genes manager.

The evanescent chimeras they birth in this state are never recorded. They are made up of the sands of reminiscence or even of web-provided material. In this cave, in the future, a hero erects himself on an elbow from time to time. He catches a glimpse of his gesture throughout the destinies, the memories of love and war. He outlines a romance, a city. He designs the power that he lacks and then quickly goes back to sleep... The trip lasts and does not last. Lo! They have arrived!

* * *

One sees the ANT PROGRAM with its risk profiles and corresponding financial instruments. Passengers are reprogrammed not to be conscious of the void.

Their artificial instincts enable them to repeat the tasks which maintain them as a species. They play sports; they do not amble naked, nor are they mute, for the designers have elaborated a minimal dressing, a minimal style for the form, similar to the painted shells of antique metal toys.

The machines are in complete control of their evolution. They contain it in the same forms. Men go about like insects within a world of galleries. It is an impasse for vital impetus. Consciousness is canceled. But, upon arrival, the waking program will go and fetch it, wherever it is. Everything is planned.

The broadcasting rights have been securitized. The markets have responded with enthusiasm. Earth investors are putting money into it en masse. They are talking about it over a half-cleared table while the cheeses are still exposed and the black crystal sediment at the bottom of their wineglasses greets Sunday's light with a gloomy welcome.

* * *

One sees the SPORES PROGRAM with its risk profiles and corresponding financial instruments. The machines make the crossing alone. Similar to seeds, light vessels carry human and modified-human genes. The program ensures the continuity of Cosmitics and adapts to new worlds.

The design is very vivid and gay. Very springlike. The artist has captured the pollens and chestnuts flying about in the air of May. But more darkened shades gradually mingle with the scenery without really diminishing its buoyancy. This is man's winter, but life and financial activity shall resume.

The response of the markets has been excellent. The investors of Earth are pooling their money en masse. They feel that they will never be able to finish their meal and that there will always remain a surplus, an accursed share...

* * *

One sees the VIRUS PROGRAM with its risk profiles and corresponding financial instruments. Simple ultra-accelerated laboratory probes. At the end of the journey they shall recreate life and shape it in the image of man and in the image of modified man. The program will ensure Cosmitics’ continuity.

The response of the markets has been excellent. Earth investors are providing money en masse. Some are taking a nap now. Others go hunting.

* * *

One sees the GOSPEL SHIP at a glance. Its financial instruments are not yet available. It's the platform that the religious refugees from the moon Amalthea have traded for part of the nuclear warheads controlled by Europa's last Christian church.

All the cults shall be gathered for the journey. There are few images: long flat arches, naves filled with golden shadows, mysteries hardly contained by dazzling vaults. A ceiling of fractal lace endlessly calculates an asymptotic approach to its limit. A virtual sky opens on infinity. Letters of black fire tremble at the heart of an incandescent plasma.

Earth investors ask their brokers for the fact sheet. One never knows. One mustn't let the money sit idly in the bank...

* * *

“And how about the Earth destruction option?” asks Schtroumpf, turning to Jenny. But the stimuli-shield remains silent. Jenny's attention seems to have evaporated.

Sometimes, at his wooden desk, a schoolboy lets his mind explore the continents formed by sycamore bark, even when the strict master calls his name in the silent class. Thus does Jenny lose sight of human shores. Journeying towards distant spheres, she sees pure time and fecund potentialities.

I pray to you all, o Muses, and to you, too, divine Virgil. Reveal to the manager these formidable fleets, these heroes whose ardor has cast out of the world, the ordeals that the fates have placed in their way, and unfurl with her the immense tapestry of the conquest of space.

It's a hair salon. Old ladies, very quiet, seem to be reading magazines under their bulging helmets. But they are not ladies. Lo! They are turning! Oh God, what happened to us!

Farther away we find life again, intelligence, a thing yearning for freedom, alone, alone. But something has gone wrong. Something has happened. It is lost. It is a transformed biomass, fragmented, trans-differentiated. Perhaps it is made up of multiple entities. Perhaps it is such that no other form can imagine it. Perhaps it is a foam devoid of color, for want of eyes.

This intelligence lies sovereign and isolated in incommensurable expanses of space within the scope of language, but there is a bias in this representation. It stands isolated in the VACUUM because there is no matter in the interstellar void, only a secret one hidden from knowledge.

Perhaps matter cannot exist without spirit... Poor, poor existence. It has only the spacecraft's miniature techno-nature and the archives of Earth. So does the life form, the vital momentum, the thing, run through stored information such as books, films, video footage.

There is not much, finally, in the trace of sapiens-sapiens ape's activity over these few millions of terrestrial orbits. Its neural networks try to isolate structures to make sense. It makes dead languages resound. It analyzes contents. It mines data for lost meanings. Perplexed, it visits works of art and history. It asks questions and then withdraws into itself to hear the answers.

The networks set up talk shows, which do not amuse them. What can be the meaning of “Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night...?” It gives the floor to the narrator of In search of lost time, and then, moved by some kind of awe, it does not deactivate him. “Him”? Were there only two genders then?

Thus the narrator's avatar embroiders endlessly, for millennia of the clock time. The neural networks are weaving his text. Other neural networks automatically generate music that the thing transmits to still other neural networks for them to decide whether it is beautiful... This is the best it can offer to those it shall meet some day.

But what will the others think of it? How can it know? The intelligence endlessly raises questions. It performs exegesis. Maybe it is looking for hope. Maybe it will find love. Maybe it will found a city.

“No! This is wrong!” Jenny thinks. “All is wrong! Space does not exist. What a pity, what a waste. They will never create anything but a dead form, my old, drifting carapace. They are heading to something worse than death. But all this is necessary. All this must go by the ways of this world again.”

Proceed to Chapter 7...

Copyright © 2015 by Bertrand Cayzac

Proceed to Challenge 628...

Home Page