In a Room Underground...Somewhere
Epsilon Charik-6 Herpestes entered into the room and sat down
on one of the chairs that rose from the floor. He squirmed around
for a few moments and asked "Is it possible to put a hole in the
back of this thing?" in a voice surprisingly understandable without
a voder, although it still had a distinct herpestine accent.
"Sorry, Epsilon, the floor is only programmed to produce that one
style of chair. We would have to break or burn a hole in it." said
"Never mind. I have the nanochip with the blueprints of the
Golgotha and Gehenna nanites here. You can use this information to
help you develop countermeasures faster than you could do otherwise."
"And why should we believe that these are accurate? Why would
you risk your life to bring us this information?" Dr. Powell
The mammaloid rose up from the edge of the seat, his bodysuit
pattern swirling kaleidoscopically. "You can believe that they are
accurate because I had a paw in designing these horrors. I am risking
my life to bring you this data because I am convinced that, even
though you do not have an aura, you still have self-aware minds and,
thus souls...I believe in a God, even if I do not wear a jewel to
tell the entire moon about that politically inconvenient fact.
And I would thank you to call me by my rank, Dr. Powell."
"Very well, *Epsilon*. And what is this "aura" nonsense you
are blathering about?"
Charik-6 looked around the room as if seeking a hidden camera,
and then shrugged with his entire body. "OK, look. We mammaloids
are able to read each others thoughts and emotions if we are
within a distance of one or two meters of each other. We have to
learn how to ignore the real external world, and in crowds we
just get an overall feeling, but in pairs we can share each others
minds in some detail." He walked over to Dr. Powell and stood
next to him. "We can do this with any species...I can "read" a
pangolin or rabbit as well as another mongoose. But I sense
nothing from you, Dr. Powell. It is as if I am standing next
to a corpse."
"Poppycock!" exploded Dr. Powell. But Dr. Cranston nodded
his head. "I remember back in the Eighties. CSICOP broke up over
that one...they had been debunking claims of psychic ability
for over a century, and now they suddenly had one they could
"We tried to keep that secret...having an ability to communicate
secretly was invaluable during the Koŝmaro. It leaked out at
last, of course. And when the Koŝmaro became the Koŝmarego, the
Theocracy believed we had such abilities anyway...after all,
they thought we were demons."
"I still say poppycock. Religion and the paranormal are nonsense.
All they ever did is cause death and destruction."
"Maybe they just aren't actually being fully followed by their
adherents. A lot of Catholics ignored _Imago Dei_, or actually
left the Church to form sects like the Real Catholics and True
Catholics, and I'm sure other religions are much the same."
"John Paul V only wanted to get mammaloid converts, that's
why he gave them souls."
"Dr. Powell, John Paul V knew he would lose a thousand human
members of the Church for every mammaloid he could hope to get.
And just swelling the ranks of the Church Militant was not his
main goal. Once he was warned that a hundred million Catholics
in the United States could be killed because of his position on
the Mammaloid Question...which was a very realistic possibility.
He replied 'Then Heaven will greet a hundred million Saints.'
The next month, he was assassinated."
"We know that the Moon has tested antimatter weapons. If your
nanites do not exterminate humanity, will these weapons be used,
Epsilon Charik-6 Herpestes?"
"Of course not. Our leaders may be fanatics, but they are not
insane enough to cremate the Earth. We have made telescopic surveys
out to several hundred parsecs, almost a thousand light years.
Nearly a million solar type stars, scores of thousands of planets
with hydrospheres, but not one with the chemical signatures of life.
We will terraform them one day, but for now, Earth may be the
only self-sustaining Gaian biosphere in the Cosmos."
Charik-6 handed the nanochip to Dr. Cranston and walked out of
Between Mars and Jupiter, a nickel-iron slab the size of a skyscraper
orbited on a path that would, months later, send it through the
Earth's geosynchronous orbit region, one tenth the distance of Luna.
A photon rocket fired for an hour. Now, months later, it would
impact the Australian continent.
DRIZZLE DRAZZLE DRUZZLE DROME
TIME FOR THIS ONE TO COME HOME