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John Rodrigues (M)
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    Vaticinate - draft part 2a

    Nate could not wait to get to Earth because the transhumans would have the answers to his questions which everyone seemed to be so ignorant about.

    The Noth cautioned him not to get his hopes up too high. The fact that the transhumans had displaced everyone else on Earth did not mean that they had a lot of sympathy for those that they had sent away.

    Nate thought that they had no idea what they were talking about, having only met a proxy for an artificial representative of the group rather than any one of them directly.

    The Noth said that he was in the same situation. They merely did not go to the same extreme as he did. He had to have another plan ready in case they did not want to give him the information that he wanted.

    Nate said that the transhumans had thought of it all. It had been they who had forecast humanity's decline. They wanted other forms of life to be examined in case the elements would be common in space. It was they who discovered the alien probes because of intense reactions. They also were not quick to want to upload to machine forms and lose the linkage to nature which assured them they would get stronger. That is why Knawe liked them so much.

    The Noth said that he was being obstinate. He did not believe any of that either.

    Nate had to admit that he would rather transfer the humans to Earth en masse and bypass having to cooperate with the transhumans in tandem. That still did not mean that they would not be able to give them some valuable data. Being out of the fray, they had a unique perspective which would not be as biased as the rest.

    The Noth thought they were merely another aspect of the posthumans which Nate knew less about that any of them. The synds would be as aggressive as the transhumans were passive. The latter sent the artificials in their place which did not stir up activity, but looked for the insights that would make it unnecessary. That would not last forever. Eventually the other groups would get to them. It could take a while, or it might be hastened by some intermediate species which ascribed the difficulties to the transhumans originally.

    Nate had to be optimistic. The transhumans had not lied to him yet. They had not told him everything either, but that was their prerogative. Knawe was like that and she was okay.

    The Noth said that, his innate romanticism aside, he was assuming that he could shift attachments between authorities ad hoc. They had seen how that fared on the Vat. All he had to do was recall what happened to Tarp or Lange when they disagreed with the artificials. In fact the trio was on the run because of their own misgivings. The transhumans were not going to let it slide. Nate was going to have to answer their questions instead.

    Nate had the same agitation that he had when the augmentation was frozen and would not respond to him. They had stopped. The multis was at rest. Being on the wrong planet had paralyzed his sense of time. It was dark. He had been getting colder before, but now it was slightly warmer so the atmospheric conditioning must be working. He really wanted to be back at the Vat which he had so callously discarded for the unknown and now regretted.

    "Where are we?" Nate asked.

    "We better stay in the multis," Er said.

    There had to be a person that could tell them where this place was. He did not plan to stay long. All he needed was to get his bearings and they would continue to Earth. He would keep the Noth out of sight so that they would not startle anyone. Then it was a matter of finding someone to ask directions from and maybe grabbing a few items for keepsakes.

    "You can remain here," Nate said. They followed him instead as he set off toward what appeared to be a vertical shape in the distance. He had not had to exert himself this hard in as long as he could recall. There was no straight path like he was used to. He was dragging the others around an obstacle course. To make it worse, there were no obvious mechanical controls that could be adjusted. This was raw nature. They had no idea what that was capable of. It was not going to notify them when supplies were ready. They had to scrounge anything beside what they had in the transport.

    There were some plants around. These were stuck right in the ground and they grew large overhead. Nothing was regular. He was not surprised to see that noone occupied them. They must be in rooms somewhere else.

    His pulse was irregular and his palms were moist, but his mouth was dry. He had been frazzled before he left the Vat. The trip had done nothing but exaggerate that. Now they were somewhere unknown which only worried him further. The sounds were strange and unnatural. They were not starting and stopping, but continued with changes in pitch. The Noths seemed to be taking it in stride. At least they were not running around frantically like they used to at the station.

    "I thought you were trying to get the multis activated," Nate said.

    "It is not going anywhere until we figure out what made it settle here," Ing said.

    Nate was favoring his right side, so something must have been bruised on the other, though he could not feel it yet. He had better take it easy until his nerves were not so taut. He had to get them back on track. They had never been away from everything like this before.

    "Everything will be okay," Nate said. The Noths may have thought that Nate was acting compulsively, but they let him take charge. He wanted to appear confident.

    Nate was sure that, once he set foot on Earth, he would recognize it as his proper habitat.

    The Noth were not so convinced of that.

    Nate had to show how the Vat, Tarp, and the multis had conspired to deliver him to the right place.

    The Noth contended that he was skipping over the elephant in the room, or a pair of them, the machines and aliens. He had not been paying attention to what the artificials were up to all this time.

    Nate said that they had something in common. The machines liked to take things apart and the aliens needed to put the domains together according to their own scheme. They were like two sides of the same object. The Noth, being a new species, had not learned anything about patience.

    The Noth had to warn him that the aliens had been around before humans as well as after and that they were not showing any such tolerance. The machines may have considered time to begin with them and they were putting things back into how they wanted to be, while the aliens were making all of it fit a definition established where they had been strongest. The humans were as new at this as they were, and slower it seemed. At least they had not made any progress beyond throwing excess population at the other planets and losing track of them.

    Nate said that they were in a multis. That was a sign that they were going forward.

    The Noth said that the artificials had built them for the transhumans and that they were machines. He could not be sure that it was not the latter who had provided the idea in the first place. Autonomous transports were ubiquitous. The Vat was such a station.

    Nate did not see it like that. The machines were out there somewhere far away. The aliens were similar. They occasionally crossed the posthuman paths, but that was unplanned.

    The Noths thought that, if he wanted to learn anything, he should look at what humans were shying away from which was how the machines and aliens differed and what that meant. There was no reasoning method for it which should be a clue that they could expect surprise. People either assumed that the machines would figure it out for them which they had not or that the aliens would acknowledge humanity's central role in the makeup of life which had no fundamental cause. It would be like saying that programmers were poets which would merely be an indication that they both labored after mysteries in their own ways, but other than that they were human which begged the question.

    Nate thought that the Noth had no finesse or subtlety in their arguments. They discounted the entire history of humanity on Earth.

    The Noth agreed. It had nothing to do with the Vat or those other groups and domains which he was trying to hard to avoid.

    If Nate had to find a better explanation on an exoplanet, then they would be in the sweet spot for it.

    Nate needed a way to project augmentation into larger zones and that he could carry around with him. He had the smallest assembly printer that had been in the multis. It could be used to make something a component at a time. The Vat had had some supplies that were used to make energy for other activities, so that must be necessary on the planet.

    The sky was beginning to get light. There was a metallic smell in the moist air.

    "Where are they?" Nate asked.

    "Still no sign," Ing said.

    The people that lived around here must be gathered somewhere.

    "It looks like they terraformed the ground to compensate for the extreme climate," Er said. It might not be so harsh to them.

    "They must have fabricated the leaves, too," Nate said. This was a different approach to nature than he had heard of on Earth.

    He wondered if there was a way to make a signal that would attract attention. If he made it optical, then it would not necessarily cause havoc.

    The Noths had noticed that Nate seemed to be perturbed. Each time that Nate ventured into a new area, he half expected a synd to tell him that it was off limits. Since they were accommodating of his requirements, he tried to be more considerate of them as well. They were making simple pictures on the ground to show where they had been. Presumably this would make it quicker to find their way back. They could also do the same then if they wanted to retrace this path again. They would have tried it if he was not in such a hurry. Nate examined them more closely and saw that they looked like the shapes of the usual places on the Vat. It must be indicative of their opinions about the surroundings so far. They were avoiding any reference to Knawe so he did the same. It was important that they maintain good spirits. The same went for him.

    The Vat admin has not seemed to have located him yet. They will be after the fugitive, Nate was sure of it, because they had eventually brought in Tarp like that. He would rather mix with the natives here so they would be less likely to hand him over if anyone came asking. He did not see the trappings of the posthumans so perhaps he would get a reprieve. The three of them would have to cover as much distance as they could.

    There was a place before them which had large rooms which looked like someone had been there, if not a crowd, so it might be a population center. It was not in good condition.

    Nate wanted to find the site where the most people would be found and head into the middle of it to get the information that they needed. It was probably a good thing that they had not set down on top of it or in the middle of anything else.

    It was fully daytime now and there was hardly any circulation of the air. Things were still quiet. The building that they were in was a tight fit compared to being outside, but it also reminded Nate more of the station. Something in him must have begun to adjust to their new circumstances.

    Nate had been through the inside looking for any way to make contact with someone. He was running around frantically. The Noths appeared to have slowed when compared to him. If it kept up like this, he doubted that they would ever be found.

    "We could survive indefinitely," Nate said.

    "Have caution about being overconfident," Ing said.

    "Particularly since we do not know what the long-term effects of this environment are yet," Er said.

    Nate was hungry. They had some stuff left when they were in the multis, but he had not found anything new. If he passed out, the Noth would run back to scrounge some morsel. He was hoping that it would not come to that. This is where the posthumans would come in handy.

    Nate recalled what Tarp had told him. The way that humans knew what to do was by observing indigenous life. A part of them would become like that if it was not already there dormant for an extended period. Unfortunately they had not seen anyone here. He would have to try breaking down all the materials that seemed organic to mix something up if they did not find the foodstuffs that were used here. The Noth might last a while longer. Knawe would not want him back without them. She was likely not too happy that they were along at all.

    Nate used augmentation to make the place seem friendlier. He tried not to make it look like where they had come from since that would distract him from what they needed to concentrate on.

    Nate had to record things so that they could know where they had been and draw some conclusions. Doing this with augmentation was easier to sort out than on the physical surfaces and he could put things together in creative ways.

    "There were some curious effects on the ground," Nate said.

    "Like it had gone through instantaneous changes in conditions," Ing said.

    It was not the same in the building.

    "What kind of culture was this?" Nate asked.

    "There are going to be people about our size," Er said.

    "Maybe not," Ing said. "The gravity could cause significant differences."

    "The structures are about the same proportion as ours were."

    "And similar to Earth, but those groups are very different."

    This was the first case where the Noth were doubting eachother. It was more new information than they have ever had to deal with. Nate was worried that the Noth would abandon him. They seemed more intent on solving mysteries than maintaining camaraderie. He wanted them to remain reasonable. They seemed to have a way of thinking that was different from any other group and that was brought out further by the intensity.

    Nate had taken to the search again, this time to find the storage areas. He figured that he had not exerted himself to the fullest so he had to make the effort.

    It seemed like there was a lot of static charge in the atmosphere. This used to mean storms in the weather that he had heard about. That meant that they needed to find shelter. There were some covers on the ground that led to tunnels.

    After wandering for a time, it seemed like the paths which were not empty had been destroyed. There would be no way to dig anything out of them. Somebody must have wanted whatever was in them out of reach.

    Nate was further from what he had been looking for and they would soon be completely disoriented. He was becoming concerned that the Noth would consider him irresponsible.

    "Maybe we could use a compass," Nate said. He had seen those somewhere about Earth.

    "That was an early way to find directions before positioning," Ing said.

    "It assumes that we had a map," Er said.

    "We would only need the endpoints," Ing said.

    "Which we do not have either," Er said. "That was the point of the survey."

    The Noth were disagreeing with eachother again. Nate had to try to keep them calm. "That and finding something edible."

    The smells around here were more unfamiliar than ever.

    "How did they build these things?" Nate asked.

    "Boring machines," Er said.

    "As opposed to exciting ones," Ing said. "They could have used artificial organisms or particles, too."

    "I get it," Nate said. "Those would effectively be polarized to know which way to go. Where did they put the previous content?"

    "There must be fills nearby," Er said.

    "Find those and there may have sheds for the people," Nate said, "which means stores."

    They retrace their way back up. After going further, Nate was stuck in a magnetic or gravitational storm. He should have conserved his strength. His legs would not hold him. He was now fully dependent upon the Noths.

    Nate could not tell if he was going forward or backward. This must be how migratory herds felt when they ran into squalls. All he could do was try to keep the Noth in sight. Between the outbursts he knew that he had not passed out.

    Nate did not think that this turmoil was ever going to end. They needed to make weather measurements to know what kind is ahead. All he had was the augmentation so that would be what they used for time-keeping.

    He was starting to wonder if this was associated with the way people had disappeared on Earth also. Anything that they put in place here might be a sort of early warning system.

    He noticed that there were corresponding symbols of death. Groups had fled Earth so that it would not become like this.

    This was supposed to be about the destiny of humanity. The Noths were contrary to his objective. They must have suspected that fact.

    Nate had become separated from the Noth. They must have decided not to see him go down. He would not see Knawe again either. In retrspect, there must have been other species to have taken in place of the Noths.

    Nate thought that he could hear people like on the Vat, but did not see any. He was wondering if he would start seeing things like on the station, too. Nate was becaming convinced that these were the betans. Either that or it would be their ghosts. It certainly was not the synds. Admin had to air their dirt to the winds because they had to appear above it all in person. This was more of a split in creed. It was not his, though. He could not fathom the betan devices that were responsible for this. Part of him thought that he would be better off if there were others, but seeing how the circumstances were deteriorating despite this, he rather wanted to remain undiscovered by anything that lived here. The only thing that would be adequate might be a means of stasis.

    Tarp must have fallen a few times in his travels. He could not have known that he would end up on the Vat. What he was fleeing from were the aliens. He could not have known which would be worse, they or the posthumans. Perhaps Nate was going the other way. He had made it away from the group that had taken the Earth from people. He had done so without much of a plan to take it back. That would not do him much good in this situation anyway. In all of their resets, they had not been able to remove the urge to see where it all began. If he slipped off now the image would be what he had thought it was like which was not as good. He wanted certainty. They all did, but he had had the chance to be able to go after it.

    Despite their breach of his confidence, Nate wanted to find his companions. He did know how they coordinated with eachother or he could use that to summon them. He needed comms. He was also wondering what the posthumans would do. Nothing on the Vat could save him now.

    There were innate factions here. There had to be. It was like any place else. Perhaps the scrimmages between the sides that had led to this were what seemed to be like strange events. He wanted to know why these were happening.

    Nate was beginning to realize how bad off he was. He had goose bumps. All he had wanted to see was Earth, but instead this was it. The augmentation held what remain of his life to this point. It had not been to his liking on the Vat. He had gotten as far away as he would be able to. The Noth had followed before, but had continued further.

    The constant changes in the air made it difficult for Nate to breathe. The effects of lack of sleep were also more noticeable. Nate had to get through his own paranoia. Time seemed to be much slower than when he was on the Vat. He was developing a fear of large spaces. It might be better for him to stay within the nearest habitat. He crawled around until he saw something not too far away and made his way there.

    Humans liked routines. Whoever lived here might also. Nate expected to find examples of their types of activities. This place had a lot of remnants. They would be rareties elsewhere. An organization like the cartel would find bounties for them. The Vat might be able to value some of them also. There was a box that had a picture of a number of galaxies on it and there were some markings on each of them. He tried activating it, but it remained inert. This must be what the artificials saw when they looked at the domains. Maybe these people had been in league with them for some reason. Nate made sure to get a snapshot since he might be able to eventually determine what it had meant. He had been using the augmentation to save a map of where they had been to. He could now add these items to it. It would make a nice 3D rendition if he ever had anyone else to show it to. Augmentation also took his mind off of the pain. His composure was becoming more unsettled. His only fallbacks were Knawe and Tarp, neither of which would fare any better here either.

    This place was stocked much better than the tunnels had been. He found a bottle of something which did not smell awful so he tasted it and wound up drinking half of it down. That calmed him somewhat. He had been thirstier than he had thought so he finished it off. His stomach seemed okay. There was a slight improvement in his coordination again. If there were more of these, he should take them along.

    For a moment he was aware of a bright light and then he could not move. He had not gotten up so the way down was not far either. His vision cleared and he could see alright. His limbs returned to normal. It must not have been the liquid. There was a roar in his ears. It sounded like it was from somewhere close and was passing from left to right. That must have been what blasted him. Everything else around him seemed intact. He resumed his search, but did not find anything else he could carry.

    There might be more places like this. He could go through them in some order like rows or a spiral. Whatever it was that was out there might be back. He would have to dash across. It was worth waiting a while to make sure that it was gone before setting out.

    Nate was lucky at avoiding the thing that was running around making a ruckus. He was beginning to feel like he was in his element. After all, the humans began on planets. They had risen to dominance there. If all the rest of the people on the Vat were here, they would be able to make it survivable. They might want a station instead so none of these things could surprise them. He had made it here first, though. Since he was who found it, he would have a say in how it should be setup. That would be an augmented summary. He had to maintain his wits about him.

    There was some movement ahead. Nate was ready to pounce if it saw him. As it got closer he saw that it was Er. He had found the Noth again.

    "Have you seen anyone else?" Nate asked.

    "Nothing that isn't new here," Er said.

    Ing joined them. "This hs some commonalities with the Vat."

    "It is inferior to the station," Er said.

    "We still have to know what we are up against," Nate said.

    "We know that the Vat is the future," Ing said.

    "Anything that is egregious here will be the same there unless it is neutralized," Er said.

    "The native compromises are inadequate," Ing said.

    "There is no assurance that the synds, artificials or transhumans would be any better in this situation," Nate said.

    They did not appear convinced. "There was a time when it looked like the posthumans thought that the humans were hopeless on the station. Knawe was who had surprised them. She thought that the artificials had tunnel vision about the aliens which they were ascribing to the rest of the people. The synds had gone along with it, but it was obvious from the humans' point of view that the transhumans were the culprits in all that."

    "She likes them," Ing said.

    "Afterward they were okay," Nate said, "but they had to reassure people that there would be no loss of rights."

    "Because they were on the station compared to the planet," Er said.

    "You are establishing the inverse," Nate said. "She would be proud."

    "If you have any difficulties, let us know," Ing said.

    "She might not have picked this place in particular," Er said. He was looking around warily.

    "I don't know where we can go next around here either," Nate said.

    "You cannot just leave us here," Er said, "if you are talking about going to another planet."

    "Did I ever show you how to make predictions?" Nate asked. "We can keep a running score of who is closest."

    "This is how people avoid panic," Ing said.

    "Is there a better way?" Nate asked.

    "We are trying to figure out how to print nutrition from the stuff around here," Er said.

    "Your being the foremost explorers on the Vat," Nate said, "if there is anyone else around here, that would be good to know also."

    Nate thought, as they must have, that if they had not met again, there would be no avoiding the locals in any case, but at least it was a vote together.

    Nate wanted to use the agumentation to setup a range finder. Ing thought that it would have been better if they had measuring devices that could be placed around. Something in enough places along an equator, for example, could tell them what it was like anywhere and also be used to send other data if they needed to.

    While digging around Nate had found a betan artifact. He could tell that it was manufactured, but now why. It also did not explain their disappearance. The betan science had taken a different direction from Earth. The technology was unfettered. It was not like the Vat, perhaps because they had more natural materials here. The effect seemed almost alien. It might have been left for him on purpose, but this was something that the betans could not have faked. If this was like the Vat, then they were in a container which looked like they could roam without limit. It would shut anything down that went too far. it was letting them get away with a lot more than the synds would have.

    Nate was sensing that the conversation about whether the Noths would be running the show rather than about what he had discovered. From what he had surmised so far, he did not think that they should be. They confirmed it by making suggestions that would get them all captured soon. Tarp would have taken them out by now. Knawe would have done the same to him. Then noone would ever escape.

    Nate still had the graphic of the planets from the habitat. This planet seemed further out from the star. There could have been some other mass acting as a point of gravity. They could date the galaxy from the black hole at its center.

    Er would get the data from the artificials.

    The multis had set down in the worst spot. If necessary, they could tear the multis apart to make an exoskeleton to increase their strength, but it would be better to use the betan stuff. They have to figure out how to run the betan version of planetary transport.

    Nate had to use the augmentation to compare what they thought now compared to when they had started. They were more alike, but not according to some other plan. He had to make it stay on message. The potential flaw there would be if someone had gotten to the facility itself that he was applying. The artificials, for example, might use classic disinformation in contrast to their usual supply of facts.

    Terra Beta used to be an Earth-like exoplanet until it was transferred to the alien galaxy. Now the conditions vary depending upon rotation and orbit.

    Ing was curious about any new species. It was conceivable that they would not be able to see anything that either matched the background perfectly or was a much smaller scale.

    Nate thought that the betans knew the location of Earth from their planet, but they would need to figure out from the new spot. Maybe the betans were planning to take over the Earth.

    Mon, Feb 24, 2014  Permanent link

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