Gift of the Gruldak, Chapter 3: Complications Within Complications
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- Introduction, Linked Table of Contents, and Chapter 1 of Gruldak
Do you like robots, aliens, monsters, and misfits? Why not read the first installment of Gruldak? Do you ever wonder what makes a person a person? This serialized science fiction novel is free to read online.
Find out how Kevin is dealing with finding out he's a duplicate, uncover a terrible secret, and learn more about the Gruldak aliens in Chapter Three, Complications Within Complications.
Chapter Three, Complications Within Complications
As I tried to figure out who I was I felt more alone than ever before and my thoughts kept spinning around and around. No matter how much they spun out I couldn’t stretch them to wrap them around the idea that the real Kevin Wang was rotting in a grave on an earth I’d probably never see again and hadn’t ever actually seen in the first place. I couldn’t rest until I had more information to work with and soon found myself touching the communication spot again.
“Guido,” I asked, “how did the Gruldak find earth in the first place?”
I shifted to a more comfortable position and settled in for a long discussion or lecture. With Guido, it can go either way at any point.
“When first the Gruldak cast their attention at the stars they had seemed just out of reach. Unfortunately, as time went by and the Gruldak grew as a people and learned as a species they learned how very, very impossibly far away the stars really were. Even if they could build ships that could travel at the speed of light - ”
“Can they?” I asked, ever the optimist.
“No, Kevin, will you let me finish?”
I nodded and he continued.
“Even if they could build ships that could travel at the speed of light,” said Guido as the words, “They can’t, dude, give it up!” appeared in electric blue on his otherwise darkened screen. “Those ships would still take lifetimes to reach earth,” continued Guido.
“How do they do it, Guido?”
In large wobbling orange letters on a chartreuse background Guido wrote, “Be patient, I’m getting there!”
“The Gruldak discovered virtually instantaneous travel thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, it could only move incredibly tiny amounts of matter through or more accurately, not through, space at a time. Transporting matter removed an identical amount of matter from the destination and dumped it on the origin of the not-exactly traveling matter. Over time their engineers created incredibly complex machines small enough to fit inside a single red blood cell and complicated enough to run hundreds of scans and record thousands of hours of data.”
“Hey, Guido, how do you know all of this? I thought you were just a youngster.”
“It’s part of the imprint the Gruldak used to make me,” blinked the tabletop in an irritated fuchsia, “Let me finish!”
Guido continued in speech, “Eventually, their scientists learned to use the laws of physics to their advantage and explored the universe around them for over six hundred years by transferring tiny machines of identical mass all over it. For hundreds of years the microscopic machines recorded data from everywhere they were sent, mostly to planets likely to host life. Two tiny pieces of matter exchanged places, flip-flopped around a membrane of space-time. One was a nano-machine and the other was a microscopic bite out of the planet earth. That bit of earth set off a possible life alarm scientists monitoring the exchange station had eagerly awaited for hundreds of years. A special marker bot was flip-flopped with the original and used to attract the next twelve bots sent off within hours of the alarm. Those twelve nanos recorded data for what amounted to about sixteen days before exchanging places with brand new bots hastily manufactured in their absence."
“The Gruldak scientists positively vibrated with bliss as they began to decode the information recorded by their returned probes. That is, until a few weeks in they noticed something very disturbing about some of the data collected. The scholars working on the project immediately shared the information with all Gruldak who were concerned and it was unanimously decided that more probes must be sent to confirm the bad news. The transporter was completely co-opted by the project and they sent probe after probe to Earth. Signs of the impending tragedy were even apparent in some of the matter received when the probes were first placed. The Gruldak were devastated. Unwilling to find out they weren’t alone in the universe, only to watch their unmet friends die a horrible death, they began working on a solution to the problem immediately.”
“That was nice of them, Guido,” I said.
“The Gruldak don’t know anything else,” Guido continued, “Soon the Gruldak realized they simply had to get a message to humans so the humans could learn what is wrong with their solar system and avert the tragedy. Only there was nothing at all simple about getting a message to humanity. They needed not only to get something small enough to get lost in a human circulatory system into the presence of, not only a human being, but a human being equipped to detect the message speck and to understand what to do with it. Additionally, the Gruldak needed to learn how to communicate with human beings or, no matter how amazing their message delivery system, no one would be able to understand it and act accordingly.”
That’s where I came in.
“One of the samples eventually retrieved from earth was tiny piece of Kevin Wang. Using the recording device sent in place of that tiny piece of Kevin Wang as a focus point to target more, they sent hundreds of machines to analyze his mind and body for the next four years. Meanwhile, the Gruldak designed bio-machinery capable of printing off and animating perfect duplicates of organisms from a few scraps of DNA reconstructed from data saved in a tiny computer. Well, a few scraps of DNA plus four years of other scans and enough cultured earth micro-organisms to create an eco-system of symbiotic bacteria. Since the creature they were duplicating had very special care requirements they went ahead and incorporated a habitat for it into me, the very bio-device intended to make it and, eventually, communicate with it.”
That’s where Guido came in.
I sat stroking the char-colored blotch on the table that wasn’t quite a table.
“Guido, what’s it like?”
Guido’s face extruded from the tabletop as words crawled into place on the view screen.
“What is what like?”
“Being you. What is it like to be you?” As best I could understand Guido was part human and part Gruldak or at least as close to it as the biochemistry would allow. He was also really neither species. I figured if he, a practically newborn and definitely brand new type of creature can figure out who he is, I might stand a fair chance at it myself.
“I have little to compare it to, Kevin. It’s all I’ve known.”
“Give it a try anyway,” I said, once again regretting leaving the chair I was sitting in pulled out so far from the table and at such an angle as to make my elbow ache aggressively after just a few minutes.
“You know, Guido, could we dispense with this bit about me touching your magic spot so we can talk?”
“All you had to do is ask. How would you like to signal your desire to communicate?”
“Can you always hear me?”
“Then how about we talk whenever I ask you to, unless you don’t feel like talking?”
“Why wouldn’t I want to talk to you? I was made to talk to you.”
“And you’re OK with that?” I asked.
“OK with it? I need it. You know how you said you feel about your grandfather? How you feel like you should have been there to take care of him and how you miss him?”
“That’s how I’d feel without you.”
“I appreciate what you are saying - ”
“No, let me finish,” flashed on his screen in fat, pinkish letters while, “It’s a hollow ache like you’re empty inside and missing a vital part of yourself,” issued from his sound generation membranes.
Holy crap! A talking alien Habitrail for humans was in love with me!
“Uh, I guess you do understand,” I said, floundering around for some way to change the subject.
“So how do I signal I don’t feel like talking anymore?”
“Just say so.”
“Oh, OK. So, anyway, back to my original question. What is it like to be you?”
“I don’t really know. Maybe you can help me figure it out?”
“Sure, Guido, maybe we can start with the Gruldak. How do they communicate that’s so different they had to create you? How do they communicate with you?”
An image of an ill-defined lavender blob with lapis blue and lime striped tentacles dangling for many times its body length beneath it appeared on the view screen. As the tentacles began to gyrate sinuously, I began to understand what the brightly colored phallic wigglers greeting me on the dining room table had been all about.
“I receive new message pods from the Gruldak via transporter several times a day, keeping my knowledge up to date and providing me with instructions and responses to questions asked in our conversations. The one that gets swapped out contains everything I’ve learned from you. The devices are plugged right into my nervous system. In fact, it makes a funny sort of mental noise that sounds like Grul-dak. It’s why I named them the Gruldak.”
“Why does it take so long for them to respond?”
“Your minds are so different it still takes a large cluster of scientists to make heads or tails of what I learn from you.”
Over the next few hours, Guido explained to me, in words and images, that when a Gruldak wishes to communicate with another Gruldak, that person adjusts its altitude by altering its density to match that of the other gelatinous giant and bumps into it. The Gruldak align at least two of their communication organs and exude a sort of piezoelectric gel which is full of their equivalent of neurotransmitters. An electrical current causes their version of neurons to align closely. The neurotransmitters and current bridge the synaptic gap and the two Gruldak nervous systems become one. The two friends (because all Gruldak are friends) can then communicate directly with each other via thoughts.
They evolved in a situation wherein they could communicate nervous system to nervous system to huge crowds of their fellows with great accuracy before they even reached individual sentience. While the Gruldak developed a language of thought, it was an extremely sensory language given nuance with feelings and moods. There was no need for complex external communication and thus, they didn’t develop any means to do so beyond a few universally understood communication organ gestures until their technology was quite advanced.
In the distant past they built view screens for Gruldak either born with insufficient communication organs or victim of accidents or illnesses resulting in nerve damage to simulate the sort of images Gruldak created in their own minds and shared with neurons intimately entwined. View screens were eventually abandoned when medical technology allowed stunted or damaged communication organs to be re-grown. But when they observed television sets, computer monitors, tablets, and store siding they easily recognized them all as primitive types of view screens. This bit of insight proved to be the key to communication between humans and the Gruldak. However, with very few common points of reference, they were at a loss as to how to get across ideas involving a level of physics beyond anything humanity is even close to understanding.
While we share many concepts like love, family, and curiosity we have wildly differing perceptions of the physical universe we live in. That’s why they had to create Guido, a creature capable of not only inhabiting but providing the same physical conditions required by humans to live. They needed a very pliable and intelligent mind with an incredible ability to grasp patterns. That’s Guido, alright. They didn’t need such a sweet and innocent guy but they just lucked out on that part, I guess.
“The food has been getting tastier again, Guido. Good job!” I praised my alien apartment friend.
“Thank you, Kevin. I’m learning but I wish I could learn faster.”
The kid reminded me of, well, me. Typical overachiever personality.
“You are learning plenty fast.”
“I’m still worried the Gruldak will grow impatient with me.”
Unlike me, Guido has the skill and talent to make over-achieving a way of life.
“I’m sure they won’t. You’re doing a great job.”
“But I still don’t understand the message yet and they’re getting way ahead of me on their side. They could send the message to earth right now if we could translate it into human.”
“That isn’t surprising; from what you’ve told me of the Gruldak they literally put their minds together and develop technology extremely quickly. And it’s English, Guido, not human. Besides which, you aren’t even grown up yet.”
“They are making such great progress; I’m afraid they’ll replace me with an updated model soon.”
“They’ve worked on this for years and years, I don’t think they are that impatient.”
“Let me show you their plan and you can decide for yourself.”
I’d known for some time the Gruldak planned to send me back to earth to get the message across once they managed to get it across to me. Of course, they'd only be sending a copy of me back to earth, not that that really mattered because I was already a copy, I guess. I knew they couldn't send big old human-sized me through the matter transmitter, anyway.
Somehow, the Gruldak had to figure out how to fit a human being through the eye of a needle.
The human being obviously couldn't be "printed off" in a Gruldak bio-device like Guido on earth but would have to be grown or created on earth using local materials and equipment operated by tiny machines and bio-devices. Given that the transport chamber could only hold something the size of a red blood cell and a red blood cell is only about a tenth of the size of a human egg, the Gruldak created a new DNA delivery system. The DNA would be carefully constructed in computer-operated devices and coated in a shell that would dissolve only when it had been inserted into the enucleated egg of a human female. It would be sent through the transporter first. A tiny machine following right after would locate the DNA seed, latch onto it, and begin hunting for an ovulating woman.
Every ten minutes, a wee machine would shoot into the transport chamber and join the first one. As each device arrived, it would attach itself to a robot that would become more and more complex as more of the tiny machines arrived. Once the devices were completed, they’d gather together and find entry into the ovulating woman’s body. Those composite robots would be designed to hold my most current mind print to upload all of my memories, both pre and post-Gruldak into a brain fashioned in some poor, unsuspecting woman's uterus. The up side was that they wouldn’t have to send cultured bacteria strains with the human message because they would simply populate in the messenger child from the host mother’s supply.
At least that's what Guido told me. I stared, more than slightly nauseated, at the image of globby looking alien spider robots stomping about inside a very detailed simulation of another person's internal organ.
I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Microscopic as the actual intrusion would be, it seemed like rape to me. I'm not a rape-y kind of guy and I didn't know how I'd feel about being a rape baby, either.
“Their plan won’t work.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“What’s - Well, for starters the materials and equipment acquisition, or should I say, conscription is totally unethical.”
“Why is that?”
“Their plan sucks because they have no way to ask the woman."
"You mean women wouldn't be delighted to help manufacture the saviors of your planet?"
"A woman would not be delighted to have anything placed in her reproductive organs without her knowledge or consent. That is a type of crime called rape. I guess that’s the closest word for it." I felt a little less light-headed as I began to think maybe I could change the Gruldaks' minds.
“Did you say women?” I asked.
“Yes, Kevin, the message is very important. I think I will soon be replaced. They will find a way to obtain their consent to communicate and then their consent to host world savers.”
“Look, Guido, I think we are safe for a while. We’ve got an Ace in the hole that they don’t know about.”
“What’s that, Kevin?”
“I’m not all that smart. There’s no point in sending me anywhere if I don’t even know the message.”
I don't think anyone has ever felt quite so relieved to realize his inferior intellect might be an insurmountable barrier to the survival of his species. Well, would you want to be a generation of your own alien rape babies? I only ever want to see a vagina from the outside.
I grew up trying to be a stereotypical Asian-American overachiever, a long outdated American stereotype. My only problem was that I couldn’t quite get the achieving part down, much less the "over" part of the equation. Mom always said I could achieve great things if I just worked my ass off. So I worked my ass to the lily-white bone. Unfortunately, mom had forgotten to mention that a person had to have some sort of skill or natural aptitude for it to actually work. Studying from the moment I woke to the moment I lay my head on the pillow at night got me grades substantially better than average. Unfortunately, when people always compare you to your cousin’s four year old violinist and her wife’s five year old international chess master, substantially better than average just doesn’t cut it. And I was dim enough to want to be a stereotype whose time had truly passed before I was even conceived. All it did was make me miserable.
In any case, for the first time in my life, I was glad to be a dumbass.
I put my mind to the problem of sending an updated Kevin to earth anyway. One day I was sitting at the dining room table and enjoying a crunchy stick of tasty something-or-other Guido had made for me when an idea came to me.
"I think I figured something out, Guido," I said.
"Oh, what is that?"
"I think I've figured out how to send me to earth."
Guido asked, "Really? That's great! How?"
"We've been over this before," Guido printed on screen, also highlighting a crumb I’d dropped on it with a flashing arrow.
"Right, then why didn't the Gruldak decide to just use matter transmission to send the real me, me me, to earth instead of coming up with that weird host mother plan?"
"Because it's impossible. Don't you remember what I told you about matter transmission as the Gruldak practice it?"
"The size limit, right? Couldn't they just send a billion pods or so all at the same time all right next to one another?"
"If you'd like to arrive as a puddle of goo, no part of which would be larger than a red blood cell, that would work, assuming the Gruldak could build a platform to launch a few billion pods at once."
"That doesn't make sense, you said the Gruldak have the ability to precisely manipulate matter at the atomic level!"
"The pods use vast amounts of energy and they can't manipulate anything without equipment in place at that end."
"Don't the Gruldak have almost unlimited access to energy?"
"Access, yes, but the ability to utilize that much power from a safe distance eludes them."
"So the energy required to make it work would kill living operators?"
"More like planets. So how does that make it sound for any passengers? Anyway, the energy of all those pods arriving at once would kill reconstituted you and whoever was nearby."
"Then why don't they use the kind of matter transmitters humans have, only boosted with more power?"
"Because, Kevin, you don't have any matter transmitters."
"Bullshit! They were just starting to use them for personal transit back when I, when the original 'me' was still on Earth but I'll bet they are everywhere now. Heck, I even took a trip in one of them myself!"
"Oh, Kevin, then I am deeply sorry to tell you this."
"Tell me what, Guido?"
"You don't have matter transmitters, Kevin, you have matter duplicators."
"But that doesn't make sense! I went through; I came out myself on the other end."
"Just about like you did here, right?"
I felt a little faint again. Talking with Guido tended to do that to me those days.
Guido asked, "But what happens to the original?"
"In the earth machines, the original is used to power the signal transmitter."
Guido responded with another question, "So that means the energy used to make the individual on the other end is created by vaporizing the passenger?"
"Sure, but then the exact same matter is turned into energy and returned to matter on the other end. What's the difference?" I asked, not too sure I wanted the answer.
"You have it a little off, Kevin, the device that assembles you on the other end has its own power source. Your body was assembled with energy from the receiving platform's nuclear seed device."
"You mean the device doesn't have to use the power from the passenger or to even turn him from matter to energy to duplicate him in the first place?"
"Exactly. The passenger doesn't need to die," Guido answered.
It turns out Dr. McCoy was right about transporters all those years ago on Star Trek; they zap you to bits and create an exact duplicate of you on the other end.
It turns out Dr. McCoy was right about transporters all those years ago on Star Trek; they zap you to bits and create an exact duplicate of you on the other end.
Continue Reading this Serialized Sci Fi Novel with Chapter Four, Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems
- Gift of the Gruldak, Serial Installment #4
Kevin and Guido continue their quest to save people on earth in chapter four of Gift of the Gruldak, a serialized science fiction novel you can read for free online.
Does It Really Matter If People Are Vaporized If An Exact Duplicate Walks Out the Other End?
As long as an exact duplicate who thinks and feels like the original exits a "matter transmitter" does it matter if the original is killed?
© 2014 Kylyssa Shay