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 The Decisions that Matter: TimeSaga D6 (Complete 5)

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PostSubject: The Decisions that Matter: TimeSaga D6 (Complete 5)   December 26th 2017, 7:53 am

The Decisions that Matter
TimeSaga:  The Source Story Six

Chapter One

I was with Debra and Mary in their building on Lechinell.  While a whole team worked to gain an understanding of the language and computer logic of the Nerisus Federation, the two ladies worked at making them a home.  Strangely, I was in the same place in my life.  Charcoal had his family arrive, and they were presently settling into their building.  His wife and family wanted me to continue to live with them.  They however also spoke of me getting a new body.  Very unsure of things, I left to consider my own thoughts.  I found Debra and Mary performing an act of destruction on their building, and with it fitting my mood I came to spend time with them.

The two found their building to have an upper floor with a spacious corner that they felt would make for a good balcony.  The construction techniques of the Nerisus Federation had them build curving structures that gave them a much more pleasant appearance than the rectangular things of Earth.  After a period the fluid shapes lost their charm, but like pets one came to appreciate the one you chose.  I felt making a balcony of the grand room to be a wonderful idea, and worked with the ladies while enjoying their company.

After finally discussing some things about Charcoal’s family, Debra said, “I think it is sweet, Perry.”

“You would, as you’re a girl.”

One of the reasons I enjoyed being with Debra was the fact I could say things like that around her.  She had grown up without a mother, but had not lost her feminine identity living with her father and older brother.  She spent most of her life studying to add a ladylike charm to a robot.  Debra did not mind being called a girl at all, but she also was not beneath responding in her own way to the topic.

“No, Perry, but as someone who would like a family herself.  Perry, if those were your children, you would think their actions to be sweet.  Well, they are trying to say that they want to be your children.  Not as in you being their father, but uncle or something like that.”

Debra was a success because she could make the right decisions, and I found myself again having to agree with her.  “Yes, like an uncle or something.”

“And what is wrong with that?”  When I stuttered, she added, “If it is because you miss your original family, you might as well go back to being called Barney.”

“It’s not like that.”

“And tell me what is different about it?  You speak of Barney as being dead, yet cling to the memories.  I can tell that they are good memories, but that also tells me that your memories of Barney are good.  I think of you as a good person, so I guess I would rather you think of yourself as Barney than as the lone survivor of the Pyramid Program.”

I did an act of heavy labor holding a large chunk of the building as FER-RON cut it away.  The ladies were originally worried about electric lines or other important processes of their building moving through the wall sections.  Due to the large clear panels, the circuits and pipes had been routed through certain sections that were accepted to be necessary just for the integrity of the whole structure.  The rest of the walls were set to be removed.  FER-RON had the energy weapons that could slice through the building, and the precision body movements to make the work appear professional.  I did the heavy labor while thinking about what Debra said.

I finally allowed, “I am the lone survivor of the Pyramid Program.  People accept that my name comes from that program, and I believe it helps them to remember how wrong that program was.  I am thus keeping my name.”  I saw Debra look to me, and I knew to say more.  “You’re right however.  I should be grateful to Charcoal’s family for accepting me.”

She replied, “They are being really –“

Mary interrupted to say, “Okagaki are approaching.”

We stepped out to the edge of the floor to look up and see two humanoid appearing crafts coming from the sky.  When I say humanoid, I do not mean looking like a person.  I simply mean it has two legs, two arms, and a head.  FER-RON appears as a wonderfully appealing lady, but is completely a robot.  I still have some of my body, but my mechanical parts do resemble the missing parts of a normal body.  The craft of the okagaki would not be mistaken for a human, but compared to a car, a spaceship, or other vehicle one would have to describe them as humanoid.

They did not move by thrust as our craft.  There were claims by some of figuring out how to use a different propulsion system than the expenditure of fuel, but what I had seen still did not match whatever process the okagaki used.  We moved back seeing the large humanoid craft approach, and they did what they could to land on the space now cleared of wall.

A translated voice from one craft asked, “Are you doing this for us?”

Debra answered, “No, but as friends you are more than welcome.  Perry is here as a friend, and I am glad to have you visit as well.”

“Yes.  Thank you.  Are you even trying to find the source of the Nerisus Federation?”

I saw the two ladies look to each other, shrug, then Debra turned back to the okagaki to say, “One lesson we teach to our young is patience.”

The voice from the other craft replied, “We can appreciate the reference.  However, it is of concern that our lost pilots be returned.”

“Humanity is not known for being still.  We will advance.  Up to now our options were very limited.  Now we have everything, but that just has us accepting how little of the Nerisus Federation we actually know.  Mary is with me, and once she recognizes certain codes being isolated we will begin deciding our next action.”

I saw the okagaki craft turn to look both ways, then its pilot asked, “If this is not for us, why are you doing it?”

Debra replied, “For fresh air and sunshine.  We plan on having some plants here.”

“Fresh air and – ah, I believe I understand.  We cannot do that on our worlds.  Our clouds hide the sun.  The winds are strong, and sometimes there are gases in the air that are disgusting.  We evolved as parasites in protecting pods, and our kind still appreciate being separated from our surroundings.”

“Well, we have rain and other forms of bad weather, but we are going to prepare this room to handle those periods.  Our society has at times been very troublesome, so we have learned to build places where we can remove ourselves from society while still enjoying the outdoors.”

“Interesting.  Humans, we have another topic to discuss.  We have been working with your technology.  We now have your problem of the monsters you call korlocks.  Not all are of the Nerisus Federation.”

Mary said, “We have had our own discussions on some of the larger korlocks we have seen.  There are great ones that look like creatures we know as whales.  There have been a couple of others that could not exist on worlds like these, and some are wondering if the Nerisus Federation was more diverse or if others in the universe did to themselves what the Nerisus Federation did.”

“We are speculating the same.  This however brought up the point that shutting down the source will not stop the monsters.”

Debra said, “Their number is not infinite.  Maybe with your help in dealing with them we can remove the threat.”

“Is that a type of life you are willing to live with?”

“It is a type of life that we humans have lived with.  Before this advance, we would have those who would impose their wills upon others.  Honestly, having threats that are actually monsters we find more relieving than having to confront other people.”

“You, Perry, are a result of what Debra is speaking about.”

It surprised me to have the okagaki identify me.  While it was known the aliens were watching us, sometimes we wondered how much they actually understood.  Having had to face the reality of my existence a number of times, if not daily, I calmly spoke to the okagaki.

“Yes.  I committed suicide, which is an act many do not consider right.  The country I was living in made it against the law, and created other laws allowing them to claim the bodies of those who committed certain crimes.  I did not become a cyborg of my own will.”

“Unlike the verakiy.”

I had actually expected the okagaki to focus on my act of attempting to end my life, so replied surprised to be dealing with a different topic.  “Very much unlike the verakiy.  I cannot understand why they became like they are at all.”

“Then maybe we can help you.  It is our conclusion that we need to do what we can to relate to you, humans.  Our discussion was however complicated in that factions felt that our decision needed to apply to the verakiy as well.  Would you come with us?”

“If it deals with the verakiy, I would like Charcoal as well.  He has worked with them.”

“We had no intentions of singling out anyone.  We understand that we will need to deal with humanity as a whole, as you will need to deal with us.  How much time will need to allow?”

Debra replied, “If you can wait, we can see about giving you an answer.”

She did not call her brother.  Roy was presently on board the Roland, but when contacted he assured us that he would be getting a shuttle to bring him down.  When I called Charcoal, he said that Sandstorm wanted something to do, so would be going with us.

In a little over an hour we were ready at the open area used for our spacecraft to come and go.  There was no indication of the Nerisus Federation having airports, or spaceports.  Our speculation about that had formed a number of conclusions with the expectation that those studying the wealth of information we now had access to would gain answers.  The okagaki said that they had not dealt with the Nerisus Federation enough to know things of how they managed casual travel, but when we said we were ready they spoke of doing what they could to learn about how we lived our lives.

The others had spacesuits, but Charcoal had concluded that I needed to accept that I was not built for outer space.  While his wife and children spoke of having me gain a more human form, Charcoal tried to speak in support of my own decision.  In preparing for this journey, he however did mention that the way my body had been integrated into my human nervous system prevented me from safely going into hazardous places.  While a garment could be constructed to cover and protect my human parts, my mechanical appendages would be exposed with whatever they experienced passing through the metal to affect what was left of my body.  The okagaki told me that they had worked to provide a place where we would not need spacesuits, although did not speak against the others taking certain precautions in what they packed to bring with them.

When Roy’s shuttle landed, the okagaki told us to load up with him, then follow them.  Not being warned, he had not brought a large shuttle.  He told the ones that piloted the craft to relax in his rooms in the building belonging to Mary and Debra, then had Sandstorm take the co-pilot duties even as Roy spoke of his authority over the Roland demanded that he be certified as a pilot.  We trusted the lad enough to load up on the shuttle, then he proved his capabilities by having us lift off and move through a Rothman Tube into space.

I watched as more okagaki flew up from the planet to meet us.  They paused to speak with us as if to verify our identities, although I suspected they were waiting for something of their own.  Roy and Sandstorm worked to maintain control of the shuttle as a grand exotic vessel came into our reality.  The okagaki spoke of not using our technology, but of having their own science that enabled them to move between planets.

It took us some time to cross the distance to the okagaki ship.  While the shock from it entering space in our system had been felt, Debra and Charcoal spoke of the power necessary to move such a ship as we found its size to be enormous in coming close to it.  I simply listened as those who worked with our technology speculated on the laws the okagaki used in moving through space as we crossed the distance to their ship.

We were led by the okagaki craft that had come down to the planet to a hanger on board the grand vessel.  The rounded walls appeared smooth.  While the verakiy craft had members of their society merged with their tools and ready to perform their jobs, and ours had things that might be necessary where they could be grabbed, the okagaki craft gave the impression of isolating us in some useless section where we would not be a bother.

It did help soften my impression that the okagaki personal craft had entered the hanger as well with the translated voice of one coming over our speakers.  “We will be moving shortly.  We watch you, so there should not be resistance to what you feel like seeking to learn.”

Mary replied, “I can detect a lot, but – ah, thank you for the dictionary.”

A different translated voice, one that actually seemed feminine, asked, “Can you understand the references?”

“Not all, but I still appreciate having a much better reference than I had.  This however also comes with some really strange language rules.  I feel that I will have to forget what I learned of your grammar in order to properly deal with this new information.  Still, this is a wonderful gift.  Thanks.”

“Enjoy the travel.”

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.


Last edited by TerishD on January 15th 2018, 7:40 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Chapter Two   December 31st 2017, 7:55 am

The Decisions that Matter
TimeSaga: The Source Story Six

Chapter Two

Debra, Roy, and Mary put on their spacesuits and went outside the shuttle. The okagaki personal craft had simply walked through a wall, and when asked there was an invite for us to follow them. Charcoal and Sandstorm were not interested, and warned me from going. Mary wanted some direct visual evidence for some of the things she was sensing, and found Roy and Debra to quickly get into a spacesuit to join her.

After the three had passed through what appeared to be a section of the wall of our hanger, Charcoal turned to the robot that was left behind and said, “FER-RON, are you worried about Debra?”

While inactive, the robot was never truly still. There were subtle movements that let one know she was active, if not alive. Her head turned to focus on the one that asked a question, and with a very clear alto voice she answered the question.

“I accept that the human race and okagaki need to get along. If I cannot trust people interacting with the okagaki, then I will need to be refitted with weapons for dealing with the okagaki. What I use on the korlocks will harm people, so surely will harm okagaki, but there are better weapons.”

“What are the parameters for attacking okagaki?”

“Okagaki are presently at twenty-five percent. I have been instructed that due to the possibility of ruining relations between our two people, it is better for me not to attack and allow others to take responsibility for what actions need to be made. Still, I would prefer being prepared for trouble.”

Charcoal smiled as he asked, “FER-RON, do you know my name?”

“Enrico Hosuala Luchinada, although you go by Charcoal, as that is what you intend for you weapons and ammunition to reduce your enemies into. Are you requesting that I call you Enrico, or Mr. Luchinada?”

“No, FER-RON, Charcoal is what I prefer to be called. Even my wife calls me that. I was just wondering how much you know.”

“There is a lot to managing a conversation. I have a large database to help me make decisions in situations, but most of the available information is simply to supply the proper words for speaking to others.”

Charcoal stood and walked up to the robot. She watched him as he approached. FER-RON was about as tall as Charcoal. While my mechanical body had resulted in me being larger than normal for a human, the robot appeared very much as a lady. I would say that she stood five-eight in height. She had a wonderful body with a healthy chest. While the blue hair falling to her butt made her exotic in appearance, the red eyes were a little disturbing. Charcoal however did not allow her gaze to bother him, but stared back at the robot as he asked another question.

“What is your opinion of the capabilities of the PASSIONs built from your design?”

“They suffer from situations where they are not trusted and they cannot trust those around them. Debra is relieved that her programming has enabled the PASSIONs and DARLINGs to handle their situations, but often studies the databases of units that shut down due to conflicts in their trust routines.”

As if surprised, Charcoal asked, “You are aware of that, FER-RON?”

“Debra does not turn me off, and as her property I am usually in her presence. Yes, I am aware.”

Sandstorm did not get up, but asked his question from where he relaxed in the shuttle. “FER-RON, what if I told you that Debra was one fine looking woman?”

“I actually have men handle my form, and am told that I am one fine looking woman as well. It is my opinion that men find the body of any lady as fine looking.”

We men laughed and admitted those words were true. Up to now we tended to ignore the robot, but the comment from FER-RON gave us the feeling we could speak with her. Her voice did not display much emotion, but she also did not speak in a manner that demanded a lot of vocal inflection. She did not make general comments, or offer up topics to be discussed. As if only now learning about this lady, we would ask her questions about things we found of interest and did what we could to show some pleasure in the words she spoke.

When the others returned, they told us that the okagaki found our conversation with the robot interesting. Debra mentioned that she was told the okagaki would be ordering some PASSIONs and DARLINGs. Their only problem was coming up with a method of payment, but there was an acceptance that some method of trade did need to happen to assure some regular interaction between our peoples. Charcoal did speak of it being funny that while Debra and the others had left to learn of the okagaki, that the time had been spent on the conversation with the robot left behind.

Debra replied, “The fact that I left her behind is what I felt gained the interest of the okagaki. They have robots, but theirs are merely job specific. They admitted they have stories of robots that exist among them as functioning equals, but have never managed to actually create one that could actually interact with them.”

Mary said, “They do have bodies I felt would not be that easy to duplicate mechanically, but they pointed out that they were able to create mechanical parts to replace most of their bodies. They said that they could certainly create cyborgs like Perry, although also considered the act to be against nature. They spoke of being as bothered by what the verakiy did to themselves as us.”

Sandstorm asked, “Well, when will we get where we are going?”

Roy replied with his own question. “Why do you think we came back? The okagaki said that we were arriving.”

Mary suddenly made an exclamation, then said, “Yes, they have just left whatever type of distortion they use to travel through space. They said it was not a Rothman Tube, but they have a manner of using a tachyon wave pattern to propel them. I am now able to understand that they are debating the benefits of their type of travel and ours, although feel that our Rothman Tubes will be the better options for established places once we figure out all the intricacies of it.”

I asked, “They are not going to do it themselves?”

“They acknowledge that their society is a few thousands of years old, so they are rather set in their ways. While they feel they could change, they will let us humans make the mistakes that usually happen due to change.”

Debra said, “They are rather curious, however, so we might end up getting some competition from them.”

Mary said, “Roy, you need to start preparing the shuttle to leave. The okagaki are preparing their boats for travel.”

Hearing a translated voice from the okagaki telling us to prepare to leave, I had to ask, “Will where we are going require a spacesuit?”

Mary moved to a monitor. It took her typing in a number of commands, but I looked as an image came on the screen of a very strange type of world. I wanted to call it a planet, because it looked large enough to be one and I saw some satellites that I wanted to call moons. Looking at it I could not help but wonder whether the place had been constructed or the original rocky body had been excavated and renovated to become the metallic hive I saw on the monitor.

The pink-haired girl said, “There should be some natural gravity, but conflicting waves say that what we will experience will be due to artificial gravity. There is also an indication of an atmosphere, but its quality is suspect.”

Debra asked, “The verakiy do not really like our atmosphere, so how is what you are detecting like that of what we know of the verakiy?”

“Its quality is suspect.”

“So, spacesuits?”

Mary looked to me as she said, “What you have should be all right, Perry. Your mechanical strength probably will needed in areas.”

Roy said, “I am not detecting any signs of life.”

“This is verakiy, so you should not expect things like we or the okagaki would design. Still, I have to say that I am not detecting any transmissions. The okagaki have also said that they have not detected any sign of life.”

I had to ask, “Why are we here?”

“The okagaki have the belief this is the home world of the verakiy. Since we have done things to help the verakiy, the okagaki felt we would be better at determining things.”

Sandstorm said, “And they would rather have us make certain mistakes.”

Debra replied, “What they told us was that we would care should certain mistakes be made, while they would probably just ignore it like they did with the derelict ships near one of their planets. The okagaki are curious, so would like to know, but really do not feel a need to know.”

Charcoal asked, “Are we being paid?”

“You are free to sit this one out.”

I said, “I’m going if at all possible. I am on a retainer to watch over Mary.”

Sandstorm commented, “Perry, you should know that a woman will lead you into trouble.”

“A woman usually makes it worth it.”

Mary cheerfully said, “Perry does get paid, and you get paid as well Charcoal.”

Charcoal replied, “Only because I am the one that keeps his mechanical body working. Honestly, the verakiy have paid me to do the same with them. I guess that means I am going.”

Sandstorm said, “If two of our group is going, that makes the majority vote. I’m going. Queen Debra, how about your robot?”

Debra answered, “Yes, she comes with us. The first reason is that there could be trouble, although there is also the fact that she is designed to operate in the lack of a normal atmosphere. That might be a necessity as well.”

I saw a yellow marker appear on the monitor as Roy said, “Okay, this is where the okagaki are having us go. They say that the passages are large enough for their vehicles for a ways, but then they request that us humans move on. They claim what we need to find is somewhere beyond.”

Mary replied, “All I am detecting is something maintaining the operation of some equipment. It does not seem intelligent. The okagaki are hoping for a database. Oh, and there are korlocks.”

Debra commented, “Should have expected that.”

“Well, let’s prepare.”

Roy said, “Sandstorm and I will join you after we land this shuttle.”

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
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PostSubject: Chapter Three   January 5th 2018, 7:47 am

The Decisions that Matter
TimeSaga: The Source Story Six

Chapter Three

The ladies said that what I wore was like an outfit usually for them. My upper body was covered, but my legs were bare. The reason was of course due to there not being any part of the original me below the waist. I had not attempted to kill myself by putting a bullet to my head, but had tried the more honorable method of sepulko. I had sent the blade in low in order to assure some vital organs did get harmed. I had heard doctors mention that I did a good job, as I should have died except that someone became alerted to my actions and had a medical team arrive in time to save me. My legs might have been saved, but those in the Pyramid Program felt mechanical legs would be better so did not retain any of my lower appendages. The ladies might have been right about us men wanting to see their legs, but I felt the outfit just proclaimed how inhuman my body actually was.

There was an airlock for the shuttle, but it was not the usual method of us moving in and out. Considering everyone was committed to leaving, none of us spoke of cycling through the small portal. There was some concern about allowing the atmosphere outside to enter the shuttle, but Debra spoke of having dealt with the verakiy atmosphere without any real problems. After everyone was checked out in their spacesuits Roy evacuated the air then dropped the back to form the usual ramp for moving in and out.

I turned with Roy and others to look out into space. There were no doors or other means of keeping in what atmosphere was present around us. I turned to look at the large form of an okagaki craft as a translated voice spoke.

“We are not exactly certain how they manage the opening either. Our best explanation deals with the artificial gravity, although how it overcomes the vacuum out there is unknown.”

I replied, “So, you can learn from this as well.”

“We exist in the atmospheres around massive planets. There are a number of problems we are attempting to solve that have nothing to do with outer space. Those of us that enjoy working out here have to learn on our own.”

I turned around to see the usual busy walls around me. Debra and Mary were already at what appeared to be a heavy machine. They then called over Charcoal. After he pulled some tools and began working, I moved to see what he was up to.

Hearing the ladies make some noise of being disgusted prepared me for what an observing okagaki asked, “It’s dead?”

Charcoal replied, “Long dead. The body has desiccated.”

“Was it killed by those you call korlocks?”

I had to ask, “What do you call them?”

“Nerisus monsters. Honestly, your differentiating between those living members of the civilization and the monsters is being supported. We are beginning to call them korlocks as well.”

Charcoal finally answered the question. “If affected by a korlock, there would be crystalline remains. What surprises me is that one of the benefits of the verakiy being made into cyborgs was a lack of regular aging. What problems I have dealt with has not included physical ills from aging. I am not saying that this verakiy died from old age, but I am suggesting it is a possibility.”

A couple more of the machines were opened and examined. What should have been living tissue was dried material that crumbled when disturbed. Charcoal stepped out and looked at his surroundings as if attempting to determine what machine to study next.

“Mary, are you detecting any signs of life?”

The girl replied, “No, Charcoal.”

A translated voice from one of the okagaki craft said, “If you humans do not mind, can you come with us.”

Charcoal pointed, probably as it was the only opening large enough for the okagaki craft. “That way?”

“Yes, please. It is our belief that this can answer some questions.”

As we moved with the large humanoid vehicles, one of the operators said, “We have not known about this for long. It is true that you humans are new to moving through space, but we have basically ignored the verakiy as we have ignored the remains of the Nerisus Federation. We would be ignoring you humans, but our interactions with you have been positive, and you have presented yourselves as someone we need to stay aware of. It was in fact your own investigation with the Nerisus Federation that had us follow up on some information we had gained on the verakiy.”

What I had assumed was a background noise gained in volume as we moved down the passage with the okagaki. Stepping through a doorway, I found us to enter a grand cylindrical chamber. In the middle was an enormous spinning axle from which were large projections moving around the inside of the cylinder. I saw some walkways, and moved with the okagaki as an arm of one lifted to point as its operator spoke over the noise.

“There is an opening way at the top. We cannot get to it, because of one of the rotating arms. If you can get inside the shaft, we believe there will be a method to stop the spin.”

Roy exclaimed, “You’re kidding.”

“No. We can show you.”

I noticed that the walkway was large enough for the okagaki craft to move. It did walk, although I had also seen the vehicles fly. While humanoid in appearance, they did not fly like Superman. They simply moved through the air as if they did not need the ground. The density of my body made clear sounds on the metal walkway, as did the okagaki craft with me wondering if there was an energy difference in how the vehicle moved.

I looked up and saw the moving projections, but still decided to ask why the craft had a walking motion. “Okagaki.” Hearing a response, I asked, “Why does your craft even have a walking motion? It could just float over the walkway.”

“Our design is functional, Perry. There is a lot of forces at work, so maintaining stability can be a problem. Being in contact with the ground, allowing gravity to affect us, reduces the work load on the machine and us pilots. If you are considering a body that will move without gravity, I would not recommend it.”

Debra said, “There is a lot of computations to FER-RON’s movement when without gravity.”

I replied, “I was just thinking of why the okagaki did not fly as Superman.”

It might seem strange that we stopped and spoke of comic book superheroes for a time, but I remembered similar situations when on mercenary missions. The surroundings often pulled one out of focus from the objective with the best option being to talk it out. Sometimes good ideas, if not the realization of the mind noticing something that the active consciousness did not, would be brought out. In the alien environment there were a lot of unfamiliar details for our brains to process, and I believe it brought us a few moments of comfort to speak on a topic as simple as superheroes.

The okagaki did speak of some of their own forms of entertainment. While they did have art, their extreme environment did not have them consider performing arts. What I heard gave me the impression of the okagaki living in very tight spaces with only those going into space learning to appreciate having room to socialize. They however had noticed our large databases of movies and shows, and some had begun wondering why they had not developed those forms of story telling. They spoke of fantastic tales they enjoyed as entertainment, but listened to us discuss superheroes as if fascinated by the ideas of such beings.

Finally, we went back to moving. The okagaki led us around where a walkway went to the central axle. An exposed section of the great rotating shaft showed a stable inner core. I went to where I could clearly see what the okagaki spoke about.

“Humans, there is a doorway there that we believe goes to an elevator. We are hopeful that it will lead to a control room.”

Charcoal asked, “What about the noise level inside the shaft?”

“Surely that is a solvable problem.”

I replied, “It is, but I will want Mary or Roy with me.”

Mary asked, “Why me?”

“If I cannot hear you, I need someone who can read my mind or simply sense things I am doing. You will thus know whether to bother giving me instructions or not.”

“I will go with you, Perry. If anyone can make sense of that panel, it will be me.”

Charcoal asked, “What about the noise level, Mary?”

She replied, “I have so much information coming through my head, that the noise really will not bother me.”

“Well, Perry is right. I can turn off his ears. The damage he did to himself did not affect his head, but those of the Pyramid Program messed with his head in turning him into a cyborg. I however can also set him to receive signals from your radio.”

I said, “However, the noise lever of the shaft might be so great that you will need to simply use hand signals.”

The girl came up to put her hands on me before asking, “And how much feeling do you have in that mechanical body?”

“Do not believe I will not be paying attention to you, Mary. Whatever you do to me or around me I will notice.”

“That I do believe. Okay, Perry, come on.”

At the center the rotation of the axle was not that great. Of course the cycle was the same for the inside as the outside, but the distance traveled for the ends of the projections made them appear to go very fast. It took some timing for Mary and me to safely pass through the doorway. Her light form easily darted through the opening. It took me some time to judge the rotation and prepare my body to react, but I managed it without an incident.

I saw Mary jump back then reach to grab her wand-like weapon. That told me all I needed to know, and I prepared my own weapon for fighting korlocks. What caught me by surprise was however to see FER-RON come around me and move in front of Mary.

The robot quickly acted to remove the threat, although as she stepped aside to allow us to pass I said, “We can fight korlocks, FER-RON.”

I clearly heard, which meant she was also speaking over our system, the reply, “You can fight korlocks, Perry, but it is one of my purposes to fight korlocks. You do your job, and I will do mine.”

“Well, be careful, as where we are going might be cramped.”

“I promise that I will not fire at you or Mary. You are safe with me, Perry.”

I cannot say how Charcoal knew I was about to reply, but his voice stopped me by saying, “You should know not to argue with a woman, Perry.”

The thought came to my mind to state that FER-RON was not really a lady, but could not. I knew who had programmed her. I also could not deny the appearance of her form. I just ended up telling both of those with me to move on ahead. Agreeing that I could guard our rear, FER-RON told Mary to follow and I could not help but follow behind the ladies.

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PostSubject: Chapter Four   January 10th 2018, 7:46 am

The Decisions that Matter
TimeSaga: The Source Story Six

Chapter Four

The opening inside was not that large, but I felt seeing enough room for the three of us just let me know the scale of the room outside. Mary was at a panel before a center section. She moved her hand to indicate for me to step in the center with FER-RON. I did so while looking up into darkness, although wondered if we would be dropping down. Mary joined us, then I felt the pressure as the three of us were brought up the inside of the shaft.

Along the way we passed more monsters. FER-RON and Mary had the better senses for detecting the creatures, as their semi-material forms distorted reality in a manner that their bodies, which also worked off a time distortion process, could identify. Mary pointed up as if to tell me to simply fire ahead of us. Recognizing that my weapon needed to charge, I waited until I had a clear shot. My body had been designed for mercenary work, so could quickly aim and fire on targets once identified.

The elevator stopped in a larger room. Moving from the elevator it was easily determined that we were now rotating with the shaft. I saw two passages going in opposite direction. Worried about the centripetal forces, I was glad to see Mary move to a console in the room we had stopped in.

While there were some controls, she simply stared at the machine for a moment before stating a conclusion. “This panel can do some things, but the actual control over the axle is done elsewhere. I am presently attempting to get a sense of where we should go.”

I wanted to ask her about what she was learning. My problem was that we had not been really informed of this place. It was huge, so trying to move through it would be a daunting task even if we had a detailed map. I had however come to trust Mary, so stayed silent to enable her to learn what she could.

She spoke so softly that I doubt I would have heard if my hearing was not set specifically on receiving our private communications. “We’re humans. We have helped the verakiy, but everyone we have found in this place is dead.”

I stayed quiet as Mary switched to using a language I assumed was that of the verakiy. She did not touch any of the controls on the console, but held the machine tightly as if using it to aid her concentration on the conversation. Finally, she switched back to using English as she spoke.

“There is someone alive. We need to move.”

“Hold it, Mary,” I replied. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t, but some caution. You need to remember that we humans are still the new guys out here. We can be fooled.” I checked the controls on my suit to assure my words were broadcast before I asked, “Charcoal, did you guys pick up that conversation?”

The answer came, “Mary is going to have to give us some instructions on where to go. What is your problem, Perry?”

“Those of the Nerisus Federation were changed. We fear being changed. I have not mentioned anyone from the verakiy speaking of those changed, but they sure did have personal defenses.”

Debra asked, “You are talking about someone like Instigator?”

“No, but Al B2.”

Roy exclaimed, “Hey! No, you’re right, old man. There could be.”

“I am just speaking of being cautious. No reason to be unfriendly. We should however maintain our objective, and not allow ourselves to be brought into a trap.”

A translated voice of the okagaki asked, “Mary, do you have information concerning stopping the axle?”

She replied, “This person is supposedly where those controls are at. From what I gained, they are both in the same place.”

Debra said, “Okay, all of you come back. Remember to watch out for the outer axle as you come out.”

I did find myself grateful for those words. Coming back down the elevator, I did begin to move to the opening. Right then however the hole closed as the axle continued to spin. It was not as easy judging the right time to move from inside the shaft, but with those on the outside helping me I found myself returning to the group.

While Charcoal restored the use of my ears, I still heard over the communicators built into the spacesuits of the others Debra and Sandstorm speak to the okagaki about the information Mary supplied. A lot of technical terms were used, but I understood enough to know that getting to our objective would not be easy. When Charcoal finished, I moved to stand near Mary, then stopped seeing another who was not participating in the discussion.

I asked, “What is bothering you, Roy?”

The lad tried to smile as he replied, “My psychic powers are not that good. I was trying to detect the one that contacted Mary. Really, other than Al, I cannot make a connection with the minds of others.”

“Some say that psychic powers really do not exist. To have any at all is something special.”

“Well, I keep trying to make them useful.”

Hoping to keep the lad from feeling bad, I asked, “How about your brother, Nick?”

“He says that he can better sense the feelings of others. I just believe he has a more social attitude than me. He feels confined in the Roland, but wants to be in a large city surrounded by people. I find large groups to give me a headache.”

“Even when genetically designed, I guess we all come out different.”

I saw the lad smile as he replied, “Yeah, I guess so. Stay who you are, old man. Don’t let them change you.”

“I believe that is my problem, Roy. I’m not who I am, but who I was had a wife, a son, and a dog. I can never have that again.”

Sandstorm said, “No, Perry. Who you were had a magic moment in time that you want to capture again. We all have to move on. At least you do have pleasant memories, and I have to say you are having more. You are just too fixated on that magic moment in the past to recognize the ones you are presently having.”

“You never had such a moment, Sandstorm?”

“Wife, son, dog? No. All my magic moments were in the service, then this life as a mercenary. I really need to leave this life, but I don’t know what else to do. I have offers to become a cop, but I think I need to completely change my life to hopefully gain memories like you have, Perry.” He then pointed with fingers from both hands to my face as he said, “But you are doing right, Perry. You are not wanting to retain those memories of committing suicide. Staying focused on those memories of your wife, son, and dog might be holding you back, but they are keeping you from a very dark place. That is good, so I am not against what you are doing.”

Roy commented, “Yeah, he’s right. You’re good as you are, Perry.”

We all turned as Charcoal asked, “Are you guys done? We need to get moving.”

Sandstorm replied, “We would not have even gotten into this conversation if you would have been faster with what you were doing. Yes, we’re done."

I moved in the direction Charcoal indicated as one of the okagaki said, “You humans are quite fascinating.”

Looking to one I believe spoke, I asked, “You do not have conversations like that?”

“No, with us starting to ask why not. When you start listening in to our conversations, you will probably find us much less entertaining.”

Mary said, “I do listen in on your conversations, and they are very lacking in side topics.”

Sandstorm quipped, “You just called them boring, didn’t you, Mary?”

“Not as entertaining.”

Charcoal interrupted us to demand, “Focus, people. Now, the opening we need to take is this one. The okagaki agree that they can move on for a ways. There is what seems to be a warehouse, and from there we will make decisions. With what we want affecting this room, it is assumed that where we will be going will not be too far away. Mary agrees, but exactly how we get there we will have to determine as we go.”

Having been a mercenary for a few years, I easily fell into the routine of listening to the objective and how we were going to achieve it. I did not ask questions. Honestly, as a mercenary I usually did have the liberty to ask questions and even refuse a mission. I had come to trust Charcoal, and accept myself as simply having the body made for this type of life. I listened to what was said, accepted my orders, and started as directed to achieve our objective.

Korlocks attacked almost as soon as we passed into the passage from the large room. The situation was quickly handled from the number of us along with the use of some powerful weapons. It helped my attitude, and probably others, to see the okagaki also firing on the monsters. Once you got over the large size of their humanoid appearing vehicles, they came across as not being dangerous. They however quickly showed that they did have some firepower with their attacks being as effective as those of us with powerful weapons.

Once no more monsters could be detected, Debra went to a wall then pointed to the floor. “These verakiy were killed by korlocks.”

I could indeed see the crystalline powder that remained after a person was drained by a korlock. One of the reasons the modern monster movies had not used korlocks was the cleanliness of the remains. Seeing a mixture of white sand mixed with other materials just did not have the shock value of the gore other threats left behind. Those of us that faced korlocks would speak of our fear at seeing a human form reduced to grit, but to those not dealing with the reality of the loss of life the images were not scary.

We moved into large room where the mechanical forms of the verakiy had once been active. Their metal bodies were not in any set location, but scattered about the room. While I did not speak, I could agree with the others that the verakiy had tried to fight the korlocks. The conclusion that this place had been one of the early encounters this race had with the monsters could not be disputed. We moved on after saying a prayer in a way of paying respects to those who lost their lives.

Debra then asked, “Okagaki, do you have any method of contacting the verakiy? We need to know about this place.”

A translated voice that did not match either of the voices I had heard from the two with us replied, “As you humans know, the verakiy are not the best at returning any contact. Yes, we did announce our find, but have not yet received any response.”

“I wish we did not have so much to learn from the Nerisus Federation, because I feel that the verakiy need us.”

Charcoal said, “I have worked with them. Whatever bad decisions they made, I believe they can come back. What we have learned in working with our own bodies I believe could save the verakiy, but I believe they consider themselves to have committed suicide.”

I had to reply, “I’ve been there. Feeling yourself so close to Hell is not a place to live.”

“No, Perry. Having a place like this will however help you feel how close that damned place is.”

Debra pulled us out of going further with that conversation by saying, “Okay, remember we are the good aliens. Let’s see what we can do, and do the best we can. The okagaki brought us in, so let’s prove their faith in us.”

One of the translated voices I had come to associate with one of the craft with us said, “And we appreciate the way you are handling things, humans. Please continue.”

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PostSubject: Chapter Five   January 15th 2018, 7:50 am

The Decisions that Matter
TimeSaga: The Source Story Six

Chapter Five

Further inspection of things as we went through passages had us with the belief that the korlocks had caused the verakiy here to lose whatever structure they had developed. Without the benefit of those killed, the rest found themselves unable to continue on with their lives. It was hard to imagine a place the size of a planet without some redundancy, but our limited travel did not allow us to know the extent of the damage inflicted. We spoke of the original large attack of korlocks upon Earth, and had to admit without the guidance of Dr. Beyonce the death toll of our kind might have been great. Humans had however come back from previous periods of slaughter, although we had an independence that enabled small groups of survivors to continue the species. The okagaki spoke of their own distant past with similar tales, and we dropped our inspection hoping that whatever Mary detected would be able to provide some answers to the lives of the verakiy.

As we moved to another passage, one of the okagaki with us asked, “Mary, are you still able to detect that presence? We are unable to detect it ourselves.”

She replied, “I know. I listen to your transmissions. To answer your question, I can detect it. I however cannot determine if it is hurt, very sick, or some type of mentality like Roy’s twin brother.”

The lad said, “Well, these korlocks do not seem to be directed. Al could have them follow his orders.”

I had to reply, “Yes, as the times I encountered Al, he was with korlocks.”

Sandstorm commented, “The kid gave me the impression of being insane. Mary, there are various forms of insanity.”

The girl replied, “I am not getting the feeling of insanity, but something does not feel right all the same. Of course, just the fact it is something alien to me could be affecting my perception. Oh, it is through that door ahead.”

That last statement had us assure that our weapons were ready even as we spoke words of doing what we could to have the situation come out for the best. I was given the instructions to step up and open the door. When Charcoal asked about FER-RON being with me, Debra replied that we really did not want a fight. If the one in the room was a monster, even partially a monster, the robot would probably go into combat mode. It was strange hearing FER-RON speak an agreement. I did not believe sending me ahead was the best diplomatic move, but hoping things would work out favorably I cautiously stepped up to do what I could.

What I saw was another large room. I actually suspected that any major fight would occur where the okagaki could not be present. I really had nothing against the aliens, but the fact that they went about in craft too large for most exploration gave the appearance of them not really wanting to take any risk. Expecting the okagaki to join my friends in coming behind me, I stepped into the large room.

I actually expected a machine. The only verakiy I had met were cyborgs. To see a strange being just had me pause in wonder. My assumption was that it was a type of monkey. It had long limbs and what I felt to be a tail. What I really did not see was a head. There was a bump between some shoulders, and I could make out some eyes, but it took me a moment to realize the mouth was set where the collarbone would be on us humans. Just because I studied the being, I noticed a wavering to the body I expected due to the evidence of the destruction of the korlocks.

There were sounds, but it was Mary that let me know I heard actual words. “Yes, we are able to fight the monsters.” I appreciated that the creature did not advance, as I did not trust it even as Mary spoke of something I would think the creature would care about. “Yes, we have met others of your kind. They are not thriving, but they are holding on.”

I thought of the one of our kind who had found a way not to suffer with the korlocks. While the one before us did not make what I would call maniacal laughter, I still could not trust it to be sane. While I did not have the same components of Mary or FER-RON, it was easy for me to sense another alien presence as a blue mist became evident. Actually wanting to keep some sanity, and not have to suffer the death of this verakiy, I did all I could to target something substantial of the one arriving.

The start of some insane chatter ceased when I fired my weapon. I waited for the weapon to recharge as I wondered if I had been effective. As I felt able to fire again, instead of hearing words for me to stop I found a red-headed lad step up to support.

“Yeah, I hold Instigator responsible for my brother. Let’s kill it.”

He and I both fired at the same time. I could not believe that I was doing any good. All this thing ever revealed was a blue mist. In all the war movies I had ever seen, none ever had the bullets kill a cloud. Still, this vapor talked and had a substantial presence. While I expected it to flee, basically disperse like any other cloud, I fired again even as Roy reloaded his weapons.

Sandstorm asked, “What are you firing at, Perry?”

“Don’t know,” I replied. “My brain is however helped by a targeting program, and it is telling me where to fire.”

Charcoal said, “There are various sensors, and I did incorporate things of Dr. Beyonce’s technology knowing that Perry would be going against korlocks.”

Debra asked, “FER-RON, can you target what Perry is firing at?”

“Yes,” FER-RON answered as I sensed her come to the other side of me than Roy.

Debra however then asked, “Should we kill Instigator?”

“He killed my brother,” Roy replied.

“He brought Al into Hell,” I said. “I’ve been too close to that place. I have encountered Al, and know how corrupted that lad’s mind was. It is one thing to fight people who just have opposing views. It is another to fight people who are evil. Those that bring people toward Hell are evil.”

Not only did I fire, but I felt the energy from the robot’s weapon. I know Roy went through another set of cartridges, as I heard the pops from his pistols. I suspected Sandstorm also fired, as there was another report.

Something in my head said that the fight was over even as FER-RON declared, “The threat has been eliminated.”

The mist congealed in a manner that let it be known that it was not a cloud. Why Instigator had not fled I could not say. In my opinion he had not believed his death was possible. After living for centuries and having creature after creature affected by it without being harmed in return, it surely thought of itself as invincible. Having a presence as a blue cloud probably supported its belief in not being able to be harmed. I looked at the congealed mist attempting to see a body, but then decided to turn my attention to another.

“YOU! Verakiy! What problem do you have or do you want us to consider?”

Mary said something that I trusted was a translation of my words. It replied in a manner that did not sound hostile to me. I did check the charge on my weapon, and heard Roy again reload, but neither of us turned our focus to aim. We let Mary speak trusting that she could find the right words to say.

Instead of the girl, it was a translated voice of one of the okagaki that said, “Humans, we are as interested in this as you. At the moment, we also have the capabilities to take charge of this situation. Instead of us telling you that we will be watching, this time we will assume you are watching us.”

Debra replied, “Yes, as we are interested as well. However, the verakiy are not what we consider a serious problem.”

“Yes, but it seems that you will be resolving your other problem.”

“Sorry you had to see us use deadly force.”

“I believe it was for the best we did. Perry, how much of the conversation with the verakiy did you understand?”

I replied, “None. Not really interested either.”

“Then let me say that you did right. Without taking out Irquillator, the conversation with the verakiy would not have gone well.”

“Glad to hear it.” I then turned to Debra to say, “Tell Dr. Beyonce that I will be taking her up on her offer. What I am now is a killing machine. Barney was a cop, so he would have reacted the same considering the threat, but he could have also gone home. What I am now cannot go home. Charcoal’s family does accept me, but I am still this monstrosity of the Pyramid Program. I would like to go home with Charcoal and actually feel a member of his family.”

She replied, “I take that as a ‘prepare for it,’ and not as ‘I am ready.’”

“Yes, as we need to finish this. You need me as I am for that.”

“I hope not, but I will be glad to have you with me.”

While I appreciated those words, I turned to another to say, “Charcoal, tell your family that their prayers are probably working.”

He replied, “It’s not like they would stop, Perry. Still, I agree with you. I will keep you working until this is over.”

I turned back to those who traveled in machines to say, “Do we just leave you here? I believe you brought us here.”

A translated voice said, “Yes, leave them here. If it makes you feel better, there will be others coming to join them. We will take you back. Considering that the vessel that returns you will need to return, should any desire to come back with us they will be welcome.”

Debra replied, “I will let them know.”

As we started back along the route we had taken, Roy came beside me to say, “You did well, old man. I really would not have thought it possible to take that blue mist out.”

I replied, “Me neither, but something in my head said there was something to target. It is my belief that no one had ever hurt Instigator before, so it really did not know how to react.”

“Wished we had done it earlier.”

“We did not have the capability. Your brother was affected before we really understood anything.”

Debra said, “Yes, but one thing we are learning is that we are not evil. We are out here being the good aliens. Perry, you are a good person. Roy, you and Nick have stayed above the corruption that affected Al. My robot, and those built on her design, are being positive influences on our society. Let’s do all we can to stay that way.”

I had to ask, “Are you worried that what I did worked against our relations with the okagaki?”

“No, Perry, because you were right. Instigator did need to be taken out. We also let the okagaki know that we would be willing to step up and end the problem behind the Nerisus Federation. You also showed them that we were capable of stopping. You limited what you did to Instigator, and did not turn upon the verakiy or the okagaki.”

“Mary, was that verakiy corrupt?”

She replied, “It was not sane. Still, it does have some knowledge of what was going here before the korlocks came. I am interested in what the okagaki do here, so will encourage those of our own to participate. Once we end the threat of the transforming signal, we will need to adjust to what we have before us. The verakiy are more similar to us than the okagaki, so we will probably end up being the ones to mostly deal with them.”

Roy said, “I can probably get a group from the Solomon Foundation to come out here. I’m glad I came, and I believe others will be glad the okagaki showed us this.”

The okagaki did take us home. Roy then got busy with his people on board the Roland to send a team to the verakiy planet. Whatever Charcoal told his family did not seem to have any effect on how they treated me. One day when I came down from my room in their home, I however saw his wife present me with a book.

I looked at it to find that it was a type of catalog from FER-RON Industries. They had a number of body designs and options obviously printed from some computer drafting program. In the catalog was a letter saying that they would appreciate my help in determining the type of bodies that might be acceptable.

After a moment of thought, I handed the book to Aloha and said, “Don’t make me a robot.”

She smiled and replied, “I might make you Mexican.”

“As long as I am a member of your family.”

“You are already that, Perry. I will look this over.”

Feeling she needed to know, I said, “I am going to stay as I am until the transforming signal is taken out, but after that you may bring this back to me.”

“Charcoal told me. I am with you, Perry, because you are making him into a good man. He would not be here with the respect he has if not for you.” She patted my chest while saying, “You are a good man, and have been a good thing for my family. Barney is in there, and should be proud of himself.”

“He lost everything,” I replied. “If it helps, I feel that he is proud of me.”

“He needs to understand that he is you. Whatever body you get, it will not be a body of the Pyramid Program. I want it to be Barney’s body.”

“I’m not there yet.”

“Then you start praying for Barney.”

That was something I had not heard. I could however see in her eyes that she was serious. All I could do was admit that I did still have a Bible in my possession. Wondering about where the future would take me, I turned to go to my room as I heard the lady say that she needed to prepare supper.

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