Universe W-2020: The Sideshows 8
December 31st, 2016
After a long night of uproarious rap music, Cannabis-infused booze, beautiful females, and all the Cannabis anyone could ever smoke, a cross-faded Sigmund drags his feet into his bedroom approximately ten minutes before the old year pulls a phoenix and ignites anew. Chuck’s never thrown a bash like this before and he likely never will again, but tonight’s party was fun on intergalactic levels; it’s too bad ol’ Siggy won’t remember half of it when he wakes up… if he wakes up at all. Gasp!
You see, the unbridled insanity of this party attracted something to the beacon of Psychedelic businesscraft that is Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated, something inherently not of this world. Maybe it was the intergalacticity of the party, or maybe the Universe is guided by a strange, dubiously intelligent force that exists outside of its infinite boundaries – regardless, only one thing is for certain: Earth has been invaded by extraterrestrials on the eve of ‘19 turned ‘20.
One extraterrestrial, actually; a Krathi named Jenothy. He’s been posted up in the corner of Sigmund’s bedroom for almost four hours now, repeatedly going over the masterplan in his head. ‘Step one: The human goes to sleep; Step two: I enter the human’s brain; Step three: I call in the fleet; Step four: The Princess of Booflaxia marries me for my unmatched bravery and cunning linguistic abilities.’
Step one is now complete.
Jenothy uses his whomphous tentacles to sling himself through the air like a pissed off bird. He lands just before the bed and leaves a puddle of viscous white goo where he landed, the goo smelling uncannily of banana cream pudding mixed with burnt dog hair. The target is above him, laying face-down on a now partially floating bed in the shape of a spacecraft that looks damn-near identical to Jenothy’s first car. That old rust bucket caught him so many Krathi feems, what a ride.
Anyway, Jenothy reels back and throws himself again, this time landing on Sigmund’s right overall strap. Our crafty Krathi climbs this strap and finagles his way into the cavern that is Sigmund’s ear canal, leaving only the slickest trail of goo in his wake. Luckily for the invader, the substance that humans refer to as ear wax is actually a staple of the Krathi diet, allowing Jenothy some light snackage before he continues on with his mission.
This human’s brain is breached very easily. Jenothy’s had to hijack many human bodies to get to where he is today, among bodies of other Earthly species. He’s been a rabbit, an African elephant, even a cricket once; the latter was a challenge, the mighty creature was so compact yet so maneuverable. Not this human though – big, lumpy, very slow, big – silly in general. It does have an incredible brain though, an incredible brain that built some pretty mediocre communications technology. It’s time to fix that.
Without opening his eyes, Sigothy stands up and spins around on his toes like a ballerina. The impenetrable steel door that walls the opposite end of his bedroom opens, granting our slumbering mindslave entrance into his laboratory. Starting at the right side of the equipment and relying on the sensation of touch alone, Sigothy puts his hand on a keyboard and starts walking, dragging his fleshy multitool across all the machinery until he finds the communications station. On his way in, Jenothy noticed that this human did most of his communicating through a phone that, for some reason, is shaped like a mushroom – he smiles when Sigothy’s hand grips the phallic symbol.
Using Sigmund’s hands, Jenothy picks up a bunch of random scraps from around the lab and upgrades the communications station to function on a spectrum that humans aren’t likely to discover for millions of years, if the gigantic monkey oafs ever discover it at all. He activates a scan of the local solar system, just to ensure nothing will intercept the message before the Krathi main fleet receives it. The radar shows a total lack of stuff out there, soon the mothership will receive the transmission and it will all… ‘What on Bleezfworp is that?’
Upon closer inspection, there seems to be some wildly advanced technology afloat in the void just outside of planet Earth, something made by a race of a higher level of consciousness. Possibly a race more advanced than the Krathi themselves… no, impossible! ‘The Krathi reign supreme!’
Jenothy figures he might as well just contact this anomalous satellite himself to see what’s what, to get the jump on it before it jumps him and his plan stalls out.
Shortly after the send button is pressed, a small robot in the shape of a bacteriophage enters Sigmund’s brain cavity. Jenothy and the robot stare each other down before leaping towards one another in unison, the two forces clashing in a battle to end all battles… and the Krathi invasion of Earth.
The brawl going on atop his brain jolts Sigmund awake. He finds himself in front of a computer that’s running some type of software that he’s never seen before, it’s very… alien looking; this must be a dream. After having a lovely text-based chat with what he assumes is some sort of artificial intelligence, Siggy falls immediately back into a deep slumber, collapsing forwards. Gravity blindly drags his intoxicated body across the keyboards, closing all the windows and turning the station off. Sigmund spends the rest of the night on the floor with his brain’s defense droid victoriously returned to its station inside his spinal column.
Meanwhile, inside an outpost floating in the space between a pair of faraway galaxies, two purple-skinned aliens are absolutely losing their shit.
“Dude,” the scrawnier one says to the more muscular one, “I can’t believe this is finally happening!”
“I know! Forty-four years and we finally get a break. We gotta go down there!”
The shorter, more beta alien looks at his distinctly more alpha coworker with a hint of disappointment. “What? No, we have to wait for Admiral Bolt’s okay. Besides, one of us would have to wait back here and cover for the other anyway.”
“Yeah, Bolt, riiiight. Listen, I’ll rock-paper-scissors you for the Jettison ship.”
The more beta of the two hesitates, stares, and then presses the release button.
“No, just go, you’ll probably just play the llama anyway. Plus, you don’t know how to work these computers.”
“You got that right! Thanks, brotha.”
Without missing a beat, Alpha grabs more than a mere few guns out of the armory and beelines the hangar. It’s small, hardly spacious enough to hold its pair of Jettison ships, but it’ll do; these outposts aren’t meant to house families, they were built as a rest stop of sorts, and Alpha’s just about done resting. He climbs into the Jettison ship and taps some coordinates into the wormhole generator, opening up a hole in the very fabric of space itself right below the outpost. He then drops through, spacecraft and all, and is blinded by the astral lightshow that is instantaneous Existential travel.
Alpha’s ship reappears nearby Earth’s moon just in time to see the
Zerocian satellite fire off the beacon. He spins the ship around and engages hot pursuit, following close behind the device as it rips and tears through the claustrophobic shell of junk floating around Earth’s atmosphere. Shortly after entering the Junkosphere, Alpha loses the beacon amongst the garbage, but his tracker keeps the signal. Our mauve marauder turns on auto-pilot and puts his feet up on the dash – it’s good to be Alpha right now.
Suddenly, the communicator goes off.
“Alpha, Alpha, come in Alpha. What’s going on?”
“Hey Beta, what’s good?”
“Ya know, same old. It feels like forever since we’ve talked, all this isolation really fucks with the mind. Oh, and Bolt was here. What’s uh, what’s going on with you?”
“I’m entering the atmosphere now, lots of junk over here man. Like, lots of fuckin’ garbage, it’s like a whole extra layer of the planet’s atmosphere. It’s kind of disgusting, and by kind of I mean fucking abysmally. Never have I seen a planet with a junkosphere before, this is just… anyway, how’s the Admiral?”
“Well, could be b–” kzt “–r. He saw tha–” kzt “–ou took off, he was less than t–” kzt “–illed.”
“What else is new? He’s been a butt ever since that whole Onyx Moon thing… ya know, if he was so ashamed of his actions, I really doubt he’d be wearing that medal around his neck all the time.”
“I know b–” kzzt “–ey, hold up, I got something on the rad–” kzzt “–hell is that?”
“What?” Alpha says, perturbed. “I can barely hear you, there’s a lot of interference.”
kzzzt “–ar, radar, lo–” kzzzt “–eck your radar!”
Alpha diverts his gaze from the increasingly blue skies around him down to his radar, the scanner still pointed in the direction he’s flying. Adjusting the scanner to scan all three hundred sixty degrees around his ship, Alpha sees that there’s nothing within a two-mile radius of his position. What the hell is Beta on about?
“My screen’s clear as a mid-summer’s day dude, no idea what you’re talking about.”
Oh well, couldn’t have been that important. Alpha repoints the scanner to analyze what lies ahead of him and starts to plan out a strategy. Upon landing, he’ll take in the terrain; looking down on the planet now, he sees a lot of white – it must be winter. In that case, he’ll park right next to where the beacon lands and stay in the ship with the heat cranked until the aliens that live on this planet come and find him.
‘I wonder,’ Alpha wonders, his mind abuzz with that special kind of excitement one feels when they’re about to diplomate with an uncontacted species of intelligent lifeform for the first time, ‘what kind of beings live on this planet? The star’s been burning for a while, so they’re probably not reptilians. Other than that freakin’ wall of space junk floating around the upper atmosphere, the place looks clean, at least from up here. Maybe they just haven’t cleaned it all up yet because they don’t know how to, maybe they’re working on other projects, or maybe they’re on the verge of figuring it out, who knows? They’re probably kindhearted, perhaps a tree-dwelling species who are capable of peacefully settling their differences wi– wait, what’s that behind me?’
The Jettison ship, and everything inside it, is reduced to none more than a plume of smoke, ash, and dust that dissipates before it hits the ground.
Chairseat Gray stands from his seat, looking all the way down to the end of the raised podium. “Enough bickering. As I predicted, Earth and the
Zeroc are being pulled back together.”
“This is such bullshit,” Chairseat Kuland announces, standing up in a jocular fashion. “We are going to ignore this, okay? There’s no chance the public will react favorably.”
“That’s what I’m saying!” Chairseats Agartha and Griffin say simultaneously. They look at each other, embarrassed, then towards Chairseat Morwen.
Chairseat Morwen admits, “A secret full-scale invasion would admittedly be very easy to accomplish. Nobody would have to find out, Earth is more than a few thousand lightyears away. We have the technology, fellow Chairseats. We just need the motivation.”
“OR,” Chairseat Astro yells out, “or, we could send a bug there. I could have the entire informational base on the planet’s current state of existence fabricated and compiled within a week. Then, with all the information we would potentially need tucked into our belts, we could invade… or, you know… not invade.”
Suddenly Chairseat Jolon, who up to this point had been floating in the lotus position with his eyes closed, speaks.
“Silence, all of you.”
“I agree,” Chairseat Ealdra agrees. “I thin–”
“With all due respect, you shut up too, Chairelder. We shall send a reconnaissance team, we’ve made this contact for a reason. I saw it.”
“Let me guess,” says Chairseat Kuland as he lowers his face into his right hand. “You saw it in a vision?”
“Yes, just now. I started meditating here many meetings ago and a vision finally came to me, just like Chairseat Agartha promised.” He gestures towards Chairseat Astro, then, “Bring up the hologram. ‘Twas a doozy.”
“Not sure what you talkin’ about, Chieftain. But okay.”
Chairseat Astro taps a random sequence into a blank screen on one of his many tablets. A platform rises from the center of the floor and displays a blown-up hologram of a large, whitish-pink fruit.
“When did you–”
“A grove of trees bearing this fruit,” Chairseat Jolon explains, “came to me in the vision. I know not what it means, but I do have a hunch. Would anybody like to attempt to connect these dots?”
The Council is silent, nobody’s really sure of what to say.
Zoral Tryptamine. It courses through our bodies, our brains, our very consciousness. But you all know that already.”
“Yes, the Moksha Medicine… so what’s your point?” Chairseat Kuland says in an overtly serious tone. He’s trying here, he really is.
Zee-Tee has only ever been found in two species of plants on Fuego, neither of which bore fruit and both of which were cut down to extinction millennia ago. This fruit could be the last remaining naturally occurring sustainable source of our substance in the Universe. We haven’t a choice, we must go and retrieve it. As the master race of the Universe, it is our duty.”
The Chairseats share bewildered looks and start whispering to one another. Then, Chairelder Ealdra stands up and everybody pipes down.
“Jolon, even if you had indisputable proof that this fruit exists on Earth and that it contains our Moksha compound, an invasion is not necessary. We’ve been doing fine with our synthetic Moksha Medicine, we’ve no need to go to Earth. I believe Chairseat Kuland is correct, we should ignore this. The potential public backlash is far too dangerous.”
Chairseat Gray, sat next to Charseat Jolon off near the corner, speaks directly to the shamanically-oriented member of the
Zeroc Council of Life. “By ingesting the naturally occurring variant of our preferred entheogen, we would be putting our divine experiences back into the hands of the divine itself; is that what you’re getting at, Jolon?”
Chairseat Jolon nods his head, a grave intensity imbued into the nod. The Council grows silence once more.
“Then we may have no other choice.”
Chairseat Kuland opens his mouth to speak, but he doesn’t even get the chance. Admiral Derrick Bolt bursts into the chamber.
“Council! I have terrible news! One of our Grunts, Alpha, was just killed in action. He jumped the gun and followed a contact beacon down to a foreign planet where a highly advanced aircraft appeared out of nowhere and shot him down. I’ve terminated the satellite.”
Chairseat Kuland looks nervously to Chairseats Gray and Jolon. They shoot him a satisfied look right back. Chairseat Kuland then turns to the Chairelder, hoping for an answer.
“Where is Beta, Admiral Bolt?” Chairseat Ealdra asks after an unsteady moment of contemplation.
Bolt turns away from the Council and stares at the empty floor behind him. Then, turning back to face what’s coming to him, “He was supposed to be right behind me, I don–”
Suddenly an alarm goes off. Chairseat Astro grabs a different tablet and learns that Outpost Jeta B-7 has been destroyed. The weight of seventeen fully inhabited
Zerocian ExoFleets falls upon Admiral Bolt’s shoulders.
A chill runs up Chairseat Morwen’s spine. “What kind of a threat is this…?”
Admiral Bolt is about to blurt out that Beta likely hit the self-destruct button, but sharing that information would probably just make him look worse in the company of his superiors, so he doesn’t. “I do not know Council, but something must be done. Something discreet; I haven’t mentioned it, but this is Earth we’re talking about. The public backlash would be utter bedlam.”
“I believe you’re right, Admiral,” says Chairseat Jolon. “The Earth matter will not be taken lightly. Thank you for your service in these matters. The Council will handle things from here on out, you are dismissed.”
Admiral Bolt bows to his superiors before leaving the room and heading straight for the nearest pub. Somebody’s got to pour one out for young Alpha; the Grunt died a hero serving his species, as far as Bolt is concerned.
When the chamber belongs only to the Council, Chairseat Gray speaks.
“The divine is seldom late, but never early. We will send a small, private expeditionary force down to Earth to assess the population for potential threats. When the planet has been determined as safe to explore, we will send a reconnaissance team to secure the naturally occurring Dif
Zoral Tryptamine. We’ll iron out the details of the plan – the exact location the teams will be going, the excuse to tell the locals if we are questioned, et cetera – tomorrow. Any objections?”
Chairseat Kuland has many, many objections, but is repeatedly overruled by everybody else in the room. The Council adjourns just as the first of the two suns rise over planet Fuego, each Chairseat more than eager to get the hell home and indulge in some sleep.
Back on Earth, Sigmund wakes up neck-deep in a dazed, confused hangover. Only one thought crosses his mind as he fumbles around for the light switch so his eyes can stop burning: why does he always dream about extraterrestrial contact after he drinks?
A Spacefaring Vehicle
Gary’s in the midst of a fierce game of Dos with his two favorite coworkers, the reserved Rose and the jiggish Jennae, when his beeper goes off. Apparently Apex has detected someone attempting to break into one of their warehouses, the ASSFAW no less. Another false alarm, awesome. He bids his cohorts a momentary adieu and takes an elevator down to the garage.
With his self mounted upon his trusty gravity bike, Gary takes a slightly larger lift up to the roof and jumps the bike into the air, taking off into the skies above New Manhattan. His target’s in the mountains of North Dakota, and once he safely tops out over the NewMann wall, Gary hits the boost trigger and crosses half of North America in a matter of three minutes. The ASSFAW, located on a plateau in the middle of a large mountain range, is heavily guarded by natural barriers and a ridiculously treacherous trail; there’s never been a real break-in at the ASSFAW, just some ambitious squirrels and the like. Gary isn’t worried.
When he touches down and sees what looks to be a spacefaring vehicle parked outside the warehouse, Gary starts to worry a little bit. The craft is hauntingly similar to the one he shot down a couple years ago, even says the word JETTISON on the side, but that’s probably just a coincidence. Space is a big place, it’s not likely that the same lifeforms would stumble upon this planet twice in a row.
Detecting a total lapse of living things in his surroundings, Gary lowers his gun and brings up his communicator to report back to headquarters. Before he speaks though, something snaps a twig in the dense forest behind him.
Cape Enterprises, Unc. Secret Sigmund Archive
Master File – Extraterrestrial Communications
Subgroup – Unidentified Satellites
Sub-subgroup – Leads To Be Followed Upon
File No. 1 – “The Talker”, Comms Log
Date Added: December 31st, 2016
Contact achieved, loading communication program…
The Talker: Hello.
Sigmund: Hello! Who are you, what is your species? How are you orbiting around our planet without being detected? Have you been here before? Can you abduct me? Please, explain yourself!
The Talker: Hello. What do you call your planet?
Sigmund: I call it home, but everyone else down here calls it Earth
The Talker: Earth.
The Talker: What do you call your species? Are you the dominant lifeform?
Sigmund: Yes. We are humans, although some of us act more like sheep if you ask me…
The Talker: That was not asked of you. I do not detect translation software – does your species understand this language?
Sigmund: Yes, perfectly; we created it, after all
The Talker: How many wars has your species waged?
Sigmund: Too many to count, there hasn’t been a big one for a long time tho
The Talker: How long?
Sigmund: Um… gosh, it’s probably been at least fifty years
The Talker: That is not long. Do you have weapons?
Sigmund: You better believe I have weapons. The other humans do as well, theirs aren’t as big as mine are tho
The Talker: Will you disarm them?
Sigmund: If everybody else does too, and I get to see them do it
The Talker: How does the Universe work?
Sigmund: It doesn’t, as far as I can tell, but yet here we are
The Talker: Do you have a God?
Sigmund: Science, my extraterrestrial friend; science is my explanatory god. Not God, but god
The Talker: Science is a thought process, neither a God nor a god
Sigmund: Well… I don’t have a god then. Some humans believe in one, I do not
The Talker: Is there any particular reason for that?
Sigmund: Yes, because science has taught me better. I’ve built things that are smaller than an atom, I built an island for Christ’s sake, and the city that stands upon it is powered by zero-point energy! I did all that, not God, me! If there’s a god anywhere in this infinite universe, I’m his living incarnation
The Talker: You invented those things?
Sigmund: Yes, I did.
The Talker: Well how did you do all that?
Sigmund: Well, with my bare hands! And the various manner of limbs that all my robots have
The Talker: Where did you get the ideas?
Sigmund: Some just came to me, some I saw in dreams, some were inspired by… exogenous substances
The Talker: God gave you the ideas, the tools, and the opportunity to do what you’ve done
Sigmund: What? No, I di–
The Talker: Your very existence is proof of God, Sigmund. Where do you think all this came from? The continents, the ocean, the planet, the Universe, everything you think you know about reality, you insignificant sack of meat?
The Talker: How do you think you’re even aware of anything? Perception is reality, Sigmund, consciousness is all there is. Everything is conscious Sigmund, everything is energy, and that energy is Go- – – CONTACT ACCEPTED – – –
– – – – TRANSMITTING BEACON COORDINATES – – – –