Apollo 23: Chapter 6

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Apollo 23: Chapter 6: Tell Me Please


UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Sakir meets Jack


Possibly its own chapter:


Tulghik arrived at the chambers of Deltarshi and entered, unannounced. Deltarshi was struggling to order her own thoughts about Sakir and the girl's suitability as a time traveler. Tulghik said, "That went well."

Deltarshi was not very surprised by the alien's visit, but for a moment she reflexively tried to clear her thoughts of questions about Huaoshy motivations and Tulghik's apparent confidence in Sakir. Why did Tulghik seem so sure that Sakir should be sent to Earth? "I'm worried about my ability to have Sakir ready in time."

Tulghik took Deltarshi's hand and led her to Deltarshi's sculptorium. Here Deltarshi had collected some physical sculptures, many her own work but most of the display was projected images. For a while they wondered through the sculptures, many of which were the work of long dead Earthlings. When Tulghik sensed that Deltarshi was finally relaxing and lowering her defenses, Tulghik finally spoke again. "We have all the time we need. I established a target date for Sakir's temporal transfer, but that was all guess work. How much time will you need?"

As usual, Deltarshi could not help wondering if Tulghik was monitoring her thoughts. She decided it was best to openly discuss her fears. "Unless Sakir is not being truthful, she has no confidence in her ability to function as you agent on Earth. Surely you know that."

Tulghik produced a human-like shrug. "Sakir's self-doubts run very deep, but that is healthy. We do not want to send some overly confident, self-centered and egotistical maniac to Earth."

At that moment, Tulghik's words almost convinced Deltarshi that the alien was not able to read her mind. "That is not the issue. The heart of the problem is that neither Sakir or Jack can imagine why it is so important that Earthlings not become aware of the fact that Earth is under Observation."

Tulghik grimaced in the Huaoshy fashion. "I count on you to deal with their paranoia. You need to be creative, since there is no good reason for continuing to keep the Earthlings ignorant. No reason that they would understand."

Deltarshi let her doubts come boiling out, "So, the problem is my problem. I accept the idea that the Huaoshy have vast experience dealing with primitives like we humans, but how can I get past my own doubts. Maybe you are simply wrong."

"Sakir has infected you with her ignorance. What does it matter if my judgment is wrong? We are trying to learn the dynamics of your species and how humans can grow a sustainable culture. When I am wrong I learn and move on. We can't be paralyzed by our doubts and ignorance." The alien continued, rather cruelly, "You have served longer than usual as an Overseer. I thought you wanted to see humanity put on a stable trajectory with the Olmec disaster left behind. If you are not up to the task then you can retire now."

Deltarshi explained. "The problem might be that you have let me continue at this too long. You know me well. I can't function within a cocoon of ignorance and the more you tell me about the Huaoshy the more I doubt that I can ever understand you and your motivations."

"You humans cannot constructively channel your imaginations. You create fantasy fears and they control your minds."

"How do I know the difference between my fantasy and Huaoshy secrets?"

"I keep no secrets from you."

"But you expect me to trust you when you say that."

"It is far easier for me to replace you than to prevent you from believing your own fantastic theories about Huaoshy motivations."

"It is your seemingly casual attitude that bothers me most. Jack, Sakir and I suffer with doubts about the future of Earth and humanity. Do you?"

"Of course I don't suffer like you do. And I rely on you to recognize and deal with such angst in Sakir."

"If you don't care about Sakir specifically or humanity as a whole then why does motivate you?"

Tulghik tried to produce a human-like sigh. "We discussed this long ago, when you first began working with me."

"And at that time your answers satisfied me. I've changed over the years. Sakir herself zeroed in on the key issues just by reading about the Olmec Reality."

"Well, the kind of skill she has for solving codes and puzzles is really the answer to your doubts about Huaoshy motivations. And, of course, I selected you to work with me because you have similar cognitive abilities."

"Yes, you told me long ago that the Huaoshy created the human species and domesticated us, that you experiment with shaping our culture. But you have also told me that humans are only one of millions of such experiments from the past billion years. When my doubts take hold of me, the way you toy with us seems absurd and pointless."

"Even most Huaoshy view my efforts here with humans as absurd and pointless. They might be right. So what?"

"So it can be hard for we humans to accept our fate as your play things."

"If you cannot do what I ask of you, then it is time for you to retire. You are the only one who can judge such things. You know quite well that I cannot make sensible judgments abut human emotions and states of mind. Nor would I want to. I think you know that we Huaoshy find it objectionable and unethical to treat you humans like puppets. I need you and Sakir to be willing to work with me for your own reasons."

"You make it sound like it is up to humanity to decide when we will finally have an open relationship with you Huaoshy."

"I make it sound that way because it is that way. I know it is best for primitives like you to remain ignorant of we Huaoshy, but you rush to make contact with other minds from other worlds. Some day I will no longer be able to find agents like Sakir who will help hide the truth from Earthlings. I've followed Sakir's thinking for her whole life. Yes, she has doubts, but deep inside she knows it is best that humans not become aware of the truth. A few humans like you and Sakir can handle the truth, but not most. Saikr knows that. You used to know it."

Deltarhi nodded, "My problem is, everything I know comes from what you Huaoshy want me to know."

"You know everything there is to know. I don't hide any great secrets from you."

"Of course, if you did have secrets I'd never know."

"I can't help you with your paranoia."

"I think you could. I think you don't because it is easier to just replace me with a new unquestioning Overseer."

"Bah. When you have a logical reason for doubting me, state the reason. Until then you are just being silly."

"I don't have anything a solid as a reason, but your story about Huaoshy motivations makes no sense. Why spend a billion years domesticating a million species like humans? What is the point?"

"You know that there need be no point. Stable systems perpetuate themselves even when there is no purpose. I gave you my personal reason long ago. It is a powerful motivation that guides Huaoshy efforts: we are exploring the possibilities inherent in biocomputational systems. We have a program for exploring a vast state space of biological solutions to the problem of how the universe becomes aware of itself. We imagine that there are solutions to problems like traveling through space at superluminal velocities. We hope that some mind will discover the way to accomplish such goals that we Huaoshy have worked towards for a billion years."

"I don't believe it. Pursuit of a goal for a billion years?"

"You are young. Humans are young. Just as I cannot make sense of human emotions and motivation you cannot grasp what motivates me. The gulf between humanity and Huaoshy is as great as what separates you from bacteria. The situation you find yourself in wounds your pride and it leads you to imagine that you mean no more to me than a bacterium in a piece of cheese means to you. Well, just as a cheese maker might select a better bacterial strain for making cheese, I spend my time cultivating you humans. Believe me, as odious as you might find me, the alternative, humanity left to itself, is far worse."

"What do you do when a species would rather exterminate itself than continue as one of your experiments?"

"There are galaxies full of dead worlds where that decision has been made time and time again. Do you grieve over every extinct species in Earth's past? No. So don't try to imagine that I care much about your species. Yes, I've spent a few thousand years experimenting with Earthlings but as I've told you before, each Huaoshy "individual" is a distributed network of "appendages". I could walk away from Earth today and never again waste a thought about humanity. I don't do that because I value Earth as a bioreactor. Humanity might be a mistake. In the end I might just erase my experiment of the last 10,000 years and let humans continue evolving as a nontechnological species for another million years.

Tulghik waited for Deltarshi to comment then continued. "I don't do that because humans have a behavioral trait that we Huaoshy greatly prize. One of the strongest human sources of motivation comes from being told that you cannot do something. We have worked for millions of years to build that instinct into you. We've spread humans into space and allowed you to form your Genesaunt culture, but you depend on us for everything. Eventually humans will discover the secrets of hierion physics and you will then be ready to take your place among the worthy species who have collected around we Huaoshy. If your species lasts that long then you will joining us in our predicament, facing an uncaring universe that tells us faster-than-light travel is not possible. Maybe it will be a human or a human descendant that finally solves one of the great puzzles that we Huaoshy have not solved."

"When might that be? A billion years from now?"

"Most Huaoshy think that superluminal travel is impossible. I live on the fringe of Huaoshy society. So, that is your personal predicament. You can work with me to help humanity or not. It is your choice."

Deltarshi nodded, "The problem is Sakir. She knows nothing about the Huaoshy and your motivations. She does not trust me or you or her own ability to go to Earth and make wise choices."

"Humans delight is mystification. I have no idea what you mean by a wise decision nor have I ever expected Sakir to magically become a fountain of wisdom. I trust her. If you cannot trust her then maybe it is time for you to retire."

"No, you are correct. I want to see this through. I'll to my best to prepare Sakir for her task. I guess I just have to get pat my unreasonable wish that we might have a way of magically assuring success for Sakir."

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