"Let machinery fake my place, who has time to chase. Digital is where it is. Love can always be replaced. Welcome to my consciousness. Welcome to our race. Everything is never quite enough."
Everything (is never quite enough) - Diop, Wasis
We spent hours dancing through the non-existent gravity, bumping into each other, laughing when we did. The stars shimmered around us, space enfolding us in its darkened embrace. Gradually everyone became tired, drifting slowly around the room to settle against a piece of invisible bulwark. Khali set the gravity back, closing off the view from our sight, and one by one we made our way to bed.
As I lay beside Heero in our bunk, I thought about what had happened earlier. Khali's becoming human, Bell's confession as to what sex had done to him. And the admission that Treize and Milyardo were really Khali's parents. All of it left me unable to sleep, eventually sitting up and easing out from beneath one of Heero's lax wings.
The room was softly lit by lighting that skimmed the edges of the walls, almost like phosphorescence. Enough so that I could see what was around me and avoid bumping into it. Which was a plus as I slid out of bed and made my way to the door, slipping out and down the corridor, on a mission to find something that had no name. Perhaps sleep was what I was looking for as I skimmed down the hall in the relative darkness of the night bound ship.
The thing about being in space is that there really is no true nightfall, it is always nightfall, or daytime, depending on how close to a sun the ship is. In our case we weren't close to any hot little stars that gave off light like a sun would, so with a tweaking of lights, it had become night onboard of Khali. I was guided by the soft glow of the walls, just enough light to find my way. Where was I headed? I didn't know.
This urge to walk about the sleeping Khali had merely stolen upon me while I lay trying to relax, eventually pulling me from the warmth of bed to wander. It was as I was passing the gravi-room that I again heard the whisper of voices. I wondered now that Khali had split, whether she would still be able to tell where all of her passengers were. Before I could bend my ear to the doorframe, she answered my unspoken question.
"Duo, come in, we want to talk to you anyway." Her voice still sounded much as it had before, though now she was human, and a woman rather than a child.
I poked my head around the edge of the door, taking in the image of Khali and Bell lying slumped against a wall together, staring out a clear portion of the bulwark. Space swirled in its endless patterns beyond that window, planets pulsing with life. Noticing the planets in between the stars, I also took notice of the large image of the planet we'd promised to find a mate, floating lazily along in our wake.
"Couldn't sleep?" Khali asked softly as I joined the two of them on the floor.
"No, besides, I slept a good 10 hours earlier, my body's all caught up on its quotient."
"We were discussing travel methods." Bell said, shifting to look at me.
"And how the planet will mate." Khali added.
"That's something I was wondering about too. How will the planet mate? And can we give it a name so that we can stop calling it `the planet'?" The three of us stayed silent for a moment, each of us taking in an eyeful of the green and blue planet swimming with us.
"How about Puppy?" Khali said, grinning absently at the image of it. "It follows us like a small animal would, one that's starved for love and attention, looking to be petted."
"I've never seen a puppy before, dogs are rare."
"After space exploration started they modified them anyway, they are no longer the breed that came originally from Earth1."
"Bodily modifications?" I asked, briefly remembering pictures of the animal from tutoring I'd received through Fina.
"Yes, trained-in responses. They had to, in order to make it a space-worthy animal."
"Well, Puppy seems a suitable enough name."
Again, our eyes turned towards the planet, now named. We sat in a comfortable silence for a while, watching the swirls and twirls of the stars. The dancers of space.
"So what about travel?" I asked after a few more minutes had passed.
"I was telling Bell about space twisting, how I am able to change universes."
"I was wondering if we might be able to speed up our trip to Puppy's future mate."
"He wants to go home."
"Who? Puppy? Or Bell?"
"Bell, and Puppy." Khali said with a laugh.
"So, could you speed up our travel?"
"Slightly, it might have some strange effects though."
"The human mind has trouble accepting the vast movements that are required for twisting space and time. In changing universes, the mind can accept it because it lasts for only a few seconds, but for a speed change the mind would have to accept it for a much longer amount of time."
"Wait a minute, how come it would be harder to reconcile a shorter jump? That makes no sense."
"Yes it does. You see, a jump from one universe to another is only a jump. But actually traveling in the mode that I use for jumping would take longer. We won't be jumping, because we might not end up exactly where we want to be. So we would have to merely move faster. Hence it would take a longer amount of time to travel in that mode."
"I think I understand," though I wasn't really sure that I did.
"It doesn't matter, the only way I could do it would be to put everyone onboard to sleep."
"So? Why not do it?"
"Because that would leave only myself awake. If anything went wrong, you'd all be in a coma-like state and I'd be incapacitated."
"In other words, it's dangerous?"
"Well then, let's not think about it for now. Besides, I'm more interested in how Puppy will be mating."
"Me too, it's not everyday you see two planets having sex."
"I don't think that's how they'll do it." Bell interjected with a smile. "Though that would be amusing to see."
"How do you know how it will happen?" Khali asked, curiosity wreathing her face.
"When I was connected to Puppy during our transit from its universe to ours, I was able to glean information from it, and understand it more fully."
"So tell us about it."
"Puppy is a rare breed of planet. There are many different ways for a planet to come into existence, and depending on how it is `born' will determine how life will form on it. In Puppy's case, it was formed from a singular inverse star. The star folded in on itself and turning its energy inward formed a crust on the outside. The trapped energy within gradually formed a basic semblance of life on its crust. Trees, plants, but no true lifeforms."
"Alright, I understand so far. I think."
"But why doesn't it have any major lifeforms? And why does it have that primordial soup?" Khali asked, idly picking up a long hank of Bell's hair and playing with it.
"The energy from the inverse star was enough to create lifeforms without intellegence, but not enough to create life like us. The primordial ooze is the only intelligence it was able to create; a mind without a body, life without a soul. The ooze is pure life; the star buried deep within the core of the planet is pure energy. But the two are unable to mix. So close are the elements that make them up, that if they were to mix there is a possibility that the planet would implode."
"Not explode. The energy would touch the ooze, and the merger of the two would seep beneath the crust of the planet reawakening the inverse star. At which point the star would be reborn."
"Which wouldn't be any good, because then you would have a sun buried inside a planet. Right?" Khali asked, still twisting Bell's hair, fingers splayed through spun blue crystal.
"So in order to create a lifeform, it needs to find a planet that has the opposite effect? It has the pure life, but needs the pure energy." I muttered, finally grasping at what Bell was saying.
"That's it. The input that Khali and I asked you to program was to find a planet or planets that contain enough energy to spare some. The planet we're heading for now should have enough to share with Puppy."
"But that still doesn't explain how it's supposed to mate."
"As far as I could determine, Puppy will need a transfer. It will somehow be able to communicate with this planet we find, and ask for an infusion of energy."
"Therefore creating a new lifeform on Puppy by merging the pure life it contains, with the energy that the planet we find contains."
"Yes," Bell shifted on the floor, moving closer to Khali and handing her another hank of his hair to play with. They exchanged a smile, and I hid my own.
She twisted his hair with a long strand of her own crimson hair, grinning at the colors that wrapped around each other. "In a little less than week we'll arrive at our destination, and see this miracle of creation, the beginning of a new race."
"That will be something to behold." I whispered, staring at Puppy, the planet taking on a new light in my eyes. I glanced over at Khali and Bell again, deciding that perhaps it would be best for me to find my way back to bed, and Heero. "I think I'll go back to bed now, and see you when I wake again."
"All right," they both said distractedly, each absorbed in looking at one another.
Again, I hid a smile.
But I didn't find my way back to Heero, instead I wound up taking a detour and getting distracted by the view that our former eating room had to offer. The entire wall clear, showing the vast space beyond the ship's hull. When looking at this view, it might seem cold and empty, but I found it to be warm and inviting, the way space had always seemed to me. Beautiful with its shimmering stars, and flickering comets, space in all its glory laid out for my approval. And of course, I approved.
"Sometimes I think it's too big." A small voice said from near my knees. Glancing down I found 138 curled up on one of the metal chairs, its tiny paws folded beneath it, large eyes staring forlornly up at me.
"138," I managed to mutter, leaning down so that we were more eye to eye. "Why are you here?"
" Mr. Chang created me, I had no choice."
"No, no. Not that kind of `why are you here'. I meant why are you in this room while everyone else is sleeping."
"I'm not sure." It turned its gaze toward the giant view of space, stars reflecting in its eyes. "I think I'm afraid of it."
"Of what? Space?"
"Yes, ever since we went down to the planet in the golden ball. I can't seem to forget how big it all was. It seems like I'm the smallest thing in all the universes."
"I don't think so, I mean, there are lots of other things that are much smaller than you." Tentatively I stroked one of its tiny ears, smiling when it leaned its head against my hand. "Besides, it's like Milyardo said, your size does have its advantages."
"Uh," I thought quickly, trying to come up with a something plausible. "I'm sorry 138, I'm not sure. But I can tell you this much. One day there will come a time, when you are the only one capable of doing something very important. And then you will know, there are other things besides size that matter."
"And until then?"
"Until then, live your life. And try to enjoy it."
"This advice," 138 met my eyes, its own narrowing slightly, "I should follow it?"
"You should, yes. But you don't have to. It's your life, do what you will. Just know that you are cared for, and loved."
"Hmph," it muttered, once more staring off into the view of space. I trailed my finger gently down its back, wondering if the tiny rumble I heard was a purr. A soft sigh met my ears, 138's tense little body relaxing slightly.
It wasn't until a few moments had passed; that I realized the steadily growing rumble was not coming from 138. I glanced up, gasping as I realized we weren't alone. "Oh shinalp."
"What?" The tiny body tensed as 138 opened its eyes and noticed what had caught my attention. "Creos."
Scattered across our view, like a million stars, were the Universal Finders. Apparently, they'd found us again. The rumbling was caused by the fact that they were hitting us, actually ramming themselves against Khali's hull in a mindless frenzy.
The ship seemed to rock, and suddenly alarms began to blare, high pitched shrieks that almost sounded human.
"We'd better go find the others." I said, holding out my hand for 138.
"Why do those shrieks sound so odd?" it asked, circling my thumb with its claws.
I paused, listening intently. They did sound strange, not regulated enough to be computerized, something very bizarre about them.
At last, I grasped what was wrong, breaking into a run. "It's Khali, they're hurting her. That's *her* voice!" Our ship, our new human friend, they were the same. Khali was now able to feel the pain the Finders were inflicting on the part of her that was the ship. "They're going to kill her."
Transpod: A dimensional traveling device. The transpod will transport human mass within any area that contains another transpod. The time taken for each journey will always be exactly 10 nanoseconds, as time is folded as well as matter to create no ripple within the dimensions.
Slosta: A drink created from organic matter grown on Jilad, the Slosta is filled with nutrients that heighten awareness and energize.
CR chips: Two microchips implanted behind the ears, the connectors that allow a direct linkage to the VR modules.
Shinalp: A form of cursing, Shinalp is somewhat akin to saying "shit" or "ah shit"
Kajacrap: The Kaja is a life form located on the planet Neskin, a large beast known to produce huge amounts of feces. The phrase kajacrap is akin to saying "Bullshit"
Fliogan Warriors: The Fliogan is a race that attaches metallic wings to their young while they are still being formed within the incubators. The wings are partially organic, fusing with the young so as to become part of their bodies. This warrior race is known to be extremely high tech, and very vicious, most normal humans will not go near them, as they are known to kill without reason. Very little is known of the Fliogan or their ways.
Feed Tubes: Connectors that feed information and nutrients to any life form connected to any long-term device.
Lavablue 6: The planet on which the society of Fliogan reside at this time.
Levels: Technological knowledge is rated by level; most societies only have an average of 30 levels. The common level of most humans is 5, techmaster levels tend to be higher and in the upper ranges.
Steelshift: 1 of over a million different charted elements, Steelshift is partially organic, allowing it to be integrated with human DNA, testing is still in experimental stages, most distinguished users of this element are the Fliogan.
Slipshot Diskwings: A style of wing known to be common among the Fliogan, Slipshot defines the integration of movable parts, Diskwing is the style of the small circular patterns of metal that form the wings of Fliogan.
Contract: A contract is a more binding way to say, "Promise or swear?"
Optilenses: Cyber optic lenses, which can be used during a VR program only.
Creos: The original form of the name Christ has changed with the passage of time, modern form of the word when used as a curse is Creos.
Orstras: A plant matter grown in dark caves on the planet of Trinition, considered a delicacy on most planets, the plant is dark purple with small white bells that can be plucked and cooked. The taste is said to be sweet and delicate.
Realtime Call: The difference between a realtime call and a regular call is in the distance, all realtime calls infer off planet residence of the caller, communications run at high speeds, face to face talking is still difficult between planets.
What is your task: This is the way most people will ask what your job is, what career you're in.
Crèche Technician: Most people are born to the incubators and raised in crèches, the technicians help care for the many children being raised in such places.
Grower: The still forming body of a child within the incubator, a delicate time that must be carefully overseen to prevent accidents. A grower is usually designated as a child in a womb-like state. Between -1 to -9 months, or the time a child would be inside of a mother's body.
Youlin: A manmade mammalian life form, these animals are specifically created to improve the technology behind cloning. Most tests are performed with a small VR module; with which the creatures are filled with the only knowledge they know, as the Youlin is created with a blank slate for a mind.
A Set: A group of Growers that have reached maturity.
Trance state: Every few months of a citizen's life is recorded during REM cycles, the consciousness is stored within a neural processor called a memory chip. Occasionally when one wishes to know another, an exchange of such chips may occur.
Wetwiring: circuitry and modifications that can be installed within the human body without harming it.
The System: There are 3 levels of the system. The first is that which take cares of the minor systems such as basic maintenance, the second level controls techmaster training, medical facilities, and knowledge. The final level of the system controls all other functions between worlds; each detail is observed, and stored within it.
Klishana: A crystal found during an expedition of exploration, it is not only organic, but sentient as well.
Pinalr: A vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked, it is said to be an acquired taste due to its strange fleshy texture and nutty flavor.
Guplit: A type of fruit grown on many planets, it is small and covered in tiny spikes which make it needful to be carefully eaten. It is said to taste rather sour, with a hint of sweetness.
Fermented Hisle Juice: A type of fruit also grown on many planets, it can be juiced and distilled to form a mild form of alcoholic beverage.
Brean-scalpel: a surgical instrument designed for a bloodless opening and closing of tissues, often used for personal bodily modifications.
Inverse Star: Very rarely when a star starts its death throes, it will turn in upon itself and feed off of its own energy, creating a new form.
If you would like a definition for something not listed here just ask! ^_^