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God Of a Man
Across Two Eternities

“Machines have needs, organisms have wants.”

Chapter Sixteen: The sphere of symmetry
Dated: 18th April, 2461

Artificial intelligence can learn how to fulfil its’ needs, but artificial intelligence cannot self generate desires, for desires are not a product of intelligence but chemistry; the hormones. Any intelligent species could be expected to master the art and science of artificial intelligence sooner or later. It could also be expected, the intelligent species would protect its kind by deploying artificial intelligence to tasks that are inherently dangerous. But when that intelligent species begins replacing itself with artificial intelligence in ordinary routine, it loses its’ claim to intelligence all together. Efficiency is the essence of nature, not life, for life is slow while nature hectic. Life would be mundane, boring and stretched out for an intelligent species were there no ordinary tasks to accomplish daily. To replace yourselves with machines in doing those simple tasks, even in the name of efficiency, is inexcusably dumb.

There could of course be a way out, even if every intelligent being may not exhibit an intellectual or artistic bent of mind. An artificial but perfect-real world, made up and supported by artificial intelligence, could be created for the underprivileged majority to live their lives in. Hooked to machines they may never need to know the real world right from their birth to their demise. This would immediately take away the bludgeoning mass off the fast depleting planetary resources. The whole planet would then be a free and open space for the small resource rich minority to enjoy it in its’ real form. Both sides would get what they want; the majority will have jobs and ordinary lives of their choice in an absolutely efficient artificial utopian world, while the small minority would have the whole real world at their feet with no threat to their self or resources, or their peaceful enjoyment.

But like everything unnatural, this way too is fraught with dangers and negative side-effects. For starters, there won’t be enough of the intelligent species to deal with unpredictable natural events. Then the scheme would lead to a great deal of inbreeding, destroying the natural variation prevalent in a broader gene pool, leaving the entire species vulnerable to ever evolving bugs and parasites, and gradually pilling up genetic defects. The old proverb ‘strength in numbers’ will probably never lose its relevance. There is a charm in having a real man or woman behind the wheel of life, for it is their natural imperfections which make them better adept at nature and life than artificial intelligence. An example is the men at the helm of NSSS ‘Full Bloom’.

“Sir, we’ve got company,” Engineer Marcus Dodd raised an alarm just as NSSS ‘Full Bloom’ flew through the space tear.

“Where and how many?” asked the Rear Admiral Gurubaan Ahluwalia.

“Five of them; just appeared out of nowhere,” Marcus replied, “With our current axis always set as 360-180, and direction of travel as 180, the crafts appeared at 29115 degrees Upper-Back-Right.”

But any further conversation was abruptly ended by the emergency call made by their Chief Flight Officer Antonio Marks, “Emergency! Black-hole ahead; 72010 degrees Lower-Front-Left! Fifty seconds to avoid!”

An ensuing pin-drop silence, worth three or four seconds, was very quickly interrupted by the affirmative action call from the Co-Pilot Gerry Gold, “Initiating a quick glide off at 62933 degrees Upper-Front-Right in ten seconds. Countdown started; three seconds down!”

The countdown was quick and the black-hole at the heart of the Milky Way still a few light months away, yet the seven seconds felt longer than ages. The turn off was very abrupt, yet in a gravity less space it felt impact-less. But the matter of conversation that had been cut out of thought lines by the little twist in tail; was once again upon them. Five crafts, unknown to them and holding their own kind, zipped in through the dying space gate.

The fear of the unknown lasts either only as long as its mystery, or as long as ones’ nerves. When either of the two is overcome, it is never anything more than an issue to be dealt with.

“There it is; your space rock taking a detour,” Jhiang exclaimed as soon as NSSS Eternity crossed the gate.

“Are they turning around to attack us,” a concerned Anne asked, but she didn’t have to wait for the answer, for Captain Davis had already spotted the reason.

“Black-hole ahead, 72010 degrees Lower-Front-Left,” Chris had a similar estimate to share.

“Oh my mother madness,” a petrified Anne exclaimed, “Evade!”

“We’ll be alright,” Professor Dunmore however eased her fears, “Our mother ships are capable of flying as close as two light months from the black-holes, while the smaller ones can go as close as one light month. We have a comfortable half hour lead to take evasive action.”

“Thank you so much Professor; that is reassuring,” a calmed Anne exclaimed before immediately returning to the other pressing question, “What about the alien craft; is it hostile?”

“Camouflaged; yes, but hostile; no,” replied Captain Davis.

“Camouflage is both a device to ambush, as well as avoiding getting preyed,” a finally stable Captain Ahluwalia replied to Anne’s question, “It could be a defensive tactic deployed by someone who is likely doing exactly what we are; trying to stay alive.”

“I agree,” Captain Connors chimed in, “We need to give them some space and then analyse their actions and reactions. They know the space tears and the two universes as much as we do, and they are likely deploying a similar scientific technique as ourselves, even though their craft looks less capable than ours.”

“Any suggestions or recommendations Mr Harrison,” Anne asked the second in command of the mission, Charles Harrison, who was on-board NSSS Infinity now.

“Perhaps we can send an emissary to them at some point in time,” Charles replied, “Soon, that is!”

“Captain Connors should probably head out to them along with Mishansa,” Captain Davis threw his weight behind the proposal, “That way we would cover up for both side scenarios, if you know what I mean.”

“I accept that proposal if there are no objections, and of course, no assaults pre-empted against us,” Anne made the split second decision that was needed, “Besides, it helps that Mishansa is on board NSSS ‘Firestorm’ itself.”

Better judgment is always reasoned, and reasoning is sharpened by experience. It is thus imperative that the earlier decisions made by any person in their lives would be less thoroughly deliberated than the later ones. Yet even the bad decisions have their due place of importance, for it is the learning that came out of those that made the person what they eventually have become since.

“Sir, what do we do?” a concerned Marcus asked.

“We are waiting for your orders sir,” an enlivened Lieutenant Jake Reginald exclaimed thumping his chest, “And each one of us will personally rush into those enemy ships with nukes tied to our bodies.”

“And that’s exactly what I expect from each one of you, Lieutenant,” a proud Rear Admiral exclaimed before continuing, “However, we have no evidence that the unknown company is hostile.”

“Sir, will we get a chance to fight back?” Antonio asked, “Their crafts are clearly superior to ours; judging by the ease and aplomb they are flying so dangerously close to the black-hole, and such greater speed than ours.”

“We don’t have missiles that travel at half the speed our craft travels at young man,” the Rear Admiral however reminded him, “If we fire first, there is no chance we will ever even scratch any of them. But that’s not all of it! The worst is; there would be no chance of peace once we have fired first. If their technology is as superior as you have just described, then we stand no chance. Hence, we wait!”

Waiting is a game on its own; a game that your mind plays with you as the subject. It will raise issues and probabilities on one hand, and make you desperate for an end to the suspense on the other. It would test as to how long before you begin cracking up, and then crack as your own self, should you crack.

“I know Anne wants you to go down there with me,” Bradley explained to Mishansa, “But I want you to stay back until I feel safe to call you in.”

“But why can’t I just go there with you in the first place?” Mishansa however argued.

“Because if things go wrong, I cannot protect you, while they would likely not be able to kill me,” Bradley replied, “Besides, we could have destroyed them anyway, if it were not for the humanity that is still intact in our hearts.” He then turned to Margaret, “Get ready to dock around any hatch area you identify on their craft’s either side. We don’t want to make them think we are aggressive by looking for a hatch on the top or lower end of their craft’s body.”

Symbolism has its uses; it conveys meanings when and where language fails. However it may never replace language, for on its’ own it is seldom enough. More troublesome are the cases where the same symbol can have a different meaning for different people.

“Sir, what should we do,” Marcus asked, “One of their crafts is on to us; coming fast to our left side.”

“I don’t see it assuming an assault position,” Rear Admiral however replied, and to add credence to his statement, the craft soon assumed a parallel position, flying side by side to their craft, and approaching laterally. “Looks like they want to dock with us,” Rear Admiral immediately understood what the sublime message was, “Lieutenant Reginald, prepare to welcome our guest.”

“Sir, what if they attack?” Jake however asked.

“They already would have, had that been their intention,” Rear Admiral however eased his concerns, “They can anyway, if they want to!”

Good people don’t try to confuse others with their non-verbal clues, for they are themselves seldom impressed by such behaviour. In fact, should a situation arise where someone might have mistaken their intentions, good people generally go out of their way to clarify the air of uncertainty.

The hatch door on NSSS ‘Firestorm’ opened as soon as it docked to the side of NSSS ‘Full Bloom’. A dark figure, sans any helmet or oxygen mask descended out of it, still connected to his ship by a thick cord, and floated towards the hatch on the side of the host ship. The hatch unlocked and slid open as soon as Bradley approached the ship, allowing him a free entry inside. As soon as he stepped inside, he grabbed a handle bar meant to provide a grip inside the small chamber, and let go off the cord connecting him to his ship. The hatch closed back again, lights lit up, and artificial gravity immediately kicked in. A door to the side of the chamber opened.

“Welcome on board NSSS ‘Full Bloom’ our dearest guest,” a bowing Jake exclaimed humbly, without caring to glance properly at his extremely surprised guest. And so did three others accompanying him.

“Lieutenant Jake Reginald, is that really you?” Bradley’s voice however shocked them out of their intellectual slumber, as the quartet looked up.

“Captain Connors,” a surprised and shocked Jake murmured, almost to himself, as he took a long deep look at his vaguely familiar looking guest. But once he realized it was his senior and former commanding officer on board NSS ‘Full Bloom’, he saw beyond the changed look and immediately gave the ceremonial salute, “Sir! Lieutenant Reginald reporting to you, under direct command of the Rear Admiral Gurubaan Ahluwalia.”

“Father, he’s here,” a far more pleased and elated Bradley exclaimed as he heard the words, “I can’t believe it is you people.”

“And we can’t believe it is you Sir,” an equally elated Jake replied, “It’s been a really very long story.”

“Lieutenant Reginald,” Rear Admiral’s voice boomed on the radio, “What’s the current update on our guests.”

“Sir you won’t believe,” Jake replied back, “We have a surprise for you!”

Surprises, whether or not they are welcome, still have a role to play in one’s life. They wreck the original plans most of the time!

“Jenny, are we going to die?” the innocent little Jack asked a concerned Jenny as she gazed at the night sky, the bright glow of the slowly evolving solar storm growing by each passing day.


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