Sintam sat breaking his fast waiting for his body to respond to the food. It had been a long time since he had actually used his mouth and primitive intestines for eating. He was certain that his solar inducer had produced sufficient nutrients for at least one hundred years and yet here he was, shoveling food into his mouth. Either his memory core was starting to fault or he hadn’t had a reason for formal eating in at least that long. He would have to retrace his steps to retrieve the inducer, it couldn’t be far.
The heavily wooded area around him was filled with a species of trees known only to this small island. They grew exceptionally fast and the strain of their growth caused the equivalent of stretch marks to scar the bright white trunks in an array of shades of gray. At less than ten feet apart, the trunks ended sharply with what looked like tendrils reaching to the sky trying to drink in the light. The tendrils were in high contrast to the trunk, colored anywhere from bright pink to dark chocolate. The colors correlated to the varying types of nutrients they absorbed from the air and unseen light spectrums. This was one of Sintam’s favorite places. With his choice of nutritional supplement so easily found it was also a place he could likely survive indefinitely. “Fuck you, earth”, he formally greeted as he stood. His old Earth English was rusty but he did his best to utilize his ancient memories regularly, lest they decay.
His ritual morning tasks were nearly completed. Eating alone was a bit embarrassing. Hopefully no one would read his memory in the near future. He might have to remove their neural compartment to ensure long term recovery wasn’t possible. He considered if he should then stick the removed head on a pike as warning for other telepaths.
As the thoughts bounced back and forth and his ancient mind actually activated, the fear that coursed through him was absolute. He would need to remove his ancillary intelligence processor. He would need to purge his memory core. Thoughts so primal were evidence enough that it was failing.
He whispered “Sec to tas”, roughly translated to “passion and beauty to you”, to greet his favorite planet properly. After nearly a millennium of traveling, he knew he would eventually die. His subprocessors realized the failure in his ancillary intelligence processing unit and activated his human brain. Murderous thoughts were not tolerated in his culture. It was irrelevant to him that he had not seen another human in over three hundred years. He would adhere to his moral compass until his ancient mind also failed.
Opening the component locking controls on his arm was so foreign to him in his old age. As a young man he would regularly upgrade and swap various parts of his cybernetic enhancements. By age two hundred he had fully upgraded himself at least a dozen times. His life as a nomad was forced at the hand of his home planet’s collapse. However, he looked fondly on the lifetimes he’d spent discovering new species of people and, in the end, new friends.
The panel was triangular with an impenetrable casing about half the size of his hand. Located in his left forearm three finger widths from his wrist, it creaked as it opened. The newer model component locking mechanisms were all controlled by the brain but he liked the sturdy construction of his. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. He thought. He would never upgrade his oldest tech. It’d be like upgrading your pet. No one upgrades their best friend.
Tapping a few controls he unlocked his ancillary intelligence processing unit. He immediately began to feel … less. His senses dulled and thinking clearly felt impossible. It is necessary, he reminded himself. The ANC INT unit was located immediately below his heart. He lifted his shirt as it began to eject. It locked halfway out and he grabbed the silver capped orange cylinder to remove it completely. A slight tug and it was free. At about the length of his pinky toe and width of his thumb, it was a wonder it was able to do so much. Well, now that it was removed it was a wonder. He invented the technology. The version now in his hand was his latest beta product, produced nearly sixteen hundred years ago. He was almost proud that it lasted this long.
Looking into his open arm, he was amazed at how smoothly organic material connected to man made terminals. His mind raced as he tried to comprehend how it was possible that his body could interact so freely with an implant in his arm. The implant required removing the bones and much of the tissue in that area, replacing and reinforcing with man made versions. He was stunned to remember that he created the technology.
His original ANC INT unit was as tall as he was. At seven foot eleven inches high and about as wide, he would connect to it each night before he slept allowing it to process his daily activities. He was quickly able to iterate the ANC INT line of products with the assistance of the product itself. If he ever wanted to leave this planet, he would have to build another ANC INT. His ship was one of a kind and too complicated for any unassisted human brain to control.
Before the collapse of Earth every embryo had ANC INT ports genetically installed. The latest versions allowed adjustments to provide various specializations, lowering enhancements in one area to boost them in another. The one in his hand was a few iterations away from the same feat. Now, that was just a dream. Unfortunately, Sintam’s ports did not allow for adjustments and every improvement needed to be handcrafted to uniquely fit his specifications. I’m far too high maintenance to be a nomad.
He took a few steps around his rock lined fire pit to grab his black parts bag. Lifting up the bag and rummaging inside he pulled out an external archival storage device to keep his life of memories intact before he dumped his memory core. Transferring his life would take almost a day. He activated the transfer and continued his homage to his original planet. Grabbing his plate and fork he continued eating the closest thing he could find to a pineapple, his favorite fruit. His year of foresting, in honor of Earth, was about half done. He may have to admit defeat and head back to Crintari’s mainland. It would be easier to build a replacement, albeit significantly reduced, ANC INT with the assistance of the natives. That’s if he decided he wanted to leave this planet. I’m too old to fight.
As he finished his fruit, he knelt down, butt-to-feet, clasped his hands and began meditating, awaiting the completion of the data transfer. His bare chest glistened in the tri-sun light bathing the tentacle trees.
A large thud to his right brought him out of his meditation. Several hours had passed. “Hello, Wife” he said without looking up.
“I’m not your wife and my name isn’t Wife”, she retorted lazily as if she’d said the same thing a thousand times over.
“One day you’ll tire enough of it and tell me your name.”
“You wouldn’t be able to say it, Biped.”
She had dropped a large bundle of tentacles she gathered from the surrounding area. She would eat most of them.
“When are we leaving? This food bores me.”
Finally looking up at her, a squat six legged native of the planet. About one quarter of his height, she was still shorter than he as he kneeled. Her skin, white as the tree bark should be, was covered in short thick hairs about two inches long. The hairs drew curved lines across her torso accentuating her physique with negative space in key areas. Her arms, as muscled as Sintam had ever seen, almost dragging on the ground, gave her the appearance of having eight legs instead of six. Until one of those arms punched you. Never anger a Crintarian. You won’t live to tell the tale. All limbs bent in three places providing for quite extreme flexibility as far as Sintam was concerned. Two forward legs, one leg to either side, and two legs behind all equally spaced, provided for quite some speed and agility.
She was beautiful to Sintam. Eyes of bright red would shy to a pink upon seeing him stare at her. Direct eye contact was an intimate adventure for the natives of Crintari. A petite nose seemed misplaced on a face filled with overly emphasized features. Two large fangs, which somehow seemed feminine as they protruded her beautifully full and shapely lips, hung just below her round chin. A smile filled with large sharp teeth forming perfect quarter circles in her mouth.
Crintarians were a close genetic match to humans. Close as far as any alien from a different planet could be “close”. Sintam hypothesized that Crintari and Earth were both hit by parts of an asteroid that contained genetic material from a common ancestor. The proof was … escaping him for the moment. You can’t have her you fool. You’re too old to start a family anyway.
She finally noticed he was looking at her. As he predicted, her eyes shyed to pink as they locked gazes.
“You can’t have me, you fool. Besides, you’ve told me you’re too old to start a family. Not by my measure, but that doesn’t change that you simply don’t have the parts I need. Well, want.”
Blinking a few times he noticed the world had gone sideways. Gaining his bearings was difficult but he realized he was laying on his side.
“You also can’t take a punch.” Came in a bit garbled as his translator was still recovering from the blow he took. She laughed a hearty laugh that warmed Sintam’s dizzy heart. “Luckily, you are not easily injured.”
His personal shield had activated and absorbed the blow. It drained a lot of his energy and he felt very hungry again. He really needed to get that inducer. As he climbed back to his knees, he considered throwing a punch to show his affection but worried he couldn’t survive any potential retaliation. “I’m definitely getting old. My intelligence enhancement has finally failed. It’s unlikely I can match your wit.”
“What’s new?” Sintam just smiled in return. “Can you fix it, Biped?”
“No.” His smile fading.
“Give it to me. I’ll have my people fix it.”
He considered and reluctantly said “Okay.” He was sure that it was not repairable but would never discount the persistence and brightness of the Crintarians. Especially not Wife.