Wife

read the previous section first: Sintam’s Tale

She knew he was desperate when he agreed to allow the Crintarians to attempt to repair his primary intelligence enhancement. Now she would have to ensure they did everything they could. It was going to cost her a lot of favors to get the people she would need.

She could see that something was missing in his eyes when they made forbidden contact. She liked forbidden things. As she walked to her transport, she heaved against a spike tree to knock it down for food later. No need to tell Biped they are also forbidden fruit. She loved them as much as she loved him. Hopefully he would continue to buy her act.
Her personal transport was directly ahead. In stark contrast to her it was completely black. Slightly taller than her and shaped like a spike, it began to open as she approached. One door hinged at the top of the spike and two doors hinged on the bottom, each shaped equally as triangles, opened quickly. The transport was completely bare of any controls. The entire thing was controlled by Wife’s enhancements. Complements of Biped.

She was not unique among the Crintarians in accepting what Biped offered in trade for a stay on their planet. The ability to be mentally in complete control of the technology that is intended to support you is a gift so great that a stay on this lowly planet is not a fair trade. It would not have been difficult for Biped to simply take his stay here had he chosen to do so. He is weak when it comes to trades.

—–

Sintam watched as Wife’s transport lifted and zoomed away to the mainland. In the distance he could see the towering buildings that made up the skyline of the planet capital city. The monstrous structures were mostly pyramid shapes. The pull of the tri-suns made it difficult to keep narrow tall buildings standing as the core shifted and caused tremors above. The Crintarians had estimated that less than a million years were left before their suns would begin the irreversible dance of mutual death. With his help, they had managed to come up with a plan to move to a neighboring solar system. The details escaped him at the moment but he recalls thinking it was a good plan. As he thought longer about it, he wasn’t even sure where they were going. He decided to continue his meditation while his memories were archived.

His shivering brought him around and out of meditation. It was the brief period of dark this planet received. His auxiliary intelligence had kicked in and finally took over controls of his body. He was also able to think more clearly. The memory archival was done and he was thirsty. He decided to go find his inducer. Packing up his archival unit and slinging the pack over his back he began walking in the direction he believed it to be. Activating his locator he saw a ping a few hundred yards away. He activated his cruise control and temperature control and retreated into his innermost thoughts.

—–

Wife landed safely after a brief journey to the mainland. In her three thousand years of life, she had never felt she had a task this important. The lives of her people were at a new pinnacle because of the generosity of an outsider. The death of her people was at the whim of that same outsider. The scientists of her land had predicted their planet’s demise many millennia ago. Since then they had worked furiously to get her people into space. Sadly, moving to another planet in their system wasn’t an option.

She stepped out of her transport into a vast landing bay. The bay opening above her closing as she began to walk. In front of her were a few hundred transports. None of them were a match for hers. She had the only transport in the fleet built by Biped. It was the only one in the fleet that also had defensive and offensive capabilities. That last part was a secret.

The building she began walking through was massive. It was a hangar bay for spaceships being worked on. Large empty spaces with fifteen research offices spaced throughout. She would need to take over at least two of those offices and halt work on the critical ships. It was going to be difficult to convince even one person to help her, let alone thirty.

Nearly ten thousand Crintarians had already left in ships headed for various systems. Their travels would take most of their lives. Their lives dictated by a strict schedule, including mating. The absurdness of it all made her blush in frustration, her whole face darkening to a slight pink. To force a schedule on the entire life of any sentient being was a crime in her eyes. She knew it was for the greater good and the survival of her species. She also knew that they now had a better way.

Biped told her they could simply “jump” to another planet of their choosing. The risk would be the lives of the first to try. Once successful, there would no longer be a need to risk life. He even claimed there was a 98% chance of success on the first try. Biped called it a “halt” station. They would erect the station on the destination planet and the “jump” station, on this planet, would connect to it, giving them a perfect jump each time. He said no more about it as he went blank and fell over. She caught him mid fall and was careful in laying him down. This wasn’t the first time he had lost time. She was glad he finally discovered what was causing the problem. He meant so much to her. Not to mention he was also their salvation.

Wife walked briskly, the six points at the ends of her legs causing very little sound. Although she was capable of forcing them to hard points, the twelve two inch long tendrils at the ends of each of her legs were currently spread out to allow her to move about quietly. Though, from a distance, they still looked like sharpened points. Many of the greatest scientists were hard at work on the next spaceship enhancements. She had not told them of what Biped had suggested was a better route. She needed more information and a small amount of proof before she would interrupt their work. Before that was possible, they would need to help repair the higher order functions of the Bipeds mind.

If they could accomplish this feat, it would require all of the technology help Biped had given them, and their innate ingenuity. She knew they could not match Biped but she felt he had given up. He would not even try and instead would wither and die in the bliss of their holy island. She would have to convince the scientists to help without giving away too much information. After asking for their help, she would contact Biped and convince him to share his methods to expedite the repair attempts. The most difficult part would be convincing the scientists that they should even try.

Wife was nearly halfway through the typical lifespan of a Crintarian. With the enhancements provided by Biped so far, she could no longer easily estimate her death. She would more likely choose a time to die than die of any other cause. It was a different feeling. Each choice became more important. Every action seemed to be weighed down by indecision. She could somewhat understand the reasons that some of her people had for refusing Biped. She was glad no wars broke out and no hard feelings on either side have been shared.

Those who chose to forgo any enhancements, have decided to leave on the next ship for the most distant planet we have found yet. The lives of those on that ship would end long before they reached their destination. Their children not knowing the feel of ground beneath their tentacles. Such a sad thing to have happen. If instead, we could jump to it…. Wife beamed with the thought and hurried her pace into a trot.

She soon reached the central research office. The fifteen lead scientists for each of the offices were here. She knew them very well at this point and they all enjoyed her company. She would often bring them great news or new technology Biped had shared a story about. She would explain it to them, they would be so excited as to sometimes nearly make eye contact, and she would call Biped to tell them how to make it. He would be confused as to why they hadn’t made it yet and help them along. His genius was difficult to get past sometimes. The scientists would often feel ashamed at not knowing what he was talking about.

The room fell silent and turned to her as she walked in. Fifteen Crintari men stood evenly spread through the room. Each at least twice her height with various stripes of bright colors swirling their bodies. The men of her planet were an array of colors that matched the tendrils of their holy trees. A man with a bright blue strip of color going from his left front leg, wrapping around his waist, and ending at a point below his chest, spoke first.

“Aneada, so great to see you.” His gaze rose to her lips and was the highest gaze any of these men would give her. He was ambitious.

“You as well, Gaudric, as well as the rest of you. Sadly, I’m here with very bad news.” They gathered in a half circle around her and silently waited for her to speak.

“Sintam”, it felt as odd saying his real name as it was hearing her title, “has determined the cause of his illness. It is a brutal blow to some plans he and I have been discussing. Plans that could completely alter the path of our species’ salvation to one of complete unification and guaranteed safety.”

There were small gasps in the room and some of them men seemed to baulk at the possibility. The gasps were her focus. She only needed two of their teams. She was excited that some of them were interested and she hoped she could convince more as to give her a selection.

She opened her palm to reveal the enhancement. “This is his primary intelligence.” Every man in that room eyed it greedily. They all knew what it was capable of and they all wanted their hands on it. “It has begun to fail.” The disappointment was clear in every face. “He has allowed us to investigate the cause and attempt a repair. I will require two teams for as long as it takes. Either we say convincingly that we can and explain the route to Sintam or we admit failure and return the faulty device.”

The reality of the situation began to dawn on the men in the room. This was no simple gift. Again, Gaudric spoke.

“To stop two teams would mean we would not meet our deadline for the next ship. The safety of our species is far more important than the salvation of one being. Especially one that is an outsider.”

“I agree with you. Which is why I am not commanding it. I am requesting volunteers. Before his enhancement failed, we were discussing a new method of traveling to planets that would not require ships. Wi–”

Gaudric interrupted, “That’s ridiculous. Travelling through space requires protecti–”

Wife returned the favor, “Do not interrupt me. Additionally, I did not say anything about travelling through space. As I was saying. We would still require much of the fuel to power this new method but none of the time in designing and building massive interstellar ships. Additionally, the method would provide a 100% success rate and would be instantaneous.” Murmurs began to fill the room. “I cannot provide additional details as I do not have them. What I can say is that Bip–, Excuse me, Sintam has never lied and has always provided the technology he has discussed with me.”

The men in the room were acutely aware that some of that technology never reached their eyes. They also understood that this would not be one of those technologies. The team of scientists before her all deferred to Gaudric and minutes passed as they awaited his response.

Saender broke the silence, “I will volunteer my team to assist.” Saender was in the back of the group and was a very young man. He had a brilliant green stripe extending from hand to hand, going across his shoulders and wrapping his neck. The room turned to face him, some in open shock that he spoke out of turn. “I would also propose that we start with one team and determine if another is needed after an initial investigation.”

As Gaudric began to speak, Wife interrupted, “Agreed. Thank you Saender. Your ambition will not be forgotten.” She knew he would not have helped if he had to work with another group. His proposal was final but she did not mind. She quickly realized that no others in that room would openly oppose Gaudric. She welcomed a fresh mind.

“Get to work immediately.” She handed him the device and turned to walk out.

“You can’t be serious! This is a waste of time! Saender’s team is working on propulsions and without his team we will have a ship that cannot fly!” Gaudric was obviously just embarrassed to have lost favor with her.

Without turning around, she responded, “With his help, you won’t need that ship at all.” She walked out of their office and started back to her transport. She would need the help of a few more of her citizens. Her personal team of researchers would be tasked with helping Saender in any way they could. He may be too young to deal with being around the beautiful women she was sending his way but he would have to learn to lead them. Now is as good a time as any.

Sintam’s Tale

Crintari

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.

——

continued: Wife