This chapter was posted on 10/2/2011
"Text the moons do not understand"
The organics had me placed in a vat of solid dihydrogen monoxide, which felt painfully cold compared to my heat. They were crowding around me, and seemed baffled. They placed little flimsy circles on my surface, connected to long flexible cylinders, but then they had tried to penetrate my surface with a metal barb, and were confused when the barb had simply not penetrated my skin. They hadn't tried to force it, though, which was good. They looked at the metallic construct surrounding the place I was in, with green lights changing along them. The two in with me kept speaking in their language, and I tried in vain to follow them.
"Sir, what are we going to do? Her temperature is staying completely still! It's not going up or down, just staying at a level one-oh-five. Should she even be awake for this?"
"No, she shouldn't Dr. Nosna. But what I'm worried about is our inability to hook up the IV to her. We can't get any samples to find out what's wrong with her." I tried to develop movement, by lifting one of these upper limbs I'd found out were called 'arms'. It broke out of the dihydrogen monoxide and into the atmosphere. I waved it back and forth aimlessly, and tried to establish better control. I figured out how to use the joint halfway across it, and the smaller appendages on the ends. I picked up a block of dihydrogen monoxide, when something started to resonate in me, from the cold. I let out a cough. So these organics would do that from exposure to cold? Interesting, and uncomfortable. The solid quickly melted in my grasp, turning to liquid within moments.
"Something's not right here. Nobody should be conscious at one hundred and five." I repeated the words, stuttering over some of the sounds. This caused the two organics to turn over to me. They had something white over their 'mouths'. Why, I couldn't imagine. I had to leave this place. I needed to find my siblings, if they were organics like me... Europa would know what to do.
"Well, with all due respect Dr. Nosna, I'm starting to think she's all right. If she's conscious at one hundred five, maybe that's typical for her."
"Sir, that can't be right. NOBODY is all right at a hundred five."
"Tell that to her." The organic stuck one of its flexible appendages at me. "You can't be so sure. The government is funding genetic research, keep that in mind. It's not too crazy to think one of their volunteers has a higher normal body temperature than us."
"What do you mean genetic research?" I tried to elevate myself from the vat. The cold was really starting to become uncomfortable, prompting me to cough. This jerked the two organics out of their conversation. They paused for a few moments, and then returned to it. The one who was talking kept talking, but kept their eyes on me. "I don't know of any genetic research."
"Frankly Dr. Nosna, have you been living under a rock? Does G.E.M. ring any bells? Hey, girl, you might not want to do that." I looked at the organic that addressed me as 'girl', and continued to elevate myself. The organic rushed over to me and tried to put me back. It succeeded, since I, sadly, did not know how to move very well. "At any rate, we can't be sure if she's okay. We should keep her here for a few more days, see if anything changes. Maybe teach her a little English. The higher-ups told me she doesn't know much of any language."
"That can't be right. She has to know some language."
"Again, tell that to her." The speaking organic stuck a flexible appendage at me again. How dare these, these, organics try to restrain ME! I would find a way out.
"Sir, we should get her something to eat. She's been here a few hours, and whether or not she's sick, she needs food."
"Good idea. I'll go get someone."
I walked over to the girl, who had, as far as we could tell, no name. She had been rushed into the ER room under the pretense that her temperature was 105 and needed to be put on ice. After that had been done, nothing made sense. Her temperature was a hundred and five, but it wasn't going up, and despite the ice she had been in for literally hours, she hadn't cooled down either. And attempts to give any kind of helpful injection was completely impossible; it was like her skin was made of iron. I tried to teach her basic English by pointing to things and saying their name. Table, ice, etc. She picked it up fast, alarmingly fast even, but her eyes weren't friendly at all, and she clearly didn't want to be here.
Eventually, Dr. Hutch came back in with a tray of food that he had sterilized before bringing in. How do I know this? Everything has to get sterilized before going into an ER. A small bowl of salad, a glass of water, and some synthetic meatballs. "So Doctor, have you had any success with her in anything?"
"I'm teaching her English. Here, give me that." He obeyed me, even though technically he was my boss. I held it to the girl while he started speaking.
"I also phoned the higher-ups. Hanson says she'll be moved to observation tomorrow, see about those bruises and her temperature."
I held up a salad to the girl. "Salad." She repeated it. I did the same with the water, meatballs, and the tray. Finally, I placed the salad and meatballs together and showed her they were collectively food. She didn't nod, but her eyes did betray understanding.
I held the tray to her, but she didn't do anything except lift a shaking hand to grasp the water. Her hand wasn't shaking like she were sick, but like she had a very, very bad case of atrophy. She brought it to her mouth and drained it. I took the glass from her, and offered her the salad. She lifted her arm again, but just held the salad there.
"Go on, eat it." She didn't do anything besides repeating me. I sighed. Alright then, going to have to teach her how to EAT. I took the salad and took a bite out of it, chewed, and made a big show out of swallowing.
This brought a laugh out of Hutch. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh. But she doesn't know how to eat? How did she live so long, then?"
I shook my head. "I don't know. But I'm going to try to teach her." I gave her another piece of salad, which she gingerly took hold of, and placed in her mouth. She ripped off a piece, and after chewing for a long time, she swallowed it. "Good! Here's the rest." I gave it to her, and she balanced the bowl in one hand, picking out lettuce with the other. When she was done with that, I gave her the plastic cup with the synthetic meat.
"You know, if they let her out, I think I'll take care of her. She doesn't look like she had anywhere to go," I pondered aloud.
"Oh sure, IF she's let out, and IF you can get the paperwork done."
"You know what? I will."
The organic led me towards a large shelter, made of some off white substance. I walked over to the side and rubbed my 'hand' on it. It was rough.
So that's called wood. I repeated the word. I pulled my hand off and followed the organic into the shelter. There were too many irregularities in it to be natural. Did these limb-throwers.. build it? Fascinating. My mouth dropped open in shock, bringing laughter from the other, called 'Ariel'. An idea jumped into me. I pointed at it.
I used the word I learned for something being incorrect. "N-no." I pointed at it and me, trying to get it to understand I wanted the name for the species. It looked at me for a few seconds, but then moved its head up and down.
I pointed at it. "Human."
"Yes." I pointed at myself and called myself 'human' too, and it said yes again. I'd learned a good deal of the language while in that strange symbiotic organic Ariel seemed to control called a 'car'.
I pointed at the structure as a whole, and Ariel told me what it was. "House." I repeated the word. There were a few other 'house' scattered around, connected to the smooth black 'road' with smaller offshoots. I walked with Ariel (Apparently these 'human' organics gave each other names to distinguish each other! Amazing!) into the house where I was stunned. The inside was a light yellow, like some of Io's sulfur frost. It was hollowed out into several connected rectangular prisms, and each one was filled with other items, probably created by these organics. I walked over to a large black square suspended on a wall, and ran a hand along it.
"NO!" I pulled my hand back. Ariel pointed at the square. "TV." I looked at it.
"No touch." Alright, so physical contact was called 'touch'. Ariel led me over to a structure that went up with several blocks, when another voice came in.
"Ariel? Honey, where are you going? Who's your friend?" I turned around to see another organic, about as tall as me, but with yellow 'hair'. It had a green top covering and blue lower coverings.
"Mom, this is somebody I'm trying to make friends with. We're going to my room so I can show her some things."
"Really?" The organic walked over to me and stuck out a hand. "Pleased to meet you, what's your name?" I just looked at its hand. What did it want me to do?
Ariel started speaking. "She's... kind of... new to things. I'll show her. Shake my hand." Ariel put its hand in the other organic's hand, clasping each other with their flexible appendages and moving their hands up and down. How curious. In all cases with my organics, physical contact was a show of aggression. But apparently it wasn't. I reached out my hand to the other organic, who grasped my hand, but its eyes widened in shock.
"Hoo, her hands are freezing! Her skin's smooth too, like a baby's!" It moved its hand up and down, then released. I heard Ariel mutter, 'Handshake'. So that's what the gesture was called. Evidently it was a gesture of politeness; at any rate it didn't mean aggression.
"Mom, we're going upstairs. I hope it's alright if she stays..."
"Do her parents know?"
Ariel took one look at me, knowing that I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. "Yeah, they do. Come on, let's go." Ariel led me up the objects which it identified to me as 'stairs' and turned me around a corner, opened a 'door', and led me into its 'room'.
The next few 'hours' as I now know the length of time to be called, Ariel taught me the basics of the English language, enough to show me 'examples', then accelerating the training so that very soon I could hold a minor conversation with her.
"What this?" I asked it, holding up a small orb filled with what appeared to be solid dihydrogen monoxide within liquid.
"Snowglobe, it's a snowglobe." It pointed at me. "Name?" I thought for a moment. Beings as clearly intelligent and advanced as these humans had to have a way to extend their sight beyond their world. If there was a chance, even the SMALLEST chance, that I was on a planet that orbited Sol, I had to figure it out.
"Computer? That's your name?"
"No. Computer." I pointed at said metal construct. It appeared to function through the use of electrons; being in Father's magnetosphere and listening to Ganymede talk about his own for 5 billion years allowed me to figure it out quickly.
"Ah, computer." It activated it by pressing a 'button'. Soon, the electrons started to heat up whatever material they passed through, emanating light. It whirled and blinked to life. These humans were so fascinating, to create such stores of information. If I was to be one, well. I couldn't see the harm in that if it was only temporary.
When my laptop finally started booting up, I instantly went to Microsoft Phoenix. I held up at Google when the girl was pointing at the sun dipping below the horizon outside, and made a fist with her thumb extended from her other fist, going around. She pointed at the sun, then resumed her twirling hands. Finally, after a few minutes, I got it.
"Solar system." I typed that in Google and went to images. So her name was something from the solar system. Cool. I pulled up a picture of all the planets, and she freaked out, pointing at Jupiter repeatedly and then back to doing her spinning hands thing. I pointed at the gas giant. "Jupiter."
"Jupiter." She kept doing her spinning hands. So a moon of Jupiter. I scrolled down to a picture of the four moons, what were they called again? The girl started freaking out, pointing repeatedly at one that looked like a kindergartner had taken a crayon to it. I looked at the text below it.
"Europa. That's your name?"
I held out my hand to her. "Nice to meet you, Europa."
"I don't understand 'meet'." Still, she shook my hand. I sighed, and explained the word 'meet' to her. I don't know why I was helping her. Part of me felt sorry for her; the other part appreciated the challenge.
"Coming! Come on, let's go eat."
"Don't understand 'eat'."
"I'll show you."
"I'll?" She cocked her head sideways.
"Contraction. I will."
"I'll. I will.
"Good, now follow me." I led her downstairs to the dining room, where dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce. I'd say my mom makes the best, but everyone says that, so...
I helped Europa sit down and showed her how to use the fork and knife. My mom came over. "Honey, I'm going to the station, just though I'd let you know."
"Why, what happened?"
"Apparently two people 'teleported' into a mall. I don't believe it, but with technology developing the way it is, you never know." She got the keys and opened the front door. "Oh, by the way, your father called while you were out. He says he'll be back on Saturday."
"Wednesday, that's the second time you've asked me today."
I blushed. "Oh. Oops."
"Anyway, I'll be back soon." She turned and left, red hair trailing behind her.
"Alright Europa. This is called spaghetti," I said, holding up a strand of the stuff. I put it down and held a small glob of the sauce between my fingertips. "And this is meat sauce."
"Spaghetti and meat sauce. I understand." She placed her fork in and put some of the spaghetti in her mouth; luckily I didn't need to teach her to chew and swallow, either. After a while, she had cleaned her plate. "Water?"
"I'll go get some. You stay here."
"Don't understand 'stay'."
"Don't move." I got up and pulled a glass out of the pantry and set it below the spout. The camera registered the presence, and began to fill it with ice-cold water until it saw that it was almost full, at which point it stopped. I pulled it out, to see Europa was standing next to me. She took the glass, and looked into it, almost longingly. She ran a finger along the glass, and I think I saw a tear in her eye. Then she let out a sigh, and drank it. Then she dropped the glass, letting out a sharp shout.
"Understood." She practically froze. I got a broom and started sweeping the shards of glass into a corner. Europa grimaced, and reached down to her lower leg. Oh God...
She pulled the fist-sized glass shard out of her leg, wincing a bit as she did. Then she continued to stay still. Oh God the blood...
There wasn't any. The glass shard was covered in water, and her jeans didn't look bloodied, but rather wet. I quickly swept the glass shards into a pile and dumped them into the trash can, and motioned for her to follow me. "Lay down on the couch." She looked at me blankly. I sighed, and showed her what to do, resting my back on the foot so that I could see my outstretched feet. She mimicked me, and I reached over to pull her jeans up. The cut was evident a jagged streak of broken skin five inches long next to her bone. But instead of being covered in red blood, it was oozing water. At my startled look Europa spoke.
"What is the matter?"
"You don't have blood."
"Blood? I thought it was water."
I shook my head, and went into the kitchen. I got a steak knife and came out to her. I gently poked my left elbow, showing her the red liquid. "That's blood. You don't have blood."
"I don't. Blood is good?"
"YES IT'S GOOD! The fact that yours is made of water..."
"Slow down. Can't understand." I sighed, and explained to her the meaning of my sentence. She looked at me quizzically, while my mind was going a million miles a minute.
My mind screeched to a halt, leaving tire burns for a mile. It couldn't be. But that would explain everything. Her unnatural hair color. The fact that she didn't know English, bled water...
"Alien!" I ran away from her, but she followed after me. I got to my cell, ripped it out of its charger and got out of there, typing in the numbers as I ran.
Just before I could hit 'Send' on 911, Europa tackled me from behind, knocking me down and sending my phone skittering across the hardwood floor on the hallway. I looked up at her. I was a fool, I was such a damn stupid fool! She was pinning me to the ground by my shoulders, surprisingly strong for a girl her size. If she even was a girl. Then she said the one thing I wasn't prepared for. "Don't understand 'Alien'. Explain."
Callisto and I sat in a small room made of metal, not too big. I kept racing magnetic fields around my limbs, while Callisto and I tried to find a way out.
::There has to be a way to open that from in here if they did it from out there:: she told me.
::I've already used my magnetic field to scan its insides. There's a mechanism inside it. There are metal protrusions on the other side they can manipulate to move a piece of metal inside it across, making it virtually impossible for it to open. There aren't any of the protrusions in here, so we're locked in::
Callisto growled. ::Nova. I'm guessing we're at the mercy of these organics, then?::
::We are. I just wish I knew what they want with us.::
::Can't you just manipulate the protrusions on the otherside?::
::It's not that simple. I have to extend my field across, so if I can manipulate those, I'll be holding the insides in place. If I can create localized magnetic fields, it's going to take lots of practice.::
::Okay. Good to know.:: Her voice calmed down. ::Let's go over what we know. We've somehow been turned into organics. We don't know what planet we're on, what star it orbits, or what galaxy we are in. Some of our traits have survived the change, and we are being held by the organics. What can we do?::
::Nova if I know.:: I moved over to the barrier and extended my field into it. I felt it wrap around the metallic blocks within. I had an idea. Maybe I couldn't manipulate the protrusions, but maybe I could manipulate the insides themselves. The blocks shifted and moved over each other. Several hammers clicked in and out of place, and the barrier opened, three organics walking in. They were in a triangle formation, the closest one having yellow filaments on their northern pole. All wore black coverings.
:Oh great,: Came Callisto's voice. She was so much more sardonic now that she was an organic. Normally she'd be quiet and reserved, but always ready to help. Now though, it was like all the organics had personally done her grievance.
"Now, let's start with introductions. What are your names?" The organic in front started talking, but I didn't understand anything it said. When neither of us said anything, it grimaced. "Hmm. Do they know any language?"
The one to its left answered. "Unless they're pretending to be stupid, they don't know ANY language."
::What do you think they're talking about?" I asked.
::Probably about how we don't understand them::
The closest one continued. "Hm. What about that language thingy?"
"That thing works as often as it doesn't. Its technology only JUST came out."
"Well, it's better than nothing. Go on, get it. I'll try to speak with them." Callisto moved to a corner of the room, regarding the organics with cold eyes. One of the other organics walked out of the room. "Alright, if you can understand me, just nod."
::What is that thing blathering about, Ganymede?::
::You think I know?:: Silence from her.
"Alright, I'm assuming you don't understand me. But if you do, just know, we're here to help. We just want to understand how you two teleported into the mall. That sort of technology is decades away." A long silence. I exchanged a look with Callisto.
::What?:: She had no answer to that.
In all the blasted pulsars in all the universe, why did I have to be an organic? My senses were so... so diminished! I may as well have been a proton! And then those organics had the gall to place circular plastic onto my surface with longer, black plastic attached! Still, I listened to Ganymede, who had the same ones attached to him, and let them. After all, it might, MIGHT, have resulted in good. Yes, the same way a single neutron MIGHT trigger a chain reaction that blows up a star. The organic that had done most of the speaking also had the things on it.
"Okay, flip the switch."
"Are you sure? This thing's as liable to work as it is not to, and it WILL hurt." One of the other organics responded.
"I don't care. Do it."
The other one hesitated, but did something to a protrusion on the wall. Electrons surged through my body, and judging from the linked organic's scream, it hurt. To be honest, I did feel pain, but nothing, nothing, could compare to what I had endured. I didn't even flinch. Another voice in my head, female from the sound.
::Can you hear me?::
::Callisto, I think that's the - oh. Don't say it, it probably hears us too.::
::SHE hears you just fine. Callisto, he said that's your name. Can you hear me?:: Oh great. Now it found a way to communicate with me. But the message was... different. Instead of using neutrinos like my siblings, it used electrons moving across the device attached to us. Great. ::Can you hear me?::
::Don't worry about her, she can hear you.::
I decided to answer the organic. ::Unfortunately, I can hear you. Now get this wretched thing off of me.::
::Not yet. You see, we need to know how the two of you teleported into the mall. That sort of technology is far away.:: I could understand the thoughts, not the words. The 'mall', where we had appeared, technology, it all made sense to me.
::I'd like to know how we teleported there too. Not like YOU things would be able to help much.:: I responded in a sardonic voice.
::What do you mean 'you things'? Nevermind. What's his name?::
::My name's Ganymede. Now tell me, exactly what do you want with us?::
::I already told you. Find out how you teleported. But from the sound of things, you don't know either. Tell me, what were you doing before it happened? Do you know any language? You clearly don't know English.:: These organics had SEVERAL languages? Pathetic.
I answered it. ::We weren't doing anything you should know about. And no, know other languages. We always communicate like this.::
::Wait, Callisto - ::
::So you know telepathy normally? How?::
::THAT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS::
::Callisto, maybe you should calm down:: Ganymede's voice came into my thoughts.
::What right do these, these THINGS have to contain us, US?:: I ripped the device off my head, and continued to talk to Ganymede, unheard by the organic. This wasn't like me, but these organics! The arrogance! Thinking they had some right over us! US, celestial beings of life spans inconceivable to them, superior to them in every single way. The organic tried talking to me, but I couldn't understand it without the device. Just as well.
"Callisto, calm down. We have orders to detain you until we can figure things out - can you even understand me?"
::Callisto, what's wrong with you. Just, calm down. They can help us figure out where to go from here. We don't know ANYTHING about this place on our own!::
::I do know that these organics think themselves better than us. I won't stand for it!:: I remembered one of Europa's conversations about her organics, how they asserted dominance over each other. I curled my hand and brought it towards the organic still hooked into the device, the impact to her northern pole knocking her down and ripping her from the device. The other two took out some small rectangular prism and held it out towards me. Barbed wires flew out from one of them and hooked into my coverings, paltry surges of electrons flowing through them into me.
I walked through my facility, hidden deep in the Earth. One of my technicians had something important to discuss with me. I had payed a visit to Io earlier, and it seemed she was well, just with a higher body temperature than normal for a human. Not surprising; she WAS the single most volcanic entity in the solar system. But soon after I had, I got an urgent call. So, here I was. I placed my hand on the scanner, and within seconds it identified my fingerprints, lifting up the heavy, sterile white door. I turned through the corridors, all my employees keeping a fair distance. Smart; I was in a bad mood. What could possibly be so important as to require my immediate attention? I entered the office I was asked to enter.
"Professor Malen, thank you for coming." It was Dr. Shepson, one of the prime engineers on the device. An old man, he would've died long ago if this were the middle ages. He was in his mid-eighties, with white hair with a notable bald spot, and a goatee of the same color. A brilliant man of all standards, IQ 193. If he had something to tell me, it was important.
"What could be so important?"
"Well, you know how we transferred the Galilean moons, right?" He shuffled his feet nervously, looking around the empty cubicle-like room.
"Yes, what of it?"
"Well, when the device was pointed at Ganymede, it was somewhat off center. We're worried the entanglement beam flew beyond Ganymede, and at the infinite speeds it goes at, it hit something else..."
He wasn't saying this. I gritted my teeth. "What. Did. You. Hit," I forced out in the tone I reserved for when someone was about to get fired. Hell hath no fury like a woman who's experiment went wrong.
"Well, from the star maps, I'd say that, well, we hit, well..."
"SPIT IT OUT!"
"Cygnus X-1. We hit Cygnus X-1 as well."
"Cygnus X-1. The black hole Cygnus X-1. I should warn you that if you are joking..."
"No joke. I'm dead serious. We won't be able to tell in our life-times, it's too far away, but I am absolutely certain we hit the black hole. It'll be someplace on Earth, since we hadn't placed a dedicated arrival spot."
I sat down. This was -not- part of the plan. "A black hole. A damned black hole." I looked up. "Find it. From what I've observed, the Galilean moons retained a good many of their properties. Cygnus X-1 should as well. Find it. Sudden appearances, anywhere in the world."
"Professor Malen, I hate to break it to you, but it's overwhelmingly likely Cygnus X-1 is dead. Like you said, it could be anywhere in the world, key word IN. It might be in the core, the middle of the Pacific, touching the Mid-atlantic ridge."
"No. We specifically coded it so that they don't displace anything. Where-ever the black hole is, it'll be a place that had void in it beforehand. Is that all?"
"Yes. Thank you for your time."
"My displeasure. Find that star corpse. If my fears are right, appearances may not be the only thing it inherited." I stormed out of the office, my sterile coat swirling behind me. A black hole. I shook my head. It didn't matter. It could die now. It could be restrained, probably. Incapacitated. We would send it back immediately. It would not be allowed to interfere with our experiment. If there was even the smallest chance it could meet the Galilean moons...
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