Now about those Dark Cluster entities that infected the minds of my consentient co-workers:  maybe they were just having fun, maybe they thought they were at war with us, maybe they were just as insane as the acts they compelled consentients to commit.  I certainly can’t tell you, because they were just so alien, and that sort of thing is figured out by lawyers and historians. What started to matter to me was when the station’s alarms started ringing, and I finally was starting to think it might be cool to ask a Siliconoid to put some tendrils up into some of my more sensitive body cavities.

 I reiterate, those cybernetic beings have a body temperature in excess to fifteen hundred degrees, so not so much a good idea for my health, should I proposition one of them.  Cool, not, not really.

 And of course I understood that if I didn’t want to allow myself to enjoy the sort of violation that was going on, I was going to have to keep myself safe and secure, until I could find a way off the station, so I locked myself in and was prepared to stay like that for the duration. 

Now, not being equipped for handling a station surrounding him where everyone has gone crazy, Phil understandably attempts to just lock himself in for the duration, and hopes that the problem goes away.  How very sentient of him.

And of course, no one actually plans for the unexpected.  This is especially true of  bureaucracies.  Intelligent development, on our world at least, occurs after the disaster has been rationalized, rarely before, so what happens, automatic reactions based on what happened before.  Which, when bureaucracies are engaged, more of what they are set up to do.  In this case, we go back to the ‘throw clone  at the problem’ response (George Lucas likes that one.)

That’s what a bureaucracy is like.  Universe wide.  Just through clones at the problem.  That will fix it.

 Unfortunately the replacements were just as vulnerable as the originals.  And with the entire station now infected with the intelligence and Blueneck’s and Because’s favorite things, sending in the clones wasn’t going to do help things much.

 As luck would have it, I arrived in time to catch Blueneck’s clone as it exited the airlock.

 “Hey everybody,” the headless clone called out. ”Guess who’s *blank**blank*back.  Who wants some *blank* in the*blank*.”

 Apparently either him personally, or perhaps his entire species was especially vulnerable to what the Dark Cluster Entities were putting out.

 “You’ve got to take me out of here,” I pleaded with the powering up torpedo. “Some kind of entity has taken over the other consentients.  It isn’t safe.”

 The torpedo, as before, however, wasn’t particularly interested in my plight.

 “Not my job,” it confirmed. “I’ve been reassigned to military use.  See you again soon.”

 I stared out the airlock window at it’s engine’s blasting it back into space, thinking morosely, that’s really the last thing you want to soon to be thermonuclear armed weapon of war to say.

 I was stuck, I realized.  And even worse, I was stuck thinking that maybe fifteen hundred degrees of Siliconoid penetration wouldn’t be so bad.  Just… extra, extra hot.

And as any bureaucratic satire should go, there is no help for the little guy.  In classical terms, this is an irony, as opposed to a comedy, romance or tragedy.  And irony and satire often go hand in hand, really.  Of course, ultimately, even poor Phil can’t resist the demands of the dark cluster beings.  And yeah, his ending won’t be pleasant.  But again, this isn’t a horror story.  And it doesn’t end here because of that.  After all, the dark cluster entities aren’t concerned about quotas and profits.  They just wanted to have some fun.

Go To The Commentary On Chapter 17

Go To The Commentary On Chapter 19

Go To Chapter 18

Go To Synopsis Of Chapter 18

Go To The Dispatches From The Intergalactic Compendium

 Posted by at 8:19 pm

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