He’d stared at her as the warning echoed through is mind.

“Don’t like needles, Iain?” she asked him, obviously catching his disturbed expression.

“Not terrible fond of them,” he admitted.

“Well imagine, thousands of tiny needled sticking in your skin,” Cygnus continued, a bit breathlessly as she rubbed her arms. “All over your body. It’s a shock the first time, breath taking really, but after a while it feels natural… and then the hallucinogens hit.”

“And why did you submit yourself to that?” he wanted to know.

“Radiation damage,” she said casually, offering a wry smile. “Breakdown on the cellular level. Liquefaction of organs. It was that or becoming dead, dead, dead… dead.”

She caught his expression again.

“No, never happen to you? Never get fried by an gamma burst and have to get treatment, whatever is available?”

“No…” he’d replied. “We don’t’ have any cure for that sort of thing on Earth.”

“Pretty primitive, huh?”

“So I keep being told,” he replied.

When he talked about Earth, even when he showed the pair his radio wave powered cell phone they’d laughed. No nanotechnology, she scoffed, no anti-matter reactors, no space elevators, no robotic revolutions, no runaway green house effects, or grey goo. Even Cygnus got into the breathless fun about how self-destructive so many, many civilizations were.

Iain had, though, sent of a spate of tweets out on his cell phone about how noxious Arl and Arc were, and how he’d believe in all they were describing when he saw it.

#genocidalaliens was becoming another of his most used hashtags.

He wasn’t sure whether planetary destruction was such a sign of a mature civilization, even if the three agreed it was. It did explain why SETI hadn’t picked up anything yet, though. Yet being, of course twenty two thousand years in the past.

“No,” Arl advised, “Every legitimate civilization destroys their home world. Ours did, yours too.”

“I really didn’t have to know that,” Iain said. So much for the tweets he was sending. It didn’t stop him, though. They were his only connection to his past life and he wasn’t ready to let it go.

After a while, the pair caught on to his expression of distaste.

“Don’t fill bad, though,” Arc added. After all the Clowns rose from the ashes of the Earth, they spread their seed across the whole arm,” Arc said. “And then came the schism, and the Mimes became ascendant, wiped out all the different species of Clowns, then conquered the Seventy Sectors, until their expansion was halted by the Combine.”

They were in the lounge drinking when that subject came up again.

“Clowns?” he asked. “Mimes, you do know that sounds kind of ridiculous? How do you even know they came from Earth anyway?”

“‘Zos, the collective information from across the universe, remember?” Arc replied with his answer for everything, tapping his thick skull for emphasis. “Aren’t yours working properly yet?”

Iain shrugged. If Wikipedia was any indication, collectively produced facts weren’t necessarily always trustworthy.

“Apparently not,” he’d replied with a grimace. “All I get are random warnings about things that’ll kill me, at least so far. And the things they show me…”

Go to Chapter Nineteen

Go to Chapter Twenty One

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