He’d stared at her as the warning echoed through is mind.
“Don’t like needles, Iain?” she asked him, obviously catching his disturbed response to her happy memory.
“Not terribly fond of them,” he admitted, then decided it was best to change the subject to something more enjoyable. “But I have tried magic mushrooms.”
“Well imagine, thousands of tiny needled sticking in your skin,” Cygnus continued ignoring the first part of his reply and 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 you and bang, mind expansion.”
“And why did you submit yourself to that?” he wanted to know still a little freaked about the kind of acupuncture she was describing.
“Radiation damage,” she said casually, offering a wry smile. “Breakdown on the cellular level. Liquefaction of organs shortly thereafter. 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. Cygnus continued to scoffed the most. No anti-matter reactors, no space elevators, no robotic revolutions, no runaway greenhouse effects, or grey goo. Even she 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 but #snootyalien was showing up more often, but he made those entries when she wasn’t around.
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.”
“You really didn’t have to tell me that,” Iain complained. So much for the tweets he was sending. It didn’t stop him. 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. “Not to mention how much DNA you share with them. Aren’t your ‘Zos working properly yet? The should by now.”
Iain shrugged. If Wikipedia was any indication, collectively produced facts weren’t 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…”
“Soon, soon,” Arl consoled him with a friendly pat on the shoulder that he naturally flinched from. “That’s how it starts. You’re travelling in a dangerous universe, and, to be fair, you are a bit fragile, even with the upgrades you got from Skipper. Once they figure out you can take care of yourself, they’ll ease up. And then you will know all the gory details. And I do mean gory.”
As if they weren’t gory enough, already.
Go to Chapter Nineteen
Go to Chapter Twenty One