Friday, July 27, 2012
A Vulcan by the name of Sallek tinkered with a new starship design, a retrofitted dorsal carrier. For many years, Vulcans had been excluded from the intergalactic community, mostly by choice but also through their inability to adapt. No doubt many of them had seen it coming, perhaps by as many as three millennia, perhaps someone in Sallek’s own line, and perhaps they had made peace with it. The times were always changing, but Sallek preferred to believe that they remained comfortably familiar, even in the midst of radical reform. He himself had always tried to lead a simple life, something many of his brethren had elected to forego, always filling their days with complication, always verging on chaos, even if they believed their efforts to represent basic Vulcan logic. Sallek didn’t believe most Vulcans had the first clue of basic Vulcan logic. It was a lost art almost from the beginning. Still, what was he to do about it?
As it turns out, nothing. He instead led a humble life, and tinkered away at his technical manuals. He often chatted with his human friends via subspace, an antiquated but amiable way to communicate. He tried to keep up on current events, but with so many reporting agencies, it was difficult to settle on the best one to follow, especially since none of them were comprehensive. He decided not to worry about it. There were plenty of things to worry about, besides, not the least was his own continued well-being, which could never be assured. There were so many elements working against each other in the universe, and in their efforts to be successful in this venture, they often discovered that it was easier to ignore the small things that got caught up in their affairs, caught up and lost and abandoned, chewed up and spit out, became the victims of circumstance and their own inability to adapt. Yes, Sallek believed that his very decision to lead a simple life kept him safe from such concerns, but in fact, he also knew it made him specially vulnerable.
So yes, he worried about it, but he also tried not to. He figured there was enough space to go around, and that there were enough good people where even the worst of calamities might eventually be dulled. Life was full of complications and possibilities, but some things always remained the same.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
He forgot to study for the test, and so he traveled back in time to make up for his lapse of judgment. Actually, it should be noted that young Daniels did not always cheat like that, but every now and again, it was worth the risk. These days they didn’t monitor activity like that too closely.
There was much to be taken for granted, even though there were many more complications to life these days, at least so it may have seemed had Daniels reached the higher grades already, where he might be asked to write a paper on the comparative analysis of millennia. These days, history was arguably the primary subject each student studied. It dominated everyone’s interests. For Daniels, it had always been a boring necessity, something so commonplace that he took no real pleasure in it. It was this detached attitude that would eventually make him a perfect candidate to become an agent of the Temporal Cold War. He would not lose his head at the first meeting with some long-dead celebrity.
It should be noted that for most people these days this was an entirely common temperament, but there was now such a high degree of accessibility that there was a very serious and sober physiological monitor that reported the exact level of stimulation to a given experience. It was not one of the cooler toys, but it was most effective. You couldn’t very well let someone go off and affect the past because they couldn’t keep a level head. In a time where travel had become less than linear, very few mistakes happened.
Young Daniels didn’t tend to appreciate much of this, however, and so maybe that’s why his older self tended to visit him on a fairly regular basis. This did not on a whole affect his opinions, but it gave comfort to the older Daniels that he was at least thinking about it, because while you may retain a certain amount of opinions as you grow older, you don’t retain specific thoughts, and neither Daniels liked to keep a record of those, even though these days virtually everything was marked down in some sort of ledger.
Upon every visit, the young Daniels would ask the older Daniels if there was something important that was about to happen. The young Daniels already knew the answer, as it had been the same every time he asked this question, but the only amusement he gained from these visits was all the squirming his older counterpart exhibited. Young Daniels knew that he would never be comfortable explaining himself, both from himself and from these visits, and it was almost comforting to know that it would never change. Repeating the exercise was the only sense of control he had over the visits, which never ceased, and wouldn’t until it was him on the other end. This was another way in which Daniels learned temperance. These days there were very interesting lessons to learn.
If Daniels were interested in his studies, he might have concentrated a little more, and yet it was all so boring, so routine, that he struggled mightily. He understood it well enough, but he wanted to be surprised, and didn’t consider that these days it was meant for life to have anything but occur until he had in fact become his older self. That was when he discovered the real reason for the visits, undertaken between trips to the distant past, nearly a millennium ago, during which he was meant to ensure the foundation of his present reality, with identically similar visits to a man he was very distantly related to, but who for all intents and purposes was both a father and child figure for him.
It was during these days that Daniels finally knew the thoughts he himself was having during the visits to his younger self, trying to imagine what that man really thought of him, if he shared the same opinions as the young Daniels, baffled and annoyed and probably mystified, too, but knowing that they would continue to happen. The older Daniels was almost pleased to know that there was a connection between these two distant figures, and wondered if that was something he was meant to have learned in school. He asked his younger self this question, each and every visit, and received the same response he was himself forced to give whenever the young Daniels asked if there was a specific reason for the visit. He had to give the man an answer each time, and he didn’t like that one bit. Maybe the man felt the same way, and maybe he should have been formulating a question for the man. Maybe that was the whole point of their relationship, of his whole life, and he’d just never realized it before.
Well, these days it was hard to tell.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Aberdeen was hesitant to report his findings. He’d just discovered physical proof of the existence of a starship said to have caused immeasurable devastation seven hundred years ago. The reason why he was hesitant was that he did not believe the stories that surrounded the starship. He believed that they had been manipulated to justify a continuing social injustice he sincerely wanted to be overcome.
Yet he could not ignore his findings either. There would be outrage if it was found out that he suppressed them. One way or another, someone would find out, and they would accuse him of the very crime he had hoped to avert, the support of an agenda.
Progress had been glorious, but it had also been stagnant since the time of the starship’s appearance. It must be said that there was peace now that hadn’t existed before. But it was peace built on a foundation of lies. Aberdeen did not want to be a part of it. How then had he stumbled into this position? He was an itinerant dreamer, and so was forced into more practical concerns in order to make a living. He supposed that mining would be a harmless way to make a living, locked underground and basically lost to the world. There was no reasonable expectation that something like this would happen.
So it was that the very man who could usher more than one revolution had found himself in such an unwanted position. Aberdeen was also a self-professed coward. He loathed and feared others, his faith in his own kind trampled by years of bad breaks that betrayed a selfish nature he abhorred. Was he no better than anyone else?
In the end, the decision was made for him. A supervisor came by and caught a glimpse of his discovery, and roughly shoved Aberdeen out of the way, didn’t wait for an explanation, and certainly not for his thoughts on the matter. Aberdeen was quickly forgotten in the rush to capitalize on this stroke of fortune, this vindication of the popular belief that a starship full of strangers had brought destruction and unexpected peace to his world.
He secretly hoped that there was still a chance that all would be well in the end.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Braxton already knew what would happen to him before he began anything. It was there in the history books.
By this point in history you will be encouraged to censor. The first thing you will want to censor is, of course, history, as it will be entirely possible that even an idle survey will reveal things you yourself have done, in your own future but clearly in the past, because the ability to time travel is a matter of course. Before you have the ability to make these decisions for yourself, your parents will make them for you, and it is common for parents to lack discretion, so there are warrants taken out all the time for parents against their own children, lest they pollute their potential.
…Well, presumably all of this is easier to understand in 2812, when all these rules are common, all these realities a part of everyday living. Just as you will learn to ride a bike today, tomorrow you will learn these things.
When you break these rules, there is counseling available to help you cope. If you want to forget what you’ve learned about yourself, what becomes of you, there are hypnotherapies available, quite effective, except there are always lingering elements. There will always be a part of this unfortunate knowledge in your subconscious.
Presumably, Braxton entered the time service because of what he’d learned. Perhaps he somehow believed that he could prevent his awful fate from happening. And possibly he had many instructors who tried explaining why it was unlikely. For everyone who has made a paradox, and perhaps an alternate reality, in such efforts, there are many others who have proven the rule that time is time no matter how it is experienced. It is a strictly causal affair. You have a better chance of winning the lottery, coming face-to-face with Big Foot, than altering your fate, no matter how convoluted you’ve made it.
This does not preclude the concept of free will. You will always make your own decisions. It’s just that, from an objective standpoint, everything that will ever happen has already happened, and it’s only from first-person perspective where it still has yet to play out.
Braxton’s fate, of course, was to eventually travel back in time to 1967, where he would lose his timeship to the ambitious Henry Starling and his mind to various temporal integrations necessitated by his obsession with a lost Starfleet crew in the Delta Quadrant.
To those who don’t understand it, time can be a terrible thing. Braxton was supposed to not only understand, but police it. It was his life that proved time travel had not yet been perfected.
He of course, did not know this. As with any other contemporary to an established idea, he believed that everyone already knew everything they needed to. The fact is, he never even knew of his own participation in the Temporal Cold War.
Braxton never recovered from temporal psychoses. He did, however, manage to enjoy himself in odd moments during his time, mostly when he stopped taking everything so seriously.
Monday, July 23, 2012
The Scouring Monk wasn't aware that he was an outlaw until he was told. He trusted the source. Now he had determine what he'd done...
The place to start, as it always was, had to be the Owl's Eye, where Monk would find the source himself, who went by the name Waterloo. The Owl's Eye wasn't a casual sort of destination, however, and Monk was fairly deliberate about all his movements. But a problem? Hardly. He had a pair of shoes for that. For women, owning many pairs of shoes was a matter of fashion. For Monk, it was about getting around.
There was only one place to find his Destiny Shoes: in his Foot Locker. It wasn't the source of all Monk's power, but it was handy. The shoes he needed for the Owl's Eye were brown with blue highlighting, and there was only one pair like that. It was that easy...
Putting them on had the effect of instantaneously transporting Monk to the Owl's Eye, where he found Waterloo drunk off his ass.
"Loo, you jerk," he said in greeting, before knocking the old fool off his stool. "What've you been spreading around this time?"
"It wasn't me. But it appears that someone has been spreading the word around that you're El Bandido. Bad luck, friend..."
At that moment, Monk wondered if he still had a twin.
"I was worried for a moment," he said. "I thought someone was being serious."
The Owl's Eye was a new place that had been made to look lived-in, a 21st century false-front; it was hip, and ready for the jaded. You shouldn't let the apparent character of Monk or Waterloo color your opinion of its patrons. They're not really so bad to hang out with. They do, however, think they're birds, but it's weird, because even birds have a good reason when they tweet, whereas these people...don't?
"You misunderstand," El Bandido will say. "I do not mean to disparage. To tweet is surely divine." He smiles just then, looks around.
The owner of the Owl's Eye looks around, too, wondering if Monk and Waterloo will be causing problems. All he sees is a girl with a camera. Monk realized that he wasn't going to have enough time to put up with this nonsense. He pulled Waterloo aside and asked the tough question.
"Are you going to contact K or not?"
"That's tougher said than done and you know it," Waterloo almost didn't say. "K is harder to reach these days than you are."
Monk hadn't seen her for over two years, hadn't heard from her since the spring. Sometimes it seemed like yesterday, sometimes longer...
He could never forget her face, though. Never. He saw her face everywhere, though, almost like he expected to see her just around the corner, and the universe was just getting him ready. But all the same, K was K, and there didn't seem to be much that was going to change that. It was just that, she left a gap.
"She was just here," Waterloo said.
"That's somewhat unlikely, but I'll play along," Monk said. "She's the one who told you?"
"I'm surprised you're so quick to believe me," Waterloo said. "You must really be getting desperate."
"You'll believe just about anything at this point about her. She's a zombie these days, swear to god. Loves the brains."
"She has nothing to do with any of this," Monk realized. "You're just trying to distract me."
"What did I say. You'll believe anything," Waterloo said.
"She was just here, believe me. She has nothing to do with the El Bandido business. But she could probably help."
"The thing is, I don't know if I want her help," Monk said. "I'm trying really hard to get over her. And, well, to hold onto her."
"You're nuts," Waterloo remarked. "Anyway, the best way to get around is to advertize. You should just assume you're El Bandido."
"Let me guess," Monk mused, "That's what she thought."
"Like I've said, everyone thinks so," Waterloo said. "I'd believe it, too, if I didn't know you better. You're more bendy than bandit."
"Your confidence in me is astounding," Monk said. "But I guess I could be in a worse position. Now to figure out what to do with it..."
As you might have guessed, K was not unaware of circumstances. She wasn't even that far away. Not that she wanted Monk to know. She was avoiding him not because of the El Bandido story, but because she had become convinced that he was a pirate. She was wrong of course, not because he wasn't a pirate, but because he never told anyone; there was no reasonable expectation of exposure.
Monk did a search for his name and "El Bandido" and ended up finding out that the terms were synonymous. Maybe he was Bandido after all...
He turned to the only person he truly trusted, the Black Squirrel. But he would have to visit his shoe locker again, to get access.
He really hated his father.
For lack of specifics, we will call the father “Levon Helm.” There are very few things known in any period of the man known as “Future Guy.” His father Levon knew even less about him, and that was why he hated him. In fact, he held him in contempt. The future was the same as the past to him, as it was to any civilized culture of that time. It was he who saw its truest potential. He did not start the Temporal Cold War, but he saw its wicked potential, as surely as if it were architectural designs for what Starfleet was calling the Hall of Time, on the old Academy grounds in San Francisco.
Let’s further humor ourselves and call our humble protagonist “Rooney.” There has always been speculation as to which race he was, but Rooney even by this name could be anyone. That’s Rooney’s greatest trick, other than the outright genetic manipulation of the Suliban to be his agents at his chosen arena, which he determined to be the formation of the Federation because it was least likely that Starfleet would look there, with too many conflicting interests for enough lucidity.
Simply put, in his own time, Rooney could not have avoided Starfleet temporal agents if he tried. He lived three centuries before his greatest enemy, but already three centuries earlier investigations had begun in earnest, even if regulation had not yet been initiated. If he attempted to operate in any of the periods where an agent existed in real-time, Rooney would have failed before he even began. That was why he branched out to a time where civilization was advanced and spread enough to be manipulated without itself being aware of the fact, because the truth was, no agent could be a success without indigenous allies.
He correctly gambled that an isolated captain on an isolated ship could not thwart his efforts to any significant degree, even when they met face-to-face, on multiple occasions. Rooney eliminated his only real rival in the conflict by sending him to the very planet this captain originated from, in a period of so little consequence that his presence could be corrected and his threat made obsolete in one effort by the human captain. There had once been speculation that Rooney himself had led himself into this trap, but it could hardly have been likely for a genius.
When he wasn’t busy strategizing, Rooney suffered to think of Levon Helm, the inspiration for his grand designs. Just as the universe was undergoing a series of drastic changes at the time, Levon was beset by his own problems, an inability to remain solvent, a failure at everything he pursued, unable to support Rooney and his budding abilities. Rooney hated him for it, resented him, believed him to be a saboteur, and in fact used him as subconscious motivation, perhaps one day to travel back just early enough in time to correct this blight on himself, and perhaps improve his own abilities, unless his was the misfortune to eliminate himself in the process, should Levon prove so great a success that he did not have the time for offspring, or even neglect. He had never been a tyrannical parent, never had any vision, so far as Rooney had ever noticed. Perhaps, just perhaps…Rooney ought to thank him.
Was that right? Is so, might it cast into question all of Rooney’s dreams? Had he plotted the course of his life and all of history on a need to undo something that would alter himself? He had always been a conflicted man, even in the midst of his glorious, subtle triumphs, and had avoided scrutinizing his motivations for fear that such conclusions might be reached. He had always assumed that his father’s embarrassment spoke for itself, and that he could pin all his frustrations on it without reserve, and yet, the one moment he looked too far into the abyss, as it were, the abyss did indeed look back.
That was the long and short of it. Rooney stood back from a desk cluttered with temporal maps, and wiped away the digital ones that hung in the air before him. He was due for another confrontation with the captain, and suddenly he braced himself, unable to enter the temporal chamber. Perhaps in another day clarity would be restored…
Friday, July 20, 2012
A long time ago in a part of the galaxy known as the Gamma Quadrant, many ambassadors were sent forth from the Founders to explore the nature of the universe. These ambassadors were a little unusual, in that they were infants, not knowing even their own kind. It was the wisdom of the Founders to choose them for this service so that they could discover themselves at the same time as discovering the circumstances in which they found themselves, so as to form an unbiased opinion. Always they would feel the call home, to discover their own origins, and report what they learned, but they would be untainted by prejudice.
This would always be ironic, because the Founders themselves had allowed themselves to be corrupted by their own past.
A long time from now, one of these infants will return. He will be the last of them, and he will be one of the very few of those who were sent away to make it. In many ways, these ambassadors will have mirrored the original experiences of the Founders, the ones that helped form the Dominion, which terrorized the galaxy for a time, eventually to be defeated by an inversion of itself, and through another reunion with one of its own.
This particular infant, this particular ambassador, spent five hundred years on his own. He did not know sentient life for all that time. He observed space all the same, and came to know many wonders, saw manipulations from a thousand different forms, the secrets of nature, decay and creation unfold on an unimaginable scale, with unmatched subtlety, a ballet of atoms and elements. There were times when he could see the unseen forces, the unknowable architects, interpret the unthinkable in the tiniest acts.
Then one day it was snagged by a passing starship, caught in the exhaust port, unable to resist a sudden curiosity, half-deliberate and part accident, spending a week exploring the mechanics before even considering interacting with the inhabitants, perhaps because he had no conception of them, too complex and terrifying to contemplate.
The poetry of the hardware fascinated the changeling to no end. He was more experienced than almost any other being in the universe, yet in no practical way had he ever conceived of such things. There was much recognition, the changeling slowly realized, and he spent several more weeks replicating these discoveries. This was something he could understand. It was the conspiracy of human life that baffled him. It was entirely foreign to him, the infinitely more complex nature of bringing the whole engine together. Had he known these beings believed thought to be the essential ingredient of life, he would have laughed for the first time.
The riddle of expression was what bothered him most. Forced to create it for himself, the changeling did not know where to begin. He had no inherent form. He had only ever observed. He knew the ingredients, but he had no idea how they tasted when put together.
He fashioned himself into the most simple thing he could think of, a communications badge, and allowed himself to be worn by one of these individuals, and spent a month like that, fulfilling a function and observing, completely mindless to its significance, and perpetually unconvinced that he would ever make sense of anything that happened. He picked up the language, mastered it, yet remained silent, as he had been since he first became aware of himself.
One day the woman to whom he had been attached went on a mission and was shot, and it was he himself who was hit, and he uttered his first sound, a scream, and the woman didn’t even register his existence, believed until the day she died that she was the one who’d made the sound. She never even entertained another possibility, though her colleagues continually suggested that she had been mistaken, even though they couldn’t explain it themselves.
He started making communications, conversations, mimicking her voice, and though it caused a little more confusion, it was also basically ignored, more of himself that remained hidden from the world he believed he would never truly know.
The pull began without him noticing, something that had been going on all his life, but kicked into gear when he had to give up the communications badge existence, when the woman died and the badge was stuck in a drawer. He didn’t want to live in a drawer, so changed forms, and felt the pull. It was irresistible. It was undeniable.
He shot through the stars. He went through the wormhole. He briefly acknowledged the Prophets. He landed on the current homeworld of the Founders. He didn’t think he had much to tell them. But he was finally home.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Alexander Chase never wanted to be first officer of anything, but it was the only way to reach the captain’s chair. At least, if he was lucky, that might be the case again. Starfleet had seen better days.
Serving under Captain Winick was proving to be a lot more interesting than he’d thought. After years of idling on Academy grounds, waiting for a position to open in one of the few ships still in service (which did not guarantee that they were in working order), Chase was surprised when Winick contacted him directly. Maybe that’s how it used to be done, too, when the fleet had a mandate, a purpose, hell even a Prime Directive. There were more officers than could find work, so most of them sat around doing civilian jobs when someone bothered to hire them, or just sat around, which was the last thing Chase wanted to do, but he couldn’t avoid doing, because the Great Bird of the Galaxy had not only died, but left no next of kin, no will, and definitely no successor, and so everything fell apart.
It had been a pretty good run, all told, several centuries of exploration and making friends out of enemies and making contact with the unknown, surviving every challenge, upholding an ideal and a dream, and producing some of the finest individuals to ever travel the stars. Decline comes to everything, even Starfleet, even the Federation, whose Council had not met in more than half a century. The only reason the fleet was still active at all was because the remaining ships had not completely fallen apart. The problem was a deficiency of great men.
At some point observers had stopped looking for them, and when they started overlooking great men, great men stopped appearing. There was no longer any incentive. Chase had been surprised by everything about Winick, whose career he had never seen reported in any of the news services, which squawked incessantly about inane events of the day and tracked things that could be made to sound like crises, but ignored anyone who might actually make a difference. He’d stopped believing such individuals were possible. Winick was bold enough to make her interests plain. She cut through all the bullshit and asked Chase directly if he’d like a job. She’d fired her last commander.
“Come work for me and you’ll see the future open before you like a sunrise,” she’d said. Chase believed her.
The ship was predictably unimpressive, of a famous lineage but hardly capable of living up to it, even under Captain Winick. There was only so much she could do, operating with a crew of fifty, the best Starfleet could afford any vessel these days, just enough to keep it running, keep it in space, as long as the fuel held out. Winick had him take a tour of the whole ship, and asked him how many of the positions he could fill in a pinch, and Chase had to admit that his knowledge was shallow. She seemed to understand, but said she valued his honesty most of all. Still, he’d have to learn, and pull double-shifts until he did. There wasn’t much sleep on a ship like that anyway.
No, he didn’t want to be first officer. He craved the captain’s seat, wanted to make a difference, wanted badly to prove great things were still possible. Yet he learned under Winick that great things could be defined in small gestures. They visited the new Vulcan homeworld, helped reopen Romulan mining operations, brought the Vidiians to the Gamma Quadrant, introduced Klingons and Hirogen, even helped the Ferengi market get back on its feet, taught Andorians and Breen about beaches. They visited countless worlds, saw innumerable wonders. Winick announced that she was retiring. Would Chase like that seat after all?
Before he wouldn’t have hesitated. The old him had almost passed on the assignment in the first place, said it was beneath him, would have spat in her face to finally condescend him with the one thing he’d always wanted after holding him back for years. The truth was, he was still young. The universe was old, and he was young.
“I will show you a glorious sunset,” he finally replied.
(Based on the aborted STAR TREK: FINAL FRONTIER animated series.)
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
A ribbon of brilliant light flashed through the sky, and Ellis stared up in wonder. It was the outward manifestation of the Nexus, a gateway to the reality of your choice. Federation scientists had been studying it for years, ever since the report of Jean-Luc Picard that said James T. Kirk, or a version of him, could still be found there. Kirk was a Starfleet legend, who saved the galaxy a hundred times over, died twice in the line of duty, thanks to the Nexus, and the best part was, having once entered this portal, there remained a copy of him inside it, as Picard noted of an El-Aurian friend of his. The best part was, since Picard had entered the Nexus himself, there was a copy of him there, too.
Ellis had been fascinated by the notion of meeting his hero from the moment he’d read the report, part of standard Starfleet Academy paradox training, the last course of study he’d undertaken before dropping out to further explore the possibility of experiencing the Nexus himself. Thanks to standard spatial analysis, he knew precisely where and when the Nexus would next appear, and he intended to be present, no matter the risk.
He knew that he could not simply pilot a ship into the ribbon, that the ribbon had to be the inciting factor, otherwise he would simply be smashed into oblivion, and lose his chance and life on a reckless and meaningless collision. He signed aboard a Niberite Alliance trade vessel at the first opportunity, and used his spare time to calculate the best possible location for him to wait when 2412 finally came.
He ended up choosing a small moon in the Rigel system, where he could wait in an old mining outpost. The moment it passed overhead, Ellis hopped into his shuttlecraft and took off, hoping he could pull ahead of it without being affected by its gravitational force, which had wrecked many other ships in the past, including the one Kirk was helping to commission during his first encounter with the ribbon, and first death. Since by its nature the Nexus could not be tracked by conventional methods, this was the best he could hope for, counting on blind chance. He did not want to risk the mania others had succumbed to on similar quests.
The shuttlecraft was rocked violently, but Ellis held his composure. He’d made enough modifications to ensure his safety on this voyage, adapting Tholian technology in what he considered to be clever and innovative ways, perhaps prize-winning, if he failed in his real goal. Still, the vibrations were brutal, and Ellis found that he was glad that there had been little time to eat that day. His nerves, already getting the best of him the night before, so that he’d gotten little sleep on top of missing several other meals, were attempting to match the pull of the ribbon, so that he was no longer sure what caused his own movements. His mind was too fuzzy to be sure of anything. That was why he’d planned it out well in advance, so he would not have to rely on himself in the moment, much less the possibility of a malfunctioning computer.
Finally, Ellis thought that he could feel the ribbon itself, even through the bulkhead, its dazzling heat a kind of comforting embrace. Control panels all around him were starting to pop, sending electrical fires and smoke into the cabin, threatening to suffocate him, and he could not control his shaking hands long enough to suppress any of it, much less utter a verbal command. The view outside the nearest port was too blinding, and Ellis was afraid that he was going to pass out.
It was almost like a gentle nudge, the faint sensation that radiated all around him, and suddenly Ellis was back at the Academy, sitting in class and studying that report again, and he looked up, lost in thought, and almost didn’t register the fact that his instructor was holding court with a colleague, ignoring the cadets, lost in some shared adventure, something about jumping horses over a ravine, some kind of miracle, and a smile came over his face. He had made it.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Marty Pressman was an engineer in Starfleet. He’d worked on starship design theory for a couple of years before he became frustrated with the fundamental flaw of the program, and that was the moratorium on cloaking devices.
Everyone knew that the Federation had signed a treaty with the Romulan Empire forbidding it, but Pressman didn’t particularly care. He knew what he wanted and didn’t like to be told he couldn’t have it. So instead of conforming to expectations, he started to rebel. He spent late hours pouring over documents about the treaty, its specifics, exact wording, history, alternate theories…His superiors started asking him questions, even though he was careful, and it was only a matter of works before he was called to speak with the captain, and during this little chat he was informed that the Romulans had learned about his activities, and Starfleet was not at all happy about that. At the very least, he was told, he should have cleared this interest with his immediate supervisor, if not the chief, if not the captain himself.
Pressman asked if he could speak freely. The captain allowed it. Pressman hesitated for a moment, and then decided that he might as well seize the opportunity. He started by asking if the Romulans really had a right, or if the Federation had a right, to make such judgments. Was the price of peace really at the cost of progress? Was it not Starfleet mandate to expand the horizon, rather than diminish it?
He started to feel a little giddy. The captain said nothing, so he continued. Surely there were secret programs, some agency or another, who were already working on it, or perhaps there were officers who had already cracked the code, or other species who would share the secret. Romulans couldn’t be the only ones who possessed the technology. In fact, he suggested, there must be several, if not hundreds, members of the Federation. There were similar methods he knew of that Starfleet did allow. Would it really be such a stretch to expand them, to work around the treaty?
He began to grow more bold. The captain remained silent. He continued. Was peace with an empire that had now been silent for decades really worth the cost to the future? Was not the foundation of the Federation built on the exchange of ideas, rather than stifling them? Had not humanity itself struggled with Vulcans over this very issue for more than a century?
The captain finally spoke. He said that Pressman was a valued member of his crew, with a promising career. He would make many valuable contributions to the fleet, no doubt. Except in this area. It was vital that he put this behind him, and that he do it then and there. Surely he must understand the need for security, the need for compromise? Many individuals had looked into these matters before him. The Federation had not signed the treaty lightly, but with great cost of life, and with utmost integrity. Surely that was worth preserving?
Pressman knew when he was dismissed. He saw the bored expression in the captain’s eyes. He waited to be dismissed, and watched as the captain reviewed a data pad. Finally, there was a slight nod, and Pressman stepped out of the ready room, and onto the bridge of the ship, where the helm officer, a friend of his, smiled weakly at him. He continued to the turbo shaft, passing the science station, and thought glumly about what the captain had just told him, in so many words that he should mind his own business. He stepped into the lift and gave the command for engineering. He stood quietly for a moment, the doors opened again, and he walked into the busy hub of activity that did not hold anything for him, not now.
He knew he would not be promoted. He thought of his young son Erik, attending primary school on Rigel IV. If he stopped now, the boy would not be affected by these decisions, might still have a chance at a better career than him, perhaps be able to fulfill this mad dream.
Pressman continued in a haze for the remainder of the day, doing his job mechanically, which was the only way he’d survive from now on, no longer believing in anything, hoping for another war with the Romulans, or that the Klingons would do it, or that some miracle would happen and the universe would suddenly start making sense. He started making private notes of everything he’d seen.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Orczy is not much of a mining technician, but even he can tell when something is going wrong, specifically that there seems to be a lot more mining going on than be strictly accounted for in the budding operation here on Janus VI.
Orczy is a budding journalist, although he struggles to report anything that others might consider to be news. For instance, rather than cover the mining scandal (so far as he sees it) these last few weeks, he’s been submitting articles on excessive perspiration, another problem he’s noticed, but is a problem only for Orczy, as he has been trying to get his hair just right and all this perspiration has been hindering him. He feels it is to do with the planet and its faulty terraforming, and although he had to go through a laborious process to get this position in the first place, he has been complaining about it almost from the start.
For instance, he wrote his first article about the indecent levels of humidity in the air, and this was rejected on the grounds that there was nothing to be done about it. He submitted a few more on the same topic, in case the first and then the next several had been lost. Then he switched tacks and decided to try some different perspectives. That’s the sort of thing journalists should do, Orczy knows. They should also have nice hair, or so he thinks. He has trouble convincing others of this.
He’s also having a hard time getting anyone to believe that there are a great deal more tunnels beneath the surface of Janus VI than there should be, possibly because he is more eccentric than a Breen hairdresser (it is a noted rumor that all Breen are in fact bald). He talks about this with the rate of someone trying for a record, although he has made no progress at all in getting anyone to listen. He suspects that it is because of the excess moisture in the air. It makes everyone crazy, except Orczy. He maintains razor-like focus, even when his hair isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, which is most of the time. Back on Earth he let everyone know that he had the best hair in the galaxy. It was suggested more than once that perhaps he ought to get out there and prove it.
Orczy wanders about doing nothing much at all most of the day, and that may also affect his reputation somewhat, aside from his criticisms of sweating too much, writing articles of utter nonsense, going on about his hair, and reporting that there are too many tunnels beneath the surface. More than one person has suggested he make an inventory of all the tunnels, and preliminary surveys of Janus VI before the mining operating even began already suggest there to be thousands. Finding an exact number could take some time, but few people can be found to complain about the lack of Orczy that would result from such an effort. No doubt he could be lost for decades!
You might be asking yourself if Orczy has any friends, and Orczy would have one answer that would in many ways contradict reality, but it is also worth noting that he is rarely wrong in his observations; it’s just that he’s exceptionally annoying about it. He mainly signed up for the mining operation because Blakeney would be going, an old friend of his who has the best hair Orczy has ever known, and perhaps his obsession with her can best be described as a form of jealousy. It should be noted that “friend” would be exaggerating a bit, and perhaps even “acquaintance,” as their relationship has chiefly revolved his increasingly failed attempts to get a friendly word out of her. Mainly, it’s Orczy going on about how much he loves her, and Blakeney restraining herself from punching him.
So that’s as much of the social aspect of Orczy’s life as you’ll need. You should probably know upfront that he isn’t wrong about the number of tunnels, but it won’t be for several more decades until anyone knows what the hell he’s talking about.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Now, because a lot of people consider themselves to be writers, it's probably harder now than ever before to see your work in print, especially if you don't network well or you don't write in a mainstream style. That fact and the fact that it's become easier than ever before to self-publish has led a lot of writers who would otherwise have found it difficult to fulfill that ambition to do it on their own terms. This necessarily limits distribution to levels professional publishers will only take notice of with uncommon success, so it's a game of vanity, and something I've been reluctant to come back to after my Cloak of Shrouded Men experience, when I paid to get a book printed and got nothing but the book in return.
Now, I don't have a problem writing books. I've got two unpublished manuscripts and another sitting at Hall Bros. Entertainment. It's getting publishers interested that's the problem. I self-published Shrouded Men in 2007 because I had a hard time believing that I'd find any traditional publisher interested in a story about superheroes. At that time, it was the only long-form fiction I'd written. Between 2009 and last year, I wrote three more books. I had attempted to write a complete novella, which became "Leopold's Concentration" as featured in Monorama, in the spring of 2005, before I'd finished what became Shrouded Men in 2006, but my concentration wasn't strong enough. I had already been writing Star Trek fiction since 1999, and that's something I still do today, but that continued to be the best extent of my writing experience, until I launched Sigild last year.
I intended it to be a showcase for my experimental writing, and only started branching back into more ambitious projects many months later. Last fall I nearly published the existing material through Amazon's CreateSpace service, which allows writers who feel up to handling all the publishing decisions on their own to be published completely for free. I bailed when it seemed like too much work. I kept writing, however, and the more material I amassed, the more confident I began to feel, and finally I turned back to the site with a collection I was more confident about, pulling a lot of work together that I hadn't previously considered including besides all the material I myself owned from Sigild.
Naming the collection proved more difficult than I originally anticipated. The original name can still be easily be found on Sigild, but I quickly came up with alternatives, and would have gone with one of those if I hadn't stumbled on the word "panorama" while pulling this collection together, modifying it to reflect the singular perspectives that inhabit each of the stories in the book, even in the ones with multiple characters. It sounded a lot like Futurama, but different enough that I doubt anyone will readily make the connection upon reading the title Monorama, which is a title that works on so many levels, not the least on an ironic one, because this is a book of seven distinct parts.
I decided, ultimately, that I had to make this collection available for the same reasons I launched Sigild in the first place, as a way to get my writing available, to help illustrate in digestible pieces my inclinations as a storyteller. It serves, in essence, as a primer for everything else I want to say, but can easily be enjoyed for its own sake. I didn't write any of these stories with the intention of including them in a collection. Several of them, actually, were submissions to Hall Bros. anthologies, with "Lost Convoy" the first of the longer works I tackled as proof to myself that I don't need to write a novel in order to write something longer than a few pages (most of the stories featured in the "Lost Books of Tomorrow" mosaic are, in fact, about a page each, and some of them aren't even that).
I can't really give you any more of an idea about what to expect in this other than what you can find on Sigild itself, because these are stories meant to be understood best by being read. You can't talk about writing like this without analyzing it, because the style is the same weight as the intent, which is to dig deeply into narrative potential. You'll meet a lot of singular voices in Monorama, like I said. You may not understand what that means until you start reading.
You can find it available for 10 bucks at Amazon in paperback form. You can get it for three bucks as a Kindle edition.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Risa is the greatest planet in the galaxy!
Ahem. If that is not sober enough a statement for you, let me clarify: it’s the only planet where any alien species can find something that pleases it, provided that they find leisure activities pleasing. There were some efforts early on in its existence to provide interests outside of leisure pursuits, but there were too many complications, and thus the concept was abandoned.
Unfortunately, Kal Dano did not get the memo. He believed that it was still a fine destination for things like ultimate weapons, which is the only way the Tox Uthat can be classified. It is indeed an ultimate weapon, a doomsday device so incredible in its destructive ability that Dano was forced to find a new home for it, since its original one proved, as Risa had for things other than leisure activities, completely unfit. Or perhaps Dano was simply a thief looking to stash his goods away for a moment. Perhaps we may know for certain in time.
Which one of our attendants came across Mr. Dano first is still a matter of dispute, but there was a great amount of excitement. He announced himself to be a time traveler, which is not unheard of on Risa, but we tend to regulate our guests so that they do not bring things like ultimate weapons along with them. At any rate, it was explained to him several times that possessing such a thing was inappropriate, and that he would have to dispose of it. Naturally he was not accommodating to our suggestion, and soon gave a wild chase to many members of the staff. Later versions of this will no doubt allow anyone who may learn of it to assume that he simply appeared, dropped off the Tox Uthat, and departed again, but rest assured that while we are by definition lax in most standards, we take security quite seriously, as it’s our basic responsibility to our guests, and we have quite a few gadgets left over from our aborted experiment to be able to provide all levels of security for them. Less responsible hosts might consider a business partnership with the Orion Syndicate, but that’s not the policy or the interest of the governing council on Risa.
But yeah, we could do quite a few interesting things if we liked. We would have confiscated the Tox Uthat if we’d wanted. It was entirely within our rights, and we’d hardly want unsuspecting guests to stumble onto something like that. It would certainly ruin someone’s vacation! As it is, our agents eventually caught up to Mr. Dano and we came to a mutual agreement. While we no longer condone the presence of such things as a matter of course, we are not unreasonable. We wouldn’t be very good at our jobs if we were! Instead, we made sure that only those truly committed to it might discover the Tox Uthat, something Dano himself seemed perfectly satisfied with, as he himself had the ability to monitor it to a greater degree than we could, being privy to the historical records as he is, from whichever century he’s from and happens to linger. It was suggested by our chief of tranquility that he might be an agent of the Temporal Cold War, but most of us dismissed the notion. But you never know.
Actually, I don’t know why I’m going on about all this. Some of us are far more excited at the prospect of humans finally reaching our humble planet. They’re been traveling the galaxy for a good number of years now, but they’re incredibly limited in their propulsion systems at the moment, though rumor has it they’re close to a breakthrough, as long as the Vulcans leave them alone long enough, or maybe if the Klingons finally pay them a visit, if they’re worth it. I have a wager going that the term “Starfleet” won’t amount to much, but then, someone said Kal Dano mentioned it, so what do I know?
Anyway, I’m sure none of this interests you. Care for a horga’hn?
Monday, July 2, 2012
The novel Ecce Homo deals with the biblical first family as individuals with unique perspectives on the human condition and its peculiar relationship with the divine, both as they deal with their own seismic contributions to history and as they struggle out into a world where the rest of us have no idea what they've been through. So you get Adam, Eve, Abel, and yes, Cain:
When I was being born, I could feel everything, and could see. My eyes kept opening, but it was all new, and I didn’t know what I was experiencing, so very little made sense. I would see flashes, but nothing made sense. I can imagine what my father was feeling, what he was thinking. He didn’t know what to make of me, only that whatever was happening, must somehow be natural. He didn’t know what I would be like, only what he knew about himself. I wouldn’t say I blame him or my mother for any of what would happen, or even God, because living is a living hell, it’s a constant series of misadventures. Everything that can go wrong will. What we get to call living is a series of opportunities to figure out how to make things right. We either do that or we die. Well, we die anyway, and that’s another terrible tragedy. For some reason, I was fixated on death from the very beginning. I could never explain why. It was always on my mind. I wouldn’t call it morbid or macabre, so much as an innocent fascination.
I could tell right away that my parents never considered it the same way I did, that for them, it was a little more remote concept, that for them, living and dying were two very different ideas. They knew a lot about living, but very little about dying. They had never been born, so naturally they had no idea what kind of experience that is, and so just as naturally, they couldn’t conceive of its opposite. They were created into a world where all living beings were already there. My mother, or so it was constantly told to me by my mother, seemed to have an instinct about how it all worked, but that was different from an understanding. She never had to think about it. She was part of the first and last generation of mankind that was designed to function perfectly. She had the most direct divine spark possible, next to my father, who was the first man ever created, given all the most personal attentions of the one being responsible for everything. In genetic breeding, it’s encouraged not to introduce too much familial intermingling, just as the clone of a clone is that much less stable, just as a master can never teach a student everything they personally have mastered. There’s a constant degeneration, something lost with every new iteration. Either something else comes along, a new source of inspiration, or a spontaneous knowledge, or progressively, everything gets worse. It’s nature, the way it’s set up, nothing is ever lost, but everything is always changing, either in patterns or in new designs, and when it’s difficult to tell what’s going on, it produces a sensation of fear, because the unknown is always a source of fear. Imagine a world where the patterns aren’t known, imagine a world where everything’s new. My parents knew God, interacted with him personally. They never talked about it, but then, they didn’t have to. It was just something I knew, perhaps my portion of the divine spark, an unspeakable knowledge, an unbearable burden. I was the first person born, rather than created. Something lingered inside me. I knew death.
I saw the world with a fresh set of eyes; I was born with an appetite, and I was always hungry. That was how I came to understand death, because knowledge is the ability to understand things, to know how they work. The first thing knowledge breeds is the awareness of the existence of death, because anything that works eventually stops working, moves on in other permutations. The reason most people believe the things they knew in their youth were better than the things they experience in their advancing age is because they are clinging to the hope that things don’t die, and therefore, they themselves won’t. It’s foolish and not very intelligent, but that’s human nature. It believes what it wants to, whatever is most comforting. If it’s easier to believe in something you’ve already believed in, rather than tackling something new, then that’s what you’re going to, despite all reason. If it’s easier to believe something new, because others have before you, then you will, not because you believe but because you’ve allowed yourself to believe in someone else’s belief. You’ve latched onto something that already exists, something else old, established, something that seems permanent. To accept something new, of your own accord, is to once again accept that new things are possible, and new things suggest a beginning, and in the beginning an end. That’s how the mind works, because that’s how existence works. Death is feared because it provides the opportunity to answer the ultimate riddle, in how it’s possible for nothing to exist at all. In the existence of nothing, isn’t nothing itself something?
I thought too much. I knew that. I was thinking before I could talk, obviously, but even when my parents encouraged speech, I still kept thinking. I think some people substitute one for the other, perhaps without even realizing it. It sounds dumb to suggest one or the other, but not both at the same time, but it seems to be the only explanation for how some people behave. Anyone who can’t explain what they’re doing is probably missing one. They react more than anything, attempt to reconstruct something they’ve seen but can’t understand. Anyone who will just imitate or follow something they’ve seen or have been told, they have already made a decision, and that was the last thought they will ever have.
My life was a series of decisions, and an endless line of thought. I determined that the only way for me to truly live was to consider the possibilities, even before I was conscious of the fact of my unique nature, that I was the first person ever born. I was aware of it, certainly, but I didn’t understand it, couldn’t quite appreciate it, at least not right away. I was reacting, however, to the fact before I knew it, and that was the distinction, what all the thought was about. My father might say, as he often whispered into my ear in my first years, that I reminded him of my mother, how reflective and solitary I was, even before I could do anything about it. That’s how he could understand it, what a baby was like for him, the only way he could reconcile it with what he already knew. I developed a concept of my mother before I even knew her, and that’s as much as I ever had. I don’t mean to suggest that she was remote, only that she could only be who she was, and she was very much as my father suggested, someone like me, but who wasn’t me. I had to understand the world in terms I knew, too, in what I might recognize, and that was in contrasts, in what was like me, and what wasn’t. My father was always there. My mother wasn’t.
As I came to understand it later, she didn’t stay like that, the more children she had. She was far more involved with Abel. I didn’t resent that, as strange as it sounds, given what happened. It was evidently something she needed. I had already proved that she didn’t need to behave that way, but she chose to, and that’s all that really mattered. Life is a series of choices, and there’s rarely a lack of second chances. The more you live, the more you accept that. You can’t relive and make different decisions than you’ve already made, but there will always be other opportunities. There is only one permanent, and that’s death, and that was true from the very start, before birth. The act of creation demanded it. There’s an opposite to everything.
I guess I began to view Abel as my opposite. That’s probably what it was. I recognized a lot of the things he did, because I’d done them, too, but I also realized that he wasn’t me, any more than I could be him. I wasn’t that old when he was born, but I was able to make some concrete distinctions. His existence made a lot of things easier to understand. It might be easy to assume that all Abel did was frustrate me, but that wasn’t the case at all. Abel made things easier. His existence clarified many of the things I’d been thinking. My brother was a confirmation.
Here's an excerpt from Finnegan, a funny little story about vampires, history, and the weird ways family and strangers can intermingle in fantastic and frightening ways. The following only suggests about a tenth of what is actually in the novel, but it's a good look into the thought and depth of the characters and the vastly complicated situation they find themselves in:
Actually, it’s completely different. On some level, such relationships, such real dilemmas, must be how those romantic comedies were once conceived. A situation like Romeo and Juliet, who would have been happy together except their families were blood enemies, that might have been a possible source, or another successor. This isn’t to say that it’s unnatural for a vampire and a mortal human to fall in love, because love is blindness, but that it’s a basic contradiction. Unless the vampire makes their lover into a vampire, they are dooming themselves into unhappy, temporary lover. You can make an argument that eventually, one of the two could come to find some peace in the arrangement as it is originally introduced, but even in that, it will become to the vampire, in time, as if it never really happened. Long life already undergoes enough change. The purpose of intimacy is to retard it, as much as possible.
Since it is hardly likely that most people would introduce themselves with their least savory characteristics, it’s natural to assume that this will almost always be a problem. A vampire meeting a human will never come right out and say that they are a vampire, which at the offset complicates everything. Since humans and their thoughts are inherently private matters, thought is almost always kept private, and as a result, privacy is held as one of the most valued traits we possess, the thing that serves as the barrier and obstacle across the entire world, which in almost every case remains standing throughout the lifetime. This is where secrets, deception, and betrayal come from. It is from the privacy of thoughts that evil arises, the belief that no one can truly understand or accept each other, so that perhaps it doesn’t matter, you can tell yourself anything, and you will almost never be contradicted.
Were there to be a vampire culture, mastery of the privacy instinct might be considered the primary goal of the community. If there were free and open relations between vampire and humans, lines of perfect transparency might be the first ones to be fostered. Being a vampire would be no different from hailing from a certain country, speaking a certain language, or practicing a certain religion. In its essence, vampirism is really no different from these things. It is, only a distinction; it is “different” only in the way that all people are different in some way.
Except vampires are solitary creatures, and they remain legend at best to the common human experience, a fiction. Their origins are hardly known at all. Did God say, let there be vampires? Are they descended from angels, perhaps, or demons? Eolake might have found an easy piece of conversation on these lines, making the transition in his relationship with Fiona. It was something he had to tell her, because being a vampire is not something that she would have noticed herself. What was there that would have given him away? He looked no different, behaved no differently. To all intents and purposes, he was human, like the athlete who isn’t tell, gaunt, or muscled, who when they aren’t engaged in their sport, look no different from anyone else. The vampire is not pale, their hairline is ordinary, and they do not shrink from blood, or sunlight. They dress like anyone else. They simply have different biological characteristics.
In the beginning, it didn’t matter. Eolake was a vampire, but Fiona wouldn’t have cared. She fell in love with the Eolake she was presented with. He was charming. He was polite. He was, in the chivalric tradition, a gentleman who presented a comforting, loving persona right from the start. He seemed like he loved all mankind, and Fiona was lucky enough to be there and win his affections on a more intimate level. In time, she noticed things that put chinks in his armor, but she was okay with them. She wasn’t interested in those things. She was interested in Eolake.
At the point he began wondering if he should tell her, she wouldn’t have cared. She had grown used to his presence, and if he had told her that he was a sofa, she would have gladly placed him in her living room and told her cat to not leave too much fur on him. Real love was that Eolake was allergic to the cat, but was willing to take medication so that it was not a problem. If there was medication for taking away the vampire, Eolake would gladly have taken that, too.
Eight hundred years earlier things were a little simpler.
Well, that would be the myth. Except, sometimes, we know better. Sometimes we’re able to see the past with clarity, without rose-tinted blinders, and we know that things were no better then than they are now, and maybe that’s why some people are always depressed, why they can’t find any positive meaning in their lives.
Well, the Caretaker, as such he had begun to consider himself, and would consider himself for another three hundred years, until his death, knew better. Suspiria was finally leaving him. It wasn’t anything that had happened recently, or had been developing for several hundred years, or even the incident that had brought them to this predicament in the first place. It simply happened. Most things that happen are exactly like that, actually. There’s no reason. You can certainly learn a lot about what happened before it if you look, but that doesn’t mean it had anything, in the end, with what just occurred. Every moment in time is precious and alone and of itself.
There’s no reason to look deeper, to forge connections, to map everything as if it all had a single thread running through it. There are patterns, is all, and perhaps it’s wise to know what they are, but if there’s a meaning, then that’s a matter of interpretation, not fact.
The fact was, Suspiria wanted to try something new. All the Ocampa who left with her did. In fact, they wanted to return to old ways, just as she did. The problem neither of them realized was that they were leaving essential elements of what would have helped make that possible behind. None of the Ocampa who departed could truly understand or appreciate what their ancestors had once had, because they were leaving the last remnants of context behind. They would be starting over, believing that they were reviving old practices and old abilities, when in fact they were creating new ones. Suspiria was not in the least interested in helping them grow. For her, they were a matter of convenience, just as she was for them. The same was true, of course, for her. She had never known a life on her own, and yet there she would be, on her own, without her companion for the first time in her life. The relationship she had with her chosen Ocampa was nothing like the one her companion had with the rest of them.
The Caretaker knew that. He understood what would happen to her, even if he mourned both these losses for a very long time, and why he knew with a certainty that she would outlive him, and why he gradually forgot what that would mean, why he had known why she left, why he would forget that it only made sense, that they were no longer as similar as they had once been, why they had drifted apart, why so many things had and would continue to change.
He tried to put it past him, the heartbreak, the useless feeling gnawing at the pit of his stomach, the uncertainty about the future, but found that he was unable. He had a purpose, and perhaps had already lost himself in it, and perhaps would remember one day that the only true path to the future was remembering to regain himself, if only for a moment, so that all his work, his triumphs and failures, would mean something again, that his efforts would not be in vain, and he could once again tell himself that he hadn’t caused more harm than good.
Perhaps he could find a new companion, a replacement, someone to lighten the load, who would understand him better, and perhaps they were far away and perhaps they were close. He had to try…