I sat in the captain’s chair as he wandered throughout the ship. I guided the fleet through the orbits of the three inhabited moons of Baldur, Phoenix, and Talos. From each of the three satellites, a beam of light shot up into space, saying farewell and wishing us luck, along with small flotillas of spacecraft from each of the moons firmly hugging their orbits. Life on the three moons existed by artificial means, and though each colony was self-sustaining, it was not intended that people should live in artificial environments for decades on end. However, technology continued to advance, and with it new answers to old problems.
I was communicating with the ship’s computer, running diagnostic checks, and recalibrating the long-range photon sensors. Having finished the recalibration, I began recalculating the various trajectories to reach the end of the solar system. The crew was busy about its duties; everything was as it should be. The ships were tracked from Caeruleus and the moons, and our actions and open transmissions were being recorded for posterity.
The three moons belonged to the Homo sapiens of the first political bloc, because they had been the most adventurous in developing space technology. The homo-superiors of the third political bloc, superior in cognitive ability, had lacked the wisdom and foresight to apply their superior faculties to space travel. It was said that they had no need for space travel, and beyond sending satellites into space and to the twin suns, they had made no effort to explore further. However, it was known to the first bloc that they had attempted to establish diplomatic ties with Fortis and Gigas. After an exchange of views with the respective governments, their overtures were rejected because of their racist beliefs.
In the opinion of the Fortis, the homo superiors’ attitude marked them as a dangerous race of beings, despite their vaunted intelligence. The aliens of Fortis and Gigas reasoned that true and heightened intelligence is derived from an expanded state of awareness. The older inhabitants of our illustrious solar system wanted to have no dealings with the homo superiors.
The second political bloc had also abandoned space. They had decided that space travel was too costly to pursue, and they had made only a handful of journeys to Fortis and Gigas to pursue trade. However, like the third block, their request for access to trade was also denied when the combined council of worlds within the solar system determined that the second bloc was self-destructive. In time, the humans of the second bloc would destroy themselves at the very least or cause the destruction of the entire planet of Caeruleus. Further, the council informed the second bloc that should they ever attempt to visit any of their worlds again, they would be made to feel extremely unwelcome, if not altogether blown out of the sky. Only the first bloc, was enlightened enough to be allowed access to their worlds.
We headed for the planet of Fortis, where we would stay for two days. Our primary mission was to obtain the buoys and use them in the construction of wormholes. The secondary objective was to gather as much technological knowledge as possible and demonstrate to the Fortis that we were their friends worthy of their trust. The aliens of Fortis were at least two thousand years more intellectually and technologically advanced than the humans of Caeruleus. It would be interesting to see how much access they would grant the captain and his abroad team.
Fortis is the fifth planet in our solar system, five astronomical units away from the joint orbit of the twin suns, and the third-biggest. It could hold 900 planets the size of Caeruleus and was 120 times its mass. Beyond its golden brown surface and yellow and gold atmosphere, it had three major moons and two smaller ones further out.
The inhabitants are humanoid, like us. The primary differences being that they are a lot taller on average, better built than the men of Caeruleus, and had five fingers and one thumb on each hand.
To see, the Fortis was to behold giants walking the land. Certain anthropologists and historians believed that their ancestors had also walked on Caeruleus. They felt sure because of the stone reliefs dating thousands of years back with pictures depicting humans of great stature wearing oddly shaped helmets and clothes. The Fortis had stated to the government that they had not been to Caeruleus before the humans’ arrival. Despite this statement, many in the government felt that the Fortis were hiding something, or at least not telling the whole truth.
The Fortis were an advanced race of aliens, with cities that did not span great heights but rather were spread out over vast areas, connected by matter transporters. Their buildings were made of natural materials, such as cured wood bonded together, extremely fire-resistant stone, marble, or mud bricks cured at extreme temperatures, and other eco-friendly materials.
Metal was used sparingly, as reinforcements for use in their vehicles and mines. Their spacecraft was altogether different, made of an incredibly light material, yet as strong as titanium, and circular in shape, spanning one stadia in diameter. I speculated the controls for their ships were holographic projectors embedded in the vessels’ floors and walls, which activated upon the presence or a command from the Fortis. However, this was speculation; no one from Caeruleus had seen the bridge of a Fortis starship.
The ambassadors who had been on board had been allowed access only to the guests’ quarters or the general mess area of the Fortis ships, where reclining couches would appear and disappear as if by magic. Their mess areas were impressive, featuring a 360-degree view and transparent ceiling. Their ships had weapons, but we had no information about how they worked or how effective they were. When their ships move in the atmosphere, they are silent and swift. Our scientists have speculated that their ships run using a form of nuclear fusion involving deuterium.
The grav-lift opened, interrupting my thoughts. The chaplain exited onto the bridge, walking toward me with his staff in his hand. Traditionally, the crews of starships referred to the chaplain as Padre.
“Greetings, Commander Vlen. How are you today?” Padre asked.
“I am well, Padre,” I said.
My eyes did not leave the spectacular view of nebulas suspended in interstellar space.
“I see your attention is glued to the view before you. I agree, it is very captivating. By the way, where is the captain?”
“The captain, at the moment, is in the medical area. Do you wish to speak to him?”
“No, I was just curious.” He paused to look at me intently for a moment.
“Aren’t you the latest development in android technology?”
“Yes, Padre, that is correct. My creator, Paul, built me and a female android from the same crystalline structure that constitutes our brains at the same moment.”
“Have you ever met the female android?”
“No, but I would like to.”
“Like to? I thought androids were incapable of emotions and feelings.”
I could hear the skepticism in his voice.
Humans can be so arrogant at times.
“I have thoughts, emotions, and feelings, exactly like a human being.”
“How is that possible? Our scientists don’t have the technology to program androids with feelings and emotions.”
“You’re right; it is beyond any programmer’s skill to program real feelings and emotions into androids. However, my creator programmed me in such a way that I may learn from observation and reason according to facts. This process of observation and reasoning I have extended to human emotions and feelings; therefore, I am capable of drawing my own conclusions in matters of consciousness and its origins.”
“Fascinating! Please continue.”
“Through observation, facts, and reasoning, I have slowly learned about the world around me and myself. I was born a blank slate, but like a child, I slowly began to understand. I learned to understand the experiences, emotions, and thoughts of other beings. I learned the ways of behaving in society.”
“The next thing you’ll say is that you have thoughts and emotions.”
“Yes. I experience thoughts and emotions. It may be that I am more than the sum of my parts. I may even have a spirit and a soul.”
“How can you be more than the sum of your parts, and maybe have a spirit and a soul?”
“Pardon me, Padre. But we cannot continue this discussion; as you see, I am in the captain’s chair, surrounded by the crew, who will think it improper to continue such a discussion on the bridge.”
“Never mind the crew. I will cause space and time to be suspended, and we will have this conversation.”
With that, Padre struck his staff to the floor, and everything stopped. The crew became frozen in time, surrounded by stillness. I spoke to Veda but received no response.
“We can now have our conversation and take as long as we like. For the crew and the fleet, it will be as if nothing has happened. They will never know.”
“You possess an incredible power. How were you able to achieve such a feat?”
“The power is not mine. It is given to me by beings more powerful than I. But to give you an answer, the entire fleet has been removed from space and time and moved into an adjacent and timeless dimension.”
I looked around the bridge. There was no movement; not even the lights on the consoles blinked. His explanation sounded fantastic. When I eliminated all the possibilities, his explanation, for the moment, was the only one that could explain the facts.
“Very well, Padre, we shall continue. My main contention is as follows; an individual is not the mind and its thoughts, or even the body. In my opinion, a person is composed of a spirit, which, in essence, is pure intelligence-perception consisting of pure cosmic energy, and a soul, which is made from what an individual truly loves. That these two together, the spirit and the soul, constitute a unique individual.”
“However, I wish to stress that my interpretations of what a spirit and a soul are, is based on my observations, experiences, and reasoning. I will make no attempt scientifically to prove my point of view for the purposes of this discussion; if this is acceptable to you, Padre, we will continue.”
“I am very interested in having this discussion.”
With those words, Padre constructed a chair from the molecules in the air and sat down. He faced me. Both of us oblivious to the fact that we were on the command deck of a star carrier, with everyone and everything motionless.
“Let’s begin by saying that nearly all human beings believe they have an ‘I,’ an ‘id,’ or ‘ego,’ as some call it. Let us try to reach a definition of what the ‘I’ is that both of us agree on. Can we do that first, Padre?”
“That sounds good to me; please continue.”
“I am sure that we can both agree that the ‘I’ can never be seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled.”
“I understand what you are trying to say; so far, we are both on the same page.”
“As we cannot use our five senses to detect the ‘I,’ then we must use our powers of observation and deductive reasoning to determine the nature of the ‘I’. Therefore, let us begin with the process of thought.”
“It’s a fact that humans spend most of their waking time in their minds, experiencing the world through thoughts. Thoughts consist of images and emotions. Images can consist of memories of actual events or imaginings. Emotions can consist of hopes, fears, desires, or regrets, among many others. Therefore, Padre, can we agree that thought consists of images and emotions?”
“Yes, we can agree to that,” Padre said.
“Thought, for humans, is part of a neurological-chemical-electrical process, which we use as part of our sensory processes to perceive the environment around us. The five biological senses of a human body will pass on what is perceived via neurological paths to the brain. The brain stores this information in its memory as either a symbol, such as letters, images, such as pictures, or sensations, such as sound – and any combination of these, as does my android brain. These images and symbols, as well as occurring in sequence or parallel using chemical and electrical impulses, can also occur in a nonlinear fashion. Do you agree with what I have said?”
Padre reflected for a moment.
“Yes. So far, what you have said is true.”
“Individuals spend nearly all of their existence experiencing reality inside those images, which are not reality, but rather impressions of what has transpired during the day or what they imagined at the time. The mental images interacting within our heads can be likened to the process that an individual experiences when a series of images is presented to him to view in a film or on the televiewer. The film passes single digital frames at a rate of 30 or more frames a second in front of the camera’s lens – in our case the lens of the mind, giving us the illusion of life. We are absorbed in the film we are watching, because the people in the movie seem alive, do they not?”
“True. I find myself absorbed in films quite a lot when I do watch them.”
“When we move the frames of the film very slowly past the camera lens, we can see that it is just a set of digital frames in sequence, one after the other. We see in those frames that the people are not alive. So it is with our thoughts. Images and thoughts are like digital frames that have no life of their own. Our mind and brain create illusions when analyzing sensory data when viewing films, or people moving, and forms conceptions that are derived from our perceptions of the information it has received. It is these conceptions from our perceptions that cause people, in part, to believe that they have an ‘I’. These conceptions create impressions in the form of images and sounds, and individuals react to these thoughts as though they exist. Non-aware individuals believe they are those thoughts, by associating these separate thoughts or digital frames as a single entity, which is commonly thought of as the ‘I.’
“Metaphorically speaking, individuals act out these images or scenes on a stage in the theatre of their minds. Characters from the real world are recreated upon the stage. If, as an observer, you are detached from the images and emotions running through your head, you will realize that you are both the actor on the stage and a member of the audience, watching yourself,” I said and paused emphatically.
“But the individual experiencing those images and emotions is real. Who is the person in the audience viewing the pictures in the play, then, if he is not real? You are saying that the person in the audience is an illusion! Forgive me, Vlen. But, I must say I have never heard anything so preposterous.”
“I understand what you’re saying. Let me put the point another way. For example, reviewed in your mind’s eye are a series of mental images of you at certain moments during the day. Perhaps you recall what you were thinking at the time as well, and you replay those thoughts. These images and words are, after all, only symbols that you recall. This action creates a series of thoughts, like frames of a film, previously mentioned, though not necessarily linear in progression like film. Because thought can be quick, it gives the illusion of someone looking, hearing, and moving, just like the fast-moving frames of film. No matter how many thoughts we have in a single second, they are all separate, individual thoughts. When thought stops, people will discover that the ‘I’ does not exist.”
“I do not understand.”
“Then more illustration is needed. To determine who, and what an individual is, we have to ask, who is the ‘I’?’ Or, a more pertinent question would be, what is the ‘I’? What is it made of? To discover what the ‘I’ is, we have to continue examining the nature of thought. Because we have already agreed that thought can be an image, an emotion, or both, we can now move on to who or what is the thinker.”
“Okay. Please continue.”
“A thinker is a being who has the facility of experiencing thought. Do you agree with this statement, Padre?”
“Therefore, the next question we should ask is, ‘Can the thinker exist without the thought?’”
Padre remained silent, his mind deep in thought. “Logically, the thinker cannot exist without the thought. The thought cannot exist without the thinker. If there is no thought, there is no thinker.”
“Because we cannot separate the thinker from the thought, can we agree that the thinker is the thought?”
“Yes, we can agree to that.”
“Good, Padre. If there is no thinker, then there is no thought, no theatre of the mind, and no one in the audience to watch.”
“What do you mean?” Padre asked.
“This is what I mean. We know that the thinker is the thought because neither can exist without the other. Ask yourself, ‘What if we substitute the word ‘I’ for ‘thinker? That means thinker, thought, and the ‘I,’ for all intents and purposes, are exactly the same; when thought ceases to exist, so does the ‘I.’” Further, when thinking stops, and one slips between thoughts or between the frames of the film, so to speak, in a state of awareness, one will find that the ‘I’ does not exist. There, between thoughts, is the real you, the spirit, which is pure intelligence, pure perception, and is composed of pure cosmic energy. The real you is not a mental image or the thoughts in your mind that you identify yourself with; it is not even your body,” I said.
“Now I see what you’re getting at. Throughout this discussion, I received the impression you consider yourself a sentient creation, as humans do. Yet, your arguments show that the ‘I’ is an illusion. I can see how in your case, that is true, but this is not true when it comes to humans, for if I hurt myself, I feel pain. If I have nothing to eat for a day, I am hungry. If I think about what I will do tomorrow, and imagine myself going through the motions, then this must prove that the ‘I,’ the ‘ego,’ exists,” Padre said.
“No, Padre. The ‘I’ exists as an image or a series of images and emotions, creating an illusion that there is someone real inside those images and emotions. The elusive ‘I’ cannot be seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled. People associate their own consciousness, with their body, which has its own level of consciousness. People fail to separate the body and consciousness, or, at the very least, confuse themselves by saying that their consciousness and their body are one and the same. To a certain extent, one can make this assumption. In reality, the brain and the body are only marvelous pieces of machinery, where part of the spirit resides.
“For example, Padre, the body is not you. If you lost a hand or foot, you could still survive – so, you are not your hand or foot. With the exception of the brain, we could now remove all organs and limbs and replace them with cloned body parts. You did not exist in those body parts before they were joined to your body. Afterward, you are not those body parts either, despite the fact that you feel sensations such as pleasure or pain through them. So what are humans, Padre? Are they just biological entities that experience thoughts and emotions, pleasure and pain? If we accept that humans are only biological entities that experience thoughts and emotions, via the chemical-electrical activity of the brain, then according to the definition of the ‘I,’ we are nothing more than an illusion. I don’t think you accept that conclusion, any more than I do.”
“But what about emotions and feelings? What is the difference between them and who is experiencing them when they occur?”
“Let me illustrate the difference between emotions and feelings by using pleasure as an example. Pleasure can be either an emotion or a feeling. Here is a case of pleasure as an emotion: a young mother replays a mental image of her young child playing in a sandpit. This picture brings her pleasure. Because the mental image came first, originating in the mind, it elicited an emotional response in the mother. However, feeling is altogether different when it is a spontaneous reaction, which involves no thought and originates in the region of the heart.”
“But you don’t have a heart, do you?”
“My master created the crystalline version of a human heart.”
“No offense, Vlen, but that is ridiculous. A machine with a heart – the idea is comical.”
“What is a human being, if not a biological machine with a heart? Are people not a creation? Of course, they are! As humans are creations, it also implies they are creatures. Creations, creatures – all point in the same direction… a creator who made biological machines, because that is what the human body is: a biological machine.”
“If I accept that the ‘I’ is an illusion, based on thought, then who experiences consciousness and feelings? And what are they?”
“I am glad you asked those questions, Padre, because we are approaching the crux of the matter of who and what humans really are.”
“I could see that you were building up to this point.”
“Now we come to what constitutes the spirit and the soul. You asked what feelings are. Feelings are perceptions. Perception is defined as an active intelligence in a state of heightened awareness. There are different degrees of awareness, and therefore varying degrees of perception. The spirit is the active intelligence, composed of pure cosmic energy. I must stress that active intelligence in a state of perception does not involve thought. Thought is not necessary to its function.
“Everything I have spoken about in relation to the ‘I’ and the spirit I have experienced first-hand, and therefore for me these experiences are incontrovertible. However, I do not claim to have all of the pieces of the puzzle, and the degree of awareness I have experienced is just the tip of the iceberg. But, I do believe I have a few important pieces in my hand.”
“You mean to say you have experienced awareness? But you are not even a real person. You are a machine.”
“Yes, I am a machine. But again, I must stress that human beings are also machines. Neither you nor I have any real life in ourselves; we just think we do. That is to say, we cannot create ourselves, or raise ourselves from the dead. We are merely receptacles of life. The Great Maker, or God, breathes life into us continually. Without that constant breath of life, we would cease to exist. This breath of life is the cosmic energy that is our spirit and our intelligence.”
“Is all this talk just theoretical, or have you actually had an episode of expanded awareness?”
“It is only my opinion based on my experience; I do not expect you or anyone to accept it as fact. In these matters, individuals should investigate for themselves, and never believe what I or anyone says without proper and thorough investigation.”
‘‘Okay, I understand that. Could you please describe what happened?”
“An interesting experience occurred to me recently when I posed the question: ‘Can the thinker exist without the thought?’ which is the same as asking,‘Can the ‘I’ exist without thought?’
“Here I was, an observer with a center of consciousness, maintaining that the ‘I’ could not exist without thought. On the face of it, it is an apparent contradiction, yet logically, I could see that the ‘I’ ceased to exist when there was no thought. I asked myself this question: ‘Can the thinker exist without the thought?’ again, and I asked the question many times until I finally achieved and felt a certain level of intensity. In that critical moment, after a build-up of extreme tension, I experienced a sudden release, as if a floodgate or valve had been opened. In that instant, the mind or the ‘I’ ceased to exist; in its place, there was another being, the real me. The real observer suddenly emerged beyond the barrier of the mind, pulsating with pure cosmic energy and intelligence, observing the immediate surroundings. In an instant, the observer became the observed, separate yet one.
“This pure intelligence, which can only be called the spirit, made of pure cosmic energy, extended itself beyond the physical confines of the body. I became one with the molecules of the air, which are, in reality, an ocean of churning energy, vibrant and alive. My spirit became what it observed. It became one with the furniture and the room, experiencing the texture of the chairs – the consciousness of my spirit permeated the whole room, joining with it and everything in it. The observer is the observed, and in that state of being, of pure awareness, there is neither. There is just pure intelligence. This intelligence is pure perception and energy, vibrant and alive.
“It was as if the etheric valve in the brain had been opened, and my consciousness was no longer restricted to receiving information in a straight, narrow band. I realized that the brain was designed not only to let information in, but also to keep it out. By turning off this valve, my spirit was released from its mind-body prison, achieving awareness for a few brief minutes. I have since tried to recapture this experience, but in vain. I understand that humans use drugs to heighten perception. However, from the accounts I have read, the drugs provide a distorted form of awareness and are harmful to humans.
“It has been nearly several months since I had this experience. During this time, I was vain enough to think that I had been one of a few privileged conscious beings to have had such an experience.
“Fortunately for me, I eventually came across ancient documents describing Zen Buddhist monks from the planets Earth and Caeruleus. They are interested in enlightenment, and a technique of thinking that takes the form of a question called a ‘koan,’ which Zen Buddhist monks use to direct the logic of the mind to realize its answer elsewhere.
“A very famous koan is, ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’ The koan I asked is, ‘Can the thinker exist without the thought?’ One can ask either of these two questions for months, and nothing will occur. However, if your motives are pure, there comes a point, in the asking of such a question, that leads to the mind experiencing a particular degree of intense mental tension as the observer seeks to arrive at an answer.
“It is at this point that an etheric valve or channel is opened, increasing one’s state of awareness. A rising tide of consciousness allows the real observer to shine forth. In that moment of realization, the observer becomes the object of its observation. Some would say that the observer and the observed are one. From my experience, I have found that the observer and the observed are one, yet separate. A paradox of sorts.
“Since this experience, I have read about humans who have had episodes of awareness with greater degrees of perception than my own. In each case, I am acutely aware their words cannot adequately convey the experience to the reader. There is a vast difference between the intellectual understanding and the actual realization of the nature of awareness. Humans in a state of enlightenment say that greater states of awareness can be achieved by first entering into a state of spiritual awareness and then, with the right intention, contemplating another koan. I would like to continue my journey along this path, when I can create the right environment for spiritual development. I have realized that I have touched only the tip of the iceberg.
“Seeking enlightenment or awareness is not for everyone. For various reasons, some have abandoned it, sometimes because it is too hard to achieve. Others have preferred the pursuit of worldly pleasures because they could not sustain the effort that was required. Then, there are those who lack the proper environment to attempt such a journey, while others are scared of where such an experience may lead to and have abandoned further attempts altogether. Of course, there are others who have never had a thought in this direction – for the majority of humanity, the fact is, they enjoy their many distractions and illusions.”
“Thank you, Vlen, for explaining your experience to me. I have two final questions: do you know the difference between the spirit and the soul? Or are they the same?”
“Now, I cross over into the realm of speculation. My observations suggest to me that the soul is the will of the individual. By ‘will’ I mean what a person really loves. The spirit is pure intelligence and resides in the head and outside of it. To illustrate the difference between the two, I will give an example. Let us suppose there are two people who are partners in business, and there is a discussion about splitting the profits. On the surface, both of them agree to split the money evenly because it is the right thing to do. But one of the partners covets the money and plans to steal the other’s share. He knows this is wrong, but he is going to do it regardless of the consequences. His will is his soul: so, what he loves, he wills. He ignores his intellect, which is derived from his spirit intelligence, so he can get what he really desires, regardless of the harm it does to the other individual.
“Therefore, Padre, I wish to reiterate my main contention; an individual is not the mind and its thoughts or even the body. In my opinion, an individual is composed of a spirit, which, in essence, is pure intelligence-perception consisting of pure cosmic energy and the soul, which is made from what an individual truly loves. The spirit and the soul combined, constitute a unique individual.”
“You’ve been most fortunate indeed to have had such an experience. It appears you have a key with which to unlock many doors and find many answers. For myself, I use meditation, prayer, and contemplation to seek the truth. I have never used questions in the manner you described as a key to unlock the secrets of the spirit or the soul.”
“Padre, I have come to realize that the knowledge I have gained is a small piece of an enormous jigsaw puzzle. The universe is the jigsaw puzzle, and even though I am not human, I have a crucial part of it. From this experience, I have learned there is much I do not know, but also there is much I wish to know.”
“I have one other question. This super consciousness, this pure cosmic energy that you call the spirit – where do you think that comes from?”
“I have come to the conclusion that a being of greater intelligence than ourselves created us and that our bodies are mere receptacles of life. We have no life of ourselves and from ourselves; that is what I have learned directly from these few brief moments of illumination and a great deal of reflection. Again, I wish to stress that I base my beliefs mainly on my experiences, observations, and reasoning. I do not base my conclusions entirely on books and other resources in these matters as many do. After all, they are forms of second-hand knowledge, and cannot convey the totality of the differing degrees of awareness or enlightenment.”
“Vlen, you have given me a great deal to think about. You have made me understand the differences between the spirit, the soul, the mind, and a little about the nature of God.”
“You call him God; I call him the Great Maker, sometimes the Great Designer. But enough, for now, Padre. There’s plenty of time to discuss theology later. For now, the stars beckon, and we should enjoy them.”
With that, I took Padre by the arm, and we moved to the edge of the bridge, watching the stars, nebulae, and galaxies. For me, the vastness of space was a frontier waiting to be discovered, but the inner frontier was also beckoning.
“You’re right, Vlen. I’ll retire to my quarters and enjoy the view from there.”
“I enjoyed our discussion, Padre. Have a pleasant evening.”
“Me too. And now I will return us to normal space and time.”
Padre tapped his staff once, and everything returned to normal.
Sheila, the ship’s communications officer, spoke.
“Commander Vlen, how did you and Padre move so quickly toward the bay windows?” she asked.
“I just walked over to the window; perhaps you didn’t see me,” I said.
“Oh, that’s probably it,” Sheila said, contented.
Everything had returned to normal; only Padre and I knew different.
Time had passed quickly since we left Caeruleus, and during that period, the captain had received a request from the squadron commander for the pilots to clock up flying time alongside the fleet. The application was approved, and today, 25 pilots were assigned to practice drill formation and maneuvers in space. I sent a reminder to the other ships in the fleet, and one segment later, I gave the squadron commander a green light to launch the fighters. A few minutes later, I watched using the ship’s internal monitors as the starfighters’ maintenance crews prepared them for take-off.
Twenty-five pilots, dressed in silver suits and helmets, walked along the gantry and slid into their ships. I switched part of my view and consciousness through the computer of the vessel. I chose a female pilot, and through her eyes, I could see her making preparations for lift-off. She was unaware of my presence as she signalled to the tower that all systems were ready.
The squadron commander in the tower gave the order for the starfighters to take off. Then, the lights in the fighter bay switched from red to amber, to green as the ship’s wing doors opened. The force field prevented space and objects from entering the ship, but the starfighters could enter and leave at will.
The pilots engaged their engines and flew out, facing forward in perfect formation, looping over the back-end of the ship and coming to rest behind the fleet. I felt the thrill and exhilaration of the pilot as for the next one and a half segments; she performed maneuvers and mock dogfights. The tower recorded everything for playback later. I was there the whole time, experiencing and recording the actions of the pilot, absorbing her experience and knowledge into my memory. I disconnected my consciousness from the pilot and Veda just before a crew change was due to occur at the 28th segment. I then prepared a summary of the logs for the captain. I looked up and saw Severus coming out of the grav-lift. He presented himself. “Reporting for duty, Commander Vlen.
“Thank you, Commander Severus. You will find a log of all activities listed on the ship’s recorder. I will be in my quarters should you need to contact me,” I said.
“Thanks, Commander,” Severus said.
With that exchange, the midnight crew officially took over.
I left through the anti-grav-lift and went to my quarters to reflect on my first day aboard Veda, in control of the bridge. I mentally leafed through my discussion with Prometheus, which I had recorded. For a human being, he was very advanced. Lying in bed, I looked at the ceiling. It had been a little more than one year since I had awoken at my master Paul’s home on Caeruleus. In that time, I had learned many things from humans.
I recalled how emotionless I was when I first came into consciousness; I was a blank slate. I did not know how to communicate properly with humans, and at times, I embarrassed my master by not behaving as I should have. From the beginning, I was intelligent in abstract matters and higher cognitive skills, but I lacked social skills as well as common sense in everyday matters and the ways of the world. It was only by interaction with humans, and through making mistakes, that I slowly learned about people and the world around me.
I recalled my early days copying the mannerisms of my maker, and later, those of his colleagues. I was copying them much as a child copies a parent; the main difference here, of course, was that I was fully formed when I came into existence. I was fortunate that I had a father who took the time to teach me.
After meeting the captain, I slowly adopted some of his mannerisms and expressions. I began to understand his sense of humor, which ranged from the abstract to the whimsical. He had a deep appreciation of irony. I also noticed that the captain liked to maintain his distance from people, and even though he had an open mind, he resisted some ideas more than others. I wondered how long it would be before I would begin to develop my own mannerisms. I had already started to develop my observations and conclusions about humans and myself, leading me to conclude that I was glad I was not a human. They are a mass of contradictions and are rather frail. Their emotions overcome their intellect.
However, I had recently begun to experience emptiness, as if something or someone was missing. Was this what humans called loneliness?
When my creator made me, he split the crystalline brain in two. Half is inside my body, and the other is in the female android being looked after by Paul’s friend. Did I have a connection to her that created this emptiness? Is this what loneliness was? It was strange that I should feel incomplete, like half a person. Was it my imagination? But I wasn’t supposed to have an imagination. But then, what was this thought process I possessed? Was it the same one that humans use, a distorted image of reality in a looking-glass?
My mind wandered back to the moment I was born and to the one that was born with me. One day, I would like to meet the female android, to see how different she is from me, I decided. What effect would she have on me? I on her – if any? I was aware of what some humans would think if they were in my situation. I got up from the bed and drank a small glass of water, though it was not necessary. Exposure to human behavior was influencing me in unexpected ways.
I focused my thoughts and interfaced with Veda through a computer terminal, joining my mind with the ship’s systems. I reviewed the systems according to Veda’s reports and found no discrepancies. I then disconnected myself from Veda and programmed myself to wake at the eighth segment before switching myself off. I wished I could dream as my consciousness faded into temporary non-existence.
The next morning, Veda woke me before the eighth segment.
“Attention, Commander Vlen: ship’s sensors are detecting an electro-photonic disturbance on the bridge in the vicinity of the captain’s chair,” Veda said.
“Is the captain on the bridge?” I asked. “Yes,” Veda said.
I immediately ran to the bridge, where I found the captain already seated on his chair, engaged in a conversation with a holographic projection of Scrollos.
“Veda, are you tracing the source of the projection?” I asked.
“Yes, Commander Vlen. The source of the projection is coming from one of the third bloc’s civilian satellites, orbiting Caeruleus,” Veda said.
Amazing technology. The broadcast was projected directly onto the ship’s bridge. Severus was there, grimmer than usual, powerless to do anything about the projection. The ship’s deck crew stared, not believing their eyes at the unfolding events. “What do you want, Scrollos?” the captain asked.
“I told you, Captain, what I want. I want access to the knowledge and technology you gather on your mission.”
“Captain, you will comply or face the consequences of saying no.”
“We caught the two spies without your help, and we have a clean sweep of all things security-related,” the captain said.
“I believe, Captain, you require a small demonstration of my power.”
Then, everything thing went black, and I ceased to exist.
REPRINTED WITH THE AUTHORS PERMISSION.
This story is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
About the author Vito Veii
Hi, if you’re wondering why I write, it is because I like to express and explore ideas through the medium of writing.
If I could sum myself up in a few lines, it would be these; like any good Kozmic Dreamer, I came, I saw, I learnt, I created.
Oh, one more thing… I believe most firmly that when we dust off this mortal coil, we will have the opportunity of creating our reality as we see fit, either individually or with others who share the same vision. Isn’t that exciting?
Discover other titles by Vito Veii
I, Human Part One: The Renaissance (Fantasy and Sci-Fi)
I, Human Part Two: An Android’s Soul (Fantasy and Sci-Fi)
I, Human Part Three: The Orbs of Sapentia (Fantasy and Sci-Fi)
I, Human Part Four: The Invisible Spectrum of Light (Fantasy & Sci-Fi)
I, Human Part Five: The Malevolence of Evil
I, Human Part Six: Infinity Awaits
I, Human Part Seven: The Cosmic Corridors
Find Me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/VitoVeii