Jump to content

Meeting of the Minds On An Exponential Level


Recommended Posts



"Excuse me, Mister... I apologize, I am not sure what pronoun or honorific to use with you...?"  The woman let the words dangle in air.  Strong.  Tall.  Confident.  And suddenly just there, where no one had been in the waiting area.  She was what someone who imagine as a member of AEGIS.  "I am Ms. Nameth, I'll be serving as liaison, I apologize for the suddenness that this happening.  There were some natural concerns, though I believe we found an... individual who fits your needs."  There was not a hint being betrayed by the brown haired woman in the navy pantsuit.


"Please follow me, we decided it was best that this be conducted in a secure room."  Not that they had to go far, just a few feet to a nondescript door, which she opened, and gestured inward, to brightly lit room that looked like an interrogation room, with the flat broad table and two seats across each other.  "Can we get you anything to eat or drink?"

Link to comment

""We are the Speaker." Dol-Druth's eyes were round, black buttons, staring out from a corpse-pale mound of smooth flesh, exaggeratedly large next to his pursed, thin mouth and broad nose. Whatever chin his skeleton had was lost, and by the looks of it long ago, in the shapeless mass that extended from massive shoulders to terminate in slender, sensitive antennae. "We need no title. We are not the Star Knight Sri Jay-Miï."


Brushing off some quasi-imagined dust from an iridescent beige suit he added, sourly grinding voice adding considerable depth of distaste "We also find most of your food and drink unpalatable. We ate a pile of fungus before we arrived taller than you."


The enormous alien had to stoop and go sideways to make it through the door, bending until he could collapse into a chair with a sigh of relief. "Regardless we thank you for the kind and gracious hospitality, Ms. Nameth. We eagerly await discourse with this youth, and hope for a productive and mutually beneficial interview. Our Speaker will be at their most self-suppressed. We understand the need for security and preservation of secrets in lonemind civilizations, much as we despise such behavior." Missing from the planet inspector's usual ensemble was the silvery frazzer and his chunky suitcase, containing his personal dataset. A weapon and unknown recording device here would have been beyond the pale.


The flat black voids flickered a little, maybe blinking "We await the meeting at your pleasure, Nameth."

Edited by Ari
Link to comment



Agent Nameth looked at him, at it, at they?  This was not her specialty.  She dealt with assets, those of the bent like the person who was coming her.  She almost felt sorry for the alien, but it was decided that Elias was the best choice because there was no sensitive material that could be exposed by him.  If she was annoyed at this, or anything, it didn't show.  In the slightest.  "I will leave you then, he will be here shortly I imagine, he has been briefed in broad strokes.  I hope you find what you're looking for."  And with that, she turned and left the room.


And then nothing.  It was quiet in the largely featureless room, it was an interrogation/interview room, so it wasn't designed entirely for comfort, at least this one wasn't.  Twenty minutes later there was no one else who came to the room.  A beat after that time, and the door opened, and in came the subject for this.


Elias wore dark jeans and a hoodie, with a vest with numerous patches and pockets and all of that. It made him look at odds with someone who might be here.  He moved to the chair across from him, and he pulled the chair out, and then slowly sat down across from Speaker, Elias never bothered lifting his head to look at the alien.  He made a sound in his throat indicating a hello


Link to comment

"We are Dotrae, we wish to understand you. We have heard," Dol-Druth broke in without noticing the atmosphere "that you have transferred from an authoritarian state dominated by exceptionals to this one, significantly less so and dominated by more common humans. Our representative hss argued against that being worth exploring, a singular case, a minor anecdote in the broader scheme, but we feel otherwise."


The Speaker relaxed against the back of the chair...then thought better of it when it creaked warningly in protest. 


"We ask that you describe your adaption to this new environment, what has helped and what has hindered you. We believe this maybe helpful in evaluating the general trend of your species' direction by the Guild of Seers. It may even be relevant to future assessments, which have been stalled since the Incursion War."


The alien's antennae twitched "If you think telepathic contact would be more efficient or helpful, we will accept a temporary merge."

Link to comment

"Define evaluating."  It was then that his eyes focused onto Speaker, the weight of his scrutiny immediate and pressing, cutting, piercing.  He was chewing gum, the heavy mint scent probably enough for him to notice.


"Current circumstances dictate that telepathic contact is not... beneficial."  He had been avoiding using that since he was... freed.  There were still echoes in his mind, and other things.  Of course, this was to be expected.  His expression was flat, his tone distant in a manner that was less like others of his species that Speaker had encountered.  He had been told little, but then he might have rejected it had he known.

Link to comment

"You are doubtless aware of the trial this organization was placed on, as representatives of Earth." Shifting like a settling mountain, the Speaker's eyes glazed over just a little "We and our civilization were not involved, save as audience, but Questor the Judge Eternal seemed satisfied."


The alien shrugged expansively, ignoring the audible complaints of his suit "We decided to schedule another overview of your species' major traits, its societal changes, its mental and physical idiosyncrasies. That, to us, is evaluation. Those are what we focus on when trying to answer the question 'should these people join us?'"


"We understand there is a misconception that advance in technological sophistication plays a part. That has never concerned us, or any other Lor planet inspector." Supporting himself a little on the table, gingerly so as not to make it tip, Dol-Druth concluded "Again, we wish to understand you. Will you tell us about yourself?"

Link to comment

He blinked a bit and he looked at the... alien.  Representative?  "I wasn't aware."  It was a simple statement but true.  He didn't know anything about interstellar politics, "I am not a member of any organization."


He leaned back, and placed a coin on the tablet, and he started to fidget with it, looking at it all the while his eyes narrowing more than a little bit, as he watched that.  "I can't.  Not in a way that you will understand, even with telepathic communication."  Lifting his head as he looked up at Dol-Druth.  "You will not make the sacrifice necessary to understand.  But that was likely why you were selected.  Just like I was selected because it would be hard for me to lose myself in a group mind."

He took the coin in both hands and he made a sharp motion with them, pulling them apart and leaving the coin spinning before him.  

Link to comment

"If you tell us, we will not understand, that is true. But we will later. Why you left, how you have changed, why you do what you do, it will become comprehensible as we gather more data." Dol-Druth's eyes refocused "It was not so long ago, as we consider things, when we of Dotrae saw everyone else and each other as food. Our memories would live on, our selves would survive, so what did it matter if we ate each other? And others we could not speak to or understand, so it did not seem terribly important if we devoured them also. But then one day we did understand. We reached out our many minds to a world and really tried to contact them. Purely dumb animal curiosity, but it worked. For the first time we saw each other and ourselves as others had seen us for thousands of years."


The chair creaked despairingly under the alien's weight. "An anecdote, but approximately four hundred and thirty-one other such efforts have found us allies, resources and information we would have never have obtained otherwise."


"It may seem a small thing to you. Pointlessly small. Clicking your palette and twisting your lips and vibrating your chords to a fat alien bureaucrat. But as we recall one of your lonemind scientists, when asked what use his crude aero-buoyancy device had, he replied "What use is a new-born baby?"."


"We request that you try."

Link to comment

Elias looked at him flatly, though there seemed to be no other expression the young man had, "That is a logical bias, and you know it.  Each circumstance, each situation is unique.  Humanity doesn't have a species level homogeneity.  Point of fact assuming that there is a homogeneity of variance among us is wrong.  Our hallucinations deviate from each other based on what our cultural and societal roots are."


He leaned back in his chair as he stared at him, "I had no choice.  I had no choice as to why I am in this city, or why I am speaking to you.  They don't know what to do with me.  So I am here.  Waiting until I am deemed an benefit or a liability."


Link to comment

"You are very calm about it, for a juvenile. But we suppose you have no choice there, either. Humans habitually fear outsiders to their systems and take any excuse to demonize what they do not understand. You must accept this or be worse off. A common thread."


"Just as this room, the woman who spoke to us, the organization which rules here, all connected to similar global phenomena. There are spies in every country, every nation works to hoard the highest level of technology, but this 'AEGIS' combines those obsessions in a way unique to this landmass. There are different, even opposing organizations, but all in some way a branch of this stem. Even the 'UNISON' we wait to speak with."


"Are these similarities, to you, merely superficial and misleading? According to our research they speak to a unity of belief. Even your fellow exceptionals tend to gather in secretive cliques or clans and drip-feed their discoveries, if they share them at all."

Link to comment

"We are a tribal culture, it's part biological imperative, from the roots of being hunter gathers with pocket populations."  He shrugged a little bit, "In each isolation the people respond to their environment, adapt, and work towards survival and then flourishing.  Sometimes we have a hard time stepping out of the limitations of that perspective."


He leaned back in his chair, playing with the coin, as he turned his head to look away from Dol-Druth, eyes focused elsewhere and head tilting like he was listening to something.  "There are anecdotes to draw, but you can research that.  Our triumphs and failings, the history is there.  I have been offworld, the experience was unkind.  So I know that we are not unique among the various species."


Then he smiled softly, "You want to know, though, about the other things...  I don't have answers, or rather... the answers you feel you need.  There are..."  He trailed off, his eyes searching in space.

Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...

"Biological imperatives last as long as an environment supports them. You have changed as much as we have and will change more. But it is not enough for us to just collect data. Data can be misleading and we believe in free will independent of such "imperatives". Hunger, thirst, sexual drives, curiosity, all impulses can be resisted. Even pain."


Dol-Druth was staring at nothing, his face having long ceased to hold any unified expression. Elias' gaze was disconcerting and Dol-Druth had excused himself to help his comrade on Magna-Lor deal with paperwork for a small mission to a recently-discovered 'Korus', which had miraculously avoided all contact with the Republic and the Communion before now. There were reports that a biosig similar to Terrestrials hadbeen found, which opened entirely too many questions to remain on Earth.


"We admit, part of this meeting-of-minds is to gather more perspectives on the...other thing you mention. You refuse to speak of them, again with the claim we misunderstand ourselves. We then ask: you know you know this? You have proof? Rhetorical, physical, philosophical, anecdotal? We will extend the courtesy of assuming you know your own mind."


"As well, if you will not speak of that, will you also refuse to tell us what hope this planet has against New Freedom? Why you have chosen to leave what is statistically likely to be the winner of this geopolitical epoch?"

Link to comment

"No.  I am able to speak of them, I cannot... show you it.  I cannot promise your safety."  He trailed off again.


"For you the chorus of others, especially your own people, is part of your structure.  We are not.  Whatever capacity and empathy, whatever bond we have, we are still one in many.  Not the many in one.  Our minds cannot accommodate such.  I was bred to have powers.  I had them early.  Possibly as soon as my mind developed in the womb."  He tilted his head and his eyes turned and focused, they judged, they weighed, examined, dissected Dol-Druth.  "Have you known silence from your people?  A lack of that connection?"


And then he leaned forwards, on his elbows, his expression flat, "Would you be willing to take the risk of what that could mean to you sense of identity, just for the sake of empiricism?  Would the rest trust you?  Would they understand you?  Are they going to hide the truths to those questions, because a loss, a damage to you is nothing compared to the whole, and the knowledge is a net greater benefit to the whole than the loss of a minor sensory appendage?"  As he spoke his power roiled and pressed, like the weight of being submerged a great depth in an ocean.  Elias' face was not there.  There was many Elias' before him.  There was silence.  And a susurrus.  The pressure kept up.  growing.

Like that it stopped.  They were in the room after all.  The human rocked back in his seat.

"That is why I don't want you to touch my mind.  I... didn't want that."  A frown on his face, as he looked down at his hands, moving the coin in his thumb and forefingers, slowly.  "I can tell when your elsewhere.  There is a shift in you.  I am not just a telepath, I am an empath.  They say I have Hyperthymesia, though it applied to my other abilities as well.   Apparently...  That isn't the point, the point is that I cannot promise that I will be able to communicate in a manner that would be beneficial.  And touching those experiences...  I cannot let you do that.  But... we can talk.  Have you read Orwell?"

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

There was a deliberate silence, something deep in Dol-Druth's black eyes shifting and changing as billions of minds passed through its brain. To Errant it was like the soft rustling of deer padding invisibly by.


"We apologize. We did not anticipate it would matter which of us you spoke to. Dol-Druth is returned."


"Each new member of our race is isolated from the manymind until their brain and reception apparatus has sufficiently matured." The alien twitched his antennae. "Otherwise, until death there is no separation. It is necessary for developing a sense of self, but afterwards is of little use. Yes, if losing Dol-Druth was more useful than not, we would give him up. I would not object. But we appreciate your empathy. We would likely not feel the same."


We have read all of your authors. We are aware of the dystopias and their wider context. What part do you refer to? The policing of thought? The revisionism of history? The bent of human society to the needs of perpetual war? Some other facet?"

Link to comment


There was a thin smile for a moment, and from someone as apt as Elias to not show expression it might have more weight then normal.  Even Dol-Duth would know this was abnormal, even if the human was reading him like a proverbial open book.  "Control of the populace.  Most similar constructs is North Korea, or fiction.  Huxley is a better example of how to actually control a populace.  Of course, we do not share a species wide culture... so maybe the greatest analogue to my experience is... your own.  I was just a piece to be used by stated 'larger' things.  Whether they're people or governments."


He shifted back in his chair, and that smile was still there, still thin.  Wan. 


"My mother decided she did not wish to be a piece, and that I would not be one as well.  My father was no longer an individual so much as an extent of the greater machinery."  He brought his hands together and rested them on the table.  "I know what drives that machine, it isn't tenable.  It can create control, bu it's just the illusion of control."

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

"We would argue that the illusion is all that the leading clique needs. Admiration and fear of superhumans does the rest. We have seen this even in Republic Space, in the nigh-worship of the Assembly of Prophets and the acclaim given the mentat you call Mindforce. Regardless of their actual success they are honored like gods."


Reaching into his suitcase, Dol-Druth withdrew a sandwich heavy with mushrooms, settling against the table to eat. Glancing up at Elias he added "We brought more, if you are also hungry. Drink too, some of your planet's water." 


"We feel our Speaker's perspective gives us a proper evaluation. He relies on us for his power and authority but we need the singular focus he provides us. Is it dissimilar in New Freedom?"


Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...

Elias' focus snapped onto him then, it might be unnerving, if he tried to be unnerving.  But it was definitively singular.  "No, it isn't enough.  An illusion is a two party solution.  It must be maintained again and again by one party, and the other party has to continue to believe it."


He stopped what he was saying, and he leaned close.  If Elias was perturbed by the alien, he didn't show it.  "All power anyone has over another is that.  An illusion.  Once you don't accept it, it goes away.  New Freedom's grasp is ephemeral because it is based on fear, even for the group it says is the better.  Fear beats people down, and eventually, they can't be beat down anymore.  Eventually they have no hope.  Eventually there is no fear, no despair.  Because they can't take.  Anymore.  From.  You."  Whatever mask the young man had was stripped away.  These was anger.


It wasn't just his.  It was the anger honed in the dim light of despair.  Rage subsumed from all the people around him.  It shimmered around him, through him, not the expected fire one would associate with anger, instead an absolute chill.  Crystalline and clear..  "Do you get to tune them out?  Do you get to forget everyone you touch?"

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

"No. Even death does not make that possible." Dol-Druth settled with a groaning creak of plastic and aluminum, a tongue as dark as old blood sliding out to clean his lips "Individual brains may forget, but the shared experience persists forever. It has made our recovery from the Incursion War difficult. If pressed we could recount the entirety of our existence as Dotrae, the only gaps are those who temporarily severed themselves. A difficult, painful process, cause for suspicion. Our blndness to the last Speaker's treachery is a blight on that record of vigilance."


"Before we understood, we kept...you would call them "farms". [Ceti Alpha II, Delta Serpentis XLVIII, Gamma Draconis I], planets with high population replacement rates Dotrae's hyperspace link  us to. If we had never attempted mental contact with others we might still keep them. The relevant portion of this era was the relative ease with which organisms come to accept their surroundings and circumstances. They all gave up fighting. Meaningfully. Resistance always exists where there is pressure, but effective resistance is another thing. Some of them would be taken onto the icy tomb by us, they merely hoped it was not them."


"We think that extends to this planet. According to the records of your Freedom League, there exist and have existed several states under whose rule life was grinding, fearful and with little or no hope. But humans adapted to them, only a few left and few states were overthrown or abandoned. The elasticity and variety so admired in the Senate is, to our eyes, a trap."


"We are afraid what is done overtly in your sourthern continent will be done covertly all over this planet. Humans are animals, just like us(a comforting commonality) and will do what seems in their best interests. What is more beneficial than letting the exceptionals rule? Already, they are forgetting the event in 2011 when an exceptional caused havoc across the Earth by their power and influence. Hundreds perished. They have since been replaced many times over."


"We feel we are talking past each other. You have reason to expect Harper's regime  will not last. That its iron grip will break its own fingers?"

Link to comment


"Rule is always by the exceptional, whether or not the person has abilities beyond others.  Sometimes they're the most ambitious, intelligent, or resourceful, but always exceptional."  He said it simply and with certainty.  "But the ruled must give their consent.  It's just fractious for us.  Not so much for you."


"Grind sand, and keep squeezing, and you're left with a handful of nothing.  That's what will happen.  Their leadership is fueled by fear and self-interest.  Even... exceptionals are tools to be used for the designs of others."


There was a pause then as he looked away.  When it came back to the Dotrae, the gaze was probing, working, analyzing.


"Failing that, I will kill her."

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

"We wish you unmarred decision-making, should that become necessary. We would offer to help, but our Oath of Office forbids it."


Holding a container of water up to his forehead, Dol-Druth dipped his antennae in it, then began cleaning his face with them as he went on "If you can kill her. This illustrates, we believe, the perils inherent to the adulation and intemperate worship of individual might. You are, we condede, correct in that unusual skill and/or ability is desirable and historically dependable in sifting good leaders from ineffective ones. However, it is the difference between a man who can eat poisons without much harm and one who can exclusively eat dirt and still live forever."


"In due time, our government will be changed by the selection of a new Praetor. It is assumed that neither is an excep-hm, no, a meta." The bulging alien scowled as the unfamiliar word scrawled across its tongue. "Were either a mentat, or found to be one, they would be disqualified, for reasons we hope are obvious. On this planet, humans have become more or less comfortable with the idea of far-off nations being led by superhumans, like Soqotra or New Freedom. On their televisions and in their public life, exceptionals are held up as nigh-infallible heroes or else clear and dastardly villains."


"If killing the Harper becomes necessary, do you believe it will become necessary to kill someone else, perhaps from this continent, for a similar end?"

Link to comment


"If it comes to that, yes.  New Freedom isn't like Soqotra, it's closest to North Korea.  In both cases they exist at the sufferance of others.  Striking out Harper would result on destabilization, the people under her would scramble to fill the void, but she's centered enough power in herself and played the other people against each other that it will just transition to others."


He spread his hands, "Your assertion about humanity are wrong, I think.  It is a species difference, and really... it's why I don't think I can understand your people.  Without my powers how I relate to another human is different than you would relate to another of your kind  I have enough ability to process apart from myself to understand that you aren't threatening us.  Even if your line of questioning, and how you are doing it, sounds like that to others."

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Dol-Druth's massive shoulders rose and fell, though at a sigh rather than a shrug "Yes, we have often made mistakes like that. When you instantly know what everyone else is thinking for most of your life, meeting others who can only guess at your motives is a shock."


"For instance, when somebody assassinates a head of state, even a noxious one like the Harper. We have learned, as, we assume, have you, about the many politically-motivated exceptional criminals who have made assassination attempts throughout recent history. You are prepared for personal demonization, misunderstanding, death. But afterwards?"


"We are not human, so we do not value human life like you do, like those on this planet do. But we know that on this planet killing each other is taboo outside of warfare or other rationales. In particular, exceptional powered humans killing people is taken as a much more serious act than a normal human. You are willing to accept the consequences others will face for this?"


Dol-Druth blinked, the far-off chorus Errant could feel humming just out of reach turning to something more harmonious, synchronized "We wish to know, because we desire something similar. Not death or vengeance but freedom, but we have no social or historical or cultural context for how this is done. For the last few of your centuries we have just been the Empire and now the Republic's workforce, we have never been anything else, never wanted anything else. That has changed."

Link to comment

There was a tilt to the head, then he shook his head a little bit.  "We excuse murder by soldiers, say it's war, and there is a difference.  There isn't.  Have you been in the mind of someone when they kill, when they died, both sides of the coin?  It's all just hypocrisy.  Lies and rationalizations people tell themselves to feel better."  He lapsed into silence then, and then was a hum, as he stroked at his left forearm.


He rocked in his seat slowly, almost to a rhythm as he let his eyes close.  His attention elsewhere.


It ended abruptly, as he stilled.  "I don't have illusions, I don't... have a belief that I have a greater ethical or moral understanding."  His attention locked onto Drol-Druth, and he was looking at him, but more, to them.  "I know the quicksilver change a heart and a mind can go through.  I know the look and the sense of betrayal that happens when you can't live up to the ideal someone else has of you.  I know I can't shut them or the memories out."



Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

"Then we see one thing the same." Dotrae sounded relieved "We have...seen many, many deaths. Every occasion, every variety, every burst of sensation heralding the end."


"It is hard to hold those and maintain our momentum. Worst in the Incursion. But if we did not move on, it would have been even harder for those forced to carry the burden. Afterwards we gathered and wondered if it would be better to forget some of them. We looked for some unimportant deaths to discard first." The alien paused, regarding the middle space before them. To any observers, the tableau was weirdly comical. "We could not do it. Not for lack of trying, or lack of desire, or lack of focus, but it was simply, physically, impossible. We had never tried before, but to find that was not even a choice..."


"We say again, we do not value human life, except in the very abstract, but we can at least understand this common feeling."


"You are set on this, then. We have a request."


Dol-Druth extended a hand and met Errant's eyes "Will you let us carry your memories up to this time? We do not often meet loneminds so free of self-deception and we would treasure a fuller understanding of you."

Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...

There was a slow frown on Elias' face as he regarded the alien.  The human's eyes were piercing in the way that he seemed to never not be seeking, searching.  "That is not wise.  As I said, I've been damaged.  Someone shoved wires and other things in there."


His eyes narrowed, and he turned his head, his jaw clenching and unclenching.  Then came a slow breath, "Let's do this then."  Eyes closing as he focused on the roiling pit his powers had become, collapsing in on themselves in the wake of Horatio's 'experiments' on him.

Link to comment
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...