Friday, July 31, 2009

Entry 34

Blaue! Bring un shier raus!” Ven shouted in German at seemingly no one. John let go of me, though I held onto his hand just in case my legs gave out on me.

Alls wϋrde ich auf deinen Befehl warten, um daz su machen,” a definitely female voice retorted. Since I did not understand her words or Ven’s response, I simply looked about the chamber we seemed to have escaped into.

It seemed to be a storage area. A few metallic boxes were scattered here and there. The walls, floor, and ceiling were all the same dreary gray color and seemed to not come to a corner anywhere, as if the walls simply curved gently into the floor and ceiling. Ven stood in the middle, glaring at one of the walls severely while speaking rapidly in German to a disembodied female voice. I wondered if this gray room was part of his ship, and if the female was the pilot.

My heart was still thudding a million miles an hour, so I moved to sit on one of the metallic boxes. Before I could rest my feet, Ven suddenly said, “Carlee!” I jumped to my feet, feeling slightly guilty as if sitting on a box was somehow wrong.

“We don’t want to sit down here,” Ven continued. “Follow me. If you’re tired, I’ll take you to the room where you will be staying.”

“Is this your ship?” I asked, unimpressed with what I had seen so far.

“Yes,” Ven said, pride filling his voice. He smiled at me, which stunned me completely. His smile made him twice as handsome as normal. It was the first time I had seen him smile. He was the most handsome man I had ever seen in my life. “Would you like to meet her?”

“Your ship is a person?” I responded, baffled.

Blaue! Komm her. Wir haben Geste,” Ven exclaimed.

“Guests! I love guests!” the feminine voice spoke in English for the first time as the air between us and Ven shimmered. The shimmer solidified into a tall, lovely woman. She had unearthly beautiful looks and seemed fit enough to run a marathon. Her hair was long, thick, and pale blue, matching her pale blue eyes. Her skin was extremely pale, almost albino, and she wore a form fitting outfit the exact same shade of blue as her hair and eyes. All in all, she looked very fair and blue.

“Carlee,” Ven said smiling brightly at the apparition. “This is my ship, Der Blaue Stern. Blaue, this is our guest, Carlee Earhart.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Carlee,” the woman said with a bow in my direction. Her light eyes flickered to John. “This must be your android.”

“I am John Earhart,” John agreed, analyzing the woman with his dark blue eyes.

“Oh, an android,” the woman laughed, glancing back at Ven with a mischievous glint in her light eyes. “This is going to be a most fun trip.” Ven frowned at her in response. The woman made a face at him and then turned back to me.

“I’m confused,” I admitted. “How is she your ship?”

“It is confusing. Ven forgets that,” the woman said. “I am the Artificial Cognizant of this ship, Der Blaue Stern. I am essentially the ship’s software, and I am inseparable from the actual ship itself. A ship’s Artificial Cognizant is an integral system, and without me, this ship cannot function. I am the most important system on this ship.”

“She’s rather arrogant about her position,” Ven pointed out, smiling again. The woman ignored him.

“You may call me Blaue,” she continued. “It’s what Ven calls me. It really is a pleasure to meet you. It’s so nice to have guests on board.” She smiled brightly at both John and me.

“Guest,” Ven corrected. “We have one guest. So Carlee, would you like a tour of the ship?”

“Should we not be, I don’t know, in the cockpit flying away from this place as if our life depends on it?” I asked, uncertain that we were as safe as Ven’s relaxed manner seemed to indicate we were.

“Do not fret, Carlee,” Blaue said. “The moment the hatch was safely closed I took you safely out of the star system. I believe the anthropologists’ security network is trying to follow us, but Ven and I are veterans at this sort of thing. I have plotted a course in hyperspace that backtracks quite a few times and takes us close to a few gravitational anomalies. They will never be able to track us. We are quite safe.”

“That’s my girl,” Ven said with a proud smile for the woman. She smiled back as if his praise was the highest in the world. I stared at them both, completely confused and baffled. But we had escaped, and I guessed that was all that really mattered.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Entry 33

Now I don’t really curse, and I do consider “hell” a curse word. Therefore, I want you to understand that when I say “all hell broke loose”, I’m not saying this lightly as if “hell” is a word I drop every day. I need you to understand that I really mean total insanity, complete confusion, utter fear, and pure panic occurred. I believe insanity plus confusion plus fear plus panic equals hell, so yes in short all hell did break loose.

Lime green lights flooded the halls, turning the white walls eye achingly bright. A siren so high that I felt it in my teeth screamed through my ears. Formidable, metallic machines seemed to appear out of nowhere with their own lime green lights and sirens. Aliens stopped what they were doing and retreated to the walls, to make way for the robots which seemed intent on only one thing: us.

Ven shouted something I could not hear over the wailing siren as he sprinted down the hall. John grabbed my hand and nearly pulled my arm out of socket as he took off after the older man. I managed to find my feet and ran helplessly after John. I knew my brother could run much faster than me and that he was holding back, but as it was I felt like I was getting pulled faster than I could make my legs go.

Images of Ven’s face were displayed on the walls, alerting every anthropologists as to just exactly who the culprit was. Some of the aliens who saw us shouted and moved as if to stop us. Ven simply sprinted past them, and John pushed them away, his superhuman strength overcoming even the largest of aliens.

The machines with alarms and sirens turned out to be security robots which moved on one large ball. They streaked through the hall after us, and I feared they would easily catch us. Surely there were some in the hall up ahead that we were simply going to run into, unable to escape as they enclosed in on us. Or perhaps they did not have to catch up with us. Perhaps their metal bodies contained stun guns that could stop our escape from a distance.

I saw Ven press his hand to his ear again and shout something. Suddenly the robots’ alarms stopped, their lights turned off. The metal machines skidded to a halt without catching up to us.

The other alarms immediately increased in intensity, and a loud voice began to speak in a language I could not understand. The aliens we passed immediately sprang into action, trying to stop us, as if the voice had given them complete permission.

To my shock and somewhat horror, Ven pulled what looked like a gun out of his jacket. He pointed it at the anthropologists as he ran. I saw no laser and heard no zap, but the anthropologists would suddenly crumple to the ground, lifeless. My feet slowed as I realized that Ven was probably killing them, but John would not let me stop running. His grip on my hand was merciless, and I had no choice but to keep up.

Ahead I finally saw the end of the hallway. A small door marked with lime green lettering seemed to be the exit Ven was talking about. Upon seeing the door, the man began to run faster, as if before he had merely been jogging. I did not think I could run faster, and clearly John realized the same thing. My android brother jerked on my arm painfully, pulling me up into his arms. He ran at full speed while carrying me. I just clung to him, wishing I was free from this awful place.

The door opened before we reached it, as if by magic, though I was sure it was technology that had done the trick. On the other side of the door I could see what seemed to be a massive blue wall made from what looked like coral. However, as Ven neared the door, the blue coral disappeared, revealing a chamber.

Ven leapt through the door and into the chamber. John was only seconds after him. Once we were in, the wall behind us closed the hole, cutting short the sirens and the angry lime green lights.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Entry 32

I stared at Ven, speechless. The entire day he had been so firm in the fact that we were not taking John with us. He had lectured me, ordered me, and told me that we were not going to escape if we tried to free John. He had told me it was not part of his job and that the human colony would not allow it. How could he change his mind so completely?

“What?” I exclaimed, then I hastily added, “Not that I’m arguing. Just curious.”

“I’ve talked it over with my ship,” Ven responded to my confusion. His ship? “She reminded me that I am allowed to take an android if it means smooth transition of the sentient lifeform. I have an entire spaceflight to show you it’s just a machine. We don’t need to argue about this here in the den of danger.” It made sense to me, definitely more logical, but it did not make Ven Barker make any sense. He had just referred to his ship as a “she”, and yet he called my brother an “it”.

“Sounds reasonable,” John said, causing Ven to give him a sharp look.

“Listen, android,” Ven said derisively. “I am the leader here. I know what is going on. You will listen to me. If I have to, I will shut you down, leave you here, sedate Carlee, and take her away. Do you understand? You will not get in my way.” I bristled. No one talked to my brother in such a way! However, John remained calm.

“I understand, Mr. Barker,” John answered. “This is your operation.”

“Good,” Ven answered. “Now, Carlee, how fast can you run?”

“Run?” I repeated. “I’m not much of an athlete.” Marching band was certainly always a workout, but I had never enjoyed running or other physical activities. “I was never in track or anything.”

“Carlee, when I disconnect your android from the main frame our only hope of escaping is running to the nearest exit and jumping onto my ship,” Ven said. “I need to know you can do that.”I bit my lip, not liking the idea that our lives depended on me being able to run fast enough.

“She can do it,” John said with more confidence than it felt. “If everything depends on it, she can do it.” Ven ignored John and continued to stare at me. I nodded, agreeing that I would be able to run.

“Ok,” Ven said. “Now the moment we take your android out of this room, it will alert the SecCog, so there is no point in trying to find the android appropriate clothes. What we will do is make sure we’re at the edge of the doorway before we disconnect it. Then at the end of this hall is an emergency exit to the outside. We have to run, as fast as we can, and my ship should be waiting for us there.”

“What are our chances of escaping?” I asked.

“Not very high without a distraction,” Ven answered. “The SecCog can immobilize us in seconds. However, my ship was talked to the Artificial Cognizant we spoke with earlier and it has agreed to help.”

“Your ship can talk?” I asked dumbly. Surely I should have been more concerned about the plan, and less concerned about small absurdities like talking ships.

“My ship’s Artificial Cognizant can,” Ven responded. “Now, do you both understand the plan?”

“Run straight down the hall to an exit door,” John repeated. “I think we’ve got it.” John may have had it, but my mind was determined not to think to hard about it. I was keeping my fingers crossed that the adrenaline rush would carry me through this.

“Good,” Ven said. “Now get ready. Follow me to the door. Don’t bring attention to yourselves.” Ven began to walk towards the door, and John followed him. I stuck close to John, afraid to let him wander too far from myself.

Some of the aliens looked up at us as we passed by, as if wondering what we were doing, but then they went back to their own work. For all they knew we were testing John’s walking capabilities. We were perfectly within our rights, as long as we did not take him out of the room.

Ven stopped outside the door and looked at us, his face calm and impassive. His beautiful dark eyes analyzed me as if wondering if I really could run fast enough. He then turned his gaze to John.

“Alright, android,” Ven said. “Are you ready?” John nodded, his expression resolute.

Ven uttered something in a language I could not understand, and suddenly all hell broke loose.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Entry 31

“This is most unusual,” Ven muttered to himself. He pressed his hand to his left ear and said, “Blaue, wir haben ien Problem.” It sounded like German. My years of French were not going to help me understand whatever it was he was saying.

“Don’t worry, John,” I said softly to my brother. “I won’t leave you.”

“Who is he?” John responded. “Other than Ven Barker. How do you know we can trust him?”

“I don’t,” I answered. “He says he was sent by people who are against the Society of Anthropologists, that he’s freed many people like me. He says he is here to free me and take me to the human colony. But he’s very against androids. Seems to think you aren’t a person.”

“Well, I’m not exactly,” John answered. He turned and looked down at me in his stern big brother manner. “Carlee, if it comes down to a choice of you escaping without me or us both being captive, I want you to escape without me.”

“What!” I exclaimed, looking at him in surprise. “John, I’m not leaving you. Not ever.” Did he not understand the risks I took just to find him? For goodness sake, I had bit Ven. I had run head long, alone into the headquarters of the very people who wanted to hold me captive. After all that fear and uncertainty, I was quite ready to be in the comforting safety of my brother’s presences. I was certainly not going to leave him.

“Carlee,” John said. “You are more important than I am. I want you to be free…”

“Don’t be stupid, John,” I answered. “You’re going to let me go off with this man neither of us trusts and hope I can be free and safe? For all we know he’s going to sell me into slavery. No, you’re coming with me.” That silenced John. I did not really think Ven was going to sell me into slavery. He seemed like a decent enough guy, even if he was ridiculously obstinate about the whole android thing. However, my argument raised the point in John’s mind that I was not safe anywhere without him, which was exactly what I wanted him to think. I was not leaving him behind. Not a chance.

“Ok,” John responded. “But he’s right, you know. I don’t have any way out of this place, and I can’t think of any way we’ll escape the Security Cognizant.” I nodded, wondering about that myself.

“There was this other Cognizant who said he would be willing to distract the Security Cognizant,” I said. “I wonder if I can get back in touch with him and if he would still be willing to help.”

“What other Cognizant?” John asked with a frown.

“An informational one,” I answered. “He’s the one who told us where you are, and he knew who I was and who Ven was. He said he would be willing to help, that is he would be willing to distract the Security Cognizant.”

“Why would a Cognizant that works for the Society offer that?” John said. “That doesn’t make sense, Carlee.”

“Nothing in this place makes sense,” I answered. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, John.” He shot me an annoyed glance.

“It’s not exactly Oz either,” he said. “This universe is a dangerous place. People, androids, and cognizants don’t offer to help without getting something out of it themselves.” I should have been annoyed with John for thinking I was too young to realize that everyone has a motive. However, I was still too happy at having found him to be annoyed.

“Alright,” Ven suddenly declared in English. For the past few minutes he had been carrying on a conversation with himself – or whoever he was talking to through his ear – in German. “We’re taking the android with us.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

Entry 30

“John!” I cried, holding him tightly. “John, are you alright?”

“I’m fine, though a little damaged,” John answered. “Carlee, how are you? Have they treated you alright? They haven’t hurt you, have they?”

“No,” I answered, pulling back. I wiped the tears off my cheeks and looked at John. I could not help but smile now that I knew he was alright. “They put me in a holodeck and made me think I was at home. I thought it was real, though it was weird that Algebra II was being taught more like you would teach it.”

“It’s because they would have used my memories of Algebra II to create it, since you know nothing about Algebra II,” John said. “Are you sure you’re alright?” His eyes scanned me as if looking for bodily injuries. It made me wonder if John could see more than any human could. Maybe his eyes could X-ray me and check the status of my bones.

“I’m fine,” I insisted. “It’s you I’ve been worried about. I didn’t think I would be able to find you.”

“I didn’t think I would ever wake up again,” John answered, fear briefly entering his eyes. It was rare John showed fear, but I could imagine that an android would fear death. Most humans held the comforting thought that their soul would go to an afterlife. But did androids have souls? Or were they simply turned off forever? “Thank you for finding me, Carlee.”

“Well, I did not do it alone,” I said. I glanced at Ven. “John Earhart, meet Ven Barker.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” John said automatically, as he studied the older man suspiciously. Ven did not deem John worthy of a response. He looked at me.

“Say your goodbyes, Carlee,” Ven said. At his words, I edged away from him and closer to John. My brother got the hint and stood, blocking Ven from me.

“There will be no goodbyes, Mr. Barker,” John responded. “Thank you for returning my sister to me.”

“Carlee, if this is your plan, this is stupid,” Ven said, still not addressing John. “Your android has no ship, no way of getting you off of this planet. The moment your android is disconnected from the main frame, the Security Cognizant will be notified. It will track you down. There is nowhere on this planet you can go that it cannot find you. The moment you walk out of this room everyone will see that it is an android and know that something is wrong. Its synthetic skin is peeled back and it’s barely wearing any covering. This is not how androids are moved about. People will know something is wrong and try to stop you.” He looked at John contemptuously. “Do you, little android, think you can fight the Security Cognizant and its forces and the entire Society?”

“No,” John answered simply. “I have no intention of fighting anyone. I presume you have a ship?” Ven rolled his eyes and glanced back towards me.

“Carlee, we’ve had this discussion,” Ven said. “We’re leaving the android.”

“No.” I rose to my feet but stayed behind John. He could protect me from Ven. Ven may have been taller than John, but I was positive than an android was stronger than any man. “I’m not leaving without my brother.”

“Can’t you see it’s not a person?” Ven asked, a perplexed expression covering his face. “Carlee, when we got here it was off. I had to turn it on. Like a machine. Its skin is peeled back, and it’s not bleeding or dead. It’s clearly not human. How could you feel any attachment for it anymore?”

“Do you really think that is what makes John my brother?” I answered, as confused by him as he was by me. “It was never the idea that John was human, flesh and blood, that made me love him. Can’t you understand Ven? He’s all I have. I need him. He’s my brother.”

Question Break Answers 6

Another weekend on Earth gone past, another question asked! This week's question asked by anonymous is:

Since I know you somehow manage to get John out (as you refer to him being on the ship currently) I am sorely wondering how you got it past Ven; however, I suppose you're getting to that in due time so I shall be patient. On a lighter note, I am curious to know what gadget(s) you've seen in your travels that strike you as particularly interesting/novel. Anything come to mind you'd like to share? I'm going to go out on a limb and assume androids are not something you would classify as a gadget.

Don't worry. The whole how I amazingly connived to get Ven to let me take John into space will be told this week. Or rather....well, you'll see soon enough. I don't want to spoil it here. I'm very tempted to, but I won't. You'll just have to live in anticipation a few days longer.

On the gadgets/technology side of things, you're right. I don't consider androids a "gadget". However, they are major feats of technology. Somehow the universe has created synthetic sentients that can't really be distinguished from organic sentients. It's amazing.

The spaceships out here are phenomonal. You have no idea. Blaue is probably the second most amazing feat of techology (second to androids of course). She's amazing. I mean, she flies herself. Ven may be "captain" but that just means that he has absolute final say. Blaue listens to Ven about as often as John listens to me, which is never.

(John resents that comment. He says he always listens to me. He just doesn't act on everything I say.)

But spaceships aren't really gadgety and you'll get to know Blaue better in the coming entries. So what other cool gadgets have I seen?

I suppose when you say gadget you're thinking handheld device sort of like James Bond might have, but the crazy thing about the universe is that only crazy purists (like Ven) have handheld devices. Everyone else implants their devices. I'm not sure I'll ever be brave enough to except an implant, which might label me a "purist" too, but my feelings about androids would make me an impure purist.

Anyway, implants. People add implants to like their eyes. This makes their eyes better, able to zoom in on far away things, and also enables them to take photos with their eyes. Anything they see, they can take a picture of. Also works the same with video, so pretty much anyone could be recording you at anytime and you wouldn't know it because they're using their eyes. It's wild. Makes for great spies I guess.

Some people implant their interfaces with their Artificial Cognizants into their brains, so they can just think at their Artificial Cognizants and get things done. Of course, not everyone has an Artificial Cognizant. Some just connect to more basic computer interfaces. It's sort of like they're connected to the internet at all time, which makes it very disconcerting when people totally like google you when you introduce yourself. Sort of goes like this:

Me to an alien I don't know: Hey I'm Carlee Earhart.

Alien: You mean the girl who broke out of the Society?

Me: Uh......Yeah?

It's very disconcerting.

Let's see...other cool gadgets.

Ven's sedative is pretty cool, but that's coming later in the story...I don't want to give anything away.

That's the problem with telling you about cool gadgets. Most of the ones I know are things that I've encountered through Ven and our adventures in space. So in short, I'm going to make you wait in anticipation for the cooler gadgets.

Sorry about that.

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Question Break 6

It's another Saturday on Earth and therefore another question/summary day. So the summary is.....

I met my first Artificial Cognizant, which told us how to get to John.

Ven keeps trying to convince me that we're leaving John behind.

We found John laying lifeless in what seems to be an android storage room.

Ven turned John on.

So surely you guys know the drill by now. Ask me anything and I will answer it. Well, maybe not anything. Some stuff is personal, you know, and some stuff I just don't know. But if I don't know I will outsource to John or Blaue (not Ven, he's not very willing to help answer questions for this blog. He thinks this entire blog is a bad idea).

So any questions? Ask away!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Entry 29

“John.” His name fell from my lips as I raced to his side. I took his fully fleshed right hand into my own hands and looked anxiously into his lifeless face. I was sure that the aliens examining another android’s joints were the ones who had peeled back his skin. I hated them for it. I wanted to run over there and beat them both senseless, but I knew that would not help me free him. “Oh, John. Wake up. Wake up.”

“It’s inactive, Carlee.” Ven’s tone was puzzled. “They’re just holding the body here until they can properly process it after the symposium.” I was not listening to Ven. I was staring at my brother with tear filled eyes. He looked so dead, so lifeless. Yet I knew he was alive. Somewhere embedded into his program was a command that would wake him up, or perhaps on his body was a button that would turn him on. But I did not know how to do it. I did not know how to wake him up.

I put down his right hand and moved to his left side. I began to pull his skin down his arm, but as soon as I touched it my stomach roiled. It felt so much like real skin. Just thinking about it made me nauseous. But I had to fix John. I had to do what I could. I fought down my nausea and began to pull his skin down his arm.

“What are you doing?” Ven asked, clearly puzzled as he kneeled down beside me.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” I demanded, as I stretched out the fingers of his skin. I was going to have to pick up his skinless hand to fit his fingers into the skin. Hesitantly I reached out and touched the muscled extremity. To my surprise his muscles did not feel gooey or wet. Instead they were smooth and dry. They gave under my touch like those plastic things full of colored water and little plastic fish you can buy back on Earth. Surprisingly, I was able to handle touching his muscle easier than I was able to handle touching his skin.

“It looks like you’re trying to fix it,” Ven said as I put his fingers back into his skin.

“That would be because I am,” I answered. “Surely even an android deserves a little dignity.”

“As long as it’s dignity you’re worried about leaving it in,” Ven responded. “We’re not taking it, with or without dignity.” I did not answer, hoping Ven would not take my silence as an opportunity to stick me with the sedative.

“Can we turn him on, Ven?” I asked, looking up at him with tears in my eyes. “Are you at least going to let me say goodbye to him?” If I could turn John on, John would be able to keep Ven from sedating me. We then would be able to escape.

“I’m not sure if that’s allowed,” Ven said, troubled and puzzled by my behavior. “Let me ask.” He rose to his feet and moved towards one of the groups of aliens. He addressed them in a strange language that I could not even imagine imitating, let alone understanding.
I turned back to John as Ven talked. If I had my sewing kit, I could have sewn John’s hand back together where it was cut along the palm. As it was, I just had to hope the fingers would hold it on. There was little I could for the other joints without a thread and needle. I wondered if John knew how to repair himself. Surely his skin would grow back properly as long as it was stitched. I did not know how android skin worked.

Ven came back to my side and said, “The Anthropologists say we are allowed to turn the androids on as long as we don’t disconnect them from the mainframe or take them from the room.” Both were things I was planning on doing, though I could not see how John was connected to the mainframe. I could see no cords running from him, or any place where anything plugged into him.

“Turn him on, please,” I said in a small voice, hoping to convince Ven I was completely hopeless and subjugated.

Ven complied, uttering something in a language I did not understand. John’s eyes immediately lit up, searching about until they landed on me. He then sat up with surprise on his face and pulled me into a bear hug. “Carlee!” he exclaimed. “I thought I had lost you!”

Upon hearing my brother, seeing him alive, and being in his embrace, I could not help myself. I burst into tears.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Entry 28

“And I need you to understand, Mr. Holier-Than-Thou Barker, that nothing you can say will persuade me to leave my brother here in this prison,” I retorted.

“If I was not so sure that seeing that your android truly is an android would change your mind about this brother business, I would think taking you here is a mistake,” Ven sighed. “Carlee, if you try anything I will take my sedative and knock you out. Do you understand?” I bit my lip, nodding, though I had no intention of leaving John behind. I just had to figure out a better way than simply grabbing him and running. If only Ven would help. With his knowledge of the Society of Anthropologists surely we could pull it off.

“How can you be so certain that doing this will change my feelings about him?” I asked as we resumed walking.

“I’ve done this before,” he answered. “And even before that I watched others do this. Trust me. Once you realize that your so-called brother is nothing more than a machine, your feelings will change.” I wondered how many times Ven had done this for humans specifically. I wonder if he could even begin to fathom the bond I had with John. Or maybe he just did not realize the stock modern Earthlings put in anything they viewed as part of their family. I would not be willing to leave behind my family dog, let alone my brother.

Or maybe he just underestimated the stubbornness of a fifteen year old girl.

Finally Ven stopped outside of a set of doors. He paused, gave me one last stern “don’t-mess-anything-up” look, and then passed through the doors. I followed, nervous and unsure. I had never exactly had to hatch an escape plan before, and I still had no idea how I would free John.

I entered the room, expecting a hospital room environment with John lying on a table; however, that was not quite what I saw.

Bodies scattered the room. I was sure it made organizational sense to someone, but to me it made none. It was as if this was just an android body storage area. Some of the androids were laid out on the floor, while aliens kneeled close to examine them. Other androids were sitting on stools, slumped over like marionettes without strings. Two aliens were holding an android up between them, moving the arms as if testing the joint flexibility. The room struck me as a graveyard, which was frightening. The androids looked just like regular aliens to me, other than their lifelessness. For all I knew these were just dead alien bodies.

Ven stopped, his eyes scanning the room. I did the same thing, looking about for my brother. Ven caught sight of him before I did, for he tapped me and motioned for me to follow him.

I tried to glance around Ven to see John, but Ven is so much larger than me. There was not exactly a lot of room for me to move around. We skirted around the lifeless androids and the aliens, who were studying them.

“Remember,” Ven said softly to me as we walked. “It’s not alive. It’s just an android. It can’t feel pain. It doesn’t know fear of death. It’s just a machine.” I did not respond, knowing that nothing Ven could say would convince me that John was not alive. I had fifteen years of life with John to ground my thoughts and feelings in. I had only known Ven for a few hours. I certainly was not going to trust Ven over John.

Ven then stepped off at an angle, and my eyes fell on my big brother.

John lay discarded in a corner, like a forgotten doll. He was propped against the wall, so he was sitting up, but he was on the floor instead of a chair. His brown eyes stared lifelessly into nothing, and his entire face was slack without emotion. The only clothes he retained were his undershorts, leaving him very exposed and naked in such a cold room. All of the skin on his left hand had been peeled back, revealing clear muscles, through which his metallic bones could easily be seen. The skin on his left hand ringed his lower arm, like a sleeve someone had pulled back though the skin from the fingers awkwardly fell away. The skin on his left elbow, left shoulder, right knee, and right foot had also been peeled back, as if someone had been studying all of his joints. No human could ever survive such a thing without bleeding to death, but John was not bleeding, as if turning him off turned off his blood. All in all he looked very inhuman, and yet very much like my brother in need of my help.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Entry 27

“We are freeing John,” I said firmly. “I will not leave him. Why won’t you understand? I won’t leave John.” I stared angrily at Ven, who met my gaze evenly.

“We do not need any further assistance, Cognizant,” Ven said. “Thank you for directing us to the android.” Ven then grabbed my elbow and dragged me off the platform. The Cognizant winked out of existence.

“Let go of me!” I shouted, pulling away from the man. Some nearby anthropologists looked at us but raised voices seemed to be a common occurrence in the atrium. Several aliens nearby seemed to be yelling at each other.

“Carlee, calm down,” Ven said in his insufferably superior tone, as if twenty was so much older than sixteen.

“I will not calm down, Ven,” I answered. “Please lead me to my brother. Once we find him, you can leave me and escape on your ship. John will get me out of here.” Ven grabbed me firmly by the shoulders and made me look at him. I glared angrily at him, thinking I might just bite his other arm.

“I cannot leave you,” Ven responded. “I could get fired for something like that. Taking your android is way too dangerous, Carlee. Do you not realize it? Did you not listen to the Cognizant? The SecCog will get us if we try to take him.” I refused to be confused by his use of terms I did not understand.

“I don’t care,” I answered. “I don’t care about any SecCogs or Cognizants. I only care about John. Do you understand? He is all that matters to me. I will not leave without him. Ever. Nothing could ever make me abandon him. Nothing.”

“We shall not discuss this until after you have seen your android,” Ven said. “Come on.” He let go of me and took off walking. I followed. I needed him to lead me to John. Once I was with John, everything would be alright.

Being so close to finding John added a skip to my step. I wanted to race ahead of Ven and find him, but I did not know where I was going.

We left the atrium through a pair of double doors. The doors were larger than any doors I had ever seen: easily twenty feet high and ten feet wide each. They seemed like they would be too heavy for us to push open. However, Ven barely pushed against the door and it opened.

Less aliens filled this hall, and the aliens who did walk through it were quieter, talking in whispers. I felt like I was in a hospital ward.

I tried to pay attention to the twists and turns of the route we took. I wanted to be able to make my own getaway, without Ven. However, as I’ve mentioned before directions are far from my strength. We took so many twists and turns that I was quickly lost.

“We’re getting close to where your android is, Carlee,” Ven said in a hushed tone. “The room will undoubtedly have others in it. We can look, we can even touch, but you cannot attempt to rescue your android. No, Carlee, don’t say anything.” Ven stopped abruptly and turned to look at me.

“I need you to understand this,” Ven said. “We cannot free your android. The moment you try to do something not allowed, the Security Cognizant will know. The Society wants me very badly for freeing several of their specimens, like you. Should the SecCog identify me, I will be arrested, you will be put back in the zoo, and none of us, including your android, will be free. Do you understand? We cannot free your android.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Entry 26

“So where exactly is my brother?” I asked, bringing attention back to me. The Cognizant smiled at me sympathetically.

“As I said before your android is in processing,” the Cognizant said. As he spoke a three dimensional layout of the building appeared in the air beside him. A lime green line appeared, snaking through the layout. Ven studied it carefully, while I stared at it with little comprehension.

“So they haven’t gotten rid of his body yet?” I asked, almost afraid of the answer.

“No, they have not,” the Cognizant answered. Relief filled me, and I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. John was going to be alright. “Since his return was not on schedule, the Anthropologists have not been as efficient processing him. Also since your arrival was just before the symposium, they spent all that time preparing for the symposium instead of processing your android.”

“Thank goodness,” I said.

“You intend to take him with you,” the Cognizant said, studying me.

“We’re not going to steal an android, Cognizant,” Ven responded.

“Actually, it would not be stealing,” the Cognizant replied. “By all accounts, John Earhart belongs to Miss Earhart.”

“We’re not taking the android with us,” Ven said with finality. However, I paid little attention to his tone. We were taking John with us. I could care less what Ven thought about the matter. Once I had John I would no longer need Ven. I could just leave him and escape with John.

“Do we have everything we need now to find John?” I asked, looking to Ven. He was still studying the map, but he nodded.

“Yes, the directions are more than adequate,” Ven answered. “Cognizant, I do not often try to get into the android area. Is there anything I need to know? Specifically about getting to this android and getting out again?”

“The androids are monitored by the Security Cognizant,” the Cognizant answered. “If you try to unplug John Earhart from the mainframe, the Security Cognizant will be aware.” He paused and smiled devilishly. “Unless you want my assistance, I can distract my sibling.”

“We do not plan on unplugging anything,” Ven said. “A quick in and out. We just want to look.”

“Well, looking is not forbidden,” the Cognizant answered, “and many people will be looking because of the symposium. If looking is all you’re doing, then the Security Cognizant will not be alerted. You had better be careful though, Mr. Barker. You are high on the list of my sibling’s priorities.”

“Does the Security Cognizant actively scan this area?” Ven asked. The Cognizant shook his head.

“Not during symposium,” he answered. “There are too many sentients here for my sibling to actively scan everyone. You should be fine.”

“Cognizant,” I spoke up. “If your brother is monitoring the androids, how can I escape with my brother?”

“My sibling,” he corrected. “We are genderless. And my sibling is very thorough in its job. But as I mentioned to Mr. Barker, I could assist you.”

“Why would you?” I asked, but Ven cut the Cognizant off. “It’s a moot point. We are not freeing her android.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

Entry 25

Fear clutched my heart, my mouth went dry, and my entire body tensed as if to run. How did this man know who I was? How did he know who Ven was? Had this all been a set up? I looked at Ven, who seemed very unconcerned.

“We need information, please, Cognizant,” Ven said, strangely respectful to this man who had found us out.

“Ven!” I hissed. “How does he know who we are?” Ven looked at me, momentarily perplexed.

“I often forget how little Earthlings know,” Ven said. “Carlee, this is the android building’s Artificial Cognizant.” He motioned to the man who bowed toward me in an Asian manner. “Cognizants know everything. It’s their job. However, because of the competitiveness of Anthropologists and the android industry, this particular Cognizant has a very serious and unbreakable confidentiality program. It knows who we all are, but it won’t tell anyone. It can’t. It’s not a Security Cognizant, just an informational one.”

“Why is he human?” I asked still unsure.

“I can answer for myself, Miss Earhart,” the man responded. “I appear in the form in of the sentient accessing me. In the case of you and Mr. Barker, that would be human.” I nodded, but I still felt very uneasy. This Artificial Cognizant knew who I was. Surely nothing good could come from that.

“How can I help you, Mr. Barker?” the Cognizant asked with a pleasant smile.

“We’re looking for the android assigned to Carlee Earhart,” Ven answered. “Will you tell us where it is being held?”

“Looking for androids?” the Cognizant seemed surprised. “This is not like you, Mr. Barker.” I wondered how much this Cognizant knew about Ven, how much he knew about me. Could something that knew so much really be trusted?

“Carlee has quite the attachment to her android,” Ven said with a sigh. “I’m trying to cure her of it.”

“He is my brother,” I responded defensively. The Cognizant gave me a sympathetic look, as if he understood exactly what I was feeling. I shifted uncomfortably under his knowing gaze.

“I know where the android designated as John Earhart is,” the Cognizant said. “He is still in processing.”

“It, Cognizant,” Ven said. “It is still in processing.” He gave the Cognizant a significant look.

“I am an ‘it’, Mr. Barker,” the Cognizant responded. “I have no gender, as I take on a form most acceptable to whoever accesses me: male, female, neuter, or any other gender. The android John Earhart, however, is created to be a male. Therefore, the pronoun ‘he’ is appropriate when applied to him. I am a Cognizant, Mr. Barker. I am never wrong.”

“It’s a matter of opinion,” Ven said with a scowl for the Cognizant. “It depends on your views.”

“I am a Cognizant,” it responded. “I have no opinion, only facts.”

“Yeah, and I’m an Earthling,” Ven said dryly, causing me to frown. Ven seemed comfortable and relaxed with this Cognizant, not at all like I imagined he would be with John. He seemed to be treating the Cognizant almost like an equal, something with opinions and thoughts. It seemed very contradictory to me. How could Ven detest androids so much and yet feel perfectly comfortable about a Cognizant?

Question Break Answers 5

Anonymous asks:

Have you noticed anything odd about Ven, in terms of his personality, that is due to his not growing up on Earth? I suppose it begs one to wonder how much of humanity is nature versus nurture. While John, an android, seemed in every way human (excepting the odd feat of superhuman strength), is there anything about Ven that seems somewhat out of place or unsettling?

Well, my anonymous friend, that is a good question. Have I noticed anything odd about Ven? I guess my first answer would be “are you kidding me? Yes?” but then you have to go and bring up this whole nature versus nurture thing. And you also seem to imply the question of whether John is more human than Ven by Earth standards. Such weighty questions! Makes me think my readers are way smarter than I am.

So I’ll take this one at a time.

Does Ven constantly surprise me with his oddness? Yes. He doesn’t understand my slang, he doesn’t get my cultural references, and he thinks everything I do is very backwards. He is unfazed by aliens who are so different from us that humans cannot communicate with them except through a complicated computer program that was developed by a species who happens to be capable of communicating with both humans and the other aliens; however, he has a most backward and ignorant view point when it comes to androids. He talks to his ship’s Artificial Cognizant like she’s a real person, but he treats John sort of like I treat my microwave. Is he different from me? Goodness yes. Would he be incredibly out of place on Earth? Yes. But at the core of your question, I think you’re asking me if he’s inhuman.

I think the answer to that is no.

Sometimes I don’t understand Ven. We have this insane cultural gap between us. But at the end of the day, I think he’s just human. He’s a human who was raised in an incredibly different environment, but he’s still human. Ven was raised on the human colony. For the most part he grew up around humans, of all different Earth cultures. These Earth cultures fused together and were influenced heavily by the cultures they encountered in the Universe through entertainment, trade, and vacations. This strange non-Earth culture does affect how Ven acts and behaves. But I wouldn’t call it unsettling or out of place when it comes to his humanity. Behind everything he does is a very human motivation.

In Ven’s mind, I’m the one who’s inhuman. Here I am prizing an android over his existence. I hold my android brother in higher regard than I hold any human. However, I think that’s human too. Some humans hold other human’s lives as the highest value. Other humans like trees better than they like people.

Does Ven unsettle me on a daily basis? Yes. Would he seem insanely out of place on Earth? Yes. But is he still human? Yes.

As to nature versus nurture, I think the core of Ven’s values would be the same whether on Earth or the edges of the Universe. He’s insanely loyal. He’s very intelligent. He’s too good looking for his own good. He takes his duty very seriously. And he loves his freedom. What is more human than that?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Question Break 5

It’s another question break guys! Before I get into the very involved, in depth summary, I have a small note. One of the readers who got to this party late made a pdf of the first twenty or so entries. So if you're late to the party as well and want to catch up without worrying about navigating the blog, then you should check out this link to his website. He also has it in a tex file there, but I don't know what that means, so I'm just going to recommend the pdf.

So the summary:

We’re navigating through the society, trying to stay unnoticed.

Ven is trying to convince me that John is just a toaster.

The strange man in the portal knows who we are.

So questions, thoughts, concerns?

I really am sorry about Thursday, but Friday’s post was over twice as long. I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Entry 24

Though aliens were traversing the air without problem, I expected Ven to plummet into the roaring waters beneath. It is one thing to see an alien do something. Aliens are so unreal that if I had seen them walking on water or swimming through space I would not have been surprised. However, as far as I knew Ven was completely human. Humans could not defy the laws of physics.

And yet Ven did not fall to his death. He stood on thin air, just like all the aliens.

“Of course there is a floor,” Ven answered. “It’s simply transparent. This is a hall like any other, with a floor, ceiling, and walls. Now come on, Carlee. We don’t want to bring attention to ourselves.” I stared at him, not comprehending for a moment, until I realized he had insinuated that my staring at him like an idiot might tip the anthropologists off that we did not belong. I certainly did not want to be recaught, so though it went against my better judgment, I stepped out onto nothing.

I held my breath, still not certain that I would not fall. However, nothing felt different from when I had been standing in the visible hall. Before I could even take a moment to adapt to this new situation, Ven grabbed my elbow and began to pull me along the hall.

“Standing and staring about like a tourist is going to give us away,” he said. “These sort of bridges and buildings are everywhere in the galaxy. It was all the rave about an Earth century ago when this area of the headquarters was built. It’s just a bridge between two buildings, between the lecture hall buildings and the android building.”

“So that building up there is where John is?” I asked, avoiding looking down and instead looking ahead to the domed white building that I could see aliens stepping in and out of.

“Yes,” Ven answered. “It is the building where they manufacture and process androids.” My eyes widened at that thought. It was a large building. It reminded me of the Georgia Dome in size. Surely the entire building could not be filled with androids.

“That’s a lot of androids,” I said.

“It’s only a fraction,” Ven responded. “Most of the androids are on planets. After the anthropologists recover an android from primitive world, they don’t keep its physical body for very long. They upload the information they need and store the hard drive, but they recycle the body. So most of the building is actually devoted to manufacturing the androids. The Society of Anthropologists is leading the industry right now.”

“That seems odd,” I said. “So do they sell androids?”

“Not usually, but occasionally as fundraisers they might sell the androids after their stint on primitive worlds to collectors,” Ven answered. “They will also custom make an android for anyone who is willing to ‘donate’ quite a lot to the Society. Most people just buy their androids from the usual industry manufacturers. The Anthropologists publish papers on the technology they create, and so it eventually leaks down into the regular industry.”

“So John is like top of the line?” I asked, becoming nervous. If their androids were so advanced, would they not have high security around them? Otherwise, their industry competitors could just steel an android to get their technology.

“Top of the line?” Ven repeated, clearly not understanding the phrase.

“He’s the best there is in android technology,” I clarified.

“Basically,” Ven answered with a shrug. “I’m not really up to date on the android industry.” He wouldn’t be, since he hated androids so much.

“Wait, you said earlier that they don’t keep the physical bodies long,” I suddenly realized. Yes, I know I was slow to process, but Ven was giving me a lot of information. My brain can only process so much. “Will they have destroyed John’s?”

“Depends,” Ven answered with a shrug. “As I’ve said: I am not an android expert.”

Panic began to spread through me. What if John’s body was destroyed? Would that mean he was dead? But they would have downloaded his hard drive. I have never been an expert on computers, but I guessed that a computer’s hard drive was something like its brain. If they did not destroy John’s brain, then did that mean he was still alive? If we could find his hard drive, perhaps we could find him a new body.

An image of John speaking from C-3PO’s body filled my mind as I thought of him getting a new body. Would John be the same person if he was in a different body? How much of the body determined who a person was? But John was not a person according to Ven. The stubborn non-Earth man insisted that John was just like a computer. When someone’s computer crashes, they recover all the files from the hard drive and get a new computer. It’s barely a blip on their radar except for how much money it costs. No one has moral qualms about replacing their computers.

Except John’s sci-fi fanatic friend. She always insists on naming each other her computers, and she contends that each computer seems to have a character of its own.

So if John’s brain was placed in another body, would it change his character?

Suddenly I was reminded of that episode of the original Star Trek where Spock has his brain stolen. His brain is transplanted into what is essentially a computer. However, whether in a computer or his body, Spock seemed to be the same exact unemotional, curious Vulcan. Strangely enough, that odd episode of Star Trek reassured me that John would be alright, as long as we could recover his hard drive. When I rescued John, I would have to thank him for forcing me to watch all those old episodes of Star Trek.

While lost in thought, we had entered the next domed building. I was no longer walking on nothing, which gave me back much of the confidence I had lost on the bridge. I followed Ven who walked purposefully, his dark eyes scanning the wall for a directory.

Ven found one easily, activating and studying it. I tried to study the map as well, but I could make neither heads nor tails of it. Maybe if it had been in English I would have stood a chance. Maybe.

“This is still a general directory,” Ven said with a frown. “Looks like they keep a more active system in charge of the androids. It’s better security that way. We’ll have to find the portal.”

“The portal?” I asked as Ven stepped away from the wall, the directory closing down.

“Yes,” Ven answered. “Passive systems like these directories are everywhere, but portals for the actively controlled systems are in very distinct places. Luckily the directory has directions to the portal.”

“So we’re going to have to talk to someone?” I asked. In my mind an “actively controlled system” translated to a system that was controlled by a person, like a secretary who was tasked with keeping track of all the androids.

“Not someone,” Ven responded. “Something. We’ll have to have a conversation with this building’s Artificial Cognizant.” My mind chewed on those words for a moment before I could begin to respond.

“Is that like an artificial intelligence?” I asked. “Isn’t that like an android?” I thought of that movie AI with Haley Joel Osment.

“No,” Ven answered. “Androids are considered in the class of ‘synthetic sentient’, though that term is hotly disputed. Many of us are trying to get the name changed to ‘synthetic cognizant’.” I frowned, not entirely understanding the semantic difference. I’m not sure I still do. I understand the argument, but I think the different is trivial.

“So what is an Artificial Cognizant?” I asked.

“You’ll see in a moment,” he answered. “The portal is up ahead.” He motioned ahead.

I looked and saw that the hall opened into a large atrium. Aliens stood about, talking in groups. Spaced about the room where five raised platforms. Some had an alien standing in them. The aliens on the platform studied the air intently and seemed to be talking to themselves. No one paid them any attention.

“Ah, an empty portal,” Ven said. He suddenly changed direction and headed towards one of the platforms. I held my tongue instead of arguing that we were heading to an empty platform. I was beginning to learn that the universe was a place I did not understand, and that things were not as they seemed.

Ven stepped onto one of the empty platforms, and I followed, sticking close to him.

Suddenly the air around us shimmered and a human male appeared before us. He looked completely average: average height, average build, black hair, brown eyes, tanned skin, and middle aged. It was as if someone had picked a stereotypical human male.

“Ven Barker,” the man said with a smile. “What brings you and our new specimen, Miss Earhart, to my portal?”

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I'm really, really, really, really sorry but there will be no new entry tonight. I know I'm a terrible blogger. I've made a promise to you to blog every Monday through Friday my adventures, leaving the weekends for questions, and here I am not blogging on a Thursday! How dare I! I'm horrified at myself. However, life happens, and today's life events kept me from composing any sort of real meaningful entry. I need to remember to write my blogs in advance so I can automatically post them. That's what Sundays are supposed to be for, but life has gotten a little hectic around here.

So no new entry today, but I can promise that tomorrow's blog will be double the pleasure, double the fun, but no doublemint gum will be involved. Tomorrow's blog will be twice the normal length. I promise. Cross my heart.

So I hope you have an excellent Thursday, and I really hope you are taking advantage of the fact that you live on Earth and going to see the new Harry Potter movie. I'm jealous.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Entry 23

I would like to take a moment to clarify Ven’s self-righteous, holier-than-thou, anti-android speech, mainly because I was confused when he said it. But I am telling you this story with hindsight and experience; therefore, I can clarify a few of Ven’s more confusing words.

Ven uses the words “sentient” and “sentients” like we might use “person” and “people” or “human” and “humans”. By “sentient” he means an organic, thinking life-form, such as humans, Ovleen, and the myriads of other creatures that populate the galaxy due to evolution or a divine plan, depending upon your views. Basically it refer to anything organically, biologically spawned, though it also includes test tube babies and products of genetic manipulation. So really it means “anything alive and thinking except androids”. By “de-sentientize” he means the same thing people mean when they say dehumanize. Got it? Good. Now let’s move on to my reaction to Ven’s passionate but horribly wrong speech.

“What did androids ever do to you?” I demanded, horribly offended on John’s behalf by his words.

“Their very existence is offensive to any intelligent sentient,” Ven answered.

“You sound like every other ignorant anti-technology hic,” I retorted. “John has done nothing but good for me. He has been the best big brother there is.”

“He has undoubtedly been better than any real human brother could ever be,” Ven responded, not even glancing at me as we moved through the halls of the building. “Therein lies the problem with androids. They put this idea of perfection in your head. You own this android you view as your brother, do you realize that? Of course it did everything you said. It has to. You are its owner. No real brother could ever be like. You now have an unreal, unnatural standard of what a brother, or a loved one should be like, and you are investing far too much of your emotions into something that isn’t even real.”

“A toaster is real,” I said, “and John is far more than a toaster. And isn’t better that I had a brother, android or human, than not having a brother at all?”

“No,” Ven answered. I simply stared at him appalled. He would rather I have spent my life alone. He would rather I had been without any family than my only family be an android.

“I am not leaving without John,” I said in a low fierce voice. “You need to get that through your thick head, Ven. I would rather be a captive here with John than be free without him on a human colony.”

“That’s because you still think it’s human,” Ven answered. “You’ll understand when I show you the truth.” I glared at him, angry that he would not even consider my words. Ven Barker was turning out to be quite the horrible hero.

I was about to say something smart and scathing, but we turned a corner and all thoughts of retorting left my mind. The white walls had disappeared and I was staring out at the planet the building was on.

The sky was a pale lavender, perturbed by puffy white clouds. I wondered what chemicals would create such a lovely color. Large domed white buildings glittered in the light of a small white star. Surely such a small star meant the outside world was freezing! However, what shocked me the most was the aliens who seemed to be walking on midair, stepping out of the building from which I watched onto air. They walked as if unfazed across nothing to the building across the way. Bellow them a fierce river which undoubtedly led to the waterfall roared by.

“Carlee, come on,” Ven said, glancing back at me when he realized I had stopped. One more step and he would be standing in mid air like the other aliens.

“Ven, there is no more floor,” I exclaimed. He simply gave me an exasperated look and stepped out onto nothing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Entry 22

Ven strolled through the halls of the Society of Anthropologists with confidence, as if he was one of the myriads of anthropologists who had every right to be present for the symposium. He had said he was part of the organization that worked against the Society’s ways, which made me wonder if this anti-anthropologist society taught classes in how to act like an anthropologist. I was sure I looked exactly like I was, an escaped Zoo specimen.

I was sure my clothes gave me away. I was wearing faded blue jeans, a green Johnny Cupcake’s shirt, and black Reeboks. I looked like any other American teenager. Ven’s outfit looked nothing like American style. I should have noticed that when he first rescued me, but I suppose I was distracted by his dashing looks. He wore a navy blue three-quarters sleeved jacket that seemed to be made of leather over a gray shirt. The shirt was nicer than a t-shirt but not quite the quality as a button up shirt. His slacks were black and seemed as durable as jeans, though I doubted they were denim. His shoes were bright red, as if to offset the drabness of the rest of his outfit. He would have stood out like a sore thumb on Earth – I mean really, who wears a three quarter’s sleeve jacket? – but in the hall of the Society of Anthropologists his outfit was one of the more tame. He fit in much better than I did. I was sure I would be caught.

“How much longer until we get there?” I could not help but ask. Ven looked back at me with a mixture of amusement and annoyance.

“We’ve barely been walking five minutes,” he answered. “Be patient, Carlee. You’re acting like you’re twelve.”

“I’m fifteen,” I retorted. “And I’m acting like any other fifteen-year-old would when she is worried about her big brother.” My words caused Ven to sigh and shake his head.

“It’s not your brother, Carlee,” he said. “I can’t express that enough. It’s just a machine. It’s not a person.”

Data is a person,” I snapped, causing Ven to frown.

“Data is definitely not a person,” he responded. “It’s a usually the results of science, experimentation, or analysis.” I did not bother to explain. I did not have time to explain Star Trek to a man who had never heard about it and who probably could not care less. I had a brother to save.

“Why are you so against me having my brother?” I asked. “Even if he is just an android, he’s still my possession, isn’t he? A person is allowed to have possessions. You have your ship.”

“Yes, a person is allowed to have possessions,” Ven said. “But the human colony does not allow androids. There are strict android regulations in the universe. The Android Acts, they’re called. You won’t be able to bring your android to the human colony.”

“Then I won’t go,” I responded, appalled. “Why would they not allow androids?”

“There are many reasons,” Ven answered, suddenly speaking passionately. “Androids take away jobs from hardworking sentients who need the work and money to support their families. Having an android near you is like having a constant spy watching you. Whoever owns the android can ask it to report on your activities or download its memories of you. It’s a violation of sentients’ rights. They are disturbing replicas of sentients meant to fool and trick innocent sentients into trusting them, like you trust your android. A person should never trust a machine more than they trust people. An android is just another part of technology that works to de-sentientize the galaxy. Androids go against nature. Nothing natural creates working replicas of itself to do its work for them. Androids are unnatural, immoral, and wrong.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Entry 21

Navigation has never been my strongest suite. I remember going on a road trip to the Alamo once when I was in middle school. We had a set of foster parents who were well intentioned but really did not know how to deal with two teenage children. Randy, our foster dad at the time, let me sit in the passenger seat for part of the trip and navigate. It should not have been that hard. We were pretty much just driving on I-10. However, my skills with a map are not that good. He should have asked John to navigate. I think John has built in GPS or something. Anyway, I somehow got us lost in Louisiana.

(John just reminded me that GPS is an Earth only thing and that it could not have been built into his system. He just knows how to read a map.)

Needless to say that the map Ven was studying was complete gibberish to me, and not just because it had labels in a language I could not begin to understand. I was quite content to let Ven decipher the map and tell me where John was being held. So Ven studied the map, and I studied the aliens.

It must have been a recess in the symposium, or maybe everyone was not required to attend the same lectures, because the hallway was filled with aliens. They disappeared through doorways only to be replaced by more aliens entering the hallway. Most of the time they traveled in groups, talking loudly and heatedly. The groups were the oddest things of all. I saw a nine foot alien with turquoise leather like skin and golden curly hair talking with a pure black lizard that was barely a foot long. The lizard was sitting in a cushion that hovered near the alien’s eye level so they could communicate better. I saw what looked like a cockroach but was furry talking to a creature that was feathered like a bird but shaped more like a ferret. My comparisons are doing little justice to what I saw in those few minutes I was staring wide eyed at the hallway, for which I apologize.

“Carlee.” Ven’s deep voice interrupted my study of the aliens in the hall. I looked away and glanced up into his dark brown eyes, hope filling me.

“Did you find John?” I asked excitedly.

“Not exactly,” Ven answered. “I found the section of the facility where they keep the androids. There will be a more specific directory in the android facility. Your android may still be in processing. It may not yet have its own storage, even though they obviously did a preliminary download of its hard drive.”

“How do you know that?” I asked. Ven motioned for me to walk beside him and took off down the hall. I raced after him, not wanting to be left behind. I could appreciate being swift when it came to saving my brother, but he could be slightly more considerate about not leaving me behind.

“The native environment program you were in would have been created from your mind – what you know and remember about Earth – and from your android’s recordings and data,” Ven answered. “That’s how they could make it so realistic. Your android’s recording capability is infallible – essentially a perfect memory. However, your memories also influenced it so that it felt real to you, which is important or else you would figure out it was fake.”

“Is it ok that we are talking about this among all these anthropologists?” I asked, looking worriedly at the exotic aliens we were passing.

“None of them will know English or have it in their databases for translation unless they happen to study Earth,” Ven answered unworriedly. “The odds of us passing someone who is an Earth expert, specifically an expert in an English speaking culture, is very high. We are safe. I will not let you get caught again, Carlee.” His words were reassuring. I felt nervous and uncertain as I followed him through the halls of the alien building. Though I felt secure in his presence, it was nothing compared to the complete safety I felt in John’s presence. I knew Ven would track me down if he lost me, but only because it was his job. John would go to the ends of the universe to find me, no matter how long it took or what he might run into. John was my brother. Ven was simply an operative who had been assigned me. I had no delusions that he actually cared; however, I stuck to him. Ven would lead me to John, and then all would be right in the universe.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Question Break 4

It’s another Saturday on Earth. You guys know what that means. It’s a question break/summary day. So the summary:

I ran away from Ven only to get distracted by a lecture about an android.

Ven found me but agreed to help me find John.

Ven thinks Earth is a war-filled place.

I just want to find my brother.

As usual you guys can ask anything you want. So far you have all been great about asking questions, for which I am glad. I love answering your questions about the great wide wonderful universe or questions about me. (I obviously like talking about myself – I mean I have a blog about my life). So feel free to ask anything, and I will answer.

Also just a friendly reminder that I’m totally on facebook. I know for a fact that I have readers who haven’t friended me. I would love to be your facebook friend. It makes me feel somewhat connected to Earth, like I still have friends there. You have to give me a break. The only people I see on a regular basis are John and Ven. There is only so much I can take of John and Ven 24/7.

I hope you guys have a great weekend!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Entry 20

It’s been months since that fateful day when I was abducted by the Society of Anthropologists. In that time I have seen many things I could never have imagined or dreamed. I have seen nebulas more beautiful than anything Earth contains. I have seen jewels so rare that I could purchase Earth with them. I have met aliens so exotic that I still have trouble believing I have actually met them. Ven was right that once I knew the universe I could never be contained by Earth again, but he was wrong to think I will ever consider myself “Earth liberated”. Despite its faults and ugly parts, Earth is my home. It always will be. I will always long to be back on Earth. I will always wish I could visit and see the blue sky one more time. I will always want to be home. Ven can never understand that, because he has never been to Earth.

“Have you ever even been to Earth?” I demanded, very much distracted from my surroundings by this topic of conversation.

“No, that would be contaminating Earth’s culture, wouldn’t it?” Ven responded. “My great-grandmother is the most recent Earthling we’ve had. From her stories, I don’t ever imagine I would want to visit.”

“Well, World War II was a horrible time,” I agreed, “but things have changed.”

“Really?” he asked. “Seems to me that Earth is filled with wars: World War II, World War I, the Franco-Prussian War, the American Civil War, and more I don’t even know about. The human colony is much more peaceful.”

“How is it you know so much about the wars of Earth?” I demanded. It seemed to me that a man who had never set foot in Earth should not know half as much.

“Most of the time humans are liberated because of wars,” he answered. “The Society of Anthropologists doesn’t like taking specimens out of the native environment. They prefer to remove the androids once their owners have died after long natural lives. However, in wars the androids are often drafted, the androids get injured, and the human has to be removed because of the cultural contamination laws. You are the first human in hundreds of years not to be removed because of a war.” He paused. “Why were you removed?”

“Not in a war,” I snapped, not pointing out that I was removed because of another act of violence. It seemed to me that having people only come out during wars had created a very skewed view of Earth to the humans who had never been there.

“Well it must have been something that compromised your android,” he said. “Androids are programmed not to let themselves get injured, and they’re made more durable than organics like us. It takes a lot to hurt one.” His words made sense. I had seen John take hits in football that would have seriously injured any normal human. However, John had always laughed them off, picking himself up as if it had simply been a tap. John was certainly more durable than I was.

“Earth is a wonderful place,” I responded, not wanting to talk about John getting shot. “You shouldn’t judge a place you have never visited.”

“When people tell me that a planet is full of voracious carnivorous plants I think I have the right to judge whether or not I think it’s a place I should like to visit,” Ven said with a shrug. “There is a directory terminal up here on the left.” He veered off from our straight path, weaving amongst the aliens to the wall. I followed close behind him, not wanting to be trampled or get separated from the one ally I had.

Ven stopped in front of the wall much to my confusion. The walls were smooth and white, reaching over twenty feet up before curving into an arched ceiling. I could see nothing different about this stretch of wall than any other part of the wall other than there was a raised square about the size of the palm of my hand. Surely that small area could not be a directory.

“This is the directory?” I asked, my voice laced with impatience and annoyance. Ven shot me a silencing look and then touched the palm sized square.

Suddenly the portion of the wall eye level with us shimmered and turned black. An image appeared that looked like a floor plan with a lime green dot marking one section.

“That’s us,” Ven said, pointing to the lime green dot. “This shade of green is the universal color of importance, something that deserves attention. It’s often used on warning signs, so you should be aware.” I stared at Ven incredulously.

“Lime green is the warning color?” I asked. “Not red?” He frowned but did not glance my way.

“Why would red be a warning color?” he responded. “Seems odd you would use such a comforting color associated with newborns in many cultures to signify danger.” He shook his head, as if completely baffled by my words.

Red was a comforting color? Could Earth be such a completely opposite place from the rest of the universe? It made no sense. However, I did not want to make sense out of it. I only wanted to find my brother. So I did not argue with Ven. Instead I waited patiently for him to discover where they were holding John.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Entry 19

Ven directed me through the maze of ductwork. Eventually we came to a vent that he skillfully opened, and we slipped into an empty room. It looked like a conference room, with a large round table and many chairs of different varieties. If saving John had not been so important to me, I could have spent forever studying all the different chairs. Some were short, practically on the ground. Others had holes in the back of them that could have been for tails. Some were more of stools than chairs, and still others had layers of arm rests as is for aliens with multiple arms. It was as if a chair designer had gone insane.

“How do we know where to find John?” I asked Ven, tearing my attention away from the chairs.

“There should be a directory somewhere around here,” Ven answered. “Anthropologists aren’t exactly a secretive bunch. Most of the time they like to boast about their accomplishments, thinking their area of study is better than their colleagues. If we can’t find your android in the directory, we should be able to ask.”

“Ask?” I repeated. It could not be so easy. I thought breaking my brother out would be much more difficult. I had expected it would take the skills of James Bond. Simply asking seemed far too simple and too easy.

“This isn’t a high security place, Carlee,” Ven said. “Anthropologists aren’t that worried about people breaking in to steal their books and artifacts.” He paused. “Though of course the more valuable artifacts are kept in a more secure location. Your android just isn’t considered that valuable.”

“He’s valuable to me,” I responded. Ven simply leveled me with a much too patient look.

“Follow me, Carlee,” he said. “We will find your android.”

Ven walked out of the conference room without so much as scoping out the hall first. He held his head high with confidence, as if he belonged. I darted out of the room not quite as at ease.

Aliens strolled through the halls. Aliens that towered ten or eleven feet high sauntered by me. Aliens that were barely bigger than mice raced past. Some aliens were rounder than they were tall. Other aliens were skinny like sticks. Some aliens were furry, other scaly, and still others had feathers. I saw colors I had never imagined, and my ears ached from frequencies it could barely hear. I felt quite small and insignificant as I followed Ven through the halls of the headquarters of the Society of Anthropologists. It took all of my self control not to grab his hand in fear. Ven was not my brother, and I would not seek comfort from him.

“So how does being a third generation non-Earthling work?” I asked, trying to distract myself from the sights and sounds that were assaulting me.

“We count from our most recent Earth direct ancestor,” he answered, not at all phased by the aliens strolling about us. “On my mom’s side my family has been non-Earth for many more generations. But my dad’s grandmother, my great grandmother, left Earth in what you would consider the 1940s.”

“How does a person just leave Earth?” I asked. I was not the brightest student, but even I knew Earth had not had space access until the Cold War and the Space Race.

“Same way you did,” Ven said. “There was a contamination issue. In my great grandmother’s case, she became a nurse in World War II and her android was an officer in the military. The android was shot. The Society of Anthropologists could not let Earth discover android technology so they pulled the android out of the war. They could not pull the android out without taking my grandmother as well. So she became an Earth liberated human, like you.”

“Earth liberated,” I repeated. “You make it sound as if living on Earth is living in bondage.”

“In many ways it is,” he answered. “Once you know the universe, Carlee, you’ll never want to go back. You have been freed from the confines of Earth. You have been liberated.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Entry 18

“I don’t think John is my brother. He is my brother,” I responded, looking away from the horrifying scene below to Ven. The only difference I could see between peeling back the skin on an android and a living being is that the android did not seem to be bleeding or in pain. But surely that was only because he had been turned off. John bled and felt pain. Whether organic or android, it still seemed wrong.

“Carlee, I cannot say this enough,” Ven said. “The thing you knew as John is not your brother. It is just an android.” Just an android, as if those words could encompass everything John meant to me, everything he had ever done for me.

“Do you have siblings?” I demanded, wondering how he could say such a thing.

“Two,” he answered. “Both around your age.”

“What makes them your siblings?” I demanded. “The fact that you all happened to be spawned from the same parents? Or the fact that you grew up together? You fought together. You laughed together. You lived together. You’re the oldest; undoubtedly, your parents made you responsible to protect and look after the others. You spent years looking after them, taking care of them, and keeping them out of trouble. It’s these acts, these hours spent together, that make you as close as you are, not the fact that you happened to be born from the same parents.

“John and I have spent years together. He has taken care of me my entire life. He has laughed with me, fought with me, angered me, and loved me my entire life. He has taken care of me when no one else would or cared. I don’t care if we were born from the same parents or not. I don’t care if he’s human or alien or android. He’s my brother, and I’m not leaving without him.”

“My siblings are human and that does matter, Carlee, regardless of what you think,” Ven responded. “John does not love you. It is simply a machine. It was programmed to do all those things with you in order to better understand your culture, as it was programmed too. It does what an older brother is supposed to do, better than any human older brother can, because it isn’t human. It is programmed to be the perfect brother. He does not actually care about you. It cannot feel love. It is just a robot.”

“I don’t care what you think. John loves me,” I retorted. “And I’m not leaving without him. So you are either going to fail your mission or you’re going to help me find John so we can get out of here.”

“You think you know so much,” he said studying me. “Here you are out here in a universe you cannot begin to fathom, and you are so certain you know everything there is to know about androids. You think you can order me around, like I don’t have a sedative in my pocket.” I tensed. A sedative? I had not even thought about that. He could drug me just like the anthropologists had and take me away to who knows where.

“Don’t you dare drug me,” I responded edging away from him. I wondered how fast he could pull the sedative out of his pocket and reach me. Could I get away in time?

“I’ll do what I think is best for the mission,” Ven said. “But in this case, I do believe it would be best if we found your android. Then I can prove to you once and for all that it’s not human or your brother, and I can take you quickly and safely to the human colony.” I did not disabuse him of the notion that I would simply leave behind John. He was agreeing to help me find John and that was half the battle.

“So how do we find John?” I asked.

“That’s easy,” Ven answered. “This is a symposium of anthropologists. Nobody has any idea what’s going on and only a handful of them even know what a human is. They have no idea we’re a primitive race. We’ll simply walk among them.”

“But won’t they be able to tell we’re not part of them?” I asked, surprised that it really could be so simple.

“Not unless we run into one of the few anthropologists who study Earth,” Ven said. “And even then, they may not recognize you as one of their specimens. For all they know we’re anthropologists too.”

“But you’re human,” I pointed out.

“Third generation non-Earthling,” he answered. “I could be an anthropologist if I wanted to. As long as I’m not from a primitive planet I’m a protected voting citizen of the universe.” I stared at him, not comprehending. It made no sense. Not even an hour ago I had been a specimen in the zoo. Now he was saying I could just walk among them unrecognized?

“We better get going if you want to find your android,” Ven said, and I did not need to be urged again. I was going to find John, this time with help.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Entry 17

The alien on the table looked about without a slightly puzzled expression on its face. It then sat up, looked at the lecturer, and said something, much to the delight of everyone in the room. The aliens watching all began to talk excitedly to each other while their eyes stayed firmly on the scene at the front.

I felt sympathy for alien that was on display. He and the lecturer seemed to be of the same species, both sort of lizard-like. They had yellow scales that glistened in the light, though I could have sworn the scales were not just glistening but glowing. They were fairly humanoid in shape, standing upright with two legs and two arms. However, their faces were distinctly inhuman with a lizard-like snout and eyes that were set on the sides of their faces sort of like bird’s eyes. The lecturer dressed in a robe that seemed to also be made of scales, which did not surprise me. Humans wear leather, which is cow skin. Why wouldn’t lizards where other lizard’s skin? The alien on display, however, wore a white one piece, sort of like a hospital gown combined with a pilot’s jumpsuit.

The lecturer continued to lecture instead of responding to whatever his specimen was saying. I could not read the expression of the alien on display, but I could imagine he felt very perplexed. The specimen continued to speak and even hesitantly reached out, touching the lecturer on the shoulder to get his attention. The lecturer ignored him, while those watching took avid notes.

Finally the lecturer turned back to the perplexed alien. The lecturer said a terse command and suddenly the alien on display stopped. His hand, which had been reaching to tap the lecturer again, fell uselessly to his side. He stared straight ahead, his eyes glazed over, as if seeing nothing. It was chillingly similar to how John had reacted to the blue anthropologist’s command. It was as if the lecturer had just turned him off.

“That’s what your brother is, Carlee.” Ven’s deep voice came out of nowhere and nearly made me have a heart attack. I jumped in the duct, making a loud noise as I came back down. Luckily the din in the lecture hall covered up any sounds I could make.

I turned and stared at the man who had attempted to rescue me. He was sprawled on his stomach in the duct behind me, his hands holding up his chin as he regarded me with his dreamy eyes. From where he sat he would be able to watch me and see through the vent. He might have been there for ages, but I had been so absorbed in the lecture and had not noticed.

Ven had a bandage wrapped around his arm where I had bitten him, yet he was not regarding me with anger. If anything he was sympathetic and too patient. It was as if he viewed me as an unruly child that he sympathized with and therefore was going to great lengths to make me understand.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded. “I don’t want your help.”

“You may not want it, but you need it,” he answered. “You are completely lost up here, wandering around. You’re just going to get yourself in trouble.” He was right, but his words still annoyed me. I did not like being viewed as a helpless little girl.

“How did you find me?” I asked. I had taken several unpredictable turns. Unless he had been following me all along, which I doubted since his arm was bandage, I did not see how he could possibly have tracked me down.

“Technology does amazing things,” he answered. “Carlee, why are you running from me? I’m here to help you. It’s my job, my mission.”

“I didn’t ask to be your mission,” I responded.

“No, you didn’t,” he agreed. “But I am part of the organization that believes the Society of Anthropologists is made up of a bunch of kidnappers. I was chosen for this mission because I am human, like you, though I have helped rescue several non-human captives. I was given a directive to find you, free you, and take you to the Human Colony. That’s my job, and I’m going to do it no matter how much you protest. Now tell me. Why are you running from me?”

“I have to save my brother,” I said, nearly in tears. I hated that my eyes were tearing up. I did not want to cry in front of this ridiculously good looking young man, but the idea that he was going to relentlessly keep me from finding my brother was very disturbing. “I just can’t leave him here. I have to rescue him.”

“Carlee,” Ven said in a too patient tone. “Look back into that room. Tell me what you see?” I looked back down. I did not want to obey, but it gave me a chance to get my tears under control.

Once my eyes cleared up, I saw the alien on display, the one who had been strangely turned off, had all of the skin on his neck peeled back. The lecturer was scanning it with his device while talking rapidly to his audience. That alien was alive. Surely he should be writhing in pain because of what they had done to his arm.

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“That anthropologist is one of the foremost experts on android technology,” Ven explained. “He is demonstrating and explaining the new vocal capabilities he has invented. His own species has one of the hardest speech patterns to emulate, and he has been working for years to create an android that could speak it. He has succeeded; therefore, several hours of the symposium have been dedicated to him. That thing he is scanning at the front of the room is an android, just like the android you think is your brother.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

Question Break Answers 3

So we had three questions this round. Woohoo! I love having contact with Earth. This and facebook are all that is keeping me sane.

So questions and answers!!!

Anonymous (a word I usually can't spell, thank you spell check) asks:

A couple questions actually:

1. You mentioned in the last post that you don't do well with water. Did you have a scarring incident in some point of your childhood or something?

2. How would you describe John? Is he like the terminator from Terminator 2 that can learn and adapt, perhaps having grown into some level of consciousness? Or is he more like Sonny from "I, Robot" (the movie) where he always seemed human to you? Or is he more like Data from Star Trek, the machine striving to be man yet always somewhat falling short (even if barely noticeable)?


I wouldn't say a scarring event...let's just say that bodies of water and myself never really got along. There is a list of events that cause me to dislike water: 1) Getting thrown into the pool by one of my foster parent's friends before I could swim, 2) an evil and mean swim instructor when I was younger, 3) going swimming with a friend who apparently couldn't swim and tried to drown me to keep her head above the water, 4) fun fun middle school pool parties (yes that was sarcasm). The list could go on. It just seems like every time I'm around a body of water, something bad happens. So was there one particularly scarring experience? No. Any one of those events is definitely recoverable. However, all of them added onto each other makes for an aversion to water.

How would I describe John? Well, I would describe him as my brother. It is my firm belief that he is as cognizant as you or I (man, cognizant - totally an SAT word). Many people exist on both sides of the camp on this matter, however. Ven, for one, thinks androids are just machines as he expressed earlier. I believe John is as human as I am. So he's definitely not like a terminator - a machine that kind of, sort of gets a grasp of human feelings. I don't know anything about Sonny from "I, Robot" the movie because John would not let me watch it (he said that Asimov is rolling in his grave somewhere because of that movie). I wouldn't compare him to Data either, because John will tell you he's an android, like Data, but John isn't striving to be human. He knows what he is, and he's ok with that. And he's basically completely human. Everyone believed he was the entire time he lived on Earth. He was one of the most popular and well liked kids in our school. Therefore, if I had to compare John to a fictional android/robot, I would compare him to Asimov's R. Daneel Olivaw, but more like Daneel is in the Foundation Series, not the Robot Series. He's completely cool with who he is, he's indistinguishable from a human, and he's secretly running the entire human race. Ok, that last one was not a true comparison. John isn't secretly running the entire human race. But like Daneel, I would say John makes a better human than most humans do. Wow, that made me thing of Stephen Byerley in "I, Robot" the book. Maybe I should compare John to him? Either way you get the idea.

That answer was a little long, but it's a question I have thought of myself and have thought a bit about.

Next Adrianne asks:

So what was the deal with the waterfall? Maybe I didn't read well enough.

Also, how do you pronounce your last name? Is it like Ear-heart or Air-heart? Just wondering.

The waterfall is what powers the zoo complex, according to Ven. John confirms this. I imagine it might work sort of like a dam, except I don't really know how dams work other than they provide power. If you need more info I'll ask John for a wikipedia-like answer. But if that's all you wanted to know, there it is.

And my last name is totally pronounced Air-heart. People who pronounce Ear-hart really annoy me. Air-heart just sounds sooo much cooler than Ear-heart, which makes it seem like I love ears or something. Not that I dislike ears. I just don't heart them.

Entry 16

If you’ve ever had to escape from someone in an area you’re unfamiliar with, then you will be able to know exactly how I was feeling. At first I was exhilarated to escape Ven, and my only goal was to put as much space between him and me as I could. I scuttled through the ductwork as fast as I could, not paying attention to the twists and turns I took. Then I slowed down, realizing I had no idea where I was. I had been so busy trying to get away from Ven that I had not considered where I was going. I was completely lost within the ductwork. I had run away from the man who wanted to help me and into the heart of the enemy.

And I had no idea where John was.

I stopped in the ductwork, figuring that unless Ven had some sort of psychic connection to me or some alien device I could not fathom he had no way to find me. I could not recall the twists and turns I had taken to get to this point and therefore had no idea at all where I was.

Hopelessness began to set in on me. I had bitten my one ally. Surely I could have done something more to convince him to help me look for John. Then he could have used his technology to help me find John. However, I was on my own, because I had made him an enemy by taking a chunk out of his arm.

John was stuck somewhere in this hive of alien anthropologists, and I was completely at a loss to help him. My big brother was in the hands of the enemy, with only his useless little sister to find him.

If the scenario was reversed, John would tear this place apart to find me. He would fight every anthropologist until they revealed where they would keeping me. He would then free me and take me to safety with little harm to myself. He would do everything he could, and here I was doing nothing.

John needed me, and I was doing nothing. It was simply not acceptable. If John would do anything for me, then I would have to do anything for him. In this scenario, I would have to be the protector of my brother who needed me.

I made my mind up to do whatever it took to find John, just as he would do for me. However, it was much easier said than done. I stared at the gray ductwork, wondering which direction I should go. Where would a group of anthropologists hide my brother? Where would they hide an android?

I had no idea how these alien anthropologists’ minds would work or where they might store my brother as they picked his brain for information. So I decided it would be best just to pick a direction and try to find an exit from the ductwork. It might be easy to hide in ductwork, but it was impossible to know where I was going.

Going right was my first inclination, so I decided to go left. My gut instinct and John’s were never the same. If I wanted to go right, he would want to go left. So I did what I thought he would do. I crawled through the ductwork in the general direction of what had been my left.

If you have ever crawled through ductwork or perhaps seen it, you can imagine it’s quite monotonous. It almost felt like I was going nowhere, since the duct walls offered no relief from the gray color.

Suddenly ahead I saw a light. The light came from the floor of the ductwork ahead. I could also hear strange sounds. ‘Strange sounds’ is perhaps a much too light description. What I heard was an awful din.

I crept forward carefully, remembering all the times in movies people fell through ducts onto the heads of people they were hiding from. I would do John no good if I got myself captured.

After a bit of time, I reached the duct and was able to look down. It looked like a lecture hall. Rows upon rows of aliens in all shapes, colors, and sizes that I could not begin to describe all watched as one alien stood at the front. The alien at the front was speaking in a language I could not possibly begin to understand while the onlookers all chatted endlessly. Any of my teachers on Earth would have had a cow if their studies behaved in such away, but clearly things were different among the Society of Anthropologists.

Though the onlookers talked, they all watched avidly as the alien demonstrated something on a table at the front of the room. The alien held some sort of device in one of hands. If I had to guess what he was doing with a strange alien technology I did not recognize while using a language I could not understand, I would say he was scanning what looked like another alien on the table.

It did not surprise me that a group of anthropologists would be studying an alien. Doctors practice on cadavers. Why wouldn’t alien anthropologists study what looked like a dead alien? Surely it gave them important information about anatomy that they could use to understand the culture. I totally understood that. If they had been grave robbing human graves to study us, I was cool with that. It wasn’t like the dead people were using their bodies. Was it a little disrespectful? Sure, but it was the lesser of evils. Rather they kidnap unneeded bodies than kidnap innocent people, like say me.

Suddenly the room actually got sort of quiet, and not the ridiculous ruckus that would have horrified any Earth teacher. All eyes, and other visual orifices, turned to the body at the front of the room.

The lecturer fiddled with something on the device as everyone watched breathlessly. He finally did something that emitted a strange pulse. Immediately the eyes of the alien on the table opened and looked about. It was alive.