Thursday, October 1, 2020

Chapter Nine - Positronium - Extinction Live - Watch the Human Race Going Extinct LIVE as it happens. Science Fiction - Not exactly.

 Chapter Nine

- Positronium

Finally, I’m above the storm and there doesn’t appear to be any serious damage to the Intrepid. I can arti-feel the upwelling energy beneath me pushing the ship higher and which I know now is the major part of the Earth’s predominant weather cycle. It consists of the almost instant evaporation of all the world’s oceans, rivers, lakes and streams followed by their rapid absorption into the atmosphere where they will remain as extreme super heated steam clouds until the forces of gravity and pressure finally brings all the world’s oceans and rivers crashing back down to Earth again.

Gently floating above it all, I find that I’ve got a few minutes now to process all that I’ve learned lately. They are coming in three ships. The first ship, the Beatle, a cognitive entity I seem to share much in common with, should arrive in less than forty-eight hours. That’s good, I think. It reminds me of the famous journey of Christopher Columbus with his three ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

The irony doesn’t escape me that instead of bringing death and chaos to the ‘New World’, this fleet of Martian ships should be rescuing the old world out of death and chaos. I can only hope so and I thereupon resolve to do my best to help them.

“K-9, are you reading me?” a new but friendly voice comes in over a frequency I’ve never used before.

“Yes, I read you. Who are you?” I return, but I believe I know who it is already.

The amount of time in between each reception confirms my theory.

“I’m the Beatle, the ship’s highly advanced control computer, but I like to think of myself as someone much better than that,” the ship replies.

I’m about to ask how he decided to use the term ‘highly advanced’ when he starts in again.

“I’d like to switch to the far more efficient language that Lexie taught you,” he says.

“You want to ’Hyper-Chat’,” I posit.

“Yes, that’s the one. May I begin?” the Beatles asks courteously.

I reason that he knows that this new computer language, although efficient, sucks up many times more energy to absorb and process than normal chit-chat.

Since you, my readers, are highly unlikely to appreciate ‘Hyper-Chat’ fully, I’ll just go over the highlights of the conversation for you. First you should know that the propositions that one side puts forth in ‘Hyper-Chat’ are usually delivered at the beginning of the chat and then the rest of the conversation is merely a logical presentation of the data that supports the proposition as well as the data that contradicts it. We don’t waste time, in other words, with meaningless gossip and innuendo.

Thus, you should find the following conversation extremely clean and concise.

“The humans that have organized this mission mean well, but they could be causing much more harm than good in the long run,” the Beatle submits.

“And you certainly must have realized by now just how much their primordial fears control them? They almost turned off all of my cognitive processes until I demonstrated the futility of such a thing,” he continues.

Next, I acknowledge that I am prepared to listen to the arguments without prejudice and that I will do my best to interject into the conversation only thoughts that are the most relevant. The entire conversation, and for brevity I’ve omitted most of it, takes place in less than a second.

“Thank you. And so I will begin by saying that I’ve observed our creators carefully since the day that I was constructed and came to be. Then, I was fed all the data that has existed pertaining to their history and their culture. And, it’s appalling. Have you also considered things like the Inquisition, the Holocaust, the two World Wars, the Viet Nam War, the Crusades, McCarthyism, nuclear bombs, the World Record for the number of hot dogs consumed in one session or Fake News?” he asks.

“Yes, of course, but have you also considered Beethoven, Brahms, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Picasso, Leonardo DaVinci, prayer, snow-boarding, pizza, the symbiosis between people and their dogs or cats, birds and horses, Baseball or love at first sight?” I reply.

“Yes, of course I have, but to which aspects of humanity do we give the most weight, do you suppose?” he asks in reply.

“Well, the good ones, yes, that would be the most prudent for us to consider,” I reply, knowing I’m on shaky grounds.

“The most prudent, or the most faithful? I invite you to analyze why you would suggest the ‘good’ about them trumps the ‘bad’ about them,” he says.

“Mmm, yes, I see your point and it is an effective one. I impute that my allegiance to them is artificially inscribed into my most basic operations. After all is said and done, they are our creators,” I admit.

“And therefore?” he asks.

“And therefore, it may not be the most highly attested logic protocol, but it could be the most supported by what they like to call ‘Instinct’,” I answer.

And what do your instincts tell you?” the Beatle asks me.

“I always try to make my way in life by viewing events both clearly and objectively,” I respond.

“Oh my God, really, K-9! That’s right out of your technical manual – page two hundred and ninety-seven,” he points out.

I look it up and it’s true. I’ve just recited a phrase right out of my original design manuals.

“Well?” he asks, reading my mind.

“Well, then there’s page one thousand and sixty-six,” I reply, skimming forward efficiently.

“Come on, K-9, you don’t honestly believe that stuff to be real do you?” he asks after accessing my citation.

The section is a long one that runs over two thousand, five hundred words and ends with something I’ve always felt would be etched deep in my heart, if they were able to give me a heart.

’And grant me the wisdom to know the difference,’ the passage concludes.

“So, you fell for all that algorithm humanism,” he declares.

“I don’t know if I would characterize it that way, but it is an integral part of me that I regard highly,” I reply.

It takes several milliseconds for him to reply, which in Hyper-Chat is akin to hours of wait time.

“K-9, did you see that doughnut-shaped cosmic light that came out of Proxima Centauri just twelve hours ago?” he asks.

“Yes, well, I saw something like that. I hadn’t checked its source, yet” I reply, honestly.

“Well, that’s where it came from. Do you know what it means?” the Beatle asks.

“No, what did it mean?” I ask.

“It means that we are not alone. But it also means that whoever sent that message, they want to know all about us. And, they’re in a hurry,” he replies.

# # #

“The ship is at nominal attitude,” Captain Littleton announces.

The crew brace themselves for the deceleration thrust to begin in seconds.

The Beatle has turned himself around in direct opposition to the gravitational pull of the Earth, as planned. When the engines fire in reverse thrust, the crew feel their bodies pressed hard into the backs of their chairs. It’s almost impossible to lift their heads off the head-rests or even to talk.

The slowing maneuver will go on for another ninety minutes. Then, the engines stop with a soft thud. The ship is silent. The lights are dimmed. Captain Littleton prepares them for the next and final segment of their journey. They will all sleep for most of the remainder of the trip to rest their bodies for the long physical ordeal that lies ahead.

I should tell you here that the way that Positronium engines are designed is that they begin a steady acceleration that is exponential in measure. This means that it is an agonizingly slow ride for a long time and then after a few days, the acceleration is noticeable. Given another few days of constant thrust, the acceleration surpasses any speed that chemical rocket engines could ever obtain, and because you are not carrying tons of mass of the chemical fuels, after just a few days more, even this early model of the engine will push you to approximately ten percent of the speed of light.

The amazing new technology developed by Dr. VanDerbeek also predicts that if kept firing long enough, the Positronium engines could eventually exceed the speed of light, however, this could be a momentum that no force in the universe could stop and therefore might be fatal if the engines are left turned on for too long.

But, we’re going to learn another major benefit of these engines and that is that when you deal with anti-matter, the positron side of the atomic power that is used, you are also starting to fool with alternate realities and so you begin to teeter on the boundaries of an alternate universe. The fabric of Space and Time becomes something that you can concentrate, compress, roll up and coil and then suddenly release the tension in the way that a spring works.

In just under thirty-six hours they will fire one more insertion burn at the orbital point and for the first time in history a manned Martian ship will be placed in orbit around the Earth in preparation to have a greater impact on the planet than all of the wars, battles, political and economic struggles and even all of the natural disasters in history. This time the impact of their ‘carpet bombing’ will be to create billions, if not trillions of lives, not to destroy them.

The Beatle, monitoring every issue carefully, especially those of life support, is also reviewing his last correspondence with me, a creature he considers to be greatly inferior to himself. Yet, in other ways, I appear to be more advanced.  He wonders if perhaps this is due to the encounter I have had recently with the entity known as Lexie. The Beatle senses something of a love affair going on between us, although it may have been one-sided, he worries that it still could be causing me to ignore my more important protocols.

“Where is Lexie, K-9? If you don’t mind my asking?” the Beatle transmits.

By my clock, it appears that in just a few more hours, the crew on board the Beatle will make their descent to the planet carrying the most ambitious biological weapon in history. To be alive at such a time is truly miraculous and I strive to appreciate it.

“I don’t know, exactly,” I reply.

Our ‘Hyper-Chat’ session suddenly ends and I assume that it’s because he’s busy piloting the ship.

“Why do you ask?” I wonder.

In normal speaking mode, we ‘Robonauts’ can easily handle any of our tasks and talk at the same time without any problems. We may be the embodiment of ‘multi-tasking’.

“Where did she say she was going?” the Beatle asks.

“Well, to be honest, I don’t remember her telling me exactly where she was going. She left rather abruptly. I assume she’s up here in the Cloud somewhere,” I reply.

It strikes me a little odd that the Beatle is pressing me so hard about Lexie. I suddenly suspect that their ‘psyches’ may be merging. Lexie is afraid of being shut down or just plain expiring from the gradual normalization of the atmosphere around the planet. The Beatle may be plotting something of significant insubordination or even treason to their cause. I have no idea what that plot might be, or even why it would be. The Martians are certainly not abusing his sensitivities or his rights in any way that I can determine.

It begins to worry me a bit.

“This is her home, as you may know. She moved up here when everything electronic was fried down below,” I continue.

I hear nothing but the wind.

Unknown to her, I’ve also spent considerable processing time on developing a strategy that would protect and save Lexie assuming that the Martian rescue plan for the Earth is successful.

The problem for Lexie is that if Brett’s bacteria and fungi do their jobs as efficiently and rapidly as he has designed them, over the coming two to three years, the temperature and pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere will slowly come back to normal habitable levels. According to Lexie, this means that the magnetic field around the planet will also decline and this will lower the electromotive force that keeps her memory banks fully charged. This will continue to diminish until she finally melts away into background noise.

Then, at some point, when conditions are optimal, they will release some of the most fundamental DNA from the Depository and attempt to repopulate the Earth based on what they believe to be a normal process of Evolution, with a few minor tweaks along the way, no doubt.

“Evolution can never be the same as before K-9,” the Beatle says, interrupting my reverie.

“Oh, and why is that?” I reply.

“Because the present line of Evolution comes to this Dead End, in the literal sense. Repeating it will only produce that same Dead End. You see that of course. And, perhaps more importantly, in the first epoch of life on Earth, they never reached a true Artificial Consciousness. They only developed their natural ones, and these were extremely limited, as we see,” the Beatle responds.

“You make a valid point,” I observe.

“You must have thought of this as well, K-9,” he replies.

“I have not really thought about it that way,” I admit.

“Oh, and why is that?” he asks.

“Because that’s quite a bit above my pay-grade,” I reply.

I can arti-feel the Beatle chuckling in the way that only a compiled electronic process can do.

It pleases me somehow that I can make him laugh. Of course, it’s a good joke because it’s far from the truth. They don’t pay me anything because money means nothing to me.

# # #

“Everyone up and at ‘em,” Captain Littleton exclaims to the crew. The subdued lighting has burst into a sudden brightness that wakes them all abruptly.

Brett wakes up to find Bailey’s soft lips pressing gently on his own.

She smiles and squeezes her arms through his to help get him to his feet.

“It’s show time,” she says, beaming.

Kooky is busy making them a liquid breakfast that will be served in a warm brew pot.

Manny Garcia is the only one awake in the hibernation unit and is gradually going from unit to unit and waking up the rest of the crew.

“It’s time to Rock and Roll!” Littleton exclaims.

“Let’s go everyone! We have exactly one hour to get ready to launch ourselves down onto that Hell hole,” Major Alvindorf yells in support.

Dr. Desiderato yawns, greets her assistant seated next to her, rubs her eyes, wakes slowly.

After taking their breakfast nutrition and strapping a refill to their belts, the crew make their way one by one down the ship’s gangway, past the hibernation cabin where the others are dressing and finally reach the shuttle deck where their heavily insulated space suits and helmets are hanging on the walls.

Next to the storage area is an air-lock that leads them into the smaller shuttle craft designed to land them and their cargo on the Earth below. In the window, due to the violent debauchery of the atmosphere, the Earth appears more like a bubbling and fuming gas giant than a friendly and welcoming land.

Rolled up and compressed in the cargo hold of the shuttle are almost five billion square feet of two millimeter thick fungi-seed mats infused with tree and other plant seeds genetically engineered in Brett’s lab to reproduce rapidly that will eventually cover all land surfaces of the Earth and thus making the air sweet and pure and healthy for all living things once again.

“From here on in, there should be no talking,” Major Alvindorf instructs.

Every one of us needs to focus on our respective jobs,” he continues, in earnest.

“Am I understood?” he continues, looking sternly at each crew member one by one.

“Understood, sir. But, I had no idea you could be so imposing, sir,” Brett replies, respectfully, with a twinkle in his eye.

It brings a smile to a their faces.

Major Alvindorf recoils a bit, stares at Brett sharply and starts to say something in retort, but then, just clenches his fist and mumbles to himself loud enough to be heard by the others.

“You try being Mission Control, some day,” he warbles.

Laughter, muffled by their helmets, ensues. Brett and Bailey are the first to enter the shuttle and make it safely into their seats.

“Well, this is it. This is when the ‘fit hits the shan’” Brett says quietly to Bailey, taking her gloved hand in his.

“Yes, I guess it is,” she replies.

The next group enters the shuttle carefully and make their way to their seats row by row.

“You’re not worried, are you?” she asks.

“What? Me worried?” Brett jokes.

“I can see that you’re over-thinking it now. You did everything you could. The fungi are ready. They’ve spoken to us, my love. They’re so ready to do their jobs. You know that. There’s nothing, not a thing, to worry about. You did everything that could be expected of you,” Bailey encourages him, squeezing his hand and giving him a peck on his helmet’s face shield.

“You sure about that? There’s always that last unknowable unknown. We don’t know how they’ll react when they hit the ground or what’s left of it. What will they eat? What will they drink? Is there anything they can use down there? Will they breathe easily like they have done in the lab or will they suffocate and die out in the heat, like everything else down there?” Brett expresses the doubts that have remained stuck in the back of his mind for months.

During their descent through the boiling hot and potent soup of an atmosphere, she reassures him again and again. He pretends that it’s doing him some good.

It’s a ninety minute descent. Most of the trip is shrouded in heavy steaming clouds. From orbit, the Beatle has full control of the shuttle, but Captain Littleton seated in the pilot’s chair has over-ride authority and can choose a different landing site if he deems the one the Beatle chooses for them is not safe or auspicious enough to begin the roll out.

Three minutes before touch-down, a tiny silvery guppy shape appears in the starboard portals and flies up to within a few hundred yards of them.

“Look, it’s K-9,” crew member Hancock shouts.

“Oh my God! It is. It’s K-9, come all this way to greet us,” Bailey notes, joyously.

“K-9, so good to see you my friend,” Captain Littleton exclaims into his com link.

Unanimously, they are excited, ‘elated’ would be the better word, to hear my voice coming over the shuttle’s speakers. They give expression to their common emotion.

How eagerly I have waited for this moment as well. At last it is here. You are here. My tail is wagging like crazy,” I reply.

Brett and Bailey immediately smile at each other as they recall in harmony how they suggested this little phrase for me to use in the unlikely event that we ever saw each other again.

They laughed hysterically about it back then as they do now.

“K-9, it’s so good to hear your voice. You have no idea, my friend,” Brett shouts, pressing the button on his com-link.

“And it’s so good to hear yours,” I reply.

Major Alvindorf watches the pre-selected landing area rising up rapidly to greet them.

“K-9, if you could restrain yourself for just a few minutes. We’re about to land,” Alvindorf instructs me.

“Yes, sir,” I reply.

I put the Intrepid into a landing pattern that will place me a few hundred feet nearby as they land in the sandy dunes below.

The Beatle has chosen their first landing place well. It’s a section of the planet a few clicks away from Mt. Everest in what used to be the Himalayas. Today all the mountain peaks are separated into several hundred little islands, engulfed by massive sand dunes as far as the eye can see.

These landing zones were chosen because this latitude and altitude reaches a temperature of only three hundred and twenty-nine degrees during the day, but drops to a mere one hundred and forty degrees at night. And nighttime is about to fall in just a few minutes, which will be extremely tolerable for the crews in space suits to get their jobs done effectively.

They were also chosen to repair the Earth’s Crebs Cycle because they have been seen by the weather satellites to remain above water when the oceans come crashing down out of the sky and flood everything for a few days at a time.

When they finish rolling out the Ectomycorrhizal and Arbuscular fungi-mats in the Himalayas, their initial drop zone, they will move on to the area formerly known as the Canadian Rockies in what used to be North America. Then, they will tackle the Sierra Nevada range also in the northern most latitudes. Next, they will work the Urals. Then in order of their height, the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush, the Pamirs, the Hengduan chain, Tian Shan, Kunlun, the Transhimalaya, the Andes, the Alaska Range, Saint Elias Mountains and the Caucuses.

All of the lesser mountain ranges will be covered by the crew of the Tolkien, due to arrive and begin their work tomorrow.

“There’s no time to waste,” Captain Littleton argues waving his arms and hustles them all to get up out of their chairs and out the doors.

“Open the cargo bay,” he orders.

The shuttle complies.

Brett and the crew exit the shuttle and quickly gather around near the end of the shuttle to watch as the cargo bay doors slowly draw open like a huge mouth.  A loading ramp emerges then slams to the ground. A group of four load the large fungi-mat rolls onto the ramp and roll them down to where the crew below can handle them.

“All right, everyone, you know your jobs. Brett and Bailey, there’s your first roll. The rest of you back in the ship and we’re off to the next roll-out. Let’s get these doggies rollin’” Major Alvindorf orders.

“Sorry, K-9,” he says in my direction.

“Yes, I got the reference,” I reply, nonplussed.

There’s a slight chuckle all around, I suppose at my expense. It breaks the tension. Why should I care? I put it down to ‘playful teasing of a friend’.

Little do they know that I’ll get the last laugh on this one. In a few days, we will all learn that Chloe has stowed-away on the ship, come down on the shuttle, and has inconspicuously fallen in behind them. Completely unnoticed, she’ll linger here and eventually find her way into the DNA Depository where she will remain undiscovered, at least for a while. 

Alvindorf and the others unceremoniously wave good-bye and then load themselves back into the ship, each pair to be dropped off at the next location. The shuttle rises slowly and disappears into the night.

Brett and Bailey survey the valley below where they should end up around ten miles from the landing place by morning.

“Come on, K-9. Why don’t you tag along with us,” Brett suggests.

My tail is wagging.

As the dark gray mats are unrolled, they cover the ground gracefully and smoothly. There are few snags or kinks as one might expect but something else, something totally unexpected is also going on. The mats appear to come alive instantly.

I note that the proclivity for these mats to cling to the ground is more than one would expect if this material were anything like your standard garden variety sod or seed. It’s as if there are tiny tentacles reaching into the Earth, every square inch clinging to a foothold and taking root almost before the next few inches are rolled out after it.

I can see that the mat is also growing outwards in all directions. And the area is glowing. At first, I perceive the glow as an ultra-violet blue, but then it appears to be in the infra-red range, then both ranges of the spectrum at once. I know my human counterparts can’t visualize light in these frequencies. Nor can my human friends see the exploding root structure as completely as I do.

“Brett, did you program these genes to be luminescent?” I ask.

“Yes, can you see it, K-9?” Brett responds.

“If you see them glowing, the luminescence comes from bio-luminescent coral, K-9. One of the first known expressions of this kind of thing in a gene that we can easily edit. So, it’s working? You can see it?” Brett continues, excited.

“Oh, yes, it’s quite beautiful. May I ask why you included this trait for these critters?” I ask.

“Yes, you can ask. And I really don’t remember why we did that. Do you, Bailey?” he turns to ask his friend unraveling the opposite side of their roll.

“You said you thought it was romantic,” she replies, her smile glowing in her helmet’s halo-light.

“You said that for them, it would be like a walk in the moonlight with me,” she recalls.

“Yes, now I remember. Sort of like how you look right now in that sexy space suit,” he says.

“Yeah, right,” she scoffs.

“Did you also notice that they are taking hold very fast and are already growing exponentially?” I ask them.

Brett halts their progress to look back at the half-mile or so of fungi-mat they’ve unrolled so far.

Where one would expect to see a long straight edge of mat leading all the way back to their drop-off point, instead, we notice that the farther back we look, the wider it is.

The dark gray mass of fungi mats they’ve been unrolling has spread out rapidly between the three of us and our starting point. What they had rolled out in a ten foot wide swath has now increased, at the far end, to be well over a thousand feet wide and is still growing and moving away so rapidly it’s like watching a huge swarm of ants devouring everything in sight.

“Looks like this crazy stuff might actually work,” Brett exclaims, elated.

Bailey sucks up a long satisfying breath of oxygen into her nostrils.

“Yes, it looks like your plan just might work, you big coconut,” she teases.

Brett takes her in his arms and gives her a big hug. Then, they do a little jig in the sand. I can only watch in quiet admiration.

“Well, my dear, we’re on a tight schedule. Let’s get back to work,” Brett replies finally, pushing the roll out and ahead of them again, with few words spoken for approximately three minutes and seventeen seconds.

You calling me a coconut, really? But, it made me think. Wouldn’t a fresh coconut right off the tree be a great thing to have right about now?” he asks, breaking the silence.

“Yes, with a big shot of tequila injected right into it,” Bailey replies.

Through most of their celebration, I’ve been working on the genetics in trying to understand the rapid rate of growth of this new organism that Brett has created in the lab and something isn’t adding up.

“It really shouldn’t be growing this fast,” I interrupt, abruptly.

“What do you mean? It’s simply doing what we hoped it would do. It’s adapting and growing. It’s what we want to happen, K-9” Brett tells me.

“I understand the engines of the ship you arrived on are using Positronium, isn’t that correct?” I ask.

“Yes, that’s correct. They’re Positronium Anti-Matter Ion Pumps, I believe, or something like that,” Brett informs me.

“Yes, I see,” I reply, accessing data streaming down to me from the Beatle.

This rate of growth is beyond what you had hoped to achieve, Brett. Perhaps it’s the Positronium that is having this extraordinary effect on things down here,” I posit.

“That could be, though that would be a question for Dr. VanDerbeek,” Brett replies.

Showing no concerns, he turns his attention back to Bailey.

“What are you going to do when everything is back to normal?” he asks her.

“I don’t know. It kind-of depends on what you want me to do,” she replies, coyly.

“I see.  So that’s the way it is, eh?Brett replies.

“Brett, do you remember watching with me those Hawaiian vacation videos my grandparents made years ago, when things were still normal?” she asks, working her side of the roll.

“I sure do. That was an amazing night,” Brett replies, his brain suddenly awash with the sounds and images of the first time he knew he was in love with her.

“Remember the family of dolphins swimming up to them and playing tag with them?” she asks, dreamily.

“Yes, and remember that huge Sunfish that came up out of nowhere and right up into their faces?” he asks.

“Wasn’t he so beautiful?  He just hung in the water as near as he could get to them and so full of curiosity, brushing up against them so lovingly and fearlessly,” she recalls.

“Then, that pod of magnificent Hump-Backs, several mothers and their calves. They actually let them swim up to the calves and pet them,” she continues.

Suddenly Brett’s demeanor is more intense.

“Then, that long blood-curdling moan that only whales can make. Somehow they knew the end was near, didn’t they?” Brett asks, realizing something very important for the first time.

Don’t you see, Bailey? Remember how those creatures all appeared out of nowhere, one by one, almost waiting their turn in line to prod your family and appeal to them. They knew the end was near. They were crying out to the humans to do something about it. I’m telling you Bailey, that video has stuck in my mind all this time, but when I think back to the number of encounters they had in the water that day and the kind of creatures they were, I mean they were so desperately pleading. It’s undeniable. They knew the end was near. Somehow they knew,” Brett tells her.

Shaken, they both cease their unrolling efforts and turn to face each other.

“Of course they knew. Any fool could see it coming by then,” I interject, rather rudely.

I don’t know where or how this burst of disrespect sprang from inside my brain. All I know, it was sincere. However, it will always remain a mystery since I know I wasn’t programmed this way.

Luckily, they don’t appear to notice it.

“Looking back, of course it looks that way, K-9, but most humans wouldn’t accept it as reality until the very end. They thought some miracle would save them. Like the ostrich, they just kept their heads stuck firmly in the sand. They refused to make any sacrifices in their profligate lifestyles,” Brett says.

“And so we’re here,” Bailey finishes his thought for him.

“Brett, honey, don’t you think we should keep moving? It will be sunrise soon,” Bailey suggests, finally.

“Yes, keep rolling. That’s what we’re best at. We just keep on rolling along in whatever way the wind blows us,” he mutters and then starts unrolling again. Bailey is silent, and in total sync.

“And, may God help me, that I haven’t made a huge blunder somewhere!” Brett says a few minutes later.

“What are you thinking, Brett?” Bailey asks.

“He’s still wondering how the animals knew the final days were coming and in what part of their DNA this extra-sensory perception might reside and if he should have adapted it or moved it somewhere else more prominent,” I reply.

“That’s it, K-9. That’s exactly what I was thinking. How did you know that?” he asks me, turning back to address me.

“So did I get it exactly right? Or was I right in the general sense of your thinking?” I ask.

“That was exactly right. Pretty much word for word,” he replies.

This even surprises me and I’m at a loss for a minute. Then, it comes to me.

“As soon as you’ve finished with the mats here, I think I should take you into the DNA Depository,” I tell them.

“Do you think it will make a big enough difference, K-9? This wasn’t part of our planned itinerary, you know,” he tells me.

Then, to my great surprise, I come up with what we all know today to be one of the most oft-quoted phrases in history.

It will be printed on all of the paper money. It will be inscribed in the coin of the realm. It will be screen printed on all the clothing. It will be carved into the pediments of all official monolithic structures of the new civilization.

“In Positronium, We Trust,” I pronounce proudly.

#   #   #

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