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Dell
18th Oct 2002, 19:28
Here we go again, nice people. A new chapter in the Nexus story. Hope you enjoy it!

Nexus Chapter Six, Part Four
by Dell

In response to their questions, Daniel explained that Martin was fine. He had no memory of the cabin, the Nexus points, or their adventure in Daniel’s world. He also told them of his small adjustment to Martin’s mind, one that would make him a happier man, not driven by the terrible obsession of greed that had made him miserable for most of his life. Becky told them she had suggested that he might find work suited to his age and ability there on her family farm, and the group murmured in approval. That would be the best thing for Martin, they all agreed.

Only Ina privately had twinges of conscience. Were they not just as bad as the Cereplex in Daniel’s world? Were they not making decisions about what was best for another human being? She put her doubts aside, deliberately ignoring them. After all, Martin had posed a danger to all of them, even himself, that much was clear. And no doubt it was caused by his overwhelming greed. She sighed. Even that excuse seemed thin compared to the enormity of altering the mind of a human.

It was silent in the cabin then except for the faint sounds of birdsong drifting in from outside and an occasional small crackle and shifting sound as the wood in the stove delivered its heat and through the magic of fire transmutation turned into ash. It was a nice silence, the kind of friendly and companionable quiet that is an indication of people at ease with each other, feeling no need to fill the air with sound.

They were thinking…all of them except Daniel. He was as usual observing them, collecting and storing information about each in turn and as a group, millions of small pieces of data, bits and bytes neatly collated and stored. But then, perhaps that actually is what thinking consists of…who can say it is not?

Finally, Lila broke the silence with a question addressed to no one in particular. “What shall we do now?” It was a simple question filled with implications and it hung there almost as if visibly written in the air above the table.

No one rushed to answer, and unexpectedly it was Daniel who finally responded. “Perhaps it might be a good idea to thoroughly explore this area around the cabin to determine exactly how many Nexus exits- -or entrances- -exist here and where they are located. I am very curious about this phenomenon. It is beyond my experience and my memory banks have no information I can apply to it.”

He paused, then finished with a question of his own. “Are these points firmly located and fixed in place? Or do they move, come and go and shift around, appear and disappear?”

Their focus and attention was immediate. Their voices joined in a mixed medly of agreement and dismay. Ina’s voice rose above the rest. “We never thought about that! What if the nexus point had closed while we were in the Robot World? We would have been trapped there!” The intensity of her dismay was clear in her voice. Her question served two purposes. It clearly reflected the feelings of the five humans, and it inserted the name of Daniel’s world firmly into their vocabulary. “Robot World” it was and would be for all of them from now on.

Dave went to his pack and brought out several small notepads with attached ballpoint pens. He passed them out to everyone but Daniel. “See? I did have a thought about that very thing. We’ll need to make notes of the locations we find, and all of us should have maps rather than relying on memory.“ He grinned at Daniel. “You of course do not need such a reminder. Your memory will keep it all correctly and intact.”

It was more of a statement than a question in spite of the slight rising inflection at the end, but Daniel answered it anyway.

“That is true,” he said, “and I can help you all prepare accurate maps for yourselves. I agree you all should know where the Nexus points are because I can extrapolate that it is within the realm of possibility that some worlds will not be welcoming or safe for humans. There are infinite possibilities and the laws of chance are also in effect in this heretofore unknown set of circumstances.”

No one spoke, and after a moment, Daniel corrected himself. “Rather I should say the circumstances are heretofore unknown to all present here at this moment. It is within the realm of possibility that other beings are aware of the Nexus points and the worlds reachable through them.”His face reflected perplexity, his neat eyebrows arching and small lines appearing in his forehead as the five humans broke into laughter, giggled, chuckled, or smiled.

“Nothing like covering all the bases, Daniel.” Pete’s smile was wide and friendly.

“Covering bases? I was merely being accurate in my assessment of the situation with the Nexus points, as we are currently aware of them. That will change as we acquire more information. I deduce from your use of the word ‘base’, that it has another meaning than the ones of which I am currently aware. Would you explain your meaning please?”

“No time for that now, folks. We’ll do it later when things aren’t so urgent. It’s a long explanation, Daniel, with many details!” Dave was laughing as he said this, and after a general and speedy bit of tidying up, they all went outside.

“Where shall we begin?” Lila asked. They were all holding their notepads and pens as they stood there on the porch. “How about down there by the living flowers near the entrance to our worlds? We can work from there up to the entrance of Robot World. That’s a pretty good distance.”

The agreement was unanimous, and they set off toward the pond where the white bellflowers grew. The humans all stepped very carefully when they were traversing the flowerbed, avoiding crushing or bruising the sentient blooms. The murmurs and bell chimes of the flowers were clear in the quiet air, and Daniel stood back observing. Then he followed. watching where he placed his feet.

“Does this seem about the right place?” Pete asked. His question was answered as he took one more step forward … and disappeared.

Chilled Unit
18th Oct 2002, 19:32
Great chapter! What will our adventurers discover next ? :)

Dell
18th Oct 2002, 19:37
What happens next? Only Vakusuma knows! He is up next!

Thanks for the kind words anyway.

vakusuma
19th Oct 2002, 04:26
Good Lord, my turn now? :)

Good chapter, but now that does present an interesting problem...

vakusuma
20th Oct 2002, 14:49
Okay, so, am I too fast or something?

Nexus
Chapter Seven, Part One
By Vakusuma

"In the beginning, there was darkness. In the end, there will be darkness. Only the Chosen Ones can deliver us to the light."

The words echoed throughout the huge, cavernous building, above the sound of the rain that rejuvenated the world outside. Before the People for the Future took over this building, it had been a grand cathedral of the 19th century design; now there was little resemblance to the cathedral of old. The crucifixes have been taken down, along with the portraits and statues of the patrons and matrons of the Catholic Church. And in their place, pictures that embodied the flaws of humanity were hung: ambition, pride, greed, envy, lust, and many others. Some of them were rather grotesque, and they were indeed designed that way.

That, of course, didn’t bother Anticipator Webster too much. He gazed down the altar at the chanting congregation before him, and smiled. There were around three hundred people in the room, good turnout indeed. The congregation was ready. The throng of humanity before him had ceased chanting and now sat on the floor attentively waiting for him to begin his Anticipation Sermon.

The Sermon, of course, was going to be the same thing that he had delivered last week. And the week before. It was a pain at first to say the same thing over and over again, yes, but he realized that his congregation expected no less. Those were the words that brought hope to the downtrodden, comfort to the fallen and sanity to the lost. To say the words otherwise might have been… blasphemy.

"Indeed, in the beginning there was darkness!" he declaimed, his amplified voice reverberating throughout the building. "Humankind was created into this darkness. And thus, the hearts of humankind were filled with fear. The world was never a secure and fulfilling place! Alas, humankind was too ambitious to be satisfied with living in the world of darkness! They aspired to be in the light, where all their desires could be fulfilled. And thus…" he paused dramatically and peered down at the congregation, "mankind started to turn on each other, to compete for what they thought was rightfully theirs!" As before, without fail, some of the members of the congregation suddenly broke into tears, and the silence that followed his words were punctuated by the sobs of the anguished.

"Perhaps you don’t have to be reminded what happened when we, the children of darkness, turned against each other. The world had indeed never seen anything like that happening in its short history! A sad, sad day indeed. How can you justify the deaths of billions of people, all in one blink of an eye, for the ambition of the few?" The war, of course, has been and will continue to be a touchy subject for the congregation. Sobs and wails of anguish were heard quite loudly now.

The decision to bring up the topics of war had often been debated by the Arch-Anticipators, but in the end, they decided to incorporate it anyway. While no doubt that the subject would bring untold anguish to those affected, it was necessary so that everyone would repent… so that everyone would realize their own overpowering ambition and greed.

Anticipator Webster had fallen silent, his head bowed as he listened to the sounds of repentance, as he let the gravity of his words sink into the minds of his listeners. "We cannot undo what has passed," he whispered, loud enough for the congregation to hear, "nor can we blame others for what happened. Face it, it was all a reflection of our imperfection, as the children of darkness. In the end, there will be darkness. In the end, there will be our destruction. All because of our… flaws. It is impossible for us to change the way we are. After all, we are human, the children of darkness."

His voice rose slightly. "But, there is hope. As always, there is a way out from this darkness to light. There is a path, to salvation." Anticipator Webster beamed as his voice took on its former strength. "Hear, every one of you children of darkness, and rejoice! Dwell not in your imperfection! For verily, the Chosen Ones will come and deliver us from this darkness! As it has been foretold long ago, even before the tragedy came into our lives!"

Moans were heard throughout the room now. Moans of hope, fueled by the promise of deliverance. "It has been written. The world as we know it will end, but the Chosen Ones will come from beyond the veil that divides our world from theirs! And they will come to take us to the world where light shines upon us… so that we may not be the children of darkness anymore!" The Anticipator gazed around the room. "Six, yes, verily, six shall come. It has been written. Beyond our world! And behold! On the day of the Arrival, the very heavens shall resound with the voice of joy…"

A sudden crack of lightning was heard outside as the rain continued. The Anticipator looked through the stained glass window briefly, annoyed, before continuing, "The very heavens shall resound with the voice of joy. The sky shall weep with gladness. For in that day, they shall…"

He never managed to finish the sentence.

As if his words have been fulfilled in that one instant, he saw a young man walking out of a wall beside the altar. The man seemed confused by the sudden change in scenery, and he stopped as he looked around.

Gasps were heard around the room, and the Anticipator turned to face the young man. His jaw went slack. He rubbed his wide eyes to make sure that he wasn’t seeing things. The man looked real enough to him... there were no strange, flickering lights that usually accompanied a holographic image.

And as he gazed at the lone man, five others abruptly walked out of the same wall. "See, Becky, I told you that Pete found another…" The young woman, one of the three in the group, abruptly stopped talking as she tried to understand the situation into which they seem to have stumbled.

"We seem to have walked into the middle of a church service or something," the first man said to the others. "You know, Mom always told me that being late to church is a habit you better not develop." He appraised the wide-eyed Anticipator before him. "I hope we aren’t interrupting anything," he continued, almost apologetically.

The Anticipator’s mouth moved soundlessly, unable to say anything. And when he finally recovered enough of his wits, he managed to continue his sermon, but this time not in the voice that he had used to impress the congregation. "…For in that day, they shall walk amidst the believers to bring good tidings," he whispered in reverence and awe.

"I believe that our sudden appearance had alarmed this man," another man on the group said politely. "I would be very surprised, myself, if my sensors were faced with the impression that somehow the immutable laws of physics have been broken."

"Like the act of walking through solid objects, even though if we look at the molecular structure, they do compose primarily of empty space," the other man in the group added dryly.

Pandemonium broke out as the congregation tried to come to terms with the event that really should’ve been impossible. Wails were heard once again as many prostrated themselves, muttering unintelligible words. The words "Chosen Ones" were soon whispered amongst them and within seconds even those who had been staring at the newcomers prostrated themselves as well.

As the six looked around in confusion and wonder, the Anticipator himself slowly sank to the floor, prostrating while whispering the words that were easily heard throughout the room, thanks to the voice amplifier that he had within his service robe:

"In the beginning, there was darkness. In the end, there will no longer be darkness. For the Chosen Ones have come among us to deliver us to the light."

Mouze1
20th Oct 2002, 19:24
Wowee, great chapters Dell and vakusuma. Wow.

Am I correct in assuming that it is now my turn to write? Or did I miss Nightstalkers part? Anyway, I will start my chapter plan just in case it is my turn.

Good to see you again Dell. Hope all is well with you.

Dell
20th Oct 2002, 22:09
Posting Bombshells now! That chapter is a 'boomer', Vakusuma, and I love it! Takes us right into a whole new adventure....willy-nilly and away we go!

Yep, Mouse, you are up next my girl. Nightstalker passed because of that dreaded WB ... writer's block. I wrote in his place, Vakusuma took my place this time around, and you are "it" in this writer's game of tag.

Our only time limits apply to the limiting of how much time we can take to write and post (two weeks), not how quickly we can write and post...fast is good! Really keeps the story moving and motivates the writers to get busy...

I think it encourages the readers too, don't you?

Again, lovely chapter 'Vakusuma! :)

vakusuma
21st Oct 2002, 02:37
Thanks for the kind words :) Don't use the words bombshell, though, or I might just get arrested for suspected terrorism... :eek: ;)

EDIT: John, I made a bit of correction on the conversation between Daniel and Dave. If you can kindly replace the two paragraphs in your page... would be appreciated. Thanks :)

Chilled Unit
21st Oct 2002, 18:36
Sure thing... really great chapter too!

:)

4Eyes
22nd Oct 2002, 06:46
Great chapters, people. Thi sstory is getting more and more interesting everytime. Kinda gave me a bit of inspiration for MAS#4 too, though in an indirect way.

Vak, how's MAS#2 coming along? I'm pretty curious about how that story continues.

Dell
23rd Oct 2002, 19:52
OOOOOPPPPSSSS!

Nightstalker, I just today picked up the MAS3 Chapter part you sent me. I think we have a serious communication problem! As I am sure you would notice had you read this and the old MAS3 topic, it went something like this:

I wrote to you asking for your chapter part, Chapter Six Part four. You replied that you had writer's block and were asking Vakusuma to write for you. I spoke to him and he was very busy with school...so I quickly wrote and posted Chapter Six, Part Four on October 18.

Vakusama was clear to write just after that, and with great inspiration, wrote and posted Chapter Seven, Part One, on October 20. *See all the dates and chapter parts above.

Now, today, October 23, I just received a chapter part from you....Chapter Six, Part 4!

Nightstalker, sorry, but we have gone way past your Chapter part and have moved the story well along into a new adventure...please read the above postings.

Mouse is well into her chapter part now (chapter Seven, Part 2), and the story is really moving! Sorry that you appear to have wasted your time and effort on what I am sure is a good part (I have not read it yet), but as I said, Mouse is writing now, Chilled_Unit is plotting his turn, and then, if you keep up with the story, it will be your turn again...

We are writing fast now to keep the interest going in the story, and any delayed parts willl simply be written by someone else to keep things going.


Well, hello there 4eyes! Long time no see! Glad you are liking our story...and we are always open for guest writers who can keep up with our pace! I happen to know you can!

Mouze1
23rd Oct 2002, 22:45
If Nightstalker has a chapter part done now that would fit into the storyline at this point, I wouldn't mind letting him post it in my writing turn and I will continue writing on the chapter I have started and then it would be ready to post next.

As all of you writers know, I am a short-chapter writer. It just feels better to me at this point.

Anyway, do let me know.

Dell
24th Oct 2002, 15:40
Sorry Nightstalker and Mouze. I just read the chapter part and while it has excellent theories about why each person could go through ceretain Nexus points and not others, it doesn't fit the action as we have moved it on into the new Cathedral World.

In turn, Nightstalker, maybe you can bring some of your theory into play, but only in sync with the action going on at the time. It is an excellent idea...but they have all so far moved into the Robot World and the Cathedral World without problems, though the humans cannot seem to share each other's worlds.

I think this is because they cannot create a paradox by existing simultaneously in different worlds...and remember, each of their worlds have slightly different histories that began with the big Bang and all the histories directly concern them.

Nightstalker
24th Oct 2002, 23:11
Sorry for not replying. I have been busy :(

Well...Don't worry Dell I has late allready (I knew that). And the chapter I wrote was more of an explanation.

I'll take my next spot after CU. So write on Mouze, I can wait a little longer :) Good luck with you chapter.

See ya around...

Nightstalker.

Mouze1
29th Oct 2002, 00:37
NEXUS

Chapter 7, Part Two

By Mouze

"Oh oh!" Becky exclaimed.

Like a sibilant wave, a quiet whisper swept through the congregation. "Ohhh ohhh." The words were Becky’s but the emphasis was entirely different.

"I believe it would be prudent to leave this place right now," Daniel whispered to Pete. "We should retreat to the cabin." Pete nodded agreement, then motioned to the rest of the group to step back through the portal. In one swift movement, the group returned to the field of crystal flowers and went back to the cabin.

Once inside, they all started talking at once. Somewhat shaken by what they had accidently stumbled into, Ina was the first to voice what they were all thinking. "Well," she said in a slightly quivering almost whisper, "I guess we really put our foot in it this time. We were obiviously in some sort of cathedral and there was a service being conducted, but did anyone else catch the part about ‘Visitors’ and ‘Chosen Ones’?" Ina slowly looked at the group, waiting for some response…actually any response would be great she thought to herself.

Still trying to grasp what they had just seen and heard, no one had an answer that really made any sense. Becky got up and busied herself putting water on the stove to make tea and Lila went to the cupboard and set the table. Ina sat down at the table and clasped her hands together hoping to stop the trembling.

Everyone was so deep in thought that when Dave spoke, it was almost startling."Ok, we’ve discovered another Nexus point. Where it fits in we’ll have to discover later. There's no telling what that congregation or the minister must have thought about our sudden appearance. I know it would have unnerved me if it was the other way around. The speed with which the congregation picked up on that ‘Oh oh’ of Becky’s is scary. Any suggestions about where we go and what we do now?"

"I think we should continue our plan for mapping out the different Nexus points like we planned. We can investigate that last one later, but I think it’s important we know exactly how many there are surrounding the cabin. We also need to know if the cabin is the hub, so to speak, of all the points," Pete said.

Looking around the room he saw everyone nodding in agreement. "Okay, then everyone mark on your maps that we have discovered at least two points, "Robot World", and we can call this new one "Cathedral World. Is that all right with everyone?" Again yes nods from the human group. Daniel however just sat quietly watching and listening, absorbing what he saw and heard in the world they just left into his data banks.

Having finished their tea and cookies, the women tidied up while the men checked backpacks and supplies. Making sure the fire was out in the stove and fireplace, the group left what was becoming to feel more and more like home. With little discussion, they decided to investigate a spot midway between the two Nexus Points already mapped. The air was fresh smelling, the kind of smell that gave a person the hint of rain moving in from the distance. Birds were singing, some with the sheer joy of life, others announcing intruders. The group had walked about half a mile when they came to a small clearing. A young doe was grazing peacefully until she became aware of the group; then, with the grace and swiftness of foot of her kind, she disappeared.

"Oh, wasn't she beautiful?" Becky asked. "But she seemed to have disappeared right in the center of the clearing, not into the woods."

For the first time since they had returned to the cabin, Daniel spoke. "Yes, I believe we may have found another Nexus point. Shall we continue?" Not waiting for an answer, Daniel stepped forward and headed into the clearing. Without hesitation, the rest of the group followed.

Not sure of what might await them the group moved quietly and quickly, while remaining close together, catching up Daniel just as he disappeared into the next world. What awaited them there was something indescribable. Beauty, pure undamaged, beauty. This new world was trees and flowers- -mostly the cystal talking flowers- -and animals like none ever seen before. Not monsters, but combinations of animals. The group stood silently absorbing the tranquillity that was before them.

Lila broke the silence, speaking softly she said, "Its getting late, shouldn't we be getting back? We could come back in the morning and explore here."

After a brief discussion, it was deceided that some dinner and a good night’s rest would be very welcome. So with a little sadness at leaving all this beauty, the group made their way back to the portal entrance, then started the walk back to the cabin.



Anticipator Webster was still muttering to himself as he lay on the cool floor. He knew he should report the "Visitation" to the Arch-Anticipators before someone from the congregation did it. But he just couldn't bring himself to do right now, so he retreated to the part of his service that fueled the promise of salvation and deliverance. He repeated it, and in the now empty church his amplified voice echoed and reechoed, giving him a strange sense of power.

Finally rising from the floor, he looked around to see if the Chosen Ones had left any sign of their presence. Finding none, he repeated the passage hearlding their coming. Again the echoing sounds of his voice filled him with a sense of strength. Should he report to the Arch-Anticipators? His conscience said yes, but the desire to be associated with the Chosen Ones made his decision difficult. No, he thought to himself, as he approached the wall where the visitors had entered and exited, I will keep this to myself for as long as possible.

Why if he personally welcomed them, perhaps they might even return and bless him with a position of power. Smiling to himself Anticipator Webster appoached the wall of the church intending to examine it closely for any evidence of the Divine Visitation. As he drew near, he tripped over his long robe, and as he threw out his hand to catch himself on the wall, he fell through it and landed with a resounding splat in a mudpuddle.

As the group approached the white bellflowers near the cabin, they stopped in surprise when out of nowhere the person they had seen in charge of the services in the Cathedral World dropped out of nowhere into a puddle and slid unceremoniously to a stop at their feet…

vakusuma
29th Oct 2002, 05:32
Good work! Nice portrayal of greed overwhelming reason there!

Dell
29th Oct 2002, 16:53
We are flying, we are flying, we are movin' right along!


Great chapter, Mouse! Chilled Unit, are you ready to fly?

4Eyes
30th Oct 2002, 07:27
Great chapter, Mouze!

There's just one little thing I noticed. You wrote 'Administrator Webster', though previously it was 'Anticipator Webster' (See Vak's and Dell's chapters)

Keep up the good work, people! This story is getting better and better.

vakusuma
30th Oct 2002, 07:34
Even I missed that one :)

Chilled Unit
30th Oct 2002, 21:55
Great Chapter!

I will update the site post haste!

(And work on my next one too :D)

vakusuma
31st Oct 2002, 05:26
CU, you might want to update the link on the front page. That link on 7-1 led to the Navigation frame and not the chapter itself... :eek:

Chilled Unit
31st Oct 2002, 11:04
d'oh :o

Dell
31st Oct 2002, 18:41
*Oh Oh....listens for sibilant echo. Hearing none, she asks, "Mouse, will you give the Anticipator his proper title in your chapter part? And Chilled_Unit, will you correct it on the home page in all the proper places? I assume you got the chapter linked up right? "*

There is just the faintest whisper of sound that might have been the echo of an oh oh, or perhaps it was only the rustle of passing bat wings. Trysting at the cemetery again, you know...it is Halloween today, after all.

http://www.castlemountains.com/postcards/hallothumbs/halloani2005.gif

Chilled Unit
31st Oct 2002, 21:16
I vant to suck your blooooodd http://www.svenreck.claranet.de/fantasy/vampir08.gif

*cough*

I mean... everything's updated :D

Happy Halloween!

Chilled Unit
7th Nov 2002, 19:01
Nexus Chapter Seven, Part Three

By Chilled_Unit

"You dare to intrude on the world of the Gods!?"

The booming voice was Daniel’s and if it were possible for anybody to be more surprised than they already were, it would be the humans…all of them

Anticipator Webster was too fearful to look up, and did not see the astonished looks Daniel was getting. Pete opened his mouth to form a question, but was quickly stopped by Dave. The robot’s cool logic had perceived the threat of the "foreigner" and without moral question had interpreted the data gathered from the short excursion in the cathedral to determine what to do. This person thinks we are Gods, and if we reinforce that belief he will not dare harm us.

Dave had realized Daniel’s plan and thought it a good one, but by the look on Ina’s face she had also realized what was happening…and didn’t like it one bit. She turned on her heel and marched quickly back toward the cabin with Lila, full of questions for her mom, in tow like a dinghy bobbing along in the wake of a sailing ship.

"You have… flowers… ?!"

As though in reply, the flowers murmured among themselves, discussing this strange intrusion, their bell-like voices like faraway songs on a carillion.

The cowering Anticipator, fearing terrible vengeance, was caught between steeling himself against the rain of painful blows from above that must surely be coming and catching glimpses of the amazing sights of the world around him. His astonished curiosity had won the battle, and as soon as his words were spoken he gulped and clenched his eyes tight in fear.

"Come." Dave said in a softer but no less confident tone. "We Gods are not as vengeful as you may think."

The still fearful Webster slowly took Dave’s hand and finding reassurance in his eyes stood up and followed him to the cabin, a little too stunned to notice just how closely his movements were being watched by Daniel.

Webster was surprised to find the ramshackle cabin comfortably warm… very comfortably warm he thought, one could rest a while here quite happily, and before he could digest all that was happening to him he was soundly and comfortably sleeping in the spot Martin had occupied not 48 hours earlier.

"Well what on earth do we do now? We seem to be collecting comatose meddlers!" Ina was angry.

"Mom.. shhh. you’ll wake him up," Lila hissed.

"Oh no, he won’t wake," Daniel said confidently, pleased with himself for his quick resolution of the problem that the Anticipator’s arrival had caused.

"You… you caused this!" Ina was obviously not impressed with Daniel’s attitude.

"Ina, what else would you have done? He did what he had to to keep that… Priest… from running goodness knows where and saying goodness knows what," Dave calmly interjected.

Ina took a deep breath. Yes, Daniel’s actions had prevented something worse happening. She lowered her tone. "Yes, but we are plainly not Gods, Dave. Pretending to be so is wrong, and you know it."

It was Dave’s turn to take a deep breath and consider the events of the last ten minutes.

"Okay," Ina continued, "sorry for shouting Daniel." Ina turned to the robot. "But I do wish you had found a different way to subdue him."

"But it was the logical thing to do." Daniel replied, sensing the bind he had put the group in. "Sorry, I acted too quickly."

"No." Dave smiled. "You did what your data told you was best, you acted logically. We’re just… not entirely used to that."

An air of calm acceptance settled over the cabin as each slowly let the nuances of the new group dynamic Daniel had brought with him sink in.

"Well what are we going to do about him?" Becky nodded towards the peacefully sleeping Anticipator. "I can’t just continually have farm hands show up at home you know, Mom will know something is up." She grinned in spite of the seriousness of the situation.

"No, not this one." Daniel said. "It’s one thing to alter one facet of a human’s personality, but to totally deconstruct the intertwined layers of belief and behaviour that this man had built up over a lifetime of living in his specific environment would require the work of three or four skilled mentalics working as a team, and I am but one."

"And what of the hundreds who saw us?" Lila wondered aloud. "Did you see the anguish on their faces? And how quickly they picked up on Becky’s oh oh and made something religious, or at least devout out of it? They seemed miserable. I thought the humans we saw in the fields on Daniel’s world were unhappy, but these were worse."

"Yeah, they sure seem to need some kind of help," Pete offered somberly.

"But Pete, we are not gods, what can we do to help them?" Ina was thoughtful.

"Daniel, can you control him enough to keep him subdued… sleepy perhaps?" Dave asked. Daniel nodded that he could. "Well, why don’t we ask him what we can do to help them?" Dave looked at the sleeping Anticipator.

-------------------------

Dave sighed and sipped the coffee that Lila had made for everyone. Ina was quiet, but listening carefully to Daniel and the "Anticipator" person without directly taking part in the interaction and secretly hoping she wasn’t too visible as a "God" to him.

They had learned a lot in the past hour. This Anticipator Webster was an important man in his world. He had a high position in their religion, the sole religion, and was therefore a man of power, but he was fearful of those above him whom he called "Arch-Anticipators". These men- -always men Ina noted- -seemed from Webster’s words to serve as law enforcement and government officials too, as well as religious leaders. A powerful heirarchy, indeed!

The mythos of the religion was even more interesting. From Webster’s words, backed up by Daniels assurance that the man was telling the truth, it appeared to be based on very recent history. The basic precept that man is born into darkness is shrouded in the mists of time, but their belief that humans had craved for light and managed to create lights so bright that millions had died did appear to be more than a mere myth.

"Well, that would explain the very real anguish we saw," Lila said in a low tone. "They had a war too. Like ours."

"Where do we fit in then?" Dave was tired of the conversation. The world Webster was describing felt more regimented than the robot reality they had just escaped.

"The Gods will help us to atone for our sins." Webster droned.

"Why do you need to atone, and why do you need Gods to help you?" Dave wearily asked.

"We need to atone for the horror we caused." The Anticipator paused. "We need to atone to make life return to the barren plains. We need to unite our worlds…." And with that he fell back blissfully into sleep.

"Sorry." Daniel said. "I tried to keep him as long as I could, but he genuinely is tired and I couldn’t keep him lucid much longer, better for him to sleep."

"Well I sure hope no-one saw him come through." Pete voiced his big worry.

"I don’t think it would matter too much for now." Lila said. "Time stops in our worlds when we are here, right? What’s to say it didn’t stop in his world the instant he left it?"

The group nodded to each other. Ina sighed and poured herself another cup of coffee.

"What did he mean by ‘unite our worlds’?" Becky asked quietly, her voice rising as her train of thought developed. "Our worlds are divided too aren’t they? We had a war didn’t we? Will this ‘atoning’ help us? What do we need to do to atone?"

"Becky," Dave smiled at her gently. "Calm down… we really don’t know how much of what this man is saying is religious rhetoric and how much is fact."

"What should we do?" Pete asked of no one in particular. The group fell silent, lost deep in their thoughts.

"And what about the flowers?" Dave offered rhetorically. "He reacted to the flowers very oddly, but he knew what they were all right."

"Well for now I think we should put the flowers aside." Ina had made up her mind. "I’m not happy about being a ‘God’, but I want to find out more about atonement, and I think the only way to do that is to follow mister Anticipator back into his world and see where he leads us. . .

vakusuma
7th Nov 2002, 20:38
Perfect... that's kinda what I have in mind for the follow up :)

One small nit though... I think the belief was that they are the 'Chosen Ones' and not 'Gods' unless you consider the 'Chosen Ones' as 'Gods' or something.

Good work, though.

Dell
7th Nov 2002, 22:59
I'm running out of superlatives here, people! This story is taking on twists not to mention curves and whilrligigs as it moves along. Looks like we are now on the trail of some way to solve the Nexus schism...but do we really want to do that?

I mean if the divisions were healed, wouldn't the Nexus Points disappear? Or would some of them remain? And clearly the points work both ways. What if our world were invaded? What then? Or we became a battleground for other realities?

And my imagination is working overtime, too. Is that quiet little animal world where the bell flowers seem to have originated the source of....

Oh well, to be continued.

Nightstalker, you are up next...try not to take the full two weeks...we are really moving along nicely and the story has good momentum going.

Good chapter, Chilled _Unit.:D

Chilled Unit
7th Nov 2002, 23:38
Gods is Ina's interpretation of the situation :D

And I had thought that them helping in this world would at least help them to find a clue as to how to help their own worlds, I think they might need a few nore clues in a few more alternative realities before they begin to get close to solving the puzzle :D

No one said it would be easy for them! :D

Mouze1
9th Nov 2002, 03:12
Good chapter CU. Leads to all sorts of possiblities.

Thank you for pointing out my booboo 4eyes. I totally missed it when I proof read it. Have it corrected now.

Nightstalker
11th Nov 2002, 22:00
Sorry for the late reply...but I'm on it.

Martin.

Dell
14th Nov 2002, 15:40
Glad to hear it, Nightstalker! You probably received my email, too.

We really appreciate your working fast on this because we want to keep it moving now...it's called momentum and makes it easier for all the writer's to keep in touch and do good work!

Besides, the story is really beginning to take shape and fly!

Dell
18th Nov 2002, 17:48
uhhh....Hello, Nightstalker, are you awake?

Chilled_unit posted on the 7th...three days from now that will be a full two weeks for you. Technically, your time would have started on the following Saturday, the 9th. Thus, your two weeks is OVER on the 23rd.

Will you or will you not meet your obligation? Clearly, you are not going to post as quickly as the rest of us have been doing...but are you going to meet the full two week plus the extra days you had?

Please let someone know asap...I said it so often I sound like a broken record: we are really trying to move this story along quickly to keep the momentum going; if you can't make it a little faster than the full time, let someone know, please.

Mouze1
21st Nov 2002, 02:05
I think maybe the writing gremlins have him held hostage.

Dell
23rd Nov 2002, 01:29
Sorry to report that Nightstalker has been passed in this rotation. Here then is a chapter part by a guest writer who wishes to remain anonymous.

Chapter 7, Part 4
By "Anonymous"

Webster awoke refreshed with the smell of coffee, real coffee, filling the cabin. He could remember the taste of real coffee. Although he was still confused by his surroundings, he was pleased to see that the chosen ones they called "Daniel" and "Ina" were smiling at him and offering him a cup. He took it gratefully with thanks, then inhaled the aroma deeply before slowly sipping. Truly ambrosia of the Gods, he thought.

It wasn¹t long before the rest of the group were up, first rolling up bedrolls, then sitting down at the big kitchen table to enjoy their own cups. Pete, Becky and Lila shared
an excited grin. They were going on another adventure, and the idea of exploring another new world where they would be considered Gods was intriguing.

"Anticipator Webster," Dave spoke, "we have decided we would very much like to see more of your world. Do you think that would be possible without causing too much of a stir? We would want to remain unnoticed, incognito if possible."

"Y..Y..Yes," Webster stammered. It was told in the prophecies that the Chosen Ones would come to bring order and light to the world, but he was still having trouble fitting the prophecies into his current situation. "B..But how will we get there?.. I mean, I was there, but now I am here. You brought me here. How else could I have gotten here? Will you take me back?"

"Yes, we brought you here, and do not worry we will accompany you back, but we will need your assistance in your world." Daniel, his processing being quicker then the rest again led the way. He had interpreted Webster¹s behavior and was acting to capitalize on it, speaking with a calmly superior and assured tone of voice. "We shall need you to be our guide, Guide of the Gods, a most trusted and important position."

----------------

It didn¹t take long for the travelers to pack up their rucksacks and set off from the cabin. The fresh morning breeze carried the rich and aromatic scents of the woodland with it, and the sound of birds declaring territory announced their presence to the world. Pete smiled to himself as he carefully observed Webster. The man seemed overawed.

"Not only flowers, but animals too, my.. how lush the vegetation is.. and the light, oh the light! The sun!" Webster was barely aware he was speaking aloud, not noticing the group had come to a standstill.

"If you like this, you’ll be speechless when you see the other place we visited." Pete grinned, placing his arm around Webster’s shoulder half pushing the now hopelessly puzzled man through the nexus point.
----------------

The cathedral was more unpleasant on closer inspection than it had seemed when they had first glimpsed it. The stench of rotting food hung in the air, and Becky quickly realized why. Grabbing Ina¹s sleeve, she pointed towards the rough barren stone wall of the building where a charred pedestal sat in a small recess. Placed on the pedestal was a half-eaten ear of corn full of mold and a plate of decomposing apples. Her eyes followed the wall back into the gloom to see several similar alcoves.

"The offerings." Webster noticed what had caught their eye. "Strictly speaking they are sacred, but the people are desperate so they risk a bite here and there. They soon regret it though, as food it is cursed. We only have a few skilled growers who place these here to remind us of times when we had the power to grow untainted produce. Growing anything here in these times is a miracle."

He pointed toward the roof where a row of tiny windows stretched the length of the wall, their panes- -where there were panes- -smashed and blackened. The sky visible through the broken panes was a fearsome dark grey, a perpetual twilight.

"That is all the light we have now." Webster¹s voice trailed off into the gloomy cavernous space of the cathedral.

The group slowly walked the length of the building, peering out into the darkness of the empty rows of seats on either side. Lila and Becky gripped each others hand and took comfort from the fact that Pete was close behind. They stopped at the massive wooden doors that lead to the world beyond.

"Stay close to me," Webster said, not realizing that everyone had intended to do precisely that. "And wear these, please." He stepped into a deep alcove adjacent to the doorway and handed each of the group a dark hooded cloak of rough cloth. "The people will think you are Sub-Anticipators in training if you keep the hoods up."

Nervous glances were exchanged as they donned the robes and carefully pulled their hoods up. It was a subdued group who followed Webster to the massive door. "Follow me," he said as it creaked open on a whole new dark world. . .

vakusuma
23rd Nov 2002, 02:05
And for your information, I'm not the Anonymous writer this time :D

Thanks, whoever you are. It's a good chapter.

Dell has asked me to take the next turn. Gladly, I'll say. Let's see what I can do with this setup.

vakusuma
27th Nov 2002, 19:37
Thanksgiving holiday is upon me.

Time to start writing now :)

Dell
29th Nov 2002, 00:14
Believe me, I can hardly wait! Go for it!

vakusuma
1st Dec 2002, 04:14
Chapter 8, Part 1

A wasteland. A God-forsaken wasteland. There were really no other words to describe it.

“This, o Chosen Ones, is the world that is destined for you to renew,” Anticipator Webster said in a subdued voice as he gazed around the world outside the cathedral.

Cold, arid wind blew the robes that they were wearing… a wind that had originated somewhere from the desert beyond, unabated by vegetation, and which blew across the town and into another stretch of desert on the other side of the small town. The windows of the houses creaked as the wind blew by. The houses were merry once, but now dull and grey. Along the street that led away from the cathedral, similar houses lined up. The streets were deserted, although sometimes a quick figure in robes would walk between the houses. Old electric cars were parked along the streets, and sometimes mingled with the newer cars were the decaying gasoline cars… they didn’t bear their age well.

It was almost like a typical desert town in Nevada. There was no green vegetation anywhere among the houses. Desert vegetation grew sparsely, but even they were not numerous. And beyond the houses, one could only see brown sand, brown sand… and more brown sand.

Becky and Lila unconsciously gripped Pete’s hands harder. Pete also swallowed as he put his arm around Lila, apparently needing as much support as the women. Becky turned her gaze from the town for a moment, her pretty lips pursed in a frown.

“For indeed, mankind is the child of darkness,” the Anticipator quoted softly. “How do you justify the death of billions of people, all in one blink of an eye, for the ambition of the few?” He waved his hand at the wasteland around him. “In the end, we are all responsible for what has happened.”

“What… time is it?” was all Ina could say.

“Noon,” the Anticipator said softly. “Or somewhere between early morning and late afternoon. Of course, who could tell? Long ago, people told of the sun, and how there was not a single cloud in the day to obscure it. Beautiful, beautiful day.” He raised his hands to the heavens and cried out, “O, hear, accursed cloud! Thee who doth bear witness to the evils of humanity! For thy merciless grip hath forever imprisoned the light of day, who giveth life for us all!” He lowered his hands and turned to the six. “Darkness, in the day and night. The only way mankind can gaze at the sun is to rise to the heavens, above the clouds. But even the tallest buildings can't reach the skies! Only few places on this world have enough sunlight to grow things, and elsewhere, we have to focus the sun’s rays. And not even that helps…” Webster turned back to the world, and started to walk down the steps of the cathedral to the dry brown area where once there had been lawn. Various stunted cacti grew there. “The clean bombs, ones so cleverly designed by the hands of Darkness, were not enough. Children of darkness as we are, not even those were enough for us. And so they turned to the fires of heaven. Fire and brimstone rained upon us, destroying all living things and rendering the soil inhabitable. Even those who escaped the fire died. Very few did remain.”

“Nuclear bombs?” Dave exclaimed, shell-shocked. Ever since the invention of the clean bombs, nuclear bombs had been slowly dismantled… the reminder of the ultimate atrocity of mankind destroyed forever. Or at least in his world.

“Something more evil,” Webster said slowly, spitting each word out as if poison. “A classified weapon of mass destruction. It tore up the ground and everything living, reducing everything into dust particles so fine that it would take centuries for them to settle down.” He kicked the dust under his feet as he spoke. “This is but a small part of what imprisoned us up there. It, too, poisoned the soil here. I fear that mankind will perish before the air clears and the toxin denatures.” He laughed, a mirthless sound that sounded far away. “History repeats itself. Millions of years ago, this calamity arrived in form of a meteor. Within centuries, it wiped out the masters of the Earth… the dinosaurs. How ironic that it should happen to us, the new masters of the Earth.”

Nobody spoke as they followed the cleric into the streets. They walked in silence as Webster led them to a peculiar structure next to the cathedral. The structure was rising from the ground like a hemisphere, but the top part of the structure was transparent. Unlike the houses around it, the structure looked much newer, but there were signs of neglect around the structure as well. They walked up to the door, and with Webster holding the door open for them, they walked in.

The inside of the dome was surprisingly empty… with one exception. Standing tall in the middle of the dome was a single apple tree. It rose majestically from a mound of soil in an enclosure. Sunrays seemed to materialize from nowhere above the tree, getting more and more brilliant as it descended. The end effect was stunning; it looked like that the apple tree was suffused by a brilliant, if slightly subdued, halo… compared to the darkness around it.

Anticipator Webster walked slowly, almost reverently, to the apple tree. With his hands he reached up and plucked an apple from the tree. Turning, he showed the apple to the six. The apple was rather wrinkled, and the color too dark. And yet, the Anticipator held the apple out like it was the most precious thing in the world.

“This is an apple,” he explained as if not everyone knew what an apple was. “Of course, the fruit experts say that not even an apple tree grown in the Dome of Light can produce a truly succulent apple. Even grown in the imported soil somewhere from the relatively untainted parts of Alberta, and bathed under the focused light of day from the lens above this dome, this is the best that this dome can ever hope to produce.” Webster turned to the rest of the party and bowed slightly before continuing, “I see now that the offering that we have raised to you was poor in comparison to what you have been accustomed to. The Lands of the Gods was indeed untainted and rich. In a sense, I guess our offering had become instead a plea for help… by showing you the ugliness of our world, which stemmed from the ugliness of humanity’s own nature…” Quite suddenly he dropped to his knees and prostrated furiously. “Forgive our ignorance… but have mercy on our world. You’re the only one who could help us!” His voice was suddenly filled with panic, as if he expected to be fried on the spot by a bolt of lightning for offering something inappropriate.

Silence reigned from a few more seconds. “We will help you,” finally Ina said gently, touching the cleric gently on his shoulders. She turned at Becky. “Becky, you know a lot more about tending trees than the rest of us. What do you think?”

Becky stepped forward and stood below the apple tree. For a moment, the ray of light suffused her as well, and a soft halo radiated around her. If Anticipator Webster hadn’t known better, it would’ve been very easy to mistake her for a deity at that moment. But she looked up, picked another apple with her hand, and bent down to examine the soil.

“The sunlight is noticeably dimmer than what a healthy apple tree would’ve needed, but it’d do. After all, it did grow tall,” Becky finally concluded as she gazed sadly up… at the huge focusing lens above her. “I’ll say that it’s the soil, instead, that had been poisoned. Even up there in Alberta.” She scooped up some of the dirt and held it out to Daniel. “Daniel, if you can analyze this soil, can you suggest a way to wash the poison out of the soil?”

Daniel’s expression didn’t change as he held the soil in his hand. “I will need to go back to Cereplex to have this analyzed,” he said simply.

“But, isn’t the Cereplex looking for you?” Lila exclaimed anxiously.

“I’ll take that chance,” Daniel said. “I know several older soil analyzers in Agri One that are not connected to the Cereplex. And once I know the nature of the soil, I’ll access the Cereplex. All the knowledge in our world is stored in the Cereplex, in a massive archive, but not even the Cereplex can maintain absolute control over all the data contained within. Depending on the nature of the information, it may take several microseconds of interval for the Cereplex to do a regular maintenance over the most mundane data within.” He smiled slightly. “Which is, of course, long enough for me to leech the data off the Cereplex.”

“That sounds dangerous,” finally Pete concluded.

“Trust me,” Daniel assured.

And he gave him something that looked almost like a roguish grin…

Nightstalker
4th Dec 2002, 13:24
NEXT....

Great chapter Vak.

Nightstalker.

Dell
4th Dec 2002, 18:52
Absolutely great chapter, Vakusuma! Does it up dandy and leaves plenty of room for the next writer to move it along!

I am fascinated by the fact that Pete and Lila are romancing a little and Becky is not too happy about that. Yet, they are all such good friends . . .

Good to see you, Nightstalker! I am not sure what you mean by next??? That you are waiting for the 'next' Chapter Part, or you intend to write the 'next' one yourself???

I think if you reread the letter I sent you, you will see the order of rotation is pretty clear, but just in case you forgot, it is
Dell, Mouze, Chilled Unit, then YOU!

So I am the lucky person who gets to follow this great writing by Vakusuma. :) Wonder if I can do as well? Anyway, I am writing it at this very moment...

Nightstalker
5th Dec 2002, 14:20
I just meant that de next writer should start writing. I know I'm behind CU...but I don't see vak in your list :p

Nightstalker.

vakusuma
5th Dec 2002, 16:25
I'm supposed to be a Guest Writer, even now. Heh. The core still consists of you guys.

Dell
5th Dec 2002, 23:59
You know what? How would you like to be a regular on our ongoing little epic, Vakusuma?

Do you want to make it official and join the roster in a regular rotation? Speaking for all of us, that would be delightful.

Please do give it some serious consideration!:)

4Eyes
6th Dec 2002, 07:31
Hey! Don't try and steal our writers, Dell! :D

Dell
6th Dec 2002, 16:22
Darn, 4Eyes, you are invited too!

Our chapter parts are very very short to make it easier to contribute...and we do plot out our actions in advance so everyone is following the same drummer. That is MAS writing. Remember how really well Group One did on MAS2 by following that precept?

Dell
8th Dec 2002, 00:01
Chapter 8, Part 2
by Dell

Just that simply it was decided, and once their course of action was agreed upon, they didn't stay in the depressing atmosphere of the apple tree dome any longer. With one accord the five humans of the group followed Daniel from the dome. As they made their way back to the Cathedral, a confused Anticipator Webster followed. He had understood little of what had been said after Becky's evaluation of the tree, the light provided, and the soil in which it grew, but he did understand that the 'Gods' had decided on a course of action to help his world. That was enough. The jubilation that coursed through him made him want to either drop to the ground and prostrate himself in thanks, or run through the town banging on doors and shouting out the news to the people. He did neither, but his step was light as he went into the Cathedral behind them.

Dave caught up with Daniel and quietly asked him if he could do something to ensure that Anticipator Webster did not remember their method of moving between the Cabin nexus world and this one. No one wanted unexpected and unwanted visitors there; to make sure it didn't happen again, Anticipator Webster's mind had to be manipulated...whether they wanted to do it or not.

"I can install a simple and lasting block, yes, but we must always make very sure no one else is present in the Cathedral at the time of our coming and going. There will be a lot of that done if we are going to really help this world and not just make a token show of it." A small frown line appeared in Daniel's forehead, and for a moment Dave found himself looking at Daniel's face in wonder at the marvelous methods used in his construction. So nearly human, he thought. So close...

As they paused, the rest of the group caught up to them, and Dave asked, "Anticipator Webster, would you make sure no one is inside the Cathedral now and lock the doors? We must have our privacy if we are to carry out our plans to restore your world to productivity for your people."

Anticipator Webster nodded furiously and hurried off to check for unwanted persons who might be lurking back in the shadows. When he was out of earshot, Dave spoke quietly. "Whether we want to or not, Daniel has to mess with his mind to make sure he doesn't remember our comings and goings here." There were nods of agreement, and although Ina frowned a little she, too, indicated she understood the need for the action.

The subject of their quiet discussion hurried back to where they stood on the raised platform that contained the speaker's podium. "The Cathedral is empty and the doors are locked securely." He paused, a frown creasing his forehead. "I don't know what I will tell my superiors in the hierarchy. Can you tell me what to say to them? Do you want this wondrous word to spread throughout the town...and soon what is left of our ruined world? Or must you work secretly to accomplish your marvels and miracles?" His anxiety to please them was almost palpable, and each of the humans privately hoped they could do as they had promised. Well not exactly promised, but they had certainly given the man reason to believe they were going to restore his world to some kind of normalcy.

Dave sidestepped the question. "We must return now to our land and make preparations." He turned to Daniel. "Daniel?"

Daniel stepped up to the Anticipator and placed his hands on his shoulders. For just a moment, the Anticipator stiffened slightly, then relaxed, his eyes slowing closing. For a moment they stood that way, then Daniel released him and turned to the group. "We can go now...and return as often as we like. He will see us on occasion, but he will never remember having seen us arrive or depart. He will not even question that fact."

He paused, then said, "Oh, and he will explain to the Hierarchy that he is having some repairs made on the Cathedral to rectify some dangerous areas. I am sure that they will not venture here until they are sure it is quite safe for their eminent persons." There was definitely a sarcastic edge to both his voice and words. "And the key is going to be hanging from that peg over there where the robes are."

The group exchanged glances at this most human expression from Daniel, and more than one of them wondered at the amount of information he had given and received in the brief time he was in contact with Anticipator Webster's mind. It was Ina who went a bit further in her thinking, as she remembered that each of them had been "examined in depth" by Daniel as he attempted to establish their status as bona fide wild humans not of his world.

One by one they stepped up to the wall and back into their own shared cabin nexus world. It was a relieved group who found themselves sitting around the table some time later drinking a welcome cup of fresh, hot coffee. Daniel had departed as soon as they returned, still holding the handful of dirt from the apple tree dome. He said it wouldn't take him long, so they decided to wait here instead of going back to their individual worlds. Time had stopped there, so they were missing nothing by staying.

"I've been thinking," Ina said. They all chuckled.

"Certainly hope so, Mom," Lila replied, smiling hugely.

"No, seriously," Ina said. She looked around at them. "Those people are starving...and dying. They have to be to eat poisoned food. I think you all know that my job is maintaining the ecological gardens for each type of planting that we have at the Zoo. So I have access to all kinds of plants and enough know-how to deal with their needs to flourish and be healthy. That should help here. And Becky certainly has access to all kinds of farming and crop information that will obviously be needed. So that sort of solves part of the problem of that poor world."

"Just a minute! I remember something." Becky went to her pack and rummaged a moment. When she returned, she showed them what she held in her hand. It was a package of the best hybrid corn kernels. "I don't know why I put these in my pack, but I did. Think of it! We have access to all the seed from the best plants our world has to offer! And remember the last world before the Cathedral world? The one totally plant and animals? We could get plants from everywhere, even there, so getting plants for them is not the problem at all. We could harvest seeds everywhere."

After a moment, Pete spoke up. "Well, clearly the very dirt is poisoned. If that's true, then the water must be questionable too. Unless they have deep springs that escaped contamination. Do you suppose that's the case?"

"Could be," Dave replied. "I was thinking of the fact they knew to build a dome for that poor apple tree. So that protects one area. But the soil is already poisoned. So how can you feed people without dirt?"

"Hydroponics!" Becky shouted, her face lighting up. "Aquaculture! That gives you both the plants and the fish in one tidy cycle."

"Yeah," Pete answered her, "but you need clean water and clean food to put in the water for the plants and fish. And you need sunlight..."

"Well, they had a focusing device," Dave said thoughtfully. "And the Administrator said it...they couldn't get a building high enough to reach above the cloud layers. But how about satellites? We still have them, and I'm sure Daniel's world has them or could make them easily." He looked around the table. "We have practical ideas for what to do, but it all depends on what Daniel discovers about what has poisoned the earth...and if there's any way to rectify it in time to help these people survive."

Lila spoke up, her voice quietly thoughtful. "Something's bothering me. The Administrator knew the bellflowers. Was very familiar with them in fact. Other than that one time we talked with the one I picked," her face saddened, "...and killed, we haven't really discussed anything with them. We have no idea just how intelligent they actually are. Thinking back, that one seemed pretty intelligent to me, how about you guys? For some reason I think we should talk to them. I have a hunch they know something about what happened to our worlds. Maybe they can help us."

"Aha, the old female intuition at work, Lila?" Pete quipped, looking at her with affection. Becky's face clouded. It passed quickly, but for a moment the hurt was visible and both Ina and Dave noted it as possible friction brewing. Ina shook her head slightly, and glanced at Dave. He nodded, acknowledging that he too was aware of the triangle situation.

Just at that moment, they heard footsteps on the porch, and Daniel entered the room . . .

Chilled Unit
8th Dec 2002, 02:19
Great Chapter :D

Things are really moving now!!

The site will be updated first thing :)

Chilled Unit
8th Dec 2002, 22:10
Okay, site updated, and mirror update e-mailed to Nightstalker :)

4Eyes
11th Dec 2002, 15:44
I haven't read your chapter yet Dell, but I will when I'm on the way home from work (which is in two minutes). I did notice, however, that you had a couple of Administrators in your chapter where there should be Anticipators.

I'll give some thought to your offer of writing a 'guest writer's' chapter for MAS#3. Thanks for the offer.

Keep it up, people!

4Eyes

Dell
12th Dec 2002, 15:20
Well, that offer stands...and includes the MAS 4 writers...if they can stand the restrictions of writing while tightly sticking to the plot plans. Takes some mental discipline.:)

vakusuma
13th Dec 2002, 04:04
Given the relative inactivity of the other MASes... sure thing. Need to keep the pencil sharp I guess :)

Dell
14th Dec 2002, 04:30
Oh how true it is! There is nothing like a sharp pencil and a blank piece of paper to get the old creative juices flowing in a writer.

Mouze is writing away on her part, and Chilled_Unit is waiting in the wings. After him, Nightstalker waits his turn, patting his foot imatiently.

Ah...and then would you like to go for it again, Vakusuma? If so, yodel and it shall be so!

http://www.free-cdsoftware.com/i/index.gif

Mouze1
14th Dec 2002, 16:23
Hello everyone. Would like to apologize for my long absence. There is a good excuse.

Apparently my computer got a virus and crashed. :mad:

I have spent the last week scrambling around trying to recapture my internet connections, and with the help of a friend I have been able to recover most things.

Thank You very much for all your help Dell :D

Anyway, my chapter part is in the editing phase now and should be ready to post soon.

Mouze1
14th Dec 2002, 20:04
Nexus Chapter 8, Part 3
By Mouze

The discussion about the bellflowers came to a quick end as Daniel entered the cabin. Everyone was surprised at how short a time he had been gone. The questions began to fly at once. To Daniel it appeared these humans had a knack for not taking a breath before another question was hurled in his direction. Holding up his hands for a little quiet, Daniel explained what he learned from his trip back to Robot World.

"It appears," he began quietly, "That the soil sample is contaminated with a substance called Cobalt 60. How or why it became contaminated is not important at the moment. What is important is the question of how the soil can be made fit to grow food and the water sources provide clean, uncontaminated water. There are some steps that can be taken to begin this process, but finding a place to begin will take some thought."

He paused a moment and looked at his intent audience. "We would require genetically modified plants developed for 'phytoremediation', a term that merely means using plants to correct something. This process will produce gene modified algae with which to clean the water and plants that will cleanse the earth of the Cobalt 60. In both forms, the GM plants take up the contaminating material and store it without actually being harmed themselves. Then these plants must be carefully harvested and disposed of so they cannot be consumed. It is a matter of finding a starting place."

Becky was the first to speak. "Why don't we go to the plant and animal world we discovered? There could be a lot of possibilities there for clean water and soil. Maybe we can just haul the soil and water, along with some plants to Cathedral World, and shorten the length of time for them to have food available. At least that would be a start." After a moment she asked, "But where would the GM plants come from?"

"I still say the Bellflowers might be of some help," Lila said.

The room became quiet as each person thought about what steps should be taken and in what order. Clearly none of this was going to be easy, but they all felt a vital responsibility to try and save a world of starving people. That was a something that all could agree on with no problem.

Daniel stood quietly and observed each of his human companions, the internal whirring and clicking of his circuits noticed only by him. He knew these humans would do whatever it took to help those poor unfortunates in the world they had just left. Their seeming unfailing reaction to help, and in this case total strangers, filled him with admiration. In that case, he thought, we better get started. "Might I make a suggestion?" Everyone looked at Daniel as he spoke. "I think we should do as Becky suggested: go to the Virgin World and investigate it a little further to see how it can be used...without harming it, of course." A nod of agreement passed around the group and preparations started for their visit.

Becky made sure the package of corn kernels was returned to her rucksack. Ina found two containers with lids and tucked them in her pack. Her thought was that one could be used for a soil sample and one for a water sample should they find a pond or stream. While Lila packed some food items, Pete and Dave located a small camp shovel, a length of rope, and a hatchet. Feeling good about what they were about to do, after they made sure the fire in the stove was out and that the cabin was secure, they started on their journey.

Lila was the only one who was a little less than exuberant about the whole thing. She was still of a firm mind that those beautiful little jewel-like bellflowers could be of an immense help. So sweet and intelligent that one had seemed. Oh well she thought, I suppose all in good time the rest will listen to me and talk with the flowers. Until then... Her thoughts came to an abrupt end as she tripped over a branch and fell unceremoniously flat on her stomach. Gasping for the breath that had just been knocked out of her, she realized she had fallen close to a patch of flowers.

Looking around Lila could see the flowers quivering and hear something that could almost be a tinkling of laughter. As the tinkling sound quieted, Lila heard one of the flowers speaking. It had a seemingly urgent sound to it. Listening carefully, Lila heard it saying, "Be careful in the world you about to visit! It could be dangerous for humans who remain too long there. The one who is not human is in no danger."

As Lila was about to ask what that meant the rest of the group gathered to help her up and ask her if she was all right.

Lila assured them all she was just fine and then told them what the flower had said.

There were frowns of puzzlement as the humans tried to figure out the meaning of this warning. Daniel reflected quietly, realizing quickly that the last sentence referred to him. If he would be in no danger there, then it had to do with human flesh and/or metabolism. "Shall we pay heed and you humans not enter that world? I can go first and look around and see what is there that might be harmful to you."

They quickly agreed, and without further discussion, Daniel stepped to the Nexus point and vanished. In a surprising time he was back.

"I think you all should see this. Your visit must be brief, and you must quickly return here. But you must see this."

For once, the humans were quiet, and asked no questions. Daniel's words needed no explanation. One by one they followed him back into the new world. They only took a step inside. Just one step. Then they stood in awe. When they had visited there just two days before, it had been full summer; there was no doubt in anyone's mind about that. Now the snow lay in drifts across the meadow and into the woods beyond. It was an unmistakable picture perfect Christmas card winter scene. . .

Dell
15th Dec 2002, 15:53
Now that is one very nice chapter, Mouze! Brought us the problem and explained it nicely! Good writing for sure.

Okay, Chilled_Unit...go for it!

Nightstalker, get your fingers warmed up...the next chapter part will be posted soon, count on that! Then you are expected to produce one quickly, too! We have this thing moving and we all want to keep it going that way!

There are as many new worlds to conquer as there are writers in our group!

Oh, and look for an email outlining the results of our recent brainstorming. It will give everyone an idea about where we are going and what will happen there.

Dell
18th Dec 2002, 15:29
I am posting Chilled_Unit's chapter part for him. Oddly enough, while working from his home (Holidays, you know), he can access Eidos Forums but cannot see any of the postings.
- - - - - - - - -

Nexus Chapter 8, Part 4
by Chilled_Unit

Before they had time to ponder on the scene before them, Daniel quickly bundled them back through the Nexus point away from the peaceful winter beyond.

“W…Why? WWhat happened?” Lila voiced the questions that were on everyone’s lips.

“Well, one of my suspicions would appear to be correct,” Daniel answered. “It appears that this Virgin world operates on a very different timeframe than that which we are used to. Humans would age at a phenomenal rate.”

“Wait…” Ina spoke. “This is important. We have one world polluted - perhaps fatally - with a radioactive isotope, and we have one world where who knows what has happened to advance the time cycles of the seasons so rapidly. It’s clear that we can’t just go in and use the resources available to us there….” Her voice trailed off sounding more than a little crestfallen.

“Come on,” Pete said softly. “Why don’t we all go back to the cabin and talk this through? There's more than meets the eye in this situation.”

“That’s an understatement!” Becky cut Pete off with a laugh. “Seriously though, I agree with you Pete." She moved closer to him, touching his arm. "There's no sense in rushing into dangerous situations, not to mention jumping to conclusions." She glanced at Lila. "We need to plan our moves carefully.” Perhaps the nuances escaped Daniel and the men, but Lila and Ina both understood the message perfectly. Becky had just declared open season on Pete, and she intended to fight to have him for herself. Ina frowned and narrowed her eyes, evaluating this development. Lila turned away and moved back toward the cabin. Pete, totally unaware of the turbulent undercurrents, hurried to catch up to her. Becky was not far behind.

The group re-entered the cabin deep in thought. Becky and Lila silently set about preparing a pot of coffee, while the others sat down. Dave and Ina were quietly exploring their own thoughts, being studied by Daniel as they did so. Pete wished to himself that he could join in the intellectual process, but common sense told him to wait and let the more experienced thinkers get on with it. His practicality would come to the fore once they had decided on how to approach the problem of the irradiated wasteland that Anticipator Webster called home.

“What bothers me," Dave began slowly, “is that the major contaminant is Cobalt 60.”

“Yes.” Daniel agreed. “It is not a usual contaminant. There are traces of Strontium 90 in the samples - which we would expect from nuclear fallout – although the Strontium 90 is not the major cause of our problems.”

“Why is that?” Ina interjected.

“Well, Strontium 90 is a radionucletide that only emits Beta radiation, and although it has a long half life, the Beta radiation emitted is weak – in relative terms – and can be contained in local hotspots.” Daniel continued. “Cobalt 60 is an entirely different type of radionucletide. It has a shorter half-life but emits Gamma radiation that is much more powerful and is difficult to contain. This type of gamma radiation can pass unaffected through thick lead sheeting. It is undoubtedly this which is sterilizing the environment and causing the mass radiation sickness so obviously prevalent in Webster’s world.”

Silence filled the room as Becky, Lila, and Pete filled mugs and brought them to the table sharing uneasy glances as they did so.

“They must have built a Doomsday Device,” Dave said in a low tone. "And they used it."

“A what?!” Pete gasped in surprise.

“Well, they may not have called it that exactly, but our scientists did when they conceived of them in the 1950’s. The Doomsday Device was a particularly nasty type of nuclear bomb designed to wipe out all life on earth, the ultimate vengeance weapon to be used out of spite as the last gasp effort of a defeated superpower. The cobalt bomb doomsday device is no harder to make than an ordinary nuclear fusion bomb; you just replace the shell of the fusion chamber with Cobalt. When fusion occurs the neutrons produced change the Cobalt into Cobalt 60, particles of which get scattered in the fallout.”

Dave sipped his coffee seemingly unaware of the horrified looks focused on him. “What we would appear to be dealing with is the widespread use of such a weapon, although thankfully neither side seems to have had enough of these bombs stockpiled to wipe out all life. The very fact that people survive – barely yes – but survive nonetheless suggests that the radiation poisoning is not fatal in the area of the cathedral, although in the areas where the cobalt bombs actually hit I would not expect to find life of any kind.”

“So to clean the earth we need to get rid of the Cobalt 60 contamination from the soil and the water?” Ina spoke carefully, her voice strong. Better to dwell on the solution than on the horrors that caused the problem she thought.

“Yes,” Daniel responded. “That is where the phytoremediation comes in.”

“I know of the technique.” Ina was pleased that Daniel had picked up on her intentions. “Although, back home before our war…” she paused and composed herself, “it was a fledgling technique in its infancy. Research groups in our department had succeeded in modifying maize to clean up heavy metal pollution, but they were far from making the technique a commercially viable solution because it would take literally thousands of plants to clean up only a small area.”

“That part of it is all right, Ina.” Daniel smiled. “My society is based on agriculture and aquaculture. We have programs and low-level automata that exist solely to engineer and cultivate crops for a specific purpose. Of course, we have never had to deal with a contaminant such as this, but given the level of knowledge stored in the Cereplex I should be able to encourage some of our workers to grow an effective hybrid species.”

“But we will need thousands, hundreds of thousands!” Ina looked puzzled.

“Mom, what about the new world?” Lila, who had been following every word of the discussion since it had turned to plants, could barely contain herself. “The bell flowers grow there, we saw trees and plants of all kinds growing there.”

“And it would seem at great speed too!” Becky joined in, forgetting her agenda with Pete in the effort to help in this group endeavor.

“Yes,” Daniel agreed. “I will need time to study the precise rates of growth experienced, but it seems viable to me, and our agricultural machines will not notice the ageing once they are programmed.”

At this everyone started talking excitedly at once.

“Hey people, calm down!” Dave smiled, raising his voice. “Okay, good. We have the makings of a workable solution, which is all well and good, but first we need to set up the growth of the plants. Daniel that means another trip back to your world as soon as possible. That could be dangerous.”

Daniel looked impassively at Dave, knowing that problems could indeed arise. “And, assuming we manage to get out of Daniel’s world with what we need, we then need to protect the plants in Webster’s world – not only giving them the conditions in which to grow, but also we will need to protect them from the desperately hungry people there. The plants will look fine and be healthy for what they are, but deadly.”

"I think," and Lila's voice was quiet, yet demanding attention, "that we will have to start the clean-up in several locations away from where any human survivors are located, and move them group by group as enough land, water, and crops are cleaned and growing. Aquaculture could provide vegetables and fish, and confined chickens and perhaps a few cows at a time could be brought in."

At the mention of chickens, Becky laughed out loud. "I volunteer to bring baby chickens to Virgin World and leave them for a few hours. By then they will be fully grown laying hens!"

The group looked at each other and nodded, smiling.

“Where do we go from here then?” Pete asked.

“I was just coming to that.” Dave smiled. “Ina and the girls have experience in agriculture and biology, so we’re going to need that knowledge and most probably all kinds of equipment from Ina’s lab. I suggest they plan what they need to set up a lab here and get to work on that. Pete, we’re going to need your building skills to plan and build some kind of growing enclosure along with some designs for air and water filtering systems the bots can build and set up." Dave looked at Daniel. “You and I are going to have to do some talking with Webster before we can know fully what we need from your world. We can’t have your worker bots scaring the people too much.” Dave smiled. "And we're going to need some really good sunlight focussing devices to set up, as many as needed for each greenhouse location to keep things growing well."

They were silent a moment considering how best to approach their jobs, then Ina spoke. "This is going to be a long term thing. I can see the urgency is getting what humans are left into safe environments as quickly as possible or we will have a nice new clean world...with no one in it. So we have to create biodomes of some kind to house them. That seems to be the only answer for their survival."

"Wonderful idea!” Lila grinned, then involuntarily let out a big yawn.

“I agree!” Pete chuckled. “Does anyone mind if we bed down here tonight and get started tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow it is," Dave responded. "Then we're off to save a world . . . ”

Nightstalker
23rd Dec 2002, 15:27
My chapter part is ready and awaiting Dell's carefully train eye to check, check, and double check it.

Nightstalker.

Nightstalker
23rd Dec 2002, 22:17
And here is:

-----

Nexus Chapter Nine, Part One
by Nightstalker

The next morning they awoke to the smell of the fresh coffee Daniel had prepared. Daniel, who didn't need any sleep and only the routine maintenance cycle performed by his onboard nanobots, had kept a close eye on the time and he had given the humans about ten hours of good sleep. He had slipped away once to spend three hours in Becky's world plugged into an electrical socket in the home of Martin Merle Morell. Martin was gone at the time, doing a fine job of hoeing the cabbages, carrots, and other vegetables in Becky's mother's kitchen garden at her parent's farm. Even if he had seen Daniel, he would not remember it. The 'adjusting' Daniel had done to him before held firm.

The group rolled up their bedrolls and sat at the table for a fast breakfast of coffee and some toast. Afterward, they quickly cleaned up the table and washed the dishes. Then they sat down again and quickly recapped the meeting of last night.

"Okay," Dave said. "This is what we want to do: we want to clean soil and water in Webster's World by the use of phytoremediation. We also want to get some clean water and safe food for the people as soon as possible. To make this possible we need, one: light. Pete it is your task to design a greenhouse of some kind. Two: a testing lab. Ina, Becky, and Lila will see to that. Three: bots. Daniel will see to that. Four: the plants. Daniel will also see to this. Five: security. Daniel and I will go a have a little chat with Webster." Dave said. "Questions anyone?"

It remained silent.

"Good, best get to work," Dave said cheerfully.

The rest nodded and got up. Daniel and Dave went straight to the Cathedral Nexus Point. Pete went back to his world to get some paper, drafting supplies, and his equipment. Ina, Becky and Lila sat down at the table again to discuss the possibilities for a testing lab.

-----

"First of all girls, I want the both of you bury the hatchet over Pete and stop this vying for his attention...for now that is." Ina said with a little smile on her face and a wink.

"But mom..." Lila started.

"No buts young lady, or I will have Daniel remove some memories from your brains," Ina said to both the girls. Her face looked like a thundercloud. As strongly as Ina openly felt about mind altering, they both knew she was serious.

Lila and Becky looked at each other and nodded.

"Good. Becky, you will find two containers in my rucksack. I want you to make a fast trip and collect samples of soil and water from Cathedral World. Meanwhile, Lila and I will go to the Zoo in our world and get some equipment we are going need."

While Becky went toward the Cathedral Nexus Point, Ina and Lila emptied their rucksacks and set off towards 'their' Nexus Point.

-----

When Pete entered 'his' world, he realized that he had been away a 'long' time even though no time had passed here. He put his feelings aside and focussed on his goal. He couldn't resist the urge to look at his watch just to see that the time had started running again, and then he started off towards his home. When he arrived at his house, he did a quick check but everything was quiet. Ina was no place to be seen--or heard- -so moving fast, he went to his room and stowed his gear in a bag. After he had checked and double-checked his bag, he left the house and went into Oak Grove to visit the university library. Normally this trip would take about ten minutes, but he took the long way so he wouldn't by accident bump into this world's Ina Collins. After twenty minutes or so, he finally reached the library were he immediately went to the construction department.

It took him some time to find the book he wanted, "Construction of Greenhouses Through the Years", and he decided that while he was here he should get some other books as well. After an hour, he walked out of the library with books about construction of greenhouses, lenses, greenhouse lighting, and orbital satellites. Now carrying two very heavy bags, Pete started to walk back to the forest, and while he was walking, designs for greenhouses occupied his mind.
-----

Dave and Daniel entered the Cathedral World and located Webster. Dave let Daniel do the talking. Then the two Nexus Explorers encountered a bit of a problem. Webster could not decide what to call the 'Chosen Ones' and he wouldn't settle for a simple Dave and Daniel. Those names were too normal. Daniel quickly solved the problem by suggesting to Webster that he should call the 'Chosen Ones' 'Sir' and 'Madam'. After some thinking Webster agreed, because the Texts never stated what the precise title of the 'Chosen Ones' should be.

Next problem was that Webster couldn't decide what kind of bow is appropriate for the 'Chosen Ones of the Gods'. Daniel told him that a simple bow from the waist would do nicely as a sign of respect. Webster agreed with this.

"Good Sirs, how can I help a being so divine as yourself?" Webster said while bowing.

"We are going to need a secure place somewhere near here to build something that will help this world get better." Daniel said in a tone that sounded godly. "This place will be sacred and no men may pass on it."

Webster started to tremble as the fear of that voice started to take good hold of his mind.

Daniel continued, "On this place we will grow the Plants of the Gods. If a mortal man would eat from these plants he will surely die...quickly and painfully."

Webster, who was now visibly shaking, fell to his knees.

Daniel continued in the same voice, "The Plants of the Gods will help the world get better. And YOU Anticipator Webster have been chosen to spread this news."

Webster started to cry.

Dave walked to the Anticipator, helped him to his feet, and told him in a gentle voice that he should get started. Webster bowed and nodded vehemently, then left the Cathedral.

Dave turned to Daniel and said, "You didn't have to be quite so hard on him."

Daniel said. "This was the best course of action. Webster will now tell everybody about us, how to address us should they see us, and the dangerous Plants of the Gods. He will give the warning I just gave him...and he has to be afraid in order for it to really impress the people."

"Oh okay, we can claim that your body was taken over by a God." Dave said.

"Why?" Daniel asked, and the robot looked puzzled.

"Because you were very kind to him before you started over with your story." Dave answered.

Daniel fell silent, he had not anticipated anything like this. It seemed there was still much he did not understand about humans. They were full of hidden corners and strange driving motives, not to mention conflicting agendas. A true challenge.

"Well, done is done, and we will have to make the best of it. Dave said, "Let's return to the cabin."

Silently, each preoccupied with their own thoughts, they walked back to the wall, left the Cathedral World and entered the Cabin world. Dave was concerned. Daniel was taking control more and more. While they did need his assistance- -really did need it- -the idea of being controlled by a robot disturbed him deeply. Where might this be going? He studied Daniel's back, his firm sure movements as they went down the path toward the cabin. Dave suddenly came to the realization that this was a power robot, far beyond anything his own world could produce, and a small tingle of aprehension shivered it way up his spine...

-----

I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Nightstalker.

Dell
24th Dec 2002, 02:47
Halleluljah! You have done a great chapter...excellent work! Bravo and congratulations on getting it done in minimum time! The story is zinging along now, so let's keep going!

Whee! What a great Christmas present, Nightstalker. Thank you.
:)

vakusuma
24th Dec 2002, 16:54
Dangdum good chapter, I'll say :D

Dell
26th Dec 2002, 16:31
Well, Vakusuma . . .

vakusuma
5th Jan 2003, 16:11
Nexus
Chapter Nine, Part Two

Of Bots and Men

The touch was akin to a gentle caress of a feather could it experience the world the way humans could. Of course, the touch was nothing like the touch of a pin, for then it would do what humans construe as ‘sitting bolt upright’. It was so soft, so gentle - and also so fleeting - that it could be taken as an imagination. And yet… it knew the touch was there.

The consciousness paused as it considered the new impulse. Of course, not paused completely, for missing even one processing cycle could spell disaster for the world; rather, it devoted a small branch of its vast, unimaginable power to process the impulse. A glitch? It could not be; any unchecked glitch designed by the humans many many years ago would’ve multiplied by now and brought the entire system crashing down. Of course, the humans were not infallible; now and then, as new glitches in the system were discovered, it underwent self-correction to correct the glitches. But the last glitch had been corrected at… what… four decallion processing cycles ago? Surely, not even the smallest glitch had persisted this far…

What would it be then? The consciousness had complete control over the entire system… so it had to be something unexpected… or at least unaccounted for yet. Humans, perhaps? It knew that humans were unpredictable, which was remarkable considering the limited processing ability that they have. Quickly, it ran another check on every human settlement within the system, and several processing cycles later, it had satisfied itself that it could not be the humans.

Oh, but what of the wild humans? Several tens of thousands processing cycles earlier, it had detected the presence of six wild humans. The appearance of these humans was very unexpected; the last wild human had been registered around seven quintillion processing cycles ago. Could it be another case of appearing wild humans? But no… the touch on the system was very gentle… very subtle. It still remembered the first time it detected the six wild humans. The feeling was akin to a sudden electrical shock… in human terms, of course. No, no humans could’ve caused the touch.

Solar flare? No, the detector had not been wrong in predicting solar flares; and besides, any sudden increase in electromagnetic radiation would’ve been accounted for immediately. The weather had also been taken into consideration. No, everything seemed normal. Had it been a human, it might at this point shrug and ignore the impulse. But it was not a human. Its curiosity had been the primary reason for its survival this far, and when it pursued something, it could be as persistent as the creatures on which it had based the guard bots. Dogs, they had been called.

And several dozens processing cycles later, it formed a hypothesis.

In order to understand humans, it had supervised the construction of the new type of bot. The anthropoanalyst, it was called. The idea had been to create a bot with similar thought patterns as the humans, in order to interact with humans and learn more about human emotions. And contradictions. Humans were inherently contradictory, and some of the things they thought were far from logical. Human brain was fascinating indeed; it was hard to imagine that something so biological could actually accomplish many impossible things. It was only too aware that it was originally constructed thanks to human ingenuity.

The ability to read and influence thought patterns had been successfully implemented on previous bots, the ‘Mentallics’, since the Gathering; however, emotion had remained a largely gray area. Due to the complexity of the construction, only prototypes of the anthropoanalysts had been made so far; two of them, in fact. D4N-31, as the first prototype, was assigned to Agri One, where the humans number the greatest. And to study the thought processes of humans under distress, V10-LT had been placed in Rehab Facility One. Both had been given much greater freedom than other bots for independence - along with curiosity - was a human trait that it believed motivated the humans more than anything else, even though uncontrolled humans were dangerous. And both had been given the ability to read and influence human thought patterns as well to help them analyze the ‘emotion’ waves.

And then, D4N-31 had somehow broken loose. It happened only several hundred processing cycles before the six wild humans… escaped… from Agri One and disappeared. What was disturbing about the entire incident was that D4N-31 had apparently helped the humans to escape, as reported by the guard bots near the old University, before disappearing completely. Clearly, the experiment was a failure, for D4N-31 was supposed to influence the humans and not be influenced instead. That would be something to study on V10-LT to make sure that it would not happen again.

The fact remained that D4N-31 was no longer part of the system. And it also realized how dangerous D4N-31 could be; the complex algorithm within his positronic brain had been relaxed so that he could adapt to human thought processes. Once he managed to emulate human thought, he would combine human ingenuity with the preciseness and logic of the positronic brain. And he would do so completely out of its control.

If D4N-31 had indeed returned to this world under the influence of those wild humans with their nonsensical ideas about humans not needing protection of the artificial beings, and attempted to retrieve information or something else from the system - as the touch seemed to indicate - that would make neutralizing him a top priority.

It was a more sober Cereplex that made the order by a fraction of its consciousness for the bots throughout the system to neutralize the rogue mentallic D4N-31 on sight. For D4N-31 was more than just a threat to the system. He might very well destroy the world. And the Cereplex with it.

And Cereplex has been, was, and would always be a survivor.

----

Supervisor Bot JN-301 paused as it considered the latest directive from the Cereplex. The order to neutralize any bot was most unusual, for all bots were under complete control of Cereplex and when the time came for the bots to be recycled, they came willingly into the Bot Recycling Centers. The bots simply recognized this for the good of the system; old bots were burdens to the society due to their decreased productivity. No bot would think of disobeying a recall notice from Cereplex. And yet, one did.

Worst of all, the Cereplex’s order emphasized in no uncertain terms that the bot D4N-31 was a threat to the system and might resist, and that the neutralization was a top priority order. Neutralize on sight, it had said.

And yet, the order had come just after the very same robot… D4N-31… entered Hangar Dee-Thirteen-Bee and requested the assistance of several drone bots – the mindless bots needing direct supervision from Supervisor Bots – from JN-301. The request had been granted, of course, for D4N-31 had been recognized as an Anthropoanalyst Mentallic, one with almost complete freedom from the Cereplex to do anything necessary to accomplish his goals. Besides, D4N-31 had requested bots from Hangar Dee-Thirteen-Bee before to do menial tasks. There was nothing unusual in this that required special attention.

D4N-31 was long gone by now, of course, along with thirty-six drone bots. Somehow, the drone bots had failed to respond to the standard signals sent by JN-301 after the appropriation, as if they were no longer anywhere near the Hangar. There was nothing that could be done to stop him now. The order had been to neutralize D4N-31 on sight, and not to report his previous presence before the order was carried out. Besides, why would the Cereplex care about where the bot had been? The Cereplex might very well have been aware of D4N-31’s previous locations, and redundancy in reporting would only lead to decreased productivity. Every processing cycle to the Cereplex was very precious, and not to be wasted. The order was to neutralize on sight from the time the order was received, not report previous sightings or activities.

JN-301’s degree of independence was limited, being a bot of relatively lower hierarchy, but not even the bots of the highest hierarchy would question the will of Cereplex. A bot’s job was to carry out orders precisely and without question. To question would be to dedicate one’s processing cycles to unproductive and chaotic thoughts. Of course, what the bot D4N-31 did was unthinkable, but the reason for the sudden chaotic behavior of D4N-31 was not something to be reasoned out by a mere bot.

The humans of old gave the Cereplex the curiosity to explore such chaotic behaviors. It was the job for the Cereplex, not for a mere bot. The Cereplex must have a good reason for the order, and every order must be carried out. For without Cereplex, there would be no order in the world. And utter chaos was unproductive.

And with that thought, JN-301 returned to its task with the drone bots. Today’s job: supervise the construction of a new extension for Agri Three. And maybe neutralize D4N-31 if he showed his positronic signature anywhere near the Hangar.

Business as usual.

----

Anthropoanalyst Mentallic V10-LT also paused as the impulses from the Cereplex arrived. It was an order… an order for the termination of a rogue bot. That was what it amounted to. And she didn’t like it a bit, just like all the bots that must’ve received the same order… for a different reason, however. For the rogue bot was D4N-31.

Violet was the name she had taken for herself in Rehab Facility One. A human name, just like D4N-31 had been given one by the wild humans he had studied briefly before his disappearance… Daniel. In fact, she had taken the name after learning of Daniel’s report. She was built almost like him, both physically and electronically. They shared similar positronic pathways. They shared similar physical traits: perfectly-formed humanoid body, human-like visual sensors (called the ‘eye’, deep azure in color as well), with one fundamental difference, of course: unlike Daniel, she was modeled after a human female.

She considered the order as she sat down beside the suffering human on the table before her. The human was recuperating from the recent rehabilitation treatment; it always amazed her how humans would commit illogical and unspeakable acts even when no good would come out of it… but of course you could not blame a human for being illogical. For now, the human would not need her attention, so she devoted her processing cycles to consider.

Of course, she wouldn’t have to obey the order. The anthropoanalysts had been built with something Cereplex called ‘judgment’, an unprecedented increase in their freedom which allowed them to consider any order, and its effect, before actually carrying it out. It was a decidedly human trait, a trait not unfamiliar to the Cereplex of course, who had to make such ‘judgments’ at almost every processing cycle… but that was precisely the reason why they were built with that facility. The implication of this particular order, of course, was so logical that even drone bots would have no trouble interpreting: there was a serious flaw in Daniel’s - and therefore her - programming.

It was… disturbing. Yes, that must be how humans call that particular feeling. It felt just like predicting an impending early program termination. She had been built with all the Cereplex’s technical ability behind it. She was the culmination of all bots; the final step in bridging artificial intelligence with biological intelligence. She was… perfect.

And yet… why would Daniel have to be neutralized?

From that moment on, she knew that she would not rest until she was satisfied by the answer. She was driven by the Third Law of Robotics: survival. It had to be a flaw exclusive to Daniel… or was it? Or maybe it was something about being… human? Humans were chaotic, after all…

It was ironic that free humans were chaotic to the point of self-destruction, and therefore had to be contained for their own protection in Agri domes and sometimes, even in Rehab Facilities… and yet she was given the greatest freedom of movement to learn about humanity. Well, it was time for her to exercise her freedom of movement.

It was time for her to find Daniel, wherever he might be. To study him, and ascertain that it was indeed a flaw in his programming. And if necessary... terminate him.




Dedicated to Isaac Asimov, whom great works over the years have inspired me to write this chapter. Had he still be alive, he'd have celebrated his birthday three days ago.

A note on the Rehab Facilities (the equivalent of prisons): It can be argued that 'rehabilitating' humans violates the First Law (about harming human beings) but this can also easily be explained by Cereplex so that the 'dangerous' human beings can be reintegrated into society, therefore fulfilling the Ultimate Law (about harming humanity as a whole).

Chilled Unit
5th Jan 2003, 19:38
That is a simply excellent chapter Vak :)

I thoroughly enjoyed that!

I will put it up on the site first thing tomorrow :)

P.S. I am also back at my own puter and can once again see the forums! Yay! :D

Dell
5th Jan 2003, 19:39
Ah...lovely chapter again, as usual! Love it!

Hope everyone has been reading carefully. . . Violet has entered the picture with a bang! A pair of them? With human feelings and anthroanalytical robotic powers? Oh my!

And 'rehabilitating' a human means he would now be a happy productive member of society...thus no danger to himself or others. A truly protective action from a robotic point of view.

Happens when humans allow the machines to make decisions regarding just what humans mean! Humans don't really understand each other or know what they mean themselves most of the time.

And it is this precept upon which our story part concerning Robot World is based. A really neat one, it is!

Excellent contribution, Vakusuma, as usual!

** Next rotation:

Dell
Mouse
Chilled_Unit
Nightstalker


....and anyone else who would like to join into this tightly woven and plotted story. That invitation stands!

Mouze1
5th Jan 2003, 21:16
Dell did you pass along the minor corrections for Nightstalkers chapter?

Just incase, so Nightstalker or CU can fix the two sentences, they are as follows:

When Pete entered "his" world----the sentence---After he checked and double checked his bag, he into Oak Grove---perhaps a word was forgotten there.

Daniel and Dave have spoken with Webster and are getting ready to return to the cabin----the sentence---"Well done is done and we will had----shouldn't that be "have"?

The previous chapters are an outstanding example of creative writing. Applause, applause, applause. Nightstalker added a touch of question about the girls and Pete and the fact Dave is becoming concerned about Daniel. Vakusuma seems to have his finger on the pulse of Cereplex and is there perhaps a love interest in store for Daniel?

Getting better and better. Great work, really great work.:D

vakusuma
5th Jan 2003, 22:27
Heh... thanks.

I added something at the last part, however. Violet doesn't have to be Daniel's love interest... although the discussion on the feeling humans call 'love' would make the story interesting too. Violet is neutral at this point; if Daniel proved to be dangerous, she would terminate him.

Heh... now why am I reminded of Mara Jade? :)

Nightstalker
5th Jan 2003, 22:48
I made some changes in my chapter (9-1).

Mouze is this better?

Nightstalker.

Dell
7th Jan 2003, 22:53
Your chapter part is posted to the Nexus Home Site, Vakusuma! Right up to date for sure!

I am writing....and thinking....and writing...and thinking.

Dell
8th Jan 2003, 17:57
Nexus Chapter 9, Part 3

by Dell

Lila carefully got to her knees close to the patch of bell flowers growing near the nexus entrance to the Virgin world.

"Hello," she said softly, her breath creating a small breeze that caused the nearest plants to sway a bit. At least she thought it was the force of her breath, although in the back of her mind she was almost positive that they could move of their own volition...if they wanted to.

That thought was verified when all the nearby flowers turned toward her, their movements slow but deliberate. They were looking at her, she knew it. She had been so sure that the flowers could give them answers vitally needed, but the others, while not exactly ignoring her, didn't seem to place much importance in her ideas about them. For her, it had become almost urgent when they warned about the Virgin World being dangerous for humans, but not for Daniel. They 'knew' things.

This was her first opportunity to talk to them; she and Ina, and Becky had made several trips back to their worlds in the last few hours. Becky had gone to the family farm in her world to look for seeds that would fit well as quick-growing, productive food plants for Cathedral world, plants adaptable to hydroponic propagation. She and her mother had made two trips to the zoo's botanical gardens and the small lab Ina used in her work. There, it took time to make decisions about what would be needed for grafting trees and feeding plants in a liquid environment. Then it took more time to decide on a plan to get all the things they needed away from the zoo without being noticed. They finally decided they must make a surreptitious trip at night to get it all, avoiding the one guard who patrolled the quiet zoo at night.

Then, while Lila waited at the lab, Ina made arrangements with her supervisor to get a few days leave from her job. This caused no problem, and when they made their final return trip to the cabin, they carried as much as possible in the backpacks that had been empty when they got there, just as they had on the first trip. Theft to be sure, but any pangs of conscience were quickly soothed when they considered the ultimate good that would be accomplished for many starving people in Cathedral World. After stopping at home to bathe, change into fresh clothing, and eat a hearty lunch, they carried their gleanings back to the cabin.

Daniel had not returned; they had decided that Dave's return to Robot World might make problems, so he had stayed behind, accompanying Pete on his trip to their world to bring back as many supplies as possible. Neither Becky or the two men had returned when Lila and Ina arrived, so while Ina busied herself arranging their supplies in the cabin, Lila went to visit the bell flowers.

"Hello, human." The voices were small and chime-like but perfectly audible from her crouching position. "You are going to help the hungry people. That is good." It was a statement and the tone seemed to carry approval.

"Hello, flowers," Lila replied softly. "But you are much more than flowers, aren't you? Will you tell me what you really are and where we actually are?" She had thought carefully about the questions she would ask them, and the wording was designed to elicit as much information as possible...if they chose to answer her.

It was silent. Only the distant sound of birds busy about their daily business broke the stillness. Then there was a small rustling susurus of sound as the plants shifted their positions, leaves rustling as they turned toward each other as though consulting. She waited patiently. She was positive now they were consulting, making decisions on whether or how to answer her.

Her mind was filled with wonder as she thought about the botanical gardens she had visited twice that day. Were those plants also aware? Did they consult with each other in this manner, only in a less noticeable way? A small involuntary shiver shook her. Humans and animals ate plants, and these were plants.

Yet they had been perfectly friendly, showing no animosity or fear of the humans; they had in fact been helpful, volunteering information. At this point her thoughts were interrupted by the chiming voices speaking in unison.

"We are plants aware, what you would call sentient plants. We do have power of movement to some degree, but we are rooted in the soil of our seed beginning. You will find us in many of the worlds you can enter from this small place, places our seeds have accidentally been carried by animals. Until now, only plants and animals had been in this place for a very long time. Then they came, humans such as you, but many of our generations ago. They built that place of habitation where you gather and ingest nourishment in your own way."

There was a short pause as a breeze danced its way through, touching and lifting Lila's hair in a way she remembered from her times at the pond, and particularly the day she discovered the Nexus point...and her friends mourned as dead. From what world did the breeze come, she wondered? Hers, Becky's, Pete's? Or some other strange place as yet undiscovered. She sniffed but found only freshness and the faint perfume of the bell flowers riding the wind currents.

The flowers spoke again. "We do not remember our beginnings...only that we were, have been, and are now." There was a brief silence, then they spoke again. "We do not know a name for this place. It has always been here in our memory. Once humans like you came. There were three of them. They did not cover themselves in the same way you do. They came through a doorway you have not yet explored. That doorway is off to the left of the habitation, behind some trees. The big elm told us they were coming. Then we could hear the cries of the pine trees as they were felled and used to build the habitation. It was not their time to die and they cried out. All the plants mourned their passing, and we stayed very quiet while those humans were here."

Again there was pause, as though the flowers were reliving that time. "It has been many of our generations since they were here. They went away and only one from their world returned just before you came. That human has been here three times, going into the habitation and doing things there, then leaving again."

Lila involuntarily gasped. So that was it! Someone had prepared the cabin for them...expected them. A person from another world! Her thoughts were chaotic. Someone from some other world knew they were coming here! How could that be? She must tell the others as soon as possible. Quickly she thanked the flowers for all the information, and reached out and oh-so-gently and delicately touched one. Then she hurried back to the cabin.

* * *

Becky, Dave, and Pete returned at almost the same time. They laughed as they met on the path back to the cabin, and trudged along together lugging loaded packs. When they entered, the tension projected by Lila and Ina was almost palpable, hanging over them like a pall. All their faces grew serious as Dave asked at once, "What's wrong, Ina? What's happened?"

Ina turned to Lila, and Lila quickly told them what she had learned from the bell flowers. There was a babble of consternation...questions with no answers and little coherence. Finally it grew silent.

"Well," Pete said finally, breaking the silence. "That explains the cabin being ready for us. Someone knows about us and knew before us that we would be coming here...or if not us, that someone was coming."

"Yes," Becky said, "and what if we aren't the people who were expected?" She looked at them. "What then?"

"That was my thought." Lila spoke softly. "In what earthly way could anyone anywhere predict our coming here? Or predict the holocaust that destroyed and divided our world and opened this place to us? For sure this place was built before the holocaust happened."

"So if not us, who is expected here and will we be in danger from them?" Dave finally voiced the question that plagued them all.

"Well, the flowers said they were humans like us, only dressed differently," Lila said into the following silence.

It was into this tense atmosphere that Daniel stepped. It hit him at once, touching and bringing his sensors to high alert. He stopped short and looked at each of the people looking back at him, bouncing tiny questioning signals to their minds and receiving information back from five different human perspectives in nanoseconds.

Outside the cabin, standing in six neat rows of six, thirty-six work robots stood waiting.

* * *

And on the top of the University Building in Robot World, Violet paced easily around the small air conditioning building in the center of the roof. First she looked out over the parapets on each of the four sides, looking at the city. On one side she observed definite marks of some sort of apparatus being attached to the parapet. Had the wild humans left this way? If so how? They could not fly and there was no evidence that they were still in this world, not a trace of their presence. This roof had been the last place Daniel had been observed on two different occasions. That was significant information. That is why she was here.

At last she turned her eyes to the small air conditioning building . . .

Mouze1
8th Jan 2003, 23:25
My-O-My. This person here is going to have some mighty big shoes to fill after all those really good chapters.

I will give it my best shot. Excellent chapter Dell. Those little flowers are going to have a lot of other information I bet.

Okay, off to the think tank. See you all later when my part is ready to post.:)

vakusuma
8th Jan 2003, 23:28
Don't leave us hanging for too long now :)

Enjoyable... very.

Can you handle Violet, Mouze? Watch out :)

Chilled Unit
8th Jan 2003, 23:29
Now that is a corker of a chapter part!

I love the people from the new world.. what will they have in store! :D

Good stuff indeed, I will get the site updated.

Nightstalker
13th Jan 2003, 14:11
Great chapter Dell, really a good chapter.

Nightstalker

Dell
13th Jan 2003, 19:24
Thank you, nice people.

Just to let you know Mouze is ill and Chilled_Unit is stepping into her place. He would have been up next anyway. She anticipates being well enough to take the next turn in Chilled_Unit's place, so the rotation isn't in any way out of sync.

Nightstalker, you are still in the same order, only you will write after Mouze instead of after Chilled_Unit this time, okay?

Hurry up, Chilled_Unit...we're waiting!

*Sounds of a cracking whip can be heard in the background. . .

Nightstalker
13th Jan 2003, 21:45
Fine with me...

Mouse, I hope you'll get better real soon.

...Or to use Dell's whip: MOUSE, You had better get better A.S.A.P., that is an order lady! (Just kidding Dell, Mouse)

Nightstalker.

Mouze1
15th Jan 2003, 00:37
Ooooo, The Mouze doesn't like whips *stands up and roars like a lion*, oops, did I do that? Hmm, feeling stronger now.

Anyway through the miracle of modern antibiotics and mindbending cough syrup, I am feeling much better, thank you.

I will be up for my turn after CU and will try to be good from now on, (cracking of the whip still fresh in her mind).

vakusuma
15th Jan 2003, 01:37
The Savage ignored his offer. "What do you want with me?" he asked, turning from one grinning face to another. "What do you want with me?"

"The whip," answered a hundred voices confusedly. "Do the whipping stunt. Let's see the whipping stunt."

Then, in unison and on a slow, heavy rhythm, "We-want-the whip," shouted a group at the end of the line. "We–want–the whip."

Others at once took up the cry, and the phrase was repeated, parrot-fashion, again and again, with an ever-growing volume of sound, until, by the seventh or eighth reiteration, no other word was being spoken. "We–want–the whip."
- Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

:D

Dell
15th Jan 2003, 22:13
Ahhhhh...

Vakusuma, you always have the answer, don't you?

Yes, "We want the whip!"

But right now I want to see Chilled_Unit's Chapter Part....

Chilled Unit
17th Jan 2003, 21:23
Nexus Chapter Nine, Part Four
by Chilled_Unit

The snow had melted and all around color returned to the previously monochrome landscape. Daniel caught himself again musing at the difference between himself and these real "wild" humans as he monitored the air temperature. Fifteen degrees centigrade according to his sensors... a human would have noted this as the cold bite of a winter wind receding without the hard data to back the observation up, but whether biological or digital it meant the same thing. Spring had arrived in the virgin world they had named Eden.

It had only taken Daniel a night to write new routines for the worker bots with Ina constantly responding to his questions about ideal soil pH, moisture and light conditions. The genetically modified fern plants that would one day spread throughout Webster's world, taking up the cobalt 60 from the soil and accumulating it in it's large green leaves, needed the best conditions that they could provide for them. The progress of the cleansing would be easy to follow for the inhabitants of the Cathedral World. As the cobalt accumulated in the leaves their appearance would turn from green to blue and the people could be taught that blue was a bad color for food, one that caused suffering, pain, and eventual death.

It didn't take long for Daniel and the handful of drones that accompanied him to find a patch of land that met conditions suitable for the growth of the ferns, and the bots quickly went to work plowing and furrowing the earth. These machines had been programmed with speed as a primary directive. The soil they tended needed to be ready to accept seed by nightfall in order to germinate this evening, and grow to produce a first crop by midsummer in this world... in two days time according to Daniel's calculations.

The mentallic sat impassively on a fallen tree stump overseeing the work of the drones. He didn't need to stay to observe them, but somehow he felt more comfortable for the break from the intensity and constant reading and analysis that time spent with the humans demanded. This place would have been peaceful were it not for the fact that the cycle of life was somehow spinning much faster here, and doing so right in front of his eyes.

The consternation he read in the humans upon returning from his world with the bots had hit his sensors like a storm, temporarily flooding him with input; the information about the cabin builders was there, but layered and colored by the intense emotions this information had evoked. He thought, not for the first time, how incredibly powerful the minds of these wild humans, far more diversified with highs and lows and chemical surges than anything he had ever experienced in the tame humans of his world.

Yes, he thought, in my world the humans are tame, there is no other word for it. They have no challenges such as these wild humans seem to face - and welcome - continually. He wondered at the next thought. He liked these humans better. Enjoyed their company. They challenged him and he, like they, seemed to take pleasure in the challenge. Liked? Enjoyed? Pleasure? He stored that thought away for later study. They were important. They were emotions, human emotions.

And how quickly the five humans had run the gamut from fearful shock, to conjecture, to determination to move on with what they were doing. Their project in Cathedral World was vital and a world and its surviving people depended upon them completing it. That was the priority, and speculation about the who and why of the builders of the cabin could wait.

That had been their consensus and decision, that and two other things: To not go near or enter the newly discovered Nexus point, and to see if the bellflowers would provide some kind of warning if those people came here again. Lila had immediately gone to speak with the bellflowers, and in a very short time returned to the cabin with the word that the bellflowers seemed more than willing to help by telling someone if the cabin builders returned. Interesting that that would have been his decision had he been asked to make one. They had not asked him...so unlike the tame humans of his world.

He brought his full attention back to the bots. They scurried among the neatly furrowed rows, and by early evening the first shoots of green could be seen peeping from beneath the earth. These ten little bots had served the purpose well, and were accomplishing their task with ease, even at such a rapid pace. Instinctively a subroutine was started almost without input looking for the responses from the other bots but he caught it before it crashed, remembering that he couldn't reach them through the nexus...or rather nexuses that separated them. Daniel smiled to himself, getting absentminded are we? More human all the time? he thought. Best get back and report on the crop.
----

Pete and Dave stood in what once had been the cathedral's well appointed gardens surrounded by twenty-six of the drone bots programmed by Daniel to Dave's specifications. Mostly these had been designated constructors, with a few operating as fabricators.

The fabricators were the really clever ones, thought Pete. Identical in exterior appearance to the other drone workers in looks, they operated very differently using only a fraction of their power to move. The large pincer arms at the front scooped any material lying in it's path into a small hopper on the bot's back from where it was fed into a small smelting chamber which required the majority of the units power. The molten material was then fed into an extruder at the back, and with a simple press of a button the shape-active diaphragm that made up the nozzle could be changed to produce extruded girders of different cross section and diameter.

The fabricators were what made their job in this world even remotely possible. They could find an area of debris, point the drones at it and watch as they slowly strip mined the rubble, producing building materials all the while.

The key to Dave and Pete's greenhouse was that it utilized this resource to the fullest. They had generated a design that relied on interlinked hexagonal shapes to form a dome which minimized the number of heavy strong beams that were needed, thus relying on the weight to be spread across the whole structure.

?Rather like an igloo?? was how Dave had described it to the group, and the name had stuck. The first of Dave?s Igloos was being constructed.

Webster seemed suitably impressed at the feat, even though very frightened by the bots. Inhuman and unnatural was how he described them to himself. Something not right about metal monsters performing such feats without human hands directing them. But he had to admit they were accomplishing the construction with a maximum of speed and proficiency. Well, he assured himself, they were the tools of the Gods, and who was he to question that? He didn't know that before the Gods and their working tools departed each day, his mind would be gently swept of all knowledge of them and how they worked the miracles he encountered each morning.

Eventually this dome would house intricate aqueducts for the hydroponic nutrient fluids that the plants would grow in. Ina and the girls were working on the precise formulation back in the small lab they had set up, and once they had it worked out they would test the growth on a small sample here in this igloo. While they did that, Dave and Pete would move on to the next site to build a bigger greenhouse. In this way they would feed the local population while Daniel's phytoremediation program began to cleanse the earth.

----

It was hard to say who was the more surprised of the two, Daniel or Violet. She had been examining a small air conditioning housing on top of the university building, but when she reached out and touched the metal to determine it's heat output, she found herself suddenly standing in a wooded glade facing towards a small wooden shack in the distance. Fortunately for them both, she didn't see him appear out of thin air, stepping through the Nexus point to Eden World. She was having difficulty enough processing the sudden change in her surroundings.

For him it was quite a different surprise. He knew for sure where he was and how he got here. Looking for him seemed an obvious answer to why she was here...and it wasn't hard to extrapolate from that that she had been sent by the Cereplex to find him.

"Hello Violet," he said . . .

Thanks to Dell for helping me with some difficult spots I had in this chapter part... :)

Mouze1
18th Jan 2003, 00:44
Very good chapter CU. Got the greenhouses and plants going, and Violet's appearance is sure to create some flurry of confusion.

Better get my thinking cap on and my fingers on the keyboard.


**On the keyboard of life, always keep your finger on the escape key**

vakusuma
19th Jan 2003, 01:20
Sorry I couldn't comment earlier. I was... occupied.

In any case, excellent chapter, CU :)

It'll be interesting how the meeting turned out.

Dell
23rd Jan 2003, 00:38
I have heard rumors that Mouze is almost ready to post her chapter part.


In that case, Nightstalker, Attention! You are up next!

We have had three or four very complicated chapters since you last wrote...so you really better read carefully to keep all the details straight!

Mouze1
25th Jan 2003, 23:18
Chapter 10, Part 1
By Mouze

Startled, Violet turned quickly to face the person who had just called her by name. Not expecting to see Daniel standing there smiling, she was more than a little confused at what was happening. His sudden appearance was unnerving and unusual enough to cause her concern. Circuits humming, she did a quick internal analysis of the situation and determined she was in no danger. Not wanting Daniel to be aware of what the Cereplex had ordered, Violet chose to allow Daniel benefit of the doubt and allow him time to perhaps explain why his behavior patterns had changed. Certainly she must find out if there was indeed a fault that might affect her, too. How strange that he had spoken her name aloud, and not made a single effort to make circuit to circuit contact. For that reason, she answered him verbally.


"Hello Daniel, good to see you. Just where am I and what are you doing here?' She tried to sound as calm as possible because as far as Violet was concerned Daniel was not behaving in a normal way so she was on guard. Still, she did not reach out to 'read' him as he was making no attempt to 'read' her

"Don't be alarmed, it is safe here", Daniel said in his most charming way. He couldn't help but wonder how many more might find the Nexus point and end up here. Well, he thought, the best thing to do right now was try to explain to Violet what he was doing here; if he could make her understand the importance of the work they were doing, perhaps she would become a part. She would be a valuable asset, of that he was sure.

"Let's go sit down and I will try to explain all that has happened since I began studying the "wild humans. There is much that you should know." He walked past a patch of the jewel flowers and sat down on a fallen log. Daniel knew the flowers would be listening, but that was good because they were an important part of this story also.

Violet was a little hesitant, but slowly followed and sat next to Daniel on the log. All her circuits were still humming at high pitch, taking in even the tiniest bit of information and storing it for further analysis.

Daniel began from when he first met the six wild humans at AgriOne, and told of the mental studies he had done on each one. He told her how as he got to know each of them, and became interested in studying them further. To him they were definitely not humans from his world, but clearly wild humans from some other world and did not need the adjustments the Cereplex was ordering. So he helped them to escape and that is how they came to be here.

One item of information stood out. He had questioned and refused to carry out an order by the Cereplex. She, too, had just decided to question an order by the Cereplex to immobilize Daniel on sight...or at least not carry it out until she had more information. Why he had questioned his order she could not quite understand. Humans were humans, 'wild' or not, but she had only heard about the work Daniel was supposed to be doing with the humans, not actually had contact with them herself. She kept her thoughts to herself as Daniel continued with his story. She was only aware of the tinkling sound that seemed to be coming from the little patch of jewel flowers, and she noted that for further investigation. Flowers that made noise were not within her memory banks.

He told her about Becky, Lila and Pete. How they had parallel worlds and how they had discovered the first Nexus point at the cabin. Then how they and the people who joined them had found their way into AgriOne. Then he told her about the Cathedral World and the starvation that was facing the humans there. Daniel did not mention the Eden World he had just left, not wanting to tell Violet everything until he could find out why she was here. The thought that she was looking for him made him uncomfortable. He needed questions answered.

On impulse he asked Violet if she would like to meet the humans he had been telling her about and perhaps see for herself what they were all trying to do? He knew he could keep them safe, Violet was not an aggressive person. "You may read them all, of course. No need to take my word for it. And three of them are females, falling within your area of expertise. Certainly they are different emotionally from the males."

Violet sat quietly for a time, thinking to herself that if Daniel had indeed developed a programming flaw, then she could also have a flaw. That would make them both in danger of being eliminated. She wasn't ready for that, so she agreed to meet the humans Daniel seemed to be so involved with. She was very interested after listening to his story. Perhaps things were not quite as the Cereplex had described them. And thus, Violet again questioned information given her by the Cereplex.

As Daniel and Violet made their way towards the cabin, the others had gathered from their various jobs to sit down to a much needed dinner. Everyone was sharing their days' accomplishments when the cabin door opened and Daniel entered with an another person. All conversation stopped, and tension filled the air as the group became aware of the fact that Daniel had entered with a female version of himself following behind. 'She' was wearing one of the white coats of the mentallics they had seen in Robot World. This was totally unexpected and frightening. They all immediately realized that this was an intelligent mentallic, one that could penetrate and alter their minds at will, not like the worker drones he had brought in to work.

Dave stood up and was the first to break the almost palpable silence, "Well hello Daniel, who's your friend?" Dave could hear the others whispering behind him. Raising his hand to quiet them, he studied the mentallics as he patiently waited for Daniel to answer.

"Please everyone, don't be afraid. Her name is Violet. She found the entrance nexus in my world and followed me here. I invited her to come meet all of you. Perhaps I should have notified you in advance, but there really wasn't any time." Violet took a step further into the room, listening to the breathing of these humans, noting that their pulse rates were rather elevated. Curious, very curious indeed she thought to herself, not unlike the humans in the Rehab Facility. Could it be possible that humans were basically all the same, at least physiologically? This would bear looking into.

Daniel explained. "I have explained to Violet that you are basically a different kind of human, 'free' humans from a different world, not the "wild humans" we were told about in our world. I told her about the work you are doing for the Cathedral World." Daniel hoped that the group was listening closely to what he was saying and paying attention to the fact that he had not mentioned Eden World or the "bots" that were there working, or the third Nexus point of the ones who had built the cabin.

"There is one more thing ." Daniel looked around at each one of them. "I told Violet she could "read" you in order to more fully understand you and your work as a group." He paused. "I have her word she will simply "read" you, and make no alterations of any kind."

Dave spoke for them all. "We will have to discuss that privately, Daniel, and decide for ourselves if we want to be put under that kind of scrutiny again."

He excused himself, as did the others, and they went outside to talk about the new and unexpected happening. After a few minutes discussion, they agreed that it would be in their best interests to allow Violet to read them; they had learned a bit about how to block some thoughts, so hopefully it would also work this time. Dave and Ina both pointed out that Daniel had not mentioned Eden or the worker bots, or the cabin builders, so it was important to keep them out of their thoughts. With that and no small amount of trepidation they all went back into the cabin.

Daniel shot Violet one flashing message before she started to "read" the humans.'They think they can shield some of their thoughts. As a courtesy, when you see one of those small blocks, do not try to overcome it. Simply go on with your scan. They have no relevant secrets but cherish their privacy greatly.'

Sitting down at the table, Violet took turns reading the humans. Storing all the bits and pieces of information for later, what struck her most was the fact these humans, unlike the tame humans she was accustomed to, had an almost fierce sense of survival, another interesting fact to look into when there was more time. She was reading the last of the humans, the one she understood to be named Ina, when she was struck with a thought that her circuits were not quite able to conceive of; Violet closed her eyes and gave a slight shudder . . .

vakusuma
25th Jan 2003, 23:57
Good work, Mouze :) That was an interesting bit of chapter there.

They all are :)

Chilled Unit
26th Jan 2003, 21:04
Nice work!

Another really great chapter.. flying along, and how!

:)

Dell
27th Jan 2003, 00:38
Another good one...we have a cliff-hanger here!

Nightstalker? Are you paying atttention?

Look for an email tomorrow everyone . . .

Nightstalker
27th Jan 2003, 22:09
ZZZ...ZZZ...ZZZ...

*Wakes up, and rubs the sleep out of his eyes*

Great chapter Mouse.

I'll try to write something before next Sunday.

Nightstalker.

Dell
30th Jan 2003, 05:28
~There you are, Nightstalker! :)

Excellent! We'll be waiting.

Mouze1
2nd Feb 2003, 00:32
Tomorrow is Sunday, February 2nd. GROUND HOG DAY. That is just in case anyone is interested.

Back on topic. Nightstalker, what do you have in store for our little group of travelers? Waiting and waiting.

Dell
2nd Feb 2003, 00:47
Hey, groundhog...forgot all about it!

Is it Punxatawnie Phil?

And Nightstalker, where are you???????


Week-end half gone and waiting!

Nightstalker
2nd Feb 2003, 22:47
Sorry to keep you all waiting, but i had some difficulty in conjuring up a way to continue on Mouze her (really great) chapter. And I had a busy week but the chapter is nearly finished I WILL have it ready by tomorrow.

Nightstalker.

Nightstalker
4th Feb 2003, 12:54
Dell,

I mailed you my chapter part yesterday and I'm still waiting. Please hurry, so we can continue with this story.

Nightstalker.

Dell
4th Feb 2003, 15:41
Hey, Nightstalker!

What's with you? I got it yesterday evening, and I was tired. How about that? Dell is also a human being and occasionally leaves the computer to eat...among other things. Can you beat that?

Anyway, I'm working on it now...so be a little patient, okay? Just took a break long enough to look at the forum.

Just keep checking YOUR email very often.

Chilled Unit
4th Feb 2003, 17:19
You could always just post it unedited if you;re impatient Nightstalker :p :D

Nightstalker
4th Feb 2003, 20:45
Sorry Dell, I had forgotten that you live in the States again, and not in England anymore.

Here is the edited version.

*****

Chapter Ten, Part Two
By Nightstalker

Violet continued to scan Ina, storing every bit of data for a more thorough analysis later. She shivered again when she encountered Ina's deep hostility towards mind reading and mind altering. When she was finished, she flashed a message to Daniel. In turn, he suggested that the humans leave her alone for a while so she could process the newly acquired data.

The five looked at each other and nodded in agreement. Dave said quietly, "Fine, Daniel. Violet can go outside on the porch, and we'll stay in here. No problem with that. But," he looked hard at Daniel, "please check on her now and then." His meaning was very clear. Too little was known about Violet, and they didn't want her loose to wander around without their supervision.

Violet stepped out on the porch and stood quietly, relays humming as she began an in-depth scrutiny of the data she had collected during the scans. Analysing this data would take some time because of the complexity of these human minds. She was intrigued because the tame humans from her world did not possess such diversity and depth of raw emotional power as she encountered in these five humans.

She started with the male called Dave, who seemed to be the 'leader'. Dave's mind was strong, and for a human he had an unusually well balanced combination of the logical and the irrational side of the human brain. He was also aware that he could 'send' a message over the link. He had sent her a message right at the moment she made contact with him, ' Welcome Violet ' he had sent. Violet noted that the mental blocks he had put up were in fact quite powerful, and she also found a strong protective instinct in Dave's mind. He seemed to care a lot about the rest of the humans, as well as about Daniel and herself. That last bit of information came as bit of a surprise, why should a human care about a machine?

The next data she analysed belonged to Peter. Peter's mind was strong as well, but not as strong as Dave's mind. Peter was anxious about her and her intentions. The mental blocks Peter had put up were not really powerful, but she noted that these unpracticed and unskilled blocks were far more powerful than she ever encountered in the humans at Rehab One.

Rebecca's data was next to be analyzed. The first thing she found was a great affection for the group, Lila and Peter in particular. For Peter, it seemed to go far beyond affection. She loved him. The mental blocks Rebecca had put up were about as powerful Peter's blocks. Her mind wasn't particularly powerful, but the emotional make-up was totally developed beyond anything Violet knew. The question was marked: She 'loved' chickens, too, and felt a deep protective instinct toward them? How could this be? Chickens were food.

Next up was Lila. Again, there was a great affection towards the group, Becky and Peter in particular. It was definitely love felt but unexpressed. Lila's feelings for her mother Ina nearly mirrored Ina's feelings for her, but not quite as fierce. She worried about her mother's health. There was a heart condition. The mental blocks were slightly more powerful then those of Rebecca and Peter. The reading was very much like Rebecca's but ... flowers? She was trying to block out flowers? A minute electrical pulse triggered a tiny relay that chained into a note to check this further. Flowers?

Last was Ina. There was great deal of hostility regarding mind reading and mind altering. Then, Violet met extremely strong maternal instincts for the first time. She had never in her activation time encountered maternal instincts this strong; she shivered once more.

In her world, tame human females were allowed to actually bear children if they chose to do so, but 'natural-borns' were taken at the instant of birth to proper creches where they could be raised by robots specially created for that purpose. Clearly, in her world there was no bonding and though maternal feelings were known, what she encountered here jolted her to the depth of her synapses. She was created with female orientation and programmed to deal with and care for human females. The shiver became a shudder. How many times since her activation had she deliberately erased such feelings that occurred in the tame human females in her world?

The power of Ina's mental blocks! They were extremely powerful and Violet calculated that it would take three mentallics at least 48 hours to break those blocks. Why did she have such strong blocks? What was she protecting? And another question: Ina was aware of her heart dysfunction. Why had it not been repaired? A simple, bloodless technique in Violet's world.

It was then Violet decided that she needed to analyse Ina's DNA as well to find an answer to the question why Ina's blocks were so powerful. She had touched each human during the scanning procedure and during the mental scan, little nanobots had, quite unnoticed, acquired a DNA sample from each of the humans.

She began the analysis on Ina's DNA, comparing it to data that she had collected at Rehab One. During this analysis Daniel came out of the cabin and Violet stopped the analysis. Strange enough Daniel started to speak to her verbally again.

"Was the data intriguing?" Daniel asked.

"Quite..." Violet answered.

"Let's go inside," he said, and as they did so the five humans left the cabin.

Once inside, the two mentallics shared their observation data, but Violet found herself shielding the information about the power of Ina's mental blocks and the last analysis she was doing. She didn't know why she did this...an anomaly, an actual dysfunction in her own programming. Mentallics never did something without knowing why.

-----

While Violet was kept occupied by Daniel, Dave and Pete made a quick trip to check the construction of the domes in the Cathedral World. It would continue unsupervised, as the constructors had the complete construction diagram programmed into their memory banks, but first hand inspection was satisfying. Construction of the first dome was nearly finished the fabricators were already producing the glass.

Pete stood amazed by the speed with which the 'bots worked. The first dome was completed and the smaller one was nearly finished. He had thought long and hard about the lighting in the domes. Because the overhanging brown clouds nearly always blocked the sun, he asked Daniel to instruct the worker bots to design a small hydroelectric generator, one that operated on the running water from a small stream. It would work for any dome placed near a stream. Pete had also considered using windmills for power in places not so conveniently located.
"Amazing, isn't it?"

Dave's remark was answered by a big smile on Pete's face. "Incredible!"

---------------------

In Eden World, the robots worked tirelessly to grow the food and Cobalt-60 cleaning plants. The first batches would soon be ready for transport to Cathedral World.

-----

In Robot World, the Cereplex discovered that V10-LT was also missing and that she was last reported seen near the Oak Grove University. The Cereplex issued an order that V10-LT was to be neutralized on sight. This obvious malfunction in the only two mentallics with self-will indicated the need to neutralize them so such errors could be corrected. The Cereplex also dispatched a number guard 'bots to patrol the University building in Oak Grove. . .

*****

Nightstalker.

Dell
4th Feb 2003, 21:08
There we are, quickly done and to the point.

Mouse, would you please take a close look? I think there are three or four typos and words left out in various places. Would you find them and post them here so Nightstalker can correct them in this posted copy and Chilled-unit can catch them in the copy on the Nexus site? I was really hurrying and missed them. Sorry!

Appreciate it! And thank you for posting in a timely manner, Nightstalker. I am up next, and Vakusuma will take the turn after that.

Rotation now stands at:

Dell
Vakusuma
Chilled-Unit
Mouze
Nightstalker

Hope this is all right with everyone?

Mouze1
5th Feb 2003, 01:52
TO ALL THE OTHER WRITERS IN THIS STORY, I TOTALLY EXPECT EACH OF YOU TO PROOF READ AND POINT OUT ERRORS IN MY CHAPTERS. IT WOULD BE A HELP TO US ALL SO THAT THE BOOBOOS DON'T BECOME PART OF THE FINAL POSTING AT THE NEXUS SITE. (I LOVE THAT WORD "BOOBOOS").

Anyway, onward and upward. I read and re-read the above chapter. Would like to say it is a pretty darn good piece of work.
There were a couple of things:

Paragraph #3: Need one more "s" on posses.

Paragraph #4: The sentence reads--She started the male called Dave....(Please forgive me here, but it sounds like he is a car. Sorry couldn't help myself. My bad:( ....) Perhaps inserting "with" the male called Dave.

When Pete and Dave are watching the 'bots', the sentence..
"Because the overhanging brown clouds"...the "ed" needs to be removed from 'instruct'.

That is all that I could see. I do really hope that everyone else will do the same for me on my turn. Can't learn how to do it right, if no one shows you where the mistakes are. Right? Anyone? Hello?

Dell
5th Feb 2003, 15:57
I am reposting this here, too so no one will miss it.

"Thanks, Mouse. Appreciated for sure.

Martin, I made all the corrections in the copy I posted above. All you have to do is copy it and replace the one you posted in the old MAS3 topic.

All will be in order again except for imposing on Chilled_Unit to make the necessary corrections in the copy posted at the Nexus story site. I was wondering if perhaps it might be easier for him to simply delete the old posting and replace it with the copy above??? Thanks.

And I accept full responsibility for the errors Mouze found. I was the responsible editor on Martin's work. So anyone want to fling stones? Then take your best shot. I'm the culprit, and the big bullseye is brightly printed on my backside."

__________________

Nightstalker
5th Feb 2003, 18:26
I made the changes, thanks to Mouze for finding them. And please don't fling stones at Dell...She has got a chapter part to write...

Nightstalker.

Dell
5th Feb 2003, 23:20
Thanks Nightstalker...but move over to the new MAS 3 topic now. I have a corrected copy there at the top. So let's leave this one behind now and work at the other one.

vakusuma
7th Feb 2003, 00:04
It's a shame if we must close this topic with 99 replies.

So, 100th reply here.


.....

Shame? Whazzat? :D

Dell
7th Feb 2003, 22:13
Hey! And who is counting? (101)

Now go to the new MAS 3 topic please!