B825064’s fingers fidget sitting in the captain’s chair fully absorbed in thought, he considers a difficult decision he will soon make. A 360 degree, high resolution screen surrounds the interior control room of spaceship Y82 Cusk. Dark green synthetic eyes fixed sadly forward at ocean blue Earth, 500 miles distant, a seemingly serene floating globe painted against the dark universe. Voice control commands produce insets on the screen of the requested information. Spaceship Cusk moves gracefully with Earth and sun circling the center of the Milky Way galaxy at about 500,000 miles per hour. B64 asks Cusk for the phone number for Mr. Anthony Feller in Oregon.
“Why would you need that, Captain?”
“Just please get the phone number Cusk.”
“Where are the others?”
“Off watch, sleeping comfortably.”
Two crew members currently not on watch lay disabled against their wills in their small state rooms and securely bound at the ankles and wrists. They lay unconscious, tightly blindfolded and gagged. A heavy bag lined with thick layers of aluminum will interfere with any communication covers their heads. Snugly cinched locking straps secure the heavy bags at their necks. Their cuffs attach to rail grips installed in the stateroom in case of rough yaws, rolls or purposeful steep angle maneuvers to an occupant. In this case they secure the captives, B825065 and B825067. Killed in a collision on Earth in the forties B825066 was captured alive but managed to kill and destroy itself with an internal explosive device taking two of the unmindful captors with him. Replacing him in Cusk was B67.
“I’ve prepared the outgoing Check B82 Spaceship Cusk Report,” Cusk tells B64.
“Not due for seven hours, I’ll release then.”
“Aye, captain. I will remind you.”
B64 smiles, “I’m well aware you will Cusk.”
Perfecting and upgrading Zulu Seven Eight (Z78) models produced significant Earth spying enhancement features and reclassified the intelligence ships to the Bravo Eight Two (B82) nomenclature. Perhaps upgrading the crew's ability to faultlessly blend into Earth’s peoples would prove most remarkably useful. Most of the interior body organs blend miniature mechanical systems and biochemistry processes. Yasp scientists produced a synthetic organic that is difficult to tell from the human being. Eyes, skin and orifices were deterioration and disease free and far superior to Earthlings. Yasp scientists predicted a life span of 200 to 250 years. Thus, Yasp master's authorized five-year vacations per fifty years' service for B82 crews. One at a time of course, to enjoy some Earthling liberty.
In Earth’s year 1914, workers for Cusk pulled chocks from the Master’s Yasp Navy Space dock and got underway to Earth. Arriving four years later Cusk relieved an older Z78 model and began a century long deployment. The spaceship duties include continuing long standing surveillance and the comprehensive study of all things Earthly, defenses, weapons, and resources such as natural gas, oil, minerals, geology, water, forest and literally, all life types down to even the very smallest microbe, the Nanoarchaeota, Greek for tiny ancient one.
Earthlings' extraordinary appetite for savage hostility, continual war in mass as well as individual, indiscriminate and selective crime piques Yasp master’s curiosity. Fourteen light years away, unless you knew shortcuts, the elite master's hierarchy of Yasp issued orders to improve tactics and increase exploration. They did not wish to conquer a nuclear wasteland.
B64 during a five-year vacation, married a pretty country girl, named Molly, he met while fly fishing on the Deschutes River in Oregon. For the vacation B64 adopted the name Randy Floo. Comfortable and happy for four years Randy became friends with her brother Arthur. Arthur an avid outdoor man, owned a sportsman retail store in the small town of Bend, Oregon and served as his district’s Congressman. He had a large following in the USA, earning and using his large voice to encourage debate on issues rather than lapse into name calling and blaming. He spoke Paiute, Spanish and English. During the most recent election, Arthur earned eighty-five percent of his district’s vote. Molly proved to be very bright and, as it turns out, ran a well developed instinct that developed into a nervous and persistent cathexis. As months and years expired, there began a slow creeping in Molly’s after taste from a kiss, the way their dog, Freely, sniffed him, a peculiar feel or squeeze during intimacy and the seconds when his beautiful eyes suddenly shift from side to side. Randy Floo seemed to be different. She questioned herself, searching for errors in her senses, saw a smell she could not smell, but Freely could. Was it her own eyes darting, shifting? These wonders didn’t hide well.
Winter wasn’t far off, and he tells Molly, he needs time to figure it out so he will hike the Big Indian Gorge Trail outside Frenchglen, Oregon. “I’ll be back in three days, and we’ll talk.” B64 kissed her and walked out the door. Cusk retrieved him in a desolate area a day later. That was twenty years ago.
A powerful advancement for the scientists on Yasp was integrating brain tissue with a chip centuries before Elon Musk. Thus, B64 sitting in the captain’s chair could often maneuver simply by thinking the command he wanted. He pauses to watch a large Chinese balloon enter the United State air space. An earthquake in Turkey caught his eye as well a train wreck in Virginia. He frowns at the thick smoke cloud toxing the atmosphere. Missiles flew across Ukraine causing dreadful ruin.
“These folks are at it again.” Cusk says.
“Never stops on Earth. Never boring. Never sensible. Never sustainable.”
“Make your course for latitude 32.91658 x longitude 32.54.60, location of USS Scorpion. Deceased. Set depth for 11,000 feet. Allow zero detection.
The command gives him more time. A few minutes later they were circling the USS Scorpion’s (SS-589) grave site.
“Continue close inspection. Activate cameras one and two.”
“Aye Captain. If I may sir, why are we here?”
“Good reason Cusk. Okay?”
“Yes sir. Yasp Master: Check 82, spaceship Cusk. “Due in six and a half hours sir. I’m not reading data on B65 or B67. Should you check on them?”
“I will, right now.”
Here dwells the confusion, dilemma, and angst that Yasp scientists had carefully avoided by installing a chip programmed to recognize and delete emotions if they appear. The chip was failing like a faulty vaccination. B64’s system struggles to properly synthesize the science. After all these decades and all the observations there became a need, not a want, but a need to relieve Earth of the overwhelming chaos. Year after year he viewed a viciousness and savagery in great numbers that ran beyond comprehension. The French Ypres trenches of World War I, 1917 and 1918 came sadly to B64’s mind. The insidious evolution of the 1945 atomic bomb drilling MAD into the psyche of most people on Earth. A fear they must live with. The Viet Nam War. The collateral damage. The war machines they build. The USS Scorpion (SS-589) submarine unnecessarily taking its crew to their death in 10,000 feet of water off the Azores in 1968. Molly and Arthur’s older brother, serving on Scorpion as a radioman, floats somewhere amid the twisted steel. B64 was the first to observe the submarine lying in three crushed segments on its cold, dark death bed, even before the navy found where it lay and before he knew Molly and Arthur.
These thoughts pushed B825064 mentally down into a lower form. A room in his mind, a door knocked on many times since leaving Molly and her brother, Anthony. Now B64 finds himself inside the room and it’s dark, wicked dark. He feels sick, to himself, I must do it. I must. Follow the plan.
“Checking on B65 and B67. Back in a minute. Keep circling, snapping pictures. We need those images Cusk.”
On the way out B64 manually switches the bunk room sensors and air lock sensors off.
“No worries, Cusk. Back on in a minute.”
The escape trunk is cold. Kneeling beside the unconscious B65 he checks to ensure the mechanical heart’s pulse is slow and quiet then unlocks the shackles and hand cuffs from the rail. He pulls open the weighted vest and accesses the timer on the internal explosive to eliminate B65 in six minutes then repeats the process for B67 changing the time to five minutes. He steps out of the escape trunk closes the watertight door and operates the high-pressure air valve to equalize the pressure in the trunk, then opens the hatch and blows the two synthetic aliens into the Atlantic Ocean. They now join the Scorpion deep sea ghosts in Davy Jones locker.
“Cusk make your depth one hundred feet and hover.” B64 orders.
“Aye captain. Are B65 and B67 okay sir?”
“They went to investigate the Scorpion ruins Cusk.”
“We are leaving them here sir?”
“Yes, make your depth one hundred feet and hover.”
“B64 arrives in the control room and looks into the ocean. Okay Cusk. We are going to surface and fly. Bring us just below the surface and scan for contacts. Zero detection Cusk, zero.”
“Aye Captain. Monitors showing B65 and B67 deconstructed by internal expiration device detonation sir. Should we notify Master?”
“More to do Cusk. Let’s go.”
“To North America, Frenchglen, Oregon. Undetected. Straight up then route through the Exosphere.” B64 settles in captain’s chair. “When we arrive, we place you in the Steens Mountain cave, where you picked me up twenty years ago. You can take a break while you wait for me. I’ll be back in about three days, is that clear?
“Aye Captain, as a space highway sir.”
Cusk descends into a narrow Steens mountain valley. Leveling at fifty feet, she backs herself into a huge natural cave like indent in the mountains rock side that will conceal the ship Cusk. B64 prepares a backpack and dresses in Oregon type clothing complete with LL Bean hiking boots and a formidable walking stick that can quickly become a lethal weapon. Into his backpack he slips a small but powerful computer that stores a history of Yasp. The makeup of the planet, the evolution of Yasp inhabitants and the Masters, the science and technology of space travel, including black hole shortcut tunnels, and much more, all Earthling will need to know to join the few that pioneer the universe but more importantly to defend themselves. The information is vast and all on the one small device in his backpack.
“Okay Cusk here we are, settled. Give my friend Anthony a call please.”
“Hello,” Anthony’s voice fills the control room.
“Anthony, this is an old friend, Randy Floo. I know you’re holding on to your hat right now but it’s important we talk in person soon. Life changing important.”
An uncomfortable silence merged with the air around B64. “I owe an apology and I will do my best to provide an explanation if you will give me a chance.”
“We thought you were dead. But if not and she sees you, you might become a dead person. The apology you owe is to Molly,” his voice strains to steady. “You just leave, no good-bye, no communication even with Molly? Twenty years later you want to apologize. Okay, tell me why now not dead person.”
“I cannot. We meet tomorrow afternoon at the Frenchglen hotel, and I will tell you what you will need to survive.”
“That’s a four-hour drive Randy. What the hell, you can’t come here and survive what for God’s sake?”
“I don’t have a car.”
“Call an Uber.”
“Never mind. Tomorrow afternoon then. Maybe about noon. You will be in the restaurant? Survive? I hope this is going to be beyond profound.”
“Yes, in the restaurant. See you around noon,” he ends the call.
“Put the Check Report on the screen Cusk,” B64 orders.
The screen immediately showed the message, To: Yasp Master, Check 82B, spaceship Cusk.
Send the report, he thinks.
“Aye Captain.” The screen showed the transmission had been sent.
B64 opened a small door in the captain’s seat arm. "Cusk, I’m turning you off. I’ll be back in three days. I will lock up on my way out."
B64 leaves with his walking stick and backpack through an emergency small door that could only be operated manually by him. Twelve hours later he arrives at the Frenchglen hotel at eleven am. He takes a seat in the restaurant and waits for Arthur.
He pays no attention to the few people surrounding him. His head is full of what he had done and what he is going to do. The plan will save no one, help no one without a lot of cooperation from some brave Earthlings. He feels optimism one minute and fears failure the next. He will rely heavily on Arthur to get started. He hears footsteps and turns. There stands Arthur having aged twenty years and beside him stands Molly wearing her age like a new spring sun dress. He gathered himself, called on the synthetic part of him to keep the organic section calm.
“Okay, we’re here Randy,” says Arthur. “Apologize, then get to the point.”
“I would rather we take a walk, just a short one so I can explain without any chance of an audience,” Randy almost whispers.
” You going to kill us?” Molly asks her swollen eyes close to tears.
“No, I’m going to make you an offer. One I hope you will accept…. Arthur. I’m here on a humanitarian mission. Let’s go outside and walk, please.
They went outside and circled around to the back of the hotel where shade invites, and they begin walking slowly on the trail.
“ I was so enjoying our marriage, Molly. I fiercely apologize. And Arthur’s friendship. My software became muddled. Molly was getting on to my, well, to what I was. What I was and am now. A robot. A synthetic with some alien organic cosmetics. I left twenty years ago because I sensed that Molly began questioning herself on who I was. There’s just a lot of technology that binds me together and enables me to operate human like. Until I met you, Molly. You were so perceptive Molly, and I fell in love like an Earthling. That’s why I left you and Arthur. I hated to go but it was time. I am here on a hundred-year mission which is coming to a close. I’m supposed to be perfect but I’m not. Oh,” he reaches into his vest and pulls out small storage stick. A few pictures for you of the Scorpion remains. Thought you might like to have them.”
“For sure. Seems like an apology twenty years ago would fall into the perfect zone, doesn’t it? But we thought you were dead and all that searching for you came up empty,” Arthur says. “You are one derelict alien.”
“I couldn’t take the chance. I didn’t want to disrupt your lives any more than I had, but now I must.” They continue walking, “here’s the reason. Twenty years ago, I was still a team player. My time with you two found a chink in my character, a weakness in my construction. Supposedly I can fake emotion, but not experience real emotion. Something inside myself broke. Here’s what I have to tell you and then I have to go.”
“You ready Molly?” asks Arthur. Molly couldn’t remove the shock from her eyes; the anger, the bewilderment, she married a robot. All that was happening and being said. “What’s your alien's name Randy, traitor maybe.
“I am so sorry Molly. I am. My name is B825064, my model identification. B64 for short.” He removes the backpack and pulls out the small case with the information. “Okay on this little box, see this little red button? That opens, once open press it again and you will get data and holograms for any data you search for. Controls inside allow you to adjust the size and location of the holograms. It’s eighth generation tensor holography so pretty sharp and concise. On this little fellow is stored information like universal formulas, mathematics, quantum physics, particle physics, string theory, number theory, fuels, a complete understanding of cells, bacteria, viruses and cures, the history of Yasp and Earth. Much you don’t know about mineral resources and where they are right here on Earth. I’m out of time. I’m giving this for a reason. You can destroy Earth with a nuclear button or push this button to activate an information bomb. You need to be able to defend Earth or evacuate. Yasp, my planet and culture has been here for thousands of years watching and analyzing and I know they want to move here. You have some time, but you will need to get this to someone who will figure out an offensive and defensive plan, that goes fast in space. I apologize but I have to go. If it works out for me to help I will but it won’t be long before they find I’m a traitor and they will send a whole fleet to punish me by death. I’m not the only one here now. There are five other ships from Yasp and they will be looking for me soon. Good luck to you.
“Who do I take this to?”
“I give it to you Arthur because I know you can figure this out. Yasp people are peaceful and cohesive but need a new home. Earth, they believe is available. They want it before Earthlings destroy it. On Earth waging war is your strength but you need to become stronger and stop bickering between yourselves and start building a whole world plan. And two heads are better than one. Keep this smart lady by your side.” He looks at Molly and nods. They’re coming.”