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Chapter 8

July 24, 2409 AD

61 Ursae Majoris C

31 light-years from the Sol System

Saturday, 11:30 A.M. Sol System Eastern Time

(1:30 P.M. 61 Ursae Majoris C Capitol Standard Time)

Copernicus stood before the shimmering control wall of the giant QMT facility in the system’s Kuiper Belt intent with purpose and satisfied that now after thousands of years of planning the time had come at long last. The culmination of so many millennia of planning and work was coming. It was finally time. His human brain was flooded with odd sensations that as a symbiont he’d have never felt. While he hadn’t actually had a scheduled date and time for it, events had shaped themselves into the perfect chance for his final moves on the chessboard. Madira was gone and so was the majority of the human fleet. Their leading general and megaship captains would be inaccessible to the humans, if his plans worked the way he expected, for a long time to come if not forever.

He worked at the quantum foam that was the control wall for the giant construct. His thoughts were scattered as he considered all the years of work leading up to where he was to what was about to happen. He was letting himself be distracted from the immediate work at hand. He wondered if that distraction was a function of the human brain and body he was in or if all the years in exile had made it more difficult to stay on focus. If it was the body and brain, well, he hoped to fix that issue before too much longer.

The facility itself was the largest of any of the nearby Kuiper Belt planetoids and an absolute technological marvel beyond anything the simple humans could even imagine. Not even the most brilliant among them had any comprehension, the slightest inkling, of what the facility’s main purpose was. Even Sienna Madira, as brilliant as she was and with all the enhancements to her mind that he had done over the centuries, had no way of knowing what the facility could do.

It had taken him centuries to build it. The planetoid-sized device had originally been created as a weapon to combat the Thgreeth, but then the Chiata had arrived and changed all his plans and changed its purpose. Fortunately for Copernicus, its original purpose was very malleable and thus he molded and reshaped it towards new ends that until recently hadn’t included the Thgreeth any longer.

The Thgreeth had fought his race to a stalemate many millennia before and an uneasy peace had been created in the galaxy. As much as they had fought the Thgreeth and experimented on their physiology, he could not find a natural means of parasitically controlling the species. Their independence and free will made them quite an adversary. And then there was the rise of the galactic court and commerce system whereby that unsurmountable drive for free will spread like an infectious disease across the outer arms of the galaxy. His plans within plans were almost laid to waste by the advanced alien culture once they began to align themselves with the other races of the galaxy. But then the Chiata arrived and changed all of his plans within plans within plans—some for the better where the Thgreeth were concerned, but mostly for the worse in all other regards.

The Kingdom of D’lraouth had once expanded over five thousand light-years radially from the galactic center from one side of the Perseus Arm to the other and in more than seven thousand light-years along the circumference of that arm. The arm being one out from the Orion Spur of the Sagittarius Arm where the humans were found thousands of years later and one in from the outermost arm not including the Monoceros Ring where it now appeared the Thgreeth had retreated to. Copernicus had long thought they were extinct until Madira’s granddaughter recently encountered one of them. Plans had to be altered with this new knowledge.

There had been hundreds of thousands of worlds the D’lraouth had taken and implanted with infant parasites and symbiont hosts. Countless connected civilizations were created under his reign. When any of these worlds already had sentient inhabitants, they were either controlled, enslaved, or destroyed. After all, nonsubservient sentience had proven to be a nuisance to the D’lraouth in all encounters.

The war machine of the D’lraouth was simple and elegant—infect, control, conquer, move on. The species were the perfect Von Neumann probes. And then they encountered the Thgreeth who were a species that celebrated free will among sentient creatures above all things. Free will was such an opposition concept to the D’lraouth that to them it was truly evil incarnate. All creatures in the universe must be D’lraouth. D’lraouth himself knew that free will was a myth and that it only led to chaos and destruction. And so began the millennia-long conflict.

D’lraouth, now Copernicus, knew then that time would be on his side. His species could wait out almost anything and that included the eventual collapse of haphazard concepts such as free will and of civilizations such as the Thgreeth. So he waited. And he waited.

But the Thgreeth were better at governing themselves and their collective free will than any the D’lraouth had seen prior. While the war raged between them, and the galactic chess game continued, the king and queen of the D’lraouth began to note that they were losing world after world to the Thgreeth, which contradicted the simulations of their planning. With each new world taken, the Thgreeth would liberate two. If history were to continue along the same path then in a few tens of thousands of years the Thgreeth would finally overtake the D’lraouth.

The problem with the Thgreeth’s liberation wasn’t that the parasites were removed and sent home. Thus far, no species in the galaxy, including the Thgreeth and D’lraouth, had any technology that would enable a separation of parasite from host without killing the host. This practically led to a symbiont hunt where any creature found attached to the D’lraouth had to be exterminated. And where the Thgreeth were concerned that usually meant exterminating the parasite with the host.

The war between the Thgreeth and the D’lraouth went on and on and on. Both sides were getting bogged down in the dismal fog of the millennial war. That was when Copernicus had his eureka moment. Then the idea of the quantum membrane consciousness transfer overpowered him. If he could not control the Thgreeth parasitically, then he must find a way to do it within the laws of physics that governed the multiverse. It had become all he could focus on until it consumed his every thought. Centuries of research, testing the concepts on lesser sentient species, and finally on himself, led him to an answer. The capability could be realized that would allow him to capture Thgreeth and transfer control over them without having to make parasitic connections with the host. It was possible and only he knew how to do it.

And then the Chiata had arrived, laying waste to his plans within plans. And then the Chiata arrived and drove his enemy out of the system. It wasn’t until Deanna Moore had fought the Chiata singlehandedly and taken control of an ancient Thgreeth teleportation nexus that Copernicus had learned that the Thgreeth might still exist out there in the galaxy somewhere and he still might have to deal with them. These humans continually generated unforeseen anomalies in his calculations. Madira had warned him to accept noncomputability as part of human nature and to allow for randomness and forcing functions in completely unexpected directions in any models, simulations, and particularly in his plans.

For a human with a limited knowledge base, Sienna Madira had continuously surprised him with her astute wisdom and intellect. He knew that very soon she would become too much of a risk to his plans to allow her to live. In fact, all of the descendants of herself and her son in-law would have to be removed. He hoped that was currently taking place hundreds of light-years away.

When the Chiata came and devastated civilization after civilization on the outer arms of the Milky Way galaxy, as the humans called it, the armies of the galaxy fought the Chiata to a slow advance, extremely slow. But it was still an advance nonetheless. The galactic court system sent emissaries to the Chiata and a false truce had been established. The Chiata would face no resistance to taking unprotected and unadvanced civilizations. And that was where business and politics became weapons. Various alien cultures throughout the galaxy started purchasing futures on undeveloped systems and they filed claims of ownership and therefore the Galactic Defense Alliance had no choice but to defend them. In many cases, the Chiata either didn’t recognize the claims of ownership or simply didn’t care and continued to move forward with their attack wave. In some cases they were slowed, but the Galactic Defense Alliance had never stopped them.

The Chiata rolled right through the Kingdom of D’lraouth and laid waste to all of his domain. Copernicus managed to pull billions of his people back until the last of them were trapped in their original home system. The armies of the galaxy were no match for the Chiata and it was then that Copernicus pulled all of his people that still remained from their parasite minds and host bodies. He didn’t have the time or ships to gather billions of his parasite brethren up and fly them away to safety. His only hope of saving his people was to save their minds. And that is what he did. He stored away as many parasite bodies as he could manage for future experiments and perhaps cloning, but more importantly he downloaded over nine billion minds, and stored them, the survivors nothing more than a quantum consciousness stored on vastly entangled and intertwined quantum membrane storage oscillators encoded in the quantum vacuum energy fluctuations of space and time.

It was then that he began jumping his facility and his people using what the humans would eventually call the “sling-forward” technology as far from the Chiata as he could manage. After years of jumps he came to where he was at the moment. He searched the nearby stars for suitable vessels until finally he found the Sol system. After all those years of searching he had finally discovered the humans. He studied them and realized that they were perfect vessels for his people. Then he devised a plan. Then he went to the Galactic Courts and he bought the futures on the human system and those surrounding it within twenty or so light-years. It was then that he studied every living human being in the system until he found just the right one. He experimented with several humans throughout time but never quite found what he was looking for. Choosing the right human took several centuries more but the D’lraouth were a patient species. Very patient.

Then he found her, a young Senator Sienna Madira. Once he had studied her intently and realized that she would be the right one, he had set his plans into motion.

The wall rippled as the quantum fabric of the universe twisted and rolled and correlated itself with the commands he input. Copernicus had almost let himself become lost in his memories and relishing of a moment he’d awaited for tens of thousands of years.

“Is there nothing more you require of us, sir?” The lead assistant and bodyguard that Sienna Madira had assigned to him asked. Copernicus looked specifically at the large Malcolm clone and realized why Sienna had assigned him as his bodyguard. It wasn’t because Copernicus needed protecting, but because Sienna didn’t trust him. Copernicus smiled inwardly and mumbled to himself, “And rightly so. I made you so much more than you ever would have been, Sienna.”

“Sir?” the Malcolm clone asked. The other two clones standing flank, a Teena and a Sarah, stood quietly showing no particular interest or expression.

“Sorry, I was speaking to myself. Nothing just yet. I appreciate your willingness to help.” He said with a smirk. Then as Copernicus extracted one of his hands from the quantum randomness the shimmering surface of the wall clung to him like molasses, a silvery shiny molasses with the consistency of liquid mercury. “I would like to tell the three of you that you have performed you jobs as your leader assigned you perfectly and that your lives should be commended. I thank you, my people thank you, and the Kingdom of D’lraouth, thanks you for your sacrifices.”

“Sir?” The Malcolm clone said with a puzzled look. Copernicus just smiled back in return.

An arc of the silvery quantum liquid leapt from the wall and engulfed the Malcolm clone’s head. The other two clones reacted almost instantly and drew their weapons, but even AI-driven clones weren’t fast enough. Two other glowing silvery liquid mercury like fractal shaped tendrils shot from the rippling wall and grabbed them by the tops of their heads. The liquid quickly covered their faces and penetrated their eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. The clone bodies became limp and dangled from beneath the quantum foam fractal appendages of the interface wall. Ripples of white and blue light surged back and forth along the appendages as if tremendous amounts of data were being transferred over optical interface fibers. The light ripples increased in frequency and shifted further into the blue.

Copernicus stood aside with one hand still in the control wall keeping the link between his mind and the facility functioning. He pulled up the direct-to-mind interface with the facility that he had never shown to the humans and suddenly a list of billions of alien symbols appeared before him. Copernicus searched through the symbols briefly until he found the one he was looking for.

“Hello, my dear,” he said out loud as he selected the symbol and activated another command.

“Download initiated,” a voice suddenly said. “I am . . . now activated.”

“Very good, Yeventha. I have missed you, my friend.” Copernicus smiled and continued to activate other icons. “I am D’lraouth.”

“Download complete,” the voice replied. “Master D’lraouth, my body and processors are not . . . not here. How can I serve you without my systems?”

“My friend, you are to engulf and facilitate this complex. It will be your new body. There is an implant in this body’s brain that you are to connect to and stay connected to me at all times. Do you understand?”

“Yes master, I do. This new body is massive and quite . . . pleasing. Is there anything else?”

“There is much and we shall get to that in due time. For now, search the repository for Queen Ifgeentha, Prince Rephonja, and General Freefth.”

“I have located their presences.” Yeventha said. “What are your commands?”

“Place General Freefth in this vessel here, the Queen here, and Rephonja here,” he said as he highlighted which clone for which mind.

“Yes, your majesty.” Copernicus smiled at being called that. He hadn’t heard that in a long, long time. It felt, good.

“Yeventha, I want you to use the sensors on this vessel and search this entire system’s lifeforms. You will see many like these three here with no quantum transceivers in their brains. That will make up the majority of the system population. These are clones with AI sentients loaded into them. They will require direct contact to load, like these vessels you are presently connecting with. There will be others that have quantum transceivers installed and in direct connection with their brains. These are natural-born humans with AI assistants installed. Identify all of these humans in the system.”

“Yes, master, there are approximately forty-seven-thousand of these vessels presently in the system.”

“Yes, Yeventha, yes! That will be enough. You are to take the top forty seven thousand of our people and load them into these vessels via the QMT connections within their assistants. And immediately teleport them here to this facility.”

“Master, there are sentient presences in each of these vessels. Would you like me to store them?”

“Erase them.”

“As you wish, Master.”

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