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Chapter 1 of Wiki fiction stew
Central Park, NY
The early morning light was just breaking over the newest fountain in Central Park. The fountain was a curious sight. It resembled a burning sun but of course water poured forth from its many spouts, not rays of light. It was natural for everyone to wonder where it came from. None but the "craziest" would suspect the truth, that it was in fact an alien spacecraft disguised as a fountain, that its pilot was a shapeshifting alien with telepathic abilities, that this alien was in fact the grey and white tabby now sniffing around in the brush just a few feet away.
Along with many native New Yorkers, Exta Ghantesvara was enjoying the open green spaces of the park. Exta Ghantesvara was in town as an attendee of a conference on business, but she was taking a break from both her work and her personal obligation to visit friends who knew she was in town. While jogging across the park she noticed an unusually large clot of park patrons off in a little glade. She trotted off the path and started strolling around the fringe of the crowd.
The small grey and white cat went unnoticed by the early morning joggers who were being attracted to this corner of the park by the fountain. Most of the gathering park patrons were surprised by the fountain's sudden appearance and there were many comments suggesting that new construction in the park really had to be planned, discussed and possibly voted on. One thing was clear: these early morning exercisers would rather discuss the fountain than exercise and the discussion was becoming a lengthy and boisterous affair. The fountain was a beautiful thing and already some people were on their cell phones and sharing images of the fountain with those not present, starting the flow of information, gossip, rumor. The cat moves off back up the trail and pauses as it senses something different about an approaching woman or more precisely the technology she has in her possession.
Exta was about to attribute the fountain to an act of creative urban guerilla art, but then the seemingly ordinary scene of the fountain and the people seemed to disintegrate. Exta's hidden identity and personality was awakened by her nanite implants. Her consciousness quickly expanded to include an overlaid graphical interface channel feeding nanite-generated data directly into the visual cortex of her brain. That data feed clearly showed that the fountain was a source of a type of signal that could not -or should not- exist on Earth. But exactly what was this strange signal that her nanorobotic implants had detected?
Exta wandered casually over to the fountain and touched it, at the same time launching a swarm of analytical nanite probes into the substance of the fountain. Her probes soon reported their findings: the fountain was made of conventional materials that might be expected in a fountain, but her probes also examined the ground and detected no evidence of the construction process that would have been required to build the fountain. Her mind was deflected to thoughts of crop circles and other hard to explain artifacts that she had previously investigated.
By triangulating with her detectors her attention was attracted to a second source of the unusual signal that she had initially detected in association with the fountain. This second source was a cat that was located in some brush not too far from the fountain. Exta approached the cat, but fearing that it was a disease-carrying wild cat she did not touch it. She waved her hand and launched a set of nanite probes at the cat. Exta again got nothing but conventional compositional analysis results coming back from the probes. Exta was baffled. The signals passing between the fountain and the cat were unlike any form of communication that she was familiar with. She muttered to the cat, "What did you get yourself involved with here, friend?"
Flarsh in the guise of a common household cat waited patiently as the woman ran her analysis. Flarsh was unafraid of the technology the woman was using but certainly it was too advanced for humans to posses. Flarsh decided that a simple mind probe was in order but was surprised to encounter a strong resistance in the woman. It was now necessary to bring Flarsh's considerable mental abilities to bear but even so it was difficult to get an accurate picture of exactly what was being encountered. It seemed the woman had techno-organic implants of some kind, this was interesting and also a bit disconcerting since it indicated contact with extra-terrestrials. This could mean all sorts of trouble, it was a generally agreed upon in the universe at large that primitive races like the humans could be studied, even dealt with as long as you didn't let on you were from outer space, well at least not on purpose anyway, accidents did happen after all but to purposely put them in contact with such advanced technology was taboo.
Exta tried to imagine what might be going on at the Observer Base on the Moon. The implications of the odd signals coming from the cat would by now have triggered an Overseer alert. Assuming that the nearest Overseer was on the Moon, it would probably take a few hours for there to be a definitive response. However, at any moment a call could come from the Moon with special instructions for Exta from her supervising Overseer. Exta knew that the careers of Observers were often judged on the basis of quick thinking in emergency situations, but somehow she found herself quickly deciding to take no action. After one last glance at the cat, Exta turned and returned to the paved path. Her heart was pounding hard and, for the first time in her role as an Observer, she felt that she had encountered a truly dangerous situation on Earth.
The woman started moving off and intrigued Flarsh shadowed her for some distance. The small form of the grey cat would pass unnoticed in just about any environ on Earth. It was a delicious feeling for Flarsh, a great deal of relish was taken in having chosen a form so well. After all Flarsh had never been to Earth before and the last time Flarsh had been in the neighborhood, the little primates had barely learned to rub two sticks together. All of Flarshs' current knowledge had been gleaned on his approach to Earth just this morning. In all reality Flarsh should have gone straight home, to Europa in this case, one of his hatch mates was transcending the physical body today, having achieved the ability to transform into a gas, Khosac, Flarshs'...brother, for lack of a more analogous term, Khosac would be saying goodbye to the world of solids for good. Did Flarsh really want to spend what little time was available chasing after this strange woman? After all what transpired on Earth was the business of earthlings and did not really concern Flarsh. It was unlikely the primitive humans would even recognize Flarsh as a life form if Flarsh assumed its natural form. We don’t yet know what Flarsh did next though there are several possibilities.
- Flarsh may have followed Ghantesvara discretely to find out about her extra-terrestrial connections.
- Flarsh may have stayed away to prevent her alien contacts finding out more about it.
- Flarsh may have gone back to Europa to attend its brother/sister’s
funeralapotheosis. It has or has not decided whether or not to return to Earth later.
- Flarsh may have done something completely different and unexpected.
Business as usual
Adam Stanley was attending the "Fair Trade and Labor Practices Conference" and before he got there he hadn’t minded at all how many people knew. Once Stanley got to New York he found that the British organisation, Oxfam had discovered what the conference really was about. Stanley and his industrialist friends thought breaking Trade Unions and driving third world wages down was a fair proper and profitable way to do business and he had hoped those who disagreed wouldn’t find out the truth about that conference. Stanley just couldn’t stand those Liberal Europeans and even less the British. He walked round Central Park and kicked at the autumn leaves in frustration as he vividly remembered the anarchist and other demonstrators, some with obscene banners.
On the strength of her reputation as a photojournalist, Exta Ghantesvara had obtained a press pass for the Fair Trade and Labor Practices Conference and happened to be nearby. Her objective in attending the conference was to try to learn about how new technologies, primarily information technologies, were having an impact on laws mandating fair trade and labor practices. However, she had so far been unable to get interviews with the key players among the businessmen who were attending the conference. The conference administrators were making available for interviews a large stable of PR experts and other lackeys, but their canned propaganda held little interest for Exta. She wanted to establish contacts with some of the real movers and shakers who were in attendance.
Whenever Exta became frustrated in her work, it was her long-standing habit to back off and take a break. In her experience it seldom did much good to keep pushing when the answer was "no". Exta had decided to go jogging and she was enjoying the sights and sounds of Central Park and not thinking for a while about her reason for coming to New York. Suddenly she noticed a familiar face. She slowed her pace to a walk and called out, "Mr. Stanley! Can I have a minute of your time?" Adam Stanley was one of the conference attendees who she could benefit from interviewing. She pulled her press badge from the conference out of her pocket and handed it to him. "I'm Exta Ghantesvara, I'm covering FTLPC. I'd be thrilled if you would grant me an interview. I represent MAMT."
Adam Stanley took care to avoid showing any concern.
“How much did the demonstrators know?” he wondered, “Had they got any information about the chemical factory in the banana republic where they discharged untreated waste into a local river. Did they know about the high rate of cancers and other diseases among villagers living downstream of that factory?” Had anybody made a connection with his family farm in the United States Bible Belt. Stanley knew of several trailer parks downstream of that farm, Stanley had no idea what effect fertilizer and pesticide runoff was having on water that the rednecks living in those trailer parks used for washing and perhaps for drinking and he didn’t want any difficult questions. Perhaps if he talked to that lady reporter Stanley could find out a bit about what the other side knew.
“Certainly let’s talk,” Stanley replied “it’s a bit chilly outside. We can find somewhere warm to sit down, shall I buy you a drink?” Stanley didn’t care over much about the health of poor dark skinned men and women downstream of his chemical factory in the banana republic. Stanley cared just as little about the poor white rednecks downstream of his home farm. Despite all this when a woman was obviously well off and could afford to buy her own drinks Stanley generally showed traditional southern hospitality and chivalry and offered to pay for her drinks.