Part 10: Sender
ALEXANDRE: And then "Sender" was there, appearing out of the hazy
distance. Our ship veered toward him/it/THEM, we flew fast, but it
all seemed slow motion because the distances involved were so
vast. "Sender" was lit up so that we could see him/it: an
endless chain of thick delta-shaped wedges, like a huge
flatworm...no, "huge" won't do--the size of Great Britain as told
in The Message--and as it spread out beneath us filling our
horizon, we flew over what seemed to be an entire world.
TORDENSKJOLD: We had studied The Messages, intellectually we
knew what to expect, but we were not prepared for the reality,
the sheer size and scope of "Sender", not at all.
A world of symbiotic creatures that had clustered to "Sender's"
island body: millions and millions of waving tentacle creatures,
like octopus arms or seaweed trees; endless rolling rippling
fields of jellybrain beings (some cognitive, others
intuitive, others memory, there were several specialities of
brain beings); propulsion sphincters; vision stalks everywhere;
aural, pheno, tactile sensors; and an absolutely unlimited number
of weird organic constructions with no fathomable function; all
part of the body and mind of the intelligent alien being who had
sent the Messages to Earth.
A fleet of defense drones swam past in formation, each a hundred
times the size of our ship, also composite symbiotic creatures,
armed with spiked antennae. They moved in, then veered off, as
if they had been given an all clear command, offering us no
As we approached "the Surface" we saw that it was actually a
latticework, a honeycomb, a coralreef skeleton mounted with
forests of symbiotic creatures, and then we passed down inside of
it, our ship so tiny, and descended for layer after layer after
layer, far down, into the belly of the beast.
Literally, a huge mouth opened beneath us and we were sucked into
a dark place.
SHECKLEY: Like a big fish swallows a little fish?
TORDENSKJOLD: Pretty much. Then we stopped. Our searchlights
showed that we were floating inside a bladder hundreds of times
larger than our ship, inside a living organism. Tendrils of
flesh grew out from the chamber wall, very slowly reaching
toward the Jupship, and weaving themselves into a web all around
us, wiring us into the Jupiterian neural system.
ALEXANDRE: Very slowly, it took days of our time. Then we could
hear Sender over our radio, and see images in our screens. THEY
greeted and welcomed us.
SHECKLEY: Could you actually talk to "THEM", in real-time?
TORDENSKJOLD: Apparently, THEY understood us and responded,
although there was a delay of several minutes each time--
translation pause--all the conversations are recorded, so we
won't give a word-by-word report right now. THEY were
friendly. And most interested in the forementioned
interstellar project, which meant a
close cooperation between Men and Jupiterians, and several joint
ventures to star systems where there are gas giants and
earth-type planets. The greatest problem THEY were concerned
with was social instability, both human and Jupiterian, because
it's hard to make long-term plans with short-term political
ALEXANDRE: Then THEY gave us a tour of Jupiter, through THEIR
millions of eyes--it's quite a dreamy slow place from
THEIR perspective. We have zilliabytes of data, if you're
interested: food chain, ecology, geology, social etiquette and
interaction among Jupiterians, games, work--they have no war--
TORDENSKJOLD: ...the mating procedures of Jupiterians are pretty
intense: non-stop orgy, 3-way sex in all its 27 permutations.
But that is nothing compared to a pairing of Nations. And that
is just what Sender was preparing to do.
ALEXANDRE: That's why THEY wanted us there, at that time. We
were to be part of it. Catalysts.
TORDENSKJOLD: It's when two Nations become One, A Big Event,
and dangerous. The idea is that THEY rub together and that one
of THEM ends up with all the symbiotic modules, all the physical
effectors, the sensory agents, the brain power--reconfiguring
into a new better even more super-intelligent entity; the
The problem is: THEY never know exactly what THEY will end up
with; the personality change, the physical reality of fitting
everything together. Also, sometimes in the process a lot of
symbiotes are destroyed,
crushed as two
worlds collide. And if it goes very badly, the symbiotes may
abort and scatter all the resources--which can mean physical
debility, catastrophic personality distortions, and you end up
with two wrecked and inferior Nations.
So it should be planned out, you would think, like a marriage
should. But what actually happens is that, just like us, the
passions take over--and we are talking about a LOT of passion:
that of a billion billion creatures all at once--and the two
behemoths just crash together and bump and grind until it's all
over, one way or another. Pretty crazy.
ALEXANDRE: Yes, and pretty exciting. We got sort of caught up
in it and...well, crashed together a lot too.
TORDENSKJOLD: Anyway, "Sender" no longer exists. THEY are
a merging of 2 Entities, XOXL and XNDU, who are now XOXLNDU, and
are now the 2nd most powerful Nation in Jupiter's AtmoSea.
The plans for the Interstellar Project have survived the upgrade,
fortunately, although some of the scientific details have been
lost in the shuffle--at least until They find where that brain-
bank ended up. But there has been a major change in
ALEXANDRE: Because we were there. We were linked up in the
Universal Orgasm--THEIRS and our own--and at that time we were
part of that One Entity. And witnessed the Conception of a New
Entity...and she witnessed us. All very Cosmic.
TORDENSKJOLD: The result of which is that we bear this child of Jupiter. And agreed to take her to Earth, to be the contact for our two races.
SHECKLEY: Uhh...I don't really know if the authorities can...or
will...allow a child conceived under those circumstances to go to
Earth. What is this child: a superhuman monster with psychic powers?
Could it be a way for Jupiter to control us all?
ALEXANDRE: No, it's just a child, helpless and precious, with a
gift of understanding. Oh...oh...I think it's time...