...then CONTACT  

...the buzzing finally stopped.

Juliana could think again.  They must be finished with the 
UpLoading.  Brain and body had been totally shorted out by the
process, but now she was in control again.  Although she did 
feel extremely light, physically.  A final wave of dizziness 
passed, she shook her head, wiped her eyes, reached for the 
booth door.

It wasn't there, or rather, she wasn't in an UpLoad booth at 

She was somewhere else.  Inside a spiral of glass, but still 
standing on the pedestal, still naked.

"Where am I?"

Vance's voice answered over a sound system, "You're with us,
Juliana, welcome, but brace yourself for a pretty big surprise."

Then the glass spiral lifted away and she saw where she was.  In
a vast dimly lit room with a view of space and stars and a gas
giant planet beyond wall-sized windows, a room filled with
incomprehensible forms, various kinds of machines or electronic
apparatuses and some living beings in motion.  There was Vance, 
Calvin, Old Man Darwin, Ricky (but only one of him), several 
others from the 60, and there were...Aliens.

The creatures resembled big insects, slightly larger than a man,
but evidently intelligent because they were operating the
machines.  One of them came toward her and offered a white 
silken robe for her to put on.  A friendly gesture, but Juliana 
shrank back from the dangerous looking bug anyway.  

Vance called out, "Don't be afraid, they won't hurt you.  We 
seem to be guests."

Juliana had almost hopped up into the air, and was quickly aware
that the gravity here was less than Earth-normal. She stabilized
her footing and bravely faced the creature before her, which was
patiently holding the robe for her.  

She took it, very carefully, the creature bowed and retreated. 
It seemed the proper thing to do, so Juliana bowed too.

The robe looked safe and clean enough, Juliana put it on.  It 
IS silk, she thought, o god, that thing probably spins its own. 
Then tried to control her thoughts--oh crap, what if they're
telepathic? remember your Encountering Extraterrestrial
Race training, don't screw up a First Contact by xenophobic

Then she realized how confused she was.  She had been UpLoading
just seconds ago, now she was somewhere else far away, someplace
really different, and that could only mean... 

"...not seconds ago, but light years ago: I'm on the Mission! 
Therefore I must be...the ReGen Copy of myself!"

A stunning realization.  She looked at her hands, which were the
same as always, California tan and everything.  "This is
unbelievable! I think and feel just like me--I AM me!  But my
original self must have remained back on Earth, and I'm...here!" 

Then Vance was embracing her and she was very glad that he was
there,  even as she realized that he had to be a copy too--they
all did.  Okay. so be it, life goes on. 

"Are we on Procyon 5?" she asked him.

"No, this is something else entirely," Vance said, "I think the
original mission was a long time ago." 

Calvin joined them.  "Welcome to wherever, Juliana." 

"And where is that?"

"No idea.  We just got here too, so Old Man Darwin has only
partially briefed us, but we seem to be on a planet in another
galaxy.  These...uh, bugs are the dominant intelligent life form
here, they're EnActivating us--maybe just to learn what we are."

"As far as we can tell so far," Vance added, "it seems that a 
package of our digital UpLoad data has been transmitted out into
space, and these bugs have picked it up and are processing it
with great interest, so here we are."

"Transmitted?  But why?"

"Yeah, well, who knows?" Calvin guessed, "A friendly attempt at
communicating with another galaxy?  Or because our human race 
has been wiped out and we are the Noah's Ark?  No info, no 

"They're EnActivating another one of us," Vance said, pointing 
to the glass spiral Juliana had just come from.

There was a strobe like series of flashing light inside the
spiral, then it lifted and Wenda was standing there, as naked 
and confused as Juliana had been.

"Wenda!  Wenda, we're here!" Juliana called out.  

Wenda turned to look just as the giant insect came to hand her a
silken robe.  She screamed in surprise and horror, like in some
science fiction movie, almost turning to run, almost losing her
balance in the unexpected lesser gravity.

"Alien Encounter Training 101, my dear!" Calvin called to her
with urgent emphasis.

Indeed, Wenda's training took over.  She stood where she was and
accepted the robe as gracefully as she could, giving a little 
bow of apology to the bug.  It bowed back, and retreated from 

"Do you suppose bowing might mean 'fuck you too' in their
culture?" Calvin asked.

Wenda hurried to them, clutching the robe tightly to her bosom,
hardly as free with her body as she had been just...minutes ago. 
"God, that was embarrassing!  That MONSTER took me by sur..." 
she began to look all around her "...prise..." and back at 
Juliana with a very lost expression "...oh god, we're the 
copies, aren't we?"

"Looks that way."

Expedition Leader Darwin called everyone together, after the Alien Insects had stopped EnActivating more of their teammates for the present time. 16 of the 60 were present. "What about the others?" someone asked. "I'm told they'll be ReEnacted later, the Bug People aren't interested in over-infesting their space station with us. So we'll have to do for now." "Can you communicate with them?" "Amazingly well, and Ricky over there too. We were EnActivated first, about a week ago, and they ran us through an information uploading process. I recommend that you all go through it, if the Bug People offer it to us--you learn a hell of a lot in a short time, including their languages and customs." "So what are they?" "They're just what they look like: big bugs. Insects have occupied the evolutionary top slots on their home planet Gkgkgkfwee, where there are no vertebrates. They translate their own name as Bug People, so we call them that, or BPs for short. They are at least as intelligent as us, potentially more so, but all that depends on just how you measure intelligence. Anyway, they have the technology to be EnActivating us in their space station, so they did." "Are they friendly..." Wenda asked nervously "...or hungry?" "Well, they seem to be friendly--they do offer us things, and don't threaten us, that's a good start. We've been assigned a room to live in and they seem to respect it as our territory, even though it's really theirs. Another good sign; diplomatic courtesies, so they've got a culture with at least some similarities to those we know from Earth." "So where ARE we?" "Yeah, well, as far as we can tell, we seem to be in the Spiral Galaxy we call Messier 51, seen from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici." "That can't be," protested Labella, the colonial astronomer, "that's over 35 million light years from earth. If we have been transmitted here, as you say, our UpLoad data couldn't remain coherent that far." "You're talking about the technology WE know, things probably have progressed in the last 35 million years. Anyway, we're pretty sure that's where we are. But as to which star? which planet? anybody's guess, just make up some names." A Bug Person approached their group. It stopped a respectful distance away to greet the Earthmen with a raised mandible and a little bow, then it approached closer, squawking to Darwin. Instead of a vocal system, the BPs generated radio waves, so Darwin had a simple portable radio unit on his belt with which he could receive and send communications. Darwin answered it with a series of squawks, then said to the colonists, "This is the Translator, he--or it, or whatever-- would like to address you. His name is Hglglglch." The BP bowed again and turned to face the humans. It was not ugly at all, it could even be called beautiful. It resembled most a humanoid blending of ant and beetle, six-limbed but with wings tucked into armorlike shells which, like the exoskeleton, was a rainbow of glossy colors. To the colonists, who had not only been trained for such a meeting, but had also grown up in a media culture which had presented them with infinite varieties of science fiction alien concepts, including the horrible and disgusting, it was a relief that it was so presentable. But Alien it was, one could see into those six eyes that it could not possibly think like a human, so the last thing you would expect of this creature was comprehensible conversation. "Hello, everyone, I'd like to greet you to our local Starcity," it radioed in absurdly perfect English, "I'm sure you must all be wondering what's going on--this being First Contact between our species and all--so I'm here to fill you in. Let me tell you what I know and then we can have questions afterward. "Foremost, you are here because we asked for you. We made an exchange with your people--we sent some of ours, they sent you. We want to study you, just as you want to study us, so if we cooperate on such a project it will be most efficient for everyone, maybe even fun. "You may visit our world with an escort, but you would not fit in there as a functioning species, so we're building you a world to live on. Along with the data transmission which brought you here are also UpLoads of many species of earth life, which will make terraforming that much easier for us. "Eventually, we hope to have open exchanges with your worlds, perhaps even trade traffic, then you could come back and forth if you so chose." Now a hand went up, Randi's. The Bug Person stopped speaking and looked at her, politely bowing. "Yes, my dear?" "How...how can we go back and forth if we're 35 million light years from home?! "Should that be a problem?" Hglglglch sounded confused. "We don't have faster-than-light technology," Darwin explained to the bug. "Oh, but you do. You arrived on a wavewarper frequency, which your people had sent to us. No one uses lightspeed any more."
The humans shared a very large room, several hundred square meters in size, and as Old Man Darwin had said, their privacy was respected. Especially since they could also turn the lighting up to a brighter level they found more comfortable, which the insects found intolerable. For Vance and Juliana, however, there wasn't much privacy to be found in that open space. They wanted to make love, now that they were together again after...well, after who knows how long? Fortunately there was a device in the center of the room which Darwin had been taught the rudimentals of, a Formfixer, which could materialize any object programmed into it. It resembled the technology that assembled ReGen Copies, spinning matter out of data. Using this, they produced beds, chairs, tables, and finally wall dividers so that the 16 EnActivated colonists could have their own "rooms", including our young lovers, and the other couples present. The newcomers were offered the information uploading, and Juliana accepted at once. This was just the sort of thing she had volunteered for in the first place: exploring the universe herself. The BPs had obviously designed a machine for human application, because the headpiece fit and the process went very smoothly. The experience seemed to last forever, and yet it had only taken about an hour of real time. It was a rather professional presentation starting with the rudiments of their language and building of vocabulary, moving on to the history of the Bug People and their planet Gkgkgkfwee, up to the advent of receiving The Transmission from the Human Cultures. When finished Juliana could radiospeak and behave in accordance with the cultural etiquette of the BPs. Vance did not accept the offer. It was agreed that some of the humans should not, simply because they had no idea of how much the process tampered with or changed the human thinking process. Were there, for example, post-hypnotic commands hidden in the process? Was the History presented a True History or a typical conqueror's overwrite of events? Best to keep some human minds in original condition. However, Calvin made a good point when he pointed out that the BPs could have tampered with their UpLoad data even before EnActivation, so there was no guarantee that there WERE any original minds, since they were all ReGen Copies anyway. Juliana postulated that there would be no point in tampering without simply programming in the information upload as well. But by then she had been uploaded and was therefore pro-BP. It was all a question of alien societies trusting one another, and it was simply too early for that before each was certain of the other's agenda. As Wenda had asked, "...or are they hungry?"
The colonists watched the building of their new world, a fantastic process which was absurdly quick. The Starcity was in orbit around a gas giant, a planet the colonists gave the name Zeus, because it reminded them of Jupiter although it was even larger. Zeus was in orbit around a Red Dwarf star, far out of the intense radiation bands and therefore too far out for much heat or light from that source. But Zeus was itself a source of heat and reflected light. The planet Gkgkgkfwee was a moon of Zeus, among hundreds of moons, several with atmospheres. Zeus was one of only two actual planets in the Red Sun's system, both gas giants, but there were also millions of asteroids and comets and rocks orbiting around, which the Bug People used as building materials. With tractor fields they drew materials they needed into orbit and began to bombard a small dead moon in Zeus orbit. Using remote electokinetics, they formed a core first, incredibly dense, so that it would generate a substantial gravity well and geothermal activity, then covered it with layers of shattered asteroids to insulate the core, and finer gravel above that, and a surface almost of powder. Then they burned it, bombing it with hydrogen sucked in from space, dumping enough raw elemental stuff into the mix so that there came vast clouds of gasses up from the boiling surface, flames even, an atmosphere was developing. When the flames died down there was a world about the size of Earth's moon Luna, but with a gravity about three quarters Earth norm, surrounded by a relatively thick atmosphere. Of course it was a dead world with a poisonous atmosphere, but that was just a starting point. The colonists were spellbound by this display of technological power and scientific knowledge, watching a world become formed in mere days of time. But the most amazing was yet to come. "Now we shall terraform it," Hglglglch the Translator told them, "a process that would normally take billions of your years, but we will pack it in an accelerated time envelope, where those billions of years will in fact happen, relative to that new planet, but not for us. Regulated slowtime thermonuclear explosions will supply the energy necessary to feed meta-organic processes, then we will introduce the biological data your worlds have sent us, and allow the whole blend to simmer for a while in fast time. Your planet should be habitable for you in about three months."
Juliana found herself quite comfortable in the society of the Bug People. They were weird, but she liked that. However, she couldn't really make any real friends with them, their differences were just too extreme. However, one day a petite Bug Person was introduced to her by Hglglglch, telling Juliana that they shared something in common. Juliana bowed to the small BP, saying in their language, "You greet I, Juliana is name my." "My name is Juliana too, sort of," the BP responded in English, "I've been UpLoaded with your memory data, so I'm actually a copy of you." "My god! Really? Can you DO that? What about your own BP personality?" "Yes, well, it's there too. The two are so different that I don't have any trouble keeping them separate--otherwise I'd probably go schizo or something." "I would imagine!" "But I do have a problem, that's why I had to come and meet you, to get a bit of perspective on this." It...she seemed distressed. "Oh sure, how can I help?" "Well, being you is kind of nice--you LIKE us BPs and all--and I'm really turned on by having a personality that is so...so... individualistic compared to our own. But...this is kind of embarrassing, really." "You can tell me--you ARE me!" "Well then, you can guess." Juliana pondered, then drew in a heavy breath when it hit her. "Oh no...." "Yes, it's awful!" Somehow, that little bug looked like it was going to cry, "I don't know what to do!" "Do you want to meet him?" "No! He'll just think I'm awful! I'll just be a BUG to him! " "He's really not that chauvinistic..." "Yes he is, and you know it. He won't even learn our language." "Well, you know that we decided that not all of us humans should..." "And he jumped at that excuse! And he's interested in Wenda anyway, more than us." "Ah...ha...I thought I was suppressing that idea." "Oh you are. But we both know better." "Hmmm," Juliana reached over and gently took the other Juliana's claw in her hand. It felt hard and cold, but the person inside was evidently not. "Shall we be friends?" she asked. "Oh, I'd love that. I felt so alone, but now I feel better already." "Me too." "Do you want to come with me and see my planet? I could show you around." "Gkgkgkfwee? Oh, I'd love to! Can we?" "Sure. The Council was hoping I could talk you into it. Everyone likes you because you like BPs, you know." Juliana looked into the six eyes of her own self and thought about how easily the human mind can adapt to new situations and felt a great joy at those she was now going to experience. This is what she had volunteered for.


other alternative Fates of Juliana after UpLoading
or go Back to the Origin of