Dead Planet XVII

Dead Planet XVII

"Take the controls, kid.”

The Amazonis Planitia wombdarkness—

It was sucking us deeper & deeper into the night—

Like it had been waiting for us—

I switched on the intercom—scanning ahead.

“So far so good. Keep it low. And fast.”

The kid was a natural-born pilot—

He could fly the hover-craft by the seat of his pants.

And he knew it too—he was good at it.

Hellas Town was far behind us—a long ways off.

When we were flying like this—it was like déjà vu.

As if we’d done this whole scenario before.

It’s hard to describe—the Nexus Effect thing. Knowing the kid was the only Nexus-9 droid on Mars now—gave a special nuance to him being with me. But he’d been special from the minute I met him—that first night in the Hellas Zoo.

Sitting around the outdoor café—chatting with him. He could speak perfect English—even tho I got the feeling he was ad-libbing it. Faking it word by word & sentence by sentence. Like he was paying attention to me & imitating how I spoke.

And then somehow fluently & knowingly becoming me—my Terra syntax, my hunter vocab-spiel, the way I was bored that summer night beneath the Martian sky. It was uncanny—definitely weird.

And it didn’t change—being around him. He didn’t let me know he was telepath at first—maybe that’s why. You know—have you ever met a person who’s good at taking up where you leave off. You’ll pause in the middle of a sentence—and they’ll finish it for you?

Probably that’s what Tyrell had planned—he had enough bodyguards down there anyway. He gave one to me. I don’t know how long the Nexus-9 droids lasted—but they didn’t go easy I’m sure. With their stealth tele=reflexes & übersetzung-intuition—I was certain that the liz-confrontation wasn’t very pretty.

The "reptilian" brain—it was inside me whether I wanted it or not. I could feel it—back there in the brain stem regions under my skull. The medulla & cerebellum—the alligator gar part of my being. The control stuff that made my heart beat, my guts digest stuff, my lungs breath automatically, my body do things that weren’t really voluntary.

That’s why brain stem injuries—were so fuckin’ devastating. Physical handicaps—living in shitty morgue of flesh—while the person was still able to think clearly. What a nightmare—the same identical trip all the other less developed species got stuck in. Eternally controlled—by the same functions across the board.

The kid flew us down low—skimming over craters, debris, ruins, rat-holes, mesas, deserts. I knew how the snakes worked—they were sneaky fuckers. They’d never been seen upsurface—they were too chickenshit. They were subterranean creatures—they hated the light. Even moonlight—sizzled their putrid lizard skins. They didn’t walk—they slithered.

I unbuckled my safety-belt—reached in back for the walkie-lookie book. It was a tablet-computer—small, concise, flat, thin as a sheet of paper. It had a touchie-feelie control panel—I kept all the Martian shit on it. I wanted the—I didn’t know what I wanted. Any diagrams of the Face—any cross-sections of the Pyramid. Something to go on…

“Something’s tracking us.”

The blue-glow panel warning lights—were lighting up the kid’s face. I had to fight it—falling into REM-time. The kid’s own internal gaydar—was as usual ahead of time. I felt myself getting sucked into his thoughts—they were super-intense.

Like some kind of weird methane vortex—writhing far down below in some sub-surface Saturnian methane storm. I had to concentrate real hard—he let me into his mind…

“We’ll lose it. Just keep your eyes on the coordinates. That’s the way. Get down lower.”

We were so low—I could reach out & touch the dunes themselves. Hop, skip, weave this way, swerve that way—the kid was good at it. I reached up and flicked on the void-zoid canon. It was set & charged to go. We’d probably only get one shot at it—the lizard disk stalking us smoothly in the night.

I dialed the channels—they were all dead. It figured—I hadn’t updated the hover-craft’s unit in a long time. For all I knew—we were being more than tracked. The main thing was flying low—the stealth-shields up. We had one advantage—the kid & I were on the same wavelength.

My guess was that Tyrell was super-smart—but not smart enough. He probably had a dozen of them—down there in the Martian Underground bunker. But he was too cold & intellectual—too much a genius to fall in love any of them. Humanoid-Nexus mind-melding—was one thing. But like I learned with Rachel—it’s a lot more of a two-way street than most people think.

“See that big shadow on the horizon—head for it.”

It must’ve been hard for Tyrell down there. Running his sprawling Ex-Empire—scheming, planning, collaborating with the Lizards, the TerraCorp execs, the Mirror Ones, the Oort Belt Cloud Menace. He didn’t have time like I did—to just live with one. To live with one—and fall in love with one.

It wasn’t a luxury—it was something I had to do. It was like I’d done it before—or maybe it was some kind of uncanny nostalgia for the future. Whatever it was it took a year to get used to it—this Nexus kid coming to me outta Mars. And I don’t mean just Tyrell’s underground city either—getting to know him was like jacking into a Krell mind-boost.

I thumbed quickly thru the walkie=lookie index—it would take 30 minutes to get to the pyramid. We were vulnerable until then—there wasn’t anything we could do except zigzag. Even then the snakes—would be zeroing in on us. I’d never seen a snake-disk—nobody had. Until it was too late. They’d probably intercepted Tyrell’s last call. I wasn’t worried about Tyrell tho—he’d make it to Titan.

Messing with the touchie=feelie screen—I came up with the Cydonia Mensae pyramid. Mesas, knobs, and smooth plains were already below us—a moderate amount of cratering & there. There’d been a lot of erosion—remnants of the earlier surface, knobs appearing modified by mass wasting & slumping, lots of freezing & thawing of old ground ice.

We passed several pedestal craters—the impact craters surrounded by ejecta blankets. Steep scarps—dropping hundreds of meters to the surface. The morphology & archeology of Cydonia Mensae hadn’t been explored much—it was off-limits.

The exo-archeologists & planetologists had been detoured—commandeered out to Titan developments & the rings quickly by TerraCorp. Tyrell did the heavy lifting—down in his Martian bunker with his Nexus team doing the retro-stuff. The kid was one of his pet experiments—who knows what went into the young pilot sitting next to me?

Tyrell got the past—TerraCorp supposedly got the future. Which was the Asteroid Archipelago—where most of the corporate funding was coming from. The costs were phenomenal—even the Eye on the $1 million dollar banknotes glowed in the dark.

“Annuit Cœptis” meant only one thing—“TerraCorp & Tyrell approves our undertakings.” And “Novus Ordo Seclorum”—what did that mean? It meant “New World Order of Late Capitalism."

An alchemical woodcut—17th Century. From a book on alchemy—showing an "Eye in the Sky" precursor to the Eye of Providence. Quo Modo Deum translating as “This is the way of God.” I studied the picture—it wavered on the screen. “Earth gods—or Martian gods,” I said to myself.

The lookie=talkie simply said: “Both.”

The interesting thing about this 10th-generation lookie=talkie iPad—was that it had an in-built authorial stream-of-consciousness function. It was self-aware of its lookie=talkie parameters. It was the kid—it was an early Nexus-device. One of Tyrell’s brainstorms—who knows what else he milked outta the Martian underworld?

The thing about voice-recognition with humans—it becomes easier with practice. Early replicant übersetzung-devices were slow—the human was the one who had to be trained. Trained to ennunciate words, vowels, consonants—slowly, distinctly & then spell-check on the screen.

It was the first rudimentary cybernetic mind-meld interaction—speech, robotics, syntax & semantics. It was a long ways—to get to the archetypal Anglo-Saxon “wordhorde” embedded in the English Language. In many ways it reinacted the linguistic Grendel Drive itself—the philoprogentive origins & dark depths of the Beowulfian legend-weapon weirding-ways connecting Terra to the lost Titan Archives.

The slow discovery by any space opera saga-master duplicates the word-recognition process. For example, the space master’s individual method can seem exciting.

But a moment comes in the middle age—when humans & even space masters feel they no longer control the method. They’ve become its prisoner. Then a long period of exo-ennui sets in—it seems to him or her that they’ve done everything before. They’re haunted by déjà vu denoument.

The same with the earlier über-Pad models. With the huge database that tablets had become aware of themselves with—this process familiarity became worse than unfavorable ones. For the favorable links with terrible patience—runrolled before the master’s eyes the unchanging pattern of the carpet. In other words—cybernetic boredom set in.

Could the lookie=talkie—ever become a standalone author? Could a computer be somehow trained—to be more or less unconscious? Dependent on the ability to forget—even their own databases when they were visible on the public screens?

So that the computer couldn’t remind the master—this or that word, phrase or theme originated ten years ago etc. The simile which came so unthinkingly to his keyboard a few weeks back—would be as fresh as a spring daisy. Free to be used—ad lib, spontaneously & extemporaneously.

The lookie-talkie talked back. It even played the violin & shed tears—when I felt sorry for myself. Like now it was playing a “Third Man” zither soundtrack—pretending it was down in the dank Viennese sewers.

Down below the advertisement kiosks—down where the shit-smelling tidal river flowed. Underneath the Four-Power occupation zones—places where the underground Martian police could literaly work underground along the enormous system of sewers.

I let my fingers do the walking—thru the early Viking orbiter frames. Frames 35A72, 70A11 & 70A13 showing the D&M Pyramid—located at 40.65N 9.55W. Later flyby much better enhanced closeups soon became available—NGF filered orthographic rectification of the whole pyramid were dancing on my screen.

Several secret exo-archeology expedictions—came & disappeared. They sent back some interesting pics—and then transmission stopped. Most of them ended up in the Martian Space Science Data Center—located underground with TerraCorp. Most of them offline—including even all the early exo-reports.

Fluvial deposition/erosion profiles, Aeolian landform reports—occasionally showed the top of the submerged pyramid & crescent-shaped sub-structures. Tyrell planetologists were still pouring over the data—yardangs modified by wind-borne particulates typically rounded off next to the pyramids. Many were so worn & abrased—they looked like upturned boat hulls.

Another type of aeolian landform that can be somewhat pyramidal in shape—were known as ventifacts. Martian ventifacts are normally formed from small rocks—exposed to the abrasive action of sand carried by the wind. Multifaceted Martian ventifacts are believed to have been produced as a result of movement of a rock—causing it to present different faces to the direction of the prevailing winds.

Large ventifacts can also exist—produced from boulders assuming a roughly pyramidal shape with three edges (dreikanters). These landforms present a long edge toward the prevailing winds—and a somewhat flat surface in the opposite direction. The leading edge is cut by abrasion of wind-borne particulates—the trailing surface apparently formed by deflation from locally reversed airflow. Mechanisms essentially the same as those that form yardangs.

The lookie-talkie said: “This is the interesting part, Deckard. The overall morphology of the D&M Pyramid, with its straight edges and flat surfaces in radial arrangement, is inconsistent with the morphology of all aeolian landforms. The nearby face shows no evidence of wind faceting, and there are no intervening objects between the face and the D&M Pyramid to deflect wind.”

“What else,” I asked.

“Also inconsistent is the presence of a flat faced protuberance at the front of the object, a flat surface that should not exist at the leading edge of wind cut features such as yardangs or ventifacts. It is reasonable to conclude that aeolian processes cannot have produced the D&M Pyramid due to the lack of a plausible mechanism of formatage amounts of rainfall in recent epochs. Additionally, the D&M Pyramid has no vent at its apex, and exhibits a symmetry unknown in volcanic landforms.”

“Interesting. What about intelligent design?”

“The hypothesis that the D&M Pyramid may be the product of intelligent design cannot be blindly accepted simply because there is no geomorphological explanation, but must be subjected to an objective analysis, especially due to its location on Mars, a place where life is not known to have existed.”

“Thus the Intelligence Hypothesis cannot be explored without first answering a preliminary question: What are the hallmarks of Martian architectures that distinguish them from landforms and how may they be objectively recognized and evaluated?”

“Did Tyrell achieve this?”

“The pyramid’s geometry inconsistent with known landforms and geomorphological processes? (i.e. the pyramid exhibits straight lines, curved lines having fixed radii, regular patterns, one or more axes of symmetry, and has the combination of these characteristics precluding geomorphology as a mechanism of origin.)”

1 The pyramid is aligned with the cardinal directions along with significant astronomical events.

2 The pyramid collocates with other objects that are also inconsistent with the surrounding geology. Such as other pyramids.

3 All these pyramids are geometrically aligned with each other.

4 The pyramid’s geometry expresses mathematically significant numbers, and the numbers seem to fit an identifiable pattern

“What about early exo-archeology surveys?”

“Early expeditions & surveys of this Martian sector came up with the characteristics listed above. But they cannot by themselves establish the pyramids as being the product of intelligent design. What was required was a totality of geometric relationships that, when viewed as a whole, precluded the likelihood of a natural origin.”

“A simple example of this sort of epistemological problem can be illustrated by imagining that one is exploring a terrestrial limestone cave. While it is possible that one may eventually encounter a stalagmite that vaguely resembles a human face—one will never encounter the Washington Monument in scale miniature. That degree of mathematical precision does not occur in nature in the Martian environment and from these materials—that can now be properly interpreted as being the product of intelligent design.”

“What about any digs, excavations, underground digital imagery probes beneath the surface?”

“Early exo-digs showed the D&M Pyramid had signs of being damaged on one side, perhaps by a meteoric impact or atomic blast.”

“Atomic blast—like during a warfighter situation?”

The screen went blank. Somebody or something was blocking the lookie-talkie trig-functions. Probably the snakes—they were zeroing in on the droid-box.

I had known pretty much all this about the enigmatic pyramids of Cydonia Mensae anyway—the objects weren’t just artificial. They were super-civilization things. Whatever logic and intentions of the architects were hidden though. At least for now. Bilateral symmetries provoked bio-metaphors—resembling living and/or humanoid design like the Martian Face.

Pretty soon ruined half-submerged tetrahedrons—were found scattered all over the Martian surface. Like icebergs—one-tenth above the desert, the rest down below. Many of them covered up like the Egyptian ruins—in the shifting sands of the Martian desert around Hellas Town & further north. I know—the kid & I had been there.

We’d taken an occasional TerraCorp scientist we’d met in the lounge—some bored college kid just outta college. Flying him outta Hellas Town—to take a look at them. Most were stunned—some were hushed. What a mock-Egypto pile of ancient ruins—the whole planet one big tragic wreck under the stars. But that was nothing—we told them. They’d take the next shuttle out toward Titan—so we usually never saw them again. Out there—that was where the real ruins were.

Carlotto monuments, tetrahedron temples—whatever you wanted to call them. You guessed it—most of them quintessentially tetrahedral. Hidden in key locations because they were geometrically embedded—in unique seven-spin tetrahedron ley-line symmetries.

I didn’t know much about hyperdimensional physics models. Academic research bored me—it was the gargantuan, incredibly riveting & faceted pyramids themselves—that always made me stand there in the Martian desert, looking up at them in awe.

Cydonia mysteries—the kind of stuff Rosetta Stones were made of. It made me nervous—I didn’t get off on all that Lost Knowledge stuff. It all was too imbued with Martian Library of Thebes chiaroscuro—shadows & shades of Homer’s Iliad & the Odyssey. The problem was that all the King’s exo-planetologists & all the King’s science & technology. Couldn't put Mars back together again.

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