In the convention of Year 674.658 of The Meeting it has been agreed by all participating life identities that the intelligent species of the known galaxies shall be divided into four categories. These are solids, androids, gaseous or organic intelligent species, henceforth known as Sago.
Individual life forces can select which category they wish to be incorporated into. However, for simplicity’s sake it is not recommended that more than one category per life force is selected. In stating this, the Federated Council is prepared to recognise the rights of individual species to abstain from being included in any category and to also amend the categories, if or when new life forces not yet contacted or known in our universes, wish to be known as intelligent identities.
Earlier agreements of mutual respect for each intelligent species’ right to be alive are not altered by this classification nor is the agreed protocol of what an intelligent species is.
Kevin Petersen rolled the epaper up, tossed the rubberised cylinder aside and stared at his companions, partner Susan Roden, her brother Nick and sisters Jacey and Azaria who were all sitting across the evacuation chamber. “Didn’t work, did it. The war is all but lost and humans will be superseded by androids, either by mass genocide or compulsory electronic genetic modification.”
“Does it matter now?” Susan whispered. “With more important things happening I don’t know why you waste your time going back over these ancient historical papers, anyway.”
Kevin glanced up. “Because finding out about the past may have stopped us from repeating our ancestors’ mistakes.”
“Where did you get this old script anyway?” Nick appeared to be the only other person really interested. Perhaps it was a gender thing.
Kevin shrugged. “By mistake actually. My pack originally held stuff I was studying at the university. In haste I shoved my clothes on top and it ended up coming with me.” He grinned. “Better reading than playing those mental warp games you do all the time, Nick.”
“Oh leave him alone, Kevin,” Jacey cut in. “At least he followed your advice and doesn’t get high on hallucinatory pops most of the other teenagers on the ship have become addicted to.” She reached over and affectionately squeezed her brother’s arm. He was the youngest in their family and was almost mothered by his three sisters.
Nick grinned and turned back to Kevin. “I have something concrete and useful,” he said and produced several cylinders from a pocket in his evacuation suit. “A protection and navigation device for each of us.”
“That does what?’ Kevin asked.
“I programmed in our genetic codes. Being family, well everyone except you Kevin, it was pretty easy to do. I managed to add your’s too so Susan wouldn’t throw a fit” He grinned at his eldest sister. “Haven’t been able to test it, though but it should work.”
“So what does it do?” Azaria appeared interested.
“If we get separated any time it will help us navigate towards each other.”
“And if we are all in different worlds?” Azaria continued.
“It will go towards the strongest signal so if Kevin and Susan are together their two signals will pull your one signal towards it. With three signals it will become even more powerful and attract the remaining two of there too.”
“And where did you get it?” Kevin asked.
“From the mists aboard.”
Kevin frowned. Two gaseous intelligent forms were aboard Starcruiser 164 to help them get through the android blockade around Planet Gamma 6, one of the last human outposts to surrendered to the enemy. However, even with their help after the destruction of the planet their escape had been followed. In his opinion, the mists were dubious allies at the best. He switched his attention back to Nick who held one of the containers out to him.
“Well go on,” Nick said.
“What?” Kevin grinned. “Sorry, I wasn’t listening to you.”
“Oh Kevin,” Susan said. “Just do what he says. It won’t do us any harm and could actually help us. You know how mysterious these gaseous life forms are, don’t you?”
Nick met his eyes. “Take it out of the wrapper, hold it in the palm of your hand and squeeze. That’s all you have to do.” He grinned. “It may prick a little.”
The wrapper was like thin plastic that peeled away. Expecting it to be cold metal,Kevin placed his fingers around the object. His heart leaped in fright for it was hot, not enough to burn his hand but not far from it. Also it felt soft like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.
That was before a thousand pinpricks hit his skin. He gasped but knowing that the boy was watching his every move, grimaced and held on. Seconds later, the cylinder became smooth and cooled down.
“How was it?” Nick asked.
“You little trickster. It hurt as you know.”
Jacey and Azaria laughed while Susan grinned.
“What’s so funny?” Kevin retorted.
“None of have have activated ours yet,” Jacey held her unwrapped cylinder out for him to see. “You’re the first one.”
Kevin grinned and looked at the cylinder lying in the palm of his hand. It now felt like metal and had cooled right down. His skin beneath showed no sign of any pinpricks, either. “Your turn, Jacey,” he said.
Her superior look turned to a gasp and she suppressed a scream as she squeezed her cylinder. Azaria swore and stoic Susan showed no reaction. Nick grimaced but his determination not to react failed when tears edged out from the corner of his shut eyes.
Kevin refrained from making a sarcastic comment when he caught Susan’s eyes. “Now what, Nick?”he asked instead.
“Just stick it in your pocket. If it seems to disappear, that’s okay for it is searching.”
Nick shrugged. “I don’t know. A way to help I guess. I couldn’t really understand the technology the mist told me.”
Without warning, a siren shrieked and flashing blue and red lights lit up the chamber. There wasn’t even an electronic announcement into their minds. This was bad!
After five seconds of dead silence a metallic voice, like those used in ancient craft from a museum echoed through the tiny space, “Life support and artificial gravity are off line. Your air supply cannot be replenished. Your personal time/space continuum codes have been activated. You have five minutes to use them or risk expiry.”
At the same time gravity disappeared and only his restraining belts stopped him from floating towards the ceiling. Everyone looked scared.
“We were told never to use the codes unless it was a life or death situation,” Susan gasped as she floated ten centimetres above her seat.
“And this isn’t?”Azaria yelled.
“We have to do it together.” Kevin moved his tongue across to his right wisdom tooth. It felt loose and warm just ass he had been told in the original instructions.All he had to do was to push it.
“I’m ready,” Susan reached out and gripped his hand.
“Me, too,” Nick sounded nervous.
“Mine’s loose,” Azaria added.
“Do it on three, Kevin,” Jacey whispered.
Kevin nodded and looked at the intense expressions of those around. He loved Susan and her family. They had come though so much together.
“On three!” he said. “One… two … three.”
He pushed his tooth forward and felt agonising pain as the evacuation chamber exploded and disappeared. The last thing he remembered was that Susan’s hand wasn’t holding his any longer.