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August 10, 2005
A Story, Bit-by-Bit
Superego: Part 8 - Diversity
Posted by Frank J. at 05:52 PM | View blog reactions | Comments (3)


I had to land my ship 17,000 miles away from the capital city. For an emergency escape plan, I guess I could just tunnel straight through the planet back to my ship (look at me; I made a joke). From what Dip was able to read out of the air, he wouldn't be able to take the ship anywhere near the sentient species diversity conference without most certainly being shot down. I told him to work on a plan to extract me from the capital anyway. If I didn't know he was only a bundle of computer algorithms, I would swear Dip was gleeful at being entrusted with something useful to do.

Before getting on the transit to Nar Valdum's capital, there was some sort of scanning of each passenger and baggage. They seemed to be more interested in stopping nuclear bombs, because I had no trouble getting through with my regular armaments (firearms come in too many varieties to be reliably scanned for anyway).

Small talk on the transit was about hope that this conference would lead to an enhanced galactic government to unite all species. I just repeated the sentiments back at them, and, before I could tire too much of the inanity, the destination was reached.

Nar Valdum's capital (Nar Valdum City is the name, I think) is like plenty of other cities I've seen on more developed planets. You pass through slums where you have all the species diversity you want and plenty of violent crime and then reach the nice and sparkly downtown with its shiny skyscrapers and only a few different species in sight. The preferred race here seemed to be human (good and bad for me; I stick out less but other humans are more likely to notice that I'm... well... odd) with a large mix of Corridians like Senator Bull’s-eye. There didn't seem to be as much variation in the Corridians’ color or features as humans. There could be a number of reasons for that. They vary in ways I'm just not observant to, they never evolved many variations, or, most likely, they were more successful than humans in ethnic cleansing back in their dark ages.

Almost every sentient species I've bother to look into had racial battles before they advanced to the point of interstellar travel. Then comes the even bigger and not even closed to being solved problem of inter-species animosity. I can't even keep track of which species generally hate which species (I even forget who I'm supposed to hate).

While most sentient species reached a point where they agreed that ethnic differences within them were superficial, it just goes against all logic to say that all sentient creatures who developed separately on different planets must be equal. It's always being said that this and that species is more violent prone or this one is more dumb ("How long did your species exist before it was able to travel into space?"), but genetics differ so much between planets, how can anything like that be proven?

Then there are those who feel that all sentients are equal - I guess because it's nice to think that everyone is equal. I figure this conference will be full of those people. Others have expanded religious views started from their own planet to say that God (or whatever you would call the supposed supreme being) has made all sentients equal.

Now let's say you just believe all sentients are equal for whatever reason (none based on logic I've seen) you choose. What defines some species as being sentient then? It's not trivial. There are plenty of smart animals that just aren't smart enough to make developing civilization.

And, quick tip for you: Just because some creature is wearing clothes, that doesn't make it sentient. Had a long conversation with a type of creature I had never seen before to later find out it had the intelligence of a canine and its owner had just put a sweater on it. Thought I meant someone interesting - so quiet and reserved - only to get laughed at by the natives (lucky for them I'm a psychopath and don't have any feelings to hurt).

I've really digressed, haven't I? Lacking normal emotions and feelings, I'm often quite detached from the world and tend to over analyze everything - I need to understand a lot for my job. If I don't die from my work (and, to be honest, odds are I will), I could probably write lots of books on philosophy for retirement.

Anyway, I get to the pretty downtown of Nar Valdum City, buy a paper written in basic human, and sit at an outdoor cafe to order a bottle of water. This hit was starting to make me curious, and, when given orders to kill, I'm not usually the curious sort. This whole diversity conference was a bunch of fluff that the syndicate wouldn't care about (if you can do work for them, they don't care what you are. I don't care either other than if you're living and I'm paid to kill you; personally, I don't particular like my own species or any other). Senator Gredler must be of interest outside of this, and what he's done must be quite special to deserve the Rico treatment. Either he's too good a man that he has to be struck down harshly to scare others, or he's such a horrible corrupt man that he must be struck down harshly to scare others. Since he's a politician, I bet the latter.

But how was he corrupt in so special a way? Was he under the thumb of my criminal syndicate and then turned against it? And was he expecting retaliation.

I decided it was time to try this new thing I had been working on. My brain being split worked mainly just for taking on two targets at once, but I found I could also have the split off part do simple tasks while I focused elsewhere (I can pat my head and rub my tummy with the best of them). What I had tried to break down into a simple task was the appearance of reading a newspaper. A newspaper is more difficult than a book because no one reads it cover to cover, so I have to imitate scanning and then slow down to have more interest in certain parts. I think I had the illusion down pretty well, though, so I sat at the cafe and, while my eyes and hands pretended to read a newspaper, my ears and perception were concentrating on the voices around me and my universal translator trying to see if there was any mention of my target or anything else that might be of interest. Every time I drank from my water, I'd have to break concentration on hearing, though. Still, if anyone was watching me, I appeared to be drinking a water and reading a newspaper while all the while I was really spying on everyone around me. It was a great illusion, but I made one mistake that revealed my lack of normality.

When the cafe exploded and men came out screaming and firing guns into the crowd, I neatly folded my paper and placed it on the table instead of dropping it in surprise - which actually was my first instinct since I was... well... surprised.


Rating: 2.2/5 (28 votes cast)

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