Part 4: Strange Relations
by Mara (talitha_shipman at tayloru.edu)
e-mail comments to
talitha_shipman at tayloru.edu or at
ketch at hotmail.com
You know, I didn't think about this until tonight, but my story kind
of has "What Rocket Scientist Want Overtones." There's mind reading.
Okay, so that's a bit of a spoiler. But I hope everyone enjoys. We are
getting to the good stuff now!
--Talitha (self proclaimed ruler of her own little universe. It's
On to Part 5!
The probelet observed and recorded everything it heard
and sensed. The new nervous system being completed was directly
controlled from the deviceís artificially intelligent network. The
human adults were certainly having difficulty discerning the
probeletís purpose. This was fine with the probelet. Any outside
interference could severely damage the probeletís operating system.
All impulses,thoughts, and sensory information were being directed,
at least for now, through the tiny probeletís processor. Soon,
however, the human autonomic nervous system would be ready to handle
things on its own. This would free up memory space that the probelet
desperately needed. To begin the second and most important part of
the probeís mission, the probelet would need all the power it could
muster. The second phase, long ago programmed into the probeís
network by skilled alien scientists, would begin another strange
transformation, one that the humans around the host could hardly be
prepared for. The probelet noted with interest that the host was
using about ten percent of his brain capacity. It excitedly relayed
this information to the probe itself. The probe agreed that this
would do quite nicely. The probelet stopped transmission to cycle
through several impulses to consume food, originating from the
stomach. The host was gaining an appetite.
"Dr. Slate," Rusty said, "somethingís growling in my tummy."
The small boy was now sitting in Dr. Harkerís bio lab, peering down
at his stomach as Dr. Harker and several of his lab assistants
analyzed Rusty. They had done CAT scans, MRIís and numerous other
tests to obtain as much information about Rustyís miraculous change
Dr. Harker smiled good-naturedly at Rusty. He had often
worked with children in his previous job. "I believe, Rusty, that
your tummy is rumbling because you are hungry."
Rusty gave Dr. Harker a perplexed look. "I do feel like I
need something. Maybe thatís it." His expression changed from
perplexed to excited when Dr. Harker held up several x-rays. "Thatís
my brain!?" he said as he studied the sheets in wide-eyed wonder.
"I changed a lot."
"Yes, you certainly did," Ericka replied. "Iíll go get you
something to eat. What would you like?"
Rusty thought for several moments and then answered. "Fudge
Nutties," he said.
Ericka smiled and laughed. "Sure," she said. "But just this
once. Fudge Nutties hardly count as a healthy dinner." She left to
obtain Rustyís snack from the nearest working vending machine.
Rusty watched her go and then turned to Dr. Harker. "Do you
like kids?" he asked.
"Why, yes, Rusty, I do. What makes you ask?"
Rusty blinked and looked down at his knees. "I donít know.
Just a thought, I guess." Rusty blinked again as he realized that
there was another noise coming from inside him. But this noise was
different. The noise was like a buzzing radio signal that wasnít
quite tuned in. It changed frequency every time he moved. Dr.
Harker didnít seem to notice the noise. The scientist was still
looking over Rustyís x-rays. Rusty shook his head to clear the
noise from his mind, but it didnít work, if anything, the ringing
sound grew more intense. He was just about to cry out in dismay
when a voice spoke over the ringing in his ears.
"Do not say anything," it said in a clear and clipped tone.
Rusty looked over to Dr. Harker, but Dr. Harker hadnít noticed.
Before, the voice in his head had been more of an implied
feeling, whispers that Rusty could barely make out. This voice was
loud and seemed to have one dominating speaker instead of many. It
seemed to echo throughout the room.
"The signal will not harm you." The voice spoke again. This
time it was calm and gentle. We do not mean to harm you."
"I believe you," Rusty thought to the probe.
"Good," the voice said. "We will be here if you need us.
Do not speak of the signal."
The voice became silent as the buzzing noise subsequently
became louder. Rusty winced and then looked back up to Dr. Harker.
When he did this, an amazing thing happened. The ringing stopped
and ordered thoughts poured into Rustyís mind. Lists, data, and
pictures flashed through his thoughts at incredible speed. Rusty
gasped as he instantly realized what had just happened. He was
reading Dr. Harkerís mind. He also realized that he was picking up
only bits and pieces of it. Much of Dr. Harkerís mind seemed to be
blocked by mental walls that held back teeming thoughts and emotions
like floodgates. However, most everything that Dr. Harker was
thinking presently, Rusty could sense.
Dr. Harker turned to see Rusty staring at him. "Rusty, are
you all right?" he questioned.
The wide-eyed boy just kept on staring. Finally he shifted
on the examination table and spoke. "Yep," he answered.
Just then, Dr. Slate walked in carrying with her two packages
of Fudge Nutties and a juice box. "I hope you like juice," she said
as she set the food down in front of Rusty.
Instantly, parts of Dr. Slateís mind flooded through Rusty.
She was worried and scared. Her mind was racing to find answers
concerning Rustyís condition. Rusty was amazed at how fast her mind
processed information. Dr. Slate thought faster than a computer.
Her brain was distinctly different from Dr. Harkerís mind. While
Harkerís thoughts were ordered and deliberate, Dr. Slateís seemed to
fire off at random moments, all to come swirling together to form a
unified idea. She could think about several different things and not
become confused at all. He also sensed overwhelming feelings of love
and protectiveness directed towards him. It made Rusty feel somehow
warm inside to know she thought this way about him. It also made him
feel extremely safe, even if she was worried about him.
"Well," Dr. Slate said. "Arenít you going to eat? You said
you were hungry."
"Yeah," Rusty said as he reached for the juice box, all the
while keeping his eyes on Ericka.
Dr. Slateís thoughts shifted as a new person entered the
room. It was Lt. Dwayne, looking even more tired than before. As
before, when Rusty focused on Lt. Dwayne, he could hear inside the
Lieutenantís mind. Dwayneís thoughts moved just as quickly as Dr.
Slateís, making Rusty wonder if most humans didnít think like that.
Lt. Dwayne was happy to see Rusty, he realized. Lt. Dwayne was also
worried about Rusty, although not scared like Dr. Slate. More than
anything, Rusty sensed a huge mental weight permeating Dwayneís
thoughts. It seemed as if Dwayne carried the whole world on his
shoulders. Rusty had no idea why Lt. Dwayne would feel that way.
After all, he was just a mechanic, not the President or anything.
Lt. Dwayne began to speak, and as he did so, Rusty picked up
concern for Dr. Slate as well as himself in Dwayneís thoughts. In
fact, Lt. Dwayne seemed to be downright worried about something
having to deal with her; Rusty just couldnít sense what it was.
"Doc, I spoke to General Thorton, and he thinks Rusty should come
stay on the Dark Horse for a while. I agree. I donít think
Rusty should be anywhere near that probe. It may be trying to
control him somehow. At least there we can set up some security
measures." Lt. Dwayne was of course referring to Big Guyís base of
operations, a modified aircraft carrier designed to meet all of the
Big Guyís needs.
Dr. Slate replied to Lt. Dwayne as Rusty turned his head to
focus on her. Her thoughts once again did a weird spinning dance
before landing on what she was about to say. "Lt. Hunter, I would
rather that Rusty stay with me. Iím responsible for him. Besides,
are you sure the Dark Horse is the best place for Rusty?"
In Dr. Slateís mind, Rusty sensed she was keeping a secret,
one that Dwayne was in the know about. And she didnít want Rusty to
find out about it. This intrigued him to dig deeper, but Lt. Hunter
once again spoke up.
"Donít worry, Doc, Rusty will be fine. You can come with
him if you like. Security wonít be compromised."
In Dwayneís mind, Rusty distinctly heard, "The Big Guyís
Secret." As soon as it flashed through Dwayneís thoughts, it
disappeared again; traveling behind the mental barrier that Rusty
couldnít seem to penetrate, leaving him to wonder what the secret
"I suppose that would be possible," Dr. Slate was saying.
"That way he wouldnít feel so alone."
"Then itís settled. A chopper is waiting to take both of
you there." Lt. Dwayne ushered Dr. Slate and Rusty out into the
hall and towards the elevator. Dwayne put his hand on Rustyís
shoulder as they walked. "Dr. Donovan wonít be able to bug you
there, Rusty." Lt. Dwayne smiled and stepped aside to let them
enter the elevator first. He came next and punched to button for the
landing deck situated on top of Quark Tower.
Rusty stood and looked up as silence descended on the
elevator. Lt. Dwayne seemed to be lost in thought. Rusty once
again focused on Dwayneís mind. The Lieutenant was thinking about
the Big Guy. He was running over tactical data in his head. Weapons
systems, flight controls, maneuvering ability; it was as if Dwayne
was going over a systems checklist in his brain. Rustyís features
became puzzled. Why would Lt. Dwayne be doing that?
Dwayne, who had no idea his thoughts were being tapped, was
doing what he normally did. He had been taught to always think a
few steps ahead, at first by his father, and later by his training
commander in flight school. "A pilot must always be prepared for a
myriad of situations," was Commander Wrightís favorite saying. That
lesson had not been lost on Dwayne, and he was currently deep in
thought, partly to kill time, and partly to ignore the fact that he
was so close to Dr. Slate. She could be very distracting at times.
The scientist glanced over at him, feeling a tad bit uncomfortable
with his lack of speech. Dwayne picked up on her quick look and
gave her one back. In an enclosed space, Dr. Slate certainly did
"What?! Where had that come from?" Dwayne thought to
himself. That was a silly thing to think, especially at a time like
Rusty looked up at Lt. Dwayne. "She smells?" he said, not
realizing he had said something out loud.
"What?" Dwayne looked down at the redheaded boy.
"Um, nothing," Rusty quickly said as he stuck his hands in
Dwayne kneeled down so as to be kid height just as the
elevator doors swooshed open.
"Rusty, what did you just say?" The Lieutenant had a serious
expression on his face.
"Nothing." Rusty realized that he was doing a horrible job
of covering up his slip. He sighed as he kicked himself mentally
for having a big mouth. The voice probably wouldnít be happy with
"No," Dwayne said. "You said Ďshe smells,í didnít you?"
Rusty should have known that Lieutenant Dwayne was too smart
to pull a fast one on. "Yes, I did."
"Why did you say it?"
Dr. Slate cocked her head at this strange conversation.
"What are you two talking about?
Dwayne looked up at Ericka and then back to Rusty. "Rusty,
did you hear me think that?"
Rusty cringed. "I might have."
Dwayne stood up. "Looks like that probe had more effects
than we realized. Rusty can read minds."
Dr. Slate snorted. "What? Thatís impossible. Humans canít
read minds. And what does any of this have to do with what Rusty
Dwayne rubbed the back of his neck. "Uh, never mind what
Rusty said; the important thing is that the probe did something to
his brain to allow him to pick up our thoughts."
Dr. Slate folded her arms. "Rusty, what am I thinking now?"
"You like the color blue." Rusty looked up at his creator.
And you canít believe I just said that. Now you canít believe that
I just read your mind."
Dr. Slate looked in alarm at Dwayne. "Oh no, what if...."
Dwayne stopped her by holding up a hand. "Donít think it."
"How can I do that?" she questioned him indignantly.
"What about Big Guy?" Rusty asked.
"Nothing," Ericka and Dwayne said in unison.
Once again, the elusive secret passed behind the mental
barriers of both Dr. Slate and Lt. Hunter. Rusty sighed as they
stepped out of the elevator and onto the landing pad on top of Quark
"Okay," Dwayne said as they headed towards the waiting
military helicopter. "Rusty, I need you to do something. Donít
read our minds."
"I canít help it, Lt. Dwayne. I donít know how to turn it
off." Rusty suddenly seemed to become very tired. Reading minds was
an exhausting ordeal.
Dwayne sighed as he climbed up into the helicopter and turned
to pick up Rusty as Ericka handed the child up. He then helped Dr.
Slate in as well.
"Well, we need to find a way to turn it off," Dwayne said.
Lt. Dwayne certainly was being serious about this. And Rusty
knew it had to do with the Big Guy. He tried to focus on Dr. Slateís
mind, hoping the secret would resurface, but all of a sudden he felt
sleepy, really sleepy.
"Lt. Hunter," Ericka said, sounding a bit miffed, " Rusty
isnít a boy robot any more. You just canít turn things off and on
in a human being." Ericka glanced down at the now sleeping boy who
was cuddled up next to her. She put on the headphones Dwayne handed
her to muffle the incredible roar of the engine starting up. She
also put a pair on Rusty. Dwayne gave a thumbs up signal to the
pilot and the helicopter lifted off and headed towards New Tronic
Bay, where the Dark Horse was currently stationed.
Dwayne watched Ericka as she looked down at Rusty. She had a
serene expression on her face as she wrapped one arm around the
sleeping child. Sudden realization dawned in Dwayneís mind. Doc
Slate was happy that Rusty had been turned into a real boy! Perhaps
Rusty had always been more than a special project to her. Perhaps he
had been the child she never had. And then another random thought
began to tug at his mind as he looked at the duo across from him.
Rusty looked like someone he knew. In fact, as Dwayne focused on
the boyís face he realized with a start that Rusty looked like Dr.
Slate. He had her nose, her forehead, and her mouth. But the green
eyes were from somewhere else....
"Holy crap," he said.
"What?" Ericka was startled out of her reverie.
"The probe, it scanned us. It used us."
"Dwayne," Ericka leaned over to focus on him. "What are you
"It used our DNA." Dwayne had suddenly become very serious.
"Look at him, he has your nose, he has your mouth, and he has my eyes
and my hair."
Ericka looked down at Rusty and realized that Dwayne was right.
"Oh, my goodness," was all she could manage to speak.
Dwayne and Ericka looked at each other as an awkward silence
grew between them.
The probelet was working even harder now. It had sent a
signal to the hostís brain, telling it that it was tired. The host
fell asleep which would allow the probelet to work more quickly.
The probelet got busy reconfiguring the hostís mind. There was so
much potential contained within the host. This human, as the probe
had learned to call its young host, was a complicated and highly
advanced organism. The probelet relayed new information to the
probe, informing it that the reconfiguring would be done in several
standard days. The probe confirmed the message and agreed that this
amount of time would be satisfactory. Then the probe, slowly
hovering in its cage of energy back at Quark, sent a blast of
information streaming back towards the world it had left so many
thousands of years ago. It hoped that someone would be there to
receive the message.
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