“It is the King’s wish that your three female crew members join his harem. In exchange, we will grant you land rights on Ishnar, allowing you to remain here permanently,” Hazov declared to me in front of the Royal Council.
“What if they deny the King’s wish?” I retorted.
“Then you and your crew will be asked to leave.”
“Hazov, I can’t make them do anything. Those three crew members are distinguished women in their own right. I do not own them.”
“Those are the conditions on which you may stay on Ishnar.”
“Unacceptable,” I said, “I am responsible for the safety and well-being of my crew. Under no conditions would they submit to this demand.”
Hazov then whispered to one of the advisers. They convened privately for a few moments. “Alright,” Hazov finally spoke up, “then the King will accept one of your female officers for his harem: Commander Mwangi.”
I tried to hide the anger boiling beneath. “Under Space Fleet guidelines,” I responded, “we are ordered to respect the customs of extraterrestrial cultures. But I cannot submit my crew these demands, not without discussing it with them first. Please allow me to return to the Sagan where I will meet with my crew.”
“Of course, Captain.”
I was bluffing. I knew the crew wouldn’t agree to these terms but I needed time to find other options.
When I returned to the Sagan, Dr. Jackass pulled me aside. “Valdez is indeed pregnant,” he said, “we ran a DNA test and the father is Smashhouse. Yah was correct.”
“Fuck me running!” I replied.
I went underground to meet with Yah again. The guards refused to let me through. “Look,” I told one of them, “Hazov has granted me unrestricted access to Yah.”
“We need an explanation for your visit,” the guard said.
“I just need to go over with Yah the court proceedings on Earth should he stand trial,” I replied. “That’s all.”
“I need to confirm this with Hazov.”
“Don’t waste your time, Hazov’s time, and my time. You’re being ridiculous.”
We had a stare down for a few moments before he let me through. Another guard escorted me to Yah’s chamber.
“Can we have some privacy please?” I asked the guard. When he was out of earshot, Yah spoke up.
“I knew you’d be back,” he said.
“Of course you did.”
“We got off on the wrong foot Captain. But I can help you with your problem.”
“What is my problem?”
“Your ship doesn’t work and you can’t stay on Ishnar.”
“So? Maybe I can find another corner of this planet for my crew to live on.”
“The King of Ishnar rules this entire planet. If he ever found you and your crew, he would kill all of you. Face it: the customs of Ishnar is incompatible with Earth’s. You know this to be true.”
“How can you help me then? Can you fix thrusters, hydrogen drives, and hibernation chambers?”
“Through me, all things are possible.”
“Do you agree to do this?”
“You have my word, Captain.”
“What about Earth? It’s gone. Can you help us rebuild the planet?”
“I’ve only ever wanted what’s best for humanity.”
“Okay then. If you go back on your word, I will not hesitate to eject you into outer space where you’ll spend eternity in your chamber.”
“My powers are limited in this chamber. The only way I can repair your ship is if you release me from it.”
Son of a bitch, he was right. I knew he was right. And he knew that I knew he was right. We were playing each other. I had to make a choice.
I called the guard over. “Bring Yah’s chamber to the surface,” I ordered. “We’re bringing him back to Earth.”
“So you cast God into hell?” I asked Hazov as we were descending deep into the surface of Ishnar in an elevator.
“That’s one way of putting it,” he responded. “But be warned though: Yah can still read your thoughts. We have yet developed the technology to block that ability. Other than that, he is completely contained within the chamber.”
“How does this chamber work?” Dr. Jackass asked.
“The walls of the chamber itself is reinforced with titanium-like nano tubing. This prevents porous openings all the way down to the quantum foam level. Even God can’t penetrate past that micro surface,” Hazov said.
“Fascinating,” The Doctor replied. “How did you obtain this technology? Forgive me, but technology on Earth appears to be beyond that of Ishnar and yet we haven’t developed those capabilities.”
“This technology was given to us by the ‘God Species’, as your captain calls it. This is why our technological capabilities appear to be so uneven.”
“Indeed, your culture appears to be from the Middle Ages of Earth, yet you’re using interplanetary radios, plasma weapons, and advanced forms language translation.” the Doctor said.
“Doctor,” I interrupted, “you’re about to meet God…or the first CONFIRMED alien life…and this is what you’re interested in?”
“Captain, I understand that you’re nervous, but it is part of Space Fleet’s mission to study extraterrestrial cultures.”
I rolled my eyes.
Finally the elevator stopped roughly 8 km underground. As we walked through the corridor to Yah’s holding area, Hazov continued to brief us. “A transparent piece of aluminum will allow you to see into the chamber,” he said. “Yah can take any form he chooses, but it’s only a mirage. While he can read your thoughts, you cannot communicate telepathically. You will have to speak with him over the monitors, and he will do the same for you.”
When we reached the guards holding large plasma rifles, Hazov stopped us and pinned a device onto Dr. Jackass and me. “This is just a precaution,” he stated, “but Yah is highly radioactive. The chamber should contain the radiation, but should any leak, this device will absorb it.”
Hazov could see I was shaking nervously. “Captain, you’ll be fine,” he said to me, “sure Yah played a big part in our histories. But he’s not actually God. While his material is not fully understood, insofar as we can tell he is made of normal matter just like you and me. He can’t hurt you. So don’t let him get to you.”
Hazov smiled and patted me on the shoulder. Then the doctor and I proceeded past the guards. We were escorted down a long corridor, where there at the very end was a large square chamber with a medium-sized window revealing a radiant orange glow inside.
I walked up to the window. But I couldn’t tell anything discerning inside, other than the orange mist. “Can he hear me?” I asked one of the guards.
He nodded. Then I opened my mouth.
“I am Captain William Kananga of the USV Carl Sagan. My first officer here is Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Space Fleet representing Earth: a planet that I believe you are familiar with.”
Moments went by and there was no response. I looked back to the guard. “Are you sure he can hear me?” I asked him.
Then a strange voice came over the monitor.
“I know who you are,” the voice said. It wasn’t a deep voice, certainly not one I would associate with God. But it had resonance.
“Of course,” I replied. “I understand that you wish to return to Earth. What is your past associations there?”
“Siddhartha Gautama, Moshes, Mohammed, Yeshua: the Carpenter of Nazareth,” the voice replied.
“I’m afraid that I’m unfamiliar with Moshes.”
“You know him as Moses. I gave him the Ten Commandments.”
“Right. That’s why he was glowing as he came down Mt. Sinai. He was exposed to high levels of radiation.”
“That’s why I said that no man can see my face and live. I gave mankind scriptures to protect them from themselves.”
“Unfortunately those scriptures have been used to justify hate, discrimination, and war for thousands of years.”
“Yes, but humankind were savages when I found them. I gave them the power of reasoning to help them grow. Evolve.”
“What good that did them. What about the Holocaust? Nuclear war?”
“I had nothing to do with that. If I was permitted to stay on Earth, I could have prevented all of that.”
“You seem to want to take credit for humanity’s successes but want to evade responsibility for all of its ills and your failure in preventing them. Even your own “scriptures” make you look like the bad guy.”
“Mistakes were made, of course. And I’m prepared to answer for those. But humanity needs me now, more than ever. Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear war, has it not?”
I looked over to a concerned Dr. Jackass and back to the chamber. “I know what you’re trying to do,” I said to Yah. “But you’re not God. You’re not an all powerful, all loving deity. You’re a charlatan that wonders from planet to planet, taking advantage of vulnerable species.”
“I know that you beat off to Commander Mwangi this morning,” Yah said.
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“She’s going to have your child, ya know?” Yah continued. “You will be a better father to it than you ever were to the son you left behind on Earth to die in those nuclear bombs.”
“Commander Valdez is pregnant too. The late Commander Smashhouse is the father…”
“You’re not benevolent,” I interrupted. “You’re a sick, sad, and lonely being. Not worthy of our worship.”
“I am Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. I shall have no other gods before me!” Yah declared as the orange glow morphed into a mirage of my late son.
“I’ve listened to enough of this hubris,” I said then stormed out of the corridor. As I walked passed the guards, I threw off the radiation device.
“Captain, are you all right?” the Doctor asked as he ran up behind me.
“What happened?” Hazov asked.
“Hazov, my recommendation is to sling that fucking thing in there right into the sun,” I said, then stormed into the elevator. Hazov and Jackass rushed in behind me. “Take me back to the surface!”
The two men were silent as I tried to cool down. As the elevator ascended, the doctor touched me on the arm.
“So you’re telling me that God is actually a gas being…as opposed to a liquid and solid being like we are…comprised of mostly radon and xenon IN ADDITION to an energy source fundamental to the universe that has yet been discovered? So he’s basically a floating brain that can disappear and reappear through subspace, thus giving the appearance of being omnipotent and omnipresent. But he is actually locally bound by gravity, just like normal matter in the universe?” I asked Hazov.
“That is correct.”
“That’s crazy. If he’s gas and can disappear into subspace, then how did you capture him?”
“He’s not the only one ya know? We had help from members of his species. This particular “God”, as you call him, has been on the run for millennia. After we rebelled against Yah, as we call him, we were discovered by this particular alien race and they helped us capture him. This race of beings, or “gods” if you will, instructed us to put Yah on trial for his crimes against humanity. He was found guilty and placed within an inescapable gas chamber deep beneath the surface. The Gods recommended that we reach out to Earthlings, so that Yah can face his crimes there.”
“Why didn’t they reach out to us directly?”
“The Gods have a strict “no-interaction” policy with humans, a rule which Yah broke and the Gods temporarily suspended, which is why they helped us capture him.”
“I don’t know Hazov. If what you’re saying is true, there’s is no one alive today on Earth that could testify against him.”
“The Gods feel that there is no statute of limitations on such crimes. They’ve also provided evidence.”
“No court on Earth would accept this case. There’s no precedent and no direct testimony.”
“On the contrary. Yah is prepared to return to Earth to answer for his crimes.”
“He wants to right his wrongs.”
I laughed and threw up my hands. “In the last 20 minutes, I learned that there are humans on another planet and that God exists…in fact, MULTIPLE Gods exist…and this particular God was actually the Devil and he wants to repent. None of this sounds real. And besides, how did you guys get to Ishna? Are Earthlings descended from you, or are you descended from Earthlings?” I asked.
“We are descendants from the followers of Yah on Earth. The Gods were onto Yah’s activities there and he had to go on the run. A number of his followers went with him on a crude starship 1500 years ago, and that’s when they discovered this planet.”
“Why did the people of Ishna turn on him?”
“He was a tyrant. He stated that there should be no other gods before him. Strangely everyone assumed that he was the ONLY god. But this came under question by my grandfather, who challenged Yah’s authority. Yah was about to bring a plague onto Ishna for retribution but the Gods caught up with him. His rule was toppled, he was brought to trial, and then he was imprisoned.”
“What happened this God alliance that was after Yah?”
“They disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared.”
I rubbed my forehead. I was starting to have a headache. “So can I visit with Yah?” I asked.
“You can meet with him whenever you’re ready,” Hazov replied.
“I’m not ready,” I replied. “I must meet with my crew first.”
“Take your time.”
I returned to the Sagan and summoned the crew. “If you have religious convictions, I have some good news and bad news,” I said. “Good news is God exists. Bad news is he’s imprisoned on this planet.”
Patel and Hanson were shocked. “The fuck your talking about, Captain?” Patel asked.
“God’s an evil bastard apparently,” I replied. “He tortured the people of Earth and the people of this planet. But he’s wanting to change his ways and is prepared to face the people of Earth. Plus there are humans on this planet too.”
Everyone was confused. “How do you know they’re telling the truth?” Hanson asked.
“Well I just talked to the humans,” I replied. “As for other part, there’s only one way to find out: I’m gonna go talk to God.”
“Dear God,” I prayed, “we’ve never talked before. Mostly because I’m pissed off at you for doing nothing about Earth’s suffering. But I have no one else to turn to. So if you are a just God, I pray that you keep this crew safe as we enter into uncharted waters. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a lost soul drifting among the stars. Give me the strength of courage. Give me the wisdom I need to guide this crew. Amen.”
Right then, Commander Mwangi entered my quarters. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb your prayer sir,” she said.
“I wasn’t praying,” I replied. “I was uh…I was beating off. You know, masturbating until ejaculation?”
“I thought you said your dick don’t work. You told the whole crew.”
“Well I like to cum soft. What do you have for me?”
“This is the full report on the condition of the Sagan.” She then handed me a tablet. “While she’s holding now, the hydrogen drive might not survive a return trip to Earth. I also report that we have cleared the Astroid Belt and are approaching Jupiter. The hibernation chambers are now fully functional.”
“Very good Commander. Thank you.”
I departed for the bridge where I found Dr. Jackass marveling at Jupiter. “What a sight,” he said.
“Doctor, we were here three weeks ago,” I replied.
“I know, but this planetary beauty never ceases to amaze me.”
I nodded. “Assemble the crew,” I ordered.
The crew gathered in the hibernation section, ready to be briefed. “We will be hibernation stasis for the next 50 years. During that time the hydrogen drive will slowly pick up speed. Eventually we’ll be traveling near the speed of light,” I stated. “Once we’ve arrived at Tau Ceti, braking thrusters will fire and we will be awakened from hibernation. Have a nice long rest.”
The crew and myself then began dressing down into our undergarments. This predictably caused a stir. “Damn Patel! Does that hog have a rank of its own?” Smashhouse joked, referring to Patel’s abnormally large penis protruding through his shorts. He then looked over to Hansen. “Hey Liz! Nice tits!”
“Commander Smashhouse,” I interrupted, “behave yourself. You’re a Space Fleet officer.”
“Pardon me sir,” he replied, “hibernation makes me a little nervous.”
After he said that, I began to admire Mwangi’s body in her Space Fleet issued underwear. That’s all I could think about when I climbed into my chamber. I began to wonder if my partial erection would stay throughout hibernation stasis. Wouldn’t that have been something? A guy that hadn’t had a boner in nearly 10 years would now have a permanent one for the next 50.
It probably would have been a record.
50 years later…
Unfortunately the boner didn’t last. But I figured that I’d get it next time.
The crew slowly woke up and climbed out of their chambers. Everyone except Smashhouse.
“What’s going on?” I asked Dr. Jackass.
“It appears sir that Smashhouse didn’t make it. He died during stasis.”
The crew was stunned. Valdez began to cry. This was my first death after 20 years in command.
“Funeral will be held at 1500 hours,” I said. “Everyone please attend.”
Dr. Jackass placed Smashhouse’s body in a makeshift casket and draped the flag of Space Fleet over it. The casket was put into the the jettison chamber where it was waiting to be released.
“Unfortunately I didn’t know Commander Smashhouse for long,” I said at his eulogy. “He dedicated his life to the service of Earth and the exploration of space. This crew loved him and his presence will be sorely missed. He was a brave man.”
Dr. Jackass then readied the chamber.
“From the cosmos whence we came. To the cosmos we shall return.”
Commander Smashhouse’s casket was then released into the vast, empty void beyond.
After the funeral, Mwangi and her two engineers began work on fixing the stasis chamber. “I can’t guarantee that this won’t happen again,” Mwangi said to me. “It’s going to take a long time before we can get these chambers fully calibrated.”
“You have all the time you need,” I replied, then patted her on the shoulder.
Dr. Jackass approached me alone as I was walking towards the bridge. “When are you going to tell the crew about Earth?” he asked.
“Doctor, they just lost a fellow crew member. Now’s not the time.”
“Don’t wait too long.”
As I came onto the bridge, Valdez announced that we were approaching the fourth planet from Tau Ceti…our destination.
It’s resemblance was strikingly similar to Earth’s.
“Send out a message on the same frequency as the extraterrestrial transmission. Let it state: ‘Your message has been received. We come from Earth and are currently orbiting your planet to establish peaceful communication. Please respond.’”
Valdez relayed the transmission and the bridge stood silent until we received a response.
Moments later, a message was coming in through the computer. What appeared to me as gibberish, Dr. Jackass gawked at in amazement. “My god,” he said.
“This appears to be a mix of Hebrew and possibly other Sumerian languages. Whatever it is, it’s definitely an Indo-European language.”
“How’s that possible? Can you decode it?”
“Running it through the computer now,” the Doctor said. He typed away frantically until the results were in. “I have it, sir. These are coordinates. A diplomatic party will be there waiting on us.”
“These guys don’t fuck around,” I said. “Alright, assemble the crew and initiate landing procedures.”
Everybody was gathered together once again. At that moment, I hadn’t yet processed the gravity of the situation. “Shortly we will begin landing on this planet, whatever the occupants call it,” I said to the crew. “You need not worry: surface conditions are extremely Earth-like. Dignitaries will be there to greet us when we land. The Doctor and I are both trained in diplomacy, and we handle this situation. Please be on your best behavior. Now strap in, we will be on the surface shortly.”
I sat on the bridge while Valdez steered the ship towards the surface. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This planet was like a second Earth.
Finally we landed on a prairie-like terrain. I walked towards the back of the ship with the Doctor where the bay doors were. I took a deep breath. “Open the doors,” I said.
We proceeded down the lowering platform, and there waiting on us were 15 humans. I was puzzled by this, but I pushed forward with the plan.
The Doctor and I walked up to the man in front. “I am Captain William Kananga. And this is my first officer, Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Earth’s Space Fleet. We come in peace.”
The man smiled. “I am Hazov. And welcome to Ishna.”
He spoke perfect English.
“How can you understand us?” I asked.
“We were able to decipher your language by monitoring your communications.”
“Please Captain, we will go over all the details in time. But first, you must know why we invited you here.”
“We have undergone a massive revolution in the last 100 of your Earth years. We have taken control of Ishna by overcoming a being that both our planets are familiar with. We want to offer you a chance to bring to justice a Being so powerful that he forever altered your history.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We are offering you what was once called the One…Adonai…God.”
All the political ideologues claim they want to protect free speech. Well now’s the time to put their money where their mouth is.
Twitter’s a dumpster fire.
So allow me to introduce you to new kind of free speech platform: Bitcher.
Clearly I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet. Nor have I set up a website. Any Big Tech billionaire can take (or steal, if you prefer) this idea.
But here’s the general concept:
-For every Bitch (equivalent to a “Tweet”), there is NO character MAXIMUM. Only a character MINIMUM (which would greatly exceed the character maximum on Twitter). The idea being that participants MUST present a well reasoned Bitch. If any poster tries to cheat the system by circumventing the character minimum (i.e by stringing together random words and letters, or by typing something like “penis penis penis,” etc) then that Bitch will be flagged and removed and the poster will be suspended for a brief period.
-Each Bitch must have at least ONE hyperlink to an external source that is relevant to its subject. To submit a reply, the poster MUST click on the link. Replies don’t have to provide links, but must meet the character minimum.
-If a reply also presents an external link that’s relevant to the subject, the OP MUST respond within a given timeframe (ex: 48 hours). If there are an excessive amount of replies that fit this criteria, a minimum amount of replies from the OP will be set (ex: 5). Failure from the OP to reply will result in a temporary suspension.
-Name calling and obscene language ARE permitted. (Terroristic threatening and harassment are not)
-It will be highly encouraged on the platform to belittle and name call any politico on Twitter that has yet to join Bitcher (within the bounds of reason, of course). If they are interested in free speech, then they should have the courage to join Bitcher.
-It is my belief that the format of Twitter encourages snark, sarcasm, dunking, and just general stupidity with its character limitations. By setting a high character MINIMUM, hopefully this will minimize the effectiveness of those acts by FORCING the participant to engage thoroughly.
It has been absolute Christmas for me the last few days. My blog’s existence has been vindicated by the conflict in Ukraine and the state of journalism reporting on it.
The internet really has ruined everything…especially the Twitterification of political discourse.
Case in point is Glenn Greenwald, sometimes referred to as the “GOAT” of journalism, who is now having an total fucking meltdown on Twitter.
Monitoring this situation, it has occurred to me that people can’t handle that multiple things can be true at once.
No, Greenwald is not a “Putin agent”. Yes, “propaganda” is bad, especially when it’s used to drum up war. And yes…Russia, led by an autocrat, invaded a sovereign country and no matter how terrible propaganda and American foreign policy has been, it doesn’t change the fact that….Russia, led by an autocrat, invaded a sovereign country.
I’m always hesitant to say that the “media lies to you”. It’s more complicated than that. What they’re actually doing is spin doctoring, omitting facts, and failing to interrogate all available information and opinions (but I guess in a certain sense, that is lying).
That’s why it’s up to YOU, fellow reader, to be honest enough with yourself to interrogate all available facts. That’s all we’ve got for the time being.
Because there is no trustworthy journalist or media figure. They’re all cynical actors until proven otherwise…especially the ones that have prior ideological convictions (what they are specifically for Greenwald, idk. But they’re easy to infer: has close associations with Noam Chomsky, his husband is a Socialist politician in Brazil, etc) and simultaneously criticize Big Tech yet profit off of it (via Substack, Twitter, etc)
But if you’re a Greenwald defender, relax: “iM jUSt aSkiNg QuEsTIons”
I’m gonna leave a link to these two articles here. Maybe they’re old. Maybe they’re outdated. Maybe they’re inaccurate. You be the judge.
The above interview is probably one of the the better, honest discussions I’ve seen in awhile regarding the nature of current politics.
It echoes my “everything is ideology” ranting, but Jonathon Gottschall takes it a step further: our ideology-making at the macro/political level amounts to nothing more than immersive storytelling.
Ideology, even ideological storytelling, can sometimes unite societies, but persistent vilification of fellow citizens will ultimately tear it down. With the internet, the “gatekeepers” of knowledge are gone, so it’s up to us to be skeptical…and humble…about the narratives we tell ourselves.
That’s really the only option we have.
So now comes the hard part of apologizing to those we vilified, and then the even harder part of forgiving those that vilified us.
I recommend watching the entire interview. If you have a right-wing or conservative perspective, you might think they’re dunking on you at the beginning, but they eventually turn that skepticism on their conversation and themselves.
So I was at a writer’s workshop where some dude was trying to get under my skin. Then we became best friends. Tom Brady also showed up because he was trying to get his acting career started. Why he was at a writer’s workshop was never explained.
Then, like a ghost from the past, appeared an old friend. In real life I haven’t spoken to him in nearly 15 years. His brother was actually my best friend and our friendship ended in the worst possible way: in a courtroom (we both lost btw). It’s one of my biggest regrets, and in truth, I dream about him often.
But his brother shows up, and I confide in him that I think highly of his sibling and I miss them both. In fact, I tell him that I am at this workshop because I am writing a fictionalized version of our friendship.
The Brother tells me that I can’t do that. I ask why and he disappears into a bookstore. I go looking for him and I find him with three small children. I ask him again why I can’t write the book. He tells me that his brother’s dead and that one of these children is his son.
It was a poignant moment in the dream. It reminded me of the passage of time, how we were once small children, and how we are now creating the next generation. I tell the Son of my best friend that I too have a son, how fortunate he is to have his uncle, and that his father was a good man.
The Brother disappears once again, and I help the Child find his uncle. As I walk with the Child, he tells me to not have regrets, and that he hopes to meet my son. I tell him that “that’s a very nice thing to say,” and that I hope they meet someday too.
Finally, we find his uncle standing outside. He’s with two men in suits. I tell the Brother that per his wishes, I won’t write the book. One of the men in suits spoke up and said “that’s a wise decision.”
“Are you an attorney?” I ask.
“What if I changed all the names and events? Can you sue me then?” I said.
“Well clearly he (my best friend) is everything that he’s not,” the lawyer replied. Whatever that meant.
I look over to the Brother. “Did you invite these guys here?” I ask.
“Well fuck it,” I said. “I’m writing the book.”
I then pointed at the lawyer’s shirt like he had a stain. When he looked down, I lifted my finger up to his face.