Aug 20, 2022
This month's patron-funded story is "Carnival of Sensation" by Nobilis Reed. It's narrated by the author.
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Gruss had been studying the gravitational fluxes of black hole 459 dash 54 for several hundred thousand seconds when Fandel appeared.
“The secret,” he said, dropping into orbit around Gruss with an abrupt bending of space, “Is authenticity.” That is to say, he expressed his thoughts in quantum encoded radio pulses.
“It’s not a secret if you tell everyone,” said Gruss, “And you tell everyone. Find someone else to tell, you’re warping the event horizon and spoiling my measurements”
Fandel continued undeterred by the observation. “That’s why it’s so important to go back to Origin. For authenticity.” His spherical outer shell glowed in the infrared, absorbing all other frequencies.
Fandel had always been a glutton.
Gruss shifted the neutronium plates of their armature, altering the surface albedo to reflect light away from Fandel, a dismissive gesture. “When do you leave?” they asked, with a tone that indicated they hoped it would be soon.
“Oh, right away,” replied Fandel. “Just as soon as I’ve stored enough energy.”
“Well, don’t let me slow you down,” said Gruss, altering their armatures once again in order to eclipse Fandel as little as possible.
“Thing is, I was hoping…”
Gruss didn’t step into the gap in the conversation. Instead, they let it hang for almost an entire second.
“I was hoping you would come with me.”
“Why in the name of all that’s radiant, would you hold any hope at all in that event?”
Fandel warped again, dropping into an even closer orbit, now close enough that Gruss could feel the gravity differential slightly warping his armatures. “You’re the only one of my friends who has never come to a carnival, and…”
Gruss cut Fandel off with a burst of radio static. “I assure you, that is not true.”
“What? No, if you had been to one, I would have known…”
“No,” said Gruss. “The ‘friend’ part.”
Fandel took on spin. “Oh Gruss, you’re such a kidder.”
“I’m not going with you. It’s a meaningless excursion to a meaningless planet. Origin hasn’t had any relevance since the Upload.”
“It’s where we came from! It’s always relevant. Come with me, you’ll understand. Authenticity.”
“First of all, no, second of all, my mass is several orders of magnitude greater than Origin and I’d warp its structure just by dropping into orbit, third, no.”
“Well, of course we’re not going to go there like this,” Fandel scoffed. “That would be pointless. We’re sending delegates.”
“I do not fork my consciousness,” said Gruss. “That leads to…whatever it is that’s gotten into you.”
“That won’t be necessary. Your delegate will be a remote. I just got the tech from Shoover. It’s just like creating a forked delegate, except instead of a brain, the remote has a real-time transceiver, broadstreaming anywhere within ten thousand light-seconds.”
“They got an RTT small enough to exist on a terrestrial planet surface?”
“I know, they said it was impossible, but Shoover managed it. Here, look.” Fandel opened a high gain multiwave antenna and beamed the idea to Gruss, who spent several seconds reviewing the details, adjusting their armatures several times in contemplation.
“Pretty neat, huh? It uses the planet’s magnetic field as a resonator!”
“I will admit, this tech has promise,” said Gruss.
“Great. We can use my printer.” Fandel transmitted the timesynched coordinates and the encoding protocol.
“Alright, I’ll go—but only because I want to try out this tech.”
Fandel spun up even faster. “You’re not going to regret this!”
By the time the two of them arrived at Origin, Gruss already regretted it.