The day was sunny and warm, with just enough of a breeze to cool a person off if they were out in the sun. The fountains burbled and chuckled, the water sparkling and the mist throwing off rainbows. The leaves of the bushes and shrubs whispered as they rubbed together and the flowers nodded sagely in the breeze. The pathways were of white stone, fitted together neatly, quarried rather than poured.
On a bench a portly man of middle age sat in a full Space Force dress uniform, his dress top folded over the back of the bench beside his. His dress shirt beneath the top was neatly creased with medals and awards glittering in the sunlight. He held a bowl of strawberry ice cream in one hand and was eating it with a long bladed knife, obviously relishing every last bite. He had on eye-shades, his dress hat covering his balding scalp, and an expensive wrist watch gleamed in the sunlight.
Treana'ad that passed by noted that, oddly enough, the portly human held his knife at the correct angle, shaved rather than gouged at the ice cream, and ate it properly by turning it slowly to keep shaving away the softened and partially melted ice cream, the best part.
On the public announcement Tri-Vee hologram near the fountain the news reporters were talking about the success of one of the largest humanitarian projects in history.
The saving of the injured Lanaktallan prisoners.
Everyone knew the story, it had been reported repeatedly. Talk shows had discussed the ethics and morality of not only what had been done to the Lanaktallan prisoners by their own people but on the ethics of whether or not heroic measures to save their lives. Some believed it was cruel to allow them to languish, neural scorched and in pain. Others believed that standing aside and letting them die was depraved indifference, an anathema to the Confederacy. That left only euthanasia, another prospect that was wholly against Confederate morality.
The Terrans of the Terran Confederacy had a bad history with euthanasia, eugenics, and the like.
The solution had been so obvious, once it was revealed, that many of the Terrans who had been paying attention to the news and had not gotten bored of it all collectively facepalmed.
Now the news shows were all showing the same image.
A sleeping Lanaktallan soldier, his sash proclaiming his name, his rank, his world of origin, and other vital statistics still visible, encased in what looked like smokey glass. Sleeping One Stasis Pods Used to Ensure Lanaktallan Survivors Remain Alive Until Treatment Can Be Devised
scrolled across the bottom.
The man eating the ice cream paid no attention, instead watching a good two dozen Rigellian males paddling around the sparkling pond, gwarking at one another and happily pulling up weeds to munch on, surrounded by little tiny versions of themselves.
He smiled as two of the larger little ones, their brown feathers shining in the sun, paddled away from the big duck they had been clustered up to. They were making self-congratulatory peeping noises as they sped away, their little webbed feet paddling for all they were worth, thrilled with their escape.
They stopped to rest, breathing heavy, and peeping at one another to congratulate each other on their daring escape so that they could chase waterbugs and maybe even eat one. They had successfully paddled really far and really fast, and now they couldn't be told what to do at such a distance.
A little over five yards from the big one that watched them with one eye.
The man's watch beeped and he smiled, setting down the bowl and knife before setting a holo-emitter on the ground in front of him. He tapped it to bring up the holographic keyboard then tapped on it for a few moments.
A Tri-Vid show appeared in front of him as he picked back up his ice cream and knife.
It was a historical documentary, regarding early near-C slowship expansion of Terran Descent Humanity.
He watched it as he ate slowly.
At one point, the show was going over the precautions that the mid-generation slow ships had taken to ensure that they could travel at the massive speed of .25C in safety.
The man's jaw dropped open. He just stared as the show went into the crudity of the technology.
On the hologram a woman dressed in a military uniform was standing in front of a great lens held in a brass frame with glowing wiring leading to it, staring at what looked like empty space.
The man dropped his bowl and shifted his grip on the long handled knife as he stared. He slowly moved the blade over and began sliding it up and down his forearm, each stroke scraping a tiny edge of lint off the sleeve of his dress shirt.
But he paid no attention, staring at the holovid.
At one point he reached down and poked the holo-emitter with his knife, using the point to rewind the show, and watched the entire section on slowship navigation and piloting again. He picked up his bowl and returned to slowly eating. At the end of the section he summoned up the holographic keyboard and began typing, then leaned back and watched the technical educational show as he finished the last of his ice cream. He ate the crunch bowl, ignoring the dust on it from where he had dropped it, slowly eating around the edge around and around.
When he finished, he picked up his holo-emitter, sheathed the knife, and walked away briskly. It was right there. Right there all along! How could I have missed that! Missed ALL of it!
the man thought to himself, sweating from the profound realization he had just had.
Doctor Miles Mary McManfro'o nervously smoothed her dress as the door slid open to reveal the grass around her. The park was somber, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of hovering grayish glass looking blocks arranged in concentric circles.
She moved down the steps, several other doctors and scientists following her, following her lead. At the bottom of the steps were waiting military officers, all of whom looked particularly grave. Also present was a civilian woman, who was wearing mourning clothing and looked somber.
"Doctor," one of the gathered military officers stated, holding out his hand.
She shook it out of reflex. She had to admit, the man had a lot of medals, belying his portly and unmilitary look.
The General introduced everyone. High ranking military and civilian officials, medical personnel, scientists, historians.
And one of the descendants of the man encased in gray glass.
She listened to the reasoning of what was going to happen and stared, shocked.
It was impossible.
Nothing could help the man.
It was so simple.
How had nobody ever considered it?
Third Master Gunnery Mate Kro'ovu'uwi stared at the Terran General, nodding slowly as the information was processed by his brain.
His brother, Kra'atu'uka, was horrible neural scorched, reduced to one of the lost ones. A jumpdrive technician of great promise, just wiped away by the Great Herd Templates.
"Do you understand what I'm saying?" the General asked.
Kro'ovu'uwi had been slightly intimidated at first by the Terran's habitual action, then realized what it was.
The Terran had two long bladed knives, one in each hand, slowly rubbing them against one another as if he was using one to sharpen the other.
"Yes, Terran," Kro'ovu'uwi said slowly. "You believe you can reverse the neural scorching."
The General nodded. "For us to try, we need your consent, your informed
consent, to attempt the experiment with your brother. As his nearest available family member, you can make the decision."
Kro'ovu'uwi thought for a long moment then nodded. "Since I recovered from illness, since I have seen your 'mental health providers', I have come to understand my emotion I am feeling. A longing to have my brother returned to me, familial love
for my brother, and fear that this will not work."
The human General nodded, the knives moving slowly in circles against one another.
"Please, if you can restore my brother, bring him from madness and loss into this life I am experiencing, I beg you, Terran, please, restore my older brother, who was my strength in the times we ate unflavored nutripaste," Kro'ovu'uwi said.
The blades stopped moving.
"I promise you I will do my best," The Terran General said.
Kro'ovu'uwi believed him.
After all, Terrans had beaten the Great Herd.
Didn't that mean they were capable of anything?
The General lit a cigarette as he watched from the observation balcony. He was separated from what was going on below by steri-fields, macro-plas, and distance, but the smartglass brought it up close.
Doctor Miles Mary McManfro'o had switched from the male body he had met her in to a female body with long fingers and sharp vision. She was standing over a sedated Lanaktallan, a wide thick lens between her and the Lanaktallan. The lens was held in place by an ornate bronze frame accented by jewels and inlaid with precious metals, the surface carved into patterns.
There had been one
of the device still in existence.
It had been on a little starship that, ironically enough, had carried word of the Lanaktallan attacks upon unaligned worlds. The starship had used archaic methods to reach jumpspace, had relied on millennium old technology to get to the speed required to transition to jumpspace. The lens had been a vital part of the little ship.
It had withstood the rigors of the trip with all the resiliency that its makers had instilled in their culture and in everything they made.
Rather than risk any flaws, the Confederate scientists had used matter transportation replication technology by building a set of Type-1 Mat-Trans and 'copying' the item. The original was back in storage, under heavy guard.
It still worked because it had been built by a martial people, who had instilled it with the perseverance of their martial culture.
The Doctor powered it up as the General leaned forward, drawing the knives from his belt and slowly scraping the long blades against each other.
The Doctor worked quickly.
In front of her was the massive lens. Beyond that was a combined scanner. PET, CAT, EEG, all the three letter medical devices that looked at the brain in a multitude of different ways. She brought up the scanners, then, following the instructions by a historical reenactment specialist, three historians, and two Digital Sentiences watching, began adjusting the image on the lens.
The image of the Lanaktallan's brain went from severely neural scorched, with dozens of micro-strokes, to just aberrant neural firing.
She made a 3D holographic image of the brain as if she was taking a SUDS recording.
At her direction the historians, the reenactment specialist, and the DS's adjusted the lens again.
The neural template was tangled with the Lanaktallan's brain, a confused welter of signals that competed against one another.
She made another SUDS snapshot.
They shifted the lens again.
Not far this time. Slowly, carefully, the DS watching the doctor.
The doctor made a chopping motion.
The technicians stepped back from the lens.
The Doctor stared.
The Lanaktallan's brainscan, as if he was about to recorded for SUDS, shown, sparkling, on the lens.
Sparks showered from where the two blades scraped one another as the Doctor made a SUDS 3D template scan of the Lanaktallan.
The General smiled, exhaling smoke.
Kra'atu'uka opened his side eyes, instinctively looking for predators. He could hear the beeping and muttering of medical diagnostic equipment, smell the typical smell of a hospital.
His brother, Kro'ovu'uwi, sat in a comfortable looking chair, wearing flank coverings and a sash/vest combination that looked easy to wear.
Kra'atu'uka blinked a few times, then licked his dry lips and swallowed.
"Hail to the Great Herd," Kro'ovu'uwi said softly, his voice trembling with fear.
"Water," Kra'atu'uka rasped. "Brother, water?"
Kro'ovu'uwi began to weep as his brother recognized him for the first time in over a year.
"Doctor! Doctor McManfro'o! A question, please!" the reporter shouted to the Doctor who had pioneered restoring the Sleeping Ones and the Lost Ones.
The woman paused at the edge of her armored limo, one hand on the top, one hand on the door. She sighed. "One question."
The reported nodded, quickly selecting the most important question.
"What prompted the idea to use a temporal lens, historically used for space travel to avoid debris and dangers, to look at the past version of your patient's brains?" the reporter asked.
Doctor McManfro'o's stomach twisted slightly at the lie she was about to tell. That the person who had come up with the idea had refused any and all recognition for his idea.
"I had been examining Lanaktallan neural scorching and went to a lounge to relax and think. They were showing a historical documentary on the slow ships and how they navigated. I had just thought to myself 'if only there was some way to look into the past and see their neural templates' when the program began showing the section on temporal lenses. It dawned on me that if the temporal navigation lens could look forward in time, the same with Confederate Space Force C+ Cannon fire control systems, then it would have
to be able to look backwards," she lied. "After that, it just all clicked together."
"But what about..." the reporter started.
"No more questions," Doctor McManfro'o said, turning away and climbing into the limo.
The Five Star General in charge of Terra's Space Force and military shut off the news program and looked at the portly general relaxing in a comfortable chair in his office. The portly man was slowly scraping two long bladed knives together.
"I still don't understand your insistence that you not be credited with your epiphany," the Commander in Chief of Space Force said, turning to sit comfortably behind his desk.
"I would never get any respite," the portly general said. "My nerves are still frazzled."
The CiCSF nodded slowly. The knives were more than for show, they were literally mandated therapy. The General possessed a medical profile allowing him to not only carry them, but to do what he was doing.
"I imagine they still are," the CiCSF said.
"Being visited by an angel is a bit disconcerting," General 'Tik-Tak' said softly, his hands still scraping the blades together.