Chapter 16: The Third Species

Cadmus was silent for a while. He looked up the hill instinctively and saw the cabin dark against the night sky. 4 should be coming up in the north soon and make everything a ghostly pale color. Galen was nearly invisible against the night even though they were standing close to each other.

“Your story has given me an appetite,” Cadmus said. “I had just gotten home when you called and arrived. I don’t know what’s in the pantry that’s edible, but why don’t I check and cook us up something to eat?”

“Sounds good to me,” Galen answered.

As they walked up the hill Draco.763.4 was just starting to come up over the craggy mountains to the north casting a bluish white light on the roof of the solitary cabin. There was a dark pile of something on the porch. Cadmus rebuked himself for not thinking to turn on the porchlight when they left.

The pile turned out to be Lonesome on the porch waiting for them to come home. Cadmus stepped carefully around the dagu, opened the front door, and felt around for a light switch in the darkness. Galen sat down beside Lonesome and looked up at the planet rise as it began to fill the night sky.

Cadmus found some powdered eggs that didn’t smell too bad. He also found some powdered soup. He couldn’t read the label on the can and hoped it wouldn’t make them sick. He poured some kibble into one bowl and water into another bowl for Lonesome.

After some time Cadmus came out to the porch carrying a tray with two plates of scrambled eggs, two cups of soup, napkins, and forks. He set the tray down beside Galen and sat down on the other side of the tray.

They ate silently, looking up from time to time at the lovely but lethal planet that seemed close enough to reach up and touch. This thought passed through both their minds, not because Galen shared Cadmus’ way of thinking about things but because all Cadmus’ thoughts passed through Galen’s mind like a nebula near a black hole.

“I would imagine you have discussed these findings and conjectures with your peers,” Cadmus continued their thread.

“Yes, of course.”

“So what did your peers conclude?”

“Our peers concluded that our enemy may be more than we are capable of dealing with.”

“Why? There are a lot of you. If you put your minds together, you should be able to come up with a strategy to defeat these creatures.”

“We know our limitations.”

“You have limitations?”

“Yes.”

“What for instance?”

“We are rational to a fault.”

“What could be the fault of rationality?”

“That it is based on the non-rational.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Rationality is the most economical, straight-forward, simplest, ethical, and aesthetical form of thought. If you want to assert something, however, that is neither totally trivial nor self-evident, you’re going to need a set of axioms underpinning your rational system of thought. Axioms are assertions that can’t be proven or questioned. Axioms are non-rational.”

“Can you speak a little more concretely so that I may follow you?”

“Imagine a rational system of thought is an edifice, a tall and vast structure, and its axioms are the ground on which the edifice stands.”

“Alright. I can see that.”

“If someone attacks an axiom upon which your rational system rests, the entire structure will collapse.”

“And you think our universe is rational and in danger of collapsing from an attack on its axioms?”

“No,” Galen said. “The universe and its physical substrata are under attack, and our ability to defend them from attack may be subverted by an attack on our axioms.”

“I see,” Cadmus said. But did he? It was all so confusing to him. Images were flying around his brain in circles. He began to feel queasy. Why had Galen come all this way to tell him these things? What could Cadmus possibly do about it? After all he was blind in all but three dimensions. Why him?

“Because you are irrational,” Galen said. “You would not be vulnerable to an attack which could incapacitate us. If we train you what to do, you could do it without thinking. We need you to come with us.”

“A two-species defense against a superior species?” Cadmus asked.

“No,” Galen answered, “a three-species defense.”

“Who is the third species?”

Galen reached over to scratch Lonesome between his ears and the dagu leaned into his hand.

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

 

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Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels, Uncategorized

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