Memories in the Dust
That night as she traveled home, Minta again
stopped by the archive center to do more research.
This time she decided to follow Klissa’s advice and look up the
Ancestor’s directives. She
found herself digging farther and farther into the past, back beyond the
mythos of the Ancestors and into some of their actual writings.
‘It is such a hard thing to find oneself
alone,’ one old paper began.
The name at the top, Dr. Morlif-Brocnor was one she recognized.
He was one of the Creator Ancestors.
Knowledge of him was transferred into most units during their
secondary training. The
document, dated five hundred years in the past, had been listed under
the topic ‘soul-searching.’ Startled
to see that strange word again, Minta had immediately begun reading the
document. ‘Midlis and
Wernt are wonderful companions, but they cannot take the place of my
The Creator Ancestor’s mate’s name was Minta?
Startled, she quickly suppressed the sudden flush of pride and
returned to the document. ‘At the end it was so painful to see her suffer and die of
the sickness. I could not
get her to eat and when she did, it made her even sicker.
Oh, my poor Minta! If
only I could have taken that suffering away from her.
If only I could have figured out a cause for this malady that has
destroyed us. If only I
could have found a cure. It
struck so quickly. By the time we realized the danger, our birth rate
was zero, our population sterile. And
by then, most of my people were too sick to understand what had caused
it, too sick to stop it even if we had known the cause.
A few of us are apparently more hardy then the rest.
We are the only survivors of a once vital, proud and prosperous
race. I used to keep in
contact with my few surviving comrades, but one by one, they have
stopped responding to my electronic inquiries.
And most of the time now I feel so very tired, even though there
is still so much to do.
‘If it were not for my wonderful units, I
would be so lonely, so very alone.
I created them, using scientific research I had done before the
disaster. The idea of
intelligent life in a manufactured biological being is fascinating to
me, but by the time I actually created my first two units, I was more in
search of companionship. They
are so much more than I would have thought possible.
Although they were more like babies at first, having to be taught
all they needed to know to take care of themselves, they are so very
independent now, inquisitive and intelligent.
They take care of me, treating me almost as a god, although I try
to discourage it.
‘I am glad that I gave them the ability to
replicate themselves. In fact with my help, they created a female unit
using tissue samples that I had taken from my beloved before she became
ill. Although the
technology would allow a perfect duplicate of my dear Minta, I would not
allow it. I could not have
stood it! So the units are
similar to Minta and myself, but there are differences, since I used DNA
samples that were taken from other Rantiri.
‘I have been talking with Wernt, who seems to
be most capable of understanding about the power of creation. I hope that he and his fellow units use that power wisely.
I am astonished how intelligent these units are, and how they
feel complex emotions. It
is almost as though they are possessed of souls.’ Minta paused as
she read the strange word again.
‘But perhaps they do have souls, because they
do feel, they reason, they hurt for me; I can see it in their
eyes. I have told Midlis
not to feel sorry for me. My
life was full and rich, but he pities me anyway, telling me that he
wishes there was something he could do to save me and the few others who
are left. I told him and
Wernt, just today, that I want them and all units after them to always
search for the power of procreation. Bless their hearts, they didn’t quite understand what I was
talking about, but I am going to write a paper with specific ideas for
them and their successors to strive for.
The units were created with most of our features; they look like
us, they think like us, but we couldn’t give them the power to create
new life inside of themselves, to reproduce biologically.
I hope a future unit can do that.
Then they will become us. That
is my deepest desire. There
can be no greater happiness than to create life in that way. I want my ‘children’ to always strive for that.
But most importantly, I want them to keep this soul that they
have inside them now. Then
they will be even better than we ever were.’
Minta looked at the final words, feeling tears trickling down her cheeks. Then she read earlier words, most of which seemed to deal with his day to day life with his beloved Minta, and his children, who died before his beloved. She felt close to this Ancestor. His words seemed to pierce deep into her heart. Anxious to see this paper with specific plans, she continued looking into the database.
What she finally found appeared to have been
originally scrawled on a sheet of paper.
‘Directives for the Rantiri Units--
1. To create units to perpetuate a semblance of the Rantiri race,
2. To place in those units memories of the Rantiri, so that we will
never die out. 3.To strive,
while creating, to remember that the ultimate goal is the rebirth of our
race. Some physical deviation is permissible, but the inner soul of
your creators must be kept intact, as much as is possible.
The inner soul, that which makes the created most like the
creators, is reflected in the following directives:
a. Never cause intentional hurt, b. Seek peace.
Avoid, at all costs, dissension and discord, and c. Please others
before you please yourself. In
so doing, there is self-satisfaction.
When you have created units with those qualities, who follow the
directives and can procreate biologically, then you will have become us,
the creators. That is your
Minta leaned back in the chair, the words of
Ancestor Dr. Morlif-Brocnor burning in her mind.
Now she understood why Director Jerintas had wanted to kidnap
Diego, but clearly he had ignored the rest of the Deep Directive.
As she got up stretching, she printed the Ancestors’ writings
to a hard copy. When she
walked out of the archive, she felt the papers crinkle softly,
reassuringly inside her carryall. She
had to figure out a way to get Diego back to his home.
She had to. There
was too much inside of him, too much of his own world’s ‘soul’ for
him to ever be happy here with the Rantiri units.
Even if he were the key to their becoming one with the Ancestors,
it was not right for him to be forced to stay here.
It was not right to use him simply as the means for making the
units biologically complete. Minta
stared out the window of the public commuter, gazing at the darkening
landscape. Her amethyst
eyes stared back at her, tears forming and threatening to spill down her
cheeks. She blinked hard,
trying not to show her emotions in public. She glanced quickly to each side, but she was thankful that
no one was paying attention to her.
Minta remembered researching the topic of babies during her internship as teacher. The innocence of a newly born entity was somewhat similar to that of a newly created unit, but a baby already had things that gave it personality, made it unique. She watched films of babies; she had even had a pet brolar, a distant relative of the brisal. It was a baby and she loved the way it cuddled in her lap and rubbed against her cheek. She loved the way it depended on her, not only for its needs but also for affection. How she wanted to see, hold and feel a real baby, but it had to come in some other way, not the way that Jerintas had envisioned.
As they perused the pages of yet another book she
had brought, and while Minta was thinking about her student’s
insatiable thirst for knowledge, Diego’s finger paused at one of the
pictures. His eyes widened
with wonder and she leaned over to see what it was that had so engrossed
him. It was a picture of a small commuter vehicle, one that
accommodated four people. The
look on his face was one of disbelief and she almost began laughing,
then realized that such a conveyance would be totally foreign to him,
even with all of his memories intact.
His world was just beginning its industrial age.
“I see people inside and it is on a road, but there is nothing pulling it, Minta,” Diego finally said, examining the accompanying text without success. Several times during the past few days he had asked her to teach him to read, but except for a few words, such as their names and the place where he resided and a few words that he had picked up on his own, he was pretty much illiterate. Still, Minta had hesitated to teach him, determined that she would much rather return him to his own world, where knowledge of the Rantiri language would not be necessary.
“It is a commuter, a small one for just a few
people. It runs on. .
.electricity. . .” She
paused, seeing the confused look on Diego’s face.
“Um, it is like a fuel that feeds the engine that runs the
commuter,” she explained.
Now Minta did laugh.
This was a case where the more she explained, the deeper she
figured she would get. “I’m
sorry, Diego, I am not laughing at you, really.
It is just so hard to explain something so complicated, something
that I don’t totally understand myself.
And the look on your face. . .”
“It does not matter if you are laughing at me,
Minta, because I know you…you are kind. You have helped me learn so
much. I am just glad you
are here, helping me to understand.
I want to know about these things; I want to understand.
I do know that I will not be here in this place much longer, but
when I go to this secondary learning I do not want for others to laugh
at my…unknowing.” Diego
stopped, looking at Minta’s thoughtful countenance.
This was one of Diego’s longer speeches and she was gratified that he was becoming so fluent in such a short time. At the same time, though, it saddened her that he felt this sense of time-flow and impending separation.
“Electricity is what makes the light over your
bed glow. It is the power
that made the bed move up and down when you figured out the control
buttons last week.” They
both laughed recalling his wonder and amazement at the mechanical bed
and how it seemed to magically move.
He had pressed both the buttons, one after the other, making the
bed rise and lower repeatedly. “Fuel for you is what you eat and drink each day.
Food keeps your body moving,” she said, trying for an analogy
he could understand.
“Then my body is like this engine. Ah, I think I understand. But to have a coche that does not need a caballo, that is truly an unbelievable thing,” Diego said, his face actually registering amazement more than understanding.
He paused. “They
are words and pictures that seemed to come just now from my mind.
Coche is what you ride in.
Caballo pulls it or you can ride on one.
They are beautiful animals.
I see them often in my dreams.
I ride them in my dreams and feel the wind in my face.
I feel so… I cannot think of more words, Minta.
I do not have enough words to talk about my dreams.”
There was a longing on his face that almost made Minta cry.
“Diego, it is a wonderful thing that you remember
your dreams. They help you
learn about yourself and who you are.
Most of the time when I wake up, I don’t remember my dreams at
all. They are gone like the
clouds that you describe, blown away by the wind,” Minta said.
“I see many things when I sleep and sometimes
when I am awake, but sometimes they confuse me, too.”
“Give it time, Diego and I think you’ll be able
to understand,” Minta said simply, not knowing what else to say to him
that wouldn’t confuse him further.
He nodded and looked down, studying the picture
some more. “It looks like
a coche,” he finally said, as he got up and walked to the door
and back. His movements
reminded Minta of a caged brisal, a large and powerful predator of the
mountains. In a cage,
its power was only partially understood by those who watched.
Only when it was free could one comprehend its real beauty and
power. She wondered what
Diego was like on his own world, filled with his own memories, a part of
a whole, vibrant society and in control of his actions.
“When we were having the picnic a week ago, why did my eyes see
one world outside and my mind saw another one?”
He had turned and asked suddenly, his green-brown eyes intense
“I don’t know how to explain this, Diego,”
Minta said softly, aching at the frustration and confusion that she saw
in his face. Finally she
took his hand and looked deeply into his expressive eyes.
“Do you trust me?” she asked.
“Yes, I do, Minta,” Diego said fervently,
without any hesitation at all.
“I know where ‘your outside’ is and I am
trying to find a way to get you back there.
You don’t belong here and you are not happy here.
I doubt you would ever be happy here.”
“I might if you could be with me all the time,”
he replied with a coy smile.
Minta’s heart filled with joy at his simple
pronouncement and she smiled in return.
“Thank you, Diego, for your confidence.
I just haven’t figured out a way yet, but I will.”
“Perhaps in one of your ‘commuters?’” he
“No, Diego, it is more complicated than that,”
“I am thinking that it should be… um, figured, that is the right word is it not?” he asked and then continued at her nod, “figured soon. I do not think that I am … I think that one of the other teachers knows how much I know. I cannot act as a new unit anymore.”
“What?” Minta asked, her heart leaping in
alarm. “How can you
“She wrote a great many words on the chart,”
Diego answered. “Then she
wrote on a different paper and put it in her pocket.
As she wrote, she looked at me a lot.
I could tell by her eyes.”
With the beat of self-recrimination in her mind for
so neglecting the progress reports, Minta hastily looked over the past
several days’ notes. What
she saw appalled her. Tris
definitely thought Diego was ready for the next phase.
“Tris wrote this yesterday,” she said.
“You are right, Diego. We
have to do something soon.” She
thought furiously and then jotted down a note to the director.
Her fragmented ideas weren’t much yet, but they were the best
she could think of for the moment.
She hoped Jerintas would get an idea of Diego’s progress,
without becoming overly suspicious of the differing notes or suspicious
of Diego’s real progress.
“Diego, just be ready to do whatever I ask at a
moment’s notice,” she said.
“Of course,” he replied.
Jerintas looked at Gerol with carefully disguised amusement, not wanting to hurt the researcher’s feelings. Gerol was highly agitated now, his eyes filled with anger. “And Tris 385 says that Minta 246’s feelings are more than those of a teacher toward a unit.”
“I read it, Gerol.
I have been keeping up with the reports, all of them. I know what is going on.
I do appreciate your concern, but at the present, I wish to let
Minta continue to teach the Designated One.
She is doing him much more good than harm, no matter what her
feelings are toward him.”
“But… but, Director…”
With a wave of his hand, Jerintas cut off further
argument. “Gerol, you
must trust me. I think I
know what I am doing, at least for now.”
“Very well, Director,” Gerol acquiesced, and
then he turned and left.
Then Jerintas glanced down at Gerol’s other notes
and became very excited. After
so very many setbacks, this was much more than he could hope for. He had long thought that there were other factors beside the
DNA that made the unity of two entities possible.
For centuries, he and his predecessors had sought for just the
right kind of DNA. And they
had experimented, trying to find the right elements that would allow
reproduction, but to no avail. Now
he saw in Gerol’s report something that everyone had missed.
It was more than DNA!
It was also various biochemical emissions in the body that made
opposite sexes desirable to one another.
When the Designated One was in close proximity to the unit Minta
various readings seemed to bear that out.
Jerintas studied the charts closely.
Yes, all of those bio/chemical secretions could be duplicated if
That Minta was drawn to the Designated One in more
than a nurturing way just proved his theory and pleased him greatly.
It also proved they had picked the right alien.
He could see by Minta’s reactions to the Designated One that
the Rantiri may just be ready for the final journey toward fulfillment
of the Deep Directive. While he regretted what they had done, he felt
that the outcome would justify his decisions.
There would have been no way to discover these new findings
without the Designated One. The
Director was ready to see this experiment to the end.
Then as he smugly glanced over the charts one last
time, Jerintas noticed something else--something that caused him to sit
up in his chair in alarm. Checking
the recent blood test results more carefully and then comparing them to
ones that had been performed the previous week, he saw enough to write
an order to have the Designated One retested immediately.
If there was a pattern to what he saw, there might be serious
He continued to work throughout the morning while waiting for the results, signing releases for shipment of units to other worlds, feeling the same disgust he usually felt at sending Rantiri into servitude under alien masters. Then he kept his appointments with representatives from other systems, arranging for even more units to be created and sent away. The negotiations left him feeling foul, more like a breeder sending animals into harsh servitude than the leader of a race of independent people.
Later in the afternoon, he received the results of
the Designated One’s most recent blood test, and with a groan, laid it
down on his desk. Every
wave of guilt he had ever felt concerning the abduction of this alien
entity came crashing back down on him.
First the kidnapping in front of witnesses, then the erasure of
the alien’s memories, then there was the crash of the surveillance
shuttle on the Designated One’s planet and now this.
Perhaps this is the retribution I get for overriding
some of the Ancestor’s directives?
With a sigh, Jerintas looked at the note in his
other hand, the one he had received only moments before Gerol’s
arrival and had left unread until now.
It was from Minta, requesting another day out with the new unit.
She cited his increased learning after his previous excursion as
the reason. Jerintas
initialed his approval immediately and sent it through the instant
electronic messenger service. The
message told him that Minta 246 had figured out Tris 385’s private
notes. From her attachment
to the Designated One, as well as her planned destination for her latest
excursion, it was also obvious that she planned on trying to get him
back to his planet. It
would be very interesting to see how she would accomplish it.
Glancing back at the reports, he thought that if what he had just discovered turned out to be correct, he might want Minta to succeed.