Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: alien intelligences

Something Goes Wrong in Space (Idea) Part II

Last report on Something Goes Wrong in Space:

Here follows a non-chronological account of what goes wrong in space. And how.

Developed by me and Drakekin.


The Point of No Return (Incident T0)

This is the first scene. We start with a slow scene where the ISV Alhambra releases all the pods layer by layer, expertly navigating them through the fine mesh of the honeycomb framework. Our surviving characters are rather solemn, trained not to panic (as the ones who didn’t catch this training have all, ah, panicked and died).

Something humanoid but toadlike floats toward the giant dish, at the centre of which our characters are sitting, watching through thick crystal. Someone squeezes someone else’s shoulder as the thing bumps into the dish with a creaking, clanging sound that is heard through the metal. It climbs down a railing a long way, into the air chamber and closes the door, pressurises the chamber, and goes inside. This is Danetage. Ze deflates into a more human shape, with machinelike sounds, and quickly is presented with hir non-spacesuit and then hugged.

[number of crew awake: 41; sleeping: 220; dead: 419]


Incident T1

Danetage gets hugged, and then scooted off to an ‘interview’ with Solvieg. They’re in the climate controlled area to let Danetage feel as safe as possible; it is unpleasant for Sol, but she does not let that show. Not all of the conversation is shown: some of the time the camera is more focused on the despair of the crew and how they stare at the ‘fish skeleton’ their ship has become. (People shudder at that phrase.) Sometimes the dialogue of the Sol/Danetage conversation is muffled or muted to show the disorientation of the crew and machines. The gist of the conversation is that something went wrong, and if you people at the bridge hadn’t sodded up this wouldn’t be happening.

(Crewmembers who are still in space, die. All the ejections of pods crush them, some flung out into space, others crushed by two different pods, etc.)

The android ambassador ask how they can be of assistance. They are ignored. Kiloyield talks to them about nothingness, which gets grim.

Someone still thinks they can save most of the pods by radio-controlling them to steer toward the planet, and land in the sea (if the planet has a sea, which it might).

[number of crew awake: 37; sleeping: 220; dead: 423]


Incident T-negative-1

Wvera goes back to listening to the ansible and becomes worried it might be infected by That-Which-Speaks. She tries to discuss this with Irving, who is distraught by the fact that they have no radio with Antruth or Danetage, and also the report that the sunsail covering the hole in the deflector isn’t holding still – it’s doing what sunsails do, which is to move. He’s telling some engineers to put the deflector dish to spin to minimise the damage to the superstructure by having sunlight only pass every now and then. It is revealed, however, that he pseudo-remembers That-Which-Speaks’ voice.

Antruth and Danetage arrive at the level of the ship where the cargo spire main control node is. Danetage, while ze still has usable vocal cords and isn’t all blowfished up, asks if Antruth shouldn’t turn the radio on. But it’s a simple thing we’re doing and we don’t need more of that douchetrucks’ ‘jokes’, says Antruth. Danetage puffs up.

They start manually ejecting and restructuring pods to get into the ship. Eventually they are inside and have a double airtight seal and Antruth turns on an atmosphere pod and leaves the spacesuit. They have to keep tetrising the pods in order to move toward the shutting-off-node, which they are aware might have turned into something else once they get there, given the reshuffling of the computer.

As they’re walking through the honeycombs and finding the computer, Danetage – half deflated to speak and manoeuvre – freaks out about it being a brain. Antruth just wants to get this over with. But they’re people! Not more than, say, a fish is. Fish don’t feel pain, ‘Tage. Shuts it down slowly. The ship is still under the impression that they have arrived and it should unload, because Antruth’s radio was off since the joke that was in poor taste, and the bridge can’t control anything blindly. Antruth gets sucked out into vacuum and dies. Danetage finds the airtank and sucks some air from it, inflating hirself, thinking fuckfuckfuck.

[number of crew awake: 43; sleeping: 220; dead: 417]

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Avoiding Translationese (English from Swedish)

Below is a paragraph in Swedish. This post is about translating it. Do tell me if I’m talking out of my arse.

Jag har en teori, en hypotes, en intuition. Det finns ett koncept som människorna kallar ‘Skuld’. Det är någonting som skapas mellan människor var gång en social interaktion utspelas. Många interaktioner är till endast för att skapa skuld för andra, så att Skuldskaparen kan hamna högre upp i den sociala ordningen. Är man ‘i Skuld’ till någon måste man göra denne tjänster tills Skulden är utbetalad, vilken kan ta livstider om inte mer. Kirurgen skapar Skuld när den räddar värdkroppens liv, men om den inte följer protokollet som lagts ut av Immunförsvaret så läggs all Skuld på kirurgen istället. Det vi gör nu är att vi får den att bryta protokollet vare sig den vill eller inte.

I just wrote the above in a story I’m working on. I’ve known that bit will be difficult to translate for a while, so I’m at least slightly prepared. (I write the story first in Swedish and then translate it to English because I’m difficult.)

Machine-assisted translation gives me:

I have a theory, a hypothesis, a hunch. Humans have a concept they call ‘Debt’. It is something that is created between people every time a social interaction takes place. Many interactions exist only to create Debt, so the Debt creator ends up higher in the social order. If a human is ‘in Debt’, they have to pay the Debt off, which could take lifetimes if not more. This surgeon will create Debt when they save the host body’s life, but if they do not follow the protocol laid out by the Immune System, any Debt created is on the surgeon instead. The thing we are doing right now is getting them to break the protocol, whether they want to or not.

I’ve adjusted it a lot, but I still love Google Translate and would like to have its babies or so. However, there is a problem.

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The Anywhere Machine, Appendix II – Telepath Unexplained

On a world called Forest, dread rose from the earth. There was nothing but liquid rock on the planet’s surface. Intelligence grew. Whether this was because of the dread or despite it, does not matter.

The rock cooled down. The planet glowed red for a while and then that too disappeared. There was life already on this boulder. Dread continued to seep up through the cracks in rocks and the space between molecules in the sand and the air. The dread had no audience in space, but one emerged on the planet surface.

A primitive trapcreature evolved: it would wait underneath rocks and dirt to make its move. Fearwarped, it had coated itself with iron, filled its blood. When a fat animal walked over its single sinewy tendril, the trapcreature would turn itself into a spear and spike the beast. It would gain a feast that could last for months. The trapcreature would then be all alone with its thoughts. It thought itself to be alone of its kind, not sure how it had come into being and not that interested. It worked up a coping mechanism for the nightmares: it would talk to the air.

After what felt like eternity in angst, it grew a second spike. With this, the trapcreature entered the category of beings known as receptacles. Because it could communicate with itself – it carried an idea machine – and it could define itself as this communication. Something happened with hir identity. Now hir neurons clustered and televised and spun around themselves, and a forest of spikes emerged from the ground. The trapcreature was still tortured, still alone, but gave hirself the illusion of plentifulness.

The earth still gave hir bad dreams; ze changed the way ze hunted. Its slithery spikes crawled in groups of four, for miles and miles, below the surface, to find vulnerables. Ze would spike them through their limbs, capture them, and eat them alive.

The vulnerables were but little consolation to the terribleness of the dreams. The receptacle trapcreature found that differences in density of air and rock changed the subject matter of the dreams. Ze started creating a map of what dreams were triggered in what places: the first Forest attempt at history.

Ze grew bored of that.

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A Few Plots You Can Have

Hi. Here are a few plots with accompanying titles you can have free of charge. Content warning: it is entirely possible these are all stupid, or at least pulp.


Hidden Profile

genre: thriller

Social media and serial killers – what’s FBI to do when their top criminal profiler, Adam Brundsbury, starts murdering people left right and centre, posting about it on microblogs and otherwise being invisible? Douglas Minth, the man who killed Brundsbury’s daughter, takes on the case at a price the bureau might soon regret paying.


The Scenic Route

genre: sci-fi

Aliens land on Earth, there’s a big party about them not killing us, and then both of the alien ambassadors are shot at point blank range. Still, it seems impossible to find out who actually shot them. Individuals stop existing; they all represent things to the aliens now, as the aliens launch an investigation of their own. Read this cultist conspiracy theory-inducing pageturner and feel the need for more, immediately.


If I Woke up on Earth

genre: historical/religious fiction

Two giants, Hilde and Ann, are awoken at each pole, unaware of each other, in the early middle ages. News travel slowly of their arrival but they eventually hear of each other and realize that they need to meet. However, an old prophecy foresees the end of the word if ever the twain shall meet, and there is kind of a plague breaking out in Europe. Tragic and entirely made up, this story takes us to a magical place that is, like most things magical, a bit uncomfortable.


A Mouth with Three Teeth

genre: spy fiction

Title comes from a powerful metaphor employed in the story. Lyndon Hannover is mistaken for a spy in Soviet Russia, but quickly grasps the Moscow Rules. His old life disappears before his eyes and before he knows it, he’s sitting in a radio tower, freezing to death, trying to decipher the codes with the help of a dead man’s diary. Turns out there’s a third player in the cold war …



genre: dark fantasy

An evil religion is channelling what they call the Imagination of the Watchers, and it seems the Watchers have only destruction on their minds. Gasparde and Viola, two senior priests in the nice religion  Skreeism (which deals in age and is the reason people die), are rejuvenated to infiltrate the Wentelwiekans in apprentix roles. However, when one has been old for 200 years, one savours the fruits of youth. Their love affair threatens the mission and they don’t care, even though the Wentelwiekans are getting closer and closer to summoning the Wentelwiek. They see portals created, whence evil comes, but are having problems caring. Et cetera.



genre: new weird

A world-renown mage challenges another world-renown mage on a duel and then realizes she is going to die in this duel, in what magelore calls a flash. She flees but the other mage is relentless: we follow both the magicians in a cat-and-mouse game all over the fossilized world of old earth, as magic is explained in more detail, and hope and time seem to run out.


Patient Zero

genre: zombie fiction

Trenton is turning into a zombie, despite the antiretrovirals he’s taking. His boyfriend leaves him, his family are concerned. Politicians are thinking of gassing him, to set an example. And eventually he just shoots himself to get it over with. He rises with a groan.

The Anywhere Machine, Appendix II – Telepath Unexplained, pt 2


There is now a followup post to the first instalment of this series! The adventure of this civilisation continues. You should check it out!

(The first one’s here,

The Committee of First Contact

This is a story written a while ago, published as 7 drabbles on my Tumblr blog. I decided it needed a home here.


Every human, any intelligent enough animal, along with some robots, felt it. An intense sensation of fear, glimpses of visions where a gargantuan entity destroyed them and everything they loved and it wasn’t even aware of them. The fear filled all Earth minds – in dreams or in reveries or in lucid thoughts – for about five seconds, before disappearing. There were car crashes and frenzies and brains that just shut down completely from fright. Instantaneous – comparisons of the robots’ timestamps confirmed this – the thing had treated every intelligence on Earth as an ansible and communicated a feeling, perhaps to scare us.

The Committee of First Contact, CoF, was created, to pursue every way they could think of to contact these aliens and to prevent the fear’s reappearance. In machines, the feeling had often been erased from memory, or been too distorted to make sense. However, a super-intelligent surveillance satellite that had shut down in the middle of the attack seemed likely to have some information. Begrudgingly, the government in charge of it let them in. It bore fruit: they found it had two and a half seconds left of fear when they revived it, including a glimpse of a starry sky.

The picture’s every star was classified and a few were identified. Given their strength and their position, assuming a few things like where stars will be in a few hundred million years to the best of our knowledge, the Committee of First Contact found out two places in the galaxy where the fear could have come from: where this scene, no matter if it happened or was pure fabrication, could have taken place. There was no doubt about it, two fleets were assembled and humanity lined up to assist, to reach out to the stars and find the signal’s nexus.

Of the two fleets the Committee sent out, only one would get results. Only one would meet with them, and the brave people who entered the deep sleep didn’t know what group they were went they went down. They would spend an eternity dreaming– to keep their minds useful, keep them from going stale and dull and rotting – and then they would wake up either in empty space, or close to the only other intelligent life in the solar system. They said goodbye to their families if they had them, during the year of preparation, and then off they went.

One would think the fear would go away, but with the fleets gone, the only memory that didn’t fade was the big uncaring monster thing. The public, the people, grew more and more afraid of another ‘attack’. The Committee of First Contact was disbanded, replaced by the Band of Interstellar Warfare, which produced weapons and let minor ships fly out to attach them like legos to the sides of the fleets, giving them an entirely new silhouette and impression. The members of the Committee’s efforts to restore the image of the extraterrestrials were all in vain. Humanity was at war.

The fleet arrived, millions of years before they had planned, for the Band of Interstellar Warfare had attached superluminous drives as well to the hulls of their ships. The humans searched for a habitable planet and found but one, a desolate planet. They landed clumsily, their ships eight times heavier than planned for, and scared the snot out of the local intelligent life form, which broadcasted instant shockwaves of fright, their strongest defence mechanism, throughout the universe. Everyone on the ship struck was dead within seconds, but before they died they saw themselves through the inhabitants’ eyes: big and monstrous.

The fright travelled between the stars faster than the stars’ light, faster than instantaneous: travelling backwards in time. Four or five seconds was all that wasn’t destroyed by the radiation and the speeds, but four or five seconds was all it took. It targeted every one of them, everyone of the beings that had helped produce their terror, and it hit them too well, or not well enough. In the past, the aggravators rusted up for war and set out into space, mounting ridiculously large weapons on their vessels, arming themselves to the teeth. They were now on their way.

New Vignette! The Possession of Mmuti Kaan

A fun thing to do when being out of ideas, is to read your old works and see if any of them hint at something that could hint at being part of a continuity. (Originally, his name was Mmuti Has, but – anglocentrically – I changed it to Kaan, as Has is already a word and in a URL it looks like there’s a cutoff in the middle of the sentence. We can’t have that on this blog.)

So I found this:

(Obviously I am fine with sentence cutoffs in the URL for that blog.) So, this might be a running continuity because of that. Probably not, but one never knows!