Chapter Eight – Simple Simians

Date 6,253,101 B.C.E.

She clung to his neck terrified.  He felt her fingers digging into the skin on his back.  Her face pressed up and under his chin, as if to hide from the sights and sounds around them.  He could barely hold on to her, but in some way, her trembling brought him great comfort.  The flashing of the warning lights all around them was a dazzling effect, and if it weren’t for the klaxon alarm sounding, the lights would have been pretty.

“Come now Simbia – be calm.”  He stroked her back with his free hand; his left arm cradled her bottom as he attempted to hold her.  “You’ve seen these lights before.”  She whimpered and nuzzled even deeper into the skin of his neck if that were possible.  Neomis smiled to himself, and for a moment allowed the simian to cling to him for comfort.  Simbia had been taken up to the space station as an infant along with her mother.  Her mother, still alive, was currently back on the planet, nursing into health another infant she had recently given birth too.  Both these children apes were critical to Neomis and his crew signifying a culmination of study, genetic coding and hope.  Finally the lights and alarm stopped, and for a moment, the absolutely deafening silence startled him.  He reached up to the computer display flashing a small yellow light just above his head, the communicator device.  “Galela, has the elevator been completely disengaged.”

The computer cracked with static for a moment, no doubt an effect of the energy discharge from the activity directly affecting the exterior of the space station.  “Neomis, check, all systems clear.  The elevator has disengaged.”

He bit his lip, reattaching the elevator in next several orbits would be near impossible without direct support from the Mothership on Gugulaania, well they’d have to do the mathematical equations with the smaller computers, and oh forbid, use their own minds.  He smiled a bit and stroked the fur of Simbia gently for a moment.  “Thank you Galela.” He clicked off the communications display and turned to the view screen.  The bright planet below them shined brightly and beautifully.  “Oh Kieaa, you brilliant ball of water.”  The ape he held shuffled beneath his chin and he knew she was looking around the room.  “See Simbia, I told you things would quiet down.”  He pulled her away from his check and neck.  The ape looked nervously around the room, but she no longer trembled.

They had discovered this particular group of simians several years ago, smaller than some of their nearest cousins, but upon discovering them and observing them in their natural habitat in the thick lush forests of the large continent, nearly the largest on the entire planet below, the team realized they were on to something.  The first thought had been to develop a genetic sequence to alter their own codes so as to develop the muscular and skeletal structures better suited for the high gravity of Kieaa below.  This had proven to be difficult and after the first attempt to splice their genes and re-encode them resulted in crippled scientists, they went a different route.  The entire last few thousand years had been about adapting to this foreign solar system.

Neomis walked toward the lab just through a small airlock connected to the observatory he normally worked in.  He closed his nose slits to the stench.  The apes, while quiet nice, still smelled too much of their own skin, their feces, their hair.  Neomis and his people were nearly odorless, their skin shed in large sheets, not in small, nearly invisible scales like these simians.  And the hair, well, he just didn’t know what to do about the hair.  The small robots he employed to clean the lab were constantly sweeping, cleaning, vacuuming, but were never able to really keep up with the hair and skin dust shed by these animals.  He turned back to the small hatch connected between the two spaces, and slowly the door closed.  He entered a code, and the pressure of the space immediately began to increase, matching the air pressure of the world below him.  He then walked over to the to small computer station and entered the code for the artificial gravity matrix to engage.  They had been working very hard to ensure that the apes who were on the station, right now nearly 100, were fully immersed in a climate as much like that of the world below for as long as possible. In fact, Simbia being taken out of the lab and into the observation pod was frowned upon, but he could not have resisted her crying.  He gently allowed her to shuffle into her holding cage, lined with soft cloth.  Fruits and vegetables harvested from the planet lay scattered on the blanket, forgotten in the alarm.

Ah the compassion.  They had studied so many apes on the world below, and this one species in particular seemed to be naturally coded for compassion.  These animals, if they should be classified as such, truly represented amongst the simians found on Kieaa, as much a like acting creature as Neomis’ own people.  Neomis smiled, when they had first started exploring the genetics and behaviors of the animals on Kieaa, they at first were concerned, it was very much observed that many mammals here were focused on survival, categorically only interested in their own group, not interested in exploration outside their familial group.   But these apes had exhibited such tenderness with each other, working in harmony to create a safe haven for their young, their aged. It was a more feminine driven culture, much like his own, well or least the lines between male dominance and female subservience was much less.  In observing so many of the other simians, even the smaller monkeys, they noticed a strongly male driven genetic and probably evolutionary trend.  Based on their own society, these simians, of which Simbia was a member, felt more like kin than not.

He thought of the first simians they had hoped would be recipients of the genetic coding and growth manipulation.  They were the largest group, strong, community oriented but driven and controlled largely by their dominant males.  Neomis laughed out loud as he secured the rest of the cages with apes.  Some watched him brightly, fingers extended through the wires.  He brushed their fingers with his as he passed, thrilled to have this contact with these animals, no, he thought, these children.  His laughter arose from the first time they had attempted to capture the large simian.   They had underestimated the amount of tranquilizer needed to put them into their sleep.  Loading the first large male they had captured onto the elevator then only 20 meters or so above the ground it had begun to wake up. Fortunately it was still groggy, but before they were able to subdue him again, he had nearly destroyed the elevator.  Fortunately the biomechanical suites needed for his people to effectively move and breathe on Kieaa had protected them from his rage, but it took many days of convincing the other scientists to try again.

He stopped and looked back at the small clutch of apes here on the lab.  All these simians had been already modified, genetic, DNA markers unique to his people now encoded on the apes.  They wouldn’t start to see noticeable evolutionary differences for a few generations, and if allowed to take its natural course, likely millions of passes around the system’s central star.  But they would not have to wait so long to share their lives, their history.  His people had long known the process to speed the evolutionary growth and development.  A shame that the breakthrough on the genetic markers in the Kieaa apes had only just been discovered.  The many attempts for years to accelerate their evolution using genetic manipulation had ended horribly for many of the poor animals.  But then the right coding sequence had been stumbled upon, after years of experimentation, trial and error.  The issue had been in sequencing the proteins.  Oh how different were the proteins of Neomis’ people from these animals on Kieaa.  Yet, and that was the excitement, they shared so much in common.  Yes Neomis knew they lacked the hair, and similar skins, but they shared eyes, retinas, noses.   Yes, they were mostly the same, really.  He knew that this solar system was generally young, certainly compared to their home.  These little animals, would, or could very likely become much like his own people in 15,000,000 years or so.

He flipped off the lights to the habitat, set the timer that would change the gravity once he exited.  Glancing over his shoulder he smiled.  Now, to study the method to enhance the genetic changes so as to drive the genetic changes embed in the apes.  The door lock silently closed behind him as he glided back into his observatory.  He could still smell Simbia on his skin and found hairs stuck to his tunic.  He gently brushed them off and sat at his computer.  He flicked a switch and the entire floor seems to disappear beneath his feet revealing the world spinning below him.  He loved the thick glass that sat beneath his feet.  A feature added at his request when the station was first being built in orbit from the Mothership shuttle.  The shuttle still sat docked against the station, but with the suspended particles that sat between the thick layers the glass and the outer transparent metal hull worked to allow the room to be closed to the world below, or now, as he generally liked it, transparent so as to give the effect of floating in space.  He couldn’t allow the lab to appear transparent with the apes in the room; they could not have handled the affect it would have on their depth perception.

He signed and flicked the communicator located in the overhead console, “Galela?”  There was not response immediately, so hit pressed the button again, “are you back?”  The door on the far side of the observatory slide open as if in response.

“Neomis, I am back.  I have been for hours.  Sometimes I think you’re more worried about the simians, Simbia, than any of us here.”  Her lips contained the hint of a smile and Neomis knew she was teasing, mostly.

“It’s the hair.  If only you had that fine coat of hair, then I would be more inclined to pay attention to you.”  He blinked slowly on purpose as she glided across the lab in the gravity free environment.  She glided to him her long fingers outstretched so she would not bump into him.

“Hair?”  She smiled now, fully.  “I’m find it in everything on the station, the purifiers cannot keep up.”  She righted herself up next to him, bigger than he, but somehow appeared more slender.  Her exquisitely long fingers stroked the side of his face as she came to rest.  “Surely Neo, you find me beautiful for the light in my eyes and not the surface of my body.”

He reached up and stroked her fingers, “The light in your eyes illumines this world brighter than its star.”  He pulled himself upright; slouching had become a habit as he had observed it in the apes.  “So the meteor, will it hit the surface?”

She looked down at the world swirling beneath them.  “I’m afraid so, fortunately it will strike in the large body of water, there, that ocean.”  She pointed at the world beneath them.  “It will be near the equator, though I think the damage will not be as catastrophic as first believed, however, the resulting tsunami will affect much of the coast, including ours.”

He looked up at her, surprised she said the word ours.  He looked down, the continent they had been working on, large, was cradled by the equator.  It was a fertile part of this world, green in most places, cutting through its thick forests were many rivers and tributaries.  They had discovered their group of primates inland, just south of the equator and large river. On the north side of the river other primates had been discovered, including the large brutes that they had first experimented with.  “Will it affect our group?”

She shook her head slowly, thoughtfully, “No, I don’t believe so.  There may be some flooding along the river, but since the asteroid will not strike the solid land it shouldn’t create the winter affect we feared. ”  She looked at him closely, “Our people back home, they will be affected by an impact.”  She reached down and typed something on the computer. Suddenly the floor flickered and the bright orange red glow of their adopted home world came into view.  He could see the last habitat city located just south of the equator there.  She typed something else on the screen, and a red dot lighted up just south of the facility.  “There, that is the impact.”

He pushed away from her, gasping, feeling as if he were going to fall through the floor to the image of the world below.  “That’s nearly on top of them.  Is there nothing we can do?”  He felt tears burn his eyes suddenly.

She turned the map off and Kieaa appeared alive beneath their feet again.  “No.  They cannot survive.”  She floated to him, “We can ask them to try to take the last shuttles to the south pole to join the Mothership, but without the habitat, and the loss of power, the lack of water or the resources to make water, they have little chance of survival.”  She reached out and grabbed his shoulders, “there’s more,” she pulled him towards her, “there was major power loss in the central part of the habitat last night, we’ve not heard from them for hours.”

His head jerked up, “What?  Why was I not informed of this?”  He started to push her away.  He floated to the computer communicator again and began to furiously enter the communication codes.  “Neomin, repeat, Neomin, this is Kieaa station two, are you reading me?”  He waited a moment for the transmission to spread out the 55 million kilometers, processed by the last quantum communicator in the solar system.  Nothing.  “Neomin, Normia!”  He was frantic, an unusual state for him.  He looked at Galela, “We must try to reach them!”  He looked at her, eyes pleading, desperate.  For a moment he felt like the simian in the room next door, terrified, powerless, alone.

She reached out to him, “Your mother is the most intelligent person I know, that we know.  She knew the systems were failing as they’ve lost most of the habitats in the region.  I’m certain she had a plan, and this is a temporary glitch.”  She sighed deeply, looking at the world below.  “Neomis, no matter our actions today, they only have a few days left, their world is doomed.”  She did not look at him as she said this.  “We are doomed.”

For a moment his rage, his fear, his grief overwhelmed him, but he followed her eyes to the swirling blue and green planet at their feet.  “Our children, those hairy, smelly little beasts keep our doom at bay.”  He reached up to her, his hand on her arm.  “We will keep trying to reach them, you know I must.”

She smiled, “We knew this would be hard, but here, you and I and the rest of team, and these,” she looked at the animal lab door, “our hairy, smelly little beasts, must now be all we consider.  Once the asteroid strikes we will be hard pressed to reconnect the space elevator, if we can at all without Mothership.  But,” she emphasized feeling him tense, “We have other alternatives, the shuttle is one of them.”

“The Shuttle!”  Neomis righted himself, “we could take it to the home world…….” he tapered off, “but we would be too late wouldn’t we?”

She smiled sadly, “yes, and then to what end, it would be our doom and that of our future ancestors.”  She pulled him close to her, “be strong Neomis, for the future is near and the world is ours.”  She kissed the top of his head, allowing a tear to fall on his smooth cranium, precious water on the home world, here, just another drop amongst many.

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