4. The Consortium

Central Oregon Coast, August 2120

Part 5, read all chapters here

The entire room was silent while the woman finished explaining how she and her associates produced a wormhole that terminated in the past. She looked around the table and silently recalled her desire to have the wormhole open onto a world outside of the Solar System so she could meet an alien. Not just a biped, actor in a suit, Star Trek alien, but a real alien alien, representing life-as-we-don’t-know-it.

And now, here they all were: sitting (floating, perching and in some cases sloshing) around this egg-shaped table made of (stone? marble? daydreams??) floating rather mysteriously in the middle of the high domed room, which was also floating- above the Pacific Ocean to be precise- just off the port bow of the geodesic dome.

She looked around the table at the eclectic group of, er, individuals present at the preceding and pondered the sage advice about being selective in one’s wishes.

 A bowl of color-changing moss became agitated and puffed out a few spores that were absorbed by the translator box in front of it.

“Excuse me. I have a question for the human sporing, er, speaking. Miss….” It asked politely and paused to hear her name. The box assigned it a nerdy, Jerry Lewis “Nutty Professor” voice.

“James. Julia James.” The woman answered. The moss continued.

“Thank you, yes, Miss Julia James. Why is it that you and your esteemed colleagues,” the moss’s hue turned from indigo to violet which the translator box interpreted as a nod (and stated so in a different flat mechanical voice that seemed to be the equivalent of an auditory closed captioning), “did not learn more about this extraordinarily advanced and sophisticated technology before you endangered the lives of your team members?” The moss concluded and turned aquamarine to await an answer, which action was translated to the room in the box’s monotone.

Jules turned to her co-worker for an answer and he shrugged and whispered mock seriousness in a French accent.

“It is a very good question, no? Quelle impétuosité, eh Cherie?” He said with a conspiratorial wink. Only the tiny unicorn noticed when she kicked her co-worker’s leg under the table. “Ow!” Jules shushed him and continued uncertainly.

“Mr. Fuuzz, I believe?” Jules began. The moss became a cheerful pink-red. Jules nodded. “Mr. Fuuzz, to answer your question, I would say that although we did not precisely comprehend all the intricacies the underlying technology, we conducted due diligence in our research and maintained the safety of our team. To best of our ability. Um, as well as we possibly could.”

“Quit while you are ahead, Chou Chou.” The bespectacled man whispered. The man in the waistcoat seated on the other side of her squeezed her hand and smiled in encouragement. The unicorn caught this action and effused a pheromone into the room, a scent for satisfaction-in-the-caring-of-one-for-another. It quickly permeated the room and several of the humans began smiling as if watching the denouement of a particularly sappy Hallmark movie, probably a holiday one, most likely in small-town Missouri. The praying mantis’s eyes sparkled like a disco ball and the moss went rainbow. A little tree in a pot on the table started singing in a high, sweet voice. Even Attila looked a little less pissed off.

“Mr. Tiffees!” The arbiter smashed the gavel down. “You will refrain from releasing mood altering smells while we are in session. Is that clear?” The unicorn looked abashed and let out a small whinny of shame.

“Mea culpa, Arbiter.” The unicorn murmured in a sweet voice that the translator decided was a little girl’s. The arbiter rolled her yellow reptile eyes. The participants of the proceeding resumed their normal demeanor. 

“Miss James, please continue.” The arbiter requested. Jules began speaking again.