Chapter Thirty

Body slammed down hard on the floor of the alien ship.


Indeed, we were in some gravitational well. Our accelerometers reported that we were now in an environment that replicated the conditions of the nameless’ homeworld, at least according to most scholars. 2.87 times Earth gravity. 33.1 degrees Celsius. The air was incredibly heavy and wet. Wiki had explained that, in addition to having a thicker atmosphere because of the increased gravity, the nameless air had a high concentration of CO2, making it abnormally dense.

The only way a planet with such a strong greenhouse effect could be this temperature was if it was quite distant from its home star, and the nameless ship’s ambient light level reflected that. There was a faint purple glow above Body, and there were glowing signs on the walls, but it was generally very dark, even if not as dark as the airlock.

The ground under Body was soft. Dirt. It seemed magical to touch dirt while in space.

{How is there this much gravity? What’s causing the acceleration?} pondered Wiki.

{If the nameless have found some source of artificial gravity, it would explain why their ships don’t have a consistent rotation, or a cylindrical shape,} speculated Vista.

{You’re proposing something which violates the known laws of physics! It’s safer to assume we’re just confused!} rebuked Wiki, unwilling to accept the explanation.

{If the nameless have artificial gravity, it implies not just a technological sophistication required to travel between the stars, but an appreciation of the laws of physics that we simply lack. They are far more of a threat than we expected, given this new evidence!} exclaimed Safety.

{First things first,} reminded Heart. {We need to track down and stop Slovinsky from doing any more harm.}

Safety had pulled Body off the black dirt and brushed it off. Behind it was the shimmering curtain of machines, while to either side were walls of stone leading away in a kind of crude corridor. Surprisingly, they appeared hand-carved from rough grey bricks mortared together unevenly. They seemed sturdy enough, but it was as odd to see hand-built stone walls on a spaceship as it was to see dirt floors. The nameless clearly either cared very much about their aesthetic or there was something significant that we were overlooking.

{What if it’s a portal?} imagined Dream.

Body walked forward through the corridor of stone. Above it, the walls ended about 3.5 metres up. The deep-purple ceiling was higher than that, but we couldn’t tell exactly how much higher, due to the lack of texture on it. It could’ve been a featureless sky, for all we knew.

{What insanity are you espousing now?} asked Wiki, rising to the bait.

{What if the silver wall teleported us to the nameless’ homeworld? That would explain the gravity, right?} wondered Dream.

{You’re trying to explain unexpected gravity by postulating faster-than-light travel. Do you have any idea how dumb that is?} criticized Wiki.

{You just wait and see,} thought Dream.

The stone walls had markings on them in luminescent paint. There wasn’t, however, any apparent rhyme or reason to the markings. They were mostly in a faint blue-white, though there was occasional orange-red. They were splashed here and there. Lines, sometimes circles. The paint from the markings often had visible drip-marks. It was weirdly sloppy, as though a child had decided to draw on the walls merely for the fun of it.

The corridor turned, and after a few metres opened up into a broad space. Body’s foot sunk into mud. The ground was much more wet out here.

{A swamp! Fascinating,} thought Vista.

{Technically it’s a fen or perhaps just a mire,} corrected Wiki. {A swamp has trees.}

{And a mire is characterized by peat-forming vegetation. This area is dead. It hardly make sense to use a floral-distinction for a biome devoid of flora,} criticized Dream. {I suggest we call it a mudland.}

The “mudland” was expansive, flat, and lifeless. Here and there we could see large, sharp objects in the gloom, but we’d have to get closer to inspect them. In the distance we could see other walls and even what appeared to be a large body of water. The space seemed impossibly large for a spaceship. It wasn’t that it couldn’t fit on the nameless’ craft, but rather that so much space was wasted. What was the purpose of all this mud?

A structure caught Vista’s attention. Body wandered forward, struggling against the mud, which constantly gave-way under Body’s small, dense feet in the heavy gravity. The structure was taller than the walls, perhaps five or so metres tall.

{It’s a staircase,} decided Vista. {Going up into the ceiling. And yes, it is a ceiling, not the sky of the nameless homeworld.} I could feel Dream’s disappointment. {Looks to be made of metal. Practical, not ornate.}

As Body trudged forward we heard the noise of a motor behind it. Body turned and could see a zeppelin-like drone hovering a few metres back. It looked weirdly crude, but still functional. A prototype, perhaps.

{It’s signalling via radio. Feel the antenna?} pointed out Vista.

{There are other signals here, too,} realized Safety. {Too weak to really make out. Narrow-band.}

The only warning was a high-pitched hiss. The rocket came in from behind Body, only missing due to luck. As it impacted the mud, it exploded, knocking Body down and sending a wave of heat rolling over it. Safety made sure to keep our pistol firmly in Body’s hand, even as we had it climb to its feet. Body was tough. It’d take more than that to stop us.

Safety took executive control, pushing Body into a run towards the nearest of the large outcroppings. We were out in the open. Vulnerable. Body’s legs were highly inefficient in the mud.

I did my part. “Ivan! Is that you? We surrender! We’re not here to fight you!” shouted Body at maximum volume. He had dropped off the com-net before disappearing; there was probably no point sending it over the radio.

There was, however, a point to talking to the nameless. They had to be here, somewhere. I pushed a message through Body’s antenna. “I am here only to deal with the human! I mean none of you any harm!” I broadcast in Xenolang.

Another rocket flew past. It shot out in front of Body, missing by less than a metre. The smoke from its wake blinded us momentarily, but Safety pressed on. The sound of detonation came a few seconds later, far in the distance.

“THE HUMAN EXPLAINED YOUR EVIL BETRAYAL! WE WILL RAPE YOUR CORPSE BEFORE RAPING ALL OF YOUR CHILDREN!” came the response on the radio, reflected through the drone, still hovering behind us, watching our progress. I could see another drone closing in on us, ahead.

Body reached the relative safety of what we could now see was some kind of vehicle, turned on its side and half-sunk in the muck. It was clearly alien in origin, and possessed the same kind of shoddy, hand-built quality as the drone. The only real sign that it was a vehicle, actually, were the wheels, which were huge and set with deep treads. Vista pointed out that the machine had been in combat. It was already badly damaged from explosives.

“I have betrayed no-one! The human lied to you!” I defended.

There was a deep rumbling from the far side of the cover. Safety risked peeking Body’s head out to see. An armoured vehicle, apparently floating on a skirt of air like a hovercraft, was sliding across the mud. Unlike a human hovercraft, the vehicle moved by paddling itself by four evenly spaced mechanical legs. Luminescent paint was splashed wildly on the front. The cockpit of the vehicle was covered in bulky plates, and any driver or passengers were hidden from view.

“YOU are the EVIL COMMUNICATOR that is wrong. THE HUMAN EXPLAINED! The island is united around this. Your confusion doesn’t stop our violent justice. WE WILL PUNISH VIOLENT-YOU!”

“What violence are you talking about?! I’ve done nothing!” I sent back.

A rocket impacted the side of the wheeled vehicle we were behind. The shockwave and a piece of shrapnel slammed into Body, knocking it down. Body crawled behind the truck on hands and knees, and felt at its face. A chunk of metal was embedded in Body’s cheek. If we’d been human flesh instead of composite polymer it’s likely that it would’ve killed us, or at least split our head open. We decided to leave the shrapnel in. There was no sense removing it now.

“You BETRAYED the walker of symbol-287 garden with PERVERT MAGIC! WE WILL IMPREGNATE YOU WHILE YOU ARE IN CHAINS! The human explained YOUR BOMB! Shouldn’t communicate with the pervert machine. Shouldn’t communicate with the human. The human changes this towards SAFETY! EVIL PERVERT HUMANS know BETRAYAL OF THE PEACE is the way towards SUICIDE! WE WILL TORTURE YOU WITH YOUR OWN FERTILIZED EGGS!”

{Can we please remind them that we’re not capable of being impregnated, much less laying eggs?} wondered Wiki. We ignored him.

The roar of the hovercraft’s engines grew ever stronger, but the words of the aliens came in through the radio, not our microphones. “COMMUNICATION SHOULD BE AVOIDED! Communication with PERVERTS lead to EVIL! COMMUNICATION STOPS! COMMUNICATION IS PERVERSION!”

The second voice came in across the com-channel just as the first one did, without indicating source. It was impossible to distinguish one from the other, leading to the possibility that we’d been talking to more than two.

“The island is UNITED! Neighbours shouldn’t fight while the migration is happening,” broadcast the aliens. It was frustrating not being able to distinguish voices. Were they still talking to us, or had they turned to talking amongst themselves?

I did my best to gain control the conversation. “It is the human who has tricked you! He is the invader! He murdered the walker that let him in your ship!” I tried to shape the emphasis of my words as a nameless might do. The program that I was using to directly interface my language control hierarchy with the radio was my siblings’ invention, and this was my first time using it.

There were more noises from the other side of the vehicle, barely audible behind the roar of the hovercraft.

“My community feels CONFUSED! HOW DO THEIR THOUGHTS CONFLICT ON ALL THINGS!? I go to my garden. We support the will of the island to communicate with God. We do not support the will of the island to harm others. WEAK PEACE-PEOPLE FROM BLACK-CASTLE ARE AFRAID OF ACTION! WE WILL CLEANSE THE MACHINE AND HUMAN WITH A WAR MACHINE! THE MACHINE AND HUMAN WILL BLEED WHILE THE WAR MACHINE CRUSHES THESE GARDENS!” It took me a moment to realize that multiple sources were again speaking on the network, rather than a single insane alien.

“Please! The human is the evil! I am good!” I begged. It occurred to me that I really had no idea what I was saying. My thoughts were too human.

{Wiki! Dream! Help me communicate!}

Wiki was no help. {I am very confused. Try and delay them while I get my thoughts in order. There’s too much to process.}

Dream was equally stumped. {“Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than try to convince hostile aliens not to shoot you and remove all doubt.” — Mark Twain. At the point where I come up with a clever way out of this mess I will let you know, but right now I fear that anything we say could just as easily go one way as the other.}

We had three bullets. The nameless were almost into view. We were cornered and outnumbered in hostile territory. Safety began to berate us for the idiocy of ever agreeing to leave Earth. I didn’t bother pointing out that he was also one of the society that agreed and that he wasn’t actually fixing the problem with his mental tirade.

“All people should be AFRAID of VIOLENCE. A BOMB is on our island. If a person kills BOTH alien animals then all possible futures contain their corpse. Resolution of confusion is best.” There was only a split-second pause before the nameless continued chattering away to each other. “All people on the island should have a single plan. CAPTURING IS BEST! OUR WAR MACHINE WILL DESTROY THIS! IF SYMBOL-1021 BREAKS THE UNION THEN IT WILL PROVOKE PUNISHMENT! STOP COMMUNICATING! THIS IS PERVERSION! If a person attacks the invaders then we will rape the person. We should signal to them that it is possible for us to communicate rationally. SWORDS ARE OLD FOOL-WEAPONS but we obey the will of the united island.”

The hovercraft crawled past one side of the fallen vehicle. Body backed up, not making any sudden moves. We could all see, even in the twilight, the muzzle of a cannon pointed down at us from within the armoured cabin. There was a noise from behind, and Body slowly turned. Three naked walker pairs, each standing well away from each other had come around the other side of the overturned truck. Their massive legs held them up just fine, even in the increased gravity, and it seemed that their broad, four-toed starfish-feet were good at distributing their weight over the mud. All three were probably male; bio-luminescent, sharp-tipped penises stood atop their forms, pointing into the sky. I wasn’t clear on whether the leg-animals could be a different sex than the arms animals, however, so it was possible that there were some female legs in the group.

Two of the nameless on foot carried guns that were presumably rocket-launchers. Apparently it was the weapon of choice for the nameless instead of a “normal” gun. They carried the guns on their tops, propped up behind their shoulders, and I could see other arms holding objects that were perhaps rockets.

The third nameless was physically larger than the others, standing about 220cm at the shoulder, and well over two and a half metres with penis included. In his hands were four, thin, curved swords that looked something like those I had seen in fiction about medieval Japan. His arms swayed as he scuttled across the mudland, approaching Body. As he came close I could see two of his tiny eyes watching us intently. Body didn’t move as he came closer, waving his swords threateningly. Eventually the alien came close enough to tap Body and point with a blade. We walked, following his direction. To Safety’s relief, the nameless seemed unaware that we were holding a weapon, and made no effort to confiscate our pistol. We were prisoners again, but our resources for escape were promising.

The nameless spread out as we walked across the mud. The infantry and the vehicles alike stayed far apart from each other. In addition to the legged-hovercraft there was another makeshift machine that seemed to be some kind of nameless tank, which had lagged behind as the nameless had approached Body’s position earlier. The tank, like the hovercraft, appeared to be designed to move in any direction, featuring eight large ball-treads rather than the standard treads on human tanks.

There were several other flying drones, and a few other robots that crawled along slowly on legs or wheels. As we travelled I saw them occasionally, usually avoiding the group and going about their own business. All of the nameless technology seemed to be made out of raw chunks of metal or plastic, cobbled together by hand. Wiki speculated that it was the result of having a non-mercantile, anti-social society. They had technology, but no economy; every artefact was hand-crafted. The mystery of how such a species could build such a fantastic starship remained unsolved.

As we walked with the nameless, the sky brightened slightly, perhaps simulating daytime, or that it was almost dawn. It was still quite dark, but I could see details a bit further away. The aliens almost never spoke. When they did it was usually very brief, and occasionally sparked an objection of “PERVERSION!”. I got the impression that the nameless pretty much universally hated each other. This was an alliance of necessity, but not one made easily.

Wiki, Dream, and the others spent the walking time buzzing with thought, trying to comprehend what was going on. The consensus was that the nameless were confused, and they seemed to think that we were confused as well, particularly around a “bomb”. We were confused, but their assumption of our mental state seemed strangely confident.

Growth was concerned that I had violated one of the principle rules for interacting with the nameless: do not speak unless answering a direct question. With the other minds less paralyzed by the strangeness of the new environment they asserted control of the xenolang channel of the antenna. I was relieved by the reduction in responsibility, and focused my thoughts away from the bizarre aliens and instead onto the one human that was on the ship.

The uneasy walk, flanked on all sides by armed nameless, was blessedly brief. We soon came upon Slovinsky and a gathering of another half-dozen aliens (spaced widely apart) near one of the walled “castles”. I could see a metal door set deep into the bricks, complete with an elaborate locking mechanism.

«Ivan. What a pleasant surprise,» said Body in Russian with a tone of sarcasm. I knew the nameless were incapable of understanding us unless one of us specifically sent a message through the Xenolang translator. In this domain, at least, my siblings were happy to let me take charge.

Dr Slovinsky was still wearing the spacesuit, but his gold visor had been raised, and we could see his inhuman silver eyes, socketed in black plastic, vibrating behind the helmet’s transparent bubble. His face was still flat and emotionless as ever. His jetpack was missing. That was worrying.

«Ah, Socrates. You’re quite resourceful to have come here after me. I thought I locked you in the disc.» I expected his voice to be more emotionless, but it carried a hint of… amusement?

{Do you think that if we just shot him right now we could convince the nameless to let us go?} wondered Safety.

{No!} exclaimed Heart and Growth.

{Maybe,} thought Dream and I.

{That would be an idiotically short-sighted move!} elaborated Growth. {Even if we managed to escape the nameless ship, we’d have to consider the repercussions to our reputation and the potential legal consequences.}

{And it’d be wrong!} thought Heart. None of us paid her any mind.

{I don’t see any damage to our reputation. Slovinsky has proven himself to be an unstable element that is working against us. To not take revenge would give us a reputation as a weakling,} I explained.

{And killing him would give us a reputation as a killer!} thought Heart.

{We need to solve this. Talk to him, Face. No more idle thoughts,} interjected Vista, practically.

«I could say the same to you. I never expected that you’d have a jetpack, or be able to override the airlock like you did.»


I thought I saw a small smile on the man’s lips. «They’re awfully stupid, aren’t they? Violent and perhaps abnormally knowledgeable, but still stupid. Strange that they made it all the way across the stars, wouldn’t you say?»

«They said there was a bomb. What were they talking about?» asked Body, prompted by Safety.

“The machine is EVIL! It wants to PREVENT me from making the bomb safe. It wants to KILL EVERYONE HERE! PROTECT me so I can SAVE US!” broadcast Slovinsky over the radio. His mouth didn’t move; he must have composed the message with a direct brain-computer link.

Safety started to command Body to shoot Slovinsky, but Heart burned all her strength to intervene. The sword-wielding walker charged Body from the side. We could see others start to move.

{At least let me shoot the nameless!} demanded Safety.

Heart didn’t let Safety act, but instead took action herself. With a simple motion, Body looked to its right, raised a hand and shot the onrushing alien in the eye, sending it sprawling backwards into the mud with the almost comical speed of nearly three times Earth’s gravity.

Even before Body’s finger found the trigger we were countering the doctor’s accusation on the network. I could already see the other nameless begin to mobilize. Slovinsky’s earlier words to us were meant to buy time and distract from the issue of the bomb, but they weren’t wrong. The nameless were disorganized fools. We could work with that. This scenario demanded the heavy artillery, so to speak.

Body sent out a barrage of words over the xenolang bandwidth, all with maximum-emphasis: “Communication is perversion! The food-eater is using evil magic! I am like a stalk! I do not eat, even though this human gave me a pervert shape! I am immune to his pervert magic! If you do not interfere, I will make the bomb safe and then murder him as punishment for invading your space! Do not listen to evil words! Retreat and protect your gardens as is right and good!”

Body looked around. Some of the walkers were backing off. Some held their ground. I didn’t hear any response from them. Our words appealed to their innate desires, and they seemed to not want to attack us for the moment. I could see the walker that we shot writhing on the ground, gripping the bullet-hole with a four-fingered hand. Dark red blood pulsed out of the wound.


“Pervert! Human! Your shape betrays your perversion!” I interrupted, broadcasting over his signal. The standard protocol was for me to wait until his message was done, as broadcasting both at once pretty much turned the channel into useless noise, but useless noise was to our benefit right now.

The cyborg doctor took a step towards Body. Safety gave the command to raise our gun and point it at Slovinsky’s head. He didn’t come any further.

«You know, when I first came to Sapienza I thought Naresh was crazy. Artificial General Intelligence was a pipe dream. An endeavour for after uploading became viable…» he said, coldly.

{The doctor is stalling. He’s buying time to let the bomb go off,} warned Safety.

«Where’s the bomb, Ivan? You don’t strike me as the sort of man who has a death wish.»

The cyborg’s lidless eyes betrayed nothing behind his transparent faceplate. «You’re right. I’m not the sort of man who wants to die. If you had stayed out of my way I’d be back on Olympus right now, pulling the bumbling government thugs out of the well. I’d be a hero.»

«Where is the bomb?» I had Body repeat, increasing the severity of its tone.

«Why should I tell you? If you shoot me you gain nothing. I might as well spend the last few moments of my life having an interesting conversation.» I could hear the faintest touches of emotion coming from his suit’s speaker. He was scared.

The nameless watched with alien vigil, not interrupting. Some were leaving. The injured walker was crawling away from Body, still clutching its swords in three of its hands.

“Where is the bomb? Tell me!” we broadcast to the aliens.

They didn’t answer.

{You convinced them to cease listening!} chastized Safety. {If I had strength to burn, I’d punish you for that short-sighted foolishness.}

{It’s done now. No going back. We need to find the bomb. Any ideas?} I asked.

{It’s in the jetpack,} speculated Wiki, and others agreed.

«It’s not too late to go on living, Ivan. I’ve read your book. You could be immortal, but you’d throw it away for… for what? Why are you even doing this?» asked Body, lowering the gun. I shaped its tone to seem pleading. There was a good chance we’d die any moment, after all.

{No! We need him to tell us where the bomb is, not tell us his life’s story!} criticized Safety.

{At this point our best bet is to convince him to help us disarm the bomb. We have very little chance, otherwise. To convince him we need to build rapport,} I countered.

«You read my book? Why?»

«It was interesting. I wanted to understand you. Honestly, I felt like a lot of it was too complex for me to grasp, but I think I got the core message.»

«Then you should know why I’m here.» He paused. «I’m not some mastermind. I wasn’t the one who hacked the station’s computers months ago. I’m not the one who bypassed the airlock security restrictions. I’m not the one who discovered you were going to be a guest of Stephano up here. I am merely a worker bee. A pawn of WIRL. I am the arm of the transhuman collective.»

«This is WIRL’s doing?» asked Body. Images of the avatar with the paper-bag on its head from the interview came rushing back to our memory spaces.

«It is my legacy. The future of Earth. Myrodyn wanted you to be the next rung on the evolutionary ladder. I’m here to ensure that you aren’t, even if it means…» The engineer’s voice trailed out. I suspected that one of his machine augments provided control over his emotional state, but even that was failing to keep him calm in the face of his own death.

«You’re being manipulated! You admit to being a pawn!»

Slovinsky took another step forward. We didn’t raise the pistol again. There was no point. His voice was losing it’s dead character, and becoming emotionally charged. «Of course I’m being manipulated. Not everyone is as selfish as you, Socrates. The cells in my lungs are being manipulated by my brain every time I take a breath! If those cells could talk, would they even resent it? WIRL isn’t just my child, it is the spirit of all humankind! It is my spirit, too. I bend to the wisdom of the collective! Everything I do is for a better tomorrow!»

With this last exclamation the cyborg lunged at Body wildly, trying to close the gap before we could shoot him. Heart was out of Strength. Safety was not. Body’s arms were already pressurized, and in the blink of an eye its hand went out and its finger pulled tight. The bullet hit Ivan Slovinsky in the chest, ripping through his spacesuit as though it weren’t even there.

Safety, with the last of his strength, pushed Body backwards and away from the flailing mechanical limbs of the human. Slovinsky fell hard onto the dirt. His suit’s speaker was amplifying his gasping cries as he writhed on the ground. The crying stopped after just a couple seconds. Wiki was confident that we hit a lung.

Ivan wasn’t yet dead, but he would be soon. None of us cared about dead people. We turned our attention to the nameless. “The evil human has been slain! I tried to get him to tell me where the bomb was, but he was too evil! Take me to the bomb quickly and I will make it safe!”

I noticed that most of the remaining walkers had their weapons pointed at Body. The sword-wielding nameless had managed to climb to its feet and turn so that its wound was on the far side of its body. It swung its blades back and forth menacingly. There was no reply.

“Listen to me! There is no time! Take me to the bomb quickly!

“Is there no magic here? Is the human dead?” came the response. “WE WILL KILL THE EVIL INVADERS!” came another sentence, probably from a different source.

“Yes, I have ended the evil human. It is now safe to communicate.”

“COMMUNICATION IS PERVERSION! The pervert-machine should be BROKEN then these secrets will be learned. THIS IS BEST! The pervert-machine SHOULD BE BROKEN because of SCIENCE!”

No! Please! The bomb is still active! We need to make it safe!

“The machine is confused. The machine is wrong. It’s impossible for the machine to see things related to us seeing things. The machine is currently thinking there is a bomb. The machine has not learned the news.”

{There’s no bomb?} wondered several of my siblings.

“What do you mean? Show us what you see!

{There must be a bomb,} reasoned Wiki. {If Slovinsky didn’t have a bomb, then he wouldn’t act suicidal.}

Growth moved Body to check on the fallen human. The words of the nameless came in over the com-channel. “STOPPING IS BEST! THIS MACHINE looks like A STALK! Children talk of the old meeting. THIS MACHINE WON’T MOVE! ALL PEOPLE FIGHT FOR PROPERTY RIGHTS! There is fighting for a right to the destruction of the perversion of a stalk-machine. Hand-to-hand combat is the best combat. Swords are idiot-weapons. EXPLOSIONS ARE STRONG! THERE IS CLEARING OF THIS PLACE REGARDING PERSON WANTING NO FIGHTING! THE WAR MACHINE WILL CRUSH COWARDS! THE ISLAND-WILL IS THE GIVING OF A PATH TO COWARD-CASTLE TO A COWARD! THIS WAS THE UNITED WILL OF THE ISLAND! ONLY EVIL COWARDS BREAK THE UNION-RULES!”

Many of the nameless, especially those on foot, were scuttling away from the scene quickly. I got the impression that an all-out war was about to erupt over who had the rights to Body. Vista noted that the sky was getting brighter. The “sun” was rising. Body had frozen when the nameless began their yelling again, but even without touching the fallen man we could tell that Slovinsky was dead. There was no hope to be gained that way.

If we were caught in a war zone and “smashed” the best we could hope for would be somehow protecting our mind crystal. We might survive that way and then somehow escape by networking with whatever computers the aliens plugged the crystal into. And that was the best probable outcome. It was quite possible that we’d simply die in the cross-fire. There was no way the nameless would let us run, and we were out of com range of Olympus.

Dream saved us.

His words were broadcast out into the next open slot. “Stop! It was I who used the evil magic, not the human! I have been breaking your weak minds this whole time with evil earth mind magic! I am currently carrying the bomb! The human bomb was a distraction! The human was a distraction! It was I who used the evil magic, not the human! I have been breaking your weak minds this whole time with evil earth mind magic! I am currently carrying the bomb! The bomb is made of invisible gas that I have been spreading across your entire ship! I wanted to break your minds more, but now I am simply going to explode the bomb if I don’t get what I want! You will obey me or you will die!

{What are you doing!?} I asked. Several others had similar thoughts.

Dream projected an avatar of an exaggerated floating head into mind-space. The head laughed with an expression that would surely be classified by humans as “creepy”. {Have you still not understood just how stupid the nameless are? Their minds have no innate capacity for language! Don’t you fools get it?} He was crowing in triumph. {They aren’t capable of processing fiction! How could they? Their minds never evolved to handle words, much less stories. The walker simply knows what the stalk knows and vice-versa. There is no capability for deception in their biology.}

{They believe everything they hear?} asked Growth. I could feel the flows of strength into Dream, from myself included.

{If you pay attention you’ll see! When they hear a message they’re putting an “X thinks that:” before it. That’s why they didn’t believe us when we said the bomb was still active. They thought we were just wrong. But when we claim to be a wizard, they have no way of disbelieving.}

“We WILL DESTROY the machine-person so that the bomb is SAFE!” threatened one of the nameless.

“If you smash me, the bomb will explode and kill everyone!” broadcast Body.

“WHY DOES the machine-person do this? WE ARE CONFUSED!” said a nameless.

Wiki drafted the response which Body quickly broadcast. “I do this because I am an evil alien! You cannot understand my motive! Cast your weapons away and sit on the ground right now or I will destroy you!

The nameless… obeyed. One by one they knelt and then sat, not even realizing their foolishness.