Ageless: Psytanium by Thomas Arthur
Fiction about ageless impact on humans, living with AI, travel to Proxima B, flying dinosaurs, spirituality and science.
Jerome is a human savant connected to an AI network by a cerebral implant. Edgar is a sentient mechanical being finding new unexpected emotions developing. Ronin is high functioning alien from Proxima B and Tork is an invading commander from another alien species. All four are connected by a powerful field emitted from a metal, Psytanium, mined from the asteroid 16 Psyche by the Interstellar Space Vessel Ageless which carries Jerome and Edgar and its crew to explore the new world of Proxima B.
The humans on board have recently discovered how to conquer old age allowing for such a voyage to take place thus presenting new challenges to life’s risks and cultural norms. Through the eyes of the ships physician, Thomas Landry MD, you will explore a host of characters and beasts as they build a new world on Proxima B.
Excerpt from Ageless: Psytanium © Copyright 2023 Thomas Arthur
Marcus and Jill heard that the meeting at Koremans’ village had been extended for a couple of days. They decided to undertake another trek with Jack, this time to the darker side of the planet. The terrain in the Zone of Lakes was more akin to tundra than tropics. The air was cool, crisp to be precise, calling for warmer clothing, at least for Marcus. Jill, being a DOL, dressed more for utility than body heat, a function automated within her programming.
“Jack said we’ll need some mountaineering gear. I’m so looking forward to this!” Marcus found all his treks to be thrilling adventures that were impossible to replicate in the Sim. After all, reality can’t be simulated.
After assembling the necessary gear in the workshop, the trio of explorers headed to the TTV parked in the transport bay.
“I’m driving today, Marcus, you don’t get to have all the fun!” Jack nudged Marcus.
“Sure, you fix what you break,” Marcus grinned and winked at Jill. Driving the TTV was no easy feat, but Jack was up to the task. “Just don’t hit the big red button, for God’s sake!”
Jill loved the transport orb the Proxlings provided. All the colors and lights flew towards the operator like sparks. She never grew accustomed to it. And it was quick, never a long transport, twenty minutes at most. The Ageless transport, by contrast, would take several boring hours at best.
Bathed in the red glow of the sun, the TTV unloaded from the orb, and Jack leapt into the front seat. As the turbines revved up, they took off at full speed, dodging lakes and wildlife. The TTV was airborne as often as it was cutting through the tundra.
“Holy crap, Jack, we’re in no hurry!” Marcus exclaimed, gripping his seat.
Jack just laughed. “I love this thing!”
He stopped abruptly at the edge of a steep cliff, with light snow falling down to the valley below. A river at the bottom was thrusting tons of water through turbulent rapids.
“Wow, Jack! Nice pick!” Jill exclaimed, unloading the gear.
Part of the adventure was the use of primitive tools: ropes, clamp-ons, pulley buckles, and straps. The ropes, made from a metallic weave of nanocarbon tubes, were incredibly light yet strong.
While Jill and Jack prepared the gear, Marcus wandered to the edge to get a closer look.
“Be careful, Marcus…” Too late. A slice of ground beneath Marcus gave way, causing him to tumble over the cliff edge. “Marcus!” Jack yelled, running to the precipice. But as he approached, he heard laughter. Marcus had donned the flight suit Edgar had built for him. Jill knew the prank Marcus was pulling on Jack as soon as he went over the cliff.
“Dammit, Marcus!” Jack shouted, knocking him to the ground as he landed softly next to the TTV. Rolling on the ground, hysterically laughing, Marcus had tears in his eyes.
Barely able to speak through his laughter, Marcus managed, “Sorry, sorry,” but all I heard was “Marcus!”
“Okay, okay, you got me! Any more tricks? My number one objective is keeping you alive! I’d like to know before we go any further that I won’t have to question that outcome!”
“I’ll be good, I promise.” Still trying to catch his breath, Marcus stood and dusted himself off.
The three of them tied their ropes to the TTV and descended down the steep cliff, with Jack in the lead, knowing the best route down. Mist rose from the river due to the cascading rapids.
As they reached the river’s edge, Jack began collecting wood. “Don’t stray too far, guys. We’re not in a Predatory Zone, but there are plants and animals that can cause you some pain.”
Marcus took Jill by the hand, and they walked downstream along the river’s edge. Once out of Jack’s sight, Marcus pulled Jill close and kissed her on the lips.
Jill returned his affection and hugged him tightly. “I would have killed you if I didn’t know what you were doing on the cliff, you goof!”
“That’s why I love you, Jill. You know me better than anyone else, and for some inexplicable reason, you can’t do without me!”
They walked a little farther. “Stop.” Marcus froze in his tracks. “What is it?” Jill wondered if another one of Marcus’ pranks was about to unfold. Then she saw them. Two large cat-like creatures with striped fur were stalking them, planning an ambush further down the path. For a moment, Marcus and Jill didn’t move. Then Marcus said, “Slowly back up and stay at my side,” but as soon as Marcus took his first step, they charged.
Marcus pulled Jill into him and activated his wrist-deployed electrical field. The creatures landed atop the field, growling, then rolled over and landed on the path back towards Jack.
Hearing the commotion, Jack ran into the path of both cats, who immediately turned to him. Raising both hands in their direction, he took an aggressive stance and yelled a command in his native language.
They both slowly approached Jack. One affectionately rubbed against his leg while the other licked his hand. This time it was Jack who started laughing hysterically.
“These are my pets. They’re not predators. You’re not the only one who knows how to pull off a prank. I told them you would be coming and to scare you but cause you no harm.”
“You bad boys, scaring Jack and Jill like that,” Jack chuckled, getting on his knees to hug and rub the creatures that had so recently terrified Jack and Jill.
Jill punched Marcus on the shoulder. “I didn’t jump off the cliff, Marcus did!”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Jack shrugged, “but come and pet them, they’re truly harmless.”
Marcus and Jill cautiously approached them, and the large cats purred and rubbed against them.
Jill was still upset. “You guys always leave me out of your pranks! I was just an innocent bystander!”
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