Save the Whales
Echo-1 (The Whale): Part 12
I swam over to the boat and pulled myself out of the water. Shaking like a dog, the wetness flung right off my body and clothing. The boat was similar to the ground vehicle that I had ridden in earlier. It was flat and floated in the air just above the water. It had no apparent engine. It was larger, stacked with equipment, and had a small control room at the back. There were four life forms just like me on board. Two walked up to me, immediately.
“Hi, hello there,” in a German accent.
“Call me Werner and this is Forklift, over there are Sunshine and Tim.” Werner gestured to the cabin.
I knew right away who they were, their matching red Save the Whales jackets said it all. They were once humans in the Echo-1 simulation too. A group of four who were crushed to death below a Japanese whaling boat. Jonas was so touched by the selfless act in defense of his kind, he brought them aboard and gave them a second life on the Banga. He already knew they would give their lives for whales.
All four looked nearly identical to me and Sunshine was a spitting image of Dixon, but with two big braids of blond hair hanging down from under her cap. I started to realize I was the most generic of my kind. Werner had shaggy brown hair and a very large beard, which I didn’t think was possible. My face was completely smooth. Forklift was slightly smaller and squat with no hair at all. Tim had enhanced eyes in the form of permanent tinted goggles and he had webbed hands and feet. I noticed Sunshine did too.
The Save the Whales gang was generally tasked with menial jobs out on the sea of Tranquility, which they all loved. They were a very jovial bunch. They all talked at once.
“Did you see the sleeping pod? Fantastic, no?”
“The great pillars of the deep.”
“We live for the whales.”
“We’re their keepers.”
“Do you think Vronsky and Veronica have a thing going on?”
“What did you do when you were a human?”
“Have you met Anger yet? Dr. Death?”
“Those guys are crazy, they don’t even care about these animals…”
“I love animals.”
“Cindy loves animals too.’’
“Don’t you think Jonas is the best?”
“Isn’t it fantastic to be here?”
“Did the Beluga touch you?”
“What about the Narwhal?”
“Pass me that hatch cover.”
“Dixon said you were cute, but I don’t know, you seem a little ordinary.”
“Is your name really Hands?”
I let their comments wash over me like the waves beneath us.
The Save the Whalers were a separate mini unit and had their own ranking system. Tim was clearly the captain, Werner the first mate, Forklift was the one man crew and muscle. Sunshine, well, she lived up to her name.
“I’m the diving expert, in case you’re wondering.” Her smile lit up the sea. “I’ve done over 1000 dives with the whales.”
Sunshine spread her webbed fingers in a warm-hearted wave then glanced down at her bare feet and wiggled her webbed toes. I was jealous with my solid shaped toeless doll feet.
It was a six-hour trip to the airlock and they suggested I take a nap, that the ship was big and traveling around it can take its toll even on hardy synthetics. I sat in a seat at the bow of the boat. Sunshine was singing an old 50’s song about lollipops when I drifted off to sleep.
About life as an artificial life form; it can be rather similar to that of a human. As we are life forms, we have all the major pitfalls of life. We can die, get sick (though this is incredibly rare), and age though for us it is more of a breakdown. We eat, though not very often as we can ingest food fuels that are perfectly modeled for energy and efficiency. When we eat with perfection we fully metabolize the material so we also have fewer waste products to expel.
In general we are perfected humanoid machines based on forms that have successfully evolved in space. We don’t so much feel pain as we experience sensations that compel us to act. We are aware of things that would damage us. We are far stronger and agiler than humans. We’re fast to move and think. Our vision is infinitely more complex and powerful, and that really goes for all our senses. We also possess abilities that would seem like telepathy but are really advanced forms of communication via our internal mechanical parts. We interact with technology in an almost fluid manner. We can control devices like they were part of us.
Image how it feels after many years of driving a car, out on a long cross-country road trip. You and the vehicle are almost like one. You feel the road through the tires, you move almost unconsciously in directions you desire. Our ability to interface with technology is like that to the extreme. Our actions or desires are interpreted and implemented instantaneously. We ourselves are part technology, our ability is not second nature, it is what we are.
I fell asleep for the first time in my new body. A myoclonic jerk startled me back to reality. I was on a boat, floating over a sea, in a spaceship heading to a wormhole, fifty years travel distance off the first arm of the Milky Way. A brief reality check and as I closed my eyes again that feeling of free fall returned to my mind. This time I embraced it. I slept soundly for the remainder of the voyage and I dreamed of miraculous fish, in all the colors of the rainbow. I was swimming with them through an endless ocean. When I woke it seemed I was somewhat aware of the journey and what was going on around me. I opened my eyes and smiled, very happy that in this incomprehensible new reality I still had a dream world to go to. Dreams are a true sign of sentience.
I stretched in my chair and watched the crew loading containers that were stacked next to the dock. I got up and walked off the boat, looking back I saluted Tim who was in the control room. He nodded in return.
Werner and Forklift were stowing the boxes.
“Why is it you always make me lift the big ones?”
“You are stronger than I am.”
“But we are genetically identical and built to the same specification.”
“Well, maybe it’s a mental thing?”
As I approached the airlock to exit the sea, Sunshine stepped through.
“Someone fun is waiting for you.”
She smiled, smacked me on the butt, and rejoined the crew aboard their space boat.
I went out through the airlock exit and there she was, X, standing on the side of the road completely naked.