Many Worlds Chapter 58
Robin did, in fact, come to see Jules. However, she started the conversation in a way he wasn’t prepared for. In fact, it seemed like a pretty normal topic. “Hey, Jules, how old would you say this library we work in is?” she asked, but in a rather serious manner instead of just conversationally.
Jules thought about just throwing out a number. After all, he didn’t know. He didn’t recall any information about that in anything he had seen. However, since it was a serious question, he thought about it for a moment. It had been a while since he’d done that. He didn’t know when it started, but he knew it had been well under way when he’d started working here. However, he wasn’t sure if it had always filled at the same rate. What time points could he use to extrapolate? Then, Jules thought of one thing. He looked up the date to be sure. “I’d say… about fifty years. Maybe a bit more.”
“… How’d you know that? The information isn’t published anywhere I can find. You found it with just a quick search?”
“I guessed. You sound like you know.”
“Well it’s… it sounds like a scam or something when I use the word… let’s just say I can tell how old things are. What did you use for your guess?” She gestured to his handheld computer. He didn’t need it for sorting books anymore since he could use his special abilities, but he did need it for access to the internet, and it was easy to keep it with him. He turned the screen and showed her the information he had looked up. “… Mars? I don’t get it.”
“Hmm… how do I explain this… What do you know about the last Mars mission?”
“We sent people to Mars to start a colony, but they failed to succeed or return. Previous missions were better planned and more successful, though still failed. The last one was rushed out… a bit more than 50 years ago.” She stopped to think. “I still don’t see how it’s connected.”
“Hmm… I suppose it’s not something that’s easy to figure out. I was just told, after all.” Jules paused for a moment, stroking his chin. “Why did they sent that last group? There wasn’t any new technology to make it work.”
“I don’t know,” Robin shrugged, “Why does the government do anything?”
“I’m not sure if I can answer that question in specific, except for ‘for a reason’. For all that they might be inefficient with resources, they don’t like to waste money in public spectacle. The previous missions had plenty of prep time and a high estimated probability of success. This one was rushed because…”
“Do you want me to admit that I don’t know? Because I don’t. They didn’t even send back any pictures.” Her eyes lit up. “Are you saying they found something? Maybe they already knew it was there… But then… hmm…” She sighed. “It sounds like a conspiracy theory though. Any evidence?”
“Herbert told me, which doesn’t sound very convincing. However, how else would we get these?” He held up his wrist.
“Oh! You almost made me forget the real reason I came here. What’s going on with that? Why can I use my ability from the game here?”
“I mean, it’s probably pretty obvious by now, isn’t it?”
Robin sighed again. “I just wanted to look into alien history in a game. It was going to be fun.”
Jules smiled. “It can still be interesting, once we figure out how to look into it. We just need some key information…” The two of them spent some time talking about how they might do that, before heading back to work… They had to at least do some of it.
Back on Uesmeth, everyone stood in front of the lone computer they had found. “What we really need is some kind of spoken alphabet, and maybe some kind of visual representation of some things. Like… a picture book. Or something.”
Everyone nodded. Robert spoke next. “So, I can somewhat communicate with technology but I don’t ‘speak this language’, is the easiest way to describe it. Jules has the ability to ‘Request Data’, which is a strange ephemeral idea that still often works. However, it might not necessarily be language dependent. It’s hard to tell. However, since it generally only works on things you can observe… it doesn’t really work with technology. Unless you know exactly what you are searching for, in which case you can just use that feature in the computer.” He paused to scratch the back of his head. “I was thinking we could try to combine our abilities somehow.”
“Well… I don’t see why not. We can certainly try.”
So they tried. They tried many things. Jules thought about channeling his ability through Robert. Robert thought about sending Jules’s request to the computer. There wasn’t any reaction. For the sake of determining something knowable, Robert pulled out a small vial, again filled with nanobots. Well, filled was the wrong word, since it was mostly empty. It merely contained some that looked like a few grains of sand or dirt. Robert had a general idea of how many there were, but that was all. Jules attempted to find out, and also got an approximate. Then, they worked together. Together, they actually got a solid number. In the end, it was as if Jules filtered all of the almost subconscious data that Robert could receive to achieve that result, whereas alone Jules had basically just calculated based on approximate sizes. At least they determined they could actually do something together. They went back to their attempts on the computer, but there was no result. Perhaps it didn’t recognize Robert’s authority, or perhaps it still had the ‘language’ barrier. Regardless, they spent hours to no effect.
Then, a voice spoke. “That won’t get you anywhere.” It was Herbert. His voice sounded somewhat… detached. Or perhaps intentionally neutral and toneless, unlike normal. Then a sound like a sigh was projected out of the wristbands. “I’ll only say this once, so pay careful attention. What you want to try is-” As he said that, a word Jules couldn’t even begin to pronounce was spoken, but at the same time the letters that formed it appeared in his head. He quickly keyed them into the computer. Then, a voice spoke from the computer. Jules didn’t understand what it said, but the entire layout of the screen changed as well. It looked like some kind of selection system.