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Pirates for Life

androgynous person in dramatic costume

[by Ingrid Garcia]

 

Andro Gyne’s shape-shifting glitter suit was running at full throttle as be floated through the corridors of her kleptocracy’s Piercer of the Void. The outfit flowed from ballerina outfit to ball gown, from skirt to skirt suit to tuxedo with a fluidity that matched Gyne’s effortless traverses through the sexes. On top of that, the patterns displayed by the shape-shifting  fabric (the latest high-tech haute couture from Fashonista’s force de fracas line) suggesting, yet making it impossible to see what morphed most: the system-famous bimorph performer, ber costume, the display on ber outfit, or all at once.

Even better, the staff captain, who was a fan, had given Gyne control of the screen real estate within five metres of ber—on interplanetary cruise liners, the corridors were wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling displays—so that be merged even better with ber environment.

After the transformative Sailing the Seas of Solar during a rare Venus-Earth-Mars conjunction, it was time to devise yet another paradigm-shifting performance. While Gyne arose from the event victorious, with raving critics and sales going through the stratosphere, the truth was that the system-famous bimorph was spent. Tired to the bone, brain overloaded, despite ber lifegage being the most expensive in the system. Time to change the scene and hopefully find inspiration along the way.

They think the Origami Solar Sail evolving under my performance during flight is the apotheosis of my career, be thought, well, I’ll show them Andro Gyne has not ran out of juice just yet.

Gyne flowed through the cruise liner’s broad corridors, a prima donna donning primary colours, the diva in ber prime as prime mover as the circumstances, ber mood and the interactions dictated. The corridors—within their five metre limits—bowing to ber will, as well. It was almost as much fun as performing.

A hollow thud broke through ber projected reverie, followed quickly by the general alarm. THIS IS NOT A TEST, the comm announced, WE ARE UNDER ATTACK. ONE AIRLOCK HACKED, STRANGERS ENTERING. DON SURVIVAL EQUIPMENT AND HIDE IN YOUR CABINS. REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A TEST.

The announcement came too late for Andro Gyne, as be was approached, from each side of the corridor, by masked strangers disguised as pirates. Be flung ber arms wide and said the magic words:

***Live, Video, Action!***

As the two camera swarms explode from my hands, this shall now go live on the system-wide net, with the inevitable light minutes lag. Three pirates in front of me, and three behind, but the corridor is still in my control, I subvocalise to the event footage, they will regret this.

“Catch me if you can,” I say out loud, and unleash the full power of illusion upon them. Pixel-perfect copies of me pop into existence everywhere in the ten-metre length of corridor under my command. Then, during the first moments of disorientation, I jump from doppelgänger to mirror image to poltergeist, rendering my true position a one-in-a-hundred guess. Hopefully, I only need to keep this up for the short time until help arrives.

“Launch the pixel dust,” one of the pirates says, and from two sides a blackening cloud closes in. The all-absorbing dust motes block the light from the corridor’s pixels, slowly destroying my illusion of not seeing me for the forest of myself. My fireworks fade out, eventually just leaving me, myself and moi in the pirates’ torchlights.

The damn pixel dust even disables my camera swarms, robbing this life performance from its deserved audience. Adieu, my fans, do not let me go gentle into that good night.

The kidnapping of Gyne hit the headlines, system-wide. The Rayeon government on Titan vowed to find the perpetrators. In reality, they were occupied with rebuilding Saturn system in the aftermath of the massive interplanetary war. Troops parading through the A-ring trying to find the Gyne needle in the immense ice-clump haystack—there were several million of those so-called ’propeller moonlets’ where Gyne’s kidnappers could hide—were more direly needed for restoration. Silently, the Rayeon government gave priority to helping its destitute people above finding a multi-trillionaire artist.

As Gyne remained missing, the headlines moved on to more pressing news—reports of increasing activity of rogue ex-Feydar government troops, refusing to surrender, in the Asteroid Belt; another biotech company claiming to have copied (or even improved) SyntMoon’s life elixir; the floating Fractal Forest on Venus receiving independency for services rendered during the war; SyntMoon raising the price of their elixir doses, claiming increasing inflation and the current, volatile economy—as Gyne’s abduction drifted out of the public eye.

Not even ber management seemed particularly concerned, as they kept turning down offers of help from extremely worried fans, stating that ‘the situation will sort itself out’. It was more than a number of highly fanatic—some of them very rich, with many connections—Gyne followers could bear.

A secret fan base was formed—the Friends of Andro Gyne—aiming to locate the pirates who kidnapped the bimorph diva (the footage be sent of ber abduction was studied to the pixel and to the picosecond) and then liberate ber.

Huge sums, sufficient for several long-term lifegages, were spent to hire the best private detectives. For months, these combed the A-ring, with its millions of propeller moonlets, without success. Gyne did have a locator on ber, but it only had a range of a few kilometres. Hence, scanning all the A-ring’s eleven point six billion square kilometres seemed impossible.

Then one of them had a brainwave and set up an addictive game with a Ponzi scheme involving magic mini-satellites. These ‘magic mini-satellites’ interacted with the ContactGlobes that were de rigueur those days, and would display its owner’s status through a rainbow colour scheme:

    • red = you have 100 links;
    • orange = you have 1,000 links;
    • yellow = you have 10,000 links;
    • green = you have 100,000 links;
    • blue = you have 1,000,000 links;
    • indigo = you have 10,000,000 links;
    • violet = you have 100,000,000 links;

In the beta stage, the very first magic mini-satellites—extremely light, they would hover above the CoGlo like a ghostly moon—were sent to people who had already cast a large social net. They received ten other magic satellites together with their own, and were told to send these to their ten best friends, with the following instruction:

If you receive this magic satellite, register its unique number through your ContactGlobe. You will be sent ten new ones, which you can send to your ten best friends. On top of that, we will pay one cent in your CoGlo account per magic mini-satellite that you send and that is successfully registered. Also, for every magic mini-satellite that is registered through your ten ‘mother satellites’, you will get one cent as well. The more your magic mini-satellites spread, the more money you will receive.

But you have to keep your magic satellite active by linking it at least once a day, so you can see the numbers in your chain grow, and, if all goes well,the colour of your magic satellite change.

Do not break the chain!

The production cost for the many million magic satellites was, in that day and age of full-on automation, negligible (even if the posting costs were not). More importantly, each magic mini-satellite contained a receiver tuned to Gyne’s unique transmission code. If one magic mini-satellite received Gyne’s code, it would report it when its owner ‘updated’ it through her ContactGlobe.

The Ponzi scheme worked as the magic mini-satellites became a hype, even if only a short-lived and costly one for the friends of Andro Gyne. Within a few months, as some of the very first magic mini-satellites were jumping into violet, hits came in. After sufficient hits triangulated the interplanetary diva’s location, the Friends of Andro Gyne hired mercenaries, and made plans for ber liberation.

The hostage did not notice ber liberators, busy as be was composing. Sitting behind a four-keyboard set-up, Gyne sang ber heart out as the keys be played launched a multitude of instruments. Ber voice soared in all its indefinable glory—a low contralto? a high baritone?—as be tried out a new chorus:

eternal night is coming down— Five staccato cello bow strokes, launched by ber right ring finger;

Followed by a crash of cymbals and a wall of trombones (left pinkie and index finger);

down, down, down— Five beats on a quintet of kettledrums (thumb), added to the five cello strokes;

Break: celestial tubular bells (ring finger) are added to the crashing cymbals and towering trombones;

leave before we drown— Five staccato violin bow strokes (index finger) added to the five cello and timpani surges;

Then the section climaxed by adding a taunt of tubas (middle finger) to the crashing cymbals, wailing trombones and celestial tubular bells, and restarts;

The mercenaries stood still, baffled, awaiting orders. The Friends of Andro Gyne accompanying them were in a state of squee, their idol was composing a new song, and it was incredible, an indelible impression, the delectable diva was not only alive, but in top form. Gasping in flabbergasted awe, they fell back to silent admiration mode. Until one of them found bis voice.

“Andro, we are here to liberate you.”

“Liberate me?” Gyne said, “Are you crazy? I’m having the time of my life.”

“But,” another Gyne admirer was slowly coming to bis senses, “you’ve been missing for almost eight months.”

“I appreciate all the trouble you went through to find me,” Gyne said, “but I thought the subtle hints my management gave you were clear enough. I didn’t want to be found.”

“But you were kidnapped.”

“Sure I was, and it was a hell of an adventure,” Gyne said, “but once I truly understood my abductors’ motives, I agreed to remain hostage.”

“By all the beauty of Sailing the Seas of Solar, why?” One of ber friends said, “All your fans are worried sick.”

“Admittedly, staying in the news while doing basically nothing was a great side effect,” Gyne said, smiling, “but my kidnappers—I prefer to see them as modern pirates—wanted to make an extremely important point.” Gyne waved her signature ‘big S,’ silencing her fans because be had to announce something important. “I take it all of you have a lifegage of some kind?”

Ber fans and the mercenaries nodded in unison.

“Exactly. Each of us, me included, are tied to SyntMoon’s might. Rare are the few that refuse these chains and choose a shorter, much shorter life instead.” Be started moving in the tentative, slow-motion dance of micro-gravity, a performer with the urge to perform while emphasising something vital. “In this aspect, I think Feydar was right.”

“Feydar?” This shocked another of ber fans out of bis silence. “The warmonger? The genocidal maniac? Who ran pogroms against ‘sexual deviants’ like you and me?”

“Like everybody, I know what an absolute bastard he was.” Gyne’s movements seemed to express languor, acceptance and then insight. “But even the biggest bastard is sometimes right. Our addiction to SyntMoon’s life elixir has made us, the human race, complacent. In this post-scarcity society, time has become the most valuable currency, on which SyntMoon has the monopoly.”

“I don’t understand,” the fan said, “Who Doesn’t Want to Live Forever was one of your greatest hits.”

“I was young, naïve and didn’t see the price of immortality,” Gyne admitted, “while Feydar did. In this particular matter, he was right. Because we are all addicted to the life elixir, humanity is not taking the next step, and travel to the stars. With current propulsion systems, a trip to the next star will take almost two centuries. Nobody, without SyntMoon’s elixir, will live to see the end of the trip. SyntMoon won’t give it to an interstellar expedition, as it’s making a killing right now. And nobody wants to die on an interstellar trip while they have a shot, through SyntMoon’s crippling lifegages, at immortality right here in our solar system.”

“So we should use Feydar’s cryogenic techniques, with their much, much higher failure rates, to cross the interstellar gulf?” The fan remained sceptic. “Then hope we will wake up at the other side, like a Sleeping Beauty being kissed to life by a system with inhabitable planets?”

“No, not with his cryonics, which he didn’t invent, but rather was the first guinea pig for—but with his propulsion system. In the meantime, support the pirates, as they are trying to extract, and subsequently reverse engineer, SyntMoon’s life elixir. Right now, I am the guinea pig for that, as I use the most expensive version.”

The cabal of friends expressed their unbelief in a cacophonous simultaneity.

“This is madness.”

“Nobody’s been able to extract the life elixir’s secret. Nobody.”

“The forces that be will never allow it.”

“The interstellar project is just too big. It almost bankrupted Jupiter system.”

Gyne tried to answer the last one first. “It didn’t bankrupt Jupiter system, rather the contrary: it revived it. And basically, it succeeded as the Bifröst is now underway to Tau Ceti. Thankfully it drew away many resources from Jupiter’s war effort, as Feydar’s trust in his kamikaze AI-fighters was absolute.” Gyne mimicked a grand jeté. “Such a project is precisely what this post-war society needs.”

“It’s too big,” one of the fan friends said, “the whole system needs to be behind it. Good luck with, as you said, finding people willing to leave the life elixir behind.”

“That’s what we’re working on,” Gyne said. “By studying me, doped to the gills with SyntMoon’s top-of-the-line elixir, these ring scientist researchers are now on track to produce a life extension treatment. Not as good as SyntMoon’s elixir, but they have good hopes of giving an extra one hundred years to the average person. They will make it open source, and if it works, everybody will get an extra century.

“Not only is that enough to get people motivated for the next interstellar project, but just think of what scientific advances may happen in the next one hundred years. Especially if people see that it is possible to produce a viable life extension treatment without SyntMoon, whose immense richness and power has been actively suppressing further research in this area.

“Obviously, we can still die through accidents and murder. But now we can truly start to set up interstellar travel, and spread through the galaxy, and beyond.

“That is the theme of Dancing on the Edge. As eternal night threatens to overcome humanity time and again, humanity stays just out of reach. Until it overcomes the limits of life, and sets out for its interstellar future. Thanks to the Pirates for Life who kidnapped me.”

The Friends of Andro Gyne received this news with mixed feelings. Some were hopeful, some were having many reservations, most just wanted their star back in the spotlight. Since Gyne was obviously working on ber next big project, most were willing to wait. Promising they’d keep the real story behind Gyne’s kidnapping to themselves until the great reveal of Dancing on the Edge, the Friends of Andro Gyne and their hired mercenaries eventually left.

*—newsflash—*

Saturn A-ring Research Labs looking for volunteers to test life extension treatment.

[Headline from the Reuters Interplanetary News Channel, July 23, 2208, 16.01 EGMT]

*—newsflash—*

Exclusive Report: Andro Gyne voluntarily co-operating with ber kidnappers in their effort to develop new life extension treatment.

When the Friends of Andro Gyne formed back in 2206, they set out on a complicated quest to locate and liberate the system-famous performer. When they finally located the venerated artist—after an epic search through Saturn’s A-ring, at a tremendous cost—they were flabbergasted to find ber composing a new performance, staying with her pirate captors after be sympathised with their goals. [. . .]

[Leading Article from the Jupiter Herald, January 4, 2209, 08.05 EGMT]

*—newsflash—*

Interstellar Talent Agency does not admit to having any knowledge about Andro Gyne’s real whereabouts.

Boss Wilmets, the impresario of the Interstellar Agency exclusively in charge of Andro Gyne’s performances, is—in his own words—‘as surprised as anybody else’ about reports stating that the missing diva is alive and well somewhere in Saturn’s A-ring, happily collaborating with her kidnappers in their quest to develop a new life extension treatment, and supposedly even composing ber next masterpiece.

“What do these rumours say? Andro Gyne is behind a scheme to develop a better version of SyntMoon’s life elixir? Be is also the mastermind behind an interstellar project? Maybe ber next performance is an interstellar project? While we, of course, deeply respect ber talent, isn’t that a bit much for a mere space opera composer?”

“While we appreciate the efforts of the Friends of Andro Gyne in trying to find ber—we even donated to them—to the best of our knowledge our beloved superstar is still missing, and we are sincerely worried that rumours like this might have a detrimental effect on eventual negotiations with ber captors.” [. . .]

[Reuters Interplanetary News Channel, March 21, 2210, 09.12 EGMT]

*—newsflash—*

“Anonymous performance fragment ‘shows all hallmarks’ of an Andro Gyne composition”, According To Space Opera connoisseurs.

The fragmented, incomplete performance that has taken the Intersystem Virtual Network by storm has ‘clear indicators’ that it might be written and performed by Andro Gyne, the missing interplanetary superstar who, according to some reports, is now collaborating with Saturn’s A-ring Research Labs in developing their life extension treatment.

“The soaring chorus, the careful, multi-instrumental build-up, the haunting lyrics and, most important of all, the quintessential vocals of this performance, dubbed Eternal Night Is Coming Down, has it all: intricate composition, phenomenal musicianship and spell-binding performance. If this is from Gyne copycats, they should reveal themselves and get a contract. A very lucrative one,” Gina Neroyd, A&R manager of DisWarYam stated.

Other professionals echo her thoughts: “If this is a fake, it’s a stunningly good one.” [. . .]

[Extract from the Life Interplanetary Quantengled Channel, November 1, 2210, 23.55 EGMT]

*—newsflash—*

Interstellar Talent Agency hiring performers, musicians and space technicians for their ‘next big performance’.

The gossip channels are exploding with guesses, rumours and wild theories of what this ‘next big performance’ might be. Leading the speculative poll is ‘a space opera about Andro Gyne’s kidnapping’ [. . .]

[Extract from the Life Interplanetary Quantengled Channel, February 13, 2211, 03.33 EGMT]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] Leaked footage of the Interstellar Planetary Agency’s ‘next big performance’ hint at a truly massive undertaking. Thousands, possibly tens of thousands of zero gravity dancers executing huge, intricate patterns whose meaning escapes us [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] The first official trailer of Dancing on the Edge hides more than it reveals. Glimpses at immense structures interchanged by abstract depictions of quantum mechanical events, exploding into, what seem like, biochemical compounds [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] The first five-year intermediate check-up of Saturn’s A-ring Research Labs shows no ill effects on 99.5% of the volunteers, and only minor, controllable side effects on the remaining 0.5% [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] A behind-the-scenes look at the production of Dancing on the Edge. Introducing the next generation form-fitting, colour-flowing space suits with unique, programmable electro-magnetic locking patters in the gloves and shoes, ensuring that all the space dancers interlock only with the correct colleagues during a performance that they call ‘the most ambitious space opera ever, bar none’ [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] Official announcement: the Interstellar Travel Project. The Saturn Space, Earth-Moon, Mars, and Venus’s Fractal Forest governing bodies have announced their commitment and co-operation in building a starship—name TBD—that will provide a sustainable method of spreading humanity across the galaxy [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] Exclusive interview with Commerbond Monk, the interplanetary VR artist famous for bringing abstract concepts to life, and who will be representing the ‘eternal night’ threatening to overwhelm mankind in the Dancing on the Edge space opera [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] Saturn Research Labs opening to the second round of volunteers for the improved, open source life extension treatment. One million applications received within the first hour [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] The final trailer of Dancing on the Edge is like a hyperactive illusionist on acid. Gargantuan human pyramids dwarfed by their celestial background and lost in their search for meaning. Inspirational lights hint at a conceptual breakthrough and a fundamental transformation seems on the brink. Forward-looking visions like lightning obscured by thunderstorms. Will enlightenment pierce the veil of darkness? [. . .]

*—FLASH—*

[. . .] Official confirmation: Dancing on the Edge to be performed at 22 December 2212 at the edge of Saturn’s F-ring. Writer and director: Andro Gyne, who composed the space opera ‘in splendid isolation’ after being kidnapped by pirates-with-a-cause; a cause—developing an open source life extension treatment for all—that Gyne fully supports, calling berself a ‘pirate for life’ [. . .]

—Dancing on the Edge—

A prelude of tender piano notes, reluctantly ringing as if they’re afraid to be played. Coy, yet gaining poise as they build up a haunting melody. Rising notes of the orchestra’s copper section in a taunting, Also-Sprach-Gyne crescendo. Towering riffs from what seem a thousand guitars crashing down like the ultimate thunderstorm. The music soars against a dark background as the performers come into view.

Two times one hundred thousand dancers, curled up in a giant X and a giant Y. Two hundred thousand human bodies dressed up in a myriad of changing colours and shifting patterns in the biggest human pyramids ever built.

Still they look tiny against the backdrop of mighty Saturn and its magnificent rings. Molecular midgets in the theatre of the titans, evanescent dancers in the eye of eternity. Futile, insubstantial, transitory. Yet, they emit a death-defying aura. They will not go gently into that good night.

Piano, pianissimo, piano, Figaro. . .

But still they go, go, go. . .

The huge X and Y disentangle into a very long, entwined double spiral that looks healthy at first. Then its ends become discoloured, and turn darker and darker until they fall off and die. The music shifts to an ominous mood as, dancing on the edge of Saturn’s rings, twilight sets in.

Doom descends in musical discords of death, despair, diminuendo and suffocating silence.

But in the darkness, bright spots appear. Molecules and enzymes old and new materialise: polymerase & buckyballs, telomerase & Carbon 60, novomerase & Hydrogen 42. They interact differently. Instead of giving in to the forces of decay, entropy and death, they rebuild. Dead ends are mended, the double helix is fixed and dying DNA is revived.

Final death is avoided as the immensely long DNA chains repair themselves and become re-entangled. Double spirals powering fractalised structures branching into two momentous sculptures: a colossal X and a massive Y.

The music metamorphoses from a discordant cacophony aching with pain, anguish, and loss into a cascading crescendo of elation, exuberance, euphoria, and bliss. The chromosomes reform, the resurrection is complete, and the transformation transcends.

—X is the X of the X-factor: the strange, the alien, the great unknown.

—Y is the why of insatiable curiosity: the quest for knowledge, the pleasure of finding things out, the eternal exploration.

As they bathe in the shadow of Saturn’s total eclipse with the Sun, the gas giant and its rings ensconced in an ephemeral show of epiphanic light, the penultimate answers come to them.

—Death is evolution’s prime mover: as humanity transcends evolution, death is no longer a necessity.

—The meaning of life is what you make of it in the same manner that emptiness is a void aching to be filled.

—As the act of creation is more rewarding than the disarray of destruction, so is the pleasure of finding things out stronger than the threat of eternal boredom.

The muse mutates the music: violins rise up in a tri-chord/strike/tri-chord movement, tympani accentuate the taunting tube section in syncopated fervour in the interstices of their counterpart’s cataract of power chords. Building up an irrepressible urge for an ecstatic outburst, a harmonic explosion in the form of crashing-clashing-collapsing back into the initial movement. Rinse & repeat, cleanse and defeat, wince yet upbeat.

In the end, the spectral luminescence of Saturn’s total eclipse becomes sharper, becomes focussed, becomes a vector, becomes a force. It touches the—now tiny—X and Y memes, attaching to them, illuminating their centres with a fierce red glow.

It hurts, it hurts, they seem to say, but the pain of impact becomes the pain of discovery becomes the pain of rebirth. The realisation transforms the pain into the quest for knowledge and the joy of discovery as they accelerate, slowly yet inevitably, into the great nothing…

*—newsflash—*

Interview with Andro Gyne, the day after the performance of Dancing on the Edge.

Q: You just announced that Dancing on the Edge will be your final performance. Do you see it as your requiem?

A: It’s my final contribution as an artist. But it’s not a requiem, far from it. This is merely the end of part one, marking the start of the next stage.

Q: A new beginning? How do you intend to reinvent yourself?

A: I’m more ambitious than that. I wish to ignite the reinvention of the human race. Hereby, I am pledging all the profits from Dancing on the Edge—the performance, the virtual replay rights, and all the merchandise—to the Interstellar Travel Project. From now until the interstellar vessel is built, I will be the official ambassador for the project. Crowdfunding is now officially open, as well, so people feel free to follow me in pledging funds to this immensely important project, which I think is vital to the future of humanity.

*—FLASH—*

June 21, 2214: Laying the keel of the Interstellar Vessel that has yet to be named (pending a system-wide naming competition and poll). The vessel will be huge, an order of magnitude bigger even than Feydar’s Bifröst, Jupiter system’s—and humanity’s—first great launch into the interstellar unknown, whose fate is still unknown. Even as it is designed to house one hundred thousand souls in an O’Neill cylinder, it will be dwarfed by the next generation Casimir Drive: trillions upon trillions of Casimir plates set up in an intricate, ingenious, and interactive push/pull structure that gives a resulting force while harnessing the Casimir effect.

There is ambassador Andro Gyne, together with president Rayeon. Together they launch the champagne bottle through the vacuum. It sails through the void, silently exploding as it hits the massive keel dead on.

*—FLASH—*

May 5, 2215: Massive Interactive Virtual Reality Show Ad Astra keeps attracting record viewer numbers as the competition for a spot on the Interstellar Vessel (yet to be named) intensifies. After receiving more than a billion applications, the potential candidates have now been whittled down to the last million, of which eventually the lucky one hundred thousand travellers will be selected.

*—FLASH—*

December 26, 2216: Funding for the Interstellar Project passes the quadrillion credits mark. It’s now worth more than SyntMoon, whose stock keeps taking hits, falling to new record lows, as the open source life extension treatment gains more footholds while SyntMoon steadfastly refuses to lower the price of their elixir, and the number of new lifegages keeps dropping.

*—FLASH—*

July 23, 2218: Second five-year intermediate check-up of Saturn’s A-ring Research Labs life extension treatment, first volunteer batch shows that 99.4% are still showing no ill effects and have shown no signs of aging. The remaining 0.6% have, what the researchers call, ‘easily treatable side effects’.

*—FLASH—*

September 3, 2219: the final results for ‘naming the Interstellar Vessel’ are in. The six runners-up are, in ascending order:

    • Ber Unholy Obnoxiousness (2.22% of votes);
    • Defying Death, Gravity and Taxes (2.85%);
    • Diva Gyne’s Revenge (3.15%);
    • A Momentary Lapse of Reason (3.33%);
    • Moves Like Andro (5.96%);
    • Obsidian Pearl (7.77%);

Where Far Beyond Penzance won with 9.69% of the votes.

Asked if the name wasn’t inappropriate, as it could give aliens the wrong idea about the human race, ambassador Andro Gyne said be doubted if eventual aliens would really know humanity’s historical and cultural quirks, and that it actually was a positive signal.

“Like the convicts that became a thriving Australia, pirates have evolved from state sponsored thugs, opportunistic thieves, and freeloaders into those challenging an evil monopoly, igniting a new renaissance of human ingenuity that will allow us to take the next step in our Universal destiny. This is fitting, as it shows that we are not static, and that bad can change for good.”

*—FLASH—*

October 1, 2220: Jupiter Propulsion Labs, in cooperation with Saturn A-ring Research, the Venus Fractal Facility and the Earth-Moon L5 Institute report a breakthrough in the Casimir Drive technology. ‘Double the efficiency at half the volume,’ the official report says, ‘if this scales up, then the Interstellar Project now has the choice of quadrupling the amount of travellers, or slash the travel time by seventy-five percent.’

*—FLASH—*

November 12, 2221: Official launch of the Far Beyond Penzance on its journey to Gliese 581 with its crew and one hundred thousand travellers. Among them, ex-performer, composer, ambassador, and ‘pirate-for-life’ Andro Gyne.

*—Coda—*

Pirates of no repentance
We’re running the interstellar scheme
Far beyond Penzance
Burning like Casimir machines
Pirates of no repentance
We’re running on emptiness
Dreaming of transcendence
Sense of wonder paradigm shift no regrets

 


Ingrid Garcia tries to sell local wines in a vintage wine shop in Cádiz, and writes speculative fiction in her spare time. She’s sold stories to F&SF, Panorama, Futuristica 2 and Capricious. Her first published poem just appeared in Ligature Works.

twitter.com/ingridgarcia253

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