|The Outsider's Weakness?
Author: Calpse PM
This is a short story taking place in Larry Niven's Known Space universe. I wrote it mainly to introduce it to avid fanfic writers. I hope that Known Space will eventually become its own subcategory as Larry Niven is one of the most famous scifi writers.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi - Words: 2,842 - Reviews: 4 - Follows: 1 - Published: 08-05-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3704276
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
If ye want to skip this introductory paragraph, just start reading after the first set of dashes.
This is the first fanfic on this website from the subject of Known Space. Known Space is a series of independent series' that take place in the future written by Larry Niven. Basically they outline a future "history" through many adventures and mistakes. He has full books and many short stories as well. Larry Niven is considered one of the greatest sci-fi writers ever and I thought that I should open up this subject for fanfic readers and writers. This is my first fanfic. I do not intend it to be any good as I am currently working on another story that isn't fanfic. I welcome review. Also, whether or not you like this story, please read the stories of Johannas-mirror, who is a very good fanfic writer.
Myrun sank down onto the floor as the sleep plates and sleep field turned off. He got up on his feet and dressed himself. After he carefully combed back his greasy black hair so it was flat against his head, he put in his colored contacts so his brown eyes looked what he thought was a stylish blue color. He waddled into his living room and plopped himself down on the couch. He turned the trivee on and dialed for a one dozen egg omelet as he watched the news. "A new sentient species has recently been discovered on the colony of Down!" The news announcer was saying excitedly. "Long suspected to be sentient, the Grog have finally revealed unique abilities. They are a new kind of Handicapped, the group of sentient beings incapable of making tools. They are essentially hairy cones with useless paws. They cannot move besides turning but they have a long, incredibly quick tongue which they use to grab prey that they have lured close with their mind control powers. That's right, mind control!" Myrun had been dozing through the news report up to the point, finding the pictures of the Grog to be slightly amusing but boring, sat up and, ignoring his newly arrived breakfast, paid close attention to the news report. After all, what can immobile cones do to profit me? But mind control! Now that has possibilities...
"They have kept their secret for this long out of fear of being exterminated by humans who would be terrified of their potentially dangerous powers. Finally fed up with seeing all the things they were missing through the minds of passerbys, they revealed their intelligence to the heir of the Garvey Limited company, the maker of Dolphin Hands and other Handicapped devices. Many are afraid, including said heir, that the Grogs could try to enslave humans once they have spread far enough. The U.N. has decided to put a ramscoop in orbit around the sun of Down in case-"
Pointless and boring. Myrun thought as he skipped through the news report. What I need to know is whether they can read all minds. Here we go.
The trivee brought up the sub-report on the Grog's powers. "Grogs can totally dominate non-sentient creature's minds, thereby forcing them to do whatever the Grog wants it to do. This makes them excellent cattle herders. Other jobs being considered for them are translators and lie detectors in court cases as they can read any race's mind regardless of the language they speak. Zoos are also thinking of employing them-"
Myrun clicked off the trivee and sank back into the couch. No one realizes... He grinned and started stuffing his face with his omelet. The Outsiders, the dealers of the most expensive information in the world. Their minds are ripe for the picking with one of these, what do they call 'em, Grog creatures. I could make millions off their secrets! Myrun jumped up from the couch and put on his most expensive suit. As it cost ten thousand stars, it was one of his most prized possessions. He ran into the vestibule. A man was standing there, just about to knock on his door.
"What is it?" Myrun snapped.
"Kind sir," The man in robes replied, "I was wondering if you had any money to spare that you could donate to charity. We help fund the rehabilitation of criminals and the betterment of the poor."
"Criminals don't need any of my money, and the poor can help themselves!" Myrun yelled at the poor man. "Now get out!"
The man hurriedly ran into the transfer booth and dialed a number. As soon as he disappeared, Myrun stepped into the booth and hurriedly dialed one of the starport's numbers, leaving behind the second half of his omelet, an unheard of thing for him.
Myrun asked the facility at the starport if any Outsider ships had been seen and if so where. "Nice timing," The attendant there told him, "The Outsiders have been elsewhere for the past fifty years till about three months ago. Ship Seven is just inside Kzinti space."
What should my excuse to meet them be? "Can you tell them that I would like to meet them?" Myrun told the attendant.
"May I have a name, specific question, and date?"
"Tell them I am Myrun Zelune, owner of Zelune Inc. I would like to know the average life span of starseeds and estimated number of them present in the galaxy." Both of those questions were both unknown to humans and were the type of questions that an eccentric billionaire might ask. "I would like to meet them six months from know." That should give me enough time to pick up one of these Grogs.
"Your message will be delivered, Mr. Zelune. There will be a hundred star transmission fee." Myrun handed over the money, openly grinning.
"By the way, when would the next spaceship for Down be leaving?" Myrun asked before he left.
"Ah, another person off to see the Grogs. News only came out this morning but the next three flights are booked. Luckily many of the passenger liners have changed schedule to do there as well. The next unbooked ship will be leaving five days from now. Gate 67 is where the captain should be." Myrun was off along the pedwalk before she finished the last sentence.
"I imagine you have already read my mind and understand my plan?" Myrun was scared of this hairy cone sitting in front of him and he didn't try to hide it. After all, it would know if he was scared no matter how well he pretended not to be.
A cold certainty that the Grog did indeed understand sunk through his mind. So that's what it feels like when they communicate this way. No I can separate if from my own if I have to. Suddenly he was sure that the Grog was saddened by this thought of his. "Now now, it is just a precaution. I have no intention of using it. It's just like the ramscoop." The sadness dissipated slightly. "Since you already know my plan you must also know what I am prepared to offer you." The Grog was unhappy with his offer of twenty percent of the profits. It wanted it to be fifty fifty. "No, I will raise your half to thirty five percent, no more. That alone will make your race the richest race extant. Except for the humans of course but that is only because of my share."
The Grog, who he felt wanted to be thought of as Selphic, reluctantly agreed. "Well Selphic, as you definitely already know, my men will pick you up to board the ship tomorrow." The fat man turned and heaved himself up onto the skycycle. The Grog watched through his eyes as he turned and flew away.
As the workmen were using the disintegrators, Selphic read each of their minds, paying close attention to what they knew of Outsiders and Myrun Zelune. They knew next to nothing about Outsiders as they were born and raised on this planet Down, which wasn't a main center point for news. What they knew about Myrun only came from common knowledge of Zelune Inc. and the stories about the lazy man that owned it Zelune Inc. was the main producer of disintegrator and thus was a very wealthy company. The owner and founder, Myrun Zelune, did next to nothing these days, enjoying the profits of his companies while letting his subordinates run the whole affair. They had no knowledge of Myrun's plans involving the Outsiders, assuming that he merely wanted to have a pet Grog and showing off his wealth. Selphic knew all of these things already from reading Mr. Zelune's mind but it was easier to understand through unbiased minds rather than through the veil of his own importance cast in all of his memories. During the journey through Downtown and onto the ship, Selphic weaned every last bit of information that she could from everyone within her range. She mentally shared this information with all the Grogs nearby and they in turn would spread the news around the planet.
Once the ship began its journey Selphic was cut off from her people, she still continued to live inside the minds of everyone aboard, seeing through their eyes, hearing with their ears, sensing everything she could as she was one of the first Grogs to leave Down. Everything she learned would be shared amongst her people upon her return. In the first few minutes she already knew how to fly a space ship, how to drink a gallon of Vurguuz without dying, and she had learned three new languages. Not that she would ever need them of course, since she didn't really use any.
Myrun was ecstatic at how well his plan was going. He squirmed deeper into his couch in the suite of the passenger ship. He thought about all the answers he would learn from the Outsiders. How their reactionless drive worked. All about their relationship with the starseeds. People would pay millions to know that. Of course he wouldn't charge the one trillion star cost that the Outsiders were. No one could afford that. He would just charge the maximum that any government would pay. No doubt he would be the richest man alive. All he had to do was walk onto the Outsider's ship, ask them a few questions, refuse the price if he didn't want to pay it, and- Wait a minute. I shouldn't pay it at all not matter how cheap, it may be. After all I will just get the answer for free once I talk to the Grog, ur I mean Selphic, sorry about that Selphic, if you are listening.
Selphic sensed, or rather the people whom she was the read the minds of sensed, that they had arrived at their destination. Myrun was standing near the airlock eagerly, in his space suit. He was upset. Why aren't they were? I contacted them with a specific time! The sensors the pilot was looking at suddenly showed the Outsider's ship appear next to them. Finagle! That was fast! No wonder they are charging so much for that drive of theirs.
The airlock opened. Myrun looked around excitedly. He saw two Outsiders slowly moving from their ship to his airlock. Why do these creatures have to look so disgusting? They look like they are a torture weapon or something. In fact the thing they were most often compared to was indeed a torture weapon. Outsiders look like cat o' nine tails with a very thick handle. Their "brain" was in the handle, along with their sensory organs. They were propelled by natural gas pistols in the bulbs on the end of the tails. Both of the Outsiders moved one of their tails towards him. He grabbed on and they started pulling him back to their ship. It looks like one of them ancient basket-weave things. But with metal. The entire ship was made out of huge metal strips winding in and out of each other, only attached to the drive.
As he was pulled through the inside he saw all the Outsiders about their business. Recharging their bioelectric energy in the shadows, drinking the elements they needed to grow. Myrun was about to take off his helmet when he realized that he was still in a vacuum. Outsiders lived in space. They only used ships for speed. And even then they didn't use hyperdrive, the fasted mode of transportation.
Soon they entered the office. The only purpose of the office was to be a translator of the customer and seller. "You contacted us about learning the estimated number of starseeds in the galaxy and their average life spans. Is this correct?" A male voice said. Amazing how far technology has come. Their translator almost sounded real. Of course neither of the Outsiders had said anything. They hadn't even made a motion that seemed like a signal of any sort.
"That is correct." Myrun answered. "What would be the price?"
"The price would be ten million stars each." The male voice sounded strangely...off... Do they suspect something? I guess I will buy the answer to one of the questions. Just to reassure them.
"Ah that is a tad to pricey for me to afford. At least for two questions. May I purchase the answer to only one?" Myrun asked timidly.
"Yes you may, which one would you like to know the answer to?" The voice seemed to have returned to normal. Myrun took this as a good sign.
"How 'bout the estimated number of them?"
"Ten million seven hundred ninety-three thousand, eight hundred seventy four. Do you need that repeated?"
"Ah, no thank you. If that is all I will be going now. I will transfer the money to one of your base planets." Myrun wanted to get out of here. He felt like something was being plotted.
"Thank you for your business." The male voice seemed to be smirking. But that isn't possible. It is just a translator. And the Outsider wouldn't be mocking me...
Myrun sat forward, more excited than he had ever been in the two centuries of his life. "So? You were within range. Did you read their minds?"
He had a sudden certainty that the Grog had not been able to read the Outsider's minds as they evolved from plants, not animals.
Myrun sat in disbelief for a moment. Then as realization slowly sank through him, his disbelief was converted into anger.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU COULDN'T READ THEIR MINDS? PLANT LIFE! ALL THIS WAY FOR NOTHING! HOW COULD YOU? I JUST SPENT TEN MILLION STARS FOR NOTHING!!!! I AM GOING TO KILL YOU FOR THIS! DO YOU HEAR ME? KILL Y-" Myrun sank to the ground unconscious. Selphic contacted the Outsiders again, telling them that her end of the deal had been completed.
The two Outsiders who had escorted Myrun still floated in the office. Thank you for contacting us, Selphic. Our species' way of life would have been destroyed if his plans had succeeded.
This was no act of kindness, the Outsiders realized, or rather had the thought put into them. Should the Outsiders have refused Selphic's deal, she would have merely erased the memory of their contact and completed the deal with Myrun.
Then it was wise of us to have accepted your proposal. All three hundred billion stars will be given to the Grogs. This should set up your race to become a major power in the galaxy. We have your assurance that neither you nor any other Grog will ever divulge any of the information that you gleaned from our minds.
That is correct. Myrun and the crew of this spaceship will remember nothing of this. Selphic might even take this opportunity to alter his personality for the better.
Myrun stepped off the spaceship, happy with satisfying his curiosity and now knowing the number of starseeds in the galaxy. But now his vacation was over. It was time to get back to work. He had a new idea to boost company sales. And more sales mean more money I can donate to various charities! As he walked down the ramp he realized how large he was getting. I think I will cut back on the food and get some more exercise.
And that was something unheard of for the man named Myrun Zelune to do.