The Pirates of Enlightenment
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
~ Dorothy Parker,
Earthan author, humorist, and poet (AD 1893 - 1967)
The ability to learn and the desire to satisfy ones curiosity with knowledge has long been recognized as the most magnificent essence in the known Universe. Like fine and rare jewels, those few living creatures that possess this essence retain extraordinary value among all the known inhabited planets.
For even though all sentient creatures possess the ability for curiosity, they also possess a stronger desire to avoid the toil of learning new things for themselves; especially complex things.
Yet those precious few who celebrate that toil, rather than avoid it, drive their civilizations radically forward, and as an ancillary consequence make their cultures dangerously more powerful.
For Knowledge is Power:
K = P
And the Creative Implementation of Knowledge begins with the germ of Curiosity. Hence the ancient forgotten axiom Curiosity is greater than All:
C > A
And so it was that those curious few who celebrate the toil of learning for themselves would be cursed by becoming commodities of intergalactic trade. Regarded as a type of currency, the most enlightened creatures of the worlds of our Galaxy would be plundered like treasure.
The strongest of this new order of plundering aristocrats would hail themselves as the saviors of the Galaxy, heroically calling their thieving band the League of Power. But among the inhabited worlds with cultures that cherished the concept of C > A, their leader and their mission would be given a different name; one forever shrouded in infamy.
For all those who are compelled to satisfy their curiosities by struggling to gain knowledge, there is no more terrifying threat in the Universe than Captain Psycho and his Pirates of Enlightenment…
~Extracted from the Skyan Panoptic Database - Anthropological Parcel; Accessed From Galactic Region 4619320573648: Earth
Chapter 1; Philosophies of the Ancients
“Every creature brought into existence begins life with an open mind, a driving curiosity, and a sense of wonder.”*
A half eaten vegetable then struck the little seven armed creature on the side of the head. He wiped himself, adjusted his spectacles and continued reading from the scroll.
“Yet these three virtues can be educated out of any individual life as that life form grows. Education of this sort is the epic tragedy of all living things. For a closed mind destroys the seeds of curiosity, resulting in the cultivation of fear and anger rather than a sense of wonder. Instead of celebrating the gifts all life shares in unity, emphasis is focused on any quality which divides us.”
A greasy half eaten piece of meat then struck the little creature in his face, knocking his spectacles to the floor and inciting chuckles among the talking spectators. As dignified as he could, the little creatures wiped his spectacles, replaced them on his face, and continued reading.
“There is one experience above all that is shared by every being in the known Universe: the experience of birth. Our first step into our Universe binds all life together, and as such, gives all life a common experience to celebrate; a celebration of what unites all life in peace.”
A goblet flew from the back of the hall and struck the little creature in the face, knocking him to the ground. The laughter erupted. Using his one free hand he lifted himself back up, wiped his face and straightened his spectacles, and through a haze of pain and blinding fear continued reading.
“To those who find and celebrate what we all share together, rather than search for what divides us, the Universe is a bejeweled gift from which fortune and happiness rains from the sky upon us.”
At this point hundreds of cups, dishes, bits of food, and anything else handy flew into the air from the crowd, directly toward the speaker. The laughter in the ancient stone hall erupted, and flagons of Hellfire Mead could be heard filling goblets and stone chalices, which bashed together in wild toasts. In the center of the hall the small, spectacled seven armed creature, a Saganite from an insignificant world near the star Aldebaran, coward and tried in vain to protect himself from the culinary projectiles. He was weak, terrified, and chained to the stone floor with manacles around all but one of his seven arms. In front of him lay open a holographic scroll from which he was reading. He controlled the scroll from a ring on the finger of his one free arm. As the last of the dishes hit him in the side, the crowd in the hall screamed at him to continue. He stood cautiously.
“W…wuh…we must ruh…rejoice in these three gifts of birth: an open mind, a driving curiosity, and a sense of wonder, and never forget how to cultivate these three most important virtues. For it is through respect of all life and all culture that we can finally attain the most precious gift of creation: the end of all violence and needless brutality.”
Suddenly a huge calloused foot slapped the seven armed creature viciously across the face, instantly smashing him to the ground. The hall erupted again in more laughter and toast bashing.
The massive shoulders of Gingus bent low to thrust his scarred and battle hardened face into the tearful, manacled, shaking and panicked creature at his feet. His one good eye glared ferociously, while the other eye, damaged, pale and useless and set between an enormous scar, stared indifferently to one side.
“Where did you get this rubbish?”
Gingus slapped the unfortunate alien across the face to break his panicked stutter, forcing the words to fall out like fine china from a tilted cabinet.
“It was compiled from the volumes of the Ancients milord…the…ah…the Eidolons of Wisdom…with contributions by Carl Sagan, Xanath Gumoid Kreelkoth, Bellebum Alt…”
Gingus slapped him again to shut him up.
“I have as much in common with you as with a Flatulencian stink worm, you seven armed freak!” The hall erupted in cheers.
The little manacled alien replaced his spectacles and looked up suddenly curious, a curiosity that penetrated his fears. He looked through his tears and over his broken spectacles to the brutish face of Gingus. “I believe that is the point the Ancients are trying to make with this text milord. You and I share the experience of birth, therefore we have something in common.”
Gingus was momentarily stunned at the impudence of this primitive little creature at his feet. He smiled cracked teeth broadly and grabbed the little alien’s ring finger, crushing both ring and finger in one small gesture of his own mighty thumb and forefinger. The spectacles fell from the little creature’s face as he squirmed and squealed in agony. The holographic scroll before them vanished for all time as the ring was destroyed.
Gingus’ smile became maniacal.
“You want to share an experience with me little worm? How about death? You can have your experience now and let me know how it worked out for you!”
The hall erupted again in cheers and laughter as Gingus reached for his waist and drew from his belt an enormous stone hammer, roughly half the size of the alien he held in his giant fist. He raised the hammer in a relaxed and practiced fashion, as a musical virtuoso might bring a violin to his chin.
The cheers and howling suddenly went grimly silent. Gingus looked around and saw all his shipmates simultaneously bow to one knee and slap their right arms and fists across their chests, causing a loud thumping noise which echoed through the hall. He was motionless and his jaw dropped as he heard the klip-klopping noises from behind; the unmistakable sounds of his master walking toward him. Suddenly he found his hammer was ripped from his hand and smashed on the side of his head. He fell hard to the stone floor without any effort to fight back or stop his fall. The kneeling crowd stared in stunned silence as Gingus slowly opened his eyes at the feet of his master. He looked up, slowly, blood oozing from his ear.
Captain Psycho stared down at Gingus, his face boiling with fury, but his manner composed and sophisticated.
“I’m terribly sorry Gingus, did that hurt?”
Very cautiously Gingus slowly shook his head. “No milord I…”
Psycho then threw the hammer directly into Gingus’ stomach, casting the giant into the fetal position of pain.
“Well, it seems as if all that fighting I’ve been doing has made me clumsy. You remember the fighting, don’t you Gingus? The battle we were waging to take this port?” His mechanical peg leg then opened a small hatch from which a small robotic fist appeared and reared back at the ankle joint, causing Gingus to flinch. “Tell me, have we taken the time to voyage all the way out here to…to…what’s the name of this place again?” Psycho looked out into the crowd.
After a brief pause a voice shouted “Eris, milord.” Psycho then continued.
…To Eris to annihilate this pathetic little space port in this pathetic little star system so that you can play games and squander our spoils?”
Gingus, recovering, slowly began to sit up. “No sir.” Psycho’s peg leg fist, seemingly acting of its own accord, suddenly punched Gingus back to the ground.
“I do apologize then. I must be mistaken. You see, I thought I heard you threaten to kill this little alien jewel here. Did you know that this pathetic little creature is a master in the field of multi-verse physics? Did you know he helped design the Universal Navigation Plotter that brought us here? Have you any idea of the value of this little freak here that you almost killed!” Again Psycho’s peg leg punched Gingus in the face. “Killing this disgusting little worm is no different than putting money in a pile and lighting it on fire! Gods, when will you use your brain?” Again the peg leg reached out, this time slapping Gingus in the face with several quick swats. “Get up! All of you! You all should have been finishing the battle with the rest of us instead of playing games like pups! They’ll be lashes for all of you! I’ll teach you all to behave like fools when there’s work to be done!”
There was a moment of silence as Psycho regarded his crew with disgust, then shouted “Gustav!”
An older creature carrying a staff who had arrived to the scene with Captain Psycho scampered up. “Aye Sir!”
“Mind probe that seven armed freak slobbering on the floor there. I want to know where that navigation system is. But don’t damage his brain! We can sell that!”
Gustav knelt beside the unfortunate little alien and placed a funnel in his ear. He then drew from his belt a small rectangular device which he looked at for a moment, then stared up at Psycho.
“The navigation system is here milord, as the slaves predicted. I have the coordinates right here. But there is a problem. According to our computer’s plunder database the navigators trained to program this device were all killed during our raid today. The Universal Navigation Plotter requires maths so complex that without instruction, and probably years of training, I won’t be able to figure it out. This unfortunate creature, while a brilliant designer, does not have the proper brain patterns to perform the necessary equations and was deliberately kept ignorant of the navigational maths required to use the device.”
Psycho looked annoyed. “Won’t any of our current slaves be able to decipher it?”
“According to these readouts, no; it’s multi-verse technology requiring specific brain patterns capable of prolonged and sustained calculations in complex mathematical shifting of dimensions. The navigation designers spent years developing the required mathematical techniques, and according to this mind scan I believe any relevant notes were destroyed when Gingus destroyed this alien’s data ring.”
Gingus, still on the ground, covered his face and braced for an impact. Psycho ignored him.
“Gustav, you’re my Pilot-Major, you’re telling me you can’t figure this thing out?”
“Me, no sir. But, I can probably find someone with the proper brain patterns; someone with an instinct for this.” Gustav then reached into his cloak and pulled out a handful of runic bones, which he threw on the stone floor. He then began stabbing a finger at the little rectangle device in his other hand. “Using this brain scan as an informational base of what the system would require, the biocomputer has calculated the probable brain patterns and electromagnetic fields of thought necessary for deciphering the navigation system. These runes can access and scan hyperspace directly and feed us information about any life form with brain patterns similar to what we’re looking for. This has a range of about six galactic leagues, so if any capable life form within that area has these brainwaves we can go get them.”
Above the runic bones diffuse colors began to emanate and flicker. Over the period of a few minutes various ghost like images began to appear and fade. As the time passed, the three dimensional image above the bones became clearer, and the images lasted a little longer. Finally a clear three dimensional movie played on the same scene, and did not change or flicker. Gustav continued to stare intently at the little cube in his hand.
“It’s nearer than I expected milord! There is a proper brain pattern right here in this star system. It’s a planet not in our records. I don’t believe anyone in the League of Power has visited it before…although I see now it is a sacred world to the Saganites…” Gustav pointed to the three dimensional scene playing out above the runic bones. “This is the creature. The event being shown here has not yet come to pass in our space-time, but it will at some point. Hyperspace** does have a bit of a future lag.”
Psycho glanced below to see if Gingus had let his guard down. He was staring at the little three dimensional movie in front of him. Psycho’s peg leg fist reared back and punched Gingus square in the nose six times quickly. Psycho then looked back up at Gustav.
“What’s the name of the planet?”
“The inhabitants call it Earth, milord.”
__________________ ____________________ ____________________
From a small air recycling vent at the roof of the great hall a hidden creature was observing the events. She squinted, trying to see the little three dimensional movie playing down below, but even for her ability it was too hard with the naked eye, since the ceiling of the great hall was almost a thousand feet off the ground. The little plug in her ear, which was amplifying the conversation below, threw her into action. She pulled from her coat a small handheld device which she punched with her fingers rapidly to patch into the larger communications array on the planetoid. She then grabbed a small retractable telescope from another pocket and raised it to her eye as she began talking quietly into her handheld device.
“Attention! Attention! This is an emergency communication from Spaceport Eris to anyone currently visiting the planet Earth…”
As she spoke she looked at the little movie playing on the floor below, crisp and clear now through her telescope. She saw three relatively peculiar life forms sitting on a large cushion with pillows and talking. Two of the creatures were almost completely hairless, which made them look primitive. As far as she could see only the tops of their heads had hair; no fur on their bodies at all. The smaller of the two had thick long black hair growing from her head and reaching to her torso. The larger had hair of reddish gold which hung down into his square set of blue eyes. The third creature was very small by comparison and covered in thick white fur.
Suddenly she noticed an eruption of activity. Another prisoner was being brought in, his arms manacled behind him. She gasped in terror as she recognized his face, bruised and beaten. Captain Psycho turned and smiled, and through his stained teeth he oozed out the prisoner’s name with a surprised salacious satisfaction.
* Paraphrased from the Earthan scientist and philosopher Carl Sagan; from whom the religious zealots of Aldebaron known as the Saganites takes their name
** An extra physical dimension in space not perceived by beings who live in 3 physical dimensions; the 5th dimension in our universe (after the x, y, and z axes and time)