In the previous blog, Qbit told Skyler that he needs him to go back to Earth so he can show him the location of the yard sale where Skyler bought a certain piece of electronic equipment. Skyler wasn’t sure if he wanted to go until Qbit mentioned that Yuki was going as well, he quickly agreed. I think Skyler was, how should I say, “impressed” with Yuki. I’m not sure if the feeling is mutual, especially since they’ve only met once! We’ll have to see.
In this installment, Qbit has found Yuki in the breakroom. He tries to introduce himself…
Qbit found Yuki in the crew break room in front of the microwave, waiting for her popcorn to pop. She stood with her fingers hovering inches from the handle, waiting for it to beep. He sat in one of the empty seats at the only table in the small room.
Beeeep… She yanked the door open before it had the chance to beep a second time, then reached in and carefully pulled the bag out by a corner. She shook it, checking if there were any un-popped kernels. Satisfied there were none, she carefully peeled the top apart then poured some of the steaming popcorn into a bowl.
Without turning around, she said, without much enthusiasm, “Do you want some?”
Qbit replied, “No, thank you, I’ll just pick at yours.”
She turned and said, “I don’t think so, I hate when someone does that.”
Sensing the tension, Qbit said, “Just kidding, you can bring the bag over though, please.”
She grabbed the bag off the counter and walked to the table. She threw it down and sat in a chair that was along the wall, away from the table, forcing Qbit to turn in an awkward way to speak to her.
“I haven’t had a chance to formally introduce myself, so, hi, I’m Qbit.” He extended his hand.
Yuki jumped out of her chair, walked around to stand in front of him, then slammed her bowl onto the table, popcorn flew everywhere. “Why are you taking me to Earth!”
With his hand still extended, he answered, calmly, “Fair question.” Using two fingers of his still extended hand, Qbit picked up one of the pieces of popcorn from off the table. He brought it up in front of his face and slowly twisted it back and forth. “Zea Mays Everta, the only type of corn to pop.” He looked at her, “Did you know that?”
She rolled her eyes and replied, “What? What does Zea Mays…”
“…have to do with anything?”
“Why don’t you sit down?”
He popped it into his mouth, “Hmmm, delicious but, needs garlic.” He leaned back in his chair. “Please, sit (he motioned toward a chair opposite him) and I’ll explain everything.”
She hesitated for a second, then sat down heavily.
He leaned forward and whispered, “Can you keep a secret?” Before she could answer, he looked around the small room and said, “Don’t tell anyone, but I can’t really taste the popcorn, I can’t really taste anything.” He waited for a reaction from her, but she had none. “I know, right? I can see that you’re confused, I mean, I just said it needed more garlic!” Without waiting for a response, he continued, “But, what’s even more incredible is that the reason I can’t taste anything is because I’m not really a human being!” He made a show of making fists with his hands, then, bringing them to the side of his head, slowly extended his fingers while pulling his arms away. The whole time he made an explosion sound with his mouth.
Yuki looked around the room and said, “Do I need to call someone?”
“No, I’m great, never felt better”. He sat back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head. “You must think, since I’m not human, I must be some sort of robot.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head back and forth and said, “Nooo.”
“Good, because I get that all the time, I’m actually a quantum computer!”
She slapped both palms of her hands on the table, brought her head down with her chin up and said, “I care, why?”
He put his hands back on the table and said, disappointedly, “You know your attitude is not where I need it to be. I envisioned this great repartee between the two of us with witty retorts and now you’ve gone and ruined the moment.”
“Whatever.” As a further show of her disinterest, she methodically reached for a piece of popcorn and popped it into her mouth. She reached for another, opened her mouth and flicked the popcorn towards it. Before the kernel had time to cover the short distance, Qbit reached out and grabbed it, his hand was a blur. Before she could react, he sat back down, pulled his arm back and threw the piece of popcorn towards her still open mouth. The popcorn hit her in the right lense of her glasses, making a slight ‘tink’ noise, then fell to the table. They both watched it roll to a stop.
“Hm, impressive speed but lousy aim. Now it’s my turn.” Yuki picked up the same kernel, balanced it between her thumb and forefinger, “Open up.”
“Uh, oh.” He sat back in the chair, opened his mouth, closed both eyes and folded his arms across his chest. “Be gentle.” He opened one eye slightly.
She took a second more to aim then launched the popcorn. It arced gracefully through the air and directly into his mouth. “Beat that, quantum man,” she said with a smile, sitting back in her chair while crossing her arms across her chest.
They both sat for a second, looking at each other without saying anything. The tension that had defined the last few minutes seemed to dissipate slightly.
Qbit finished chewing the popcorn, swallowed it and said, “Good shot, I thought you were going to try and zing it so hard it would choke me.”
“The thought crossed my mind, but I also thought that that’s what you would be thinking.”
“Ah, a non-conformist. I like that.” He paused for a second then said, “Ya know, Yuki, we’re not so different, you and I.”
Yuki leaned forward, resting her arms on the table. “Oh yeah, how so?”
He picked up another piece of popcorn, looked at it and said, “I can put this into my computer-created mouth, chew it with my computer-created teeth, mixing it with computer-created saliva. A program in my computer core runs another program that breaks down the saliva sample into individual components which, in turn, tells my computer created brain if it’s considered tasty by human standards. I don’t really taste anything, yet I still know the pleasure that it can bring to those that can taste, computer generated or not.” He popped it into his mouth. “It must be fantastic to be able taste for real or to see the beauty in something for real or to feel something for real (he rubbed two fingers together) or to hear something for real.”
She looked up at him when he said the hearing part.
“You might think you’re pretty unlucky to not be able to hear anymore without the aid of a computer program. But for me, that’s normal.”
She looked down at the table.
Qbit continued, “There are plenty of people on earth that have been deaf for their entire life and, to them, that’s normal. They look at the people who can hear as just a different normal. Both different, yet the same.”
Yuki sat back in her chair and sighed. She thought for a second then asked, “So being deaf has no bearing on why you want to take me to Earth”?
“No ma’am, none at all.”
She sat quietly, lost in thought.
Trying to change the subject, he sat back, threw out his arms and looked around. “You know, everything that has happened to me here has turned out to be a series of coincidences, that, as far as I’m concerned, have worked out extremely well!”
He quickly turned to her and said, “I don’t mean the stuff with your hearing. I mean the circumstances that have allowed me the opportunity to accomplish what I came here to do.”
Yuki asked, “What do you mean by “circumstances” and “what you came here to do”?”
“Well, simply put, I came here to bring you and Skyler back to Earth. It turns out that your hearing loss and not going on the mission led you to be outside at the same time Skyler suffered his injury. Which ended up with him being “figuratively dead” and in the same location as you, with both of you “free” to come back with me.”
“Hm, I see. You need Skyler for what?”
“To take me back to the location where he purchased a piece of electronics that may or may not be a device that detects gates that have a weak magnetic signature. We need to find a power source for it.”
“And you need me tooooo…?”
“Find your mother so she can fill you in on your ability to talk with beasts so you can join a little group we’ve thrown together.”
“Talk with beasts?”
“Okay, and this group does, what?”
“Finds and, in some cases, rescues the aforementioned beasts.”
“Really. The rescued ones go where?”
“To a blue planet where they have plenty of room to roam and do what animals do.”
“I see, and what if I don’t want to go?”
“Just thought I‘d throw that out there.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Never mind. Besides, there are a lot of benefits to going to Earth.
“You’ll get the chance to feel the wind and ocean spray on your face without worrying about how much oxygen you have left. Or taste food that’s grown in the dirt and doesn’t come out of a tube or is freeze dried. Plus, you’ll get the chance to have an animal companion.”
“Why would I want a pet?”
“Oh, it’s not a pet, trust me on that one.”
She thought for a second, “If I decide to go, when would we leave?”
Qbit looked at his watch and said, “In ten days, three hours and twenty-nine minutes.”
“But the next shuttle isn’t scheduled until next month.”
“Who says we need a shuttle?”