LAWYER OF THE UNIVERSE COMPENDIUM
“yOuR AsINinE pRoJECTilE WeAPon LaCks EfFicaCY oR eVeN sTYlE,” we chastised Charles after he first cut his way free and attacked us. To make ourselves intelligible we used the vocal apparatus leftover from the one that was Phyllis.
Charles backed up a little, intimidated but ready to continue his pointless fighting.
“We’ll see about that,” he said, his voice was quivering. “Get ready for a lot more from where that came from. I mean, a lot more. These guns pull nitrogen from the air and freeze it into bullets. ANNET may have destroyed human civilization, but she designed some really cool guns. Which I’m prepared to use to fill you with infinite bullets!”
“a POiNtLesS EnDeAvOR, I aSsuRE yOu. ” We told him patiently. “Be ReaASOnABlE, ChARlEs SnIPpY. wE hAvE MucH To OFfER YoU. THiS dEaL iS TO yOuR AdVAnTaGE.”
No sentient organism could rationally disagree with us. After all, we are stronger than Charles can ever be. With us, he would never be so vulnerable, so piteously fragile. But Charles was not a rational creature.
“Oh, yeah?” he ventured. “If I accept your… deal… what’s in it for me?”
“WeLl, uH…” We stalled, muttering through the Phyllis-flesh mouth. We had not expected this turnaround. We combed our new Dex memories quickly.
These human creatures abhor loneliness. Even the half-human Dexes cannot stand it. The one who had been Michael had yearned for friendship, though he had never attained it. Now, in us, he’ll never be alone again.
“HoW aBoUT BeINg BeSt FRIenDS fOrEvER?”
That is what Michael would have wanted to hear. When we came upon him he had fought ferociously, but had stopped struggling immediately once our barbs had hijacked his nervous system, flooding his brain with our promises of eternal companionship.
Charles hesitated and then shook his head.
“Nah. My current friends are a handful already,” he told us. We considered offering to integrate all of Charles’ high-maintenance friends, too, but concluded he might respond with more pointless aggression to this suggestion.
We sorted through more Dex memories. The one they’d called Phyllis had been craving a carbohydrate food source known as a ‘bagel’ for years. Indeed, an inordinate amount of her cognitive processes had been dedicated to fantasizing about magnificent bagels of perfect consistency and moisture, decadently topped with hazelnut spread…
“WiTh My AsSIstANCE, wE CaN AtTAIn tHe MosT dElICioUS BaGEl In tHe UnIVerSE,” We offered. This pleased the Phyllis-parts of us. Perhaps we would make good on this promise if it did sway Snippy.
“What else have you got?” Snippy asked, to our mild disappointment. “I’m not that into bagels.”
We dove deeper into our new memories. All the cognitive residue from Dillon and his subordinates contained so much raw wanting. These humans were reckless and relentless in their pursuit of desires. It was no wonder that their planet was in such a sorry state.
Hmm…. We stroked our Phyllis-avatar’s chin. It was an instinct from Dillon, whose memories indicated that he thought it made him look smarter. Many of the Dex had been very afraid of a grotesque disease of mold. Secretly they had planned to desert Dillon’s rule for promises of more safety from the mold.
Perhaps such an offer would appeal more to Charles, who, like the Dex, lived in fear of damage to his fragile flesh. How tiresome all that fear must be. It demands so much struggle and suffering.
“hOw AbOUt a HiGHlY ComPeTItiVE hEaLTh pLAn?” We suggested. “110 pErCeNT prOTeCtIOn aGaINsT MoLd.”
Charles’ grip on the gun relaxed a little. Perhaps we were making headway! But then he stiffened, feet spreading into a better shooting stance.
“I don’t have a mold problem,” He said firmly. “And I resent you for implying that I do!”
How had that not worked? Our Dex-memories told us that promise would have convinced any of those I’d integrated. Charles must be a mentally deficient member of his species.
“HoW aBoUT a ReSToRaTIVe vAcAtIOn tO A GenETiC mEmoRY Of YoUR ChoICE?” we offered. Perhaps troubled Snippy could take solace if we shunted his consciousness into its past.
“That sounds really cool, but also really fake,” Snippy said, as if we were a door-to-door salesperson, not a venerable interstellar lawyer with full credentials!
“It iS NoT!”
“Is so!” Charles’ chin jutted forwards defiantly.
“CEaSE To WasTE OuR TiMe,” We demanded. We had offered Charles friendship, bagels, and safety. What more could the demanding creature ask from us? “I Am YoUR FuTuRE. I aM YOUR DeStInY. wE ShaLL InTeGraTE NO mAttEr wHat YoU wAnT.”
“Remember what happened last time you started talking about my destiny and crap?” Charles asked, though we sensed he did not want our answer. “You’re, like, five seconds away from infinite bullets.”
We finished arming our stingers and began to extrude fresh combat avatars from all those nice, sturdy Dex bodies.
“YoU cAnNot HaRM tHe BiOmATrix,” we reminded him.
“Wow. I heard once that it more muscles to frown than to smile. Looks like they were right about that,” Charles told us, perhaps attempting humor. His voice betrayed him, climbing an octave higher as our avatars edged closer to him.
“FiNAL OpPoRtUnITy foR a PAiNlEsS iNtEgrATion,” we warned Charles. It was not too late for us to join forces in search of the universe’s finest bagels. Charles giggled nervously.
“Let’s be real,” he told us, “none of this is going to be painless.”
Our avatars lunged, and the air filled with blood and bullets.