The #71EEB8 Academy of Science wasn’t strictly an academy since the trillions of clones that made up the population could share information instantaneously. It was more of a research center for visiting species. On the rare occasion, a being not equipped with a neural transmitter had something to share with the collective, its twenty-five-thousand seat amphitheater was used as a lecture hall.
The director of matter transference research stepped onto the stage and addressed the packed house. A sea of identical silver-skinned bald heads floated above matching seafoam green flight suits. The director used his voice instead of their usual technological telepathy to address the audience and broadcast out to the entire collective.
“Our guest speaker tonight will be sharing his thoughts on teleportation. Today alone, he visited the Gastraddar homeworld, several planets in the Flower Nebula, and is currently fifteen light-years away with our deep-space matter transfer team on the far side of the sector. Because he believes nonproliferation of this technology is imperative, he will not be taking questions on power sources, containment units, digital storage, distance protocols, or any undetectable microtechnology he may or may not be using. I give you without further ado, Melock the Wise, often revered as the greatest conjuror in the universe.”
A large viewing monitor activated above the stage. It displayed the inside of a clone space freighter. Five identical #71EEB8s stood in front of a bank of computers and complex hardware systems. In the center of the screen, an old man in an ascetic robe with long white hair tied in a top knot ran his hand down his spindly Fu Manchu mustache.
“Ah, yes, gentlemen. I’ll be with you presently.”
Melock placed two fingers on an intricate golden pendant hung around his neck. The five clones around him held out scanners and aimed them at the wizard. He vanished from the view screen and appeared center stage at the academy; arriving precisely at 0700 hours local time, the scheduled starting time for the event.
“Good evening, 71s,” said Melock with a grin, “or at least that’s how many of your neighbors refer to you. I bring greetings from the daughter of the King of Gastraddar, whom I had the pleasure of lunching with this afternoon. I doubt I’ll need to eat for another week.”
He grabbed his stomach with both hands and rubbed his belly looking very pleased.
“The Princess has become quite the general and offered me one of her finest soldiers as an escort.”
Melock clapped his hands and a massive hulk in spiked battle armor appeared on the stage towering over him. The dark green skinned warrior squinted into the bright stage lights and with rage in his eyes turned his attention to Melock. He raised a massive jagged blade high over his head and brought it down with force enough to split the old man in two. Melock simply raised his index finger and when the descending sword touched it the giant ogre vanished.
“Though the Princess assured me, she nor her father have any interest in a war with the 71s, they certainly aren’t fans of advanced technology. Oh my.”
A drop of blood rolled down the tip of Melock’s finger, he popped it in his mouth and sucked it away before continuing.
“Many of you will remember my last visit to this part of the galaxy you so generously designate Galaxy 1.0. The humanoid species in the outer rim call it the Milky Way. A colorful and fitting description for such a fine spiral galaxy, don’t you think?”
Melock paused, rocked back and forth on his bare feet, and wiggled his toes on the polished floorboards.
“As I was saying, a thousand years ago when we last met, you had so many questions about how I did this and how I did that. After my brief visit with your neighbors to catch up on the political climate of the region, I’m afraid I still feel it best not to explain everything.
“I do commend you as being the most enlightened in your neck of the woods. Your understanding of symbiotic relationships with others as well as the environment itself can only take you further in the right direction. The dual quests for immortality and knowledge are without a doubt the noblest pursuits and something we have in common.
“I appreciate you giving me the tour of your matter transfer facility and allowing me the privilege of reviewing just how far you’ve come in the last millennia. It should please you to know that you’re far ahead of your competitors, even the robotic ones.”
Melock winked at the clones.
“Your grasp of the basic concepts of teleportation is profound. Your ability to send digitized matter over large distances is impressive. The innovation of instantaneous individual cellular mapping and reconstruction is, frankly, astounding.
“If I were to advise you on where to go next, I’d suggest spending time thinking about location. For what is teleportation, other than the transfer of matter from one point to another without having to actually traverse the distance. The goal is to get from where you are now, to were you want to be with the snap of your fingers.”
Melock snapped his fingers and appeared back on the view screen. The five startled clones stopped standing at attention and began scanning him again. The collective was able to transmit information at speeds beyond light and confirmed that the wizard had indeed just crossed a vast distance of space.
Melock snapped his fingers again and returned to the lecture hall.
“My specialty being the movement of individuals.
“Now, your work with inanimate objects is groundbreaking and certainly the first of many steps on the path to understanding teleportation. But you have to think bigger and look closer at reality as we both know it.”
He spoke to the clones as if they were one person; a quality they appreciated.
“Your position in space, like time, is relative. When you wrap your heads around that, you’ll be onto something. Our positions aren’t fixed and the energy required to move from one place to another is nominal. How easy is it to simply overcome gravity?”
He raised his right hand into the air and wiggled his fingers.
“The forces of nature that hold you in place or rather in a state of perpetual motion are relatively weak. Especially when you compare them to the strength of, say, the will of the #71EEB8.”
To his surprise, he noticed several clones look around and make eye contact with others in the room.
“You need to know exactly where you are and precisely where you want to go. Then it’s nothing more than a matter of willing yourself to be there. When it comes to teleportation, I feel you’re getting bogged down in mechanics; mapping, disintegrating, sending, receiving, reconstruction. Certainly, this is a wonderous five-step beaming process with countless practical applications, particularly if you happen to be in the cloning business. But let’s not kid ourselves — it is not teleportation.”
The silence in the hall was deafening.
“I have dedicated my life to the study and exploration of the fundamental realities of nature — another thing we have in common. You may consider me reckless and my partnerships dangerous. I may even appear to be selfish in my discretion.
“I’ve seen the way you help your less evolved neighbors across the nebula from you. I’ve seen your underlying respect for nature and the other sentient lifeforms in it. We are the thinking and feeling parts of the universe after all. The dreamers of dreams, if you will.
“Continue down the path, my brothers, for your aim is true and your focus unquestionable. Your method of scientific discovery will take you to the planes of understanding you seek.
“You invited me here to talk about teleportation — I gave you philosophy. You asked my help with your machines and your process and I patted you on the back like children. Which you most certainly are not. But then again, aren’t we all?”
Melock smiled a most Melock like smile.
“You would no sooner give a barbarian a phaser pistol, then you would arm his horde with battlecruisers and fission bombs. You know education, understanding, and the wisdom to make sense of the knowledge itself is the key. I can not simply hand you the secrets and inadvertently destroy your entire species.
“To say nothing of myriad other species you share Galaxy 1.0 with.”
Melock, lost in his tirade, paused and silently looked out into the crowd of uniform faces. He raised a hand to his face and slid it down the length of his beard.
“I’ve ridden between the stars on your massive ships. We’re compatriots, you and I.”
He reached up and adjusted his top knot.
“I may not be the teacher you hoped for this evening, but I do promise to check in with you again from time to time and be certain, as I am at this moment, that you are on the correct path.
“Farewell, for now.”
Melock vanished from the theater to thunderous applause.