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The egress beam can penetrate many miles of matter to establish a stable transport solution. The beam found the edge of a cardboard box four feet off the ground. Because the surrounding area was also all cardboard box, including most of the floor, the beam determined this was the safest egress location. Vup was transported four feet above the floor on the very edge of an empty box that once contained a new washing machine. 

The sound of boxes and some significant amount of mass crashing to the hardwood floor woke Yensa. She had been up most of the night trying to win a tank in a video game tournament. The couch had been good enough when her fuel ran out. She turned her head to the side and watched as a dark figure climbed out of the now strewn pile of empty product boxes. Crypto had been doing well, so she had been click-turning it into system upgrades and groceries and a humidifier because why not. After sixteen months of this, the floor was a pathway you navigated about a loafer wide through a mystical cardboard garden. This world was growing constantly, and slowly spreading to surrounding rooms, and inevitably the rest of America. So yeah, maybe she was depressed, she thought. The Alien standing in her living room might know.


(Who the fuck lives like this?) thought Vup as he picked himself off the floor. He had been Earth assignment for time out of mind. To say he had gone native would be accurate.  The arrangement was simple. They told him what to do. He did it. They left him alone a long time. Last time it was a pick up and transport. This time it was the same thing, with a tiny caveat. He couldn't use his typical perception altering wardrobe. He'd have to go full recovery gear, which meant he couldn't hide his identity.

"Can I help you? Are you lost mister spaceman?"

Vup turned and saw a still half-asleep Yensa Parker (Yensa is a nickname. Nobody knows her real name) propped up on one elbow smiling at him. Vup busted up laughing. He couldn't help it. The sheer ridiculousness of the moment had him. "I'm actually here to kidnap you if you can believe that." He said when he stopped laughing. "But that's not happening now. I thought I'd get you asleep. So now I guess I have to explain it instead."

For her part, Yensa was also shocked at how calm she was. She thought she'd at least have an "AHA!" moment and get all excited when this eventually happened, but she had been so throughly convinced that instead of thinking "TOLD YA!" when she saw Vup, it was more "well, yeah".  And instead of that worrying her, it steeled her unexpectedly. She pointed at the recliner sitting catty-corner from the couch. Vup accepted the offer and unceremoniously plopped down. That got her giggling a little and Vup smiled. He understood.

"So, why kidnap me? You after my Bitcoins?" joked Yensa. She didn't have any of that anymore. She had Eth. "No, it has to do with something you did recently. You saw through something we didn't see through and we need to understand how you did that. Typically humans don't go much further than detailed stat analysis when making stronger deduction." 


Yensa smiled and with no pause started. "That's the problem with detecting omission models. It's very hard to know something is missing. So detecting omission control models is insanely hard, and almost impossible without some newly discovered data. However, you can start to find pathways and clues if you look for patterns where you think gaps might be. And when you've found about four or five of those, you can start to make structure, and see relationships. That's how I did it."

"You looked for patterns in what might not be there?" tested Vup.

 "Yes. That's all it was. So from your perspective, it needs to be determined if there's a quantifiable methodology behind my discovery, or my brain has some neat sub-processing ability and it can't be taught, or I simply lucked out. Could I be a willing participant in this data collection?" tested Yensa.

"I mean, I'd imagine having someone fully cooperate that wouldn't mind having the answer themselves would make it a lot easier. I'd have some ground rules. Things like, don't kill me. Don't maim me. Don't make me feel pain. Things like that." suggested Yensa.

"Oh, I doubt there'd be a need for any kind of physical data collection or interaction. The gist of this was going to be you waking up on a ship, and me trying to dazzle you with bullshit about helping save our race of people from some... conjured fate. They wouldn't have bothered if they were going to plug you into something." said Vup.

"You been here a while?" asked Yensa. 

"I've been here a very long time by your standards. I was here before this country existed for a while. I've seen so much." said Vup.

"Then you had to see it." said Yensa. 

She had noticed that an entire aspect of the human condition was being completely omitted everywhere. At some point thousands of years ago a decision had been made to simply not tell anyone else about something very important.

"We also saw what we were supposed to see. That's part of it. Did you have that part?" asked Vup.

"No." said a genuinely surprised Yensa. But it wasn't a big deal that Aliens hadn't noticed either. Again, omission control is very hard to detect. But that's not what was important at the moment.

"However long this trip takes, we talk the whole way as much as possible ok?" asked Yensa.

"Are you making that another condition? That's not a problem. You are fascinating." said Vup.

"I want to know about your people, your culture, your history, how you relate to us, all of it. In return, I can tell you how to rock at first person shooters and what anime to avoid. Oh, one thing I do want to know. How did you find me?" asked Yensa. She instinctively reached for an energy drink that wasn't there.

"I'm actually on your forum. I wasn't a regular participant, but anything I touch gets flagged for immediate collection and sent back to local prime. So even if I'm not reading, they are. They saw your hypothesis and data and it all matched. They tested immediately. What's surprising is you not trying it out even once." said Vup.

"What, sing the right musical notes and ask for something? Well, I'd make a little emitter if it was me. Something you could tuck under a collar, and flick away like a bug if needed. But no, not my bag of tea. Cheat codes are for noskills." said Yensa. "Either way, how does this work?"

"Well, since your place is a mess, we go outside and I tap this thing and a moment later we are in orbit in my ship. Then, figure about thirteen days of felt time. Big ship though. It will go by fast. There are reasonably comprehensive human accommodations. We do ferry your ambassadors fairly often." understated Vup.

"So, what for dinner?" asked Vup as he approached Yensa. He had picked up the expression from her. "Oh, Vup's Sin again." said Yensa. "I really wish you'd stop calling them that." but Yensa was a natural troll. She couldn't help herself. Vup's sin was some of the best hotwings ever imagined. It was almost a crime for Vup's people to eat any kind of meat but Vup got curious one time. Sent on a mission to "recover" an MIT student for "enhanced study", he picked up an entire bucket of them, untouched, sitting on a gaudy black and gold table covered with party refuse, and just brought them along for the trip. Over twenty years he perfected his own recipe, and had it programmed into any ship he captained. The vestigal bone where his own people's teeth used to be was more than adequate for eating them.

They sat in the main area of the massive crown shaped transport ship. The mild rotation created a vast area with gravity for things needing it like human food preparation. Yensa found herself spending lots of time nearby. The sophisticated machinery created everything in real time, while monitoring it's own work. You could notice subtle differences between four generations of Vup's Sin. It was improving cooking time and flavor texture, even to a recipe this old. She needed this technology.

They talked about his own people's origin, and their trials and tribulations. They talked about the gravity of the discovery she had made, and why it had become so important outside Earth. 

It wasn't just Earth. 

Vup's people had it. Three other races they tested had it too. Yensa's discovery was much bigger than she had imagined. They couldn't even begin to dream of an origin yet, but Vup was certain if any being alive could find it, it was Yensa. That something of this nature would be the tie that binds all life was troubling.



(another short one. this was part dream, part insomnia I think)




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