Dec 3
A new kind of sentience

The Superior is such an abrasive fellow, but in a pleasant sort of way. I can’t begin to describe him to you. He’s an animal, but extr-emely intelligent. I mean we’re sentient animals, too, but somehow he hasn’t lost any of his animalness. He’s a lizard! There you go, that explains everything. We come from chimpanzees which are less violent . . . I should stop talking. I’ll just tell you all about it in my meeting with him today. 

It is early afternoon and I have finished a hard day’s work. I head over to Sector One, which is the Golden Mountain’s sector, the old-est neighborhood on the planet, and the home of the universe’s elite citizens. Anyone can go there during their free hours, but you have to be on your best behavior because their council has pre-cedence throughout the whole universe. Their council is deathly serious. They do not have a designated fun time or closed hours like the rest. You do something they think is wrong, they always res-pond immediately with new legislation.

I’ve gone to visit the General many times, but in recent visits I have quickly found that I have learned nearly all he has to teach me, or is willing to teach me. He isn’t exactly chipper. Or bright. Or even nice. Thoughtful, yes. Humorous, indubitably. But kind he is not. 

He lives in a predominantly Elite area, probably because he is the most sensible Superior I have ever met. I have often thought what terrible relationship has endured between them these many years. Their species developed simultaneously and so they have been in competition for millennia. That must be why they chose the names Elite and Superior for themselves. The competition goes on; a feud to come up with the best name. The title Elite implies that they think they are more wise, more intelligent, and better collaborators within their group. Which is true: they oft participate in government, have a great relationship with humans, and generally tender and sweet. 

Superior implies Superiors think they are naturally more capable, and are disassociated from other species simply because of nat-ural ability. That they are: they are tall, strong, fast, intelligent, have remarkable telepathic glands, and are overall cranky and violent. General is a paragon of these virtues.

I get off the train and turn to take in the view. The Golden Mountain is darkened by the dying light. The sun is setting to the right, shed-ding an unbelievably hotred hue across the horizon. The edifice is a symbol of our unified universe. It tells of a golden era in which we have true equity. 

General’s office is in an interesting formation of buildings that looks like a cave above ground. The formation has no sharp angles or symmetry. A human could easily get lost inside it without detailed directions. Luckily I can retrieve a map of the building through tele-pathy just like any Superior. 

When I enter, his lights, just like always, are so low that it is hard to see in his office. He hardly goes on call, having garnered the pos-ition of chief computer technician because of his military creden-tials. And so he sits in the dark, watching with his bright, beady, thermalsensing eyes. I tell the computer to turn up the lights. Then I see clearly the lizard’s behemoth body. The orange scales of his chest and shoulders glitter as if on fire. He sits in a large chair that could seat four of me, sprawled out. He lets out a snarl.

“Is it time for lunch?” he asks.

The terrifying image of me roasting alive on a spit and screaming enters my brain. I try to ignore the image. I send him an image of him in a vat of molten ore, his scales peeling off, and trying to scr-atch his way out. I’ve tried telling him to stop before; this is the only thing I have found that works. 

“You’re the bravest man I know, Jess. That’s why I like you,” he says, “Like you to eat.”

“Oh, yeah? And then who would banter with you then, huh? You’d eat me at your own expense? You’re getting soft,” I reply.

He smiles a reptilian grin, which looks disconcertingly like preparing to take a bite. 

“I see the council forced you to take my lessons. I can’t tell you how awesome it is they think I can teach you forever. Now I don’t have to work again for the rest of my life!” he laughs.

“Well, then what I could use your help with is how to teach some-one the trade. I’m getting an assistant soon, you see,” I say.
He conjures up an image of me standing over a crouched Superior, trying to teach the trade, when the superior gets mad, jumps up, and slashes my heart out with its giant claws. Now I remember why I stopped coming. Each lesson had something to do with the bodily injury of my person in some grotesquely visceral way. I replace the Superior in the thought with a girl and relay it back to him. He’ll find it funny when the girl somehow slashes me open with her bare hand, but in my mind’s eye she fixes the computer with ease, gets up slowly, and with a bright smile gives me a kiss.

“A girl? About time they started bringing girls into my department. I’ll get one for the office, I think,” he jokes.

“Okay, that was not my decision. I just wanted an assistant. They are the ones who suggested it be a potential mate,” I argue.

“Right . . . their decision,” he winks telepathically, “Nothing wrong with wanting a mate. You’re old enough.”

“I’m fifteen!” I shudder at the thought.

“I got my first mate when I was four!” he laughs.

“Well you develop quicker,” I insist. “When do Elites first get mates?”

“Don’t care,” he replies.

We sit in silence except for the slow click of his scales clacking on the hard surface of his chair.

“Well, any suggestions other than that?” I ask.

I get the telepathic equivalent of a blank stare.

“Come on! I’ll talk!” I threaten.

He turns his head to look at the wall. It’s his way of saying he wants to focus on telepathy. It’s a habit of his. I yell aloud, which always annoys him.

“I wonder what you look like with a beard! Would it look more like an intricate horn than hair follicles!?” I yell aloud.

He covers his ear cavities with his hands, scratching at the one closest to me. His ears itch for some reason when he hears any-thing in the register of voices. He claims even certain instruments drive him crazy.

“Just stop! Tell the girl you love her and then she’ll do everything you want her to!” 

His yelling is much more pleasant than mine.

“I shouldn’t threaten her with bodily injury if she does things incor-rectly?” I ask.

“That would help, of course,” he responds.

“Anything else?” I egg him on.

“Bring her along next time you come,” he insists.