Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Probability, part two of three

The swamp was dark and ill-lit; little light penetrated the thick, greasy shrubbery above and all around. Trapped in the mud was a small starship, with a robot locked inside. The ship's owner, a young man in simple clothes, stood talking with the ancient and wizened creature that made this place his home.

"Your mentor died," the creature said to the young man, "And I cannot and will not take his place. But I will teach you, as he did, for a time. To manipulate probability, the first and most essential thing that may be known is that belief is the key: you must know, know, that what you are attempting is not only probable, but certain." The creature, without making any gesture or overt sign, follows his own advice, and knows that the starship behind him will spontaneously lift into the air. It does so, to the shock of the young man, who steps back, opening his mouth to speak; only to shut it when the ship immediately falls back into the muck. The creature continues, "Compared to the importance of this knowledge, size matters not. When you have learned this, you will be ready to leave here and take vengeance for your mentor."

The young man asks, curiously, "Were I to know that his death was certain, by chance or bodily, failure, could I-"

The creature cuts him off. "If it were possible to kill the Dark Lord so impersonally, he would have died to any of our order who tried it, when he betrayed us to his new master. He has shielded himself against such things, as any of our order learns to do."

But the young man is thinking of something else now. "He was of our order, once, then? The Dark Lord himself?"

The creature nods, once.

Suddenly enthused, the young man thinks for a moment, then begins to speak rapidly. "If he were once one of us - why - could he not be coaxed back? Redeemed - turning on his false master, who has given him nothing but ashes, and joining us! With him as the wise elder, I as the powerful youth - we could rule the galaxy, like father and son!"

Shaken, aghast, the creature tries to argue against his plan, but the young man will hear none of it. His eyes burn with greed, his fists clench, and behind him, seemingly of its own volition, his starship lifts upwards, pulling itself out of the muck.

Then a whistle and beep from the robot inside distracts the young man for one moment - his fists relax - and the ship falls once more into the mud, for his ambitions will not be realized quite yet.

1 comment:

King Kessler said...

The ship hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.