All around me, space ships of all sizes and shapes popped out of nowhere. Well, some of them just came towards me, flying up from earth or from behind it or from behind the moon or from outer space. Others actually popped out of hyperspace. At several places, tube-like wormholes opened up to spit out more of them.
Some ships had rockets, some looked like 19th century steel engraving illustrations, with rivets and ornamental spirals,
some were cartoon-like, others looked like plastic, and some were pixelated with low resolution. Some looked like children’s paintings. Some seemed somehow diffuse without a clear shape. As an experienced asifologist, I know this means they come from books without pictures, so you don’t know exactly how they look.
Behind the windows of some of the ships, I could see ugly creatures, real monsters. “I hate these racist stereotypes”, I muttered to myself. “Nobody looks like that! Aliens simply do not look like that! It is just ridiculous”. Dangerous savage monsters with slimy teeth, how ridiculous! But I did not have time again to think about exo-racism.
The space around me, normally absolutely soundless, was suddenly very loud. Now, a vacuum is normally noiseless, but now there was a lot of noise.
While some of the noise came from the rockets, most of it came from shooting and explosions. I had to react very quickly now because all around me, space ships had started shooting at each other. There where lasers and phasers and explosive rockets and transformer bombs and positron blasters. The concentration of radioactivity was rising all around my ship, reaching dangerous levels in some glowing clouds that had formed from the remnants of some exploded ships.
I had to use all my skill as a pilot and conduct some very fast maneuvering to evade the fate of some other ship around me that where blasted to pieces or severely damaged or just collided with each other. Fortunately, my space ship is an imaginary one. It exists in an as-if-bubble and I can change it on demand, using my asifomat.
The trick of using asifomatic technology is to make the meta-level of the story part of the story. You can then at any time change how your technology works. For example, the ships around me use rockets or warp drive or hyperspace or a combination of such technologies. While these are imaginary technologies, these ships are limited to a set of such technologies each, fixed by their author. The asifomat, on the other hand, enables me to change the rules of the game at any time. When I described this to Nannus, he was talking some gibberish about reflexivity and self-reference and creativity. I did not understand one word. Anyway, I don’t need warp drives or hyperspace, I am using as-if. That saves a lot of energy.
With one hand on the joystick and two on the asifomat, I was able to quickly reprogram the structure of my ship and create an intelligent computer that could do the steering for me. I made the mistake of equipping it with a voice. “Please fasten your seat belts” the computer said, “and thank you for observing all security measures.”
With all of my hands off the steering controls of the ship, I was now able to watch what was happening around me. “The estimated time to destruction is 400 seconds” my computer predicted with its friendly but otherwise emotionless voice. My situation had not really improved. Outside, it was a fearsome view because everybody was firing at everybody. You have not seen such a battle yet. Something must be very wrong with your society for it to create such a level of violent phantasies. The worst of all those ships were the pixelated ones that obviously came from computer games. The low resolution ones where shooting little blinking specks and made beeping noises, the high resolution ones where firing blasts of light creating complex noises and shooting glittering sparks. Although my space ship was now doing very quick jinks and emergency turns, I saw a growing danger of being hit.
Far away, a large spherical structure was attacked by smaller ships and then exploded. One little ship escaped from it, with a strange pilot wearing a black helmet-like mask. He had obviously lost control of his little ship, rotating and careening exactly towards me. I expected a collision any second, so I closed the visor or my space suite, expecting to be expelled to outer space at any time. In the very last split-second, my space ship managed to avoid collision.
One damaged ship fell down to earth and exploded above a place belonging to the country you call Russia. I am sure people there will think it was a meteorite. Of course, it wasn’t.
Outside, there were now several invasion fleets approaching earth. The big differences in their looks and technology showed clearly that they came from different books, films and computer games. There were also some ship crews obviously preparing bombs to blast earth away. But all of a sudden, these different groups started firing at each other. Obviously, if you want to do an invasion, it is better if the planet you want to invade is not blasted away or taken by another invading group. As a result the situation developed into a full-blown interstellar or even intergalactic war. This gave the unsuspecting people on earth some grace period but for me, the situation was now becoming really dangerous.
“Estimated time until destruction is 200 seconds. Thank you for …”. Clonk! There was some noise on the outer hull of my ship. Something had docked. I heard some other noise and then I had the uneasy feeling of no longer being alone. There was something inside the ship with me. “Intruder detected” the computer shouted, and an unnerving alarm sound started, coupled with some blinking lights. Some corrosive slime suddenly started dripping from the ceiling, burning a smoking whole into the floor beside me. Some stinking breath came from a whole in the ceiling I had to act quickly.
I hurriedly made some changes to the program running on my asifoscope. I wanted to reprogram it so that all the imaginary space ships would disappear. I hit the run button and discovered the next moment that the program had a bug.
All the different shooting space ships and their debris and glowing gas clouds around me faded away. What I had not been thinking of was that my own space ship was imaginary too. I was suddenly floating in outer space and my space ship had disappeared. Fortunately, I had closed my space suite. I could now clearly see the alien monster, with several rows of teeth on several rows of jaws nested inside each other and snapping at me, corrosive saliva dripping from its teeth. It did not have a space suite. It started showing signs of a beginning vacuum-induced explosion, being ripped apart by its internal pressure. I already feared that the corrosive body fluids would destroy my space suite but then it also disappeared. I was alone. Alone in outer space, orbiting Earth.
End of Part II, Continue reading tomorrow.