Although an opus intended to run from pieces 98 through 102 was scrapped, and even though “Mimi” appeared in a Feeble Fable, I was able to salvage a portion of the set aside saga and create this story. Mimi was overjoyed by the news, and I think she gives a fine performance, along with “Probe” who is “essayed” by Boots the Impaler.
(The following is a translation of the numeric language of Probes)
In 1977, Probe appeared at a point roughly halfway between the Earth and Moon. Probe neither passed through the Oort Cloud, nor by the gas giants, nor navigated the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars to get to where he was; one moment Probe wasn’t roughly halfway between the Earth and Moon, the next he was.
“Just the shithole for Probe’s amusement,” thought Probe, after he took a quick scan of the planet’s radio and television transmissions. The creators of Probe had neither designed him to think crudely; nor refer to himself in the third person; nor had they programmed any of the millions of sentient Probes they had sent into the galaxy to sniff out intelligent life to believe that s/he was the only relevant being in the Universe. But that’s what happened with this Probe. A faulty sensor had prevented Probe from receiving system updates. Probe had discovered and repaired the sensor, but by then it was too late. He already had gone “nixxy-smonnix” (“space happy”), and only direct updates designed to correct the syndrome could cure it.
Probe remained at the same position, automatically moving along with the solar system, never varying his distance from Earth. He was mesmerized by the way the blue globe rotated, as though he had never seen a planet turn before; and, for two days straight, Probe watched professional wrestling on TV, for it happened to be the first transmission he had uploaded.
As a physical object, Probe was a red orb the size of a golf ball. Yet within he contained an astonishing amount of memory and computation power, so much as to seem infinite to a less advanced race. Probe also had the ability to create artificial wormholes and “string” information through them, information which arrived in real time to the recipients–provided they were within eighty light years or so–for strings tended to degrade beyond that distance.
Only information, like system updates, could pass through artificial wormholes and come out intact. The discoverer of artificial wormhole technology didn’t have long to revel in his discovery; he was atomized and spat out the other side like so much molecular confetti, when he got too close to the opening whilst performing his eureka dance. The Probe that came to Earth, however, had arrived via a natural wormhole, one that anything can pass through and remain complete; a natural formation, which occasionally, temporarily and randomly happens in the fabric of spacetime. Plainly, Probe came to Earth by chance. The nixxy smonnix thinking contraption could have wound up anywhere.
But he didn’t.
The hole dropped him here.
And he watched TV.
Pro wrestling, ala 1977.
Probe first fixated on a program called “Superstar Wrestling,” aired by an otherwise meaningless television station. The Mighty Probe, as he began to refer to himself sometime during the show, identified with the worldview of a combatant named “Lumberjack Luke.”
“Shut your holes, ya’ bunch of filthy pig farmers,” Lumberjack Luke had shouted at the studio audience.
Even though Probe was brilliantly engineered to quickly decipher and understand all languages, “spoke” by any means, by any lifeform; even though Probe was a profoundly quick study regarding context; even though Probe could see through the veil of achievement that all sentient species cloak themselves behind, as to conceal their downside; even though Probe understood the Universe to a degree that no human being could approach–Probe–The Mighty Probe, that is, believed that professional wrestling was real.
The Mighty Probe spent hours scanning the planet for similar shows and was not disappointed. He even ran into an interview program in which someone claimed that “rasslin’ was phoney.”
“Shut your hole, filthy pig farmer.”
All the Mighty Probe’s mental and emotional functions were affected by nixxy-smonnix. But physically He was the same old Probe He always was. And although critical thinking was no longer a big ticket item in the Mighty Probe’s mind, he did remember to perform his basic function, if only in a nixxy-smonnix sort of way.
Probe’s job was to locate thinking planets, collect data then relay the information through a wormhole string to the nearest Traveller–an eternal, organic spaceborn offshoot of the creator race, known as a Qddytte (QUI-dite), whose job was to judge the readiness of an up and coming species for Contact.
It was a simple yet effective practice. A Probe would sniff a trail of artificial radio signals to its source, then compile a file of stunning depth regarding the history, technology, science, art and psychology of the lead species, open a hole and string the information to a Traveller. Probe didn’t even have to “aim”; wormhole strings automatically located the nearest receptor (unless it lay beyond the fail point). Probe would await confirmation through the same string-hole, after which Probe would snap the hole shut and move on to the next world, his function complete.
The Mighty Probe, however, no longer cared about the filthy pig farmer called protocol. He only wanted to watch more wrestling. So he shot off a half-assed string if only to shut the hole of that pig farmer voice in his system that kept nagging at him, and along with it he attached the interstellar equivalent of a Do Not Disturb sign. Probe didn’t await confirmation, for that would take time away from watching wrestling. He dashed off a message, sent it and snapped the string-hole shut. Either a Traveller or empty space got the message. Probe didn’t care which. He only cared about wrestling.
This happened from 13 to 15 August 1977. Echoes of the signal sent by The Mighty Probe bounced back from the direction they had been randomly sent when the string snapped shut. This was normal, and the echoes rebounded harmlessly back to the vicinity of Earth as radio waves. Later, an American radio astronomer in Ohio would see the string echoes on a print out and write “Wow!” in the margin of the printout.
(Dutifully translated from the Qddytte language)
“Nixxy smonnix,” the Qddytte Traveller sighed upon reading the string sent by the Mighty Probe. The crazy fucker had also deliberately snapped it shut before she could reply to it, and he’d disabled his long distance reception sensors, thus making him incommunicado. Probe, however, couldn’t do anything about his transponder, whose signal linked to the Qddyte’s computer via a one way stringhole that was otherwise useless. Until he opened his receptors, all she could do was keep track of the bastard.
Perhaps that was because on some level he knew he was nixxy smonnix and wanted to keep it that way. Who knows. Some minds discover they prefer nixxy smonnix to the alternative. If he had left the hole open she could have sent a system update and restored the little creep to sanity. Now she was obliged to go to this Earth place and fix him.
Her name was Mimi–or that is what we must call her because it’s the closest the human mind and tongue can get to her real name. A human could make sense of her physical form, if that person could conceive of a three meter tall, thin yet sturdy, six-armed, bi-ped who was part HR Giger, part Hanna Barbera, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and had a pair of amazingly expressive ruby eyes atop a head much like that of an insect–but her ears and mouth, though extant, were concealed from view.
Being spaceborn, Mimi was nearly four times the size of a worldborn Qddytte. And she was essentially immortal and indestructible, made so by an infusion of the galaxy’s highest technology at birth. You could shoot, bomb, gamma ray, supernova and black hole Mimi, and she’d just bat those lovely ruby eyes at you as though you had farted in church.
Mimi had a home: it was an enormous, luxurious facility that housed thousands of spaceborn Qyddytes. And she had been looking forward to going home to see her friends when the string arrived. She was alone aboard her Contact patrol vessel, nearing the end of her latest ambassadorial mission.
As rare an occurrence as, say, decapitation is on Earth, Mimi knew that nixxy-smonnix was what was up with the Probe to the same degree of immediate certainty a person has when s/he see a headless body, even if for the first time. Some shit doesn’t require research.
Mimi had arrived at this correct assessment upon reading the message:
Filthy pig farmer–
The Mighty Probe will single-handedly beat you into a pulp at the Masonic Temple next Tuesday.
The Mighty Probe
Fortunately, enough radio information had leaked in, thus tagged along with the string for Mimi to easily translate it. Not that it made sense to her other than to bring nixxy-smonnix to mind. She was also able to cull further data regarding Earth from Probe’s transponder signal. Not much, but enough to understand that though the race was a technological one, it was definitely not yet up to capturing a Probe, let alone tinkering with a Probe’s mind.
For an eternal being who lived almost always along the edge of light speed, a seventy-some-odd-year repair job (which, when all factored in, would be the amount of Earth time she’d be delayed in getting home) was merely an annoyance, like having one more thing dumped on your desk at quitting time, or pulling in the driveway and realizing you forgot to pick up bread at the store. Although Mimi was far more acutely aware of time than a human, she had no sense of wasted time; for eternal Mimi, time was an inexhaustible resource. But she could experience irritation when she had to do something that failed to challenge her sizable intellect. Yet she not for a second considered blowing off the nixxy smonnix Probe. Although there was nothing Probe could do to Earth, Mimi was a moral creature; and a fellow being, from her own society, was suffering from a form of treatable dementia. Minus long range solutions, Mimi left for Earth.
As she headed toward Earth, Mimi was able to load the planet’s past radio and television transmissions into the ship’s computer. There was nothing she could do for Probe until she got in close range of him, but she could check out Earth’s civilization and see if they were ready for Contact.
Not yet. Too green.
Mimi, however, was impressed by the speed the race was taking the technological hurdles at –upper tenth percentile, perhaps better–but they were still too deeply rooted in superstition and fear and leadership for direct Contact; she doubted that even though she was viewing data a human generation out of date, that they’d be any closer for readiness upon her arrival than they were in “1997.” Still, she liked their music, and had sympathy for the longing expressed by the millions whose voices were conveyed to her across space: “Are We Alone?” was a big theme in many of the programs that Mimi had screened. Poor Earth just happened to be located in a sparsely populated section of the galaxy; deep scans and archives revealed that for a radius of hundreds of light years humankind was the advanced species they had been looking for. Earth was surrounded by life, but the nearby living worlds were either just getting underway or had intelligences that went extinct before taking the last step into interstellar space. This longing, which might eventually develop into a racial neurosis, made Earth a candidate for soft contact.
There were two points of contention that Mimi had to consider first: Humankind had split the atom for bad intent before they invented the integrated circuit. Few species that did such a thing survived long–some, but not the majority–for such spoke volumes about the species’ psyche. Suicidal tendencies. Yet there was only a slim margin of time between the events, so there might be hope. And she detected nothing in the way of temporal distortion coming off Earth; which could mean that the civilization went under before they could experiment with the essentially useless concept of time travel. But that was a slippery thing at best, as likely to change at any moment as not.
The ship began the braking process long before arriving at the solar system. Mimi was already within range of the Probe, where she could have easily bypassed his systems and reorganized his mind upon her arrival somewhere between Neptune and Uranus, but decided to wait. Another check on Probe revealed that he was watching the fortieth Wrestlemania, from the exact same spot he first appeared, and hadn’t departed from, in 1977.
Mimi didn’t quite grasp the concept behind professional wrestling; in fact it was one of the strangest forms of theatre she had ever witnessed, and she had seen plenty. But readings taken from Probe’s disturbed mind displayed an honest love for the activity. And Mimi figured that it would break the little guy’s heart to be sent away from it, even after being cured of his nixxy smonnix.
Rounding Mars and heading toward Earth, Mimi had a big idea.
“Hello, Mighty Probe,” Mimi spoke into his system, from her ship, a few thousand kilometers to the right.
The Mighty Probe reacted with a start, which allowed Mimi to zap him with the long postponed system updates.
“Nixxy Smonnix,” Probe said. “I was nixxy smonnix.”
“Indeed,” Mimi said. “But you are better now. I have an idea that might be to your liking.”
On her way home, Mimi made the following log entry:
“Probe 996547 is permanently stationed one light year outside the Earth system, studying the species, which is not quite ready for Contact, but may be within three cycles. They warrant special watching.
“Due to Earth’s relative isolation there’s the risk of destructive racial neurosis. So I’ve assigned the Migh-um, Probe 996547 the task of initiating soft Contact. He will soon start transmitting prime numeric pulses to the planet and no other information. Probe says he saw it done that way in an Earth movie [actually, it had been Mimi who’d screened the film on her way in–Probe watched only wrestling]; since he has studied the race, I have deferred to his judgment. It’ll not be intrusive to the degree of causing panic, but at the same time it will give those who want, need, to learn about the greater shape of things, something to look forward to. End entry.”
Mimi left out the parts about Probe’s battle with nixxy-smonnix and her converting his transponder so he may receive incoming TV signals at his new post in real time. He had been following multiple wrestling storylines all over the globe, and expressed his desire to remain current.
Sometimes you have to roll with the nixxy smonnix of it all.