01

First Contact

*Camera On – Recording Script*

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” a loud voice called out, gradually becoming edgier, “welcome to our lab. My name is Toka Nivara, and I will be your host for the journey.”

Toka stood near a corner in the small room. Below his feet, a thick black carpet with circular patterns covered the floor between the silver camera aimed at his face, and the dark blue wall behind him. Although the summer day was a hot one, he’d raised the collar of his black and green coat to block the cold breeze blowing through the room.

“Now, listen carefully.” Toka ruffled his long curly hair as he moved toward the camera. He placed his palms on its edges, showing off how the redness in his hair almost matched the color of his eyes. “This is a—”

“Don’t touch the camera, please,” a quiet voice insisted, its tone calm yet firm.

“Why not?” Toka raised his brows as he looked back at the person behind the camera. “I’m trying to create a connection with the audience.”

“You’re blocking part of the camera’s vision. The audience won’t be able to get the full picture.”

“Ms. Laya,” Toka began raising his palm with an arrogant smile, “you may be a scientist, but I have been a host my entire life. I know how to give viewers an image they would like. Please relax and let me do the job you hired me for.”

“That’s what you don’t understand.” Laya’s voice remained calm. “They can’t see you. I need you to understand that this is not another game show you’re hosting. This is a scientific experiment and may be the most important one for our world.

Toka drew his brows together. “If they can’t see me, then what is the camera for? And how are they getting the message?”

Laya sighed. “They’re reading it. The camera you see is special; it transfers the data from our world to another. In this case, the world is called—” Laya paused while a sound of shuffling papers dominated the room, “Earth. We are communicating with Earth.”

“What is that?” Toka asked, his eyes widening.

“Can you please stick to presenting and leave the technicalities to me?” Laya’s bronze arm approached Toka with a piece of paper, revealing multiple burns on her hand. “Just read what’s on this for now.”

“Fine.” Toka sighed. “Can you at least tell me how the connection works, so I know how to act? This is what you’re paying me for, right?”

Laya nodded. “The camera and the microphone on top of it are connected to an intuition software I run on my computer. The program collects the image from the lens’s field of vision and combines it with the voice recording before it runs several filters that render emotions when possible. The finished result is a script that describes everything that happened.”

“Like a book?”

“Exactly.” Laya’s voice sounded lighter now. “I then take that script and add clear instructions to it before I run it through a transmitter and a translator. The transmitter puts the words into the mind of someone from Earth, then makes sure the words are in a language and terminology they can understand.”

“Does this mean we have a partner in their world?”

“Not exactly. The person who receives the message gets it in the form of inspiration. They think it’s an inner voice speaking to them. This is why I must add instructions to the script. The instructions compel them to do with the script what I want them to do. In the case of this experiment, it will be to transfer the message to the masses in a manner that allows me to collect feedback.”

Toka smiled. “What’s the name of our mystery receiver? I like to know who I’m working with.”

“Don’t know, and don’t care. As long as the job is getting done, it doesn’t matter who’s doing it.” Laya paused. “Now, can you read the paper, please?”

“Alright, just give me one second.” Toka paced the room, reading the paper in silence for a few moments before he turned to the camera. “I’m ready. Say action whenever you want.”

“There’s no action. The camera is rolling already. All of this is going into the script.”

“Okay, okay.” Toka took a deep breath. “Dear friends—”

“Stop!” Laya sighed loudly. “This is not on the paper.”

“Look, I got what you want me to do. I will transfer your message, but it’s up to me to spice it up, so let me do my job.”

“Fine,” Laya said, her voice taut with anger.

Toka turned his back to the camera before quickly facing it again, forcing his hair to fly to the top of his shoulder.

“Dear friends, welcome to an experiment that is the first of its kind. For the first time in the history of your world and ours, we will communicate with one another, but that won’t be the only thing we will do here. In fact, we will run three experiments simultaneously, and you get to be part of them all.”

Toka extended his arm toward the camera, raising his index finger. “First, we will be testing the transmitter to see how clear the connection can be between our worlds, and we will then gradually push it further to see how far we can take it. Second,” he raised his middle finger to join his index, “we programmed four invisible cameras like the one pointed at me now to follow four individuals from our world so you can see— Ahem…” he continued, clearing his throat, “So you can read about their lives and see their every action without them knowing they are being watched.”

Toka smiled, and flipped his hand, showing the back of his wrist to the camera as he added his ring finger to the raised ones. “The third is my favorite, and I’m sure you will like it too.” His smile grew wider. “Each of these four individuals were injected with a microrobot that will theoretically give us access to the decision-making part of their brain, and their inner voice. The bots are betas, and we are not sure yet about the level of access or how many decisions we will be able to control but guess what?” Toka lowered his shoulders, moved closer to the camera, and whispered, “You get to help us control the decisions. Whenever the bots give us the option to decide on behalf of our test subjects, you will be the one making the decision, choosing what they do next or how their life moves forward.”

Toka moved to the side of the camera and spoke to Laya. “I don’t understand, why don’t you run three different experiments? It seems to me if one fails, the others will too.”

“I did. I created the mind robots a long time ago, and took them for a test run, but they didn’t work. However, when I found that my new transmitter can influence people in their world, I figured that maybe the reason the bots didn’t work is because I can’t control someone from my world. Therefore, I connected the transmitter to the bot influencer so the decision of our Earth—”

“Friends,” Toka interrupted. “They are our friends.”

“Of course. So, the decision of our friends goes directly to the robot server without my interference.”

“You are a smart one, Ms. Laya.”

Laya stayed silent for a few seconds before she spoke again. “Just go back to the camera and finish this.”

Toka returned to the camera’s field of vision and faced it with a smile. “Today my friends, you get to make your first choice. I will tell you a little bit about our four candidates, and it’s up to you to decide whom we follow first.

“We have,” he went on, his voice raising gradually, “one!” he said shouting the number as he rubbed his hands in front of his face. “A seventeen-year-old girl from the kingdom of Noman. Her name is Amayeta, and she just joined Ontran, a school of giant robots where students learn how to power a robot twenty-meter tall, who can do various jobs. But let’s face it—”

Toka moved closer to the camera, turning his head, so only his right cheek was visible. “They are mostly used for battles, and Noman,” he taunted, turning his face back to the camera and raising his voice another octave, “is on the verge of a war.”

“Before you make your decision, however, we have—” he lowered to his knees and tapped on his legs to imitate a drum roll— “two!” he shouted.

“Please stop that!”

Toka ignored Laya and went on, “A nineteen-year-old male from the Kingdom of Tinro. His name is Jacantamore, and not only is he the prince, but he is supposed to take over the kingdom from his father who wants to retire. It looks like there’s trouble, though. It  seems Jacantamore doesn’t want the position, which is a big no-no in their culture.”

Toka presented his index finger to the camera, moving it from left to right and back a few times. “But we may never know what will happen to him because next, we have,” he raised his brows, “three!” he said shouting the number again.

“Seriously!” Laya shouted in return. “You need to cut that out. It’s annoying.”

Toka focused on the camera. “Odar,” he whispered with a dramatic flair. “A twenty-seven-year-old man who claims he has visited other dimensions and knows what happens after death. He is currently raising a cult to overthrow the monarch of his kingdom, Kemar. Rumors say he is showing his followers the truth. Will you know what that truth is about, or would you choose candidate?”

Toka narrowed his eyes. “Four!” he shouted.

“Aaagh!” Laya screamed.

“Our last candidate is Saya, a thirty-three-year-old woman from the kingdom of Wotaf, home of the magical beasts. She is the only woman who rides one of the beasts, and no one in her culture is happy about it, but fighting for her right to ride is not the only trouble Saya has as her country is on the other side of will it happen or will it not war with the giant robots of Ontran.”

“Good,” Laya said, her voice calm again. “Now, wrap it up please, I still have to process all of the data, and it will take me all night.”

Toka nodded and looked back into the camera. “As I told you, the choice is yours, so choose from the options below which story you want to follow first. The choice of the majority will go automatically to our receiver. We will then jump into the camera of your chosen candidate and see their life from their point of view.”

Toka paused. “Just remember before you make your choice that while we plan to eventually follow all of the candidates, time passes for us as it does for you, which means that by the time we visit the other candidates, their lives could be very different since time moves forward for them too. So, make your decision carefully, and remember, every choice has consequences.”

Toka moved closer to the camera. “Now let me tell you a little about us, my friends. I’m talking to you from the kingdom of Makateb, and—”

“Stop!” Laya interrupted. “Don’t reveal information that I didn’t ask you to reveal.”

“I just wanted them to know that—”

*Camera Off – Processing Script*

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