Somehow, it had all gone wrong. Gorgan hadn’t been looking forward to the fleshy, hairy bodies with their unusual excretions and strange habits. However, humans weren’t supposed to have this many optical inputs and the manual adjusting was giving him quite the headache. And the carapace…He’d been inside insectoids before but this was different. Hairy carapaces. This was the stuff terror was made of.
He’d been meant to infiltrate the newly sentient species, learn their ways, if they’d be acceptable to trade with. But somewhere in the upload, there’d been a mix up. Certainly the limbs that he waved in his vision included no tactile digits. He couldn’t communicate or operate this world’s inelegant technology in this form. He was much too small. Gorgan had wracked his brain to figure out what to do.
It was by pure chance that his thread caught on a rock as he paced back and forth. He looked up above, strong tensile threads singing in the breeze. With one barbed leg, he strummed the thread. It was slightly pliable and would make a great building tool.
The question was what he could make of it. Gargon contemplated as he stared up at the interlinked threads above, shining silver bright and singing pure notes.
Suddenly he remembered an old method of signalling. A 3D structure, representing mathematical knowledge, used as a substitute for language.
The way that they had discovered human intelligence.
Sir, our operative is missing.
The ship commander inclined her head at the officer, indicating that he had her attention.
There seems to have been a glitch in transfer. A solar flare disrupted the electromagnetic fields. We believe he has gone to a different host. The biosignal lock was lost.
You’ve checked all the usual frequencies?
The silent affirmation from the officer was regretful.
Give him some more time. The Commander’s tone was dismissive. He is very experienced. He will contact us. There is still time before the takeover.
Very well Commander.
Around and around he went, thread spooling behind him. Vaguely, he dreamed of weavers from his home world, the ancient tradition of the story tapestry. Their species had long outgrown it, keeping examples only an anthropological sake, to see how far they had evolved. He found himself wondering if they’d felt such a sense of achievement.
With a little flourish of his abdomen, he twirled the last thread in the strange little cone. With one sharp leg, he set the structure thrumming. The thin threads that anchored the cone and jutting pole sang, accompanied by a soft hum from the hashed surrounding structure.
Crouching back, Gorgan felt a sense of accomplishment. He’d put them in a radius about the location he was supposed to have been deposited. His first few attempts had been clumsy, but most of the structures were spot on for mathematical model. The most beautiful sounds came from them; a chorus of notes singing in the wind.
These legs, with their strange bends and hinging were proving to be very useful indeed. He wondered if they might be incorporated into new equipment designs. He examined them carefully with the eight eyes he’d now adapted too. He made a mental note to discuss it with the design team when he returned.
He was careful not to think about the word if. He was not out of hope. Not yet. He had some time left before the host’s natural instincts asserted themselves. He wondered if the Commander would remember the older fallback protocols.
Somewhere off in the distance, he heard a strange buzzing sound. There was a twang, followed by a jangling of chords, a rhythm angry and desperate. Gorgan’s mandibles clacked together. He was so, so hungry.
“Dude!” The stick crashed next to the delicate structure. “Check out this crazy thing.”
“That is crazy!” A set of big brown eyes over a long and protruding nose came close to touching the structure. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Take a picture. We might make a million dollars out of it.”
“Or we could just put it up on the internet.” The lens moved in, closing on the tiny filaments.
“Yeah, I guess. Have you taken the shot?”
“Look at it.”
“That’s awesome. You can see the tiny threads. Wonder what whack spider did that?”
“Who knows. Wanna get a brew?”
The spider’s mandibles clicked delightedly as it sucked the juicy insides of the fly. Its feast was accompanied by the tinkling notes of song that it didn’t recognise from its own web. Still, it rather enjoyed the change. It worked in such great harmony with its own web.
Maybe it would go explore. It could be another spider in its territory. The spider’s mandibles clicked defensively with the thought.
A memory lingered at the back of its mind. It should remember something. But…it must be nothing.
Satsified, the spider stalked its web.
Outside the atmosphere, a ship in camouflage mode moved into a time fold.
At a workstation, a clock blinked zeros, lighting up the open electronic manual beneath, highlighting the page on mathematical forms and maydays.
The lab was empty: the mission had been a failure. The loss of a good operative and the dearth of information only compounded the misadventure.
The ship winked out of the galaxy, leaving behind the spider, playing with its fly.
This is prompted by this incredible (and I believe, unidentified) structure, brought to my attention by the latest flash fiction challenge at terribleminds.