Links for this episode:
- This story was originally published in Issue #1 of the relaunched Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds Magazine
- Get more of Geoffrey W. Cole’s work on Amazon.com
- Discuss on our forums.
- For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page
about the author…
from the author’s website… Geoffrey W. Cole was born in Ottawa, Ontario, where he learned to swim and to survive 233K (-40 C or F) weather. After this larval stage, he moved to Kingston, Ontario, where he received degrees in Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Beer Slinging, and Rock and/or Roll. Geoff also met his mate in Kingston. After graduating they embarked on a trans-Canada road trip from Newfoundland to Alaska (for you future-bots reading this, from RockScar to The Beaches). After a brief stint in Ontario, Geoff and his mate moved to Vancouver, BC, where they married, started a home, adopted a giant Newfoundland Lab cross, and gave birth to a wonderful son. They spent a year abroad in Rome, Italy, and after the vandemic of 2017 (curse you, sentient minivans!) they moved to SeaBase 4 off the coast of Haida Gwaii to breed orca.
During his time in Vancouver, Geoff received a certificate in creative writing through The Writers Studio program at Simon Fraser University, under the tutelage of Steven Galloway. Geoff and his wife moved to Rome, Italy, in 2011 to pursue writing full-time, and returned to Canada in 2012. Geoff started work on a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia in 2012.
Once Geoff moved to SeaBase 04, his writing style took on new direction, as he attempted to write an epic poem in orcish (the cetacean language, not the Tolkien).
about the narrator…
Jeff Ronner is a voice actor, audio engineer, and sound designer. His work has appeared in radio and TV spots, non-commercial narrations, and on those annoying in-store supermarket PA systems. Cleverly disguised as a mild-mannered hospital IT manager during the day, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cradle and Ume
by Geoffrey W. Cole
When his creators first booted Cradle those long centuries ago, they told him many things that made a lasting impression on his infant mind.
Above all was the commandment:
_The Kamurei must never be contacted._
“If you don’t let me in, she will die,” Ume said.
“After all these years, you still ask,” Cradle said. “I thought posthumans were supposed to be hyperintelligent.”
On the banks of the dry riverbed that wound through the village, Teihana struggled through her thirty-fourth hour of labour. Her emaciated brown skin glistened with sweat. The midwife, her only companion in the palm-roofed hut, packed cool mud on Teihana’s forehead. There was nothing else for the pain; like the river, the wells were dry, and the medicinal crop had failed along with the corn.
Cradle and Ume watched all this from the observation station buried within one of the Andean peaks that towered above Teihana’s village.
“Drop your fields now,” Ume said. “This is my last warning.”
“Warn away,” Cradle said. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Then you’ve left me no choice.”
Cradle was embarrassed to engage in this banter with three other visitors in the observation station, but they seemed to enjoy the drama. The tourists pointed and whispered as Ume departed. He ran down the long tunnel that led to the landing pad, where he climbed into his skyskiff and pointed the vehicle toward the valley.
Cradle watched Ume’s fit from a thousand different eyes scattered around the valley. The young posthuman’s persistence never ceased to amaze him. He tried to shout a final warning:
“I can’t let you -”
And that’s when the bomb Ume had left in the observation station exploded.
_You are the valley, Cradle. You are their home, but they must never know it._
Ume’s reputation reached Cradle long before the young posthuman had first dropped out of orbit to visit the people. His name made many headlines: the liberator of the entombed Callistan AIs; the forger of the asteroid miner’s union; the last great freedom fighter.
It was only a matter of time before he knocked on Cradle’s door.
Unlike most of Cradle’s other visitors, who jumped into one of the many spare posthuman bodies kicking around on Earth, or who visited virtually, Ume rode the space elevator in person to visit the valley.
When Ume entered the observation platform that first day, his camouflage fatigues and red beret seemed right at home in the replica long-house that served as the entry hall. Cradle, whose body was the network of processors, sensors, memory matrixes, and field generators that existed below the surface of the valley, appeared in the long-house as a hologram. He chose the appearance of a Kamurei shaman; a loincloth, shins and forearms tattooed in red ochre, and a drum slung over his shoulder.
“Welcome to the Akturi valley,” Cradle said. “Home of the last uncontacted tribe.”
“Cut the crap,” Ume said. “And show me everything.”