ROSE: I'd like to suggest a preliminary topic of discussion.

DIRK: Shoot.

ROSE: Or rather, a point of constructive criticism.

ROSE: That name.

DIRK: Yes.

ROSE: It absolutely blows.


DIRK: In the interest of open-minded discourse I'd like to counter by saying that I think it's pretty dope.

DIRK: But it's fine, we don't gotta settle for that.

DIRK: Do you have any better suggestions?


ROSE: I'm simply making an observation.

DIRK: Sigh.

DIRK: You could at least come up with an alternative.

DIRK: Making shit is hard.

DIRK: I think having a good name for this planet is an important first step in telling its story.

DIRK: Which is what we're here to do.

ROSE: I agree. Names are potent symbols after all.

ROSE: I just think we have a different understanding of what a good name entails in this instance.

DIRK: Huh.

ROSE: To be clear, I think it's the perfect name for this place.

ROSE: It's just that when it comes to habitable planets, I think there is some unwritten law of our reality which dictates that the names should be either boring...

DIRK: Like "Earth"?

ROSE: ...or insufferable.

DIRK: Like "Alternia" or "Beforus".

ROSE: ...

DIRK: Or "Deltritus", alright, I get it.

ROSE: Insufferably boring gets you bonus points.

ROSE: I think that's partly the point of it. It's a name to be lived on. It becomes a kind of furniture, so to speak.

ROSE: Or I suppose you could see it as a place of origin, the absolute zero-point of growth. Kind of like a family name.

ROSE: A name some people are always trying to leave behind, because it's the only way to be sure that one is moving at all.

ROSE: It's the dirt beneath your feet.

ROSE: So I suppose, in a way, every planet is Earth.

DIRK: ...

DIRK: Right.

DIRK: We're not going to call this planet Earth as well, though.

ROSE: No, that would be far too cliche. Quadruply so, even.

ROSE: Deltritus it is.

DIRK: It's amazing how you managed to both shit on my idea and make it seem a lot better justified in hindsight.

ROSE: Well, of course.

ROSE: I'm an author.

ROSE: I ply my trade on well-justified bullshit.

ROSE: Anyway, to business. Again.

DIRK: Yeah.

DIRK: The point is, we will be building intelligent life on this planet from scratch. That was one of our key mistakes with Earth C. We should have started our guidance from the very beginning, instead of letting it grow organically in our image.

ROSE: I'm not sure I agree, but go on.

DIRK: No please, knock yourself out. We stayed on topic for a few seconds and I'd hate to make it a habit.

ROSE: Our own world was abandoned by its gods. Or, I suppose, its gods never reached it.

ROSE: The trolls beat their game, but were unable to actually claim their reward and take their places in its pantheon. In a sense, our creators abandoned us.

ROSE: And while I can't say that our world developed "well", I don't think it would have been better off being "guided". Especially considering who would have been doing the steering.

ROSE: Although I guess you can't prove that kind of negative statement.

ROSE: Anyway, what exactly are you proposing?

DIRK: Ever heard of the Watchmaker analogy?

ROSE: Yes.

DIRK: Damn, ok.

DIRK: Humor me anyway.

DIRK: Say you're an alien and you're walking on a beach.

DIRK: An Earth beach, if that wasn't clear. You're an alien who has never come in contact with the human race before.

DIRK: So say you're an alien and you find a pocket watch on the beach.

DIRK: You've never seen anything like it before, so you pick it up and open it and try to figure out how it works.

DIRK: You see all of the gears moving smoothly, all of the pieces fitting together in a flawless, interlocking pattern.

DIRK: Looking at the face, you realize that it keeps perfect time.

DIRK: You, the alien, ask yourself: how could something so perfect, with a flawless form suited to its task, have come into being?

DIRK: And, so the argument goes...

ROSE: Someone created it. Time needed to be told, so a craftsman made something to tell it.

DIRK: Exactly.

ROSE: This analogy always struck me as extremely contrived.

DIRK: Yeah that's fair. I mean, how many fuckin' pocket watches does one usually stumble across on the ground randomly.

DIRK: Fuck it, who stumbles across a pocket watch *anywhere*.

DIRK: This isn't the goddamn 1800s.

DIRK: That point in history when people were famously tripping over errant clockwork every time they went outside.

ROSE: And don't forget, there are aliens in this version of history too.

DIRK: Yeah.

DIRK: I think I might have made up that part, though. Probably wasn't part of the original.

DIRK: Although, considering the version of Earth's history I was familiar with, I guess the aliens end up being the most believable thing in the whole setup.

ROSE: I suppose, in a way, this argument's own existence fulfils the same philosophical premise as the analogy itself.

ROSE: It's a scenario perfectly suited to its function, which is to convince you of the existence of intelligent design.

ROSE: One that is so unlikely to have arisen by chance that the presence of an artificer is the natural conclusion.

ROSE: It's this weird spiral of a concept, really.

ROSE: It's creators all the way down.

DIRK: Haha, yeah.

ROSE: But I guess my response here would be that this is an argument in favor of intelligent design being a factor in the creation of a universe.

ROSE: It's not an argument that intelligent design should be a factor in the creation of a universe. That's a question of (*shudder*) morality.

DIRK: True.

DIRK: But if intelligent design is a reality--and I think our experiences indicate that yeah, there's a pretty good chance--then wouldn't failing to continue it be an abdication of our responsibility?

DIRK: If we can order this world and we fail to, is that really any better than smashing the watch ourselves?

DIRK: You don't want to be responsible for screwing it up, and I get that. But failing to act isn't any more morally justifiable than acting wrongly.

ROSE: So it's really a moral argument that you're making.

ROSE: It sounds like we've detoured into the Trolley problem here.

ROSE: Or maybe derailed is a more appropriate descriptor?

ROSE: I hope nobody is tied to the tracks of this conversation, at least.

DIRK: Rose.

DIRK: You're avoiding the question.

DIRK: You came to this planet. You saw it in your mind's eye and chose to come here.

More or less.

DIRK: Wasn't that because, on some level, you wanted to have a hand in its future?

ROSE: Maybe.

ROSE: At least, I think so?

ROSE: It's a bit hard to weigh my motivations for coming against the reality of what we're proposing to do here.

ROSE: In the sense that I'm not sure quite how to even go about making that kind of calculation.

ROSE: I want to create something wholly new. Something that's ours.

ROSE: But I can't help but wonder: what right do the two of us specifically have to do that?

DIRK: We won the game though.

DIRK: We're literally fucking Creators.

DIRK: We have as much of a right as anyone possibly could.

ROSE: I'm not sure I feel good about putting that victory on my resume.

ROSE: Especially not since so much luck was involved, while the conclusion was simultaneously determined from the very beginning.

ROSE: A paradox which is typical of the complete mess that is our lives, and which possibly makes no sense to anyone but us.

ROSE: I suppose that's the point I'm trying to make.

ROSE: We quite possibly know more about our reality than anyone else ever could, which you could say makes us plenty qualified.

ROSE: But it's that selfsame knowledge that tells me that maybe nobody could ever be "qualified" for this kind of creative endeavor.

She's avoiding the question again. It's amazing how one can technically have the maximum amount of metaphysical personal awareness possible, and still not notice these sorts of things. It's stuff like this that makes me wonder sometimes whether there's anything about myself that I'm missing. Then I throw that wonder in the garbage can and turn the incinerate setting on.

That was a little bit of ironic self-deprecation on my part. I know that recently I've made a habit of simply discarding things that are pointlessly difficult or irritating, or if you're so inclined, "uncomfortable". It's something I learned in order to cope with... well, never mind. It's better this way, and I'm not gonna air my "trauma" or whatever in front of all y'all. The point is that knowing about it doesn't mean that I don't do it, and nor would it necessarily make it easier for me to stop if I wanted to. Personal failings, if you can call this one, don't work that way. I would know.

I also know Rose is probably just the same. She sees it happening and can't stop it, and takes a strange pride in knowing herself so well. And at the same time, she feels hurt to be so utterly predictable to herself. But that's a pain that you have to lean into when presented with the sum total of all possible self-knowledge.

I suppose this actually kinda answers the question about ultimate self-awareness? Damn. Did we just identify and then immediately solve a mystery in the space of a few paragraphs? I think we mighta. Good work us.

ROSE: Even so, I want to do this.

ROSE: I have to want it.

ROSE: How could I not, after everything we gave up to make it happen?

ROSE: Walking away at this point would be...

ROSE: Well. Regardless, we don't have the option.

ROSE: The Theseus is totalled.

ROSE: I almost want to make a joke about us not getting it insured.

ROSE: Though I'm worried it might indicate what Dave would call early-onset responsible adult syndrome.

DIRK: It's easy for him to make fun of us. He's immune.

ROSE: Possibly. He certainly wasn't showing any symptoms at his last checkup.

ROSE: But that was well over three years ago at this point.

Rose looks off into space, seeming to exist at a very great distance for a while. And then, at a perfectly calculated moment, she chuckles quietly, almost mournfully to herself.

ROSE: I'm rambling again.

Told you so.

DIRK: It's ok.

DIRK: I'm sure there was some good reasoning buried fuck deep in there somewhere.

ROSE: Future archaeologists will unearth it eventually.

DIRK: It sounds like you've made up your mind though.

ROSE: Maybe.

ROSE: I'm...

She hesitates again. "Not sure?" Oh c'mon, Rose. Yes, you are. You know this is what you want to do. More than that, you know that it's the *right* thing to do. Might as well get it over with.

ROSE: Fine.


What? Don't look at me like that. She was already on board with it in all but name, and we both know it. So why waste our time. You've got better things to do, and as of right now, so do Rose and I. I cordially invite you all to fuck off with your judgemental attitude, by which I mean fuck off right back here because we've still got important exposition to deal with.

ROSE: You mentioned playing a game together.

ROSE: I take it that this is involved somehow.

DIRK: Bingo.

ROSE: And I take it you have a format of play in mind as well?

DIRK: Yup.

DIRK: So, I guess the basic premise is: yeah, we could establish a new civilization on Deltritus. Cook up a new freakish alien species and steer them towards playing the game at a distance using the command terminal.

DIRK: It would certainly be a challenging application of our combined skills.

DIRK: But it doesn't strike me as being all that fun by itself.

ROSE: For clarity's sake, the second "game" you're referring to here is the game that we played ten years ago?

ROSE: Sburb. Or Sgrub, I guess. Whatever it'll be called this time around.

DIRK: Yeah. That's the Game. Gotta be careful with those capitals.

DIRK: The game between the two of us is going to be different.

DIRK: I propose that we turn this into a contest of sorts.

DIRK: Each of us takes responsibility for creating our own, separate species, each with their own design, society and culture.

DIRK: Then we pit them against one another to see which will ultimately play the Game.

ROSE: For the love of god, please let's call it something else.

ROSE: If only for the sanity-fraying memories of memes long past.

DIRK: That's our culture you're talking about.

DIRK: Have some goddamn respect.

ROSE: Actually, it was my culture. I think it's more accurate to say that you appropriated it, 400 years later.

DIRK: You're right, I'm sorry.

DIRK: Meme-a culpa.

ROSE: I regret everything.