"Seize that impostor!" Ford screamed. Rority's nobotic robot simulation of Ford smiled. "It won't work, Martian. Men, take this... whatever it is to an interrogation booth."
Ford's eyes widened in terror. "NO!" he screamed, "Please, no! Galaxy no!" He started shaking. Rority absent-mindedly noted that this was like time travel, where nobots did the actual traveling while making it look to the traveler like he's actually being transported in time.
Ever since the supernova had ripped the shrouds of fake reality from the underground Earthians' eyes, archaeohistorians had been busy studying the early days of their self-imposed nocube matrix, and found that the earliest time travelers knew they weren't really traveling through time, but were doing so by proxy; living cells never survived the trip -- traveling through time involved speeds greater than C, and approaching C was akin to being in the southern hemisphere when the supernova went off. Just getting to Venus in two days put a huge strain on rad shields. Of course, time travel was not like interstellar travel, that was accomplished by space and time itself being expanded and contracted. The radiation danger wasn't there.
Rority shook his head... too much stratodoobing, he really shouldn't let his mind wander like that. Now to visit General Washington.
Millions of miles away on the red planet, Colonel Gorn and Gumal were laughing hysterically. "I'd better call Rority and see how things are going, then I need to talk to Rula."
Gorn giggled. "Shame about the speed of light radio lag, how far away is Venus this week?"
"It doesn't matter," Gumal said. "We have timeceivers. The signal is sent backwards in time as well as through space. I'm really incredulous that you fellows don't have this tech."
"You can travel through time? Really? How do you do that?"
"Speed," said Gumal. "Time slows down as you go faster. Theoretically, at the speed of light it would seem to a traveler going to Proxima Centauri that they went there instantaneously, while to an observer here or there it would have taken four years, effectively putting them four years into the future. That's how to go forward. To go backward you pass C."
"Except," he added, "that you can't. Going much past a fraction of lightspeed kills everything in the ship that's alive from all the redshift radiation. So we do it using nobots as a proxy. Actual space travel is different; you simply warp space."
"Simply?" asked Gorn, who promptly had another laughing fit. "I love this stratodoober thing, you need to get this tech to the Venusians. Galaxy knows they need to lighten up! So, what is you partner's progress?"
"Give me a minute," said Gumal, standing up. "I gotta pee. Only thing wrong with beer. I'll call Rority while I'm relieving myself... uh, where are your facilities?"
Yes, they still have to pee ten million years in the future. Especially when they're drinking beer.
Back on Earth, Rula was bemoaning the entire situation. There was timework to be done, and here the two best were busy dealing with Martians and Venusians, because a protohistorian was the closest thing they had to a diplomat. And what about these so-called "controls", the Amish? Well, at least they didn't have too much to worry about from them... unless Venusians showed up. She fervently hoped Rority would have no trouble.
Rority was both annoyed and amused. Annoyed with these primitive, violent Venusians and amused at what was going to happen to their leader. Unknown to Washington, the nobots were streaming into his castle, and he'd soon have a psychedelic experience that Timothy Leary would be in awe of. He'd liked Leary, even if the old protobastard was batshit insane. Looking in hindsight, he was glad it was a robot and not him that had gone back, since LSD has no effect on robots, but has a pretty profound effect on animals, including protohumans, humans, controls, Venusians, and Martians. But Washington wasn't getting LSD, his trip would be real. It would be a real nobotic simulation.
Washington was eating dinner. He stuck his fork into the horse meat... or tried. It moved out of the way. Startled, he rubbed his eyes and tried again. "Please don't hurt me!" the meat begged. Washington snarled and tried again, when a translucent apparition walked through the wall. "Washington!" it thundered.
"What..." Washington stammered, "what... who... what do you want?"
"I am the ghost of Alpha Crucis. I am what was left when the Acrux collided 321 years ago."
"What? What is Atrix? And who was this Mister Crucis?" Washington asked perplexedly.
"Acrux, not Atrix. Stars in the southern cross. It's a multiple star system south of Venus. Two artificial neutron stars in the Acrux system collided, destroying every every star in the system, and the planets that orbited them. Two of the planets were settled from your system half a million years ago and were at war with each other three centuries ago. Both developed stronger and stronger weapons pretty much on the same time frames, and it culminated in both developing neutron star construction capabilities within months of each other, and each launched their weapon at the others' planet.
"Of course, the enormous masses of each star, meant to swallow the opposition's planet, attracted gravitationally and collided, resulting in a supernova that obliterated the Acrux system and sent huge amounts of gamma radiation straight at Sol."
"Look, whatever you are," Washington interrupted.
"Silence!" the voice of the nobotic apparition boomed. "Your very existence depends on your listening to me!"
Rority was puzzled; he didn't program that fertilizer into the apparition's speech. So they must not have been bovine manure, but something from the nobots' network database. He'd have to study this, of course, but later. He had to study Washington's reaction now.
"One planet was named Nuevo Venus, the other's name was Aphrodite. Your people were both our parents and our executioners, and you executed over half your own population by sending us to Acrux. You are Guerra, as were we.
"War. And war is its own enemy and its own executioner. To war is to die. Take heed, fool, or you will suicide as we did."
The apparition vanished. Washington sat there with his mouth hanging open.
Rority laughed, and took a toke from his stratodoober, sipped his beer, and began studying whatever it was the nobots were telling Washington. It was going to be a busy night.
He was really enjoying this.