Ford awoke with a start. Just a dream? But he couldn't shake the emotions that had hit him when he'd dreamed he'd been shackled and tortured. It was so real. he'd never had a dream seem so real in his life.
Of course, it was "real", a real nobotic simulation. Rority hoped the psychologists were right about Ford and Washington. And Gumal had clued him in that the program changes in the nobotic simulations were her doing, after she discovered (or rather, one of the astrohistorians had, and clued her about it.)
Rority hoped the shrinks were right, he didn't want to kill these two stupid aliens. Even if they were assholes. He took a toke off his stratodoober, thought of a protohuman movie he'd seen, and laughed. He decided to nickname Washington "Scroob" and Ford "Dark helmet".
Back on Mars, Gorn was watching via Gumal's timeceiver. "So the Venusians are really the ones who destroyed the solar system's southern hemispheres? Maybe I ought to see about tossing a few nukes at Venus."
Gumal laughed. "You sound like a Venusian. You know, we should rename that planet, and call it 'Venal'. It would better fit. After all, Venus was the protohumans' goddess of love.
"But Gorn, Rority's nobots lied to Washington. The Venusians didn't colonize Acrux, you Martians did."
"What? But... that just isn't like us Martians!"
"Of course not," Gumal answered. "It looks like we have better record keeping than you fellows, even if the data are hard to find sometimes. What happened was, a group of Martians got a lust for power and tried to take over Mars. They were put in stasis and exiled to Acrux, far enough that they couldn't get back, since you didn't have interstellar space faring technology back then. The records say the trip took a hundred years, there was no way possible they could have gotten back.
"It was a long time ago. They surely were no longer the same species as you when they blew themselves up." Gumal took a toke off his stratodoober, and handed it to Gorn. "But if Rority had told them the truth, well, there would have been no possible way to stave off interplanetary war." He took a sip of his Guiness.
"How come that poison doesn't kill you?" Gorn asked.
"It isn't lethal quantities, and in fact the biologists say in moderation it's actually good for ape-descended lifeforms. Want one?"
"No thanks," Gorn said, making a face. "I took a sip once, it tasted nasty. Love that stratodoober, though. Has Rority talked to those Venusians about their apocalypse yet?"
Rority was getting ready to do just that. The next part was going to even be more fun than torturing these two idiots who ran an entire planet. Well, an entire half planet since the supernova. Both had gone back to sleep, and their nightmares were going to get worse.
They both awoke at the same time -- in the same bed. Before either had a chance to react there was an animal growl, and a tiger barred its fangs and roared. Both screamed, and the tiger spoke. "Prepare to die, Venuslings!" it growled. Ford quickly pulled out an energy weapon and fired at it. The flashback, the echo off the tiger, stunned both slightly as the wall behind the tiger burst into flames. The tiger laughed as the two naked Venusians' jaws dropped.
The tiger morphed into a Venusian, who held a small box. "Do you criminals know what this is?"
"Criminals!?" exclaimed Washington. "You... you'll be crucified for this treason," he stammered. The unknown Venusian laughed.
"You were about to wage war on your genetic cousins," it said. "This is a thermonuclear device. If it goes off, this entire city will be obliterated. Your government will be completely gone. Venus will go into chaos, and the survivors will be far too busy fighting each other for control to worry about conquering the peaceful Earthians and Martians. You could not win a war with them in any case with your primitive technologies. Compared to you, they are gods! They can see anything you do, hear anything you say. You will never know what's real and what isn't. Be glad they are not like you, or you Venuslings would be their slaves." It disappeared in a waft of nobotic dust.
Rority was laughing uncontrollably again. The lame script was straight from a "Captain Future" from the protohumans' pulp science fiction from around zero AB, with a little Buck Rogers thrown in for good measure. Crude, lame, but he hoped, effective.
He laughed again and took another toke off of his stratodoober. This was almost as fun as time travel!