In the first of our multi-part interview series, we dig up from GAF Mainframe archives an interview with the oldest resident of the GAGA, android Nick Goodfrey.
Made in the early years of the 21st Century by tech legend and leader Thordin Goodfrey III, Nick Goodfrey had survived 15 centuries and change by the time he was interviewed here by Sam McCoy of Galactic News Network.
At the time, the now iconic Sam McCoy was a young reporter, just getting his footing as lead interviewer for GNN. Nick Goodfrey, although he shared sound-byte opinions from time to time, had not sat down for a formal interview with anyone in thirty seven years. When McCoy and Goodfrey found themselves on the same space station, Nick accepted Sam’s offer to do an interview. It was the last formal interview with Nick Goodfrey.
Two and a half years later, Nick disappeared. Although Verily Wrought and Howard Donovan spent a considerable sum of money on a Galaxy-wide search for him, no trace of the android was ever found.
We offer therefore this final interview with the Galaxy’s only link to its pre-Maitre history- An Evening with Nick Goodfrey, Part One.
As I sit down to talk with Nick Goodfrey, I am struck by a certain paradoxical quality that hangs around this remarkable individual. There is, of course, the peculiar timeless youth and symmetrical perfection of his face; the simple economy of his movements reveal this young man is indeed an android.
Despite his eternally youthful appearance, or perhaps because of its uniquely unmarred quality, there is an air of inconceivable age about him. One cannot be in the presence of Nick Goodfrey without being aware that this android is one of humanity’s only links to our Old Earth past. He witnessed the world before the Maitre invasion; he smelled the acrid smoke from the destruction that blanketed the globe. Nick Goodfrey encapsulates all the greatest achievements of mankind, not through his construction, but through his accomplishments.
This android was one of the first men to travel faster than the speed of light.
He was present in the first entourage of humans to visit Telamer 5.
He was the second resident of planet earth to explore all four quadrants.
He fought in both Corporation Wars, and was instrumental in bringing about the completion of the First Corporation War.
He invented the stasis pod for his father, Thordin Goodfrey, which is still in use today.
He developed the earliest human cloning techniques.
He was friend to the most powerful people in the Galaxy. The list goes on.
As he sits and settles himself in his chair, there is a certain idealized quality to these self conscious twitchings that belies not just his silicone and quantum processor fabric, but this ancient air. It is clearly a learned habit, but one fine tuned to perfect all it wishes to convey. There is just enough shifting to indicate human discomfort at the straight-backed chair. There is the not quite unconscious tugging at his pants to indicate his face should be perceived as handsome and not pretty, and finally a perfectly executed sigh at the end as Nick Goodfrey turns his attention to me, his interviewer. A perfect pantomime of a man who, though busy and perhaps slightly harried, has decided to truly commit his entire attention to this interview.
One thing Nick Goodfrey has not perfected in his mastery of human body language is the messiness of its idiom. His head turns to me with a precision that indicates he has oriented precisely on my locus in relation to him. Not a mote of extra energy expended. His eyes are focused on me without taking in my particulars. He already did that the moment he entered the room, his fast circuits recording everything about me for future reference.
There is also nothing in his mimed motions of humanity that indicates he is in the least bit nervous about the interview. In my years of reporting, I have never encountered an interview subject who has agreed to a multi-hour interview and not had the tiny tick of nervousness in their heart. My current subject’s completely placid face, regarding me with the polite attention of a parent at a child’s concert, makes me nervous. It underscores the immense age looking at me with such perfect blue irises. It reminds me that this man is not just a perfectly tended Brandenburg celebrity, but is a machine.
It is there I start.
S.M. Thank you for joining me today, Mr. Goodfrey.
N.G. A pleasure, Mr. McCoy. And please, call me Nick.
S.M. Nick- tell us what you think when people call you a machine.
Nick cocks his head to the right an iota and, after only the barest of pauses, answers.
N.G. I think that we are all machines, Mr. McCoy, and that this individual has noticed that fact about me, which makes him smarter than many of his cohorts.
S.M. Do you find the designation in any way derogatory.
He offers me a smile that slices the heart it is so sympathetic regarding the simplicity of my morals. Two questions in and I am already cut to pieces.
N.G. I am aware that people find it derogatory, and occasionally use it as such. However, nothing is derogatory to me- I don’t keep those sorts of value structures. When I find the word used in such a way, I understand that I have helped that individual to understand their nature more completely.
S.M. How do you mean?
N.G. (smiles with more broad satisfaction) I have helped them to see that they are human.
S.M. You feel that humans are largely unaware of this fact?
N.G. I do, Sam- may I call you Sam?
Nick gestures at me with a precise wave of his hand in my direction as he crosses his legs and leans the precise amount into our conversation to indicate he is earnestly speaking to me. I start to feel a little as though I am going mad, trying to discern the emotional motives behind these carefully crafted movements. Reminding myself that, as Nick does not have emotion as such, and as Nick propels himself with efficient, precisely machined servos and parts, I should not let the practised perfection of his motions offput me. The fact he has taken the time to perform these rituals of human interaction is a memitic offering of the connection my mind is turning over and over, trying to second guess. I snap back to the question.
S.M. Of course, please.
N.G. I do feel humans are largely oblivious to much of the facts of their reality. You are daydreamers, fantasizers, fanatics and imagineers. My father, Thordin Goodfrey the Third, was all of these… he made me from all those qualities, and I merely live in the world he helped create. But each of you is a bubbling cauldron of energetic possibility, careening around the galaxy with your own shock wave of preconceptions about yourselves, and you rarely have time to think about the container it all comes in. The container is you, and you are the contents. The medium is the message, so to speak.
I laugh, entranced by the lilting path Nick’s thoughts have taken us down. Where his form and his motions fail to comfort, his mind and his equally lilting, spirited voice at once draw me in and delight me.
S.M. If humans are all that, then what is the message your distinct medium, your container, has for the Galaxy?
N.G. Be at peace with the world and be in it. First see, then do. What you please, what pleases you.
S.M. A very hedonistic message, I’d say.
Nick holds up a finger. His eyes sparkle with an almost human impishness.
N.G. Is it? It takes a human most of his life to determine what actually pleases him. Drinking and fornicating may seem pleasurable, yet the consequences are draining and defective for him. Asceticism kills his soul. A simple life leaves him yearning for the stars, and the stars leave him pining for the trees. And when one does find what pleases, do the consequences feed back into one’s spirit, and leave it nourished?
S.M. Very good points all. A slippery message, now that I think about it.
N.G. I’ve been told I’m a slippery sort.
S.M. Would you say this message applies to you, or do you merely convey it?
N.G. I would say it most definitely does… just as all of your messages as the remarkable, wroiling humans you are apply to me. We speak to each other.
S.M. Who has told you you were a slippery sort?
A more guarded smile from Nick greets my question this time. He sits back in his chair, and this time he does a much better job at feigning the human quality of consideration. I could almost believe he was doing it- but if so, there must be a phenomenal quantity of material for his mind to consider before responding.
N.G. Several people, most notably Anore Wrought.
He pauses, almost on the verge of saying something else. It occurs to me that he leaves the famous personality’s name out there as an offensive; he made a tactical decision to leave it out there between us, unaccompanied, as a lone target.
S.M. You had a lengthy association with the Wroughts- tell me how that came about.
N.G. I was in the service of the GAGA Special Commission on Corporation Control, debriefing the Commission on the last Corporation War and my observations therein, when I was called to the Beta Quadrant to mediate a sector-wide peace between Wrought and Palfer, Sinclair-Hoshido Corporations. Though infuriating to Victorinus, he nevertheless respected my tactics and approaches. I convinced him to take the peace to the entire quadrant, and once he had seen the positive effects of this, he convinced me to convince the GAGA to end the war of the Beta Quadrant terms. He couldn’t help but like my methods, and he hired me on after that.
S.M. You fulfilled a number of roles during your tenure at Wrought Industries, didn’t you, Nick?
N.G. Indeed. Everything from nanny to butler to tactical pilot to engineer to personal assistant. There are many roles in between.
S.M. What did you think of working with Victorinus Wrought?
N.G. I thought he was an immensely obdurate man, and one of incredible energy. He never listened to my message, however… and ultimately I had to leave his service.
S.M. Your message being that he should be in the world and be at peace with it. To see, then to do, and do what truly pleases him.
S.M. How do you think he failed to listen to this message of yours, Nick?
N.G. He never loved his family as he should. Also, he was not in the world, and so was content with blowing up large, undifferentiated sections of it.
I take a moment, shocked at the candour with which Nick Goodfrey speaks about the foibles of the Galaxy’s most dangerous and influential man. I choose my next words carefully.
S.M. You feel Victorinus Wrought was not aware he was a human, alive in the Galaxy.
N.G. He was one of the most indistinct humans I have ever met.
S.M. Yet most people would describe him as being full of purpose, of knowing what he was about.
N.G. He can know what he is about, and not know anything about what he is, or where he finds himself. Or what is of true value to him.
S.M. It was rather famously reported that you blamed him for Anore Wrought’s death.
Here Nick offers me a twitch of a smile around the corner of his mouth.
N.G. I said that Anore Wrought would still be alive if Victorinus had listened to her. To say I blame him for her death is an erroneous inference.
I think for a moment before agreeing.
S.M. That’s true, isn’t it? Our human energies, careening around again.
Nick Goodfrey smiles inscrutably, a dash of that same infinite sympathy on his face again. He says nothing. The Anore Wrought offensive was a good red herring- a vast powderkeg of possible expose, ultimately leading to a dusty quote from three years ago. And very hard to crack back into that nut again. Gamely, I try.
S.M. You also knew Anore Wrought, for a good many years, too.
N.G. Yes. We were very close.
S.M. There’s been a lot of speculation about that- why were you so important to her?
Nick gives a shrug. It appears quite natural, a mixture of guarded, chagrined and at a loss. He laughs.
N.G. I never really knew… she seemed to find some comfort in me. I infuriated her, and I’m not sure she ever really got over her technophobia, but- I was just there.
S.M. In a way Victorinus was not.
N.G. Her hairbrush was there for her in a way Victorinus was not.
The statement surprises a guffaw out of me, as well as the holo crew. We all blush and glance around ourselves, guilty after sharing in such a secret as laughing at the Great Wrought.
S.M. Suffice it to say there was no love lost between you and Victorinus Wrought.
N.G. The man decommissioned me on two separate occasions. I don’t appreciate that.
S.M. Is that why you left his service?
Another shrug. Infinitely ambiguous. Nick looks skyward. Impossible to tell if it is as artificial as the eyes that do it, or if in the discussing of this subject, he has found a human soul.
N.G. I stayed as long as I did for Anore. There was nothing after she left.
S.M. Not even Verily Wrought? I understand you and he were also close.
Nick smiles a smile that seems, at least to me, to be sad.
N.G. We were- I helped to raise him. I have only been Uncle Nick the once… yet it is my understanding that an uncle does not have the same power over the child as a father. And so, left alone, we three would never get along.
S.M. So you left, rather than tear the family unit apart.
N.G. I shut the inner airlock, rather than let the entire ship be scuttled.
There is a pause. Nick Goodfrey looks at me with eyes that are fierce and shining. If it were possible, I would say I had hit a nerve. After a moment, he continues.
N.G. Besides, Verily was able to handle himself in the Galaxy.
S.M. May I infer from that, that Anore was not?
N.G. No, I wouldn’t bother with that.
Nick winks at me and smiles.