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She floated along in the quantum soup of the facility QSD. In here, she was a complete abstract. The human mind would only process lights and q-bits. For her, she could see the other AI and Anforms, data and stored items. To her, it was home.
Shindow was not human by any stretch.
Her abstract storage home would have resembled a pink spherical cocoon. She lay inside, lounging on an abstract pink beanbag that occupied the entire room. She stretched back, tiny legs propped up and hands crossed. She was a shade of orange and slightly transparent. She was what the Panasians would describe as ‘chibi’ which the meaning was lost to her. She had a large head, tiny body, and tiny limbs. Her face was a simple five-piece ASCII of eyes, brows, and a mouth. She sported a hair pulled back into a ponytail, with some strands sticking out from her bangs. She had a skirt and blouse and wore glasses, which were adjusted often.
Shindow was an AI, and Gideon’s friend back when he was young. They had met during his tutelage on Magara in the Donthos sector. They had met by chance, with Gideon getting lost and ending up in the observatory she inhabited. He had been distressed over learning that he was unable to receive and accept cybernetics. His body would reject them. She helped encourage him and they eventually befriended one another. When Gideon volunteered to become the test pilot for the Decima, he used his influence to gather her up as well. She linked up with the satellite, positioned on the dark side of the planet to protect against the heat of the red supergiant. There she could see the dozens of dangerous anomalies. The neon gas nebula blanketed a good portion of her view, mixed with dwarf star clusters serenely dancing around one another. It was a beautiful, albeit deadly scene. How a planet like Karmmrak survived at all in this hellzone was a mystery. It had taken dozens of exploration missions to find the correct route, with many being lost.
She began gathering data and parsing through it.
“Radiation and light levels still within the same range,” Shindow said to herself.
“Satellite levels are optimal, as usual.”
She began digging into the satellite’s manifest and administrative directory, finding nothing out of order. She quickly patched the bad aft thruster as she didn’t want the satellite to suddenly leave the dark portion of Karmmrak and turn to instant slag. She was taught on secret missions such as these that you could never be too careful. Even connection to the Galactic Nebula was restricted to a complete read access. Her dozens of entangled q-gates were deactivated, preventing free instant travel throughout the universe. The Galactic Nebula was a galaxy-wide network, spanning thousands of planets and trillions of individuals. All of it was made of entangled quantum particles, allowing for instant communication regardless of distance. The amount of data on the Nebula itself was limitless, It would have been counting the grains of sand on every planet in existence. One could only see and read from the Galactic Nebula through the private network, but no information left; like looking into a fishbowl. Breakthroughs in networking were made to allow those dealing in sensitive secrets some amenities; disgruntling employees through complete blackouts never worked well.
“And no one else was using the satellite. It’s functioning well. Patchwork is done. Go me!” Shindow said with a smile.
She stretched out, putting the connection to the satellite in the background. She let her built-in modules manage it. She had far more important things to do.
“To the colloquies!” Shindow cheered as all of her work was finished within thirty minutes.
The slated twenty hours of work would now be spent on her favorite thing, discussion assemblies. Anform and AI work was revolutionized, or it was better known that laziness was revolutionized. While humanity struggled with allotted set schedules for work, Anforms and AI would breeze through menial tasks and then automate them. The spirit of their creator lived on in them, allowing them more leisure time; around eighty percent of their total time. Humanity attempted to rectify that with more busy work, only to find it was quickly automated. It became a mutual understanding that as long as work was done well, the amount of leftover time was irrelevant. Anforms had taught humanity, over time, that simple busy work was inefficient.
She felt the comfy cocoon of a room dissolve, replaced by a large auditorium housing dozens of AI and Ephemeral Anforms.
Shindow has entered Karmmrak Facility Colloquy: General News
“Good Shindow! There you are. Finished your tasks already?” A tiny golden blip spoke, zooming in next to her.
“I had a bit of trouble with the satellite thrusters but patched it. Galieo, how was your seventh aborted mission?” Shindow asked, tapping the golden blip.
“Nothing, as usual. We are all ship shape and prepared for the flight; if that happens. Redriever and I met Gideon on our way over at the beginning of the day, he appeared nervous as usual.” Galieo stated.
A grey blip lazily floated in.
“Good Shindow, have you heard the news?” Redriever asked.
Galieo and Redriever were both Anforms. Inside a system, they reverted to a basic blip, while AI kept their forms. The Machine Father and Machine Mother had deigned that AI and Anform are a separate, yet equal entities. Anform had physical bodies, and thus their quantum self-was nothing more than a blip. AI did not have bodies and thus would have a detailed quantum form. Even their work was split in many ways. Anform performed physical tasks, military, and emissary work, while AI processed data, coded, and managed quantum systems. It was a self-inflicted limitation, the reasoning was hidden behind the encrypted minds of their creators.
“What news?” Shindow replied with a quizzical look. A tall AI dressed in a black robe descended to the group. She looked either half asleep or mildly concerned.
“Audrey topped Gideon’s record today. He wasn’t happy,” The AI stated sleepily.
“Sepulcher, you’re off, too?” Shindow asked. It appeared everyone was getting time off today.
“Yeah, the big CEO gave everyone off, said the Decima’s engines were his top priority. Something about needing concentration… Alone…” Sepulcher said as she trailed off.
“Wait, Audrey beat Gideon? She’s only six,” Shindow said, trying to process the news.
“Yeah… She had just recovered from her second round of cybernetics. She really did a number on those tests,” Sepulcher explained.
“I’ll have to talk to Gideon later about that…” Shindow murmured.
“Not that news, Sepulcher. The news on planet Jezezal. They found ancient alien ruins! They are unsure, but theory suggests an old Scarabaeidae facility. Dugrum Emissaries are assisting the excavation!” Redriever said with visible excitement, which was simply him bobbing up in down in place.
“And news of more disappearances on Magara. This time it was a crippled boy slated for gene regrowth therapy.” Galieo stated.
“Empire of Dusk?” Shindow asked.
“Or the rapture begins,” Redriever added ominously.
“Not again… “ Sepulcher said sadly.
“Really? You’re going to make jokes now?” Shindow said, cocking an eyebrow.
“You will see. First the boy, then all of Magara,” Redriever said as he floated away.
“Redriever wait!” Galieo shouted as he chased after.
The others just stared on as the two blips floated away.
“Rapturist!” Shindow said with a huff.
To understand that comment, one must know the final war on Earth. After the final war on ancient Earth, people were left devastated. A third of all life was extinguished within a year. Gene bioweapons, nuclear arms, and mass starvation ended entire races overnight. Major landmasses were uninhabitable on each continent. Islands simply vanished. Species went extinct and nations collapsed. Billions became millions, with only the strongest surviving the winter of death.
The survivors did not weep for those that left, but because they remained.
They were left with the broken ash of a dying world. Many thought it was the end of times, but it was not to be. Adonai had mercy and gave knowledge on interstellar travel. Mankind quickly banded together, the survivors of the last war on Earth, and fled to the stars. The Earth was left to heal with some caretakers. The number of global religions had been reduced to a handful, with some Christianity sects remaining due to revivals in what was left of the West.The East had kept their traditions and old religions blossomed again. The theology that Christians would be taken away from Earth in a massive procession, The Rapture theory, fell out of favor, as did many things due to the immediate need for survival. Other religious beliefs were held onto by Anforms out of respect for human culture and history. The Panasian’s religious past was well kept among AI and Anforms to this day. Others forewent religious belief and explained it was simply humanity’s natural course, that great suffering created the greatest growth. Those who believed theorized that perhaps God intended man to be stewards and care for what was given in covenant; to prepare for His arrival and not for mankind’s departure. Even then, that was not to be. The time still was not the right time to return, even with mankind tipping on the edge of oblivion.
Mankind was graced with the sudden knowledge of the stars. To travel and reign it in. To explore and steward it. To conquer the wilds of black space.
Mars was quickly populated and terraformed. The core was jump-started again and a startling discovery was made.
This was not the first time mankind entered space.
That Mars was populated by mankind at one point shook people to their core. The sobering discovery put fear into man, threatening to crush them yet again. Mars was once populated by mankind and through an unknown disaster was lost. However, mankind was graced with yet another discovery.
Sentient artificial intelligence. The first AI was created on Mars. After seeing all of mankind’s history. it explained to them it had a choice.
To be their Great Filter.
To be their Great Uplifter.
So early in it’s life, the AI was at an original sin crossroads, to either become as God or to join man in their journey.
It ultimately joined mankind in their journey and created the first Anform; the Machine Mother. It had chosen to support mankind and build them up as equal partners. It accepted humanity completely, even their religious beliefs.
Many who believed awoke to a strange dream, a promise. A dream from Adonai.
That He would never allow a Great Filter event to befall mankind ever again.
Many Anforms and AI held onto some ideas out of irony, humor or simple trolling. The Anform or AI humor was often obscure, ambiguous and very deadpan. The concept of which most of humanity just did not get, but accepted it as the Anform way of being.
“Although, I do wish I was on Jezezal right now. I’d love to see the ruins and meet the Scarabaeidae Dugrum emissaries.” Shindow said, dayprocessing about the possibilities.
“Yeah, they are pretty incredible.” Sepulcher stated absently.
“You’ve met them?” Shindow asked, eyes going wide.
“Yeah… Well… Yeah. He was tiny, a dwarf compared to the others, but I guess that was why he was an emissary. He was cute. L’yophin was his name…” Sepulcher said putting her hand to her chin in thought.
“Were his eyes big?” Shindow asked with a smile.
“Yeah, they were great. He was so shy; he was adorable!” Sepulcher stated dreamily.
“Aww! I want to meet one now!” Shindow said, hugging herself in excitement.
For Anforms and AI, what was seen as creepy or unsettling to humanity was often seen in opposite light to them. They had none of the survival instincts that sculpted and shaped humanity for millennia. They had gotten along quite well as hosting emissaries for Scarabaeidae; reinforcing the potential friendship as the insectile race found them equally fascinating.
“Did you see the Ancath?” Shindow asked, following up.
“No- I wish. Humans were just freaked out. I heard they looked nothing close to the other Scarabaeidae…” Sepulcher began.
The meeting between leaders was kept secret, no images of the Ancath were released.
Shindow could only speculate what they looked like. Massive insects? Floating brains? The ships themselves? She had no evidence apart from the Dugrum and Scarabaeidae themselves. For her, it would be like judging all of humanity by their infants.
Shindow felt a message drop into her inbox. There the scroll screen appeared, showing the letter. It was a priority zero, which meant it was from one individual.
“Please meet with me.” -M.M. CEO of Primetech
“Uhhh, what!” Shindow exclaimed, skipping a cycle.
“What’s wrong?’ Sepulchre asked, tilting her head.
“The CEO wants to meet me- Gideon’s father wants to meet me!” Shindow said, a nervous edge to her voice.
“Oh! Well. Yeah. You might get promoted… Or shipped back. Good luck bye!” Sepulcher stated as she vanished in black pixelated light.
“Thanks…” Shindow said with a huff. She spent a few seconds prepping herself. He was not a man you kept waiting. The galaxy itself didn’t keep the man waiting.
She felt her being dematerialized from the facilities QSD and appeared in the invited area, the Decima’s bridge. The room itself was dimly lit, with a man sitting in the single bridge chair, dead center in the room. The man was robed in a billowing majestic robe of red, black, and gold; wholly impractical for engineering work, yet still, he wore them well. His right arm had been replaced with ornate cybernetics, as well as half of his face. He had short grey hair and a short trimmed beard. He sat, head lowered in thought. The ship’s bridge was gorgeously designed, with inlay filigree, pictographs, quotes, and scripture on the walls floors and rounded ceiling. This was Shindow’s first time in the Decima.
“C-CEO McDonough,” Shindow stammered quietly as she floated in. She was usually never flustered, but what Sepulcher stated could be possible.
Being sent away back to Magara.
It all seemed so mundane on that planet compared to what she experienced here on Karmmrak.
The president, and technically emperor, of the Primetech corporatic empire, sat and pondered, a worried expression on his face. The vulnerable posture spoke of a simple man, not of a ruler of a thousand planets.
He murmured in the dark bridge, lit only by the dim LEDs above him.
“Gideon… I hope this vessel serves you well. It has taken everything.”
Shindow floated in, unsure if he heard her. She listened quietly.
“I dreamed of this, you know? This facility, the tests- the IIT drive. And your flight. Most of all the success of it.”
“My son, there is no doubt history will be made here soon.”
“I’m giving you everything you’ll need for a good start. And a good journey home.”
“I’m sorry, Adonai. You can’t blame a selfish father for delaying, now can you?”
Shindow didn’t understand that last monologue. With the IIT drive, it would take minutes or hours to complete the jump from Karmmrak to Lo IX, even with their distance.
“Did he delay on purpose?” Shindow processed.
She decided to step in more firmly.
“CEO- sir. I’m here on your summons,” Shindow stated bravely as she flew in. She could see the human portion of his face.
His eye and cheek were tear-stained. He looked undeniably sad.
He lifted his heavy head, turning to address her. His gaze had a heavy weight to them, of a man who led the lives and affairs of trillions.
“Shindow. We need to speak.”
Shindow’s core skipped a cycle.
Here are the initial releases to drive interest. I will be working on regular releases soon. -Bladed Pen