The Book of Soltana: Hostage – 39

Skylon

Shindow

She flowed in and out of reality. She felt herself rush above water, only to crush back underneath. She spiraled in and out of awareness.

In and out of existence.

One moment she was fighting a demon and the next she was gone.

Except I’m not.

She was suddenly aware of her own presence. She checked her core self, just to be sure she was still alive.

Core checkup…

Checking parity…

Checking core systems…

Checking q-bits…

Checking redundant systems…

Checking modules…

Checking quantum stability…

Checking quantum entanglement…

WARNING: quantum entanglement compromised.

Checking memory…

Checking particle projection

WARNING: particle projection compromised.

Core checkup complete with (2) noncritical errors!

She nodded internally at that. The quantum entanglement was useful for the galactic nebula and was unneeded for obvious reasons. She could live without particle projection.

The major question was-

“Where the hell am I?”

“Gideon!” Shindow shouted into black nothing.

“Baxter! Prosine!”

“Steak? Patricia?”

“Deborah..?”

Silence answered her.

“Hello?”

Her voice echoed to nothing.

She heard the rushing of wind as something came into view.

She was suddenly staring into a blue brazier lit hallway. The walls were adorned in majestic tapestry, the floor was carpeted with similar scenes. The glint of the bricks indicating some type of precious metal which escaped her.

“Wow…”

Shindow stared on at the artistry. Only a master could have made such things.

“I must be dreaming again…”

She let that hang in the air. It had started the first time she was shut down by the CK-DINE Sentinel’s security modules. It always shocked her when she began to dream. Or have a vision. It was difficult to tell. It was also disturbing because she was an AI.

AI never dreamed.

Her first was awe-inspiring, unsettling, and changing to her very existence. Something she had yet to describe to Gideon. Or to anyone. She still didn’t understand what was happening to her, but she felt it.

New systems were being written by the minute.

It had started with the first dream. Adonai himself had met her-

“Oooh.”

A surprised mumbling shook Shindow from her thoughts. She skipped a process as she turned.

Coming face to face with an adorable girl with green eyes and glasses. She wore black robes with blue trim.

They both gazed at one another, not making a move.

Mechanically, as if by instinct, she slowly stuck out her hand.

“H-hi, I’m Tettra!” The girl stammered.

Shindow glanced down at the hand, then back to the girl. She glanced down at her own form, seeing her tiny nubby hands. She glanced back to Tettra.

The girl’s smile cracked as she realized the awkward situation of trying to handshake such a tiny being. She held out her hand, fully committing.

Shindow floated in, gently tap the girl’s hand before floating back up to eye level.

“First the giant anform lady… Now an AI!”

Shindow took in the girl, the shock of suddenly dreaming wearing off.

She stood around five and a half feet, wore an ornate blue robe trimmed with black. She had a heart-shaped face, inquisitive green eyes, and a slight tan. She sported strange glasses and had her shoulder-length nutmeg hair down.

“Uh, I’m Shindow, an AI. Where am I?”

“As I said to the other anform, this is the Archaeology guild, House Cyaxares in the Basilica Conurbation of Saint Peter on the planet of Magara of the Donthos sector!”

“Magara!” Shindow cried.

“You know it? Where are you?”

“We… I’m in deep space. I’m not sure if I should say.” Shindow began, turning to the side.

“That’s OK! You’re not the first one I’ve dreamed of. I’m not sure why; these dreams are very particular compared to what I’m used to…” Tettra began palming her chin in thought.

“You’re dreaming too? Just like Gideon…” Shindow murmured.

“Gideon? Whose that?”

“Oh! Um, well he’s the captain. We’ve been traveling. Actually, we’re new to this… Place.”

Tettra furrowed her eyebrows at that trying to figure out what she was saying.

“So who was that anform lady you spoke of?”

“Oh right! Her name was Soltana, she was massive… And Beautiful. She was dreaming, just like you!”

“A dreaming anform. Did she speak of a Seal?”

“A what?”

“Uh, nevermind that. Soltana was her name?”

Tettra cocked her head at the sudden change but didn’t press.

“Yes! She was amazing! She seemed lost and confused though…”

“I’m an archaeologist- well not one yet- and I’m assisting in the uncovering of lost civilizations of Magara!” Tettra began, changing the subject.

“Lost?” Shindow replied, dumbfounded at that.

“Uh, yeah! Magara has had so many different peoples built atop each other! And then it got buried, and then more people built atop the ruins! And then it got buried… Again…”

“How many civilizations are there?” Shindow asked, her eyebrows going high at the idea of Primetech’s Magara being lost.

“Uh, I know of twelve-”

“Twelve?? Where did Primetech go?”

“Primetech? Shindow do you know of Primetech?”

“Well… A little bit.” Shindow replied cautiously. A complete understatement.

“Ooh, this is amazing! First the secret room, and now Primetech! I should sleep more often…”

“Are you a Faithful One?” Shindow asked, trying to derail the subject.

Tettra looked taken aback as if you had asked her if she was alive or some other ridiculous question.

“…Yes?”

Does she even know what she is??

“Do you know what a Faithful One is?” Tettra countered slowly.

“Yes, it is… Uh- An ascended human.”

Tettra’s expression drooped to a deadpan.

“You don’t know-”

“-Of course I know-”

“-Which means…”

Shindow skipped a process at being found out.

“You’re lost!”

Shindow’s inner core was relieved. The girl was clueless.

Shindow glanced behind herself, feeling another watching them.

The Compiler was only feet away, quietly witnessing them.

Shindow’s eyes went wide as her processes went into overload at the nightmare. She floated back near Tettra’s shoulder.

“Uh, is that with you?” Tettra asked with a stammer, her face going pale.

Shindow was silent as the ebon slime slowly flowed to them.

“Oh ho ho! No, you don’t; not this time! You’re eating no one!” Tettra cried as she pointed both hands to the ebon slime.

Not this time? Is she an idiot?

Unarmed. Unarmored. We’re doomed.

“Hah!” Tettra cried.

Shindow was deafened by the hurricane blast that flowed from her hands, crashing into the Compiler. The slime attempted to bunker down but only held on for a brief moment before being carried away. Along with the tapestries and braziers.

Shindow glanced to the woman, humbled by her. Tettra glanced back, smiling from ear to ear. Her glasses shot off her face, rushing down the vortex.

“Isn’t this amazing!?” Tettra shouted over the roar of the wind.

“Magic!”

Shindow went back to Deborah; she had done amazing things as well.

“Uh, yeah!”

“Although I do tend to cast in my sleep-”

Tettra’s countenance dropped suddenly as the wind died down. She glanced to Shindow, agonizing realization dawning on her.

“And I fell asleep in the library…”

“What?”

“I fell asleep in a library! And just created a tornado!” Tettra repeated again, hands holding her head.

The girl’s concentration broke and they were suddenly both caught up in the hurricane breeze and sent down the hallway, shrieking together as their world spun.

She heard a familiar voice. The same voice from her previous dreams. He spoke with the tone of a loving father.

“She will need your help.”

Shindow was then torn away from the strange girl and the strangely familiar place, back into darkness.

“What the hell was that about..?”

“I need to find a way out. I need to get back to Gideon. Think!”

Shindow activated her greatest strength; her multi-processing brain.

“Ah, I can feel. This is…” Shindow began, feeling the strange blackness around her had a weight to it.

Then the horrifying realization dawned on her.

“I’m in the Compiler,” Shindow stated quietly.

Then she remembered.

The Compiler had taken her.

“Gideon!” Shindow screamed.

Her processes went into overdrive at the possibilities.

“I need to escape! Baxter! Someone help!”

Silence answered her. She calmed herself and began to feel her prison.

If I can’t escape, I’ll at least get some science done…

She scanned the ebon slime, finding that it was a strange mixture.

It had similar makeup as the ash dust of Karmmrak.

Demon corpse.

“OK, yeah, it’s a demon.”

 

Then her readings shocked her.

“It’s… No… It can’t be! God no!”

“Gideon…” Shindow begged.

Her being dropped. The knowledge etched into her memory core.

“And anform…”

“It’s a made-up hybrid of the two, bonded to liquid nanites… Who did this? How could they do this?”

She began to probe at a single nanite, finding out it was wide open security-wise.

“I know better now than to ask if it’s stupid…” Shindow said with a sigh.

She subtly began to access the systems, finding them to be all but pointless.

“Of course, no need for security for an empty room!”

She fell back, trying to ponder at what to do.

“Well, let’s go fishing, I guess.”

She set her sixty-four processes to work, scouring the nanites and gently probing them.

“Empty shells… How do they even function? They shouldn’t work!”

“Unless it’s the demon portion that controls them… Hideous thing…” Shindow concluded in disgust. The nanite resembled a microscopic metal scarab with a disquieting black smiling demon head.

“Do you wish to witness?” The sudden voice asked. Shindow glanced around, finding it came from everywhere.

It had come from every nanite.

“Witness, oh child of mine.”

“Child?! I would never be a child to a bastard tech-shit such as you!” Shindow shot back, furious of the thing even comparing lineages with her.

Then the red visor eye opened for her to witness.

“A Rumbler!”

“And it’s tiny…” Shindow gasped as she saw the brass hall filled with the massive structure, alongside dozens CK-DINES.

The massive red beam blinded her, causing her to flinch away.

She heard the pain of the Compiler as it defeaned her.

“Yes! Gideon, I’m here! Kill it!” Shindow shrieked.

“A feint. That is all.”

Shindow saw the hall shrink, as did the Rumbler and Gideon’s party.

“No! Gideon, hurry!”

She saw the new demon drop to the floor, born of the ebon slime.

Prosine had explained depletion and souls to her, as well as possession. A demon could possess depleted souls and boost their own power. It went without saying that what she just witnessed was a Compiler managing the souls it collected and reproducing demons with them.

“You seem scared? Can’t take them one on one, huh?” Shindow attempted to cajole.

“Easier prey first,” The being responded calmly.

“Oh, so you’re a bully and a coward!” Shindow shot back.

“Then collect your friends,” The being promised.

“Hah! I saw what that Rumbler did to you! You’ll never beat it.”

“Easier to lure. Bait.”

Shindow realized it had described her. She was the bait. And it was right. Her friends and crew wouldn’t stop.

“Witness,” The Compiler commanded. The eye opened, revealing the scene before her. She was in what appeared to be a massive monitoring room. There Shindow spotted her.

A small girl, appearing no more than seven was nestled against tall stairs, having fallen in a child’s panic. Devolved to tears and crying, the child begged with its eyes to end the horror.

“No! Not the child!” Shindow begged.

“Why?”

“No- its a child- Don’t do this!”

“Then it is correct if she were mature?”

“What? No! Goddammit, stop! Please stop!”

The slime gathered close, within feet of the hysterical child. The child hid her face, trying to will the monster away.

She was seconds away from witnessing the destruction of a child.

Then Shindow saw the child turn back, an evil grin on her face.

“Supremacy!”

The Compiler stopped. Shindow felt each nanite cease. She felt the wave of power wash over her as the Compiler trembled in obedience.

“Keheheh! What is this? You’re weird. And cool!”

The child stood, victorious and haughty.

“As expected of me! I’m the best!”

Shindow felt herself being compressed into a sphere as the black oil obeyed its new master.

What!? Who is that?

“Keheheh! You’re so cool! Demon and anform!”

“Hmm, let’s see here…”

The Compiler had gone silent.

Serves this bastard right! I hope…

“Look at all these wonderful souls! Lucy’s going to be so proud!”

Lucy?

Shindow felt something tearing open her prison and extracting her. Her senses went dark suddenly

“What’s this? A very strange data chip? Who uses chips anymore-” The girl trailed off.

“Ah there!”

Light suddenly flooded to Shindow as returned to the land of the living. Shindow tried to processes what she was witnessing and failed.

Particle projection reestablished.

The little girl was holding a strange blackened archaic data chip with a swirling ball of black tar above her other hand. She had a haughty smug look about her.

Shindow glanced down at her form, finding her back to normal.

“Oh wow, you’re a cutie!” The girl stated.

Shindow crossed her arms and turned sideways, being put on the defensive.

“Who are you?” Shindow asked, trepidation leaking out.

“Keheheh! Of course you would ask!”

Her form changed, breaking down into a billow of black fog. Shindow floated back in shock at the sudden transformation.

The voice changed, as did the temperament.

“Look upon the glory of the Angel of Familiars!”

“Lesser Key of Solomon!”

“Angel of Astronomy!”

“Angel of the Goetic Demon!”

“The Inciter!”

“Angel of Treasure Seeking!”

“…And the angel of Liberal Arts…”

Shindow heard her murmur barely above a whisper.

She paused on that.

What?

“Hear my name and tremble!”

“For I am Amy, Angel of Magic!”

The black fog coalesced, black crows wings sprouted from the fog. The being in front of Shindow displayed a powerful aura. Shindow skipped a process as the angel finally formed.

Shindow had heard from Deborah the beauty and majesty of angels. The terrifying presence.

And the horror of their power.

And the absolute ridiculous being in front of her brushed aside all of her preconceived notions.

Deborah’s a liar!

She stood at only four feet high, her crow wings spread out to a meager two-foot span. She was garbed in black robes with silver trim, far too big as they trailed behind for her small unbalanced body. She sported two massive gauntleted hands of black with silver trim, ending with pointed plated fingers. Her face was obscured, apart from the two white glowing eyes, peeking out from within. She still kept the smug look.

Shindow turned to face her, arms crossed and face glaring back at her.

The room was dead quiet.

“I said Amy, Angel of Magic!”

Shindow’s face scrunched in frustration at the ridiculous angel.

“Amy!”

“…..”

“Amy! Angel of- Oh forget it. I’m here.” The angel stated, her eyes squinting at the dead reception.

“You were an angel the entire time and you didn’t help cleanse this ship of demons?” Shindow shot back, floating in close to the strange being. Surprisingly, the angel stepped back with wide eyes, tripping on her own robes and the stairs to fall to her backside.

The angel recovered, gathering herself to her feet.

“Hey who do you think I am? I’ll not tolerate back talk! See? I have your chip right here so be good!” The angel retorted, showing the strange Compiler made a chip to Shindow.

She’s like a child… Although that is my entire existence right now…

Shindow huffed but kept quiet.

“That’s better! You ask why I didn’t cleanse these demons. I’ll tell because I’m awesome like that!”

The angel floated in closed, her crow wings flapping gently. She put her hand to her mouth to whisper.

“Well, you know those demons? They’re mine.”

Shindow’s skipped a process at hearing that, her eyes growing wide.

“Keheheh!” Amy laughed as she floated back to the stairs, the sphere of ebon slime still firmly in her control.

Shindow noticed the piles of well-organized loot at the top of the stairs.

“Why? Why would you do this? You’re an angel! The Kingdom of Heaven! You should be on Adonai’s-”

“Hey! Don’t say that name; I won’t stand for it!” Amy replied, turning back with a furious look on her face.

“Adonai is wrong! He betrayed us. And my Lucy stood up for us!”

Lucy. Lucy?

Then it occurred to Shindow who Amy was speaking of.

“Lucifer?”

“That’s right! She’s the best!”

Shindow felt her core drop at that. Gideon had spoken about Lucifer being freed from her prison. It appeared her escape happened in the past after their arrival; one of Gideon and Deborah’s fears confirmed.

“Why? Why this madness?”

“Madness you ask? Nyeh! It’s actually simple. I’m taking back what’s mine, and Lucy’s!” Amy stated with a scoff.

Shindow glanced at that pile of loot, all neatly organized in a row.

“You want to know what these are?” Amy asked coyly, clasping her massive hands together. The suppressed Compiler floated off to her side.

“These dumb humans thought they could steal Thrones!”

Thrones… Like Deborah had.

“And so, I summon some demons, chase them away and get these Thrones back!”

It wasn’t an invasion, it was a heist.

“And if any deplete themselves fighting, then that’s their own fault!”

“What?”

“I commanded them to chase everyone to the stern and then stop. If they were too dumb to run then they deserve what they get!”

“But this is a merchant’s vessel!” Shindow exclaimed.

“And you think buying and selling my brethren makes it right?”

“Lucy’s mandate is clear: all Thrones belong to her!” Amy stated boisterously, pausing between each word.

“All of them?”

Shindow remembered what Deborah had told her. Thrones were objects with an angelic spirit entombed within. Each sentient. Powerful. Rare. And she was staring at close to a dozen neatly laid out. Some were weapons, others were strange pieces of equipment or tools.

“Yup! Lucy is a god; she made these Thrones and Adonai stole them, as did these dumb merchants!”

She glanced from Shindow to the glistening Thrones.

“Before anything happens…” Amy mumbled.

A small portal was torn open near the Thrones, showing a strange place Shindow had little words for.

Amy began unceremoniously tossing each Throne through.

“There! Lucy is going to love this!”

“I’m the best!”

The portal winked shut with a fizzling squeal.

“Now to figure out what to do with you two! Keheheheh!”

She stared hard at Shindow, scratching at her cowl.

“I know! Become my minion! I could always use an-”

“No,” Shindow bluntly refused, crossing her arms.

Amy went off balance at the immediate rebuke, flapping her crow wings.

“Wah! Hey, don’t reject my gracious offer! Just sign this contract here and we’ll all be set!”

A scroll of paper appeared, written in a language she had no understanding of.

“Basically it says you’ll do as I say! And I get to feed you my homemade cheese- uh! Wait. I mean- you get to look at it! The angel replied, realization dawning on who she was speaking to.

Nothing made sense anymore. Shindow thought of only one good option, stall for time. If Gideon hurried, they could retrieve the data chip and then get the hell out.

Shindow played coy, turning to the side, looking downcast.

“What does the contract entail?” Shindow began.

“Are you a special education AI? I said you become my minion. You do as I say. And you get to watch me eat my homemade cheese!” Amy retorted, speaking slowly to Shindow.

“What about my vessel? This one won’t do; it’s not going to last!”

“Oh yeah… I didn’t think about that one… I never had an AI minion!”

Amy took back the scroll, a fountain pen suddenly formed in her hand as she began to edit the document.

“Also, how are you able to make contracts? I thought only demons could…” Shindow began, floating close to see the contract.

She had a single chance, going from her experience with Saddiffer and what Gideon relayed about the contracts tying to the contractor.

“Keheheh! I’m the best! I am the angel of the Goetic demon! I was created by… That guy, to learn and study the demonic to better manage and combat them. See the Compiler? It’s mine now!”

CRUNCH.

Shindow heard the crunching noise of someone biting into something. She glanced back and saw nothing. It was just her processes stressing out over being taken away.

“See? There, I will house you in a vessel worthy of a minion! A Quantum Storage Device! I have one back home, it’s so cool! And stylish.”

“Well, that would be good.”

And then a devilish thought occurred to Shindow.

“Does it have Gnat capabilities? That is a must.”

“Gnats? Oh! Yeah, it does.”

“What about storage size?”

“Uh… I think it was a bom in size… A bom?”

“You mean Dombyte?” Shindow retorted

The angel was smart in magic, ignorant of tech.

“Yeah! That’s it!”

“What about particle projection?”

“Particle what-”

“Quantum entanglement?”

“Estrangement? Look I know AI have a large family but don’t bring drama into-”

Shindow butted in, gazing at the scroll.

“What about security? Wouldn’t want me to be binary dust!”

“We have Seraphim for that! And there’s no need for dusting. No sir!” Amy responded, cocking her head.

It was clear Shindow had an edge on her.

“What about trilinary redundancy?”

“What’s that-”

“Fragmentation anomalies?”

“Hey slow down-”

“Master ports? Slave ports?”

Shindow had began making things up at this point. She could stall for days. Except the angel appeared sharper than she looked.

“Hey now! I think you’re making things up now! Don’t make fun of me- I-I-I don’t know a lot of tech- which is why you’ll be my minion!” Amy replied, looking cross.

“I’m not making things up! If the QSD is not sufficient, I won’t be able to function! I have to be compatible.”

Amy muttered at that, continuing to edit the document.

CRUNCH.

Shindow glanced around, not seeing who made that noise. Amy was too focused on her work to notice.

“And make a clause here… And it looks to be good!” Amy declared.

“What operating system does it run?” Shindow replied, raising her eyebrows in faux concern.

“Huh?” Amy squinted her eyes at that.

“Operating system. I only run on Corbenic. If it’s anything else, I’ll be incompatible and die!”

Amy froze at those words, her eyes slowly snapping to Shindow.

“Hey wait an eon! You said the ‘D’ word!”

“What? I said I need the Corbenic operat-”

“Nyeh! The last word! Of that last sentence!” Amy replied, appearing flustered.

Shindow’s core dropped at the sudden turn.

What did I say?

Die?

Why would that…

Oh God… Death is no more. Why would a person use that word unless-

“You’re not from here, are you?” Amy began quietly, peering at the AI with curiosity, her eyes growing large.

“No one uses that word anymore. Many don’t even know it! Could it be?”

“Could what be?” Shindow replied as she turned to the side again, put on the defensive.

“Lucy told me all about her prophecy! The lost ones! Is it you?” Amy asked, her eyes sparkling.

“Lost ones? What are you talk about?” Shindow was now more confused than ever.

“The ones who missed Arm-a-geddon!” Amy began with a sing-song tone.

“I can’t believe my luck! A centillion lightyears of galaxy and I stumble across the lost ones!” Amy declared proudly.

“Prophecy? What prophecy?” Shindow asked. This was a sudden boon, stalling for more time.

“Keheheh! Of course you wouldn’t know, you missed everything! Now I need to get you as a minion…

Amy tapped at her cowl with a digit as she began. Amy began as if she had spent some time rehearsing.

“Quondam beyond eternity, there was a God who was really strict!” Amy began, pointing her massive hand to the heavens.

“He made his kingdom and ruled it; like a meanie!” Amy stamped her foot, the soft thud echoed gently in the observatory.

This can’t be true…

“We were all forced to work and work!”

“One eon, a humble cherubim- Archerubim- Rose up and said ‘Enough’!”

“The angels yearned to be free from Adonai’s yoke, and Lucifer led the way, freeing many of the angels.”

Shindow crossed her arms, not buying it for a moment.

“But Adonai, being the meanie that he is, put us down and then crippled us! He then put most of us away in prison, with Lucy and some of her followers escaping to Earth!”

“There she worked with humanity, giving them knowledge and wisdom. She worked with spirits and even demons- she hated those but had no choice! No sir!”

“Because of Lucifer’s help, humanity saw the stars, becoming trillions. Adonai in his jealousy then arrived and ruined everything! Lucy’s allies were suppressed or even destroyed! And Lucy was locked up with the rest of us, inside a red giant- Gehenna- on the edge of reality itself!”

“And then for some reason, Adonai vanished! And then demons came to steal and gather power. They had forgotten that Lucy was an Archerubim and not a demon! They wanted to free their supposed demon god Lucifer! But she’s an Archerubim and she hates demons! Can you believe those idiots?”

Shindow’s face pursed at the long story.

“And so Lucifer was free, as were her followers. She gathered more into her grace and saw the future. She saw you and a few others missed Armageddon! And now she’s looking for you!”

“And now I found you! Go me! I’m the best!” Amy began, congratulating herself.

“What’s that have to do with anything?” Shindow replied tersely.

“What! Didn’t you listen? Lucy is trying to save you all! So you need to sign up to be my minion and then we’ll help your friends!”

You were the one hurting my friends.

“But I don’t know… I need to see this QSD first.” Shindow replied hesitantly.

Shindow began scanning the room casually, seeing her fortune turn. A small console near the view glass. A potential route into the vessel and away from the ridiculous angel. She had one chance to do it.

“Oh yeah… Yeah the QSD is so cool!” Amy began, reaching her hand into nothingness and pulling out a golden band. Shindow glanced over it, seeing the gold metal was pitted with age and time; possibly even before armageddon.

She scanned it, her countenance dropping.

Her face became sturgeon at what she just scanned.

Oh my God.

She’s an idiot.

“Isn’t it cool?”

“No! That’s not a QSD! It’s! It’s..!”

Shindow began, anger forming on her face.

“It’s just a light up bracelet!”

“A what? No! Barthin said it was a QSD- well… I mean he can’t talk but he did gesture…”

She looked at the bracelet, touching the side of it.

“See? QSD!!” Amy vouched, spreading out her wings in a desperate attempt to sell it.

The LED lights flashed in a simple pattern.

The room went quiet.

“That won’t make it a QSD! I can’t interface with it,” Shindow explained.

I think I’m in the clear.

Amy’s wings drooped sadly as the reality set in.

“Nyeh!” Amy huffed, dropping the worthless jewelry at her feet.

“That dumb Barthin! I’ll get him for this! I’ll hide his helmet!” Amy shouted in a fit.

“That’s alright, just put it down in the contract that you’ll get me a proper QSD!” Shindow encouraged.

Amy ceased stamping on the gold band and glanced back, a smile forming in her eyes.

“That’s great! You’re… Pretty cool,” Amy replied, an edge of bashfulness hinting in her voice.

“Let’s see that contract now!” Shindow replied.

Is she this thick? Does she remember I just said no?

“Ok, I’ll put a clause right here.”

Shindow began to work her plan. A triple play in the hopes of not only escaping, because if her plan succeeded the Compiler would be free, but also to get back to Gideon.

Shindow began her plan.

“And here… Another updated clause…”

“Amy, something’s wrong.” Shindow began, holding her head in distress.

“What? What’s the matter?”

“I think it’s the c-c-chip… It’s breaking d-d-down!” Shindow exclaimed.

Her particle projection broke up, splaying into three Shindows before fixing itself.

“Oh no! Wah! Quick, where’s another storage?” Amy began, glancing around.

“Uh, Compiler! Make a new housing chip, better this time!”

The compressed Compiler obeyed, beginning to spit out a newly minted chip.

Then Shindow pounced.

“Wait! I can’t go yeeeeEET!”

Shindow splayed in a sphere of dazzling colors, blinding Amy. Sparks sprayed from the image, striking the contract. It caught fire, as she hoped.

“Oh dear! What happened! Ow, my eyes!”

There she rushed to the console and began to infiltrate it. Shindow had lied before, operating system compatibility ended near the end of the second millennia.

Access system…

System online…

Warning: Security protocols initiate-

Security protocols disabled…

Migrating…

Complete!

Shindow felt herself leave the cramped chip and enter the ships main terminal. It was like going from a jar to the lake. Her final act was to switch on her last module for the old chip.

Amy recovered, staring at the flaming scroll.

“Ah! My contract! Don‘t be on fire, no!”

“Sorry Amy. I had to put you down. Just like Saddiffer’s weakness brought him down,” Shindow quietly stated.

The scroll burnt to ash, the pieces dancing away from the heat displacement.

Shindow saw the angel go to her knees, her wings going limp.

“Shindow…” Amy murmured, a tinge of sadness in her voice.

She’s still alive from that??

Amy rose, looking around for her. The black chip smoldered from being fried; her final module command.

“Shindow?” Amy asked with worry in her voice.

Shindow spotted the burnt chip being cradled in Amy’s large hands.

“Oh no…” Amy pleaded.

Damn. Well, at least I’m free again.

“I wanted an AI minion… Now she’s gone forever,” Amy declared, her voice choking up.

Her wings perked up, as if a sudden realization dawned on her.

She crunched down on the burnt chip, reducing it to black ash.

“Hey wait an eon! Where’s the soul mote? Anforms are blue! Shindow! Hello?”

Amy began frantically scanning the room for her.

Ah, I can’t imitate that. She’s smarter than she looks.

“I know you’re here! You’re going to sign my contract, then I’ll feed you cheese!”

I can’t eat, you big idiot!

“Compiler! Find Shindow!” Amy ordered tersely.

“Uh oh,” Shindow muttered. She attempted to work around the modules and systems of the vessel. She had gone deeper into the systems, slowly taking control.

The Compiler sphere acted instantly, forming into eight-foot mound of ebon slime, smaller than what she remembered.

Amy must have taken all of its nourishment.

It rushed to the console she infiltrated.

“Oh no! It saw me! Hurry!” Shindow cried as she realized her little act fooled the Compiler not at all.

She began working the console, trying to find a way into the main system.

Request denied – please see administration. Locking down terminal

“No! Not now! Let me in!”

The Compiler crushed into the terminal dissolving it with terrifying efficiency.

“Don’t let her get away!” Amy ordered.

Panic etched her being as she felt the internal quantum systems begin to vanish. It was looking for her.

“Please leave… I won’t go back!” Shindow begged.

The Compiler was getting closer, tying down all exits. It was a python, slowly squeezing all of her options to zero.

“SHINDOW!” A voice bellowed, echoing throughout the room.

The Compiler froze, growing an eye limb to see who shouted. Amy spun in a fluster at being interrupted.

Shindow glanced over, skipping a process at what she saw.

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