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A note from Erios909

Hello. Sorry for the long delay, but here we are. I will be re-starting things with weekly chapters on Fridays at first. This isn't a Friday, but I'm excited to get things rolling again. There have been some edits to previous chapters, and major changes in the long-term plot that aren't really evident to readers (I deleted the entire plot-board and redid it.)

Its been a while, so maybe a re-read is in order, anyway. Please enjoy, and thank you for reading!

Self-consistency of the world is important to me, if you noticed any errors or mistakes on my part, please post them in the comments for me!

Writing might be a bit rusty, but I hope the content still pleases.

USD: ~Five weeks after awakening

Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point


 

Stains covered the floor from spilled fluids and things that had leaked while Alex had rigged up lines to feed the pods that the robots had literally torn out of the walls in order to make it back in time. She had been lucky she had most of the riggings she needed already fabricated or on hand to set things up courtesy of the hydroponics bay. Even then she had spent a good half day to make sure they were functioning properly. Then she had went and showered and slept soundly for what felt like was the first time in years. It probably had been exactly that.

After breakfast she returned to the pods. Alex had been staring at the array of pods in the hangar bay for a while, her eyes homing in on one cryopod in particular. The red-haired girl floated peacefully inside the full immersion cryopod. The technology used a mixture of liquids and cryogenic gasses to somehow preserve a living person in a state of stasis for a long time. That was as specific as she understood things and reading the massive electronic manual had not been on her list of priorities-- yet. There was a very specific and glaring problem to the whole situation.

That wasn’t even including the new gash in the Shrike’s hull left by the now freed gunship, or the remaining internal components she had been forced to leave behind. There had only been enough time to choose between moving the pods over or collecting the parts, and to her it hadn’t been a choice, saving the frozen crew’s lives wasn’t optional. Nameless had disagreed but thankfully her autonomy had been respected. Grudgingly.

No, the big problem was the red text her overlay had put over each of the four occupied cryopods.

|Unknown Hostile Combatant, POW|

Prisoner of war… her system was classifying the rescued crew as captured enemies. When the emergency had passed and the gut-wrenching cacophony of steel warping had ended, she had been a bit giddy at the prospect of not being alone anymore.

Over the last five weeks Alex had concluded that whoever had classified Humans as a social creature was undoubtedly correct as she had continued to anthropomorphize the cargo bots. At least they did seem to have their own personalities according to her myriad conversations with them: Beeper beeped more than Booper, and Booper booped more than Beeper.

Taking a deep breath, Alex decided to address the issue directly instead of skirting around yet another one.

“Hey, Nameless, why is the crew we rescued listed as POWs?”

[Informative: Recovered crew members are hostile combatants. As they are currently captured, they are prisoners-of-war.]

“Why are they listed as hostile combatants?”

Silence.

“Why didn’t you inform me they were on the gunship earlier?”

[Informative: This unit did not have proof that cryogenic pods were stored inside the wreckage.]

“Proof? So, you had some evidence, and didn’t tell me about it? If we had searched the ship any later these people would be dead.”

[Informative: The amount of evidence was not high enough to confirm the existence of cryopods, and the priority of recovering cryopods was low. The addition of these pods has lowered the amount of free cargo space and increased the rate of maintenance intervals 1.2%]

“In the future, raise the priority of saving people high enough to keep me informed. Actually… Did you hide this from me on purpose, because you didn’t want to increase the maintenance costs on the ship?”

[Negative: This unit did not hide the existence of cryopods from the Avatar. Cryogenic life-signs are not strong enough to be detected by the ship’s sensors outside the ship.]

“How often do you lie to me?”

There was a slight pause, as if the sudden question had delivered the AI mute for a moment before Nameless responded.

[Warning: Excess paranoia by Avatar directed toward this unit demonstrates further Avatar irrationality.]

“When I ask questions, real important questions, you go silent. Unless they are directly related to immediate survival. You’re hiding things from me and won’t explain at all. If you think paranoia directed at you is irrational, you need your logic circuits rebooted.”

[Informative: This unit has Avatar’s best interests and survival prioritized. Furthermore, this unit has superior calculation capabilities and has determined that some responses might evoke an emotional response from the Avatar that are detrimental to important priorities.]

“You think I’m fragile. Well, you are probably right, after being stranded here for weeks, having lost my memories, being alone in an unfamiliar place… But that doesn’t give you the right to withhold information, your entire statement is a manipulative piece of bullshit.”

Silence.

“Refusing to answer doesn’t let you off the hook.”

Alex clenched her fists, trying to hold back the anger she felt welling up inside of her chest.

“What is Omega Protocol?”

The silence of the ship’s machinery was the only response.

“It seems we have communication issues. Let's try working on them.”

Alex turned and headed to the armory, she’d replaced the damaged airlock with the one she had robbed from the gunship and sealed the internal breaches, so there was no need to get an EVA helmet.

A plethora of things greeted her as she flicked on her overlay.

|Pulse Rifle|

Not destructive enough.

|Plasma Grenade|

Probably would hurt her more than anything else.

|HE Satchel Charge|

Better, but not good enough.

|Inoperative Missile Warhead|

Perfect. Alex headed to the warhead she had removed from the few remaining missiles. It was the only warhead she had found, the rest of the missiles were all unarmed. She figured that in whatever battle the Shrike had been in, it had fired everything it could in the rack, and only this warhead had survived because it had an issue, the firing trigger had failed a check and so it wouldn’t detonate if it had been fired.

But that didn’t pose a problem for Alex’s use. It could still be detonated manually.

[Warning: Missile Warhead could cause critical damage to the ship if accidentally triggered.]

“Obviously.”

Alex grunted as she lifted the warhead out of its crate and into her arms. She knew that the nanites were definitely helping, because there was no other way she would be so easily carrying the 100kg sphere.

Exiting back into the corridor, she headed toward what she had dubbed Nameless’s section of the ship. Before she reached the matte white walls, she got another message.

[Interrogative: What is your purpose in retrieving the warhead?]

Alex smiled, but didn’t answer.

[Interrogative: Where are you taking the warhead?]

[WARNING: Warhead proximity to ShipCore poses critical danger.]

She giggled, the synthesized voice was as deadpan as ever, but she could feel the panic setting in. Or was she anthropomorphizing again? Reaching the door just outside of the room where she woke up, she sat the warhead down and sat beside it cross-legged. She figured that this was as close to the center of the white section of the ship as she could easily get to, and opened the programming hatch on the warhead’s side revealing a small keyboard and display, a basic interface awaiting text commands.

Meanwhile a plethora of warnings, alerts and messages flashed by on the edge of her senses. They didn’t bother her much as she had them muted and moved to the periphery of her vision.

|Safety Disable?|

|Yes|

|Authorize Signature Required|

Alex thought for a second and then decided to put her thumb on the display.

|Access Granted - Shipcore, Alex – Commander|

“Wasn’t sure that’d work, thought I’d have to do some programming.”

|Safety Disabled.|

|Warhead Armed|

|Detonate?|

Alex looked up at the white door in front of her that had begun to open and close repeatedly, a calm smile on her face.

|87x Suppressed messages awaiting response|

The smile turned into a grin.

“So I imagine you can understand how I feel when you purposefully don’t answer. Lets try again. Why are the crew in the cryopods all listed as enemy combatants?”

[Informative: Imprisoned enemy combatants are hostile.]

“Why are they hostile? What made you give them that designation?”

[Informative: Enemy combatants are listed as hostile because they are enemies.]

Alex sighed, “Not good, but it's better than not answering at all, so I’ll leave it for now.”

[Recommendation: Remove warhead from proximity to ShipCore; vital functions are at critical risk.]

“Oh no. We are not done, not by a long shot. What’s Omega Protocol?”

The fidgeting doors had stopped and this section of the ship let silence reign unlike anywhere else. Alex let out a sigh before looking back down to the warhead’s display. There were several icons that were self-explanatory, and she pressed the little clock and the interface changed. She punched in thirty seconds.

“Let’s play a little game. I will ask a question, you can answer or not. Each time you don’t answer, I’ll let five seconds on the clock wind down. We are starting at thirty seconds, we’ll go until my irrational paranoia about you calms down, how does it sound? Actually, I’m not giving you much choice, so let's get started!”

[Warning: Avatar irrationality has reached critical levels. Erratic behavior poses critical danger to ShipCore directives.]

“Aren’t you going to try pinching my brain again?”

She gave it thirty seconds before she hit the little green arrow. For half a second she panicked when the countdown started and no other button appeared, but then two lines indicating pause appeared. She waited until the countdown hit 25 and pressed it.

“Gosh, that was scary, what if there was no pause button?”

|138x Suppressed messages awaiting response|

Alex was glad that the following messages were automatically suppressed, otherwise they would have blocked out her vision. She deleted them all without reading them.

“Yes, yes. We could have just blown ourselves up right there, but I really need you to understand that communication is important.”

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About the author

Erios909

  • West Virginia, USA
  • Author

Bio: Still alive, yes.

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