USD: ~Five weeks after awakening
Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point
“So, you don’t actually know why they are designated enemies.”
[Affirmative. Enemy combatants are designated hostile by default. This unit has no records of any specific humans or their ships while operational.]
Alex closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose while letting out a breath of exasperation.
“Let’s dig into this a bit deeper; what are the criteria for them to be designated enemies? And don’t just keep going in circles; explain to me WHY they are categorized that way.”
[Informative: Enemy combatants have been classified as Enemy combatants due to being human. This classification is a default setting.]
It was Alex’s turn to be silent. It dragged on long enough that Nameless interrupted.
[Suggestion: Remove warhead from proximity to ShipCore.]
“Not yet. I am enjoying you actually answering me for once, and this thing is heavy I don’t want to have to keep dragging it here when I need answers.”
[Notice: Avatar is displaying extreme disregard for ShipCore safety.]
“Yes, please add that to your calculations when you decide to ignore me next time.”
She continued to hesitate for a moment before asking the next question, “Why am I not designated hostile if humans are set that way by default?”
Unfortunately, she had the sneaking sensation that she already knew the answer.
[Informative: Avatar ShipCore:Alex is not classified as human.]
“I didn’t wake up here from cryostasis, did I?”
[Informative: Avatar has not been subjected to Cryostasis during the time this unit has observed it function. Avatar was initialized after Avatar production sequence reached completion.]
Alex scratched her temple and rubbed her cheek, eyes closed, before continuing, “So I’m… some kind of robot? That doesn’t make sense.”
There were a whole lot of reasons that didn’t make sense, like the fact that she still had to deal with her period the week earlier, she had to eat or got hungry, use the restroom facilities, or even that she bled normally when cut, even if those did tend to heal… in real time. She was definitely biological in nature. Could robots be biological?
[Clarification: Avatar is a nanite synthesized-genetically-modified-nanite-infused-human with a permanent direct neural-digital connection to ShipCore:Alex.]
NSGMNIH, that was an acronym and a half. She felt the urge to toss the warhead into the room. A few giggles almost escaped, she shouldn’t have been asking who she was, but what she was. Some kind of horror machine made by a really rude AI?
Alex suppressed the need to go decompress and think things through, she wanted more answers while she had Nameless pinned down by the threat of a megaton bomb and answering her.
“So you literally… synthesized me, what… six weeks ago? Why do I have so many memories from before, and why am I good at some things and not others, couldn’t you have at least made me good at everything?”
[Informative: Avatar possesses an amalgamated persona core produced by progenitor entity from specific digitalized human combatants to produce competency immediately upon synthetization. Unfortunately, this unit believes progenitor entity produced numerous errors during persona crafting after observation of Avatar performance.]
“I think the actual problem is they plugged in your circuits backwards. We could have had this conversation weeks ago, without the megaton warhead sitting in my lap.”
[Notice: Observation of irrational and inefficient Avatar actions has concluded that Avatar will self-destruct with 73% likelihood upon learning certain information. This unit has chosen the safest course of action with the limitations imposed upon it.]
Alex felt that a little. Actually, she felt like running around and screaming her head off, but she was not going to fall apart, “You miscalculated how much I want to spite you.”
[Notice: Current emotions projected toward this unit are unproductive and inefficent.]
“What exactly are you? What am I supposed to call you?”
[Informative: This unit is ShipCore:MainCore, designated Nameless by Avatar Alex.]
“Oh, you didn’t have a name before, sorry for sticking you with something.”
[Notice: This unit finds the syllable content of name acceptably efficient.]
“Glad you like it then. I have another important question.”
Why not? She might as well get all the shocks out of the way at once, and one memory had harassed the back of her mind for a while now.
“What’s Omega Protocol?”
There was no immediate answer, and Alex found herself staring at the red detonate button on the warhead. She didn’t press it though, even after a minute because somehow it felt like that it would be the end of their truce, or whatever bit of trust had been gained from the conversation. Or something like that, the way she felt was like she had been cast adrift in a storm, and she really needed some time to think about things.
When Nameless finally responded she felt some relief that it wasn’t going to try ignoring her again.
[Notice: Omega Protocol consists of central authority override, generated by progenitor entity interlaced with all core systems. Avatar authority supersedes MainCore authority. This non-standard authority distribution was not advertised to MainCore until attempts to return Avatar to main directive resulted in malfunction.]
“You were going to force me to do what you wanted… until you found out I was your boss?”
“What was the bit that felt like you were pinching off my soul then?”
[Notice: Malfunction during ERROR, MainCore experienced thirty seconds of non-logged time during reboot. Historical data reconstruction, inconclusive.]
“Something… thumped you on the head, too?”
“I need a break. This has been a bit of an infodump. Are you not going to ignore me anymore, or am I going to have to bring this thing down here every time I need answers?”
[Warning: This Unit has upgraded Avatar’s reliability score from marginal, but still calculates high risk of danger.]
Risk of danger. Her AI friend was afraid. She wasn’t entirely sure, but she had the thought that all of this was new to it as well.
“Trust is a two-way street, Nameless.”
USD: ~Six weeks after awakening
Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point
|Commence Wakeup Procedure? |
|Hibernation Sequence Interrupted|
Alex watched through the glass as the dark blue fluids inside the tank began to bubble, and internal lights in the pod lit up revealing the redhead’s colorful choice of hair color. At least Alex didn’t think that the ruby hue would be natural, even if it hadn’t worn off in the…
Alex looked at the time stamp on the pod again, just to be sure.
The seconds were still ticking upward, and Alex repeated the number in her head. One Hundred Seventy-Six Years, Three Hundred Twenty-three days, Thirteen hours, Fifty-six minutes and twelve seconds.
She was still trying to process that one, because it didn’t make too much sense that all the debris hadn’t destroyed itself or shook itself free from the Lagrange point already. Arguing with what was actually there and what was plausible or possible was a losing effort though, and Alex filed it under her growing list of things she just had to accept.
[Warning: Awakening of Hostile Combatants is ill-advised. Recommend canceling Cryoreversal immediately.]
“I told you to reclassify them as neutral.”
Nameless sulked. She knew it was sulking from the way the designation finally changed in her vision.
|Neutral Combatant POW|
“Remove the POW part also, this isn’t a forced labor camp.”
[Warning: This unit calculates a high likelihood of danger, recommend fabrication of pulse turrets and arming Drone #3132 and Drone #3133 with gauss rifles.]
“The armory is locked down, and there aren’t any other weapons on the ship. Things will be fine.”
Well, other than the plasteel alloy pulse pistol strapped to her back. She wasn’t going to wake up their new friend totally unarmed.
The liquid continued to drain, and suddenly the pod’s door hissed as gas exchanged with the hold before it slowly opened.
|Recommend Evaluation by Medical Personnel|
Alex had brought a medkit with a defibrillator and adrenal cocktails just in case. She had read a bit of the manual before working the pod, and it had indicated there was a possibility of cardiac arrest on awakening, especially in longer duration cryostasis.
As the gas cleared, Alex realized what she had forgot. The red-haired girl wasn’t even in her skivvies, she was totally naked. Alex couldn’t avoid getting an eyeful of the other girl's lithe well-toned form and she felt her cheeks burning a bit so she quickly reached forward and helped remove the rebreather still strapped to the other girl’s face.
The redhead’s eyes opened groggily, before letting out a hoarse croak. Alex quickly put the mask away and grabbed a glass of water and handed it to her.
A mumbled acknowledgment and then the girl drank it in one gulp.
Alex had prepared a plethora of ways to start the conversation, but now that the moment had arrived she found herself at a loss.
‘Hello, I’m your local super-modified-human-murder-robot here to wake you up so you can help me rebuild the ship and maybe escape being trapped in this debris clusterfuck.’
The ship speakers suddenly crackled to life on an over-comm system Alex hadn’t realized had started working again. “MILCOM AUTHENTICATION: FEDERATION: FAILURE.”
The sudden prompt erupted a second later in Alex’s vision.
The girl and Alex stared at each other, complete startlement on both their faces, for about half a second. Then a sudden fist slammed into Alex’s nose, sending her scuttling backward rapidly.
Blood was dripping from her nose. Shaking her sudden startlement away Alex reached behind her back to pull out her pistol and level it at the other girl only to find the other girl’s hand already there and ripping the top action apart before Alex could even think about whether she should pull the trigger or not. By the time she had realized what happened the handgun disintegrated into useless pieces.
Alex wanted to laugh; she had just watched the exact thing happen in a spy movie she had decided to watch a few days earlier. Except this was real life and there was a second fist flying at her.
Alex’s hand shot out and she used her forearm to push the other girl’s strike to the side, and she had no time to be surprised at how it had worked because it only led to another strike she needed to block.
At least one of her past lives must have been a martial artist because her body knew how to respond to each attack. A flurry of strikes, kicks, and grabs were exchanged, Alex taking a few openings to strike back. Each time she was punished for it though. If Alex was stronger and a bit faster, the other girl was clearly more skilled. She had no wasted movements and was clearly planning each exchange before Alex had even figured out what had just happened.
When the sudden flurry of blows stopped, Alex realized they had made a small space between them. The other girl was breathing heavily but still in a ready stance, eyes glaring fiercely. In contrast, Alex didn’t even feel winded, but she did reach up to wipe blood that had dripped into her eye away. At some point her eyelid had been scratched by a fingernail, but the injury had already healed.
Thinking this was a good time to negotiate, Alex started to speak, but that served as the signal to start round two.
The other girl surged at her rapidly, and another flurry of strikes and parries met each other. Rather than get pummeled this time, Alex felt that each exchange was a little easier. Things felt a little slower each time, and her mind had time to catch up. Strike left, deflect right, duck the kick, slide around a chop. Suddenly she saw a kick coming and captured the redhead’s leg under her arm and then shoved forward slamming her against a bulkhead.
That ended up with Alex plastered against the other girl, in an attempt to pin her to the ship’s wall, but closer wasn’t exactly better as a sudden trio of elbow strikes slammed into Alex’s ribs.
Alex’s breathing stopped suddenly as she clenched her jaw in pain, it felt like her ribs had shattered under the blows and one strike to her solar plexus had stolen her wind. She swore she saw her SNO2 icon start flashing, but she had no time to be distracted.
Before the other girl could slip away Alex kneed her between the legs with all her strength. That elicited a shocked screech and turned the redhead’s dodge into a tumble in which Alex ended up on top straddling her waist. The attempt to dislodge her ended with them both realizing Alex certainly had more mass and wasn’t budging if she didn’t want to. A last attempt at a punch was grabbed and Alex pinned the other girl’s arms above her head.
They stayed like that for a moment, the other girl panting fast enough to be hyperventilating before Alex opened her mouth, “Hey, why don’t we—”
Suddenly the other girl’s forehead smashed into Alex’s nose with a crunch and a sudden gush of blood pouring down onto her. Something snapped in Alex’s mind and she returned the favor, now they both had broken noses.
“HELLO. I am your local super-modified-human-murder-robot here to wake you up so you can help me rebuild the ship while keeping me company and I am the only thing standing between you and the real murder robot that suggested we flush you out the airlock, would you—”
Beyond the obvious distress from being pinned to the metal floor, Alex realized the girl had stopped struggling and breathing. The second part was a bit of a surprise, but what Alex really focused on was the pained and terrified set of eyes looking back at her.
[Notice: Sensors Indicate -*-Hostile Enemy Combatant-*- is in a state of Cardiac Arrest.]
Was Nameless sassing her right now?
[Interrogative: If Avatar is finished traumatizing the POW, would Avatar prefer directions to the nearest airlock, or to the medkit defibrillator?]
Alex swore the blood vessel in her temple popped from exasperation.