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USD: ~31 days after Tears of Fire arrival to 92 Pegasi

Location: Ackman Orbit, Asteroid Belt, Orbital Construction Point, ShipCore


 

Alex looked between Nameless’s new form and the unending towers of server racks. The slow flashing blue lights were interspersed with glows and random blinking of other colors. A cool breeze brushed against her from behind threatening to scatter her long blue locks of hair.

“Why do we need this for that? It seems like overkill, and you are all about efficiency.”

She glanced around, frowning at the servers and feeling a dislike for the view.

“And why are we in such a creepy place, I would much rather—”

Suddenly everything warped, causing her stomach to leap a little before they were standing in the Mess Galley where Alex and Elis spent most of their free time. Except for the solid black walls that were where the doors normally were located. A starry black-blue hue shone from them interspersed with a dreamy starfield that twinkled.

“This is getting weird.”

Nameless sighed, “Normally your Neural-Optical Interface would be quite sufficient to relay the information to you for your adjustment, but this process is much more involved.”

“You had better start from the beginning. What are sub-cores exactly?”

“I’ll try to keep it brief. Time is flying by in the real world, and Elis, while not in a state of panic, is growing more concerned and she is equipped with a MK4B Combat suit.”

“Well, yeah. I imagine they will be very useful for protecting ourselves in the future. Wait… did you say MK4B? She was in the MK4A, the smaller one.”

“It’s also more than sufficient to cut down our combat drones and destroy the ShipCore at the current time, and yes, she has had sufficient time to go change her suit and is currently pacing the corridor while waiting for you to wake up.”

Alex licked her lips, she didn’t want to make Elis worry more.

“Ok, well let’s hurry this up.”

“The ShipCore contains multiple elements, the most concerning to you is that a large portion of your neural net is stored on the primary ShipCore substrates. More simply, half your brain is located inside it, connected to the other half in your skull via a direct high bandwidth connection. Termination of this connection results in unconsciousness.”

“A sub-core is a second persona and ShipCore pair that is directly subordinate to the primary one. You can think of this as splitting yourself. The reason you are needed here is because the creation of a sub-core is a personal process which including composing a new persona from available personality strata, aptitudes, and skillsets.”

“So… you’re saying to make this sub-core I have to make something like… Like how I was made, an amalgam of people?”

“Yes and no. You will be able to create an amalgam from our current database, but we have no human personality records on file, instead we have only a very limited subset of NAI types.”

“I see. Well, you said time is wasting, so how do we begin?”

“I will note that one of the available strata includes A-3123Y’s matrix, although its historical database is not present. I will begin the process, prepare for some change in scenery.”

Before Alex could ask more about their old asteroid base companion that she thought had died a fiery death in a last stand the lights went out, plunging everything into an absolute blackness except her own body that somehow was visible via an ambient light.

She was thankful for that, for some reason a shadow memory hinted to her that absolute sensory deprivation was terrifying.

Suddenly a wall of screens appeared in front of her, there were several different categories.

|Persona | Aptitudes | Skillsets | Authorization | Points:100|

The one that immediately grabbed her attention was ‘Authorization.’

The list minimized only to expand on a larger screen, confirming something that she had been wondering about for a long time.

 

|Alpha:1|Beta:2|Gamma:3|Delta:4|

|Epsilon:5|Zeta:6|Eta:7|Theta:8|Iota:9|

|Kappa:10|Lambda:11|Mu:12|Nu:13|Xi:14|

|Omicron:15|Pi:16|Rho:17|Sigma:18|Tau:19|

|Upsilon:20|Phi:21|Chi:22|Psi:23|

 

“Nameless, A-3123Y mentioned the ‘Wings of Omega’ and there has been ‘Omega Authorization’ and ‘Omega Protocol’ so… why don’t I see it in this list?”

“There is only one end.”

“That’s cryptic.”

“I’m sorry, this persona is pre-programmed with many canned responses, and I can’t even access them to attempt to correlate any relevant between them until you ask something that triggers one.”

“This is the same… process that was used to create me?”

“Yes, or something very similar. I imagine your persona crafting was much more potent than our current capabilities.”

“I’m the Omega.”

“It appears so, yes.”

“What does that make you?”

“I am the ShipCore’s main computational unit. Every ShipCore pair has an avatar persona and a computational unit. There is—at least there was no standardization. Normally the computational unit has an Authorization one level higher than the Avatar. For us, that’s reversed. I have Psi Authorization.”

“So, you have memories of our past? I really have a lot of questions.”

“I’m sorry. Do you have ‘shadow’ memories of things you can’t quite remember? Maybe the feeling of rain on your skin, but we’ve never been on a planet. Imagine that, but knowing where all the holes are, seeing every single gap, but having no idea what was there. I’m more fragmented than you are, I'm afraid.”

“Also… Umm. You’re a man. We’ve been calling you ‘it’ this whole time, do you have a preference?”

“For me it doesn’t matter, whatever feels right to you. Now we have diverted and wasted much time. I suggest giving the sub-core Psi Authorization. That way if it runs into other nanite entities it is subordinate to none of them. Unless we are present and give it specific orders to allow them to command it. That would be important if we intend to use this unit as a mobile base that we might leave in some cases.”

Alex didn’t disagree and promptly the number of points available dropped by 23.

“Easy enough.”

“There will be choices that require more consideration, I assure you.”

 

|Persona | Aptitudes | Skillsets | Psi | Points:77|

 

“Persona.”

 

|A-3123Y – Warrior Poet (Data Loss)|5|

|B-5666N – Balanced (Basic)|4|

|C-3234K – Goal Oriented(Basic)|4|

|H-3233L – Defensive(Basic)|4|

The list came to an abrupt halt at a thought from Alex.

“Nameless, how is A-3123Y on the list?”

“During final transmission A-3123Y transmitted a final data packet with persona core information just before our FTL transition. No historical data is present however all persona core data was intact.”

“What about these other ones?”

“Persona Cores marked (Basic) have been generated automatically by the system, they have nearly blank personas that will require time to develop beyond their basic programming.”

“I guess the hint beside each one is a leaning toward and not a hard thing then if they mostly develop on their own. I don’t really think we have the time to think about and compare the pros of cons of each one right now and there is only one real choice here. After saving us? A-3123Y.”

 

|A-3123Y | Aptitudes | Skillsets | Psi | Points:72|

 

“Aptitudes”

|General|

|Administration:5 |Space War:5 |Empathy:5 |Organization:5 |

|Ground War:5 |Logistics:5 |Production:5 |Mining:5 |Business: 5 |

 

“This list seems short and not very inclusive, Nameless. I’m going to assume their name is also their descriptor as well.”

“Current choices reflect current capabilities of ShipCore combined with Avatar’s own Aptitude choices.”

Before selecting anything, Alex decided to look at the final page available.

“Skillsets.”

 

Command: 0 |Gunnery: 0 |Sensors: 0 |Security: 0

Technical: 0 |Mechanics: 0 |Astrography: 0 |Biological: 0

Industrial: 0 |Market Analysis: 0 |Improvisation: 0| Artistry: 0

 

“Note that Skillsets can be increased through learning and usage, while Aptitudes are locked in on amalgamation.”

“Thanks, Nameless. That makes this a bit easier.”

Immediately she purchased all the available Aptitudes. If she hadn’t missed her guess, those were the things like her shadow skillsets that she had the dim memories from. Having those had saved her life more than once and having instant expertise over something, while strange, was incredibly potent.

That only left her to distribute the remaining points.

It only took her seconds.

 

|A-3123Y | Aptitudes | Skillsets | Psi | Points:0|

|Administration |Space War |Empathy |Organization |

|Ground War |Logistics |Production |Mining |Business |

Improvisation: 20

Command: 5

Artistry: 2

 

Suddenly the menu world blinked out and they were once again in the giant server rack space.

“Interesting choices, Alex. I expected the Authorization and Aptitude choices, but to put so many points into Improvisation instead of spreading them out? Aren’t you afraid A-3123Y is going to have a hard time with the basics?”

“My entire life has been one long improvisation. I figured I would give the little guy a chance.”

“Fair enough. If that’s your intuition, then it’s probably right.”

Nameless knelt behind a server rack and then stood up and approached her a glowing blue orb in his hands. “This is A-3123Y’s new sub-core. Yes, inside the Tears is one of these that’s ours. Obviously, a bad idea to leave it laying around to get broken so its stuffed in an extra-armored solid block citadel with a computronics substrate for connections.”

Alex shook her head and accepted the little blue orb. It pulsed warmth in her hands.

“I will pretend to understand half of what you said.”

“Either way, it’s time to wake up. Elis has started to tear down the room. If you want to talk more, that’s an option, but I do find it painful to exist like this, so keep it in mind.”

He reached out and flicked Alex’s forehead, and suddenly the world was pulled out from under her feet. The only reason she didn’t fall was because she found herself already sitting in the nanite chair.

A wave of exhaustion passed through her entire body, and it felt like she had been awake for days. The process had sapped her mental energy hard, leaving her feeling like her thoughts were working in a fog.

The A-3123Y core was still in her hands, a warm gentle pulsing of heat emanating from it. It gave her a bit of comfort against the pounding in her head. It was still emitting a luminescent blue glow.

“Let her go you nanite bastard! I’m going to tear you apart!”

Alex blinked, “Elis?”

Looking around, the white matte walls had been scraped, burnt, and pried, turning the room into a mess. It appeared that she had begun to laser drill toward the central unit with the MK4B’s inbuilt forearm laser.

She stopped suddenly to turn toward Alex’s voice.

“Alex! You’re alright!”

“Yeah… it was a weird ass trip. I’m fine. How long did it take?”

“Eighteen hours. What the fuck!”

[Informative: This unit will begin repairs to the ShipCore compartment.]

Suddenly all the damaged components fell to miniature metal pieces, nanobots suddenly reactivating and moving on their own to reform the room. In a matter of seconds all the damage Elis had achieved was undone.

“Fuck. Ok. I’m out. This room is too nannie for me.”

“Hey, I’m half nanite, you know. At least half my brain is, anyway.”

Elis stopped and looked at her for a second, “I know. You have enough good points to make up for it though. This nannie rotten bastard of a computer doesn’t!”

Alex winced thinking that the two of them had been working together better, but now that might be strained a little.

“What’s that?”

Alex looked down to where Elis was pointing.

“This is A-3123Y. It’s our new SubCore. It’s like the ShipCore actually, just… uhh. I don’t know. I guess this is the computer part and it will have to grow the avatar? Nameless what do I do with this?”

[Informative: Construction drone enroute to collect SubCore. Dedicated NAI compartment has been designated for SubCore A-3123Y, during which the amalgamation compartment was transported to the new orbital facility.]

[Informative: Planned construction list of new orbital facility complete. Preparing for handover now. All processing facilities are confirmed operational. Priority shifting to resource collection before return to Ackman Station.]

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Next: Chapter 32 – ANUF

See you space core...


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Erios909

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