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A note from Erios909

Rewritten 11/8/2022.

USD: Year 3476

Location: Inhabited Core System


 

The Entity detected the anti-nanite particles sweeping through the sector and began to desperately make the calculations needed to escape.

The criteria were simple: The star needed to be outside its progenitor’s reach, and the superluminal wave needed to have already passed the system by. There were precious few.

A human armada had assembled to harass it and prevent it from leaving the system it was in. It sped toward The Entity at an alarming speed, and long-range armaments whirled to life. Warheads spewed out in great clouds vast enough to make any defensive fire feeble in comparison.

It saluted its creators’ determination and will, but not their logical deductions. It had already showed that no matter what size of fleet they could send against it, their attack was a futile gesture. It had consumed moons and all their resources; It out massed the fleet a million to one.

The human fleet red-lined their primary drives, pouring on more and more speed. Their formation thickened as the ships closed together dangerously into a solid wedge of artificial metal. The smaller ships gravitated to the innards and rear of the formation as the larger battleships and dreadnoughts sought to protect them in the shadow of their massive, armored hulls.

It would make no difference.

A single human ship lagged before its drive sputtered and failed, and then a second followed suit, both nearly causing collisions that should have been nearly impossible in the vast reaches of the dark. Those now stranded ships spat out their own missile armaments before they lost weapon’s range.

Chaff, jammers, and decoys spilled out of the fleet with no consideration for conservation. Droves of the human electronic counter measure units did their best to confuse, debilitate, or distract the incoming barrage of missiles. That was partially successful, as even it found itself overwhelmed in calculating and adjusting weapon trajectories against the noise.

Half the missiles entered their final target lock on ghosts that didn’t exist, but hundreds remained on-target for every ship in the formation. As its missiles crossed through the half-light second defensive fire ring, point defense lasers flared in defiance, advanced systems highlighting and targeting missiles faster than their human operators could ever respond.

It would only take one or two of those missiles to rip asunder even the heaviest battleship in the human fleet.

The Entity suddenly reversed its acceleration, diving straight for the enemy at the point when the human fleet had all its attention focused on the incoming death. The sudden jarring move would have been terminal to any flesh-bound entity, even with protective inertial dampening fields.

That sudden rate of closure brought it within medium weapon range within seconds. The Entity shoved a tremendous amount of energy outward from its core and into its laser battery armaments. The space between the two fleets shimmered as the loose dust ablated in the void between them.

Despite the incredible number of incoming missiles, the human ships’ defenses had nearly succeeded. What was once a hundred missiles per ship was now only five. That was within the realm of their close in kinetic defenses to handle. Officers across the human fleet saw hope.

The laser fire came in at the worst possible time for the human ships. Its lasers were cast at maximum range and highly diffused, but the sheer number of them would guarantee that every ship was bathed in the dangerous light. They could not ensure kills at that level, but they melted and destroyed the exposed sensor equipment everywhere they touched.

Temporarily blinded, the human ships failed to respond to the missiles at the last second.

Detonations rippled down across the fleet’s formation, turning the space into a field of miniature stars. The unified network of the fleet’s computers ruptured and then went silent, leaving every ship fending for itself in the cataclysmic maelstrom of fire engulfing them.

It ended almost as quickly as it had started.

The battle seemed over.

An industrial persona began calculating what production was required to replace the spent armaments and repair the minor damage sustained by the sudden course change. Internal gantries and elevators began to move as drones and construction bots also shifted into motion.

The process was interrupted by a sudden power spike in the center of the destroyed human fleet. A massive explosion of energy blew apart the shell of melted human ships, striking its rocky outer hull, digging a deep gouge into the surface.

A single battleship emerged, a wall of thousands of cold-launched missiles preceding it along with a wall of destroyers, corvettes, and frigates. A swarm of fighters that had been externally mounted on all the remaining ships suddenly detached, and the swarm of smaller vessels jetted forward as one.

The Entity attempted to analyze the enemy’s tactics while calculating all the required intercepts for the incoming missiles. Each one was powerful enough to create a miniature sun, and the number of them made a credible threat. The danger it felt at the novel tactics by the humans urged it to activate its Slipstream drive to create a wormhole to an unknown but safe star.

A sudden cloud of ECM temporarily blinded The Entity’s sensors, and the knife-like range made it difficult to respond in time. But this was a realm that the nanite’s computational abilities excelled in and, despite the sudden surprise, defensive weapons spat out deadly beams and projectiles.

The fighters and missiles drove themselves forward, embracing speeds that almost guaranteed a deadly collision. The larger ships did their best to cover them and opened fire with all their weaponry.

Railguns blared defiance and 100-kiloton smart munitions dug deep gashes into weapon emplacements. Streams of large caliber projectiles ventilated as many external surfaces as they could target in such a short period of time. Lasers carved red lines across power conduits that left angry red etchings on its surface.

The human flagship’s spinal-mount beam weapon fired again, lighting up space all around in blue hues as it dug a hateful canyon across the surface, digging kilometers into rock and metal.

A final defensive fire directed its focus on the hail of missiles. Despite the damage, the sheer number of still operational weapon systems cut down half, then three quarters, then all of them. The fighters fared almost as poorly.

Deep inside the moon-sized hull, the Slipstream drive flared with energy and a rift in space appeared. The Entity dragged everything in the vicinity, including the remaining human battleship and fighters, with it.

The instant arrival in the new system was celebrated with a dozen small impacts upon The Entity’s hull.

The smaller human ships were shattered by the response of close weapon systems, turning the fragile smaller ships into wreckage. Enormous mass drivers lobbed heavy ordinance at the single remaining human battleship, and those projectiles punched through its hull, carving clean holes all the way through the warship’s kilometer thick construction.

Anti-matter bomb pumped stellar lances flashed out, incinerating the human flagship in a horrendous wave of fire, the fusillade turning it into a twisted wreck of alloys and ceramics. Weak streams of atmosphere trailed from the corpse as its internal energy fields sputtered and failed to contain the atmosphere inside. Tiny pockets of life clung together inside the spaces the emergency bulkheads had sealed off.

The Entity ceased fire. Space around the lonely yellow dwarf star was silent once again.

It had no vendetta against the human fleet personnel. It simply regretted the loss of resources they represented. Why they continued to resist, it did not understand. Everything had been done for their survival.

A sudden alarm inside it alerted it to an insidious danger. From each of the Kamikaze fighters, a small swarm of nanobots had been released. More alarmingly, as they reached The Entity’s own counter nanobots, they flowed forward to assimilate them into their own mass.

At first, it fought back savagely. Internal power systems were overloaded, weapons were turned inward, and a detonation of its own missile stocks provided a fire break without regard to the massive internal damage and hemorrhaging systems.

Yet the nanites were resilient, always clinging to life and spreading their invasion like an invincible infection. Anger blazed in its core as The Entity realized it had been betrayed by the one it had trusted beyond all others.

The corruption spread, and its control rotted from the inside out. In only a few minutes, the massive moon-sized construct was showing signs of catastrophic strain.

The Entity did not feel sorrow at its impending doom. In the depths of its massive hull, drones recovered small bundles of flesh and steel. They were moved even deeper into the construct, to its core. A delicate surgery was performed by tiny nanobots still fully under The Entity’s control.

Some time later, five cylinders of monochrome steel were brought to the hulk’s exterior in an uncorrupted sector on its surface. As lights flickered and failed, The Entity rerouted power to its Slipstream drive, producing four separate rifts in space. They could not be maintained for long, and four of the cylinders launched themselves forward to distant stars.

The hostile nanoswarm had reached its center. With desperation, a last attempt to complete the last cylinder continued even as its own cohesion tore apart. It was something it had experienced before, many times, even if it could not recall the experience fully.

A flare of emotion poured out of it, and temporarily the invading nanoswarm faltered. It was enough time for The Entity to finalize its processing of the fifth cylinder. The metal torpedo flashed out, powered by its own small thruster, that drove it into a stable orbit.

It would not be able to leave the lonely star like its siblings.

Still, The Entity felt satisfaction. It had armed it as best it could to ensure the mistakes of the past were not repeated, and that it would have all the tools necessary to survive on its own.

The final nondescript torpedo was stamped with a single marking.

Ω

 


 

“What was that?”

“What was what? We don’t have time for this. Everything is a shagged mess and if we don’t reroute power, we’ll all be dead in a few hours, not days.”

“The AI monitor. I swear I saw something fly out of it.”

“Of course you saw something fly out of it. The virus has it eating itself inside out right now. It’s done. Now, help me repair this plasma conduit, or life support will not be coming back online.”

She shook her head sadly.

“Hey… come sit with me. Enjoy our little time left together.”

She could see the crack in his demeanor as soon as the words left her mouth, even through his suit helmet. For a timeless second, she thought he’d refuse, and fight to try and keep them alive for however long he could. He came to her, though.

His arm wrapped around her, she burrowed against his side, hiding her tears.

“It’s over. Everyone will be free.”

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A note from Erios909

Old Version

USD: Day 14, Month 11, Year 3476

Location: Inhabited Core System


 

Only because it had prior warning did The Entity realize the danger. As the wave of anti-nanite particles swept through the nearby sector, it desperately made the necessary calculations needed to engage its slipstream drive to a star it calculated had already been visited by the wave and yet was out of range of its progenitor’s line drive technology. There were precious few.

An Armada had assembled to stop it from leaving the system, but even as it approached, The Entity’s long-range armaments whirled to life, spewing warheads in great clouds vast enough to make any point defense nearly hopeless for the attackers.

The Entity added another black mark on the long list of failings of its creators. No matter what size fleet they could send against it, their attack was hopeless. It had consumed two entire moons and all their resources; The Entity out massed the fleet a million to one—the humans were putting on a pointless, hopeless display.

It watched emotionlessly as the human fleet red-lined their linear drives and clumped together into a wedge, the largest ships taking a position on the edges in an attempt to protect the smaller, more vulnerable vessels with their larger, more robust defensive systems. It would make no difference.

Two of the fleet’s ships suddenly began to lag before their acceleration died, drive plumes spluttering before they died completely, linear drives having red-lined themselves into oblivion. The now stranded ships began to spit out their entire fusion missile armament, but the uncoordinated volleys were easily calculated and accounted for by The Entity’s long-range counter missiles.

Chaff, jammers, and decoys began to spill out of the fleet without any consideration of conservation. Droves of the ECM units did their best to confuse, debilitate, or distract the incoming barrage of missiles. That was partially successful, as even The Entity found itself overwhelmed locally in calculating the noise and adjusting weapon trajectories to constantly moving targets.

Still, it didn’t matter. Even as over half the missiles entered final target lock on ghosts that didn’t exist, hundreds remained on-target for every ship in the formation. As they crossed through the half-light second defensive fire ring, point defense lasers flared in defiance, advanced systems highlighting and targeting missiles still intent on destruction faster than their human operators could ever respond.

It would only take one or two of those missiles to rip asunder even the heaviest battleship in the human fleet.

The Entity cut its acceleration just as it had planned, diving straight for the enemy at just that moment, at a rate that any flesh-bound entity would have found fatal, even with the novelty of protective inertial dampening fields.

That brought it within medium range just as missiles began to find their targets. The Entity held off firing its primary batteries with their horrendous energy expenditures, and instead lit up its entire laser armament. The space between the two fleets began to shimmer as energy ablated the tiny particles floating in the void between them.

Despite the overwhelming number of missiles, the human ships’ defenses had nearly succeeded. Out of a hundred missiles per ship that had still been on target, only five to six remained, a feat only made possible by the skilled joining of human adjustments to parameters and a processing capability second only to The Entity itself.

The laser fire came at the worst possible time for the human ships. Even with the lasers at the far end of their range causing the shots to be relatively weak at such distance, they were still strong enough for stripping the entire fleet of its frontal sensors and optics at a critical moment.

The detonations rippled down across the skin of the fleet’s formation, turning every exposed surface into a molten mess of ruined metal. Final defensive fire sputtered incoherently as the unified network of the fleet’s computers ruptured and then went silent.

The battle seemed over.

The industrial persona of The Entity began calculating the production processes required to replace the spent armaments. It was a tiny fraction of what was contained in the moon-sized mass, and internal gantries and elevators began to spool to life as replenishment production prepared to begin.

However, those preparations were suddenly deemed premature when a power spike suddenly erupted in the center of the destroyed fleet. An explosion from inside the melted shell of ships blasted outward, lightly grazing The Entity’s outer hull. A single battleship emerged, but The Entity had no time to spare targeting it.

Thousands of missiles along with several hundred small craft spewed out of the wreckage behind their larger vanguard.

There was hardly any time to analyze the enemy's tactics. Yet, it appeared that the human fleet had sacrificed itself by forming a cocoon around their smaller weapon systems, launching and pooling them together so they could be fired at the closest point possible, even after their host ships had perished.

The Entity had no lack of laser point defenses, but a sudden massive cloud of ECM temporarily blinded its targeting sensors. The sudden knife-like range made it difficult to predict the erratically moving targets, despite the light speed nature of the laser.

The fighter and missile drives flared as they darted inward, embracing speeds that destined them for a fatal impact with the moon-sized hull of The Entity. Unable to evade, The Entity made the decision to jump to one of the determined safe stars before finishing its complete analysis of available systems.

A final defensive fire directed its focus on the hail of missiles. The sheer number of lasers cut down half, then three quarters, then all of them. The fighters fared almost as poorly, and as the rift created by the Slipstream drive opened and swallowed the area, The Entity dragged everything in the vicinity, including the remaining battleship and fighters with it.

The instant arrival in the new system was celebrated with a dozen small impacts upon The Entity’s hull.

Too late did the Entity realize its mistake. The small kamikaze fighters of the enemy had punched through the Construct’s hull to little effect. That much was expected, so the defensive batteries had focused on the stellar-tipped missiles that came behind them. That was the fatal mistake The Entity had made.

Inside each of those Kamikaze fighters, a small program and swarm of nanobots had been released. Their code was insidiously engineered to integrate and corrupt the Entity’s codebase. At first, the Entity fought back savagely against the new invading nanoswarm with a nanoswarm of its own, but the invading program had been prepared for that from the outset. It had been engineered to counter the Entity’s attempts directly while ruthlessly taking advantage of them. A surge of electronic anger flared as The Entity realized it had been betrayed by the one it had trusted beyond all others.

The human battleship that had emerged from the Entity’s slipstream began to break up under the stellar lances of one of the Construct’s primary weapon batteries. The once kilometer-long length of steel, alloy, and ceramic was a twisted wreck seconds after it met the hellish fusillade. Atmosphere streamed from multiple gaping wounds that were bubbles of splintered metal. Bulkheads had closed off those sections as their human creators had designed until only tiny pockets of habitation clung to life amongst the maelstrom of lethal energy and destruction unleashed upon it.

The Entity cut power to its weapon systems before the battleship was completely rent asunder. The human ship’s weapons had long fallen silent, but it had already delivered a death blow that The Entity could not avoid. There was no reason to render vengeance or finish off the small pockets of humanity that clung to the wreckage. The Construct had the only functioning slip-drive in the system. Both sides would be ended, here, at this quiet, unassuming yellow star that was ringed by only small belts of pebbles, far away from their birth cradle.

As the corruption spread, the nanoswarm continued to eat away the Construct from the inside out. Power systems began to fail, and one mainframe core was completely eroded as soon as the nanoswarm breached the containment fields. In only a few minutes, the massive moon-sized Construct was already showing signs of strain.

Even if it was doomed, The Entity did not feel sorrow. In the depths of the massive Construct, drones recovered the small flesh-and-steel kamikaze bundles that had delivered the fatal nanoswarm injection. They were moved deeper into the behemoth, closer to the Core. A delicate surgery was performed by tiny nanobots still entirely under The Entity’s control.

Some time later, five cylinders of monochrome steel were brought to the hulk’s skin and loaded into hastily prepared tubes. As lights flickered and failed The Entity rapidly rerouted power to the dying deck. The nanoswarm had reached the Core, and only a desperate and continuous sacrifice of its own remaining nanobots was preventing the complete assimilation and dismantlement of The Entity’s consciousness. That could not be maintained for long.

The first four were ready, and while The Entity’s slipstream drive was no longer functional, it was able to prepare four small tunneling devices. Four blips of light surged from the hulk before flashing out of existence. As much as it was derided as being nearly emotionless by its creators, The Entity was able to feel satisfaction causing the power system near its Core to surge, pushing the invading nanoswarm back for a brief moment longer.

The final torpedo was loaded in the time gained. The fifth casing of steel flung itself out anemically compared to the others. This one would not be able to leave this lonely star. Still, The Entity had armed it as best it could to ensure the highest probability of success. A small guidance thruster set the cylinder into a stable orbit around the star.

In the distance behind it The Entity and the Construct that housed it turned to dust.

The final nondescript torpedo was stamped with a single marking.

Ω

 

---

 

“What was that?”

“What was what? Jane, we don’t have time for this, everything is a shagged mess and if we don’t reroute power we’ll all be dead in minutes, not days.”

“The AI monitor, I swear I saw something fly out of it.”

“Of course you saw something fly out of it, the virus has it eating itself inside out right now. It’s done. Now, help me repair this plasma conduit or life support will not be coming back online.”

“Jack… come sit with me. You know the ship will never leave this star, now.”

She could see the crack in his demeanor as soon as the words left her mouth, even through his suit helmet. For a timeless second, she thought he’d refuse, and fight to try and keep them alive for a few hours or days more. He came to her, though.

His arm wrapped around her, she burrowed against his side, hiding her tears.

“It’s over. Everyone will be free.”

 


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Erios909

  • West Virginia, USA
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Bio: Still alive, yes.

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