Arc 2 – A New Dawn
Chapter 7 – Man and the Machine (Part 1)
Author’s note: So I am still looking for an editor to help me out, which would speed up the process quite a bit so I can just concentrate on writing. Any takers can contact me through discord. Ohh and I just realised I flubbed some of the earlier chapter headings/numbers. Have fixed that up and updated the character lists.
Pain. It ripped its way into Matt’s unconscious mind and dragged him back to awareness, his body flailed and jerked a moment before he started to fade back below the concious layer of his mind. The rational part of his mind that hadn’t been washed away by the pain thought that this was the spiral down into death, as his body shut down and his mind disconnected from his body to fade into nothingness.
The black yawning abyss waited for him in those final few moments as the neuro chemical impulses in his brain conjured his version of nothingness for him. He descended towards the void, it’s embrace open and welcoming to his ravaged spirit. At some point hanging just above the void Matt realised he wasn’t dead, merely unconscious.
He was stuck in limbo between the dreams inside his mind, and the living world. The thought that his body was taking it’s sweet time dying occurred to him, but the pain was gone. He sluggishly wished his body would bleed out already. He didn’t want to wake up to that kind of pain again.
Matt awoke to a sensation, that wasn’t pain but more the after-image of pain. That rush of endorphins as the body repairs the damage and deadens the nerves. The urge to scratch blossomed in his mind momentarily, and that puzzled him until the wave of itching swept his body for a minute. The itching forced his eyes open as he sat up and tried to scratch everywhere at once. The wave subsided and Matt looked around to see where he was.
The walls where white, the cushioned bench that he had been laying on was all white. He looked down and even his clothes where white. For a moment he thought he had died and gone to that mythical place he didn’t believe existed. But unless you were issued into the afterlife with a fully working body that could itch and was hungry then Matt was pretty sure he wasn’t dead. How was the next question.
Matt placed his feet onto the white floor and gingerly transferred his weight from the bench to the floor as he stood up, not knowing what to expect; only that the last time he was truly awake his body was broken and dying. Now that he was sure that his body worked properly, he paid more attention to the details of the room. He looked around the room, it was empty and as he stepped away from the bench it receded into the floor smoothly and with minimal noise.
Matt kneeled down and inspected the floor where the bench had been, the finest of small cracks the only tell tale sign that something was there. He sat back onto his rear with a “huh” and a puzzled expression on his face. A slight pulsing noise started and Matt looked around to see a blue tinged band pulsing down the walls.
Matt felt like he was cursed, and screwed his eyes tight and brought his fists up next to his head, as he rocked himself back and forwards to try to control the panic rising up. He couldn’t believe that this was happening to him. He should be dead but was now going to end up being dissected or anally probed like in the movies. Well to hell with that, he didn’t care any more, there may be nothing he could do to stop them dissecting him but he could sure stop the Anal probing.
Matt stood up and looked at the join between the ceiling and the walls, and shouted at whoever he thought would be observing him. “Listen up alien arse wipes, I’ll trade you some information for a favour. Now you’re going to dissect me or examine me or whatever else it is you do. But you see this.” He turned around and point to his arse, “That’s my arse, don’t stick anything in there and I’ll tell you whatever it is you want to know about us.” He ranted on for a few moments about the cultural sensitivity of the action, then as he realised just how stupid he probably looked bargaining to not be anal probed he laughed hysterically, more then anything as a relief for the panic.
The Kovali’s AI had been observing Matt for sometime, ever since the Maintenance drone that had been activated to reseal the hole in the cavern’s entrance had brought his broken and bloodied body into the sickbay for repair by the Auto-Doc. Since this was the first Imperial, first anybody he had seen in over ten thousand years. The AI was naturally curious as to what had happened on the surface to his old crew.
When the being began to stir from medical stasis, the AI watched as it first tested out it’s environment. When the imperial began to show sufficient signs of cognitive functions the computer initiated the cognitive reasoning and language scanner that pulsed along the walls as it generated a field that would re-align the ships language banks with this being’s spoken language.
Needless to say when the results came back the AI was shocked, this being’s brain existed in a state that the scanner couldn’t penetrate or interpret. Locked was the slang used back in Imperial days. This was exceedingly rare, so the computer would have to resort to a translation matrix to decode this one’s language.
Matt looked as one of the panels changed from white to a deep green and then a display of a human body. He walked over to it and tried to touch the panel while keeping his hand on the other panels. They felt the same!! Matt knew a little about science, and realised that the technology to get metal, plastic, polymer or whatever the hell this substance was made out of, to luminesce in such a manner was incredibly advanced.
The display then changed from a generic outline of a person to his image, Matt pulled back in alarm at that and stared in wonderment as the display showed blue light pulsing up and down the figure like he had seen come from the walls. Then a series of alien symbols was displayed. The text and his image then flashed a very deep warning red. Almost as if to indicate something had failed.
It took him a moment to realise that the display was trying to tell him that he had been scanned, possibly in an attempt to discern his language. But the scan had for some reason failed. His image changed to show his mouth moving and an alien voice sounded whenever the image of his mouth moving was repeated.
It wanted him to talk, so it could analyse his language. Maybe he wouldn’t be anal probed after all. He moved away from the display and looking back at it, started to talk telling the alien about how he had been since he came home from the hospital.
His image started nodding it’s head furiously, as if to confirm that this was indeed what it wanted. Matt wondered how long he would have to keep this up. He didn’t wander long, not even a minute had gone by before the wall display reverted to just being a wall and a neutral voice said. “Hello, I am this ship’s computer. Who am I addressing?”
The first thing that went through Matt’s mind was, holy crap I’m talking to a sentient AI. One that just learnt my language in under 60 seconds. Matt might not know about the science that went into producing surfaces that could produce complex, better then high-definition images from regular walls. But A I’s were a whole other matter. His mind raced with the possibilities such technology could accomplish back on earth, when his reverie was interrupted by the AI asking. “Are you able to understand this language?”
Matt hastily gulped and said “Yes, I can understand you. My name is Matthew Hyde, but in regular conversation my name is shortened to just Matt. What are you called?” The AI was surprised that a Imperial would ask his name, much of the culture the imperials had landed with must have been lost then. “Matt, it is not customary for Ship Intelligences to be given names.”
Matt wondered who would forbid an AI a name? The very concept of a name seemed fundamental to the biggest questions that a sentient machine would ask. The same questions man had been asking for centuries. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I meant to do? The fact that the designers of this mind had forbidden it a name troubled Matt a little before he remembered, ship’s intelligence. “I am on-board a space ship? So I have been abducted, why?”
The AI wondered what this being was talking about, why would anyone in a star-ship want to abduct members of a species as a general way of introducing oneself. These people must have very strange ideas about space travel. So the AI decided to get some things straight with Matt.
“Matt, I am unaware of why you believe you’ve been taken. Yes you are on board a star-ship, one that is buried under a mountain range on this planet. What have your ancestors told you about space-faring species to make you so paranoid?” The AI was deeply concerned, rampant paranoia was not a trait associated with the Imperial species. Matt’s mind boggled at this statement, the ship was on EARTH?! Buried under his home? Then he remembered falling through the hole in what must be the cavern where the ship was buried.
Matt asked, “If you’ve been on earth all this time, how did the you get here?” The AI now realised that Imperial culture had not just been degraded, it had vanished altogether. “Matt, this ship is the vessel your species arrived at this planet on. After you colonised it, the previous Captain buried the ship here to prevent it’s technology from unduly influencing your culture and development.”
Matt sat down in a hurry, the ship we’d arrived on….. “That’s not possible, the fossil record of this planet clearly shows humans in some form or another going back a hundred thousand years. Why are you lying to me……”
“I’m not, it is true that there were primitive proto-species here before arrival. Most habitable planets eventually rear a bi-pedal mammal as the dominant species on roughly 80 percent of all habitable worlds. These species mostly appear to be imperious, I mean humanoid in nature with minor differences.”
“Of the remaining 20 percent, 16 percent are Reptilians, though most of those species seem to self-destruct before achieving the technology to travel the stars. The remaining 3 percent of all habitable planets are almost always uninhabited by higher order life forms.”
Matt processed this information rather slowly as the fact that his ancestors had been a hyper advanced alien civilisation finally took hold in his brain. Then laid his head back to the white floor and laughed and laughed till he was near horse from doing so.
Bargaining not to be anal-probed by aliens indeed. He WAS the alien. The computer did not understand this outburst of amusement and scanned Matt again trying to penetrate through to his concious mind. Once again, the scan returned no usable results, other then a basic brainwave analysis. Perhaps his species had developed some kind of mental shielding?? That thought did not bode well.
Matt stopped laughing as he remembered the pain of waking up in this place, this AI/being told a good yarn. But until he answered that question successfully all this was pie in the sky. “Computer, if you’re really buried underneath a mountain range, then you’ll be able to tell me how I got here.”
The AI cringed mentally, he was unsure if he liked this new Imperial race, too paranoid by far. “You saw one of the maintenance bots that I activated to reseal the hole in the roof of the cavern where I am buried. Here, perhaps you will find the security footage more convincing.”
An entire wall of the room changed from white to black and then changed again as it showed Matt, but his features seem reversed until his mind picked up that this was the bot observing him. The footage showed the surprise on Matt’s face at seeing the bot, and then him stepping back and falling through the hole.
The bot then followed after him, and as the bot descended into the darkness the picture went black and then changed to a tonal highly advanced computer axialated topographical scan of the interior, with heat, and what Matt guessed was a substance analysis of the rocks and other structures to provide a coloured map of the caverns interior.
As the bot reached Matt it showed his body twisted out of alignment, bones shattered and punched through the skin, with blood leaking out onto the floor. The bot then used it’s limbs to pick him up and floated through the air at a decent pace to what he assumed was a access port into the ship.
The ship’s outer hull was like a colour he had never seen before. He didn’t think there was a name for that kind of colour. As the access port opened and the bot carried him inside, internal lighting began to activate and the footage reverted back to the original view mode. Within 30 seconds he was brought to a door which opened up to reveal a white room and various objects rising out of the floors and walls. At this point the security footage ceased, and the wall returned to being pure white again. Matt gulped at this and said, “How long was I unconscious after I fell?”