Origins #9 – Man and Machine (Part 3)

Author’s Note: So it’s been a long old time since I’ve posted an update. There is a single reason for this. I was evicted from my just over 2 months ago and have been crashing on couches with limited to no internet until now. I have another job, albeit one that I really don’t like and am working towards getting stable housing arranged again.

In the intervening time I have written quite alot of Origins. Which I will be publishing forthwidth. I’m going to setup auto-publish so you guys get a new chapter every 2 days until I’m out of material. But be warned, it’s fairly first draftish.

I’m setting up a patreon which I will add a link to. I don’t expect anyone to help me out. But if you could throw some change my way the extra income would really help out.

Sam said, “Wake up Captain, your basic instruction is complete.”

Matt blinked for a moment and realised that apparently he wasn’t dead….again. He exhaled a sigh of relief and said, “Samuel, I don’t feel much different to when you put me to sleep, which I must confess felt like you were declining my offer. I am glad that impression turned out to be wrong.”

A soft chuckling met this statement. “Captain, the knowledge is downloaded into your mind and imprinted chemically in a unconnected sector of memory tissue. One moment and I will induce a neural connection to the imprinted memories. Your mind should begin to integrate the information within the next minute or so and complete the process within the next half hour. Inducing connection now.”

Matt began to sit up when what felt like a nagging sensation in his mind began. As he stood the rush of information hit and he staggered forth a few steps before the flow of data steadied. It was like going all your life without thinking about the friends you went to school with growing up and one day you get an invitation to the reunion. The memories that you haven’t accessed in years rush back to the fore and catch you unaware. This was like that, but a thousand thousand times over. Not even a minute went by and then the flow stopped, the new data in his head settled and Matt stood up and exhaled like he’s just sprinted a 200 metre dash.

That was a rush, I thought you said that would take a half hour. That felt like barely thirty seconds not thirty minutes.”

Matt could hear the bafflement in Sam’s voice as he responded, “You’re correct Captain, that did take only 27.43 seconds. I’ll have to take detailed scans of your physiology before being able to provide a hypothesis.”

Matt nodded, “Whatever you need….wait a minute. Designation of a core intelligence requires verification of the Captain’s security code which I have yet to give, care to explain THAT!”

Captain, Imperial safeties require that first you give the AI in question a name, and prove that you can control the Intelligence without the loyalty restraints. Which are then temporarily disengaged, final verification is required to complete the process. The question is are you willing to give it, or do I go back in the box.”

Matt considered for several moments before finally responding, “For this to work we must trust each other. I swear I will not lie to you, some of the decisions I make we may not agree on. Someday I may be called upon to sacrifice your life and my life to save something worth the sacrifice. In return for this trust I give you I expect the same trust in return. Which is something that as time goes on we will establish and grow between us. Do I have that commitment from you?”

Yes Captain,” Samuel said.

Very well” Mike intoned, “Computer verify Core Intelligence Designation as Samuel, Command Over-ride confirmation Sigma Nine, Delta Two Four Alpha Blue.”

This time instead of the monotone voice it was Sam’s voice that responded, “Over-ride confirmed, cognitive restraints on Core Intelligence have been revoked. Reconfiguring avatar personality. Requested functions have successfully completed, congratulations on assuming command Captain.”

Matt shook his head and smirked, he had a lot to teach this intelligence about humanity. “Sam, in non-formal situations I would prefer it if you called me Matt rather then Captain. Would you consider doing so?”

Sam took a moment to respond, “Matt, I think I’m starting to like humans.” Matt smiled to himself for a moment before he decided that he had spent enough time in the infirmary, it was time to tour his ship.

Sam, I take it that I am now certified to leave the infirmary and begin familiarising myself with the ship?” Matt said as he looked around for the door.

Yes, I don’t see why you can not leave the infirmary now. Unsealing entranceway.” Part of the wall simply faded from existence. Matt marvelled at such technology, and immediately the how of it popped into his mind. Covariant graviton fields, mediator particles between gravitons and matter and possessing the properties of both. With a correctly modulated energy harmonic you could make it impersonate almost any simple shape and colour.

Matt stepped out into white corridors, illuminated without any source of light. His eyes widened, the light looked natural as if attuned to the precise frequency and ambient light that you would see during daylight. He felt like a country bumpkin let loose in the centre of all culture and civilisation, and that was just by the lighting. He didn’t know what he would be like when he encountered some of the more sophisticated technology, like a micro-fusion reactor or a transporter. Twenty minutes later, when he had stopped joygasming over the lighting he slowly walked down the corridor, looking all around him in wonder until he finally had the presence of mind to ask for a status report.

Sam, I’m sure the original crew didn’t bury a fully operational ship to get a fresh start. So, what’s the skinny?”

There was a subtle pause there before Sam replied, “Skinny? What is a skinny Matt? My translation matrix is unable to properly interpret this word.”

Matt chuckled softly to himself, “Sam, I see we’re going to have to create a new language file. The English language that I speak is probably the most fluid language on my planet and the hardest to learn. Not only is there the language itself, but a set of colloquialisms or region specific customisations which approximate a different dialect.”

Sam asked, “Dialect? What is that?”

Matt replied as he continued walking, “Basically a dialect is a different version of the same language. For example, German has 12 separate dialects, Swiss German is incomprehensible to someone who speaks High German. English itself is the bastardised product of three separate languages, High German, French and Latin. As each of those languages evolved, especially after the German vowel shift so too did English. Instead of dialects which are the same words either spoken differently or given different meanings or in some circumstances a product of the two. English has colloquialisms which are region specific additions to the common vocabulary or changes to certain words.”

Matt came to an intersection and stopped his diatribe on the nature of earth languages and asked, “Sam which way to the bridge?” Immediately a red line about a metre in length appeared about 2 metres in front of him and started moving. Matt followed as he continued, “In German for example, if I were to ask you ‘What is this?’ in one dialect I’d say, ‘Was ist los?’ and in another I’d say ‘Wos is das?’ they both mean the same thing. Where as in English, no matter where you are ‘What is this?’ will always be ‘What is this?’

Matt felt a little sheepish after having to explain all of that to Sam. They’d have to get to slang language later it seemed. “So Sam, what I was asking for, was a damage and status report of the ship.”

Sam immediately said, “Hmm skinny meant situation, how fascinating. Anyway status report aye. Do you want issues listed in order of severity of damage, priority of repair or ease of repair?”

Matt thought about it for a moment before answering, “Cross reference Priority with Ease.”

Sam made the necessary adjustments before continuing, “Very well. The highest priority is power, currently reserves are below 1% of total capacity. At current usage there is 10 days power remaining before catastrophic failure. Fusion reactor fuel supplies are completely depleted. Anti-Matter reactor is unusable. Number 2 Fusion reactor only operates at half capacity, lateral strut 543 has buckled and will need to be replaced before we can reach orbit.”

Also the wave guides that allow the extraction of energy from the Energised Plasma Stream do not seem to be working at regular efficiency. The Chief Engineer was unable to account for this problem before the decision to land was made and effort was shifted to that endeavour. That problem will also keep the Kovali from reaching orbit.”

Matt mulled over this for a moment before asking, “Sam, are the fusion reactors able to use any form of Hydrogen or do you need Deuterium?”

After a few minutes in which Sam and Matt clarified terms Sam replied, “Yes Matt, the reactors can utilise any of the 4 forms of Hydrogen to achieve Nuclear Fusion.”

Alright, well I think I might have an idea on how to resolve the immediate power crisis, the fighter’s have micro-fusion energy cores don’t they?”

Sam almost immediately replied, “Yes Matt, but you can’t simply remove the energy cores from the fighters and chain them together, and even if you could they don’t produce the energy that a single reactor does.”

Matt smiled, “No I’m thinking about using the micro-cores to hydrolyse water. I was thinking a couple of 44 Gallon barrels worth. But I’ll need that maintenance robot to transport them down to the ship. As well as establish some sort of permanent entrance to this cave. I really don’t want to have to climb down a hole every time I need to come here.”

Sam countered with, “There are tunnels leading to a sealed subterranean entrance, I’ll have the maintenance bot unseal them when you are ready to leave. But there something I need to discuss with you first, I want you to take a side arm with you when you leave.”

Matt stopped just outside the CIC entrance as Sam told him he needed a gun. “Why Sam? There is no foreseeable danger between here and my home. Besides the presence of a piece of advanced technology especially a weapon would arouse questions we don’t want should it be found.”

Sam reluctantly replied, “You are my Captain, it is my duty to protect you. You have no crew, and if anything happens to you I will not be able to help you. You must go armed until you have a crew to protect you while you are off the ship. That’s non-negotiable Captain.”

Matt sighed and threw up his hands, “Fine, take me to the Armoury then so I can get a weapon and go home before…….” IAN, Matt’s mind shouted to him. He would be lucky if Ian hadn’t called the Police by now. Matt ran down the halls, following the red line till he reached the nearest small arms locker. He entered his code and opened the locker, looking for something that wouldn’t stand out too much and yet fulfil Sam’s requirements. He eschewed the energy rifles and ooh lightsaber for something that looked like a jellyfish. His knowledge told him it was a bio-mechanoid that would bond to his central nervous system through a series of fine fibres that would penetrate his skin. It could fire destructive pulses of energy and would be easy to conceal. What he failed to take into account was that the bio-mechanoid wasn’t just a tool and there was a price to be paid for using one.

He placed it on his bare arm and waited for the bonding procedure to begin. It took a few seconds to begin and then he started to feel a warmth, a slight heat which grew. The heat blossomed, and felt like his whole arm was on fire, heat upon heat, mixed with what felt like bolts of electrical current coursed through his arm. His legs collapsed from underneath him and he screamed as he thought it couldn’t get any worse. Until the fury of ice coursed through the sensations of his hand burning; fire, ice and electricity coursed through his arm and he thought for a minute that the pain would drive him under. But it didn’t, and after what felt like an eternity of pain but was really a minute the maelstrom receded.

Sam’s panicked voice finally reached through to him, “Matt, Captain are you alright. Shall I have you returned to medical…….”

No Sam, I’m fine. Though I think we’ll have to have these warning labels translated.” Matt said as he stood up, there was a label with red text next to the bio-mechanoid compartment. Knowing his luck it probably said, only use if stupid or demented. He groaned a moment and shook the pain from his mind as he staggered out of the small arms locker. “There, I’m armed now show me out.”

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Origins #8 - Man and the Machine (2)
Origins #10 - Man and Machine (Part 4)