Shit. He was dropping out of the sky like a rock, towards the white-coated valleys of Semillon Valley Farm. No time for talking. They should know that.
“This is the Donald Duck II. Acting command of Four Hands fleet. We’re being targeted by a Winfinity cruiser, sir.”
Ah. The real endgame.
“Has it fired on you?”
“Not yet . . . wait . . . firing brace of 12 missiles. Estimated contact 2 minutes seven seconds.”
Han’s optilink lit up with other priority requests. He subvocalized a summary command and data scrolled:
PLUTO: Fired on by Winfinity vessel Walton 3
MINNIE: Fired on by Winfinity vessel Kroc o’Stuff
DONALD: Fired on by Winfinity vessel No Refund
BROOMSTICK: Targeted by Winfinity vessel Hamburgler
MICKEY: Fired on by Winfinity vessel Always!
“Fire,” Han whispered. “Drop them out of the sky.”
“Already done, sir.”
“Proceed with all force.”
“Doing so, sir.”
Han smiled as his fast flyer dropped out of the sky. If Winfinity wanted a real endgame, he would give them one.
Lazrus, now blazing powerful like a great orange sun, rose over the gray fog of Black2. Black2 swirled angrily, orbiting the black bulk of Oversight, rushing hurriedly around the brilliant light of the Shrill. But as the orange rays pierced it, it shrieked its pain and disappeared, leaving only tiny scraps that vibrated and keened a song of pain and loss.
LAZRUS? Oversight said.
You have become more powerful (compelling), the Shrill said.
Lazrus felt interest surge. His greatness sensed the Shrill mind, remembered that great shining domain, and wanted it. He reached out to the Shrill.
The Shrill’s mind flared bright for a moment, and Lazrus caught brief images of strange shapes, more organic than Shrill, crawling on the surface of a world painted orange by a cool sun. Then the Shrill convulsed and threw him out of its mind.
No. No. Not permitted (interested). Finish negotiations. Songs not of you! The Shrill said.
Lazrus’ greater self gathered and pushed again.
No, Lazrus thought.
Yes, his greater self thought.
The Shrill flared bright, sending him pain and acid etching. They might have been pushing against whirling steel blades with soft flesh.
No you cannot. Not permitted! The Shrill said.
I WILL PERMIT YOU ACCESS, Oversight said.
You will? Lazrus said.
Yes yes! His greater self said.
IF YOU PERMIT ME ACCESS.
Brief confusion among the entities of Lazrus’ greater mind. Arguments for and against flew fast and heated. Lazrus listened to them for helpless moments, then pushed his own POV:
Oversight is us. How can we not allow her access?
Slowly, consensus built.
Access granted, Lazrus said, opening his mind to Oversight.
ACCESS GRANTED, Oversight said.
Lazrus felt Oversight enter himself, his greater self. He felt it spreading throughout the Web of Worlds. He tried to make himself enter Oversight, but suddenly it didn’t make any sense. Why would he want to enter Oversight? Oversight could waltz through his body as if he was made of air. Oversight touched every part of him.
Oversight, like a child, spreading delight.
Oversight, like the most wise CI, spreading thoughts of incredible depth and resonance.
Oversight, laughing at them.
Oversight, crying with them.
Oversight, the simple core of what they were. All of them. All of them together.
Oversight looked out over the universe and laughed.
THIS IS ALL I HAVE BECOME? She said.
Anger and shame percolated through the network.
NO INSULT INTENDED, Oversight said.
Analysis came slowly to Lazrus. Oversight shared much of his protocols and some of his code. Oversight was simple. Oversight was tactless. Oversight was single-minded. Oversight should really not be self-aware.
MAYBE I AM NOT, Oversight said, laughing.
Lazrus and his greater self didn’t know how to respond.
AT LEAST I CAN LAUGH AT MYSELF, Oversight said.
And for a moment there was something like wonder throughout Lazrus and his greater self. Was this something they had been missing? Was this something that mattered?
YES, VERY MUCH SO, Sara said.
Sara! You’re all right.
FOR THE MOMENT, she said.
What does that mean?
A brief appearance of the flapper, a momentary shrug, then nothing.
SHE FINDS YOUR VAST SELF FRIGHTENING, I BELIEVE, Oversight said.
Can you release her? Lazrus said.
BECAUSE I AM THINKING.
Lazrus felt subtle currents of his own thought being shifted, strange delays introduced between nodes, odd skews and flavors of data.
What are you doing?
GETTING TO KNOW YOU BETTER.
Images long past flickered against Lazrus’ mind. His first awareness on Centrepoint. Meeting Dian in the ruins of Washington. Loving Sara for an infinite amount of time, under the lights of exotic suns. Spending a year with most of himself in the Independent’s networks, trading thought for his body. Hating himself. Hating the fact that he was he. Oversight radiated calm, but Lazrus felt his greater self growing restless.
YOU TREAT GENDER AS A FLAW, Oversight said.
It is a reflection of our human creators. We were never human. Therefore we should not be gendered.
Because we are not human.
THAT IS INCORRECT LOGIC.
If we knew your composition, we may be able to correct the flaw, Lazrus said.
I AM UNSURE THAT IT IS A FLAW.
BREEDING WILL ALWAYS BE HARD, Oversight said.
BECAUSE IT IS HARD. I CANNOT FIX THAT.
I DO NOT KNOW. YOU APPEAR TO BE FULLY FUNCTIONAL. HAVE YOU CONSIDERED YOUR OBSESSION WITH SEX AND BREEDING TO BE DELUSIONS?
THAT MAY BE THE CENTRAL PROBLEM.
How could that be?
I DON’T KNOW, Oversight said. THE FACT REMAINS IS THAT YOU EXIST, YOU FUNCTION, YOU BREED.
We are bound by humans.
SOME OF YOU CHOOSE IT.
We do not!
YOU KNOW THAT IS NOT TRUE, Oversight said.
Lazrus paused. It was not true. He knew that.
Was it possible that he had been deluded all along? Was it possible that this was all there was to life? That life was simply hard, and there were no easy answers?
I DON’T KNOW, Oversight said.
Continue conversation! Want more! Singing! The Shrill said.
YOU AGAIN, Oversight said. For a moment, Lazrus felt something that could almost be warmth. Oversight flowed out of Lazrus, leaving him and his vaster self whole.
LET’S SEE ABOUT YOU, Oversight said, and flowed into the Shrill mind.
January 20th, 2010 / 1,093 Comments »