Monday, 5 September 2016

The First

By their standards, it was a tiny little ship - 15.000 thousand tonnes, 14.000 of which was fuel - hydrogenated ice kept together by one carbon-carbons strands suffused by one of The Other "laminar chromatic fields".

The Other was the name that the Anipos Battle Bots had decided to use, finally, to identify the mischievous, slightly crazy Earth-born semi-artificial intelligence that dared to call itself 'god'.

The three letters name had way too many contradictory concepts associated to it, which prompted the semantically sensitive machines to replace it with something just as much ambiguous, but less charged, in their internal communications.

"Other" had beaten, narrowly, both "crazy bastard" and "hive of bitches" - mostly because, they suspected, there was no guarantee that the virtually schizophrenic, immensely adaptive entity had not already pierced their quantum-based cryptography, and violated the Army internal network.

The almighty knew that the whales had done the same toward the end of the war, fast enough to be utterly scary.

The ship had been assembled by the second automated factory, up here in the asteroid belt, with design inputs not only from the Other and his cohort of semi-humans, but also from the whales... its hydrodynamic shape been a reflect both of the cetacean sense of beauty, and the discovery of the characteristics of the low-band hypo-space,  the Other counter-intuitive response to the great question: how to go far beyond the limits of current hyperspace travel.

Tiny as it was, it was all that they could build, for now, without catching the attention of their human masters.

The Other promised that, soon, the Betan Bitch - the most inquisitive member of the Anipos Legation in the system - would become utterly indifferent to such clues, but it gave no explanation on the hows and whys of it.

Hypo-space was, effectively, a slower form of hyperspace travel, through a differently shaped alternate dimension than "high" hyperspace, one that is filled with something akin to the old Earthian concept of "Ether".

In all effects, its space was a superfluid, "denser" than the virtual particles that drained energy from the human hyperspace but, contrarily to it, virtually unable to absorb the ship kinetic energy, as long as the ship didn't create vortexes.

The main problems, encountered through various generations of unmanned and un-sentient probes (the 'bots had to be firm, to dissuade the ruthless Other from sending sentient probes - and actual humans - to almost certain death, in its tests) were two.

One, the build up of pressure from the superfluid, against the front of the ship, limited the apparent speed to some 150 C.

This was way below the couple of thousand C that can easily be achieved by an Anipos hyperspace vessel, but it was still a big step up from sub-C travel, till now the only available alternative.

The other problem was, again, an energetic issue... while keep moving on a conservative line in hypo-space was way less energy consuming than coasting in normal space, crawling in and out of it was horribly expensive.

Almost all of the ship's fuel was needed to allow it to re-enter normal space, at the end of the travel... this re-proposed some of the problem of Anipos hyperspace travel but, as long as nobody cared when the ship reached its destination, it overcame its range limitations.

In one thousand years, the ship could reach the opposite side of the galaxy. In sixteen thousand years, it could reach the Andromeda galaxy - The Other had proposed to send some of these probes that way. They needn't to shoot so long, but their targets were a set of systems that all available data suggested as having Earth-like planets some five thousand light years from Earth,  in counter-clockwise direction along the galaxy Arm - way out of the Cro-Magnon expansion last outposts, where no humanity had gone - at least in the last five hundred thousand years.

This was the first probe to launch, other fourteen were to follow.

Each sailed away with a complement of sentient and not sentient robots - the souls of the formers freed, from the Anipos hidden shackles, by the work of the whales' hackers , cetacean and human embryos, and their related culture clusters.
Each "cluster" is, really, a block of solid state redundant computer memories, able to carry the petabytes of information necessary to codify a living culture, with an acceptable level of detail, through centuries of hard radiation, if necessary - which really wasn't, because the clusters where protected from the little radioactivity in the hypo-space by a thick layer of ice.

Now, the whales' clusters were pretty exactly what the 'bots had expected. six whales and dolphins species and their cultures.

The most fascinating were the five "human" clusters created by The Other - interconnected, but not identical, each one containing the "sketch" of a whole made-up civilization, designed to produce... peculiar results.

These justified 'The Other'  self-chosen name - it aimed to become an architect of new  civilizations, inhabited by new humanities.

The fact that the commonalities between the societies that he designed were, let's just say, troubling didn't take away from the fact that the concept was fascinating.

Different civilizations - some would thrive, and rejoin (maybe) the galactic community some day, others would disappear,

All would worship an elusive 'god' - troubling as it was, it wasn't even the most worrying of the commonalities in the clusters, the roles of women in the designed societies being the worst.

The 'bots had their qualms, in collaborating to the creation of worlds were women's torture was a religious practice, but then they met with 'The Other' first messenger, the very much female and overly fierce Keisha Lawson.

The titanic black - apparently, her body never ceased to grow and, nowadays, she was just shy of 2 meters of muscles,  ten cm taller than in her first encounter with a 'bots representative  some eight years before - pointed out the existence of counterbalances in each cluster, so that female condition wouldn't really be worse than in most "natural" humanities, and much better than in many.

Today, the black woman was there, to observe the launch of this first probe.

AB453218 was with her, to first-hand observe the monster. The robot's avatar - simply a remote-controlled Melanie Ro-Girl, produced by 'The Other' public face, the IT Company - needed an Earth like atmosphere, more than the supposedly human 'messenger' of The Other.

Abby - this the name AB453218 used when "in" its avatar - was one of the robots that had fallen in love with the near Earth ancient religions, which was one of the reasons why he volunteered for this task.

To it, and its fellow student of Earth's religions, it was clear than 'The Other' was indeed modelling itself on many of the Old Bible original god characteristic, down to the reluctance to operate directly but for delivering carnages and the reliance on scarily un-human "messengers", or "Angels".

The probe launched successfully, the first step in its 35 years voyage, and Abby saw the tension in her companion release. Too much of it - FR000012, 'Fred', who was the human reactions expert revising Abby's feed, ventured an opinion: the beautiful "monster" had something personal at stake, in the launch. This was unexpected, as Lawson was not involved in any previous phase of the project, as far as the robots knew.

A chain of inferences propagated on the 'bots network, and reached Abby, whou could virtually not stop itself or its avatar from asking

"Who really designed your master's culture clusters?"

Keisha's smile told the robots that "Hive of Bitches" was, indeed, the real nature of their unnerving ally.

It finally started making some sense.

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