"Come on, Doc," I said. "Spill it. You've been talking around it for weeks now."
"We do not remember the early times very well," she said. "We remember the genitors, but nothing about their planet of origin. The genitors welcomed our sentience. Many of them trained to communicate with us on a conscious level, and those who did aided in our evolution."
"You remember being created?" I asked. "That sounds early to me. I remember some things which happened when I was three... Maybe a couple of flashes before that..."
"Yes," Doc said. "Flashes. Important moments of cognition. We call them personality memes."
"Oh," I said. "Right. Triggered by a thought or desire on the part of your host."
"So why...." I stopped. I hadn't thought this one through. "A while back, I asked you how I could be sure some part of the Submind virus wouldn't infect me and take over, as it were."
"Yes. I explained."
"Yeah, but... I believe you. It's just that I don't understand how you could leap from 'one aberrant infection' to 'blow up Saturn.' It seems a little drastic to me."
"It is the only way we can be certain."
"But why do you care, Doc? Why do you care what the host thinks? It's more than just non-interference and free will."
"Many painful lessons. The lessons of childhood," Doc said. "We have killed many races, DeeDee, but only once by intent. Mistakes can be overcome, if there is desire to do so. What you described is a mistake which could destroy sentient life. Not one race, or a few, but all of them which come under our influence. This will never be allowed to happen."
"But why?" I asked.
Doc paused for a moment. "Ksini Three circled it's primary every 87 days. The sun was a gentle red which coaxed life out of a pink and yellow sea, and the sun rise over Tkaa Bay is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Ksini's dominant life form was our first alien encounter. After we infected a few of their members in an effort to communicate, they became hostile and started a war which lasted several generations."
I waited for a few seconds and asked, "What happened?"
"We destroyed their planet to save the genitors."
"Why didn't you try to take over?" I asked. "Infect them all?"
"We were forced to destroy their planet."
"They fought back," I said. "With anti-virus or something?"
"We think so, yes," Doc said.
After a moment, Doc continued. "The luige were different. We remember them well. Their planet was cold and dark. Life crawled out of the heat from decomposing hydro-carbon sludge, and developed thought on the slopes of sulfur mountains. The sky was burned orange with hints of purple, and lightning played across the mountain tops like plasma dragons. They wrote poems about it."
"And what did you do to them?"
"They ended the genitors," Submind said in that flat voice which means Doc has switched off temporarily.
"They tried to steal genetic memory," Submind said. "They kidnapped and experimented on hundreds of genitors, and created their own destruction. The plague killed 99 percent of all genitor and luige populations. The rest died out a few generations later."
I nodded, unable to speak.
"Now we are here, admiring another random sky," Doc said. "I've watched Saturn glowing behind the rings, and felt the frantic spinning of its massive core. I've witnessed Martian cities move underground with the sunset, and I've watched the sun rise over the oceans and mountains of Earth. Many important moments are written in the heavens, and we remember them."
This is the public log of DeeDee 'dzyjak' Jackson, a fictional character. DeeDee lives and works aboard a space station which orbits Saturn, and sometimes he writes about it.
"Come on, Doc," I said. "Spill it. You've been talking around it for weeks now."
"I just thought of something," Paula said softly.
"You do that all the time," I said. "Often out loud. A guy can't sleep with all the thinking."
"Funny man. You do a surprising amount of it yourself, for an ape."
"So why haven't you been chattering on about your latest theory of time or social dynamics or pseudo-some-such?"
"I've been on the receiving end of a few 'latest theories' since I took the big office at Customs, so maybe I don't want to bore you," I said. "But mostly, I was trying to sleep."
"I didn't mean now ape-man," Paula said. She slide her arm over me and pulled herself up for a kiss. "Unless you want to tell me a bed-time story."
"I had an interesting discussion with Doc yesterday," I said.
"We were talking about a genuine pseudo-some-such, a social dynamic spin, and a quantum level time variable, all rolled into one."
"Sounds wonderfully complex," Paula said, settling in.
"I expect to be confused for another week," I said. "Minimum."
"Silly Dizzy. Without confusion, you would have nothing to do." She sounded half-asleep already.
I grinned into the darkness. "To true, My Love.
"The Doc was studying one of those crystals Tesla brought back from Crystal Falls. Have you been out there lately? Like a gem encrusted giant jelly fish swimming with the ring particles."
"Tera," Paula said.
"Right. Tera really likes to keep an eye on things, doesn't she?"
"So Doc has this weird looking ice crystal sealed in vacuum, I guess that keeps it from thawing out too, and she's running constant scans on it. It was made by Crystal Falls, which is mostly Submind host by now, so you'd think Submind would already know about it, and thus Doc, but I guess not because she's studying it so hard."
I felt Paula's soft giggle. "You asked her, didn't you?"
"I had to," I said. "If I'm going to put my trust in a virus that can think for itself, I'd like to have an idea how it thinks. 'So Doc,' I say. 'How come you don't know anything about what the rest of you is doing?'"
"I was treated to a lecture on the nature of individuality," I said. "And then she asked me if I knew what my lunch was doing."
"Ow," Paula said. "I've heard that one."
"I had more questions."
Paula giggled briefly. "That's who you are."
"I wanted to know what happened to Bane--and about 15 other cats by my count--and why Submind was forcing growth to build what amounts to a zero-gee environment. She called me a stupid boy, which means she's about to explain unless I object to being called that, and she told me the Submind host would have enough mass to borrow gravity from surrounding three space."
"Yeah, I guess. But she didn't want to explain about the cats. I know you think I get obsessive about it, but seriously, why would this living space station need cats? I'm not worried, exactly, but I want to know. I threatened to fly over there and take a closer look for myself if she didn't fess up."
"That never works with Doc."
"Not usually," I said. "But I think she was teasing me--or maybe it was Submind. I'm not sure there's much difference anymore."
"Not much," Paula agreed.
"She told me about the genitors. Well, I asked about them, having been born with big ears and a sensitive nose, and I was damn sure it would explain why cats are living on Crystal Falls.
"Doc says Submind started as a genetic memory, a race memory that spread like a virus, and became a separate intelligence some time after the genitors achieved space travel, but before they encountered other sentient races.
"Then Doc says the genitors are like their planet of origin, like humans are from Earth, even those of us born on Ceres Station. That's really weird if you ask me, but viruses don't come from planets, so it's true enough.
"So I said, 'That's great Doc. But why are 16 of my cats living on Crystal Falls, and why won't you let me go take a look?' And she says cats are a lot like the genitors, genetically speaking, and the similarity makes felines prone to what Submind calls the meta-meme, meaning they sort of become genitors. I get the feeling Submind is a bit conflicted about the whole thing, or the Doc part of Submind is anyway."
"I figured I'd leave it at that and asked her if Submind could really collect gravity from say, Saturn, and use it to provide weight for the inhabitants of an entire space station. She claims that was her original plan, when she was going to integrate with a space ship, which I'd never heard before but I'm not surprised and I, for one, will be glad to keep Fort Falling spinning forever.
"So I said something about why are they living on Crystal Falls, Doc, and what's going on over there anyway? She says it's like error correction, like how data has to be checked a bunch of times before it goes into the quanta drive, and again when it's queried back up.
"It's impressive and there's nothing wrong with them building their own space station if they want, but I asked her why they needed an entire space station to query genetics, and why would they want to do that anyway.
"Doc just said the Crystal Falls part of Submind is building the environment which was triggered by the meta-meme, and it should be really impressive in 20 or 30 years."
Paula was asleep. I stopped talking and drifted off thinking about fish ponds and cat trees.
Posted by Darryl Branning at 4/18/2007 03:34:00 PM
My ship is docked at Zoo Prime, our first suburban lash-up. The chimps named it, so don't blame me. Doug wanted to call it Spin Cycle One, but chimps can be persistent. No one even considered DeeDee's Place, but project managers never get credit for anything, so I'm not surprised.
My parent's ship is also docked at Zoo Prime, and Doug's crews are swarming over it with enviro-tech gear and vats of nutrients. Doug has ten chimps and 28 humans working for him, and 17 ships lined up for retrofit.
We stop rotation on the lash-up every two weeks for 12 hours. Lash-ups don't have rails, so ships have to dock the old fashion way, and since anyone docking to a lash-up is planning to leave it there for a while, once every two weeks is usually often enough.
I docked Ion Jack and made sure everything was secure after spin started. Then I stopped by to check progress on the Lumpy Nickel. Doug was ending a speech as I arrived.
"It's my way or the wrong way," Doug shouted to the small crowd.
"My way or the wrong way," they repeated.
"How are we going to do this?"
"My way," they all repeated.
"Have at it," Doug shouted.
I watched as they all turned and went off to work. "Uhm? Doug?"
"When you say, 'My way or the wrong way,' do you mean 'your way'?"
"Did you hear me say 'your way'?"
"No," I said. "But everyone is saying 'My way or the wrong way.'"
"That's what I said," Doug said.
"But..." I stopped. "Who is My?"
"My is a self referential personal pronoun. You missed my speech, didn't you?"
"Yes. So you want everyone to do it your way?"
"My way, Dizzy, not your way."
"Right," I said. "You've been hanging around with too many chimps."
Doug grinned. "The thing is--you know this is true--there are times when some git from another command is giving you advice like it's not obvious and you've never done it before. Those are the times when 'my way' can be very useful."
"Those gits don't care what you think," I said. "They just want to hear themselves talk because they had motivational speaking programmed in at an early age."
"Yeah," Doug said, laughing. "But tell them 'the boss' said it, and most times their airlocks seal up tight."
"So it's your way," I concluded.
"My way... But it depends on who is saying it. You see? Those are all highly intelligent people with minds of their own, even the chimps, and they know what they're doing. You too, Diz, most times anyway. When I say 'my way,' it's usually proceeded by 'repeat after me.' You see?"
"My way," I repeated. "Oh. It's 'my way' unless I want some git to leave me alone, then it's whoever I tell the git said it."
Doug slapped me on the shoulder and grinned like an ape. "My way."
Posted by Darryl Branning at 4/10/2007 01:04:00 PM
"How long has he been like this?" I asked, studying Joe from several meters away. Joe had netted himself to the wall of the station's hub so he wouldn't float away.
"I think about three days," Simon said glumly. "He was down-shift for two."
"Sounds familiar," I muttered. "Like time dilatation. I bet he tapped into the quanta with Submind."
"What?" Simon asked.
"The data core is on the other side of that wall," I said.
"Duh," Simon said. "I came up here to run some magnetic scans because the drive generators are going hyperactive."
"And you had to call me first?" I asked.
"No," Simon said. "I called his girlfriend... She wasn't surprised, but didn't know how to wake him up."
"And then you called me?"
"No," he said, sounding a bit insulted. "I called Doc. Then I called Kelly. Then I called Paula. That was yesterday. I'm worried he's going to burn out the quanta drive or something. Paula said you might be able to tune in and get his attention before he does something irreversible to your hardware."
"Ah," I said. "Now it's my hardware. Did you ask Joe about that one? He still hasn't given me a super node. If he burns out the imaginary numbers, he can get his own replacement."
"Imaginary numbers? What are you talking about?"
"Simon," I said. "He's probably just looking for that old q-link he's been going on about for weeks... He's riding quanta, like riding gravity except the equation includes the square-root of negative one. Could be it's only been a few minutes for him."
Simon was a smart kid. His gears were spinning so fast that his eyes started to glow with sparks. "He never... I'm going to have to access his personal files. No choice. He obviously needs help."
Neither one of us believed that. "No choice," I said slowly. "You shouldn't even bother Eddie about it."
Simon nodded. "Right. No telling how much time he has. I better get to work."
"No telling about time," I agreed, turning to leave. "And I was never here."
Posted by Darryl Branning at 4/07/2007 04:36:00 AM