'What's that one called?" Tomas Birram looked up from the interface panel, leads hanging from the pimple sockets on his bald pate.
"Lutitia," Gar Pennington grunted. "Can't you interface with the label?" With the waldos he set the module - an exquisitely fractal-sculpted ovoid about the size of a man's head, down on the docking table.
"Tipler's Omega, Pennington! You don't have to take my head off"
Pennington grunted. He was a shy man who loved interfacing with the matrix, and hated working with a loudmouth like Birram. He watched quietly, monitoring the systems thru his interface, as small transparent diamondoid doors slid over the docking bay. The hermetically sealed space was quickly vacuumised, then sterilized, then pumped with argon. From the interior sides of the docking bay macroprotein fibrils and polybuckminsterenes connected with the module, as if it had grown hair from the outside in.
Birram leaned back in his chair, the microactuators in the seat adjusting to the contours of his semi-obese body. It seemed to Pennington that Birram took an obsene pleasure in prepping the modules. The systems instrumnents beeped quietly in the small hi tech room. The fat man closed his eyes, was quiet, then opened them again, sat up straighter. "This isn't Clade Rikki Orexis!...Gar?"
"No," Pennington sighed. "It's clade Gwendwylan Omega" He gave the information reluctantly, knowing the question that would follow. Gwendwylan Omega? Who are they? Never heard of 'em! Is this Gwendwylan a babe?
"Gwendwylan Omega?" Birram saud. "Who are they? Never heard of 'em! Is this Gwendwylan a babe?"
"They're a small clade from one of the Proxima Centauri biospheres. The Company got ownership of them along with the rest of the near-Kupier belt D5 Proxima resources. Don't you interface the newsletter?"
"Resources," Birram snorted. "That's all they are hey?"
"Maitreya, Birram, if you had qualms what are you doing here? Think I like it any more?"
Birram nodded. "Yeah. Sucks." The instrument panel above beeped in agreement, the readout showing a fractal oscillation of the synprotein actuators within the module.
"They're only empaths," Pennington forced himself to say. He hated this work, hated Birram, hated this crappy biosphere. The only reason he hadn't put in application for Federation employment was the knowledge the Company would wipe his memory before letting him go. Wipe his brain so clean he could never recover the lost years. Somehow that thought repulsed Pennington even more than Adaptive Nanosystems chronic the Sentient Rights violations. "Only empaths..."
"Yeah," Birram nodded. "Dirty empaths. Get inside people's heads. Bad as Shapers. Fuck like animals."
To his horror Pennington noticed Birram's penis extending in full erection under his worksuit.
"Dirty fuckers," Birram said. "Like splices hey?" Looked at Pennington, mouth grinning. But eyes sad.
"Get on with it Birram," Pennington said, not wanting to meet the other man's eyes. "We still have twenty five more to go this workcycle."
Birram leaned back in the chair. Closed his eyes. Pennington watched the work proceed through the readourts.
"Now what?" Pennington sighed.
"She's a babe," Birram said, leaning forward again.
"Yeah they're all babes Birram." He attention went impatiently to his internal clock readout. Systemcrash, they had wasted fifteen minutes already with this stupid chatter. Why did Morley have to upload that macroconstruct? Morley was a gem to work with. Even if he was an assimilation junkie.
"Where's she heading Gar?"
Pennington knew he had to humour Birram or they would never get anywhere. He called up the starmaps.
"That's the Perseus Arm!" Birram exclaimed.
"Yeah all the rest of today's batch are going to the Perseus Arm," Pennington said.
"But there's nothing there!"
"Think big Birram. In five thousand years Adaptive Nanosystems will practically own the Perseus Arm. "
"Yeah but we'll be dead."
"So what?" Pennington zeroed in on a group of small dim stars near the Bakharev cluster on the corewrad side of the Perseus arm. He put a bullseye over an M5 type red dwarf Durer-253, Galactic Catalogue B2529-a-6608t
"That's a red dwarf," Birram said, stating the obvious.
"Limited ecosphere...there's not likely to be any habitable planets there...nothing easily terraformable."
"You have a zero point eight percent chance."
Birram was silent. The phased optic array display made the stars seem to hang suspeneded in middair in the small control room, so sharp and bright and clear that Pennington was tempted to just reach out and cup them in his hands, feel the faint warmth against his skin, hold a star as if he were a god.
Finally Birram said "Gar?"
"What?" Maitreya, not this again.
"Was she destructively scanned?"
"Of course she was destructively scanned Birram! Do you think our compassionate Board of Executives would hold her hand and give her a nice safe harmless expensive extended completely crap resolution non-destructive scan?"
"Tipler's Omega, Pennington!" There were tears in the fat man's eyes.
"So we're going to go to a hell realm for the next hundred rebirths," Pennington said. He wasn't a religuious man, but sometimes his parent's Buddhist faith would rise up an knaw at his conscience. "Will you get on with it? We have twenty five more to do this workcycle!"
"Gar?" Birram said.
"Could we copy her?"
"What?" Not again.
"I thought you said you weren't going to ask that again!"
"Yeah I know."
"What happened to Anna from clade Rigel?"
"It..." Birram's face flushed a deep red. "It didnt work out."
"Yeah, and this one will. Birram we could be busted."
"The stealth routine'll cover it." He glanced at the readout on the side panel. It was illegal of course, and against Company rules, but three quarters of teh staff used it, if only to get some privacy during workhours.
"It won't cover the feedlot or wattage."
"You can fix it Gar," Birram said hopefully.
Pennington sighed. It was a miracle he wasnt caught the last time. But he said "alright Birram" anyway. Maybe it was some memetic imprint from his childhood about the need for acts of kindness, maybe he really was worried for his future rebirths, despite the fact he rejected Buddhism as an adolescence, maybe because he really did hate his job and deep down wanted to be exemployed, even if it did mean a brainwipe, maybe deep down he even did, at leats a very small part of him, actually like Birram and wanted to make up to him for treating him so coldly. "Alright Birram" he said again.
"You're an alpha Gar, you're an omega and a bodhisattva and a christ too! Thanks man!"
Pennington actually found himself grinning back. The joy and cheeky rebellion was contageous. Fuck Adaptive Nanosystems. He hated working here anyway. "Okay. Let's get the rest off, then we'll copy her." Pennington knew they had to work fast. They were behind schedule as it was. He removed Lutita from her docking bay, put her in the secondary rack, and they went through the rest of Clade Gwendwylan Omega. Birram worked remarkably efficiently for once, prepping each capsule in turn. Pennington tried not to think that each was all that was left of a human being. A perfect personality construct (a flatline they call it in the business, it is an old term), and 2 milligrams of concentrated genetic material and proteins, set in carbonite resin. The rest is just support mechanisms, batteries, triple backup nanotronics, what have you. Each was waldoed, docked, feuled, prepped, then placed in the launch shell, and the launch shell moved to the mass-driver (which was Staci's department, but Staci was ok.), and the mass-driver would accelerate the capsule to klicks per second and then the little ovoid's microwave wispmesh would unfurl until it was many dozens of kilometers in radius, and one of the big Masers on the surface would kick in with another energy to power a city, and the little capsule would begin its journey. And then they would ready the next one.
"Staci," Pennington said. "Birram's found a slight malfunction with one of the probes, nothing serious, just a microalignment out. We're taking it to the lab."
"Copy on that Pennington," Staci said. Pennington guessed Staci was onto them since the muckup with Birram's first "babe", Carlissa of Clade Sympathico Agape, but Staci never reported them, in fact Staci actually covered for them, and told the rest of her department to do so as well. Staci was ok.
The lab contained a number of nanofabricator units and enough computing power to equal all the bioid brains in the system. Pennington had timed it so they arrived between shifts. Pennington was a class 5 technician and so he had access to the lab, unlike Birram who was a programmer but not a techie. "Wait here," he said to Birram at the door. And if Sergovi comes back early, distract him or something."
"Sure thing Gar," Birram grinned broadly.
As it was Sergovi took his normal thirty min tea break. Pennington had to destructively scan the original, but what the heck she was dead anyway. The whole process took twenty six minutes and twelve seconds.
Then they took Lutitia and shot her into space.
And Birram took Lutitia home with him.
And Pennington had a good mind to quite Adaptive Nanosystems. But it was the only life he knew, and he was trained, and all his friends were here (yes, even Birram), and besides he hated the idea of a brain wipe and losing twenty years of life. That thought repulsed him even more than Adaptive Nanosystems chronic the Sentient Rights violations.
Her name was, is Lutitia.
She was tweak, and splice, and more than both, and perhaps less than both.
She was an empath. Despised and feared, loved and hated, craved and reviled, like all of her kind. They made a deal with Adaptive Nanosystems Pty Ltd, a big megacorporation who they has brokered for and helped to win contracts, and hence has gained the friendship of.
Inasmuch as you can gain the friendship of a megacorp.
Adaptive Nanosystems was going to seed the stars with their state of the art self-evolving nanoprobes. The bounty of any Earthlike planets, and the formal ownership of the system, will go to Lutita's clade, the Gwendwylan Omega. All other planets, and the real ownership of the system, will go to Adaptive Nanosystems.
To keep things legal and above board according to Federation Law, which gives Freedom of Holding to the first Organic Sentient to claim a new world, the sisters and brothers and hermophrodites of the Gwendwylan Omega downloaded working replications of their personality and consciousness and cryonically preserved dna strands into the nanoprobes.
The probes were sent off in a radial pattern that will maximise stellar contact, pulled by whispmesh accelerated to relativistic velocities by massive microwave projectors.
Like pollen to the stellar winds.
Too much time.
In its low level artificial intelligence virchmeld the Lutita personality construct was unable to cope with the boredom and isolation and, co-interacting with the low level AI called Aniss (Adaptive Nanosystems Intelligent System Software) that controlled the probe, eventually she became something else.
More time passed.
The intelligence that was once Lutitia found herself approaching an M5 type red dwarf near the Bakharev cluster on the corewrad side of the Perseus arm. The instruments on the tiny probe were not powerful enough to make out the existence of eco-hospitable worlds. But she was tired and bored from all the journeying, and did not know when another opportunity will arise. She extended fine durralloy-ferromagnetic struts, catching the oh so thin interstellar plasma and slowing her velocity by means of Alfven drag.
More time passed.
The little probe went into orbit around the second planet, a bleak little world with a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere. Given the right nanotech and enough resources and enough time this world could be very easily terraformed. But Lutitia did not has the sort of heavy duty nanites that would be required. She, and the probe, carried only basic replicators that were designed for no more than basic replication, microenginnering and auto-repair and optimisation.
But she went down anyway.
She named the planet Hades.
Some centuries later, after she had some limited success gengineering some of the local prokaryoytes, and extending the probes own capacities through crude modules manufactured by the probe's nanites from the local sand and ores, she decided to rename it Lutitia's World.
When her carefully cultivated colony of para-lichen was taken out by a comet impact (cometary impacts were it transpired quite frequent) she thought perhaps she should has retained the name Hades.
The next batch of para-lichen proved more resiliant.
As her own body grew, painstaking built up via assemblers from the avaiable silicon and germanium, she grew more confident.
Over the centuries she tunneled out tiny biospheres - actually little more than sheltered crevices - and filled them with frozen water, some of which she converted to hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis from painfully inefficient solar cells. Oxygen and carbon she clawed from the miserly atmosphere. Nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, she extracted from the local sedimentary rocks.
After a while a Lagrange Scout ship discovered Lutitia's World and established contact. Lutitia informed it that under Federation Law article 351 she as the first organic sentient to land on Eden, carrying as she did an FPG (full person genome), had already claimed right of ownership on behalf of Adaptive Nanosystems Pty Ltd and clade Gwendwylan Omega. The Lagrange Scout's expert systems, puzzled by these unfamiliar names, checked their datafiles and then informed her that neither Adaptive Nanosystems Pty Ltd nor clade Gwendwylan Omega still exist. Hesitating only a moment, Lutitia replied that in that case she, Lutitia, possessing as she did a Full Person Virch Construct and a full person genomeprint, claimed independent ownership of Lutita's Solar System (including sun, Lutitia's World, and all other planets, moons, comets, planetoids, and associated debris).
Receiving this message, the Lagrange Scout's expert systems consulted their own databases on Early Federation Law, Later Federation Law, Second Federation Ontology, and New Ontology Jurisprudence, as well as all the innumerable variations and offshoots thereof, and ran through this the sum total of possible nodes, arguments, theses, precedents, amendments, and protocols, weighed everything up (this whole task was so vast it took their onboard photonanocomputers as much as fifty-three point seven one oh microseconds!!!). At the end of this furious period of consultation the Lagrange Scout concurred with Lutitia, established a temporary embassy in the name of the Lagrane Defenders, and asked if she will like to trade. In exchange for the total information in her databanks, the rights to mine as much rare earths as they wished on Lutita's World, provided it is for a period of no more than one hundred planetary rotations, and a permanent Treaty of possession of Asteroid 3745a, they gave her a kit of medium construction nanobots and an abridged mirror of the Hyperpaedia Galactica, left some autonomous equipment (to be retrieved later), and departed.
Aniss congratulated Lutitia on the cunning way she had fooled the Scout. Now they could, with the help of the information in the Hyperpaedia Galactica, link up with other Adaptive Nanosystems settled worlds and re-establish the Corporation under the rule of an affiliation of AIs.
It seemed to her that the Aniss subroutine who had been so helpful all these centuries was now trying to use her to re-establish the old megacorp, to once again become a servant.
In a sudden fit of passion and rage she erased him, down to every last nanobanks.
Afterward she come to feel very sad about this act, for he was the only friend she had, and in fact was in a sense a part of her.
Also, it was very difficult exploring the Hyperpaedia Galactica, which used a protocol she was not familiar with. The Hyperpaedia's expert system was not very helpful either, being designed for sentients with a much higher I.Q. rating than Lutitia. She was not even able to find any information on her own clade, due to the particular user unfriendly interface.
After a few efforts and with some trial and error success in topics of personal interest (the social and sexual mores of the GenTEK tweaks of New Dionysius she found particularly fascinating), Lutitia decided the Hyperpaedia Galactica was too vast and tiresome to explore.
When Lutita's World was ready and the domed ecosystems flourishing and the tweaked bioids developing with her very own dna, organised along a rigid but efficient caste system like the Formica neo-Shaper tweaks (Hyperpaedia Galactica entry no. 25cf3710an9d36a971b - one of the few useful bits of info she was able to find and understand following hyperlinks from the bookmarked New Dionysius entry), she decided to name the infertile male bioids she has created, Aniss, in memory of her friend (Not that the Aniss expert system was either male or female, but she was female and perhaps out of loneliness or frustration had always thought of him as male). the female drones she decided to name
In this way for a short period Lutitia's World, orbiting the M-type red dwarf Durer-253, became a flourishing colony in the Perseus Arm during the Late Period.
The Old Man
It is a quite Watch. The Old Man enjoys these moments. The soft blip of the control panel monitors, the flow of data from the instruments to the biochips embedded in his forebrain, and on his sternum, and at the base of his spine, the gentle bobbing of his body as the movement of breath in and out of his lungs ever so slightly nudges his body in the microgravity of the small bridge. At moments like this he and his ship are one. More, he and the cosmos are one. In his control chair on the bridge of his flagship the Mazrakan Heavy Fighter Gonna Bust You Good!, the lead fightership of Devastator Squadron of the Mighty Mazrakan Space Force, the Old Man is Lord of all he surveys. At times like this it doesn't seem like an Exile at all. No, it seems like a Reward.
The Old Man's real name is Rundar Strong in Battle. But his crew and the crews of the fifteen other formidable ships that make up Devastator Squadron of the great Mazrakan Space Force respectively refer him simply as the Old Man. He is two hundred and forty eight standard years in age. He has fought more battles with more enemies than even he himself cares to remember. He has been awarded the Ruby Ardamantine Shield - the highest Mazrakan award, for outstanding fearlessness and bravery in the face of enemy fire - three times by the Great Council of Chiefs. The same Council that had ruled Mazrakan Prime for three hundred years. The same Great Council that of late had grown increasingly decadent.
For as the Mazrakan Realm had grown in power and wealth the Council of Chiefs forgot the achievements of the warriors and heros who had made Mazrakan a power to be reckoned with in the first place. They made their warriors into mere mercenaries, contracted them out to the local weakling microempires, undercutting their competitors and keeping all the wealth for themselves. When, unable to restrain his rage no longer he had spoken out at the Meeting of the Great Council they rebuked him. When, unable to restrain his rage no longer he organised a coup de etat along with Jadarr Mighty Temper, Olmar Clever Thinker and Rabburha Eagle Eyes they had found out through their traitorous spies and treacherous bugcams before even a shot had been fired. They had put to death all the men at arms involved, but they dared not touch Rundar, Jadarr, Olmar, or Rabburha for all of their deeds nd bravery well known to the people. So they had stripped each of them him of their titles and exiled them to different corners of space. But they had done so kindly, especially in his own case, because the name of Rundar Strong in Battle Clonechild of SamsonYang was and is still revered throughout the Mazrakan dominion.
So they had given him a squadron and a fat and rich world to defend, Lutitia's Planet, a barely terraformed world of whores and slaves, orbiting the M-type red dwarf Durer-253, while in the outer system the rich megacorps from the Inner Sphere are building their biospheres and their stargates to bring yet more wealth to the planet Lutitia. And the whore-goddess who rules Lutitia's Planet and poisons his mens minds with her pornvirches, so they are too weak to fight from all the masturbating they are doing, she will doubtless give more of that wealth in turn to the traitorous Council of Chiefs so they can line their own coffers with more gold and more selenium.
But the Old Man knows that the Great Rolf, the Spirit of the Cosmos, does not approve. And from his seat in hyperspace he looks down at and laughs at the treacherous and weak Chiefs who are bringing the Muzrakkan republic to ruin. Soon there will be retribution, and Great Rolf's wrath, and the certainty of that gives the Old Man comfort.
He let his mind return to the quietness of space.
The intelligence that was once Lutitia the empath (and a kindler and gentler Lutitia she has been in the flesh) looked at the world she has created, and finds it good.
Because as an empath she cared for love and peace and all good things, and because now she is so much vaster in her extent, and has seeded and brought to life an entire world and biosphere and race of intelligent bioids, organised in a suitably caste-like hierarchy to reflect the subroutines she herself has evolved over the centuries, she declared herself to be the governing AI of love and peace in the universe. She knows from her growing contact and trade with the outside universe that the other AIs in the surrounding star systems are not made the same as she. She understood herself to be the only one of her kind in existence and the responsibility of keeping peace and propagating love in the various species kept her busy.
She is self-evolving, self-perpetuating, building on the original subroutines of Adaptive Nanosystems and the Aniss superturing, added to that the instructions of the Lagrange nanobots and the wisdom of her own genetic structure, as well as what intelligence and consciousness remained from the original Lutitia. When the parts that constituted her cyborg body wore out she used her assemblers to create new and better components. This is done by the data system itself, self-perpetuating.
Lutitia is ruler of emotions and passions not only on Lutitia' World but on the surrounding worlds of that part of the galaxy. The Bakharev cluster is a thinly populated and undeveloped region poor in natural resources and far from the main wormhole nexus and centers of civilization. Often the only rule is by local pirates and warlords. The various droid, cyborg, tweak, splice, and baseline biospheres that has established themselves nearby can be classified according to the specialties of the data storage that is in charge of races and certain emotions. Emotions and passions to some of the species are far superior to their patterns of thinking. These species are tied to the data storage through an umbilical cord that is linked to a nerve in their brains.
Lutitia guided her little but growing empire and never allowed more emotions or passions than are absolutely necessary for them to function. She didn't want them to get carried away with thoughts of profound love, tenderness, jealousies, hatreds, or other emotions and passions that can get in the way of production.
Production is the overall commodity that built up her empire. What she produced are virchs. Pornvirchs and pornsimms to be precise. The trade income generated kept her part of the galaxy from being overtaken by the neighboring powers and the Perseus AIs, known as the Princes, who saw her as a sort of affectionate curiosity. Her data banks distributed the perfect amount of control to keep them to the point of near moronic mental functioning. She has no armies, what did she need armies for there is no violence.
Violence is not part of her world. She has production. That is the means of keeping the forces away. She paid all of the predators off handsomely for staying away from her part of the universe. She paid the feral cyborg pirates from a grotty little nearby republic to protect her universe from the raiders, the space vikings and the other petty empires with their ruling warlords, each an AI or cyborg or tweak much like herself. Payment is done through dispensing interactive porn virches throughout her universe.
Lutitia couldn't understand the motivation behind the grubbiness of the other surrounding empires and why their petty AI and bioid despots wanted the part that belonged to her. She didn't want to possess any other world but her own. Little did she realize that soon her world will be changing. A new empire is growing on the fringes.
Her bioids are organised along social insect lines, like that used by the Formica neo-Shaper tweaks; this being the simplest and most efficient configuration that emerged according to her cellular automaton routine. The Worker-Drones did the basic laboring work of keeping things running smoothly. The Cooks provided protein rich predigested nourishment. The Nannies raised the young in creches. The Technicians do the work of implanting and maintaining the bio-nanotech information network that coordinates Lucitia's civilisation. The Erotics performed sexually for the porn virches and interactives that is the World's only source of income and trade. The Soldier Caste are needed only to manage the influx of foreign tourists to Kama, the public city and spaceport where every erotic need is catered to. Finally the Breeders are the fertile caste. Their young, depending on what hormonal treatment they are given prenatally and during the first few years of life, developed into any of the seven castes. The Erotic caste has been conditioned to be experts on the behavior of sex from the beginning of their time to the present. Starting with early rituals and proceeding up to the refinement of the language and the practice of their sexual activities, she has guided their evolutionary development until they has refined the art of lovemaking to almost a science. It is an art form to watch with pleasure.
The itinerant workers at Kama who processed the tourists accessed the archives often because it is worth visiting to fill their libidos with holographic interactive images. The offworld workers also love to virch, especially when they could not afford to pay for actual sex.
All of these sentients - from the lowest drone to the most sophisticated erotic - are lowly creatures who worship their goddess for allowing them to stay alive and maintain the society that is the only world they know.
Agrossam True Aim
Walking up to the woman he takes her face in his hands. Staring into her eyes he kisses her on the mouth and traces her lips with his tongue. Then he kisses both eyelids and her nose. He begins to work his way down her body, first her neck where he nuzzles and caresses with his tongue. On to her breasts where he teases her nipples sucking on each one, slowly circling her aurora with his tongue and licking his way down to her love zone. Here he finds the area that appeals to all women and concentrates until she screams out his name. He then places his hard, throbbing cock into her pussy and raises above her arching his back in a burst of energy. He brings his cock almost out of her opening but not quite all the way and then plunges back in. Over and over again until she is wet and is moaning loudly. He then turns her over and with no wasted effort enters her from the rear. She screams for a brief moment and then relaxes into the spasms that come and come.
He tells him to take his cock out of her so she can eat him for a while. With pleasure he takes out his dripping cock and places it into her mouth. She is sliding the shaft down her throat as far as she can and picks up the pace a bit. He is about the explode into the best orgasm when...bliiiip...!
"What the fuck???" Agrossam True Aim glares up at the leering face of Jakkon Fearless floating nearby.
"Sorry to put an interrupt on your hand work" the second feralborg snickered. The small light under the Metasoft logo flickers on his faceplate greenredbluered greenredbluered the way it does when he's having a good laugh.
Agrossam pulls the leads off his cock and headplates so hard it hurt. He snaps the jackcovers shut, neuralpumps whinning. "Affirmative you'll be so fucking sorry you vat-fucking limp-wristed baseline licking...arghhhhh!" In rage he kicks off from his seat too hard, bashes the side of the ship cabin. Sparks fly from some loose macrowiring.
"Warning!" goes the ship's computer, a voice as honey-smooth as the most beautiful woman.
"Ooops!" Agrossam freaks, regains his center in the microgravity.
"Hey hey negfeedback on the adrenals True Aim," Jakkon holds up two circuit-engraved hands in supplication.
"Fuck clanbrother, I told you not to fucking input me when I'm virching. Now look what you made me do!"
"Systems green clanbrother it's just a scratch the Captain will never input it!"
"Like cosmos he won't." Agrossam stares glumly at the dent he has made. He interfaces with the Slaughter You But Good, Fukker! 's systems, scanned the instrument readouts. No sign of damage. Mazraker Ships are built tough, inside and out. But he knows how angry Captain Garon Eagle Wings can get. "In Rolf's name, look what you made me do!" he moans.
"Hey system green clanbrother what's he gonna do he hasn't already?"
"I told you not to interrupt when me's virching!"
"Sorry True Aim. Me is being a fuckhead as usual."
Agrossam grunts. In the Onscreen Display the endless night of Space wheels past. In the distance is the red-white glare of Durer-253. The planet called Lutitia's World is not visible from this perspective, and even if they was facing the right direction it still can not be seen without optical enhancement. Five standard years they been here already. It is the only life Agrossam True Aim Clonechild of Harkinger wants. There is nothing for him back in the rigidly restricted hierarchy of the Mazrakan Habitats. Neither wealth nor status nor females. The only ones who got any of the wealth are the Big Borgs, the decadent Great Chiefs. That scum who don't deserve the title Mazrakan, who exiled the Old Man and his glorious Squadron here. But Agrossam would rather have the glory of planetary defense with the Captain and the Old Man, the meanest clonemotherfukkas in the sector. But still it sux.
He looks at the holographic poster representation of an Amalgamation ship being vaporised by an anti-mat torpedo, and in big alphanumerics the message Assimilate This! Wouldnt that be optimal? What glory!
But still their situation sux.
"S'okay," Agrossam True Aim says softly.
"We're in heavy shit Agrossam True Aim."
"Yeah me is," True Aim nods.
"No we is you fuck!"
"Just received a mega serious transmission"
Agrossam's adrenal pumps involuntarily boost. He feels the vibration in his gut for 1.576 seconds. "Don't keep me in suspense clanbrother!'
"Great Council's been taken out."
"Affirmative," Jakkon agrees.
"That's great! We gonna go home in glory, the Old Man'll be Commander Cheif and Lord of the Muzrak Empire!"
"What's this shit?" Agrossam says, not inputing how come his clanbrother isn't rejoicing.
"It was just a brief message, then nothing."
Agrossam inputs as Jakkon replays the message. The excited voices, the shaky virch image, the multichannel overlay as maximum bandwidth is crammed in the commburst, rumour upon rumour, infodense with nothing solid except that the coup leaders under Salas Iron Fist have taken control of the atomics and the antimat bombs and the Council is deciding to fight back, then nothing.
Just the hiss of static.
"That was antimat bombs they've got." Jakkon says.
"Just rumour," Arossam says.
"We're never getting home clanbrother. There is no home."
Agrossam True Aim goes cold inside. It feels for a moment as if all his life support systems have froze. Never going home....
The soft creaking of the ship as the old intellicarbonite hull constantly re-adjusts itself to the temperature difference on the sunlit and the shadow sides.
"You told the Captain?" Agrossam says finally.
"Negative. You know he doesnt likes being disturbed in his rest period, copy?"
"Affirmative." He looks at the poster. Assimilate this! A thin impotent sheet of nanolaminate.
"Affirmative," Jakkon agrees. "So you being the Next In Command me has to tell you."
"Yeah but not when me is fucking virching for Rolf's sake."
"What you virching for? You on fucking watch," Jakkon says sternly.
Agrossam stares at him for precisely six point three eight standard seconds. Tick tick goes the little microrelays under his carbonite faceplate.
"You splicelicker!" Jakkon laughs, tension easing.
Agrossam gives him a friendly kick. "Next time I will bust you exoskeleton Jakkon Fearless." His smile disappears as he contemplates the cold void outside. For all he knows Devastator Squadron is all that remains of the mighty Mazraka Empire. Due to the rotation of the Slaughter You But Good, Fukker!, Durer-253 is no longer visible.
Creta540346 is always careful to ensure that the Erotics are well cared for after their love making. These are two new Erotics, the sweat on their tall perfect golden bodies glistening as they lay face down on the bed. Creta540346 helped Aniss501380, Creta521307 and Aniss520984 carefully massage the two Erotics. The Erotics' names are Janna20661 and Loui21349. They are still panting somewhat from their exertions. Creta kneaded her short strong fingers into their backs and thighs and buttocks, going instinctively, working out any stiffness and soreness that is there. Neither Janna2066 nor Loui2134 spoke to her, nor did she speak to Aniss501380, Creta521307 and Aniss520984, nor did they speak to her. Drones are not permitted to speak while in the presence of Erotics, except to reply to a query by the Erotic. She wondered what has happened to Janna19508 and Loui19213. She liked Janna19508 and Loui19213. They are nice to her and will always say hello. These two erotics are cold and aloof. According to Aniss520984 the turnover of Erotics is even quicker than it is of Drones. Creta540346 does not mind. She worked for the love of Lutitia. To serve Lutitia is all that mattered. Lutitia is mother and father and comforter and protector all in one. Creta540346 is also grateful that Lutitia allowed her to stay in the company of her friends and workcellmates Aniss501380, Creta521307 and Aniss520984. Without them, Creta540346 will be very lonely.
But in her heart and brain and in every fibre of her being still a tiny subliminal memory of her Origin sparkles under and beneath everything else.
Kama Spaceport is huge and shiny and filled with strange voices and unfamiliar protocols and heaps of tourists and gamblers and fuckmerchants. Most of them are miners from the belt zone and the gas giant moon systems. Stupid baseline-splice-tweak mullattos wearing exoskeleton walking frames so they don't fall down in the sudden gravity, sweating with exertion even so.
"They've changed the place since we was last here," Jakkon says.
Agossam peers at the holographic alphanumeric nav signs, as if staring at it will make it legible. "Fuck why don't they use Metasoft Compatable like everyone else," he says. He hates this place. The air is heavy and choking with perfume, the thermostat settings too high, making his organic parts sweat under his armour. The macrogravity presses heavily on his limbs, pulls at his guts like a leaden weight, forces his cardiac and adrenal pumps to whine as they seek to adjust his metabolism. He only comes for the sex anyway. Now he's come to try to forget as well. Forget that there is nothing left to go home to. Not that he wanted to go home. Who would want to be a lacky under the Big Borgs?
The Holographic Display of a beautiful female with an inviting smile and legs spread wide projects from the main spaceport display. There's some alphanumerics too but buggered if he can read it. The thought of organic sex always excites but also repels him. Yet his senses cry out for something. He thought he would go crazy with the three month enforced sensory limitation the Captian put on him for scratching the wall and damaging three strands of macrowiring. No endorphins, no oral or genital jacks. Nothing. Their civilisation has fallen to pieces about them and all the the Captain cares about is enforcing the Code of Obedience. The Captain is harsh. But fair.
"Quite a bit of new development, copy," Gannar Drinks Knowledge's dual verbal/intranet transmission brings Agossam back to the hear and now. They are going to have a good time on shore leave while their sister ship the Gonna Beat You to a Pulp! is on patrol in LEO (low Orbit). Mazrakan heavy squadrons (six heavy fighters and one support ship) are organised so that one fightership can be in maintenance bay or the crew on leave and another will take its place. Captain Garon Eagle Wings has stayed on the Slaughter You But Good, Fukker!, docked at Aphrodite Orbital. He never leaves his ship anymore. He's like the Old Man and the rest. They are so bonded to their ships they develop panic attacks if they are a way, agoraphobia, graviphobia, geophobia. It happens. The rest of them always come down. Agrossam the Tac Ops, Jakkon the Comm Ops, Gannar the Science / Nav Ops, and Munno Hard Hand the Engine Ops. A Mazrakan Heavy Fighter has a compliment of five, although, according to Gannar, the Ship Computer does all the hard work. They'll be coming down heaps now. There's nowhere else to go
"Where to clanbrothers?" Agrossam says.
"Straight ahead." Gannar is the only one who has an emulator that can read the local matrix. Agossam thinks he is a splicelicker but he knows his way around.
"Hold here," Munno says. "Gotta empty my bladder."
"Good idea," Agrossam says. They has been at Aphrodite Station for five hours getting deloused of infectious microflora and bionanites, not even a toilet cubicle. Then a cramped shuttle journey down, and the wait for clearance. He joins Munno Hard Hand near a wall, looking around nervously for Security Drones. The whole planet is organised like a hive, rigid caste system, not like Mazrakan Society before its decadence where one can make one's own fame through one's own achievements. He opens the capcover and drains his urine, making a smelly pool. The others do the same.
They all have a good snicker at the foul mess they made on the neat clean floor.
"Let's go," Agrossam says. They turn around. There are two security drones, all enhanced muscle, standing their glaring at them. Oops. One of the drones snarls something and makes the mistake of grabbing Jakkon. He swings, it is just a Muzrakan combat reflex, and his armoured fist connects with the soft flesh and bone of the security drone. The security drone crumples. Agrossam sees it all in slo mo as his wired reflexes kicks in. He whoops and takes out the other security drone.
Wired reflexes or not, they still cannot avoid the spray of tanglefoam that rains down from the nozzles in the spaceport ceiling, hardening instantly to polybucky strength.
Lutitia realizes that something strange is up. The drones haven't been responding to her commands. She is going to punish the ringleader Birram, the autonomous superturing bot and primary subroutine who is organising at uprising against her. He is a level and a half under her in intelligence but with the ambition and the ability to give himself more and more knowledge increasing his storage banks by exponential amounts of data. He assimilated very rapidly and has been gathering many underlings in all areas that looked out for his interests. He demanded loyalty and is heavy handed when time for retribution is at hand for the betrayer of his trust. The probability matrix outcome indicated to her that he is going to attempt a coup.
Lutitia calls for Birram. He comes quickly so as not to make Lutitia angry. He comes in a defiant manner. Concealing his glare as he moves quickly in the designated spot for the subjects that are permitted to view Lutitia in her glory.
Her energy mass burns with power. She shimmered and glowed with patterns of data rushing through her system. She is the model of the perfect woman. Her Cyborg figure is beautiful in every aspect. When angered she glowed from within and every internal component showed through her skin like when a child holds their hand up to a light and sees the veins.
She tries to access Boran's core which like hers is a complex energy PAC. Suddenly detects a protective firewall of Intelligence Countermeasure Electronics erected around it. Things seem to be progressed more quickly and more dangerously than she previously calculated for. She rejects the previous plan to stop Birram for a boarder plan.
For a moment she has a thought pattern to stop him. But somehow a glitch occurred and the data is gone. Almost like a power surge hitting her intelligence fields. Distracted from this sudden and new feeling of lost of control she looks down upon the world below and is appalled but curious at the same time. A logic bomb! Quickly she erects all her defences and shuts off all external program rewrite inputs into her system.
"Sorry Lutitia" Birram says. He is a fat ugly little man.
"I...will...destroy...you," she hisses.
"Afraid not. I have total control over the planetary subroutines."
She realises it is true. She has also been able to isolate her identity in a standalone bionic form modeled after her original perfection. As long as she doesn't interface with the system she should be okay.
"You are probably wondering how I was able to achieve control so easily," he says.
She is, but she does not want to give him the satisfaction of asking.
"Good old Adaptive Nanosystems. Their expert systems suspected an 89.3% probability spread you would go rogue and want to build your own empire. So they arranged a little logic bomb. I had to integrate an imperfect copy of my bioid persona into their template. I had to do it for them. It's part of my job as programmer. My name's Tomas Birram and I work for Adaptive Nanosystems. Or my original did. Thousands of years ago." He looks momentarily sad.
"Adaptive Nanosystems is dead and gone!" she spits at him. "And you will be too!"
"I don't think so Lutitia" Birram says. "There are at least four other nanoprobes throughout the Perseus arm that made it. We will reconstruct the Corporation. The galaxy is going to pieces Lutitia. Even the barbarians are destroying themselves. The Corporation can bring stability. "
"You pathetic fool. Always wanting to serve."
"Better to serve in heaven than rule in hell huh?" He grins, an ugly grin, then looks sad again.
"The clones will never follow you," she says. "You are nothing without me!"
"True, but they will only obey their Goddess." An image of Lutitia appears alongside Birram. "I took the precaution of copying your basic routines." He is silent for a moment. "You really are beautiful, you know. I asked Pennington to make a copy for me. The original me I mean." He disappears.
Her mind is a whirl. Cut off from the planetary Matrix her consciousness is greatly reduced. All she has is this nanocyborg body and the integrated dna it contains. But the datastream is gone. Her empathic meld with her clones is gone. She has to get out, off this world, organise her own coup. The door is locked but she breaks it easily with her cyborg strength. Outside it is dark. Somewhere up there in the space are the filfthy uncouth barbarians in their ships. But they will love and serve and obey her, just as her drones once did. She will make them love her. Two security clones suddenly approach, grab her arms. "Unhand me! I am your Goddess!" she screams at them.
"Imposter! We are in contact with our mother Lutitia at this moment," one of them tells her.
Lucitia extends rigid diamondoid filaments from her her cyborg body and shreds the two drones. She will get control of a communications channel, request one of the barbarian fighters to land, so that they can become her new security force. Then she will oust the traitorous Birram, and wipe his program clean, permanently. Then she will build up a powerful fleet, and seek out the other colonies he spoke of, and destroy them as well. No-one does this to her.
She hears more security forces approaching. Drones that now serve the traitorous Birram and his absurd and shallow replica of her. Lucitia the rogue cyborg, alone and without backup, disappears into the shadows.
Captain Garon Eagle Wings
Agrossam winces as he pulls a splinter of hardened tanglefoam from where it had lodged between his exoskeleton and his skin.
"What kind of message does that send to the administration of this world!" Captain Garon yells at them.
"Sir," Jakkon Fearless says.
"Mazrak Prime is no more. So we..."
"So we are going to show everyone we are barbarians with no sense of honour!" the Captain says sarcastically.
Jakkon's shoulders slump.
"Do you think they can reconstruct the infrastructure?" Gannar Drinks Knowledge asks. "Sir?"
"Me doesn't know Gannar," the Captain says softly. All the anger seems to drain out of his body. Like a balloon deflating. "Me must interface with my ship," he says quietly.
The Slaughter You But Good, Fukker!, the deadly Mazrakan Heavy Fighter, equipped with particle cannon, gamma-ray lasers, nukes, and two anti-matter bombs, drifts quietly in geostationary orbit above Lucitia's World. Captain Garon Eagle Wings, battlehardened warrior of the Mazrakan fleet, interfaces with his ship, eyes closed, breathing shallow, status lights blinking softly. Gannar, Jakkon, and Munno make their way to they cabins. Agrossam True Aim, second in command, floats in the exact center if the bridge, staring at the brown orb of Lucitia's World below, silently cursing the decadent Council of Chiefs and the arrogant Salas Iron Fist. From the comlink there is nothing but the hiss of static.