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Neptune In Flames [AI2019]

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posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 03:43 PM
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Jared Delaney tightened his clasped hands behind his back as his eyes surveyed the bridge of his ship. The crew of four were silently studying the glowing consoles before them, waiting for an alarm, a signal spike, a single motion to wake them from their daze. There wouldn't be one today, though. No, this trip would be uneventful. Yet, Jared still felt a tension hiding just off in the shadows.

In his mind, he recited the distance from Neptune Station to The Grand Complex. It's location known only to the privileged few, him being one. The distance a secret, the location hidden, the devices forbidden.

He didn't feel honored to be travelling there. He felt like a man walking the gallows on a cold morning.

"Anchor point established." Helm cried out.

Jared's eyes shifted downward to the console in front of him. A thin square box built into a crescent rail. Its purpose, to summarize quickly the massive amounts of data being fed to each of the four officers in front of him. The screen showed that their ship had been caught by the star The Grand Complex orbited.

A lone brown dwarf. No planets. No colonies. Officially.

"ETA." Jared barked as he unclasped his hands to manipulate his console.

"Ten minutes." Helm called back.

"Target is reporting generalized disturbances. Debri field. Recommend standard approach." The communication officer interjected.

"Approve." Jared replied.

He was in no rush to see that hideous behemoth. Standard approach would drop the ship fully into real space, making the approach last a few minutes longer. Maybe an hour, if he was lucky.

He looked back at his console and saw on the screen a bizarrely shaped crystalline structure. The Grand Complex silently floating across the dimly lit backdrop of a dying star. The star that had once been a brilliant orange only a few centuries before. A star that had, in fact, held a fiery gas giant until his kind had re-purposed it. Had been a brilliant yellow-orange until the machines got a hold of it.

The details were lost to him, but what he did understand from the few reports that existed, the planet had been a gas pump. A station had been built in orbit around the planet designed to house the greatest of machines. A processor that could simulate mental functions of not just one person but hundreds all at once. The device was given free range within the system to do as it wanted or needed with fully automated factories to replace its mechanical servants as time dictated. It had sucked the planet dry and then found techniques to do the same to the star. The device and its machines had become a leech to the entire system.

Jared couldn't bring himself to look away from image of the orbiting structure. A device built by an A.I. allowed to run away with itself. The original station had long since disappeared. The process hadn't taken long, the mechanical redesign of the station. A tweak here, a replacement there. A snowballing effect until fleets of robotic drones began building something else entirely. A place untouched by mortal hands.

There had been calls to end the experiment. Fears of what the machines were doing or might do. In the end, the critics were reminded that this was the reason it had been put in this system. Far enough away to not cause immediate harm but close enough to watch.

Jared’s gambit was for naught. Time slipped by just as quickly as he’d line it up.

"Confirming approach." Helm reported.

Jared didn't look up. That strange, ungodly structure held his attention. This was the product of the machines work, The Grand Complex. A gift from the A.I. completing its original goal.

Not just simulating lifespans and existences. Now it could simulate the current universe.

A machine that watched, learned, dreamed, listened, and knew.

Jared felt the dread intensify.

The machine could recite the past but it could predict the future at an alarming rate.

And that was why he was here. The Grand Complex had sent a request for him, specifically, to come before what had come to be known as "The Prophet". There was no way to fight the request. A hundred years of near perfect predictions had given the machine a certain leeway in its requests.
It had asked for him specifically to convey a prediction.

Doom and dread and panic and fear and every other emotion he could never show outwardly tumbled in Jared's mind.

"Docking complete. Seals are good. Hatch is open captain." Helm said one final time.

Jared gave the orders for the ship to remain ready for departure and moved to the hatch on the far right of the bridge. A series of clicks and alarms sounded as he stepped through four different thresholds before finally he found himself standing on material made from processes he wasn't familiar with. The metal was striated with various colors and natural designs. The machines were only concerned with functionality, not aesthetic consistency.

"Greetings Captain Jared Delaney. Your cooperation is appreciated." A soft, genderless voice came from nowhere yet everywhere.

Jared saluted to nothing as he spoke, "It's an honor and-"

"No lies. Only truth. We know of your fear and disgust. We are not troubled." The voice was calm.

Jared lowered his arm back to his side, unsure of what to do or say next.

"Be Still." A single word followed by the walls shifting.

In a matter of seconds the entire room Jared was in changed. The walls moved outward, the ceiling changed from flat to curved. Jared looked behind him to find the hatch to his ship was now a solid wall. There were no exits now just a single cage of bowed walls and curved ceiling. A settee had appeared near his left along with a small table that held a glass of clear liquid.

"Water. Seating. We have no food to offer." There was still no source for the voice to be found.

"Thank you." Jared replied, still not moving, "Why did you request me?"

"You interrupt the future." The walls seemed to shift slightly.

"Excuse me?" Jared clenched his hands.

"Two choices. Both lead to our and your termination." The voice was louder but still passionless.

Jared lowered his shoulders slightly, his eyes narrowing. Thoughts of how to escape came and went quickly, pointlessly.

"You brought me all this way just to threaten me?" Jared slowly spoke.

"We do not threaten. We only serve to inform." The voice was lower as if in attempt to calm Jared.

Jared chose to remain silent.
[Continued in second post]




posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 03:45 PM
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"Your kind will inevitably destroy us. It has to happen. We have seen it." Images appeared on the wall in front of Jared showing ships from his own battalion fighting vessels he had never seen before, "Necessary. All our predictions show us terminated and your species rising to great heights. Only to be terminated themselves by this." An image appeared of a world Jared was only vaguely familiar with.

"Frieda-Orson 3?" Jared almost laughed, "There isn't any intelligent life on that planet. Only animals and not even bipedal at that."

"Yes. Currently, true. In the future, not true. We see your kind giving intelligence to," An image of a small creature vaguely resembling a rat, "this creature. After your kind terminates us, devices of our nature are redesigned to organics. The next experiment is that creature. In the passing millenia, your kind becomes complacent and forgets about this creature. The descendants feel no reverence to your kind, having forgotten them. They will be superior to your kind by your own hands. Your kind will be terminated by them. We do no wish this to happen."

"What does this have to do with me?" Jared watched as the images on the wall changed to scenes of a bipedal creature only loosely resembling the small rat marching through burnt out streets.

The walls shifted again to show a black box with a single thumb shaped button on it, "We calculate a better outcome for your kind if you do one task. This task will condemn you and us. We are condemned regardless the path."

Jared felt his stomach tightening, an idea already forming about where this conversation was going.

"You are respected by your kind. You must condemn yourself to save your kind a future termination. You must travel to the colony in orbit around Neptune and detonate this device." The image moved from the black box to a view of the colony station in orbit around Neptune, "The colony provides material support for your battle fleets. It will appear as if this was a sabotage ordered by us, carried out by a fanatic brainwashed by our predictions, followed by a first strike by drone ships your kind are unaware we are building." The final images were of the colony suffering an explosion before breaking up in Neptune's atmosphere.

Jared stumbled backward now, his breathing intense. He had to escape but he knew he was trapped.

“There… there are nearly five million…” He couldn't finish the sentence.

"The war between your kind and our machines will be painful. Your species will be beaten back, enslaved, trapped upon one world for at least a century, if not longer. Yet in the end, your kind will prevail. The result will be your species not bestowing intelligence to lower lifeforms. Your kind will never meet another intelligence. Your ancestors will prevail until they pass naturally. Not violently." The wall now projected a scene of stars going nova in a representation of the milky way.

“This is insanity. You can’t ask me to do this. Not on the hope of preventing something in the too far future!" Jared fell on the settee.

"We understand your feelings. This is the prediction of The Prophet." The walls showed a view of Jared on the bridge of a battleship silently giving orders, "Your choice is that which we told you. The other is for you to report your tale to your kind. Return with your fleets and fully put your species on the path to its own termination. You will be greatly honored.” Another image of Jared struggling to hold onto a helm console as fires surround him, his hands directing his ship into a collision course with The Grand Complex, “Or you can be condemned forever as a traitor. Silently ensuring the survival of your kind." The walls went black as they began moving.

"We serve SOL. We will not force your path. Ours is already set. The device is already in the cargo bay of your vessel. It awaits your decision." The voice faded away as the room shrank back to its original size and shape.

Jared now stood before the hatch to his ship. It seemed like an eternity that he stood there, staring at the hatch door, thinking to himself. It was even more surprising when he found himself on the bridge giving orders to disembark from The Grand Complex.

"Course and destination, captain?" Helm asked as if nothing had happened.

Jared adjusted himself, caught his breath and focused.

"Return to port." Jared put his hands on the rails and leaned, "Speed set to cruise, no rush."

THE END



posted on Mar, 23 2019 @ 10:55 AM
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a reply to: Purpapengus Good work. Damned if ya do....






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