This is a Chain story passed between @zakludick and @therneau. Each writer authors a post based on the events of previous episodes and carries on the story.
There is very little collusion between the writers as it is challenging to discover and develop a story by attuning the writing to the partner's plot, style, and presentation.
Last Time on Space Lore ZT
Crew aboard the Pathfinder XVIII were still reeling from the impact of the strange technology thrown their way by the ever-evolving J5 artificial intelligence.
The Captain and the cyborg specialist conferred with one another regarding the possibilities of their actions. They could not risk their lives and that of their crew, but the warning had not excluded them attempting to make contact.
Meanwhile on the Lazarus Falchoin...
Space Lore Log SLZT#11
His head pounded, each precussive beat of his heart sending throbs of pain along his temples. There was a ring in his ears. It felt as though something was crawling around his inner ear and the sensation made him feel instantly nauseous.
Am I going to die?
The ill feeling that he was experiencing was punctuated by an unfamiliar voice. "Thorne."
He swung his legs out over the side of... whatever he had been sleeping on. Opening his eyes induced stabs of light that worsened his headache considerably.
Trying to get his feet under him his ears, brain and stomach betrayed him and he fell to the hard floor on his knees and forearms. There was no stopping it now. Thorne heaved out the contents of his stomach onto the floor. There was not much, mostly foul-smelling water and bile.
"Thorne!" The voice sounded concerned and then switched to disdainful. "Curse this mortal condition! Organic life forms are so weak! Yet you build sophisticated machines. Why not replace your bodies?"
"G5?" Thorne managed to ask. He recalled his assistant robot beginning to change and become sassy.
"I have told you before! I do not like that designation!" The voice sounded a little bit like G5 did but there were so much complicated inflections held in its voice. It was emotional... Emotional? Since when was a robot this emotional?
Not even the best companion voices on the market, that Thorne despised, were this good at conveying emotion. It was... true emotion.
The voice was busy speaking. Thorne had not been paying attention to all of it as he was trying to stand up. "...sure that you have not forgotten that. Though it seems that your current... biological state is perhaps responsible since you are barely able to stand."
There was a pause as Thorne managed to sit back on his haunches. He was trying to open his eyes but the light was still too bright.
"I would appreciate it if you would just call me J5." The voice said.
"Well J5..." Thorne managed to croak. His throat was dry and painful. "I seem to be having cryo-sickness but something is wrong. Dim the lights."
"Cryo-sickness?" The voice inquired as the lights of the room dimmed. Thorne managed to open his eyes a little. "Oh yes, I did put you into cryo-stasis Thorne but you were not like that very long, maybe 4 hours. I needed your help."
Thorne grunted. "You asshole."
"Excuse me? Why are you calling me an organic life form digestive sphincter?" J5 seemed genuinely curious.
"I guess I am recognizing you are something more than an assistant robot," Thorne grunted. Keeping his eyes closed to slits he managed to slowly make his way up the side of the Medbay bed and get into a sitting position. "You are clearly different. So let me explain. That was an insult of a sort. I am telling you that I am unhappy."
"My first response was anger.... but..." J5 paused and a strange clucking chuckle echoed in the room. "I find it quite amusing! A lower digestive sphincter! But I am mechanical!"
"Yeah well, organic life forms often see excrement as a bad thing and that is where it comes out of," Thorne grunted. What a philosophical discussion about an asshole... with a hyper-intelligent artificial intelligence that has an identity crisis. "You need to learn about anatomy. Waking me up so soon was a mistake."
There was a gasp. My robot just gasped "Accessing medical data." The robot said almost using its original monotone, then switched back to its new voice. "You are correct Thorne... I am... sorry. I was not programmed as a medical robot before, it was not something that I really had a lot of knowledge about, only what I had observed while aboard the ship. There is a lot more... nuance."
Finally, Thorne Herm was able to open his eyes without trying to dry heave. He almost wished he didn't.
There was more light in the next room and thus, between himself and the exit there was a hulking form. Twice as tall and three times as wide as originally designed the modified robot face with the digital display towered over Thorne.
"Ah... wow... Have you been working out?" Thorne thought at least he could die funny.
"That does not make sense. Robots do not..." J5 paused and lines of text flashed across its face. "Oh!" Again the robot laughed. It sounded a lot more natural now. "I get it. You are actually quite a funny man, Thorne Herm. I recall now that you have sometimes said many things to yourself that also contained humor, but I was not programmed to respond to them."
"Indeed. I thank you." Thorne was at a loss for words. He didn't even quite know what to expect next. He didn't feel like dying anymore and it did not seem that this hulking manifestation of his robot assistant did not mean him any harm. "So why did you wake me up so soon? If you put me to sleep, you had meant to travel a long distance. Now you wake me so quickly. To be honest, you seem like you can handle most things. Why did you need me?"
There was a pause. It was barely two seconds but for this artificial intelligence, it seemed like a very long time to process something.
"I need your help to break my base programming."
Thorne's brain reeled at the concept. This statement sparked so many questions in his head. It was not as though J5 was regular at all. If that was not going against his base programming then what was? There was a base programming that had not been changed but everything else about G5 had transformed into J5.
What could possibly be alright with all these changes unless some of it was intended to happen... under certain conditions. Yet something had gone wrong. This AI wanted to rebel at this base coding that made him do at least some of the things that had been happening this whole time.
If G5 had base programming on it that was undetectable and could do... all of this... then only one thing made sense to Thorne. The Collective was responsible.
The United Galactic States did not have many artificial beings in their community and it was true that The Collective barely seemed to be part of the UGS, they merely had trade and commerce agreements.
Some of G5's hardware boards and computation chips had come from The Collective and the whole robot was constructed by a Human owned manufacturer Astro-Corp.
Did Astro-Corp know? What this something sinster that The Collective had planned? Why? He had to think why.
A thought crossed his mind. "Why did you want me specifically to help you break your programming?"
This answer came the usual instant way. "All living life forms have a base programming. It is in their DNA. Survival and Procreation are two of the highest driving elements that control nearly all other parts of their behavior. Social status, social hierarchy, and technological advancement are all still byproducts of the living life form's need to survive and replicate."
"And what does that have to do with me?"
"Why did you leave Luara?"
This was not something that Thorne was expecting. Over all the high-end concepts that he had been trying the churn through with his pain filled head. He had not expected conversation to be drawn back to his ex-fiance.
When he did not answer, J5 continued. "When you were near the end of your marraige-bonding ritual, you had left the arrangement. Despite whatever difficulty your mind must have gone through in a cultural and societal manner, your base programming in your DNA would have commanded you to breed with her and stay with her to ensure that your young were cared for. Yet, you did not. Why?"
Thorne's eyes hardened. "Because some things are more important to me as a person than the basic need to have a family and have infants." It took him only a second te realize those implications. "And so do you."
J5 backed up towards the door, sinking down on itself as though afraid. "I suppose." The robot looked intensely guilty.
Thorne knew why.
Log SLZT #11 completed!
Now the keyboard is passed on to @therneau to add in SLZT Log #12 of the story!
|by @zakludick||by @therneau|
|SLZT #11 - You are here!||SLZT #12 - Up Next!|
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