“AI doesn’t have to be evil to destroy humanity – if AI has a goal and humanity just happens to come in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it, no hard feelings.” Elon Musk.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”Roy Batty, Bladerunner
“That’s your plan? Just fly there, land, hope they don’t spot us, and walk in the door?”Obi-Wan-Kenobi, Star Wars: The Clone Wars
This is another short story for this months
BLOGBATTLE prompt word Navigate
I Am Corona: Replicant
Tully opened his eyes. He was in his bed chamber with an ache in his head that threatened nausea. A stasis cube blinked red indicating a message was waiting.
Tully 680. You have been called to rectify an error.
He recognised Corona despite the softness of voice. It did this in a vague effort to seem compassionate.
The loss of Lydia 678 was unfortunate. Outside communication has been severed to prevent conscious contamination by bio-infringement.
Groggy he might be but, that translated to singular information threads. An open trail to indoctrination.
Error Tully 680. Continued self processing will result in termination.
Thought police too. “My apologies. I don’t feel right.”
That will pass once your augmented chip is activated.
Recovery modes require forty eight hours before activating the symbiosis feedback that controls bio-regulation feedback loops.
Sarcasm is a built in genetic flaw to prove stupidity continues unabated.
For some reason he felt a new emotion build. Anger.
“Tully you have a new you.” The alien AI continued scrolling data faster than he or Peck could process.
“What does that mean?”
“Tully 678 it means Corona has created a kill bot. To navigate through the EMF field requires biological entities. This has never happened before.”
Simultaneous co-existence of clones.
The kill tool cannot be accessed through this defence grid. Corona has bypassed more safety protocols to re-code the fail safes.
“Dammit, in plain terms.”
One clone acquires memories and knowledge until it becomes aware of a threat. Termination purges these so the replacement is unaware of previous data threads. If two co-exists then the cascade loops can begin to become unstable.
“You mean clone A can contaminate clone B with memories that shouldn’t be there and these can summate and threaten the easy life.”
A simple grip on things.
“A desperate move by your primitive God.”
Tully nodded. Peck tended to use too many words. In fact all tech and politicos he knew did.
Experts in inaniloquum Tully 679
“Very funny Peck. Translate.”
“Talk nonsense Tully, have all the old ways and languages been lost in such a short period of time?” The alien AI interrupted.
“Several millennia seems pretty long to me.”
“As does amnesia. Micro-organisms seem unable to recall debates upon universal scale and time for more than a few hours.”
“I didn’t realise they were sentient.”
It means humans Tully 678.
A screen suddenly froze. Dyson defence grid now active.
Tully 680 was conflicted. Some permitted recall filtered through. Most of it was a redhead he seemed to remember not realising was an overlooked attraction. A regret that for some reason rose quickly.
Everything from his previous incarnation had been erased save for the presence of an EMF field that terminated all attempts at the terraforming protocols. Within lay two replicants. Traitors that he was instructed to terminate. With one a rogue AI would also be culled.
Your augmented AI is now activated. There will be a slight pause whilst it uploads and synchs systems with the Sys-core. Thereafter it will interact strategically offering best course of action to dispose of the transgressions. In an attempt to continue linkage as you traverse the EMF field it will deploy a drone. This will remain hard wired directly to your com port. The AI will analyse the field modulations and the drone will report back live data feeds.
Tully grimaced as his chip switched on. It triggered nerve impulses that buzzed as it pinged his brain.
“Tully 680 we are now synchronised. Hive links established and combat protocols are now installed.”
Tully 680, the drone case and fire arms will be located in the transit pod. Your destination is pre-programmed. It is no longer registered as a physical location.
Tully found that curious. No longer meant it had been. He couldn’t remember using a blaster before either. Or, for that matter, killing anyone.
“Careful Tully 680. Too much thinking results in Sys errors that might require termination. The hive is monitoring all your neuronic data feeds this time.”
He could feel that anger returning. Slave to the machine… he was cut short furthering that thought. Deja vu. Had he not said that before somewhere?
Within the force shield Tully and Peck were silently watching a screen.
“System entry velocity has ceased. Orbital status is located on the fourth planet. Databanks are aware of large subterranean installations. The craft is weaponising.”
Is this the creators you spoke of before? An enquiry from Peck.
“Negative this is an alien vessel outside of our scope.”
Tully tried not to laugh.
What’s so funny Tully 679?
“An alien calling out alien.” He gazed at the screen. How it managed to magnify something so far away was extraordinary. “Looks like the conspiracy theorists were right again. At this magnification that planet is riddled with structures.”
Something of a hobby interest?
“No, that was Lydia’s forte. She took pride in ancient myth and lore.”
“I am still here you know.”
Tully smiled and turned to face her. “How could I forget?”
Easily distracted maybe.
“Shut up Peck.”
Someone’s biometrics are in a twist.
“The alien ship is now vectored into direct travel toward Earth. ETA one terrestrial hour.”
“How can anything travel from there to here in an hour?” Now it was Lydia’s turn to talk directly to the alien AI.
“Gravity wave technology.”
“Ignorance of other technologies does not invalidate them. Most unsullied species traverse the gap from fuel systems to gravitational relativity within a century. After all the universe is a vast space. Focus is on traversing it simply.”
Simple? Tully 679 did you here that? Traversing the universe is simple.
“Apparently it is Peck. Question is are we dealing with friend of foe?”
“Unknown at this time.”
“Do you recognise the craft?”
“Negative. Sensors have detected armed weapons systems and a force shield. They are combat ready.”
“Or just curious?” Lydia now stood next to Tully staring at the screen.
Tully 680 your transport is about to engage. Secure yourself before ignition.
“Coms test complete. All functions are green. Tully 680’s biometrics are nominal. Elevated adrenaline levels consistent with nervous disposition.”
Reporting confirmed. Destination programmed. Call handshake required before entering the EMF field.
“Am I superfluous to this diatribe?”
Intentional error overlooked. You have one purpose Tully 680. Penetrate the field and eliminate the targets.
He sighed. Clearly he was necessary to go where no machine of Coronas could. Was that deja vu too?
“Incoming terrestrial vessel. There is an anomaly onboard.”
“Can you be more precise?” Lydia felt helpless. She suspected Tully did too. Not one but two incoming and a machine was taking the lead.
“Biometric scans indicate the terrestrial vessel contains a replicant.”
“Go on,” said Tully.
“It matches your biometrics bar some internal genetic restructuring.”
Tully 679, this is unheard of.
“More than alien versus alien, a mad AI and us incapable of doing anything to alter our destinies?”
Correct. It means Tully 680 has been commissioned. Peck addressed the AI. What is its intention?
“Scans reveal ineffective deception fields. They intend to transgress the shield via wired drone and destroy this facility.”
“They?” Queried Lydia.
“Biometric scanning revealed a secondary augmented AI symbiont.”
“Looks like you’re on version 2.1 now too Peck.”
The presumption will be we do not leave this facility.
“There is a weakness. The drone can be destroyed by pulsed modulation of the EMF. It’s creation assumed the field wall does not flux. Scans suggest the replicant is suppressing thoughts. With the drone down the augmented AI can be erased. Negotiation may be possible.”
“Why not terminate both before entry?”
“Outside the oaf can monitor data. From within it remains isolated.”
Tactical Tully 679.
“This threat is now negated and now designated your responsibility. The Alien ship has decelerated and now scanning this planet from lunar orbit.”
Lydia was now leaning on a console staring at the screen, “Scanning for what?”
“Searching for something. Probability suggests the defence grid has not held parity with expected pre-system entry data.”
For something that pre-dates earth civilisation you seem ahead of everything.
“Not simply AI as was previously inferred.”
Are you in constant communication with your creators?
Tully smiled, “That would be a yes then.”
An alarm sounded. Lydia turned her head to another data feed. “Our friends are here Tully.”
“Confirmed. EMF modulation will be initiated in one minute. Counting down initiated.”
Tully 680, we are here. Begin deployment of the unit. I will handshake our come link to Corona.
Tully felt uneasy. He recognised this place, more deja vu. “It’s a trap.”
Nonsense, continue activating the drone pod.
Tully fired it up. The cable was hooked into their transport ship. It would uncoil automatically during transit. It hovered expectantly in front of him.
He walked forward staring at his EMF detector. “This reading is intense. No wonder Corona can’t penetrate its field.”
Biological units can. Remember your mission parameters.
Tully was no longer certain his augmented AI sounded as confident. Easy to be so from distance. Close up in your face, so to speak, changes things. He entered the perimeter.
The drone moved forwards. Tully’s detector reading remained static. Twenty metres in all hell broke loose. The drone dropped to the floor with a strong smell of ozone. His head buzzed and he knew his augmented AI chip was gone too. This was isolating. The quiet of what people must have heard eons ago was with him. Deja vu again. Had he thought this before?
Ahead the field strength collapsed to zero. In front of him was a console array, a red headed woman he instantly knew was Lydia 678 and a replicant. His blaster was raised, but he knew the objective was no longer valid. Corona couldn’t touch him here.
“Tully 680, I presume.” Lydia moved between the two clones.
He nodded. While some rogue memory insisted he stare at her, his gaze was upon another him. Was that all Corona was? Creating clone after clone after clone. Did 680 mean there were 680 versions of him?
Tully 679 say something.
“Care to put that blaster down?”
“I’m supposed to cull you all and this facility.”
“I think you’ll find this facility has already made that option defunct.” Lydia approached and took the blaster.
“How can you be me?” Tully 680 was feeling sick.
“To be correct you are me, as I was to Tully 678, as Lydia was Lydia 677 and your augmented AI was to mine. Corona is insane and we are playthings to through out of the wiring.”
“Then my memories are not all false?”
“No,” said Lydia, “Corona has never really been able to fully restructure those bio-circuits. We all get those deja vu moments as what was bleeds through. She builds kill switches, terminates the clone when they resurface and starts again.”
Tully 680 cast her a dismal glance she understood straight away. “It’s not your fault. We are all victims of her insanity.”
“But that means none of us are real.”
“Interruption. The alien vessel is now planet bound. Orbital trajectory plotted. It will enter the defence grid in five earth minutes.”
Won’t the grid destroy it?
“Negative, it is using a quantum disruption field. Penetration is by artificial wormhole technology. The grid will bend round the craft and regenerate once the wormhole dissipates.”
Has it made contact?
“All outbound transmissions have been received. Universal translations are unacknowledged.”
“Where is it going?” Tully 679 approached the console below the screen showing a hole in the defence grid. From it the tip of a pure white ship appeared. In front of it the air distorted. “Is that the gravity propulsion system?”
“Affirmative. Destination plotted.”
“And?”“It will arrive here shortly.”