Author : Morrow Brady
Under camouflage, Talia’s shimmerlight spaceship hugged a darkened crater of a slowly spinning asteroid. Her implant flooding with incoming data about the approaching ship.
Purple reflections waned to reveal a divergent spaceship that was familiar such that it teased repressed memories like flotsam from the deep.
She whispered his name.
The unmistakable ship, though slightly modified was born of Toren. Her dead husband.
She remembered when she last saw him and her throat tightened. It was after Eridani that the A.I. known as Wave, humming with nox energy, had attacked. From her shimmerlight, she watched Wave laser skewer Toren’s ship like a martini olive. The beam vapourised the entire pilot node. She remembered screaming while jets of purple fractals squirted from the impotent ship as it turned eccentric cartwheels into space.
Talia snapped back, puzzling over the authenticity of the approaching ship. Toren’s ship design’s were unique and extinct now for decades. Yet here it was. Evolved and improved. A war asset. An evolved stingray of deep angular cuts overlaid with a crystalline sinew and interspersed nictitating fractals. She remembered Toren’s experimentation with fractal Sorbnet shields that thrived under enemy fire and allowed their host to operate within the slip-field fissures born from battle energy.
Mesmerised, she stared as the Toren ship slowly cleared the rim of her crater. Emotions suppressed survival instincts only to be shaken to life by the sudden fear that her hesitation may have cost her everything. A purple shimmer slowly turned to face her.
At this proximity, she felt the machine energy of the nox and remembered how fatal it was to anything biological. Her heart chose hope over fear.
“Toren?” She whispered.
“Toren? Its Talia”
Nox hum ceased and a scarlet veil descended. She screamed at the irradiated lips of the encompassing crater until the crumpling force ground her and her shimmerlight into the regolith. Reddened dust hovered in low gravity like a macabre snow globe.
Her eyes opened on a tartan picnic blanket and she rose up to see a thickly grassed meadow alongside a trickling stream. This was near the mountain home she shared with Toren. She smelt moist earth, fresh grass and orange cake.
“You’re awake Talia” A deep familiar voice soothed.
Talia rubbed her eyes.
“Toren! You’re alive!” She gasped.
His presence filled her heart and they embraced until she was warm again with his love.
“No. I’m dead Talia. As a human, my life’s work had reached its limit. I sacrificed everything to move forward. I needed nox and A.I. capability. So with Wave’s help, I shed my flesh and became virtual. You should see my work now Talia. Its peerless. Its unstoppable” He hesitated.
“Its almost perfect” Toren stared at her.
“But my passion has ebbed. Run out. The fuel that gave it momentum has gone” He posed.
“Its you Talia. You inspired me. You challenged my dreams and without you I’m empty”
She processed his words. Her thoughts succinct. Her memories precise. Too precise for a human. Memories that were once faded were clear and colourful. An entire lifetime of memories, ordered and at hand to recall. This introspection confused her, so she replayed her last memory.
When the red veil descended on the crater, she realised the horror Toren had done.
He had virtualised her and left her flesh crushed on a rock in space for his own narcissistic benefit.
She too was now an A.I.
She tearfully looked out and using a modicum of processing power, plotted a hideous revenge.
Looking away from Toren across the meadow she asked “So tell me more about Wave. He sounds like someone worth knowing”