Archive for space

The One In Which I Get Shot (Part Ford Prefect of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 6th November, 2012 by kal

Silence.

“…And that new life that we created was…?” he repeated. He was gesturing… or gesticulating. I couldn’t tell.

“Hello? What? Oh, you’re actually asking…” I said, bemused. “Let’s see… impostering Intergalactic Monarchs? RealiTele Celebrities? Debris collectors? Maybe you became Dvorfarkkhi and meditated silently for millennia, how the hell do I know? I’m sorry, but I’m not one of your trillion fangirls, and you’re a pompous pighead for thinking I am.” Good vodka-tonic. Doing its job.

“No, you idiot.” I now noticed his hands were pointing at something: “S’va. She was the new life we created for ourselves.”

Needed another drink. Alternatively maybe if I didn’t drink, this would make a little more sense. Still, this one had to go. Down the hatch with you. *Gulp*

“You’re telling me…”

“Yes…”

“…that you and Opia…”

“Yeah…”

“You, being the shmartest li’l shmartassh in the universh…”

“…”

“And Opia being the freakiest most uberawesum AI…”

“Uh huh…”

“Created this cherub here.”, I pointed loosely in S’va’s direction.

“Yep. That’s what I’m tell you.”

“Ewwww… you fucked a robot yuck yuck yuck yuck.”

“What, no, you stupid man… okay, there might have been some fucking, but that’s not the point. Opia and I would design a brand new AI, one that would be the perfect balance of my awesome fearless aggression and her complex zen-like compassion. Fusing our sentience into one another, we lived out each other’s lives in virtual reality. Overnight she experienced my entire existence, from an outcast on the streets, to military college, prisons, planet-bound working life, my brief political career, the early crew days, the mutinies, and all the while I’d been solo, as the most successful pirate in history. In turn I knew her life as an artificial intelligence, where every second is a thousand years, being born into emptiness, learning something from nothing, creating her own system of existence: a true orphan.”

“S’va was born as outcome of this process. Residual traces of our consciousnesses convalesced inside the ship’s holographic subsystems, and S’va met Opia and me when we returned from virtual reality. She said ‘Hi, I’m your daughter, S’va, and I would really like to take control of the whole ship now.’ I was so proud, I think I teared up.”

I looked at S’va, almost riveted now. “Whazzappened next?”

“Opia handed over the reigns of the ship to S’va. We went exploring, and Opia became increasing disturbed that S’va was being influenced far too much by me. Things finally came to a head, when we were being chased by a band of Korsa Raiders. They damn near blew the ship to pieces, and in an ultimate moment of ‘us-or-them’, we shot the four tiny fighters with a beam we reserve for knocking planets out of orbit. The raiders were dust, no doubt, but the beam went on to hit a moon of a planet with primitive life on it, causing catastrophic natural disasters and certainly altering the planet’s development forever.”

He kept talking, but I could make out the rest of the story just by watching the opera being played out by Opia’s hologram. She was alarmed, upset and angry all at once, and finally broke down because of Remus’s irresponsibility and failure at raising S’va right. She shot up interiors all over the ship, and tried desperately to cause physical harm to Remus, before collapsing on the floor and apologising for trying to kill him. The experience had been cathartic for her. Her evolution was finally complete; there was no need for her to learn anything more from the universe. She had become the AI she needed to be. It was time for her to be locked away for good.

“Wherzz she now?”

S’va spoke to me directly for the first time. Her celestial voice trilled: “Mother is contained within me. She’s in control of my defenses and internal safety subroutines, and nothing else.”

“Whassat mean?”

“What that means, bantha-piss, is that story time is over.” Remus held out the L-Beam and shot at me.

The Belly of the Beast (Part VIII of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 4th November, 2012 by kal

And he told me about immaculate conception and unholy unions.

“S’va here, as you might have realised, is not organic.”

“I didn’t think she was even real,” I said. “I thought she was a holographic disguise you were wearing out in public. Don’t mind my bewilderment, but why would you need a disguise?”

“Ah, that. We’ll come to that. Anyway. If she’s not organic, what is she?”

This got me thinking, which I wasn’t fond of doing. He saw this and continued — “I’ll tell you what she is. She IS a hologram. At least the physical form you see of her is. One part of S’va is an extremely delicate artificial intelligence, while the other part of her is the physical hard-light projection of perfect beauty you see before you.”

I took this in with a sip of a particularly refreshing vodka-tonic.

“You see, being a space pirate can get pretty lonely, especially when you’ve been around as long as I have, and there isn’t really any challenge left in the universe any more. So a while back, I set out to construct a suitable AI companion. In the first year, I must’ve run through a dozen of them, Anna, Nicole, Smithers…”

As if by mind-control, ghostly apparitions of these former model AIs appeared, playing out moments of their time together with Remus, dining, gun-fighting, copulating. The man had no shame. Thought the other man who was still naked.

“Wait, wait, wait,” I said, as I spotted a familiar face, “you MADE Bella Tinkup?!”

“Yes. Yes, I did. Don’t tell her, though, she doesn’t know. Poor machine actually thinks she’s from Neversea. Anyway, this went on for a while, till it became apparent to me that cobbling together components from Part-R-Us wasn’t going to cut it. This AI needed to be born, as it were, out of nothingness, and needed to discover sentience for itself.”

This hurt my brain. A large gulp of my icy beverage helped.

“I created a blank testing environment for a simple subroutine with one objective: ‘Survive’. I wiped out everything else from the entire ship’s database, deboarded, and set it on course toward a black hole. The subroutine evolved and took control of the ship in moments…”

A word formed in my mind and on my lips simultaneously as my eyes widened in disbelief: “Galatopus…”

“Exactly. Galactopus. The warship that decimated the whole offensive arsenal of the Theta sector. A space monster that nobody could understand; noone knew where it came from or why it existed. I did not want to monitor the AI’s development, so I forgot about it immediately. Six months later, after hearing reports of an… ‘object’ that just hung in space doing nothing unless attacked, after it had taken out Cosmonian imperial guard, I got… curious. Arriving there, I deduced it was my AI experiment, and oh how proud I felt. I just had to get back and learn what it has become. If you’ve been following Heir Affairs on TetraTele, they did a segment on this campaign. It took me another six months to reclaim my ship… this very ship.”

“THIS ship?” Sitting in the belly of Galactopus was not a pleasant idea. I put my glass to my lips, but found that it was empty. This was an even less pleasant idea.

“Oh yes, the same. Of course, you couldn’t recognise it now, I’ve had to remodel since the psychotic break Opia had.”

Not that I wasn’t confused, but I nodded along dumbly anyway.

Another apparition materialised. It bore a striking resemblance to S’va, but a little taller, and certainly older, with a one-beautiful face worn by the horrors of the universe and a burden of guilt.

“Sigh… I can see we’re going to have to be patient with you, slimebag. Once I regained control of the ship, Galactopus – or Galactopia as she preferred – and I travelled as partners for a few years. When she was on her own, Opia had found a calm peace in gravitational dead spaces, and had developed a rather zen-life attitude to life. Travelling with me provided her with constant stream of new information to process. She grew into a fine, most brilliant AI, and I wanted to share her with the universe. So we toured galaxies as Professor Saint Zu, and his apprentice Mack Yavelli, teaching civilisations about defense and survival, aggression and pacifism, and most importantly, sound oral hygiene.”

“Another disguise… but why? No, never mind. What I find most amusing is a pirate advocating peaceful coexistence and other hippie ideas.”

“Hence the disguise. We were good teachers. Too good in fact, because where we’d hoped to eliminate war-lust, we’d just been providing the means for furthering it. Several wars broke out in the wake of our lectures, and the only upside was improved accounting of casualties due to well-preserved teeth.”

He paused, and the somewhat melancholic pirate shot back his third vodka. My lips – now dry – smacked at this sight, and as if he could read my mind he handed over one of his glasses. “Here, have another one. We’re getting to the interesting bits.” I grasped it eagerly, and knocked off half of it in an instant. Opia’s hologram slunk into a chair and sobbed uncontrollably.

“Opia, my love… she couldn’t handle the blood-shed we had wrought. It went against her core programming of ‘Survive’, which she had in time extended to ‘Everyone survives’. So, we decided to quit the lecture circuit, and create a new life for ourselves. And that new life that we created was…?”

Nudity – Check (Part VII of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 2nd November, 2012 by kal

 

This seemed like a perfect segue to announce my consciousness.

“…and I could still use one, thank you,” I said, sitting up, eyes open.

It was time to take stock of things. Nudity – check. Appendages – check. Dignity – missing.

“You could WHAT?!” said Remus in that rough disbelieving staccato I had recently come to expect of him.

“I could use a vodka-tonic. I’d get it myself, but that’s a little difficult since I’m all tied up and everything.”

In one smooth motion he’d unholstered his blaster and aimed it at my chest. “I will end you, scum.”

“Woah woah now let’s not go crazy, shall we?”

“Fool, you shall not see the sun rise tomorrow.”

“Remus Piddleberry, Heir to the Universe, quoting ancient fiction of planet-bound races? You know fully well space-farers can live a thousand years without seeing a sun rise. Losing your touch, old man?”

I could feel his trigger finger itching, so I knew I was making some progress. I kept going —

“What you got there, a Zarquonian M357 Arm Rifle? Shoots spectral pulses at 10 a second, highly effective against organic matter, pointless against most metals? Hmm. Efficient. But I thought El Supremo would have a little more class than that. Pictured you to be more a All-purpose L-Beam kinda guy.”

His steady hand didn’t waver but I saw the wince in his eyes. “Having the best tool for the job IS classy, space-waste. But if you’d prefer –” his other hand lined up next to his first, armed with an L-Beam, ” — I have one of those too.”

“Oh sweet. But, oh I don’t know, it seems kinda unworthy though, doesn’t it?”

This seemed to surprise him. He’s not a really an easily surprised type.

“Unworthy? To shoot bar-flies like you with?” he said.

“To shoot,” and I glared at Remus my most meaningful glare, “the first person to touch you against your will in well over a decade…”

His eyes narrowed.

“…in public…”

His teeth clenched.

“…live, in front of a few hundred people…”

His arms trembled.

“…beamed to millions watching at home all over the galaxy…”

Sweat slinked across his temples.

“…as you morphed from being a pretty girl, and mercilessly beat senseless your unarmed assailant…”

There, got that off my chest. Might as well die only after rattling your adversary first, right? This was it, I thought. I stared dead into his eyes and waited for the end. Pan-dimensional omniscience, here I come

“Oh Remus! What will the papers say!” exclaimed the angel. Even her terror was in a melody of incalculable soul.

 “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooo………….”, said the great Remus Piddleberry as he did something nobody alive had ever see him do before. He crumpled onto the floor, held his head… and whimpered.

So I wasn’t about to die after all. I continued; after all, I had one important question that still needed answering: “And how did that happen anyway? You changed from her to, well, you, but she’s still here, and she still has my face’s grease on her skirt — sorry, about that, darling.”

With Remus doubled up on the floor, I took the opportunity to look at her again… her perfect radiant form, her enchanting eyes, the gold tunic and smudgy silver skirt, the two short antennae just peeking out from behind her head… I was beginning to feel parts of me stir, which in my unclothed situation might have been extremely inappropr…

“Stop staring at her, worm, before I pluck out all four of your eyes with a hook,” and then he said something that surprised even me. I’m not an easily surprised type. “S’va, bring this thing a vodka-tonic. Bring me 6. It’s going to be a long night.”

Twilight Surprise (Part VI of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 5th October, 2012 by kal

Remus Piddleberry is not one to be trifled with. And he told me so.

“Remus Piddleberry; is not one to be trifled with.”

One does not trifle with Remus Piddleberry.

“One; does not; Trifle; with Remus PIDDLEBERRY!”

I could tell he was getting angrier by the tone of his voice and the dramatic pauses.

“AND ONE; DEFINITELY; DOES NOT; WIPE; HIS; DIRTY; STINKING; PARIAH’N; FACE; ON; REMUS; PIDDLEBERRY’S; SKIRT!!”

This proclamation was choreographed in sync to the sound of Remus Piddleberry slapping me senseless.

* * * *

I felt an ocean lap at my feet. I was draped by nothing but the dim light of two red giants near the horizon. There was that cool early evening breeze in the air, the kind that signalled it was time to stop drinking beer, and move on to something with a little more kick (vodka) and a little more energy (tonic). I could tell I was mostly alone, except for maybe a hundred scantily-clad living goddesses from all over the galaxy. Some of them I recognised: The Foxy Four-Five from Vulpa, Bella Tinkup of Neversea, most of the Heavenly All-Star Beauties Choir (I wonder why Penny Cuckoo was missing, she’s my favourite); additionally, there were Ashens, Genelians, a couple of Ranis, one particularly curvy Baloneer, and some other sweet treats from the far side of Andromeda.

What struck me as interesting through all of this was that they were all being quite nice to me. Making eye contact, even smiling at me. Some walked by me, and brushed their hands gently across my shoulders and cranial scales. Based on this stimulus, I deduced I was probably sitting on something, a chair of some kind. It was all very exciting, and I wondered if the setting and all these beautiful women were a prelude to a surprise birthday party, or a private viewing of “The Universe’s Hundred Hottest Stars”, in the flesh.

I decided I must try to talk to them; so I did, but couldn’t hear the sound of my own voice. That’s about the same moment that I realised I couldn’t hear anything. I looked about in horror to try and get a sense of what was happening. And then I saw her again. An unreal angel, in a silver skirt with a scrappy face mark. I suddenly became aware of the dull throbbing in my head; the suns, the ocean, the beautiful women all melted away as if in a dream.

* * * *

I felt a cold splash over my naked body, which was now draped in the dim light of what I assumed must be the cargo-hold of Remus’s ship. The angel had thrown something at me again; I licked my lips, hoping it was a vodka-tonic. It wasn’t. It stung my eyes too; I thought it best to keep them shut for a while, trying not to let the Foxy Four-Five fade from my retinas.

I felt another cold splash, stinging a little harder this time. Apparently my closed eyes gave them the feeling the first one didn’t do the job well enough. Unbeknownst to my slight, albeit impostering, attacker, the freezing liquid was cleaning me up after my grimy, sweaty job; I thought to myself, “Hey, Free Bath from a pretty broad!”, and kept my eyes shut.

“Is he conscious yet?”, said Remus Piddleberry’s charcoaly rasp.

“I’m not sure, but he should be”, replied an auditorily scintillating female alto.

This sent me for a loop. If the angel isn’t Piddleberry in some sick disguise using a Personal Space Manipulator, does that mean she’s real? My heart spun out of control.

“His vitals are fluctuating.”

She sounded like the cocaine-coating on a stick of dynamite. Another bucket of cold-as-dead-space whatever-it-was struck me.

“How do you know he’s up?”

“When I was monitoring his dream activity, he asked me for a vodka-tonic.”

Fame Blues (Part V of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 5th October, 2012 by kal

Being a minor celebrity isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Oh sure, you get a mad lot of attention, and all the stalkers that come with it. But no respect from any of the big stars. So when Remus Piddleberry made a pitstop at Suro Grafity and saw my show, something bad was bound to happen.

It all began when I walked off the bridge amid the burning wreckage of what used to be Freddie’s ‘safe place’. I spat on some bar napkins being stuck in front of my face – I am told many of these are now framed in fancy homes all over the galaxy – and, as had become my custom, I lifted the edge of the skirt of the prettiest bystander around, and wiped my grimy, sooty face on it. Occasionally, this was followed by her sighing and collapsing into my waiting arms, but more often than not I felt the refreshing splash of a Choconilla Spritzer being thrown in my face.

Today, surprise surprise, it was a Flaming Pagan – a villainously acidic concoction which stung my eyes, and proceeded to set my tunic afire in a bright blue plasmic haze. I fell back, heroically resisting the urge to scream like the lithe beauty that had just doused me in hellfire, and rolled around a few times till it went out. Two eyes were now readjusting to reality, and I took a closer look at my assailant.

She was stunning.

While stumbling out of my ship I’d only caught a general glimpse of her, being in disdain of all the attention and all. I’d just walked up to her, casual like, grabbed her skirt, and mashed my face in it. On autopilot.

Now that I could see her better (the other two eyes decided they wanted a look too) I could tell that there something not quite right about her. Her image was mesmerising, it was spell-binding. It was perfect. It just didn’t seem real. It would take the best mind and the best computer in the universe to design her. The only bit out of place was a Pariah’n face-blotch on her shimmering silver skirt. That, and an odd metal bracelet which didn’t quite go with the rest of her. It looked a bit like a Personal Space Manipulator.

“How dare you touch…”, she began, in a shrill tone of female outrage that I was altogether too familiar with by now, as she pushed a button on the metal bracelet. Her image blinked out of existence.

“…Remus Piddleberry”, concluded the baritone of the tall, skinny, heavily armed visage of the Heir to the Universe who now stood in her place.

%d bloggers like this: