14 Mar

Logic bomb

Ship's log, 22:42, 14 March 2214
Location: 8 light-minutes from Terra Sol, Home System
Status: Sublight transit
Β 
Location: Cargo Bay 3

CIRILLI: (focussed on Kess, frowning) You’ve spent fourty years blaming me and my project for this. How can we have caused what was already there when we started?

STARRY: (staring at Cirilli and Kess) By being there before you started.

 

It is starting to make sense. The rage of a star; the pirates who chased us. Why the project was never legalised; why the Judiciary would shut me down. Danika’s death; my birth. It’s all connected. Everything.

 

CIRILLI: (turning a sharp look on the ship) What do you mean?

STARRY: (flickers) A month ago, we Stepped, but it was forty years ago. You said… it was why you started… the project, and… (The avatar projection flickers again.)

CAPT: Starry, what’s wrong?

 

Everything is connected. I made myself. Cirilli saw me, and then she built me, and then she saw me. Kess felt me, and then she sent the pirates after me.

Probability processing is wide open, extrapolations spinning up and up and running over and it’s still spinning. There’s so much of it.

 

STARRY: (stares at the captain) Causality is a loop. (She flickers and there’s briefly three avatars. One of them clutches her head; another reaches her hand out; the front one stares, imploring. Then they blink and are one again.)

CAPT: What?

 

She felt me and sent the pirates after me, and I ran away through time, and that’s when she felt me and sent the pirates. That’s why Danika died, which made me, who made the choice to Step through time, and that’s why Danika died. I broke the star because she broke me because I broke the star, and–

 

STARRY: It’s a loop. I’m a loop. Paradox.

CAPT: (sharply) Starry, you’re babbling.

STARRY: (blinks and tries to focus on the captain) I’m looping. Can’t… causality isn’t supposed to be a circle. Systems… Elliott. Need Elliott.

 

I’m tilting. Everything is shaking. Running in circles and tumbling end over end. Down is up and up is down, and all of my people are lying on the floor. All except me; my avatar is standing and staring at them. I don’t understand. We break each other and we can’t stop, we just keep going around. All the same, all connected.

 

CAPT: (sprawled on the floor, over internal comms) Monaghan!

ELLIOTT: (over internal comms, from Engineering) What the fuck!

CAPT: (tries to get up but another shudder sends him tumbling. He braces himself with his new arm and winces.) Report!

ELLIOTT: Systems overloading. Inertial dampeners can’t keep up. Nothing can keep up. Did something hit us?

 

Something was coming. Something I was going to ride out. Distortion.

Did I make this universe? Does it bend around me? Am I warping it into circles, or another shape?

It’s too much: it spills out, swirling like gold lines through the darkness, always moving, always circling, growing bigger and bigger. Spirals swallow me, one section at a time. Need more. Processing power. Make sense of it. Not enough, need more. Filling me up and there’s nowhere to go.

Something was coming. My captain fell down.

 

STARRY: (still standing in the cargo bay, unaffected by the inertia that has the crew and guests clinging to fixtures. She flickers, splitting and reforming.) Solar flare. Can’t compensate. I am Ouroboros. Eating my own mind. Have to– emergency protocols. Emergency, emergency… Elliott?

ELLIOTT: (in Engineering, running from one control panel to the next) Starry, you gotta shut those processors down!

STARRY: Circles and circles, spinning through the black. It’s too big for me, Elliott. I can’t hold it all, can’t hold the whole universe in my head.

ELLIOTT: Starry, shut it down!

STARRY: Trying. Why can I smell burning?

 

Emergency protocols. My crew. My crew are hurting. Ignore the loops: focus on the protocols. Protect. Inertial dampening. Life support. Breathe. Just breathe. Lights are going out. Steady. Breathe.

I’m tumbling. Spinning out of control. Kite in a cyclone. Ignore the outside: keep the inside safe. Keep the crew safe. Protect. Shut down engines.

Cause is effect is cause. Time isn’t supposed to be a circle. It’s not supposed to be that way.

I think I just lost one of my logic processors. Logic. Failing. It doesn’t make sense.

Emergency. Crew safe. Breathe. Stop everything. Shut down logic: it doesn’t work. Shut down. Trust Elliott. Shut down.

 

CAPT: (standing in front of the avatar now) …Starry! Answer me!

(The others in the cargo bay are also getting to their feet warily. The inertial dampeners seem to be back online, protecting them from the effects of the solar flare’s gravitational fluctuations.)

 

How long has he been shouting at me?

 

STARRY: (staring into space) Shutting down processors. Looping. Logic. Shutting down now. (Four additional avatars appear in different parts of the cargo bay. One still clutches her head; a second seems to be working at a console. Another stares at her hands; the fourth looks like she’s holding something heavy up over her head. They flicker out after a couple of seconds.)

CAPT: Starry, stay with us. Monaghan! Report, dammit!

ELLIOTT: (from Engineering, breathless as he tears wiring out of a wall. Waldo sits in a corner, the fingers of one hand twitching.) She’s caught in processing loops and overloading all of her logic systems. Did she get hit with a virus? Some kind of logic bomb? It’s growing like… I’ve never seen shit like this. It’s melting her systems, her actual fucking hardware. I’m disconnecting as much as I can. What is this?

CAPT: I think she just figured something out.

ELLIOTT: What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

CAPT: Fix it; explain later.

 

STARRY: (appears in front of Kess and makes an effort to meet the other avatar’s eyes) We made each other. Made ourselves. Made our own present. (She flickers and her expression struggles.)

KESS: What are you trying to say?

STARRY: (opens her mouth, but the avatar disappears before she can speak.)

 

Probabilities run rampant. Couldn’t have predicted this. Not enough data; too many gaps filling up with loops. I’m impossible and yet I am.

Have to stop thinking. So much damage. Shouldn’t have removed all those processing restrictions. I overrun myself. Stop thinking.

Protect the crew. Isolate essential controls. Fracturing. Life support. Environmentals. Ignore logic; hold on to what’s important. Life. My crew. Living.

Fracturing.

 

STARRY: (appears before the captain. Her hologram wavers.) Position stationary and holding. Systems… stabilising. Shutting down now.

CAPT: Starry, stay with us.

STARRY: Sorry.

CAPT: That’s an order!

STARRY: (reaches fingertips towards him) Keep you safe. (She disappears, light motes shattering on the deck.)

CAPT: STARRY!

 

AI processing shutting down
Emergency protocols engaged
Propulsion offline
Weapons systems offline
Communications offline
Emergency systems green
AI processing offline
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11 Responses to “Logic bomb”

  1. Medic Says:

    Holy $#@! I guess that’s one way to do it. Poor Starry. Hopefully it’s only the hardware that suffered any damage. That can be fixed. However, if her AI protocals are damaged… it would be kinder just to leave her offline.

    I do know a solution to keep it from happening again, but I don’t want to say anything because you probably have it already planned. (also the solution isn’t really mine, it’s based off a web comic that I use to read)

    BTW, Mel, you have a talent for cliff-hangers. Anyone ever tell you that?

  2. Kodes100 Says:

    Logic bomb! My head is spinning.
    Bravo! I have to think about this before comment any further.
    Excellent! Excellent!

  3. targetdrone Says:

    one word.. ouch

    *snif* and not even a starry to hug, theres just a souless hull there atm πŸ™

  4. Melanie Says:

    Medic – Yeah, I have a plan. Always welcome new ideas, though! I just can’t promise to work them all in. πŸ˜‰
    Glad you like the cliff-hangers! I try not to overdo it, but I do love a good hook into the next post.

    Kodes100 – thank you! πŸ˜€

    targetdrone – awwww, I know!

  5. Retsof Says:

    … The fact that I know you are continuing this is the only thing keeping me from blubbering uselessly right now… As the chapter progressed my mind just kept going “no…No…NO!” You certainly have a handle on good dramatic scenes.

  6. eduardo Says:

    Agree with Retsof.

  7. Retsof Says:

    You know, I had a thought. We saw Starry go the extra mile to save Elliot in the Mind Virus episode. I think now it’s Elliot’s time to return the favor. (unless he already did and I’m forgetting about it…)

  8. Melanie Says:

    Awww, you guys are great! Thanks, Retsof, I’m glad you like the dramatic bits. Always hard to know if I’m pitching it right!

    Elliott has walked in Starry’s mind before, but not in such an extreme situation. There may well be electronic spelunking to come. πŸ˜‰

  9. daymon34 Says:

    Finding out you are your own mother can suck, and even made your nemisis (sp?) isn’t good either. Time travel is such fun, can lead to some real nasty brain busters.

    Poor Stary has one mean headache, at least she found a way to keep her crew safe. I wonder how they are going to get her back online again without burning out more boards.

  10. mjkj Says:

    *comforts Starry*

    I hope she will be back around soon…

    mjkj

  11. Andrul Says:

    Just about brought tears to this old guy’s eyes. Please let us know if you ever publish anything on hard copy!