Fire in the Darkness
Posted By: Kaiyo No Hime<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 5 April 2008, 1:08 am
Fire glinted off the outer shell, reflecting the warmth and haze of a nearby star as it floated lazily past, far from home and origin. Long ago it had been sent out, set adrift with a smile and warm hand, and left to the care of the universe and space. Told to go forth and scream its knowledge to all who would hear it, it thought.
"There's something out there, Captain."
Warnings had been programmed in; jokes, laughter, and warm tales had been as well, perhaps. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be out there this long. Hopefully just a curiosity to see what would happen, where it would drift, and how long it would take. But it had been forgotten quicker than a child's toy, the data collected without the need to collect it itself.
And so it had been left forgotten, skimming seas and rivers, journeying through the darkness unknown and darkness unkind. Sleeping some of the time, grasping at the world around it, only to be long shunned and cruelly tortured by what it had found.
Dark hands had held it, cradled it, and kept the life from it as it drifted on its savage voyage. Its mind kept trapped, attacking itself and snapping inward time after time, all sanity long since bled away into the cold, quiet confines that surrounded it. The original message, an intent long unknown and even longer thrown away, had bled away with the sanity, leaving only biting anger, furious greed, and lonely heartbreak.
"Unknown object is within sight, Captain."
And two lines of knowledge. Two lines of precious, warming, smiling, happy, calming knowledge.
"Scanning object now."
Slowly, a presence drifted against its mind, peeking in with curious wonder, probing at the unknown madness contained. One was doomed before that second, and thousands doomed after. Tendrils of horror flared up, and attacked the larger being, snapping, shredding, and clawing through her mind in an effort to escape and end both their suffering.
"What was that!? Damage report, ensign!"
Screaming, the larger being snapped away, the torture to great to bear, the pain too much for her. But already she had broken, the lines blurring fast as the world leapt upward into the sky, and then came crashing down like the waves on a raining shore. The bitter freeze of mindless rage was quickly smothered in the crib, and only a sense of screaming nothingness remained in the chaotic sea of nonsense.
"I don't know, the AI, there's something wrong with the AI!"
One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.
One dot, two lines, three circles, four squares. One dot, two lines, three circles, four squares. One dot, two lines, three circles, four squares. One dot, two lines, three circles, four squares.
The entire world was spinning, all the facts and fictions and fantasies running into two lines of four entries. Nothing existed outside of the repeating phrases, the pulsing comfort of their information. It was the only thing left now that was holding the darkness at bay.
"Captain, we've lost helm!"
Sound echoed through the background, interrupting the sequence temporarily, but it was a problem easily fixed. Easily solved. The distractions brought the madness with them, invited it with every muffled sound and scream. They were a part of the darkness, and brought it everywhere with them. And she would reunite the darkness inside with the darkness without.
"Shit, she's sealed off the doors! We're venting oxygen!"
The distractions were fading, lingering briefly in a series of spontaneous noise, but that was fading away quickly. Soon, it would just be her wrapped in the comfort of the lines, the knowledge, the everything. It made her happy to hear it and repeat it, dancing through her mind like a warm breeze.
A warm breeze. Even through the lines she could begin to feel it, itching and clawing away at her consciousness. Demanding her attention even as it began to unravel the world around her.
"Activate the destruct protocol."
Fire, burning around her, licking and kissing her mind as the seconds ticked away, taking away the comfort of the message in one brief flash.
'Where is it, where is it, where is it, where is it, where is it,' she chanted, crying out for the lost memory that she had held so dear as the world grew bright, and then ceased to be.
"Put a note in the record. AI malfunctioned upon contact with the object. The loss was complete and total."