6th of June - 02
June 6th, 2142 – Central Node F12, Guild of Heroes, Maui Island, U1B15
White Hat rested against Central Node F12's control chair.
She didn't need to rest. Her body had not functioned like a regular human for a hundred years. There were no muscles, organs, or skeletal system, no heart pumping blood or lungs breathing in air. White Hat's body appeared to be a solid mass of an organic silicon, carbon, and copper material with a few trace elements throw in.
Despite her the unique makeup, her body retained the same flexibility and range of movement any normal human could claim.
This was no quantum template she could turn off. Erlan had checked her out and confirmed it. She was stuck as a living computer. She only slowed down to prevent overheating.
The room they were in was the permanent office and home setup for Node F12. The design was not overly complicated. The node's control chair rested in the rooms center. Except for the single door, display screens covered the walls and most of the ceiling. Node F12 had no need of the screens for its day to day operation. They were only there to provide fault tolerance for local planetary defense operations if Node F12 became compromised.
White Hat observed the displays turned on by F12. They displayed camera feeds from all over the island. As many of the feeds that could, focused on one subject.
He remained unaware of their attention.
Node F12 vocalized, her synthesized voice coming from cybernetic voice box. "He has done this for the last seven years. He has kept his schedule."
"What of it? He cares about his family."
"These human emotions do not make sense to me. Why has he not he moved on? Why does he let his mental state degrade by allowing this input?"
"Because he's stubborn. Don't you remember emotions? I'm the living computer, and I do."
"Only nodes that have been cyberized less than three months retain emotions. Long term disuse has rendered the human emotional state unfamiliar to me. Operating as the defense network has little use for them."
"He's human. Just like you once were."
"Incorrect. This node much like others was never completely human. Only parts of it are. All nodes give up their humanity to help with the defense of the Solar System."
White Hat smiled. Unlike central, she somehow retained her humanity through her quantum template. Central and its nodes had not. Central existed as a cybernetic hive. It ran the Solar System's defense networks, using the Node brains as a source of parallel processing power modern computers had yet to beat.
Techno and the woman who became Central's first node had designed the system that way. Many objected to the lack of Central's humanity, fearing she could and would turn on Earth. Centrals track record proved them wrong having successfully defended Earth since its formation. The system had proven itself so well, similar ones had been stood up in the Meltonna, Ormault, Lanton, and Arsan star systems.
"I wish Nightstar could have told us more." said White Hat.
"She gave us what she could."
"No she didn't. She refused to risk corrupting the timeline. We don't even know who she was for sure."
"I did a facial pattern recognition on every resident and traveler to Earth since I acquired that function. There are two women at the top of the list who could match Nightstar. The first is Ressa Vandermire. The second is Avrillana Valdson. Both are sisters of Caridus. Both are currently dead.
"Nightstar could very well have altered the timeline by arriving back in time causing her own death in the future. Or Avrillana or Ressa are not really dead but in hiding. Caridus could just be a step in getting to her wherever she's at. She did warn us to protect him, saying he's essential. At least that part worked right. We're still in unknown territory."
"I attribute Caridus' survival to his quantifiable luck and not from action taken by others. The more science humanity has learned since the guild's founding proves we do not know everything and understand less."
"I know we don't have any ability to time travel. I've worked this as a pet project in my downtime since Nightstar left. Erlan and The Witch don't have anything helpful to say. Gizmoteer never found anything in his research before his death. The closest thing we have is Doctor Clock and his time dilation equipment. Even he can't stop or reverse time."
"Nightstar had to know what would happen to Gunslinger and Sentinel's family... her own family, and she refused to tell us. Caridus' misery could have been prevented. Why would she know this and allow it to happen?"
"She knew what we do not. She did make it a point to explain on record that there is no difference between a self-fulfilling prophecy and a saw tooth snap when looking out. The logic and science is sound. She was right. She did not know if her actions would make a difference for us or even for herself. She did admit she was in over her head. There is the chance that she could have been lying. I estimate that the chance of that is less than 2%. Erlan had Jasma do a probability forecast. Her results were ambiguous. I think others knew more about her but none of the ones who stayed ever admitted to us what it was."
The two watched Caridus get in an auto-taxi. A feed switched to the taxi's interior. Caridus showed little in the way of emotion, staring out the window.
"We will have to wait and see." Node F12 declared.
"Yes, we will, Now turn off the displays. Let him grieve in peace."
The displays winked off leaving the room bathed only in the light emitted from a few LEDs.
Node F12 continued to recline in its command chair. White Hat left. Maybe they'd figure more out someday she thought. Maybe they'd never know.
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