Snow Angel: Chapter 29

Printer-friendly version
snow angel.png

 

Chapter 29: House Call

Snow's whole life changes when the winter solstice arrives.

 

It was close to an hour later that I was startled as a voice that definitely did not sound like Risha said, “I’ve been a bad, bad girl.”

 


 
Author's Note: Hey everyone, I'm hoping for a new chapter of Snow Angel on my patreon sometime late tonight for my Patrons as well, but here is chapter 29 for my loyal Big Closet readers. Thanks to Big Closet and to all my readers for your support. I hope you all enjoy. Further chapters are (or soon will be) available on Patreon.~Amethyst.
 


 
Chapter 29: House Call

“It might help me to decide whether we can help you if you told us exactly what you need help with,” I responded cautiously. Risha had said that they were telling the truth, but I had a feeling that they were holding some things back as well. “I don’t have the authority to start any diplomatic relations until I can speak to our superiors about what we’re willing to trade or help you with, and that includes Risha’s services. I don’t think that any of us will be going anywhere until this tower is operational again and communications are restored. How long do you think that will be, Risha?”

“At the current rate of repair, I estimate just under three hours before this tower is fully functional again, Wing Commander,” the AI promptly responded.

Desra looked from her comrades to Risha, and then to me before the other Catkin looked down at the floor in shame. “I… please… do not allow my mistrust to affect your decision. The truth is that killing the Dragon was not the only reason that we came south, nor did we find the tower by chance. We were not certain what its purpose was, but we knew that there was likely old-world technology here. We came here to try to find an AI to connect to Ashburn’s AI core, or some other technology to help us. If we didn’t find them here, then we were prepared to venture into the large ruins to the west in Misota.”

“Hey, those are our ruins,” Lisbet objected, “we literally live there now.”

“Normally we would not venture into another country’s territory, or even leave Ashburn, but we’re desperate,” Garon clarified apologetically. The large Orc then let out a sigh before continuing to explain. “For a little over a year now, the city has been experiencing malfunctions that we can’t explain. Until now, they have mostly been mostly minor and in systems that aren’t used very often, but several days ago we began having trouble with the stardrive. From what I have read in the archives about AIs, we were hoping that one might be able to discover the source of the problem, or create some sort of fix for it.”

“From what our techs say, it hasn’t been anything serious yet, just some strange readings once in a while, but we barely have an understanding of some of the more complex stuff, and the Exodants never left our ancestors with much useful information before abandoning us. So we’ve been searching for anything that would help in the computer archives, and our records showed that the only other known base built before ours that contained a fully functional stardrive was Woodbury Base in Minnesota, in the ruins near the former capital,” Pippa explained. “I guess that’s where you’re all from, with the equipment that you have.”

“Wait… you’re telling us that the miniature sun meant to power a base large enough for over eighty-thousand people is malfunctioning? Oh… shit.” Risha turned to me as the stunned look faded from her face and became very serious. “Snowy, I would say that this falls firmly into the emergency category. I cannot state direly enough, how disastrously that could turn out if something isn’t done soon.”

I frowned and let out a sigh. That didn’t sound good, and if it was as bad as Risha was making it sound, then the longer we waited, the more chance that something really bad could happen. As much as I probably could have turned this situation to our advantage in negotiations, I didn’t want to do that. It would set a bad precedent and probably start our future relations with these people off on the wrong foot. If Risha was as serious as she sounded, then it was probably best to see if she could fix the problem now, and maybe earn a bit of goodwill by doing so.

“Risha, do you think that you can help them? Are those suits of theirs going to be a problem if we take them home to deal with this? What do you think?” I asked the AI.

Risha turned pensive for a moment before nodding and replying, “The power armor will be a tight fit in the MIST, but we shouldn’t have any issues with them as long as they remain powered down. Though I would suggest removing the ‘power source’ while we are in transit, just in case. If the problem is what I think it is and it hasn’t progressed too far, I can probably get things running properly again at their base without much trouble, at least for the moment. They really should have an AI of their own to take care of issues like that. And on the off chance that they are lying to us, or screwing with us in any way, then they will wish that they were facing the threat of a malfunctioning stardrive. I can be a psychotic bitch when people screw with me or my friends.”

The three from Ashburn paled and went quiet at the not-so-thinly veiled threat from the Avatar and in the silence, I sighed before coming to a decision. “Lisbet, start producing what you need to burn that Dragon’s corpse and something that can put out fires, just in case. Autumn and Heather, start prepping the MIST for takeoff and going through the preflight checklist. The rest of us will try to load those mechanical suits aboard, very carefully; I don’t want a scratch on that MIST if it can be helped.”

It was Desra who finally managed to speak for the people from Ashburn while Lisbet, Autumn, and Heather ran off to complete their tasks. “You’re going to help us?” It sounds like even she wasn’t sure whether she was surprised that we would or worried that we wouldn’t.

“You need help, and if Risha can do what you need her to then it’s the right thing to do,” I replied with a shrug. Then I allowed my expression and tone to become far more serious. “When that’s done though, I expect that someone from the Corps will want to sit down and talk diplomatically about any future relationship we might have. And I hope that someone from Ashburn will keep in mind the favor that we’re doing for you right now and do so with an open mind.”

“Really? There’s so much that we could learn from each other! So much technology we could share! I’m sure that someone will be eager to talk about that!” Garon was enthused as his expression and body language made a sudden shift from cautious and uncertain to practically trembling with excitement.

“I’m warning you right now, there are people among the Corps who look Human, but are still Seed-borne like us. We even have some Humans who are sympathetic to us working among our support staff. That’s not going to be a problem, is it?” I asked pointedly as I looked directly at Desra.

The other Catkin winced guiltily and it was Pippa who spoke up in her stead. “Des has personal reasons for not trusting Hume... umm… Humans. Please, don’t hold that against her, she’s really not as bad as she seems right now. Most of us are uncomfortable with the thought of being around them, given our history. It’s why we seldom leave our city, but if they’re still here on Earth then they were abandoned by the Exodants as much as we were.”

“As long as it isn’t going to be a problem,” I said as I forced a shrug. “Now, we should get to work. Risha did say that your situation counted as an emergency, so I would rather not waste any time.”

~o~O~o~

It took roughly half an hour for us to prepare for our trip to Ashburn. Most of that time was taken up by guiding the Ashburnites as they maneuvered their power armor inside the MIST, just inside the rear entry ramp, and then strapping them down with cargo ties and safely removing their hazardous power supplies. It was a tight fit for Garon’s armor at first while it was at its full height, but we managed to get it in last without damaging anything.

While we had been doing that, Lisbet had been using the food dispenser to produce enough plasma grenades to burn the Dragon’s corpse, as well as some fire retardant grenades, and the two Fay of our group were prepping the MIST for takeoff. Once everyone else was on board and I had gathered Heather, Karina, and Lisbet at the entrance ramp, I told them. “I’m leaving you three here for now, and if everything goes well then we’ll come back to pick you up once we’re done with whatever Risha needs to do in Ashburn. Heather will be in charge.”

“Awww, but I was looking forward to seeing a base that big and all of the people,” Lisbet complained as she frowned and her ears twitched in irritation.”

“Come on, Lisbet, I know it’s not as exciting as going to see Ashburn, but I think I know why Snow is asking us to stay here. We just met these people and it’s not a good idea for us all to go, just in case they do try to pull something,” Karina told the Harekin quietly.

“Yeah, I don’t think they will, but I would rather err on the side of caution. If something goes to hell and you can’t contact us when comms are back up, then I’ll be counting on you to contact my grandmother and Sira to let them know.” I admitted with a frown of my own. “Regardless though, there are other reasons to leave you behind as well, Lisbet. That Dragon corpse needs to be burned now that you have enough of those grenades so that no local scavengers can feed on it and become Demons. You said that it would take time and that you’ll have to watch to make sure it’s done properly, to make sure the fire is contained, and won’t spread anywhere it shouldn’t. I also need you both to contact me as soon as communications are restored, in case either of us needs backup for some reason.”

“Yes, Wing Commander, I understand. I don’t like it, but I get your reasoning.” She really wasn’t happy about missing out and I felt bad about that, but this was the best decision and we all had jobs to do.

Heather seemed to agree with that sentiment but took charge as I was hoping she would. “Lisbet, I understand how you feel, but she’s right. That corpse needs to be burned and you’ll need us to cover you when you do that. Carrion birds or other scavengers might have already gotten to it while we were in the tower or while you were preparing your grenades, and it was already injured and bleeding when we got here. Animals could have come in contact with its blood before we arrived, and there could be Demons being turned in the forest right now. We’ll handle things here, Wing Commander. If something shows up that is too much for us to handle on our own, we’ll hide in the tower and contact you once communications are up again for reinforcements.”

“Thanks, I’m counting on you, girls. If things go well in Ashburn, hopefully, we will have other opportunities to visit soon. We’ll see you when we get back, take care of one another.” With that, the three exited the MIST and, once they were clear, I sealed the door behind them and made my way up to the passenger’s area to join the others and get strapped in. Then I called out to Risha and Autumn at the controls, “You can take off when ready.”

“We’re ready, Wing Commander,” Autumn called back even as I felt the slight thrum in the frame of the craft that indicated the maneuvering thrusters engaging.

We traveled in relative silence for a while, but the trip was probably going to take at least half an hour. Since we didn’t have to navigate the ruins or run scans this time and were in a bit of a hurry, we were going to try to make this trip as quick as possible. Still, after about ten minutes the silence got awkward. Since I wanted to fill that silence and I had to be sure that Desra wasn’t going to be a problem, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. “So, Desra, Pippa said that you have a reason for not trusting Humans. I’m going to assume that it’s a little more than just the thing with the Exodants leaving us all here on Earth while they fled for safety.”

The Catkin gave her Fay teammate a withering glare before sighing and then taking a deep breath. I could see from the look on her face that she was debating whether she should tell me or just remain silent, and how each option might affect our assistance to them. Not that I would withhold assistance after I had promised it, but that was probably fair since they knew us as little as we knew them. “I…” she started uncertainly.

“Look,” I interrupted before she could say something she wasn’t comfortable with, “you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to. I’ve offered our assistance to your people and we, or rather Risha, will do as promised so long as you’re being straight with us about your situation. I’m not going to turn this ship around because you won’t share a personal issue with me; I’m just trying to get to know you better since we’re all here and nobody is saying anything else.”

Desra let out another sigh and nodded. I thought that would be the end of the matter until she hesitantly spoke once more. “My… father was a Hume. I never met him; he was gone long before I was born. My mother met him while she was out of the city testing some new type of scanner that she was working on. She was one of our engineers, like Garon, she had a gift for understanding old-world technology and adapting it or creating new things.”

“We have people with similar gifts, we call them Tinkers. Lisbet is one of them,” I offered while trying to stay impassive.

“Like most of our people, my mother had never met a Hume in the flesh before and she was curious. He wasn’t the monster that she had been expecting, at least that wasn’t the face that he showed her. She started leaving the city to meet with him in secret and fell in love. He listened to her, even when she would talk about her various research projects at length. He expressed an interest in her work and wanted to see the things she spoke so eagerly about. Then one day he showed his true colors.”

Why did I suddenly have a shiver crawling its way up my spine? Still, I asked, “What did he do?”

“He betrayed her,” she spat bitterly, practically hissing in anger before managing to calm herself enough to speak once more. “My mother showed him a piece of equipment that she was working on, and was complaining that it wasn’t working as she intended. It was a small device, meant to be worn on the head and allow even those without interface nanites to mentally interface with a suit of power armor, but it wasn’t working as planned. When she told him what it was doing instead, he beat her unconscious. When she awoke, he and the device were both gone. She never saw him again and two months later she discovered that she was pregnant with me.”

“What?! You never told us that! He attacked an engineer and stole a prototype and they never hunted him down?!” Garon practically roared.

Desra winced and looked away from the Orc. “I’m the only one that my mother ever told. She was humiliated, and she only told me when she was dying because she wanted me to know why I should never trust Humes. If I ever find out where he is, I’m going to kill him and take my mother’s property back. Something like that shouldn’t be in the hands of a Hume!”

“Something like what, Des? What did the device do? Do you even know enough about the man who sired you to find him?” Pippa asked of her agitated team leader, concern evident on her face and in her voice.

“It… made the wearer very pliable and open to suggestion, but it was a faulty prototype, so there is no knowing what the long-term effects on a person might be, or even if it worked for long after he ran off with it. As for that bastard, I’ll probably never find him. He did nothing but deceive my mother so I would imagine that what little he told her about himself was nothing but lies too. He claimed to be Lord Aron Clarkson, the eldest son of a noble house, but it was probably all just part of the deception.”

My heart skipped a beat and I attempted to school my expression. I knew that name. I had had reason to learn about Misota politics, and the players, since becoming an Angel, and that name came up a lot. Even if I hadn’t been learning about politics recently, I would have known that name. Heather surely cursed it enough; it was the name of her father.

Ahead of us in the pilot’s compartment, Risha didn’t give anything away but I was certain that both she and Autumn had heard from the sudden change in Autumn’s scent and body language. She was furious and from the stiffness of her shoulders, she was working very hard to contain it. I considered for a moment that it might be an elaborate lie meant to turn us against the royal house of Misota, but Desra seemed too invested and her emotions were genuine, it had been evident in her quavering voice, her body language, and her scent. It fit too; the Clarkson family managed the territory on the eastern edge of Misota and on the south shore of the great lake, and it was people from their estate who had had the most opportunity to observe Ashburn.

I was going to need to report this as soon as possible. The Archangels and Sira could decide whether we should be taking the accusation seriously, and what we should do about it. I certainly couldn’t risk telling Desra, at least not yet, who knew what she would do once she found out? I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to tell Heather about this. They both deserved to know, but this could really complicate an already tense situation and tip the scales toward outright civil war in Misota. That wasn’t my decision to make. I managed to weakly offer, “Well, if things go well between our two peoples, maybe we can help you find out what became of him someday.”

~o~O~o~

The remainder of our flight had been filled with a tense silence and I was relieved when Ashburn came into view. Pippa might not have known exactly why our side was so tense, but she did try to lighten the mood when Autumn called back to tell us the city was in sight by offering information. “As I told you earlier, the base was built to cram over eighty thousand people in there, but we lost a lot of people until we got our hands on the power armor and were able to start replicating it to drive back Demon attacks. We have a population of just over twelve thousand now, but only if you’re not counting all of the Merfolk who live in the lake.”

“Merfolk?” I had heard legends of the mermaids of the great lake, but I’d never really believed them. Now it seemed that they were indeed real and we might even be in a position to meet one. I found my mood somewhat improved by the prospect and I was burning with curiosity about them.

“They’re some of those people who can’t pilot power armor, due to their tails,” Garon contributed. “So when Demons from the lake attack, most of them usually have to hide in one of the shelters that we adapted for them until the danger has passed. It’s getting to be a tight fit for them though. Harpies, Lamia, and a lot of the Devilkin have similar issues with piloting power armor too though.”

I winced sympathetically as I tried to picture Karina trying to pilot one of those things, but decided to get us all focused on the situation at hand. “Now would probably be a very good time for you to contact your people to let them know that we’re here, preferably before we’re over the city. It would be really nice if nobody decided to try to shoot us out of the sky, since we’re here to help you and all.”

Desra, who still seemed to be in a dark mood following our earlier conversation, managed to shake it off enough to offer, “Uh… yeah, right,” as she unbuckled her harness and made her way to the pilot’s compartment to give Risha their comm frequency and then clear us for landing in the hangar.

Once that permission was granted, Autumn moved us over the city and brought us down carefully for a landing. My fiery Fay mate whistled appreciatively as she slowly lowered our altitude and Risha watched the sensors. “This place is huge, but I wouldn’t want to live here. No offense to any of you who do, but there are way too many big buildings here and they’re so close together.”

“Well, our ancestors weren’t exactly consulted on matters of design,” Garon offered wryly. “We’ve gotten used to it over the generations and tried to turn it from a prison into a home.”

I unbuckled my harness to get a look for myself before we touched down. The area within the walls was only roughly five times the size of Woodbury Base, and from what we’d been told the underground areas were limited to only the AI core and the stardrive levels. Still, they had crowded enough large buildings together to house forty times the occupancy that Woodbury Base was designed for at only five times the ground-level surface area. No wonder it seemed so crowded.

With her Fay cultural background, it wasn’t surprising that a city with this many large buildings packed so tightly together would make Autumn nervous. I was pretty sure that Fay like Pippa were only able to manage it because it was what they were used to, and they hadn’t had the opportunity to go and found their own villages and form a culture like the Fay and other non-human species of Misota had. I couldn’t blame Autumn for being nervous, this place was making me nervous too as she maneuvered between towering buildings to land us in the hangar.

I decided to leave the MIST in the Hanger while Autumn and I accompanied our AI mate for protection. I could have cloaked the craft but I had taken pains to not reveal that feature around our new allies, nor the fact that Risha could pilot it remotely if she absolutely had to when the comms were up again. I felt it best to keep certain aces in their holes in case we might need them to make a quick escape. I was willing to help the people of Ashburn, but I wasn’t absolutely sure if I trusted them yet.

With that in mind, we kept our weapons with us and I engaged high-security mode on the MIST once we had all disembarked and offloaded the power armor as quickly as possible. Now it would only open for me or Autumn by using a combination of biometric readings, voice print, and a code phrase, or for Risha by remote or manual interface. If anyone else went beyond mere curiosity and tried to get inside or access something they shouldn’t, the external cameras would let us know the who, how, and when of it when we returned. Now we just had to hope that they weren’t lying about not having any AIs.

Another ace that I wanted to keep in its specific hole for the moment was our abilities. Risha and I were both being very careful not to show just how strong we really were, and Autumn and I had carefully avoided mentioning our gifts. They might have known that Risha was an AI now, but all that they knew about her avatar body so far was that it could make her seem human. They didn’t need to know more than that and we weren’t going to offer it.

Fortunately, the hangar was close to the elevator which would take us down to the AI core level, though that meant that we didn’t encounter many of the city’s other residents either. Another plus was that the stardrive hadn’t already had containment fail or something. I had blanched when Risha had explained that, and the other possible ways that a malfunctioning stardrive could have gone horribly wrong on our elevator trip downward. I wasn’t the only one.

Finally, we reached the floor with the AI core. “Huh, the assholes in charge were cheap as fuck,” Risha muttered as we looked around the mostly empty room. The only thing in the room other than the AI core itself was a thick coat of dust. “They didn’t even install a cradle and charging station for an Avatar. If they ever did mean to give these people an AI to go in this core when the incomplete base was repurposed, they didn’t mean for them to ever leave the core itself.”

“Can you still access it?” I asked as I watched our hosts for their reactions or any sudden movements.

“Yeah, it will be a piece of cake,” the AI responded with a confident grin before placing her hand on the core to wipe a layer of dust away and make direct contact. “I’ll probably need to access everything in the core and on the network to search for possible problems though, so I really hope our hosts don’t have anything to hide.”

“No! Nothing!” Desra insisted vehemently. Risha seemed satisfied with the response and nodded slightly toward me. She had as much as told them that she was going to be poking into every nook and cranny in their systems and looking at every bit of data she could find. If they had been trying to hide something or were double-crossing us then this would be the time to get nervous.

Risha closed her eyes for a moment and frowned as she turned to me. “Not a trace of an AI in this core, or that there ever was. There are all the automated backup programs for running the base without one, even the hardlight dome and turrets that were never installed, but no AI. It’s clean for me to go in, Wing Commander.”

The Ashburnites hadn’t made a move yet, except to watch Risha curiously, so I let out a sigh and gave the order. “Do it, Risha.”

The Avatar nodded and turned back to the core to place her hand on it once more. Her body stiffened and then her voice was coming from all around us. “Initiating search protocols now, Wing Commander. Yeah, it is just as I thought; software decay.”

“Software decay?” Garon asked uncertainly.

“These systems have been running for hundreds of years without a proper AI to initiate more than basic hardware maintenance,” the AI responded patiently. “There is no indication of software maintenance, patches, or regular code analysis to look for bugs or program degradation. Programs can degrade just as much as hardware, given time and the right circumstances. I am going to have to go through all of the systems in the core and all networked computers to make sure that everything is back to proper working order.”

You can do it though, right?” Pippa asked hopefully.

“Of course. This may take a while, but it should fix your problems here until we can help you find an AI who is willing to help run the place on a more permanent basis. I have already examined the code in the stardrive maintenance and power transfer protocols and fixed the problem there, so the danger of something going disastrously wrong with that is over,” Risha assured us all.

It was close to an hour later that I was startled as a voice that definitely did not sound like Risha said, “I’ve been a bad, bad girl.” The voice sounded almost like a young girl’s and had a strange lilting accent.

Then as we were all wondering what was going on and looking around us in the silence of the moment that followed, Risha returned to her avatar body and erupted in laughter. Only once her giggling had finally subsided did she say, “Sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that and at least I didn’t say, ‘You’re all going to die down here.’ There is nothing to worry about, I fixed all of the software issues that I found, and even did some system optimization while I was in there. The people of Ashburn are no longer facing imminent demise, and as far as I can tell, everything that they have told us is on the up and up.”

Even as Autumn and I relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief, our hosts went tense as Desra sputtered, “W-wait! We were really facing imminent demise?”

“Well, imminent is a strong word, and really it could mean anything. It could be five seconds or a hundred years away when dealing with stuff like this. There was a small chance, three percent at most, of it happening within the next twelve hours,” the Avatar announced casually. “We totally dodged that bullet though, huh? I’m hungry, who else is hungry? Do you have any decent restaurants around here?”

© 2021-2023 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

up
203 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos

Comments

Only three percent in the

Only three percent in the next 12 hours of catastrophic failure? That's a rather compoundable error rate.

Roughly, that means that there was probably close to a 25% chance of the start of a cascade failure within 120 hours. The chance would then increase, because once the initial errors started happening, they would compound. (thus the cascade)


I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

Yup

Amethyst's picture

It was very lucky that Risha was able to help them out.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Lesson learned?

The Asburnites' xenophobia very nearly cost them their lives. Even up to the point of the accidental meeting with the Angels it did not even occur to them to just ask for help. I suspect they should know of the Angels, they've only been around for hundreds of years after all.

It will be interesting to see what the meeting with the so-called leadership of this community how paranoid they are.

Even though the Angels have done them a solid, there is no telling whether Leadership will see it the same way. If anything, they may very well worry that the Angels now has so much knowledge of their systems and may very well try to detain them.

Hopefully they'll learn

Amethyst's picture

They're isolationist and reluctant to trust others, which is why they're used to solving their own problems and not needing help from others. Maybe this will be what they need to realize that they don't need to go it alone.

Hopefully their leadership will be wise enough to realize that they pulled their asses out of the fire and should be extended a little bit of trust. Both they and the Angel Corps could help one another if they're willing to see past their isolationist ways.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Resident Evil Quotes!

I loved the Red Queen, and ‘You’re all going to die down here.’ is one of her spookiest lines.

DogSig.png

Glad you caught them

Amethyst's picture

Risha figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to quote a line or two from another AI, and who better than the Red Queen. Though HAL 9000 could have worked too.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

still could see one of the

still could see one of the MARTIs paraphrasing Legion "We are all [MARTI]"

Marti

Amethyst's picture

Yeah, I could see some of them doing that.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

HAL 9000? Imagine this: "I'm

HAL 9000? Imagine this: "I'm sorry, Dave, I can not let you do this." :-p

Now they only have to find an AI for the computer core. Hmm, why can't Risha make copy of herself (the data) and download it into the computer core?

Thx for another nice chapter^^

because self copying is

because self copying is something that they absolutely would have prevented them from being capable of, also you've got ship of Theseus problems, if you activate an AI from backup while the original is still running, they both are real, with divergent memories, its different if you start up an entirely fresh instance from the same template, as then it has a chance to form its own identity

Ought to Have Scared the Ashburnites Half to Death...

You let an AI into your system, based on its assurance that there's no time to lose. Before it's through, you get a message from a voice you've never heard before, seemingly deliberately threatening the repair. Sounded to me for all the world like there was in fact either a malevolent AI in there all along, invisible until Risha came along and set it off, or something in the programming that was set up to subvert anything that tried to change it, which either overcame Risha's intentions or forced her into an endless loop, unable to finish the job.

After all, Ashburn knows nothing about either Risha fooling around with alternative voices nor her quoting dialogue from fictional stories that no one alive is aware of.

Eric

They also know nothing about

They also know nothing about AI at all to think that they're malicious. Not to mention no reference to associate with malicious activity through countless "The computers will eat us" or "Demons from the spiritual world are here". They have enough demons without inventing new ones.

So, it's more likely to be just really confusing.

They could also see that the room was .. very out of maintenance. (Shouldn't the normal maintenance routines clean the critical server rooms?)


I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

Yup

Amethyst's picture

That room and the stardrive were two of the only areas aside from the walls around the city that were actually programmed into the nanites to maintain and repair. It was an early sign that something was wrong, but nobody noticed it until things actually started getting bad because they had no reason to be in there without an AI in the core.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Desra

So what gives her authority to let Risha onto their systems in the first place? Yes, it is clearly an emergency but system access to an outside entity would surely require higher authority permission?

authority

Amethyst's picture

Desra would have explained why they were there when she talked to people about not shooting down the MIST and got permission for them to land. They did send them out to find an AI or some other tech that could be of help with their AI core problem, so someone in charge likely gave that permission during their conversation before landing. Snow wasn't in the pilot's compartment to listen to the conversation though so she just sort of skips it in her narration until they get permission to land.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

a thought occurred to me, if

a thought occurred to me, if they could make at least some of the parts for the food dispensers, one could essentially jury rig a bunch together with the nanoweave factories as a giant boutique booth. though if the nanoweave factories can't produce the micro fusion cores they wouldn't be able to replace any vehicles powered by them if they couldn't recover the power pack.

Possibly

Amethyst's picture

The Ashburnites do seem to improvise a lot of solutions, but they do have a large nanoweave factory for making replacement parts and other large-scale items as needed. They've probably been using that to fashion a lot of their armor and replace damaged vehicle parts.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Naughty humans upto their nasty little tricks

So the Queens Consort has a device to make people easily manipulated and suddenly the queen starts causing problems with the seed born. Hmmm. I wonder what granny Abby will make of that little snippet.

Risha is becoming my favourite character. Love her sense of humour and kickass approach.

Thanks for another great chapter

Yup

Amethyst's picture

Yes, and if you remember, it sounded like Heather and her mother were actually close when Heather was really young, before her mother took the throne and had a second child. Abbadine is definitely going to want to know about this.

Risha is fun to write, and the others just don't know what to make of her jokes most of the time.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

I wouldn't be surprised if

I wouldn't be surprised if actually heads will be rolling from the ones abusing the manipulation device.

You have to wonder

How big the resulting boom! would have been.

Boom!

Amethyst's picture

We should get a general idea next chapter.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

another thought occurred to me

Any future AI avatars dealing with these folks should be made in a animaform. It would also have the advantage of not being taken as human and so not a major threat by the humans.

Good point

Amethyst's picture

But they will also need to learn to interact with and trust at least some people who appear human if they are going to deal with the Angel Corps. They could really go either way, but they would need an AI that would be comfortable in such a form if they chose to make it look like an Animan or something.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

dealing with the Angel Corps

A good way to start would probably be an exchange, some Angels being assigned to help out Ashburn- on rotation, some of the Ashburnites either helping out with the sanitation project or joining the corps outright or both. It may have been out of desperation and necessity, but by allowing Risha into their systems, Ashburn just exposed every possible little secret they have to them, though it'd ultimately be up to Sira and the Archangels, the worst thing they can do right now is not act in kind within practical limits.

They wouldn't share the Angel Elixir, without an AI to program them to each host, it wouldn't be practical anyways, but most of the rest the Ashburnites could probably infer from their archives anyways, so making them work for it would just raise suspicion.

If they can get them to agree to allow recruiting, having 2 or 3 Ashburnites complete Rose's team could go a long way

General Idea

Welp, the mandatory comparison to the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator must be made !

Where's the kaboom?

Amethyst's picture

There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

well given its fusion there

well given its fusion there are two possible outcomes, either it sputters out, because the confinement weakens to the point where fusion stops happening but the energy is able to be released gradually, or isn't enough to break the chamber even without confinement, or it releases all at once and the chamber can't contain it. it's implied to be artificial gravity/antigravity confinement fusion, rather than electromagnetic or inertial confinement though with the kind of energy it contains, it would probably be a very kinetic failure regardless of process.

the smaller fusion reactors probably all work using the same core technology as the food dispensers. In order for teleportation to work without creating a nuclear blast, you basically have to bypass the strong and weak forces in a way that itself doesn't consume or release heaps of energy, but if you can manipulate how the matter is put back together, you basically have a cheat code for fusion, and potentially even antimatter generation. it would also be a way to add fuel to and remove waste from a stardrive,

I wonder if one of the Marti

I wonder if one of the Marti's is sentient enough and sophisticated enough to be able to serve as the A.I. core

Yup

Amethyst's picture

They are sentient and self-aware, just quirky.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

I know I said...

My5InchFMHeels's picture

I know I said one of the Marti's a chapter or 2 back on Patreon, but can you Imagine Grumpy Marti as their AI? Pretty sure a new AI, set up by Sira would probably be the best route, but one of the Marti's (the less quirky ones) as a temporary AI until one is ready for Ashburn might be the way to go to keep their systems from getting back into such a dire situation.

Most of us are probably reading from computers, but I'm sure there are several of us readers that just use handheld devices. For those of us with Computers, we KNOW once things start going wrong, it's time to monitor things a bit more closely for system health, and Ashburn could be in a similar situation.

Yep

Amethyst's picture

If they do send a Marti to do it, even temporarily, then it would be better to send someone who is somewhere approaching stable. They might not appreciate the girls' quirks. And yes, usually when something goes wrong once it pays to be more vigilant about system health, especially on a major system like that.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Marti transplant

While it is convenient to have an AI, maybe they should have an AI train their own human IT team. Honestly, software/system maintenance should not be a big deal. I doubt it would be any more complex than the systems we have today. Everything should have a backup, even an AI.

Operator to AI: "Have you

Operator to AI: "Have you lost your mind?"
AI: "No, I haven't lost my mind. It's backuped on tape somewhere."

Both would be preferable,

Amethyst's picture

Both would be preferable, having an AI to maintain things and having people with the proper training in case something goes wrong again.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

sending Marti

I suspect they'd have to send a few of them, whenever they'd be separate from the rest for any significant length of time, while they are individuals, they are also effectively a hive mind, while taking one on a VTOL to help respond to a medical emergency probably wouldn't be a problem, sending one to be away from the rest for an extended period could be traumatic for her. Plus being Medical AI, they are probably shackled from a lot of things that Ashburn never got but may be added later, as well as what's at Kiley's house/research base. Long term, they probably need to find and/or create at least two more AI,

Yup

Amethyst's picture

There could be issues from extended separation from their system. The best long term scenario is to find or create an AI or two that could do the job, and maybe have the MARTIs medical knowledge as well.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3