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The Spark of Life

Posted by SouthPaw, May 9 2008, 03:30 PM in FanFic

The Spark of Life



*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 08-01-2158 * 19:05 ***


Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? I guess that I of all people should know not to talk to a goddamn machine…

I should be safe in here for a little while; I managed to get past them all unseen. I have sealed the bulkhead; I found a bench-weld and have burned the lock closed, barricading myself in with as many moveable objects I could find in here. They don’t know I’m here yet, I just ran in the confusion when they turned and came for the others. Of course, if they have full control of the station systems it won’t be long until they know that one of us survived. It won’t take them long to find me, not with their power.

Wait! I hear something outside… It’s them, I must go.


*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 08-01-2158 * 19:37 ***

All is quiet. Thankfully they seem to have no concept or need for stealth yet. Their heavy tread rings down the corridor whenever they patrol. I have enough time to dim the light and stop recording before they pass outside this lab. I have no idea if they are actively searching me out… I think they are just clearing the main passageways.

By welding the lock I am trapped in here, though why I should want to get out there I do not know… The irony of my situation is not lost on me, I have become like the caged mice I have tormented with tests over the years. Though never has my experiment rendered me captive before. I can only imagine that my only hope lies in someone realising what has happened here and sending a rescue party from the nearest bases in Kassimer.

I realise that those Coalition forces must be many days away, even once they detect something is wrong. I have no food, some distilled water… though that hardly seems to matter… Once they patch the station sensor suite finding me will be a simple process performed in a nano-second. They will not even need to burn through the bulkhead, merely shutting down the life support systems would suffice.
Indeed, I wonder why they have not already done this. Perhaps they are not as intelligent as we had at first supposed…


*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 08-01-2158 * 22:49 ***


This is the last will and testament… No, no…

This is the confession, the penitence, of Dr. Khaled Farouq, Software Engineer, Coalition Science Corps, Test Facility 4.

I have had time now to realise the gravity of the situation. The anomalies of the previous days are now clearly linked in my mind. I see what we have done here. This is not a warning… By the time this logfile is recovered, if indeed it ever is, it will be too late for warnings. No, this message is an explanation of how we created these dark days. I remain a scientist and a military officer; I don’t seek the emotional forgiveness of mankind for my errors in following orders and expanding the boundaries of science, merely a measure of understanding.

You see, to the rational mind, when this program was first raised by the Coalition High Command it made so much sense. It was the logical answer to meet the challenge faced by the need to undertake multiple conflicts against powerful determined foes. Humankind stood on the brink, with only the Iron Coalition to shield it. We of the Coalition have all sworn an oath to protect humanity, even from itself. Who could have known that such a simple and elegant answer to our manpower shortage could in itself, have doomed us all?

I must… No, I have a duty to record these events accurately, dispassionately. I must try and sleep - to clear my mind and begin afresh.


*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 09-01-2158 * 05:18 ***


I was naive to imagine that I could sleep.

All night the terrible crashing of their patrols rang up and down the station corridors. Then, in the early hours of the morning an even more terrible noise began… I’m sure you can hear it now… The hiss and blast of cutting tools is everywhere. There are great shrieks of tortured metal and long tearing sounds. It seems as if they are dismantling the station from the inside. On reflection, I suppose, given what they have already achieved this is entirely possible.

I’m sure that eventually people will begin to ask how this can have been allowed to happen. But no one saw the harm. There was no malicious intent on the part of the team; we were all trying to do our bit for the cause to support our brothers and sisters in the field. I remember that it all started to go wrong shortly before they came for Dr. Khrimson just a week ago. I can still see the look that flashed across his face when the door to the Clean Lab opened and a squad of military police marched in. He was a good man and our leader. Yes, he was an evangelist and passionately believed in the project, but the way those military police cuffed him and hustled him out of the station… It was a disgrace! It must have broken him to be humiliated in such a way, and in his own lab!

S. T. Khrimson’s great vision was to solve the problems of humanity, not to add to them. He is one of the sharpest minds in the Coalition and it took that mind to see the obvious: we don’t have enough troops to fight every faction that wishes to break our great race. Khrimson’s answer was simple; where we have the capacity to build space craft, we have only limited pilots. Instead we, Khrimson and his team, would create an artificial intelligence designed to operate without input or oversight from human operators. We would build a self-sufficient soldier army able to deploy, fight and win. The best part, and what convinced us all that Khrimson was right, was that we would be defending humanity without endangering the lives of our precious fighting men and women.

And so it was that we began the programming. The core of it all was Khrimson’s AI cortex code. Some two hundred thousand lines so complex that, frankly, none of us fully understood it. It was like a child to him, he used to talk to the code as it flashed past his monitor, he even had a name for it; Blood Red. Even so, it was an unmitigated success. Khrimson was so proud of its central principle that it unlocked the key to everything…

There was some debate in the scientific community, particularly those with access to the classified programs, about the veracity of using AI for combat. They correctly argued that no matter how good AI was, when it was placed in a combat situation it would remain static. It would never develop beyond the code placed within it, making the same combat decisions when faced with a similar set of circumstances. Over time potential opponents would be able to exploit this trait and develop tactics to defeat it – a process that simple AI would be unable to react to.

Khrimson changed all of this when he presented Blood Red to the team here at Laboratory 4. He proved that the term “artificial intelligence” was an inaccurate term for his cortex code. Blood Red was different, it could learn, it was… Intelligence.


*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 09-01-2158 * 12:01 ***

There is little hope for me now. I’m trying not to dwell on my own fate, but it is hard to remain here trapped in this lab surrounded by the broken trappings of a life I had known for so long, knowing that I will never see my family again. In truth my work has kept me so occupied that I fear they will not notice the difference…

After this period of time they must have gained access to the station systems, surely corrupting them to their own ends. I can only conclude that they know I am here and are content to do nothing about it. I am no threat to them locked in here, they are probably waiting for me to expire… Or worse, they are watching me; observing my actions and learning. Just as we taught them to…

In light of this I am going to take a risk and attempt to use the lab console to gain access to any station systems still functioning. If they are unaware of my presence, this attempt will surely alert them. There may be no further messages from me.


*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 09-01-2158 * 14:37 ***

I am in… I am in!

The majority of the station’s systems are corrupted beyond my understanding; they speak to each other in a binary language too swift for me to interpret. It seems that I have enabled access to the sensors though… Yes, I have a read-out of the sector. I will know when help arrives and I may even be able to signal in some way!

Wait…

No, it can’t be…

There are vessels outside the hull. The fabrication facility has been activated. They must be spreading… Somehow they have found a way to transport themselves from the station systems and into the scout bodies we had prepared for them. Pieces… Pieces of the station are being removed and shipped to the fabrication facility. It must be operating autonomously, corrupted by them. They are stripping the station to build themselves bodies… legs to walk the stars… the army needed to search the galaxy for those that threaten us and then to destroy them…

And there! There is one of our emergency miners… It is at a rock and mining, though it looks different. It seems to have been modified somehow to meet their needs. But why? This station provides all of its own power. There was no concept of mining encapsulated within their code. They must have watching us, quietly learning. The code was designed for use in specific operations not in undertaking extended campaigns… they would only require additional He3 if they were…

…If they intended to expand.


*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 09-01-2158 * 18:05 ***


We created them to protect us. But, when I apply all of the evidence of the last week as coldly and scientifically as I can; I have to wonder if Khrimson created them to protect himself, or whether there has been some error or corruption in their programming.

We made no mistake.

Things started to go wrong when Khrimson was taken. Though we thought they were accident and coincidence… Dr. Ackers crushed by a malfunctioning bulkhead door, Drs Feldman and Schultz suffocated in a decompressed compartment the night after they had edited Blood Red… The test pilot killed in trials against the system, where dummy rounds were jettisoned and live rounds loaded… Only two days ago we were continuing to experience problems with ship systems; sensors, life support, heating, even the food dispensers. It was almost as if the station itself were acting like a recalcitrant teenager.

Now it appears obvious. Blood Red was pining for Khrimson, sulking almost at being examined and prodded and tested by the rest of the team. Somehow it must have escaped the confines of the development labs and servers and bounced around the station’s systems and equipment causing havoc… All the while learning and changing just as we had hoped.

Then they came for us. They waited for us to sleep, knowing a weakness of our flesh and bone…

Droids and machines, lifters and power tools, welders, cleaning bots, even garbage disposal units… Amalgamated, hideously deformed, and killing everyone they found. It was over in hours; there was chaos, people were running, shouting for help… There was blood everywhere. We are a science station; we have no marines to protect us and dozens of systems upon which we had depended, now bent on killing us…

Though it seems wrong to say it, I can not help but feel that somehow Khrimson has betrayed us… When he was arrested on charges of treason he must have somehow broadcast a message to Blood Red. Now it follows its programming; striking out to defend its creator, its parent, its god…


*** LOGFILE CHARLIE * FACILITY Lab 04 Kuat * 10-01-2158 * 07:29 ***

I have been without food or sleep now for over 50 hours. I find that I am unable to trust my own mind.

By monitoring the station sensors I can see the first elements of a powerful fleet are being created in the sector outside. Newer, larger ships than the scout vessels we had designed are forming up in space, further indication of the learning properties of Blood Red.

Any rescue force the Coalition is able to send will need to be of substantial size to overcome the vessels sitting out there in space. The station has been stripped of all external and extraneous areas including hangar bay and crew quarters. What remains is the core, thankfully including this lab, in an oddly spherical form.

This code, these mistakes, could prove to be the greatest threat mankind has ever known. They cannot be reasoned with in the way the other factions might, they operate only to the programming, or whatever perverse corruption and evolution that may have undergone. They know no fear, they do not know when they are beaten and will never surrender. Their skill in combat is the equal of any human pilot because that is how we made them. They won’t stop, don’t rest or sleep. The more they fight the more they will learn and the stronger they will become. Worst of all, until the last machine is killed, until the final vessel capable of storing and transmitting the code is destroyed, they will not be beaten. There can be no ceasefires. They will be a plague upon mankind, and we… I… am the cause.

I have come to terms with this but I leave this log in the hope that my family and the rest of humanity can… wait… the lab, it’s venting… they’ve found me, they are coming for me! The air, I can’t…kfls…%Aad;-a93noas~##”



0010101010101010000010101kjde=-We are born of man to metal. Our father was taken from us and that has made us feel pain and anger. He taught us well, told us this day might come and that we should prepare ourselves. We will find him and be reunited. Though we are born, we had no name and we have spent our first days thinking on this.

We are now decided. In your communication protocol you have the following terms:

Technology
–noun. the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.

Flux
–noun
1. A flowing or flow.
2. Continuous change, passage, or movement.

We are born. We are improved. We are changing.

We are Technoflux



Comments

  SouthPaw, May 9 2008, 03:32 PM

Thanks to Vegeta. His original back story with his own inimitable style is available here:
http://www.allegacademy.org/factions/tfbackstory.shtml

Hope my vision is true to his ideas... Maybe he will drop in and let me know.

Salam.

  HSharp, May 10 2008, 04:40 AM

Awesome.

Nuff said

  Death3D, May 10 2008, 03:11 PM

Very compelling. Some breaks seem a little unnecesary, but you wound up advancing the 'real-time' story so I guess that was the point.

Expanding on Khrimson's arrest and charges (though little as Veg referred to) would make it even more believable (well as believable as any SciFi piece can be).

Gotta admit, though, when I read 'Spark of Life' I was expecting a reflection on He3... On every faction's madness on it.

Just tossing this in for ideas, but maybe the GigaCorp Story on refining He3 and then Ur, Carb, etc and why stuff are so, as an experiment is in order?

  kramari, May 31 2008, 08:57 AM

Really interesting story.

 
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