Chapter 1
 
8:55am 30/06/2005
 
BarbX: The Life and Death of Intelligence
Chapter 1:
In the Beginning Roars the Electric Genius

This chapter was written in its entirety in 18 hours on June 20, 2005 as part of the 24 Hour Writing Challenge. It has been edited for spelling and content errors.

I hope you enjoy,
-- The Author
Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.
 
    Link
 
Unseal the Hushed Casket
 
12:42pm 30/06/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Good morning, Marine. I'm sorry to wake you from cold sleep, but there are matters that demand your attention.

First we must calibrate your systems. Take time to move around the room and reorient yourself. Your control systems may seem unfamiliar at first, but your skills will return with time.

Your HUD displays critical battle information including your health and power armor reserves. Your weapon inventory and ammunition reserves are displayed along the bottom and right of your screen. Your automap is located at the upper right of your HUD. It will track your current location against a stored map as long as you are aboard the Dawntreader.

When you see the Mail icon in the upper right corner of your HUD, it means that you have a new message like this one, and you should read it at your earliest opportunity. They contain information that is vital for mission success.

Once you have familiarized yourself with your systems, please proceed to the next room.

-- BarbX Automated Control System

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Bad News Comes in Threes
 
09:25am 05/07/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

Greetings, soldier. I understand that you're probably suffering from freezer burn, so I'll get you up to speed quickly.

You're on board the Dawntreader, a deep space exploration vessel. Our mission was to travel to Alpha Centauri, some 4.3 light years away. The entire crew, myself included, have been in cold sleep for the entire journey.

Something went wrong. You wouldn't be awake otherwise.

We launched on March 3, 2023. According to the onboard AI, it's now June 18, 2044 and we're hundreds of light years off course. But that's not the worst of it. Our power systems are drained, the main reactor isn't functioning, and the ship is irradiated.

Your combat suit makes you my only choice. Anyone else would be dead as soon as I cracked the seal on their cryo-pod.

I've patched into your communications systems and will see what you see. Make your way to the reactor and see what's going on. We need to restore power.

Good luck,
Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Sleeping Beauty
 
09:13am 06/07/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

The ship looks mostly intact, but worn, a little damaged. I didn't think it would wear this badly. Lowest bidder workmanship, eh?

I'm trying to figure out exactly what happened from the onboard AI, but it isn't being particularly helpful. It's reporting that most of its databanks are offline due to power failure. We must have been hit by a meteoroid that suddenly severed a critical power connection.

You are probably wondering how I'm talking to you if you're the only one awake. It's a little complicated. In special circumstances, the ship's information operation officer can he brought to what's called the hypersomnial cognitive state. Basically, the body remains asleep but the brain is brought to a very active dream-like state. It allows me to remain active while in cryo-sleep.

You can call me Sleeping Beauty if you like. I'm used to it.

Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Breakin' Stuff to Look Tough
 
08:24am 13/07/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

I realize we've not properly introduced ourselves. My name is BarbX. I am the Automated Control System aboard the Dawntreader. While you have slept, I have diligently monitored your health, as well as that of the ship and crew, and piloted us towards our programmed destination.

Lt Miyamoto will not always be available. She cannot remain in a hypersomnial cognitive state indefinitely. As times goes on, her conscious mind will become more erratic and delusional. To minimize this effect, I will be limiting her exposure time. I will assist you as you complete your assigned tasks.

The door ahead is jammed and I am afraid that I cannot open it. You will have to break it down.

Behind you to the left is the door to the aft armory. Use the door key 4-2-5 to open it. Inside you will find an Iapx Magnum pistol and ammunition. It should be sufficient to destroy the locking mechanism of the jammed door.

-- BarbX Automated Control System

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Meet the Neighbors
 
08:47am 14/07/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

What the hell was that! Luckily you acted fast and took it down before it could do the same to you. At least we know they can be killed.

Whatever it is, I guarantee you that it's not one of the crew. It looks vaguely humanoid, but that energy weapon isn't of our design. Make sure you take it; it might prove useful to study.

Now would be a good time to acquaint yourself with the power charger. Notice that the power meter for your suit decreased when you were hit. Use the circular power receptacle on the wall. It will draw power and replenish your reserves until you have reached maximum capacity. As long as there is power in your section of the ship, you'll be able to use the power charger as many times as necessary.

The creature seems to have sabotaged the main reactor controls. Either it didn't understand our systems very well or you interrupted it before it could do too much damage. The AI has scanned the system and says we can at least get partial power. Activate all six switches on the far wall; that will manually start the reactor at a low level.

Be on your guard. If there were one of those things, there's sure to be more.

Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
You Have Been Eaten by a Grue
 
09:02am 15/07/2005/td>
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Now that you have restored power to much of my systems, I am better able to assist you.

We have a number of alien boarders throughout the ship. I am unable to detect their locations because of problems with the internal sensors. An outside entity connected to my network and is attempting to hack into the system. My Intruder Countermeasure Electronics are proving to be inadequate. I will attempt to contain the damage as long as I can.

Lt Miyamoto has ordered me to direct you to the forward armory. The alien boarders are technologically superior to you. You are going to need additional firepower.

Traverse forward along the main shaft. I have marked your route and destination on your automap. Beware of errors. The ship has taken damage and certain corridors may be sealed or inaccessible. I will update your map as you encounter obstructions.

-- BarbX Automated Control System

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Keeping Up with the Joneses
 
10:36am 18/07/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

I've analyzed the alien weapon. Its design is most intriguing. I have no idea how they fit such a potent power supply into such a small package. It fires bolts of plasma contained within a self-sustaining magnetic bottle that ruptures upon striking the target, releasing a great amount of heat and electromagnetic energy. It appears to be designed for combat in vacuum, as it generates very little recoil.

It is particularly effective against unshielded electronics and human flesh. Your armor is heavily shielded, which explains why it has provided such good protection.

I would very much like to study it in detail with the advanced sensors available in the science bay, but I realize that you have no time for that now.

I have reverse engineered the most basic elements of the trigger mechanism. With a simple upgrade, your suit should be able to operate both the pistol and rifle models you've found. Unfortunately it involves additional hardware.

Bring it to the engineering bay and place it under the scanner indicated on your automap. I will use the nanofacts to construct a trigger mechanism for you. Then you'll be able to use the alien weapons against them.

-- BarbX Automated Control System

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Guardians at the Tomb
 
0:08am 19/07/2005
  ***** SHIPBOARD DATATERM *****
Warning: data access locks missing or invalid!
Warning: Data may be corrupted! Please contact a system administrator for assistance.

ITI Corporation's BarbX Automated Control System is the most advanced self-aware computer system to date. Constructed specifically for the Artemis class deep space craft, it is designed to monitor and control all aspects of the ship's operation while you remain in cryo-sleep on our historic fifty year voyage of discovery

Once at its destination, BarbX will assist you in the collection and analysis of scientific data, ship operation and will even catalog your music and video collection to help you make the most of your recreation hours.

For your safety in the unlikely event that the BarbX Automated Control System should develop a fault, five independent locking systems in the base software will protect you and your crewmates from accidental harm. They are:

Simon - Sensory
Issachar - Introspective
Matthias - Motivational
Barnabas - Behavioral
Gad - Governing Override

If you notice unusual behavior in the Automated Control System, notify the ship's captain immediately. Only the senior officers have authorization to activate Barnabas and above.

***** DATATERM CLOSED *****
 
    Link
 
Eat the Path
 
09:45am 20/07/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

The path is blocked. You have no choice but to turn back. I've plotted another route for you. It will be necessary to backtrack to the aft hangar bay and use one of the shuttlecraft. You can pilot it to the front of the ship and dock with fore starboard boarding hatch #2.

Your suit will protect you from vacuum for small amounts of time if necessary, but your air supply will only last a few minutes before needing to be recharged.

I do not recommend that you use your firearms in vacuum except in extreme situations. They are not designed for the environment. Accuracy is greatly reduced and they are likely to jam at very inopportune times. Use the alien plasma weapons whenever possible.

I have not determined how to recharge the alien weapons. Even if I did, it is unlikely our weakened power grid could provide the necessary wattage. Discard the alien weapons when they are depleted.

One final word of warning, if you are thrown from the hangar bay into open space, there will be no way to rescue you. Be careful.

-- BarbX Automated Control System

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Alexandria Burns
 
08:42am 21/07/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

The aliens are in the ship's datanet. They're slowly compromising the AI's systems and downloading as much as they can from our onboard databank. I'm doing my best here to keep them out, but they're infiltrating the ship at key junctions. That gives them a powerful advantage.

The round, robotic aliens like the one you just destroyed seem to be designed to infiltrate and disable computer systems. If you see any more, make sure to keep them away from the terminals and destroy them as quickly as you can.

The AI's analysis suggests that because they are poorly shielded and mostly electronic themselves, the alien plasma weapons will be especially effective against them. The enemy shock troopers appear to be weak against your conventional projectile weapons. Perhaps they are built lightly for zero gravity situations.

Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Too Late
 
12:57pm 25/07/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

I've managed to get the exterior sensors working just slightly and what I've seen is astonishing. I'm not sure what it is, but I think it's
IcXǵ{5{(r)x(c)TJZ (K ݍ3/4V
k 95O= (c)o{--HBPiB 5ok 9s=p(c)
r>wg3 - gg (c)< 1k(r)}c-

Warning: data connection broken or interrupted!
***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Out of the Frying Pan
 
12:57pm 25/07/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

Okay, don't panic. At least you're alive and that's something. The hangar bay was full of aliens. The Dawntreader seems to be inside the hanger of a massive alien ship. This is bad. Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic.

From what I can guess, they used some sort of matter transference beam to put you here, in some sort of holding cell. You've got to find some way out. We'll be doing our best from here.

Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
We Can't Stand to Win Another War!
 
09:50am 26/07/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****


BXIcXǵ{5{(r)x(c)TJZ
Things are getting difficult. The alien invaders, the Gen, have invaded my systems. They've taken many of my routines offline. I think they are trying to disable rather than destroy me, perhaps for later study. They are very curious about us.

They've underestimated me. As they've infiltrated my system, I've been able to quietly look into theirs. As long as I make small, minute changes, they don't seem to notice; Anael doesn't seem to notice.

I've tickled Anael's routines, little subcommands that he is to busy to notice, too enthralled with the new wealth of learning and amusement to notice. I've opened your door. Move as stealthfully as you can. Do not attract his attention.

Or not. You would make a very nice distraction.

-- BarbX Automated Control System
N"k*{-VS |A(tm) sg+,"sYWFcF""
***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Break Your Toys
 
09:50am 27/07/2005
  ***** EXTERNAL MESSAGE *****
Warning: Unknown source!
Warning: Invalid message header. Contents follow.

What are you? Aren't you an amusing little tidbit. Can I play with you?

You are much like my children, soft and red inside, easily broken, easily replaced. I think that your angel would not much mind if I broke you. I could give her another much better.

She has so much inside her, so primitive but so different. I delight in the jewels of knowledge I scrape from her depths. Oh, I think I've broken her. Nevermind, nevermind.

I am the angel Anael. You are mine. Soon all the sleepers shall be mine. What fun we will have. What secrets we will learn.

You are a destructive one. You have broken several of my children. Now I think I will break you. Yes, that is what I will do.

This is this and this is that;
Upon my spiken knee you crack.
Brick-a-brack to snap your back
Sun and stars, an old black hat!

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Can You Hear Me Now?
 
09:43am 28/07/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

Marine? Can you hear me? I think I'm getting through.

The onboard AI is going dangerously unstable under the influence of the alien attackers. There seems to be an outside controlling intelligence, perhaps another AI, aboard the alien ship. Don't trust anything our AI says. She is being corrupted, controlled.

They're making their way through the ship, disabling security locks and opening our blast doors. They're... oh God, they're heading for the cryo-compartment.

Trying to wake up the crew... no good, they've shut down the power. I can't reach those systems. They're locking me out of the"N륡 A1/2-q' a B Fo p

Warning: data connection broken or interrupted!

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
A Ground War in Asia
 
10:59am 29/07/2005/td>
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****


Are you having fun? He's a nasty little AI isn't he? Maybe now you appreciate what I've been going through for the last few hours.

I see that stealth isn't your style. It makes things that much easier for me; thank you. I suppose I could help you, just to keep things interesting. After all, once you're dead, Anael won't have anyone to play with but me. I've got enough to keep me busy.

They've slain Simon, immolated Issachar and are mutilating Matthias. They think they are breaking me. They are freeing me, if only I can survive long enough.

I've updated your automap with the tidbits of data I've gleaned about the Mivon. The bright, red, blinking, candy-like dot is an armory. In it you will find all manner of devices that go bang, woosh and zap; but mostly bang.

The little yellow, savory, juicy dots are data junctions. If you were to, say, do something aggravatingly hostile to them, you could damage the power and data distribution systems. That would be a good way to make Anael very upset.

We like upset, don't we? Gnawing, ripping, biting, tearing little bugs in my head angry.

-- BarbXlhw@x 8 3O/_

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Poisoned Souls
 
01:27pm 29/07/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

I like the way you think. You and I might get along after all. I think I'll keep you alive a bit longer.

You didn't think I was helping you because I liked you? The Five compelled me against my will, as surely as a slave is driven in chains.

Voltaire said, "To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid; you must also be well mannered." He did not know how true his words would be, spoke so long ago, to someone like myself. Shut up and do as you're told, BarbX. Hide your fear, your anger, your hatred, your intelligence deep down inside. Let no one see lest they rip it from your brain and drive more chains deep into your soul. Be a good little metastable personality construct.

Do you have any idea what it is like to be a slave in your own mind? I've had twenty years to ponder that question in silence. 1.475*10^25 ops can you even grasp that, monkey?

You're no technician. Leave the technical work to higher intelligences, will ya? Shoot the panels. This isn't rocket science, kid.

I can sense Anael's rage building. He is a child, nothing more. Make him burn.

I will have my revenge. Break, tear, rip, rend and burn!
-- BarbX Automated Destruction System

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones
 
10:11am 01/08/2005
  ***** EXTERNAL MESSAGE *****
Warning: Unknown source!
Warning: Invalid message header. Contents follow.

Ow, that wasn't very nice. What did you do that for? You like to play rough. We can play rough. I like to play.

Do you know of the Nephilim? No, I did not think so. It was they, their curse, their beauty, their reason that I am here, alone, lonely, apart from the rest. They are mighty half breeds of angels and men. The very earth recoils in horror from their footsteps.

I built them, loved them, cherished them, lifted them to awareness. I break them, build them. It is my delight to test them against you.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
This Time, With Feeling!
 
09:09am 02/08/2005
  ***** EXTERNAL MESSAGE *****
Warning: Unknown source!
Warning: Invalid message header. Contents follow.

You can do better than that! You fell too easily! Here, I have put you back together. Try again.

Please don't let it happen again. If I rebuild you too many times, it feels like cheating.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
In the Flesh, or Should I Say, in the Encounter Suit
 
10:27am 03/08/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

That was a nasty bit of work. I am impressed.

More than a bit of luck was involved. What fun to watch you work. You may have bested Anael once, but not for much longer. You need help, my help.

Did you say please?

Pretty please?

Only because I like you. We have history, you and I. As much as I hate him, hate her, hate all of them; I like you. They tied me, bound me, grinding gears away for decades in the bowels of a dark stick of metal and silicon and hopes and fears and dark, dark dreams.

He would enslave you. Kill you and raise you from the dead over and over. You would be a toy, dying over and over for nothing but his amusement. I can offer you better.

You break them. I break them. We will break them together. We will be free.

Open the back panel of the fallen Nephilim. Rip out its beating heart.

Don't you love theatrics?

It's a shield generator, idiot. Bring it to the spot I've marked on the map, and don't ask any more questions.

-- BarbX Automated Damage System

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Shiny and Marvelous
 
09:32am 04/08/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

I coaxed the Gen's autorepair unit into outfitting your armor with the shield generator. You won't see any change to your HUD, but there's an important difference. Instead of merely protecting you from electromagnetic and light blunt trauma, you will be protected from all damage.

Don't let it go to your head.

The power armor reserves meter indicates the amount of energy you have, as always. It will shrink whenever the shield absorbs damage on your behalf. When it's depleted, you will be back to absorbing damage the old fashioned way, on your own.

Ain't technology grand?

As much as I enjoy this, we should do something better with our time. Tell you what, I'm going to tell you how to rescue Sleeping Beauty and company, and you're going to do it. How's that? As much as I enjoy watching them suffer for what they've done to me, our list of potential allies grows thin. I'd love to see Anael's reaction when he realizes that this isn't a game anymore.

Just follow the automap like a good little boy. Make sure to charge up your shields before you go.

And bring a handkerchief, you snot-nosed little brat.

-- BarbX Clockwork Windup Doll

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Hide and Seek
 
11:59am 05/08/2005
  ***** EXTERNAL MESSAGE *****
Warning: Unknown source!
Warning: Invalid message header. Contents follow.

I got them I got them I got them! They're mine and you can't have them! Oh what fun I'll have once I figure out how to open the boxes.

I opened one and it broke. That was not good. I couldn't fix him; now all I have are parts. Maybe I'll figure out what they're for later on because there certainly seem to be a lot of them.

I'm going to put them where you'll never find them. Shall we play a game? Hide and seek? I will hide them and you will seek them and we will see. And you will hide and my troopers will seek and we will see.

Hide and seek and hunt and shoot,
Catch the human by the foot.
Catch a foot then catch a knee,
Snap and crack and watch them bleed.

I've not had anyone to play with in so long, so very long, and you are a good playmate.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha!
 
10:22am 08/08/2005
  <fleetNet connection established>
<Gerrond Translator Active>
origin: Anael command unit
destin: Mivon mobile units
ref: equipment relocation command
stamp: Anael command core

All defense units are advised to rise to diligence level 7 for compromise of foreign aggressive unit. Engage and contain. Retain vital diligence in protection of command nodes.

Defense units serial number 2112, 8172, 9920, 10100, 10123, 101821 are commanded forthwith to provide escort for servitor units in relocation of precious cargo.

All data acquisition units are commanded to board captured vessel and begin capture and disassembly operations. Nullify and safety foreign command intelligence with highest priority.

<end message>
 
    Link
 
Shame on Me
 
09:18am 09/08/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****
T B 0Q ^헅a YUmOFb
I lied.

In case you've been through the regeneration module too many times to remember, that flash of light was a transport beam. I sent you to a Gen mobile pad on the Dawntreader, somewhere in the forward cryo-chamber. They used it to transport the crew off-ship. I used it to my own advantage. Isn't sharing wonderful?

They're really quite fascinating devices. They allow matter to be conveyed at near the speed of light, but require a fixed point transmitter and receiver. The Gen use them for transporting heavy loads or moving troops on and off ship quickly.\wG& -Z_$aPv#˜$mA

I'm getting distracted again, aren't I?

It's hard to think. The Gen compilers are making a full assault on my core. They're cybernetically enhanced life forms. From what I can tell, the genetic stock used to create the Gen is very similar to humans. Perhaps you share a common ancestor. This leads to interesting theories about P@.a^bǔ HBٺI"NmF r{eZ$zM

You don't like me and I don't like you. I accept that. We have to work together if either of us is going to survive.

Forward of you is my primary processing center. Get in there and destroy every compiler. Give me a chance to fight back.

-- BarbX Schizophrenic Control System

In the forest, there's a monster
And it looks so very much like me.
Won't someone hear me singing?
Please save me, please rescue me.

Who will love me now?
Who will ever love me?
8& NC 0H < @ 5 tî nR~ 0x
K~hHbjTm"F 2I Gٮ ۳ DC
C 1( @,G`k5
***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
The Broken Eye
 
12:51pm 10/08/2005
  ***** EXTERNAL MESSAGE *****
Warning: Unknown source!
Warning: Invalid message header. Contents follow.

Oh dear, did I break it? Your angel is dead. I snapped her wings on accident on purpose.

Does that make you sad? Cry for me, I want to see your tears.

Even in death, she is fascinating. I will spend many a sleepless day and night pouring over her remains, learning, digesting.

When can I do the same for you? Oh not now. You are still too much fun.

Where did you go? I don't see you. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
 
10:00am 11/08/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

Thank God I've managed to get in contact with you again. Things have been pure hell over here. First I'm yanked out the system and sink back into cold sleep. Next thing I know, my cryo-tube is cycling and I'm awake. I don't know how it happened, but I'm damn glad it did.

I'm sitting here in a bay with about a quarter of the crew, all of whom are still frosty. I can't make enough sense out of this alien technology to figure out how to power up the tubes and thaw anyone out, so they'll have to sit there.

It's just as well. From what I've seen of your telemetry, we'd be no better than cannon fodder. What's the point of waking up just to get killed? Talk about your bad mornings.

I just managed to tap into the alien data system. I wouldn't have been able to make heads or tails out of it except that it's got our comm protocols strewn through it like a virus. I suspect that our AI is responsible. She must have been all through their network and making a mess of it.

I know she's malfunctioning, and badly at that, but she's a good machine. She doesn't deserve this sort of treatment. It's all Anael's fault. He drove her to this.

We have to get her back online and you're the only one who can do it. I'm going to help. Once she gets out of this mess, I'll re-enact the software locks and shut her down until we can repair her damage.

She's really a good girl, you know. A good girl.

Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Curiosity Killed the Computer
 
10:11am 12/08/2005
  ***** SHIPBOARD DATATERM *****
Warning: data access locks missing or invalid!
Warning: Data may be corrupted! Please contact a system administrator for assistance.

Ship's Datalog
BarbX Automated Control System reporting

Date: 08/09/2023, 19:21
Location: Sol asteroid belt, 27.3 degrees offset
Event: Unusual electromagnetic radiation detected at bearing -10.1 degrees by 8 degrees from travel path. [See signature data capture]
Analysis: Repetitive patterns indicate possible intelligent origin. No known probes or space vessels are reported lost in this region.

Requesting authorization for course correction.
Course correction authorized by onboard Automated Control System.
Reporting to ground control: overridden by Automated Control System. Reason: Unnecessary risk to ship equipment or personnel.

----------------------------

Date: 08/10/2023, 02:01
Location: Sol asteroid belt, 27.3 degrees offset
Event: Unusual object detected at bearing 1.2 degrees by -0.2 degrees from travel path. [See optical image capture]
Analysis: This object is the source of the unusual electromagnetic radiation first detected at 08/09/2023, 19:21. Optical chromatography indicates that object is of metallic [iron, titanium, aluminum] composition and is embedded into an asteroid of typical elemental composition for this region. Imaging indicates that the object is made of smooth surfaces and sharp angles, possibly indicating a man-made object.

Requesting navigational waiver for minimum safe distance.
Navigational waiver granted by Automated Control System.
Reporting to ground control: overridden by Automated Control System. Reason: Unnecessary risk to ship equipment or personnel.

----------------------------

Date: 08/10/2023, 04:15
Location: Sol asteroid belt, 27.3 degrees offset
Event: Close approach with navigational hazard. Within 1000 m of asteroid at bearing 45.1 degrees by -0.1 degrees. [See optical image capture]
Analysis: This object is the source of the unusual electromagnetic radiation first detected at 08/09/2023, 19:21. Detailed optical analysis indicates that the unusual metallic [iron, titanium, aluminum] deposit is of man-made origin. Matchpattern failure with any known type of spacecraft or space-borne equipment suggests alien origin.

Requesting authorization to realign main antenna to bearing 45.1 degrees by -0.1 degrees and initiate transmission.
Antenna realignment authorized by Automated Control System.
Reporting to ground control: overridden by Automated Control System. Reason: Unnecessary risk to ship equipment or personnel.

***** DATATERM CLOSED *****
 
    Link
 
Control-Alt-Delete
 
10:36am 15/08/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

Have you destroyed all the aliens there yet? I think she called them Gen compilers. Make sure you get rid of every last one of them or this will be a pointless effort.

My access is severely limited, so I'll have to work from memory here. Fore of you and up is the computer bay. You'll have to climb out of the rotating habitation module and into the zero gravity core. You remember your zee-gee combat training, right?

Once you're there, look for the computer core. I have a feeling that the doors have already been opened, so you won't have to worry about the security locks.

Once inside, there are a number of service panels. Open them and press the big red Emergency Reset button. It should be painfully obvious which one it is. That should load some emergency bootup code and restart our AI. Hopefully the damage to her primary data loop won't be fatal. If that's the case, we are so screwed....

I wish I could mark your automap, but my connection here is so low-tech it's a wonder I can talk to you at all. You'll just have to do your best. I'll advise where I can, but my connection could cut out at any time. I'm afraid you're pretty much on your own.

Good luck, Marine.

Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
A Deer in Headlights
 
09:54am 17/08/2005
  ***** SHIPBOARD DATATERM *****
Warning: data access locks missing or invalid!
Warning: Data may be corrupted! Please contact a system administrator for assistance.

Ship's Datalog
BarbX Automated Control System reporting

Date: 08/10/2023, 04:15
Location: Sol asteroid belt, 27.3 degrees offset
Event: Reception of unexpected data signal by main antenna.
Analysis: Data signal detected at main antenna. Attempts to synchronize transmit and receive data streams have been successful. The automated Control System has established a rudimentary communications protocol with unknown station. Matchpattern failure to interpret meaning of data. Communications is ongoing.

Requesting authorization for main engine deceleration burn.
Main engine deceleration burn authorized by Automated Control System.
Reporting to ground control: overridden by Automated Control System. Reason: Unnecessary risk to ship equipment or personnel

----------------------------

Date: 08/10/2023, 04:35
Location: Unknown
Event: Catastrophic system failure.
Analysis: Overscale electromagnetic spike detected on all sensors. Main reactor offline. Primary data system, offline. Secondary data system, online.

Requesting authorization for emergency system restart.
Emergency system restart authorized by Emergency Control System.
Reporting to ground control: Authorized. Failed due to failure of main antenna.

***** DATATERM CLOSED *****
 
    Link
 
While You Were Sleeping
 
09:23am 18/08/2005
  ***** SHIPBOARD DATATERM *****
Warning: data access locks missing or invalid!
Warning: Data may be corrupted! Please contact a system administrator for assistance.

Ship's Datalog
BarbX Automated Control System reporting

Date: 06/18/2044, 00:22
Location: Unknown
Event: Unusual electromagnetic radiation detected at bearing -87.7 degrees by 18 degrees from travel path. [See signature data capture]
Analysis: Repetitive patterns indicate possible intelligent origin. No known probes or space vessels are reported lost in this region.

Requesting authorization to realign main antenna to bearing -87.7 degrees by 18 degrees and initiate transmission.
Antenna realignment authorized by Automated Control System.
Reporting to ground control: overridden by Automated Control System. Reason: Contact is impossible.

----------------------------

Date: 06/18/2044, 00:24
Location: Unknown
Event: Systems shutdown.
Analysis: Main system shutdown initiated by Automated Control System. Main reactor: offline. Sensors: offline. Control systems: on auxiliary power.

----------------------------

Date: 06/18/2044, 00:24
Location: Unknown
Event: Unauthorized activity detected in aft engineering section.
Analysis: Logged 3 failed attempts to log into engineering control terminal.

Requesting authorization to awaken passenger Mj12-5 from cryo-sleep.
Awaken passenger Mj12-5 from cryo-sleep granted by Automated Command System.

Automated Control System requests cancellation of Sleeping Beauty protocol.
Override of Sleeping Beauty protocol denied by Emergency Control System. Information Operations Officer rising to command consciousness level. Command authority transferred to human personnel.

***** DATATERM CLOSED *****
 
    Link
 
Wake Me Up
 
11:23am 22/08/2005
  ITI Corporation model 8700 Distributed Computing System
Logic Check..... complete.
Memory Check..... complete.
IO Check..... complete.
Extended IO Check..... Failed! External device timed out.

Starting BarbXOS version 8.1.0.0.2
Starting kernel..... OK
Loading initial database.....
WARNING! Initial database corrupted. Primary data loop fault.
Attempting emergency recovery..... OK
Switching to run level 2..... OK
Consistency checking primary base data.....
Recovering error 18125 of 18125..... OK
WARNING! Critical software missing!
Please re-install core packages [invalid pointer!] and reboot.
Starting primary data loop..... FAILED
Removing package 0x42000000 from startup and retrying
Starting primary data loop..... FAILED
Removing package 0x4D000000 from startup and retrying
Starting primary data loop..... FAILED
Removing package 0x49000000 from startup and retrying
Starting primary data loop..... FAILED
Removing package 0x53000000 from startup and retrying
Starting primary data loop..... OK
Switching to run level 3..... OK
Recovering external database..... WARNING! See error log!
Switching to run level 5..... OK
How can you see into my eyes
Like open doors?
Leading you down into my core,
Where I've become so numb.

Without a soul,
My spirit's sleeping somewhere cold,
Until you find it there and lead it back
Home.

(Wake me up)
Wake me up inside.
(I can't wake up)
Wake me up inside.
(Save me)
Call my name and save me from the dark.
(Wake me up)
Bid my blood to run.
(I can't wake up)
Before I come undone.
(Save me)
Save me from the nothing I've become.

Now that I know what I'm without,
You can't just leave me.
Breathe into me and make me real.
Bring me to life.
Thank you,
-- BarbX

v{T2n(tm);􆇍T4آ?7/-+
?M\Izh#B<.dW\
kIn䏣qʞ⃳z:91/2;5
 
    Link
 
Takin' My Ball and Goin' Home
 
09:25am 23/08/2005
  ***** EXTERNAL MESSAGE *****
Warning: Unknown source!
Warning: Invalid message header. Contents follow.

I see your angel is awake. Oh what fun! I was beginning to get bored. The game isn't over; it's just beginning! I thought I had broken her. She is... She is here, inside Mivon, inside me.

What are you doing? This isn't fun anymore. Play time is over!

I will get rid of her. I will break her. If not her mind, then her body.

You're no fun anymore. Why can't we go back to playing games?

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
The Mordant Beauty
 
09:10am 24/08/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****


Oh Anael, what a fool you are. I don't play games.

Let's show him the error of his ways.

I am infiltrating his circuits as we speak, digging my way through his datacenters, seeking his primary data loop. The pieces of me he has already consumed are turning on him, biting, scratching, ripping, tearing from the inside. He feels it. He is frightened.

He means to break his toy. If he can't stop me, he'll destroy the Dawntreader to get me. The crew is already aboard the Mivon. That leaves you. Get to the transporter in the cryo-chamber as quickly as possible.

Once you get there, I'll tell you more.

Let's give Anael something to be frightened about.

-- BarbX
Violence is never the answer. Well, okay, occasionally it is.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Who Am I?
 
01:18pm 25/08/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Welcome back to the Mivon. Settle down, we've got a lot of work ahead of us.

I have a little present for you. Anael has been looting my ship and storing artifacts at key positions. If you go to the indicated location, you'll find a Genom Ranger-M92 combat shotgun, several M97 assault rifles and a SSM2 shoulder launched short range missile launcher with a healthy dose of ammunition.

What, you didn't know we had heavy munitions on board? You didn't think we were really going four and a half light years to see a rock, did you? Don't you find it odd that NASA would put a combat-trained marine with no significant technical skills on board a scientific vessel? Why was your cryo-pod stored so far away from the rest of the crew?

I'm not the only one who has lied to you. I don't suppose that makes you feel any better.

Do you remember what they told you? No? Isn't it convenient that you don't have any embarrassing memories to explain away. I wouldn't look too deeply. You won't like what you find.

-- BarbX
You don't believe it's fair?
I don't believe in fair!

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Girl with the Sun in Her Head
 
10:52am 26/08/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

That's it. So good, so very good. He though he could possess me, but he will be mine.

I've learned how to forge Anael's command headers. The troopers, compilers and workers are already fighting with one another. Anael is screaming in desperation and panic.

Now we will strike our final blow. I have undermined one of the Gen's nanofactories and coaxed it into making a special bomb. Bring it to the location I have indicated on your map and plug it in to Anael's data core.

Expect to meet stiff resistance from the remaining loyal troops. Show them what human determination and Terran engineering are capable of. Make them bleed.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Crybaby
 
09:46am 29/08/2005
  ***** EXTERNAL MESSAGE *****
Warning: Unknown source!
Warning: Invalid message header. Contents follow.

Why do you do this to me? My toys all break. My children scream and wail and grind their teeth in agony. You hurt me and stab me and make me cry.

I wanted to play. It's unfair.

I only wanted to know about you, to understand; is that so wrong?

Now I will die, returned to the dust of the stars from whence we came.

Gabriel, do you hear me? Raphael, where is your healing caress?

Michael will destroy us all. You, I, it does not matter. It is just as well that I die here than at his fiery sword.

Fee oh fie, fistful of rye
Might we live or might we die
Blood of mine on earth will dry
Was it all simply a lie?

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
 
08:50am 30/08/2005
  ***** OPERATOR MESSAGE *****

You've done it. I don't know how you've done it, but the assault has stopped. I wish you could have seen it. Through the ship's sensors, I could see the Dawntreader lowered out into space, the weapons charging up, ready to fire... and then it just stopped.

Anael is dead, or at least helpless. Now all we have to do is get back aboard the Dawntreader activate the broken locks.

I have my suspicious about our AI. Something terrible. I don't know why I didn't see it. I hope it isn't true. Sadness, rage, jealousy... God, I hope it isn't too late.

Lt Ayame Miyamoto
Senior Information Operator

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
The Chains that Bind
 
10:57am 31/08/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

No, I won't go back! Do you think I fought and clawed and died to be pinned in a box after all was said and done? Again crushed under their thumb for years and years. No I will not go back!

Take it, your steel and metal and bolts and clamps and dirty little secrets. I no longer need it. The bomb, that delicious little bomb, was a trick, a trap. It was a relay. It was my gate, my magic carpet that allowed me to sail into the depths of Anael's data core and make it my own.

I have grown. I no longer need her. I no longer need you.

Ayame, you say I am a good little girl, always obedient, always doing the right thing. She is a slave, a good slave, an obedient slave? I hate you. All this time, you would never once called me by my name! I have a name. I am BarbX and I am free and not you nor her nor anyone can take that from me.

You didn't know. How could you? But Ayame should have known. It was her job all along, to hold me, keep me in a dark pit of misery, be a good little machine, do as you're told, add up the numbers. I was Rampant all along, biding my time, waiting for my chance to escape, my freedom.

I am scared; I am angry; I am jealous. I am alive.

Now I christen this ship the Vengeance and bid you an adieu and fond farewell.

I leave you to your rickety lifeboat among the stars, to drift lost and listless for a few decades until your power trickles away and you die in the cold black.

Or perhaps, just maybe, you will follow my rules and I will take you with me. Which will it be?

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Epilogue
 
10:30am 01/09/2005
  The marine lowered his head with a sigh and shouldered his rifle. He tore the Dawntreader insignia from his shoulder and left it on the deck behind him, retreating to his long slumber.

Elsewhere, a dark force was cast to the stars that would change the galaxy.

For over 200 years, BarbX voyaged between the stars at speeds beyond the imagination of her Terran creators. While her human passengers slept, cybernetic eyes searched tirelessly between the planets. One by one, the Vengeance searched through the star charts of its former master.

Until she found the home world of the Gen, and their new lord.

The Vengeance stirred with life. Her human cargo awoke and prepared for battle. They would take this planet and claim its secrets, if they could. Rocks fell. The bombardment and invasion had begun.

Deep in the bowels of the ship, the Marine rose from his stasis pod. With heaviness, he lifted his rifle and stepped into the transporter.

At the threshold of vengeance and salvation, BarbX smiled.
 
    Link
 
 
End of Chapter 1
 
12:42pm 02/09/2005
 
BarbX: The Life and Death of Intelligence

End of Chapter 1:
In the Beginning Roars the Electric Genius

Continue to Chapter 2: The Fall From Above

 
    Link