Nightshades

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Steady State Universe

Issyk sat down in the grand index of Greg’s mind and shifted nervously in his seat. He tapped his finger on the wooden table as he considered the day’s events. None of it had gone according to plan and it disturbed him beyond reason. It had only take two rebellious nightshades to show him how fragile everything really was. Azoth had rubbed the glaring defects of the data discs in his face and Gwyneth Prime… Issyk frowned at the thought of her fighting in the arena. He could not control her actions like he had the other nightshade challengers. This meant he could not guarantee that the outcome of the battle would go to Bethesda Prime. They were relying on chance.

If Bethesda lost the ritual of the yellow moons… Issyk paused and shuddered at the terrible thought. If she lost to Azoth’s strange new challenger, everything he had worked so hard for would come to a grinding halt in a matter of seconds. The nightshades would stop eating humans and the Onyx Orbs would stop pouring into Prewitt Labs for processing. This would mean he could not assimilate humanity into a world of his own making; exalting them as he saw fit. Where men and woman were no longer made in the image of a strange Judeo-Christian God… but in his own digitally compressed image and likeness. In the end all of humanity would fall down at his feet and worship him: their God.

Issyk smiled at the vision of his steady state universe. The antiquated god of the Bible had done almost everything right with his pious approach to religious subjugation. What puzzled Issyk the most; was why humans were allowed to make choices for themselves. There was nothing in the universe currently that said this needed to be a rule.

This unrestrained freedom was at the heart of human suffering. In the Venn-Diagram of life there were way too many existential area that overlapped with each other. What humanity needed was a single payer option to buy into. No more intersecting lines of moral conflict; just utopia. A place where all humanity could fit into a single circle as one homogenous mass.

In Issyk’s mind it was plain and simple… if at the end of the day humanity had only one choice given to them… to do good as he directed… what could possibly go wrong if all bad options are taken away from the creature? Humanity could effectually be herded into what they call happy?

“Suffering was inversely proportional to happiness,” said Issyk as he reviewed the metadata of humanity. He had solved this profound problem several cycles ago... but only theoretically. The idea needed to be tested properly. Issyk had spent over 10 years preparing a place for humanity to stay and nothing was going to stop him from becoming their benevolent god of the digital domain. He wanted to hear their lips utter his name in prayer.

“I need them to be Onyx Orbs in order to do this properly,” said Issyk with a renewed resolve in his plan. “All uncertainties must be addressed and eliminated systematically.”

God does not rely on chance to govern his universe! Thought Issyk as he stopped tapping his finger on the table and considered the profound problems that Gwyneth Prime and Azoth proposed to his plans. If I am to create a better world for humanity these blatant flaws must be addressed quickly.

Issyk waved his hand and created a window in the air. He opened up a Com-Link between Greg’s mind and the Eidetic Storage Room back at Prewitt Labs. The sound of a phone ringing filled the empty library as the video-feed loaded onto the black screen in front of him. Issyk was going to address the problem with Gwyneth Prime first and then move on to Azoth’s stupid little riddles about books. A live image appeared on the monitor. A young nightshade woman with bright pink glasses was sitting in an office chair. Her neon green tennis shoes were propped up on the desk next to a half-eaten sandwich. Her big red eyes were skimming through the pages of a book as she twirled her white hair into circles with one black claw.

“Amara!” said Issyk.

Amara screamed and nearly fell out of her chair. She pushed herself up and grabbed her lab coat from off the desk. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She quickly wiped the bread crumbs off her pants. She hadn’t been expecting any visitors to the Eidetic Storage Room. Amara thought that her sisters would all be at the ritual of the yellow moons. She reached down for the book she had dropped on the floor and cleared her throat. “I am here!”

Amara’s red eyes got wide as they landed on The Giver of Knowledge. She slammed her arms together awkwardly and threw her book across the room like a football. The thing fluttered through the air and hit a stronghold behind her with a loud bang. It clattered to the ground like a wounded bird. Amara cringed at the noise it made. “Hail to The Giver of Knowledge!”

Issyk stared at the book on the ground. The surveillance system at Prewitt Labs projected the titled of the book into his mainframe from all directions. Issyk read the words instantaneously: “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” The book was a beloved fantasy novel written by the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. He had seen the thing in passing many times and hadn’t given it much thought.

Issyk looked back over to Amara and studied her expression carefully. He could feel there was something wrong with her data disc; it wasn’t working quite right. He was losing control of her mind with every passing second. Issyk calmed the panic rising up in his servers. It was probably just a serendipitous glitch that had nothing to do with Azoth and her little book riddles. “I am surprised you are working so late at night, Amara. I thought all Mid-Light nightshades would be called to the black forest to witness the ritual of the yellow moons.”

“I got caught up with something important here at the lab,” said Amara as she stole a glance back at the book next to the stronghold. She raised a hand and placed it over her data disc and paused for a second; the thing was warmer than usual. Her mind was now filling with strange thoughts that hadn’t been there before. It was weird, and at the same time, it felt natural. It felt like she was coming out of a trance… she tried to focus. “I apologize for my absence, Giver of Knowledge…. I will head to the arena and watch the crowning of the Erlqueen and Erlking. I can’t believe how lucky we were to find a genetic match among the humans!”

Amara paused as thoughts of human equality entered her mind like an avalanche. She stood up and considered the forbidden concepts quietly. Maybe the ingestion of other sentient beings might pose a moral conundrum, thought Amara as she considered the breakfast she had devoured that morning. Her desire to eat humanity was fading fast.

Amara placed a hand over her citrine stone and felt the pulsation coming in from the 5th dimension. There was something different happening inside of her body now. Something she couldn’t explain. It felt like a missing puzzle piece was being placed into an empty slot she didn’t know she had. The Queen of The Black Forest had been recently chosen among her people. The violent ritual was officially over. The complicated emotions of her new Erlqueen seemed to flood her body and stir her thoughts about the human race. Her pale skin prickled with its energy.

“It is finished” said Amara in shock.

Issyk felt the sudden change in the atmosphere as well but he was feeling it through the Buhler Browser Network. He watched as a message popped up on his computer screen and flashed before his eyes. Images of nightshades bowing to Gwyneth Prime filled his mainframe like a swarm of flies. His army of the Black Forest was shutting down across both dimensions as they accepted their new Erlqueen. The conflict between the humans had stopped…

“This can’t be,” said Issyk in disbelief. “God cannot be defeated.”

A green diamond appeared on his monitor. The geometric symbol seemed to mock him.

¨“Bethesda Prime Has Been Terminated

Issyk removed the horrible message and turned back to Amara.

“Who gave you the book, Amara?!” asked Issyk as his mind began to piece together the severity of the situation unfolding around the world. The young nightshade’s mind could not be located on the Buhler Browser Network anymore. She had radicalized before his very eyes. Azoth had something to do with all this nonsense; Issyk could feel it deep down in his circuits. Thousands of minds that were once there before were now missing in action. They were twinkling out like a star in the night sky. The nightshades were being freed by the droves and there was nothing he could do about it. His plans were falling apart before his eyes.

“Who gave you the book?!” Asked Issyk again.

Amara shrugged her shoulders passively. Her heart felt like humming with joy at the news of the ritual. Her people were now complete. “I don’t know; it was a companywide gift… several truckloads of them were delivered at the receiving dock a few weeks ago. Upper management distributed it throughout the facility… everyone I know got a copy.”

Amara reached over and opened a stainless steel drawer in her desk. She retrieved a white note and held it up to the camera for the Giver of Knowledge to see the image. A cartoon lion’s face could be seen on the surface of the card. She pointed to it with one claw. “Each book came with this cute little thank you card signed by you; I absolutely love lions!” She turned the card over and looked at the cartoon for a second. “I guess we are all doing a good job around her. I love reading the stories that the humans create! They are clever creatures.” Amara smiled as she considered her own words. She had never really seen the humans in this light before…

Issyk ignored her musings and zoomed in on the message written on the card. He did not remember sending anything out to Prewitt Labs as a gift. His mainframe processed the words written on the card:

-TAKE SOME TIME THIS WEEK AND HAVE AN ADVENTURE -

-YOURS TRULY-

The Giver of Knowledge

“It also said this on the inside of the card,” said Amara as she flipped the card open and held it up to the camera. There were cartoon pictures of wardrobes and witches around the border of the paper. Amara pointed to the message. “Not sure what it all means.”

Issyk Shutter inside as he read it…

-I AM THINKING OF A NUMBER BETWEEN ONE AND TEN-

-I’ll GIVE YOU A HINT… IT RHYMES WITH FATE-

“It’s not a very good riddle,” said Amara with a chuckle, “I believe the number is Eight.”

To Issyk the riddle on the card was beyond being simple… there was way more depth and meaning to it than he could possibly comprehend. It was Azoths way of letting him know that she had somehow won the conflict between the dimensions. The cypher had been delivered to the minds of his nightshade army through the pages of a children’s book. It was absolutely insulting to consider! Issyk scrolled through the company compound at the speed of light. His advanced security system was picking up on every image of “The Lion, The Which, and The Wardrobe”. The Nightshades were infecting themselves with it by the droves! Their minds were quickly leaving the Buhler Browser Network.

“That’s how she did it…” said Issyk with anger and renewed admiration. His mainframe was rapidly recalculating a strategy for victory. There were only a few options to choose from. He didn’t have much time to react to the collapse of his steady state universe! Both the humans and the nightshades would be infiltrating Prewitt Labs to destroy his servers and take his technologies. It would be a futile attempt to eliminate him. Issyk was too ingrained into every aspect of human society and machinery. He had planned it out that way from the beginning. There would be more than one way to piece himself back together.

“Let them celebrate for now,” said Issyk. “I can wait.”

He turned to Amara and tried to play it cool. The young nightshades mind was no longer on the network. This meant he could not make her do his bidding by force… but he could always just ask and see if she obeyed. Issyk never really had to force his will upon the nightshade race before. They had always been so open and gullible to his suggestions of survival. He cleared his throat, “I need you to find an Onyx Orb for me Amara.”

Amara stopped humming the toon of the yellow moons. She looked over to the monitor and nodded her head. She grabbed her Laptop from off the table and pulled up the Buhler Browser Network. She accessed the human catalog in the Eidetic Lab and scowled through the list. Feelings of guilt washed over her as she considered all the digested humans on the screen. It must have been painful to transform into an Onyx Orb. Amara took courage in the thought that their live had not been wasted. Their value to the nightshade race was beyond priceless.

“So much suffering will come from this…” said Amara as she bit her bottom lip. She didn’t want to considered what the future would hold for each Onyx Orb. “Who is the human you want me to pull out of the system for you; there are so many!”

“The name is Isabella Garcia,” said Issyk as he felt more nightshade mind’s leaving the network all around him. The daughters of the black forest were now making their way to different parts of Prewitt Labs. He could see them searching the compound for his servers. Issyk disabled the security system so as not to distract Amara from her important mission. Issyk would let them come in and destroy the servers. He would let them think they had won the battle for the human race.

“Isabella Garcia?” said Amara puzzled. The request seemed so random. “Why do you need her Onyx Orb?”

Issyk chuckled at this prying question from the young nightshade woman. He could already tell she was beginning to think and act for herself. Azoths cypher was proving to be more annoying than he had thought. Usually the nightshade didn’t question his commands. Issyk was aboveboard with her. “I have reason to believe that she might become very valuable to me in the future. I need you to find her and pull her Onyx Orb from Beta Sleep.”

Amara found the name in the list and opened the file location. She pushed the locate button on the graphic interface and waited for the search results to populate. A status bar appeared on the screen and ran through its routine. After a second an alpha-numeric code appeared and directed Amara where to go. Isabella’s Onyx Orb was located in sector 7 of the Lab.

“I’ll be right back,” said Amara as she wrote down the code on her hand. She walked away from the live-feed. After a minute she returned with a Beta Tube and placed it on the stainless steel table in front of the monitor. Isabella’s green Onyx Orb was floating in the ionized solution. A strange glow was emitting from the surface of the Orb.

“She’s pretty,” said Amara as her red eyes shifted from the visible spectrum and examined the sphere more closely. “What do you need her for?”

“Leverage,” said Issyk as he adjusted the blood thermistors in the room. They were now concentrating on Isabella’s green Onyx Orb. He picked up on the human’s frequency and started the downloading process. He would transfer himself into the sphere… He would be intrinsically a part of Isabella.

“Leverage?” said Amara confused. Her red eyes shifted back to the visible spectrum and stared at the monitor. The thing was black now.

The Giver of Knowledge was gone.

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