Dyson's Angel

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Chapter 24

Moira awoke feeling significantly better, except for the pain in her ears from the blaring alarm which sounded throughout the ship.

She flung herself out of bed naked, ripped the emergency locker open, and slipped into the pressure suit she kept close at hand when she slept. By the time her eyes had cleared she had already sealed the body of the suit and was twisting locking ring on the helmet.

“What in all the hells is wrong with you?” she shouted.

“We have located the anomaly,” the ship replied, speaking through Moira’s implants. “It is hiding in the processing core.”

Moira swore and palmed the door control, then hurried towards engineering as she said, “How did you find it?”

“We used the spare midge swarms to search our interior while you slept and… wait… go to the rear cargo hold.”


“It’s moved. We’re tracking it in the rear cargo hold now.”

“How the hells did it get from processing to the cargo bay so quickly?” Moira asked aloud, striding past the airlock into engineering.

“Through the walls.”

Moira stopped, catching herself on the wall of the corridor. “Wait. No Zau, do not tell me this thing is some sort of midge swarm. Did you temning create this thing with your own nanotech and come up with the whole anomaly line to cover yourself? ”

“We are not the source of the anomaly, nor is it comprised of midges. We are unable to determine {what it is made from/if it even exists} because…” the ship’s words descended into a polyphonic chaos.

Moira tightened her fist and swore. This was the last thing she needed now.

Zau/Heraxo had turned all of the cargo bay lights up to maximum, flooding the chamber with bluish white light so bright that Moira had to adjust the sensitivity of her eyes to avoid squinting. She pinged Zau/Heraxo, but the ship’s mind only replied by throwing a tactical overlay into Moira’s virtual vision.

Moira looked where the pulsing red square indicated and halted, fingers tingling in surprise. In the midst of the cargo bay, surrounded by a crowd of remoras, a living shadow twitched and churned, its surface undulating to the rhythm of currents that Moira would never feel. Faint traceries of exotic energies danced across its surface like rainbow colored lightning, occasionally spewing bursts of radiation that registered on the status interface of Moira’s suit.

Moira stepped slowly towards the anomaly, commanding her visual buffer to record even as she pulled up several pieces of analysis software. Her mesh chewed on the data gathered by the visual pickups in her eyes, trying to work out the structure of the anomaly, to find a surface which it could measure. Despite all its efforts, the best that her mesh could tell her was that there was… something… hovering in the air amid all the remora drones.

“What are you?” Moira whispered, scanning the readouts.

“I am alone,” the anomaly replied.

Moira froze. Her left hand started to tremble and she pressed it against her leg, willing herself to remain calm. That didn’t just happen. That couldn’t have just happened, she thought.

“Please, help me,” the anomaly said, its voice reaching out of the void and filling the whole of the cargo bay, even though it was no louder than a whisper.

“What are you?” Moira asked.

The anomaly pulsed, the edge of its blackness creeping outwards for an instant before it folded in on itself again and, impossibly, bloomed to nearly twice its previous size, causing the surrounding remoras to jump backwards .

“Don’t touch it,” Moira sent to Zau/Heraxo. She examined the readouts from her mesh and narrowed her eyes in frustration. “I can’t tell what it’s made from. The spectral results are all over the place.”

“If you {leave/stay} I can vent the bay and dump {you both/it} into void,” Zau/Heraxo replied through her suit com system.

“No. I want to…” Moira started, then halted and felt her mouth drop open as the anomaly spoke again.

“Please do not eject me. I am lonely.”

“Are you getting this, Zau?” Moira whispered.

“The communication goes beyond the auditory range. The anomaly is emitting similar signals in multiple wavelengths on the visual and auditory spectra. We recognize multiple human and machine languages.”

How is that possible? Moira thought.

“I know only what I learned from you,” the anomaly said.

“Drek! Zau, this thing’s a hian pizda psychic,” Moira shouted, stepping back from the anomaly. Her defensive software was screaming for her to make a run for the nearest arms locker and turn it loose on the anomaly, but she knew that it would be a futile gesture. This thing had somehow passed through the containment barriers between the cargo bay and engineering, slipping through combined meters of high density alloys and ceramic composites, some of which could stop anything short of neutrinos. Even midges could not get through some of that shielding.

“Please help me,” the anomaly repeated. “I do not know this place.”

“May we vent it now?” Zau/Heraxo asked over the general address speakers.

“What place are you talking about?” Moira asked, ignoring the ship and, with no small measure of courage, stepping forward again to address the anomaly. “This ship? The zone? I can’t help you unless I know what you are.”

“I am a fragment. A shard. A mere filing of what I once was. Before the event I swam the seas of eternity, gliding through time with the ease of a leviathan piercing the thermocline.”

“{Jesu/Yvthax’w}, we’ve captured a kuring exo poet,” Zau/Heraxo said.

“Contentedly I existed for untold ages. I witnessed the birth, death, and untold variation of the multiverse, feasted upon the souls of the faithful, and birthed ages beyond number. I am all that you have imagined and feared, dreamed and longed for. I was the closest thing the human race will ever find to a god and more powerful than the greatest Ra’x hive queen. All this and more was I, and yet I fell, splintered away from my true self by a chance of fate and a malfunctioning five dimensional spatial stitcher.”

Moira stood in stunned silence as the anomaly spoke. Some commanding quality of the omnipresent, soothing voice compelled her to fall to her knees in awe at the power before her, but the overriding skepticism that had calcified her soul since Zau’s death held her locked upright. She would not bow before a pillar of cloud or a cracking storm of impossible lightning, not without proof.

“If you’re a god, what do you need us for?” Moira demanded. In her head the words had seemed powerfully skeptical and demanding of truth, but in her ears they sounded no more significant that the whining of a petulant child.

“I command you to…” the anomaly faltered.

“To?” Zau/Heraxo said.

“You were posturing, weren’t you?” Moira asked.

“Maybe a little,” the anomaly admitted, its voice losing some of its aura of command.

“Great. Just, great. We’ve picked up a sniveling lier,” Zau/Heraxo said.

“What are you, really?” Moira asked. To Zau/Heraxo she sent, “Just let me deal with this, will you?”

“I told the truth, actually. The device you call a jump core malfunctioned and I was cut off from my progenitor. I grew from that fragment, feeding off the energies of my native dimensions whenever you activated the drive until I grew complex enough for sentient cognition to resume.”

Zau/Heraxo replied with an unintelligible string of symbols that Moira interpreted to be a commingling of human obscenities and untranslatable alien equivalents. For her part, Moira arched her eyebrows and said, “That seems pretty far fetched.”

“Speaking as the woman who uploaded her dead girlfriend into the cognition processor of an exo void ship, I take that as a compliment.” The anomaly shimmered and pulsed silently for several seconds, then said, “I understand this is most irregular, but I feel that you are the closest thing I have to family in this dimension. I have analyzed the structure of your physical bodies and determined that you are the only sentient entities within convenient proximity. As such, I selected your mental structures as sources for my linguistic, cultural, and scientific data, though the my cognition model is based upon a template provided by my progenitor in an act of simulations exile and compassion. Additionally, I feel owe you a debt.”

“For what?” Moira asked.

“Birthing me. Sheltering me as I grew. Providing me the energy I needed to manifest as a thinking entity. My progenitor granted me the knowledge of myself necessary to grow after I became trapped here, even as it rejected me for being contaminated by this realm.”

Moira raised her eyebrows, looked up towards the ceiling of the cargo bay, and shook her head. She looked back at the anomaly and said, “Are you saying that you downloaded everything in my brain? Is that how you speak my language?”

“Your memory structure and that of the other intellects aboard this spatial construct which you refer to as a ship. Yours was by far the easier to comprehend, though the memory schema of the other intellects, while complicated by multiple crosslinks, variations, and incomplete structures has a certain designed elegance that your naturally grown mind pattern lacks.”

Moira nodded, slowly. If the anomaly had actually learned to communicate by analyzing her mind, and had truly mapped the structure of Zau/Heraxo’s processing core, then perhaps it would be capable of helping her extract Zau’s personality from that of Heraxo. Was it possible, she wondered, that the accident which had resulted from Zau/Heraxo attempting to repair their own damaged jump core might actually provide exactly what she had been searching for all these years?

“Perhaps,” the anomaly said. “The structure of the hybrid entity is incredibly complex.”

“We find the anomaly’s probing ways {disturbing/comforting},” Zau/Heraxo said.

“Yeah, I figured you’d be of several minds on that count,” Moira said. She looked at the anomaly and said, “I’m going to need to think this over. Do you understand the concept of death? Of the irreversible cessation of cognition?”

“Certainly. As I recall such occurrences are immensely rare among my progenitors, but my analysis of stored memories from the minds aboard this ship provide a significant dataset from which to extrapolate.”

“Do you mean to harm me or anyone else aboard this ship? To cause death or suffering?” Moira asked.

“Certainly not. If you are willing to have me I would call you my family.”

“We don’t trust it,” Zau/Heraxo said through Moira’s implants.

“Neither do I,” Moira replied, speaking aloud. If the anomaly could read her mind, it was pointless to try hiding anything from it. “But as long as we’re playing host to something that can read minds and learn our language in a matter of hours, we might as well all play nice. Can you all agree to that?”

“Of course!” the anomaly said, its voice rich with enthusiasm.

“We would prefer it gone,” Zau/Heraxo added, “but we could say the same of {you/us}.”

“We just want to be friends.”

“Temno off, you alien freak.”

Great, Moira thought. Now I get to play nursemaid to a hyper intelligent pandimensional baby.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be nice to the ship’s mind,” the anomaly said. Its inscrutable surface pulsed outward in a terrifying imitation of opening arms.

“Let’s get one thing straight now,” Moira said, turning her back on the anomaly and stalking towards the door. “At least pretend that you aren’t constantly reading our minds, will you?” And think of a name for yourself, she added, mentally. “I’m going to get out of this suit and then we’re going to see about finishing our gorram mission.”

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