Frontiers

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Humane God

This was just great. Cassidy had found it easier to traverse the vast, grassy marsh, but after an hour or so it of course had to have transitioned back into the already familiar type of swamp she had crossed on her first day.

She pressed her hand into the rough bark of the enormous tree that spiraled upward at least two hundred feet. Its roots seemed firm yet fragile beneath her thin, already somewhat worn-out synthetic soles, and with every step she feared to break through and sink into the muddy darkness, to never resurface.

Her hand automatically tightened around a hanging vine before she leaped for the top of the next large shroom. The ones here were even larger than those she had encountered so far, the biggest spanned more than seven feet. Her heart skipped a beat as it gave way for a moment, her nails dug into the fleshy substance as she knelt to stabilize herself. But she had a mission.

Even if this wouldn’t turn out anything all-powerful or mysterious, it was still a piece of working tech. And Cassidy thought, right about now, she would give anything for something like that. She would locate it, and she would kick it for as much as she needed until it worked for her, allowed her to send a viable distress call to Avalon... or something along the lines.

Cassidy took a shaky breath, then wrinkled her nose. Why did all of these swamps have to stink like – she cried as the vine she held onto snapped and barely caught herself on the rough bark of the tree. Her teeth gritted and she forcefully shoved the incessant curls out of her face. If she had learned anything from her stay here, it was that her stack of biology textbooks had lied to her in that regard.

Cassidy proceeded forward in this manner for another ten minutes. At times, the air felt so sickly and heavy she had to stop and catch her breath or wipe her dripping forehead. The lower atmospheric oxygen level wasn’t exactly helping either. It only made her feel more inept. By the time she first placed her hand on something smooth, artificial, she thought she would pass out any second from the heat and the putrid stench of the swamp.

When her fingers sensed something her brain couldn’t immediately fit into the variety of still unfamiliar organic surfaces around her, Cassidy first looked up. Her eyes widened and her bruised palm carefully placed on the smooth stone. She nearly dropped her APA as she ripped it out of her pocket. “Is this what beckoned me?”

Yet apparently, the monolith was just a monolith this time – decorative, non-functional. Cassidy angrily smacked her hand into it. Then again, perhaps she should view it as a clue she was on the right trek. Her APA steadily pointed her forward, and Cassidy meant to press on when she realized the surface she still clutched was, despite the humid heat – surprisingly cool.

Her gaze wandered ahead and she pushed aside a couple hanging vines only for her jaw to drop in awe. The structure must have either hovered or been suspended at some point. Her hand stretched as though to touch the broken down ring-shaped pieces of alien architecture. The largest one must have, in its original form, been at least a hundred feet in diameter. And there, on the far side... she squinted, was that an entry point? It blinked in a blueish hue, and for as far as she could make out, it led somewhere.

Alien architecture... Cassidy lingered for a moment, thinking over her own choice of words. She hadn’t meant it as such, but the longer she looked at it the more apparent it became this was indeed... alien architecture. In the most literal of senses. Her heartbeat tripled as she fingered for her APA. “Save view.” If there had ever been anything she’d like to show off, back on Avalon, it was certainly this.


To traverse the ruined alien scape turned out harder than traversing the swamp itself, for Cassidy had little cover and little stepping opportunities. By the time she had reached the largest ring, her lower legs were soaked in yellowish mud, and her clothes sticky with sweat and humidity. She pressed her forehead against the cool stone and panted for a solid minute, cursing the low oxygen and her own disinterest in working out for what felt like the hundredth time since the crash.

When she had then caught her breath, she energetically removed herself from the structure. Now wasn’t the time to whine. She’d just consider this her workout. It was never too late for that kind of thing, was it?

It took Cassidy another five minutes of arduous travel to reach what she had previously identified as an entry point. With the last of her strength, she heaved herself over what well-enough resembled some sort of threshold. Perhaps the entrance had been sealed with a forcefield of some kind, though it had long seized working.

Finally on solid ground, she traced the comfortingly smooth wall with her hand as she cautiously inched forward into the darkness. Cassidy shrieked and stumbled when her surroundings suddenly illuminated brightly. As if to light a path for her to follow, a number of what appeared to be motion-activated lights pointed her deeper into the structure.

Her eyes widened to take the miraculous image in. Cassidy barely dared touch the ancient glyphs that densely covered the wall, forming strange patterns. The light shone eerily blue, beckoning her closer. Something in her wanted to feel like she had found herself in a fantastic fairytale, though an uneasy sensation crept up in her stomach cavity at the same time.

If this is a fairytale, it is quite the twisted one, she thought as she cautiously made her way between the lights. Then again... she turned her gaze up and froze in awe at the intricate pattern of the stone, what was the worst that could happen? By this point, she could surely assume any alien life that must have once created this place had long disappeared, or they would have most likely already shown themselves in one or another way.

And if there had been any lingering doubts about the existence of intelligent alien life on this planet until this point, this certainly and indisputably proved it. Cassidy swore her heart beat so pungently the whole facility must hear it. She placed her hand on her wrist connector and urgently hoped it wouldn’t begin beeping again. Humans were not alone.

For how long had she... had her colleagues, her superiors, all of humanity even, searched for something like this? Her mouth curved into a wide grin as she let it sink in... she was, here and now, making actual history. What had that quote been, of the first man to set foot on the moon? A small step for me, but a big one for mankind... Cassidy frowned, well, something along the lines. It mattered little, in the end. What mattered was that she walked here. She was the long-awaited, heroic princess to reach the shrouded, slumbering, alien castle. To... wake it?

She tilted her head as she found herself before a form of device. Well, it reacted to her presence at least. As she held her APA over the device cautiously, requesting an analysis, all it spat out was that this was indeed some form of terminal. But the data on it was inaccessible in its current form. Not enough storage capacity, and, without a universal translator, no valid translation system or reference. Well, figures. Cassidy glared at the terminal, then kicked it only to stumble away, clutching her aching leg. Of course, my stupid APA isn’t compatible with alien tech.

Despite her overwhelming excitement, Cassidy found she had no reason to hurry. This wasn’t an official expedition, and there was nobody to monitor her. She was sore, completely spent, and thirsty, and for whatever here had beckoned her, it had waited for so long it could wait a couple minutes longer, so she decided.

Cassidy sat down her backpack and quickly verified the coordinates matched with her message, then fused a pack of water. The coolness freshened her sore throat and she was tempted to make another pack to spill it over her head but refrained for the sake of saving it.

Sucking on a nutrient pill she made her way down one of the three ways that led away from the chamber with the terminal. She listened to the eerie silence, as opposed to the incessant chirping of the swamp, and contemplated how many promotions this discovery would warranty when she froze in shock.

She blinked and took one, two, finally three steps closer, then winced and cried from the pain of the electric shock the forcefield had sent through her body. A... forcefield. Cassidy stared at the translucent, blueish energy field with round eyes. A working forcefield. Well, the earlier signal must have come from somewhere, so the facility couldn’t be all dead. It still sent a chill down her spine to think after millions of years, there was still something... alive here. Even if only tech.

Her eyes instinctively searched for some form of deactivation button, but before she could move, she perceived a metallic chirp. Cassidy winced around and found herself staring into... what was that? She stepped closer and raised a hand, was that some form of camera?

“Identification in progress. Analyzing compatibility.” Cassidy let out a yelp as an artificial-seeming voice spoke from everywhere and nowhere at once. She watched the forcefield flicker.

“Analysis complete. Compatibility sufficient. Compiling data for status report. Stand by.”

The forcefield flashed once, then it disintegrated. Cassidy stood with her back pressed against the wall for a couple heartbeats, attempting to process what the voice had just said. What kind of compatibility? What... did it want from her?

“Did you... call me?”

Silence.

“Was it you who sent the signal to my APA? What do you want from me?”

There was no reply, and Cassidy shook her head. What had she expected? This facility probably ran on some form of autopilot, it wouldn’t answer her even if it had called her.

She took a deep breath, attempting to suppress the tremble of her hands. It was alright. What’s the worst thing that could happen, she asked herself over and over as she cautiously stepped through the entryway, previously sealed with the forcefield. Whatever lies beyond is probably especially valuable, so they sealed it off. It might be exactly what I am looking for. Though as hard as she attempted, rationalizing it all became harder and harder with the second.

Cassidy found herself in a long, narrow hall. Her steps echoed eerily and hadn’t the motion-activated lights still lit her way, she would have treaded in utter darkness. It was only when she reached the end and stepped into a large, round chamber, that her jaw dropped.

Was this... some form of CPU? It must power and run the whole facility. She carefully reached up but dared not touch the suspended sphere in the middle of the room. It resembled a smaller version of the ruins outside, except this one was very much functional. It consisted of two intertwined rings of the same unknown material, a type of pattern lit up on their inside over and over, though it changed forms every iteration.

If there is anywhere I’ll find out more about who these aliens were, it is here. Cassidy determinately raised her APA. “Give me all the data you can.”

It wasn’t much, her automated assistant spat out. Apparently, the sphere contained something so complex it couldn’t begin to assess even the roughest of its concept. But among what CPU or whatever was stored here, there was some usable data on it as well, apparently in a more compatible language... for however that was even possible.

A strange knot formed in Cassidy’s stomach as she skimmed over her gathered data. For whatever this was, and whoever these aliens had been... this solidified what she had already suspected, that they were eons ahead of humanity in terms of technology. So far her own APA had trouble gathering useful data from what appeared to be their normal computing devices.

The little she found was some sort of schematic analysis of the facility itself. Apparently, its function was to store, though what it stored she couldn’t make out. What stuck out to her was that, in the bit her APA had downloaded and translated, a term she had never heard of before appeared multiple times, as though it resembled a name.

“What’s a... Kreo?”

Her APA had no further data on the term. Cassidy frowned, sensing the urge to smash the useless thing on the wall. She had revered the functions of her tech since she had been a little girl, it had always made her feel connected, up to date. This was the first time it was genuinely letting her down. In this place, her APA was as useless as a vacuum tube computer.

Energetically, she rose to her feet and approached the terminal. Perhaps attempting to use her own tech was the wrong approach. Perhaps she would get farther using the given terminal itself. She let her gaze wander in search of a button or anything interactable. For a second her finger hovered over a glowing spot on the terminal, then she cautiously poked it.

The ring-shaped CPU unit stopped spinning.

Cassidy took a step back instinctively, her heart raced as she watched the rings resume their movement, faster than before. An urgent hum could be heard suddenly, it grew louder and louder until she feared it would burst her eardrums.

“Compatible storage vessel identified. Prepare for transfer.”

Cassidy shrieked at the voice, yet froze in bewilderment when a part of the floor moved to form a type of pedestal before the CPU unit. She frowned and despite her better judgment, she approached again. This wasn’t a coincidence. It had identified something, and it wanted... something from her. A storage vessel? Wasn’t the whole facility meant to store something? Well, Cassidy glared down at her APA, she only really had the one storage vessel.

As she took the couple steps up onto the pedestal she cautiously extended her APA tablet. “Here...? I have storage, though not much... I guess I have a habit of saving too many cat videos and selfies... Sorry...”

She didn’t expect a reply, but not the sudden jerk forward either. Cassidy cried and nearly dropped the APA when the CPU spheres slowed their turn and aligned themselves with her.

“Storage vessel in position. Preparing transfer. Stand by.”

It was like she had suddenly lost all control over herself. For a second Cassidy was certain she had just somehow disconnected from her body to hover above the scene as an incorporeal entity. The glow of the spheres grew and grew until her vision was nothing but strangely serene blue. Then a sharp, searing jet of pain permeated her temple. She could have sworn she screamed, yet she heard not a thing. Her vision momentarily sparked and she thought she must have collapsed, though she sensed no impact with the floor. It’s like hovering in space, she thought for a heartbeat, then her mind went dark.

“Transfer complete. Facility mission accomplished. Shutting down emergency power generation. Entering hibernation mode.”

It was all... static. Cassidy groaned and raised a hand to her pulsing temple. Her vision momentarily fragmented and flashed blue, her head felt like an angry insect swarm was trapped inside, and she shook it to get the piercing static out of her ears.

“Oh... god”, she mumbled, gazing at the APA she still clutched. “What... AH!” She jerked back and stumbled down the couple steps of the pedestal. Her vision blurred with blue static again and for a moment she could have sworn there had been something there... something like the signal she had received, that had led her here, only... it came not from an outer source.

Nonsense, Cassidy cautiously stabilized herself before sitting up. She rubbed her bruised palms and suddenly found it hard to hold her head up. Something wasn’t right. She sensed it perfectly, there was something... something... she gazed at her hands, then raised her APA to use the empty screen as a mirror. Something didn’t feel right. Something was different. Her skin strangely tingled, and her guts clumped together uncomfortably. She suddenly felt the urge to vomit, only by breathing deeply she prevented regurgitating her previous meal on the unnervingly clean floor.

Transfer... Her gaze jerked up. The facility had said something about having completed a transfer. She glanced back down at her APA, then cautiously tapped the screen. “Hello?”

Not in there.

She once more cried and barely prevented slipping on the smooth floor.

Unfortunately, that is.

The voice was different. Cassidy blinked and attempted to prevent hyperventilating as best she could. Different... not just because it was distincter, deeper, less robotic. Not quite like a human male, but close enough. Different because... it had come not from somewhere in the facility. It had come... her hand cautiously raised to hover over her temple. Her mouth opened yet she failed to form coherent words. Where was that voice coming from? She lowered her hand and breathed out, her mind frantically reeled with possible explanations, yet was swiftly cut out –

Your distress and confusion were to be expected but will be considered secondary at the current moment. The voice paused and Cassidy let out an alarmed shriek. Are we... A jolt not unlike a hefty electric shock ran through her body and she twitched. Biological vessel, female. Carbon-based molecular makeup, in functioning yet poor condition, has reached about an eighth of expected lifespan. Sentience of level 5, no significant mental or psychic capabilities. No significant cerebral or otherwise implants besides rudimentary tracking of position and vital signs. The voice remained silent yet Cassidy could have sworn it meant to sigh. You have got to be kidding me.

In a single motion, she jolted up. “WHAT?!”

Stand by the terminal, will you, there is something I must try.

She remained frozen in place. Once more her hand reached up yet remained hovering before her own face. Her mind reeled with hundreds of questions, yet she had only the mental capacity to voice a handful. “Where... are you?“, her eyes searched the room though she was certain her surroundings hadn’t changed. “WHAT... are you? Where –?”

She sensed a surprising jolt of irritation, that felt strangely foreign. As though it hadn’t been an impulse given by her own brain. Judging by what my analysis showed we have more than a century before your bodily functions will fail you, despite your rather short natural lifespan. So I suppose there is time to answer a few questions.

“Answer me!” Cassidy wasn’t certain whether she even needed to speak for the voice to understand her, but there was something... satisfying about saying and hearing what she said out loud.

So, from what I gathered from the data your central computing unit has stored, your species has mastered the art of civil, verbal conversation. Would you mind?

Cassidy froze. You’re not the most polite either, she thought and her mouth opened yet she suppressed the snarky remark.

I beg to differ, so far I have been the only one communicating in concise, coherent sentences.

Her head jerked up. “Did you... are you READING my THOUGHTS?!”

They can hardly be overheard, with how lacking your computing capacity is. Believe me, I would much rather have my peace and quiet back as well.

Her mouth snapped shut and she released a shaky breath. “Fine”, she hissed, attempting to chase all lingering questions, memories, and impressions, to wipe her mind blank. Though this turned out nigh-impossible. “PLEASE answer my questions. This is...“, she released an almost frantic laugh, “this is insane...”

Once more she sensed that familiar jolt of irritation. As for my location, you should have by this point processed. This facility was designed to attract a possible new mobile vessel and transfer... “me” into it. Unfortunately, it was overlooked to instruct it to exclude all biological lifeforms, so... here we are.

“Trans...fer?“, Cassidy blinked rapidly. “Transfer to where exactly?” She blissfully ignored the exceedingly condescending tone for the sake of an answer, though it had her insides writhe in protest.

Your central computing unit. Commonly referred to, by your species, as “cerebrum”.

“You’re in my BRAIN?!”

So it would appear.

Cassidy exhaled and stumbled forward, nearly tripping over her own feet. A strong sense of panic overwhelmed her and she retched, clinging to the structure of the terminal. Her head spun and pulsed. What’s the worst that could happen, she recalled her own conclusion and thought she would pass out any second.

At that moment a foreign yet soothingly cool wave of calm swept over her boiling emotions, quenching her imminent panic attack along with the nausea. Were it possible for you to rid yourself of me by expulsing the contents of your stomach, I would have informed you of it.

She shakily inhaled. “That’s... I...”

There is no imminent threat. Though the facility has shut down, it is designed to be safe.

“Okay”, she took a deep breath, then a second one. “Okay. My... brain.” The thought still had her insides writhe uncomfortably. “So you are... you?“, her nails dug into the surface of the terminal. “What... are you? Some form of AI?“, she squinted, “You said the facility called me here... was that your doing? ARE you the facility... or something?”

Not quite, the voice seemed to hesitate. I did not have a part in calling you. I was merely stored here, for retrieval by a vessel. I suppose this must have been arranged with my consent, though I do not recall it. My access to most data regarding past events seems to be cut off. She sensed a slight surge of irritation. Though I can tell you this much, I was not in any form artificially created. Well... not by your kind’s understanding of “artificial creation”, at least. This seems a somewhat contradicting and vague terminology.

“Well, I mean – wait”, Cassidy frowned, and against her will, her heartbeat elevated. “Are you... I mean... were you... alive, at some point?”

Were? For the first time, the voice displayed amusement. I am as alive as you. A consciousness does not require a physical body to exist and “live” if you like. Another strange piece of terminology, that. Everything you call “physical” is artificial, biased, and fabricated nuisance at best, as easily formed and manipulated as a thought or a process. Though I suppose, as of this point, I have... devolved into requiring a physical form. How very unfortunate.

Her heart beat so loudly she was certain the whole facility could hear it. “Do you mean to say you were... I mean are... one of the aliens who built this place? Like, an actual extraterrestrial lifeform?”

The foreign surge of mirth grew. It is quite amusing your species is evidently space-faring yet still refers to lifeforms that do not originate from your planet as “alien”. Then again, considering the kind of primitive mentality your kind seems to indulge in, it is perhaps a suitable term.

This time, Cassidy was certain the frustration was her own. “This is... just great. My whole life”, she shook her head, “my WHOLE life I have dreamed of encountering an intelligent, extraterrestrial lifeform and when I then do, I get the entitled, presumptuous prick. Thanks.”

Do you think I am any more pleased about this arrangement?

She scoffed.

Your “whole life” has, by your species’ time measurement scale, barely spanned two decades, whereas I have waited in this facility for... as it appears, sixty to seventy million years. Only to end up stuck in an uncooperative, irritatingly uncomfortable heap of biological matter. Which of the two of us is in the worse spot here, would you say?

Cassidy slapped her flat hand on the still terminal. “Work!”

What do you think you are doing?

“Reactivating this stupid thing to get it to take you back!”

Believe me, were it that easy, I would long be out of here.

Cassidy cried when suddenly a surge of sharp pain pierced her skull from within. She pressed her palms to her temples and sunk to the floor as a swell of weakness overwhelmed her. A strange array of blueish lights flashed before her eyes and for a second she was firmly convinced her skull was about to crack open from within.

Non-compatible for telepathic or telekinetic forms of interaction, as expected.

Cassidy groaned as the pain faded, yet remained kneeling on the floor. “I could have told you this had you just ASKED!”

You have had a mentally superior member of a different species attempting to telepathically communicate from within your cerebrum before?

“NO!“, she groaned, “Was there... a chance for this to work even though humans don’t have telepathic abilities?”

I could only be certain after I tried. Though for as it seems, not only is your body in somewhat mediocre condition, it also renders me utterly unable to interact with my surroundings. How you bear to live in such a restricting, weak prison of biological matter is a mystery I very much would like to understand, though perhaps another day. For now, we hardly have a choice but to cooperate. I strongly suggest you make it your priority to fabricate or find me a more suitable vessel, as soon as by all available means possible.

“Excuse me?“, Cassidy slowly rose again, “First of all, you’re not my boss, I SUGGEST you treat me with more respect if I am to do anything for you. And second of all, don’t you dare badmouth biology or... ME, for that. I don’t know how that’s in your species, but I sort of IDENTIFY with my body. And I like it the way it is, so zip it.”

Right. This time she actively combatted the foreign frustration. Your species has still not evolved past viewing biological matter and consciousness as intertwined. My bad.

“You don’t sound like you’re sorry.”

I never said I was.

An exasperated groan escaped her mouth. Her hand raised to wipe a strand of curls from her face. Was she truly going to be stuck with this... pretentious jerk in her head?

Not if you do as I say, and find me a new vessel. Besides, the voice let through a surge of amusement, I am evidently superior in both level of sentience, development, and intelligence. So you hardly have any right to refer to me in that way.

“Intellectual superiority doesn’t make you a superior lifeform. And... what does “level of sentience” even mean? Sentient is sentient!“, she angrily turned from the terminal.

Not exactly, for –

“You know what, I don’t even want to know. All I want is for you to get the hell out of my head. So fine”, she exhaled, “I’ll find you a new vessel or whatever. But only if you promise to then leave, and never grace my presence ever again, after.”

That is one condition I haven’t any issue with.

Cassidy barely registered the echo of her steps in the long hallway. Her head still spun, part of it refused to acknowledge what had just happened. Though she sensed the slight, irritating tingle of static on the inside of her skull as ever. This was not real, she repeated to herself, vaguely aware he... it? Could hear her. Somewhat irritatedly, she halted. “Wait, you –”

Be free to refer to me as a male, I believe that would be the correct term in your language.

“Get the hell out of my thoughts”, she mumbled, well aware... he had no real reason to oblige. For he apparently had never heard of something such as simple decency. “You...“, she stopped in the entrance to the hall she had left the rest of her things in, “Wait. What do I actually call you?”

He remained quiet for a while, though she faintly sensed an unnerved tingle. I am... uncertain. I already mentioned my access to data regarding my person and past has been cut off.

“Oh, don’t tell me you expect me to name you. I mean, I name everything I see, but only really the inanimate things, so... take an educated guess on the quality of those names.”

It hardly matters what you call me. A name is as exchangeable as a body.

“Fine then. I’ll think of something... later.” Cassidy halted in the large hall again, to take a last look at the strange murals covering the walls. “Wait... the APA gave me that one term it couldn’t identify... do you perhaps know what it means?” She brushed the wall with the tips of her fingers. It somewhat resembled what could have been a star or sun. “I believe it was... “Kreo”.”

So would be the designation of my species if you were to put it in your language.

“Oh!”, she cautiously raised her APA to take a picture of the mural. “So... what is all this? And hold on... how do you even speak my language? My tech wasn’t able to translate back from the language these terminals use.”

She thought she sensed a surge of slight amusement. I don’t think you quite understand what happened when I was transferred over into your cerebrum. All data stored here is accessible to me, including anything regarding your species’ language. Had it been more complex it would have taken me an hour or so to master. As simplistic as it is, it happened almost automatically.

“You still haven’t answered what this is”, you prick, she added mentally before remembering he could hear her thoughts. Though surprisingly, he chose to ignore it.

How many times must I mention I have no access to any data regarding my past? I am uncertain. Were I to take an educated guess, I would say the artistic illustration of a galaxy or cluster. Perhaps it was the location of our... my Homeworld.

“It looks great”, Cassidy hesitated with her hand gently on the mural. “I’m sorry you lost your memories. That must suck. I can’t even imagine having no recollection of who you are or where you’re from.”

It is non-essential at the moment, regardless. As nonchalant as he sounded, Cassidy had the creeping suspicion he cared more than he let on.

“So...” She stopped herself before she could ask for more about his people. Well, this was just fantastic, she grimly thought, I finally meet a sentient alien, and neither can he tell me more about his origin or species, nor is he particularly great to have around.

So, why are we lingering?

Cassidy raised her head in annoyance. The static seemingly intensified though she attempted to suppress it. “Why not? It’s not like I have anywhere to go.”

Because you have stranded here, with no way back to your space station.

“Will you stop poking around in my memories, it’s exceedingly rude!“, she cried and turned. “You know, if you want to know more about me, just ask!”

But it is faster this way, and it produces the same result. I do not understand the reason for your agitation.

She groaned. “Just... stop, please. If you’re already reading my active thoughts, at least leave my memories alone.” He remained quiet as she finally turned towards the door. At that moment, the automated lights around her went dark. Cassidy winced and stumbled back, but she was right by the door anyway. Her APA had an inbuilt flashlight, it wasn’t as comfortable as the facility’s light, but it sufficed to find her way out. But when she then reached the exit, it was as dark out as it was inside.

She released a frustrated groan and stared up at the gorgeous, twin-mooned sky with contempt. Should she attempt to make it back to her base in the dark? She tapped her APA screen, activated her wrist connector, and waited for the beacon function to find its way. Her heart sunk at the number it displayed. “Twenty miles, really? I’ll never make it back to base today.”

She expected some snarky remark, instead, she got something else. Your energy levels are low. Nutrient intake and hydration are recommended, as well as a recharge of energy reserve.

She couldn’t prevent a light grin. “Hey, are you worried about me?”

I am worried my vessel will collapse and seize functioning, for, with how I am currently in it, it will end me as well.

Her grin vanished. “Figures. Well, I guess we’re making camp here.” She stared at her screen with worry. “I’m just going to... assume nothing in close proximity wishes to eat me. I swear to god if something leaps from under that murky swamp water surface I will lose it.”

This is strange... She twitched as a wave of static momentarily blurred her vision. You used the term “god” as an expression twice now, yet you seem to not be religious. Is there something I’m missing?

Cassidy sighed as she pulled herself on top of the structure, to have an unobstructed view of the night sky. “No, it’s just a saying. It doesn’t mean anything.”

You... seem to harbor a fascination for history with a focus on anthropology and biology, as well as ancient religions and mythologies.

“I said get OUT of my memories!“, she cried, only then remembered she didn’t have to scream for him to sense her anger. She bit her lip. “But yes, I do. It doesn’t have anything to do with using that expression though.” She pensively popped a nutrient pill. “Just in case you were wondering, Greco-Roman Mythology was always my favorite. There’s just something about the idea of gods acting like humans that’s incredibly fascinating.”

It appears this concept is widely liked by your kind.

“You know...“, Cassidy tilted her head, “the way you act, it’s kind of similar. You claim to have all these great powers and be oh-so-superior”, she mockingly gesticulated with both hands, “but in the end, I think you’re just trying to conceal that you’re just as real and flawed and scared as me.”

Oh, I am superior. She resumed grinning. Were I in a body that would complement my abilities instead of suppressing them, things would be very different.

“I bet.” Though he remained quiet, she had a feeling she had gotten the sarcasm across. “I bet... if only you had your abilities, you’d have me fly out of here, right? Or even better, you’d have the sun miraculously rise at your will!”

Why would you call the star this planet orbits a sun?

Cassidy froze. “Ah, I guess this one is just a normal star... on my planet, we refer to –”

To your own star as the “sun”, that much I gathered. Even though it still makes little sense for you to use the term, as you seem to have never set foot on your species’ Homeworld. Before Cassidy could reply, he continued – And for your information, I would provide you a safe passage to your camp easily. Though to enhance the speed of the planet’s rotation I would need a bit of time and equipment. Everything is possible if you just try hard enough for long enough.

Cassidy laughed. “Oh, sure. I want to see that. You making the sun rise. You know what, there we have it. Thinks of himself as a god though acts like a mortal, talks big, and gets cranky when he doesn’t get what he wants... claims to have powers over the sun- eh, day-night cycle... and big-time gets on my nerves with his attitude and presumption. I think I’ll call you... Apollo.”

There was a moment of silence. The one Greco-Roman god you seem to have the biggest aversion towards... though I am not entirely sure why. Then again, your personal opinion hardly matters. The name will suffice.

“Oh, you like it. Don’t even pretend you don’t.”

It is quite satisfying to be named after someone your kind once revered as a deity. And quite fitting.

“If I could slap you, I would.”

I would not recommend. She ignored him. Though... Apollo hesitated and she sensed a slight surge of unease, for some reason I cannot shake the feeling the role I played in the past matched more that of Cassandra.

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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.