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Exile in Syberia
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Unit Log, Current Unit Designation WheelMech GRF-1-74-0107C-J
Date 3018-08-26 23:44:11, Log Entry 17

Sometimes I just don’t know when to leave well enough alone.

Manx and I did indeed have that conversation with Spanner and, yes, indeed, he’d pretty much remodeled my old body successfully. At first glance, it didn’t look that different. Well, except now it had a real head. Short legs? Gorilla arms? Yeah, that hadn’t changed. I think, even with the changes, I was happier in my current body. Given I’d previously gotten it shot to pieces, hopefully I’d be able to hang on to it better this time.

While Manx and Spanner worked out the details of Manx’s upcoming transfer, I decided to try something stupid, and look more into the strange computer core labeled as an M-4 drone computer core. I’d been putting it off for more immediate concerns, but finding out about that core, and whether there was another AI in there, would tell me if I even had a way out of the Syberia system.

So, I looked at the various connectors, figuring out which ones went for power, which ones went to a data bus, using what I’d learned of Star League and Terran Hegemony computer architecture during my perusal of the base’s computers. Like so many other Terran systems, it was remarkably standardized, and I soon had a way to run power to it on one hand and connect another computer to it on the other. The only remaining decision was whether I wanted to use the base’s computers as an intermediary, or my own.

Since I didn’t want it taking over the base, I decided, at first, to split the difference, kludging together a portable computer from some of the spare computer cores squirreled away in the base and the DropShip’s cargo hold. An interface would be a problem, since I didn’t exactly have a giant keyboard I could carry around, which left me the options of either a hardwire connection between my own ‘Mech chassis’ computer core, or sticking with the standard wireless interface protocol I used to transfer data with other AutoMechs and the base computers. On one hand, wireless seemed a lot less risky than giving a strange computer a hardwire into my head, especially given all the firewalls between my wireless gear and my own brain.

On the other hand, wireless means there’s no physical wire to cut if something goes wrong. That’s worth considering too.

So, once again, best option available at the time, right? I went to Glyph and explained the situation. To say she wasn’t thrilled was an understatement. She just stared at me for what seemed like forever before finally saying, “This is a stupid idea, and I expect it to backfire terribly. What exactly is it that you expect me to do if things go wrong?”

“Pull the power cable to the core, or the portable computer. That’ll cut the link between me and the core.” That was, in the end, the best idea I could come up with.

“And how do I know if things go wrong?”

Yeah, that I wasn’t sure of. It didn’t exactly endear her to the situation. “This is even more stupid than I thought. You should have Spanner monitor you.”

I shook my head. “No, he’s got his hands full with Manx right now, and he’s not going to know any better than you will if something’s wrong without connecting in himself, and that’s the last thing he should be doing. I don’t even want to tempt him with the possibility.”

“Why?” Glyph asked, confused.

“Because it might take him over entirely.” I admitted.

“But not you?”

I shrugged. “Hopefully not. I’ll be behind seven proxies.”

The next morning, after setting everything up, I set down my PPC, hooked up all the cables, and then sat down as best I could in front of my makeshift cyberdeck. Glyph stood by, ready to pull the cables in the event everything went to hell in a handbasket. Well, assuming we knew what that would look like.

“Ready?” I asked her.

“I don’t know.” Glyph replied honestly.

“Good enough.” I said, making the last power connection for the detached computer core that purportedly belonged to an AI-driven WarShip. I pinged my “cyberdeck” to make the final connection to the core, and waited to see what happened.

And, other than an automated response, nothing happened. OK, next step, try opening just a straight terminal connection. That, at least, got me somewhere, including a set of instructions and options to check the status of the core.

I chose to look at storage, only to find that the core was nearly empty. Not entirely, but almost. No artificial intelligence lurking around in there to talk to.

“It’s empty. Well, not empty. Almost empty.” I said quietly. “Looks like there’s some data in there, but not an AI. Maybe some random memories, but that’s it.”

Glyph nodded, her shoulders relaxing. “What’s next?”

“I take a closer look,” I replied.

I opened up the full sync option to be able to connect directly to the data in question, and all hell broke loose.

It was dark, and I was on a bicycle, wearing combat boots and an orange flight suit. Ahead of me I could see…


…my mother riding her bike, as we turned and started to head down…


…hill, underneath the freeway overpass. We were building up too much speed, though, to make the turn at the bottom of the hill…

“And we’re done.” I announced loudly, disconnecting my session, pulling the plug on the power myself, and stepping back from the M-4 core like it was radioactive. “But, at least I know who the core belonged to.”

“Who?” Glyph asked curiously.


No doubt about it. That was one of my memories, sitting in the primary personality core of what’s purportedly a drone WarShip. Well, I guess that explains what our long-dead Major meant when he said a compatible AI core.

I knew then I’d have to go back into that core and look through the other memories. I still know it.

Just…not today. Even knowing that they were able to put my mother’s elbow back together again, and my own broken shoulder wasn’t as bad. I wasn’t ready to dive through another memory like that right away. There’s only so much emotional baggage you want to unpack at one time.

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