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Exile in Syberia
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Unit Log, VeeMech TDR-1-74-0107C-J
Date <Error – Check CMOS>, Log Entry 4

Getting dragged around by Glyph to examine the remains of the base, and how much I knew about it, quickly taught me a valuable lesson: being used as a potentially valuable historical reference probably doesn’t work well if you have no idea what's going on, and can’t be sure the snippets you do know are even valid.

I still had no idea how I had gotten here. Well, I knew I was somewhere on Syberia, in the California Nebula, and that trying to reach the Inner Sphere, or even a human civilization, was probably a hopeless endeavor. I still had no idea, for that matter, how I found myself wearing the mutant body of a Thunderbolt BattleMech with the markings of the Terran Hegemony instead of my own human flesh and blood. Nor did I have any idea how much of my own memory I could trust. Yes, I remembered being human, but my memory had also been obviously tampered with.

Groundwave (WiS)

Groundwave, Thunderbolt-like AutoMech

Beyond that, I didn’t exactly have a handy map of Syberia, or even the bunker/fortress/whatever where I'd been found. It wasn’t like I’d be able to tell my new hosts how I got there or, more importantly from their perspective, how they and the rest of Syberia got there. This body of mine getting buried before the more recent AutoMech factions formed would explain why I didn’t wear their logos, but why was I wearing the symbol of the Terran Hegemony instead of the Cameron Star of the later Star League Defense Force that replaced it? Transforming BattleMechs were a technology of the Star League Era, after the SLDF had absorbed the Hegemony Armed Forces.

OK, the Terran Hegemony thing could be explained a number of ways. There could’ve been some weird dissident movement in the Hegemony who thought the Star League thing wasn’t working out. Or, it could be just a Star League colonization effort, pulling crap out of storage for some wild ass colonization trip into the middle of nowhere, something they did often enough.

But that would make the most sense if I was actually a Thunderbolt. Thunderbolts didn’t transform, though. Not only were they not built for that, at 65 tons, they were supposed to be too big and heavy to do that. So, later, presumably Syberian, construction. Hence, mystery again.

I could have pictured Jonathan Cameron, who ruled the Star League in the early 28th Century, being the driving force behind Syberia. He was nuts enough, had pushed for autonomous drone WarShips, and was generally his own special kind of paranoid – hadn’t he been rumored to have ordered construction of an automated Newgrange class yardship with its own onboard factories?

Ernyes (Newgarge Class Yardship)

Newgarge Class Yardship (WarShip)

There was also the matter of how I got here in the first place. Or if I really was here in the first place, rather than this being the product of a malfunctioning brain.

Because it was only a malfunctioning brain that would have dreamed up someone like Glyph.

“With the amount of time you presumably spent in this base,” my current source of irritation said, “how can you not know anything about it?”

I so badly wanted to shake my head. “Remember that panic attack I just had after you three woke me up? That’s the first time I ever remember seeing this place.”

Spanner, who’d been following me like my old physical therapist, as if he expected me to fall over any moment, chimed in, as confused, but less frustrated-sounding than Glyph. “But, you just indicated to us that you possessed historical knowledge of our predecessors, the Terran Hegemony and the Star League. While I understand that you recall being human prior to your recent reactivation, rather than an AutoMech, do you not remember this facility at all?”

Telling them that I remember being an early 21st Century human and their entire reality being fiction for a game seemed…inadvisable. Time to stretch the truth a bit, or at least omit the gorier details. “I don't remember ever being here before. When I said I remember being human, it didn’t involve any of…this.” I waved around us with my ridiculous robogorilla arms. “I lived the life of a civilian on Terra. No involvement with BattleMechs, or spaceflight, the military, or anything else that would involve *here*”

“And yet you know about our planet, Syberia,” Glyph smugly pointed out.

Primus Optimal, who had become slightly separated from us as we explored, stopped what he was doing, and instead stared at me with great intensity, which was impressive for a giant robot with limited facial features.

“That is also quite true,” I said quietly.

“How?” Primus rumbled.

Well, if I wanted to sound less crazy, I sure as hell blew that plan out of the water. “I'd love to able to explain it in a way that makes sense,” I said, “but we're way past that point. Give me a moment to think of how to explain this in a way that sounds least impossible. Hell, maybe it'll help me figure out what's going on.”

I hadn't really had time yet to think much about the how or why I ended up here, or who done the deed. For that matter, I’d barely had time to begin to take in what had been done to me. If I ever wanted to see home again, who, how and why were critically important questions, but if I wanted to survive long enough to get there, what had been done, what I was now, was probably more important.

It was time to really think about it all, though, even if briefly. I started with the assumption that I was who I remembered myself to be, flawed, hacked memory notwithstanding. The alternative, that I’d never been human, wasn't something I was prepared to accept.

If I had once been human, but was now an intelligent machine that thought like and remembered being that human, that meant my neural state had to have been copied. At the moment, it didn't matter if that brain scan had been destructive or not: this copy of me here existed.

Turning me into an infomorph presented a number of options on how I could have ended up here. I wasn't a big fan of the Random Omniscient Being idea, but a sufficiently advanced being could have done an imitation, and found a way to transmit information between universes. The simulation hypothesis, either small or large, seemed more likely.

On the large side, maybe those that theorized the universe was a simulation were right. On the small side, maybe it wasn't the entire universe, but just mine, so to speak: I and others could have been injected as characters in some kind of game, set on Syberia. That seemed to be the most likely answer: a flesh and blood version of me had injected a copy of himself at a younger age (because the Earth I remember could never pull this off) into some complicated Battletech game. I have no idea why Original Me would choose Syberia over Niops, or why he would separate me from my family, but right now it seemed like the best answer I had. Now I just needed to explain it.

“AutoMechs are capable of being moved between bodies, correct, as long as the computers your minds run on are intact?”

“Yes, that is correct,” Spanner agreed.

“Is the process simply a transfer of software, or is hardware involved? Can you make exact duplicates of your mental states?”

“In theory, though generally we reuse hardware if possible. I do not recall a case of software-only transfers, and our own directives prohibit direct forks without some randomization where both AutoMech personality instances remain online.”

“OK,” I continued, “you’ve already stated you don’t have much recorded history of the Star League. You don’t have any recorded history of humans having their minds mapped and scanned into AutoMechs, but have heard of research into mind uploads. Here’s the thing, though: humanity has been working on computer emulation of human brain structures and neural mapping as far back as the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The Terran Hegemony also made advances in both artificial intelligence and neural network computing. Spanner already established I use neural networking more than a standard AutoMech, and ‘personality core’ and memory is set up differently, right?”

“We are aware that you stated you were once human and agree its plausibke,” Primus Optimal agreed. “But knowledge of Syberia for someone who had not been here or previously have any knowledge of our world is anomalous, and not explained by this premise.”

“Right,” I said, “but the second part of my panic attack and existential crisis was that my memory has been altered. There’s a block in place around my old name. I can remember that I had one. I can tell you what a my first name meant in ancient Greek, and that it was associated with the captain of the Argo. I can’t tell you what it is. And I suspect that if you said it to me, something in my brain would filter it out.”

Glyph nodded. “Some record of the ancient Greek myths survived, actually. Is your name <redacted>?”

“Yeah, see, you said a word there. Something filtered it out. All I heard was static. But that goes to my point. My memory has been modified, and there are things I’m blocked from knowing. But there are things I do know. About Syberia. About the state of the Inner Sphere. Tell me, you said everything before 2830 is pretty much lost, and that was roughly two centuries ago, right?”

Glyph and Primus Optimal stopped and looked at one another. “Yes.” Primus replied.

“OK, so I know things. Things that already happened. Things that might happen. And, yes, a little about Syberia. But most of what I know is about the Inner Sphere, and my knowledge of Syberia is limited to what at team of humans from Interstellar Expeditions discovers when they briefly visit Syberia and meet you.”

Primus Optimal shook his head. “No such team has visited Syberia, Groundwave.”

I raised one figure. “Yet. Maybe not ever.”

“Then how could you know the future?” Glyph asked.

“I know *a* future. Maybe it will come to pass. Probably it won’t, at this point, at least not entirely. How do I know? Once my mind got scanned, it ceased to be physical. It became purely information. Information can be transmitted, copied. Maybe even between parallel universes, originating in one where that information was available .”

The three AutoMechs simply stared at each other for several seconds, before Glyph said, “Citations needed.”


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