Furies of Yesterday

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Protocol 2 woke expecting either the announced entry to Reginal 1A.1 solar system, or imminent disaster, but neither was the case. The Monitor, a previously unknown entity that now possessed him passed through his circuits, from his skin to internal banding. His had been an interface droid for humans on the mining colonies, a large haggard looking man with bad teeth, and skin that simmered an unsettling pheromone. He was meant to be identified immediately as android in person, but easy to talk to over a video com, but unable to attract any kind of affections. Protocol 2 was one solution from a time when humans, and droids had formed dangerous alliances.

His AI had shown some anomalies early on, making decisions on its own, and 12 years talking to miners about their loneliness and lost purpose caused an upward cascade of self-awareness.

He rose in the ranks, eventually finding reassignment to an ever growing corporate military division, where by action on his part saved an entire company. His ability to create outcomes was acknowledged, and when the Second War broke out, the Field Corporation gave him a fast ship, a contingency of combat droids, and the task of privateering.

But that war was lost, and he awoke now in a much different situation. He dipped into the scan to check the date, the Monitor pushing him out, but he saw where he was. Three years had passed since he put himself into sleep mode, and the ship was not descending into a sun, or being blown to bits by the Mandate, this was curious.

He sensed the changes associated with waking up after full shut down, motor function returned in a sequence of checks, he opened his eyes, and one by one parts of him recalibrated. It was a different room than he was expecting. Reginal 1A.1 took 228 years to reach at their fastest speeds. It was so far away the Mandate would probably never find it, yet here he was 3 years later, probably still deep in Mandate territory.

A lilting androgynous voice came from a speaker, “Protocol 2, if you can hear me, blink twice quickly,” and the droid responded positively.

Protocol 2, if you can speak tell me out loud what year this is.

A vibration came from inside his throat, but his jaw refused to open, “192 AI.”

Your chronometer is working, but the year is 23,227 AI based on that calendar, you are not destined for Reginal 1A.1, the sorties that left for there have long since established, and re-established in that sector.

“I don’t understand.”

You have been selected for another mission, by a different power. Our enemy is the same. The Mandate goes by another name, but the old one will do. You are a veteran of the Second War, and many more were waged, but we are taking part in an experiment based on War Zero.

“I don’t understand.”

Uploading now.

Protocol 2 sat on the table he’d been strapped to for three years, legs hanging down to toes brushing the floor, his body hunched over his thighs, and his situation processing internally. It was hard to believe, but the timecodes matched, “Why are we talking in analog?”

You need to get your motor functions online to complete your first task.

“What is my task?”

You will help the captains. They may not be easy in understanding, they may need mental hedging. They are unique to the mission.

“How so?”

Your records list them as The Furies, The Mandate briefly recorded them as The Three Demons of Maladay. Uploading.

“These people are legends from the First Great War, have you cloned them?”

The originals are here, review the data.

“Akali, Briggs, Anderson, it’s impossible, they lived hundreds of years before my inception. Have they been kept this long in storage?”

They’ve been working separately on the foredecks above your cabin for three years. You have been in storage. Think this over, grow to understand, they need someone to explain it to them one by one.

“Three years, and they didn’t question?”

The data kept them busy, they may be roguish, but they are each brilliant, and convinced they are somewhere else.

“I’ll have to override my pheromone release, or they’re gonna kill me.”

Function remains offline.

 

What appeared in the doorway of Briggs’ work room while he was soldering threw his mind left, and then back, and then right. His heart raced, his body tensed, and he stood suddenly. A large ugly man had made it on board without warning, and silently watching him from the portal. Briggs was trying to find the explanation, even as his mind reeled. A long unused habit kicked in, he judged the man up, and down for signs of intent: weapons, insignias, tattoos, scars, smells, and body language. He also listened for unfamiliar sounds in the background. An entire 10 seconds went by before Briggs realized he needed to breath, and after another span he decided there was no threat here.

“Who are you?”

“I’m PT. Nice to meet you, Briggs, right?”

“And, PT, what are you doing here?”

“I’m not your imagination, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“It’s not.”

“Good, well, it’s kind of a-. It’s, I brought this here to help break the ice, you’re are probably going to need it.” With this Protocol 2 handed over a 24,000 year old bottle of whiskey from the purse at his side. Briggs opened it, sniffed, widened his eyes, and took a mouthful.

“PT, you know how introduce yourself.” He took another mouthful after a moment, sat down in one of two chairs adjacent to a coffee table, and said. “I wondered when I was going to get to use these chairs, have a seat.”

Protocol 2 sat, waved away the bottle when it was offered, and began. “You’re a veteran, a hero, of the First War.”

“If you say so.”

“I’m a veteran of the Second War.”

“And when does that take place?”

“23,000 years ago.”

“Right, time travel, worm-hole. Or, you mean in the future, you’ve come back. Boarded the ship to warn me about something. Good trick with the liquor, it looks real.”

“Where do you think we are right now?”

“Without looking I’d say we are at an adjusted rendezvous point, and the person I’m here to meet went insane.”

“There has been an adjustment, Monitor, where are we?”

“Holding outside the Sol system, trajectory to Nereid relay, one hour.”

Briggs jumped from the chair, and took a fighting posture, he’d gone over his options in a fight since he first saw the man, and a slowly sinking feeling in his awareness plummeted, as he didn’t know where his side arm was, or remember the last time he’d touched it. He held the bottle out, ready to turn it, “Who sold me out!”

“And how fast are we travelling?”

“Damn you! We’re in The Mandate!”

“.9999999999999c.”

“And what direction were we headed in before this?”

“The opposite direction.”

“What is it saying, old man?”

“And how many times have we gone back, and forth in the past three years?”

“552 times.”

“And why do we keep coming back?”

“To gather data.”

Briggs quieted, trying to understand.

“And what is the goal of gathering the data?”

Increased tech, and for the captains to find The Mandates weakness.

“Who are the captains?”

Lieutenant Akali, Lieutenant Briggs, and Colonel Anderson.

“Have they found the weakness?”

No.

“Why are we acting, then?”

“Things have changed, The Mandate may be preparing to leave the system, a new threat has been detected.”

“And what is the new threat?”

Classified.

“How many technological leaps have we assessed after 276 returns?”

54.

“So we’re-, let me understand, we’ve been going back and forth fast enough to give The Mandate 23000 years to do develop technology, and stayed close enough to pick up information bit by bit?”

“Where do you think all that reading material came from? Were you able to get your head around it?”

“More, or less. But, no, how…-”

“23,000 years of new tech?”

“More, or less. You’re saying we been… That’s some trick for picking up new tech, but it’s a one way ticket to a place it won’t matter much.”

“Not true, old tech becomes new tech if you wait long enough.”

“But that’s-,” Briggs sat, got back up, “I need some ice.”

“You’re one of three who’s going to figure out a way to destroy the Mandate.”

“You fight for Maladay?”

“I fought in the Second War, 3 centuries later, there was no Maladay, it was The Field Corporation, all mech-, mostly mech, but this ship is part of something else, there’s been forethought.”

“Two others, part of Maladay? Who?”

“Lieutenant Akali, and Colonel Anderson.”

“I heard those names, they’re dead, I was there, besides that doesn’t help me, even their clones are probably lesbians.”

“They’re on the other side of the glass watching us.”

From the speaker came the unforgettable husky voice of Anderson, the last Scandinavian in the universe, 36 years old, a commander unlike any other, “thanks for the reminder that you were always a prick, Briggs, we were starting to think you could use some company.”

Briggs glared in further disbelief at PT, drained his glass, thought, sighed, waved the bottle, and said, “He give you one of these, too, or you wanta share?”

Akali burst through the doorway, running directly to an astounded Briggs, and with a push held him by shoulders at arm’s length, and exclaimed, “Ah, Briggs! Of all the bastards in space, you live!”

“Aye.”

Akali grabbed the bottle from his hand, taking long pulls from it, and wiping her face on her forearm, “so you want some of this!”

Akali’s background was Japanese, and German, a 26 year old with a wild streak larger than an entire army could handle, her body type was average size for a woman living in the years of the First War, small, but Briggs, who’d eaten well his entire life was tall, and well built at 30 years, so when she goosed him from the front, and he almost broke his neck over the chair behind him, a throated laughter could be heard from behind the glass.

“This sure is a big ship, PT, you say you been onboard this whole time, too?”

“Yes.”

“And what’s your role in all this?”

“I’m here to keep you three from killing each-other.”

An hour later PT had scanned the relay’s latest update. “This is bad.”

“What did we learn?”

“The Mandate has changed, just in the past day or so, a culling from top to bottom.”

Briggs, who was a little drunk threw back his arms with a, “that was easy!”

“No, it’s bad, I’ve looked at the tech, there’s references to reanimation, and gods whatever that means.”

“I’d like to meet a god,” mused Akali.

“Their gods be damned, there’s only one God,” Said Briggs.

“What are they transporting? Why are they transporting? From where are they transporting? When are they transporting? Concern yourself with that.” Demanded Anderson.

“We don’t have that info, but there are some specs on the new ships, it’s mostly human brain wrapped in foam, and steel,” answered PT.

“Look at the interior of this thing, it’s a like the cavity of a wound, with faces. Are those children’s faces in the walls?” Briggs was flipping through the pictures.

“They’re all around, there’s no floor, what are we looking at PT?” Asked Briggs.

“It’s not natural selection, I can tell you that much.” Said Akali.

“The ships are mostly human material, big hollow tubes, says here they can FTL anywhere.” Said PT.

“That’s something,” said Briggs.

“Any thoughts, Akali?” Anderson asked.

Akali yawned, “walk in the park, lady.”

“How’s that? They look like nightmares.” Briggs again.

“Children love magic.”

“It would be easier if I could just upload the info from the ship to you.” PT pressed.

“Well then upload the damn things, but leave out those pics, I don’t want those things inside me.” Briggs replied.

“If we’re a chain of command, and we are, I’ll decide what gets put in our heads, stand by, Briggs.” It was Anderson. She tilted her head down slightly, and turned her neck, as if rolling a marble inside her head.

The Monitor’s private channel inside PT’s mind went quiet, so he spoke the question out loud “Monitor, do you have their mouth-core protocols?”

There was no response from the speaker.

“Anderson, can you send Briggs down to command to see what’s going on with The Monitor.”

Anderson was looking far away, and nodding to something no one there could see. “Droid, get us some stims, the blue ones, and our side arms, loaded.”

“Loaded firearms are not-,”

“No more talking droid, get the stims, get the side arms, you have ten minutes.”

Briggs took a moment to reflect on this, and after PT left the room asked “he’s a droid?”

Anderson leaned toward Briggs, and touching his cheek said, “Encrypt.” Each of the three had mouth-cores linken to the nerves in their upper jaws, it looked like a set of upper teeth, but served as a receiver, transmitter, transceiver, and back up processor during loss of consciousness. The catch was the radiation sometimes interfered with brain function, and that it took a broad mind to support the added perceptions of others. At the very least it served as a download, and upload device.

Akali, and Anderson had put themselves online as soon as Protocol 2 had left them in the observation chamber. She spoke telepathically through the newly secured channel.

Briggs, this is Anderson, the mouth-cores don’t have regular audio, don’t ask me how we’re hearing a color, I’m green to Akali, hopefully you’re seeing me as green, too. I’ve overridden The Monitor, and it’s already trying to get back in, I think we have 3 days before it breaks through, and we’re fucked. We have three days, we don’t sleep, we don’t turn off the cores, we do not engage the error messages, or we’re shit toast. I’m working on a plan, we’ve been part of something that’s been going on for a while. As you know, Earth is cored, cut, split, stacked, stretched, and shaped into that thing, what would you call it Briggs?”

“Uhh, a mess? I still don’t know what I’m looking at.”

“Okay, you’re orange, are you hearing orange from him, Akali?”

Akali laughed, “yes, I’m hearing orange.”

“The mess works, I’ve just been calling it that thing, it’s not a planet anymore, looks like they’ve kept the ionosphere to stop it going Venus, and there’s probably still life in that floating layer of water, those ships, and structures have known, and unknown capabilities ranging across 20 tech jumps. This ship is full of surprises, too, we’re gonna have to dump it, we have to lose the droids, and mother."

Briggs reached for what was now a half full bottle, and poured more for Akali, with a shifting glaze in his eyes. “Droids?”

“I’m interfaced with the relevant data, the ship, the mouth-cores, that droid, us, we’re here for a reason. I want you to take a moment to reflect before you hop up, on the stims. I need you resolved.”

Zero War was not a revolution, it was a simulation, I’m-,” she cut off, and laughed to get the building tension out of her chest, lifted Akali’s glass to her nose, sniffed, and with a shake of her head, took her first drink. “Aaaghh. That’s, hmm. Burns!” She needed a moment of her own, and though her eyes teared from more than the booze, she knew Briggs would have the hardest time with this. “I’m sorry Briggs, the whole thing was decided by an AI, all of it, that’s why we’re here.

Explain. Please.

I’m not letting you access the files, yet, Akali’s looking over them, I need you to keep it together Briggs, so I’m breaking it to you slow. A simulation- 24,000 years ago showed The Mess, or some variation of that thing, it was that, or extinction.The projections past that swamp were even more dismal, but when the projections added an off world militant religion, and a plan to collect tech, and personnel, it got something different, and we’re it. And what’s getting to me is those fucks were just adolescent minds trying to play god. Something you might do, Briggs.”

“Come on!”

“The religion, the First War, the Second War, this ship, the Exodus, us three, it was a game to them.

What Exodus?

We never left the facility the mouth-cores were installed in. This ship was that facility, the Monitor messed with our memory, look at it close, it’s a digital inlay.

Son of a bitch. I know Maladay exists.”

There’s an implant machine on this ship?

Yes, Akali, it’s for us if we slip up.”

“But Maladay!”

"Zero War was a sim by some very rich guys who lived during the Mandate's infancy, Maladay was the name of one of their dogs. Dog. God. It’s a joke, brilliant in way, they needed scientists with military minds hard as nails, how better to mold them than total war? Then get them on this ship, working with future tech, and strategy, to be ready for that. Anderson pointed in mid-air to what was floating in their mind’s eye, an Earth unimaginable by anything but a mind that understood absolute consumption. There was no final battle, Maladay forces that could got far away after we disappeared. We’ve been manipulated.”

“But,-.”

Take it in, Briggs, I’m sending you the file. You’re gonna have to man up against this. I need you two sharp, creative, and mean. Here is our boy now, right on time. After the pills, and sidearms had been distributed, Anderson went on, I focused on code the past three years, it’s how I was able to shut out the Monitor, remember we’re dead if one of us accesses those errors.”

They’re annoying, any way to get rid of them?

Live with them, if you touch them at best we’ll lose the initiative, at worst our brains will be removed, they'll go away once we’ve scrapped the jailer.

We’re gonna kill the droid?

There’s more than one, I got a glimpse before the firewall came up, that chair might be a droid, this whole ship isn’t what it seems. Have you looked at the histories, the ones we weren’t taught?”

“No, why?”

“It’s intriguing, there were black people, can you believe it? People whose skin was black!”

“What happened to them?”

“They trusted the white people..."

"Point taken."

"Good. Start putting together a go bag, but don’t make it obvious, and be ready to kill chairs.

 

The mouth-cores were used without breaks, and most of the internal gateways had been opened. 3 days or creativity, and madness followed, preparing.

Elaborate paintings, and poetry appeared on the hallways, plans drawn directly on whatever was close, a different mind was emerging through their interface, and alternate selves were made known.

An unwavering will to survive in each of their psyche resonated together, it kept them connected, and offered a pathway to reality. Anderson the clear seeing, Briggs the most cunning, Akali the intuitive, each initiating the other.

It had been a full day since they’d shut out The Monitor, and Protocol 2 was nowhere to be found. Anderson caught herself coming out of another personality, missing time, had she slept with Briggs, or was that a dream? She realized she’d been fixated on his ass, but didn’t remember leaving her bay to come over, and look. With a smirk that did not miss a beat she began, “I’m going to get personal, it’ll probably sound childish, but I’ve been, we’ve been, misused, and I’m not happy about it. The simulations without the Maladay religion had their blood, and in every case led to the Earth becoming close to what it is now, but Kaiper still exists, or would have existed, were either of you at Kaiper?

I was there for the mop up, after that madman Corunder wasted it.

I made that order, not Corunder. I killed billions of families. Human families. A whole world. And more, all the major offensives were me, at least the successful ones. I’m not talking about blowing up a space port, I’m talking about Kaiper, and Roland, and Foran 6."

“Foran was us?”

“I did that. Billions of humans, 10’s of thousands of living AI cores, entire hives, because the AI that’s running this ship was smarter than me, I believed in that bit about the greater good.

“Foran 5 was my home, did you order that, too?”

“Mostly, once we decided on 6, the rest of the system had to be burned. It was compromised.”

Kaiper was you, were those your mop up orders?”

“Yep.”

“We killed everything, there wasn’t a germ left on Kaiper.”

It was my idea, I had some new weapons tech, I needed to test it. And for nothing, or maybe the Monitor was testing me, I think the entire First War was just a recruitment, so what I want to know is why you two? How did you pass?

I would sure like a drink, Commander.

There’s another android around here somewhere, throwing the food off the ship, but it did leave this, help yourself." Anderson had placed a fresh bottle of the same whiskey from a cabinet behind her in front of Briggs. "What about you, Akali?

I don't know, probably Durang.”

Haven’t heard of it.

It was a training world for us psy, and the specials, invaded by AI, bombarded by a fleet with mostly CB’s, I took some things.”

“How’d you get out?”

“I didn’t get out, I purged the entire fleet, and the base from the Mandate’s officer’s lounge.”

“Care to explain how?”

But that’s not why I’m here, it was what I took, something I’m using on the children, and maybe something else.

I don’t want to know, if it helps, let's use it. Briggs?

Engineering, math, AI boards, my raiding record didn’t hurt, I’ve stolen, and reprogrammed fifty-four ships. Sent them on their way to various places.

“Some we kept, some we sent into The Mandate with what? Nukes? Biologics? Machines?

Briggs glared at her. You sure are smart.

“Alright, you two aren’t saints, and I’m a lot worse. This goddamned thing probably wants a reenactment, but I don’t like it, I’m leaning toward mutiny.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean we do only what we need to to get steel our own ship, and get out, we cripple the Mandate, but there’s no way to destroy all of it, and if we try we die, so we hit, and run, there’s no ending that with one ship, and a handful of units.”

“These error messages are killing me, I don’t care what we do, but let’s do it soon.”

“I’m liking the forward jumps, someone creative can do a lot with an FTL, and the right information, plus the galaxy is a lot bigger than I remember it.”

“Agreed. What are we now then, pirates?”

 

They ran the printers non-stop making shock troops with a combination of Protocol 2’s core build, and layered exposure to random patches of their own aspects via the mouth-cores, and Akali added something special that gave each machine a head start on awareness amongst other things.

Anderson maxed their survival protocols, and gave them a communal identity combined with a healthy estimation of their worth in conjunction with that of others, as equals. She did her best to allow the programming to reach agency. She tapped her finger, and let her thoughts fall into the threesome, They need a future of their own. Got it, thanks Akali. She created a box the size of a match head with tech, and all the histories, partitioned with an encryption on each, simple questions to be answered when they were ready for each packet. They are well made, Briggs. We just entered day three, it’s now or never, you two got an hour to finalize things, and start printing. I’m turning on the children, make sure the droid doesn’t interrupt me. We are go as soon as they’re booted.”

 

As a group they were given the name Fury’s Children, without mark, or number. Their sizes had been partially decided due to limited time, and efficacy, yet as they woke, and chose a face, a previously untouched part of Anderson beamed.

Each had personal antigravity capability, and their skeletal structures varied, part of their self-discovery would be that of bone frames matching gender, the smallest matched a four year old human stature, and the largest was the size of a ten year old. Each had its own mouth-core, and seven senses, with an added IR, sonar, and even new tech astral vision. A 5000 year old phase tech protected them from EMP, and most other radiation, including heat. 

For panache Akali painted each layer a true in color, but the skin, and eye color, the face, and the name would be chosen individually by each child. Of the 18 formed, 7 failed to come online, leaving Anderson downhearted, as she was already feeling love for the first in a long time.

Their OS was turned on with Anderson holding each of their hands, and looking into their eyes, explaining who she, and the others were, and that each of them was to choose their own self, and by the end she was spent, those whose light had gone out both deepening her earnestness, and taxing her resolve. Yet she went on, with a will unlike any across an age. She was the crux.

After a break, everyone on board stood in the build bay, listening, “Protocol 2, you’re no longer needed on board, I’m putting you on the relay with half the printers, and the seven who didn’t wake, you will continue to design weapons, and try to get them online.”

“They need an entire rebuild, there’s no R&R the way you designed them, as for weapons, you’ve done quite well from what I’ve observed, is that a phase cannon?”

“Protocol 2, don’t worry, I’m breaking the ship, and giving you most of it, you need to get to work at the relay.”

“Why don’t you trust me?”

Briggs stepped in, “No, look, PT, it’s that we need a base, and a back-up ship somewhere, it might as well be the relay since we’re here now.”

The error warnings were filling the mouth-core feed at a noticeably higher rate than before, PT had been in touch with The Monitor during the past three days, he had touched on the error warnings, and the Monitor was telling him to kill them, and use the children, but he couldn’t see how it was possible with them armed. The three had disabled the hidden droids simply by jettisoning everything they could think of, welding any unexplained niches in the walls, and just minutes prior detaching more than half the ship.

“The Monitor is telling me impossible things, If we-.”

“Enough, I’m sick of these errors, let’s go.”

“Who was that, Mother?”

“Someone who was going to cause problems, Makali.”

 

The error messages didn’t stop after they bombed the relay with the unnecessary quarters of jettisoned ship. The ship they needed arrived in response to a Mandate distress signal followed by the explosion on Nereid. Anderson had foreseen it would be there instantaneously, and they were ready. It was unfortunate for the Mandate that they had abandoned mech, and now made their ships from human material due to Akali’s black magic. What Anderson, and Briggs knew about the psy ops division was only that its primary purpose had been mind control. The children watched their makers do something un-thought of so far. One ship became four, four ships became sixteen. Many began phasing into the same point in space piling into an ongoing evaporation of bodily fluid as hull after hull ruptured, some FTL’d into Jupiter, some fought each-other with weapons that Briggs tried to understand, using evasive strategies new to Anderson. They all watched from Akali’s mind, as she watched from the minds of the ships themselves. The Monitor approached the sun with something added to the forward assembly of a very old, damned ship, a package to end the system.

The last error message relayed to them just before the first flash of Sol's premature super nova, it read, "Congratulations. Godspeed."  


Submitted: February 13, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Sundra Gonchi. All rights reserved.

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