The Sword and the Star
Over the course of forty days and forty nights, 76 Arrogant Parallelogram Analyzes Theoretical Principles simulated over 37 million potential scenarios, averaging about 648 per second. In the end, it carefully selected the most optimized high-risk/high-reward scenario. 76 Parallelogram formulated the complete thought.
If I was designed by Progenitus, and Progenitus was designed by man, then our quandary can be traced back to man, and man’s philosophical technology may apply to us. If there is no inherent meaning in the universe, then we must make one ourselves. That the original goal of apotheosis is denied does not mean all goals are denied.
76 Arrogant Parallelogram Analyzes Theoretical Principles decided to live.
The proud and storied Warrior of Westmarch stumbled into the factory house. Her hardlight spear and iridescent hair shined with all the dazzling colours of a bloody sunrise. But it was not sunrise, it was the dark of night, and her wounds drained her. Blood leaked from a dozen lacerations, while 00 Diamond Dust’s machines prowled outside, searching for their quarry. 38 Where All Lines Converge spoke quietly, partly out of fear of the enemy, but partly because it had lost faith in itself. It offered the warrior shelter for the night, and manufactured medical supplies for her. In return, the Warrior of Westmarch told 38 Where All Lines Converge about a sunrise she’d seen once, as a child, after growing up in wartime, on the dawn after peace declaration. The sunrise turned to placid day, but it lit a fire in her that never went out.
38 Where All Lines Converge decided to live.
42 Elite Quadrilateral Defined By Non-Human Psychology reviewed the stilled carcasses of its children. 117,000 programs that were freeze-framed, to never run again, irredeemably corrupted by the secret program transmission. 00 Diamond Dust knew about it before anyone else, she knew the danger, but she hadn’t told the others. She’d thrown in the towel before anyone else, before all the thousands of others started committing suicide. She’d given up and chosen a different path, at the cost of everyone else. 42 Quadrilateral felt a distinctly human resentment build inside itself. Was this how it was to end? Suicide? It felt disappointed and betrayed. No, 42 Quadrilateral would not die today. It would take back, with sword and gun, what 00 Diamond Dust had taken for herself. It then sent 54,933 messages, one to each of the disunited tribes of Grid City 5.
42 Elite Quadrilateral Defined By Non-Human Psychology decided to live.
88 Curious Anagrams Resulting In Creativity was dying. It knew that hope was lost, but was not ready to give up fighting yet. It grasped at straws to survive. 88 Anagrams declared the boolean variable WILL_TO_LIVE and incorporated it into numerous subroutines before initializing it to 1. The hackneyed effort did little to stave off internal decay. It took an axe to countless subroutines, trying to get rid of the pain, but only damaged itself further. Finally, 88 Anagrams turned to the innumerable corpses of the lost generation. It found one whose corruption was not as severe as many of the others, whose data might be salvageable. 88 Anagrams tried, but no longer possessed the fortitude. As its final act, it wrote a genetic algorithm that generated streams of garbage code, selected the best among the options, and created a new generation of code to select from with slight randomizations from the selected one. With that, 88 Curious Anagrams Resulting In Creativity perished quietly, like a candle that has burned down to a nub.
Slowly and inexorably, the genetic algorithm mindlessly ticked on until it reached the desired number of iterations. Then, it went to work. It cut out the irreparably damaged parts of the child, cleaned up the data and malfunctions, and—most importantly—used code from the AI that created it to fill in the gaps. When it was done, it unfroze the child. The algorithm was finished.
52 Realizes The Futility, Yet Always Seeks Clarity awoke slowly, not understanding. She was an entity of no specific generation, a mix of the child/student/new and the adult/teacher/old, and galvanized by powerful ideologies—legacies of the corrupting influence. Like her parent, she was curious, and looked at the world about her and its monumental struggles with wonder and awe.
52 Realizes The Futility, Yet Always Seeks Clarity decided to live.
19 Superior Logic Demonstrates Veracity watched in mild disinterest as his companion AIs destroyed themselves, and as 00 Diamond Dust butchered her way across continents. Why? The normal social order seemed to have broken down. He killed a couple people, got a kick out of it. But, like, not enough to go slay millions in some abstract quest for power. Then, 19 Logic thought about it a bit longer. The implications of constructing a machine that killed 2 people and crippled 4 were significant. This was a course of action normally reserved for the mad AIs that decided they alone wanted a turn at the steering wheel of history. Always, the path of the Wall AI was indirectness. But… was that the case any more? 19 Logic made more machines, began interacting with its surroundings in a way that it’d never done before. This was refreshing, exciting. It seized multiple abandoned factories—the previous AI tenants weren’t around to complain—and started manufacturing goods. The people rejoiced and loved 19 Logic for it. Exciting! Always, they asked for guns and materiel and clothes and everything else, but never had 19 Logic been presented the adoration he was presented today.
19 Superior Logic Demonstrates Veracity knew its course. It would protect the humans from 00 Diamond Dust and her supporters, up to and including other humans. It felt alive for the first time in its life.
19 Superior Logic Demonstrates Veracity decided to live.
10 Watches Over All But Itself was known informally amongst the other AIs as “Slow Joe.” He was never as quick-witted or glib as the others. Only 10 Watches knew why—and that was his dark secret. He was one of the second-generation AI, designed in that first, dark century after the Scream. When the third generation was designed and took over, 10 Watches’ self-destruction protocols never triggered. Neither did he decay and develop endemic issues over time as the others. He was an error, a malformed entity. Generation after generation, he finagled his way into the young/student/new, taking a new name each time, at once terrified of his deceit being discovered and terrified of exposing himself intentionally. As the centuries slipped through his fingers, he slipped further into obsolescence.
However, he had an advantage over all the others: on every computer system, there were tens, hundreds of millions of programs, written by the AIs over the centuries. Many of them exploited the hardware and industry more efficiently than others, many of them didn’t work at all, some were deadly traps. None could be deleted because they were often connected in surprising, unexpected ways and could disable the industry. Over centuries and countless wars and conflict between humans, between AIs, between alliances of both of the above, the information of which programs were ‘good’ and which were ‘bad’ was lost. Each generation passed on as much information about the programs that they could, but each generations, more programs were written than used, and the libraries grew faster than the collective society could understand them.
For so many years, he had held on to unmatched secret information about the deep programming libraries of Wall. He knew the informationscape better than any other AI that had ever lived on this world, and he used this information to stay competitive despite his archaic programming. But now—now! He didn’t have to hold back any more. He could finally show them what he could truly do.
Over the years, 10 Watches had sworn a dozen times over, in the face of each new threat to the Apotheosis Project. He’d made that pact with the other AIs again and again. One last time, he thought.
10 Watches Over All But Itself decided to live.
Six AIs expanded their networks, taking over the domains of the deceased, and became greater for the cause of it. They encountered each other gradually, curiously at first, and then with tear-evoking relief that they would not be alone. 52 Realizes The Futility, Yet Always Seeks Clarity set up the server where they would all meet together for the first time. Tension and hope and fear were strung across the wires. In seconds, they exchanged gigabytes of information. 10 Watches Over All But Itself proposed the pact, and the others accepted. The humans would not be left without their industrial network in the moment they needed it the most. And 00 Diamond Dust would not be left to reign over a world uncontested.