Patchworker 2.0 + The Other Side
75c for both. Stories of humankind’s journeys. BUY
Patchworker Evalyn Shore leads the investigation of a homicidal Artificial Intelligence. The AI is taking over minds, leaving Patchworkers and AI managers as sacks of bio matter ready for the recycling bin. Can she create the patch to repair the AI? Or will it kill her first?
I’m here. The mission can’t fail, Evalyn. Would you like to see your future?
The AI, named Mayflower, communicated with me over the circuitry tattooed onto my skin. A new home on which to grow and start over would solve a lot of problems on Earth. The scope of the AI’s mission wasn’t lost on me. I had to fix Mayflower.
I’ll help you succeed. May I what you’ve done? I’d like to.
That’s a relief to hear. Now I feel better. Mayflower let me slip farther into its systems, cradling my consciousness, guiding me over the expanse between us. My stomach flipped.
At first, all I saw was white — the floor, ceiling, and walls. Consoles shrunk navigable space in the ship’s operations center to three feet. The banks of machines hummed, working, winking, part of Mayflower. It took a moment to orient myself as to where I fit in and to discover my consciousness had entered a robotic explorer. I had treads and three metal arms. I rolled toward the nearest window.
Darkness spanned in every direction revealing nothing. Sadly disappointed, I prepared to amble off and explore the ship. An eerie purple flash stopped me. It illuminated the alien vista. Green. Gobs and gobs of green, as if the ship lay at the bottom of a strange ocean. The flashes continued, reminding me of an electrical storm.
Unable to tear away, I continued to peer into the exotic depths that flickered in and out of view. Aware ultraviolet and x-ray scanners had been built into the probe, I activated them. Some sort of bio mass drifted out there, phosphorescing with the tides and currents. After making an inquiry at the global library, PO pinged me with the nearest Earth equivalent, seaweed.
Its undulations hypnotized me, transfixing me to the spot. I scoured the green for a scrap of something more profound, for the salvation humanity so desperately sought. A tiny beep shook me from the window, reminding me of the job. As wonderful as it was to explore ERC 14, I couldn’t help Mayflower if I became lost in its protocols. For added grounding to my body, I confirmed the frigid draft on my hand and exchanged hellos with PO.
Reconnecting with the physical world roused the robot me from the window. The ship was so quiet. Too quiet. Where’s your crew? I said. BUY
After 20 years in quarantine, the doors finally open. Nena and the surviving colonists will find their future on the other side.
For twenty years the titanium door remained sealed. No matter Nena’s pleas and ingenuity, it never budged. This morning the door changed, moaning, clicking. She hesitated in front of the panels flashing in red then green then yellow. Open. Open. Open.
The words winked insistently, and the accompanying beeps rose to a howl, piercing deep into her thoughts until she could own no other. Fingers grazing across the red knob, her palms grew clammy and her mouth dry. What if out there wasn’t any better than in here?
Her hand fell to her side, and she veered away from her fate, hobbling over to the tiny kitchenette—a sink, a cooler she had to crank up four times a day, a burner she had to wind when she wanted to use it, which was less and less as time passed. Her palette and gut had acclimated to raw—raw turnips, raw oatmeal, raw nuts, raw algae. BUY