Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë
Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt
The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.
Read more about the Forum Leakage project here.
Read previous post in this series: https://bit.ly/2uq2Ref
And now, let us continue to part 11!
“Remind me again, why did you guys bring so much shit?” Tanikki shoved a piece of beach-muck off the ramp with her boot. “And more importantly, why do we have to take it all to the new ship?”
Knux fell into step beside her. “I know it’s stupid, but just roll with it, at least he’s not talking.”
“Shush, don’t you say anoth-”
“Valued members of the crew! Gather round!” Corey had climbed atop a cargo crate and puffed his chest against the wind.
“Oh, great.” Tanikki rolled her eyes.“Our glorious leader wishes to dispense his thoughts.”
The group congregated in slow motion, their lethargy interrupted by Mia’s excited shriek as she slid down the tilted hull.
Corey cleared his throat and swept his arm in an artful arc. “I know things are looking a little bit tough right now. But I am convinced that together we can do this! Alexis, the new Alexis, is where we belong! We need to move on from the ship that was, and bring our future to the ship that is!”
“And by future, you mean the broken crates,” Tanikki muttered to herself.
“Fate and the twists of the galaxy have brought us here! Everything happens for a reason, and it is our duty to fulfill that reason. I will personally see to it!”
Knux folded his arms. “Are you quite sure you haven’t hit your head since we landed?”
Corey gave him a side-glance and carried on. “For now I need everybody to continue doing what you were doing before I summoned you.”
Knux opened his mouth to say something, reconsidered, then stomped off across the dunes.
Reesto and Moirai nodded to each other, then to Corey. “Instructions acknowledged. We shall resume work now.” They picked up the crate they’d been carrying before the gathering and resumed as if nothing had happened.
Tanikki followed them, pretending to support the crate from the side.“How can you guys be so calm? This is unnecessary and moronic!”
Moirai exchanged another mutual-understanding-smile with Reesto. “Indeed it is. We are fulfilling our obligations to the crew.”
Tanikki threw her hands up and wandered off.
She dodged Mia who heaved a fragment of heat shield, her eyes fixed on the rising tide, and caught up with Knux who was probing an open container in the cargo hold. They exchanged an exasperated look. “How long do you expect this to go on?”
Knux turned his attention back to the container. “Just look busy. He’ll understand this isn’t working eventually… hopefully.”
“I’m not so sure, man. He’s different. The Corey I knew… he would have rage-quit ages ago.”
Knux sent a wary glance towards the outdoors. “What was he like? Your Corey, I mean?”
“Well for one, he would be the first to carry the heavy shit… put his augmented ass on the line and such.”
“Do you miss him?”
“Fuck no. Bastard sold us out.” She paused. “Held a very touching memorial for us, according to the data feeds we were shown…”
Corey watched as the crew got back to work, then his self-assured grin dissolved as he saw Smith stomping across the sand, throwing menacing glances at wreckage and himself. She stepped up to Corey and folded her arms. “Hey. Look. I’m not claiming I get what it is exactly that you’re trying to achieve here but… just look at this mess.”
Corey offered a meek smile. “Shared activity… good for the crew development…”
Smith replied with an unashamed glower. “Look at those two – they would probably eat barbed wire on the captain’s instructions. Is that how you want to treat your crew? And Team Engineer-” she nodded towards the gaping hatch – “they have been shifting the same crate back and forth for a while now. And her-” they both ducked to avoid an incoming debris-frisbee – ”yeah. I see no shared activity or development here, only growing resentment. If that’s your goal, congratulations.” She turned and stomped back towards the wreckage.
Corey’s gaze bounced from group to group. “Uh… but… “ He frowned. “Alright… let’s try this.” He puffed his chest and let his voice carry across the dunes once more. “ good news everybody! We’re taking a break. You are all invited to accompany me on a little tour of our newly acquired vessel!”
Reaching Command, the confused bunch wa greeted by an on-screen projection of Alexis. “Oh. Hello again.”
Corey nodded with a knowing grin. “So… Our old ship has been outfitted with a proper synthetic personality now! Quite an advancement, eh?”
Knux pointed at the screen. “So this avatar *is* The Alexis?”
The projection flickered “Not the. Just Alexis please.” She ignored the awkward silence. “Would you like me to show you around? I will switch to 3D projection.”
A flickering wireframe of a humanoid figure in a battlesuit appeared in front of them. “Shall we?” She sounded amused.
The group moved chaotically through the ship, following the pointers from Alexis’ glimmering wireframe.
“Ah this, really takes me back.” Corey’s face lit up with a blissful smile. “A simpler time… when Alexis was just a wee vessel, pushing on with a factory thruster set… Wasn’t easy to make it all the way to the edge of mapped space… the region of danger and daring where this very ship became the saviour of the Vee-One siblings! Indeed the-”
Knux shoved an elbow to the chest. “You’re doing it again! Who exactly are you trying to impress?”
“I-” Corey frowned, rubbing his pecks. “Well, I mean, pointing out an inspirational moment, is all… I’m taking the lead!”
“And you’re helping nobody, only alienating! You don’t have a clue about this new ship and we all know it. Just watch and learn like we do.” He turned back to the group. “And don’t you dare bringing up my sister again.”
“They’d better sort their damned egos out soon or…” Tanikki had joined Smith on a detour outside the command. They came to a stop at a curving ramp that lead to an unseen level.
Smith frowned. “Hang on. Did you see this here before?”
“Huh… no? I’d say this whole junction looked quite different.”
“Something weird is going on.” Smith stepped up the ramp. “Come. Let’s see where this leads!”
“All right… wait-” she shouted down the hallway – “guys, ask the avatar thing what’s going on with the interior! It’s changed!”
A full-height projection appeared by their side. “Very perceptive, engineer Kall’ovyj. I am calibrating the ship to better suit the crew size and requirements.” The projection flickered. “Would you like to see the crew quarters, by the way?”
They looked at each other and were about to accept the offer, when the projection emitted a loud crackle followed by a cartoonish blue halo. Excited giggles followed the light-show, and Mia poked her head out from behind Alexis’ avatar.
“How…” Tanikki and Smith exchanged a puzzled look.
“She’s not a projection at all!” Mia giggled again.
“Very observant, miss Loki! I suppose I’ve had my fun with this masquerade…” The “projection” solidified, losing the neon wireframe, as well as her battlesuit’s headpiece in the process.
Smith frowned at Tanikki. “This… I thought you guys were briefed?”
“Not that briefed.” Tanikki chuckled in disbelief. “This is some next level shit.”
Alexis nodded. “Stowaway Smith, Engineer Kall’ovyj – pleased to meet you. Again. You shall be briefed on the ship’s, that is *my* full functionality soon enough. For now, it will be sufficient to know that my current form is possible due to Dr Cervonious’ Particle Programming Protocol.”
“Patent pending!” Mia squeaked.
Alexis accepted her high-five. “Indeed. It appears that SOME of the crew has gone beyond their curriculum. But now, let’s join the others at the Control. I am to give you an orientation to this particular reality.”
The Command centre was filled with contemplative frowns, unasked questions, and tacit attention, all of it crowned by the utter concentration on Corey’s scrunched face. “So, like, we are not, uh… FROM here, strictly speaking… and yet we are connected with the “here”, is that what you’re saying?”
“To put in crude terms, yes. Most of you have been extracted from different space-time continua, whereas the “here” as you put it, represents a major, earlier offshoot of a parent-timestream.”
Corey rubbed his cheeks. “I don’t mean to be rude but… how many versions of us have you seen?”
“Oh not many” Alexis casually leaned her armored back to the bulkhead. “When it comes to Corey Hendersons, approximately eleven to the seventeenth power.”
Knux blinked rapidly, assigning some of his circuits to do the calculation. He gave Corey a dumb look. “That is… a lot.”
“Oh… silly me.” Alexis displayed a glowing haze on her cheeks. “My knowledge has been merged with the… others. I was counting the sub-stream versions to the fourth layer of branching…” She adjusted her posture. “Let’s just say your particular rating is among the more suitable third. Quite far from the 100% mark, but nothing to be embarrassed about.”
“So what about that… 100% Corey?”
“Oh, he had to be contained, I’m afraid.” Alexis flashed a toothy smile. “Don’t worry, his most essential experiences were extracted and will be incorporated to your learning program.”
She cut into the awkward silence. “I believe this is enough orientation for the moment. You might want to carry on with your… teambuilding exercise. I have also taken the liberty of augmenting a multi-terrain tug with some extra tethers and hover modules for you. You’ll find it in the ground access bay.”
The crew spilled out of the Command with new excitement. Corey blinked to himself and set to follow them.
“Wait.” Alexis vanished and materialized on his way. “Perhaps you won’t learn anything from today, but here is one piece of insight I can give you. Throughout all the timestreams, all the variations, there is one dynamics that never changes. Corey Henderson is nothing without his crew.”