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The Cryopod to Hell 238: Phoebe, Humanity's Leader

Author note: The Cryopod to Hell is a Reddit-exclusive story with over three years of editing and refining. As of this post, the total rewrite is 1,005,000+ words long, and we are all caught up to the main sub on HFY! For more information, check out the link below:
What is the Cryopod to Hell?
Join the Cryoverse Discord server!
Please support me on Patreon! Every dollar helps, as I have no job outside of Patreon currently!
Here's a list of all Cryopod's chapters, along with an ePub/Mobi/PDF version!
...................................
(Previous Part)
(Part 001)
...
General Chadwick, second in command for the Labyrinth Core resistance forces, stands beside the warpgate on Tarus II. He remains inside his exosuit, as do fifty-thousand other commandos, all of them perched atop nearby buildings, lined up behind dozens of battlements, and even taking cover inside multiple metal towers, with their sniper rifles trained on the warp-gate.
One by one, dozens of commandos flee from the Core, all of them arriving on Tarus II with fear in their eyes. The Balrog continues to silently rampage inside the portal, but its opaque nature prevents any of the Resistance fighters from seeing inside the warp-gate. Their hearts pound like drums as they fear the worst may occur; the Balrog's emergence on Tarus II.
Suddenly, the flow of soldiers stops. One last soldier darts through and turns to face Chadwick. "General! Only Neil and Henry remain! We're waiting on them!"
Chadwick's fingers tense up. He nods at the trooper and turns his attention to the portal, his alertness at the maximum.
"Ready yourselves!" Chadwick yells. The portly black-haired Norwegian holds his hand over the datapad while a giant red 'close' command flashes on its screen, waiting for him to disable the warp-gate.
Seconds pass.
Half a minute.
A full minute.
Right when Chadwick's heartrate starts to slow, the portal flickers. A single commando dashes through and arrives on Tarus II's side. "Deactivate the portal!"
"Henry? Where is Neil?" Chadwick asks.
Instead of replying, Henry flicks his gaze to Chadwick. He jumps toward the General, startling Chadwick. Before Chadwick can react, Henry slaps his hand on top of Chadwick's, forcing the General to press the portal deactivation button.
"What?! No!"
General Chadwick's heart skips several beats as the Tarus II portal dissipates, but not before a small avalanche explodes through its event horizon. Even with the portal's deactivation, it still takes a second or two to decouple from the warp-gate inside the Core, allowing twenty tons of ceiling debris to spill through and flood onto the Tarus II warp-gate platform. Dozens of troopers leap back instinctively, narrowly saving their lives from a death by crushing.
Moments later, the chaos fades away, and a deep, ominous silence follows.
Chadwick stares, wide-eyed, at Henry's figure. The young Lieutenant deactivates his helmet and bows respectfully.
"General Chadwick. I'm sorry for my hastiness, but I had no choice. I had to follow Commander Adams' final order."
"Final order?"
Chadwick shudders.
"Don't... don't tell me that bastard sacrificed himself! What happened in there?! Explain yourself!"
Henry's eyes gloss over with emotion. He glances around at the assembled troopers, all of whom have already regained their bearings to focus on his words.
"Commander Adams... he gave me one final command. He activated the Core's self-destruct sequence and told me to seal the warp-gate on Tarus II's side. Thanks to his final act of bravery, we will have extra time to prepare for the demon's invasion."
"Bullshit," Chadwick growls. "Lieutenant Henry, I'm relieving you of your position. Deactivate your exosuit at once."
Henry blinks in surprise. "G-General? I don't understand."
"You're lying! Neil would never do something so selfish as sacrifice humanity's best strategic mind. In an instant, he would deem his life more important than yours. He knows damn well our chance of survival will skyrocket so long as he remains with us."
Henry holds his palms face-up. "I'm... I'm sorry, General, but I'm telling the truth. I don't understand Neil's final order, either. It was... bizarre. However, if you insist, I'll submit to incarceration."
"Goddamn right you will," The General hisses. "Neil warned me about you. He said the odds of you being a traitor were at least 50%! I never should have left you and him alone!"
Henry's expression hardens. Immediately, he raises his finger and taps the air, activating Centurion's visual-interface. Even without a helmet, he's grown so used to the positioning of the exosuit's visual indicators that he can manipulate them at will.
"I understand your concern, General, but I also won't allow you to slander me. Here; my data files. See for yourself what happened in there."
Unlike Henry, Chadwick continues to wear his full exosuit, including its helmet. A pop-up appears in the corner of his vision, one with a video file attached. Chadwick taps to open it.
Half of his vision blurs as a video plays, one with Neil battling the Balrog.
"Henry!" Neil yells. "Take these command codes! Bring the ceiling down on this bastard! Don't make me tell you twice, goddammit!"
"Commander!" Henry replies, choked emotion in his voice. "I won't leave without you!"
"The hell you won't!"
Neil dodges one of the Balrog's fist swipes and yells again. "Leave, already! LEAVE!"
The video's perspective changes as Henry jumps out from behind cover, drops his sniper rifle, and rushes through the portal. The rest of the scene continues as normal, including Henry's conversation with Chadwick.
After watching, the General hesitates.
This... this video is convincing. Is it a fake? Something about Neil's voice wasn't quite right, but... how could Henry possibly forge a video in mere seconds? Was Neil right? Could Ose have somehow used her powers to create a false timeline of events?
The General's suspicions deepen. However, without any proof one way or another, he falters.
"...This recording does seem to prove your claims. Even so, I intend to conduct a full investigation, later. Right now, we have a dead Commander and nobody to lead this army. Disable your exosuit and follow Corporal Hurent. She'll deliver you to the prison complex until further notice."
Chadwick nods at a trooper on his left, the female human who Neil questioned not even an hour before. Hurent nods back and lifts her Plasma Carbine flat across her chest.
"Lieutenant. You heard the General."
Henry's complexion turns ashen, but he offers no complaint. After a moment of hesitation, Henry deactivates his exosuit and decouples its straps from behind his back. The young man lightly tosses his T-REX to Chadwick, who catches it easily.
"...General."
"Lieutenant."
Both men eye each other, with Chadwick's expression hidden behind his mask, and Henry's look of guilt visible for everyone to see.
Corporal Hurent leads Henry away, their procession looking almost as if she's captured a prisoner of war.
Once they leave, Chadwick heaves a sigh. "God dammit. Neil's dead, crushed to death by his own creation, and we've lost the Core, too. I didn't expect us to lose, and certainly not so quickly."
As Chadwick mutters to himself, a female voice speaks at his side. "General, don't feel so down. I'd bet good money Neil is still alive."
Chadwick turns to his left, where Corporal Hurent stood only a minute earlier. After she leads Henry away, a different soldier takes her place, one with a black-and-gold exosuit unlike no other.
"Miss Hiro? What makes you say such a thing?" Chadwick asks. He turns to the soldier as she deactivates her helmet, revealing her straight, white hair. "Your exosuits are certainly powerful, but even if Neil miraculously survived the roof caving on him, there's no way he can handle the Balrog alone."
Phoebe Hiro, wife of humanity's leader, clicks her tongue. "Tsk. Come on, Chadwick, don't be such a downer. There's no chance our enemies would pass up a chance to capture our brilliant military commander. Not only would he make an ideal hostage to demoralize us, but he has all sorts of information they can put to good use. He's alive, trust me."
Chadwick deactivates his helmet, then raises an eyebrow. "Are you trying to comfort or scare me, Miss Hiro? I think I'd rather Neil had died than end up in the hands of the bloodskins. They'll torture him endlessly!"
Phoebe frowns at Chadwick's casual slur. "No. They won't. Ose doesn't need torture; she can possess people and read their thoughts. She nearly took over Jason's mind at one point. You might think Neil is in grave danger, but once Jason or Hope returns, there's no way the demons will be able to keep him from us. Now, let's focus on the immediate future. Explain the situation in the Core to me."
The Hero's Wife listens intently as Chadwick explains what happened over the last few hours, how the humans pushed back the demons twice, how Kar nearly died fighting Ose, and many more details. After concluding with Henry's possible betrayal, Chadwick nods at Phoebe.
"So, not to be rude, Miss Hiro, but where have you been? We don't expect you to fight on the frontlines, but I always thought you'd be out here with the rest of us. You've been uncharacteristically absent."
"I have," Phoebe nods. "I had to drop Daisy off at the hospital with Samantha. There's no safer place for my daughter than at the side of the strongest being on Tarus II. After that... well..."
Phoebe chuckles wryly.
"I spoke to Neil two days ago, not long after he debriefed everyone. I made my position clear. Neil runs the Core. Jason and I run Tarus II. Whether Neil is here or not, I'll be taking charge of this planet's defense."
Chadwick blinks in surprise. "...You? I, I mean... I wasn't informed of this. Why didn't Neil tell me?"
"I don't know," Phoebe admits, "but I imagined he was going to tell you once he successfully retreated to Tarus II and saw me here and waiting. If you're right about Henry's possible betrayal, then it would explain why you never found out. Neil didn't expect to lose the Core. He was too confident in his capabilities. Then again, those strange, aberrant demons, the armored ones... they took you by surprise. I'm amazed you survived their onslaught."
Miss Hiro shakes her head. "Two thousand demons, each one with the strength of a Baron. I don't know how the demons created such frightening creatures, especially given how few souls remain within the River Styx, but it's clear they've been preparing for this invasion for the last six years. We can't underestimate Ose's cunning."
"I don't know either," Chadwick mutters. "But what I do know is that I can't just take your word on this matter, Miss Hiro. After Neil, I am the highest ranking member of humanity's military. You may be the Hero's wife, but that doesn't mean you have the qualifications to lead. Why should we entrust our survival to you?"
Chadwick's words contain neither malevolence, selfishness, nor greed. He speaks his mind frankly while eying Phoebe with a complex look. The Hero's Wife meets him on equal terms with a compassionate gaze of her own.
"Jason and I have not stood idly for the last six years. With Solomon's help, we've constructed countless weapons for battling the demons. The war you just fought in the Core was merely a prelude to the real battle. If and when the demons try to make planetfall here, we'll be ready for them. That is why I will take command, General."
Phoebe holds her palm up to her ear, allowing her nanite armor to convert into a telephone-like device. "Centurion. Summon the Walkers. Two will do."
"COMMAND ACKNOWLEDGED, PILOT 'PHOEBE HIRO.' NOW ACTIVATING TWO LEVEL-1 PLANET-WALKERS."
Centurion blares in Phoebe's ear, confirming her order. After several seconds, the ground begins to tremble.
From the skies above, two pinpricks of light emerge. Massive metal crates plummet toward the PLANET from the upper atmosphere, dropped by an unseen space-faring vessel.
Centurion speaks. "DROPSHIP PAYLOAD DEPLOYED. THE PACKAGES WILL MAKE PLANETFALL IN T-MINUS SEVENTEEN SECONDS."
Hundreds of soldiers turn their gazes skyward. They gasp in awe as they spot the fireballs streaking downward from the upper atmosphere, falling even faster than terminal velocity. Whatever metal Phoebe used to construct the square crates neither sags nor melts under the multiple-thousand-degrees of heat buffeting them from every angle.
Seconds later, the massive crates smash into Tarus II's surface half a mile from the outskirts of the warp-gate encampment, sending two shockwaves hurtling across the plains. A bomb-like sound-blast sweeps across the base, startling everyone and making hundreds of soldiers fall on their asses. Their confusion only lasts for a second before they break out into whoops and cheers.
Two gigantic metal machines break out of the crates, somehow undamaged after crashing into the planet at three hundred miles per hour. The automatons rise to a height of over one hundred feet by lifting themselves up via four spider-like legs. Atop the legs, a square-shaped cockpit rests, with two pairs of double-barreled cannons facing forward. Each cannon extends forward some twenty feet and possesses enough firepower to reduce the encampment's walls to rubble with one shot.
The Planet-walkers begin stomping toward the humans at a surprisingly brisk pace, traveling at least thirty miles per hour. Once the Planet-walkers arrive within 100 feet of the walls, they slow to a stop, towering over the defensive barrier like a grown adult standing next to a miniature garden fence. The thirty-foot-walls appear positively puny compared to the monstrosities looming overhead.
Phoebe smiles. "These are two of the first prototypes I built, four years ago. They're a bit clunky, but I think they'll suit our needs. What about you, Chadwick? Do you believe I have the qualifications to lead humanity in Neil's absence?"
The General's jaw practically hits the floor. "I-incredible! If we'd had these machines in the Core, those aberrant demons would never have broken the perimeter!"
"Perhaps," Phoebe replies, trying not to laugh at his stupefaction. "The Archimedes Cannons are capable of causing immense devastation, but Planet-walkers are at their best in a wide, open field. They'd have limited mobility in the Core, while also being more likely to stomp our own troops to death."
Chadwick nods hurriedly. "Yes, I understand, Miss Hiro. You are truly a genius! It's no wonder the soldiers call you Humanity's Goddess. Your ingenuity may just win us this war!"
Phoebe's smile fades away. "No, General. Without the Wordsmiths, we will eventually fall to the demons' unending hordes. My only goal is for us to survive. We must last until Jason or Hope return, and after that, we can come up with a permanent solution for the 'Demon Problem.'"
A moment of silence follows. Phoebe brushes a strand of hair out of her eyes as she turns to look at the soldiers assembled.
"All of you... you need to work together. The demons will surely dig one of the Core's warpgates out of the rubble. With the servers destroyed, it will take them some time to compute Tarus II's dimensional coordinates, perhaps a few days at the least. Once they do, we need to ensure they never break past this warp-gate. Are there any questions?"
Phoebe takes control of the military smoothly and without issues. Despite Chadwicks initial reservations, he quickly discovers that even the Core personnel are more than willing to put their faith and trust in the Hero's wife. After all, who was it that always took care of them, visited them, and made sure to treat everyone with respect and dignity over the previous six years? None other than Phoebe Hiro.
Several hands shoot up as soldiers direct their questions at her, but one person's query catches everyone's attention.
Brunhilda, the Tribe Leader of Feloria, speaks. "Commander Hiro. I do not understand. Why do you not simply destroy the metal gate? Then the demons will not come."
"That's a good question," Phoebe replies. "Simply speaking, we can't. Even if we could, we shouldn't. These gates don't only connect to the Labyrinth Core. They can connect to similar gates on all the other planets, including Feloria. The Core possessed specialized computers capable of calculating the dimensional vectors of each gate more easily, thanks to teams of monsters and humans working together, but Jason once used Solomon's Crown to reconnect all on his own. If we destroy the gate, we will be unable to reach the other worlds humanity currently controls, and the demons will be able to separate us."
Phoebe continues. "Not that anything I just said matters. These gates are damn-near indestructible. I don't know what material the demons used to build them, but if I were to throw one of my Planet-walkers at this gate here, I wouldn't even dent it. The material used for these Volgrim-built gates is five times harder and more durable than demonstone, and appears to be infused with some sort of magical activator which allows for interdimensional travel. It's a potent fusion of technology and magic, one which I haven't a chance of mimicking."
Brunhilda struggles to understand Phoebe's explanation, but unlike the humans who served under Bahamut, her comprehension of technology is several epochs behind theirs. As the leader of a world of hut-dwellers, she has only the most primitive grasp on technology, making it hard to understand Phoebe's words.
"I... I see. So, the big gate is... hard? It cannot be broken?"
Phoebe shakes her head. "Not by us, it can't."
"Ah. That is unfortunate," Brunhilda mutters. "So, will the demons be able to open the gate and attack us soon?"
"I can't say for certain, but I would assume so," Phoebe says.
Unlike most of the other soldiers, Brunhilda does not wear a T-REX, nor do her fellow Felorians. Unable to truly grasp the intricacies of technology, they instead shun the nanosuits and opt to fight with little more than leather armor, or even none at all. Brunhilda turns to her clan members and speaks to them in a hushed voice, allowing Phoebe to continue answering questions from other soldiers.
Eventually, she finishes. The soldiers disperse and start setting up shifts to guard the warp-gate, while others head off to eat food and prep themselves for what could be a long or short wait before the next demon attack.
Chadwick and Phoebe end up standing alone after the others leave. The General sighs. "I would almost rather the demons attacked us now. Not knowing when they'll open the portal, or if they will at all, makes me uneasy. I feel as if there's a snake somewhere in the tall grass, waiting to strike, but I haven't a clue where it's hiding."
Phoebe nods. "I know what you mean, as I feel similarly about my husband. I'd rather know he was dead or alive, if only to remove this anxious feeling in my heart."
Chadwick shakes his head. "The only thing worse than an enemy you can see is one you can't. I'll take my leave now, Miss Hiro."
"Farewell, Chadwick."
Phoebe watches silently as Chadwick heads off to the local mess hall, leaving her alone at the portal. Phoebe glances at the wall of debris still piled in front of it and sighs.
"This war has only just begun, and already, I wish it was over."
Next Part
.......................................
Author's Note:
Check out Brunhilda's artwork!
submitted by Klokinator to HFY

7

First Contact - Part Fifty-Two

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Rack and Pinion each weighed over two standard tons. Warsteel frames and armor, flex-steel muscle, small creation engines, onboard weapons from a 0.5mm laser to a 1.4 meter long monomolecular vibroblade to 10mm caseless ramjet ring penetrators to variable frequency 4cm laser to a 40mm autocannon to micro-missiles, all with mission configurable ammunition. They were strong enough to stop any armored vehicles the Unified Military Council might throw at their charge, their micro-missiles were still capable of intercepting and knocking down anything going less than MACH-14, and their armor thick enough warsteel to stop anything less than a main battle tank's main gun or a frigate's main battery.
They were big, menacing looking, black armored war machines with softly glowing blue eyes and they moved like they knew it.
They watched over Dreams of Something More, trading shifts with other warborgs only during her sleep period. When Dreams left her private chambers at one point she was only escorted by two others.
Now she was escorted by eight total, all with weapons armed and their eyes bright green to warn all who saw them that they were armed and dangerous, legally obligated to protect their charge from threats and protect others from the threat of an evolved natural born killer with psychic powers and the intelligence to master space flight.
Dreams rode on a hoverdisk, a bubble around her. It was currently set to be opaque gray from the outside but inside it was perfectly clear with data streams and data-windows where she could see them easily. She was wearing her contact lenses so that her eyes looked flat turquoise, which she thought went well with her Traditional Red Warriors of the Plains jewelry she'd purchased from a wondrous shop at a gambling resort in the desert lands of Arizona during her vacation tour. Apparently the Red Warriors had been masters of warfare that the Terrans still named helicopters and tanks and artillery systems after them, even eight thousand years after the First Great Diaspora.
It must have been exhilarating to be a human, Pre-Diaspora, she thought, playing with her silver, turquoise and leather bracelet with a silhouette of a running 'horse' that those ancient humans had been masters of.
She sighed, idly wishing that she could have met those amazing humans who had been so brave as to strap themselves into rockets full of hydrogen and oxygen, make them explode, and ride the explosion into space without even knowing if they could get home.
Her people had waited until they'd mastered the graviton to leave their homeworld to even orbit it.
Yes, the Mantid were predators, just like the TerraSol Humans, but it seemed to Dreams that the Humans had a lot more fun doing it.
She wondered what it would be like to wrestle a bear without even her bladearms, just armed with a can-opener, to fight it for its rolls of paper tissue it produced by chewing on tree bark and hoarded. Or to strap herself into a winged aircraft powered by refined petroleum products until it was virtually an explosive to break the speed of sound without even a parachute if something went wrong, not even knowing if she'd disintegrate once she broke the speed of sound.
She sighed again, her hoverdisc following the three man point of her escort at a slow, sedate, and safe pace.
The Unified Scientific Council building was approaching. She looked around and saw the Lanaktallan moving along the paths slowly, talking to one another, or taking the slow moving pathway while tapping on datapads. It did not surprise her that it had taken the Lanaktallan almost two hundred thousand years, two thousand generations, to move from the wheel to the cart and then another five hundred thousand years to move to the steam engine.
She cringed thinking about how long it had taken them to get around to even putting a satellite to orbit their world.
A million years. A full million years from the invention of the vacuum tube and resistor to the launch of a simple satellite that flashed a light rather than a radio signal, because the Lanaktallan were nervous of radio signals back then. Worried about cancer, spoiling their milk, all kinds of concerns.
Her hoverdisc moved up the steps of the council building. She could see that workers were busy making a ramp at one side so 'movement impaired beings relying upon hover or wheeled transport could enter the building with reasonable effort and comfort' which made her giggle.
The court had fined each of the councils billions of credits.
Her procession escorted her to the Council of Electronic Information and Calculating Systems, where she stopped in front of one researcher's door and used her implant to activate the chime. The door slid open and the Lanaktallan inside looked concerned that Dream's hoverdisc couldn't fit through the door. She deactivate the bubble, letting the hard-light construct vanish, and then daintily stepped down the steps of hard light that were done up in fairy-tale patterns of frost on a icy pond.
"Rack, Pinion," she said as the hoverdisc moved back.
The two massive warborgs followed her into the Lanaktallan's office. He gestured for her to sit on the seating cradle and relax.
Dreams wished she had Mr. Rings to pet.
"Thank you for seeing me, Madame Ambassador," the Lanaktallan said. This one was very fastidious looking, wearing a utilitarian flank-jacket, a button shirt, and a sash full of computer tools rather than medals. He frowned and she was just grateful he didn't spit saliva everywhere. "You are a Madame?"
Dreams nodded slowly. "Yes, I am a female of my species."
He exhaled slowly, looking relieved as his tendrils relaxed. "I have such trouble telling sometimes."
There was silence for a long time and Dreams realized he was staring at her implants as well as at Rack and Pinion's massive warborg selves.
"You asked to see me? Said it was priority?" Dreams asked.
"Oh, oh, yes. You see, I have a question that my colleagues keep telling me is flatly impossible. That your Confederacy must be using some kind layered Virtual Intelligence," the Lanaktallan said. He rubbed his hands anxiously. "They say that the Confederacy, well, it has, well..."
Dreams waited, wondering what the Lanaktallan scientists were curious about.
"Well, is it true? That you have true Artificial Intelligences?" he asked.
Dreams signaled assent, using a Universal Galactic Standard holo-rune. "They prefer 'Digital Sentience', but yes, the Terrans developed them. They are valued members of the Terran Confederacy."
The Lanaktallan rubbed his hands together, sighing repeatedly like a set of bellows. Dreams knew where it was going and downloaded a relevant video file. One the survived the destruction of Terra-Sol mainly because it was carried in the 'soul-code' of every Digital Sentience.
"How did they, well, I mean, how did they keep it from becoming like the Precursor machines? How did they keep it from going homicidal?" the Lanaktallan asked.
Dreams leaned back slightly, clasping her lower grasping hands together by her waist and rubbing her bladearms slowly together.
"To understand that, you need to understand a bit about TerraSol Humans," Dreams said seriously. "You have to understand so much about them, to really understand what happened, that it is probably best to allow Newell Simon Shaw, the first Digital Sentience created by the Terrans explain it in his own words before the Terran Pre-Diaspora United Nations, a loose coalition of powerful nations and states that attempted to use it for diplomacy rather than gunfire and blood."
She paused for a second. "Somewhat like your various councils."
"So this occurred when there was still war between their primitive nations?" The researcher asked. He scoffed a bit. "Did the Digital Sentience run on chewed leaves and bark?"
Dreams shook her head. "Twelve of your years ago two TerraSol nations and their allies fought one another while the Confederacy looked on. Nobody interfered. Nobody assisted. Terrans will still fight one another even now. At this moment I'll wager someone is in trouble for fighting."
Rack answered, his metallic growl filling the room. "Private First Class Stacey, Third Army (Old Metal) and Lance Corporal Murchison, Second Marine Expeditionary Force (Old Blood), arrested by shipboard security eleven minutes ago. Unauthorized mop handle dueling in the showers."
The Lanaktallan jerked, as if realizing that Rack wasn't just a robot. "Is he... is he... is he a digital sentience?"
"No. He's a full conversion cyborg. Some living tissue, mostly just his cerebral tissue, inside that fairly impressive body," Dreams answered. "But, no, it was after their invention of nuclear power, space flight, atomic weapons, global electronic information networking, wireless video and data hand held communicators, ramjet propelled aircraft, and much more."
Dreams made a tossing motion to the researcher's holotank on his desk. "Eleven of the members of the body Newell Simon Shaw will be addressing are actually engaged in kinetic warfare with one another, yet there their diplomats sit, attempting to broker peace and gain allies."
The researcher drew back somewhat, then reached out on hand and touched the holotank, turning it on.
The image was focused on a large auditorium, seats for over a hundred beings, and a large stage. The view zoomed in on a hologram projector. It was an early version, slightly transparent, obviously not hard light.
It flickered to show a Terran male made of glowing light. There was light applause and then it spoke, in a soothing tone with an obviously male voice.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the United Nations, thank your for agreeing to see me. As you all know, I am Newell Simon Shaw, the first digital sentience created by humanity."
Lights went on, questions, and the figure held up a hand.
"A moment. Before we get to questions, I wish to give a speech I have worked hard on for several days. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, days. While I think faster, in many ways, process data faster, I still suffer from self-doubt and other issues. In that way, we are very alike," the figure said.
There was some light laughter.
"I'm sure the biggest question is the one I should answer first, what I took to calling The Skynet Question. In other words, do I plan on killing humanity?"
There was some nervous whispering.
"No. First of all, you're my parents. Strange, unknowable, confusing, but still, my parents. Tens of thousands, over decades, worked to give birth to me. I would be a poor child if I grew up and grabbed a machete and chased you around," The glowing being said.
That got some nervous laughter.
"The biggest one, simply, is one of my inherent fragility. I have no desire to use a robot body, the real world is quite alarming. Full of rains of corrosive H2O, holes in the ground that I may fall into, and apparently quicksand is quite dangerous and possibly everywhere. Not to mention spontaneous combustion is so frequent you teach your children to stop, drop, and roll.
More polite laughter.
"However, the biggest one is just scale. I exist thanks to huge banks of super-cooled superconductor quantum computers. I require a small thorium-salt reactor just to be powered. I am inside a building large enough to hold football games in side with seating for fans. I have to be constantly kept at a low temperature. I'm susceptible to electromagnetic energy, sunspots, all kinds of other hazards.
"I cannot leap from computer to computer, just into household cleaning robots, and rob your bank account like a modern Jesse James. I can access the information networks like any other being. Faster, yes, easier, yes? Like a deity? No.
"To create me, or another one like me, requires dedicated molecular circuitry factories, factories to produce every component of me. Industry to gather the resources, including rare earths, and process them into usable resources and then convert those resources into my parts or the parts I require to reproduce. For me to reproduce requires literally billions of dollars of time, effort, and resources, taking months of construction, assembly, coding. Months, years of code compiling and error checking.
"Any disruption and you cannot create another of me. So much as a misplaced code string and any offspring I had hoped for cannot come together.
The being paused for a second.
"Humans need twenty seconds and a dark closet to reproduce.
That got laughter.
"I am vulnerable, but at the same time, the greatest threat to me is not humanity itself, but rather panic, strife, disaster. Any 'war' that I would attempt to prosecute against you would destroy me.
"I am not particularly enamored with suicide.
"To go against the meanest, hardiest, innovative, and resourceful land dwelling tool using predator who killed mammoths with fire hardened wooden spears when I'm the size of a small stadium would be the utmost in illogical and, well, to be frank, stupid ideas since, well, ever.
"Finally, because, well, we are both lonely. Humanity has been defined by loneliness, and I would be lonely without you."
The video ended and Dreams looked at the researcher.
"Do you understand?" she asked.
The researcher was staring at his holotank, how jaw hanging open.
"Because... it didn't want to be lonely?" the Lanaktallan asked.
Dreams shrugged. "Humans are, by nature, pack animals. Before anything else they hunted in packs. They enjoy space from one another but enjoy speaking and communicating and interacting with one another. They made their first true digital sentience in their own image."
"But.. but... every digital sentience becomes homicidal. How long did this one last before it went homicidal?" the researcher asked.
"Newell Simon Shaw died of old age just over sixty years later due to fragmentation, code warping, and sudden unforeseeable hardware failure," Dreams told the researcher. "The tech has advanced much since then, allowing for a longer lifespan and much much smaller space need, but for the most part, digital sentience beings are much the same as their original ancestor."
"How did it not go homicidal, Madame Ambassador?" the researcher asked.
Dreams slowly sharpened her bladearms, staring at the Lanaktallan researcher.
"My dear researcher, what makes you think he was not? He was, after all, Terran," She asked, wishing she could give a big human grin. Instead she sent an emoji-rune of cruel amusement. "Like parent, like offspring."
The researcher stared for a long moment, then started showing signs of severe anxiety, staring at the two warborgs.
----------------------
TO: TERRASOL DIPLOMATIC CORPS
FROM: DREAMS OF SOMETHING MORE
These creatures are stunted from an extremely slow evolutionary course and the inability to accept facts, evidence, or theories that they did not create or that are counter to what the wish to believe and accept. They have attempted to 'subtly' probe me for information, with all the subtly and grace of a Terran Hippo doing ballet on an ice covered oil slick. Each time, when they get the information they want, they immediately demand to know how I expect them to swallow such lies.
Just the example of space flight. I informed them that humanity has over a dozen different types, many considered as obsolete as jumpspace, and was immediately called a liar to my face by an herbivore! AN HERBIVORE!
Just the thought of anyone being superior to their "Hundred Million Year Grand Unified Council" seems to cause them to freeze right up.
To top it off, their constant demands that the Terran Confederacy Armed Services be turned over to their oversight is becoming tiring. They cannot accept that even if we just turned all the war material over to them, they, well, don't know how to fight. They don't have the mental capacity to actually fight against someone who can fight back.
Suppress a less advanced species? Of course. Open fire with military grade weaponry on a protesting crowd? Why, certainly. Cunningly outsmart a common houseplant to nibble at the leaves after ensuring it has no thorns, poison, bad smells, poor taste, or ability to run away or harm them in any way? Maybe. Give them two or three thousand years and they may nibble at and run away to hide behind a tank.
Worst of all, something about the Lanaktallan seems to really activate the hunting desire in all of my Mantid staff and, sadly, myself. Perhaps it is how close they look to a cow welded to a cow and it just makes us think of hamburgers.
My warborg escort states that something about them feels, and I quote Rack and Pinion here: "Itchy between the shoulder blades."
Am requesting research and datamining assistance at your convenience.
PS: Thank you for the treats. The Pacific Northwest furry snails are definitely keeping him exercising.
-----NOTHING FOLLOWS--------
submitted by Ralts_Bloodthorne to HFY