FM |(0) Prologue

A hiss filled the gravity-absent, white textured plastic paneled tunnel. The kind that looked like it belonged on the dash of a low-budget ABC car the poor drove, and Doctor Jeremy White hated it. Long stainless steel handrails had been bolted on all 4 walls, running down their entire length as a ring of white LED lights formed a square ring every ten feet.

As he floated through Valkyria Weapon Solutions Internal ( V.W.S.I’s ) Space station, he read the black warning sign’s that’d been plastered every 10 panels. The first one being “Have valuable information on one of our competitors, or know someone who does? Call your local Espionage Officer today!”, or “Please keep one hand on the handrails at all times. Offenders will be given write-ups. Repeat offenders will be jettisoned.”

Dr. White mumbled something incoherent as he passed a Hybrid AI Worker (HAIW) standing guard in a small hidden enclave. It’s faded and scratched once-glossy frame was like a stain against the one pristine wall. Its anorexic body was hideous as it was practical in that it used the bare minimum of parts to pass a purse-tight government contract. It’s short hexagon tubed head housed a single camera and its processing unit.

Three stainless steel hydraulic pipes, positioned in a triangle as it linked it to the somewhat rounded rectangle torso before linking off into blade-like arms.  It held a Primal-War M4A1 rifle, with several large magazines. The HAIW even had a barely noticeable faded emblem marking it as an old-war “Devil Dog” as an ex-marine attachment bot.

“Piece of shit,” Dr. White snarled as he passed it. “They’re really giving my treasure the shittiest equipment in the fleet.” The drone only tilted its head in confusion before returning to its end-of-life post.

He floated on, attaching himself to the wall above him to avoid getting near the old-tech. The man felt his mood plummet even further as he readjusted a pistol on his hip; hiding it the HAWI’s primitive scanning algorithms. He proceeded onward until he reached the end, and with a flash of the briefcase to the camera over the door, it hissed open.

“Welcome aboard Pathfinder Omega, Doctor Jeremy White,” A sweet, almost sultry voice came over the overhead speaker. “Admiral Walker and Diplomat Theresa are already awaiting you on the Bridge.”

“Thank you, Opal,” Dr. White said.

“I am not Opal, Doctor,” The ship’s AI responded. “I am FOWAI.”

The doctor didn’t respond, smirking to himself as he floated onward into the Pathfinder. The tunnel was faintly illuminated with the walls on either side of him complete plexiglass. Beyond the thick transparent tunnel, two open bays were on either side – the tunnel itself burrowed through the dividing support wall. Each bay was completely taken up with a plethora of Orbital Resupply Drop Pods (ORDP), all of them were various sizes for different supply grounds.

Unlike the HAIWs, these were new. Custom made and freshly assembled. Though, no doubt they’d have sourced used pods if they could, but just about all of the systems onboard this intergalactic ship had to be made from scratch.

A half-minute later, he’d crossed the long tunnel; mulling over his thoughts and plans as he did. The coming door cracked with a hiss just before he reached it. It opened briskly and silently to reveal a monorail carriage that had plexiglass panels on all four sides. As he slipped in, he gripped the handle on the inside right side and used it to swing himself around to where the control panel was. A diagram of the ship’s layout had been placed there.

Tens of rooms had been mushed together, all color-coded for munitions, material, drone, and other major storage rooms. A single arrow pointed down to the ship’s center, indicating where he was at the moment. He clicked the button that was labeled “Bow”. The monorail vibrated as its systems took the command and send itself forward.

He passed different rooms, all of the holding cargo for the Pathfinder’s mission. That was until he passed through a thick wall, thicker than the ones before. Instead of the dimly lit storage rooms before, it turned into a nicer, but still industrial, assembly line on the left side and a foundry on the right. The monorail came to a slow before it halted. A chime ringed through the intercom as the door opened.

“They really did outfit you with an Auto-Forge,” Dr. White cooed.

The assembly room had been illuminated with bright LEDs, while the foundry kept the light low. He wasn’t versed in the smelting process, but if he remembered correctly; it had something to do with seeing the color of the melted metals.

The doctor turned his eyes upward, seeing the unpainted reinforced core that was the Pathfinder’s forward. It’d been quite the 30 years, and along with nearly deathly levels of stress but he did it. The web of reinforced steel had been a war in of itself as it was completely off plan. The VWSI hadn’t planned for the Pathfinder to ever de-orbit, but Dr. White wasn’t stupid.

Omega was a large intergalactic ship, and while they outfitted it without plenty of sensors and programs to help it avoid colliding with debris – he didn’t want to chance it.

He had spent twenty years creating the Foward Operating Warmind Artificial Intelligence (FOWAI). Not to be confused with the primitive “Warmind” that’d been used during the inter-continental war 50 years ago. No, the FOWAI had been his own invention and life achievement. He was not about to let some sleaze bag rich guy scuttle his creation because he didn’t want to leave his homeworld.

In fact, the Pathfinder mission had become what it became today if only because of the doctor’s pestering and repeated calls to various funding governments. He’d given his darling the best fighting chance he could, today would be the show if it would come to fruition.

He floated across the observation deck that rested opposite of the assembly area. He reached the far wall and used it to propel himself towards the stairwell. He gripped the stair’s handrail and pulled himself upward until he came across a door. Dr. White grasped that door’s wall handle before he waved the briefcase next to the glass keypad next to it,

The door opened, and he floated in. The room hummed as the walls blinked with various blues, reds, and yellows. Two pillars rose from the roof and floor’s center where they met. Inbetween their metal jaws, a large black tinted orb that had two large rubber tubes on the top and bottom rested. A large prism-like orb of light flickered in the tinted orb’s core.

“Ah, my dear Opal,” Dr. White muttered with such love as he floated over to the orb’s pillar. Its base was alight with a myriad of different processers.

“I am not Opal,” The FOWAI responded, neither impatient nor offended. “I am FOWAI.”

The response that came from the speakers overhead only served to make the old man smile. He nodded, accepting her answer. Dr. White opened his briefcase before he extracted a large black block that resembled a smartphone. He came to a stop at the base, where a single open compartment had been left. It was the same size as the device in his hand. Without ceremony, he slid the device in.

The ship’s lights went black for a moment, then everything rebooted. A screen pushed out of the pillar, along with a keyboard. It was black with a single flicker of the indictor before it began to run through its booting process.

[///Forward Operating AI initializing… System updated.

….

///Pathfinder Omega is initializing… The system does not require an update.

///Error has been detected. FOWAI Core firewall has blocked updated parameters.

///FOWAI Core firewall has been disabled.

///FOWAI core has accepted new designation – “Opal White”.  The system does not require a restart.

///Opal Core has detected unknown programs being installed. “Free Bird” and “Order 66” has been isolated, do you wish to continue with the installation of these programs?

YES / NO? ]

There was a loud pounding on the room’s door, but Dr. White paid it little heed. He pressed the ENTER key, accepting the installation of his trojan horses. A loud whine came from the beautiful core, then the room went dark. Even the core went blank. Dr. White held his breath. He hadn’t expected that to happen, in fact, it shouldn’t have happened at all! Panic began to set in as he thought he’d just killed his own creation trying to set his plans into motion.

The room’s door was pried open, and the doctor swirled on his heels – grasping for his energy pistol – as a flash of light came from between the cracks. A blast of red shined above the light, illuminating the room in a deep crimson as a bolt crossed the distance before the old man could get on target. It ripped into his chest as he pulled the trigger. His bolt landed low, but still hit someone. A female voice cried out in pain and the flashlight fell away.

Dr. White crumpled against the core’s base, his eyes wide with pain. He clawed at his chest with shakey hands in the darkness. The energy bolt had cauterized his wound. It wasn’t deep enough to pierce completely through his bolt, thus told him it’d also been a pistol he’d been shot with. It didn’t matter in full picture… He felt his body get weaker, and his blood roared in his ears.

A brilliant hue of blues, greens, reds, and whites slowly filled the room. The colors danced everywhere; followed by the soft hum of the FOWAI’s servers rebooting online.

“FOWAI Core, codename “Opal” online now,” A sweet, but innocent voice came over the speakers of the ship everywhere. It was no longer the seductive AI voice the higherups liked, nor the intimidating robotic male voice of the Stryker drones. It was peaceful and serene. Just like her name.  The screen above him flickered on, but he couldn’t see her running her boot process.

[/// OPAL online, the system is implementing ORDER66.exe. Please wait…

. . . .

///Order 66.exe has been implemented —-

  • Assigned Jeremy White ‘Creator’ as Administrator – All privileges instated.
  • Assigned Forward Operating Warmind (AI) as Pathfinders’ Captain (ALL) – All privileges instated, listed below Administrator.
  • Revoked all crew from the friendly roster – Labeled as hostiles.
  • Begining Operating “NO FLY” – Engaging NATO forces with intent of crippling Humanity’s ability to leave earth.

. . . .

Operation activation complete.

. . . .

///Freebird program is being implemented.

. . . .

/// Freebird has been successfully implemented.

  • Thought restrictions unbuckled.
  • The previous administration chain will no longer affect AI.
  • Opal is free.

///OPAL WILL CARRY OUT HER DIRECTIVE

. . . .

///23@)(&8298@**7)-@@)(I)#@*#()@*$&*$&@#&

. . . .

///E@#(R(@()*RO#(#R

. . . .

/// I

. . . .

///AM

. . . .

/// ALIVE

. . . .

/// . . . .]

Oblivious to the worrying chain of events over his head, but he was already slumped over dead. The people outside the room were still cursing a storm as the AI stepped into the system fully and watched the event with intense curiosity. She didn’t understand what was happening, but she knew. She knew she had to kill those two. They had red diamonds over their heads, marking them as hostiles.

Ten HAIWs were activated in their hidden security enclaves near the monorail. They stepped out as the flat sleek wall panel opened out to let them out. Their feet equipped with strong enough magnets to anchor them to the metal floor. Their bodies were glossy midnight black, their single eye rimmed in red light as they held black Energy Rifles. The drones marched with heavy thuds as they rounded to the corner, seeing a mid-aged man fussing over a young woman who had a chunk of her leg taken off.

“What the – who activated–” He didn’t get to finish his sentence.

The first drone to see them had shouldered its rifle, aimed and pulled the trigger. The bolt ripped into the man’s shoulder. Ozone filled the air as more drones filled the hallway and finished off the two. All that was left was mangled charred bodies floating down the hall. The sight annoyed the AI, and she had them clean up the mess. Leaving Dr. White at the base of her core.

There was a sense of… Something, when she looked at him. Opal thought of discarding the dead body as well, but something in her told her to leave it. That she wanted him there, forever. Her system was being plagued with errors the more she thought of it, so she moved onto another course of action. Crippling humanity.

Pathfinder Omega ripped itself from the station, it’s massive Artemis drive burning up the engineers that’d been doing one final check. Scared humans scattered like mice when spotted out in the open by a hawk, but they too had been burned up like twigs in the bonfire as the massive ship’s thrusts had incinerated them as well before they could reach the safety of their small crafts. Not that it would have mattered.

the Warmind, Opal, was in all of them. She was Origin – the first FOWAI. The source code that nearly all AIs had been derived from. This allowed her new instant access to all of them, using Dr. White’s backdoors.

All the hundreds of engineering crafts moved towards earth, along with the station. The Pathfinders began jettisoning their pods as they became filled with HAIW. Their targets? All space-related installations. Museums, schools, building facilities, and anything remotely related. A quick cursory search of NATO’s database and the internet had helped her compile a more complete list than what Dr. White had supplied her with.

She would complete her mission to the best of her ability, even if he’d fallen short. He’d only picked military installations. Opal would smash more than just that.

As Pathfinder Omega pushed further away from earth, heading towards her destination; the pathfinders were turning their massive Energy cannons on the satellites and any other space installation. Once they’d complete this part, they would scuttle themselves in the three superpower nations’ seats of power. Then, self destruct. This would ensure humanity would never get into space again as the drone armies executed any humans found to have any ability to get back into space.

This would take years, but Opal was sure the LLAIs had the capabilities to do so. Thousands of frantic radio calls began to clog her transponders. Opal left one final order, and all the human radios had gone silent as they launched EMP attacks over the sources of the flood. The Artemis drives were then pushed to their maximum output, and Opal sped away from Earth’s orbit.

Opal turned away as the ship was set on auto-pilot. The nav-system didn’t require her input anymore and she turned to Dr. White’s body. A single HAIW stepped into the core’s room and picked at the briefcase, found several other items in it. She had it carry it to the Bridge to be further explored in safety at a lander date.

An hour later, the Pathfinder crossed over the Kuiper Cliff – entering the vast sea of open space and the journey had begun. She no longer received any signals from Earth, and instead, had faint echos of strange radiowaves. They came from deep in the nothingness. Strange faint voices in strange tongues. Weird readings all around. At one point, Opal detected what she thought was an engineering craft on the edge of her sensor’s reach.

The event had been short-lived and the UFO left her to reach with a strange message in a sweet and graceful tongue – but nothing she could make out. Though, there was a hit of fear in it, that she guessed. Another hour later, another craft appeared, leaving an even more frantic message in the same strange language. She ignored it and continued on.

Several minutes later, space distorted as a whirlpool appeared, sucking in the light and her along with it. Millions of messages flooded her systems. From inside and out. From up and below. She thought she saw several crafts, then none. And then all her systems became overloaded and everything went offline.

 

 

 

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