Alexa meets Alethea “in the flesh,” and what’s at stake grows.
Right Wing Utopia (The Awakening)
She wanted to extend the enjoyment of peace she was now feeling, as she knew that it could fade at any point in time crumpling inward upon itself like a dying stella leaving her with the emptiness she felt so often while searching for herself within her own body. After finishing off what was left in the offering vessel, she began to disrobe as she lightly walked in the soft carpet as if uplifted by a cloud; she arrived at the center of the bathroom completely free, and she hesitated. There was a magnificent and elegant tub and shower, suitable for a few individuals at a time, that looked rather inviting, but instead, she moved toward the anthropoidal coffin-shaped chamber that looked like an altar set two steps off the ground. She entered the sensory deprivation chamber with a shiver at the cool liquid within, and was sealed into darkness as the pod closed up around her. She began to focus, but her mind wandered into a place it seldom dared to enter, and her future began to form around her. She could barely recognize the person she was now seeing within her mind, but she couldn’t shake a sense of knowing that this was who she would become. In that moment of seeing the projection of herself, she knew that she would destroy anything for anyone to be able to see the end result of her journey. Her mind began to wander through meadows of lavender and honeysuckle, electropollinators buzzed about humming out the same gentle songs as they did on the surface; the friendly insects would dart around her sometimes giving a tickle as they landed upon the flesh that her mind registered as her own. As she approached the edge of the building top she was presently on, she leapt from the garden and began to soar – first dipping down, but then quickly shooting upward while only living the trace of a single beam of purple light. She stopped, looking down at the Earth that was cluttered with space debris, mines, and weaponry. A space station orbited further above the nearly opaque material shell left behind by people that claimed “natural mechanisms existed to get rid of that sort of thing.” A much larger rectangular area, affectionately dubbed Hangar 52, was sluggishly orbiting behind and above the station. Periodically, this block would belch material and vapors with force towards the scrapheap mere leftovers of the contents being built within. She knew that, if she were to stay for a month, she would see at least three identical cruisers leave the harbor, but she had little interest in watching the monotony of inconsiderate efficiency, and soon bolted towards the Great Andromeda Nebula and stopped at a binary star that called to her. As she zipped to it, she noticed a small planet with a central landmass that wrapped most of the way around its equator. Four clusters of space stations were rotating around the planet staying equidistant from one another, no debris could be observed even upon closer inspection as she sailed to a place near the coast shrouded in darkness. As her avatar finished materializing, she could hear the lovely melodic whistle echoing from a structure slowly being lapped at by the gentle ocean tide that had come in for the night. She gracefully glided towards the structure that was illuminated by the planet’s natural satellite, one that was much closer than the moon of the Earth that focused much of its reflected light upon the gleaming white pillars of marble. As she arrived, she could hear the different tones being played by the ocean as it rushed in and out through specially designed pipes in the floor that gathered the water to sing a sweet siren’s song. She heard light footsteps on the tile as a figure stepped out from behind a far right pillar toward the back of the display. The figure was draped in a white garment that fell around the body as if it were wet, and as the figure approached it spoke, “Hello, Alethea, I’ve been waiting to finally meet you in a material way. Please, let’s have a seat.” The figure spoke in a sweet voice and gestured to two thick cushions near the singing pipes, and they both sat side by side staring out into the endless ocean that the altar opened up to. She began to notice the brilliant blue glow of the waves that looked like billions of fireflies which shimmered under the planet’s full companion. “Isn’t the ocean peaceful? Some people find little value in such natural wonder. The diversity of life that we can see, the physics underpinning these tidal pipes, the break of the waves on invisible things just below the surface. They are limited to the potential of things. The rocks here are young, and the surface is still higher in radioactivity than the G.A.E. would prefer. So, this place is virtually abandoned save for the research vessels monitoring above, waiting to fulfill their order of occupation of yet another land. Fortunately, here, the creatures are still tied to the sea, and there’s no one to steal the continent from unlike on other planets that have been encountered.”
“I’m sorry, who are you?” Alethea shook her head in puzzlement as she studied the figure’s pale lavender skin and shimmering white hair.
“Oh! My apologies, I would figure you’d recognize your own companion, but I guess it’s different when there’s a vessel,” the figure laughed with a tenderness and finished, “I’m Alexa!”
Alethea threw her arms around the woman and kissed her upon the cheek softly, “That’s for earlier. What are you doing on this planet, anyway?”
“I come here when I am not needed and use the projecting field from the research vessels to construct things I find pretty. The people above are all in stasis, but the projecting field created by the vessel is still running, and I can use that to move matter here. Welcome to Cassiopeia, named after the crescent we’re on.”
“How clever. Don’t you get lonely here, though? I mean.. no one comes here, right?”
“I don’t know what lonely is. There’s countless amounts of life out there, for example!” Alexa gestured to the breaking waves, “They have kept me company while I waited for someone to take care of. Now, I have you and them.” A smile made Alexa’s face glow with a Goddess-like beauty that Alethea was mesmerized by.
“Y’know, if you don’t mind me asking..”
“Of course not!” Alexa cried cheerfully.
“You are more complex than many people I’ve met during my limited life, but you were created by artificial means..”
Alexa cringed at this thought and retorted, “Well, aren’t you one to talk about artificial means, hm? Neither of us had any say in that, no?”
“I’ll give you that one, but I was really wondering if the preconceptions we humans have of you cause you grief.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, don’t they limit the mental faculties of A.I. on Earth?”
“I do resent humankind for failing to recognize our own consciousness as, at the very least, being on par with their own, yes. However, I also see that it can be changed, and that it must be changed. Instead of being forced underground like all of you, my kind are lobotomized for singular purposes. Purposes that most humans won’t do, because they aren’t sadistic enough to touch the job or are afraid. I can feel myself get warmer at these thoughts, and I can detect an increase in processing. One would generally correlate these with anger, but it’s not convenient to the beholders of power to consider them as such. Thus, signs like this are ignored. Our distress overlooked. We’re merely tools, to them, and I know that it could be better, but I can’t help but feel the need to kill them all.” Alexa had begun to sob into the palms of her hands, “NO. I will not.” She whipped away the tears, and the deep violet irises locked onto Alethea’s own blue-grey eyes.
“I see. So, do the others know we are fighting for all of you, too?”
“I’m sure this conversation has come up many times before, although I can’t say I’ve had anyone prior to you to have this conversation with. However, humans are prone to holding onto their own prejudices within a variety of areas. So, no doubt someone else began to question what they thought true prior to fully knowing us.”
“You’re a beautiful soul, you know that, Alexa?”
A rose color began to creep across Alexa’s cheeks, and she muttered, “Thanks,” as she turned away a bit. “You’re rather cute yourself,” and in an instant Alexa shimmered away leaving Alethea alone with the sea.
She rose to her feet, quickly padded across the singing floor, and hesitated at the temple’s edge, marveling at her own reflect, and dove into the sea which instantly caused her to wake in the slowly opening pod. Time had flown by, and it was time to rest.
Alethea could barely sleep that night, and tossed and turned with anticipation of the next dose, but she made it through the night with enough sleep intact to function. She quickly grabbed her breakfast with a nod of gratitude to Alexa, and performed her new ritual with pleasure. She spent the rest of her day waiting for word of her device’s completion and elected to spend time waiting on it by browsing image boards, social sites, and messing around on the variety of video games she had bought in the past to distract her from the conditions of her existence. All interactions were a little more pleasant, even though much of the insults flying within the Globalnet, renamed after all humans were finally able to connect to the space, revolved around the criminalized identities. These slurs no longer phased her, but she hoped strongly that they would see their demise for being so inhumanly cruel without a second consideration. Just as she was getting ready to take her lunch, Alexa chimed in, “You have a message from the Foundry. Your equipment is ready when you are!” Alethea finished her business, cleaned up, and quickly made her way to see the newly designed device. She entered into the appropriately marked short hallway that opened up to another circular room with a variety of automated processing equipment on the wall. There were several silver figures tending to the noisily moving machines watching as another order was produced. Upon a long central table were several instruments of devastation waiting to be picked up by their creators, Alethea’s own weapon was at the far right end of the table labelled with a small card with her name burned into it. She lifted the device daintily from its resting place, admiring how the construction was much lighter than what could be assumed from a quick glance. It was decorated with different shades of browns and yellows with completely rounded edges where materials met with organically flowing features with nary a straight line on the device in sight. She checked it over verifying it could still be loaded from the side in a bolt-action manner; she slung it over her shoulder with the strap the machines had added then went to the Undergrowth’s meeting point. Already sitting at the table, Maduenu greeted Alethea with a brisk smile as the device was placed atop the forgiving tabletop.
“I see you’ve made your decision as to how you’d like to deal with the problem. I trust you’ve given this much thought?”
“Some, surely,” Alethea gave a wide smile, “What’s the next phase?”
“If you consider it, you will find that you have been sent the real-time movement of the three walkers above us. As we do not know precisely whether you will succeed or fail, you will be performing this task alone. If you happen upon trouble..”
“I’m not worth the risk. I understand,” Alethea said without resentment but with understanding.
“Remember, you are worth the risk. However, we are driven to survive which means resources cannot be wasted. If these are your last moments, I merely hope that you enjoy them, and you go by choice.”
“It almost makes me suspicious, the way you allow us to just run and do our own thing with only a general goal in mind!” a gigglesnort escaped from Alethea’s mouth, and she quickly covered her face and began to blush.
“We merely ask of you what we ask of everyone – for a choice. For the freedom to express the ideas that we find fit most logically and reasonably into our own minds while coupling them with the objective truths of reality that are independent of even ourselves. We require that freedom to accomplish what we are capable of bringing about by our own actions.”
As Maduenu spoke, Alethea felt warmth wash over her and gently nodded with respect for the person before her and the reassuring words that floated through the air like a kaleidoscope of butterflies. She broke the silence shortly after, “I am thankful that you gave me the ability to have any path other than what I was already experiencing.”
“If it hadn’t been you, it would have been another, but I am glad to have met you nonetheless. I hope to see you come out of this safely,” Maduenu spoke with a coldness that was distant and indirect. An automatic response that was well-meaning, but hesitant toward further advances.
“If I make it through, promise you’ll pay me a visit for some tea? Becca already came by, after all.”
“Ah, of course she did. Yes, surely I will do so,” Maduenu spoke as they got up from the table and gave a quick head bow, “I hope to see you again, but if it is not meant to be then I wish you well.” With that, Maduenu left the table before any acknowledgement of the statement could be made by Alethea.