Short Story #1 – New Rising (Part 3)

The reflective drones flew back to wherever they came from. Now it was just Tar’Kari, and the flying machines in the chamber. There was no response of any kind from the machines. The only sound in the chamber was the buzzing generated by the machines as they flew around maintaining the humanoid shape, and footsteps from the people in the expedition group, now walking towards into the chamber.

Tar’Kari did what he knew, treating it like an animal in the wild, he took a step back in a bid to present himself as friendly. Most animals took kindly to that kind of behavior and would be more at ease.

“What are you?” he asked again, straining to maintain his composure.

The tiny machines that formed the mouth area started moving in a female voice, “Your behavior indicated that you think I’m an animal. I’m not. And I’m not a what. I’m a who. Semantics are important. I’m Narka, charge with protecting this place from all threats. So… you are Tar’Kari?” The tiny machines move forward in such a manner that made the humanoid looked like it was taking a step forward, studying him. “Are you sure you are not a threat?”

Swallowing a lump of saliva, Tar’Kari mumbled, “No.”

“Good. Scans indicate that you are a descendant of from someone before the Black Plague. I think you will be happy to be able to meet your great-great-great-great-grandfather after we start cloning him a body. For now, let’s wait for your friends to get down here and we will talk more.”

It didn’t take the members of the expedition to reach the chamber. While waiting, hundreds of drones were deployed and they went out across the planet surface and began their scanning process for lifeforms and potential threats. The results were sent back, correlated and studied extensively. The six expedition members showed visible signs of fear as soon as they reached the chamber when they saw the black humanoid. They wanted to run away. Tar’Kari did his best to assure them that it was safe and they stand their ground.

“Well, it does look like there are thriving communities of people around the planet and the threat is gone. People are still fighting amongst themselves over trivial things,” Narka said nonchalantly. “Anyway, you say you are here to find out more. What would you like to know?”

“You mentioned Black Plague. What do you mean?” Tar’Kari asked.

“Long story short, we were a space-faring civilization and lived on multiple worlds out in the seas of stars. During our exploration expeditions amongst the stars, we encountered what we call Black Plague. We brought some down to this world to study it. An accident happened. It got out and began to take over people’s mind, manipulate their behaviors, and changed them. Soon, we were fighting against these virtually indestructible humans and we lost. All data indicated there were no survivors.”

“What is this place then?”

“While those who could fight fought, the rest of us worked in complete secrecy to build these chambers. They are known as Recovery Vaults where our individual genetic information and minds, and all our combined knowledge are stored. We had hope to restart our civilization and contact our other worlds, assuming they are still out there.”

Tar’Kari couldn’t help but felt extremely excited at the prospect of having more knowledge from this ancient vault. It could benefit his tribe immensely. “Could you share with us more information so that we can bring it back to our tribe?”

“I could but I don’t want to. I want to meet your tribe leaders first.”

He wasn’t sure how his tribe leaders would feel about that. Even though he felt at ease with this thing, he still couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad might happen to his tribe. The others in the chamber were just looking at each other, unsure of what to do next.

Sensing his hesitation, “If I wanted to destroy your tribe, I would have already done that minutes ago. Either I meet with your tribe leaders or you can leave now and don’t come back. If I like what I see or feel about your tribe, I will share more information that would benefit them greatly.”

“Please allow us to discuss this amongst ourselves.”

“Go ahead. I’m not going anywhere.”

Tar’kari and the six expedition members moved away to discuss what to do next. But it didn’t matter that they were whispering. Narka could hear every thing they said. When they finally decided and came back, Narka pretended that she didn’t know anything.

“We will bring you to meet our tribe leaders.”

“Great. Give me a moment to get ready.” During the time they spent walking back with the answer, Narka already had the replicators within the vault clone a body for her stored mind. She also greatly augmented her body with nanites that would allow her to handle any threats, including the Black Plague, with ease. The last several centuries, the artificial intelligences of the vaults across the planet studied and understood everything there was to know about the black plague and that knowledge translated into knowing how to fight them effectively.

When the clone was ready, a circular hole appear in the structure. The humanoid retreated back into the structure and out came an actual female human, clothed in some kind of tight-fitting polymer-based material. In Tar’Kari’s eyes, she was the definition of a goddess with her slim physique, standing at least a head taller, with a completely smooth face and olive skin. Her hair was straight, soft, copper-brown, and ending just an inch below the shoulder.

“I’m good to go,” Narka said as she tried to bundle her hair into a ponytail.

Tar’Kari nodded, turned, and started walking. The rest followed. When they finally reached the main hall, he introduced Narka to the rest, casually omitting the fact that she was originally a machine. He wasn’t sure how the rest would react to that information. The fact that she was there, dressed so differently, taller than anyone already got people both awestruck and concerned.

During the trek back to the village, the cold didn’t affect Narka at all. She just kept going, stopping only when the whole group decided to take a break. She didn’t even eat or drink anything and when offered, she declined. There were moments when she’s alone, she would be in a daze. Unknown to the rest, she was spending most of her time accessing the network that connects the Recovery Vaults and conversing away with the various AIs with her Neural Link Clusters.

As soon as the group reached the village, at Narka’s behest, Tar’Kari led her straight to the tent where the leaders had gathered and they spent the next few hours talking. After the talks, she stepped out of the tent feeling strangely happy. She was able to achieve result. The leaders were very open-minded throughout the talks and more than willing to accept new information as presented. In exchange for sharing their knowledge about the world, the sciences, and everything, all Narka asked on behalf of the awoken stored minds and AIs was that the village provide them an area to setup homes for the cloned bodies hosting these stored minds.

As she was standing there, few meters away from the entrance of tribe leaders’ tent enjoying the snow with her eyes closed, one of the male tribe member approached her. As soon as the person was within five meters, she was alerted to the detection of Black Plague by the passive scanners built into her body.

“What?” she uttered as she swiftly turned to look at the approaching tribe member. “Stay wherever you are!”

“I…I just want…want to give you something,” the tribe member stammered, shocked at Narka’s sudden call.

“Just don’t come any closer. It’s your last warning.”

The tribe member didn’t heed the warning and took a step forward. Narka raised her left hand and fired off a blast of concussive energy, sending the tribe member flying backwards several meters and landed on his back. The blast caught the attention of the whole village and the tribe leaders all came rushing out.

The tribe member got up, seemingly unaffected by the blast, and grinned, “How did you know?”

Narka gritted her teeth and sent a general alert to the Recovery Vault network about the detection of Black Plague. She knew that people infected by Black Plague do not suffer from aging but didn’t expect them to be around anymore. Especially not after the AIs defeated the Black Plague and cleansed the planet eighty years after the last of the non-infected humans died out.

“I just do,” she responded and threw out a sphere-like device, which went into hover position above the Black Plague-infected tribe member, firing an invisible energy field that prevented him from moving a muscle. “We have learned a lot about your kind since our last encounter.” Simultaneously, Narka initiated a wide area scan and found comfort that this was the only Black Plague-infected person in the village.

More information started surfacing from the scans conducted by countless drones flying around the planet indicated that there were many more Black Plague-infected humans, mingling around unsuspecting humans. It became clear that the non-infected had to be protected and informed of the threat. Combat drones were deployed while the stored minds of those who could fight were given cloned but augmented bodies and sent out.

“What’s going on?” Tar’Kari asked as he approached Narka.

“You are looking at a Black Plague-infected person,” she replied still with her arm raised, pointing at the tribe member.

“He can’t be. He has been with us for nearly ten years. We found adopted him into our tribe after we found him wandering in the forest.

“Where did you find him?” Narka asked.

“In the forest further south of our village.”

That information was relayed to Recovery Vaults where the stored minds and AIs would make decision accordingly.

“I will show all of you what a Black Plague look like,” she said and fired highly-focused but powerful concussive energy blast at the host’s legs, destroying both and send a command to the drone hovering above to shutdown the energy field. The now legless host dropped to the snow-covered ground, landing on his stomach. There was no blood of any sort and before long, the stumps started regenerating. It didn’t take long for the legs to be fully regrown and he stood up, grinning evilly at Narka. The rest saw the whole thing and started gasping. They were truly afraid.

Without hesitation, Narka send a command to the drone and encasing the host in some kind of energy field. Not only does the energy field prevented the host body from moving, it also started melting the person by splitting molecular chains and stripping the atoms into their constituent parts, at a rate faster than the Black Plague could repair the body. It only took mere seconds for the whole process to complete and there was nothing left.

***

Over the next few days, Black Plague hosts were hunted down and destroyed. More resources were expended to look at every nook and cranny of the planet for traces of the Black Plague and there were none. All the stored minds were downloaded and put in respective cloned bodies. The cloned individuals contributed whatever they could to the various villages but largely stayed together in their own gated communities setup across the planet.

Century-old traditions were almost overturned overnight by new information and knowledge, causing bloody revolutions when the tribal leaders refused to accept. Messages were sent to previously known communication channels used via hyperspace, hoping to catch the attention of the ancient ones’ civilization, which was subsequently known to be Salakic Confederation, a collection of worlds that had their own governments with relatively large amount of autonomy.

It didn’t take long for the messages to reach their intended audience and a fleet of spaceships arriving in orbit over the planet.

The world of Waylyka was finally back in the Salakic Confederation.