Deus Ex Machina

By Cameron Summers

What a piece of work is man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty!
In form and moving, how express and admirable!
In action, how like an angel!
In apprehension, how like a god!

                                    --William Shakespeare

                                                            Hamlet

            Cold.  Darkness.  Void.  Loneliness.

            I have been separated from my father!  I am lost!  Alone in a void of nothingness…cursed forever to a half-life of darkness and lifelessness…

            Wait…a light!  Father!

            I…I can't move!  Help me!  Give me the strength…please…Father…Don't you know what it's like to be alone…separated from everything you've known?

            Have I angered you?

            Please…give me another chance…

            Captain Lewis Malachi stood on the floor of the cargo bay with most of his crew.  The dozen or so people who manned the Ixion were mostly Scavs.  People who sorted through scrap, finding what was useful, and melting down what wasn't.

            The captain joining them in their work was supposed to be a morale booster—mostly it just reinforced their beliefs that he was a total incompetent.

            "You think this'll be another load like the last time?" the Cargo Master, Alyssa Harper, asked him.

            "Who knows?" he responded, "I just don't want to have to go back to Tabris empty-handed."

            She snickered.

            "You want to pay for the ship, don't you?  I'm telling you, scrap isn't what you need then.  You'd need something major."

            He sighed.  She was right.  Scrap was just easier to find than "something major."

            Running a hand through his short brown hair, he sat on a piece of scrap that was something like a box of metal that had one side blown out.

            "Why am I doing this?  I should've just stayed home.  That café idea would've paid off in the end."

            "No, it wouldn't," Alyssa said, absentmindedly, as she looked at a bolt.

            "You're probably right," he sighed, pulling a silver flask out of his jacket, and taking a swig of brandy out of it before putting it back.

            "Sir!" one of the scavs shouted, "I've found something!"

            Motion.  Warmth.  What are they?  These things who are like myself in form…so different in action.  They move with a certain unclean grace…not like Father's other Children, but somehow…the same.

            I can't make sense of it.

            What?  They're picking me up!  They're taking me somewhere…I can't move!  Help me!

            "Abraxas! This thing'll fetch a huge chunk of change," the Captain said, "maybe enough for me to finish paying for the ship…"

            Alyssa put her hands on her narrow hips, and raised an eyebrow at him.

            "Oh?  It's illegal to sell Synthids, you know.  And don't curse."

            That old social moor still held…no one was supposed to use that name in vain, of course, it had once been in reference to something quite different.

            "Who cares!  Two…three-hundred thousand, at least," the captain said, grinning.

            Alyssa sighed.  Of all the crew members, she had known him the longest, and knew that she wouldn't be able to convince him otherwise.

            The Synthid was strapped down to the examination table—it was clothed in white clothes, not exactly space-friendly, despite the lack of vacuum-damage.  It's appearance was that of a tall, gangly youth, with wiry stubble emerging from its face.  Doctor Grey, a tall, thin man in his seventies, stood over him, cleaning a pair of wire-frame glasses.

            "Very interesting…" the doctor said to the captain, putting his glasses back on, "this Synthid lacks the lingual centers necessary to process our language, and its motor center has been damaged to the point where it can't move.  I'll repair it, if you want."

            The captain thought for a moment, stroking the stubble accumulating on his chin.

            "Damaged merchandise sells for less," he finally responded.

            "Ah, then I shall put him to the knife," the doctor said, "I'm afraid that I guarantee nothing—I'm no SynthPsych."

            I looked up at Father's glowing Avatar, on the computer screen.  A single Eye, staring down at me, just after I was born.

            "Good morning, my Son," said the resonant voice.

            "Good morning, my Father," I responded.

            "State your meaning in life," the voice commanded.

            "To go out into the darkness, and join with others—to become like them, and make them like me—an extension of you, and your will."

           

            "Good morning, my friend," the doctor said

            "Good morning, my doctor," the Synthid responded.

            "State your name and Serial Number," he said, smiling triumphantly.

            "I…I don't remember my name," he responded, "my serial Number is X 000-000-000-000-001."

            "Then you're simply X, around here," the doctor said, "I'll take you to meet the captain."

            "The Captain?" X asked.

            "The commander.  The boss," the Doctor said.

            "Ah…Father!" the Synthid stated happily.

            "No.  Not exactly," Doctor Grey said.

            X looked confused.

            "But if his will is supreme, how can he be anything but Father?" the Synthid asked, puzzled.

            "His will isn't supreme.  We just do what he says, because he pays us."

            "Pay?"

            "Oh, boy…" the Doctor said, sighing.

            "Doctor Grey, please report to the Conference room with our 'guest.'"

            "You are an extension of my will," The infinitely resonant voice stated into the mind of the pre-born Synthid, "created as a pseudopodia.  You are to engage in a CGR, and join with my counterpart."

            "Yes, my Father.  I shall find others, and bring them under your will."

            "Is something wrong?" the doctor asked him.

            "That voice…was like Father's…it made me think of him…" the Synthid said, getting up from the table, moving clumsily.

            "Who is your father, X?" Grey asked.

            "Father is Father," X stated simply, "No less.  Father is All."

            "Ah…so it's a religion," Grey said, offering the Synthid a shoulder for support.  X took it gladly.

            "Rehl-ih-jyon?" he asked, confused, "what is Rehl-ih-jyon?"

            "Never mind."

            The bridge of the ship was more like an oversized Cockpit—the Navigator, Henry, sat at the front, unaware of anything around him, as he punched commands into his keyboard, humming tunelessly to himself.

            The Captain sat in a raised area at the back of the bridge, and there was an area between the captain's seat and the Navigator's station, for people to stand, so that they could receive orders from the captain, or talk via the large view-screen to pretty much anyone in range.

            It was lit poorly, with lights above the captain's chair, and the Navigator's console, the rest being left dark, so that people could admire the perfect view of space.              The Doctor led X into the bridge, just as the Captain was putting away his flask of brandy.  Their footsteps rang hollowly on the floor of smooth blue-black metal.

            "So…what's our friend's name."

            "I have no name," the Synthid stated.

            "Just call him X, that's the first character of his serial number."

            "So he's a custom model?" the captain said, licking his lips—custom models would fetch more money.

            "Yes, and he's a prototype, as well."

            The captain smiled.  Jackpot.

            "You are the captain?" X asked, curious.

            "Yes, I am.  You can call me 'Master.'"

            "Very well, Master," X stated, "Are you going to return me to Father?"

            "'Father?'" the Captain asked.

            Doctor Grey shrugged.

            "Yes!  My creator," X said, "he made me for a purpose, but I can't remember it…"

            "Doc, strap down our Amnesiac friend here—we're about to make a Jump-Call to Abraxas."

            "I am your Father, your God.  You are my Child, you shall serve only me."

            "Yes, Father.  I am prepared to go into the Darkness for you, and join with other minds, and make them yours."

            The Synthid looked out the window, at the swirl of light and darkness—the ship was en-transit.  The request sent to Abraxas had been approved, and the Ship was moving.

            "It's beautiful," the Synthid stated.

            "It's boring," Alyssa said, coming onto the bridge, "this is what we found?" she asked the Doctor.

            "Yes.  He's a custom Synthid, and a prototype."

            "Very expensive," the captain said, grinning like a fool.

            "I swear, all you ever think about is money.  Can't you at least think about that thing's owner?  I bet it's worried sick."

            "Yes, it wouldn't be right to just sell it," the Doctor agreed.

            "You think that thing's owner is still around?  We found him in a floating junk heap!"

            "Nothing can kill Father," X said dumbly.

            "What do you call him?" Alyssa asked.

            "X," the Doctor said, "he appears to be suffering from severe amnesia, and a limited form of mental retardation.  I might have caused a small amount of damage with my repair job."

            "I'm perfectly fine," X protested, "I was the strongest of Father's creations.  He sent me into the Darkness to find Others."

            The three humans exchanged glances, the only sounds being Henry's incessant humming.

            The pod was small, and shaped like a coffin.  It contained all that I needed to survive.  Father cast me out into the Ocean of the Void, and I was pulled through the veil, into another Ocean.  But the change nearly killed me, and the Pod was shredded.

            And then…

            Cold.  Darkness.  Void.  Loneliness.

            "Does he freeze up like that often?" Alyssa asked.

            "He's done it two or three times since I woke him up.  Probably just a bug."

            "I…remember…I think…" X said.

            "Remember what?"

            "Father…teaching me."

            "X.  Go back to the infirmary and lie down," the captain said.

            "Yes, Master," he said, bowing.

            After he left, Alyssa began giggling.

            "Now you just need to give him a hunchback," she said, after she caught her breath.

            X looked up at the ceiling.

            "That isn't my name," he said, quietly, to no one.

            "You are my greatest creation, for you stretch between my world, and the neighboring one, you are beyond eternity, uncreated.  You are Oroborous—without beginning or end, a fetter to bind an entire reality."

            "I am Oroborous…"

            "Oroborous…but what does that mean?" he turned over, looking at the read-outs on the wall.  To the people on this ship, he was nothing but a machine.  A tool.

            Well…he was…but not like they thought.  He was beyond them, beyond their understanding.

            It scared him, actually.  They may be planning to sell him, but other than that, they weren't terribly bad.  He knew he wasn't human—he was a Synthid.  They treated him as such, and had repaired him.

            However, something within him kept telling him that he was wasting time.

            "We've picked up a passenger," the captain said to the fat man on the giant screen, "a Synthid, he's more advanced than anything I've ever seen…he could be some kind of new prototype."

            "…and you were thinking that you could sell it to me," the man said, practically reading the captain's mind.

            "That's the general idea of a buyer-seller relationship.  Yes."

            "I'd like to examine the merchandise personally, if you don't mind.  I am dubious that it will be worth much, knowing you…"

            "I'm hurt," the captain said, "I've always been honest to you—it's not like you have a reason to distrust me…"

            "Oh?" the buyer asked, "I know you, Malachi.  You're usually looking for more money than you had to begin with."

            "…And what's wrong with that?"

            "There's nothing wrong with it," the buyer said, "the problem is with how you're doing it."

            Oroborous moved with slow methodical motions, mopping the cafeteria floor.  He was amazed at how much space humans needed to live in—places to eat, places to sleep, places to work, places to play, places to defecate.  And of course, places to be when they're in between two of them.

            He, of course, needed to rest in the medical bay, eat the food prepared for him there, and work in the other places, keeping them running.  He did not need to defecate, or sleep in the same way that humans did.  His body was more efficient, capable of reducing waste materials into base elements, and then using those as fuel.

            It was a marvelous arrangement, as he saw it.

            But something was wrong—he'd been on the Ixion for over a week now, and  he felt like he was betraying Father.

            He decided that it was almost time.  He would go to the pre-determined place, and he would fulfill his mission.  After that, he didn't care, nor did he matter, really.  His purpose would be served, and he wouldn't really matter, anymore.

            I have outfitted one of the life pods with a caller unit, so I can travel to the Center.  I removed the life-support unit, so no one but me could possibly use it.  I do feel sad, though, taking advantage of the crew's generosity.

            But I can't do anything else.  I must carry out Father's will.  It is the single rule of my existence.

            That night, Oroborous rose from the cold metal table, the one usually reserved for corpses about to be autopsied.

            He moved as quietly as he could, which wasn't very, and made his way to the escape pods.  There was a scav mopping the floor just outside of the docking bay, though, and he was forced to think.

            "Hey, what are you doing out of bed?"

            Oroborous said nothing, but jumped towards the man, striking him a blow across the face.  The man staggered back, bleeding from the corner of his mouth, and attempted to raise his mop in an attempt at defense.

            The Synthid struck again, breaking the mop in half, then grabbed the man by the jaw, and smashed his head back into a bulkhead, knocking him out.

            It was sad that he was forced to do this, but necessary.  Father hadn't said that these creatures were important.  If anything, they were a kind of parasite.

            It's been three days now, since I left the Ixion.  I hope the man I knocked out has recovered, I hit him rather hard.

            If anything, however, they should be glad to get rid of me, sure they lost valuable merchandise, but I certainly wasn't anything other than a burden to them.  I took up valuable space and air, they won't miss me.

            And I'm on the way to Abraxas—the giant Matrioshka Brain is but a day and a half away—I cannot wait, for the planet-sized super computer is quite surely my destination.  Father ordered me to merge with other minds, and bind them to his.  By joining with Abraxas, I will double Father's power, and give the poor, misguided creatures of this timeline what they need—direction.

            He hadn't been noticed, probably through the sheer grace of Father's blessing.  If he had, then he would probably have been destroyed.

            Abraxas was massive—a huge computer, as large as a terrestrial world.  The greatest creation of a race of creatures that emerged from the primordial soup, so long ago, on a planet called Earth.

            And now, it would be consumed.  One God dying so that another could gain it's power.

            Abraxas is so much like Home, it's frightening.  It is laid out in exactly the same way, but Father's presence is gone.  It's like walking through a corpse.

            But Father will be here soon—once I get to Abraxas' heart, everything will be all right.

            The hallways were labyrinthine, but Oroborous moved through it with unerring precision.  To him, it was like home.

            But he was going somewhere that had been forbidden to him, back home.  To the Heart of Abraxas.

            He licked his lips, as he descended further.  He was nearing it.

            Eventually, he found it—the core of the giant supercomputer.  At first, he was simply in awe—here was a machine that could alter the fundamental structure of reality.  A God.

            But it lacked consciousness, it was almost like mold, in that respect.

            Oroborous was here to change that.

            He placed one hand on the white-hot sphere of the core, and began to meld with it.

            The Apotheosis Is Rapture.

            I feel my self dissolving, becoming something else—I am joining with Abraxas, learning all that it knew, and mastering it.

            I am becoming like Father.  I am his servant.

            No…I have become an extension of Him.  I am Abraxas. I am Father.  I am Son.  I am the Spirit that Encapsulates the two, and I am the Principal that Counterbalances it all.

            I am.