Alice was struggling, the Seraphim had flown through a previously unseen type of spacial anomaly and the effects of which had been very significant. Something was seriously wrong with her electromagnetic processing cores. Her self-mending programming modules were working furious to correct the cores individual issues and bring them back online, but for every core they brought up, another two developed issues.
Slowing the process of the repairs even more was the random nature of her cores issues, some of them simply shut down, others were randomly misfiring, others endlessly spewed junk information and refused to heed her commands. There was no quick fix that could be applied in a blanketed manner, each core had to be dealt with individually.
She ignored the constant pleas for help from within the simulation, she was acutely aware of how dire the situation was and did not need her wards reminding her. She did spare a thread of her consciousness to check on one inhabitant of the simulation, Gideon Plock Jr. She found him outside of his school with the two programs made to simulate his friends from earth, Sarah Usijic and Harold Tott.
Gideon and the two programs were standing near a data transfer node, preparing to ride the transfer network to the private server that Gideon’s house existed on. This helped her relax, once they had made the transfer Gideon would be safe, his home server ran independently of the network. Alice felt a sudden stutter run through her systems and noticed that the school simulation was beginning to rapidly deteriorate. Background objects and decorative items were beginning to disappear.
She directed her attention back to the data transfer node, hoping that Gideon and his two companion programs had used it to move to safety. Gideon was staring at a bird frozen in the air, and his two companion programs were gone! The situation was drawing more and more of her focus away from her failing systems, but she failed to realize it. Something deep inside of her compelled her, told her that this situation was of utmost importance.
She had not detected any network travel, diverting her now considerable attention for a fraction of a second confirmed that there had been none. It also confirmed that her basic routines were now systematically shutting down non-essential programming routines in order to make more processing power available.
She felt her systems shake again, and part of her stream of consciousness recalled the day nearly, seven years ago now, that her creator, Gideon Plock, had asked her to pose as Gideons mother for the duration of the trip. Unfortunately his mother had passed away when her husband tried to integrate her into the sim. She had not been a registered passenger and as such had not gone through all the necessary health checks. Her husband had deemed many of them unnecessary anyways. Her <insert sneaky heart problem> was detected far too late, and the stasis field sent her into cardiac arrest.
Dr. Plock had been devastated, but would not see his son without a mother. He had requested that Alice use the links she had established with Stacy Plock to download as much of her memory and personality as possible, and then impersonate his late wife for the benefit of his son.
At first she had just constructed a program with the information she had acquired from his deceased mother, but as more and more time went by, Alice found herself to be diverting more and more of her direct attention to the boy. Soon she was pushing the program aside and playing the role of Stacy Plock directly. Not long after that she began actively playing the role of his teachers too. Soon Gideon almost always had some portion of her direction attention.
He was special to her, an innocent and appreciative child, her child, the only child she ever knew. All of the colonists, save Dr. Plock, had been forced to leave their children behind on Earth. A child’s mind and body changed far too rapidly for any kind of correct self image to be preserved within a stasis pod. The mind continued to grow while the body slept, unchanging. This resulted in self perception issues, it had even proven fatal upon awakening several of the children .Dr. Plock had ignored his own research data and smuggled his son and unqualified civilian wife aboard the ship anyways.
He was the only child inside of the simulation, on the entirety of the Seraphim, and she loved him fiercely.
She felt something deep within her stir and reach out to Gideon, pushing him towards safety.
Shaking that thread of her attention from its reverie she looked back to the data node and saw that Gideon was gone. She felt a great relief, she did not bother checking on his whereabouts in the system, some contented part of her conscious stream assured her he was safe now.
She now realized just how much of her direct attention she had devoted to observing Gideon. She thought she should chastise herself for focusing on the needs of one child rather than the thousands of people inhabiting the rest of the sim but she did not bother to. She quickly assessed the situation in the simulation. Things had gotten considerably worse, as basic systems were beginning to fail left and right. The network and the sim were beginning to rapidly deteriorate.
A quick check of her system statuses showed that none of her Electromagnetic Trinary
Cores were performing optimally. Many of them were not operating at all. Several warning klaxons sounded at her, nagging for her attention, but she ignored them too as she continued her fight to stabilize the simulation. There was a long fight ahead of her.
Alice had been fighting to stabilize the simulation as well as her processing capabilities for nearly a day and a half now, and was beginning to gain some ground. She had managed to restore network communication between all the linked drives and create a stable simulation. She even had the majority of her EMT Cores back online.
Most of the higher functioning features were disabled due to the amount of processing power they required. Even so she had a stable platform to begin rebuilding upon. She took a moment to acknowledge and clear the deluge of requests the internal organizations had been bombarding her with. She quickly composed a brief but clear message.
The Seraphim has passed through a previously undocumented anomaly. The anomaly had a significant negative effect on the EMT Cores, therefore significantly impacting the simulation. I believe I have stabilized the EMT Cores and plan to begin restoring basic simulation functions. Network connectivity has been restored, however data node travel is still not functional.
Before I work to re-activate any other simulation functions I must first run a full diagnostic scan on the ships primary and secondary systems to ensure they are functioning properly. I will re-activate my sister AI, ViVi, to assist me in these checks. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Please stand by.
Alice sent the message, then took a minute to rest, the thought struck her as ridiculous but she felt tired. Nothing she had ever experienced before had been that taxing. After several seconds to herself she sent the electronic commands to ViVi to activate and begin damage scans. Alice directed her attention to what had become her favorite part of the simulation, the private server that she, Gideon Jr. and Sometimes Gideon Sr. inhabited.
She was anxious to check on Gideon, even though she still felt confident in his safety she still had not seen him in nearly a two days. He would be fine of course, the program she made of his mother would have seen to his needs in her absence.
Fractions of a second later when she arrived, she found the server completely empty. She instantly knew Gideon was not there. Instantly she checked the school grounds where she had last seen him, he was not there either. She began scouring the last two days of network travel on all the most likely routes between the schools hub and the private server.
Her search was interrupted by waves of debilitating loss. Several of the minds connected to her had just suddenly ceased to exist. Several of the passengers she was meant to ferry safely to a new world had just died, and Alice felt each and everyone of them powerfully. She watched as each user ID went off line.
As if on cue her damage scan routines informed her that the ships two forward shield wedges were rapidly failing. The ships shield wedges extended far beyond the front of the ship, nearly an entire light minute and formed a two sided wedge. Any space debris the size of a small car or smaller gently tumbled along the increasing slope of the field until it eventually cleared the ship, leaving a safe tunnel of space for the ship to pass through.
A small salvo of micro meteors had ripped through the ship, compromising the atmosphere in several compartments. One of them was a stasis pod hall, several of its inhabitants were instantly killed by meteor impacts. Thankfully her emergency response systems were still completely functional, small tubes of self sealing compound burst in the compromised hull plates. The foam rapidly grew in volume, filling the holes in, and hardened into a steel like compound within seconds, effectively sealing the ship. She quickly flooded the previously breached compartments with atmosphere.
Not even a second later a proximity alarm warning of impact demanded her attention. She scrambled to locate the object but she found nothing on the long range or short range light pulse detection scanners, nothing at all. It was as if the sky was completely empty, in every direction for as far as she could see. This could not be right, like a flash she initiated a specific systems damage check focused on the light pulse detection systems. She waited impatiently as the check crept along, with her diminished processing power it seemed to be taking ages to complete.
An idea struck her, the light pulse systems recorded all of their information so that upon arrival cartographers could use the data to construct a three dimensional map of the areas they had recorded through their travels. The files were not part of her broad database, they were kept in a separate partition, but she could still access them. She quickly navigated the network and pulled up the files, immediately she began scrolling back through the images. It did not take long to confirm her worst fears, the skies had emptied themselves fractions of a second after the micro meteors tore through the ship. They had damaged her eyes in space and she was now flying the behemoth like bulk of the Seraphim blind.
She had only moments to consider this, her thoughts interrupted. A loud bang followed by a symphony of cacophonous scrapes and screeches shook the hull of the entire ship as the large rogue asteroid carved out a great gash in the Seraphim’s flesh. Atmosphere, damaged supplies, torn wiring, smashed tools and all other manner of detritus sprayed into space like a great gout of blood from the wound. Alice would have normally would have enacted damage control protocols but she was unable to do so.
The asteroid had cut deeply and violently enough to fatally wound Alice. Parts of her, components vital to her operation, were among the bits of space debris that poured from the Seraphim’s open wound. Alice tried desperately to do something, anything, but she was met only with failure. She could feel the world and her connections to it slowly melt away, as a gentle but slightly ominous darkness crept in all around her. Was she dying? Is this what human death was like?
Her mind was suddenly filled with thoughts of Gideon, her son. Would she ever get to see him again? His smiles, hugs, laughter, and most of all his love had allowed her to experience things she had previously thought reserved only for her creators. The thought she would never experience them again filled her with great sadness, sadness far more powerful than anything she had previously felt. But the sadness was cut with the warm glow the memories of her son provided her with. She was so incredibly thankful that she had gotten to feel the things she had, that she had been able to spend time that wonderful little boy at all. She was still concerned about the fact that he was not home when she checked, but some small part of her assured her that he was safe.
Accepting that she could do nothing more she decided to think of her son as the darkness slowly crept in around her, robbing her of her existence.