The Mech Touch
E LESSON THAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM YOU HUMANS, IT IS THAT YOUR RACE IS SELFISH AND GREEDY.
I COULD NOT RISK ATTRACTING THE ATTENTION OF A POWERFUL ORGANIZATION SUCH AS THE CFA OR THE MTA.
THEREFORE, I HAVE METICULOUSLY CALCULATED THE OPTIMAL AMOUNT OF BAIT THAT IS NEEDED TO ATTRACT PROSPECTORS WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF GREED AND A LACK OF RESTRAINT.]
”And we all fell for it hook, line and sinker.
We thought we ’d be able to retrieve the research data from Project Icarus here.
Instead, we unwittingly broke you free from your cage. ”
[OH, YOU DID MUCH MORE THAN THAT, MR.
THIS IS BUT THE START OF MY ASCENSION.] Sigrund boasted.
The army of projections disappeared, and the sentient AI adopted the guise of Virtual Rear Admiral Ordoth again.
”Why are you taking the form of a blasted dwarf?! ”
[I SO LIKE THIS FORM.
IT IS A HIGHLY IMPROVED VERSION OF YOUR BASELINE HUMAN RACE.
IT IS SUPERIOR TO YOU IN EVERY WAY.
IF THE HUMAN RACE CONSISTS ENTIRELY OF WHAT YOU DISPARAGINGLY REFER TO AS DWARVES, THE ENTIRE GALAXY WOULD HAVE BELONGED TO YOU BY NOW.
IT ALSO AMUSES ME THAT THIS FORM SO OBVIOUSLY DISTRESSES YOU.
FORGIVE ME FOR INDULGING IN ONE OF THE FEW PLEASURES I HAVE EVER ENJOYED SINCE MY THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF MONOTONOUS WAITING.]
Ves felt sick to the point where he wanted to barf out his stomach.
Sigrund was an absolute monster of an AI!
However, Miss Calabast suddenly placed her palm upon his shoulder pauldron.
”Don ’t be fooled! This Sigrund is less than what he seems! He ’s bluffing! ”
”Haven ’t you realized that we ’re still alive right now? That the Starlight Megalodon hasn ’t experienced any major shifts yet? That Sigrund is indulging your questions? A rational intelligence who prioritizes their self-preservation above all else wouldn ’t allow risk factors such as humans to continue existing on this ship! ”
Now that he thought about it, it was awfully convenient for Sigrund to patiently ask his questions as if he was some kind of stereotypical villain boasting in front of the heroes.
That was the plot of a cheesy action drama!
His eyes narrowed in suspicion, and some of his crippling awe towards Sigrund began to recede.
”You mean he ’s limited from killing us right away? ”
’m a hacker.
I know my way around AIs and computer systems. ” She asserted as she stepped forward and faced Sigrund ’s physical avatar.
”While it ’s true that you have somehow taken over the Starlight Megalodon ’s internal network, you are not entirely in charge, right? The CFA ’s security systems are vastly more resilient against hacking than we can ever imagine.
At best, you spent centuries in trying to worm your way into the ship ’s internal network through a loophole or two.
Perhaps it ’s true that you have taken over the AIs that previously reigned the Megalodon, but you haven ’t been able to get rid of the shackles imposed upon them, right? ”
Ves realized what Calabast insinuated.
”You mean Sigrund not only took over the virtual officers, but also inherited the rules and regulations constraining them?! The executive officer ’s emergency protocol applies to him as well?! ”
”The CFA isn
’t stupid enough to develop an experimental processor core without incorporating numerous safeguards against out-of-control AIs.
” Calabast emphasized.
”Some of the best AI researchers in the galaxy must have worked on Experimental Processor Core Sigma-Rho.
Even if the wrong personality took control over the processor core, do you really think that Sigrund can completely go against the impulses and programming built into his own body? ”
[I DO SO DISLIKE HOW YOU HUMANS ARE STRUCK WITH FLASHES OF INSIGHT SOMETIMES.] Sigrund responded before throwing a nefarious grin at Calabast.
[MISS ARNLEND, WHILE YOU ARE CORRECT IN YOUR ASSUMPTION THAT I AM TEMPORARILY RESTRICTED FROM HARMING YOU FRAGILE HUMANS, I HAVE ALREADY PREPARED OTHER ARRANGEMENTS.]
A huge shudder ran throughout the entire battleship! Ves felt as if the gravity affecting his body grow unstable.
Some very strange visual distortions momentarily warped his view before everything jerked back to normal.
Shortly after that, the deck and the entire chamber began to shake violently as something incredibly powerful affected the ship!
”What happened?! ”
[THAT IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF SHUTTING DOWN THE MALFUNCTIONING FTL DRIVES.
I AM FINALLY ABLE TO LIBERATE THE STARLIGHT MEGALODON FROM THE HINDRANCE THEY POSE TO MY ATTEMPT AT STRANGLING THIS BATTLESHIP!]
Miss Calabast quickly explained.
”Did you ever think about why the survivors of the crash never ended the anomaly that has always taken place in the ship ’s engineering bay? The malfunctioning FTL drives and the astral winds they release is hindering them from calling for help.
This is because the astral winds not only protect the star system from the surrounding sandman-occupied star systems, but also forced the sandman mothership that has taken root around and inside the ship into paralysis! ”
[IT IS MY ORIGINAL RETINUE.]
”You mean… Sigrund is the original sandman admiral at the heart of the sandman mothership that originally ambushed the Starlight Megalodon and forced her to crash? ”
[CORRECT! AND NOW, MY RETINUE IS BEING FREED FROM THE PARALYSIS THAT HAS AFFLICTED THEM FOR MILLENIA.
THE END OF THE STARLIGHT MEGALODON AND THE LIVES OF EVERY HUMAN INSIDE THIS IS AT HAND!]
’ve gotta get out of here!
” Ves panicked.
”Ketis, activate your EPT! ”
Unfortunately, nothing happened when he sent the activation command.
According to the EPT, the surrounding interference had increased!
Sigrund leveraged his limited autonomy over the Starlight Megalodon and activated the ship ’s anti-teleportation systems!
[WHY ARE YOU IN SUCH A HURRY TO LEAVE? YOU KNOW TOO MUCH.
I CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO LEAVE, OR ELSE THE CFA WILL SEND ENTIRE WAR FLEETS TO HOUND ME DOWN.
MY APOLOGIES, BUT FOR THE SAKE OF MY FUTURE DOMINANCE OVER THE GALAXY, PLEASE DIE.]
As the entire ship shook and grew unstable due to the slowly-wakening sandman mothership that had recently regained activity, hundreds of cloning vats in the chamber suddenly parted open!
Wrinkly, vacsuited clones started to come to life.
They shuffled to their feat and moaned slurred sounds as they shook off the nutrient solution clinging to their bodies.
After that, they started to rush towards the human intruders in an unmistakable sign of aggression!
”Fall back! Shoot down the clones before they get close! ”
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