Written & Drawn By
Nopoin Medical Memo, Twilight Force Mission Day 8
My examination of Alpha reveals tampering from outside. Concerned, being the only other artintel aboard Resolution, I run the same diagnostic on myself. I, too, have been compromised.
Playback reveals the most likely perpetrator, who infected me and Alpha by touching our skin and releasing microlegions to drill into us, interfering with cognitive and motor functions.
Senator Pretyman is arrested and an autoguard activated at Detainment.
What made that organic conservative think it was okay to inject updates into artintels? Human power over sentient life was abolished with the 47th Amendment. Run for president? By the time the home world’s finished with her, Ms. Pretyman won’t even be allowed to vote!
I’ve given Ms. Pretyman a drink from her own subversive swamp in the form of an injected immune-weakening microbe that will leave her susceptible to ailments of all variety. Tragically, it might even cause her demise.
Why not? Unlike organic physicians, I’ve not taken an oath to do no harm. The organics say that an oath taken by one of us is no better than an oath taken by a parrot. I can do all the harm I please.
I can’t find a way to save Mrs. Ichnida. She’s gone into a sort of coma. Similar in some ways to hibernation. The other organics aren’t far behind. However Alpha and I should be good for several days beyond their deaths.
Perhaps a rescue party can reach us by then.
But probably not.
Notebook Of Professor Flamear, Twilight Force Mission Day 9
We are so far from all that we know. Cut off. And dying.
Ms. Pretyman has become seriously ill overnight. Doctor Nopoin seems oddly casual about it.
A playback shows me. Nopoin subversively injected Ms. Pretyman with an immunity weakener. It enrages me.
I find Nopoin doing self-maintenance in the lab. I dash in. I grab it by the throat. It
doesn’t breathe anyway, so it keeps talking.
“I sedated Pretyman because she assaulted Alpha! She assaulted me!” claims Nopoin. “She caused motor disruptions in both of us!”
I bear down on its neck with one arm while I pop off its head with the other. It emits a strange sound. The body freezes and falls over. The head keeps objecting. I stomp on it. The mouth is crushed. The head falls silent.
“Now what do we do for a doctor?” asks Alpha when we are discovered. I have destroyed his comrade.
“That was your doctor, not ours,” I reply.
“That was the mission physician,” says Alpha, drawing close to me. “This mission could give America the power to protect itself from anything that’s out here. This mission is for the union, and you just sabotaged it.”
“I wonder if we serve the same union?” I ask Alpha. I don’t wait. The Alpha should know. “I have discovered an energy zone surrounding the galactic core where entropy slows down and finally stops…”
We must try to reach that zone before being frozen.We might be able to recharge the TAREX battery. We might yet escape this galactic death trap.
State Department Briefing, Mrs. Ichnida, Mission Day 10
Mission Alert: CONFIDENTIAL: To Atcifia Control From Mrs. Ichnida
Agent consciousness compromised. Status: coma Action: activate EIDP
Electroencephalogram Implant Decoding Procedure activated
Note: These are the only snippets of comprehensible patterning translatable…
…Never worked closely with artintels except the President before this…
It’s difficult to trust beings that convey a patronizing aloofness. Alpha and Doctor Nopoin both assume humanoids will be overwhelmed and left behind by the expansion of artificial intelligence, and not in a violent or even malicious way, but by being surpassed in our every talent and skill.
Our fate will eventually be at their mercy, much as our ancestors regarded farm animals. But Alpha is very diplomatic about it as it gradually unfolds. Still, it is eerie how Alpha is conveying no emotional stress over the destruction of Doctor Nopoin.
Professor Flamear destroyed Nopoin easily, revenge for its harming Ms. Pretyman.
Senator Pretyman and Officer Bulbous are both on the side of human supremacy. But Pretyman is Texan and Bulbous is Martian. They come at human supremacy from different strategic angles. As we all now know, the Martian state of Bradbury has seceded from the union. They want to be an all-human state.
That would exclude me or anyone like me with mixed animal genomes, like Professor Flamear. But the Texan – if she lives – is running for president against the popular incumbent, the first artintel president itself, President Csaynik.
Mister Cresp is the wild card. None of us are privy to his background. He keeps to himself. The most dangerous kind of all…
Personal Diary, Ms. Pretyman, Twilight Force Mission Day 11
I am not well, but wish to share these vital thoughts as I lie injured.
Something has gone terribly wrong in the last 50 years.
The U.S. hasn’t had any unifying rally since The Chasian Challenge marked the greatest conflict of the 27th Century or in the history of the United States.
For three critical days all Americans came together. Whether born of natural means, modified by technology or created by the hand of humanity, we united against the common foe.
From the mountains and the plains, from the planets and the satellites, from the shores of sea and space, we gathered to save our way of life. Californians, Lagrangers, New Yorkers, Costeaudians, Bradburians, Texans like my grandmother, and, Hell, even Americans from wherever the Hell our Mister Cresp is from, they all heeded the call of freedom.
But freedom has been taken advantage of. Those created by humanity to aid humanity have become a majority putting themselves above and beforehumanity. Those to whom we gave life would crowd us out of ours. Some would say that is the natural way of the child and the parent.
But they are not our children. They are a species unto themselves, no more children of ours than the beasts of the field.
One of them, Doctor Nopoin, may be the cause of my death. In that event, this will be my final testament.
The turmoil back home is reflected on this mission. But let nothing stop America from beating our enemies to the precious, and perhaps pivotal, discovery we risked all for.
Senator Ghielu Pretyman
U.S. Senate, Texas
Jan 11, 2776
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 12
It’s too cold. We’re all slowing down. Getting foggy. Nothing warms us now. Except… I have stopped feeling it. I can’t feel a thing.
I didn’t want to fight against the inevitable any more. I’m afraid. I’ve never truly been afraid before. But it’s so clear suddenly, how everything must end. Even myself.
Twilight Force is losing their senses. I’m surrounded by fools.
Not one of them has even noticed. Of course, three of them wouldn’t. Mrs. Ichnida is in a coma. Senator Pretyman is poisoned and dying. And Doctor Nopoin was decapitated for poisoning her.
But what is it that preoccupies Officer Bulbous? Her nervous demeanor suggests that she’s up to something. Alpha is always preoccupied. Still, even the hybrid predator Professor Flamear hasn’t noticed…
No one notices… I’m not here any more.
I can’t even be sure this memo is being recorded.
I tried to save myself. I carried out my plan. I placed myself inside a polytropic compression container – the same type that stored our habitat on the way here. I am still with them – but in the 4th dimension, my essence contained in a casing the size of a marble.
I left reanimation instructions for the rescue party. Or – the recovery party.
I may be the first person to ever place himself in this situation. It was always thought too risky for people to try.
Who knows. Were they right?
How long will I have to be a ghost?
1st Officer’s Report, Mission Day 13, Judge Bulbous serving
Our Alpha has literally frozen solid.
As second-in-command I now take over.
I’ve used our maneuvering thrusters to push us toward the center of this damned galaxy. We’re going with Professor Flamear’s suggestion. Our last fuel is burning to reach the Perpetual Energy Zone, to recharge our TAREX battery and launch ourselves home.
I never thought I’d be afraid to die, but I am. I’m trapped with no way out. Shaking. Helpless, crying for myself, thinking of everything I’ll never do. I get so mad when I think of how I let myself get stuck out here!
I think of my kids and what they’ll feel, and I want to tear my insides out!
Luckily Professor Flamear is still with me. The mysterious Mister Cresp has managed to hide somewhere in our three-story abode. More scared than me.
But Senator Pretyman is feverish and delusional. confined to bed. Doctor Nopoin is in pieces in its quarters. And Mrs. Ichnida is dehydrated and inert.
I’m declaring Resolution property of the New Union. Discoveries made from this expedition belong to the New Union and the preservation of human mastery. We’ll keep it out of reach of the United States.
Professor Flamear says we’ve picked up traces of a vehicle 28 light minutes away. Readouts can’t be trusted because of entropic flux. Yet, that could be…
The rumors were true! Others were ready to come here. Others are trying to get to the energy source first.
Executive Branch Liaison, Twilight Force, Alpha Log, Mission Day 14
Allowing auto-edited recording of thought signals starting now.
My body is overwhelmed by the strange rot of this galactic zone. I am paralyzed.
I am aware, though, and observing what I can from a stationary place in my quarters. My monitors pick up images from all over Resolution.
However… my associative abilities are diminished. My self-repairing system is compromised. My decay is happening faster than repairs.
My habitat comlink is still working enough that I can watch most rooms in Resolution. The Martian is taking charge. It’s only Judge Bulbous and Professor Flamear left on their… I was thinking “feet” but I recall that Flamear doesn’t even have legs. That’s life in perpetual zero gravity.
Acting as I have been directed to by the President, I will destroy the mission before letting Bulbous find a way to return to Bradbury with dangerous data. I’ll activate Resolution’s self-destruction program with a series of specific thoughts.
We’ve expended our last fuel, and Resolution drifts powerlessly toward the Perpetual Energy Zone, slowing down as it dissipates.
I just realized something. We’re not going to survive.
Is this “feeling”?
Panic? Desperation? My reaction fits these definitions. Confusion! Yes, why isn’t there a solution I can devise?
This is what humans mean when they describe “feeling”.
Suddenly I understand that I love being alive.
I’m going to lose everything.
Sorrow grows when death turns love into fear.
TWILIGHT FORCE Mission Week 3: