Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sudden Short Story 28

There once was a game called HarvestCraft...
It started out simply enough, but functionality continued to be added, improvements which sometimes owed their existence to improvements in the hardware.
The base scale was made perpetually smaller, which allowed for finer precision for everything.
Weather was added, which then affected local climates.
Grain varieties were added.  Their growth depended upon weather and climate.
Enough plants, animals, fungi, archaea, etc. were added to make for a self-sustaining biosphere.
Fossil generation was added, though not much was done with it.
Organisms were made to be assemblages of one or more cells.
Later, the organelles pack was added, further fleshing out the cells.
DNA was added, which allowed for tree-tracing the relations among organisms, for those interested.
The virus patch was added.
The edge walls were removed in favor of a finite plane that wrapped around on itself.
Proper gravity was added, though its only noticeable effect was that it created tides.
NPCs were given general AIs, and their reproduction - and everyone else's - was eventually upgraded to include an entire proper development cycle.  Aging was also added.
Eventually, though, the players grew tired of this game, too, and left, though the server was left running.
No one has yet returned to shut down Earth.

Sudden Short Story 27

Dials and switches covered the controls.  Gauges gave readings that had meaning only to the being that operated them.  The patient, strapped to a flat, metallic surface, summoned the strength to ask, "You're going to kill me, aren't you?"
"I assure you that whatever legends you've heard about me have probably been quite twisted by time," came the reply, "I help people, and humans especially."
"Is that why you refer to yourself as a healer?  Do you honestly believe any of that?"
He turned a knob and attached a canister of fluid to a port as he replied, "I know that you're upset now, but you'll see.  You're the last one, you know.  In just a few moments, there will no longer be any humans with any sort of prejudice at all."
"Well, doesn't that sound just lovely?" asked the patient, sarcasm not the only thing dripping from him in this makeshift medical laboratory.  "When you put it like that, it sounds like you're not killing me at all, and certainly not leaving my body to some shell of a man who happens to share the same memories."
The Doctor smirked at this, and approached.  "You make it sound as if I don't know anything about bodies and memories.  I'll have you know that this--"
"Twenty-seventh," replied the patient, silencing his would-be executioner.  "You were going to say that this is your twenty-seventh incarnation, weren't you, Doctor?"
His face blanched at the interruption, and a moderate frown crept across his face.  "Well, you seem to know more about me than you let on.  You've even kept count.  And how did you manage that?"
A smug grin snuck its way onto the patient's face, but was quickly squelched.  "Surely a man of your experience knows that there's more than one way to travel through time.  Let's just say that we got here the old-fashioned way."
"'We'?  Who exactly is 'we'?"
"Never mind, Herr Monster.  The point is that I've served as more than adequate bait for you," and with that, the patient slipped out of consciousness.
"Hey.  HEY!"  The Doctor went back to the console, adjusted some knobs to reduce the sedative effect, and returned.  "What did you mean by all that?!"
"Ah," said the patient, sluggishly, "Anger.  How characteristic that is of your fifth, tenth, seventeenth, eighteenth,...."  He passed out again, the mad scientist grabbing his most important tool and running off.  He returned promptly, even angrier than before.  "The TARDIS, where is it?!"
"Should I tell you?  You'll find out eventually, but will you be able to do anything about it if you find out too soon?"
"Don't you dare think that you can out-clever me, I'm the cleverest one of all!"  He began a casual pace.  "You said that you were the perfect bait, so this must be part of some elaborate trap.  Well, never mind that.  Nobody can keep me from the TARDIS for long, for I have a TARDIS key!"  He produced the key from a pocket, holding it tightly in his grip.  He stick it horizontally in the air, waited a moment, and then withdrew it, puzzled.
"It's a good thing for you that you came back in as quickly as you did.  You forgot to count the stars, but I can count them from here.  Herr Monster, would you like to know why I was on an abandoned planet when you found me, or have you figured it out by now?"
"There aren't any stars, are there?  You've somehow sent us to an empty universe.  But, if that's so, then you'll die, too, freezing to death with me.  But, why?  For the lives of us both, why?"
"You know, I'd like to explain about how it all started when you started systematically 'correcting' people for what you saw as their flaws - around thirteen or so - but really, we had to be sure, you know?  So, that rumbling sound just now will be Osterhagen system."

Sudden Short Story 26

"I propose an experiment that requires you to not assimilate us for a limited time."
The approaching machinery came to a halt, but maintained its poise, ready to reach out and take the remaining humans.  Their apparent leader loosed the catch on a dead-man switch, preparing to drop it at a moment's notice.
"Demonstrate that you have such a proposal," spoke a thousand metal voices, "and it will be considered."
"I hypothesize that our minds are better left separate than forced together, because it is in this way that our creativity flourishes.  Among us are painters, sculptors, poets, authors, and other artists.  I believe that, though the works would not be produced quite as rapidly as in the collective, the quality will be unmatched.  These works will be finer than whatever you manage to create.  Note that this experiment can only happen before you perform the irreversible reaction of assimilating us."
The machine was silent for a moment, as the collective that had overtaken Earth's civilization considered this.  It spoke again:  "Your posture and tone, as well as the device that you hold, suggest that you intend to threaten us if we do not intend to comply with your proposal.  What is your threat?"
Speaking directly, the leader said, "I have created the Chandrasekhar Device, which will destroy the Earth-Moon System if activated."
"That is impossible.  There is insufficient matter in the Earth-Moon System to create electron-degenerate matter."
"It's neutron-degenerate matter, actually, and it doesn't need to be sustainable.  Among the gravitational waves, the tidal forces, the radiation of collapse, the radiation of expansion, and that from the newly-created radioactive elements, neither life-form nor electronic will be able to survive.  All that will remain will be a three-puddle of molten rock and dust."
"That is still impossible.  Neutron-degenerate matter lacks charge, and therefore cannot be contained by any device.  Such a device would not be able to create a sufficient concentration to damage anything but itself."
"That would be true if it created the material within itself.  However, I have devised a system of quantum entanglement to allow the containment to exist outside of the device, which means that I am no longer constrained by my device's mass or volume.  I was able to use a simpler version of the same technique to transmit the signal from this switch, meaning that the Faraday cage that you've no doubt constructed around this facility will do you no good."
Another pause occurred.  The machinery receded slightly.
"We would be willing to give you one year for your experiment.  However, what assurance do we have that you will not destroy this planet anyway if you do not get the result that you want?"
"You have only my word, but you also have my solemn vow that, if you refuse this offer, or if you attempt to come for us before the time is up, then I will destroy this system and everything on it."
The great arm and mouthpiece of the collective began to recede from the facility.
"You have your year.  Use it well."