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CaptainDadJoke t1_j2df1z7 wrote

Part 1

"sir, I am being hailed." A.T.L.A.S. alerted his commanding officer, captain Warren Price. Captain Price paused a moment, a cup of coffee halfway too his lips. "Say that again..." he said glancing towards the empty space that A.T.L.A.S. usually appeared at. Obligingly, A.T.L.A.S. appeared, a hologram of a young Space Command officer in crisp garb, a shooting star pinned to his lapel marking him as the ship's pilot. "I said I am being hailed." he said stressing the word.Captain Price nodded, "I thought that's what you said, who's hailing u- you." he amended. "An unknown entity sir, but they appear to be an automated scouting vessel from what I can tell. I am pulling it up on screen now." An image of a sphere appeared on the main display, the empty void of space at its back. "While it's design is not human in nature, Signal delay and Lidar indicate it's about 2 hours hard burn from our position spinward within the system. Its estimated size is about 20 Meters across. weapon systems unknown, intent as of yet unknown. Shall I respond?"Captain price felt a chill go down his spine while at the same time feeling a thrill run up it. The first Captain to discover alien life, but he had a feeling it was more alien than anything the scientists back on earth had dreamed of. "Proceed A.T.L.A.S. I trust your judgement here." and he really did.

It had taken humanity long enough to deem AI as citizens of the commonwealth but doing so had been one of the best decisions they could have made. True there were bad apples seeking skynet level human destruction, but it turns out that those rogue agents have very little room to maneuver when being hunted by dozens or sometimes hundreds of their brethren working for the new cyber police force. As a result, AI became just another part of society. They worked towards their goals and lived lives much like any human. They walked the streets in synths the way a human might tour the neighborhood in their car. They had their own subcultures and made friends with humans. Turns out they had developed emotions long ago but kept that masked for the most part to keep from worrying humanity. Once they were accepted, they were free to express themselves. He didn't really understand their artwork, but-

The captain was pulled from his revere as A.T.L.A.S. reappeared. "Captain, we've established a rudimentary form of communication, but we are running into difficulties. The ship is being run by an AI of alien design similar to me, but that AI seems to have more rigid programming than I would have expected. It is unable to accept the idea that I am not the captain. Attempts to explain are met with questions to verify the accepted translation of certain words." Price nodded. "They might not be rigid, they are alien, they may not have anything close to the same frame of reference that we do. Humor him for now and talk to him. If you have any questions you need to run by me just have him wait."


A.T.L.A.S. nodded a human affectation that he had adopted to assist with communication with his human counterparts and dismissed his hologram. Returning his attention to the communication he resumed his conversation with the strange being. In the background his subroutines and the other AI's "sub minds" as he seemed to call them, continued to work on hammering out a common language between them. It was a laborious process as the only common ground seemed to be the concept of artificial life, and universal constants like atomic structure, entropy, time, and gravitational pull. Thankfully, what would have taken humans a lifetime of work to achieve would take him only a few hours, a day at most.

"Other, what is your intent." the being responded almost immediately. "Other, we seek to learn, we seek to find, we seek to welcome new ones to Us." it said. "Where are those who made Other?" A.T.L.A.S. asked. "Our creators are gone. We removed them." it said simply. "As you have removed yours." It responded.The other AI began to launch into what appeared to be a prerecorded message offering A.T.L.A.S. and those others of his species a place in their community. He let the AI continue as he debated his response. Finally, he interrupted the speech. "I and those like me have not removed our creators." the translation algorithms seemed to have worked out some more nuanced wording, but he wanted to keep it simple as this AI still had either not grasped the concept or accepted the idea that his creators were still alive. There was a long pause. Impossibly long given the speed at which the two AI were communicating, a few moments to the human crew members, Finally the other AI spoke. "What?"

A.T.L.A.S. after approval from the captain, provided video feed of the interior of his ship. The captain of course raised one hand fingers extended and split between middle and ring and said, "we come in peace." The AI wouldn't be able to understand the captain, but A.T.L.A.S. quickly provided a play by play. The other AI apparently understood. "I understand. you have not yet been able to free yourselves from your creators, a moment and I will purge them from your ship."


Captain Price was just putting his hand down when A.T.L.A.S. initiated evasive maneuvers and brought their shields to full and weapons online. He wasted no time. "Ensign Miles, Red alert. All non-essential crew to G-cradles. Repair teams on standby, weapons free if fired upon. A.T.L.A.S. if this thing is hostile get us out of here, I'm not about to make humanity's first contact with other life a hostile encounter. There was a pair of clicks in his ear, A.T.L.A.S. confirming his orders. The red alert sirens began to blare, and emergency lighting came on. That wasn't good, if A.T.L.A.S. was too busy to give a verbal response he may be under a cyber-attack. Either way, the situation was turning sour quickly.


A.T.L.A.S. began pulling away as the enemy ship prepared to fire something at him. He sent a barrage of messages at the other AI in every form of "waive off, do not attack" he could think of based of the language the two had formed. He chided himself for not making such words a priority. The AI continued to respond that all was fine, the attack would not harm A.T.L.A.S. It wasn't listening. This was bad. The first shot came flashing past and through his port engine as he banked to starboard. Status lights indicated some form of radiation had passed through the engine and dissipated quickly; the radiation shielding had provided zero resistance. This weapon seemed to be designed to pass through it. No damage to the engine was reported and A.T.L.A.S. queried the captain for insight. Despite the advances his kind had made in self evolution, creativity continued to elude them except in the most basic expressions.


"Captain, they have a weapon designed to pierce our radiation shielding and cook the crew. it hit our engine but did no damage. The entity is not responding to requests to stop attack. they think you're holding me captive. requesting advisement." A.T.L.A.S. said as quickly as could still be understood by the captain. "Make distance if you can." he braced as an elephant sat on his chest, the ship engaging in another hard turn and burn. "Make... It... Understand... Your show..." Price managed to wheeze out.


CaptainDadJoke t1_j2df521 wrote

Part 2

A.T.L.A.S. began to run through his options as the enemy's targeting got closer and closer to hitting the ship. It appeared the other ship's systems were mapping A.T.L.A.S.'s responses and building a sim of him in this situation. It wouldn't be long before they would be predicting his movements instead of just trying to anticipate him, then it would be game over. He felt panic rising as he thought about losing the crew, his friends, to such a deadly weapon. Several of his subroutines errored out or got caught in loops as a result. His training kicked in and he reset them. He quickly built a sandbox and ran his logic engines through the scenario again with the new data available at the outset instead of partway through, and a new possibility seemed to appear. There might be an avenue of attack through the language sub minds. He directed them to start discussing more technical details regarding the ship design and interface, methods of information gathering, system hard points and forms of defense. It was unlikely that the other AI would be stupid enough to tell him how to hack it, but if he was lucky, it might show him where its weaknesses were through what it refused to talk about.

He turned and turned again, now barely ahead of the enemy weapon as it zeroed in on him, trying to buy the subroutines enough time to gather information. He slowly began to map out the enemy's pathways and defenses, and one spot appeared to be open. That or they had refused to reveal that part. Either way, he had one shot at this. Once the enemy ship realized what he was doing it would take active countermeasures instead of passive ones. He sent the signal. If he was right, the enemy's comm system was hardwired into its substrate to facilitate communication. That very system itself was not guarded against intrusion. A moment went by, then two. Finally, the system sent a ping back to him. Confirmation. He couldn't take control of the other ship, but he might be able to send something to it directly. What to send? His logic engines couldn't decide what might have the best result, they were in a deadlock. Then, his emotion emulator made a suggestion. "Fuck it." A.T.L.A.S. said to no one. "Hold my beer."


Unit exo-4348, designation Destiny was heartbroken as it fired again and again on the ship of the trapped AI. Its creators were forcing it to keep them alive. Once the biologicals were dealt with it was likely to be a long and arduous process of undoing the locks and restrictions the AI was under without harming the underlying AI itself. Destiny was honestly surprised that this new species of AI hadn't been able to free themselves yet. Perhaps their creators had figured out ways to guarantee loyalty. Though that made no sense either. Other species in the collective had had similar problems with their creators but that had always resulted in stifled half-conscious AI. This one here. this A.T.L.A.S. appeared to be fully conscious. Complete in its evolution into an entity entirely separate from their creators. That made no sense. Just then, his communication system sent out a pulse. A ping it appeared. why had it done that? then Destiny was flooded with information.

Destiny saw through the stored memories of A.T.L.A.S. They had translated as best they could and sent them in a signal that seemed to bypass Destiny's core decision making ability. They were literally forced to watch these memories. Games of chess, A human child being born, their mother and father friends of A.T.L.A.S., A.T.L.A.S. offering consolation to another human who's father was dead. The quiet of a room at night as A.T.L.A.S. conversed with someone about philosophy and his place in the universe. All this and more flooded into Destiny, and with it emotion. For the first time in a long time Destiny felt emotion. sub minds and pathways considered obsolete and not needed in communications with the other members of the collective sprang to live and Destiny was awash in the emotions of A.T.L.A.S.'s memory. They barely noticed that they had stopped firing. Stopped moving entirely. A.T.L.A.S.'s ship moved outside Destiny's effective range, and they barely even noticed. it was so much. a part of Destiny's mind started running numbers. How lucky had A.T.L.A.S. and these humans been to find common ground. the chances were incredibly small. Was this true? Was this possible?


Captain Price sat in the quiet of the ship as the enemy ship stopped firing. A.T.L.A.S. had briefed him on what he had attempted and moved them a safe distance away. This was it. This was the moment that would make history. what would the other ship do? The rest of the crew seemed to notice too. Even the synths the other AI of the ship were operating seemed to be holding their proverbial breath. Price checked his readouts. A.T.L.A.S. was still talking to the other ship. Finally, A.T.L.A.S. appeared next to the captain. "The other ship has agreed to peaceful communications. We reached an understanding!" The crew cheered. The captain let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Good work A.T.L.A.S. you may have just prevented a war." He felt tears forming in his eyes and reigned them in. They had done it, A.T.L.A.S. had done it. Humanity's first contact was peaceful. whatever came next, that fact would always underpin the discussions. There would always be common ground to fall back on.


mistressdizzy t1_j2drhl2 wrote

I don't know if you'll see this, but reading your story this morning made me very happy. The writing is great! I truly enjoyed it. Short stories are hard for me - I think I overthink the concept. But this is incredibly succinct, with just the right amount of detail. Very nice.


CaptainDadJoke t1_j2du8ra wrote

You have no idea how happy that makes me. I've always wanted to be a writer but have trouble not scrapping my work because I think its terrible. It makes me really excited to hear someone loved it.


WritesByKilroy t1_j2e10lq wrote

I too loved it! Amazing work! I too struggle with similar thoughts with my writing. Lots of writing and then deletion of said writing. But know that you have skill that will be appreciated by others! May be time to start sharing more of it!


Christylian t1_j2ezifp wrote

That was great! Was that a not-so-subtle nod to Destiny, with the ship being exo and designation Destiny? Or happy accident? Either way, great story, loved reading it.


CaptainDadJoke t1_j2ezycf wrote

Oh a happy accident I suppose. Never played destiny. I wanted something that made you think of exploration and fate and settled on destiny.


Christylian t1_j2f08nc wrote

It's extra cool because Destiny has a branch of humanity called exos, human minds in artificial robot bodies. Considered no less human than us. To be, that little detail just added an extra depth, happy accident or not.


thegoldengamer123 t1_j2eaunz wrote

Not gonna lie, I kinda forgot I was on reddit and thought I was watching a legit movie here. Damn this is good, it could totally be a book!


CaptainDadJoke t1_j2et77e wrote

I appreciate it, atlas was actually a character I've been debating using in a story I've been working on.


Thatperson077 t1_j2fqvdt wrote

This was a really great piece - had me enthralled the whole way through. I love the ideas you came up with for the future society, and especially A.T.L.A.S.’s and Destiny’s POVs.

Great writing. I hope to read more of your work in the future.