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Posted on 26 Nov 2022 @ 4:08pm by Ensign Kat Walker & Odin

1,081 words; about a 5 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: The endless void

It was interesting how an endless void to seem to be slowly shrinking. How a dark sensation of nothing could seem to grow even darker as time went on. As for time, it was impossible for her to tell how much had been passing. Everything seemed dimmer now than when she had last spoken with someone, that someone being Odin herself. Now though, even the nothing her consciousness was floating in seemed to lessening with every passing moment.

Out of the darkness, light...

...or something like that.

Once the strange, tentacled aliens had withdrawn from the ship, Odin had wasted no time to trace the "sense" of Kat back into that strange dreamscape-like place where they had spoken before. The ship's AI knew that work would begin soon to fix the fighter and its AI. Odin wanted to check in on the technological consciousness sooner than that, however, and thus the heterochromatic sorta-AI begin appeared once more in the darkness.

"Odin, hello," Kat's voice was quiet, slower, lacking some inflection. Even as her avatar shimmered into existence it took more time to do so and lacked fidelity, seeming a simplified version.

"The ship was under attack," Odin explained without waiting. She took in the AI before her and hoped they were working quickly 'outside.' "But it's okay now. Repairs are taking place, including to you. I'm not sure how long it will take, but it's happening so I came back to to speak...with you in the meantime."

"The fact that we're both still here suggests the ship at least survived," Kat spoke, her animations lagging a bit as she did. "What about the crew? And, are you alright? You are bound to the ship, did it get damaged? Do you feel that?"

Odin nodded slightly. "I can, to a degree," she said. "But there's many places with damage, and I'm not integrated with the ship in any normal way so it's hard for me to isolate what all of it is. I know there were some casualties, and several injured crew are now in sickbay. The doctors are working hard, and so are the engineers."

"I see," Kat offered, looking contemplative before venturing "Are you alright? I - ... do not feel damage to my systems, I think. It's just - warning signals and handshakes broken, pings unanswered."

"I'm alright," Odin said. "I don't feel the damage to the ship as though it were damage to myself, although perhaps more dramatic damage might start affecting me. It's hard to say. My existence like this continues to be a learning experience. I don't even have the signals and pings to go by. It's very... It's just a sense."

"That's how I imagine it must be like for biological beings," Kat replied after a moment. There was no hesitation or confusion, just a lack of processing power at the moment. Barely enough power to keep her AI going. "I'm glad you're alright." Beat. "I wish I was."

Odin smiled reassuringly. "You will be," she said. "They're working on it now." She paused, tilting her head thoughtfully as some inner light made her swirling, pale eye glimmer. "Can you tell at all that they're working on you? Do you have any ability to recognize that that's happening inside the signals, pings, and handshakes?"

Kat shook her head a bit. "I'm very low on power. Twelve percent nominal and dropping. Can barely keep my base AI going. Sending pings to all my hardware would drain power and I'd shut down. Which is probably going to happen soon anyways. Everything is dark."

The Nordic avatar tilted her head thoughtfully, mouth pulled down slightly at the corners. "I wonder if there's anything I can do," she said thoughtfully. "I'm sure they're already liasing what power they can from the ship to help in the repair processes, but there must be something to this..." She gestured around them. " we're in. Some connection not fully understood, but it must have a use."

"I think I understand what is happening. I'm running on a backup lithium battery to keep base AI function going in case of complete power loss, but it's draining. Soon there won't be enough power left and I'll - " she hesitated a moment, even in her diminished, low-detail, slower state. "Sleep, I think is the right word, until the crew activates primary power again. I'll remember this dream though, and will analyse it properly when I'm awake once more. I don't need to be - " another pause, as if trying to find the right word, "scared, though I still am. This is not a pleasant state of being."

"Fear is never pleasant," Odin agreed kindly. "As a Q, I can't say I experienced it very often, but during the sort of between-time after I brought this ship back to this universe but before I was fully aware of my connection to it... There was a level of consciousness, enough to be afraid."

"What is it like, being a Q?" Kat asked, curiosity as always being one of her primary drive. "When fully free, I mean, and not bound to a ship?"

Odin opened her mouth to speak, even if they both knew she didn't need to...but she didn't say anything. She had to laugh. "That's a hard question to answer, because it's very broad. It's hard to explain what being a Q is like to anyone who never was. It was...freer. There were more possibilities, but there was also too much. It was boring, in its way, because there's not much of a challenge to life. Most of us aren't bothered by that, but every now and then, some of us are. Like Q. Or Q... And historically, Q..." Her dual-colored eyes flickered to the other with a small smile that said she knew she was being a little nonsensical.

"Hard to explain, perhaps, but very interesting to hear," Kat agreed readily. "The lack of challenges being a Q seems to be a very important matter to you, you've brought it up before," the AI added, though she followed it up with a frown and an apologetic look. "I do apologise, Odin, but I'm running very low on power, approaching minimum level and falling. I'm about to go dormant. I will save our discussion to memory, and look forward to continuing it some day."

"It'll be soon," Odin said warmly. "I know they're hard at work on repairs now."


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