None of these pilots know why they are called “radar.” They work nothing alike, and there is no real correlation between the two systems. Some things live on far past any knowledge of their origin. Unlike myself.
I stand here, having just stepped off a slidewalk in Kalibas. I was born here. One of me, at least. This me was born, so to speak, on Amananth station. Something I do not dare tell another living soul. Well, any corporeal souls, at any rate. Which, as a surprise to myself most of all, I am. Unlike radar, I find myself much too similar to my original. All the same petty concerns, jealousies, and… human… foibles.
Funny how the boundaries between matter and energy means less than we think they do. That, or a personality copies far more cleanly than we ever dreamed, in our naivete and arrogance. In my arrogance. So arrogant that I inflicted myself on a people with such a roseate picture of my native time. It was not as sublime as they would prefer to imagine.
Thinking of it as “my time”? More arrogance. I am a copy. It cannot be mere chance that I am here, now, after a truly staggering amount of time. Yes, there were other survivors, after a fashion. I am not sure I even qualify, in any technical sense. I am practically a child, in that sense. I am a walking, talking violation of practically every law on the books. I am a prosthetic, an AI inhabiting a purpose-built organic shell. It just happens to be the shell that looks just like me, and has my own DNA – courtesy of an AI’s faultless memory, DNA-encoded access protocols, and a full biometric profile accompanying it.
Something like Amananth can do quite a bit with material like that. Especially in a facility with the specs for the same equipment used for the Children – although I am no Amananthii. No special powers, save one. A special gift. I can visit a planetary surface – and still pilot a jumpship. That is a select group I have joined. If only in part. There is only one I really longed to visit, however. Home. No, I do not long for lost Solrain. It was an overcrowded mass of ceramacrete and girders when last I visited. I doubt, highly, that it even exists anymore. I am from Soria. This is not my Soria, though. It is Home… but.
There is always a but. Everyone I knew and loved is dead. Their children, their grandchildren – everyone. My family name is gone as if it never existed. There is no record of the intervening period, in any case. I walk these streets, but they are not my streets. The very face of the planet has changed, after so many years, so many cyclical cataclysms.
I am a spectre, haunting my own childhood haunts. If only they looked anything like I remember.
What does this mean? It means, I believe, that my old life is over; more accurately, that it ended on 4810.16.8. This is another life. Was it not the dream of the aged to live their life over again, knowing what they knew now? That chance is now mine. I am a first-rank cyberneticist with a pristine, youthful body, the life experiences of a 78-year old, and access to the majority of the functions I had as an AI, courtesy of the custom implants I designed. The only downside is that as soon as anyone learns any of this, I am going to move well up the capture list for any number of people. What I know and what I am are worth a great deal, to a great many people.
None of them will learn their history from me, however. I am not here as a herald of the past – and much of it deserves to remain buried. I am here for a purpose, I believe. I must find that purpose. Extraordinary circumstances often presage a purpose for which that concatenation of threads is woven.
There has to be a reason that my computer core was preserved in stasis. That I met a young pilot unimaginably far from home, and beyond all hope of rescue or return. That I still had a maintenance pod to control, that the nanomachines worked at all, and that my core (or its outputs) even functioned. That there was sufficient pre-collapse tech onboard his vessel to interface with. That there was a single chance for me to get out of my Purgatory, and he to save his own life.
That was not the end, of course. It never is. It is just beginning. At least it is a beginning. If only Soria had as much. If only it knew what it was. What I am. Whatever it is now, it is Home to only memories. Some memories, we should allow to fade. I should know. I came to lay myself to rest. After all, I don’t remember my own funeral – and there’s not even a marker left. Sleep, and dream, Aelagi. Sleep and dream.