Stars, Only Visible in Darkness

By Rodney C. Johnson

Action & adventure, Sci-Fi, Short stories


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2 mins


Authors Note

Though this is a direct prequel to Starblade, there exist many connections to both published Neo-human stories, and those yet to be released.


I see angels, angels in this very room. Now, I may be mad, but that doesn't mean that I'm not right. Because there's another force at work here. There always has been. It's undeniable. We've all experienced it. Everyone in this room has witnessed events that they can't fathom, let alone explain by rational means. Puzzles deciphered in prophecy. Dreams given to a chosen few. Our loved ones, dead, risen. Whether we want to call that "God" or "gods" or some sublime inspiration or a divine force we can't know or understand, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's here. It exists, and our two destinies are entwined in its force.

--- Doctor Gaius Baltar, Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak Part 3

Part 1. Machine Cult

[Argentina, Ushuaia. Techatron Union. June 1, 2029]

Eyesight, digitized. The world became an ugly lime green, pixelated fog, as her heads-up display tried to compensate for the recursive feedback, induced by the node jacked into her right temple. The node worked perfectly with most human interfaces. Yet, thanks to Frederika's 'enhanced' nature, it presented a conflict. Oberon Kreis, her guardian, assured Frederika, those very superhuman improvements however allowed her entree, and the skill to avoid Omicron.

She just wished that the shrill buzz would lay off inside her brain.

Omicron attempted to align Frederika to its overmind. Only passively aware of her, its next scan, Frederika could be sure, the great machine would accomplish its connection. Not a whole lot of time to pilfer those gel circuits.

Frederika harrumphed, ran her fingertips across the cool ceramic alloy wall. HUD restored on retinas, that belonged to big emerald cat-eyes. Thus far, she'd managed to avoid both humanoids, or Techla. Sooner or later, she'd encounter a member of the Techatron Union. That's why she wore the implanted node, so as to appear as if she were a novice cultist.

The beginnings of Omicron were shrouded in rumor. Far as could be determined, Omicron predated The Singularity. Which didn't make much sense. Those so called, self-aware computers that followed were not at Omicron's level. There were no true AIs. Only extremely good mimicries of the human brain. Sentient, but not sapient. Tantamount of beast to man. Nothing like Omicron. The technological rapture itself well-nigh obliterated Omicron and its followers. The event scarred, or killed many members of the Union. Those who hadn't yet uploaded into Techla bodies were said to have been resurrected by Omicron. Living dead, animated by nanites.

Two pallid, bald humanoids, known as Tors, garbed in utilitarian gray overcoats, eyes hidden behind thick black lenses, went by, gave no acknowledgment to Frederika's person. A male and female. For whatever gender counted among these people. Neither so much as ogled Frederika's generous cleavage, or admired her honey blonde mane, that she presently wore in Punk braids, a plait loose, over her left eye. To be remade into automatons. The whole idea offended Frederika. Yet the Techatron Union seemed never lacking recruits, eager to join up and get the First Stage Node. What for? What did they get out of it? A near loss of individuality.

Heads-up display presented a schematic that guided Frederika down a descending, labyrinthine passageway. Lower into the complex, it became colder. Advanced eyesight aside, at her every exhalation, Frederika could behold streams of her own breath, coming out in crystalline particles. Temperature variations seldom bothered her. yet, she'd an aversion to genuine iciness, as her advanced body tended to lock up, heat proved much less of an issue.

Beyond a side archway, Frederika glanced in, and eyed a hive of Techla. Ovular tentacled bodies hovered, and burst with gel synapses, congregated close to a giant, levitating black globe, that brandished a fiery red eye. The Omicron core. Bright scarlet caught her attention, jarred with the otherwise dull silver decor. A Budjah Monk? What was a Budjah, doing here? They were hardily affiliated with the Techatron Union.

The monk moved, and talked at the Omicron core, in a grating, synthesized voice, surrounded by Techla, hands inside the folds of his voluminous, crimson frock. From a thick beaded rope, swung a hefty crucifix. Yet most striking to Frederika, his golden robotic bucket-head, that featured a singular black rectangular sensor plate. Could this Budjah, be a Mecha?

Neither the Omicron core, or this odd, perhaps, mechanical monk, were why Frederika had come to Argentina. She required the gel circuitry.



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