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|A teaser-style bit of prose. One of a group of young people hints at events that have happened since they found a strange alien spaceship, and explains what has happened to him personally.||
<p> The ship was amazing. It was enormous, and made of a material I couldnít, in a hundred years, understand. Itís metal, but it seems to have been grown rather than built. And it was beautiful, and obviously not human. How could I not have investigated? I didnít know we were going to end up flying the damn thing across the universe.
<p> It must have been some kind of pre-set co-ordinates. I canít believe it was random chance. The computer tried to speak to us, perhaps warn us, but we couldnít understand it. I donít think we can even hear half of what it says. It was amazing though, a thinking computer. Without free will, yet complex enough to run a massive, complex ship without its creators. Able to instantly analyse the life forms that had boarded it and readjust its life support to sustain them. But it couldnít communicate.
<p> It needed an interface.
<p> An operating system.
<p> So it killed me and stole my mind.
<p> Now Iím it. Literally a ghost in a machine. My body remains in cold storage on the ship, preserved but dead. No medical technology we found and understood here could truly save me. Nothing but the braintape recorder. So here I am. A computer simulation of myself. The computer has retreated into itself, leaving me to find my own way, like a bird pushed out of the nest.
<p> Yes, the computer saved us. It needed to be able to communicate with us in some way, so that we could properly direct the shipís weapons at our attackers. We all would have died if not for its treachery.
<p> Instead, only Iím dead.
<p> But who was the computer really protecting, its new owners, or itself? And what happens when we meet with the creators? What will they think of us? And what about this war we seem to have become a part of? Are we even on the right side?
<p> Then thereís the most important question of all.
<p> How do we get home?
|Prologue - The Death of the Ivanhoe|