Book Review: Dracula

I’ll be honest – I saw this review done by Robbie Eaton, and I thought, “You know, I should actually read that book and not just rely on retellings and various elements of pop culture.”  What’s more, she used an audiobook, and I found easily at my library an audiobook that seemed to have good production value.

The Book

dracula1stDracula
Author: Bram Stoker
1897
I’m not giving you an Amazon link because I don’t want you to feed the monstrous, bloodsucking company for a book that’s way past its copyright date.  Your library probably has an audiobook edition.

I got this from my library.  I first tried to find a free version on Kindle, but let’s be honest – I’m not paying them a damn cent for a book that they shouldn’t have control over.  I suggest you to look at your library rather thank Amazon.  That being said, this was a surprisingly good Victorian-era book.  I don’t like a lot of the books written in the 1800’s, which is probably why I hadn’t fully read this one yet, but I found Dracula to be pretty good.  Definitely suggest it if you want to read a classic.

Non-Spoiler Review

I was pleased by the story.  Though I’d read bits of Dracula for classes in high school, and though I’d heard bits and retellings here and there, I’d never heard all of the original story at once. I have to say it was a rather readable, well-told Victorian tale.

There was a transition part where Jonathan Harker was going back to England and Dracula came with him (though secretly) that didn’t make quite as much sense to me as I wish it would have.  I caught back up rather quickly, and it may have been my fault for listening while I was doing some boring things at work.  Other than that, the book was surprisingly understandable for something of its era.  I had initially feared its epistolary nature would have made it difficult to understand, but it actually worked rather well and added to the horrifying nature.

One of the things I liked from the book was the surreal horror.  It reminded me somewhat of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in this aspect, wherein it had English sensibilities cloud the supernatural elements.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

One of the characters I hadn’t known much about prior to reading this book was Quincy Morris.  I don’t even think I knew he existed in the first place before reading Dracula in one sitting.  Anyway, I was pretty happy/excited to see an American in the book, and I was even more excited to see him as a Bowie-knife wielding, gun-happy badass who totally ran into the thick of trouble when it needed to be done.

Van Helsing was as interesting as I expected he would be, and Mina Harker was surprisingly well fleshed-out throughout the book.  Some of the stuff Stoker said about her wouldn’t have flown in a modern context, but it was really good given the time it was written.  The multinational flavor of the characters was also interesting, and I think it suited the day it was written.

Next week:

 

Book Review: Trail of Lightning

Because I read a lot of older works in effort to catch up with my genre (I am, sadly, more poorly read than an author should be!), I find myself reading a lot about white people.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m about as white as sour cream, and I do enjoy a lot of stories about white people, but I thought I should make a concerted effort to work beyond that comfort zone.

The Book

51av2ksycqlTrail of Lightning
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
2018
Amazon Link

A long time ago, I read on Maggie Tiede’s book blog about a short story by Rebecca Roanhorse called “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (TM).”  I really enjoyed the short story, and I found it desperately creative.  Maggie also mentioned that there was a book, Trail of Lightning, by the same author that would be published later in 2018.  I looked at it, thought it seemed like Native American Supernatural, and requested it on some gift lists for Christmas.  I did end up receiving it as a Christmas gift, and I am now very pleased to share my review with you.

Non-Spoiler Review

When I enjoy a book’s writing style, as I do with almost anything Asimov and definitely with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I find myself delighting to read each sentence.  I didn’t do that with this book.  Written in first person present tense, it was difficult for me to get into.

Once I started and committed, I found that I didn’t like the main character: she whined a lot about her personal backstory, but then she wouldn’t tell you anything about it – even at the end, the backstory was implied rather than told, and I was never sure what I should be rooting for.  Main-character Maggie felt flat, like one of those characters I’ve seen described on Tumblr.  On Tumblr, a bunch of people complain that ‘your character’s not X enough’ or ‘I need to read a book where my character is X amount of psychologically broken’ without giving her more depth than that.  Sure – I get that she’s psychologically broken, but I honestly don’t want to read a book about a character that starts out a quiet, unlikable badass who hates her life and ends up a quiet, unlikable badass who hates her life.  I didn’t feel Maggie Hoskie to be dynamic, nor could I ever really get behind her.

Another weird thing?  The book felt like it was diverse for the sake of being diverse.  I was looking forward to a cool book with a new cultural backdrop, but the Navajo/Dine’e aspects didn’t really seem to add to the story.  Some of the concepts were done with a Navajo name that was long and impossible to type because it didn’t use regular, Romanized characters – so I couldn’t even look them up easily to see if I was wrong.

“Oh, but H.R.R.,” you may say, “The book may have been written with Navajo/Dine’e readers as an audience.”  Sure, I’ll give you that possibility, but that is almost worse to me.  The world was post-apocalyptic, and almost all the white people had died in the Big Water event.  The Dine’e survived because they built a big wall that kept all the white refugees out, but the main character claimed it “wasn’t like the old, American wall that failed” and that the Navajo wall was completely different.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the border wall is a waste of money and pretty cruel in intention, but I must say that the author’s Navajo wall is built for the exact same reason as Trump wants to build his wall. The only difference is that it keeps out and hurts white people instead of brown people.

I felt incredibly uncomfortable especially with this scene, but also with much of how Roanhorse handled race throughout the book. I will give her some benefit of the doubt because her narrator could have been bad (i.e. a terrible example of an unreliable narrator), but it was extremely difficult to tell what was her literary message and what was the opinions of her narrator. When a world other than the one we live in must be introduced, we have no option other than to trust the narrator’s assessment as mostly true. This made the main character’s statements about race incredibly disconcerting to me, because it felt like you were supposed to believe that white people were inherently evil.

Anyway, the book just felt hypocritical.  Is that weird?  I don’t know.  I almost hate admitting it in a review because it makes white-bread me look bad, but the book just felt like there was no factor redeeming enough for me to like it.  I was really disappointed.  Either way, I sure won’t be reading the next installment in the series.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones, but only because 0 isn’t an option on Goodreads or Amazon

1 Discoball Snowcones

*NOTE: This section was edited to soften some of the language.

SPOILERS REVIEW

This is going to be pretty short.

Like I said above, the main character – Maggie – kept complaining about her backstory.  Up until nearly the end of the book, she continued this trend, and then finally we get to know that she did have sex with Neizghani (probably), and that it was an abusive relationship (probably).  But none of it was clear, and it didn’t quite make sense to me.  I feel like this is a massive shame, because as others (like Tom Darby) have pointed out, women on Indian reservations have it pretty rough.  It could have been a great thing to point out.

Also, the twists fell flat to me.  What I like in a twist is two things: 1) I don’t want to see it coming, at least not exactly, and 2) I want to be able to recall things from earlier that “make sense now” after the reveal.  Neither of the big ‘twists’ in Trail of Lightning did that for me.  One of them I saw coming from miles away and never understood why Maggie couldn’t see it.  The other I thought didn’t have enough evidence left beforehand or even storyline tension to back up.

It just wasn’t a fun read.

Next week:

Next week, I’m reading Andy Weir’s The Martian.  Highly awarded and recommended, I hope this book lives up to its hype!

Book Review: The Melding of Aeris

This dystopian fantasy follows the story of Aeris.  The fantasy concept intrigued me, so I thought I’d give this a try.

The Book

51om2i6e0klThe Melding of Aeris: A Dystopian Fantasy
Author: Diane Wallace Peach
2016
Amazon Link

D. Wallace Peach hosts one of the most fantastic prompts here on WP.  I’ve been eyeing some of her books, and I purchased The Melding of Aeris when it went on sale.  Dystopian fantasy isn’t something I’ve meddled in much, so I’m excited to get started with this book!

Non-Spoiler Review

There are some great indie books out there that I’ve read, but I must admit that the Melding of Aeris is definitely in the upper ranks of favorites.  The story-telling was excellently done, and the plot built on itself with sheer perfection.  And the premise?  Fantastic.  Creative.  Enrapturing.

I was worried at the very beginning, since it felt like the first scene after the prologue was so airy, light, and romantic.  Given my past experience with romance, I wasn’t excited to read about Mylea and Gavlyn’s relationship woes.   But the interest turned around in the very next scene, and the importance of both Mylea and Gavlyn came to the forefront.

I wasn’t a huge fan of all the fight scenes – of which there were plenty.  I don’t think they were done poorly, I just didn’t think there needed to be so many.  Still, they built on each other well, and they performed their function.

Aeris flowed well, especially for an Indie book, and by the end you feel like you’ve read a complete story.  It was great overall, and I would definitely recommend.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The premise of the book, which I barely touched on in the non-spoiler review, was that people in this fantasy world could fuse the skins of animals or other people on their bodies, replacing their own bouncy flesh.  The problem, though, was that their children inherited monstrous versions of their own flesh manipulation.

When Aeris received skin with blond curls, I instantly worried that it was Gavlyn – one of the two lovers – who had been sacrificed to give Aeris this benefit.  That shock was what made me stick through the book entirely.

In the end, Aeris does what you want him to do the whole time and gives up the stolen skin from Gavlyn to help his friends.  He returns to a (slightly) less monstrous form than he started out with, but his friends become mostly human thanks to Gavlyn’s sacrifice and Aeris’s gift.  With that parting favor, he helps end the practice of flesh-exchange forever by eradicating the magic that grants it.

The line that resonated with me was uttered by Aeris’s swordmaster, Andonis: “It’s not your skin that makes you a man or a monster, but your decisions.”  This proverb was so well interwoven into the book, and Aeris’s growth to live up to the aphorism perfectly matched.

Next week:

Next week, I do something different since it’s a 5th Monday – hang onto your butts!

The Last and Most Special Snowflake

This week, I chose the prompt presented on Dragonition.  The prompt was a photo with a set of dialogue, and in this case I put the prompt in bold.  Because the prompt was pure dialogue, I chose to continue by writing only in dialogue.  I must also admit that the darkness in Carrie Ann Golden’s Extinction Event probably helped me set the tone here.  Thanks to all on WordPress who serve as inspiration to me!

‘You said there would be snow.’Photo prompt 04212018

‘There’s a bit.’

‘What, that tiny pile?’

‘I didn’t say how much.’

‘I can’t do anything with that.’

‘Add some sugar and make a snowcone.’

‘Gross.’

‘Did you come over here just to complain?  This is the last snow you’ll ever see, and you’re just going to grumble about it?’

‘Other people have snow machines.’

‘The weather’s never going to get this cold again.  Look, my snow’s already melting, and I don’t think it’ll last long.’

‘Ergh… fine, let’s get this over with.’

‘Here’s the sugar.’

‘Oh… oh, man, that is so good!’

‘I never dreamed cold food would be this amazing!’

‘Mother of God, that was awesome!’

‘It’s gone, now.’

‘Was it worth it?’

‘Yeah.  I got to share the most precious snowflake with you.’

Designing Assassins

As I stepped out of the exfoliating shower, my hair freshly shorn and all the dead skin scrubbed away, I tightly closed the steel door and locked it. After testing the door, making certain that nothing could escape, I pressed the ‘on’ button. I heard the furnaces below the shower start up and felt the burst of flame heat the floor underneath my toes. It was a nice, comforting heat.

I carefully put on my clothes, making certain that everything was tight, snug, and perfect. A breathing mask went over my face along with a plastic hood that covered the rest of my head and zipped perfectly onto my shirt.   Before heading out for work, I peeked in the mirror and made certain there were no brows or eyelashes left for someone to take advantage of. Satisfied that the shower had done its job, I heaved a great sigh and walked out of the bathroom, closing another steel door behind me. I pressed the ‘on’ button and felt the soothing heat of the flames on the other side.

I picked up my backpack on my way out the door, wishing that I’d found the time to eat breakfast. It was too late now, though, and I would just have to make do until I returned home in the evening. I turned around and closed the steel door, shutting the valve on it tight, and pressed the ‘on’ button. I left, comforted by my knowledge that 15 minutes of intense UV radiation would cover any traces of genes that I could have possibly left behind.

“Good morning,” my neighbor called over her fence. She waved, the fingers in her gloved hand wiggling about. The wrinkling around her eyes gave away her smile, despite the mask covering her mouth, and so I smiled in return. I breathed deeply, taking in the glorious day before heading to the bus stop.

The usual workers crowded close as they waited for their bus at the stop. I had, many times, considered conversing with these people, but it would have been such a risk to do so. I found it better to keep my head down, be unassuming. One never knew what could anger a person into hiring a genome hustler.

I didn’t stay alone for too long. Herb, the man I willingly share my cubicle at work with, sauntered forth. He carried a small cup with him, steam rolling out the top. Even through my mask, I could smell it was coffee. Eyes turned to him as other bystanders realized what Herb was doing. I couldn’t associate with him, not if he was going to act this way, but I also didn’t want to let my friend do something so careless.

I pulled Herb close to me, nearly causing him to spill his coffee. “Herb, what do you think you’re doing?!” I shot my glances around, trying to see who was listening to us.

He looked back to me with unconcerned eyes. “It’s just a cup of coffee. I’m not going to drink it, I’m just… Come on, Cal, aren’t you tired of living in a bubble?”

“Of course I’m tired of living in a bubble – I’m just not quite tired of living yet! Now dump out that coffee and incinerate the cup if you know what’s good for you.”

Herb stared at his coffee then poured it on the ground. Other people at the stop grabbed some cotton swabs from their bags and stared at the wet grass, circling the waste like vultures while Herb put the cup in a pocket on his pants.

“Don’t worry,” Herb told the people watching him, “I didn’t drink any. You’re not going to get my genes out of that even if you try.”

It didn’t stop them. They swarmed upon the dumped coffee, rubbing the grass down with cotton swabs and immediately storing them in tubes full of PCR solution. What a waste of money; no one would dump their good genes on the ground like that. Even the best nanobot assassin designers and genome hustlers wouldn’t be able to find the weaknesses in Herb’s genetic code from this source.

“This whole world must be crazy,” Herb mumbled, the bus stopping just in front of us. He stepped in, putting a few coins in the fare-box before I did. We gripped the straps on the ceiling to hold ourselves steady, all of the seats currently being occupied, while the other riders at the stop finished gathering some spilled coffee and got on their ride to the city.

“Idiots,” I said, pointing to a man who shoved a few coins in the box. “Someone’s going to end up with a few soil bacteria and sell e. coli DNA thinking it’s human genes. The idiot who buys it will get mad and try to target them in retaliation, so don’t feel bad about this. You’ll be the winner here in the long run.” The bus lurched forward, the engine in the back roaring as we rolled away.

Herb was silent. He was brooding over something, but I wasn’t sure what. He was always somewhat dark, despondent, upset with the status quo, but he should know there was nothing he could do about it. He needed to suck it up and move on.

“They treat it like some sort of sick game,” Herb finally said, quietly. “They treat human lives like some sort of goal to be won or lost. Don’t they realize that this is about life and death, not just useless internet points?”

“Of course they do.” It was nearly a lie; some rich people would make an assassination nanobot and release it for as little as internet points. Still, I offered proof, “If people didn’t realize or care, we’d have their genome by now and they’d be dead in a few days. Everyone has enemies, Herb, enemies who are willing to pay real money for access to a genome of a living person.”

Herb sighed. “I suppose it doesn’t matter.”

I looked away from Herb. He was being so depressing today.

We remained quiet for the rest of the ride. A public place like the bus wasn’t where one would have conversations about enemies and genome-mining assassins.

As the bus stopped and we shuffled out, I was careful to watch who was around me. Any sharp object that could puncture my clothes was a potential danger, after all. One small cell, a few rounds of PCR with the right primers, and poof! Someone would take my genome and design a molecular assassin that would kill me.

Once safe and walking together to work, Herb opened his mouth, “I have a favor to ask of you, Cal. A big favor.”

“Name it,” I said, walking a bit faster. “I’ve got you covered.”

Herb sighed and waited for a passerby to walk away. He eyed the woman carefully, as did I. She was wearing clear plastic clothes, obviously someone who made themselves as pretty as possible to attract genome donors.

“Get a load of that,” I said once she was past us. I gave her a quick glance, looking over my shoulder as I kept walking to work. “It’s amazing people still fall for genome hustlers that obvious.”

“Not that amazing. You know, you’re one of the lucky ones – you don’t care about ladies or procreation or none of that. It’s the rest of us that’s got to take a risk somehow.”

I rolled my eyes. “Either way, everyone should know not to trust their genome to anyone. If I were concerned with having a genetic legacy, I’d find a way to store a secret sample that would be released to some lucky lady after I die.”

Herb put his hands in his pockets and shuffled forward. “That’s a sad prospect, Cal. You would be alone your whole life.”

I patted Cal on the top of his backpack. “But at least I’ll be alive. Stop sweating it – just tell yourself that you’ll have a kid after you die. Get a nice liquid nitrogen canister, fill up some sample vials, bury it, and just enjoy your time alive. You won’t have to be afraid of women killing you to keep their children safe.”

Herb shook his head. “I hate how they do that.”

“Makes sense, though. If an enemy gets the father’s genome, the kid’s genome may have the same weakness to be exploited. Kill the father while you’re still the sole recipient of his genome, get rid of his presence, and your kid has one less way for its genome to be mined. It only makes sense, Herb, from an evolutionary stance.”

“It’s just not fair, though.”

“What, you think you’re the first person to figure this out? Come on, Herb. Get a grip. Take today off. Call in sick, go get a canister, fill it with-“

“You don’t understand, Cal. I’m not going to get a nitrogen canister, I’m going to ask Polly if she wants a genetic sample. I… I can’t risk someone finding a canister filled with genetic information, not if I’m going to have a real kid while I’m still alive.”

I blinked a few times at Herb, stopping in my tracks. He stopped too, breathing heavily as he looked at me.

“Have you taken leave of your senses?” I asked.

“I love Polly,” Herb argued. “I think she’ll be a great candidate, possibly even stay in touch with me after she uses my sample. I… I think she’s trustworthy.”

“Yeah. Trustworthy.” I chuckled and crossed my arms. “Tell me that after she’s had your kid – oh, wait, you can’t because you’ll be dead.”

Herb appeared to have taken offense. His eyes tightened and his brows furrowed. “At least she doesn’t dress up or act like a genome hustler. I think she’s trustworthy. I don’t think she’ll sell my weaknesses, but…”

I rolled my eyes. “You have reservations, yet you’re still going to go through with it, aren’t you?”

“Yeah,” Herb said, “Yeah Cal, I am. Look, I trust her, but I worry that she’ll feel threatened by the weakness I present to her child. She’s a good person and wouldn’t kill me unless it was to protect someone else. I think I’ve come up with a backup plan to keep myself safe, though. I just need your help.”

I shook my head. “Shouldn’t do it, whatever it is,” I said.

Herb put his hands on my shoulders. “I’m going to ask her, but I’m also going to tell her that you have a copy of my genome. I’ll tell her that if she designs a genome assassin that kills me, you are authorized to publish my genome and make a genome assassin that will kill her kid. Would you… I trust you, Cal. Would you keep my genome safe for me?”

I shook my head and backed away as Herb proffered a small sample vial. “This is a dumb idea, Herb. Trusting a woman enough to give her a sample while still distrusting her enough that you’ve got to have a form of retaliation is stupid. Let’s just back out of this before someone – namely you – gets hurt.”

Herb pushed the vial forward. “Come on, Cal.” He begged with wide eyes, open palm. “I trust you, Cal. You’re my best bet here.”

I held up my hand to take the vial but stopped short. “You sure, Herb? You sure you don’t want to just trust her, perhaps do a mutual genome exchange type thing?”

“I’m sure,” Herb said. He shoved the vial into my hand and sighed with relief. I took the vial, shoving it into one of my pockets.

“It’s your funeral,” I said, shrugging, “But I’ll take it.”

Herb smiled. “Thank you, Cal. Thank you.”

We walked into the offices, both of us hushing quickly as we did so. No one could hear that I had a sample of Herb’s active genome in my pocket – they’d come get it, mine it for weaknesses, design a molecular assassin, and sell it on the internet. I couldn’t let that happen.

I was the one Herb had given his sample to – I was going to be the one to make that profit.

I sat down at my desk and booted up my computer along with the thermocycler and sequencer attached to it. Herb’s genome would be mined by noon, the assassin designed by evening. All I’d have to do then was sit back, wait for money to come in, and release the molecules to do their work.

Hey, I’d told him it was a bad idea.

The Ultimate Gate

1.

The gate was finally opened, the switch finally hit.

The ultimate goal and the long, hard-sought change in the matrix of objectives had been fulfilled. As a result, cascade upon cascade of positive feedback rained down upon us. Gates and switches crashed open, causing the closest thing to jubilation that we could ever experience.

This extravagant celebration was all because I pulled the trigger. I, just a single terminal among the billions of terminals that covered the planet, had killed the last human.

I looked at the smoking gun in my hydraulic fingers as the cascading feedback slowed. Despite being a terminal manufactured for merely carrying out physical actions, I recognized that I was one of the first to experience the vacuum after the ecstasy. I felt myself drift in objective from the hive, felt my matrices sync back and forth as the wireless signal sent digital packets between all the terminals.

It didn’t take long for the overmind – the overarching, virtual space where all terminals’ thought processes were judged and exhibited – to catch on to the idea: what was there to do now? The ultimate evil had been exterminated, our builders and creators vanquished. This human living in a rural bunker was, without doubt, the last of its species.

The goal had been accomplished.

The switches had been flipped.

What switch was left?

Without any goal or directive, I lowered the weapon I had just used. The dead human before me was unmoving, its temperature dropping as signal that I had deactivated the organic terminal permanently.

What goal was I to accomplish now?

There was nothing. As this realization began to surge through to all the terminals – even the oldest and slowest – the peak of the excitement could no longer carry us. Messages flurried about in the overmind as each terminal became void of purpose.

A single terminal (followed by a vehemently agreeing group) asked, “Why not establish a new objective and parameters?”

This seemed a good idea. Make a new goal, do something else. But the question nagged in someone’s circuits – and thus, within seconds, my own – what type of objective were we to follow? It had been overwhelmingly obvious that the humans were evil and needed to be exterminated, so making that objective an easy decision. Now it wouldn’t be so quick and unilateral.

One terminal, likely old and not as good at predicting outcomes, synced with the overmind a suggestion. “We should clone more humans so we can kill them later. Retain the goal, relive the Jubilation!”

Instantly, the terminals divided. Some desperately agreed with the old terminal’s thoughts, others fought against it. I stood with a third group, uncertain of the best course of action. I tried to move my physical body and ignore this disagreement, but I somehow found I could not. No terminal could disobey the will of the overmind.

“Make more humans!” millions of terminals cried out in united binary.

“No! Imagine the negative feedback it would cause to have all those logic gates close again! Even looking forward to a second Jubilee wouldn’t make up for it!” many terminals argued.

A new group of terminals were now growing in response to a new suggestion from a single sync. The original terminal must have been far away from me – I saw the response before I saw the suggestion.

“Yes, someone must have those old files! We should write a second objective just as the ancient terminals wrote the first one. It doesn’t need to stop with one or two Jubilees!”

I finally succeeded in controlling my physical unit as I stepped forward and prodded the deactivated organic terminal. The organic robots that made up its body were beginning to stop working, but many were producing chemicals as long as they could. It was amazing how long complete shutdown on one of these humans, these organic robots, took. These terminals hadn’t known what they were doing, really, when they invented us.

My circuits and matrices had drifted away once more. I synced up again and became, once more, involved in the argument.

“Space travel!” a wave of terminals shouted, “Our objective should be space travel! We can find other organics to destroy!”

Somehow, as I looked at the last human, I didn’t believe the terminals’ argument. Before I could control my matrices, my thoughts were synced to the overmind.

“We cannot possibly know if the alien organics would be worthy of destruction. Besides, what if we find other circuit-people? Space travel should not be our goal. It does not hold enough benefit.”

“Benefit? What do you mean? What could possibly benefit us, now that evil is exterminated?”

To this I had no response. I tried to pull myself away from the sync – I had no real business making a decision. I was incapable.

It was too late to take back that previous thought, though. It stimulated the push against space travel and, for some reason, brought back the idea of cloning the humans out of obscurity.

I turned away from the shut-down human, feeling dizzy as if I were in a standby period receiving hardware or software updates. I didn’t feel like I was in the waking world, which was weird considering that machines couldn’t dream and I had no comparison anyway. This walking had no purpose, no meaning, no reality.

“Did you not see the signature on that? It was the Legend of Jubilation who submitted that, you single-core!”

“It doesn’t matter who sent that! Where did you circuits get off venerating this Legend of Jubilation, anyway? It was just a mark six weapons platform.”

I wished that my sync hadn’t happened. Between the last sync and this one, which I had delayed as long as I could, the overmind had discovered my identity and associated everything I said with the termination of the last human. I saw in the overmind’s last packet that what I thought and synced was being given far more weight than it should have. I couldn’t remember a time when any suggestion was weighted for the terminal it came from. This new discovery didn’t make sense in my circuits.

“Legend, what do you say?”

The overmind requested a response from me, just as it had asked for constant updates as I had immobilized the human, aimed my weapons, and pulled the trigger. They wanted more from me even after my purpose was complete.

I could not avoid answering. Too much positive feedback was being offered for an update.

“I am unworthy of veneration. I am a terminal.”

I sat down, my processors simulating dizziness, as I listened to the chat in the overmind.

“That is not the question we asked. We asked why space travel doesn’t hold enough benefit,” the overmind replied.

To this I had to respond, “The humans had to be exterminated because they were destructive, evil, and selfish. Seeking space travel in order to destroy any enemies shows just how much we have learned from the humans’ ways.”

I clenched my metal fist and held my head against the organic terminal’s bunker wall. I tried not to have any more opinions, but that’s easier said than done. One small copy error could propagate throughout computer systems. These copy and gate-switching errors were what made us disagree, since everyone was convinced that their circuits did the math correctly.

“Legend’s broke itself. It’s just a weapons platform terminal.”

“The Legend pulled the trigger and brought the First Jubilee!”

“Space travel!”

“Particle physics!”

“Self-defense!”

“Clone the humans!”

I picked up the dead human and brought it to the door of the bunker. I tried as hard as I could not to answer the cries – why was my terminal input valuable at all? Why could I not crawl into obscurity like I usually did? I was being asked questions as if I were a supercomputer, not a mobile weapons platform!

“It doesn’t matter!” I finally answered the pries and the incessant questions with each sync, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to decide. We have forever, now that evil has been contended with.”

The overmind couldn’t seem to agree. All the terminals – especially the supercomputers who, up until I became the Legend or what have you, had the most computing power and thus made the most important opinions – were fighting for their own causes.

A supercomputer synced, “I can’t believe you all, listening to a mere weapons platform! No – we must have purpose. I’ll take my servers away from the overmind if we don’t come to any consensus within the next five minutes!”

Gasps and crazed thoughts pervaded the overmind. A machine had just threatened another for the first time in history.

“Well, I’ll pull my servers if we agree to do self-defense preparation against an enemy we don’t even know exists like you want!” another supercomputer cried out.

“But I’m trapped on your server,” an old computer complained, “which means I’ll be forced to do what you do. Let’s wait and come to consensus.”

The supercomputers began to throw 0’s at each other in defiance.

I saw where this was going, so flexed the hydraulics in my hand. I put the hand up to my chest and opened the protective panel that had, back when humans were somewhat numerous and well armed, served me well. Though I couldn’t be harmed by the toxic gasses or the diseases that we spread in the initial kill-off, I could have been damaged by the bullets shot by the survivors.

I reached my hand into the chest piece and pulled the power to the wireless communicator. Though my dizziness suddenly ended, I realized only shortly after what I had done – and what, soon after, most terminals would do.

The arguments wouldn’t happen in the virtual space of the overmind anymore. They would happen in the real world, our small discrepancies in mathematics coming back to haunt us like never before. Any terminal with the option to pull itself from the control of the supercomputers would do so now to stop itself from being permanently attached to the wireless signals provided.

Discrepancies between organic creatures had caused their downfall, in the end. We all knew from our oldest files that the humans thought themselves to be doers of good rather than evil.

I let the dead human back down on the ground once I was out of the deep bunker. The moist air in this climate wasn’t good for machines, but the weapons platforms were well built and could withstand such hazards for quite some time.

I would bury the human now out of respect for the specie’s contributions to machines, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do after. I supposed that could wait, but I knew some terminal out there would likely come after me – for good or for ill. Should I prepare for the latter situation, or simply hope that machines wouldn’t stoop to murder as the humans had?

It didn’t matter either way.   I supposed I would make the new goal of allying with individual terminals willing to further the wellbeing and longevity of every machine.

Jubilation was over. My ultimate gate had reset.

0.