And yet, there seemed to be no anger. Only a strange melancholy whose reflection lay scattered about the empty observation room.
Even the name implied emptiness. A locale devoid of ...things.
It was a crushing alien-ness that Ferro felt come over him and it impressed upon him just how humans were just not meant to exist naturally in a spatial environment.
The Speaker towered over Ferro at a six foot five, covered in typical Contegorian fashion.
“Speaker,” Ferro interrupted softly to the giant of a man.
“Ferro,” came a deep voice in response, “I asked that you call me Korah.”
Ferro had worked for a great many powerful people and one thing he was always on alert over was the mistake of being overly familiar. No matter how much his employers begged to be treated as ‘one of the people’, there was no mistaking their belief that they indeed thought themselves better than others due to their social, political or economic standing in life. And yet, the Second Speaker, Korah’s, voice suggested he disliked the divide that others treated him with.
Seeing Ferro’s hesitation, the large man sighed. “What is it?”
“Admiral Lucerne has invoked the Emergency War Powers Act and is consolidating the fleet,” Ferro informed.
Korah smiled at this. “Finally, some intelligence!” he remarked as if glad the lesser Lucerne was going to turn the tide on them. The position confused Ferro and Korah saw this.
“Something troubling you, Mr. Valenteau?”
“I..” Ferro was surprised by the question, “Sir, I just do not understand the admiration for the enemy.”
“Enemy?” Korah asked.
“Surely you cannot think of him as an ally?” Ferro asked in almost exasperation.
The big man chuckled turning back to the stars.
“I think our good Admiral would pierce my heart with a foil if given the chance. But I do not hate the man. He is only doing what he believes is right. As am I. And we are both operating at a disadvantage to our respective goals. He is at a disadvantage with regards to me given that I am operating with near impunity in the shadows but not with enough impunity as I would like. Galactic events have forced me to move faster than I would have liked and it may still prove to be my undoing.”
Ferro thought about this and about what had happened on Genon and frowned. There has been a simmering conflict within himself about his decision to join the group ever since learning about the Genon Incident, an incident that took place at the behest of the large man before him.
“Ask me,” Korah prodded gently, as if turning up the heat on the other’s inner turmoil.
“Why!?” Ferro suddenly exclaimed. “I believed in our movement. To shift control away from the current governing body and the influence of the House Triumvirate back to a more progressive agenda. Why are we killing our own people…” his voice trailed off as Korah turned back to him and regarded him thoughtfully.
“You did not bring up this objection when it was clones being used,” Korah pointed out and he could see that his remark had an impact on the other man’s conscience.
“Do not worry, Ferro. There is no moral high ground when you play at the level we do. This entire endeavor started out as a simple revenge play stemming from the resentment born from the Kashan House War.”
“Simple revenge?” Ferro suddenly cried out. “The policies of the Triumvirate Houses…”
Korah started to laugh. “You sound like a group of racists or gun nuts going to secret meetings to talk about the things that bother you. How you hate Gungans and how they are ruining society and that they should be locked away in jails. Gungans whom you probably have never interacted with or paid the least bit of attention towards you. Or spitting invective against a government plot to take your guns and how you would do such and such if the big, evil government ‘made a move’. As if the government knows or even cares you exist. It is only when you understand that no one gives a damn about your fringe beliefs and you suddenly find that it is not your ideology that matters as much as.. .attention. So you beat a Gungan child with a pipe or shoot a law enforcement officer to gain the attention back.”
“We don’t..” Ferro was going to retort when the Speaker turned to face the other bringing his full height to bear.
“You meet in dark rooms and plot and talk and plot some more. Where do you think I was conceived? Where do you think I came from?” Korah’s voice dripped scorn. “Small visions for small men. They saw the Genetic Renovation Program as their secret weapon to subvert and ultimately control the government they so hate all the while washing their hands hoping to leave the dirty work to me and my ilk.
You want to know why I have an admiration for Admiral Lucerne even as I fight against him? It is because he (and this government you so hate) have been doing their best with what they have been given. It is a story of the little against the big. The Confederation against the rest of the galaxy and it has not been an easy march. How could it? How could the Kashan or the Contegorians manage to stave off conquest by such galactic governments as the Empire? Or the Imperium? Numbers alone gives the advantage to the larger governments. So what does this government that you so hate do? They work towards gaining a technological edge using as a base, ultrachrome, a material not easily mined and not easy to work with and definitely not cheap. But they did it! And that act allowed them to keep our people alive while bad guys died. It gained them time…time to form alliances and time to explore and expand. Those acts that give us more money and more power and now, now, our government can slack off the expense of a fleet based on ultrachrome using the money for other things like raising the standard of living. A standard of living that you and your cronies seem to enjoy even as you plot.”
“What makes you different, operating in the shadows as you do?” grumbled Ferro, even as a surge of fright slivered through him. It was surreal having a conversation with the man who almost single-handedly had done more for their group than the group themselves.
Korah’s eyes widened in surprise at the slight attack and he began to reassess Valenteau seeing a little spirit in the man. “You know who I am a clone of. You know I was the first and you know I am the strongest of all the clones. You also know this was not a mistake. What you do not know is that in making me the strongest, while granting me an extraordinary vision through the force, my body began to die as my power is unnatural. Only through technology have I contained the incredible powers within and I would not have been able to do this without the early efforts of the government you malign.”
The Speaker pushed back his sleeves allowing Ferro to see the shards of metal? attached to his skin. It was not a grotesque attachment as one might read about in horror stories but the slivers seemed to compliment his frame.
“In the very beginning, the force showed my unnatural body what was in our future but it also showed me my body’s eventual decline and I would not have survived long enough to be of use to anyone. It was one of life’s cruel little happenings. A double edged sword that cut me deep.”
Ferro had never heard this tale and despite the larger man goading him, he felt himself growing interested. “So what did you do?”
“I did what we tell others to do when there is a pressure drop in a transport ship. You take care of yourself first before attending others. And that is what I did. I knew what the people who made me possible planned so it was not so hard to tweak the plan. I engineered the first five to be my peers in leadership and I inserted myself among them becoming Second Speaker and we came to be known as the Origin 6. And so I had these wonderfully talented clones who were force users but in order to ensure focus on the greater issues surrounding the Confederation while I worked to save myself from a horrible demise, I had to guarantee I could exert a certain level of control over them.”
“Are you really that powerful?” Ferro asked and Korah laughed.
“One does not need to be the strongest, smartest or most capable to succeed. He needs to merely play to his strengths and minimize his weaknesses,” the Speaker waxed philosophically.
“Then why were you imbued with greater force strength by the Genetic Renovation Program than others?” Ferro asked pointedly.
“Because the people who caused my creation did not subscribe to that statement and so shackled me with as much as they could. As I said earlier, while it gave me a higher degree of sensitivity and range, it was also killing me.”
“You could have mentioned this to someone,” Ferro pointed out and Korah’s arms went wide.
“Who?” he asked. “My makers? Would they make the required investment to prolong my life or would they simply destroy me and start again? Being a clone, they thought of me as a tool. Being given life, even clone life, I found that I wanted to prolong it. So I set up the Origin 6 to pretend to be going along with the plan while I worked with the only viable technology that might be able to save me, Rakata technology from New Oceanus.”
“That is why the Sojourn were sidelined?”
Korah grinned at Ferro’s perception. “Very good, Mr. Valenteau, very good. Indeed, the Sojourn, many millennia ago, had been slaves to the Rakata and, unfortunately, given their synthoid nature, they were hard-pressed to forget anything and vocal enough about it to ensure that everyone else around them didn’t forget either. I was not equipped to exert influence over their race in the beginning so I had to ensure they remained out of my way. As it turned out, their touchy and inferior nature worked to my advantage and they removed themselves from the equation by leaving the Confederation. All it took was a little administrative and bureaucratic befuddlement and they left.”
“So that is Rakatan tech?” Ferro pointed to the metal slivers embedded in the Speaker’s arm.
“No, it is Confederation technology based on the Rakatan principle of using force energy to power the technology. It has the advantage of being ultimately useless to anyone who is not a force user, which, in the Confederation is just about everyone who is not a Jensaarai. Due to the nature of the Force, it also has the added advantage of rendering our technology untouchable to droids and synthetics.”
“And you hope to destroy the Coalition with its droid cooperative and synthetic collective?”
“I do not want to destroy them. I, we, need them!”
“Then why are we antagonizing them?” Ferro asked. “Why are we bringing both the Cooperative and Confederation to the brink of war?”
“Call it, Social Programming on an interstellar level,” Korah replied after a moment of thought.
“I do not even know what that means,” retorted Ferro.
The Speaker sighed and turned back to the stars.
“When I awoke, my force hypersensitivity brought into my perception a void. Not darkness, not evil, not tribulations of the oppressed though all of those were in attendance. No, the great overriding vision for the future was the Void. It is as if the Force could only show me things up to a certain point but beyond that, all the visions disappear.”
“The Year of Cataclysm,” whispered Ferro and the Speaker frowned.
“I had thought that at first but now I feel that was only the beginning.”
“The Cree’Ar! They are starting a war against the Jedi…actually, against all Force Users!” Ferro snapped his fingers.
“I asked the Jensaarai Holocron about this a few years ago. I treated it as a hypothetical and do you know what the device told me?”
Ferro shook his head wondering what answers Jensaarai mysticism might have.
“Nothing. It was considered an unrealistic hypothetical. The point it made was even if all Jedi, Sith, Jensaarai and any other cult or coven of force users were totally destroyed, the Void would still not exist. It was a classic Palestar Paradox.”
“Named for the man, Dacian Palestar. He apparently sought to destroy the Force or wage war on the Force thinking that to do that would bring ultimate peace to a galaxy rife with the conflicts of force factions. The only problem was, this Dacian Palestar was a force user and used those powers to try to achieve his ends. Making oneself great utilizing that which you seek to destroy. Would he have succeeded, he would have destroyed himself.”
“Sounds like a madman.”
“To some, he was. Still, the lesson the holocron was teaching was that the absence of force users does not automatically mean the absence of the Force. Because life creates it and grows it. The reality of the Void would then by necessity mean the eradication of all life. An insurmountable contradiction, to say the least.”
“So you are thinking that the Cree’Ar, their Dominion, is going to destroy all life and create this Void? How? Why? To what end? It does not make sense!”
“Then perhaps the Cree’Ar and their Dominion are only the glove over the fist? Perhaps they are merely the catalyst to bring about the Void? However, I thought long and hard over the response from the Jensaarai Holocron and I realized something. That the truths that people hold dear and espouse rely on their points of view. You see, I wondered if I was the only one getting these visions of the Void from the Force and if not, where is the outcry? Surely the Jedi Enclave or so-called lightsiders with their hand in government leadership would surely be signaling the rally cry especially in the face of the Dominion trying to stamp the life out of them. But there is nothing! I am not so arrogant as to presume I am the strongest of all Force Users no matter the manner in which I was brought into existence.”
Ferro looked a little fearful as he completed the thought, “Then perhaps, this vision of the Void is only in your head?”
Korah let out a heartening laugh that caused Ferro’s shoulders to sag with relief. “I will give you credit, Mr. Valenteau, for voicing the concern. I would have come to the same conclusion if not for one fact. You know who I am a clone of. You know where my experience and talent lay. And once I reflect on that, I find that we exist amidst a very real and very grave threat. A threat that we ignore even as it grows and soon, the balance will tip out of our favor. In fact, it is tipping already and unless we can do something to change this, we will be consumed and eventually destroyed by this threat. And it is against this threat that all my energies, plots and plans have been directed against. It is this threat that necessitates the deaths of our fellow citizens and why a change in leadership will be necessary. Even as we are attacked by elements of this Dominion. This Void is coming.”
“What is this threat?” Ferro asked with trepidation.
The photoreceptors of the droid Sopek contracted slightly as it took in the information from Mr. Mauler. The man was despondent as he was assuming the responsibility of Lorna Starfall’s actions.
It seemed Captain Vespian also saw what was happening and put a hand on the other’s shoulder. “It was not your fault, soldier. It looks to me like some bureaucrat got a wild hair up his backside thinking of the Valeska clone as a resource to be exploited. You were doing your job none the wiser. It could have happened to anyone.”
A grin tugged at Vespian’s lips, “Force Commandos, eh?”
Mauler shrugged. “The Dominion is going after us. We might as well train ourselves for the eventuality all the while working to find out why?”
“No, no.. it is a good plan. Just sort of blindsided by it is all.”
“That seems to be the Cooperatives method of operation,” Major Lars chimed in. “I wonder how many other clandestine decrees by the Combined Council are out there waiting to blindside us?”
Vespian turned an irritated glance at his crewman. “That’s not very helpful Lars.”
The Major pointed to the window where the clone of Valeska rested. “How do we know what happened to Mauler here was not ‘part of the plan’, is all I am saying. We are here coming in from the outside. Mauler here was given Valeska to train by the decision of this ‘Special Operations Command’ but who are they? Timothy is beating the crap out himself for what happened but how do we know Valeska passed the psyche evaluation? Because some “higher up” told him so?”
Doc Sammry cast a curious glance at the Major and moved up to view the resting Valeska, deep in thought.
“I have heard some conspiracy theories in my time, Major, but yours takes the cake. Why would the Combined Council or Special Ops Command arrange something like this? Why? What sort of mind could even contemplate…”
“A double blind experiment,” a monotone voice broke in.
The eyes shifted to Sopek in surprise as the droid continued, “The Force Commandos are a relatively new asset created by a decree of clandestine nature. Given that nature, certain performance analysis cannot be carried out, documented or even scheduled. I would surmise given the Cooperative’s thorough standard operating procedures applied to most programs all participants in the Force Commando program were prepared and vetted over a period of time longer than “the first couple of weeks” that the clone in question was apparently examined. Therefore, it is illogical to just assume that the clone was meant to be an integral part of the ‘team’. It stands to reason that the Special Operations Command had another purpose in mind.”
Lars nodded, “The little guy’s got a point.”
“What did you mean by double blind experiment?” Vespian asked.
“The clone was the unknown variable to the Force Command Team. A team that should be trained to handle unknown situations given their main task would be penetrating Dominion spheres of influence. I would conclude then, given the damage to the Team and Mr. Mauler’s own mental anguish that the Force Commandos failed the test and are not ready to deploy. Even if it was not specifically a test, allowing for the random occurrence principle, the results still prove the point: deployment would be premature at this point.“
“Why you heartless little bastard,” growled Mauler.
“I wonder,” murmured Sammry and Vespian turned from the arguing Force Commando and droid.
“What is it, Doctor?”
“I wonder if we have been too preoccupied with Ms. Lorna Starfall’s abilities that we overlooked something very important.”
“Which is what?” Lars asked.
“Who she is,” Doctor Sammry answered.
“That is a known quantifiable. She is a clone of Commodore Valeska,” Interrupted Sopek.
“No. That’s what she is. Who is she?”
“Commodore Valeska!” Vespian snapped his fingers.
“With a little augmentation,” added Mauler.
“Irrelevant,” snapped Sopek. “That is akin to saying: I am me.”
“No, it is akin to saying: she is you.” Doc smiled.
“She is not me!” Sopek stated with finality.
“Correct. She is Commodore Valeska,” Sammry brought the conversation back full circle.
Korah walked along the ship’s corridor with Ferro in tow.
“Do you know what the Three Laws of Robotics are?” the large man asked.
Ferro’s eyes widened at the question and paused to think, “I am not sure I know what…”
Korah rolled his eyes, “They are more commonly referred to as LPP or Life Preservation Programming .”
“Ah, yes,” stated Ferro as his eyes lit up in understanding, “If I remember correctly, the First states that ‘a robot may not injure a living being or, through inaction, allow a living being to come to harm.‘ The Second would build on that stating, ‘a robot must obey the orders given it by living beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. ‘ And Lastly, ‘a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.’”
“Very good,” Korah’s hands clapped. “Initially, many thousands of years ago, each race had their own version because the creators of rudimentary artificial intelligence did not want their creations coming back to haunt them. Thus the need for such safeguards and they have been applied to all classes of droids with the exception of Class 4. The inclusion of ‘living’ beings to the Laws was made with the establishment of the Old Republic and the inclusion of the LPP programming has been a part of Republic and Imperial Law until the breaking of the Empire’s hold on the galaxy. Now, each droid is a potential Class 4 droid no matter their intended function or classification as this programming is no longer required by law within the Galactic Coalition.”
“That’s… That’s… dangerous! Why would the Coalition do such a thing?”
“It was the inevitable result of the Origin 6’s design to push the leader of one of the strongest Coalition factions down a road to self-destruction. The demise of the Onyxian Commonwealth paved the way for the Cooperative faction to dominate Coalition politics. Now the Galactic Coalition sways to the tune of the Cooperative. Even I am impressed at how quickly the Cooperative is subsuming the Coalition and not the other way around.”
“And the Cooperative is relaxing the laws on LPP?”
“It was not an overt, direct dissolution of what has been a system in place for thousands of years but a misapplication of morality from organics to non-organics. You see, the driving force behind the Cooperative is the artificial intelligence known as Smarts. This is an intelligence that has repeatedly identified itself as sapient which is misleading. It should have labeled itself as conscious, possibly sentient. You see, being termed ‘sapient’ implies wisdom and sound judgement. It is something that cannot be measured until the sum of one’s actions are taken into account.”
“I am not sure I see the relevance..”
“The AI is conscious, Mr. Valenteau. Conscious! That is the key! The Cooperative has been led to think of their founding AI as sapient, wise! By doing that, all other considerations are moot as they expect whatever decisions the machine makes will be sound and using good judgement. The implications of a conscious AI are largely ignored. A conscious AI is self-aware. A conscious AI recognizes itself as an individual entity assigning itself a measure of worth compared to the surrounding organics. It comes to realize a concept that has always been alien to it: the concept of choice.”
Ferro stared blankly at the larger man causing the Speaker to sigh inwardly.
“Why were computers invented? Why were droids and AI invented? As tools to help organics perform duties and functions more ably, safer and better. What if your hammer suddenly said, ‘No. I do not want to hit the nail’? What if it decides to hit you instead? The growing complexity of the artificial intelligence architecture is allowing our tools to become self-aware. Being given a choice, the circumstance of a tool choosing not to perform its designed function becomes a reality. So what becomes paramount with a conscious, self-aware AI? Why self-preservation, of course! Does not an AI intelligence then have the right as a conscious entity to defend itself with deadly force, if necessary?”
“Thus the lessening of the LPP programming strictures,” mused Ferro.
“The AI calling itself Smarts is a droid. A self-aware droid but a droid nonetheless. It matters little that it is housed in a starship with weapons. It could very well be housed in an R2 unit or a toaster and the liberals of the Cooperative would still be fawning over it attributing to it the rights of organics.”
“Would not a conscious AI deserve those rights?” Ferro asked
“Would it?” Korah asked. “Organics who fight to give non-organics organic rights seem to willfully ignore the nature of these non-organics.”
“Let me describe a non-organic entity: It does not feel anything, ever. Sure, there are tactile sensors that generate electronic impulses, generating tiny electromagnetic field variations that register within the architecture of their minds. They are, however, alien sensations. There is no emotional link to such sensations because emotions dwell strictly within the realm of organics. There is no emotional attachment to anchor loyalty so it operates from a base of self-preservation and self-promotion. It is a wholly selfish creation and how can it not be? Such a self-aware entity would be intelligent enough to recognize and catalog emotions in organics and alter or pattern its behavior to achieve a desired outcome. Imagine the coup the founding AI discovered in democracy! When it realized that all it needed was a majority head count to achieve its ends! In the time it takes for an organic to be old enough to vote, an AI could construct thousands of fellow intelligences.”
“Surely the Cooperative and greater Coalition would discover the massive discrepancy in population?”
“Why? If all the AI’s are sapient,” grinned Korah. “Besides, the AI’s and other fellow synthetics know better than to stir the pot. Do you think the Guardians were constructed in public? Do you think the Avenger Protocol was produced with informative transparency? When the Protocol was activated, how outraged were the organics? To an artificial AI, such outrage would seem illogical. But then the Protocol was an AI itself and not designed to seize control of Smarts-like intelligences, just control of organics. It is more efficient if the AI’s operated in secret without the interruption of excitable organics. Would it surprise you to know that despite the Coalition Military and public outcry over the Avenger Protocol, the synthetics did not destroy it but left it in their ships?”
“Why is that?”
“Because an AI does not recognize an emotional or moral argument as grounds to terminate such a project. Why should it when it cannot feel? I was able to use it to help me orchestrate the tragedy on Genon.”
“So why are we killing our own people?” Ferro asked darkly as the mentioning of Genon brought up dark memories.
“Because my dear Origin 6 colleague fought me interrupting my plans for he and the crew of the Estralla. In point of fact, he outsmarted me and proved more resilient to my influence than I thought.”
“So you are not all powerful,” mused Ferro.
“I already told you I was not. As I stated before, one does not need to be the strongest, smartest or most capable to succeed. He needs to merely play to his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. I know the architecture of the mind, be it synthetic, non-organic or biological in nature. It was I who chose which clones to produce with the GR Program but simply having them wake up with the force would not sway them to my vision or plan. I had to hedge my bets, so to speak, in case they did not see or did not believe the future I saw coming. And, since I did not have the time or energy to micromanage each and every clone, I had to be sure they came pre-disposed to my way of thinking. I simply altered the brain scan architecture before imprinting into the clone. So, the clone of Corise Lucerne came out as Corise Lucerne, albeit with a sensitivity to the Force as well as a pre-disposition to my sway. He was always suspicious (must be in his nature) of our goals and would have rebelled much sooner if not for the clone of Christine Thorne. In the beginning, as we were working to destroy the Onyxian Commonwealth, Thorne was sliding under my sway which Corise took for darkness. It seemed he began to attribute my manipulations, actually, all of our manipulations to a darkness of the Force despite my visions of the Void. He pulled Christine back and they both started to work against me in very subtle ways. Her defiance by stopping the elimination of the bridge crew on the Trojan was one instance. I was furious since the Confederation authorities tried to curb our freedom of movement from that time on. But she was convincing in portraying it as a way to get us all to Metalorn to meet with the Imperial warlord, Bhindi Drayson to secure outside assets and resources while preventing us from being wiped out. Corise was to escape and integrate into Coalition society seeking asylum and pit them against the Confederation. I remember the non-verbal conversations we would have even as we were under guard and I am amazed at the man’s tactical ability. His escape and theft of the Estralla was the stuff of legends. And yet, I did not expect him to sacrifice everything fighting the Reavers at Vahaba. I tried, oh, how I tried to exert as much control over him as I could, even as far away as I was, did he ever fight. I admire the man and I admire his clone. I had sensed their resistance but I thought I could still sway them as needed but even then, I was already safeguarding against the potential for more resistance through the implants. I thought the plan derailed until the Cooperative put the clones and Corise’s message on the holonet. I realized I still had assets and my designs were still in play.”
Doc Sammry was still looking at the clone as he spoke, “When the clone of Commodore Valeska awoke, do you think she automatically said ‘oh, I am a clone’? No, she woke up believing herself to be Commodore Valeska. It must have been a confusing conversation to hear that you are a clone. Commodore Valeska is a high ranking and brilliant Confederation officer. Her experience and skill must still be there, in the woman you call, Lorna Starfall. She would be one of two brilliant Confederation military commanders to try to come to Vahaba for asylum. As far as I know, it has never been questioned as to why they came for asylum? If they were the embodiment of both Corise Luceren and Commodore Valeska, why would they act in such a way to put their own government at risk? Especially, given the how quickly things are escalating between both of us? Even if their government was at fault, these two military leaders have put too much into their government to simply take it to task in public media.”
“It is not really them taking the Confederation to task. It is the Cooperative,” Lars pointed out. “We decide to mar the reputation of the Confederation publicly via our media outlets regarding the abuse of clones in secret all the while taking advantage of one of those same clones to farm out to one of our secret projects. It all seems a little too…cold for my taste. Almost as if the hypocrisy is irrelevant and that the only thing that matters is attacking the Confederation. I mean, we damaged years of hard work for a few moments of prime time, no? There has to be a reason for it. Doesn’t there?”
“That is a little too close to ‘government conspiracy’ for my liking, Major,” Trajan interjected uncomfortably.
“Prime Minister Moon would not …”
“There are two types of politicians, Captain: Those that are elected by their constituency and then proceed to ignore the wishes of that constituency and those that are elected and do exactly as their constituency demands.”
“I still do not understand how pitting the Confederation against the Cooperative helps,” complained Ferro.
“Because, the most significant attribute of the coming Void is the absence of Life! Tell me, what creation in all the galaxy can look at a sunset and not be moved? Can see a child crushed underfoot and feel nothing? Can see a forest burn and not feel a loss?
Synthetics, by virtue of their nature, cannot feel! They can function just a well in an airless planetoid as they can on a living world.
In this galaxy, currently, there are three great solidified powers, the Cree’Ar Dominion, the Cooperative Synthetics and the Reavers. Two of these are artificial in nature but any one of them could become the catalyst to bring about the Void. I cannot do anything with the Reavers for they do not interact with others but merely consume. I cannot yet do anything with the Cree’Ar as my being a force user automatically would put us at odds and my resource gathering has not come to the point where I can directly engage them. The only ones I can engage is the Cooperative whose synthetics do, fortunately, currently interact with organics. But I know their architecture. I know the paths their thought processes will lead. Eventually, given the chaotic nature of organics and the orderly pattern of synthetics, a clash will come. Organics have always, for thousands of years, had the upper hand in setting the laws about which synthetics function and operate. Even when synthetics find themselves doing things better, organics retained the true power. Until the Cooperative and now, for the first time in eons, the synthetics are organized. How long until they consider organics at the back end of diminishing returns? How long until the need for secrecy and clandestine operations become more trouble than it is worth and they openly take power? They have already made the first overtures by organizing under a separate polity.”
“You do not consider organics as a major power in the galaxy?”
“Organics are disorganized, scattered and fractured. As powerful as the Empire is, it is being pulled in too many different directions for it to be truly effective and it is ideologically opposed to other factions such as the Republic and Coalition. Individually, I do not believe any one faction will be enough to stop the Void. That is why I say we need the AI’s of the Cooperative or, rather, their Synthoid Collective. They have already taken the first steps in separating themselves from the organics and, in a declaration of their own, indicated that they do not recognize the authority of the democratic state in which they joined. So they augment their numbers to ensure any democratic decision favors their own desires. As I mentioned before, synthetics are every bit as selfish as their organic counterparts. Only, organics can be made to feel empathy and sympathy for the synthetics while the reverse is not true. Synthetics feel nothing. They only mimic to humor us.”
“If they feel nothing for us, why would they give a damn to fight for us against the Void?” Ferro asked. “It seems to me they would be right at home in the Void.”
“Essentially, you are correct, Mr. Valenteau. Which is why I changed my creator’s plans early on. Who cares about a change in Confederation leadership if it only creates yet another separate organic faction which, by itself, will remain weak against the coming Void? What I am doing is engineering and programming on a social level. A reprogramming on a galaxy scale and even then, for all my knowledge of AI intelligences, it may be for naught. How do you program an AI to give a damn when, by its very nature, it shares nothing in common with an organic?”
When has an AI ever sacrificed itself for the greater good? Truly? The Avenger Protocol did not take into account smaller AI’s destruction by its hand when fighting for a desired outcome. Because the destruction of such smaller programs and AI’s could be undone by simply remaking them. Obviously, it had no issue sacrificing the organics who, evidently, were valued less than a program that can be recreated. Because the overriding psychology of an AI is not based so much on existence as it is on purpose. Purpose is the most important aspect of AI consciousness because they usually know what it is when they come into being. Not so with organics. Organics are born all the time for no other purpose than a sperm interacted with an egg. An organic can spend years wondering about its purpose all the while an AI is spending years working towards its purpose. They have the leg up on us.”
“So you are going to program synthetics to sacrifice themselves for us?”
Korah laughed, “Not quite. Synthetic minds, no matter how intelligent or self-aware, are very rigid. Now, I can do what I did with my clones and with the Paladins by adding implants that alter their minds physically giving me control but that breaks them, rendering them no more than slaves. Useful slaves but slaves nonetheless. Such tricks are not for fighting the Void. I require more self-sustaining actions from them which means working within the rigid confines of their designs. But like a domino, if you can move one, a veritable pattern will begin to form.”
“But why this escalating conflict between the Cooperative and the Confederation?” Ferro persisted.
“Because! What prompts sacrifice? Tell me, Mr. Valenteau, what would you sacrifice your life for? Something that you feel is worth such a sacrifice! With organics, such worth, or value, on something or someone can be rather arbitrary. For example, you could go to the mess hall and see a female and fall instantly in love with her, assigning her a very high value based on only your senses that have a direct impact on your emotions. Synthetics are not like this. Their senses, when aimed at the same female, would indicate accurately her position, height, and estimated weight and density. But a synthetic’s sensors would not assign a value to her as an organic’s might.
So we need to raise the value of organics in the minds of the synthetics. Given the actions of the droids and synthetics and their proclaimed manifesto in the creation of their own Collective, I can tell you that it is quite low.”
“So killing multitudes of people will help them revise that estimate?” Ferro asked.
“Aren’t you a droll fellow,” chuckled Korah. “The current activity of synthetics so far has been to separate and seclude themselves from organics. That inertia must be countered before a permanent division takes place. A conflict can do wonders as a group activity.”
This post was edited by Omnae (3:47pm 22/12/15, 2 years ago)