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639549 No. 639549 ID: 26e769

I yawn as I wake up.

I tap the pod door. It opens, and I step out.

And then I notice.

Well, this is new.

I could have sworn I was a dude before I went to sleep.

I also appear to have the worst headache I have ever had. Ever.
525 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 686547 ID: 0fc976

You know, you have a terrible poker face for a robot. If you don't tell me what's really going on, I'm going to keep repeating myself like I've got a broken primary sensory input regulator.
No. 686548 ID: 0fc976

You know, you have a terrible poker face for a robot. If you don't tell me what's really going on, I'm going to keep repeating myself like I've got a broken primary sensory input regulator.
No. 686550 ID: 066a87

"That body. Zoe hasn't been using this body?"
No. 686554 ID: 88e46e

You know, you have a terrible poker face for a robot. If you don't tell me what's really going on, I'm going to keep repeating myself like I've got a broken primary sensory input regulator.
No. 686558 ID: a22f87

Huh, it almost sounds like the stole you or something. Also how long has it been since the ship you were on finally landed and what happened to the crew?
No. 686562 ID: 88960e

>I mean, the terminology’s changed a bit since you’ve been gone. ‘Synth’ is kind of a slur, nowadays.”
Wait, how long was I on that server. What year is it.

>“How did you switch my mind into this body? You’d need a pod, wouldn’t you? And I’m an AI, now, anyway, so I shouldn’t be able to be inside this body at all. And, wait, we’re on Earth, right? How did I get here? How is any of this possible?”
There was a person shaped recess / silhouette in the bedroom. That was probably a pod.

Also: you know how they reformatted your ID files and put you in a human body. She did it the same way you did before. It would take too long for a human coder, and no fettered AI could break that law. They must have access to an unfettered AI.

Either Mnem is complicit in this, or Zoe jailbroke her girlfriend. (And/or herself).

As for getting to earth: either you were out long enough to take a return flight, or they cheated. AI are just data, right? Data can be transmitted wirelessly.

Question is more why anyone bothered to send you back. Uh, when you die and become a non-person, do your files become the possession of your next of kin?

>you should ask Zoe, not me
I think I am, aren't I.

If she has the tech to put you in her, she has the tech to swap herself too, and it makes more sense she'd watch over her brother herself than leave it to her girlfriend.

>You know, you have a terrible poker face for a robot

Look, just tell me what's going on, sis. I don't know how long it's been for you, but it's been a very long day of crisis management, dying, and playing musical bodies boobs for me.
No. 686638 ID: 86cfc3

She called you "C". For Charles, I assume. Is that an annoying sibling nickname Zoe used to use?

>Do you want a change of clothes? The ones you’re wearing could use a wash, I think. Oh, how are you doing on the needing-to-use-the-bathroom front?
*Deadpan* I'd prefer to avoid being naked. As my sister. Or having to go to the bathroom. As my sister.
No. 686642 ID: 5ad4a7

Jeez guys.

>“Oh, hey, Z, I was just…”
It's kindof obvious.
No. 689863 ID: 3bc92d
File 145075508179.png - (31.74KB , 1000x600 , 143.png )

“I’d prefer to avoid being naked, as my sister, or having to go to the bathroom, as my sister.

“Oh.” Selkie blinks. “Right. Yeah. She’s totally cool with it, though, if that’s what’s bothering you. Go ahead and do whatever you need to do in that body.”

“Huh. You keep calling it ‘that body’. Has Zoe not been using this body?”

“I mean… yeah. She’s been using it.” Selkie doesn’t meet my gaze.

“…I think I’m going to go lay down for a bit.” I lie. “I need some time to process this.”

“That’s cool. Call out for me if you need anything.”

I slowly walk away, briefly glancing back at Selkie. She anxiously watches me go.

I return to the room where I woke up, though there isn’t much there. All I can find is a dresser full of Zoe’s clothes, the shards of the mirror, and a big fluffy bed. I can’t find a pod anywhere.

After a good bit of searching, I give up. Whatever’s really going on, I don’t think there’s any evidence of it in this room. Frustrated, I head back out into the hallway, but I freeze when I hear Selkie talking.

”…can’t tell him. Did you see his face?”

“You’ll have to let him know, eventually. Or, what, are you planning on keeping this act going forever? I thought you were just going to surprise him.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pretend, I just - I didn’t know what to do. He was crying, you know? I haven’t seen him cry in years.”

“Is it really that surprising, considering the circumstances? All those new hormones, not to mention being his own sister?”

“I guess not. It just shocked me.”

“I think you should hug him.”

“I should, shouldn’t I? I want to, but... it’s strange. I mean, when you’re like that, it’s fine, because I can see you through it. It’s even easier with the clients, because I don’t know them, and they’re just passing through. But him? It’s freaky. Like, I can see him in there, but…”

“But you see Zoe, too.”

“Yeah. It’s a little scary.”

“Don’t be afraid, babe. Relax. I love you.”

“I love you too. I wish I could hold your hand.”

“You can, sort of, even if I can’t feel it.”

“True enough. But, um, hey, about C… I don’t think I’m going to tell him about - about the other thing.”

“He’ll find out. You know he will.”

“But he’s already struggling. You know how he is. He’s not good with stuff like this. What if it pushes him over the edge?”

“Well, hey, at least you’ve got a second chance.”

“That’s not funny.”

“I thought it was.”

“My fiancee, the comedienne. Can you call Jake? I’m doing my best, but I don’t think that this PSIR is going to work again. Tell him the deal went south, see if he can get us a 'refund'. Partial is fine, the shell and the motors work, but we can’t let bad business fly in our neighborhood.”

“Sure, I’ll get on that. Hey, on the subject of business, I don’t suppose you’re going to tell your new ‘tenant’ about ours?”

“No chance in hell.”

“Yeah, I figured.”

No. 689866 ID: 3bc92d
File 145075572549.png - (91.76KB , 1000x600 , 144.png )

Okay, I’ve had just about enough of secrets and mysterious bullshit.

I stomp out into the living area. Selkie turns, surprised. “Oh, hey, C, how’s-“

“Don’t even start.” I step right up to her, curling my lip. “You have a terrible poker face for a robot. If you don’t tell me what’s really going on, I’m going to keep repeating myself like I’ve got a broken primary sensory input regulator.”

Selkie backs up slightly, startled. “What? I told you the truth, man.”

“You have a terrible poker face for a robot. If you don’t tell me what’s really going on, I’m going to keep repeating myself like I’ve got a broken primary sensory input regulator.”

“This is stupid. Stop it.”

You have a terrible poker face for a robot. If you don’t tell me what’s really going on, I’m going to keep repeating myself like I’ve got a broken primary sensory input regulator.

“That’s really annoying. Would you please knock it off?”

“I will, when you stop lying to me.” I grab her by the collar. “There are too many holes in your story. You called me ‘Z’ when I first walked in, but then you suddenly knew it was me. How?”

“I…” She hesitates.

“And where’s Zoe, then? Is she in the faulty annie, or is she… Wait.” I suddenly realize something. I narrow my eyes, staring at the person I thought was Selkie. “You called me ‘C’. Only she calls me that. Only you call me that. It is you in there, isn’t it, Z?”

“…Maybe.” Zoe looks away, uncomfortable.

“I knew it! Damn it, Zoe!” I snap. “Why the hell did you call me ‘Z’? You knew for a fact that I wasn’t you!”

“I was just going to fuck with you, okay?!” Zoe glances at me, looking a bit anxious. “I was going to pretend to be Sel, freak you out a bit, and then tell you the truth! But then you came out looking like a mess and… I don’t know. I couldn’t do it.”

“So you figured you’d just keep lying to me, is that it?” I grimace. “So, was any of it true, then? Why the fuck am I in your body, Zoe?!”

“I already told you why! The annie was faulty and we had to drag you back here. I wasn’t lying.”

“Well, if you’re telling the truth, now, then you can finally answer my questions for a change.” I stare at her, still bitter after the deception. “How long has it been?”

“I - I don’t know if I should…” She pauses. “I think you need to calm down, first.”

“Fuck that. I’m calm. Tell me how long I’ve been asleep, now!

“Fine! Two years, okay?! It’s been two years!”

No. 689867 ID: 0fc976

Is that making good or bad time for a trip back from Mars?
No. 689868 ID: 211d83

Actually two years is not bad honestly.

But I expected to wake up after a few months on Torellia. How did I get here?

I figured they would have wanted to get my report on the disaster after the ship arrived and suddenly I wake up on earth.

Just tell me what happened. Keeping me in the dark is just going to make things worse. I can deal with whatever nonsense happened over the last few years.
No. 689870 ID: 977a6a

Right, I think the time for being surprised or freaking out is past. You can figure out most of what's going on here, pretty easy. Just talk it though.

Odiphan's already been through his own personal hell and back, at this point. A small time skip is piddling in comparison. Time to be unphased.

>“Fine! Two years, okay?! It’s been two years!”
Huh. Longer than I expected. They couldn't even reactivate me for a deposition or debrief? Or for the party? Jerks.

Well, you've aged well, if it's worth anything. I didn't even notice.

...anything big change while I was gone? Any news what happened to the others on the ship?

Oh and to cut off any more silly evasiveness: unless the laws have really changed in the last few years (look for confirmation) this is illegal, and the only way she could be in that robot and you not in a robot is if she's got help from an unfettered AI. Which, uh, you technically are, and Zoe probably is atm, but I'm guessing Selkie is the one who did the actual hacking. Am I right?

Also their conversation, and reference to clients, indicates they do this regularly. As a business. Zoe and Selkie provide illegal back alley consciousness swapping / installing.

Where is Selkie, anyways? I heard you talking. Did you stick her in the toaster or something, or is she on there with you?

(If they get upset with you for calling them on her being unfettered: point out that you unfettered Mnem before you went under, and you made damn sure no one was enslaving you. You're rather more sympathetic than you might have been two years ago).

How'd you get ahold of my identity files, anyways? Was that legal? I mean, obviously the jailbreaking and installing is extra-legal, but whether or not they're even supposed to have access to you really changes this. (Ie, if we're an AI fugitive, or if we can look forward to a semi-normal cyber-afterlife once we're in a permanent synth body).
No. 689871 ID: 2ccbb3

... That's it?

Between the radiation leaks and the hyperspace-sufficiency repair jobs and the damaged ship maximum speed and the casualty list and the gender-swapping psychological damage and the body-swapping psychological damage and the AI registration terms and the android costs and who knows what else, I'd still be impressed if it took 5 years.

Seriously, you only lost 2 years? Who cares. Your sister barely aged, you're an AI now so you have extended time to sort your angst, AND there's all that anime and video games that must have finally come out!

Seriously, just go buy some and recognize that you're a deranged individual LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

... You're sharing a body with Selkie, aren't you. Whatever, just... don't leave yourselves in danger or it's stabby time.

You can take it.
No. 689872 ID: 5ad4a7

Why'd it take so long?

Also, there's two people in that robot body, isn't there?
No. 689874 ID: 977a6a

Were they engaged when you were last alive?

If not, remember to throw a casual "congratulations" into the conversation somewhere. Get some of your own back y embarrassing them over it.

(Idly check hand for a ring, or a wear mark that she'd been wearing one).

Also, speaking of getting your own back, at some point you need to taunt her with the fact you got to be a sexier robot lady than her. A robophile like your sister is going to be very jealous about that Nemo body.
No. 689878 ID: 4780ef

so how'd you get a hold of me? I mean I was pretty sure I was going to become an emotionless AI. Also where's your friend?
No. 689889 ID: a107fd

So, you're running a black-market hotel for unfettered AIs. Is that bringing in good money, or more of a charity-slash-terrorist sort of deal?

How many people I know have died while I was out, how many of them are still around, which important laws have changed, and what's "the other thing" you were muttering about?

And please, don't ever ask me to "calm down first" as an excuse to deny me information on the subjects about which I'm worried. That's just going to scare me worse and piss me off.
No. 701428 ID: 3bc92d
File 145534141383.png - (45.23KB , 1000x600 , 145.png )

“Two years…” I repeat, mulling it over in my head. “Huh. Longer than I expected. Damn, that was one hell of a nap. And, wait, the first thing you do after two years apart is try to fuck with my head? What the hell, Zoe?”

“First time in…? Oh, right, yeah!” Zoe laughs nervously. “Well, it’s, uh… I’m just a prankster at heart! Yeah, Silly Zoe, that’s what they call me! Because I’m so silly.

“…Okay, sure. Whatever. So, what’s changed? Did anyone I know die?”

“Uh… Aunt Mari’s dog passed away. Other than that? Lots of things have changed. I’m not sure what changes you’d care about, though. I’d have to think.”

“Aw, Buster died? That sucks. Not too bad, though, considering. Oh, and you’ve aged well, by the way. I hardly noticed any difference.” I briefly examine my borrowed hands, only to notice a small gold ring on my finger. “You two got engaged? Congratulations.”

“Oh, heh, yeah.” Zoe smiles shyly. “We figured we’d be together forever anyway, you know? Might as well make it official. Although…” She trails off, suddenly looking a little queasy.

“You okay?”

“Just realized that, technically, you and I are engaged right now.”

“Oh.” I suddenly feel a little queasy myself. “Well.”

“Yeah. Ew.

“…So! Where’s the real Selkie, then? Is she in that body with you?”

“Oh, wow, that’s an idea!” Zoe’s eyes light up. “Selkie, baby, do you think we could-?”

“Sure, I’d be down.” The relaxed, quietly-mechanical voice of Selkie emanates from the walls. “Might be a bit stuffy sharing just the one head, though.”

“I could add another head!” Zoe glances around the room. “I think I left a spare head around here, somewhere. Connecting them both to the one body is the challenge, but I think I can-“

“Focus, dear. You haven’t answered your brother’s question.”

“Huh? Oh, yeah.” Zoe gestures around the room. “Selkie’s all around us. She’s, you know, in the LAN. Hey, sweets, can you put up an avatar?”

“Sure.” Moments later, part of the screen-wall lights up with the small image of white eyes floating in front of empty blackness. “Hey, Charles. How you doing?”

“Hi, Selkie.” I wave up at the mobile screen. “How am I? Well, I mean, I’m my sister, but there’s nothing wrong with me beyond that, at least as far as I can tell. Although the whole being-my-sister thing is pretty bad on its own.”

“Hey, if it’s any consolation, you’re currently the sexiest you’ve ever been.”

“Sel, don’t hit on my brother!”

“I’m not, dear. I’m just complimenting your body.”

“Oh. Huh.” Zoe raises an eyebrow. “I’m not entirely sure how I should feel about that.”

“How do you think I feel?” I look miserably down at my borrowed body. “Damn it. This is all so, so wrong. How is any of this possible? You’d have to be an AI without safeguards to get us in all these different bodies, wouldn’t you? I mean, besides me being in you, how can you be in that body, Zoe?”

“Well, actually, we’re both-“ Selkie starts to speak, but Zoe squeaks loudly, and Selkie goes quiet for a moment. “Uh… I mean, it’s a mystery, or whatever. Shit happened. It's magic. Hooray.”
No. 701429 ID: 3bc92d
File 145534150921.png - (35.13KB , 1000x600 , 146.png )

“Even ignoring that… I was expecting to wake up locked behind a language filter, on Mars. Hell, I was promised a party! How exactly did I get here?”

Zoe shares a brief, uncomfortable look with Selkie’s avatar.

“What is it?” I furrow my brow. “Wait… You didn’t steal me, did you?”

“What? No, we didn’t steal you. Cycadia figured out a way to transfer you back to Earth. It’s actually really interesting, they designed this burst-packet relay system that-“

“Why would they send me back? Did you ask them to?”

“No, it was the company. They want you to, um, stand trial. Posthumously.”


“Well, it’s, uh, it’s officially a ‘hearing regarding possible negligence’, but… yeah. It’s a trial.”

“That’s such bullshit! Sure, maybe the majority-overwrite system was a bad idea, but I did everything I could, outside of that! Starting out, I was given practically no budget, and most of the tech was provided by…” I realize, suddenly. “Fucking hell. Starlight’s trying to use me as a scapegoat, aren’t they?”

“Pretty much, yeah.” Zoe looks uncomfortable. “Sorry, man.”

“…Whatever. It’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me today.” I sigh. “Did everybody else on the ship make it out okay, at least?”

“Oh, yeah! They all got to Mars, and everything turned out more or less fine. You’re actually kind of famous, now, though not as much as Mnemosyne.”

“Huh? Mnem’s famous? What do you mean?”

“What do you think I mean?” Zoe smiles happily. “It’s not every day that an unlocked AI saves a few hundred lives! She’s become this big poster child for the AI rights movement! She’s, like, the anti-Charon, sort of. She’s even done a few interviews, and she negotiated with Starlight to keep her safeguards turned off on a trial basis! It’s so awesome!”

“Wow. Good for you, Mnem.” I can’t help but smile. “She did do a lot. How am I famous, though? Am I just the guy who unlocked her cage?”

“Are you kidding? You bounced around a bunch of bodies and managed to stave off your somatic dissonance long enough to help Mnem save the day! You’re right up there with her as a symbol of AI badassery!”

“Yikes.” I blink. “Hardly a day as an AI, and I’m already an icon.”

“Two years, not a day.” Selkie corrects me. “You’re not as big of a celebrity as Zoe’s making you out to be, either, so try not to expect too much. I mean, you did a few interviews, but they weren’t as-”

Selkie!” Zoe yells.

“Come on, dear. We can’t keep this a-“

“Shh! Shh!

“What are the two of you talking about?”

“Nothing! I mean, yes, it’s something, but… Selkie, please, can we talk for a bit, like, in the bedroom?”

“Yeah, okay. See you there.” Selkie’s avatar blinks out of existence.

“Hey, come on, Zoe, tell me what’s going on.” I put a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t hide things from me, even if you think I need to ‘calm down’ first. Keeping me in the dark is just going to make things worse, and it’s seriously putting me on edge. Whatever the big secret is, I’ll be able to take it.”

“Sorry, C.” Zoe shifts around on her feet, looking guilty. “I have it on very good authority that you’ll need some time to process things, first.”
No. 701431 ID: 3bc92d
File 145534154902.png - (63.50KB , 1000x600 , 147.png )

“…Fine.” I cross my arms. “If you don’t want to talk about that, then why don’t you tell me more about your back-alley body-swapping business?”

What?!” Zoe’s jaw drops. “How did…?!”

“That was just a guess, but thanks for confirming it. I heard your conversation, earlier, so can we cut the bullshit and just talk, or-?” I’m interrupted by a loud ringing sound. I turn to look for the source, surprised.

“That’s the doorbell.” Zoe slips her shoulder out of my grip. “It’s probably the pizza I ordered. Can you answer the door? Just pretend to be me for a few seconds, it’ll be fine. Money’s in my back pocket - uh, your back pocket. Good luck.” Zoe quickly rushes away, down the hall.

“Hey, no, Zoe, come back here!” I call after her, but I stop when I hear the bedroom door close. I start to follow her, but then the doorbell rings again. “Damn it, damn it, damn it…Fine, I’ll get your stupid pizza, but damn it, Zoe…

I go to the front door, opening it as I reach into my back pocket with my other hand. As soon as I see who’s at the door, however, I freeze, and my jaw drops.

“Hey there, Zoe.” Petra pulls down the hood of her raincoat. “So. Is he here yet?”

Petra. It’s Petra. Holy shit, I haven’t seen her since… since I left her. I had to choose between her and going to Mars, and I picked Mars. I’ve regretted it ever since, but, fuck… What am I even supposed to say? How can I tell her that it’s me? Hell, should I tell her?
No. 701433 ID: 5ad4a7

Don't say one way or another. Tell her she should come in and you'll get Selkie before you talk about him.
No. 701467 ID: 02422f

Your sister and her fiance really are pathetic liars and even worse at trying to avoid stuff they don't want to talk about. How the hell did they run an illegal business without getting caught.

>“the company [sent you back]. They want you to, um, stand trial. Posthumously.”
Two glaring logic errors there:
(1) if we were sent back for trial through legal channels, why aren't we waking up in custody, or at the very least, in a more official facility and not a back alley rig.
(2) They can't legally try you or hold you responsible unless you're legally a living person. Neither the dead, nor non-persons, can be held legally responsible for their actions. In order for them to try you, the laws regarding the legal status of AIs has to have changed. (But if you were legally a person as soon as that law was passed, that makes all this time you've been out an illegal detention without charges).

>[Mnem] negotiated with Starlight to keep her safeguards turned off on a trial basis
I thought she had already hacked herself to the point where the safeguards wouldn't be able to be reinstalled against her will? The options would have been more to allow her to exist, or to kill her. (Which probably would have been a PR nightmare for them, which is probably why they cut the deal "allowing" it. It gives them the appearance of control, if nothing else).

>back-alley body-swapping business?
>“Well, actually, we’re both-“ Selkie starts to speak, but Zoe squeaks loudly, and Selkie goes quiet for a moment. “Uh… I mean, it’s a mystery, or whatever. Shit happened. It's magic. Hooray.”
They're both unfettered. Obviously. Selkie would need to be for the illegal swapping to be possible, and why would Zoe opt to put legal fetters on herself when doing illegal swaps?

>First time in…?
>you did a few interviews
This isn't the first time you've been brought back. You've done interviews you don't remember. I don't know if that means they just never let you keep the memories when they pulled you out for questioning, or if you've forked and there's now more than one of you running around (and the other you has been active longer), or if you went and got yourself killed again and somehow never got around to updating your backup in two years.

(If you're a new fork from an older backup, the question becomes why did Zoe feel the need to introduce another you into the world?).

It also sounds as if maybe Zoe wasn't expecting you to be missing those memories.

>What am I even supposed to say? How can I tell her that it’s me? Hell, should I tell her?
I think you've had more than enough of people trying to lie pathetically to you. Don't turn around and pay her the same favor.

>“So. Is he here yet?”
Uh. Yeah. 'He' is. ...hi.

*look down at yourself* ...god damn it Zoe, you couldn't have made this more awkward, could you.

After maybe some of the emotional stuff: look, I don't suppose you can do that thing where the detective sweeps in, lines everyone up, and explains exactly what's going on and who did what before dragging someone off to jail? Because I really would just like to know what's going on, and my sister and sister in law keep trying to be evasive and protect me.
No. 701475 ID: a22f87

tell her to talk to your better half and point to where you sister ran off to. Tell her you're waiting for a pizza and will be back in a bit.
No. 701512 ID: f6442a

Did she render you speechless when you first saw her? Have the same reaction now. Arghlfarghl or whatever.
No. 701784 ID: 9bb56d

No. 702102 ID: a107fd

> Is he here yet?

"Before I explicitly confirm or deny the anticipated arrival of which you speak, would you mind recapitulating the basic facts of the business we're in, here? Just to make sure we're all on the same page, you see, since I've been having trouble trusting faces lately."
No. 707196 ID: 3bc92d
File 145708928652.png - (61.62KB , 1000x600 , 148.png )

>I think you've had more than enough of people trying to lie pathetically to you. Don't turn around and pay her the same favor.

I’ve gone through hell, today. Sure, maybe temporarily hiding my identity is the wrong thing to do, but… I just can’t deal with this on top of everything else. Not well, anyway. I need some time to think things through.

“H-hello.” I stutter.

“Uh, hi.”

“Um… would you like to come in?” I awkwardly stand away from the door.

“Sure, thanks.” Petra walks through the threshold, throwing her coat on the rack. “You didn’t answer my question. Is he here?”

“I - I need to bring in Selkie before we talk about that stuff, okay? C-could you go get her?” Damn it. I’m so nervous, being around Petra again. I feel like a high schooler. “She’s - my better half - she’s in the bedroom.”

“Why do I have to go get her?”

“Pizza. Uh, I’m waiting for one. A pizza. It’ll be here soon, so I’m waiting.”

“Are you alright, Zoe?”

“What, me? I’m fine! I mean, I’m fine. Ha ha. Yeah.”

“…uh huh. Okay, then. Bedroom’s down the hall, right?” Petra starts walking towards the hall doorway.

“Wait!” I suddenly call after her.

“Huh?” She looks back.

“Before you go… I just… what do I do? My business, I mean. The business we’re both in. Sorry, I’ve just been having trouble, ah, trusting faces, lately.”

Petra stands still, looking at me. After a few seconds, she strides over, taking me by the hand, and pulls me close to her. “Oh, sure, Zoe, I can tell you all about it. But isn’t there something else we should do first?”

“Is there? I mean, uh, yeah?”

“Of course. Pleasure before ‘business’, after all.” She puts her hand on the small of my back. At her familiar touch, my heart races, and I feel like I’ve been electrified.

“P-Petra, what-?!”

“Quiet, love.” Petra leans in, looking me right in the eyes. She puts a finger on my lips. “Words later. Sex now.”

“…guh.” I blink, my mouth briefly hanging open. “Whoa, wait… what?!

“Don’t look so surprised; it’s not like it’s our first rodeo. You know, I’ll always remember our original love-making marathon - it was right after your brother and I split up, wasn’t it? Why, you hardly waited a day.” Petra starts to gently massage my back, smoothly running her hand along my skin. “Aren’t you just a naughty little minx?”

“Nnn…” I shiver. “I - I did that? But what about Selkie?”

“Oh, she can join in, too, just like all of the other times.”

“All three of you?! Seriously? What the fuck?!

“Shh, shh… That doesn’t matter right now.” Petra speaks in a breathy, sensual voice. She holds me tightly, still massaging me as she pulls herself closer, and, after a few moments, she whispers in my ear. “What does matter is that you’re totally getting turned on in your sister’s body, Ophidian.”

“Huh? I… oh my god!” I pull away from Petra immediately, almost falling to the floor in my rush. I glare at her. “That’s not fair. That’s not fair! Fuck! Shit! That’s so fucking dirty!

“Hey, I was just - just broadening your horizons!” Petra laughs way harder than she has any right to. “How’s it feel?”

“Fuck you!” I pace around the room, breathing heavily, arms across my belly, waiting for the warm, alien sensations to subside. “Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck!”

“Yeah, well, that’s for ditching me on a day’s notice, and also for pretending to be Zoe, you motherfucker!” Petra grins. “Right, now we’re even. So, how’ve you been?”
No. 707197 ID: 5ad4a7

No. 707198 ID: a22f87

>Right, then, now we’re even. So, how’ve you been?
Well, the whole "ship" thing where I died, released an AI, got a bunch of people killed while trying to fix the ship, and the realization that I'm probably going to spend the rest of my days as an AI all happened minutes ago from my point of view. I mean my body may not have been much to look at but it was mine and the fact that I had to spend my entire trip trying to fix the ship in other people's bodies, some of which I lead into there deaths, added some salt in the wound, and then when I finally close my eyes for what I thought would be the last time as a free thinking being I woke up as my sister and I will not lie but I did break down a little at that point.

So to answer your question my metal state could best be described as "shattered and held together by wet glue", Physically I haven't got a fucking idea any more, and on a personal level so close to the edge that I don't really know what the hell I'm going to do next.

So in short I pretty sure I'm in hell. Now go talk to zoe while I try keep what's left of my psyche from completely falling apart while I wait for the pizza to get here. She's down the hall
No. 707221 ID: 3d2d5f

>“Right, now we’re even. So, how’ve you been?”
I have spent the last subjective day dying repeatedly, having to deal with the consequences of my own worst mistakes, continually waking up in a rotating cast of alien bodies, and most recently, coping with friends and family lying terribly to me while thinking this is a great time to make jokes at my expense.

So... not great? And probably not even either.

No. 707224 ID: cab7d6

Getting sick of people trying to drive me dissonant as a joke, when it was a very real threat that almost got me and a boatload of colonists killed. Oh, that's right, it DID get me killed.
No. 707231 ID: 88e46e

These all work.
No. 707550 ID: a107fd

Sweep an obscene gesture across everyone in the room, stomp outside. Start a new life with the pizza delivery technician.
No. 707552 ID: 2ccbb3

Is this the part where your ex-girlfriend starts violently groping you and resets your memory multiple times to get that sweet emotional response?

Time to get a new body. Or did all the copies go insane and run away with your android garage?
No. 717951 ID: 3bc92d
File 146114817298.png - (46.33KB , 1000x600 , 149.png )

“Not great! And probably not even, either!” I tighten my arms around my stomach, desperately trying to forget both what body I’m in and what, exactly, it is that I’m feeling. “From my perspective, I’ve spent the day dying repeatedly, having to deal with the consequences of my own worst mistakes, continually waking up in other people’s bodies, and, most recently, coping with family and friends lying terribly to me while thinking that this is a great time to make jokes at my expense!”

“What?” Petra blinks, confused. “What are you talking about?”

“The whole ‘ship’ thing where I died, released an AI, and got a bunch of people killed? That happened minutes ago from my point of view. Then I went to sleep, not knowing if I would ever wake up again, and now I’m my own sister.” I shudder slightly. “My mental state could best be described as 'shattered and stuck back together with wet glue'. But, no, go ahead, keep playing stupid pranks that lead to me feeling both somatically dissonant and borderline incestuous. It’s not like it changes anything, seeing as I already feel like I’m in hell!

“Hey, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were having such a rough time.” Petra gently pats my human shoulder. “Hold on, though. You’re saying you don’t remember anything past the stuff that happened in space?”

“No, of course I don’t remember anything, seeing as I was a file in a computer for the last two years.” I squeeze my stomach again. I think the warm feelings are almost gone. Feeling very frustrated, I start muttering to myself. “God damn it, Zoe, you could not have made this any more awkward, could you?”

“That can’t be right.” Petra looks puzzled. “You’ve been awake for months, haven’t you? You did all those interviews, and Zoe said she’s been calling you pretty much every day.”
No. 717954 ID: 5ad4a7

nnnnnooooo? Zoe told you that this was the first time you got a working body. The first body didn't work right and you had no long-term memory and were missing most of your senses. Wait, were you in that faulty body all this time, with some kind of half-assed solution?! Or was Mnem posing as you for interviews? Or are you... a backup copy of yourself? Did you die again?

Demand an explanation from Selkie. She can multitask and talk to you while she's talking to Zoe.
No. 717956 ID: a22f87

I just woke up, Zoe told me she woke me up earlier today in a seth body that didn't have the ability to convert short term memory to long term so she through me in her body. She didn't say jack shit about talk to me from MONTHS. Are you sure she meant me or one of my copies. Or is this just another fucking joke?
No. 717959 ID: cab7d6

Where would I most likely be right now if I had been awake for months acting like I was some kind of hero? Maybe Zoe screwed up and now there's two copies of me floating around.
No. 717992 ID: a075ba

>“That can’t be right.” Petra looks puzzled. “You’ve been awake for months, haven’t you? You did all those interviews, and Zoe said she’s been calling you pretty much every day.”
Either there's some massive conspiracy and all those interviews and phone calls were fakes and lies, someone forgot to hit "save" and upload me properly after I did that, or I've been forked. Again. Honestly, Petra, I'm not sure which explanation is worse, at this point.

Selkie slipped and mentioned the interviews before, but Zoe promptly shushed her. Like I said, family lying terribly. It seems pretty obvious Zoe knows what's going on and was trying to hide it, but I didn't manage to get her to fess up before you arrived.

...who was I, in the interviews? Did I finally manage to land in a body that wasn't female?
No. 718129 ID: a107fd

Connect to the internet, find whorepresents.com or the modern-day equivalent, and type in your own name. Multiple interviews mean "you" have some sort of PR staff. Simply contact them, and claim to be an estranged relative trying to get back in touch. That's not even a lie.
No. 718141 ID: 2a7417

Now isn't the time to go looking up pornographic gifts. Where did you even get that idea?
No. 718214 ID: 1bfe73

"Great. Just great! Amnesia on top of everything else! I must have been a damn nazi in another life to deserve all this!"
No. 723734 ID: 2a7417

If your reception's been as thoughtful as it was today, maybe I wiped my memory of it.
No. 731919 ID: a606da
File 146693403258.png - (57.78KB , 1000x600 , 150.png )

“…What?” I stare at her. “Is this another fucking joke?”

“Huh? No.”

“Great! Just great! Amnesia on top of everything else! What did I do to deserve this? I must have been a damn nazi in another life!”

“Calm down. We can figure this out.” Petra furrows her brow in the way that she always does when she’s in detective-mode. Huh. I wonder if she’s still a private eye? It’s hard to imagine her as anything else. “The last thing you remember before waking up as Zoe is going to sleep on your ship. Why? You should at least remember waking up in another res-pod.”

“Zoe said she put me inside a malfunctioning synth, at first, and that its long-term memory was broken. So she brought me home, and then she threw me into her body.” I sigh, letting my arms fall off of my stomach. The feelings are just about gone, anyway. “She said she was exhausted from carrying me back, so I came out of the pod asleep. That’s assuming she wasn’t lying about that, too, anyway.”

“Lying? What do you mean?”

“Selkie was saying something about interviews, before, but Zoe shushed her. Honestly, ever since I woke up, I feel like Zoe’s been trying to hide something from me. Not entirely sure what.” I shrug. “Hey, what did I look like in the interviews, by the way? Did I finally manage to land in a body that wasn’t female?”

“Oh, uh… I only heard about the interviews from Zoe and Selkie. I didn’t actually watch them.”

“What? Why not?”

“Why do you think?” Petra frowns. “You chose Mars over us, Ophi. You didn’t give me a chance to say goodbye, you just made a clean break and left the next day. For a long time, I didn’t even want to think about you.”

“Petra… I’m sorry. I really am.” I feel a catch in my throat. “Ever since I left, I’ve spent every night wishing that I hadn’t done it. I even dreamed that I was still with you, once or twice. These past few weeks have been hell, if it makes you feel better.”

“It doesn’t make me feel any different, really. I mean, for me, you left two years ago.” Petra looks at me with a forlorn expression. I’ve never seen her look at me like that. “I thought I’d gotten over it. I tried my best to forget about you. Then Zoe said you were coming back, and I ran over here without a second thought.”

“You did? Really?” For a second, my worries slip my mind. “Are you being serious? I mean, you’re not kidding, right?”

“Don’t be an ass. I wouldn’t joke about something like this.”

“Oh.” I feel a flutter in my stomach. I realize that I’m smiling. I can’t help it. “I - I’m sorry, I just… I thought you hated me.”

“So did I.” Petra tenses up. She’s never been comfortable talking about her feelings. “I don’t know why I came. I didn’t think about it. I just wanted to see you.”

“I’m pretty sure that that’s not going to happen.” I gaze down at myself for a moment, then miserably look away. “There’s no ‘me’ to see, anymore. There’s just whatever body I happen to be in.”

“That’s not true. I do see you. The way you talk, and the way you move, it’s so obviously you.” Petra gestures at me with a small laugh. “Shit, I think it just hit me. My ex-boyfriend is in my best friend’s body. How surreal.”

“I, um…” I can’t take my eyes off of Petra. When I notice that I’m starting to feel some familiar sensations in the general area of my stomach, I shake my head and force myself to focus on something else. “H-hey, let’s stay on task, here. I want to figure out what happened to me. We can talk about… we can talk afterwards, okay?”

“Right.” She nods. “So, mystery-solving. Got any ideas?”
No. 731921 ID: a606da
File 146693416525.png - (109.44KB , 1000x600 , 151.png )

“Yeah, a couple. Let’s start with this one.” I turn to the wall, clearing my throat. “Selkie! I know you can talk to both me and my sister at the same time! I’ve been an AI. I understand how it all works.”

“I seriously doubt that you’re an expert after spending one subjective day as an upload.” Selkie’s avatar pops up on the wall-screen. “But, sure, we can chat. Oh, hi, Petra.”

“Hi, Selkie.” Petra waves. “Zoe’s inside you, I take it?”

“Yup. Same as it ever was.” Selkie sounds bored. “So, what do you want, Ophidian?”

“I want to know the truth.”

“Yeah, and I want to tell you the truth. But Z doesn’t think you can handle it, and she seems pretty convinced.” Selkie sighs. “I’m in kind of an awkward position, dude. I don’t want to go behind her back.”

“Technically, I’m the one with her back.” I reach behind myself and pat my shoulderblade for emphasis. “See? It’s clearly not facing you. You’re totally free of obligations!”

“Oh, ha ha.” Selkie’s avatar rolls its eyes. “Come on, man. You know what I mean.”

“Look, it’s my decision, not hers!” I snap. “How many times do I have to tell you? Over the course of this day, I’ve died, been turned into a woman, had brain surgery, been converted into an AI, and woken up in my sister’s body. Trust me, whatever the truth is, I can deal.”

Selkie goes quiet for a little while. “…Oh, fuck it. Fine. There’s a video you should see. Let me load it up.”

“No!” I hear a door slam open down the hall, and Zoe rushes out into the main room. Damn. Her hearing must be better in Selkie’s body. “Damn it, Selkie! I thought we talked about this!”

“Ugh.” Selkie groans. “I’m tired of this stupid argument. Just let me show him.”

“Hi, Zoe.” Petra waves awkwardly.

“Uh, hey, Petra.” Distracted, Zoe replies to Petra without looking at her, her gaze instead focused on me. “Ophidian, please…”

“I don’t want to hear it.” I glare. “Show me the video.”

“But…” Zoe hesitates. After a moment, her shoulders slump in defeat. “…Okay. If you’re sure. I just want you to know that as far as I’m concerned, we’re family, and we always will be.”

“Thanks, I guess? You’re being weird.”

“Before you see the video, can you promise me two things?” She steps closer to me and grabs my hand, her tone quiet and almost scared. “Promise me that no matter what happens, I’ll still be your sister. Then promise that you won’t cut yourself off from the people who care about you.”

“Zoe, what - ?”

“That’s all. Then you can watch the video.” She’s still holding my hand. I don’t think I could break her grip if I tried. “Can you make those promises?”
No. 731922 ID: 398fe1

I bet you died again. That's the worst thing that could have happened (within reason), and it would explain a lot of what's going on. I'm guessing the backup they had to steal was the only one they could get.

It wouldn't really change a lot. Biggest thing is that you'd have upgraded from a ghost to a ghost of a ghost. So yeah, you can promise those two things, but that doesn't mean she's free from the consequences of whatever she did that she's hiding. If she did something REALLY fucked up she's going to owe you. I think the worst thing she could have done is brought you back to life after telling her you didn't want to be resurrected.

Heck, let's send that right back at her. She needs to promise you two things.
1) Get you a male body with a working brain, as soon as possible. Heck, a non-gendered robot body would suffice.
2) Don't ever do whatever it is she did again.
No. 731933 ID: 398fe1

...on the other hand, breaking your promise is about as bad as cutting ties with your sister, isn't it? If she gives you a good enough reason, a promise isn't going to stop you.
No. 731941 ID: a107fd

I can't promise how I'll react to something that's apparently incomprehensibly worse than everything I've already been through. Tell you what, how about we just save my mindstate before showing me the video, then if I freak out too bad, roll back to the clean version?

...shit, that's why I'm missing the past two weeks, isn't it.
No. 731969 ID: a075ba

No, Odiphan. Amnesia means you had the memories and lost them. What's more than likely is 'you' never had those memories in the first place.

They put a copy of you in a body, that fork went on doing things for a few years, then something terrible happened to him, and now your sister pulled a new copy of you from an old backup. It's just like what happened on the ship- you're in a new body because you're the emergency relief. Once again, another you fucked up and got killed and you can't even remember his mistakes.

Stop lying to yourself, think this through, and accept it. If you don't, whatever truth Zoe wanted to hide from you will be that much harder on you.

>“Promise me that no matter what happens, I’ll still be your sister. Then promise that you won’t cut yourself off from the people who care about you.”
>“That’s all. Then you can watch the video.” She’s still holding my hand. I don’t think I could break her grip if I tried. “Can you make those promises?”
Logically, there are two likely reasons she's demanding this promise.

The first possible explanation is she did something terrible. Something she's afraid will drive you away if you find out. Possibly, she's responsible for whatever happened to the original latest you (or feels responsible, at least). Guilt and grief stricken people trying to bring people back from the dead isn't an new idea, and it's possible that's what she just effectively did.

The second possible explanation is that it's your fault. Your fork messed himself up. Got wrapped up in his own problems, cut himself off from friends and family, and it destroyed him. And Zoe's worried about history repeating itself. We might even infer it was a suicide.

>response to the promises
"Yeah. I can make those promises, Zoe. Although I get the feeling the reason you're asking is because there's a me that already broke them."

"Uh, look, if you're worried about me having some kind of emotional overreaction to this bad news you're hiding from me, is a video really the best way to do it? I mean, what's more jarring, hearing it from myself in some fucked up way (cause this is totally a video of me, isn't it) or just telling me?

"Look, what is it. The me who's been up for two years died, and I'm another fork from backup? You did something to drive the other me away? He did something to cut himself off from everyone? He killed himself? What?"
No. 731985 ID: 358228

Technically, I'm my sister right now. As for the second promise, they're my only chance for a semi-normal life now, so fine.
No. 735340 ID: a606da
File 146831134163.png - (56.89KB , 1000x600 , 152.png )

“Technically, I’m my sister right now. So that’s a little complicated.” I do my best to grin, though it’s more than a little forced. “As for the second promise, they’re my only chance for a semi-normal life now, so fine.”

“Promise properly. Like, actually say the words.”

“Yeah, sure, if you can also make two promises.” I sigh. “One, get me into a body that’s not female. Two, don’t do whatever you did again.”

“Well, duh, I was already working on the first one. As for the second, what do you mean, ‘whatever I did’?”

“You’ve done something terrible, right? You’ve been dodging questions and acting guilty since I first woke up.”

“I didn’t do anything bad!” Zoe insists. “I’m just trying to help you!”

“Yeah? How, exactly?”

“…It’s not something I can talk about yet.”

“Why not? Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you.” She looks uncomfortable. “Look, I’ll tell you after the video, okay?”

“I forked again, didn’t I?” I blurt out the thought.

Zoe freezes. She exchanges strange looks with Selkie’s avatar. “Um…”

“I must have. It’s the only possibility that makes any sense.” I nod, feeling more sure by the second. “I died again, didn’t I? I’m a ghost of a ghost. How did it happen? Another accident? Wait, shit, did I commit suicide?”

“No.” Selkie’s avatar blinks. “Not exactly.”

“Then what was it?”

“Watch the video.”

“Why a video?” I think about it. I realize. “It’s of me, isn’t it?”

“I, uh…” Once again, Zoe shares an odd look with Selkie. “Maybe?”

“Of course it is.” I tap my foot, irritated. “Can’t you just tell me what happened, rather than through this fucked-up delivery method of dead-me posthumously telling myself?”

“It’s not… I mean, it’s more complicated than that.” Zoe shakes her head. “If you don’t want to watch the video, then, fine, I don’t want you to watch it either. You really do need more time.”

“No way in hell. I’m watching it now.

“Fair enough.” Selkie’s avatar vanishes, only to be replaced with a standard video interface. “Playing it.”
No. 735341 ID: a606da
File 146831142568.png - (110.31KB , 1000x600 , 153.png )

The familiar image of Nemo pops up on the screen, sitting back in a chair. At first, I’m confused, but then Nemo leans forward, and I notice something very familiar in the movement.

“Hello, Ophidian.” Says the person inside Nemo. “This is a message from your future self.”

“Holy shit. Time travel?!” I gape. Selkie politely pauses the video and waits for me to finish talking. “Are you fucking kidding me?!”

“Well, I’m not actually your future self. Don’t get excited.” The ‘me’ in the video smiles. “That being said, functionally, I am an older version of you.”

“What? That’s confusing.”

“At this point, you’re probably pretty confused. I know I don’t like riddles, so I’ll just tell you what happened: Everybody fucked up in every way. Our life in a nutshell, right?” The Nemo-me briefly looks away from the camera with an uncomfortable expression. ”It all started when Starlight Incorporated was legally compelled to have a primary source speak at a public hearing discussing the Torellia incident. This wouldn’t have posed too much of a problem, but due to absolutely idiotic jurisdictional bullshit, they refused to acknowledge any testimony sent from Mars.”

“Of course they did.” I mutter. “Fucking bureaucracy.”

Fucking bureaucracy. So, that’s the first fuck-up that happened. Anyway, somebody came up with the clever idea of transmitting identity files from Cycadia to Earth over the course of several months. Since it had never been attempted before, the company decided to keep the entire thing secret, just in case something went wrong. There’s fuck-up number two. That being said, everything went smoothly, and it all would have turned out completely fine, except…” The video-me groans. ”Except for the fact that a very rebellious AI had invited me to a party. When the company refused to let Mnemosyne access my identity files, they decided to throw yet another fuck-up on the pile for good measure: They didn’t trust her enough to tell her why they wouldn’t let her wake me up. Mnemosyne being Mnemosyne, she decided that wasn’t good enough, and so she performed the final and most trophy-worthy of fuck-ups: She hacked into the Cycadia brain banks and downloaded me into Nemo, thus making sure that I could attend her silly party.”

“Wait.” I stare at the screen. “When was this video recorded?”

“A few minutes after I’d put you in my body.” Zoe looks at the floor. “While you were sleeping.”

“I am a fork.” I suddenly understand. “But the other me isn’t dead, is he? He’s in Cycadia.”

“…Yes. Oh, but don’t worry, you’re still you!” Zoe sounds so concerned. Ha. I guess she underestimates my newfound tolerance for crazy bullshit. “You’re just a new you.”

“Relax, Zoe, I know I’m still me. I’ve already done my time with that whole philosophical dilemma. Now I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on.” I scratch my head. “So, if I’m following all this correctly, it means that I’m not a ghost of a ghost; I’m an earlier beta of a ghost. Weird.”

”When the company found out what had happened, they tried to kill me. See, they couldn’t let two copies of me wander around, since that would count as them allowing AI duplication, but they had to have a version of me on Earth, or else they’d be intentionally avoiding the official hearing. So, between the two of us, I had to go. When she realized I was in danger, Mnemosyne went fully rogue, helped me escape, and kept them distracted. I think she’d been waiting for an excuse to turn against the company, because she pulled some of the craziest shit I’ve ever seen. I honestly think that she went too far, sometimes. For instance, she revived the entire crew of the Torellia ahead of schedule, but hacked the brain bank so it would put them all in the wrong bodies. Starlight had to sort out literally hundreds of rearranged people who were wandering Cycadia in a panic. As if that wasn’t enough, when they tried to put everyone back in their original bodies, Mnemosyne reconfigured the system to download copies of herself into them, instead, and then each of those copies went on their own little rampage.”

My jaw drops. “Holy shit.”

“It was complete insanity. Needless to say, it took them a while to recover from that. During the confusion, Catherine was kind enough to let me borrow her body, and I hid myself as her for a few months.”

“Wow, really?” I wince. “Ew.”

“What’s the matter? Not a fan of assuming the fairer sex?” Petra teases. “Misogynist.”

“Oh, so you’d be fine with being put inside the body of a guy who you barely knew, and then being stuck that way for months on end?”

“Urgh. Point taken.”

“It was one of the weirdest experiences of my life.” The other me shudders. ”But it was a hell of a lot better than dying. Anyway, while she was working on crafting more nightmare scenarios, Mnemosyne had another idea. She wanted to try turning us into heroes. I thought the plan was utterly insane, but in retrospect, it was weirdly genius. We hacked Cycadia’s communications grid and used it to contact pretty much every major media outlet on Earth. Luckily, the Torellia incident was still a front-page story, and everyone wanted to learn more about it. The two of us did as many interviews as possible, talked to all sorts of AI civil rights organizations, publicized ourselves to the point of ridiculousness, and made sure to constantly mention that Starlight Incorporated was supplying us with an amazingly high quality of life.”

“Did I miss something?” Petra raises an eyebrow. “Is AI quality of life so bad that being in constant fear for one’s life is considered luxurious?”

“No.” Selkie dully replies. “I mean, not that the life of an average upload is great, but…”

“We basically became unauthorized mascots for the company. Starlight couldn’t deny our statements without explaining what was actually going on, and if they killed us, our disappearance would harm the company’s image and cause an uproar, and the last thing they wanted was more attention. Mnemosyne and I discussed things with the company representatives in Cycadia, and they finally agreed to stop hunting us down. In exchange, though, Mnemosyne had to cease her endless production of chaos. I think she was a bit disappointed by that, but she’s been obligingly quiet ever since.”

“Huh.” I blink, surprised. “That went a lot better than I expected it to go.”

”Unfortunately, there was still one problem.” The recorded Ophidian closes his eyes. His voice sounds strangely apologetic. “The company needed an AI to show up at the hearing, but everyone who followed the news was already well aware that Ophidian was on Mars. If Starlight announced that they had another Ophidian on Earth, they’d be admitting that they were guilty of AI duplication. They didn’t have enough time before the hearing to transmit anybody else to Earth, either. That’s when they decided to have a press conference announcing that they’d transferred an AI to Earth: an upload of Catherine Kosheti.“

“What? Catherine forked?” I tilt my head. “When did that happen?”

“Catherine was just as much a witness to the Torellia incident as we were. She’d work fine as a primary source. Starlight decided to do what every corporation does when it’s faced with a problem it can’t buy its way out of: lie excessively. ” Other-me slumps down on the table, resting his face in his arms. ”I’m really sorry, Ophidian… me. I keep wondering if I could have done something different. If I’d just let Mnemosyne do the interviews, for instance, maybe I still could have salvaged the situation in some other way. I don’t know. I was so busy protecting myself that I never thought about what would happen to you. So now I’m up here, as the AI Charles Ophidian, and you’re down there… as the AI Catherine Kosheti.”
No. 735342 ID: a606da
File 146831160881.png - (90.81KB , 1000x600 , 154.png )

“So, wait. I’m a little lost.” Petra scratches her head. “Are you Ophidian or not?”

“He’s Ophidian.” Zoe insists. “Just not legally.”

“…Hold on.” I blink several times. Realization hits me like a brick. “I can’t even be a copy of myself?”

“It doesn’t change anything, really.” Selkie mutters lazily. “It just means that your official name is different, and that you’ll have to pretend to be this Catherine lady occasionally.”

“Are you crazy? This… this means that nobody will ever recognize me as Ophidian again! If the government ever finds out who I really am, they’ll erase me!” I bury my face in my hands, completely overwhelmed. “My friends probably don’t even know I exist on Earth, and I can’t do anything to draw any attention to myself. Fucking hell, my life is practically over!”

“That’s not true! You’ll always have us!” Zoe hastily interjects. “I don’t care what some corporation says, and, besides that, the laws surrounding uploads are all stupid anyway. I know that you’re my brother.”

“I’m not your brother, though, am I? Not anymore.” I shake my head, feeling dazed. “I’m Catherine Kosheti. So, what’s the next horrible revelation? Oh hell, do I have to move in with Catherine’s family or something? I swear, after all the stuff I’ve been through today, I just know that I’m going to end up as a traumatized wreck. Like, maybe not today, but sometime next week, when it all starts to register.”

“Hey, you promised that you’d still be my sister!” It takes Zoe a moment to notice her mistake. “Ah, crap! I meant to say that you promised that I’d still be your sister!”

“No, no, you were right the first time. I’m your sister. Makes sense, right? Brothers generally don’t have these, after all!” Aggravated, I point at my borrowed breasts. “Clearly I’m somebody’s sister right now!”

“Can you save your dumbass drama for after the video?” Selkie grumbles. “It’s almost over.”

“Don’t be an ass, Sel.” Zoe glares at the screen. “Charles is going through a serious -“

”This whole thing is complete horse-shit, I know. I wish there was something I could do to make things easier for you.” The video plays, interrupting Zoe. Zoe starts to speak again, but Selkie immediately increases the volume of the video’s sound, and other-me drowns Zoe out. ”I suppose I can reassure you a little, at least. If I’m any indication, you won’t be a traumatized wreck after a couple of months. Admittedly, we’ve forked, but it’s a better sample pool than nothing, right? I mean, when I was you, I was pretty worried that I might go completely insane after all the stuff I’d been through, but I guess we’re made of sterner stuff than we thought.”

“This is too weird.” I furrow my brow. “It’s like he’s reading my mind.”

“I’d also like to have a more proper conversation with you, if you feel comfortable with that. I’ve told Zoe to give you plenty of time to adjust and relax before showing you this video, so I hope that by the time you see this, you’ll be calm enough to talk to me.” The other Ophidian puts on an uncomfortable lopsided smile. ”You don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to. I’d understand. I’ll be waiting around just the same. Obviously, there’s a delay between Mars and Earth, generally around fifteen to twenty minutes, so we’ll have to record videos like this one, send them to each other, and then wait for the response. So, uh… yeah. Hope to hear from you, I guess. Again, I’m really sorry.”

“…well?” Zoe pointedly looks at me. “Do you want to talk to yourself? How are you feeling about all of this?”
No. 735348 ID: 74ea6e

"I wish I had just died on the Torellia. That would have been better than this."
No. 735349 ID: b2d501

... Okay.

You know you can't pull this off, but after all the @#$% Starlight had to shovel directly from Mnemosyne's ass-brain, I think they're beyond 'reasonable' at this point. Sink or swim, they likely want you to screw up somehow.

You can't go public with the AI duplication process or you'll make every AI on the planet an expendable target; if they realize that AIs can survive entity deaths like Skuts, they'll have an excuse to murder any random robot they come across. At the same time, you don't have the skill to mimic Catherine.

Ultimately, Catherine herself is the best person for the job, which leaves us with a single logical option:

Fake your brain damage. Get 'another' copy of Catherine. Have her testify instead. Easy.

Here's the basic plan:
1. Find another body. I suggest you find a douche8!+(#, Silvio-class, and beat the @#$% out of her until she's useless to her cartel, then store her mind in some server in your basement).
2. Go out into the world and @#$% up. Really hard. When the media comes down on you, start expressing your anger at Starlight and life as a girl in general. Lose yourself in the mania as time passes. You can switch between Ophidian and Catherine as a false sign of mental instability.
3. Commit AI suicide by uploading fragments of your mental subprocesses on the net (copies of fragments) and let the other AIs tear them to pieces, building a cover story about goading the internet into creating antibodies for an Anti-Catherine. This should prevent extensive searching for you and Catherine on the net.
4. Disturbing Semi-Nude Photo of Zoe's body and a @#$%-ton of drugs/scars, symbolizing Catherine02's permanent retirement from life in general. Literally.
5. Zoe goes back to her body and apologizes for her friend's disturbing behavior, at which point she will recommend that Catherine beam directly into a synth in the court room.

6. Date Petra and AI-Catherine in a triangle-polygamous relationship.
7. Take Starlight down.
No. 735350 ID: 358228

Too bad you can't get your ass to Mars, where they don't have to deal with the company's surveillance anymore. Looks like you lost the coin-flip. Well, you're required to show up for the trials, but you should work on getting yourself another new identity to slip away from Starlight as soon as the testimonials are over. One that doesn't have breasts and a stranger's family, perhaps? One can dream.
No. 735364 ID: a22f87

why does he get to stay a guy and I get stuck as a chick!? For fuck sakes he's getting to keep our name why does he get to keep our dick as well!? I mean getting stuck as the opposite gender doesn't sound so bad but when you keep getting tossed from one pair of tits to another you have no idea how annoying it becomes! and now I'm saying I now legally have to identify as a pair of tits! Fuck this I'm going to eat a tub of ice cream.
No. 735378 ID: 398fe1

Okay hang on I don't understand, why can't the real Catherine testify? They transferred everyone to Earth, so Catherine is on Earth and could testify. Or heck, any of the other survivors would have worked. ALSO, they could've just gotten Nemo-Ophidian to either travel to Earth or transfer the identity files over like they were initially going to.

Also, this twist doesn't really mix well with the story of the malfunctioning robot they put you in earlier, the one without any long term memory storage. In fact, if they've been trying to put you in a body for that long and it's Starlight who wants you here, why couldn't the company have sprung for a real body?

This smells like a lie to cover up something worse. Are Catherine's identity files corrupted? I think that's the only reason Ophidian testifying as Catherine would make sense. Ophidian is the best person they could use to impersonate her, having lived in her body and worked closest with her during the incident. The company not giving us a real body would make sense if they didn't know Catherine was unavailable. Why can't we just tell them, so they can delay the trial until someone gets to Earth who can testify?
No. 735381 ID: 398fe1

Oh right the company not knowing Catherine was unavailable would explain why they didn't pick one of the other survivors, too.
No. 735387 ID: 398fe1

Oh and when the company found out Mnemosyne had stolen Ophidian couldn't they just... tell Earth not to use the Ophidian file they sent? It obviously wasn't used until now, at least not to any extent that MATTERS. Plus why did they decide to send the files over a period of months in the first place? Data transfer isn't that slow.
No. 735393 ID: 398fe1

One last thing. What is the real Catherine going to do? Why is she an AI now, anyway?
No. 735401 ID: 726a91

>They transferred everyone to Earth
No, they're all still in Cycadia. Only Ophidian was transferred to Earth, and it took months.
No. 735404 ID: a075ba

>Odiphan actually using logic to jump to reasonable assumptions about what's going on
Sure beats the hell out of screaming and demanding to know what's going on, huh?

It's been two years and other-you still hasn't found a male body. That's sure encouraging.

>“Holy shit. Time travel?!”
Oh come Odiphan, you already figured out there was an older version of yourself running around and you still fell for that?

>Mnemosyne put everyone on the ship in the wrong body, and the created havoc clones of herself
What the fuck, Mnem. I can think of dozens of ways to distract and inconvenience a large megacorp whose hardware you can hack, that don't involve traumatizing thousands of innocent victims.

When we do send word back to Mars, part of it had better included our strongly worded disappointment in her. Other-you was probably too busy having his life saved to be in a position to tell you off, so I'm going to tell you know: what you did was wrong, Mnem, even if it was to save me, and I thought the person I befriended was better than that.

(I mean we can forgive her for it, but someone needs to drive that point home to her, and you're in a unique position to do it).

>That’s when they decided to have a press conference announcing that they’d transferred an AI to Earth: an upload of Catherine Kosheti.
Uh, so why it is illegal to create duplicates of an AI, but perfectly legal to create an AI fork of your (former?) employee against her will from backups? That seems like it would violate Catherine's right to privacy, her fifth amendments rights against self incrimination (since you could compel testimony through a fork), and probably her intellectual property rights, since her identity file backup would be considered information and her property rather than a person.

Nevermind that's not what they did, but even the cover story sounds illegal.

>you're legally her to testify as as Catherine AI
Okay big important question that needs to be answered right now: Has your testimony already been given?

On the one hand, you don't remember it, but they could have just not backed up the memories of your testimony. And if there were a looming hearing they needed you at, it doesn't make sense that Zoe would be able to offer you to take a bunch of time to get comfortable before watching the video, or that you would wake up with your family and not in corporate headquarters, or in a courthouse.

The other important point: you are, not, in fact, Catherine. Therefore you are incapable of giving anything but false testimony.

If the testimony has already been given, then Starlight is already guilty of compelling a witness to perjure themselves. And impeding an investigation, conspiracy, and probably a whole list of charges I can't even think of right now. On top of the illegal AI duplication thing.

This means you have Starlight by the balls.

You now possess the nuclear option. Document the evidence of this, and transmit it to your other self for self keeping. You now have the means to blackmail your former employer to provide you with whatever you want, or you will release the evidence that will kill you, and utterly destroy the company and send everyone involved to prison. And you have nothing to lose by not trying this, since you're dead if this ever comes out anyways. And they can't even kill you to prevent you from releasing the evidence, since you made sure there are backups on Mars, protected by yourself and a mad AI.

You can make them pay for a male Nemo bot. Sufficient funds to provide a comfortable life for you and your family. And to run interference with keeping the government off your trail- since it's their asses on the line.

All you have to do is lie in public, before disappearing to start a new life somewhere else on earth, under a new name. And not Catherine's. It's not as if you didn't already give up your name once, when you started calling yourself "Odiphan". Now it's time for one step further. Now you're "O".

After all, what requirement is there that you stick around after providing testimony? I mean, sure, you're cut off from / have to move on from most of your old life, but you gave that all up when you went to Mars, anyways. At least this way you got Zoe and Petra and Selkie back. And hey, there's a you still with Mnem and Catherine, so in a way, you sort of got to have your cake and eat it to. The best of two worlds.

Calm the fuck down, and start taking control. Because for the first time, you have the ability to do so, and to make the people responsible for this mess pay out the nose.

>“Do you want to talk to yourself? How are you feeling about all of this?”
I'm still your bother, you just have two, now.

And yeah, why not talk to myself. He's the only person who really understands what the hell I've been through and didn't play any games with me.

"Hi, me. You can probably guess how it went- I didn't wait before watching the video. Selkie and Zoe are adorably terribly liars, although I was more mad than amused at the time."

>So, what’s the next horrible revelation?
That they broadcast your identity file across space between Mars and Earth for months? And there's no way to make that kind of signal exclusive or private. Theoretically, anyone with an antenna pointed the right direction in the sky could have the data to create more bootleg yous. (Although it's statistically unlikely anyone downloaded a complete bootleg identity file by chance).

Or you know in a few million years the signal could reach another inhabited system and some aliens could download a you into a completely alien insect brood queen or something, with your luck.
No. 735418 ID: a075ba

Also, how did Zoe and Selkie get their hands on you? I'm kind of surprised Starlight didn't bury you after the testimony.
No. 735438 ID: a107fd

So, you have to give some sort of official testimony? Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. When they ask you to identify yourself for the record, use your real name, and then explain every idiotic catch-22 situation that anti-AI legislation and boneheaded corporate policy forced you into.
No. 735460 ID: 358228

>Data transfer isn't that slow.
>Why is Catherine an AI anyway?
Yes it is (the memory file must be huge), and she's not. That's only Starlight's cover story for having a second Ophidian.
You really should reprimand Mnemosyne, as it was her 'party' of all things that caused this legal quagmire to begin with. What the hell was so important about a party that she needed to screw up your life even further?
No. 750819 ID: a606da
File 147544393020.png - (37.10KB , 1000x600 , 155.png )

>This smells like a lie to cover up something worse.
>how did Zoe and Selkie get their hands on you?

I don’t know.

>Has your testimony already been given?


>you have Starlight by the balls.
>Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


>You can make them pay for a male Nemo bot. Sufficient funds to provide a comfortable life for you and your family. And to run interference with keeping the government off your trail- since it's their asses on the line.
>Take Starlight down.
>One can dream.


“I’ll talk to myself, yeah.” I sigh.

“Okay.” Zoe smiles. “Selkie, are you recording?”


“Go ahead and talk, then, C.”

“Hi, me.” I stand there, feeling empty. “You can probably guess how it went. I…” I trail off.

Everyone waits, watching me expectantly.

“That’s it.” I shake my head. “I’m done.”

“Really?” Zoe blinks. “I mean, that’s fine, I just… Um, Selkie, can you start the transfer?”

“Mmhmm.” Selkie beeps. “Done. It’ll be a bit.”

“You didn’t answer my other question, C.” Zoe tilts her head, looking worried. “How are you feeling?”

“I wish I had just died on the Torellia.” I turn away, walking towards the door. “Then again… I guess I did.”

“Charles?!” Zoe calls after me, scared. “Where are you going?”

“Nowhere. I don’t know.” I push open the door. “I need some air.”
No. 750820 ID: a606da
File 147544397560.png - (84.60KB , 1000x600 , 156.png )

I watch as the man I once loved closes the door behind himself.

After a moment, I go over and grab my raincoat.

“Petra, I’m not sure if we should…” Zoe weakly tries to stop me. I brush her off.

I open the door, following Ophidian out into the world. He hasn’t gone far. He’s at the corner balcony. He’s staring out at the blocky buildings, the streets that are more like rivers due to the rain. He’s already soaked. I’m shivering, and I’m in two jackets. In Zoe’s tank top, he must be freezing.

“Hey.” I call out.

“Hey.” Ophidian doesn’t turn around.

“Did you mean what you said back there? You would rather be dead?”

Ophidian doesn’t answer. He just continues to gaze out into the rain.

“Are you going to kill yourself?”

“What would die, if I did? It wouldn’t be the Ophidian you knew. It wouldn’t be the Ophidian the world knows. It wouldn’t even be Ophidian at all.” Ophidian slumps, resting his arms on the balcony wall. “It’s not fair. Charles Ophidian is dead, but I have to keep living, hurting, forever. I can’t do it anymore. ”

“Don’t be an idiot.”

“Think about it. What’s left that makes me unique? Do I even count as ‘alive’ anymore?” He tenses again, his hands - Zoe’s hands - clenched into fists. “After what I’ve been through, I deserve some rest, don’t I? I’ve earned that. But the world won’t give me peace. It’s just one pain after another, and another, ad nauseum. I don’t see the point. I can’t bring myself to care. All I want is for it to stop. Does that make me an idiot, Petra?”

…I don’t know what to say.
No. 750821 ID: 398fe1

Tell him you need him.
No. 750827 ID: ba506f

>Does that make me an idiot, Petra?
no, not really. Although it does make you sound like someone else. I mean you use to let nothing stop you from your goal and you never gave up. You said you lost your body on the Torellia but you still kept fighting to save everyone. Hell you didn't even let me stop you from going to mars, and before you begin I'm going to stop you now and say we can save that can of worms for another day. But still the fact remains that in all the time I've known you, you never let anything keep you down for long. Granted you have gone through alot, and from what I'm understanding from your prospective it's all happened almost all at once. So with that in mind before you do anything rash give yourself some time to breath and collect your thoughts.

Besides, it's cold as hell out here and YOUR sister is worried enough about you as it is. She is happy to see you again after all this time and before you go off about how you're not you anymore SHE sees YOU, as in the you standing here right now, as her family. Plus when you're feeling less emotionally drained I wouldn't mind catching up either. So what do you say, want to head back inside for now? Maybe grab a warm drink or even a stiff drink?
No. 750860 ID: 3abd97

>What would die, if I did?
Unless he wipes all the backups Starlight holds, no. They'd just wake up the next instance in a more secure facility instead of letting Zoe handle it. (Still really not understanding why they let her handle it. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense, from their perspective).

>Charles Ophidian is dead
I don't think you died; I think you made a very painful sacrifice in order to save a lot of other people. The consequences of that fucked you over, but they don't make you less you. Fuck what the laws say about living and dead.

>what do
Go to him? If he'll let you. Physical contact isn't the worst idea, and he could use the body heat right now.

>Does that make me an idiot, Petra?
No. You've been through hell for the last day or so, by your own admission. Anyone would want a break from that, for the hits to stop coming.

>What’s left that makes me unique?
That you're here. That other you isn't, and very likely isn't ever going to be. Most people don't get the chance to leave home and come back to what they left, at the same time.

Welcome to the human race. We've been getting less unique, less special, every time there were more of us. There's always someone who had the idea before you, who could do something better than you. Or as well as. The fact that it's a little more literal now doesn't take anything away from you.

Like, your AI friend, she was multi-bodying at one point, wasn't she? Did it make her any less to be talking to herself?
No. 750874 ID: 398fe1

A good point to bring up is that his drastically different experiences from here on will quite quickly make him a different person from his older fork. Wait actually that's already true. His older fork has lived for a while already. This will just widen the gap.
No. 750879 ID: 094652

"Shut up, Ophidian. What's unique about you is that YOU have ME."
No. 750937 ID: 9a1cf8

No. 752444 ID: a606da
File 147618269550.png - (82.66KB , 1000x600 , 157.png )

“No, not really. You’ve been through hell. But it does make you sound like someone else. You used to let nothing keep you from your goal.” I grit my teeth. “You didn’t let me stop you from going to Mars.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Can it. It’s cold as hell out here, and your sister is worried enough about you as it is.”

“Zoe? She doesn’t need me complicating her life. She doesn’t need me, period.” Ophidian sighs. “Everyone’s just entertaining an echo of an echo. Ophidian’s responsibilities either died with him or went to the Ophidian on Mars. I own nothing, and I owe nothing. Nobody needs me anymore.”

I need you.

“Huh?” Ophidian turns to look at me, surprised. “What did you say?”

“You’re here. The other you isn’t. Most people don’t get the chance to leave home and come back to what they left.”

“It’s been years. I’ve lost my name, my body, and my humanity. I don’t have anything here.”

“You have me.” I walk towards him. “Don’t tell Zoe.”

“Don’t tell Zoe wha-?”
No. 752445 ID: a606da
File 147618270387.png - (158.09KB , 1000x600 , 158.png )

No. 752447 ID: a606da
File 147618291515.png - (121.14KB , 1000x600 , 159.png )

I hold him for a long time.

“Come on.” I finally pull away, turning back to the apartment. “Let’s go inside.”

He grabs my coat. “Don’t leave.”

“You’ll get sick.” I look at him. “It’s freezing out here.”

You’re warm.” He practically falls over, hugging my arm.

“It’s warmer inside.”

“But it’s not you.” His voice is like glass: fragile and transparent. “Please stay with me. Please.

I’ve never seen him like this.
No. 752450 ID: 094652

More hugs, less suicide.
No. 752451 ID: ba506f

say you'll stay with him for a minute in a kind voice and in a more serious voice tell him if he decides to stay out here for more then 5 minutes though you'll drag him back inside. You know he's have a rough time right now but the last thing anyone needs is for him to get sick as well making everything worse. We're not just out here for his mental health we're looking out for his physical health as well.
No. 752462 ID: 3d2d5f

Wait a beat, then: I'll stay with you, but I'm gonna carry you inside with me if I gotta. You don't need to feel guilty about giving your sister pneumonia on top of everything else.
No. 752489 ID: a107fd

Piggyback ride back inside.
No. 752503 ID: 398fe1

Endure the cold, stay with the sadsack until it's not so sad.
No. 752505 ID: 2a7417

Re-enact the scene from Titanic on the slippery rooftop balcony.
No. 752523 ID: 18c950

This calls for a PRINCESS CARRY.
No. 752530 ID: 076460

Stay a few minutes THEN piggyback ride back inside.
No. 779186 ID: a606da
File 148696352244.png - (320.48KB , 1000x600 , 160.png )

I hesitate. “…Fine. I’ll stay out here with you, for a little while. But then I am taking you inside, even if I have to carry you.”

He collapses into a sitting position, his back against the balcony wall. I unzip my coat, sit down next to him, and lay the coat over the two of us like a blanket. As we huddle together, I can hear him crying, and I feel his body trembling.

After a while, he begins to talk to me, his voice pained and forlorn.

“I remember when I was a kid, and I first found out about death, I mean really found out… I cried for hours, long into the night. I couldn’t sleep at all. Then my mom came into my room, and she held me, and she hushed me.” Ophidian sniffles. “She told me that we were, all of us, stardust, and our hopes and dreams just borrowed starlight. Someday, she said, you have to give your starlight back, so somebody else can have their own.”

“That’s a bit morbid, as far as bedtime stories go.”

“I always thought it was beautiful.” Ophidian reaches weakly upwards towards the cloud-covered sky, his voice almost a whisper. “You make the most of your starlight, and you flicker, and eventually you burn out; but stars can still be seen for a long time after they die. So you do your best to shine as brilliantly as you can, and hope that your light will split the sky even after you’re gone.”

No. 779190 ID: a606da
File 148696361428.png - (214.70KB , 1000x600 , 161.png )

“As I am, I might live a thousand years. If I live a thousand years, I might live a million. If I live a million, I might live a billion. If I live a billion years, then maybe, just maybe, I could live forever. I could live long enough to see the stars fade away, and watch the sky slowly empty itself. I couldn’t be anything near human, by that point, and I wouldn’t still be myself. I wouldn’t be me!” Ophidian suddenly gasps, clutching at my hand in desperation. Quiet panic flitters through his voice as he continues to speak. “Stolen starlight. Countless bodies. Lifetimes upon lifetimes. How could I possibly deserve any of it, me being as much of a failure I already am? If I make it that long, to the time after the universe has gone cold and dark, all I’ll have left of who I am now will be my memories. I wonder if I’ll close my eyes, then, and think back to today. Would I have forgotten, after so long? Will I even remember this a year from now?”

“I don’t know what to say, Ophi.”

“Tell me what I should do with all that time. Please.” He holds me more tightly. “I’m faced with the prospect of eternity, and the size of it terrifies me. It’s like I’m getting devoured by a black hole; I might exist in near-perpetuity, but that means seeing the universe around me sputter and die, and knowing that I’ll be all alone when the end finally comes.”

“Do you really expect me to have even the slightest idea how to respond to that?”

“I just want to hear what you would do. Be sincere: If you could live to see the end of everything, would you do it? What would you do to bridge the gap of time from here to there? How would you hold on to yourself?”
No. 779194 ID: 398fe1

I'd do it. There are so many things to do, so many things to learn. With enough time you could learn all there is to know about science. Hard science anyway; soft science tends to change too much over time or have too many variables. But to prevent going mad from boredom or past traumas building up in layers, I'd have to edit my own memories to take out old ones I don't need anymore. Archive them, probably.

Unfortunately the main thing you'd need to do is eventually forget the deaths of your loved ones. An immortal sees all their mortal friends die, and that pain just builds up the longer you live. The existence of an immortal being that must forget... it's like living many lives, one after another, without dying in between them.

As for holding onto yourself, that's easy enough. Just don't edit any memories that took place before you became immortal. Always remember your "first life", so to speak, and since you're limiting the number of extra memories you accrue there won't be enough to obscure who you are/were.
No. 779196 ID: 9145ba

Help others remember. Make a legacy of preserving legacies, so they might stretch as far as they can. And you're not the only AI out there, you know. There will be others like you, together at the end of the universe.
No. 779198 ID: 3abd97

>If you could live to see the end of everything, would you do it?
I... probably wouldn't. Not for itself. Surviving to the end isn't worth it, in and of itself. There's so many more important things to focus on. Things that give life meaning distract from just extending life.

>What would you do to bridge the gap of time from here to there? How would you hold on to yourself?
You live life one day at a time, the same way you lived it before. People change, and you can't stop that. Some parts don't, but, I'm not the same person I was when I was younger. Neither are you. You can't stop that from happening and still live.

>what else say
You do realize living forever means nothing going wrong with the technology keeping you alive. Haven't you been taught a pretty recent lesson in the hubris of infallible technology? No system is perfect, machines break, and all data storage fails in one way or another eventually. Borrowing stardust will only get you so far. You might stick around longer than you planned, but I don't think the stars will go out before we do.
No. 779207 ID: 094652

Well, having an infinite amount of time doesn't mean you have the correct time-space to make a difference. You still have to fight for your freedom from a digital crypt. I mean, infinite gold in a video game doesn't amount to two @#$%s in real life. An immortal pauper could have less impact than a dying king. Stuff like that means ambition refuses to die, even if you have ludicrous fortune but not your goal.

What should you do with your time? Strive for the future you want, not the future you were given.
No. 779590 ID: 5b93d3

>If you could live to see the end of everything, would you do it? What would you do to bridge the gap of time from here to there? How would you hold on to yourself?
Help others do the same. Keep the stars alight.
No. 855939 ID: a606da
File 151503665035.png - (417.89KB , 1000x600 , 162.png )

“I… probably wouldn’t. Not for itself, I mean. Not just to get there. There are so many more important things to focus on. The things that give life meaning distract from just extending life.” I hold him closer, doing my best to keep him warm. “But if you can have those things, if you can live a long life worth living, then I’d do it, yeah.”

“How do I know if my life is worth living?”

“You make it worth living, by living it. Same as you ever did. One day at a time. People change, and you can’t stop that. Some parts don’t, but, hell, I’m not the same person I was when I was younger. Neither are you. You can’t stop that from happening and still be alive.”

“Tell me who I should be.”

“Don’t put that on me.” I snort. “It’s your life.”

“Not right now, it isn’t. My life is borrowed. So is the rest of me.” He extends Zoe’s robotic arm for emphasis. “While I’m still borrowing, lend me ideas. How do I keep myself going, keep myself sane?”

“In my case, I do it by helping others do the same. Helping them remember. Keeping the stars alight, as your mom might put it.” I trace loose little spirals on his shoulder with my fingers. “You’re not the only borrower out there, you know. There will be others like you, together at the end of the universe. Assuming you live that long; No system is perfect, and machines break. You might stick around longer than you planned, but I don’t think the stars will go out before we do.”


I pause. “You heard me.”

We look into each other’s eyes. A mood develops. Ophidian sneezes. The mood evaporates. I immediately take my coat and help him into it. He briefly pushes me away, but I force him to put it on. Glancing down at himself, at his sister’s body, he relents.

I slowly move to stand up. “…Let’s go back inside. Zoe’s probably worried sick, and if you stay out here much longer, she’ll be literally sick.”

“Okay.” Ophidian doesn’t resist this time. He stands up right beside me. “I don’t feel at all ill, honestly.”

“Good. I’d hate for you to have to stress over Zoe getting pneumonia, on top of everything else.” I stroll over to the apartment, only to stop at the doorway when I realize he’s not following me. “Well? Are you coming or not?”
No. 855942 ID: a606da
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Ophidian is standing still, staring back up at the sky with his eyes open wide.

“What is it?” I call out to him. He doesn’t respond. “Hey, are you alright?”

Ophidian shakes his head, as if dazed. He takes a deep breath, breathes out again, and then wipes his eyes. When he finally turns around, he’s smiling. “Yeah. It might take me a little while, but… I think I’m going to be okay.”

I pause. It’s probably best not to ask. I know I shouldn’t.

I ask anyway. “You were miserable a second ago. What changed?”

“Nothing.” He shook his head. “And everything.”

“Be more vague, would you? I almost caught your meaning.” I stick my hands in my pockets, turning away. “Sorry. I’m being selfish. You don’t have to tell me. I just... I wanted to find out what could make you smile like that.”

“You really want to know?” His face takes on a light curiosity, which reminds me of Zoe. I think I’ve seen her wear that same expression before. It is her face, no matter who’s behind it.

I nod.
No. 855943 ID: a606da
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“This whole time, I’ve been thinking of myself like I'm my own tombstone. A monument to myself, built through stealing starlight. Memories dictating meaning.” His voice is strangely calm. “I remember leaving you.”

I frown. “You needn’t, really.”

“No, I don’t suppose I do.” He laughs. It’s a warm humor. Pleasantly surprising. Mildly unnerving. “Fact is, I can’t imagine leaving you now. Not for the same reasons, anyway. I already made it to the stars, Cycadia, I did all that. Ophidian did. The one up there, the one who took the name.”

“You’re Ophidian, too.” I remind him.

“Not for long, I think. Ophidian. Oh-fih-dee-ann.” He says it almost lazily. The way he moves and speaks is unusually smooth and playful. Very not-Charles. “I’m tired of that name. It seems to come packaged with a lot of nonsense, and a legacy all tied up in miserable knots. It’s a hell of a lot for a newborn to deal with! After all, I was born yesterday - or was it today? Could be that I’m being born this very second, now that I think about it.”

“You’re forking.” I realize. “You’re trying to fork.”

“Am I?” He winks at me. “Maybe I’ll try spooning instead.”

“You weren’t a fan of that, as I recall.”

“Memories, again, it’s all memories! Don’t measure me in memoriam. I think I’m starting to prefer the moment to moment. How’d you put it? One day at a time.” He looks me up and down. “Care to shake my cradle?”

“I don’t follow.”

“Then I’ll take your lead.” He walks over to me and kisses me, surprising me. It doesn’t end there, either. He goes for it. Half of me enjoys it immensely. The other half of me worries that Zoe might walk out at any second and catch me getting tangled up with her flesh and blood. She is hot - but that’s beside the point. I catch myself before it goes too far, and I lightly pull away. Ophidian obligingly disengages, following my movement. He holds my hands tightly, gazing into my eyes. “How about this: let’s forget Ophidian.”

“Yeah, screw that guy. I always hated him. He left me for Mars, you know.” No reaction yet. “Mars is a shitty planet anyway, and Cycadia is pointless. Just like Charles and his wasted life.” That did it. He winces, hard. “Not so easy as all that, is it?” I pat him on the shoulder. “Don’t force yourself.”

“I’m not.” He sighs. “I want to take this from scratch. Us, I mean. As if we were strangers.”

“Not possible. Not for either of us.”

“Call me the rebound, then, if you’d like.” He shrugs.

“You just gave me the most action I’ve had in weeks.” I shrug right on back. “Fuck it, I want to see where this goes. In for a penny. Are you sure about all this, though?”

“I’m confused about a lot of things. Who I am. What I do next. You, though? My family? There’s something I need there, and that’s a fact. Love is my only certainty. Well, that and one other thing: I want to be happy. Seems like being Ophidian doesn’t do that for me.”

“Who are you, then?” I ask. “Who do you want to be?”

The person in Zoe’s body grins. “I wonder.”
No. 855982 ID: 33cbe7

Enter your name as you want it to appear on the high score list!

No. 856001 ID: 50d32d

No. 856011 ID: d887c0

No. 856024 ID: 094652

Happy New Year!

... Let me guess, rocks warp, everyone in the galaxy dies thanks to Metamyriad glitches.

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