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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.
575 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
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
File 151503681789.png - (262.34KB , 1000x600 , 163.png )

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
File 151503692613.png - (493.26KB , 1000x600 , 164.png )

“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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