Jul 16, 2019 4:39 AM
Tarinda and Page bring a seed of the super-AI Sing to Cloudbank
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Cloudbank is a beautiful place, from a certain perspective. Blue sky and white clouds above, all around, and misty white clouds below.

Here is an island of solidity in the sea of sky. The wind is a steady breeze, the floating island sitting just barely on top of a dense, foggy layer of air. It's not an especially large island, perhaps two hundred feet wide and three hundred long all told, curved slightly like the back of some giant beast.

The sandy soil is thin, and wears straight through to a porous-looking sort of rock in places. There are grasses and weeds and shrubs and a few trees, plus a few small creatures. Some familiar, like the wild onions. Some alien, like the thickets of not-quite-grass with flimsy, transparent, bulging seeds straining upwards against their mooring.

A songbird casually swoops from its nest and catches one of these seeds in its bill, while something with tentacles and a large gas-bag clings to the island at the edge, nibbling on the alien leaves of something reminiscent of mangroves, a three-dimensional web of stems and flaxen roots.

And then someone else arrives.

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Page can figure out its actual power specs from the socket.

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Mr. Griffings had it right, actually. What a power-hungry beast this is... Though it has a low-power mode and can run on much less, just probably a lot slower.

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"So it can actually suck up all the juice your specs called for, or it can run probably pretty slow on less than that. And once we have it working I can see about having it spit out stuff I'd need to build some better power generation options and even better swag."

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"That sounds like an extremely worthwhile project. Tell me what you need and I will get it."

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"Now we're talking. Do you want to write this down -"

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He takes out a notebook, gaze sharp. Eager.

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She lists, carefully, precisely, gaze a little spacey as she reads off Page's results. "- and I'm willing to contribute my sword to the project if I get a free hand with some of the fabber's time after it's running at full speed."

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"Of course. For continued assistance- We'll work out the details later. That may be necessary, I'll know tomorrow. I was thinking - can a fabricator make another fabricator?"

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"I don't know if it can do that by default, but I can make something that can without having to exactly duplicate this one's parts."

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"I want to try that. Tools making tools making tools. Redundancy. If you can make it work... Well, one step at a time. Before I go start acquiring things, may I ask what you want to make with it?"

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"You have probably guessed that I'm from very far away. We have - we have everything. And I don't know how to make everything, but I know how to build something that does."

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He nods, looking thoughtful. "Yes, you're from very far away. You have a superhuman body and see things nobody else does. And you told me as much, that you're from 'Mars'. I thought it was some sort of trick at first... Cloudbank could really use some 'everything'."

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"I'd like nothing more than to supply it."

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Sharp nod. "I've wasted a week on suspicion and paranoia already. I want to show you the other pieces I have - maybe they can save a few days - and then go shopping."

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"Sounds great."

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His 'other pieces' turn out to be a microwave oven and two cracked tablet computers.

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"This is approximately scrap," she says, tapping the microwave. "Those two might be usable but I'd have to open them up be sure."

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"Feel free to. It's not like I'm using them, and the fabricator is the real prize. Shall I leave you to work now?"

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"I'll need tools. A small screwdriver, to check the tablets."

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There's a toolbox in the corner of the room. It does not have a sufficiently small screwdriver. Mr. Griffings writes out a short note and tells her to take it to his instrument-maker, they are supposed to give or make her a tiny screwdriver as soon as possible. He also gives her a key to the house, looking slightly pained at the show of trust.

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"I promise not to sneak into your bedroom or anything."

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"I'm sure I'm not perfect at suppressing my flinch reactions in the face of logic and sense. Deliveries will start as soon as I can arrange them."

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"Thank you."

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Out he goes.

 

The instrument makers have a wide variety of tiny screwdrivers and seem confused as to why she needs one so urgently, but sure, she has Mr. Griffing's seal and everything, here you go take your pick.

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She selects the correct tininess of screwdriver. She opens up the tablets to see how they're doing - just need juice, or a more complicated salvage, or are they scrap too?

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