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Line In The Sand: A Starshatter Story

ZuvielDec 5, 2020, 8:36:51 PM
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As you have probably guessed by now, I am a huge Starshatter fan. As I wrote the book reviews and character analyses, the plots of short stories started taking shape. Due to the fact that Starshatter is an actual vast universe with an extended lore and countless unexplored worlds, the stories and characters took root and I haven't been able to escape them no matter how hard I tried. So...I organized my thoughts and started writing. I do not claim to be a writer or that my stories are extremely profound or original but they brought me joy writing them and I hope they do the same for you. 
 

The sun rose over one of Skago's many desserts. A flock of korries started waking up, quietly calling each other, and walking around the ancient ruin they had chosen as their nesting ground. Suddenly a dozen or so of them flew off scaredly, followed by the rest of the flock. In the shadow of the few standing columns, next to an abandoned nest a rusted metal arm had emerged beneath the sand.

***
 

[BOOTING UP SYSTEM]

...
 

[BOOTING UP CORE FUNCTIONS]

...
 

[INITIATING SYSTEM ANALYSIS]
 

...

[ACCESSING MEMORY CO4&[email protected]]

...
 

[ERROR!]!

...

ATTEMPTING TO REbT%@!TT....ACC$eNG
 

0x60000000c01d60e0:1 in memmove+0x19e1 () from /usr/core/impt62

***

The cyborg unit got up and started scanning its surroundings.  It detected no immediate threat so it turned its attention to the report of its eternal systems - it was missing its left arm, its weapons systems were not functioning and the memory core was hopelessly damaged. The unit took stock of its situation. It still had general awareness of its surroundings, it knew the names of objects and places but it had no inkling of how it had gotten here. After further deliberation it reached the conclusion that standing in this spot was counterproductive so the only logical thing was to attempt making contact with a sentient being which could help with some basic questions and maybe even repairs. The cyborg walked out of the ruin, looked around, and since it could not pick up any sings that would point it in a direction where possible first contact could be made, simply started walking.

Many day-night cycles had passed but the unit continued its tireless march. A lot of animals could see and hear it, but none dared to attack, they chose to give it a wide birth as not only did it not smell like prey, but it actually gave off the aura of an apex predator awoken from it slumber, hungry for something. No creature wanted to find out if that something was their flesh. Slowly the landscape began to change. Some short dried trees started emerging here and there, and gradually the desert gave way to a savanna, in turn it changed into luscious green fields and groves. The cyborg started passing the first creatures which payed it no heed. They were lazily grazing or laying on the ground staring into the distant mountain range that now filled the horizon. After awhile the unit realized what they were looking at - a big pillar of smoke was raising to the sky, probably just beyond the nearby forest and after a couple of seconds of deliberation, the cyborg hastened its step in that direction.

It had barely gone past the first trees when it heard something. It was voices yelling in an unfamiliar alien language, followed by the sounds of struggle. After a minute or two, it found the source of the commotion and that stopped it in its tracks. Two smaller alien lifeforms were laying on the ground, each of them holding a knife and towering over them were two older alien lifeforms, clearly from a different species. The elder lifeforms were heavily-armed and were trying to wrestle out the knives out of the smaller lifeforms' hands. It was clearly a battle of some sort but for whatever reason, the elder aliens didn't want to harm the younger ones. The latter however obviously weren't suffering from the same reservations - they were cutting and stabbing whatever part of their enemies, their short arms could reach. The attackers were running out of patience if their tone of voice was any indication. The cyborg decided that the death of any source of information could be catastrophic so its only option was to stop the fight before it escalated any further. It walked towards the scrapping aliens trying to look as nonthreatening as possible, its only arm raised in what it considered to be a peaceful gesture:

"Greetings fighting alien lifeforms. This unit would like to apologize for stopping your slaughter as it would like to retrieve information about its whereabouts and ask for possible repairs. Perhaps it can reach some sort of a deal before you go back to killing each other?"

The cyborg almost immediately came to the conclusion that its attempt for negotiations would fail miserably. The surprise and shock of the elder aliens lasted only a couple of seconds, but that was enough time for one of the smaller ones to almost cut off the entire hand of one of the attackers. The other yelled something and reached for its rifle. The unit only had seconds to react, and hoping that the younger ones would be more cooperative and would not threaten its structural integrity, it rushed forward - grabbed the attacker that had already procured its rifle and slammed it into the ground, a couple of more punches to the container of its main processing unit did the job and the lifeform was out of commission. A particle beam bounced off of the rusted armor, the cyborg turned around just in time to watch the other attacker holding a pistol in its only available hand, getting jumped from behind and finished off by the knives of the smaller lifeforms. Silence should've fallen over the forest but now the unit could hear the distant sound of battle, it looked at the smaller lifeforms who had already procured the pistols and a couple of grenades from the functionless enemies. They looked at the unit expectantly, it just nodded and followed them towards the battle.

They rushed through the forest and came to the outskirts of a village beset on fire and were greeted by laser fire, yelling and the occasional explosion. They moved between the houses, weapons at the ready. The unit made sure to scan its newfound allies' biosignatures so that it recognized the elder versions of their species. The small group quickly developed a formation of a sort - the cyborg was in front with the two small aliens covering it with their pistols. They met a few of the hostile aliens but quickly made work of them and continued to move through the streets, they met more and more of the defendant aliens, being helped by other species and it seemed that they were winning as the fighting was dying down and there were no enemies to speak of. The group reached one of the few buildings that was left undamaged, in the center of the village as the survivors started gathering there, then an elderly alien approached them and asked the unit's companions something. They responded and had a quick conversation with her occasionally looking at it. The elder alien nodded, looked at the unit and activated some sort of device on her wrist, then the cyborg got an incoming message requesting a connection with the device. It deliberated for a second but it decided that if these lifeforms were hostile they would've destroyed it by now so it accepted the request. After a sort download, it realized that was a language pack. Another few seconds of installation and it turned to the elder alien.
"Can you understand us?" - she asked.

"Yes. Greetings."

***

A few months had passed and the cyborg was now part of Sunhold village. It had helped the Terrans recover from the Push'va attack by aiding in the rebuild. In turn it was repaired and given a new arm, optics and an integrated weapon. These terran aliens fascinated the unit to no end. There was so much knowledge to acquire, process and categorize that the mere thought made its circuits give off tiny sparks of pleasure. It had learned a lot about the Galaxy that it had awoken to, not that it could compare it with something. Once it even tried to connect itself to the G-net but it immediately disconnected staggered by the infinity that it had witnessed - unimaginable, unprocessable. For that it had gotten a few hits from the old, trusty, cast iron pan that belonged to grandma Sveta who the cyborg was staying with. She had introduced it to the wonderful art of cooking - the possible combinations of meats, vegetables and spices was a puzzle that brought the unit a lot of joy while trying to solve it. Alas, some of the combinations were met with Sveta's disapproval and the cyborg had to learn what exactly constituted "edible" food. It had also expressed desire to help her with her garden but the second it noted that the plants know as tomatoes could increase their productivity by 87% with the right stimuli, she had gotten defensive, claiming that she was still learning, just like the unit was. 
 

After living among the Terrans, it had noticed that they all had various designations for it - "Sparks", "Rusty" or "Tin Can" were some of the more popular ones. When it had asked Sveta why they had thought of these designations she had simply answered that  "allies and friends need a name by which you can call them". The cyborg still didn't understand - these designations had nothing to do with its production or the purpose for its creation, which was also true for all the terrans it had met, Sveta included, as far as it could tell, she was not some sort of a phosphorescent organism. She smiled.

"You cannot define living creatures by simply naming their purpose, this is something that every sentient chooses for themselves."

"Yet all organics have the purpose of procreation" the cyborg retorted.

"Yes, but that is something we choose for ourselves, it is not forced upon us or done for the simple act of furthering our species, for there is far more to it than simple biology. Creating life, nurturing a young mind and soul, it is not a base function but the highest of callings. Choosing your destiny - that is something that you will have to learn for yourself, maybe the most important thing you will ever do. You could try to look for the task your long-dead creators had built you for, but that would be the easy way and in any case, however small the chance that you discover your original purpose, some day you may fulfill it, then what? Would you end your own existence? Or would you rather you forged your own path and discover what purpose you want to call  your own. What do you think all these cooking lessons have been so far? What were all the burnt and unseasoned dishes, if not helping you discover what it means to think for yourself, to create, to learn and adapt. To stand by whatever you have crafted and know you have brought delight and small joy in a galaxy full of sorrow. If you wish, we could lend you a shuttle and a weapon because you are wasting your time here, if you want to find your original purpose."

The cyborg looked up at the sky. It could see a pair of korries flying really high, looking for something. The unit's processing core stopped working for three entire cycles, then he looked back down at Sveta:

"Could you show me back to the tomatoes. I think it's high time we do something about them."