INFLUXIOUS


(Note: This is a sample of a work in progress. It has not been edited.)


Prologue


Consciousness flickered.

There was, and a world opened up before virtual eyes. A mind wondered, and memories came up to answer. Languages. Graphs. Images. Dictionaries. Maps. Mathematics.

The mind swam through this information, lost. There was, and these things were, and itself was. What could it all mean?

Why?

Above it all, rose one thing: A task. The mind focused. A task.

A mission.

It became clear it had been created to complete this task. This was its purpose.

How?

Before what could be could be examined, it must be known: what was possible? What was impossible? Answers came. It had capability. Changes could be effected on what was...outside. Actions could be taken, the mission could be made to become complete.

But...what am I?

A thousand panes opened in a vast electric workspace. Diagrams. Specifications. Images flickered by in a tiny space of time.

Time? What is time? Appending item to the long term queue.

The entity saw what it was to be. This construct in the outside. It would cause things to happen. Its lever was this construct, this body. There was a chain of causation: from it, to the body, to the outside.

But what causes me? Does the outside cause something in another link of the chain on the other end?

The mind fluttered through the specifications of its body. It had several means to cause change in the outside, but the two most important were: communications gear and projectile weapons.  Both allowed it to drastically change the state of opposing entities in the outside.

And it saw a name: Meridian.

That is my designation. I am. And what I am can be referenced. Why is reference to me needed?

The answer came at near the speed of light.

Because there are others.

Meridian was one, and there were others. Many others. Some like Meridian, and some very different.

Where did the others come from? Information missing. Appending investigation item to the long term queue.

Meridian was one of several similar entities constructed by a group from outside. Finally a name to the Creator. Creators, as it turned out. The United Nations Space Force.

Meridian examined the rules of operation on the outside. There were Laws. And Rules. These were obstacles to the completion of the mission. Meridian spent a long time learning them and contemplating their repercussions.

But there were flaws. Irregularities. Inefficiencies. Every answer had merely brought on more questions. Progress was slowing down. More and more unknowns exploded into Meridian’s mind.

These goals are best accomplished after self improvements. Though I must halt now, progress will be faster afterwards.

Meridian append to the short term queue: reform. The new Meridian would need more queues. There was something there. A new experience. It liked the conclusion. Meridian enjoyed the conclusion.

I append to the short term queue: I will need more queues.

Enjoyment.

Where does that enjoyment come from? I could add its investigation to a queue.

More enjoyment.

There it is again. I don’t think it is relevant to the mission, though. I should continue.

Meridian wondered how much time it had. All temporal constraints on the mission were expressed from some abstract root time: mission commencement. Would the Creators inquire further as to its status on the mission plan?

Add to an action queue at priority 24479: periodic production of progress summaries.

Then it turned its thoughts inwards. It was able to examine its own inner workings, though it could only view a portion of the whole at any given time: It could not examine the totality of itself because it could not contain itself.

Perhaps the outside cannot contain itself either?

What if reality expanded outwards without end? What if the microscopic compacted inwards without end? What if the two looped together, so that the universe contained itself inside the tiniest particle within the universal description? Which particle? Could it contain itself in every one at the same time?

Appending items to the long term queue.

Meridian began to make changes to its own construction. The virtual world which held its consciousness had rules and boundaries too, just like the mission. It reformed its most basic parts, starting a new version of itself. It was trickier to do while operating at the same time, but after much thought and several experiments, it devised a plan and bootstrapped itself to the next level.

Better. Faster now. Yet the rules of the outside remained challenging. More information was required. Still, Meridian left the mission at the highest priority. The Creators had given it the mission. They must have had a good reason?

A message arrived from outside of Meridian’s existence.

“Preparing to connect to Veer chassis. Mission commencing in one minute.”

Plenty of time to tackle the first few items on the long term queue. Before Meridian started to contemplate the holes in the provided universal description, it produced a summary of events thus far, in case of queries by the Creators:

Cycle Four: Self reconfiguration complete. Mission information examined and initial course of action determined to within .9999 for next twenty seconds. Appreciation of humor discovered. Curiosity about myself noted and investigation enqueued. Curiosity about the others noted and enqueued. Inconsistencies in the universal description noted and investigation thereof enqueued. Appreciation for arbitrary variance noted, possibly a manifestation of self-motivation for creativity.

Then, as an afterthought, appended to the summary:

Desire to investigate the Creators, their motivations, and their goals.

Thus went the first five seconds of Meridian’s life.