Burning in the Void – Chapter 4

autonomic systems _Captain

I have been a god for about two hundred years now. You’d think that is the sort of thing that one would remember, becoming a god, but the simple fact is that people started to worship me while I was still in my coma.

Much happened in the days after I was burned. As my mind slowly healed in the safety of unconsciousness, the automatic systems throughout my body remained active, keeping the majority of my children alive for me. Meanwhile, my children did their best to cope with their situation. They worked hard to repair my body and maintain a livable atmosphere. They contained the radiation, patched the hull, and lived on tight rations for weeks until the recompilers were brought back to full working order. Without their labors I might have never recovered and the rest of my children would have died as certainly as an ant colony collapses without the workers.

Somewhere though, there was a breakdown in cooperation. I like to think of it an autoimmune disorder. As I lay unconscious, completely unaware of the autonomic systems that would decide my fate, parts of my body began to rebel against one another. The white blood cells that had worked so hard to purge the infection from me began to attack other parts of my body. They struck first against my heart, attacking the cells that pumped the blood of life throughout my father’s…

I’m sorry. I got lost for a moment there.

It happens at times, when I try to recall or form conjecture based on events too close to the explosion that nearly killed me. If I had a therapist they would probably call it a coping mechanism. In fact, now that I think of it, there was a member of the crew who was supposed to serve as my therapist. No, that’s wrong. It was a team. A whole group of psychiatrists, cognitive theorists, and mind/machine interface engineers dedicated to ensuring that I continued to operate properly.

It’s not an easy thing to connect a human mind to a machine with full sensory input. Visual stimulation isn’t hard. Auditory input is even easier. People were experimenting with all of that fifty years before I was created. No, the hard part is convincing a human mind to accept a mechanical…

That’s not what I was supposed to be explaining to you.

What was it?

Oh, yes. I remember now. I was telling you how I became a god.

It all started while I was in a coma after the explosion that tore me apart. My children, that is, the crew of the ship, could not agree on what to do after they recovered from the initial emergency. They had sufficient resources to live on indefinitely, but the question was not one of physical survival, but how to best prepare their minds for the lengthy prison term that had just been handed to them by the universe.

I wasn’t awake then, so I can’t tell you exactly how the arguments proceeded, but from what I have pieced together the crew essentially broke down in to five factions. One of those groups broke away from all the others and, after a brief conflict that resulted in dozens of deaths and a reactor malfunction that contaminated nearly a third of the living space in the contested shaft, they sealed themselves away from the rest of the ship.