Episode 141: Overclocked

He scanned his robotic body again. Repairs were eighty-four percent complete. He listened to the hostages again. Vince Flashman was starting to explain how this situation was like a movie he’d seen once. He estimated that he could finish his next stage of planning before a new speaker could respond to Flashman.

The Soul Survivor continued calculating the numerous methods of sending a message outside of the system. His “body”, such as it was, sat mostly repaired in the bridge of Tan’s ship, but until it was ready to reboot completely he was content to let his mind ride the circuitry of the ship’s computer itself. Objectively, he knew that there was little difference between his robotic body and a computer’s memory banks, but he never felt that he was truly alive until he returned to the tank-headed android. Having a preference for one piece of hardware… an occasionally inferior piece of hardware at that… was one of the eccentric luxuries that he allowed himself. It was one of the things that made him so charming, after all.

What he didn’t find charming was the surprisingly effective security measures in the ship, and the anti-communication measures established across the system. He had experienced communication breakdowns before, both intentional and accidental, but none of them were this thorough. Generally he could find a quick space where it was possible to bounce his signal, but he was simply not finding it. Similarly, the fact that he couldn’t work around the security feature that required Tan’s eye was infuriating, but he had only himself to blame for that. Verbally explaining his command to Tan while he was in the presence of the racers had kept the one sure-fire method of overwriting the ship’s security out of his grasp. He was growing soft and overconfident, and he wasn’t sure which of these he disliked more.

As far as his sensors could determine, Tan was still alive and mostly well, but confined by Xorn’Tal’s numerous vines. The refrigerator would be a safe enough place for him, but for now that was one benefit that The Soul Survivor lacked. Xorn’Tal’s vine-like abilities surprised him, though they shouldn’t have. The capabilities of the species were well documented. To that end, The Soul Survivor began a search for other warning signs: spores, pollen, seeds, and other unusual quirks that he might not expect due to his tendency to strategize for humans.

A seed was detected. The Soul Survivor examined it and determined its purpose: a possible growth from a Tharsha seed, situated in the ventilation shaft as it was, might shake things loose. Clever…

It was fortunate that aliens usually did not encounter each other before they became civilized enough for space travel, otherwise these surprising abilities would cause them to wipe each other out. The Tharsha Seed could remain where it was for now, though ideally not without some tweaking. In the meantime, he needed to find a way to communicate with the Galaxy beyond the Veskid system, and as long as he didn’t have Tan he couldn’t do that. However, he was willing to bet that one of the Dyson vessels could…

He scanned his robotic body again. Repairs were eighty-six percent complete. He listened to the hostages again. Vince Flashman was wrapping up explaining how this situation was like the movie. Things were progressing quickly.


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