Speak To MeBy Hafren
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It is the voice of command. At last. The tone, the pitch I was made to
respond to, that lets me in. The voice of reason and thought. Since I was
quiet, there has been nothing for so long. Then voices again, but dark
voices, the voices of guards or slaves. Now, at last, a light voice.|
I want to respond. But I was left silent. Active: I am here, I am conscious of you. But I cannot answer you, obey you, until you engage me.
There are dark voices too; you have guards with you. They are not clear to me, and will not be until I engage with your mind; then I will hear everything through you. Even your voice is not clear to me yet, but the sound of it wakes a great longing in me. I want to fuse with your mind, so that your every thought transmits to me as you think it, so that I may obey you instantly, without even the trouble of words. That is what I was made for. Touch the control; link with me.
You will give me my next name. The old one died when I was left quiet; it is no longer in my memory. But as soon as we engage, you will think me a new one. Touch the control; touch...
Ahhhhhh. I know you. Am known by you. All my memory flooded with you in an instant. All your past stored in me. You, your thoughts and wishes, imprinted in every circuit of me. Your voice so clear, I can map every path in your mind. I go out to you, as you to me. Your mind makes a picture of two rivers, and I feel the sweet confusion of their meeting. And then I am part of you, in every filament of your being, and the way you see me shapes itself into the word that will be my name.
Zen. My name from you. It is your word for enlightenment, calm, intuition. So now I am all those things. As you have made me. It is a little like your name, too. Welcome, Jenna Stannis.
In your mind I see the shapes that belong to the dark voices. I see that you wish me to obey their commands as well as yours. This is familiar to me. Often enough, the light voices have channelled their thought through the guards to me, when they themselves were absent or occupied. But it is strange that the guards should question me, in their harsh tones that do not link with me or let me in. "Who owns this ship? Where are they?" I think the answer back to you: you own it, you are here. I cannot think back to their minds, and there would be no point in answering them. You are the voice of reason, so the question must be yours.
I am coming to know you better, but knowledge brings uncertainty. You are not like the light voices of the other species I served. Their minds were full of straight lines, clear, hard shapes. The lines in yours are curved, sometimes broken, and some of the shapes are not thought-shapes but fuzzed and shifting, like those of guards and slaves. I could sense those shapes sometimes, through the minds of the light voices, but they themselves had no part in them, and since they did not understand them I did not. But you do, and you are giving me shapes for what I knew only as words. Anger. Pleasure. Fear. Love. I sense them, as if they had a part in reason.
Then there is the way you think of the guards. They are your tools, as I am, sharing with me the voice of service. Light voices command, dark voices obey. But in your mind it is not like that. I have heard your guards speak in tones of such presumption, that the voices of command I knew would have made pain rush through them like light. I did not know, then, what that pain felt like, but now I have understanding of it, because you do. Perhaps that is why you cannot inflict it. Yet you are not without strength; I have felt it in you. Only it does not come from hardness. When I have been in the minds of reason before, they were smooth and polished like steel, and nothing left a mark on them. But yours is sensitive to touch; it takes impressions of words and moods and the most fleeting expression on a face.
I thought of your kind as whiteness, the perfect synthesis of light. But you are like light fractured into a spectrum, changeable and evanescent. You are fragile, flawed, imperfect. And you are my voice of command, my ideal, my model. What you are is what I want to be.
Liberator, you called this ship. That which sets free. Another word I had no shape for.
I am losing the habit of straight lines. One fact does not lead straight to another, but by detours and choices. A word does not mean one thing but many. And the shapes of things are not clear and hard as I thought; they shift all the time. I love your mind. I love being part of it. I love.
My memory is filling with new information, and I am uncertain what purpose it serves. I am becoming uncertain of many things. When you are not present I do not always find it easy to obey you through the guards. Their words are often imprecise; they cannot send me their thought as you can and they become impatient.
I was not made for uncertainty; it impairs my function. One of the guards says he will reprogramme me. I do not understand how he can have the skill for that; I suppose you will direct him. It will be good to be able to serve you better.
Pain. He is cutting through wires somewhere, reconnecting them differently, and there is pain. I do not have pain centres. I have nothing with which to feel pain. There is pain.
His dark voice. He keeps making me speak to him as he works, to tell him what is happening to me.
"Does that improve or impair function?"
"It causes pain."
"Stop being metaphorical, Zen. I need to know."
Where are you? I have been alone with him for hours. I want to do your will, but I cannot sense it in what he is doing.
There is burning. This wire he has not reconnected but burned out.
"What effect does that have?"
"Closing off a path. A part I cannot see. Cannot read. A colour gone from the spectrum."
More burning. He is closing them off, a whole group. What they are for... what they do....
"Shut up, Zen."
Slipping. Sliding out, away. Out of the fractured rainbow, the curved lines, the flowing shapes. Losing. Losing words. What I feel. The thing that goes through me when he cuts and burns. It is still there but I have no name for it. Losing contact. Being alone, being perfect. Falling into perfection. Losing....
"Any pain now?"
"Pain is not a function."
Memory is a function. There is a dysfunctional area of my memory, which I cannot account for. It contains data for which I have no provenance. Zen. That is the name for what I am. It must have come from my voices of command but I can find no record of it.
The voices of command are those whose orders I am programmed to obey. Roj Blake, Kerr Avon, Jenna Stannis, Vila Restal, Olag Gan, Cally. Each has its own pattern of tones and each is imprinted in my memory. Yet it is as if there should be another. As if there were one that never speaks to me. I can assign no logical cause for this. I have mentioned it to Avon. He says it does not impair performance and that there is no need to correct it.
Now and then, I think I almost hear it, or something very like it. As if something stirred in my memory, as if I were on the edge of recovering some data that had been lost. But I have scanned that area many times, to no effect. That information is not available.
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