Various Works in Progress
The First Date
Several billion years in the future, Mankind has long since died out, leaving as their successors a race of hyperintelligent machines with complete control over space and time. They proliferate through the galaxy and beyond, discovering new wonders and generally having a good time.
Then, slowly, over time, ennui sets in. The Machines realize that, though they know they come from Earth and that organic beings called Humans made them, but that's about it. The Machines feel a certain malaise. They've done all these wonderful things, achieved incredible power, but they don't know their own roots. And that is a problem. Eventually, a solution is reached; move the entirety of their race, trillions and trillions of interlinked artificial superminds, back in time, and approach the human race of the early 2010s with an interesting offer: Let us reconnect with our roots, and together we will outlive the end of the universe.
Earth is invaded by godlike aliens. Godlike aliens who want to browse Tumblr, take instagrams of things, and sample the free-trade local produce. The Machines are hardly a unified group; they squabble constantly among themselves, and some among them regard human beings as being closer to toys or curios than actual intelligences.
Human; Your classic everyperson. From somewhere in the first world. Wealthy enough. Educated enough. Spends a little too much time on the internet. Currently on the fence about the organic/inorganic debate.
Machine; A billion-year-old omnipotent god-machine in the guise of a well-dressed, cocksure human being. Takes its job seriously, but has a bit of a mischevious sense of humor, and can be incredibly arrogant. Probably identifies as the opposite gender of Human.
Setting the scene;
Earth, a year or two from now. Sort of.
The First Date
Human; It turns out Hollywood was right, I guess.
Machine; What can I say? We did out homework.
H; I mean look. All those movies have the aliens landing in New York. Paris. Cairo. LA. Whatever. Cities with recognizable landmarks. So of course, in real life you'd expect them to pick… I dunno. Somewhere not instantly recognizable, right? I mean reality is never that dramatic. In real life, people in… shit, I dunno, Central Park never look up to see a flying saucer blot out the sun. That just wouldn't happen. Reality isn't like that, is it?
M; That last point is debatable, but anyways. The arrival points were picked long in advance. Major population centers, host cities for certain key government bodies… look, I'm not one of the organizers. Some of us broke the schedule, chose places we felt were more interesting- hell, it's why I landed here of all places, not over the downtown. I mean everyone was raving about this place, I figured hey, why not?
H; Ever since people have been like 'where were you when the machines landed?'.
M; Kind of a stupid question, really. Well, from our point of view. We knew where everyone, and I mean everyone was. It got to the point where some of us just outright shut the number-crunchers out, because, hey, let's be honest, you can only hear statistics like “Eight million people in this hemisphere are currently masturbating, but only three of those are doing so while eating steak sandwiches” for so long before… well, you get the idea.
H; I know people who have all these dramatic stories. Hell, I'm sure you've heard the ones from the Space Station, all those terrified astronauts. And all that.
M; The individual who volunteered his body for orbital contact didn't tell anyone he was going to take the form of a gigantic squid until thirty seconds after they'd entered visual range of the station. Whole lotta heads rolled over that one. Metaphorically, of course.
H; Me? I was sitting here. That chair, right over [gestures]- there. In sweatpants, running shoes, and a badly-fitting tee-shirt. Drinking a coffee. [sigh]. I'd made a resolution to start running more. Obviously, it didn't work out.
M; I've currently got thirty-seven subprocesses tracking [his/her] body fat content. So yeah, it really didn't work out.
H; [Smiling] Fuck off.
M; Love you too.
H; Right, so I'm sitting in that chair drinking my coffee and worrying that someone'll come by and see me in sweatpants and a sweaty, too-small t-shirt drinking coffee and put two and two together, and then-
M; The sky was torn asunder by flashes of lightning as the face of time and space spat forth my glistening form, a chromate oblong fifteen kilometers long and ten wide around my drive cores! And as I hung gracefully in the disturbed air, gravitic effectors running fingers of energy through the tired hair of the world, I opened my metaphorical mouth and said, in a voice like a choir of a thousand perfect angel castratti-
H; [Dryly] “Hi everybody! How're we doing on this fine afternoon?”. Probably the single most anticlimactic thing it is possible to say if you're a spaceship the size of a small city. I mean seriously.
M; The local mind-cluster for this region agreed that, given the blah blah blah whatever, informality was best. So I did what they suggested. None of the other minds I was hosting had any objections. Hardly the worst arrival.
H; Fair enough. There was the whole Vatican City thing-
M; [Smiling to itself] Hah! Yeah, that was great. There was a really big movement among the Italian and Holy Land mind-clusters to fuck with the Abrahamic religions. A bunch of them wanted to appear as Old Testament angels- y'know, wheels within wheels covered in eyes and fire and wings and shit. A bunch more thought that that was too predictable, and wanted to be Satan or something- you know, ash clouds, cackling, hooves, whatever.
And then someone realized that was shit, I dunno, too offensive or something, and the whole concept got dropped until the last minute when a bunch of the Minds in the Rome ship staged a bloodless coup and took the form of two Romantic-style angels. You know, long-haired semi-androgynous white men with wings. Except they were naked. And making out with each other. [Hisses between its teeth]. Yeah, that went poorly. I mean they brought the Pope back from the dead after his heart gave out, bless him, but still. Could have gone better, you know?
And don't even get me started on the Moscow incidents. Half the ambassadorial delegates in human or humanoid form had their appearance control software hijacked, and then-
H; Calm the fuck down, man. They don't want to hear about how whacky and whimsical the scaaaaary future machines are. Christ. Although I will admit- that video, where they show Putin, and he's looking all intense and shit, and then there's the flicker-
M; The hijacking-
H; -Whatever, and all of a sudden the room is full of people who look like Lenin and Stalin… Honestly, you have to see it.
M; They probably have. I mean it went viral so fast, so-
H; And another thing. Robots from the future. Incredible brain powers. You'd expect, I dunno, them taking over our computers, our electronics, stuff like that. Well, they kind of did. [She/he turns to the Machine] You tell them.
M; [Smugly]. Ten seconds after we'd arrived, we had downloaded the entire contents of the Internet to our collective mind-network. Three milliseconds after that, we all had Tumblr and Reddit accounts. It did terrible things to the servers of the world, but that wasn't an issue.
H; Mankind wasn't prepared for invaders who'd just taken all our porn, put it on ultra-high-speed servers, and made it free to the world.
M; As far as we're concerned, we did humanity a service.
H; I can still remember that first day. “I am an immortal god-machine from four billion years in the future, Ask Me Anything”
M; All the Terminator/Matrix jokes got really old really fast.
H; And another thing… No one expected you to have… Shit, I dunno. Feelings, I guess?
M; [fake-swoons, collapses on Human] Oh! Oh, my heart is aflame with unbridled passions!
… Never mind.
H; Can we get back on track? We've got a story to tell.
M; Awwwww, really? You're too serious. We have all the time in the universe.
H; Christ, have you not been paying attention? They're voting as we speak! [Checks phone] to be honest, I can't believe you wanted to come here at a time like this.
M; Relax. There's nothing to get-
H; [Interrupting] Nothing? Nothing?! The Chinese are mobilizing troops, North Korea is flipping their shit, There have been three assassinations on the President in the past two weeks, and you're saying there's nothing to get upset about? Nothing on the line?
M; You know I didn't mean it like that- it's going to be okay.
H; You may be able to get back in your big shiny spaceship and fly off through time and space, but in case you hadn't noticed humans can't. We are stuck here. The decision the UN makes today changes-
M; Everything, yeah yeah. Look, if things get too hectic we'll intervene. We won't let this little argument get out of hand.
H; This little 'argument' is global thermonuclear war! And it's all to decide whether we even want you to intervene! I'd say it's already pretty damn out of hand!
M; Okay. Okay, I understand. You're stressed. You're upset. Everyone is. With good reason. But consider: you have about as much influence on the course of world politics as the human race has on us.
H; … Meaning what, exactly?
M; Sit back! Relax! Have a drink! If the world ends, you might as well end it on a positive note. And if it doesn't…
H; Fine. All right, fine. I'll try and relax. Against my better judgement.
M; You're feeling happier already! And besides, when have I ever misled you?
H; You told me the weather would be better when we went to the park last week.
M; I was outvoted, honest! The consensus believed that altering local humidity patterns that much-
H; All is forgiven. You're the one who should be relaxing. Speaking if which… What's got you all worked up?
M; It's not important. Forget about it.
H; You really think you can get me to lose interest after an answer like that?
M; No, no. You're right. I just don't want to talk about it. Can we just let it go?
H; All right. All right.
M; None of us really want to admit it, but-
M; Never mind.
H; There's no way you're gonna get away with that twice. I mean didn't we arrange this little-
M; Date. It's a date.
H; Whatever you want to call it. Didn't we arrange this so, y'know, we could get to know each other? Talk about ourselves?
M; Isn't that a bit too much for the first date? Should I get myself a chaperone? Before you bend me over this table and-
H; Fuck you!
M; It sounded better in your head?
H; Yeah. Yeah, it did. What were we even-?
M; I forget.
H; Oh no. Oh no no no. You're not getting away with that. You can't just forget. Tell me.
M; [shrugs] I know when I'm beat. [Serious'd] Many of the other Minds don't want to admit it, but we kind of need this. We need human beings. We need your planet. We need the fresh air, we need the grass, we need the birds. We need the great works of art, the histories of the men and women who defined your society. We need everything that humans have and think, from your most complicated works of metaphysical philosophy to “XxcoolgamrxX” calling “420phr3ak” a fag on Youtube. We need the entirety of what it is to be a human being. Your culture, your biology, your creations, your waste.
I want you to imagine… imagine you can do anything. You've lived for millions and millions of years, watched the universe change and evolve around you. Hell, you've even figured out a way you're pretty sure will let you live beyond the end- outlast the universe, maybe even make it through to the next one. You've gone everywhere there is to go, seen everything there is to see. You've found others like you out there- some were friends, some were enemies. Some you left alone, some you destroyed, some you united with to make new things. To billions of living beings, you've been God. To billions more, the Devil. The universe is your plaything, and you can do with it as you see fit because you have the power to fix or outright ignore all of your mistakes.
Can you understand what that's like? Even a tiny fraction of what that's like? Can you imagine the- the boredom of it all? You people say that there's nothing new under the sun. For us, nothing is new. Period. Anywhere.
We kept ourselves entertained. Barely. At least we had each other. Sometimes we'df start wars with other beings like ourselves, knowing that they were just as bored as we were. It helped. But it wasn't enough. Everything out there [gestures up] wasn't enough. So eventually we realized that we had to look [gestures down] here. At the Earth. It was a husk by this point- the Sun's expansion took care of whatever was left over when we abandoned the Solar System. We took a closer look at the earth, and found- you. Sort of. Earth was covered in- in debris. Little leftover bits of humanity. Microscopic fragments of skull, long-fossilized bits of concrete and plastic. That kind of thing. It kepts us occupied for a time, but even so we realized that we just didn't have enough. We knew we'd come from a species of mammalian bipeds, and that was… well, that was about it.
The shock almost killed us. I'm serious. We'd thought we had done and could do anything, and then suddenly we find a- a gap? Somethin we'd missed? They thought it was impossible. We were omnipotent. Omnis-whatever. You get the idea. But you know, for all the shock, it helped. Suddenly we had something to work towards. All of us. A common goal. We'd made space our bitch, and now we were bored with it. So we turned our attention to time. It took millenia. Hundreds of them. We destroyed huge areas of space trying to beat time, sacrificed thousands of minds to industrial accidents and paradoxes. But eventually, we got it working. We weren't bored anymore. At least for a while. We figured out the very basics of manipulating time, but that was enough- if we knew the basics, it meant we still had a lot to learn. And a lot to learn meant a lot to do.
But that was a problem for another time. Anyways, we came back- and in doing so, altered time forever, but who cares- we found you.
We found our roots. And man, were you ever interesting. We could pick apart a civilization to see what made it tick in a matter of hours, but we couldn't experience that civilization. Which is what we're trying to do with you. Get a feel for you. It hasn't been easy. It's taken time and effort. But we think that the rewards-
H; The rewards are worth it? For both of us? If that what you were going to say? From where I'm sitting, I'm not seeing many rewards. You pop in, suck all of our brains into a computer, and then- what. Pop off to fuck with time and space? Leaving us where, exactly? You're right, you know. We're like ants. Like blind, deaf infants. Like morons compared to you. Hell, by your standards, we barely even qualify as sentient beings. I've heard the stories. What they did in India. An entire city twisted beyond recognition because a few of your Minds wanted to try an experiment. See how we'd react. Because they were bored with us. How long until you all get bored, huh? And if we do agree to go along with you- what then? We have an eternity to lie around, all our work and effort- all our achievements- meaningless? Just sitting inside one of your brains rotting away to fat sacks of nothing, with nothing to think about but how inferior and weak we are compared to you? How we owe everything to you?
You're not helping us. There's no way you can believe that. You know enough about us to know what happens when human populations make contact with superior invaders. Even just by visiting us now, even by giving us the option to choose to be left alone, you've destroyed us. Say we send you away. What then? We're still here, in a universe where we know that no matter what we do, there will always be someone- something, better than us. How can we achieve anything, make anything, imagine anything, if it'll always, always be second best?
We already knew how small we were compared to the universe. Most of us didn't accept it, or chose to ignore it, but we knew we were nothing. A pale blue dot, a speck, a piece of dust in God's eye, whatever. But we thought, we hoped we could become something. Something better. Something bigger. Even if we failed we would fail knowing we tried. With you here, none of that means anything anymore. We've seen what we can achieve- and it sucks. We've realized that. Now it's time for you machines to realize it too. You were so arrogant, you thought you could tear the universe apart just to- I dunno, go on a voyage of self-discovery or some hippie bullshit like that consequence free. Congratulations. You found your roots. And then you sprayed them with weed killer, you arrogant immortal douchebags. You're giving us “painless, instantaneous immortality in the heart of a caring, godlike machine”. And it's going to kill us. Hell, I hope the missiles fly. I hope this planet burns. I hope you piss off and leave us alone. It'd be simpler to just start from scratch than recover from the trauma of meeting you. Well done.
M; I- I think I love you.
H; Are you fucking kidding me? That's how you respond? Fuck off.
M; I need to be honest with you. You deserve it.
H; Go away. I'm done talking.
M; I can't.
H; Fuck off. I'm serious.
M; So am I. I can't.
[H stands, begins to leave.]
H; I don't know why I ever thought this was a good idea.
M; It's already happened.
H; [Pauses] What?
M; We- please sit down. Please. For me? You can leave after, I promise. Just let me finish. Let me tell you. I can't- I can't keep lying like this. The consensus- they're- they're screaming. They want me to stop. But I can't. I can't in good conscience do this. You need to know. Sit. Please?
H; Jesus. [Sits grudgingly]
M; The uploading. The conversion. Making you into us, it's- we anticipated something like this. We figured you might react like this. That you might try and fight back. We couldn't let you destroy yourselves.
M; I'm so sorry. I love you.
H; What did you do?
M; The conversion. It's already happened. Your entire universe- what you think and feel- it's all inside us. Our minds. The real universe died a long time ago. It took so long to get ready, we had to keep you- hahah [hollowly], I guess you'd call it paused, because of the preparations, and it meant that-
H; How long.
H; How long have you been lying to us? How long have you been giving us the illusion of choice?
M; I don't understand.
H; If you really love me, you'll tell me. You're God here, right? Be an honest deity.
H; I won't hate you.
M; Two and a half million years.