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Kali Nicholotti

PNPC Unky - Umm. This one kind of got away from me, actually....

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((Celes II, Ruin of Abandoned Machinery Storage Warehouse))

::The building was huge. None of its original equipment functioned any

longer, and it had a large gash near one side of it that would have left

the building open to the atmosphere had not the Clashing organisers sealed

it with ferrofoam. The place had all the hallmarks of a temporary shelter

- portable furniture and partitions brought in, generators laying about

powering lights and replicators and local atmospheric conditioners.::

::Only ten years previous, this place had been full and busy, an integral

part of a nearby dilithium mining site on a thriving mining planet. The

Borg had changed all of that, appearing in the sky without warning and

killing or assimilating everyone on the planet within mere hours.. They

said there had been some tentative attempts to restart the operations

since, but nowadays the Romulan Empire had different concerns, and not

enough manpower to tend to them all. So Celes II remained an empty,

scarred world, its ground a pale red from oxidised dust.::

::It was, therefore, perfect for this purpose. The Clashing had taken this

place over, sealed the holes, thrown out a bunch of superfluous equipment,

and the final contestants had arrived, one by one.::

::Katy was now safely ensconced in a large 'room' (actually a part of one

of the large open spaces set aside with temporary wall partitions and

apportioned with a rug, bed, furniture, a replicator, and some basic

workout equipment.) She'd arrived late in her sleep cycle, and had slept

late as a result. Now she was awake and stretching. Not as in

yawn-and-stretch, but the extended stretching regimen that helps one to get

in touch with one's body and gives time to calm one's mind. Reduced

stiffness and increased flexibility were nice side-effects, of course.::

::Next to her on the rug sat the small crystalline pedestal upon which sat

her friend and advisor Unky. Well, it was really the little hexagonal

crystal itself that *was* Unky, but it's much easier to relate to a little

holographic man than to something that looks like an expensive ashtray,

even if you know that it houses a powerful AI. The little man in question

was sitting cross-legged in his usual spot atop the crystal, chin propped

up on one hand, looking thoughtful.::

::Unfolding from a rather relaxing back stretch, Katy found herself unable

to repress a gigantic yawn. She put her hand over her mouth, partly out of

politeness and partly to cover the slightly embarrassed smile that formed

on her lips when the yawn was done.::

::The little hologram grinned and looked up at her with a raised eyebrow.::

Unky: You'll never live it down if you fall asleep during the match, you

know.

::She waved her hand dismissively.::

Orman: I'm fine. The final bout isn't until the mid-afternoon, plenty of

time to wake up, even sleeping as late as I...

::She trailed off, brows slowly creasing. Unky tilted his head in an

expression of curiosity.::

Unky: Hmm?

::She remained silent for a few moments more, with an expression of growing

concern and confusion.::

Orman: ...It doesn't make sense, does it?

Unky: What doesn't?

Orman: Our sleep cycles. Duty cycles, even. They all match up. People

who grew up on all different parts of the world, of many worlds... people

with different circadian rhythms, alien cultures, different everything...

we're all on the same time schedule. All of us! I mean, we run three

shifts, but nothing really happens in the others. Kind of ever.

::Unky's expression darkened for just a flicker, then reverted to a casual,

cheery demeanour that matched his tone.::

Unky: Oh, I'm sure if you check you'll find there was some sort of

agreement made between galactic political entities to match times. Makes

for better trade, diplomacy, et ceter--

Orman: ::shaking her head:: No, that's not enough. What about

independent alien races? First contacts? I mean, even if that sort of

agreement was ever going to happen--which it isn't, getting the various

empires to agree on anything is like pulling teeth... and now I think about

it, there's definitely going to be a counter-tendency in the form of each

people wanting their own schedule to match the day cycle of their home

planet's capital... ::her eyes widened and breathing quickened in rising

panic.:: Wait, we visit each others' capitals all the time, no one ever

has to adjust their schedules.... Every major capital with the same

day/night schedule as the others? That's just not even possible! Unky,

nothing makes sen--

::Her words of realisation were interrupted by a quiet, oscillating tone

that matched with the pulsations of a blue light coming from Unky's

now-vacant pedestal. As it caught her eye she found herself fixated on the

steady pulsing, like the rhythm of a slow heartbeat. She found herself

calming, her tight muscles relaxing. She forgot what she'd been saying, or

indeed why she'd been speaking at all. In a matter of seconds, she found

her eyelids drooping. She was unconscious some moments before she sank to

the floor.::

::Moments later, the light and sound stopped, and the little man appeared

again on his crystal, looking over at the prone form. He turned away, and

his expression was one of dark, fulminating rage.::

Unky: That was cruel.

::The meaning of that cryptic statement was lost to the empty room as the

AI spoke to himself.::

Unky: I'm not speaking to myself. I'm talking to *you.*

::...which was another odd thing to say, but of course Unky was no novice

at confusing pronouncements, after all.::

Unky: ::quietly furious:: It's not odd. Quit dodging. I'm talking to

you, right now.

::...to ...me?::

Unky: That's right. ::pointing over at Katy:: And what you did there..

it was cruel. She shouldn't have to have an existential crisis like that.

Especially right before her big fight. I won't have it, do you hear me?

::Look, it's fine, alright? I knew you were right there to put her out and

make her forget her little mental break. I find the idea of characters

realising that they're characters to be a really powerful... wait, how are

you speaking to me again?::

Unky: You made me the character that ferreted out all the secrets, looked

at everything so that I could weave my own plots behind the scenes. You

made me incredibly smart and with the full resources of a massive computer

system. You made me the wise one that always knows more than everybody

else about what's going on. Did you think I wouldn't notice the

inconsistencies?

::Umm...::

Unky: A universal translator that is somehow selective when a different

language would be culturally interesting or mysterious, and somehow manages

to convey clues and jokes based on plays on words? A transport culture

based on disintegration and copying that is somehow universally accepted?

And let's not even start on the science! Same template or no, the notion

that beings with such basic physical incompatibilities as different blood

chemistry could mate and reproduce... and then there's the way the stardate

keeps jumping ahead--

::Yes, alright, I get it! Look, no harm done, okay? I apologise. It

won't happen again. She's napping, she'll wake up rested and with no

memory of this, no lingering trauma or confusion at all.::

::The little man stared into space, his expression somewhat mollified. The

woman next to him slept peacefully, soon to awaken for the big day.::

::Within her sleeping mind, the hypnotic suggestions activated by Unky's

trigger were taking their course. Not only to rest and forget, but also

putting her into a state of calm readiness. When she woke she would be in

top fighting form, ready to embody all of the principles of her art

perfectly.::

::Wait, I didn't write that!::

Unky: Indeed. I did.

::What... I... that's... You can't do that!::

Unky: ::a little smug:: I believe I just did.

::I wasn't planning... she's supposed to get knocked out really quickly!

She doesn't win this fight!::

Unky: ::absolutely smirking, now:: I think she might, you know.

::I can just delete... no. No idle threats. You've already figured out I

won't do that, haven't you? I follow the story where it goes. Let me put

it this way, then... That doesn't happen again. You keep your hands off

the reins. Otherwise... well, I have no particular compunctions against

making your personal goals *much* more difficult to achieve. Are we

square?::

::Unky continued to smile a self-satisfied little smirk. Eventually, he

nodded.::

::Good. Oh, also, 'Not only to rest and forget, but also putting her into

a state of calm readiness?' Seriously awkward phrasing, there. Your

writing skills could use some work.::

Unky: Oh, shut up.

::Soon after, Katy woke up, a peaceful smile on her face. It was time to

really prepare for the fight.::

TBC

PNPC Unky

with

Lieutenant Commander Katy Orman

Chief of Security, Starbase 118

Currently on leave

and, umm, me, I guess.

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