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Runner-Up: New Beginnings


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((USS Excalibur – Personal Quarters of En. Riveriew))

::Sipping her white peppermint hotchocolate, Ceilidh took PADD in hand and moved over to her couch to do some light reading. It was an old personal log that she had come across while trying to find out some more information about a fellow crew mate on board. Sitting down, she grabbed the blanket and draped it over her legs and balanced her drink on her knees as she began to read.::

((Personal Log, 222102.20 - Utopia Plentia))

::Looking out first to her left, and then to her right, Felicity felt the tears begin to flow freely from her eyes and streak down onto her warm cheeks. She had originally agreed to participate in Dr. Turner’s research methods regarding human and AI interactions, even trying to combine the two together. It sounded mad at the beginning the media had said. It went against everything that we as a race stood for. Humans and machine could benefit each, even depend on each other, but never truly be ‘one with each other’ as he had so wanted and envisioned. He argued against all their arguments, saying that together they could explore the universe for greater lengths of time and further than had been possible in the past, and even the present.

The people, the media, and now even the powers that be were against what he was proposing to do, all the hopes of helping our people reach their full potential. Starships - that was what everyone said would be how we moved about across the universe, meeting new life forms and discovering new planets. We would learn all we could, while remaining true to who we were. We were unique in our evolution, having accomplished so much in such a short period of time, compared to other beings we had just come to discover existed besides ourselves. We had only ventured outside our own solar system less than a year ago, and already we were eager to learn as much as possible. But with our youth, came our inability to wait. We wanted it all now, and Dr. Turner had originally been the man to promise a faster way to discover it all.

Artificial intelligence was something our people had toyed with for the last several decades, but only arrived at recently to a point where it was becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference between man and machine. As ships were being built to travel in space, he was building beings who would also travel in space, who would help their human counterparts with the long voyages that space travel would bring.

Time began to pass from months into years, and questions began to take root in his thoughts. What if man and machine could be combined? Could it be done without losing what makes us who we are, retaining our uniqueness?

War was always something that took place, no matter what your planet, and ours was no different. Soldiers died on the fields, or came home damaged, whether mentally, physically, or both. It was at the end of the last war that the dark side in the doctor began to surface under the false guise of wanting to help returning soldiers. Individuals who had lost limbs or had damaged them beyond traditional repair methods were taken in by his newly established medical foundation. It was here that he practiced his new form of medicine, combining parts of A.I. technology in replacement limbs with injured vets.

In the beginning, success rates were high, with individuals being given a second chance at a normal life. Yet soon enough, the flaws of this new found hope became apparent. The individual would want to do one thing, while the replacement appendage would want to do something different. Other cases were that those who had received these technological aids were experiencing episodes of memory loss, but were obviously participating in society, as if the artificial limb had taken control over their thought process, leaving them unable to remember what they had done.

It was when 90% of those individuals who had received treatment from Dr. Turner, complained about increased memory loss, and authorities brought forth allegations of increased crimes being committed by said individuals that Dr. Turners’ funding was cut and his medical facility was shut down. Star ships were launched into space, with a human and A.I. crew manifest, ready to explore what was out there, if only able to do it for short periods of time. Humans back on earth began to remove their artificial limbs that had been provided by Dr. Turner, in the hopes of gaining back control over their personal lives.

In the years that followed, Dr. Turner went quietly into the far reaches of the media and continued on his work of combining humans and artificial intelligence together in the hopes of one day creating a human that would be better prepared and able to survive out in deep space for longer periods of time. A being that would be able to take the time to learn all it needed to and wanted to, without the restraints of age getting in the way. There were still those that believed in what he was trying to achieve, and those that were desperate enough for help due to injuries they had sustained one way or another.

That’s where I come in. I had been coming home from university last summer and was injured in a motor vehicle incident. A neighbour had thought it a good idea at the time to take out her parents old car and drive it around, just to see what it had been like to drive the antique. We had the radio turned up and the group of us were laughing and telling stories. Perhaps we should have paid more attention to where we were going, but technology in modern vehicles informed the passengers of oncoming danger. Older cars, like what we were in didn’t. It was too late for the evening commuter train to stop, or even slow down. It hit us so hard that we were all thrown from the car in different directions. Two over the edge of the high road, down to their death 640 meters below; my neighbour had been thrown into oncoming traffic with no hope for survival; and myself thrown in the direction of the quarry pit on the side I had been sitting on.

I don’t remember much after that, except waking up in the hospital. I wasn’t able to feel anything, and I figured that was a good thing. But as time went on, I came to learn that I would never feel anything from my neck down ever again. Depression took over my life for the next 5 years as I learned a new way of living. During one of my low periods, I came across an add by Dr. Turner, offering medical help to those that still wanted it, with the promise of complete restoral to previous lifes’ activities before all injuries. I got a hold of him and he agreed to meet me at my place. Our first meeting, as the door opened, I wondered if all that he had promised in his add would even be possible for me. As we talked and he examined me, a twinkle danced in his eyes.

I can help you, but you have to understand, my methods are frowned upon by the larger society.

I didn’t care I told him. I just wanted to walk again, even be able to use my hands and legs again.

He agreed.

One week later I had left everything and everyone I knew behind me and moved into his facility. It was an old warehouse that had been converted to serve his needs. My surgery began the next day. He said that in order to restore my health, he would first have to remove all the damaged parts. Dr. Turner assured me that replacements for anything he had to remove were readably available and not to worry. I would once again be able to move and live life independently.

It took him 3 days to ‘fix’ me. Over the next 4 days I was closely monitored for signs of infection, rejection, and healing. On the 10th day he rolled the bed I had been on the entire time outside into the small court yard and over to a large rectangular building. The late afternoon sun was still warm on my face and I laughed when I felt the wind rush over my head, and then felt it as it blew over my shoulders.

I hadn’t felt anything lower than the middle of my neck for so long, that at first I wasn’t sure I had felt anything at all. Be he assured me that I had indeed felt something. When I asked how, he explained that during my surgery he had used artificial intelligent limbs and technology in replacing any damaged parts I had, whether from the initial accident, or from afterwards from lack of use. As I continued to heal, I would begin to feel more and more.

For now though, I needed rest, and was going to put me into a cryo-tube that would be able to help my body heal quicker and give me the rest I needed. As I looked at all the tubes that were lying in the room, I wondered out loud how many times he had performed this type of surgery. Dr. Turner said that the others who were healing from their injuries were less damaged than me, that for them he had either simply replaced damaged or missing limbs with new limbs, or technology, but as for me? I was a medical miracle. When I asked how, he told me that I would learn that answer once I was inside the tube and safe.

I was nervous at the idea of being confined to such a small space at first, but the idea that I would be sleeping and not awake to deal with the idea of claustrophobia helped relax me a bit. The tubes had originally been used in the previous war to hold massive explosives to cause as much damage as possible. With the ending of the war, said weapons were no longer needed. Their contents disposed up, but the hulls still useful. Dr. Turner had purchased several hundred of them under a business name and had them delivered to this warehouse. As far as the governments were concerned, they had their money, and didn’t care what the tubes were used for, as long as it wasn’t for building weapons. As his assistant and him lifted my body to be placed into the tube, I caught a glimpse of the others in the surrounding tubes and noticed the work that each had gone through. I also noticed my own body in the reflection of the tube beside me.

Is that me?

Yes

But I look so different

Your outside appearance is different yes, but you are still you. It’s what inside that counts.

As I was lowered into the tube, he explained the process of putting me to sleep and how long I would be in this state for. Perhaps, he said, one day you will even go into space! Think of all the possibilities that now lay before you! I thanked him for all he had done. Even as I laid there in the small tube, I was beginning to feel things again. A pinkie toe on my left foot, my right thumb. As the tube was closed and locked, he peered in one more time and smiled. Walking away, I began to relax, wondering at what I would do first when I woke up. It was then that a small display screen activated directly in front of my eyes. Trying to see the control panel for it, it dawned on me, that there wasn’t an actual display panel inside the tube. Instead, it was inside my mind. And the first image that I took hold of, what I looked like before my surgery and how I looked now. Gone was the broken body that didn’t even look like it had before the accident. In its place was a fresh, sleek new body, made of materials that gave me a strong shape, yet displayed my femininity. It explained that because of all the damage, the only parts that had remained were my spinal cord and from my shoulders up. Any damage to the spinal column had been repaired, with several discs being replaced.

As more and more feeling began to register in my mind, the more and more I began to dream about all the possibilities I could do once I was healed. The idea of going into outer space and seeing and learning about all the universe had to offer fascinated me. I wanted to learn as much as possible and add that knowledge to my own, in the hopes of bettering myself. As I drifted to sleep, my mind kept displaying information about what Dr. Turner had been able to accomplish on me, but also on those who were in the tubes surrounding me. In his message he stated that we were the first to have the surgeries we had endured, all to varying degrees. Eventually we would all be able to talk to each other and help each other moving forwards. His one wish for us was to live life to the fullest, to learn all we could and remember that knowledge and share it with others, and to support each other collectively going forward. He promised us all that one day, we would see the stars up close and go where no one had gone before.

Tears streamed down my cheeks, but they weren’t tears of sadness, but at joy. I was still alive. I was going to have a future. Anything was possible now.

My name is Eve. I am one of a kind. You could say, I am one of one.

((END OF LOG))

::Ceilidh felt a cold shiver run down her spine and placed the PADD down on the couch and gripped her slightly cooled off mug with both hands. Her only thought was, what eventually had happened to Eve?

En. Riverview

Counselor

USS Excalibur

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