10 Jun 2011

The War of the Artilect: Chapter 26

Posted by joncooper

Amy Stryker was sitting on the beach in her world, crying. She had been crying ever since she saw her sister die. When the Artilect had requested her presence at a meeting she yelled at him, so he departed and left her alone. The Sentinel, however, remained. He wanted to hold her but Amy refused to be held. The girl simply sat on the beach and cried.

Although the Sentinel was physically there with her he was also in communication with the Artilect. He watched from afar as Elder Lane was transported to the Artilect’s home world. He then watched with horror as Lane killed everyone. He saw the Artilect fight for his life and ultimately sacrifice it so that the swarms could be wiped out.

While the Sentinel had been filled with grief at the death of his friend Amanda, he now finally understood the utter depth of sorrow that Amy was going through. His father, and all that he had ever known, was now gone. Amy’s family was gone. He felt as if all the light had gone out of the world and there was nothing left but sorrow and pain and death. He was so overwhelmed that, for the first time in his long life, he fell to his knees and cried.

Amy looked up and saw that the Sentinel was overwhelmed with emotion. As upset as she was, this got her attention. She had never seen the Sentinel become that emotional. “Steve, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

“They’re all dead,” he said between sobs. “All of them, Amy. They’re all gone.”

“Who’s gone?” she asked, confused. “The probes are gone?”

“The people are gone. Amy, oh Amy, Elder Lane has attacked the Artilect. He killed him, along with your family and friends. You and I are the only survivors.”

“What? But – that’s not possible! Elder Lane? But – why?”

The Sentinel then explained what had happened, telling her everything he had seen. He expected her to burst into tears again, but that didn’t happen. Instead she stopped crying and looked off into the distance.

“So it was them all along!” she said angrily. “Those wretched murderers were never in danger. In fact, they were behind the danger all this time! Those ‘survivors’ are nothing but a bunch of monsters that have been trying to kill us from the moment we got here!”

“That is correct,” the Sentinel said.

“They killed them!” she screamed. “They killed my sister, and my parents, and my friends. We came here to save them, and they murdered us instead!”

“Yes,” he said.

“Adrian betrayed us. I thought he was our friend! He led them right to their death – and he is going to pay for it.”

“What do you mean?” the Sentinel asked, as Amy stood up.

“I mean that I am going to make him pay. They are all going to pay – every last one of those worthless murderers. I don’t need the Artilect to destroy that planet, Steve; I’m quite capable of doing it myself. If my sister can fix it then I can rip it apart.”


“Shut up!” she screamed. “You can’t stop me, do you hear? I am not going to let those people get away with murdering my family – not when I can do something about it!”

Amy reached across space and created a holographic image of herself on Xanthe. It was not hard for her to locate Adrian in the planet’s communications center. He was still staring at the monitor, lost in thought.

“Adrian!” Amy screamed.

The elderly man jumped up in surprise and whirled around. A look of surprise crossed his face. “Amanda?” he said uncertainly.

“Oh no,” Amy said bitterly. “Amanda can’t be here right now. Do you know why? It’s because you killed her! You killed her, and the Artilect, and my entire family. But you missed one, Adrian. You didn’t kill me.”

“And you are?” Adrian asked.

“I’m Amanda’s twin sister Amy – and I have all of her powers. I don’t need the Artilect, Adrian. I’m quite capable of destroying your planet without it.”

Adrian looked surprised. “A sister! But – that is, I didn’t know she had a sister. Where have you been all this time?”

“Of course you didn’t know! Why, if you had known then I would be dead too. You murderer! They came here to save you and you killed them.”

“But we had to! You don’t understand – we didn’t have a choice. All of you had to die so that we could be free. You would have killed us all sooner or later anyway. It was a matter of pure survival!”

“Don’t you dare blame this on us! You are the ones that wiped out every single Ranger colony. It was your people who killed countless billions of others just so you could lead depraved, self-centered life in pods. You’re all monsters.”

“Of course we are,” Adrian agreed. “Everyone is – even you. That’s why we had to kill the others, so that they wouldn’t kill us first. But you can’t kill us. That’s what I finally realized! You can’t kill us because if you did you would be the last human being left alive in the universe.”

Adrian paused, and then looked at her. “In other words – we have won. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.”

Amy clenched her fists in anger. She was so furious that she couldn’t speak. She reached out a hand toward Adrian, but before she could touch him the girl vanished.

* * * * *

On her own world, Amy whirled around and glared at the Sentinel. “You had no right to stop me!”

“You cannot wipe out humanity,” the Sentinel said firmly. “That prerogative belongs only to God. You are not the judge of mankind.”

“You have no authority over me!” Amy shouted. “Don’t you dare tell me what to do!”

“I will not let you do this,” the Sentinel replied. “You may be in authority over me, but there is a higher law that I must obey. If you continue down this course then I will oppose you.”

“This is not over,” Amy said. She then vanished, leaving the Sentinel alone.

After she left the Sentinel looked out over the waves that were crashing against the shore. The tide was going out. Evening was rapidly approaching and soon the stars would be out. But the world was empty.

The Sentinel kept a close watch over Tau Ceti but Amy did not approach it. He did not know where she had gone and he was not sure how to find her. Since the Artilect had been destroyed it was no longer possible to watch every planet in the network at once. The Sentinel had great power, but it was extremely limited compared to what the Artilect could do.

What do I do now? The future that my father hoped for is now gone, and the people he spent so long trying to rescue are dead. Now no one will ever live in the network; its cities will remain empty until the Lord returns. There is no longer any hope for mankind. The few survivors that are left on Xanthe will either be killed by a vengeful Amy or will die of old age. Since the Artilect destroyed their pods it is quite likely that the remainder of their lives will be short, as they probably cannot survive in the real world for very long. Even if Amy does nothing they may still die anyway.

Is there no hope left? Is this simply the end, as the last members of a dying race vanish, leaving no future? Was all of this simply for nothing? Or is there some greater purpose that I cannot see?

With nothing else to do, the Sentinel stood on the beach and waited.

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