When the Belphegor cut Genevi’s Gravity Frame in half, the entire battlefield seemed to freeze. Even the Sarcophage stopped attacking. All the pilots of Maid Squadron stared, horrified. I heard Miette gasp.
Fuck! I thought, my thoughts swirling around chaotically.
I quickly fell back on my contingency plan, something I had told nobody about. I sped up my perception of time and seized control of my body from Miette. Pushing my drive fins way past the redline, I accelerated towards the wreckage of Genevi’s mech, while simultaneously activating the brain-scanning laser. The sub-arm linked to my back swiveled around, bringing the laser over the cannons on my left shoulder and aiming it straight at the wreckage. I had to be close for this to work, within fifty meters.
I heard Miette start to speak, in slow-motion. “Sveta, wh-” I ignored her and kept my attention focused on my task. My scanners blitzed the wreckage, searching for a particular burst of neuro-electric energy. When I drew within thirty meters of the wreckage I found what I was looking for and quickly fired the brain laser.
Please work. PLEASE work! I prayed to every god I could think of, even Zehra’s nameless cosmic horror.
I felt the telltale tingle of data being downloaded into my computer core. I partitioned the data into an AI shell file. Ten terabytes… twenty…
“-at are you doing?” As I downloaded, Miette finished her sentence. I kept ignoring her. Fifty terabytes… sixty…
The human mind held around 100 terabytes of data on average. My own mind was presently ten times that size, leaving me with about 21,600 terabytes of free space on my hard drive. That was enough space to store over 200 human minds at once if I needed to. We weren’t sure how large Moby’s mind was, but I figured I could spare a measly 100 terabytes without much risk of endangering our mission.
Ping! The download completed. I directed my body away from the Belphegor, retreating to a safe distance before returning control to Miette. The entire process, from acceleration to download to retreat, had taken around fifteen seconds. The brain-scanning laser worked a lot faster than a standard data download; it reminded me of the emergency rescue I had performed on Teles many months ago. I was never more thankful for my accelerated AI reaction speed than at that moment.
While I slowly started to explain my actions to Miette in real-time, I took the AI shell file and booted it up in my extended system memory, running it within my virtual space. I had to know if she was alright.
Genevi’s avatar rendered in the center of my virtual space, wearing nothing but her birthday suit. This was actually my first time ever seeing her naked. Blushing, I quickly averted my eyes and generated a simple white dress around her.
I checked her AI file and found no errors. She opened her eyes, looking around the cozy wooden room with beanbag chairs, bookshelves against the walls and a roaring fireplace in the corner. It was a far cry from the mech cockpit she had been in moments ago. Clearly confused, she looked at me.
“Sveta? What…? Where am I?”
“You’re in my virtual space, Genevi,” I said gently.
“Your virtual space? Huh? How did I get here?”
I wondered how much I should tell her right away. This would no doubt be a shock for her. I decided to just rip the bandage right off; Genevi was a strong and adaptable girl. “About twenty seconds ago, you were chopped in half by the Belphegor, along with your Gravity Frame. You, uh… you died.”
Genevi’s eyes went wide. “I remember that! My lower torso and legs were drifting away from me! It was really weird!”
I shuddered at that thought, moving closer to her and placing a single hand on her shoulder. “After you died, I used the brain-scanning laser to capture the neuro-electric energy of your consciousness as it left your body. I dumped the data in an AI shell file and ran it within a partition of my own computer core.”
“Wait. That means… I’m like you now?”
She was catching on quickly. “Yes. You’re now an AI like me. It was the only way to save you.” I grit my teeth, preparing for any impending existential crises she might experience, or any anger she might direct at me for performing the procedure without her consent.
Genevi looked down at her hands, clenching and unclenching them. She then waved one palm in front of her eyes. “I don’t feel any different,” she said disbelievingly.
“That’s because the AI shell is emulating your human body via the avatar. As your mind adapts, it will slowly unlock your AI functionality,” I explained. I was familiar with the theory of the mind upload process, which Zehra explained to me in detail; I had apparently gone through something similar during my first few hours as Lisichka, although I obviously didn’t remember it.
Suddenly, Genevi waved her hand and summoned a menu with her central boot functions. Damn, this girl was adapting quickly. “It’s true…” she said quietly, staring.
“I… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to violate your self-determination or anything like that, but there wasn’t time to ask for your consent and I just couldn’t stand to watch you… watch you…” My voice cracked as I remembered the sight of her mangled body.
Genevi looked at me, tilting her head, not quite understanding my consternation. Then she quickly drew me into a tight hug. “You have nothing to apologize for, Sveta. Thank you for saving me.”
“Y-You’re not mad?”
“Why would I be? This is weird for me, and it’s going to take some getting used to, but I’ll adapt. I’m just happy to be alive.”
I couldn’t have hoped for a better response, but the pessimistic part of me still held doubt. “Really?”
“Really. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving everyone behind... leaving YOU behind. Besides, this is the second time you've saved me. I'm not gonna start complaining now.” Suddenly, she pulled back from me. “What about Spider-Sveta?”
I shook my head sadly. “There was only one neuro-electric signature in the wreckage, and her computer core was completely smashed. I did sync up memories with her just before we went into battle, though, so there’s only a few minutes of memory missing.”
Genevi wasn’t sure whether to be encouraged or dismayed by that. I quickly shifted my outfit to Spider-Sveta’s and smiled at her, assuming my idol-winking pose. “See? Spider-Sveta at your service! We’re all the same Sveta in the end.”
She smiled brilliantly, pulling me into another hug. Then she planted a long kiss on my lips. I clung tightly to her, melting in her embrace.
That entire conversation took Genevi and me around ten seconds. After we finished, I shifted our perception of time back to normal. My video comm window instance was still trying to explain to Miette exactly what I had done. We were both interrupted by a loud wail over the comms.
“GENEVI!” Sabina was shrieking at the top of her lungs, tears streaming from her eyes, as she charged straight at the Belphegor, which had started moving again after the lull in the battle.
“SABINA! CALM DOWN!” Lydia turned to me. “Sveta! Bring her back!”
I nodded, sending a quick ping to my Svetazilla instance. A moment later, her X-23 turned around and rejoined our formation.
“LET ME GO, SVETA!” Sabina howled, twisting the controls around madly.
“Not until you settle down,” Svetazilla replied. “Genevi is safe.”
“Huh?” Sabina gawped at me. “But I just saw…”
I opened up a comm window with Genevi’s avatar in it. She shyly waved to everyone. “Hello! I’m fine!”
Complete, shocked silence. Well, I had been expecting that. “I used the brain laser to download her consciousness. Her mind is now running as a second AI in my computer core.” I explained.
“Is THAT what you were just doing?!” Lydia asked. “I’ve never seen a Gravity Frame move that fast before!”
I looked over to Miette apologetically. “I took over and shut off all the safeties. I had to act fast.” Miette shook her head in disbelief, then offered up a small smile.
“Genevi?” Sabina said, her voice hoarse. “Is that really you?”
Genevi nodded. “It’s really me. I’m fine, though this is all very strange.”
“I-I’ll bet.” Sabina replied, the relief evident in her voice.
Just then, I detected gravity waves emanating from the Belphegor. Kometka piped up.
“We’ll have to discuss the specifics of transhumanism another time. Moby is calling.”
After we picked up Moby’s space Skype call, I saw her face twist into a small smirk. Damn, this alien weirdo really was developing human emotions.
“Do you now understand my resolve, Lydia? I will tear apart all of your companions until you offer yourself to me. You claim to value them highly as “family,” so join with me and I will let the rest of them retreat from here unharmed.”
Lydia half-smiled. “So, about that…” She glanced over at me.
I picked up on her visual cue and added Genevi’s comm window to the call. Genevi grinned broadly and waved. “Hello, Moby. Were you talking about me when I wasn’t around? That’s rude.”
Damn, girl, sassy. Keep it up!
Moby blinked, seemingly shocked. “I do not understand. I sense your non-functional body before me even now. How…?”
I shrugged. “Trade secret.”
“You… you are a sand-mind now? Sharing a body with another sand-mind? I do not understand how this is possible. Explain!”
“Rather than explain, how about we show you?” Lydia replied smugly.
On my sensors, I noticed the Belphegor drawing back from us a bit. Moby seemed frightened; maybe she saw us as a species of undying horrors now. My little feat of digital necromancy really threw her for a loop.
“I don’t… how is this… I don’t understand…” she muttered to herself.
The two remaining Defiled suddenly resumed firing at us. The Belphegor shrank back even more. Lydia ordered us to take out the two remaining cruisers.
“I cannot hold back against you… I must commit fully…” Moby said. Just then, the transmission cut and the Belphegor began to shake and writhe strangely.
It inflated, as if connected to a tire pump. It swelled and distended until it was a roughly circular ball of flesh.
“What the FUCK?!” Miette said.
“I’ve never seen her do THAT before,” Lydia helpfully replied.
Just then, the flesh-ball burst. Most of the Belphegor’s mass was blasted outwards. And what was left in the center was… a giant, naked woman.
Yes, I’m not shitting you. Moby was now floating before us in giant, naked, kilometer-tall form. Just as before she looked exactly like Lydia, excepting her slitted red lizard-eyes and rows of sharp teeth; additionally, butterfly wings extended from her back, glowing the bright red hue indicative Sarcophage gravity manipulation. Her face twisted into a mask of rage; she extended one of her massive hands towards one of the two remaining Defiled cruisers, crushing it in her grip… before THROWING it at us. We all dodged in various directions, and the smashed-up cruiser whizzed past and exploded behind us.
“To repeat my prior inquiry: WHAT THE FUCK?!” Miette said.
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing…” Sabina said.
I agreed with them both. “What in the everloving fuck is this Evangelion shit?!” Nobody here knew what Evangelion was, but they got my point well enough.
Kometka was the first one to offer any kind of useful explanation. “Moby was created to simulate and understand human nature. Perhaps she believes by assuming human shape, she is closer to that goal. Still, we shouldn’t assume she’s more powerful simply because she changed her form.”
Just then, Mega-Moby opened up her mouth. Her teeth and throat glowed bright blue, and a searing beam of positron energy blasted forth from it towards us. Once again we scattered in every direction, dodging.
“On the other hand…” Kometka said, frowning intensely.
“Was that POSITRON FIRE?!” Lydia asked incredulously.
“It was,” Kometka confirmed, “at an output level matching the firepower of an Almaz station.”
Maid Squadron reacted about as you’d expect.
“What the hell?”
That last one was Miette.
Moby had revealed her final form, a freaking kilometer-tall eldritch naked butterfly lady with charged particle breath, and none of us was quite sure what to do.