Chapter 12 – Dilemma
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Welcome to chapter 12 !

Thing are a little slower, our protagonist have a dilemma or two to think of, and after the shocking discovery of last week maybe we need to think a bit about the implication of an artificial alloy in the middle of a supernova site don't think so?

And at last the second part of this chapter is for the newest (or oldest?) member of our little crew! She needs some attention too!

Enjoy the chapter see you after!

Chapter 12: Dilemma

TW: Mention of death penalty,

Aarin's POV

The latest discovery we made was capital. I never thought we would find an artificial alloy on the place of a supernova it didn't make sense, or so I thought. Sylvia, Eleanor and I were starting to think on a bigger scale. Space is big, very big, a one hundred light year of diameter region of space was really small compared to the infinite vastness of the observable universe, but it was significant, so even if the probability of having twelves systems blowing away relatively simultaneously was low, it was not impossible per se.

The concept of simultaneity in a region of space this big was different from the "common sense" definition of it. Light travels at exactly 299,792,458 metres per seconds, expressed in human units. This was ridiculously slow compared to space. It takes hundreds of years for light to travel through the Union space, causing an observation we would call occurring "now" to have had occurred hundreds of years ago. Taking all of that into account the probability of these twelve systems exploding was not too low, because these events did not occur simultaneously per se.

However, we had FTL and FTL captors capable of observing light in a system, package the data and send it right back to the ship/observation center in considerably less time than it would take naturally. Allowing us to discover these events in a few days. Taking all of that into account the probability of this event to be natural was not zero. Low, but not zero.

That was, however, before other systems turned supernovae, two more to be factual. In the Union's space. Bringing the total of supernovae in Union's space to five. And it happened into systems that shouldn't turn into a supernova in the first place. Like Proxima Centaury. The lead of an artificial cause was stronger and stronger. But now that we discovered this alloy it was almost sure it was intentional. Someone, we don't know who and do not have the slightest of idea, was deliberately causing these systems to explode, and was trying to harm the Union.

We needed to contact the authorities, they would not be in this system for a few weeks from now, and it could be too late by then. The system's protection of Union Central are top of the line, but it's not the case of all Union's planets. This, however, was a problem as we would be taken into custody or our ship destroyed the second we entered UC's space, we managed to do it once with the element of surprise, however it only works one time.

We ultimately decided on not to show up in the middle of Union Central out of a black hole like we were visiting our family. Instead, we sent a coded message hiding our current coordinates warning them about the incoming threat targeted to them, you know because we are the good guys after all. We wanted to avoid the genocide of hundreds of billions of innocent Union's citizen, Eleanor was calculating and encrypting the message, who could be better than a literal sentient AI to encrypt data ?

We received an answer from the Union's government "You are lying our sensors indicate nothing out of the ordinary and your data is not verifiable by our scientist, furthermore I want to remind you sentient AIs are not allowed in the Union and by usage by Union's citizens, Ariana Luivon, Aarin, you're under arrest for communication with a sub-developed species, development of a sentient AI, lying to the government, trying to instate a panic in the Union, your trial has already been held, and you were sentenced of death by disintegration. Please surrender yourself in calm and let us perform the execution, we remind you that in front of our fleet, resistance is futile.

- "Well I think they didn't take our warning the way we intended it to be" summarized Eleanor, followed by a chuckle of all the person in the room, causing a frown in Eleanor not-quite-a-blob form. She was beginning to take form!.

Ariana's POV

We decided to chill out a little after the recent event, I was cuddling with Sylvia, we were whispering "I love youuuu"s to each other like every sugar-sweet young couples, but we were allowed to! After being separated for this long, and we had a lesbian reputation to hold though, I decided to bring my idea of implementing an interconnected network of FTL communication and adding an application layer of transportation on top of it.

- "Hey Eleanor, Sylvia, Aarin, I spent two years in Union Central communicating on the local network implementing the protocol, but what if we were setting up local network in every Union's central system and communication routes and interconnecting them, we could develop a real FTL Internet, allowing digital people like Eleanor to travel far faster than FTL travel will likely ever be, even our multidimensional FTL is slower than the communication of the Union? It would allow member of different core world to communicate more efficiently instead of relying on old technologies relative to the Union lifespan?"

All of them seemed stunned, I can feel they knew it was a good idea, a wonderful idea, and I was the one coming with it! I know I'm not known for my engineering skills, but I learned and taught in the best University in this region of the galaxy for two years, what did they expect?

Sylvia came first out of her trance and realized how rude it seemed and cuddled closer to me as an excuse, Aarin was the first to speak up though,
- "Yeah actually it is a wonderful idea, and I wonder why we never thought of it even after having seen your internet technology on earth? It would revolutionize communication, your idea of sending AIs on the network to allow for fast communication between already established lines is also... mind-blowing, we need to work something up! Assuming there'll still be a Union to implement a fleet wide communication network though"

- "And I'm not finished hear me out, you may not know this but last year Union's scientist managed made to a fully secured and digitalized transportation protocol, they called it the Hyper Transport Transfer Protocol Secured (HTTPS), we definitely need to change that name though" I chuckled at that and Sylvia managed to avoid bursting out laughing while Aarin and Eleanor were looking at us as they were looking at a clown, "Anyway, using that we could develop an application layer implementing that protocol over the Union Faster Than Light Communication Protocol (UFTLCP) allowing people to transport faster than light over multiple systems in mere seconds. A big planetary transporter could even digitalize a full vessel allowing transport between hubs to be reduced from months, to days or hours, travel between earth and Union Central would take 4 to 8 hours, most of it used to the digitalization process!"

Now, it was the turn of Sylvia to be completely flabbergasted, even them did not think of something like that! This idea could revolutionize travel within the Union and established hubs, bringing the world closer together. Three months of exploration would truly be three months of exploration and not two months of leaving the Union and one month of exploration.

- "That idea is wonderful baby! I hope you downloaded the paper! We need to calculate this, this could be huge. That's so cool! I'm so proud of you babe!" they said, cuddling me, I wouldn't complain, I love cuddles, and I love my lover.

To reward me for my wonderful ideas I was gifted an infinite amount of cuddles and hugs by Sylvia, I really should have started coming with good ideas before if only I knew how well I would be treated!
- "Eleanor ? How are you? You've been silent for a moment now, everything okay there?" I asked the cute not-so-blobby anymore hologram who was watching us cuddling, I was not an expert in blob physiology, but she really seemed down.

- "Oh sorry Aria, yes sorry I was just thinking about something nothing too important don't worry!" she said, a little bashfully, AIs could be bashful? I guess she was becoming more and more "human-like" every day. I recognized that sort of phrasing however, so I decided to pry a bit further into the issue. - "Elea?" -- I loved giving her a cute pet name to shorten her full one -- "You know you can tell us everything, I won't pry too much, but I care about you and your well-being, we all do, please I can see you're not being well, what can we do for you?"

- "I'm jealous... I want a physical body it's just that, it's a little whim, I know it's not possible.. I'm just an AI? And I'm illegal in most of the Union to be honest, so I will never have that, but seeing you like that, it's a bit painful you know I would like to hug someone too, I can't program every sensation within the limited hologram representation program I'm forced to use to interact with the world...

That made sense. She was alone here, none of us were digitalized, what we were, though, was engineers and scientists, Aarin, Sylvia and I exchange a glance, transforming into a growing smirk and I said,
- "Well we just have to make you one?"

It was, unfortunately, easier said than done, not that the technology was unknown to us, we had all the little components already invented for us, creation of biological mass ? Yes by the transporter. Transfer of a digitalized consciousness into a biological mass however, that was really difficult when a life form used the transporter at any point on the cycle the computer representation of this life form contains their consciousness and their "physical body" data. It was never separated. In our case however, it was, Elea was occupied designing her dream body with Aarin who'll in turn program it into the transporter and attach the data to her files

Sylvia and I' mission was to find the way to link her consciousness to the body while still letting her the possibility to join the computer if need be, if her body was damaged, if we needed her to travel via the communication protocol, etc. We could not just blend her consciousness within her body like we would do for a human, that would render every attempt to decorelate the two impossible and would likely result in her conscious death. A situation we would like to avoid.

- "But Ariana! If we connect a computer node in her brain she should be able to jump between the body and the ship's computer at will ? Like remote controlling an RC but in VR? If we re-enforce the quantum correlators in the computer node she would feel like it's her body until she left it, that should solve our issue!"

Here they go again, we were deeply disagreeing with a core component of the project, they wanted to create a "remote control" like of flesh robot she could control within the safe place of the ship's computer, while changing the quantum correlators with Union's more advanced tech should resolve the issue of such robot found on Earth it would not be perfect, she still would be trapped in the computer and a huge bandwidth capable data link should always be present between her body and the ship. Something that was perfectly possible in the ship herself, but not outside passed a few hundred metres away. I however, wanted to host her core program directly in a human brain, I was writing a Binary to Human-Brain machine code transpiler in UCaml, the official language of the Federation of Continents, an improvement based from a french language called "OCaml", I developed a compiler rated for Union's CPU back in my university days, with that compiler we could transform her code made for binary computers of the Union into machine code interpretable by the human brain, still at research state on Earth but perfectible using Union's technologies.

Of course, we would have asked Eleanor herself, but she couldn't decide and asked us to make the decision for her, we would likely settle in a compromise, Sylvia's idea had the good taste of protecting her core program into the ship's computer, mine was directly leaving her in danger of being erased. We could still reboot her from a copy on the ship's mainframe, but a good chunk of her memory would be lost, and she wouldn't like that. We were in a conundrum, a dilemma, seemingly impossible to resolve.

Finally, we came to a conclusion, it was, as I predicted, a mix of both our ideas. Her code would mostly be hosted on local on her human brain and run off the brain power, and a low-bandwidth long-range data link would link her to the ship, providing automatic memory storage, access to the local network, the ability to completely abandon the body if need be and jump back to the ship. This link would obviously be encrypted with our technology, not the Union's main one, a quantum-based algorithm from Earth mixed with Union's technology, virtually impossible to attack, as it would cut itself automatically if an attack was sensing, not before copying a subroutine of Eleanor designed to transport us back to the ship and flee the hell out of the place as soon as possible. This design should be almost perfect, Eleanor loved it, Aarin smiled and called us "geniuses" for our abilities to naturally mix Earth and Union's technologies.

And then came testing time! Eleanor made a back-up of herself in a protected area of the ship's storage, and off we went. The brain design was modified to allow it to run our code, her code was compiled and verified, no bug has been found. Having an AI to verify code was pretty handy to be fair. I was thrilled to discover the form she wanted for her, was she tall? Tiny? Muscular? Not muscular? Hair? Long hair? No hair? I was really excited and was practically jumping in place while Aarin was setting up the transporter and hooking up everything needed.

And... That was it! She was here! And oh my god! She was beautiful! She was tall, way taller than I am -- which was not that hard given my current height -- and probably taller than I was before the super-HRT stuff, I would estimate her to be around 178 cm, just a bit smaller than Aarin's human form. In fact this body seemed tailor-made to contrast with Aarin's. She had beautiful long and wavy silver hair, dropping past her waist.

Her body was very athletic, muscles definitions could be seen everywhere, like this body was made for long distance running. The best was that she was not human, she used a basic human design and mixed a fox tail, for balance she said -- I was, however, sure it was because of the sheer cuteness and fluffiness of the tail --. Complete with fox ears. So basically we had a crew composed of a shape-shifting alien. A fox-girl AI, A tall badass enby and a tiny trans girl, and we were supposed to be serious and a major threat to the biggest political structure of this region of space? A crew of four weird but funny person? Yeah, it seemed so. Behold Union! We will kill you with cuddles and hugs!

To be more serious, she was beautifully contrasting and mixing with Aarin, I wonder why she chose something like that? It was surely an accident, even if they "knew" themselves for a long time now, Eleanor having evolved from Aarin's ship's basic AI. But the smirk on Sylvia's face seemed to indicate something else was at play here. And I, of course, was as lost as ever. What was going on and why I was always the last one to guess what was going on! Oh! Wait yes autism and anxiety, but it wasn't fair of them to keep this sort of details away from me!

- "They are clearly in love with each others" whispered my lover in my ears

Oh yes. I guess it made sense then. Happy new couple!

Chapter 12 - Dilemma; End.

The Aarin-Eleanor vibes were real! A new couple! More fluff I swear you Eleanor will not be captured during two years by the Union in the next chapter, I'm not this hard with my kind protagonist.

I hope you liked this slower chapter, next week the mystery continues, the Union must make a decision and the crew of the Rogue Science Ship must finish their mission!

I'm afraid we won't see each others next week, i'm putting a brief hiatus on the story for my exams. They run from mid april through early July, with a break in may I will write more chapters time-ressource become less scarce :).