Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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Flash Fiction: Down in the darkness.

In the ruins of the matrioshka brain things were stirring: Von Neumann machines twisted by time and the slow poison of a storm of radiation, the evolutionary descendants of the machines that had dismantled a solar system. Now they were parasites and predators, hiding in the warm depths, down by the almost star, in amongst decaying spirals of matter and energy. In the dark depths of the ocean of space the machines had found a black smoker - hot matter and energy clustered around the brown dwarf. Time and the slow tides had left them with little but to prey on each other and to pick over the remains of the civilisation that they had created.

The bright spark of our caesium exhaust was a sign that there was new prey.

"We've got about 30 hours until they get out to where we want to go."

I paged through the screens. Neutrino bursts from down in the dark around the star pinpointed the machines' reactors.

"Five or six big beasties and an unknown number of riders coming this way."

Tory looked over at me. "And you think we can find something valuable in that time? In this system, where a dozen scavenger missions have found nothing?"

"No one's hit those 2AU clusters. There's something big at the heart of each of them, and I'm hoping it's an archive."

Sponsored by an awkward alliance of IBM and the National Geographic, we were looking for transcendent technologies that we could exploit. A lot of money was riding on our mission, and our cobbled together starship.

A more few taps at an invisible keyboard. "We can be in and on our way out again with one short jump and a set of 2G burns."

Another blink to page in a screen. "Better check out the suitships."

(Edited from an original posted as a comment to shadesong's "tell me a story" experiment.)
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