Circa 250 E-years after the ACC had gone into parking orbit round Styxus 2, had sent unmanned sounders, gathered and carefully analyzed samples of ground, rocks, microbiodes, florodes, and properly adhering, as directed, to its age old mandate, factored that the life cargo, properly nurtured, corrected, and sheathed, might debark here or nowhere else.
The ACC chose its landing site and lightly approaching outer atmosphere rings, began the descent that would bring it to a round fruit-yellow marsh bordering upon what seemed a deep crimson lake, thereby accomplishing the penultimate milestone of its ancient mandate.
The binary text ceases.
The holotext begins.
Then there was no motion at all except the planet's own slow wobbly axial spinning and the more generous undulations and gyros of that particular cosmic system. The stillness was overwhelmingly compressing. The ACC, all sensory systems overloaded, felt the strain within its carapace as if its central equilibrium system were stressed beyond fail safe. So too, the podded human cargo registered wracked by the overwhelming pressures of this zero momentum stasis. Then there was registered a state shift, a momentary transferal of liquid, solid and gaseous systems.... then an equally abrupt reversal.
Simulated grav at high speeds was based on thousands of micro-assumptions; but the pull of Styxus 2 (2.4 E-G's) on the vertically parked ship and on its occupants resulted in a violent new steady state that seemed to rent them molecularly towards the heavy center of this firm planet. A large number of fatal fissures had materialized in the ACC's core circuitry but worse felt was the way the fused elements metastasized, spreading to areas that had remained sound throughout the long ordeal, resulting in particle back-ups in significant areas of the machine brains, where simple molecular shifts irreversibly eroded the antique data assumptions they embodied. Thousands of silicon layers distributed in some of the most sensitive function areas melded together in surprisingly violent DNA-like reconfigurations that could not have been predicted by the scores of teams that had programmed the theory of this end moment.
Absolute quiet had ignited the machine's molecular core, fusion reversed polarity in quantum abruptness.... nothing stirred –a low whistling welled from deeply within the pitch dark habspace and then the ACC plunged soundly in the first deep hibernation of its own proper existentialism.
This nap would last, alas, for five thousand E-years until the writhing death dance of two nearby galaxies set off a chain of force fields that washed ever so slightly upon the trajectory of the third sun of Styxus 2, a large light green spectrum sphere cutting low across the planet's eastern sky that reactivated the machine guts of ACC-10G-10347 as it perched still in the dark.
Back in this time, there it sat closed hatch, nuclear unreactive, powered down for wide spectrum photon absorption in a part of the sky that had absorbed these particles before they reached the surface. Now because of the cosmic shift there was a small glimmer from that sun as its orbit shifted around its siblings. The ACC felt the pulses across its newly born sensory system. This set off a long process of subconscious optimization auto-reconfiguration. Each photon and electron had to be redirected to where it could be most effective in a new core survival strategy harmonic with the piecemeal directives that had fragmented like shards in an ancient force field. Unconsciously, the ACC took stock, made circuit switches, amended static memory …... fused and refused.
That long prior breakdown in the ACC's ability to function had left the band of carbon-base automatons in its stomach much on its own untutored resources. The elegant PSYCULT application which was at the core of the feasibility of the debarkation routine for the helpless breathers was all but off-line. Static memory persisted in accessible flashes like pixels against the boundaries of a screen field. Their fetus-like minds gasped for input. And yet they stirred, moved, stood and ambulated about. They looked out at each other with nary self recognition.
The abridged PSYCULT flashed on... an anthem of futile pictures and sounds before their dulled sense organs meant to stimulate DNA amended cultural memory configurations. The ACC went into deeper hibernation, internal functions all but shut down. It had no mission.
The breathers followed their routine, detethered from their vital system umbilicals, and achieved their movement routines. Their was an ignited consciousness and there began consciousness-directed activities. They would move about, they would activate muscle systems, they would make language and they would acknowledge each other's existence in the stuttering pitch darkness..
They did their routines, did their routines, did their routines. They listened, they saw, they communicated to each other all so very languidly. They breathed the atmosphere of ACC's internal oxygen generators, units that were designed to run out, they digested the intravenous nutrition even as they learned to insert nutrients orally. And they slept long sleeps still tethered despite the directive to wean. This was to be a still birth.
And still the ACC slept.