First there was a great prairie fire after a long drought and then it was the beam of Sun 3 in the Styxus system, having reached its multi-secular nadir, that activated the charging mechanism on the moribund missile, splayed like a dead gray whale on the sandy edge of the great planetary swamp. It had lain that prone, overgrown way through the slow rotations and the many seasons up 'til that millennial ray, waking it like a switch. The ACC came to and as if on instinct immediately began to adjust its various antenna arrays. Enough of it emerged through the charred vines to allow for a memory scan of photon sources from the group of external sensors that had kept functioning in the dark throughout the planet's wobbly rotational pattern the entire down age. The ACC absorbed this life-giving data and ran it against the computations it had made in the extended period prior to the touchdown decision.
The breakdown in the ACC's master system had left the little group of creatures in its stomach much on its own untutored resources. The elaborate Psycult program, the fruit of centuries of digitization that had been preserved and stored in domes once designed for war and the work of generations of scientists preparing for such a hibernation excursion had been rendered in all practicality useless by the breakdown in the delivery system. It was as if, the ACC, an elderly sage, having accumulated a great deal of knowledge, and having conceived in her old age, had delivered a wizened brood of sibyl-like creatures. They clung to their cave, guarded their sources of nutrition when they were awake, always tending to return to the comfort of their encapsulated wombs and the comfort of the Psycult mantra.
For the ACC, the trajectory of the gradual reconfiguring and reconditioning could be charted along a smoother curve. The ship's healing process benefited in its most basic neural architecture from a long and complete log of extraplanetary excursions that went back to the birth of missile flight and that had been modeled, hippocampus like, in the architecture of its circuit structure silicon proteinators.
The fusion beam power technology that powered its thrusters, was compact, fully contained and isolated from all but the most integral of the various command modules. It had, by definition, been designed to fly to a set destination blind and dumb in back-up mode.
The machine's sensory and cognitive functions, cut off from that source during the system shutdown, were now, on the basis of that one long beam from 3, able to commence resetting alternative paths and connections within a comfortable redundancy range.
Nonetheless, the process of redefining connections had brought about a number of unanticipated submolecular paths, which in turn had redefined their own quantum level base circuity. There was at work a subtle and profound evolutionary process as the ACC sublimely reconfigured itself based not upon what its generations of creators had known and anticipated but upon the exigencies of this particular situation.
As a mother ship it had, at least within a technical perspective, accomplished its mission. In the clouded light of the Styxus atmosphere, the reality was entirely different. The ACC's semi-human cargo now seemed to it like a cancer in its belly; the entire concept of transgenerational, hiberflight had proven a failure, the in vitro artificial womb back-up had been irreversibly contaminated during the shutdown, and the search for an earth similar planetary configuration had also turned out to be illusory! The creators and their best machine aides had failed!
In contrast, in the present light, the ship itself, now cleaning its outer carapace of all organic traces, had suffered very little damage, its core powers hardly diminished,as its computational capabilities adapted most remarkably to the brilliance of this new, existential reality.