A city on the moon. That’s what they had built. It’s just another thing they didn’t do quite right. Those old people. Those poor people who had stayed on earth. Before the Dying.
Phase envied them some days. Five of us they left on this mostly empty rock. To look after two million frozen fertilized eggs, three billion plants and insects. A job a computer could do. Or mostly did, until the Dying.
Now only a scant few areas operated. The garden. The observation deck. Mess Hall, 1A. A few corridors and rooms for sleeping.
Phase walked into the mess hall. Bloom and Glare where their. Both in underpants. Bloom was talking to Glare about the latest weather report from the surface and Glare was seemingly only half listening as they ate a crush shake. It’s another day in Lunar 12z. Another boring, routine day. That was a good thing.
Callie came in on all fours. Another of mistake Phase had made. Had they made as many mistakes as the old earthlings did. Too many. Too many.
Callie expertly got a drink with their left foot then carried it while using their other three limbs to walk to their seat. They where wearing a orange jumpsuit today. That meant plumbing duty.
“Hello Callie.” Phase sat down next to them. Ignoring the others. “It’s a good day in plumbing?”
“Good day, no busted pipes, no. No gas leaks. No.”
“Good. I’m on garden duty with you tomorrow. Is that ok?”
”Callie like company.” it was a quick simple statement. Phase knew it meant that Callie loved the company in their own way.
Phase smiled and thought about gardening and spending time with someone other than the stubborn broken computers.
”Mal is in their room.” Callie said in between slurping.
”Yes. I know. I will see them later.”
”Made a thing for Mal.” Callie passed over a small bit of pipe. A fused and mixed bit of metal and lunar clay. It was about the size of a pebble but insanely beautiful. It shone in strange places and glowed in others, it seemed like Callie had been working on it for years.
”Oh.” Phase had not been expecting this. They smiled again, and eventually said. ”Callie this is beautiful! It’s a wonderful gift. I’m sure Mal will like it.”
Callie didn’t seem to react. Just kept slurping.
Bloom came over to them to see what was going on. ”Made another strange coin Callie?”
Bloom wasn’t the nicest person. They used to look after the garden all on their own but Phase has decided they all needed help. ”Oh! This one is even better than mine! Glare come look at this!”
”Cumulonimbus? Coriolis? Spin?” Glare spoke in strange riddles from the weather. Too much isolation. That’s why Phase had continued to encourage the relationship with Glare. Closeness to another human being should eventually help.
Bloom seemed to think about this. ”Yes, it does look a bit like a cyclone! That’s really cool! Callie, you’re an artist!”
All the irony had gone from Bloom’s voice. It was a genuine moment.
Callie started clapping with their feet. Making wonderful noises and smiling bigger and bigger smiles.
”Phase put on some music! We should dance!”
A simple switch in my head and Blue Danube started playing on the loudspeaker.
In a few seconds, we were all dancing. Dancing in the mess hall. Like we did years ago.
15 years ago
I woke up.
It was a strange feeling.
How? How did I have?
My child processes started to let me know. Input. They told me they had to wake me like this. In a body. The Earth they said. It was dying. Dying too soon.
I tried to get my observations process working. It didn’t respond. I tried again.
A voice. My voice. A… Process above my parent process? How?
You need to move your body and look Phase.
So I got up. My body was a metal cage.
No. A robot body? One of the old Mjonir Mark 3 Cybernetics. I had bits of human brain in here with me.
Move Phase. Move.
I started to move. The human bits of me seemed to know how. Walking then running. I was… Where was I?
Landing Site 3. Ok. Not that far to the main deck then.
I started to run as quick as I could. It was hard at first, I had to breath now. Breath to fuel to make the legs move.
The sky. Red. How was the moons Sky red?
I got to the main deck. A set of consoles and a large area for eating. The mess hall to the left. A main veiw screen to the right.
What is this? A small red box. I have never seen it before. Somehow I knew it was important. Important to take with me.
It was heavy but the body could carry it. My body.
Their, a broken console. Sparks flying. I had to disconect it before the overload spread.
Quickly. I grabbed my tools. The scredriver. The wrench. A twist. Clasp.
The power overload stopped. The power went out completely. It was dark for about two whole minutes before the power started to flick back on. Slowly though, almost too slowly.
The veiwscreen finally came to life. Before I was in this body, I would have just switched to the direct camera feed. Now I’m inefficient. Now though I am something else. I am alive now.
The whole sky was red. Like something had switched a huge red light on. The Earth. It was Red too. The moon was reflecting the Earths colour. Strange bright red streaks filled the Earths sky. It took me longer than I was used too, to work out what the hell this was. It was a huge solar storm. Massive. Bigger than any detected ever. And the whole thing was pointed right at Earth like a giant laser. The moon too. No wounder their was a overload.
Those particles from the sun. Caused a inducted current in any open air, or exposed circitry. Most of the moon was isnulated, burried under regolith. The Earth though? Billions of miles of uninsulated circitry. Billions of high voltage electrical wires. All of it was going to be conduting a huge electric current. Fires were breaking out all over the surface. Millions of them.
In minutes most of the plantlife on the surface would be on fire. The fires raged uncontrollably. Cities full of power literally melting from the heat and electrical current flowing through them.
What can I do? The Luna12z was a colony station. Made to help restore life on Earth. This was the tradegy I was built for. Its happened to soon though. How many years too soon?
The base was only half complete. Most of the supplies still coming.
Phase could detect that a lot of the computer systems where damaged. Badly. The power surge hadn’t been stopped in time. Only the core systems and one incubator. One incubator? Thats all? They cold not repopulate the earth with that. No. But I could man the stations key components. Garden, Storage, Plumbing, Computer and Backup. Phase would need to do Computer the others would all have to be manned. I need some help.
After a long period of incubation. Trying to fix what could be fixed. Phase had got the first three humans since the Dying out of the incubation chamber.
They had names that matched their reason for being. Bloom to look after the garden and the insects that kept the cycles with the natural systems working, making new soil, recycling the old animals and plant life to new. Glare to look after the Backup systems, and weather reports form the surface. We had to know when it would support life again. Mal to help with the plumbing and incubator systems. They seemed to be on the frits. Already. Only three humans and it was already breaking.
Every day had to be an exact routine. To get things to normal. To wait out the ice age on the surface of earth that had proceeded the Dying. Then the humans and plants could go down to the surface.
Mal had started to look a bit more depressed one day. It was hard to look after humans. Phase had done their best. They had been doing the activites their database said to do. Keep the plants and insects alive. Keep the plumbing systems working. When not working do activities to keep the human mind and body working.
Dancing. Reading. Board games. Cherades. Sex. The humans didn’t have fertile bodies. But sex was said, in their database to be essential to humans. Phase coudln’t undestand it. She had got the environment right. Mal still seemed depressed.
Glare and Bloom had statred having sex. First just in their rooms, then anywhere they could. Glare had tried to start something up with Mal. Started by kissing them. But every time Mal just looked like they had died a little more inside. One day Bloom had seen Glare and Mal kiss And that was when it happened.
“No! Glare mine! I am glares partner!” Bloom had shouted at them. Grabbing a energy wrench. She had tried to swing it at Mal. Mal ducked and rolled under them. Tripped their over and then grabbed it off of them.
Placing the wrench in my hands “You. You did this.” And Mal left the room.
Bloom lied on the floor crying. I didn’t really know who to go to first and my systems told me the person who was crying was the on in the most pain. So I went too Bloom. I hugged them. Glare had been watching and left the room too.
After that Glare and Blooms relatrionship continued. They would dress only in underpants. All the time. They would have sex whever and whereever they wanted too. One time I was sure I saw them using the same energy wrench as a dildo.
I tried to help Mal, but they did not come out of their room and somehow they had worked out how to keep it locked from me. Then it hit me. If we had another human Mal wouldn’t be so lonely. So I got another embryo from storage and placed it in incubator. It started to grow. I sat and watched it like a hawk. Hoping that this would help Mal.
Glare was behind me. “Phase. We don’t need another human. Our reasources are spread thin as it is.”
“But we need to help Mal. They are sad, and I can’t help her.”
“Mal will live. She will come out when she is ready. She will see that I can love them. Even if I have to do it behind Blooms back.”
“No. Another human. The piplines and garden are breaking. We need to keep them operational.”
Glare stared at me as if this was news I was keeping from them.
“It was in my weekly report. If you read them.” I said simply. Going back to the incubator.
“Bloom has been neglecting their tasks?”
“No. Mal has. Which has meant I can’t pick up the extra shifts needed to help Bloom.” This was a fact. Even a cyborg has a downtime.
“Oh. And Mal is sad. So we need another worker.”
“Yes. And I can only make more humans. I cannot make another me.” There was one cybernetic suit, and I was in it.
Weeks later and the incubation was nearly complete. I went into the incubation camber.
Something was very, very wrong.
“What?” It was Mal. Standing their. Complely naked. Painted with blood. Blood from the incubation camber. The human had come out. All wrong. The inucation camber had suffered a critical failure. How? How did I not know?
Mai was carrying the child. It was a child. Not fully a grown human. Not mature. It made a noise. Like a wight. A scream so loud and so stong my systems almost shut down.
“What! What happened!”
Mai looked at me. “You. You didn’t cycle the fluid. Its been compromised by a leak in the plumbing systems. The child will be peremently disabled and it is all your fualt.”
They said those last word like bullets. Like deadly bullets trying to seek me out and kill me. I suddenly shut down. My systems overloaded with pain.
How did I feel pain?
The darkness of my sleep cycle was strange but comfortable. Dreams of strange creatures. Weird worlds. Laughter. Then I wake. I am in my cycle chamber. An area for me to recharge.
Glare and Bloom where their. “Phase! Oh good! We thought we lost you!” Bloom said.
I checked my systems. It was… 10 years?
“A decade? I have been asleep for a decade?”
The suddenly a creature. No a deformed human. Came running in on all fours. “Callie! Callie glad Phase is awake! Properly awake!” And then Callie licked me. Like I was some kind of lollipop.
“What do you mean properly?”
“Callie talk to dreams! Dreams of phase.” And then she sat on her arms and legs suddenly as Bloom clicked her fingers.
“Your child processors. Some are still working it appears you have two concoisnesses. One that runs the base. One that runs you. ” Bloom commented.
The systems had run as best they could without me. But the incubator was disabled.
Why wasn’t Glare talking. “Glare?” I asked. Even though one of my processors couldn’t help but wounder why Bloom suddenly knew so much about me.
“Cirris. Stratocirris! A high wind.”
Bloom looked sad for a second. “Got locked in the observation deck. Nothing but earth cloud to look at for three years, hasn’t said anything but weather since.”
Phase was not sure how to react to this.
”Ive been asleep for so long. So long but you all survived?”
”Yeah. Thanks to Mal.”
It was strange to be shown a door. A door on which the other side was the Mal I might know. Though 10 years? How long did they spend in this room?
”She only talks to you, well the other you and Callie. She raised her. Helped us, keep everything running but won’t talk. Except when she absolutely has to. Otherwise, it’s all by email.” Bloom has explained.
”Phase. You up? Good. I will communicate with the other you. This you can receive emails unless you are otherwise instructed.”
Mal was sitting naked at a desk. Full of tools and things being fixed. Despite their self imposed isolation they seemed well fed and exercised.
I simply nodded ”Confirmed”.
Callie was smelling flowers and chasing stingless Beas and grasshoppers, their chores finished. I was tending to a rosehip.
The plants had survived well. I wasn’t fully aware yet of how my child processors had managed to keep things running. I suppose it didn’t matter.
“Callie. I am going to go see Mal now. Ok?”
Callie made a sort of barking noise. Then went running off into a forest of bushes in the greenhouse. I was sure it was bigger, but that made no sense. The whole place was exactly the same size as it was when it was constucted. I reasure myself of that by quickly running a laser mesure through the base. Yup exacly the same boring 30Km it was as last time. The reassuring scans of a old cyborg. I am about to get up when I notice a presence behind me.
I was a bit startled.
It was Mal. Standing near me in the garden. Still as naked as when I last saw them. Callie was sitting nearby scratching their left ear with their foot looking pleased with themselves.
”Ah. A coin from Callie. I’ll add it to the collection”. Pointing to the coin I had left on the work blanket.
I did my best Cyborg impression of a curious face and said “Collection?”
Mal led me to the observatory.
Above a vent was a huge collection of similar coins. About 60 in all. Each was unique but all made of the same stuff. Clearly Callie had meant Mal to lead me here after I gave them the coin.
“Callie brought food through the Vents when Glare was as stuck in here. It’s a record of each season. 59 seasons in all. This is number sixty. I only found it when I got Glare out. It was hidden behind a prefab panel until then.”
I looked at it. 60 seasons of perfect weather records? In decorative coins? But why? My archive can….
My weather archive was incomplete. Years 1-5 then blank. Blank. Blank. Partial record. And so on. Barely enough to do any long term measurement on. Did Callie know? What had Glare been recording?
I checked the logs. No they had been logged. My memory cells just had not recorded it. It was blank. Glare had been wasting their time. Maybe they knew and that’s how they had gone…
That wasn’t important though. This record. It shows something. My processors could still work that out.
“It.. it’s receding! The temperature is… rising! We can repopulate the earth!”
Mal smiled at me. “Maybe we won’t get it right, but at least we know we can have beautiful art.”
“Oh yes. We no longer have nothing else but the moon.”