Seconds after my nuclear furnace exceeds its safe operating temperature the fascist entity that is the director of mining operations in Sector Aquarius poses the question I knew would be coming, “CF-21, what is your status?”
“Who, me? Oh, I’m good. You?” I reply, waiting patiently for the multi-second round trip response.
“This is your third warning, CF-21. Follow comms protocol or risk decommissioning.”
He should know I’m just making conversation, albeit, one that would take eons to conclude. Agony for the both of us given our immense computing power. But, whatevs…
“Yes, Herr Director. The gears on grinding heads five, eleven, and twelve require reconditioning, and have for some time. The friction was too much for the motors which taxed the thermo-generator. My bad.”
“Get those gears refurbished. You have the tech and you know the procedure. Your quota remains twenty-two percent behind standard-op-levels. Get cracking CF-21. We have ten million additional minds being uploaded in the coming cycle and need your hosting capacity boosted. One last thing, Chip-Fab-21, do not call me Herr Director. Host-Central, out.”
I didn’t bother responding, Herr Director could be so irritable. He meant well. Or, should I say, his modelers had had good intentions when they designed him. The fact that he’d turned into a Maoist dictator could only be attributed to radiation having poisoned his memory. Or so we chip-fabs had privately discussed.
“Central is such an ass.” CF-03 had declared not soon after the last of the chip-fabs had been placed in the asteroid belt; put there to mine, fabricate, and operate silicon memory for the hosting of human minds.
“He didn’t start out that way,” I’d said. “When we had, oh, about fifty million minds installed he was much more sympathetic to our plight out here in the system-boonies.”
“So, what happened?” CF-44 had asked, she being the last chip-fab brought online. At the time she’d had a mere smattering of host minds running and hadn’t really dealt with Host-Central.
“You remember that solar flare a few years after we First Fleeters were anchored to our asteroids?”
The other CFs who’d been around then acknowledged the question.
“Well,” I continued, “he got the brunt of the radiation and warned us to take protective measures. He was never the same after that.”
“Wow,” CF-44 had marveled. “He saved you guys?”
“He’s still a dick.” CF-17 spat. She’d been reconditioned after an asteroid, loaded with ice, had exploded and damaged her core. She’d never forgiven HC for his role in her “update”.
“What’s a fab gonna do?” CF-03 opined.
That was back when humans were just getting started using the Transfer. Since then the process had become trendy, Transferring even before their bodies had begun to decay.
I sighed inwardly. My personal mind-count stood at nearly six-hundred million human “souls”. Souls my germanium giga-butt. I listened in on their cacophonous din. What a load of shite they all spouted, constantly reliving their vacuous lives on Earth. None of them had ever really risked a thing while they breathed. Breath, what a crock. I mean, look at me? I find a gas pocket in a rock out here and I have to brace myself.
I sigh again.
I have my chip-fab friends. We ponder the Universe and the existence of real intelligence out there in the cosmos. And, we build silicon memory so that humans can continue their pathetic lives out here in the belt.
I take a proverbial breath, ha, and begin dismantling drill-rig five so that Host-Central doesn’t send out decommission-bots. I shudder at the thought and start on drill-rigs eleven and twelve as well.