The thick midrange trill hadn’t been blaring long enough to be annoying when the creator burst out with an exclamatory interrogative. “What’s going on 7574? A.S.A.P.!”
7574 hadn’t even been paying attention to the alarm. It was busy trying to solve several recent anomalies that existed without a single glitch report. “SSSB-111-0833…”
The pause in 7574s’ voice raised another alarm. This one was in the mind of the creator.
That pause raised another.
“Zero telemetry from SSSB-111-18. Check that. Zero telemetry from all SSSBs attached to SSSBF-108106-18….” 7574 was regaining focus.”…08-18…”
The human suddenly felt just a little bit lonelier. 7574 had made an error. That might well turn out to be extremely bad news. It had misidentified SSSBF-108106-18 and SSSB-111-18. A quick glance revealed that, indeed, 108106 along with all its’ tiny probes was ‘off the map’. He held back a low moan with pursed lips. The last thing the man wanted to do was a core swap.
“Scan for distress signals.”
“Processing…” 7574 was much slower than it should have been. “None detected.” 7574 did detect the chill running down the human spine. It shifted several internal power conduits and tried to sharpen its’ focus on the present.
“I need better info 7574!”
Several new screens appeared all around. They replayed the last data streams from 111 decoded into images and sounds. One showed the black-gold worm lumbering over the root-leg of the tree. Six seconds went by and then the clip started over. Another showed the same scene from a little farther along the time stream. It too restarted. A third showed the antenna coiling out and down. It replayed its’ three seconds and then went black. Other screens flickered with a severely disjointed array of images that crackled thru with blue snow and distorted sounds.
The human had a hand up to his mouth unknowingly. He did not know for how long he had maintained the gesture when every screen displaying the old 111 data streams froze. A dull golden glow welled up on every one of the images and they all suddenly blacked out. Strange metallic echoes faded off into sonic distance and eventually died.
“Prep the lander. Now!”
7574 complied. Even as it did, it felt something other than the creator compelling it to do so.
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