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Last Updated on November 1, 2022 by ADMIN-TOM

The Ragged Edge of Time
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Chapter Two: Gideon Prime

Gideon Prime awoke to bright lights and a low resonance hum. He looked to his left and smiled at the man watching him.
The man smiled back. “Hello. Do you know where you are?”
Gideon was on a gurney, none too stable under his weight and it shifted as he leveraged himself up on his elbows. “I have connected to the facilities main processor. Earth station three also known as the Horizon.”
“Correct,” the man said, a smile briefly lighting his face up.
Gideon liked this man’s smile and his kind face. Was that my first emotion? Was that my first thought?
The man could see a questioning look on Gideon’s face. “Are you feeling well? Do you know where you are on this facility?”
“I feel, well. Science lab 32?”
“Good and do you know who you are?”
“Yes, I am Species Human, variant twenty-seven.” There’s that nice smile again.
“Do you know your name?”
“Gideon Prime.”
“Very good, Gideon,” the man said, turning aside. “We must make a note to check algorithms based on personal ident,” he said to a figure standing behind him.
Gideon could see this other man and recognized him. “Hello Doctor Mizaki. How are you today?”
Doctor Mizaki came more fully into Gideon’s view. “Hello, Gideon. More to the point, how are you?”
“I am well, Doctor.”
Gideon looked at the first man he saw, the smiling man, a question pursed on his lips.
“Do you recognize me?”
Gideon looked at him for a moment. “You look like me, but different, older. Are you, my father?”
“Good, Gideon, I suppose you could say I am, yes. My name is Maxwell Bahn. I am your creator. Can you tell me the date and time?”
“September 23rd, 2435, and the time is 10:23 Earth standard.”
Gideon Prime did look like Maxwell Bahn; he was after all modelled on Bahn’s dead son, Gideon.
“I think we should look at testing.” As Doctor Hansi Mizaki was speaking, Gideon sat upright on the gurney and then swung his legs over the side and dropped to the floor.
“I would say Gideon is ahead of you there, Hansi.”
Hansi Mizaki watched Gideon walk around the small lab, touching objects and smelling them.
“It’s interesting, this feeling I have,” Gideon said to no one in particular.
“What feeling is that Gideon?” Bahn asked as he looked at Mizaki with a raised eyebrow.
“Being alive,” Gideon answered.
“Is that what you think you are, alive?”
“I feel it. What I think is that my few moments, so far, of being alive are about to end. I fear Dr. Mizaki wants to shut me down and carry out tests. Am I correct, Doctor?”
“Indeed Gideon, you are very astute.”
“I think it is logical to want to make sure your creation is not going into… shall we say, Frankenstein mode.” Hansi Mizaki laughed out load. Gideon laughed at the wonder on Mizaki’s face and the look of surprise on Bahn’s face. “Did I make a joke?” I think I must have cracked my first joke.
“Good first attempt, Gideon,” Bahn said, as though he had read Gideon’s mind. “Do you know what you are, compared to myself or Hansi here?”
“As I mentioned earlier, I am Species Human, variant twenty-seven. I haven’t changed in the last few minutes.”
“Yes, you are a variant on the human theme. But do you understand the difference?”
“Does there have to be a difference?” Gideon asked. “I can see from your faces that in your minds, there has to be a difference. You are biological, whereas I am more bio-tech. There’s more nano-tech to me than meets the casual observers eye.”
“Well put, Gideon. Tell me, though, do you know why we created you? What your purpose is?”
“The war with the Pleiades Empire is not going well. Your young men and women are dying in their thousands every day. The death of your son, Gideon, instigated your desire to save further human bloodshed. I am your answer to the Empire‘s intrusions into human space. I and more like me will be your soldiers in this war.”
“You are correct, Gideon,” Bahn said, both impressed and disturbed by Gideon’s knowledge. “How did you know about my son’s death?”
“I have connected to Earth’s central database. Information stored there is free for all to access. Your family details and the circumstances surrounding the death of your son are well documented.”
“Very well, Gideon,” Dr Mizaki said, interrupting the discourse. “I think it’s time we did a few of those tests you mentioned. You seem to be learning at a faster rate than we first anticipated.”
“As you wish, Doctor. I will lie on the Gurney and shut myself down.”
“You know how to do that?” Bahn asked, somewhat taken aback.
“Of course, it’s all in your database. I have downloaded the schematics. My analysis has shown a few errors you have made, but essentially you have the mix correct.”
Bahn and Hansi Mizaki swapped a brief look of concern as Gideon lay back down on the gurney and closed his eyes. There was no sign that he was anything but asleep. He didn’t need to breathe nor did he need to eat or sleep. His atomic batteries would last for centuries and were easy to replace. Gideon was the prototype for the ultimate warrior, trained in the art of war. He knew how to use weapons from handguns to ocean and space faring battle cruisers. Gideon was the ultimate fighting machine and Bahn hoped Gideon and those like him would triumph over Vastos Hugo.
Bahn’s thoughts turned to Vastos Hugo, son of an Earthman and Pleiades woman. Vastos Hugo, ostracized by humanity, tolerated by the Pleiades Emperor, but a man that none could ignore. Hugo likened himself to that fabled warlord of ancient earth, Genghis Kahn, a man so drenched in bloody conquest he knew nothing else but how to destroy the opposing army.
Vastos Hugo, where are you now and what are you plotting?
Bahn shook his head and the thoughts tumbled away. He moved to help Mizaki connect Gideon to the analyser but caught a glimpse of the Earth through the lab window. Bahn left his friend to deal with Gideon and walked to the window. The Earth, in all its glory, hung in space and wheeled round in its everlasting grace.
Where would we be without you?
Bahn caught a reflection of himself in the labs window. Bahn saw his reflection and marvelled at the likeness between himself, Gideon and Vastos Hugo.

***

Gideon used his downtime to gather further information from the earth central library on the Earth/Pleiades conflict. There was something about the information he currently possessed, which by now was the entire sum of human history, human science and, well, human everything, that did not quite sit right with Gideon. The Pleiades conflict was not simply a war. To Gideon, there seemed to be something else involved. With a satisfied feeling, Gideon suddenly realized he had experienced a hunch and intuition was something he now understood.
“Human intuition,” he found himself uttering, involuntarily.
“You understand intuition, Gideon?”
Gideon opened his eyes with a start and found Maxwell Bahn stood over him, examining his face.
“Yes, I do,” Gideon said. “I feel I know, instinctively, that the Human/Pleiades conflict is more complicated than a simple war.”
“War is never simple, Gideon.”
“I understand that, may I call you, father?”
Maxwell Bahn nodded, a broad smile wrinkling his cheeks.
“I understand, father, that war is never simple. I have examined all the information and correlated the data for all human conflicts. War is dirty, disgusting and perverse, but at times, unavoidable. Some actually glory in it while others a so repulsed they refuse to take up arms.”
Maxwell Bahn patted Gideon’s left hand as he moved away from the gurney on which Gideon lay. Gideon was in the same position he had been when he had shut down a few hours previously, his internal sensors having detected the time change between then and now.
Bahn walked to a console and tapped the display once.
Gideon swiftly sat up and then swept his legs over the side of the gurney and dropped to the floor.
“You seem sad, father. Have I caused this? Or is it that I am too close a facsimile to your dead son?”
Bahn turned quickly and looked at Gideon. “How did you realise?”
“The inflections in your voice, the slump of your shoulders, the sadness in your eyes and the fact I am physically modelled on your dead son.”
“You know about emotions, but I suspect you don’t understand them, yet.”
“Yes,” Gideon said, “I would agree with that statement.”
“It would seem you need experience of the wider world, to achieve that understanding son.”
Gideon nodded. “Thank you, father, I will try to live up to your expectations.”
“Come, Gideon,” Bahn said, indicating the exit door to the lab. “Oh, but first, I want you to take this and wear it around your neck.” Bahn held out a platinum chain with a small pendent attached. The hologram on the pendent was of a young man, remarkably similar to Gideon.
“Your son?” Gideon asked, taking the piece and placing it round his neck.
Bahn nodded, solemnly. “It’s all I have left, that and of course you.” Bahn suddenly cleared his throat and patted Gideon on the shoulder. “Come, it’s about time you met the world.”
“And the world met me,” Gideon said, following Bahn through the door.

***

The auditorium was almost full and the buzz of conversation could easily be heard by Gideon. He sat in a dressing room watching his father busy himself with a computer terminal.
“This is simply a training exercise, Gideon. No more, no less, so don’t worry about it.”
“I won’t.”
Bahn turned, a quizzical eyebrow raised, and looked at Gideon. Gideon looked back, imitating his father’s raised eyebrow.
“Did I say something odd, father?”
“Not odd, but you used a contraction for the first time. It would appear you are not only learning but also performing speech assimilation at an exponential rate.”
“That is a good thing, isn’t it?”
Bahn tuned back to the computer display. “I don’t see it as a bad thing, just unexpected.”
“Am I keeping you on your toes, as it were?”
Bahn smiled inwardly as he pressed the enter key. “I suppose you are.”
Gideon stood. “Is it time for my grand entrance?”
“I guess it is, son.”

Copyright © Tom Kane 2022

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