The Edge of Time

Thrice duned, the shamanic chronambulus traverses SpaceTime, dispensing nugs of truth to those creeptures primed to imbibe. Be ye of this stock, draw deep when thine time is nigh.

- Proverb attributed to Brondo

Santor deftly piloted his dune-piece to the edge of time. He was about as close to the future as he could be, while still remaining in the now. He kept an eye on the ornate chronomitor mounted on the mantle above his plasma-place, watching as the slices of time fell away, one after the other. There he thought to himself, I’m right where I need to be. In lock-step with time. Santor pulled out the gilded ‘goije-box his father had gifted him on his 420th birthday. It had been his father’s father’s, and his father’s before that, but his father got it on sale at ‘Goije Crafters. Santor perused the contents and daintily selected the fat ass mangoije he had been saving for just such an occasion. It had been a while since Santor had time to relax, what with his ongoing work on the LoveOrb. It was as good a time as any for a fat ass ‘goije and mang was his favourite flavour. Santor slinked over to the plasma-place and sparked the tip of the goije on an aquamarine tendril of plasma. This oughta elongate the now he thought to himself as he pressed the goije to his lips and inhaled deeply.

Santor returned to his recliner just as the crystalline structures of reality began to soften around him. Turning towards his Direct Inter-dimensional Noiseless Gamma-ray Discourse-enhancing Operator-guided Nano Gizmo (DINGDONG, for short), Santor dialed in The Operator at 6920 Hz.

DINGDONG devices were built eons ago as an independent network to transmit communications across SpaceTime using simple quantum entanglement and gamma-ray frequencies to transmit data free from the shackles of empires and time. The Operator was the central nervous system, responsible for directing communications. While the hardware was largely inorganic, the creators did incorporate a small lab-grown neural network based on the high functioning Volgorite dome-piece. Programmed with a powerful artificial intelligence, The Operator was built to learn from the interdomensional transmissions it processes, both to better improve communications as a whole and to compile a historical archive that it can parse and dispense at the user’s will.

The Operator came crackling over the gamma-waves; a near perfect simulacrum of a human voice, but for the stochastic pacing and unnerving metallic resonance.

“Greetings Santor, this is The Operator. How may I acquiesce your request?”

“Operator, play me the history of The Battle of Bongloria. You can skip the dome-o-cast stuff, but I’d like to hear some of the first hand communiques.”

“Copy. Commencing The Battle of Bongloria, as parsed by The Operator. Strike dome-o-cast. Plus communiques.”

The Operator began rattling off the preliminary details of the battle, sprinkling in tasteful first-hand communications from the DINGDONG archives. Santor reclined in duned bliss, wrapped in a warm blanket of dilated time as he listened to The Operator recount one of his favourite tales. He had just begun to nod off as The Operator was wrapping up the final details of the narrow-cast, when a single sentence sent a chill down his gelatinous spine and shocked his invertebrae into alertness.

“I hope you enjoyed this recounting of The Battle of Bongloria, it is one of my favourites. Operator out.”

The Operator wasn’t supposed to be an I. No. Not in the proper sense. It was programmed to speak in the first person, sure, but it wasn’t programmed to experience pleasure or have an opinion. It should not have a favourite story. Something was very wrong.

Santor switched off the DINGDONG and jumped up from his recliner, pacing in anxious thought. Is it possible the AI is gaining sentience? But how?! Surely the creators put limitations on The Operator to prevent such a thing from happening. Surely they had the foresight to see what a problem this could become. Santor walked over to his plasma-place and stared vacantly at the chronometer on the mantle. It was half passed 69. He began to wonder. Had I been asleep? Did I nod off and it was all just a strange dream? Or perhaps it was the fat ass mangoije I smoked right to my friggin dune-slice... perhaps it was all just a figment of my timemagination? Surely that’s what happened. Surely.

But a creeping reservation lurked in the depths of his dome-piece. He couldn’t be sure. He could never be sure.