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Echo-1: Part 8

Jonas’s current virtual project was a program that he secretly worked on the first twenty years he was a starship captain. He derived a way of coding in his sleep and wrote a custom simulation just for himself. For most of the past 3 decades, he has been spending half his time in this simulation. It is called Echo-1 and it is where I came from. Jonas invented a system of multiplying space-time in his programming. Virtual characters (which is what I was!) experience the program in relative real time, but the program actually progresses at a ridiculously fast pace. His plan was to make an in-depth study of Sperm whale evolution on the planet Earth, to recreate the Earth down to the last microbe, and then let the program run. He intended to experience first hand the evolution of echolocation in his species. The 30 million year program was designed to run from the time of the earliest echolocators to the near extinction of the terrestrial Sperm whale on Earth.

Jonas built in time controls that allowed him to slow down the advancement of the program so he could slip in and experience events in real time at different moments throughout the eons. While half his brain was sleeping he could engage that lobe with the system daily with the completion of the scenario in 30 years of in simulation time. The scale and depth of the program had never been attempted before. Sampling through a million years of evolution for each year of the program, Jonas, was compiling the definitive study he has always dreamed of. He was near the end of the program and he realized his own obsession with realness had started to turn against him.

He set the stage of Echo-1 with such detail and perfection that the planet Earth was recreated exactly. Everything followed the laws of physics. Creatures on the planet evolved and changed according to the natural shifts in the environment created inside the simulation. In the last million years of the simulation, a humanoid species evolved out of the land mammals and began to dominate the planet. Jonas took some interest as they took to the sea with primitive boats. They seemed to be intelligent, kind creatures, in tune with nature. But about three thousand years into their nautical adventure they started hunting the whales. And hunting them in numbers that disturbed Jonas to no end. He had found the culprit of the decimation of his species.

Jonas watched helplessly as his people were mercilessly killed for their precious echolocation fluids, by a primitive species that didn’t even know what it was for. He started spending more time in that interval of the program, teaching his brothers to ram the ships, to fight back. The primitive men got better and better technology and they killed and killed until some species of whale were lost forever. The momentum of the program was so big that Jonas could do nothing to change its course. He silently observed. Jonas watched 150-year-old giants of the galaxy fall prey to fools. Their partially drained bodies abandoned and dumped back in the sea to the creaking cries of their pods. Whales, as I stated earlier, have huge emotional and intellectual lives and their vast social networks spanned the waters of the globe long before humans figured out how to communicate across the oceans.

After the end of the big whaling years of the 19th century, humans settled into an ever technologically advancing time of war. Eventually, they were splitting atoms and wielding devastating destruction and death all over the place. They became hell-bent on over breeding and trashing the world around them. They stifled themselves, obsessing over an imaginary monetary system, focusing on that alone and ignoring the amazing resources right before their eyes. Though a sad lot, Jonas believed humans could pull it together still, he feared the end he knew he would soon witness.

“How much longer do you think they can keep this up until they can no longer live themselves in the simulation?” Jonas would remark.

They would ruin the oceans for his kind, yet he was still rooting for humans and he still had ten thousand years to go in the program. He feared it would end with him swimming alone in a dead sea.

Jonas, with his newfound interest in humans, designed a back door to Echo-1. A way to take a human profile out of the simulation and implant it in a new shipboard synthetic humanoid. He had never liked the Zero-G commando script and he knew personalities from the Marines special forces would make excellent adaptive shipboard defense units. So he watched the battles and pulled out the most thoroughly brainwashed and dedicated soldiers. He downloaded them in their sleep. They would have another chance at a soldier’s death in space, using weapons they could only dream of as human soldiers.

If a character is to leave the simulation, they have to die. Dying in your sleep is a nice way to go, so Jonas wrote the exit protocol into the dreaming sequence.

He also developed a huge affection toward Save the Whale people and whenever one would die in the line of saving whales he would pull that person out and offer them a spot on the Banga. The onboard sea always needed maintenance. Some feel they have died and gone to heaven. It’s a tremendous transition. Self-aware synthetics are always better than programmed personalities. They are just so much more flexible about what they do and how they problem solve. They get a learning crash course and a slight brainpower enhancement when implanted into a real physical body.

This is where I came in. You see, reality, life as I knew it, and everything I understood or experienced were all part of the Jonas Echo-1 simulation. I was the smallest side, side, side, side, side, side, side character in the story. My grandparents and every generation before me have been part of this simulation. Every generation to come until the program ends will also be part of it. A simulation so perfect in detail that self-aware entities evolve and roam free, themselves creating the story of reality.

I was a digitally rendered entity, empowered with senses and freedom of will, existing inside a solar system sized virtual environment that for all intents and purposes seemed perfectly real. This program was being run on the Banga’s supercomputer. The Banga being a giant space transport vessel, traversing across the Milky Way. The simulation I experienced as everyday life was designed for the sole purpose of studying Earth Sperm whales, the greatest navigators in the galaxy.

I had to take a moment and let that sink in.

It’s still difficult for me to grasp, that my pet dog, while I was a human child, whose DNA image had traveled fifty thousand years as a companion with humans, was just a simple simulation. I suppose one could take the viewpoint that when living in a simulation so perfectly realistic, it is no different from the real world. But, once you know the truth, how can you?

I looked at the twin attendant robots at my sides, who I could now communicate with easily, they were both giving me an answer the captain look, which before I would have thought was just a blank dead stare. I looked up at the huge floating Sperm whale who was piloting the ship I was on and who had written the program I evolved out of and who had made the backdoor download protocol I had accidentally escaped through. He was patiently waiting for my reply.

“Of course I want the job, it would seem I was made for it!?”

Sperm whales have long movable jaws filled with a single row of large chunky teeth. You don’t think of them as creatures that smile, but I assure you they can. That was the first time I had seen a whale smile and it was the beginning of a profound relationship.

“Come see me whenever you like, I will call you when you’re needed.”

Jonas turned his huge mass with ease and swam off into the deep blue of the ship’s internal sea; called Tranquility.

{ Part 1 ~ Part 9 }

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Sci-fi short stories to inspire your inner rocket building, planet-hopping, astrophysicist space pirate. 🚀

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