Echo-1: Part 32
With the young white whale integrated into the ship’s whale society and Jonas taking him under his wing, Veronica was free to return to her cloning experiments. She and Dixon had been working methodically with the Earth DNA that Mox had brought. Dixon with her eye on the prize of a new snowy world to populate was influencing the creatures they worked on first. They had expanded the bio-lab and within a year where growing test tube animals successfully. They were focusing on the mammoth and several varieties of arctic plants, adapting shrubs, weeds, and some high protein root vegetables to grow in a cold environment.
They set robot crews to expanding out the surface plateau of the frozen sea to accommodate a roaming species. They opened up an additional ten deck high range that was over a hundred square kilometers. It took up a good portion of the back of the ship. They tightly packed supplies and material into other parts of the Banga. They had the robots utilizing every available millimeter of ship-wide storage to empty the needed decks.
The highway systems were in full use. They brought out the large transports and activated legends of worker robots. They dug up tons of earth from the second rainforest and hauled it to the back of the ship. Uzi assigned pilot synthetic units to lead the efforts.
When I interacted with the pilot Zero-G beings it was sometimes odd. At first, I thought they were all former people from the simulation but soon realized that they were programmed artificial intelligence. They all looked uniform and I must admit almost exactly like me. I came to understand why the others had gone to great lengths to individualize themselves.
These synthetic beings learned and adapted but ultimately lacked true personalities. They were all very similar. It reminded me of dull people I had worked with in the more menial jobs of my youth. They were all clerks and antisocial office workers. The larger grunt units were all soldiers with soldier attitudes. They were even worse, but they did follow orders well. I grew to understand why people who had seen synthetics before were very interested in X or myself. We were very different.
I don’t know if we were better, but in some ways, I had to think we were, but my own uncertainties made me question even that. I questioned things. If the other synthetic units didn’t know something they turned to the computer for answers. If the computer didn’t answer, then there was no answer. Usually, they would sleep and wait for assignments and they were happy with that. I seemed to always want more. And there always seemed to be more.
Veronica when in her synthetic form chose a unique model, though I did find out later it was actually an older medical model designed for field surgery when synthetics were used in wars. Her four-armed bald self became a regular fixture in my life. I started to work with her and Dixon in the science lab. They had forty individuals completed. Twenty genetically unique males and twenty genetically unique females. The next batch of forty was going into incubation. The main lab room had become a wild baby pachyderm kennel. They were getting big fast and needed a place to go. I showed up on moving day.
Tim was out front of the lab entrance when I pulled up on my bike. He gave me his visor nod and I returned it. He leaned back in the cab of the flatbed transport vehicle and waited for it to be loaded. It would be a safe bet to assume Tim came from a long line of Teamsters.
X’s Diamond-a-gogo with the sidecar was also parked out front. I went through the doors. Five large brown furry elephants charged for the opening.
“Hands, stand tall, put your arms up!” Dixon yelled at me from the back of the room.
I put my arms up. The baby mammoths still charged at me. The door closed behind me and I leaned against it.
Our she-wolf towered over the yearling elephants. “Grrrooooowl at the them.” She had grown so much.
Nidi stood over two meters tall now, not including the ears. I let out a loud growl and the mammoths backed up a bit. Nidi went on all fours and herded the parade. She gathered them all into the center of the room with relative ease. X was in the middle legs straddled over one of the larger males, riding it like a miniature horse.
No matter how many times you see a naked synthetic woman covered in tattoos, sporting a green mohawk, and riding a baby wooly mammoth, it still tends to make you pause and marvel about the universe and its limitless possibilities.
Dixon and Sunshine were shooing the last stragglers into the herd.
“Ok, Hands, open the door.”
I turned around and opened the door. Tim had backed the truck up and lowered a ramp. Forklift and Werner stood on either side of it. I stepped out of the way. Nidi began barking and running from side to side. The parade gathered together closer and then nudged forward. They pushed from the back and the stubborn animals at the front hesitated. As they slowly started to step forward the pressure from behind released and the herd moved out the door and up the ramp. Werner and Forklift hooted and hollered the stragglers into place as they filled the flatbed.
The last two tried to make a break for it and Nidi bit one, which let out a straight trunked trumpet blast. The two ran full speed up the ramp and Werner raised it, locking the forty pachyderms in place.
X came climbing over the side after having ridden up the ramp on her mammoth mount.
“Nidi, you can’t bite these guys. They are intelligent creatures. NOT for eating.”
If these mammoths were anything like elephants I had met in my former lifetime, X was right. I looked into the eyes of the animals on the flatbed and it was like looking into the eyes of children. I wondered what they thought of me and my triple pupils and yellow eyes.
The Save the Whale gang climbed aboard the flatbed. X cartwheeled into her gogo and Nidi ran past me brushing me with her tail and jumped on the sidecar as X began to pull away. Veronica got into the cab of the transport with Tim and they headed off.
Dixon walked up to me smiling. “You’ll give me a ride right?”
Dixon climbed into my lap and I closed us in my Robo-a-gogo.
“This is a pretty tough looking bike, my husband would have loved it.”
I looked at her quizzically. She just smiled.
“Well, he would have. You forget that I am an old woman, but you remind me that I am young again.” She snuggled up close, a little ball in my lap. She was very comforting and kind and I began to care for her very much in those years. We raced off after the transport.
We went through the new entrance to the vast steppe of the ice shelf that was created next to the frozen sea. The back fifty kilometers of which was a fertile plain with plenty for the furry herbivores to eat. X’s gogo was parked outside and she jumped on the back of the transport as it went by. I drove my bike through the door and then closed the door behind me. We followed them to the center of the vast environment where we would release the baby mammoths into their new home.
Nidi ran alongside of the truck. She had a strength and stamina that was never ending. She was a star that burned twice as bright and half as long. Veronica predicted that she had maybe a 20–25 year lifespan. These mammoths would live longer than she would. X was in total denial of this.
When Nidi was smaller I told her the story of the big bad wolf and little red riding hood. And the wolf was a smiling grandma. With what big teeth Nidi smiled her wily grin at Dixon and I. Her coal black eyes shined from her soft light gray fur. Her pink tongue hung out of her jaws as she ran. She was laughing and had fun running along. We came to a clearing and Nidi was ordered to not herd or provoke the mammoths. She stood up on her hind legs.
Dixon and I climbed out of my gogo and walked over as Forklift and Werner were lowering the ramp. Nidi put one arm around Dixon and one arm around me. Her ears rose well above our heads. Veronica said she still would grow nearly another meter in height. She was close enough to my size that I could put an arm around her rib cage and poke her side. I tickled her and made her snort. One doesn’t think of a giant wolf laughing until she snorts, but then I’m not sure anyone got to know a young Mega Therion before.
Nidi butted her head into me. “Stop! Rrrrr!”
Dixon kicked me lightly and winked.
X rode the first elephant down the ramp and the rest followed. She got off and they all seemed to just stand there not knowing what to do. Veronica and Tim came over to watch. We all stood there, a bunch of dumb animals not knowing what to do. And there were the elephants too.
Finally one of the elephants started to eat from a small shrub. Over the next few hours, we watched them slowly wander off and graze across the plain. As the mammoths got some distance I found myself once again awestruck.
“This is a sight not seen in maybe a hundred thousand years. The great wooly mammoth is back.”
Dixon nudged my side. “Take me home.”
We rode to the land edge then out over the frozen ice. It was certainly an advantage to have a hovering vehicle. Dixon curled up close to me in the small space inside the bike. I set the homing beacon on her ship and ordered Wingus and Dingus to keep us on course and notify me if anything was going to go wrong. They chimed one of their little songs.
I nuzzled the top of Dixon’s head and she looked up and we kissed for a good long time. She told me I made her feel like a schoolgirl again. The boys informed me we were approaching the Dixon’s submarine. I could see the black spiral of it poking out of the ice. She deactivated the electric field and I parked my bike on the observation deck. I left Wingus and Dingus in the gogo and Dixon and I went inside.
We ended up sitting on a couch in front of the observation window, watching the belugas swim around. Now, my fine reader I know I’ve mentioned that you will be giving up procreation if you leave the simulation, but you won’t be giving up sex. Dixon and I took our relationship in a new direction. She was a wonderfully sweet woman. She stayed up all night with me telling me about the creatures of the sea. It was fascinating.
The ice world cycled through a day and night light sequence. It kept the animals in good spirits. In the morning we went for a short dive in the water. Dixon gave me a thin wetsuit to wear that protected me from the low temperatures, but my face and hands still got mighty cold. It was spectacular to swim with the narwhal and beluga again. It’s a humbling experience to be in the water with so many active amazing swimmers.
Dixon observed a night and day schedule. She didn’t sleep every night, but she always returned home and always started her days with a swim with her whales. Then she would head out on the ice shelf and check in on the mammoths. They grew fast and they grew big. They developed an almost instant symbiotic relationship with the blue penguin. Everyone took this to be a very good sign.
Dixon then headed to the lab to work. She was a very active woman. I spent days with her and helping in the lab. Veronica and Dixon generally treated me as a lab assistant, but I didn’t mind. I was absorbing so much knowledge about DNA structure and genetic cloning.
They planned on putting a polar bear couple into the mix as soon as the mammoths were big enough to fend them off. They would keep the blue penguin population under control, but there was definitely a risk of losing mammoths. It would ramp up the whole danger level of the frozen sea section of the ship. For that first year on the ice shelf though, it was a peaceful winter wonderland.
Nidi would meet us in the morning and chase the mammoths around. They were about the same size and she loved to play with them.
Dixon, like everyone else, took a real liking to Nidi.
“You know, when we spend time with her, I find it really hard to believe the stories you tell about being chased by a pack of bloodthirsty wolves. She’s such a sweet girl. And so very very smart.”
Dixon loved all animals. For her, this life was like being reborn as a very high functioning animal. She embraced that as her lifestyle. She would run with Nidi and the mammoths. Our physical endurance was very solid. We could easily run a marathon at full sprint, we’d be winded maybe, but we could really move. Our synthetic bodies were masterfully designed.
Dixon took Nidi’s education very seriously and taught her the Latin scientific names of everything. She trained her in biology and chemistry. She also taught her compassion and understanding. She always tried to bring out the morally conscious side of the wolf girl.