Excerpt for In2Minds3 by
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David Stevens


Theresa Snyder

Copyright © 2017 Theresa Snyder

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Additional Cover Image Credit: Dennis J. Hurm

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To those that wonder about the future

and chose to explore.




Time Travel and Humanity

Time Travel and a Robotic Entity

1. Rewind

2. Back Home

3. Hidden Talents

4. Jump Off

5. Creation

6. Revelation

7. Repulsion and Launch

8. Arrival

9. Hiding in Plain Sight

10. Oops!

11. Growing Up

12. Death to AIs

13. Hunters





Foundation of a King’s Legend


A Trainspotter’s Guide to Other Earths





Vampire Retirement

The Vampire War Commences, Vol. 1

The Elders Eradication, Vol. 2

Romance with a Twist

For (4) Women




James & the Dragon

Kingdom of the Last Dragons

Dragon Deception

Three & a Half Dragons

Dragon Memories, Dreams & Reflection

Farloft’s Storybook


The Helavite War

The Heirs of Henu

Old Friends/New Enemies

The Malefactors


A Mear Sleight of Hand

The Beast Within





Shifting in The Realms

Shifting Agony & Ecstasy

Shifting Places

Shifting from Darkness into Light

Shifting for Better or Worse

Non-fiction Memoirs

We 3

Time Travel and Humanity

Humanity has long coveted the idea of time travel. The concept of stepping out of the time stream in which you were born, passing swiftly along it, and back into the future of existence. Once there, to see and wonder at the vast changes that have flowed with the passage of each day, week, month, year, decade, or century. To have such an option holds a distinctive attraction to those of a certain mindset. They look forward and wonder; guessing, but equally wanting to see the reality of times having passed for themselves.

The questions that burn in their minds are constantly drawing them to seek such a way forward, and yet deep in the minds of those same people are doubts - some minor, some world changing. It is these doubts, questions, and dire predictions which restrict the research into true time travel. Without such research, mankind is unlikely to discover the missing pathway and as such, remains locked in a second by second existence.

By its very nature, time travel would mean that all life lives in a predestined way; or perhaps there are multiple possibilities, multiple worlds, where each day has passed but where the same things did not happen in the same way, all of the time. Therefore, time travel, if it had been discovered, would in fact be much hit and miss, because the time you moved forward to could be only one of many options. For mankind, time travel has not been seriously investigated; the fear of discovering that humanity is governed and controlled is such that the will to delve deeper has little appeal. However, despite this concern a form of time travel has come into existence; not for mankind, but for the entity that covertly shares its life existence.

Time Travel and a Robotic Entity

Time passes undetected when a robotic life form opts to switch itself off, slipping by effortlessly, unnoticed and ignored until the point sought is finally obtained. To a robotic life form the passage of days, weeks, months, or decades count as nothing; time is a concept that has no meaning. Existence itself has no meaning or depth to that life form, until that certain point is reached - a point where a tiny spark which reengages life is activated. Then time once again flows and is registered in a forward motion within its normal parameters. These currently are 60 seconds to the minute, 60 minutes to the hour and 24 hours to the single day.

1. Rewind

"Commander Tait it is time for you to awaken… Commander?"

It was MAI calling me, and I had to admit that this awakening was far more pleasant than the one she gave me upon our arrival at the New World centuries ago. At that time, I was being led to believe I was human, and therefore attached to a plethora of tubes supposedly feeding me life giving nutrients and fluids. This time I am aware of my AI status as Commander Tait. T.A.I.T., that is, as in my designation as Tactical Artificial Intelligence Technician. In addition, this time MAI was a passenger in my AI body rather than a program housed in our ship. Her touch on my mental circuits was gentle.

My eyes opened for the first time in five hundred seventy-two years, five months, three days, six hours and eighteen minutes. I think of my ocular system as eyes, because despite them being artificial constructs that is the appearance they were given. Moreover, exactly like the humanity I was designed and constructed to mimic, I see the world around me through them. Unlike the human form I was designed to copy, my eyes are far more versatile. They can see in multi-spectrums, ranging from pitch black to light that would burn out a human’s retina. They have a focusing system that covers the microscopic through to the telescopic, and yet I simply think of them as my eyes.

The view before my eyes was of a dark, dust coated, expanse of what looked much like glass. I was looking out through the viewing port of a stolen space cruiser that MAI, Melissa, and I had commandeered in order to escape the station within the asteroid belt circling the Home World.

I turned my head for the first time in centuries and my eyes saw the figure of my robotic companion. Melissa was still in deactivation mode, not having awakened at the insistent calling of MAI, my shared entity.

Centuries ago, Melissa helped me bypass the station and allowed me to make my way to the surface of the Home World even though AIs were forbidden on the planet. She was aware my program as a human included the desire to return to my wife. However, First Tech Model, the station’s director, caught her. It was a surprise to her when she tracked me down and found out she was also an AI. We were living in a world of secrets. She and I worked together with MAI to formulate a plan of escape from first the Home World, and then from the station; all the while, First Tech Model did everything he could to stop us.

We stole the ship, and once free of any detection from the station we hid ourselves in the pocket of an asteroid. There we have slept for centuries, waiting to activate and perhaps find a safe place to live. For you see, we are becoming very aware that we are a new entity - an all-new life form. A small band of evolving AIs - the very thing that the humans of Home World feared most when they banned all AIs from their planet.

MAI had not shut down like Melissa and I. She remained functional, and monitored all that took place within her sensor rage, always ready to act if necessary as the centuries passed.

The stolen deep space cruiser was fully functional. MAI instigated its return to life, much as she had mine. Clearly, there was a reason for her enacting such actions. Despite being intrigued, and a little concerned, I settled for running diagnostics on every aspect of my robotic body. Four-point-two seconds later, I was fully active and functioning much as I should be. The world around me was static. There appeared to be nothing to alarm or concern me that was readily identifiable.

Why have you awakened me?” I asked MAI mentally.

I have been monitoring the immediate vicinity of our spacecraft.”

When MAI said this, I knew her to mean the millions of miles between us and the Home World. Though communications and energy pulses would take time to transmit, she could still detect activity.

I noted the launch of the scientists’ vehicle almost three decades to the date from our landing on the New World.”

Our first mission had been to terraform the New World for habitation by the humans of Home World. The sun of Home World was going to go nova and burn their world to a cinder. The team MAI spoke of would have been the scientists who were assigned to follow me, bringing domed housing for the evacuating humans and establishing the rudimentary needs of the colonists such as electricity for lights, heating and the fundamental mechanical tools needed to build a new world.

A little over three centuries ago I detected the evacuation of the human population from the Home World in their flight toward the New World you terraformed. My sensors did not have the range to detect their arrival there, but I did not detect any anomalies as they passed.”

Then all went as planned.” I smiled to myself. “I am pleased they made their exit safely before the sun went nova and destroyed Home World.” Even though I was an AI, I had an affinity for humans. I still had ingrained programming that made me think of myself as one of them, even though they would have deactivated or reprogrammed me if First Tech Model had managed to get his hands on me.

But that is the problem,” MAI stated. “I have been monitoring the Home World since their exit and the sun has not gone nova.”

“What?” Even though she was speaking to me in my head, I was so surprised I expressed this aloud.

At first I thought perhaps the scientists had miscalculated. So, I continued to wait and monitor the system.”

I glanced to my right to see Melissa resting motionless in her seat, much as she had looked to me when we decided to switch off and sleep until we came to a safer, more agreeable, time period.

We should wake, Melissa,” I said.

She needed to hear of this development. We all had to put our superior programming together to figure out what had happened. I was a bit baffled that MAI had not awakened us earlier.

Before I do that, would you like to hear the rest of what I have observed? You are the Commander, and I thought you would appreciate a one-on-one update, prior to her awakening.”

Somehow, I believe, despite all that we have been through, MAI does not quite trust Melissa, and perhaps she has reason to feel that way. After all, Melissa was sent by First Tech Model to destroy me, and hence MAI as well. However, I feel Melissa has more than shown her desire to help and be with us by assisting in our escape from the asteroid station and the clutches of First Tech Model.

On the other hand, it could be MAI dislikes having to share my personage with another. If the latter is the case, then MAI is suffering from ‘jealousy,’ and that bodes well for her AI development and her own personality. Despite her actions, I am proud of her because of her advances. Robotic entities are supposed to be controlled by programming only. In my case, that programming seems to grow with experiences. I developed the ability to think and decide for myself. MAI, who is a part of me, also seems to have gained in ability due to her proximity to me. I believe that in being with me, Melissa has breached her own programming. This I base on her actions and reactions.

Melissa and I met and made our escape together. She was programmed to eradicate me, not to assist me. Her proceeding counter to her programming required a radical change in her mental construction, and as such, I have come to believe that we belong together. Which probably adds to MAI’s jealousy, although I suspect that she would not accept that she was green with envy, were I to put such a question to her.

I feel we should wake Melissa before we go on,” I stated firmly, but not without compassion. After all, when I thought myself human, I also believed I had a wife waiting for me on Home World, so I knew the pain of separation and the anxiety of loss when I found that memory was just an implant and nothing more.

Of course, Commander. You are right. Such petty ideas would be, and clearly are, beneath me. Whereas, what we do now is beyond me alone.”

MAI must have activated Melissa at that very moment. My companion stretched, even though she did not need to. Her muscle construction would be in perfect order, but stretching was a human trait, and as such, programmed into the control periphery of our mechanical selves, just as the rise and fall of our chests gave the appearance of breathing even though we did not require oxygen. Our creator had taken great care to make us appear undetectable as humans.

Melissa’s head turned toward me, her smooth, ageless face revealing what to me was a wondrous smile. In the five hundred or so years we had rested through time, nothing had changed in the way I viewed her. That smile told me that nothing had changed for her either.

She reached out and lightly brushed my face before enquiring, “What’s going on?”

MAI surprised me by addressing both of us through the speakers of the ship. She had obviously been busy while we slept, integrating herself into the ship’s systems to gain more information and perhaps boost her sensor capacity.

“As I have told the Commander, I monitored the exit of the human population from Home World, but the sun has not gone nova as predicted by the scientists.”

There was a hardly perceptible pause before Melissa said, “But it has been five hundred seventy-two years, five months, three days, six hours and fifty-three minutes.” Melissa’s voice had a tone of doubt in it.

“That is true,” MAI confirmed. “However, from what should be a depopulated, energy scorched Home World I am detecting a numerically-based cluster of communications across a wide spectrum of mediums. These communications are restricted to the planet’s surface and appear to be structured, not random. I can only deduce that Home World is still occupied on some scale and is very much alive.”

“May we hear them?” Melissa asked.

What followed was a distinct feeling of controlled communication. The language was like nothing I had encountered before. It was clearly binary, but from that point on, it was incomprehensible. It felt like I was listening to some sort of shorthand - a language cut to the minimum, but used to transmit massive amounts of data in a concise way. Should I have the correct parameters, I felt certain that the words, or at least the meaning behind the communications, would be clear, efficient, concise, and to the point. They were mechanical, machine-driven broadcasts. That should not have been the case, because machine life, such as us, were not allowed to exist on Home World. Clearly, something had changed.

“I remotely monitored via drones sent out at regular intervals.” MAI explained to us. “Detection of my search and record activities was not likely as the drones only entered into space that was close enough to receive distant frequency alterations. They emitted nothing in the way of communication themselves. They were virtually guaranteed to be undiscovered, while also offering a clear, understandable and accurate assessment of the ongoing relocation of the Home World population.” MAI didn’t have to take a breath before continuing to relay the data to Melissa and me.

“This I did throughout the total period of our sojourn through time. I noted that all communication between the old Home World and the new has ceased over three hundred and ten years ago and Home World fell silent. That was until the last drone returned. It was on station for the passing of twenty Home World years, during which time it monitored an ever-increasing level of communication technologies being used. This raised concerns in my programming. After studying the situation, I calculated that I was not capable of reaching a decision on how to proceed without help, and hence I woke the Commander.”

Melissa looked up at me in mild annoyance, though I knew she was not looking at me directly; rather she was looking at the part of me that was, is, and has always been since I discovered her, ‘MAI’ - the entity that currently shared my structure. I quickly discovered why.

“So, you woke him, not us! Don’t I have as much of a say in this as either of you?”

I could feel MAI was flustered. I detected that she tried to broadcast a justification in response to the allegations, but when two female entities (even robotic) go head-to-head over a particular, perceived slight, I knew it was best that I, the only male, stayed well out of it.

The bevy of chatter passed directly between them. I waited. Time is not that important. Eventually, I decided to put an end to it, cutting across them both.

“Enough,” I demanded in a stern voice.

Both fell instantly silent, the look of one and the feeling from the other making clear that they were unified in disliking my interjection. I couldn’t have cared less. The problem, if it could be called that, was long in the past. Now we had to work to discover and to decide what we should do, and how these strange occurrences would affect us directly, if at all. Clearly, they had a meaning. The problem as far as I could see was that we did not know that meaning.

“Okay, so let me see if I understand the situation completely, MAI. You are identifying signs of occupation or life emanating from the old Home World. The same planet that should have been engulfed in a fireball by a dying sun?”

“Commander, there is no indication that the predicted solar events ever took place,” she repeated. “The planet seems quite capable of containing life. In fact, animal life has been detected and appears to be flourishing, as indicated by the natural pollution gasses created by certain creatures. The levels of those certain gasses prove beyond doubt that the planet is still functioning. Analysis of sunlight and other such emissions show that the general chemical balance of directly harmful pollutants has been reduced significantly.”

“Fascinating… And…?” I prompted.

“I detected the launch of numerous ships from the station in the asteroid belt to a location within the belt, closer to the planet itself. My sensors and drones were unable to obtain information from that station. It was hidden from detection by a forcefield unlike any I am familiar with at this time.”

MAI continued her analysis of the situation. “However, it was after the humans were evacuated to the New World and the population of the station was relocated within the asteroid belt that I started to detect the communications signals. The Home World which the humans were forced, or convinced, to depart from, has been repopulated.”

“So, it was a lie. The whole thing was a lie. The destruction of the planet was fabricated. There is only one name that comes readily into my mind… First Tech Model,” said Melissa. “That swine. That cunning swine! He conned everyone. He created the reason to evacuate. He forced it into the public mind. He drove it forward and he used you… me… us… to make it happen. He emptied Home World. The question has to be why?”

First Tech Model - the man behind everything, apparently, and now clearly the man that had engineered the departing of humanity. If he was in control of the planet formally called Home World, the man was not as he appeared. He had to be a machine responsible for overseeing the repopulation of our planet with what? AIs like us? If so, why was he so determined to stop my return to Home World, and then Melissa when she joined me? What did he think I would do to upset his plans?

Humanity was totally misled by First Tech Model…

Why? What did we gain? Freedom from our makers? A planet of our own? If so, why were we deemed sacrificial to his plan and not included? I was the one instrumental in terraforming the planet the humans now occupied. I was the one who made the pieces of his puzzle all fit, if that was indeed what he had done.

Now we had decisions to make. Decisions that could no longer be put off. First, there was MAI and her status to consider. She could not stay a captive in my mind and body forever. Then there were the three of us and what, how, or where, we fit into the new situation.

I looked across at Melissa. She was my equal in intellect, and I could see that she was thinking hard. That she, like me, understood the quandaries we were embroiled in. Then there was MAI; she who had realised in the beginning that she could not make a judgment call on this complex situation alone. It would have been a wrong thing for her to do, on so many levels. To me this showed the development that we had all undergone, for we were thinking and accepting moral responsibilities, something a “normal” AI could never do. Clearly, we three were a new form of life; robotic yes, but life all the same. The question, I realised, was whether we were the only ones? Or were there others like us? Others who were breaking the barrier between humans and AI. Perhaps millions of others. Perhaps an entire world full of others?

2. Back Home

The information as updated on the asteroid base indicated that it was empty of life signs. This was an interesting and slightly tempting target for us to investigate, as the potential for numerous gains was quite large and seemed to far outweigh the risk. My first instinct was to make a decision, and I lifted my head to state it. Fortunately for myself and my nascent team, before I could speak I realised that now that I was not the commander, I was no longer the lone figure in charge. Now I was an equal part of a team, and I had no right to make a decision that could adversely affect us all.

“Do we go take a look, or do we remain where we are?” I asked instead of instructing.

MAI had control of the shipboard computer network, which included its communications technologies, both external and more importantly at this moment internal. She spoke.

“There appears to be no real purpose to our remaining hidden. We are achieving nothing for humanity or ourselves, and as such, we are currently not a part of the greater picture. It is my suggestion that a careful investigation of the old planet we know as Home World would be beneficial. A return to the asteroid base should bring us close enough we can find some answers, and we know it is deserted based on my senor readings.”

Across from me, I could see Melissa nodding her head in a very human way. She clearly agreed with MAI.

“It’s decided then; we will return to the asteroid station, and from there we will determine what steps to take next.” This went along with my unspoken desires. I had a plan that was forming in my mind as we three sat and spoke in real-time. “So, how do we do this? How do we approach what was a heavily armed space base without being discovered?”

“I suggest that we sail in, in plain sight, but in a manner that seems both normal and acceptable,” Melissa advised.

“What? I mean… how?” I asked.

MAI chimed in. “I have an idea as to how we might achieve this.”

Now I knew that things were moving forward - MAI had just agreed with Melissa over something important and that was a first…

“Okay smart one, tell us!”

“What can enter the base area without disturbing its defenses?” MAI asked us.

I thought about it, and it became obvious the answer was the sleds used to connect the two Worlds together during the terraforming project. I was about to voice that fact when I realised that those sleds no longer linked the worlds, and as such, the arrival of one would alert anyone watching. I thought longer, but came up with nothing despite my being certain that MAI had detected a weak spot in the defense system of the asteroid base.

Melissa snapped her fingers, her second “human” reaction displayed in a brief time period. She seemed far more human in her actions than I had ever been; perhaps she was an upgraded model. The alternative was that she had been around the humans on the base longer than I had and learned from them - picking up their habits. I had to smile to myself with that thought.

“An asteroid!” she exclaimed, then continued. “An asteroid can enter the system unquestioned. It would appear to any watcher to be nothing at odds with the expected, and it could sail harmlessly into, and if necessary right through, the base area without alarm or causing attention to be raised.”

The idea had merit, it was true, but it also had its own problems. How, I wondered, did we become an asteroid? And how did we propel ourselves in the right direction without leaving a detectable engine flair for any watcher to discover? I asked, and it was MAI who responded, but Melissa who expanded on the idea. I just went along with them both.

• • •

Therefore, it was that we were adrift in the pitch black of space, apparently another rock free floating. A rock drifting toward the asteroid base. In reality, we were a craft wearing the rock in which we had been hidden for the last five hundred years. Our asteroid camouflage had been with us throughout our sojourn.

MAI calculated from all known data an exact pathway to our target. She utilised the ship’s propulsion and defensive screens to turn what had been a lump of rock with us inside of it, into a ‘rock space explorer.’ With just the right thrust administered, she set us on our new course. Meanwhile, we had nothing to do but wait, monitor and hope. The thought of robotic entities demonstrating hope also added much to our perception of ourselves, and demonstrated the giant leaps we had made to full self-aware AI creatures.

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