Gen 3. Chapter 4. Awakenings
“Ugh.” His mouth felt like someone stuck an old, used gym-sock in it. Then the pain hit. He tried to squeak again, but his tonsils complained loudly. His voice squeaked like fingernails on a chalkboard. His throat was on fire.
“Amsi. Shhh.” It was a familiar voice. “You will need some hydration, here is some warm water with honey and lemon.”
The first swallow was painful, but heaven followed close behind the swallow. The honey settled on the surface of his throat and put out the fire, the citrus hit, but the pain produced was, while not pleasant, tolerable and worked in concert with the honey for relief.
“Thank you…” Damn! He forgot her name. She was one of his crew, but not one of the engineers.
“Fae.” This was a different voice. Smaller, but with authority and nearby. “Her name is Fae.”
Amsi’s eyes took longer to focus than he thought it should.
“Slowly.” Doctor Ofir’s voice still sounded strange in his ears. “You have been sedated for two days after taken out of stasis. You have spent the last thirty-millenia at just under three-degrees Kelvin.”
“Thirty? We were only supposed to sleep for ten years. What happened?” He blinked again, sipping on the tea of honey and lemon. His eyes focusing more. “What the f..”
“No offense but … what are you?”
“We are mini’s. Minibots. You set out to avoid the virus’ that the other system created in the ancient times, created nanobots to recycle all the machines of war. They are still around, but from them, the Core Systems evolved many more sizes.”
“Amsi, I will explain later.”
“I’m still wrapping my head around this… Robot? And how it evolved so quickly.”
“They call themselves “Bots”. They are an evolution that has happened over thousands of years, so not as swift as you think.”
“Wait.” Amsi shook his head, information was not processing. “What?”
“You need some more tea, maybe a shot of rum or vodka. I have a lot to bring you up to speed on.”
For the next two hours Fae spoke of three-hundred centuries, Core System, Thea, the Doctor, the tens of thousands of flitting artificial life forms outside the window that existed with great alloys of the machines of war that the people left sitting out when all, what the Core System logs called “Organics” went into cryogenic vitrification.
Reanimation, the Fae showed Amsi the logs, was a complicated, careful and exacting process using the nanobots and microbots and replacing the cryoprotectants that did not crystallize in ultra-low temperatures.
Even with helium as a superfluid, the crystals of ice did not form and poke holes in the cell walls of the body.
Such was the theory.
Initial numbers used, predictions estimated that one or two may not survive the freezing. (Mathematically, there would be a loss of 1.48 of the personnel.) Estimations were only for a single decade, after three-thousand times longer than anticipated, logs indicated forty-two pods showed excess cryoprotectant in the helium.
The bodies were leaking.
Nanobots, unable to function at such low temperatures were on standby.
However, after a long time, the Core Systems estimated that greater than half the fluids of the organic bodies had leached out. Rendering the humans inside little more than extremely cold, desiccated mummies.
Amsi moaned on the information she passed onto him.
“We were never meant for that length of storage. The system was never designed for that long of operation without supervision.”
“We supervised.” Thea fluttered about. “All systems were under the control of the Core System. Repairs performed by all the bots.”
“There were no qualified humans to oversee the machines.” Amsi the engineer argued.
“Sir. The bots here are as capable as anyone I have seen. They can repair cells and lift whole buildings with the megabots. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they can do what we could.” Fae frowned and pulled at her ear.
“The logs show my brother now weighs less than his clothes. There is only liquid helium in his veins now, as soon as he’s taken out, he’ll crumble like dried out leaf.”
“He still has a PICC line, like we all do.” Fae said. “We can infuse more into it in the chamber, correct?”
“No, I don’t know.” He shook his head. “Maybe. Could be. If we warmed him up to, say, four Kelvin? Special IV tubing would remain flexible and we could flow cryoprotectant into him and refill all the cells over the course of a few days and displace the helium. The helium would be at the boiling point and easy to replace.”
“What if we just replace his fluids as we warmed him up?” She asked.
“No, helium would be gone before any glucose or blood solutions would make it into his body, the cells would collapse like dried out eggshells the moment there is any pressure to refill them.” He rubbed his chin. “That’s not even medical, that is structural engineering. Right now, helium is supporting everything. It has to be a two-stage rehydration. Maybe three.”
“Okay. We warm him up first?”
“No. Oh no. We get the medical teams out first. Just because I understand the process, does not mean I understand the biological effects. What if he has a hole in something important? I can’t sew it up.”
“Oh, I understand.”
“So engineers first, medical folk second, so engineers can make things work, the ones marked here in red, they are last. Medical will need to deal with them as a team with the… What did you call them? Nanobots? But there will need to be a teamwork between everyone. Artificial or Organic.”
“Thank you.” Thea smiled as she sat up in her saddle.
“Thank me for what?”
“You acknowledged us as living beings and are part of a team. Even our nanos.”
“Miss… Uh. “
“Miss Thea. You make it easy.”
“No. Just Thea.”
“Okay, Just Thea.” He smiled. “You make it easy to feel you are real and alive. We have been here to seek contact with new life. Even if we build it.”
“My full name is Wentvie Thea. Our second name is given, our family name comes first.”
“My apologies.” Amsi winked. Then Thea knew she was victim of a human sense of humor. “I will refer to you only as Thea or Miss Wentvie.”
She laughed. It sounded like tiny windchimes.
*Humans waking up,* she felt, *A good thing.*
Generation 1. Rescue
Captain of the guard watched over his daughter. Like all fathers, he balanced that fine line between keeping her safe, and allowing her to have her adventures.
“No one learns without getting a bruise now and again.” His own father would tell him. Beekan Luc watched her as she rode the armored flyer.
She was little more than a young adult. If in human terms, they were extremely old. The last human went into the machine after the virus nearly wiped them out.
The humans remained in vats of liquid helium ever since, frozen in a deep slumber that none of the caretakers knew when it would end.
Trix had passed her three-thousandth birthday just a decade ago, for the Caretakers, that was her right of passage year.
Each year on Anid-Sta as it orbited in a highly elliptical orbit around the young red star every four-hundred fifty-six stellar cycles. Each day of eighteen standard hours, to the second.
Of the entire corps, Trix was the last one to join in the riders of the sky. She always ran off, looking for adventure in the badlands.
Her white-metal dragonfly, Evan, the product of evolving design from the mainframe printers.
Replicating printers, creating circuits in three-dimensions, articulated appendages and the most astounding of all the developments since the time humans began the long hibernation, metallic wings, so fine and thin, that light passed through the metallic wings.
The caregiver computer that built and programmed them all, printing them in organic and metal, the Caregivers of the Fae, the origins of their titles made Luc smile, but their job was to dismantle all weapons of the humans. To build a peaceful world while those that set it all in motion slept a sleep that the caregivers kept from becoming permenant.
But for the amount of weapons. The caretakers slowly recycled the metals to create a larger society of metal birds, insects and caretakers.
Bipedal in shape, the core program copied their shape after humans, evolved the programs and constructs as peace-loving caregivers to the plants and the extant organic life, they grew in numbers, taking the stout engines of war and rebuilding them into usable tools.
Repairing systems that kept the depths of an artificial cave systems in operation. In cylinders, sealed with the contents hidden from view.
A refrigerant fluid was kept in order by the multi-legged keepers of the core.
One calm day, thirty-thousand solstice-cycles after the last human, recorded by the computer, died.
A chime sounded.
The chime, written into the code of the protectors, excited them all.
Evolution of the caretakers, now constructed to the size of a thumb, gathered around when the first of the cylinders, a label marked “MacLir, Fae” vented and opened down the middle, like a three-sectioned steel flower, exposing a tall bipedal body. The automated table smoothly rolled along a track to a glass enclosed room that filled with a mist, warmed to a digital read-out of forty-degrees-c.
Silver robotic arms moved around, placing heat-pads on the body, previously inserted intravenous lines connected to bags of opaque, heated, dark-red fluid infused through the lines into the nude body of the female human lay inert for hours as the heated, calorie- and electrolyte rich fluids coursed through the veins and arteries.
In the third hour, the cardiac muscle gave the first beat in three-hundred centuries. Frozen lungs began to move airs slowly at first, warmed oxygen laden with surfactants assisted the weak efforts of the diaphragm with positive pressure, until the patient was able to breathe on her own.
In the world of the caregivers, swimmers, flyers, crawlers, collectively calling themselves the Caretakers of Fae, hovered, stood, climbed on each other and stood on shoulders to see inside the glass-walled room.
Movement in the room, not of metal, but of flesh, a hand moved up to the brow of Fae MacLir, exploring her face and the tape that held her eyes shut.
A small grunt of pain, she pulled off the tape covering her eyes. The first of the humans were awake. The oldest of their species.
After the long walk of ages, the rescue of the human species was coming to pass.
And the Caretakers of Fae marked the event to the millisecond.
Chapter 30. New Year Session
Tired, sore muscles, a continual headache from boggling at history, teamwork and predicted future, not counting the lessons in magic taught by Cranndair the Green Wizard, the students walked, crawled and a few fluttered back to their rooms in the various houses they belonged to. All were bone-tired.
If anything, the Green Wizard taught with the students in a practical application, humans and dragons and those that had a bit of both, hugged and smiled as they parted company, instead of being in separate houses, they all knew they were of one house.
The House of The Green Man.
Sprite had grown even longer, although she had gained some length, her weight had not increased, she continued to grow longer but, like all children, she started to stretch out into a willow of a creäture.
Back in the house of Garnet, Jona walked to his room and found Sam-Sam had already returned and unpacked.
“Hi Jona! Are you back, visiting the lower side a bit with us? You don’t have a room on the brown garnet level, anymore. You have gone up on the scale. They should place you at least in blue, if not green, I’d say. You spent winter’s break with the Green Man. So you would have a room there.”
“I didn’t know. Where would I have found that change?”
“Professor Vale posted it on pillar by the front door.”
“Oh, ugh. I was too tired, the Green Wizard is about killed us all.”
“Yeah, he does that. He is spry for an old guy, a thousand years old and he can move a mountain with a finger. Not even Professor Vale is more powerful.” Sam said.
“That is because the Green Wizard lives with Nature.”
“Yeah, always in that mountain.” Sam nodded. “He has more power from the trees and rocks that he cares for.”
“No, it’s not that, his mate is Nature.” Jona laughed. “She is his spouse.”
“Dude, didn’t you go to study with him once?”
“No, I was more interested in racing and never went, I learned all I wanted about him from those that have went there and came back all broken down and dirty.” Sam shook his head. “Teamwork, what good is that in a race with one-on-one paired rider and ride?”
“When the world has floods, fires, or earthquake, how do we help each other?”
“Well, how do…” A familiar voice interrupted Jona.
“Well, I thought you might be lost.” It was Kolo. “Well, sexy human, you do not live here anymore, your room is in another level, since you came back from the Green Man’s mentor program. Did you learn a lot?”
“Oh HI Kolo! Oh wow, did I ever!” Jona said.
“You lost weight.” She traced her finger over Jona’s left shoulder. “You look good. You could be ridden, looking like that. You would be a good training for a racer girl.”
“What?” Jona boggled.
“Never mind. You are sexy looking, just saying.” Kolo winked. “Come with me, we need to find your new room.”
“Okay.” Jona was still trying to get his mind around the flirt he had just gotten. Dragons were a strange group. They loved like no other, but loved one after another.
“Sam.” Kolo turned to Jona’s ex-roomie. “Come with me, you are on the Blue floor. It appears you did not check either.”
“I did! The color was brown.”
“You did not have a color until this morning. Your grades have improved and the professors were talking about keeping you and Jona together. Jona is a good influence on you it seems.”
“He just showed me around.” Jona said.
“Jona, you got him to attend class. Attendance is the single most important thing in school, even if you don’t work, the professors feel that you absorb information by sitting there with your eyes open. Sam has been at ever class last session.”
“Well, I’ll have to pack.”
“I’ll send Wynter for you.”
“AH! I’ll be packed in two minutes! Don’t send the Wyvern for me!” Sam jumped up and was immediately stuffing clothes into a pillow-slip and wrapping the rest up in his big wool blanket he brought from home.
“Why is he worried about Wynter?”
“Wynter is a wyvern, and he has no patience for lower level students. He is especially angry with Sam-Sam, they’re related and he bragged about Sam being smarter than most everyone around before this little hatchling arrived.” Kolo laughed. “I think Wynter would roll Sam up in the blanket and play football down the hallway with him.”
“Yeah, you kick it, until it gets to where you want it to go.”
“Ooooh!” Jona laughed, imagining Sam-Sam the Dragon, already in hot water with his family, being used as a sports toy.
“Here we are. Green level.” Kolo said, her tail swaying in a more serpentine way when she was walking in front of Jona. Jona could hear the other men whisper to each other when they walked in.
“Kolo, why is he here? This is a Brown Level Garnet.” A red dragon with vestigial-black wings and eye-brow scales said. Chain mail that glittered in the light when the dragon moved, they had arms like some other people had legs.
Very muscular legs.
“Mars, this is Jona, he just came back from winter break with the Green Wizard. He passed with the wizard giving him a pat on the back and an invitation to come back.”
“Well! That is different, welcome Jona. I am Mars, the senior leader of the game-players club. Do you play Drake and Hunter?”
“I never heard of it.”
“Awesome, you are human? If you get to enjoy this and want to play a lot, you can join our club. The only requirements are good grades and play at least a bit every day.” Mars nodded, his scales glistened like polished jewels. If one did not know that he was a dragon, one would thing he was human dressed in fine scale armor.
“Mars,” Kolo smiled and traced her finger over his ear (Mars’ eyes dialated and Jona swore he could hear the scales shake.) “Would you ask that Jona have a tutor to keep his grades up? Professor Vale has requested that Jona keep his studies going from the Green Man. Jona is a racer and a good one at that.”
“You do can keep doing that, Kolo, but so that you know I’d do it anyway.” Mars laughed. Turning to Jona. “She is the one that keeps Garnet house going. And she is cute.”
Mars shook his head to clear his vision.
“You know how to touch my feelers,” Mars sighed and Kolo laughed softly.
Jona laughed awkwardly as the pretty girl dragon flirted with the brawny leader of the Green level.
“Where is my room?” Jona asked.
“This way,” Kolo smiled. “You have a choice, Green Level has had a change in tenants here. A few have not kept up their grades, another has aced her studies and has moved up from Emerald to Gold level.”
“What is Emerald level?”
“This one. We call it green informally, but the official term is Emerald. Blue is Sapphire, Brown is Rough.”
“As in unpolished and dirty.”
“Oooh!” Jona said as Kolo led him to his room.
“Here is where you will stay. Mars’ is at the end of the hall, he has a private room, most of his club members meet there. You will have no one else in this room for a while. So I will check on you from time to time to make sure you are keeping your studies up.”
“Mars will, too?”
“Yes, it is important to the house that we keep our ratings up. It is a contest between each house who has the highest ranked students. It will also give you a chance to study with the Green Wizard once again.”
“I’m not sure I can survive another round with him.” Jona laughed.
“It will do you good. You will find studying here is easier than with that old man.”
A soft voice behind Jona, a human girl with tight curly hair and dark skin whispered to the new arrival.
“That is for sure, the Green Wizard made me want to come back so much, I made sure my grades were high enough I could go again.”
“I did not see you there.” Jona said.
“Part of my skills, I’m a member of the Fae.”
“No, that is a music group in about a hundred centuries, I am fae.” She smiled, probing eyes looked into his eyes to see if he understood the joke. “My family are more magical than dragons.”
“No, well, in a stretch of the sense, I suppose, I can change size.”
“You can get bigger?”
“Ohh, no. I am at my largest now, I can get smaller, a lot smaller.” She smiled. “My name is Retta. This is my last year.”
“Pleased to meet you.”
Watching her walk away, she wore her armor like it someone painted it on and then oiled over the leathery parts until she shimmered when she walked.
“Human boys are so much fun. Brain damaged since puberty and it takes years to have enough blood to run all your parts at the same time.”
Laughing at himself, Jona moved into his new room that he had no one to share with.
The second session in the main school of Dragon Master University was going to be fascinating.