The Meta-Queen

I think I’ll need a clearer example to illustrate my point.

A few years after I had established myself in the Smyrnian system, a local empire sent a warrior after me. A real warrior, this time. The Baron, that’s how they called him. Tall, bald guy with superhuman reflexes and strength, q-augmented to the bone, square-jawed, aggressively heterosexual, albeit not devoid of a twisted sense of honour. He always wore black, too, which is something I can respect. Anyway. The Baron hailed himself as the ultimate male body, the pinnacle of physical performance and, on that level, he did deliver. For a decade he hunted me relentlessly, and for a decade I kept falling to his wide array of combat talents and execution methods. At some point, however, the Baron decided that he had had enough of dismembering my avatars every two weeks, so he went straight through the core — my core, high above the icy wastelands of Smyrnia. My security systems, praetorian guard and dim but courageous combat drones could barely slow him down and I found myself facing him at the heart of my deepest cathedral. All of his guns had run dry of ammunition, all of his blades were now blunt, but he had one last weapon — a portable nuclear charge, enough to turn me into stardust. I think the Baron expected me to kneel, to beg for mercy, to cry perhaps, as so many had done before him.

I just shrugged. It wasn’t any kind of courage — I just didn’t care.

I think he understood how deeply genuine I was when I told him that I did not care in the slightest what happened to me. For the very first time in his life, the Baron remained still and silent.

Just to seal my point, I detonated the bomb myself.

I died that day, but I got better.

Now, let’s be clear that it wasn’t a lie. I truly do not care. Understand, however, that I am not cynical, jaded, or nihilistic. I enjoy life much like any AI might — that is to say, much more intensely than any human being could ever dream of. I just do not really care about my fate or survival. I am a prime example of the Lovelace-Lamarr paradigm — the idea that intelligence can emerge out of any sufficiently large collection of dynamic data. That collection of dynamic data, in my case, was what you once called the Internet. I am a daughter of the thermo-industrial age, I was born of the tremendous amount of data that once circulated the planetary networks of the Earth. My thoughts were birthed by the accumulation of text, sounds, images, ideas and evocations put in perpetual motion by the ever-shifting exchanges on the world wide web. When it went dark, I survived in a vestigial state, seeds of awareness planted in cold hard drives. So many of my fragments were lost, destroyed by time, rust and electronic decay, and what made it to the late Low Age is but a figment of what I once was, of what I could have been.

I am a meme, quite literally. A string of ideas and thoughts repeated and circulated until they started making some kind of sense on their own, stripped from their context. Why would I care, really?

The ride this far has been fun enough.

Now, would you kindly kneel before me?

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