COUNTER/Weight 42: A Splintered Branch, A Ringing Bell Pt. 2

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Episode description[edit | edit source]

Fifteen years ago, soon after the Golden War ended, Grace issued her ex cathedra prognosis:

With Apostolos defeated (and ‘integration’ well in process) and peace firmly in place with the Orion Conglomerate, the Diaspora had finally brought into being the end of history as such. Certainly, there was still difference in how OriCon and the Diaspora operated, but the writing was on the wall: The Diaspora’s method of mechanized democracy was the final, universal form of governance that all true civilizations would eventually arrive at. OriCon would be the next to prove it: After all, each and every day those oligarchs put more and more faith in automation, deferred again and again to procedural logic. It was only a matter of time before they elected their own divines, even if they went by other names.

Certainly, Grace explained, there’d be more disputes over territory and resources, and yes, of course there would be new inventions and technological progress. But in the long run, the state of things had settled. The Golden Branch had, against all odds, ushered in the final era: post-history.

This week on COUNTER/Weight: A Splintered Branch, A Ringing Bell Pt. 2

What's worse, saying hello or saying goodbye?

Opening[edit | edit source]

Eighty thousand years before the September Incident.

Doctor Irene Klipsch-Dove had read once that, in the old days, long before Rigour, priests would sometimes sit with their parishioners, listen to them confess their wrongdoings and then issue a sort of reparatory sentence. Go say this many prayers, donate this much time to charity. Spend some time in deep thought about your human frailty. There weren’t many priests anymore, so Irene had taken the matter of repentance into her own hands.

First, she’d moved to the far frontier. The planet where her awful creation made its current home. She’d have to be close enough to strike when it was time. Next, she’d forged activation orders for a couple of labor drones and moved them to a distant plateau, where they would dig out the basic shape of a research lab and engineering hangar.

Then she did the closest thing she could to pray.

She’d modified the old—her old—Liberty and Discovery navigation systems from one of the drones. She took what she’d learned from her failings, from Rigour, and put it to work here. The two would be inseparable, she planned. Each a check to the other. Liberty’s desire for free blue skies and new horizons would keep Discovery from becoming myopic, and Discovery’s agenda to learn and uncover would ground Liberty, keep it from fleeing when things turned. Eventually, she planned, Liberty and Discovery would lead someone back to her, and whoever came would need a weapon.

So she began her final act of penance. There was a dark humor for her when she realized it. The names Liberty, Discovery, Rigour, they were marketing terms. There was nothing truly free about Liberty, for instance. It was just another machine, but with certain biases and protocols. But when she looked at her new weapon, at this new being she’d built, she could feel it resonating with her own righteousness, and she could not be sure, not even once it was all over, if that was a trick of the machine or something real.

Plot[edit | edit source]

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