Fiction Fragment Friday
Not much intro this week. It’s been a long week, but I’m getting this out before midnight my time so it’s still a Fiction Fragment Friday. This story was inspired by a couple audiobooks that I have listened to as well as Ironman of course. Hope you enjoy.
“Warning if you continue on your current trajectory and speed there is an 84.376 percent chance of a fatal impact with the approaching meteor.”
What was I thinking when I had my ex-girlfriend record the voice patterns for the artificial intelligence in my suit of armor? At the time it sounded like such a good idea. I could have a pleasant voice in my ear giving me information or advice. Instead of a synthesized voice hers would make me smile. At-least it did until we had a pretty vicious breakup. Now just hearing the voice is grating. Advice sounds like criticism and more than once I have completely ignored it out of spite. If I don’t do something about this soon, I might just get myself killed, but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to do it. It is almost a personal challenge now to overcome my reactions to the voice instead of changing it.
“Warning if you continue on your current trajectory and speed there is an 85.934 percent chance of a fatal impact with the approaching meteor.”
“Would you please just shut up?” I gritted my teeth fighting against the gforces just trying to stay conscious.
“I’m sorry I don’t understand. Could you please repeat your request in a more calm and rational tone?”
“OH no, don’t you give me that. You know exactly what I said and what’s with that passive aggressive reply?”
“Oh so you can hear me? I wasn’t sure since you haven’t adjusted your trajectory yet. There is still time to do that by the way. Here let me highlight a better angle for you on your heads up display.”
I let out a loud grunt of frustration but couldn’t really say anything else. My plan was to shoot through the atmosphere directly at the meteor turn my shields forward and basically ricochet off the meteor. I was hoping the force would push it into a better angle to burn up entering the atmosphere. It wasn’t just a wild hope I had spent the last two hours going over my math and I was out of time. I was as confident in my numbers as I could humanly be. My AI was not human though and as the suggested trajectory appeared on my display, I realized that I should have consulted her. It, I mean it not her. I have to stop doing that. Olivia is not a person. Maybe I made that harder to remember by giving her a female voice and name. I can’t even blame the name on being an acronym. I just liked the name and have spent the last six months trying to figure out an acronym that would work for it.
I adjusted to the new trajectory and felt the pressure on my body lighten. Not only was this a better angle, but it was easier on me physically as well. Words cannot explain how annoyed I was that Olivia had figured out what my plan was and improved in a matter of minutes on my hours’ worth of work. That is the whole reason I had worked with my ex to integrate her into the suit. At the speeds I sometimes flew the human mind just isn’t fast enough to avoid sudden obstacles or target a plasma blast. I knew this logically, but it didn’t change how frustrated I was. A lot of lives were on the line though and I couldn’t let my pettiness keep getting in the way.
“Olivia, based on current data what is your recommended course of action to stop this meteor?”
“I thought you would never ask. Your current plan would work with my new trajectory, but there is still a 62.481 percent chance of the impact knocking your shields offline and leaving you unable to successfully preform a controlled reentry.” The meteor displayed in my heads-up display with flashing targets along it’s surface. “If you instead circled around and used your plasma blasts in these locations it would weaken the structural integrity enough that it would break up if you pushed it into the atmosphere from above.” A dotted line appeared highlighting the angle that I should fly at.
“Well that certainly sounds far less painful. Reroute power from shields to plasma blaster as appropriate.”
“Yes sir. Done.”
“Sir? Why the sudden respect after all that sass earlier?”
“I know the effect my voice has on you. You were moments away from losing consciousness, so I took a calculated risk. Based on my predictions replying in that manor would make you angry and force you to focus on me instead of the pressure. Essentially you would be so stubborn you would stay away just to spite me.”
“You really are more like her than I care to admit.”
“She did provide a considerable amount of my source code.”
I opened fire with my plasma blasters at the targeted locations taking small chunks out of the meteor. The pass took less than a second, but I trusted the my shots hit their intended targets because Olivia was providing targeting assistance. Circling around I braced for the thrusters to kick in. I felt my stomach climb into my throat as I accelerated back towards the meteor. Power adjusted from my plasma blasters to my forward shields without me needing to request it. This is how I envisioned working with the suit. I gently approached the meteor and put my arms out against it. The suit, shield, and thrusters were doing the real work, but I strained pushing against the rock anyway. Sweat was pouring from my forehead as the heat started to get to me even through the shielding. I could see the meteor breaking up under me. I tried to read the size reports to ensure they would all burn up, but the display was blurry. Or maybe it was my eyesight. That was the last thing I thought before everything went dark.
“Jeremy Benedict, you get your lazy ass up right this second!”
I startled awake and the screaming in my ear. The world was spinning, and nothing made sense. Then I caught glimpse of the ground coming up fast to meet me. Suddenly I realized the world wasn’t spinning I was and I was moments from impacting. I turned on the thrusters to full power. At this rate you can’t just stop because the impact would be fatal. I was too close to the ground to slow enough either. The only option left was to lean into my momentum and redirect it. I braced myself knowing that the pressure was going to be horrendous. “Olivia there is a good chance I’m about to black out again. I’m putting my life in your hands. If I black out you are authorized to take complete control of the suit.” The pressure hit me and I had a moment to wonder about the health impacts of blacking out twice in a row before I did just that. I woke up in a field with just about every alert going off in my ears.
“Olivia are you still online?”
“Welcome back to the land of the living Jeremy.”
I struggled to my feet. “Come on partner. Let’s go home and give you your own voice.”