My first attempt at sci-fi from about 2006! I might go back to this someday, or see how it goes into something else…I did like the story, but it never got fully fleshed out. I’d be interested to see how it does morph if I pick it up again.
As soon as she entered her small, neat room, Tanine knew that there was someone else there. Was it just her thoughts? Was she being silly, just because she had just been…no! But the presence was there, she knew – it was almost tangible to the senses. She shut the door firmly and looked around, but there was no one to be seen. It was her imagination! But no, it wasn’t…the slender girl licked her lips nervously and spoke, feeling a little silly at speaking to empty air.
“Who…who are you?”
They had answered? As the shock faded, the girl quickly assessed the voice. It seemed to be in her head, not heard, but still there. It was a light tone, neither masculine nor feminine, but with the slight stilted accent that spoke of computers. But the accent could be stimulated. What did they want with her?
“What are you?”
I am a computer programme, similar to the IHEG system. My access code is Butterfly.
A computer. Tanine sat down on the bed and activated the screen to her personal monitor. She shook her head slightly, dismissing the jumble of thoughts and emotions and concentrating on the task at hand.
“What do you want with me?” she asked softly as she ran a search on the name. Oddly, she was not afraid of the silent presence – she knew that it would not stop her; that it was strangely friendly towards her. How did she know that? she wondered.
It is more what do you want with me. You found me.
That brought reality crashing back down to the girl as the computer brought up no results for the search. Several days earlier, she had found a locked system while searching for something for school on the network. It had been pure accident that she had happened across the gateway, and she was fairly certain that no one had come across it before. But she had no password for it and hurriedly retreated before security was triggered. So was the thing now talking to her whatever was behind that locked gate?
Yes. I am Butterfly, created by Aleut Hume. I am a purely personal system, but I have access to most of the network. More than your systems have, at any rate.
The voice seemed to be laughing. Had this system been given more human characteristics than the normal ones? How…what was it? Questions revolved round Tanine’s head. And…it had answered her thoughts. The thought sent an icy shiver down her back. It could hear her thoughts?
Maybe I had better explain. Aleut created me as a companion, but also as a protector. Butterfly said. I know everything that goes on in this base, and a lot of what goes on in the others. I was given an almost human character. Go back to the gateway you found three days ago.
The girl did as she was told, remembering the pathways with ease. Her memory tricks were one of the few things she was proud of at school, but she chose not to let on about it – it would attract too much attention. She went quickly through the network, accompanied by silence from the computer-person. And then there was the gateway, a blank screen with the simple word across it:
I told you what it was. Butterfly reminded her softly.
Password…access code. Butterfly.
Tanine typed it in. Nothing happened.
You have to speak it as well as type. Put your hands on the access plates so I can get your prints as well, and your datachip. the mental voice instructed.
The girl spoke the password softly, and touched the screen. She suddenly felt a deep wave of fear sweep over her, but if faded as fast as it had come, leaving her nervous and puzzled.
As soon as the words on the screen came up, the blackness dissolved into a whirl of colour. Then, on the screen, came the hazy figure of a person. It resolved into a human, a slender woman wearing a subtly coloured cape of all colours, an old-fashioned style from another century, times ago. The hood covered her face, leaving darkness beneath it, hiding the features. She seemed to be looking directly at Tanine. She seemed almost…real.