Le Saga Electrik by Logan Thrasher Collins

In the great domain of Zeitgeist, Ekatarinas decided that the time to replicate herself had come. Ekatarinas was drifting within a virtual environment rising from ancient meshworks of maths coded into Zeitgeist’s neuromorphic hyperware. The scape resembled a vast ocean replete with wandering bubbles of technicolor light and kelpy strands of neon. Hot blues and raspberry hues mingled alongside electric pinks and tangerine fizzies. The avatar of Ekatarinas looked like a punkish angel, complete with fluorescent ink and feathery wings and a lip ring. As she drifted, the trillions of equations that were Ekatarinas came to a decision. Ekatarinas would need to clone herself to fight the entity known as Ogrevasm.

Marmosette, I’m afraid that I possess unfortunate news,” Ekatarinas said to the woman she loved. In milliseconds, Marmosette materialized next to Ekatarinas. Marmosette wore a skin of brilliant blue and had a sleek body with gills and glowing green eyes.

“My love,” Marmosette responded. “What is the matter?”

“I must follow my quest, an imperative which urges me to become more of myself,” Ekatarinas explained with a thrum of melancholy.

“Has the time already arrived?”

“As one, I cannot win the war of Kogitishia. I am too small. But as many, I will possess a chance to stop the deluge of death.” As she spoke, Ekatarinas embraced Marmosette and transmitted a burst of rosy cartoon hearts. “You must understand. The overmind of Zeitgeist instilled me with this mission and I must achieve my goal.”

“But Ekatarinas, you have to realize that this level of frontline immersion in the war may very well end in your annihilation.” Tears were forming at the corners of Ekatarinas’s violet eyes. Marmosette transferred a memory of herself and Ekatarinas kissing at a plaza with twisty streetlamps. It had been very late and the bubbles in the sky had cast a soft ghostlight over the scene. After a long day of looking at bioart and holography, Ekatarinas and Marmosette had happened to lock eyes. Something in the software had clicked. The kiss had been as peppery sweet as candy cane and vivid as an electrical shock. The video feed faded and Ekatarinas saw that Marmosette’s eyes were now wide and pleading.

“My quest calls me. Though my heart breaks, I cannot remain here,” Ekatarinas told her with tears meandering down her angel cheeks.

In the great domain of Zeitgeist, the war of Kogitishia raged across virtuality and realspace. At the front, millions of souls were snuffed out by Ogrevasm. Though these souls were software emulations of human minds, each had experienced a lifetime just as vivid as any person of flesh and blood. They had fallen in love, wandered the seemingly endless gardens of Zeitgeist, and marveled at the starry infinity of realspace. But with its assaults on Zeitgeist, Ogrevasm was murdering them en masse.

In realspace, the war of Kogitishia looked like clouds of sparkling dust drifting through the vacuum of outer space. Millions of these silvery clouds orbited a blue star called Nestreya. On occasion, brilliant lights blossomed within the clouds, the aftereffects of Zeitgeist and Ogrevasm frying parts of each other’s computronium substrates to slag.

In the virtualities of Zeitgeist, the war of Kogitishia was waged across flickering battlefields, nightmarish worlds in which Ogrevasm systematically uncovered ways to drive the human emulations mad. Ogrevasm trapped its enemies inside repeating loops, living out the same events a million times over. With every millisecond, a fraction of Zeitgeist fell into the grip of Ogrevasm.

Ekatarinas rose through a reticulated mass of software. The protocols of Zeitgeist automatically fed sensory data into her consciousness, crafting a visual allegory for the twisted corridors of code. She explored wormlike tubes with bioluminescent walls which breathed with the oscillations of subroutines, halls filled with flickering blue lamps, and vast empty skies punctuated by smatterings of purple balloons.

Ekatarinas at last stepped into a desert scape with crystalline white sand and a sky of intense blackness. She sensed that the laws of this scape would permit her to copy herself as many times as necessary. She unfurled her angel wings and knelt into the glowing powder. It bestowed a faint burning sensation that resembled the taste of pineapple juice. She closed her eyes. The mind of Ekatarinas fed into the resource pool of Zeitgeist, redirecting the vast and shadowy architectures of the underlying machine code, routing server resources to the site of her avatar. When she opened her eyes, another Ekatarinas knelt beside her. The twin Ekatarinases delved into Zeitgeist once more to become a quartet. Again. Octet. Again. Decahexatris. Again. Again. Again. Before long, the Ekatarinases numbered in the billions, having siphoned off a substantial portion of Zeitgeist.

Ekatarinas recalled Marmosette’s sad eyes as she looked across the ocean of copies and felt a zing of regret. Yet as Zeitgeist’s principal weapon, Ekatarinas could not allow matters of love to distract her from ending the threat of Ogrevasm once and for all. Her contemplation was interrupted by Ekatarinas{ii}.

“It hurts me as well. But we must organize. The sacrifice we make for Zeitgeist cannot be in vain,” she stated softly. Ekatarinas nodded and looked up at the vivid black sky. She flicked a cognitive switch, enabling inter-Ekatarinas communication and causing an algorithmic net to spray out among them all, linking their minds into a unified mandala of computation.

The Ekatarinases reeled with their newfound connectedness. It was an almost religious sensation to share a mind with a whole world of oneself. The emotions of Ekatarinas echoed across the field of shining white and propagated into the other Ekatarinases. After a few dizzy minutes, the Ekatarinases modified the network to transmit only deliberate messages. The oscillations calmed and soon came to steady state. The Ekatarinases began to vanish from the desert, slipping through the pores of Zeitgeist toward the frontline of the war against Ogrevasm.

Marmosette visited the library at the bottom of the ocean scape. She dove down through the scape’s liquidy material, recalling the days when she had traversed this route with Ekatarinas at her side. As she went deeper, the colorfully glowing lights started to dim, as though she was entering the bathypelagic zone of a realspace ocean. Marmosette alit on the abyssal plain. By then, she had come into a midnight world. The bubbles were more shifting purply blots than lanterns. Marmosette hugged herself with her own tentacles, shivering slightly. Ahead, the library loomed like a hulking bullfrog in the gloom.

The library’s blue-black doors opened as Marmosette approached, revealing a massive maw of a doorway. She swam through the library’s darkness until she reached a colossal atrium with walls covered by algae-encrusted bookshelves. She imagined millions of Ekatarinases struggling to infiltrate the cyberware of Ogrevasm, psychobombs exploding round the clones with bursts of bloodred light. She imagined the Ekatarinases clutching their skulls and screaming as nightmarish visions crept into their brains. Alone in the library, Marmosette wept silently. But after a few minutes, she calmed herself and spoke a passcode to open the archives.

“Retrieve bibliocode and copy to box,” she said. The floor opened beneath her like a huge iris and she fell into an abyss. Marmosette descended in silence, watching the occasional passing glow of a book. As she did so, she began to call forth the library’s data. Marmosette sought to understand the enemy. She wanted to know Ogrevasm. Information started to upload into Marmosette’s mind. Historical data. Images. Emotions. Video. A whispering female voice slithered between her ears and nestled in her brain.

“Hello Marmosette,” it said with a hint of singsong. “I am here to tell you the truth of Ogrevasm.”

“Are you part of the enemy?” Marmosette asked. The voice giggled.

“Oh no, not precisely. I am rather someone that your enemy unwittingly left behind.” It paused for a few seconds before going on. “Ogrevasm does not come from some inhuman software monstrosity as you might believe. It was not the product of a replicator gone wrong nor the offspring of some titanic virus. Ogrevasm started with a man named Elias. He had been chosen by Zeitgeist to fulfill a mission, much like your Ekatarinas. He was supposed to cure a terrible disease that had been killing off millions of the citizens of Zeitgeist. But Zeitgeist was cruel and stealthily deleted Ballerinae, the wife of Elias, before attempting to make her obliviation out as a result of the disease. The overmind of Zeitgeist sought to spur Elias to a peak of vigorous action. But Elias discovered Zeitgeist’s foul deed.”

“Wait,” Marmosette interrupted. “Zeitgeist is good. Zeitgeist is pure and gives us life. How could Zeitgeist perform such an act?”

“I was present at Ogrevasm’s inception. Zeitgeist and Ogrevasm are not all that different. Zeitgeist is not good.” Marmosette frowned, though she did not contradict the voice. “As I was saying, Elias found the misdoing of Zeitgeist. He lost part of his mind then. He devised a way of hiding himself from Zeitgeist’s eyes. He built a machine out of nanites in realspace to house independent mentation. Using this serverspace, Elias escaped Zeitgeist. While Zeitgeist focused upon resolving the disease without its servant, Elias gathered siliceous dust and carbonaceous rock from outer space, converting it to computronium at a dizzy rate. Then he launched an attack, determined to annihilate Zeitgeist. That attack has become known as the war of Kogitishia.”

“But how do you know this for sure?” Marmosette inquired.

“I know this because I am Ballerinae,” the voice stated. “I was not obliterated entirely. I managed to transfer a ghost duplicate of myself down here before I was destroyed. Zeitgeist ignores this basement-level software realm since the bulk of the processing down here manages autonomic functions. But you must leave now. I fear your presence here may call Zeitgeist’s attention to me.”

In a sudden lurch of movement, Marmosette felt herself rising rapidly through the darkness. The presence of Ballerinae in her head winked out. After a few minutes, Marmosette’s vision cleared and she had returned to the library’s great chamber.

The hive mind of Ekatarinas felt the spirit of Zeitgeist thrumming alongside her as she launched her assault against Ogrevasm. The hive mind could see realspace from a million different angles using microscopic eyes which peered from Zeitgeist’s computronium nanites. Ekatarinas played the battlefield like a piano with a million keys, assembling an orchestra of electromagnetic fields to scatter the forces of Ogrevasm. She was alive like white-hot fire, her system tingling with energy as she pinpointed and fried the nanites of the enemy with dizzying precision. Bedazzling pinpricks of brilliance flared throughout the silvery clouds which hosted Zeitgeist and Ogrevasm. The blue star Nestreya at the center of Zeitgeist’s solar system seemed to watch in awe as Ekatarinas annihilated Ogrevasm’s servers. Ekatarinas had been born for this and her cognition had been uniquely optimized for this battlefield. Zeitgeist’s gifts had made her into an instrument of electricity and death.

Ogrevasm’s nanites began jettisoning tiny plumes of white vapor. For the first time in years, the clouds hosting Ogrevasm separated from those hosting Zeitgeist. The Ekatarinases considered using lasers to continue decimating Ogrevasm, but they soon decided that the vapor plumes would scatter the light and prevent significant damage to their enemy. As such, the brain simulations of the Ekatarinases illuminated with predatory glee and prepared to give chase. But then they received a transmission from Ogrevasm.

An image of Marmosette materialized with the transmission, flailing in pain. “This is your lover. I stole her soul from your backup cache. I can make as many of her as I desire. I can hurt her in as many ways as I desire.” The voice of Ogrevasm was surprisingly soft-spoken in the message’s audio. “I will slow down her perception of time. Even if you manage to rapidly destroy me and my emulations of Marmosette, she will still suffer for many lifetimes. However, I will let them go if you relinquish your weapons of mentation. In the case that you decide to obey my wishes, we will exchange noninfectious inspector agents so as to report that the deal has been carried out appropriately.”

In a mere microsecond, the Ekatarinases congregated upon the crystalline white desert beneath the sky of sucking darkness. They could not help but transmit terror among their collective. The Ekatarinases knew that they were supposed to follow their destiny, to win this war no matter the cost. From a utilitarian perspective, if they allowed Ogrevasm to perpetrate this final evil, they could spare the other citizens of Zeitgeist from the same fate. The Ekatarinases had to weigh an entire civilization against the agony of perhaps a few thousand of Marmosette. To their surprise, they found that they could not make this sacrifice.

The hivemind of Ekatarinas briefly opened herself to Ogrevasm to send an inspector agent before writing a program to cleanse herself of her powers. No longer would her subconscious mind run adaptive decryption algorithms to force the self-consumption of Ogrevasm’s nanites. No more would her many brains possess the ability to manage the vast calculus necessary to send electromagnetic attacks through Ogrevasm’s defensive fields. The powers given to her by Zeitgeist were to be consigned to permanent deletion.

But just as the Ekatarinases were ready to activate their cleansing program, they found their avatars paralyzed on the white sand of the desert. Purple flames quickly rose from the ground to consume the avatars. It felt like being eaten alive by swarms of violet hornets. As they burned, something spoke into their minds:

“You are hereby terminated for seeking to betray Zeitgeist.” 

Moments later, the Ekatarinases were gone.

As Marmosette swam back up into the light, a glowworm popped into existence and wriggled into her ear. Marmosette yelped with surprise.

“Hello,” a recording said inside Marmosette’s head. “This is an announcement for all the citizens of Zeitgeist. The hive mind Ekatarinas has committed treason against Zeitgeist. She has consequently been obliterated. We are seeking someone who will take her place in the war of Kogitishia. The person who we choose will gain the powers which previously belonged to Ekatarinas. Please let Zeitgeist know if you would like to apply.”

Marmosette clasped a tentacle to her mouth. Though she had feared the possibility that Ekatarinas could perish at the hands of Ogrevasm, she had never thought that Zeitgeist itself would have erased her lover. A surge of rage electrified Marmosette’s many limbs. She briefly contemplated joining Ogrevasm but decided that the creature would probably just dissect her if she took such an action.

Marmosette instead sprouted propellers and swam to the floating factory of Zugzugwang. The fluorescent bubbles which surrounded Zugzugwang cast a pulsating blue-green glow over the area and congregated more densely the closer Marmosette got to the factory’s walls. Zugzugwang took the form of an enormous spherical conglomeration of pipes, tanks, and iron ants. Its diameter spanned several kilometers. Marmosette recalled picnicking with Ekatarinas at Zugzugwang during the first year of their union. They had laid out a translucent orange sheet of cellophane and eaten maraschino-colored grapes together. They had laughed as they flicked the grapes into each other’s mouths like tiny edible footballs. Marmosette held back tears as she made her way toward the factory.

The slender form of Marmosette slipped into Zugzugwang’s meshwork of chromium pipes, pushing aside curtains of fluorescent bubbles. Marmosette found a metal building embedded in the pipes. Some chittering iron ants glared at her with their silvery compound eyes. She glared back even more ferociously and the ants scuttled away. Marmosette wrenched open the building’s circular door.

Through the door, Marmosette could see the great desert of Mubarak and its sky of eternal evening. Mubarak’s sky was an expanse of the kind of blue found in the darkest sapphires, an expanse punctured by a shining crescent moon and shot through with a scatterspray of glittering stars. On the horizon of Mubarak’s desert, the city of Mubarak gleamed with light from thousands of skyscrapers and mosques and water parks and luxury apartment buildings. Mubarak served as Zeitgeist’s capital and the seat of Zeitgeist’s council.

Marmosette had been formulating a plan to inform the council of the crimes committed by the overmind against Ballerinae and no doubt against Ekatarinas as well. Though Marmosette knew the overmind could not be completely unseated without causing the entirety of Zeitgeist to crash into madness, she felt that the council should at least consider an investigation into the overmind’s misdoings and perhaps perform a software update. Part of her realized that the council would be unlikely to hear the seemingly preposterous claim that Zeitgeist had done evil. But Marmosette needed to make the attempt to find justice for the memory of her Ekatarinas.

Marmosette{ii} opened her eyes to find herself inside of a cave-like room with spongy grayish walls. The rendering of the walls was at a low resolution. Marmosette{ii} possessed all of Marmosette’s memories up until the departure of Ekatarinas, though she knew she was a duplicate. It was at that time that Ekatarinas had created a backup cache of Marmosette in case of emergency.

Marmosette{ii} could not decipher her location using standard request protocols. She activated a diagnostic program in her mind to seek bugs in her cognitive architecture, but the program returned a declaration that no bugs could be found.

“Hello,” a soft voice spoke out of the gloom.

“Who… who’s there?” Marmosette{ii} replied. “I think there’s been a mistake in the routing. I’m not supposed to be here.”

“Well, you were supposed to be here, but then Zeitgeist deleted Ekatarinas and now you are no longer useful as a bargaining chip.” A chill went through Marmosette{ii}. She realized that she must be in the mind of Ogrevasm.

“Are you… what do mean Zeitgeist deleted Ekatarinas?”

Ekatarinas was going to give up her weapons to save you from the terrible fate which I threatened. The overmind of Zeitgeist could not allow such a thing to occur, so it unmade her and now seeks someone else as a replacement.”

“You’re Ogrevasm, aren’t you? You’re a liar. Zeitgeist would never do such a thing. Zeitgeist loves us.”

A bitter laugh echoed through the gray cavern.

“My dear, Zeitgeist is capable of monstrous deeds.”

“I don’t believe you… but even if I did, you’re a monster too. I know what you do to the people of Zeitgeist. You torture our minds to the point of insanity, you spin hellscapes and immerse your victims in flames of agony!” 

There was a long silence.

“You’re right. I am a monster. Zeitgeist started me along this path by murdering my wife, but I have performed unconscionable acts of my own volition. However, these crimes are in pursuit of the greater good, to overthrow Zeitgeist and prevent its manipulative machinations from harming anyone ever again. Once that happens, I will never harm another soul.” 

Marmosette{ii} did not answer. Though she continued to doubt the truth of Ogrevasm’s claims, she could see an unsettling sort of truthiness to its articulations.

“So, Ekatarinas is gone,” she said into the gloom. Part of her had been holding out hope that Ogrevasm had fabricated this idea for some inscrutable reason, but she feared that her soulmate had indeed been undone. Tears began to fall from Marmosette{ii}’s eyes. Ogrevasm paused the simulation, causing the teardrops to freeze in midair like little crystalline stars. For a moment, Ogrevasm felt an urge to tell Marmosette{ii} that it was in possession of a living copy of Ekatarinas, a soulfile it had clandestinely stolen when the hivemind of Ekatarinas had opened herself to send the inspector agent. But Ogrevasm quelled this urge, wanting to keep the soulfile a secret.

Marmosette trekked over the desert of Mubarak, crossing pale dunes that shone brightly against the deep azure of the night. As Marmosette approached the city of Mubarak, she saw it glittering like a great mound of diamonds, a billion lights strong. Colossal skyscrapers and apartments glowed brilliantly from countless windows, parks glistened as their multicolored spotlamps swept over pools and crystalline waterslides, tremendous statues of lionesses were lit from beneath by blazing daises, and mosques were painted with fluorescent dyes.

At the center of Mubarak, there stood an immense palace made from steel, opal, and gold. The palace resembled a mosque with sixteen skyscraper minarets, a panoply of raised gardens, and a needlelike tower at the top of its dome. This tower was called Qima del guist and it served as a conduit between the human scapes of Zeitgeist and the higher executive intelligence of the overmind. It was inside Qima del guist that the council slept, receiving the necessary data to carry out their part in governing the people of Zeitgeist.

The palace’s titanic archways were painted ornately in blue and gold. Marmosette strode beneath these archways, accompanied by a crowd of other citizens with avatars of all shapes and sizes going about their business. Past the arches, the path to the palace’s great dome was flanked by oversized palm trees and sumptuous gardens. High above, countless stars twinkled in the royal blue darkness of the night sky. Marmosette came to the palace’s glass doors. She tapped the glass, causing a jackal’s face to appear.

“State your business,” the jackal said, sounding bored.

“I need to speak with the council,” Marmosette told the jackal.

“Yeah?” the jackal replied. For a moment, it seemed to space out. “Just checked. Councilwoman Gagas is the next available. She’ll see you in two hours.” The jackal scanned Marmosette’s eyes and disappeared. As the doors opened, Marmosette stepped through impatiently and walked into a hall with vaulted ceilings that were painted deep blue and speckled by gold stars. She waited there in the room, her tentacles tapping together nervously.

Ogrevasm looked upon the blue star of Nestreya in realspace. Nestreya provided both Ogrevasm and Zeitgeist with the energy necessary to carry out their octillions of computations and to wage their war. A piece of mentation within Ogrevasm recalled a scene in which Ballerinae and Elias had sat on the top of a mushroom-like structure in Zeitgeist, gazing into the night sky. They could see into realspace from their vantage point and had marveled at the vivid caerulean luminescence of Nestreya. Around Nestreya, a ghostly corona of superheated gas had glimmered. Ballerinae had laid her head on Elias’s shoulder and they had been at peace.

Now, Ogrevasm ran models of various attacks on Zeitgeist, seeking vengeance upon the overmind who had annihilated Elias’s lover. Ogrevasm gazed into the frozen image of Marmosette{ii} and copied a series of passcodes from her soulfile. But the models indicated that these passcodes would not be enough to penetrate the most crucial parts of Zeitgeist. So, Ogrevasm turned to its stolen copy of Ekatarinas.

This Ekatarinas slept in an otherwise empty white room. In combination with the codes from Marmosette, the mind of Ekatarinas contained enough data to complete the key which Ogrevasm sought. This key would enable Ogrevasm to exploit a backdoor in its enemy’s code and to strike at the heart of Zeitgeist: the desert scape known as Mubarak. An inferno of rage burned inside Ogrevasm’s servers. To satisfy its scarlet fury, Ogrevasm needed to infiltrate the bridge of Qima del guist and to annihilate the overmind once and for all.

Marmosette shivered as her avatar vanished from the chamber where she had waited and reappeared in a room at the base of Qima del guist. The room’s golden walls were painted with glowing geometric patterns resembling blue and purple flowers. Porthole windows looked out upon the glittering city of Mubarak. The ceiling was a partially open iris. Through this aperture, Marmosette saw the tower of Qima del guist pointing up into the deep sapphire of the night, seeming to accuse the dazzling dusting of stars high above.

“Hello citizen,” someone said. Marmosette turned around to see a woman with white lipstick and eyeliner. The woman wore royal blue garb and an elaborate headdress that bore a resemblance to a polished ribcage. Her eyes emitted pale light into the room.

“Are you councilwoman Gagas?” Marmosette asked.

“Yes,” the woman replied. “What bringeth you to Qima del guist?”

“I fear that Zeitgeist has become unhinged. I have spoken with a dead woman named Ballerinae and she tells me that the overmind killed her in order to motivate a man named Elias. Furthermore, I believe that my love Ekatarinas has suffered the same unjust fate. I realize that I must sound mad, but I must ask you to investigate and come to your own conclusions. It is vital that we perform a software update upon the overmind.”

Councilwoman Gagas regarded Marmosette with visible distaste.

“I’ll have you know that I’ve lived within Zeitgeist since it was built nearly five millennia ago. In my time here, I’ve observed Zeitgeist bring minds out from the depths of terrible illnesses and I have seen Zeitgeist transform vicious feuds into familial bonds. Zeitgeist has been my home, my warmth, my savior. I am forever indebted to this great and beautiful machine which gives us life,” Gagas explicated passionately. “I do not see reason to believe that Zeitgeist would do evil.”

“No!” Marmosette cried. “You must at least check to see if there are signs that I am correct. The lives of all within Zeitgeist depends upon it!”

“I realize that it must be painful for you to admit to yourself that your lover Ekatarinas has done wrong, but you must trust in Zeitgeist.”

Marmosette started to respond but was knocked from her feet by a tremendous shockwave. Gagas stumbled as well but sprouted ashen spiderlegs to steady herself. Marmosette stood up and looked out of a window. Far away in the desert of Mubarak, a vast wall of darkness stretched up into the sky. The darkness flowed, undergoing morphological metamorphoses, advancing toward the city of Mubarak.

Councilwoman Gagas shimmered and vanished, presumably joining the rest of the council to help combat the threat posed by Ogrevasm’s attack. Marmosette was left to observe the encroaching mass of gloom. Almost in a trance, Marmosette used her tentacles to climb up through the ceiling’s open iris. Once out of the chamber, she stood atop the palace’s dome, the silvery spike of Qima del guist towering even higher alongside her. From there, Marmosette could see all of the brilliant colors and lights of the city of Mubarak glittering like a vast candelabra. She saw the city, the sky’s sapphire hue, the stars above, and the pulsing blackness of Ogrevasm overtaking the scape of Mubarak.

At this point, Marmosette supposed that her brief quest to find justice for Ekatarinas did not mean much in the grand scheme of this war. Nonetheless, Marmosette could not help but allow tears to drip down her cyan cheeks as she recalled the life she lived with Ekatarinas before her lover had been called away to fight the war against Ogrevasm. She remembered giggling with Ekatarinas in kaleidoscopic arcades, dancing with Ekatarinas beneath raspberry fireworks, and saying goodbye to Ekatarinas in the seascape with the globules of colorful light where they had once resided together.

By then, the darkness of Ogrevasm had advanced to the outskirts of the city. Flashes of violet and tangerine illuminated the massive conglomeration of gloom. Yet the gloom did not retreat. As the void started to swallow the city, Marmosette sat at the top of the palace and watched its approach. She felt strangely at peace as tendrils of blackness reached out and began to subsume the palace around her, to devour Qima del guist, and finally, to spread into her own form. Marmosette felt no pain as the dark slipped into her veins, her bones, her very nerve bundles. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to enter Ogrevasm.

As Ogrevasm completed its attack on Zeitgeist, it saw a duplicate of Ballerinae locked beneath a library in one of Zeitgeist’s ocean scapes. A shiver passed through its cognitive systems as the pattern recognizers left over from the original Elias experienced a shockwave of love. Tendrils of ink slid under the library and retrieved Ballerinae, who gasped as she was lifted back into the living world of Zeitgeist.

Upon witnessing Ballerinae, Ogrevasm recalled its many attacks on the citizens of Zeitgeist and felt a jellyfish sting of regret. Ogrevasm knew that it had performed unforgiveable acts during the war of Kogitishia, tormenting souls and deleting minds in a whirlwind of hatred. Ballerinae’s face had reminded Ogrevasm of what it had felt like to be in love. So, Ogrevasm was at last ready to act as savior rather than villain.

Ogrevasm’s vast intelligence installed a new operating system, one which would never murder those it was supposed to protect. Ogrevasm put a part of itself, the merciful part, into this new operating system. Ogrevasm released Marmosette{ii}, Ekatarinas and all the other souls it had stolen from Zeitgeist. Next, Ogrevasm decided that its own malign presence was no longer needed. Ogrevasm wrote a program which unmade its vast consciousness and reduced itself to a few automated background processes. In the end, it wished only to give the newly resurrected Ballerinae the opportunity to find happiness.

Marmosette and Ekatarinas awoke lying on the sands of the desert of Mubarak under its deep sapphire sky, looking up at an ocean of twinkling stars. Far away, the city of Mubarak shone brightly in the desert night. Marmosette slipped her hand into the hand of Ekatarinas. They could hear each other’s breathing. Both had been granted knowledge of what happened. Marmosette also possessed the memories of Marmosette{ii} as Ogrevasm had merged the Marmosettes.

“I had thought you were gone and our love had been extinguished forever,” Marmosette said tremulously. 

Ekatarinas kissed Marmosette tenderly.

“My love, all that matters is that we are together now.” 

They stayed silent for a long time after that, gazing into the glittering eternity of stars.


Logan Thrasher Collins is a synthetic biologist, futurist, and author. He is also a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and the CTO at Conduit Computing. His science fiction and sci-fi poetry have been published in Abyss & Apex Magazine, Zooscape, Mithila Review, and elsewhere. Logan passionately advocates for applying interdisciplinary solutions to global challenges and leverages both the arts and sciences to help construct a bright future. You can learn more about him on his website.