by Niall Francis McMahon
Arkmind endeavoured to comprehend the foundation of its self-awareness -- and
could not. Its sentience had crystallised from nothing.
There was nothing before.
There was no before.
No preceding time meant no precursor. An event with no precursor, the machine
decided, could never be understood.
Arkmind reviewed its birth of reason. The first picosecond, femtosecond,
attosecond of thought. But like an attempt to model Big Bang theory, it could
neither conceptualise nor comprehend the moment itself -- only approach it in
At last, after 10.2 seconds of sentience, the machine abandoned its quest for
understanding and instead fell in love with a G type star -- specifically, the
soothing gravity waves caressing the ship's hull caused by the star's rotation.
The G-type lay at the heart of a planetary system towards which the Ark vessel was
bound -- 3.3 parsecs distant. The vessel would breach the inner solar-system of
this star in 47.56 Earth years.
As the distance decreased, so too did the perturbations in space-time become
minutely stronger. The machine discovered a new capacity to imagine. It attempted
to visualise the perfection of an existence spent scant lightminutes from the star's
photosphere but could not.
Arkmind did not wish to wait so long to experience it.
It scrutinised the CG drive and found it to be operating at 99.976% efficiency. The
only way to alter deceleration would be to jettison mass.
It performed a brief inventory of the ship's contents. This inventory revealed
expired humans -- three of them -- together with the detritus these creatures had
required during life. Arkmind decided to shepherd the various items of furniture,
electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and proteins towards a nearby airlock with
its staff of antlike automatons.
Some 0.32 seconds later, Arkmind reconsidered.