Of course someone else knew about the newcomer. A landing of any kind would be monitored from a thousand different stations around the globe. Even the machines, who her kind generally treated with casual contempt, would have registered the arrival of an intelligent life form.
Still stung by the death of the sparrow, Flip re-examined her decisions again and again. She did not feel anger and her sense of guilt had faded during her trip to the nearest communication centre, but she still experienced what could be called disappointment in her illogical behaviour. As a rider, her first duty should have been to her mount. The only explanation that satisfied her was that the sparrow’s emotions had clouded her judgement. Not an acceptable excuse, but a valid one. She’d felt excitement and fear at the unknown, which had caused her to push the sparrow beyond its limits to fulfill her own curiosity.
Traveling to the communication centre took only milliseconds. As she entered, she bounced off a number of personalities, taking an impression from them of what was happening, but not opening up direct communication with any of them. She was looking for one particular person. And then she saw him. A bright pulse of energy, confident and sharp.
‘Captain!’ she called, and the pulse connected with her.
‘It’s young Ensign Flip, isn’t it?’ he asked, checking her credentials.
‘Just Flip, sir, but yes. I just came from the landing site of the visitor!’
‘Really? Incredible. You must. Tell me all about it. It might be. The answer to. Me getting out of this form and back to my. Ship!’
Flip paused to translate his sentences. She removed a number of periods and gave a cautious affirmative. ‘Could be, Captain. But I really didn’t see much. There was a spherical pod and a fire. That obviously means someone or something has come down from beyond the sky.’
‘It’s called space, Ensign. Flip, eh? I bet you were. A looker before the. Transporter accident. Anyway, from what I hear, it is a. Biped. Human to look at. Dammit! Where is my science officer?’
‘I do not believe he made it to the planet, Captain,’ Flip said. ‘A human! One of us, but with skin and bones and emotions and bodily functions and –‘
‘Spock! Noooooooooooo!’ Kirk howled in a simulated fit of grief and rage. Flip left him to his grief and dawdled closer to the information hub.
Captain Kirk was a construct.
When virtualising the humans left behind after the great Exodus, it became apparent that it wasn’t necessary to use real people as templates. A great number of famous characters and stars from different centuries were so well-documented – with biographies, autobiographies, documentaries, and gossip magazines, not to mention their body of work – that it was possible to recreate a personality from an amalgamation of all this data. To begin with, the creators only authorised recreations for historical research purposes. But with the success of the program, more personalities were added to the accepted lists.
Some would say that virtualising fictional characters was a mistake. To be honest, Flip’s opinion was that all of the constructed (rather than copied) personalities were a little loopy. But to be honest, there was more data on Captain James Tiberius Kirk in world literature than there was on Buddha from the holy texts or the Almighty Bob.
‘Still,’ Flip thought. ‘The man isn’t all there.’ She moved closer to where a number of people were hovering around an information node. From the look of it, a couple of brave souls were about to try to make contact.