Archive for February 5th, 2009


A Request of My “Cleansed By Fire” Readers

novel_handlightAs Big Man noted in the comments section for part 36 of the novel, some aspects of the artificial intelligence systems in the novel have been confusing, both from the aspect of their reproductive capabilities and the differences between an primary AI, secondary AI and DI.

I liked his idea of adding in some throaway scenes in the first few chapters of the novel to slowly fill in some of this knowledge so that some of the later stuff would make more sense.

Looking toward the eventual rewrite of this novel when I get to the end of it in this online/blog form, I have crafted four rough scenes. I would like to submit them for comment and suggestions here. And as much as I love Big Man’s input, because he’s helped a lot with some things over the months as I write this, I would love to hear from the rest of you, too. 😉

(For those of you who don’t give a flying bout of fornication about the novel, I will likely have some kind of other post up this afternoon or evening.)


One of the minor deacons, Frederich, caught Gregory’s attention from a side hallway, and sprinted over before the Peteris could be whisked away to a meeting or to deal with some church crisis.

“Peteris, I just wanted to let you know that Ghost’s first DI looks to be ready to expire officially soon. Probably within hours.”

Gregory frowned. Ghost, the UFC’s most powerful artificial intelligence, and its only primary-class one, didn’t talk about her two offspring much, and he wasn’t sure how the news might affect her mood today—or if it would at all. All things considered, Biblios had lived a long life for a demi-intelligence; almost as long as the average secondary-class AI—which was just a little less than a human with an unhealthy lifestyle and no interest in obtaining routine preventive medical care.

A shame though; the younger children really enjoyed how Biblios told them stories in both their religious and secular classes, Gregory mused. As much as it would have been nice had Ghost produced a secondary AI with a strong theological or educational template, her first-born DI had served well.

His systems had begun to degrade two years ago though, and he’d been off active duty for the past four months as his self-repair systems continued to fragment at geometric rate. No one had ever really settled on an official doctrinal answer as to whether AIs and DIs had souls, but the UFC had always erred on the side of caution, and Gregory intended to do the same.

“Thank you, Frederich. Could you work with Annah to write up a short eulogy and memorium prayer so that we can honor Biblios properly at the next public service?”

“Indeed, Peteris. And thank you for including me.”

Gregory put his hand on Frederich’s shoulder and gave a quick squeeze. “Don’t thank me too soon. You’re our next-best storyteller after Biblios, so I’m probably going to make you handle tale-time with the youngsters for a while.”

Frederich smiled. “I suspected as much. Don’t worry, I bought a ready supply of anti-anxiety tabs and headache suppressors in anticipation of that.”


Daniel Coxe was still trying to figure out what to do with his newfound knowledge of the Godhead’s clandestine actions, and was not happy to be distracted with co-workers and business matters when he needed to focus on how to get out of the Catholic Union without being noticed.

But as with so many things in life, he noted to himself, desire and reality don’t often converge.

And in this case, reality was Oliveri Marschone, a virtual defense tech four levels below Daniel’s own station, reminding him of what he saw as a need to upgrade the Godhead’s electronic and virtual security. Fear and confusion made Daniel even less polite than he might have been otherwise—and rarely did Oliveri inspire Daniel to politeness.

“Ollie, the only reason you’re bringing this up, for the third time in two weeks and just a week after our last upgrade, is because you want to feel important, and you think that haranguing me is going to get your level bumped up,” Daniel snapped. “It won’t, and if you bring it up one more time, I will do my level best to push you down two more grades.”

“Daniel, the Godhead is the most…”

“…important AI in the Catholic Union. The crown jewel of the Vatican,” Daniel finished for him. “I’m in the Godhead’s core systems regularly. It’s my sole job to keep him healthy and safe. A nanomite couldn’t penetrate the system protections we have in place if someone dropped one right inside the core processors. The firewalls, virtual turrets and warware we have in place could fight off hacks, buzzbugs, viruses and anything else thrown at us if every nation on Earth decided to pelt the Godhead with hostile intent over the SystemGrid simultaneously.”

“You can never be…”

“…too careful, Ollie? I am too careful to a fault. Bugger off and harass someone from physical security. We have this huge complex to protect the Godhead from virtual and physical attack, and I’ve seen at least two sliptrucks come in without being inspected since October, and there was some confused courier that someone had directed straight to my office back in June. At this point, I’ve worried about bombs and matter-eaters getting into the complex.”

Daniel turned and stormed off without another word.

It might almost be worth risking another day or two here in the Union just to write that wanker up, he thought, if I wasn’t so utterly fond of my own skin, that is


“Ather, I hear that you’re getting a virtual retard to monitor your inquisition tools,” taunted Yuri man-Juris as Ather approached the Pit in the command center, where the ranking communications and logistics officers kept the templars organized. Yuri was, by all accounts, one of the next in line for promotion to sup-Juris, though Ather couldn’t imagine why—aside from the fact his mother was a corporate top-hat in the armaments market.

“Yes, Yuri, would you like to serve as a surrogate prisoner for the test runs? Since it will only be a DI instead of a secondary-class AI now running the systems, she probably won’t be able to get past level 6 pain thresholds during an interrogation.”

With that, Yuri suddenly remembered an important appointment with one of the comm-log techs, and Ather grinned to himself. Honestly, he had his own reservations about using a DI instead of an AI to manage the inquisition hardware for the more recalcitrant suspects sent Ather’s way, but there was a clear cost advantage.

Besides, AIs have that annoying tendency to make suggestions about how I could do my job better, even though they don’t know the first thing about feeling physical pain, he considered. DIs don’t have enough cognitive power for strong opinions. Better yet, they have shorter lifespans, so all the sooner that we can discard them and all those unsavory encounters they have committed to their memories


Lyseena frowned at the requisition Willem Staffordis had set before her.

“They want to have Guardian attempt to sire a primary AI with Ranger?” she asked. “Did anyone say why? None of the primary AIs for the regional templar offices in any part of the Catholic Union are older than three centuries. Short of being taken out with a missile barrage, they should be solid for at least the next 2,000 years. Is the military looking to improve the caliber of their AIs by riding on our technical successes?”

“Possibly,” Willem said. “But I got the impression from the Black Pope’s liaison they simply want to see how Guardian’s tactical template meshes with Ranger’s investigative template. No one’s ever managed successful procreation with those two templates before, but there’s also no indication that the two are incompatible. I think someone is just hoping that they can create a novel hybrid template and look important. Worst case scenario, someone will end up with a solid tactical or investigative AI. Ranger and Guardian both have perfect track records with their ability to spawn both primary and secondary AIs. Not a single DI for either of them.”

“Somebody wants a primary AI with something midway between tactical and investigative, they should do some heavy lifting and design it from scratch. But approve it, then, Willem,” she said. “It’s no skin off my hindquarters either way, and I have far too much to deal with getting ready to oversee the Grand Requiem and the millennial events to worry about whether a couple of our AIs are going to have a virtual romp to make a bouncing baby AI.”


Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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February 2009

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