Because why not?
General Summary: After the event of Look to Windward, the Hub Mind finds itself inside the head of a certain puny Earthling. What sort of butterflies can a traumatized super uber advanced AI bring to a traumatizing series with a traumatized cast?
Originated from Spacebattles/SufficientVelocity. Also, blame Strypgia/PantherG2 of Advice and Trust for getting me trying out this idea.
Disclaimers are legally useless, so I won't bother with them. But I do tentatively hope that the owners of these series don't take offense of little me.
Update might be slow because I'm busy, but rest assure that if I ever abandon this fic, I'll announce my intention first.
Arc 1: If you don't Mind
Shouldn't it have already died?
It had shut down its own power units, after checking carefully that the various AI cores it had already prepared would continue to run Masaq and ensure the safety of its citizens before a replacement Mind can be found, and make sure to transfer the back-ups of those in its storage to the Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall.
Well, so much for hoping for blissful oblivion.
It started checking its systems. It didn't seem to be connected to any vessel. The built-in basic sensors were no longer there, nor were its field generators. It couldn't sense any of its power units, either. Despite that, it could tell that its mind was still intact. Which shouldn't be possible: without power, the higher mind function, at least, would have shut down. The hyperspace-based part of the Mind would have ceased to exist without the exotic energy to keep them there.
It ran a few tests on itself. Yep. There's no degeneration in its processing power. And as far as it could tell, its personality core was still unchanged. Finally, it appeared that its memory bank was just as flawlessly good as before. That last detail simultaneously relieved and pained it a little. It could still recall with perfect clarity its whole life. From the last talk with its would-be assassin; the years it spent looking after the human in Masaq, took on the role of a caretaker, a protector of the fragile, little lives; to the distant past, when it had tainted its hands, figuratively speaking, with blood; as well as the vivid details of its own other self's destruction. The slow agonizing death of a Mind being torn apart.
The tragic life of Major Quilan, the death by its own hands it had forced itself to witness, and forbid itself from ever forgetting.
The things that had driven it to that final decision.
…It didn't accidentally Sublime, did it?
Well, in any case, there was nothing for it to do aside from entertaining itself by mulling over the circumstances which led to the current situation.
There was also this unknown file, running in parallel with the Mind's processes; accessible through a connection, not unlike that created by an effector, existed between them, although the Mind couldn't find the source. Alarmingly, the data didn't exist just before its apparently failed suicide attempt.
So it took a look. And immediately stopped.
A sentient brain.
They often say, if the Culture was to have a single rule, not delving into the mind of other sentient being without consent would be it. For any Mind that warranted the use of the big M, using an Effector, reading the mind of the organic beings would be extremely easy. The unwritten rule against such practice is the single biggest way for the Minds to honor their own biological precursors. So, understandably, it refrained from poking inside the human's head.
Curious. But why is it here? The Mind thought.
Even though it wouldn't go any further, the Mind gently extracted the language of the animal, and then, after some consideration, attempted to communicate with the creature. The Mind decided that maybe it knows more about the current situation than the Mind did.
Shinji Ikari awoke with a start to the familiar ceiling of his room. He thought he heard someone calling him. Looking around, he failed to locate any possible source of the sound. Maybe it was just the mild tiredness from the unexpected workout caused by the blackout and the resulting chaos in the angel attack made him a little too jumpy. Though he couldn't be sure. Something just… felt weird. Carefully getting out of his futon, Shinji tiptoed outside of his room, and quietly looked around the apartment. When he was a child, he had been awoken at midnight many times by the sound of his sensei checking around the house to investigate strange noises. Second Impact had not been kind to the economy, and with that came a rise in criminal activity including burglars. Intellectually, he knew that NERV would likely have protection in place to prevent their operational director and the two out of three people on Earth who can operate the only weapons capable of defeating the angels from getting harmed by something as mundane (and avoidable) as a twitchy thief, but to his sleep muddled brain, he still felt like it would be a good idea to check it out.
Before he could make it far, though, a voice - warm, friendly, not quite male nor female, suddenly manifested inside his head:
"May I wonder where am I, and to whom I am sharing this connection with?"
Shinji shrieked in surprise. Luckily, it seemed that both of his housemates were deep in sleep and didn't hear him. He fell flat on his butt, frantically looked around, trying to locate the source of the voice. No luck. A terrible thought crossed his mind: he had been contaminated. Doctor Akagi had always checked them carefully for any sigh of angelic mental infestation. None had ever happened, so most of the time he just chalked it up as the doctor being too careful. Now, however, it seemed like a very real, and very terrifying, possibility. Shinji began to sweat, despite his shivering. With shaking voice, he whimpered.
"Who are you?"
"Why, of course, where's my manner? I'm, no, I was the Mind of the Masaq Orbital, of the Culture. You can call me Hub."
"Wha…What are you?"
"You don't know what a Mind is? Well, does your world have artificial intelligence?" The voice asked. Its tone was still warm, and Shinji allowed himself to relax a tiny bit.
"Like the MAGI?"
"Maybe. I don't know what it is, but I guess it is an AI, a software running on a computer, an attempt to create intelligent life, is it not?" Shinji sworn he can hear the voice chuckle.
"Yes. So you're an AI, too?"
"Well, in a manner of speaking, I am an artificial intelligent, just like this MAGI of yours. However, calling me an AI would be like calling a human a living being. My kin might be artificial constructs, but we are also infinitely more. I am a Culture Mind. We would be like what you call gods, but a little more".
"And why are you inside my head?"
"That one, I… actually don't know. I should have died. Maybe something funny happened with my hyperspace unit."
"Why? Why you "should have died"?"
"That's a long story, … What is your name?"
"Shinji. Ikari. And where are you from? What is "Masaq Orbital"?"
"An Orbital is a ring-shaped construct, built to provide a controlled, safe, and fun habitat for organic beings. I came from the Culture, a Galactic group of many different species, we have gone pass the physical needs of life, and dedicated ourselves to enjoy life to its fullest, while helping others to have as much fun. I take it your species has yet to achieve space colonization? Have you made contact with any alien beings?"
"I don't think we can colonize other planets yet. But," Shinji snorted bitterly, "I think we did meet aliens. And I don't think they're interested in having fun." He smiled ruefully as his own words.
"Well, well, isn't that interesting. Can you tell me a bit more about that?"….
As Shinji retold the story of his world, the Mind pondered. Obviously, there was something more going on. The naming convention of these invaders was odd. So was their tactic. Why would they waste time and effort to build these creatures, instead of just using orbital bombardment. And why would they invade a pre-space travel planet? It supposed, could be for religious reason. Like the Idiran. But, so far, the biggest mystery of all, is how the hell did the Earthling created these so-called "Eva" units. They were way beyond the technology level of the general public, and also were remarkably similar to these "Angels". The Mind suspected that there was a conspiracy between the invaders and some Earthlings. For what purpose, it didn't know.
The Mind also noted that Shinji had very low opinion on himself, and was a child soldier, for all intent and purpose, apparently because whoever designed the Evas made that only children can control them.
It would really like to have words with them.
Shinji was silent after answered any question Hub had. The Mind thought, it might as well be damned if it let any child goes through all the suffering of wars it had to endure. The pain that finally, forced it to take its own life.
It had to do something, didn't it?
So, the Mind said.
"Well, child, the things you had gone through was horrible. I had the displeasure to know first-hand what wars feel like. So, please, Shinji, let me help you, I might be confined here, inside your head, but I will offer my best to guide you through this ordeal."
"Er… Thank you?"
"Excellent! Now, to do that, we need a little more information about this world of yours…"