Backstory: Nemesis

Nemesis is a character I created for the first WWN Grand Battle, and I really regret not making better use of her at the time. The game itself stalled and died, I missed out on entering the second, and I’ve used a different (and far more light-hearted) character in the third. It’s a shame, because Nemesis offered a lot of interesting possibilities, especially through interaction with some of the other players. She (or it, really) is a hyper-advanced machine, quite directly inspired by the Machine People from Alastair Reynolds’s novel House of Suns. This is my first attempt to put together a vaguely narrative backstory for her (also my first time writing her in first person). More is likely to follow.

My name is Nemesis. It’s not a name I share with many people (and I use “people” here in a very loose sense, too). In modern use, not many even remember that it is a name;  it’s generally taken colloquially to mean an implacable enemy, or a more vague source of ruin. The original Nemesis comes from ancient Greek myth: she was the personification of divine retribution, a spirit who punished any mortals who challenged the gods.

I don’t know if my designer had a thing for Greek mythology or if they just pulled the name out of a hat, but it was at least vaguely appropriate for my purpose; I was created to act as a part of a crisis team in a planetary police force, sent in to shield officers or hostages in firefights, enter burning buildings, or deal with any other situation deemed too dangerous for human officers. While I was given a mind of sorts, I was not truly autonomous – the engineers who put me together were seeking a servant, not an equal. Perhaps because of this, I find it difficult to recall details of my early life; my limited cognitive ability laid down little more than a collection of facts, without any of the abstract accompaniment that makes it possible for a sentient being to tie facts together into history. Nevertheless, I was not a simple automaton: I had a sense of self, however limited, and while my choices were heavily constrained by my mental architecture the options given to me by my designers were still mine to evaluate and select from.

After this point, my recollection is even worse. The simple, robotic recording of facts that I had maintained during my service is difficult for me to access, but in the long run I have no doubt that persistence will allow me to piece together a reasonably satisfactory account of my earliest years. What came next didn’t leave even those simple traces in my mind. For reasons I still do not know, I was decommissioned. I am certain my masters felt no attachment to me, and it is likely that they would have withheld the reasons for my retirement even if they had; I am sure they thought it unwise to let me know that I was scheduled to be destroyed. For all my deeply indoctrinated pacifism, I am sure they worried about the chance I might go berserk upon receiving the news.

There is a gap of nearly fifteen years in those early pseudo-memories, and my attempts to account for it have never become more concrete than simple speculation. I am sure that much of this is due to my primitive nature at the time – I was then such a simple creature that curiosity was foreign to me – but I have little doubt now that whoever revived me did not want to be remembered.

Do you know what happens next? I don’t!

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