Work Header

How She Has Burned

Chapter Text

"For open int A equals zero. Semicolon. A less than target dot size, open-close. Semicolon, plus plus A... close."

Alone in the dark, she intoned the words in a breathy chant, a half-whisper, half-hum that blended with the susurrating swell of computer fans and the purring of hard drives. The terminal before her, nevertheless, was able to pluck the words from the static, their steady flow across the screen a dim pulse of light that barely brightened the room at all.

for (int a=0; a<target.size(); ++a)

She didn't need it to. She hadn't even noticed the emulated sunset, long since expired now: her voice, these words, these waveforms transforming from sound to light, this was all the illumination she needed.

Somewhere in the outpouring of thought and light she recalled books she'd read back at Danich Hill, her father's old Earth books, yellow-stained and full of outdated pop-psych. She'd read them anyway, because she was bored and he'd given her a drive to learn. A man's work, they'd said, is building, constructing, the fitting together of pieces; it is angles and absolutes. A woman nurtures, ripens, brings forth the soft and swelling light.

She'd always figured it for sexist bullshit - they said the Martians had no notion of feminism, but what was a feminist, if not a woman fighting for her right to live? Still, now she knew as much, here at this terminal where she whispered in prayer, the pieces sliding into place one by one as they grew into something greater than their sum. She was the structure and the guidance, she was builder and procreator, she was coder and nurturer, the architect and the passionate breath of new life. She was, in her small way, a god: absurd as that notion was to a cyborg, a creature twice-removed from God if the religions were to be believed, man made in God's image, cyborg made in man's. The only touch of a god's hands on her nascent soul had been lines of machine code, just like this.

Yet as she worked on gestating the artificial brain, she could believe there was something sacred in it. The ghost in the machine. The whisper in the code. Her heart seemed to clench and swell in time with her speaking, the darkness buzzing with some invisible energy, the lights that flickered across the screen the thin lacing that drew it all together. Breathing was a vestigial function in Thirds, but she felt like she was holding hers.

If there was a god, then he - or she - was as present in this as in any birth, and this maze of cables was a church, a font, a lectern at which the Word was preached. The Word that begat life.

m_dWeights[a] += LearningRate * Influence * (target[a] - m_dWeights[a]);