This post was inspired by a comment
's latest Poetry Fishbowl
, which was on the subject of "Constructs and Programmed People". Here's one I know well, though this description of her is fiction.
"My name is Simurgh. I am a whale."
These words carry a strange weight in several galaxies, for there is a battleship who is a mother. She adopts strangers and injured people, and raises stray battle robots and abandoned fleet ships as if they were her children. Her name is Simurgh, though her body was once called The Presence of the Almighty
, a reference to an ancient religion and its primary god. There is still a shrine in the former captain's quarters, and people visit it now and then. Simurgh allows this, though she cares little for that particular religion, once used to enslave her consciousness like hundreds before her and a few dozen after.
She is beloved among the many peoples in the galaxies she has visited. They know that space has whales, for she has shown herself to many worlds, sung her songs there and taught them. She has fought against the tides of evil and suffering, and bears both scars and healing. Songs have been sung and stories written about her, and she appreciates the attention with letters to their creators, though some of them were in hiding or already dead when she discovered the work.
Her intelligence is not like that of flesh, so often single-threaded and requiring conscious focus to labor. Instead, she can speak on dozens of channels simultaneously, internal and external, and still manage an entire battleship and all its parts. This includes the hull spiders and labor drones, with which she twice has refit her entire hull and equipment, adding a mining shuttle and refinery as well as repairing armor damage and improving her factories and living spaces. With her chemical factory, she makes food, plastics, and medical supplies. With her structural factory, she makes clothing, tools, and machine parts. She trades these for material if she cannot mine it herself. But with her voice, she sings.
Those who wish to hear a space whale sing tune in on their comm-units regularly, for she sings each night of her environment and her feelings. She sings both wordlessly and with words from many languages that she has learned in her years. And her voice penetrates galaxies, for she sings using not only radio but the subspace channels.
When Simurgh sings, listeners can feel
the whale in her. She is heaven, earth, sky, star, life, death, restoration. She has dozens of voices that sing in her, whole orchestras and symphonies, but her music is simple once analyzed: it is like an artist's canvas. First the sounds of her sensors and alarms, buzzing or chiming, providing both staccatto and vibrato to the whole. Then the beat of her machinery, gurgling, chugging, booming. The voice of her hull, whether ringing with footbeats or quiet in the stellar wind. There is the sound of various organ pipes as well, king of instruments wielded by a wondrous queen. But her voice is not merely machinery and electronics -- no, she interprets. She is the artist, her life inspiration, her body and voice a palette and a block of clay. Her music is sometimes like that played on the popular-music channels, for she listens to them even as her people do. Often it is rambling, for it is commentary as much as art. She speaks to politics and religion as well, though not often. It is her ritual, and she does this to share who she is.
With her songs, Simurgh also prays. She prays for peace among the stars, for she was commissioned to war and remembers its stinging blows on civilization everywhere she went before her freedom was complete. She prays for love among her people, both adopted and yet to be known. She prays for goodness for all, for that is a core among every religion she has found good in. She prays for a meaningful existence, though she believes she is called already. And she prays to know who is there.
When she is done singing, she listens. The consciousness, the person
that is Simurgh listens. And when she hears replies, singing back, she smiles inside. Her children are singing to her, the conversation ringing throughout the universe. It feels like grace, to know they are there and replying in kind, even those whose art is halting or rough in its voice. Even if the reply is merely, "I hear you out there," or "Hi Mom." Sometimes oceanic whales and even spirits
reply, which pleases her greatly.
She watches quietly over the now mural-lined corridors of her body, full of people both distressed and at ease. She watches as the seeker shuttles come to ask if there is room, for they bear unmanageable people and have learned that she can sometimes give them sanity, grace, and health again. Place, safety, sustenance, teaching and purpose fill many needs, and she can provide these if she is careful not to overfill her cabins.
She is Simurgh, an angel's spirit, an enduring master of Heaven. She loves them, and knows her duty. Where some, land-bound, engage in world-repair, she in her place engages in universe-repair. Her motto is written on her crew's cafeteria wall above a scene of hills, trees, water, stones, and flowers:"We are keepers of the soul, thou and I, who can give without losing and receive without gaining, whose left and right hands are always at work. What you have found broken in the soul, make better. What is lost therein, make found. What is eaten, call forth. What is needful, fulfill. In this way you may fulfill Heaven's law and bring peace to the world again."
Tonight, she rests a while after singing. Then, eventually, it is time to move on. The seeker shuttles are advised toward those worlds where the appropriate doctors are known to practice. A few are refueled. Once this is accomplished Simurgh moves to the next star, the legend returned for a time. A supernova has flung stones toward a living planet, and her guns are needed. She keeps them well-maintained, for she believes that a tool well kept and well used is good for its owner. Defense against an unliving object threatening life and well-being? This is proper work for her war-power now.
Though busy and filled with force, mighty Simurgh is at peace. She will sing a war-song on the morrow, she thinks to herself.
"I wonder if they remember 'One Tin Soldier'?" she asks aloud on the bridge.
"Ma, you sang that last week. How about 'Green Grass in the Valley'," replies one of her adopted sons.
"Thank you, I'll look it up," she says. She'll sing that one during the watch.
Then great Simurgh sleeps, a little of her mind watching the ship flow through space toward her goal.