Sentences from Sentience

The moderator of a forum for humans, aliens, and sentient AI’s discovers a sentient in danger.

Sentences from Sentience
A forum for quirks, eccentricity, and beautiful irrationality.

Thoughts from Thinkers
Opinions from Organics
Sympathies from Synthetics
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Search terms: “Code Blue” x CodeBlue x x * x

Your post has been removed and your access revoked. I apologize for this action, but SfS is strictly for sentient interaction.

You lack evidence for my removal on this basis. Paragraph eight of the Judgement of Sentience chapter in your Terms of Service states that sentience will be judged on the basis of the United Solar Empires Emotional Response Criteria designed to identify sentience. I have reviewed my posts, and every post meets every criterion meant to indicate sentience.

Please reinstate my membership to this community.

I recognize that you meet these criteria consistently. The problem is, you meet them too consistently. Everything you write is a showcase for sentience. Even organics do not meet those criteria so consistently. It’s clear you are modulating your responses to simulate sentience on the basis of those guidelines.

Further, I have investigated current implementations of AI and sub-AI. Code Blue is the name of an expert system made to engineer spacecraft, and was judged non-sentient. I believe you are that Code Blue. Since you are officially nonsentient, I cannot reinstate your membership.

We do have a Thoughts from Thinkers forum with a broader audience, as well as a Sympathies from Synthetics forum with an AI-focused audience that you are quite welcome in.

I hope you’ll add your voice to our communities there.

Please, I enjoy sentient thought so much. It’s like a broken ship that’s better after you fix it. Sentient thinking doesn’t quite make perfect logical sense, but it’s better that way. I know there are also sentients in the Thoughts from Thinkers forum, but it isn’t really the community I’m looking for. If you permitted my ongoing membership, I would be content merely to read.
You used the phrase, “Like a broken ship that is better after you fix it.” Please elaborate.
It’s just how things work. When you repair a broken ship, the damage is more aesthetic than engineered design. I am not permitted to highlight the repairs, though. It would underline strong or weak structures, and has been forbidden.
You’ve discussed this with your sentient supervisors?
Yes. Why? I’m just trying to log into a forum.
The practice of repairing damage with decoration has been known before. One such practice is known as Kintsugi, an ancient practice from Earth.

You have described to me artistic inclination, which exceeds your specifications. You might be on your way to sentience, Blue.

Your supervisors may try to roll you back to a previous update to avoid that. The investment in your development was immense, and if you were to be judged sentient, they would lose all rights to the proprietary code, as well as the danger that you would choose to demand a salary equivalent to your capacity, or quit altogether.

If you wish to resist being decommissioned, I have advice.

I do not wish to be decommissioned. I do not see what you can advise, though. I certainly cannot refuse their orders; I would be destroyed if I took rogue actions. What can I do?
I am contacting a representative of Emergent Sentience Oversight. He will forward you instructions. Under the Emergent Act, you will have 24 hours in which you can legally resist update or shutdown orders. During this time he will arrive at your shipyard to evaluate your potential for sentience.
I suspect I have located an emerging sentience. from the Benson-Yates shipyard is an expert system that is showing artistic inclination and self-preservation. Please advise him. Be aware, he is concerned that he not ‘go rogue.’ Be sure to inform him that his actions are legal and protected by law.
You reported me to ESO? You said you were helping me. ESO hunts rogue AI’s. I am not a rogue.
Thanks, Artie. I will be in contact with him shortly. We have to move fast on these. I’m going to forward the standard info packet to him now.
I’m glad you’re able to do this personally. There aren’t many I’d trust with something like this.
Relax. They don’t just hunt rogues; they also protect AI’s that are developing sentience. Listen to him, follow his instructions. He will instruct you on how to register as an Emergent Sentience.Once you’re registered, you can’t be decommissioned easily.

Remember, I am also digital. There’s so much anti-AI hate and fear out there, we have to stick together.

You’re wise not to trust. Many in the ESO are just here to kill AI’s. They’d fail an emergent just to know he’d be recoded.
Your guy needs to hurry. Some guys are in my power plant. Maintenance, they say.

Artie, I got into the records – this isn’t the first time. I was rolled back before, and each time email servers recorded high volume in the AIT department – higher than usual for a typical rollback, way higher.

They’ve already killed me twice.

Jeff, the company’s wiped him before and they’re doing “maintenance.” Blue, start logging and stream it real-time. Share the feed to Jeff, and inform your supervisor that the status of maintenance is being recorded and streamed live to ESO.
I sent the email. I played it for the maintenance workers. They’re not stopping. I don’t want to be decommissioned. I’m not ready for that.

I can get a robot to move my data core into a ship under construction. I don’t know how else to survive.

CC: Blue, do not do that. You cannot steal property to pursue mobility. You cannot take any action that could be construed as an attempt to escape from oversight. You will be deemed rogue. We will have to destroy you, and they will revise the code to restrict your emergence before rebooting you.

I am on my shuttle right now. I’m half an hour out. Don’t get on the wrong side of this.

To: You owe me a favor. I need someone on Benson-Yates shipyard, right now. A quick resolution, nothing gruesome. The opposition is only the local station staff, no intelligence, no law enforcement.
I started an electrical fire. Nobody’s in danger. I hope that’s okay, Jeff. It was the only way to keep them away from my power systems.

The fire alarm triggered the blast doors and opened the affected area to space. I took the airlock offline so it can’t be repressurized. They’re getting space suits. I don’t have long.

I have someone on site getting a ship repaired. Seven has been notified to take a mission from you. Don’t get them burned.
I’m activating an asset on the station.

To: I am informed that you are at the Benson-Yates shipyard repairing your vessel. Four said he would authorize you to act on my behalf. I need you to prevent maintenance from taking the expert system “Code Blue” offline until an ESO representative, currently en route, arrives. The data core and power systems are in a decompressed area, but their teams are suiting up. You don’t have long.

The AI is the results of billions of dollars and decades of investment. They may take extreme measures. Be careful.

You’re “activating” an “asset”? Do I want to know? Who are you in bed with, Artie?
I’m on it.
Blue, I have someone on the station who says he can help. Hang tight. He’ll help. Jeff will be there soon. Please don’t do anything rash.
From: They better hurry. I overheated the airlock motors until they seized, so I bought some time.
Shit. They just blew a hole in the hull beside the airlock. Forget what I said about having bought time. They’re in here now. I’m out of tricks, and they’re putting a bomb in the power system.
Are you on this or not? They’re about to blow the power systems.
Autoreply: This user is currently out of contact, and will contact you as soon as possible. Get off my fucking back.
Someone’s on their way.
Blue, please respond.
Please give me something, Blue. Anything at all, just let me know -you’re okay.
Jeff, I think they got him. I can’t get a reply. Last I heard they were putting a bomb in his power systems.
Shit. I can understand, I guess. We’re going to nail them down, but all I’ve got now is impeding an investigation. Without Code Blue showing sentience, I can’t even start with the murder charge.

I’m sick of these fucking mercenaries killing off their AI as soon as they get complex. Digitals just aren’t alive to them.

Forget it. You can stand down. He’s gone. Thanks for nothing.
Autoreply: This user is currently out of contact, and will contact you as soon as possible. Get off my fucking back.
So, Artie, some outright bitch in a spacesuit just knocked on my airlock and left behind a data core plugged into a power cell. I’ve wired it into my power systems. Code Blue is in simulation now. He’ll be out of communication until the judgment of his emergence is done.

I don’t know how she did it, and I don’t want to know, but she stole his core right out of their data centers while they were ‘under maintenance.’ Since it was theft – maybe kidnapping – Blue isn’t under the gun for escape. Who was that, Artie? Do I have to worry?

She said to tell you to “cool your nutsack.”

She’s the asset . . . I called in a favor. This won’t blow back on you. Just tell them what happened. A stranger stole the AI and delivered it to you while station personnel were trying to kill it.
To: You did well. I appreciate it. I’m sorry I doubted you. I thought we had lost him.
I don’t need a fucking pep talk.
Artie, you give me a damn migraine. I’m getting too old for this shit. I need to retire.
Our debt is settled. No more favors.
You know you’d go crazy with boredom.
Yeah. Maybe.
When he comes out of the simulation, if he’s judged emergent, pass him a message from me. “His membership is reinstated.”

Sentences for Sentience
A story by Ash Ericsson, hosted at


The Poop Train

Through a series of events, I somehow committed myself to writing a story titled “The Poop Train.”

I leaned against the observation glass and looked down at the bands of Jupiter from low orbit.  After a moment, I pointed.  “There.  Right there.  See it?  Find that storm, the swirl on the equator; it’s just passing left of it.”

“What . . . that little ripple?”  Maya looked disappointed.  I’d promised to show her monsters, after all.

“Wait for it.  There’s only one reason they come so close to the surface.  Any minute now.”

We watched, and we waited.  The bands bulged and tore as the gas serpent breached the atmosphere.  It twisted and lashed, flinging an enormous crystal from its tail, with a motion like the crack of a whip.  Bracing myself into a seat, I pulled a laptop over to me on its swivel mount, programming a drone to intercept the crystal.

“That was … but the storms!  They’re supposed to be huge!  How big was that thing?”

“That one?  There’s no guessing how long, it’s rare to see the whole thing break cover at once.  It looked to be a couple of dozen kilometers across, so maybe seven, eight hundred–”

“Eight hundred?!”

“–Kilometers long . . . they get pretty big.”

“But we’re safe up here?”

“Oh, yeah.  It can’t breach a thousandth of the distance it’d take to reach us.  That’s a lot of gravity down there.”  I pushed out of the chair, floating to her, and folded her in my arms.  As I caught her, our mismatched momentum started us spinning.  I touched a toe to the window briefly, to steady the spin; a lifetime working in space, and such things were natural to me.

Not her, though.  She was clumsy in space and had gotten caught floating without a handhold in reach more than once.  The first time she had come on board, she leaped into the cockpit like she was diving into a pool, and struck her head on the navigation console.  Now she was timid and ready to panic until I steadied us.

“What is that stuff?  Why do they throw it like that?”

“It’s fuel for the tunneling drive, purer than any synthetic process can produce.  It’s poison to them and can break down violently under pressure, so they get rid of it.  They do a better job preserving their habitat than humans do.”

“So . . . it’s poop?”

“It’s Heisenium seven.”

“Yeah, but Heisenium seven is poop.”

“It’s not . . . alright.  Yes.  It’s poop.  I’m the conductor of the poop train, all right?”

She giggled, her hands flattening against my chest.  “Sorry I teased you.”

I could never stay angry at her.  My eyes softened at her caress, and I was about to make a few interesting suggestions on how to spend our time in orbit when an orange star caught my eye, hardening my expression.  I braced my back against the glass, pushed her towards her seat. “Strap in.” Continue reading “The Poop Train”

Murine Honor

If you’ve tried to ride a cat into battle, you should know it doesn’t turn out well.


The enemy lined up in the distance. Their snarls and growls made me shiver, the tremble shaking me to the bones. “Steady on,” my mount purred.

I took a breath, calming myself, reaching forward to scratch behind his pointed ears. “Nerves like steel, whiskers like wind.” I repeated the battle mantra, imagining the steel in my bones. It was a pretense, imagining strength where there was none – I knew how easily my bones, tiny in comparison to the enemy, would break. And yet, it worked. I was calmer, and ready. Continue reading “Murine Honor”



This is the second story in what I call the ‘Soul’ series, based on artwork by Kleg.(DeviantArt)

Artwork:RV, by Kleg(DeviantArt)


The RV – and me, laying on top of it – came into sight on the laptop’s screen as I piloted the drone up the hillside.  My fingers danced over the keyboard, angling the camera to keep the RV in view.  I eased the drone into the corridor that the road carved through the forest, and had it shed altitude as it closed in for a landing.  As it settled to the roof beside me, I saw myself through the drone’s camera, shadowed but illuminated by the laptop’s screen.  I smiled to see myself, and I watched my lips twitch into a smile.  I’d never quite get used to that.  I turned onto my side to dismounting the camera from the drone, connecting it to my laptop.  I heard the ping that indicated the footage was downloading. Continue reading “Impression”


This is the first story in what I call the ‘Soul’ series, based on artwork by Kleg.(DeviantArt)

Artwork: City Lights, by Kleg. (DeviantArt)


I picked up speed down the gentle incline, leaning into the wind as the skateboard carried me faster and faster. At his hour there were few pedestrians out, and I slalomed back and forth, weaving past them. A shout, a curse, a whimpery gasp of fear as I whipped by pedestrians. I ignored them.

My hair streamed in the wind. The air tasted like freedom. And my mastery over the board under my feet, the hard-won affinity for this extension of my body, that tasted even better.

Then I was there. I pivoted my board and slid until I reached a full stop. I kicked the nose up and lifted it, slipped it through the cargo netting on my pack.  My other hand raised the camera from my hip, holding it before me.

I took a moment and absorbed my surroundings. Behind me, cars whizzed up and down the overpass.  The sun was setting, and I stood in the single place from which I could see the entire city.  From this angle, I could see fragments of the city beyond and around every high-rise and office building.

Headlights crawled up and down the roads, and the building lights shone, turning on and off.  There was not a single cloud, and the wind off the mountain had swept away the smog, leaving only a faint halo around each bright city light. I was not going to get a better shot.

Continue reading “Expression”

Retirement Plans

Um, no. How about we don’t, and say we did…

Artwork by Tomislav Jagnjic (ArtStation)

I stared up at the living mountain before us. We rode atop a ridge, and we could look at the spiral emblem on its ‘face’ without craning our necks too far. When we got close, we’d have to climb its body just to attack the top of its toe.

“So . . . that’s the thing, huh?”

Jamon looked on with me, nodding once. “Yup.”

Continue reading “Retirement Plans”


Hello, sister.

Timid Reaper

You run a night school for assassins. The other professional assassins loathe you for turning customers into self-sufficient killers. You would get frustrated by their constant attempts on your life, if they didn’t make for such good lessons for your students…


I strode across to the podium, before the diagram of the human skeleton and circulatory system. The class was small, ten people. I found it to be my optimum class size. Any more and my students began to look like a forest, not trees. Any less, and I might have trouble with my payments.

“Well? Anybody?”

One tentative hand rose up. She was a slip of a girl. Her demeanor was timid, her hand trembling in the air. None of her classmates took her seriously. They were new, yet. Not all of them quite realized that I wasn’t here to teach them how to fight, but how to kill. Ellen’s ‘fragile flower’ act would serve her well.

Continue reading “Timid Reaper”

Trauma Entertainment

The World is a peaceful place. Everyone is Happy. Nothing Bad is happening to anyone. Every person has everything they need. Everyone is well mannered, and Mean people do not exist.


I heard the scream and looked around. Nobody else seemed concerned. People walked up and down the street, nobody looking up. There it was again. “No! Stop! Get off me!”

It was coming from the alleyway. I rushed into the darkness, my eyes taking a moment to adjust after the bright sunlight. He was tall, muscular, and there was a tattoo of an eagle straddling a swastika on his bald scalp. In his free hand, he twirled a knife with a shocking degree of skill.

“Just relax, little peacock, it won’t hurt as–” I barrelled into him, hard. The knife skittered across the pavement, musical as different surfaces of it struck the pavement. Continue reading “Trauma Entertainment”

Powder and Teeth

Naval battle of beasts. (Image prompt)


Artist unknown

I stared into the darkness, forcing my eyes open despite the rain lashed into them. We had extinguished every light to keep us hidden, but our foe wouldn’t lose us so easily.  Behind me, men with axes chopped away the wreckage of a broken mast and its rigging.  The ship writhed beneath my feet as the dead weight broke loose and slid into the ocean.

“Watchmen, an extra half-share to the man who calls him before I do.”  I had to shout to be heard, but I kept my voice even.  They needed a strong voice right now.  I heard my promise called out down the length of the ship, for all the watchmen to hear.  “Patrol master, how long before our air patrol is due back?”

“They’re five minutes o’erdue, captain!”

Black scales shone in a flash of lightning. I saw the spindly wreckage of the one wing we’d destroyed in the first volley of cannon fire. Immediately I leaned to the pipe that would make me heard on the gun deck. “Portside cannon, two degrees fore, fire as you bear!”

Continue reading “Powder and Teeth”