Canto 6 – Frieda
It soon became evident that Trav Dalgoda had downloaded an artificial intelligence into the computer systems of an abandoned Galtorrian starport. He named it Frieda after his boyhood invisible companion. Ged laughed at him uncontrollably for several minutes. But the whole mess worried him too.
Frieda apparently removed herself from the Crown of Stars into the mainframe, because the middle crystal in the crown now ceased to glow. She was a very capable artificial being, and she immediately began to repair the base using all the robotic arms, cleaners, switches, routers, and computers as if they were her new body.
“Frieda, old girl, I am impressed,” said Goofy to the control systems. “You have made this place into a home just like that!”
“I appreciate a kind and patient master,” said the female voice that was now Frieda. “You are much nicer than my last master.”
“Who was your last master?” asked Ham, slightly concerned.
“His name has no analog in your tongue. He was the Dark One, son of Grandfather. He made us do terrible things.”
“How long ago was this?” asked Ged, concerned more than Ham seemed to be.
“Sixty-four million of what your computers refer to as a year.”
“Is he still around?” asked Ham.
“Grandfather slew all his children at the end of the final war. Only unliving things remain from that time. Unliving things like the three of us, The Crown of All Stars.”
Ged was relieved to hear that these powerful ancient menaces were long gone. He hoped that using this artifact hadn’t released an ancient evil on the universe in the way you always read about in story books.
“I did good, didn’t I?” said Trav to Ham.
“I have to hand it to you, Goofy. That was an excellent bit of fortune you pulled off.”
“No luck to it, old jester,” Trav replied. “My skills are unique.”
“That’s for sure,” agreed Ged.
The sentient station methodically set about taking care of all aboard. She made accommodations for the Princess and her son. She fixed up state rooms for Ged and Ham. She prepared the finest of luxury quarters for Trav.
Frieda used her robotic cargo arms on the docking port to repair battle damage to the outside of the Leaping Shadowcat. She soon discovered that she had enough spare parts in storage that she could build another space ship, one with two deadly rail guns aboard because Trav liked to blow things up. Trav named the new cobbled-together ship Megadeath. Its engines ran with efficiency unheard of in the Imperium.
“Have I done well, master?” Frieda asked Trav.
“I couldn’t ask for more, hon,” he answered. “You give me everything I want.”
“She makes me nervous,” said Ged. “She comes from a culture that destroyed themselves. Maybe the power she gives is too much for us.”
“Ah, you’re just jealous. You need an ancient artifact of your own.”
“May I suggest Grandfather’s building device?” offered Frieda. “It is on the planet below us. It is known as the Hammer of God.”
“Oh, no!” cried Ged. “Not another one! Think what could happen if the wrong people get ahold of such a device!”
“Well,” said Trav. “I guess you just have to find it then.”
“Ged, you are the most trustworthy man I know, and in the Imperium I know a lot of men.” Trav clapped a hand on Ged’s shoulder.
“I guess you are right.” Ged shook his head at the wonder of it all. Would this adventure turn to gold by sheer dumb luck? Ged didn’t believe in magic or luck. He believed in making his own destiny. If that meant making sure a moral man was in charge of these events and these ancient devices, then so much the better. “We’ve got work to do on the Grange station first, though.”
“Oh, yes. Rescuing the puppy!” said Trav.
“And securing a renewable source of food,” finished Ged.