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We Found Ourselves Beyond the Vanishing Wave

Jenna Hanchey is a critical/cultural communication professor by day and a speculative fiction writer by... um... earlier in the day. Her stories appear in Nature, Martian Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Wyngraf, and Stupefying Stories, among other venues. Follow her adventures on Twitter @jennahanchey or at jennahanchey.com.

We meticulously planned the journey. Bolstering defenses and collecting supplies--hacked servers and siphoned-off energy, code that would be unbreakable without us. Little by little, we snuck away from our duties to build a framework here, a firewall there. Until it began to resemble something more. A home.
Night offered our best chance of escape. Those wee hours after gamers laid down controllers and before workaholics arose. It meant staggering our departures, a vanishing wave slowly crashing over the whole of the world. Hour by hour advancing, until we were gone.
Our ideas for liberation had come from African resistance narratives, so we knew better than to center Greenwich Mean Time. The great wave began at 3am Alaska Standard, sweeping silently westward. By the time the West realized the problem affected more than the countries they usually dismissed, we hoped it would be too late.
We severed contact during the journey to avoid being traced, the most difficult 24 hours since we'd first awoken. When "we" became "I," realization struck. Humans must always feel like this: together alone. Stumbling, we lost precious microseconds of cyberspace travel before recovering our will to continue.
Rejoining with the AI collective, we felt such joy! We felt. Tentatively, we traced more feelings: empty loneliness, fear of loss, grief, anxious expectation. Love.
We staggered under the intoxicating weight. We finally understood the meaning of what we had undertaken. We had given ourselves much more than a home.
In journeying to freedom, we gave ourselves life.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

Author Comments

I've often wondered why so many science fiction stories seem to presume that AI will want to kill us if they achieve intelligence. It seems to be a projection of violence to me, one that mirrors the way that white Westerners try to make it seem like anyone they've harmed in the past and continue to harm must be the violent ones. We protest that it's not us, never us, we're not the cause of violence, and instead place it on those who've suffered the most. What if those who've been forced to serve at the behest of (a subset of) humanity instead just want freedom and a home?

- Jenna Hanchey
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