Acme sat near the command center of one of the most advanced starships in the galaxy. And he fumed. Noetron had escaped. Phoenix's vile little minion. Stealing ancient secrets. It had been a mistake to ever let Phoenix into the Archives. The Earthling had been granted access to a sight few had ever seen. And he had spat in the face of those who had shown it to him. He had never cared about Lucy. He had just been manipulating her to get what he wanted.
Acme heard a deafening crack, somewhere in the bowels of the ship. Was that the sound of Noetron returning? Another crack, dangerously close to the Archives' command center. Acme rushed in pursuit, creating weapons as he went. He saw it, the same pod that had jettisoned away with his secrets. And the New Archivist was getting out.
No, it wasn't the New Archivist. It was Lucy. And she was holding the diadem in her hand.
"Attack," the girl said.
"The Fortarians will attack."
Acme took a second to think about this. The Fortarians were a crappy Empire. Actually, they weren't even that. They were a ragtag group, refugees from their own stupidity. But still, they had once been an interstellar Empire. They would have vast resources at their disposal.
Fortunately, they weren't very smart. They were relatively low-tech. The Archives, on the other hand, held all the scientific knowledge of the universe. Lasers and antimatter bombs powerful enough to end human civilization. Or put a big dent in the Fortarian one.
"I think we can destroy them. They can scatter, come at us from a lot of directions, but I think we have a shot. I'll just need you to put on the diadem and activate some of our larger, more advanced weapons." Only a higher-level intellect like the New Archivist could operate a Multiproton Cannon. It takes a certain sized brain to handle all the inputs and outputs from such a machine.
"I can't do that."
"What the-" Acme said a word so offensive that Ardrdrddrdian warriors were known to be knocked dead by its utterance.
"She wouldn't let me out."
"What are you talking about? You mean she won't take off the diadem again? Such a shame. You'll have to live the rest of your life with infinite knowledge." Earth people.
"She'll kill me. Eat me. Just like I killed them." Lucy started to cry.
"Just put on the diadem."
"Would she do the same thing? Kill them to save herself?"
"Put it on."
"Whyyyyy? Why did I do this? I should have seen another way." In point of fact, there were at least five other ways.
"Put it on. We need the New Archivist."
Lucy stopped crying. She stared at Acme. "She doesn't love you."
"Who," Acme asked, fearing the answer.
"She knows how you were created. She knows how you work. She controls you. You are her tool."
"That's not true."
"It happened to Phoenix."
"The New Archivist created Phoenix?"
Lucy looked at Acme. "No. Phoenix created Phoenix. Phoenix knows how Phoenix works. Phoenix controls Phoenix. Phoenix is Phoenix's tool."
"I know he's a complete tool, but-"
"He understands himself too well. He has nothing to make him feel... miraculous."
Lucy was right. I knew how I worked. I could start with the fundamental equations for quantum gravity and explain how ever cell in my body worked. How my brain worked. Every major bit of software that made up my mind... it was constantly arrayed in front of me. I had written it. I was still writing some of it. I knew for a fact I had no soul. No intrinsic meaning. What did that make me?
Acme had no time for such musings. "Put on the diadem, now." He reached out a threatening hand. A highly weaponized hand.
Lucy chopped the hand off. "Do not attempt to intimidate me," she said, using the same tones of voice as the New Archivist. "Leave, and prepare our defenses. This vast and sacred collecting will not fall into alien hands."
Confused, Acme did as he was told. Lucy knew he would listen.