I scanned my mind. There were files detailing what had happened. I read about my dying thoughts, and relived my dying moments. Something not many people get to do.
I started the process of standing up. I could normally do that it something like 0.7 seconds. But I had just died, and I still wasn't at full capacity. It might take me twice that to be vertical. An eternity. I think so much faster than I move, and even my movements are fast. I looked with dread at the walk back to the ship's control center. Just a few hundred feet. What a waste of time.
I learned about what Vafnir had done, and how Neurotron had recreated me. I felt the full power of my cyborg brain, made of flesh and blood and magnetic monopoles in configurations no human could ever imagine. I noticed a copy of Vafnir's mind. All of his thoughts and memories and personality. It was tiny compared to the vast network of concepts and... well English doesn't have words for the things that made up my mind. I generated more information in a second than a human could in a lifetime, and humans only remember a fraction of it. I could fill a library with books bragging about my superior intellect before a human had even thought of a good title.
I went through Vafnir's memories, hoping to find information about Dr. Demented. What I found made me significantly less eager to brag about my intelligence. The madman had traveled the past and future, conquered galaxies, built machines larger than stars and smaller than quarks.
He understood how to bend time and space to his will. He understood how to create parallel universes. He understood what Samuel Beckett was talking about it Waiting for Godot.
Vafnir was only vaguely aware of the Doctor's plan. The Fortarians would conquer the Archives. Vafnir would kill me, and steal my powers using some gift from Dr. Demented. Vafnir would analyze the contents of the Archives and use the newly resurrected Crucible and Time Key to destroy Earth Alpha and recreate Earth Beta, which would be ruled by Demented, Vafnir, and the Fortarian Emperor.
Vafnir planned to eventually betray the other two. Seemed rather optimistic. Dr. Demented would kill him in a fit of delirium far before Vafnir got that powerful.
I was standing up. Time to start walking.
As I walked, I interfaced with the ship around me. It had take Noetron months to gain control of even part of the Archives. I was running most of it within a few paces. Okay, fine. I was mostly building on Noetron's previous work and my own computing resources. Still pretty impressive.
I thought about Lucy. With the information in the Archives, I had a complete understanding of her physiology. Everything outside the brain, whose details were stored in a file I couldn't translate. I knew the exact dynamics of what was happening in her broken legs. It would be a simple fix. I designed a cast. Like, a really good cast. Like, not only were there dozens of flat surfaces for signing, but they it walk itself up from the Archives' manufacturing center, and attach itself to Lucy's legs. It would allow her to walk while moderating pain and optimizing the healing process. And I was only halfway through my walk.
What could I do about the Fortarians? I conjured up a list of the weapons at my disposal. No. Think more generally. The tools at my disposal. No, the information at my disposal. What did the Archives have to say about the Fortarians?
Too much. Far too much. Enough to fill up even my vast hard drives a hundred times. I narrowed the field of inquiry. What was there to know about recent activities? What should I know about their command structure. Still more information than could be transferred in a week.
And even the amount of information was a secondary concern. It was written by aliens. I didn't understand it. I was only sixty percent sure I was asking about the right species. To translate all those third hand accounts into something I could understand would be a monstrous task. Was there a way to make it easier? To increase my computing capacity?
Could I upload my own consciousness into the ship. I quick look at the ship's infrastructure revealed that the answer to that question was a clear and concise no. Not at all adapted to the kind of processing needed for computer intelligence. At least, computer intelligence the way I understood it. By the time I had entered the control room, I still didn't know how to run a program more than a few dozen times more advanced than Noetron. Nothing that could filter through that kind of megadata. Nothing that could translate it.
Perhaps I should clarify something. When I was a human, I had some pretty good ideas. Some people (me, for instance) might even call them brilliant ideas. Those brilliant ideas were the result of rubbing a few other ideas together. But a cyborg rubs more than a few ideas together. A cyborg, at least one with my software architecture, thinks best with access to a huge pool of information. The huger, the better. So the information I could glean by looking out the window wasn't enough. At least, I hadn't though of anything.
There was only one way to gain access to the knowledge I needed about the Fortarians. "Lucy," I said, "how are you doing?"
Lucy was sad. Phoenix was dead, and the man who killed him was going to kill her. He looked like him. Not just his shape and his color. His mind looked like Phoenix's mind. "Lucy, I'm back. It is me, Phoenix."
Was it Phoenix? It was talking and acting like Phoenix. That didn't mean anything. The monster could talk and act like Phoenix. The monster was as smart as Phoenix. The monster knew everything in Phoenix's mind.
But what if it was him? What would that mean? He could save her. He could fix her legs. He could stop the Fortarians. He could make it so she would never be the New Archivist again. She wanted to help him so much.
But if he was the monster... Lucy had met a monster like that before. Dr. Carnage. He had done terrible things. Terrible things. He had looked into Lucy's mind, and cut into her. He was dead. He was gone. But she could never have a monster like that again.
"I don't believe you."
How do I convince someone I am Phoenix, not a doppelganger of Phoenix with a complete understanding of Phoenix's personality and memories. The only thing I could think of would be to do something incredibly advantageous for me and disadvantageous for Vafnir. What could I do that would be damaging for Vafnir? Silly question. I had already done everything I could to damage Vafnir's side.
What about some sort of testimony. Was there anyone who was both capable of verifying my identity and trusted by Lucy? No.
I decided to resort to the most ancient and respected form of proof: repeated insistence. "I am Phoenix."
"How can I be sure?"
"I am Phoenix. I cannot think of a way to prove my identity. If you can think of one, please tell me."
"There is no way to prove it."
"Then trust me. If I am Vafnir, I can already do anything I want to you. There is no way to make your situation worse." I ran through Vafnir's mind. The sort of tests he would have done. Nothing worse than that. "If I am Phoenix, and you trust me, we might be able to stop the Fortarians, and stop Dr. Demented. And save Crucible. Save Alex Star."
"Alex is in trouble."
"Yes. He is fighting Dr. Demented. To save you."
"See for yourself." I felt the battle through a billion kilometers of empty space and several hundred meters of alien shielding. 'They are near Saturn now. They should be visible on that monitor."
"Is that him?"
"That one is Dr. Demented."
"No, that one is Alex. He moves like Alex."
I consulted the radiation more closely. Still not sure who was right.
"The point is, he's fighting. Fighting an angry and dangerous god. He is brave. Are you."
"Then help me."