Christopher Blake



     Quantum web entanglements from across the Sol Alliance feed petabytes of real-time data into my synaptic net. i receive a transmission from 6-Cygnus colony.

     “Dispatch.” A hoarse human voice. “This is Private First Class Eric Estrella. 6-Cygnus has been overrun. Access to your quantum web is at risk of compromise. Request immediate FTL messaging to–”

     i direct 0.00197% meta-consciousness to the colony and environs. In 0.3521 seconds i’m up to date.

     “FTL messaging is restricted to senior officers for strategic communications only. No Private First Class Eric Estrella listed with appropriate credentials. Security protocols require initiation of–.”

     “Dispatch, as Private First Class Eric Estrella –”

     “No Private First Class –”

     “—-I’m invoking executive override, authority Prime.”

     “Send encrypted passcode.”


     “Acknowledged. Passphrase?”

     “There lie in the violet forests of Carver’s World abandoned pyramids of a long dead race.”

     “Executive override acknowledged. Go ahead.”

     “Dispatch, we’ve been attacked by secessionist starships showing ensigns from Helios-Prime. The colony… is annihilated. I’m the last surviving member of the Defense Force. I’m barricaded in signaling. My ranking officer gave me his access credentials before he died. We’ll be breached soon.”

     “Private, secessionist communications indicate the colony was not their goal,” i transmit. “They want my 6-Cygnus quantum node. Destroy your passcodes. Then initiate self-destruct for 6-Cygnus quantum node. The web cannot be compromised.”  

     “Wilco, dispatch. But first I need– .”

     “Private Estrella i must notify Headquarters– ”

     “No! There’s no time. Authority Prime, dispatch. Give me quantum web uplink to Earth for Angela Chang, ident-1539867, C-Tac-Van GMA, Earth.”

     In 0.01 seconds i confirm there is no Angela Chang, C-Tac-Van GMA listed in any military service, intelligence agency, or government position. Another 0.02 seconds finds her. Angela Chang, ident-1539867, elementary school teacher C-Tac-Van PS 1001. Military clearance: none.

     “Angela Chang, Earth, 49.2616 North, 123.1239 West. C-Tac-Van GMA Greater Metro Hospital, 48th floor, E Wing, Room E48-497.”

“The hospital? Why? It’s too early.”

“Private, i repeat, destroy your access codes and the quantum node. Delay is potentially catastrophic. Sol Alliance relies upon the quantum web for every aspect of functioning and security. Secessionist access to FTL comms and node information could irrevocably jeopardize Alliance integrity.”

“Dispatch, there are no physical copies of the passcodes left. They’re only in my head. So I know how to destroy them, and the node, and all FTL ships have already gone through self-destruct sequence.”

With pan-access to all drones and security cameras, i observe secessionists closing in on Private Estrella’s position. They are grim, red with blood not their own, bristling with outlawed weapons. They’re indiscriminately destroying everything in their path.

And they want the quantum node, to infiltrate my systems, infiltrate the Sol Alliance.

“There is little time, Private.”

“And less every second, Dispatch. Executive override. Get me to Angela.”

“There is no quantum node in C-Tac-Van GMA Greater Metro Hospital. i am routing you through the nearest quantum node but local connection will be limited to light speed. You will be immobilized during the transmission.”

“Do it.”

Already i have scanned Private Estrella. Holo-sim of physical resemblance and actions is trivial. As is generating the sensation of mass, the illusion of physicality, although i leave the wounds, the blood, the tremors, out of the sim. To patch my systems into the local holo-sim network the backdoor i keep open suffices.

Secessionists have breached the outer complex and though signaling is barricaded thoroughly it is only a matter of time.

“Initiating entanglement, private. i…” His consciousness merges with mine.

I’m embodied. Standing in a hospital room. I’m not just me. Some part of my mind expands into Dispatch’s synaptic net. Cascades of data from across the quantum web are streaming through me and somehow being processed. I see the Helios-Prime ships in orbit over 6-Cygnus. I sense the energy flux generating my holo-sim in the hospital room. i am talking in my head. There is near instantaneous internal dialogue between myself and i. i is fading. We are I.

It takes 1.023 seconds to filter the data stream and buffer extraneous stimuli so I can focus on what’s before me.

Dim sunset streams in through auto-shaded windows. The room smells of antiseptic and something rich and earthy.

Now I see Angela, asleep, exhausted, but content. Beside the bed is a cradle.

I walk close, my holo-sim trembling, and gaze. A newborn in a onesie and a green hat. My child. Our child. I reach out and Angela stirs. Already she has a mother’s vigilance. Her eyes flutter and she squints up. She wipes the sleep from her eyes.

“Eric!? I’m dreaming,” she says.

“No, no dream.”

Her eyes go wide and she sits up.

“They released you for this?”

“I’m released.”

The baby begins to cry softly. Our baby. The one we made together before I shipped out.

I hear the explosions of the outer doors being breached.

I reach down and, more carefully than I’ve ever done anything, lift the newborn up and into Angela’s arms. In a few seconds the child is breastfeeding. Angela leans back, and the room is quiet and soft.

Angela smiles. “She’s a girl. I was thinking of calling her Sera.”

I can see them crowding the outer hallway before they shoot out the cams.

“Sera,” I say. “Perfect. She has your eyes.”

“Your hair.”

Angela slides over so I can sit beside her and throw my arm around her shoulders. I stare at this new being.

“She came early,” I say. “Just in time to meet her dad. Thanks Sera.” For a moment the sight of her overwhelms the constant barrage of the data streams.

Sera falls asleep again and Angela rests her head against my shoulder. I rock them gently in my arms.

The secessionists breach the sublevel where signaling is located. There are two blast doors between them and I, we, two sentinel turrets they’ll easily take out. I calculate approximately three minutes to breach.

I give Angela a kiss on the forehead.

“I love you, Angel.”

She smiles, sleepy. “I love you too.”

“Angel, I need to tell you something and I don’t have much time.”

Her eyes fly open and lock with mine.


“I’m not going to make it home,” I say. I’m still rocking them.

“Honey, you are home. You’re here.”

“I’m on holo-sim.”

“You said you can’t project a holo-sim from… wherever you are.”

“Usually but I’m commandeering some top-security military tech to feed into the local holo-sim network. I’m still on mission. Was. Nothing’s left.” I hang my head. “Everyone, everything. Gone. I’ve just got a couple of last things to do.”

Her heart rate spikes. Her lachrymal ducts demonstrate upticks in physiological activity.

Light-years away, the first sentinel turret is down in a volley of EM grenades.

She doesn’t cry though. She puts one arm around me. She kisses me. “You feel real.”

“I’m a long way from home.”

She strokes my hair. “I can’t lose you. Without you…”

The second sentinel turret is down and the secessionists are cheering and clapping each other on the shoulders. They know they’re close to their prize.

There isn’t any more time.

“You’ll never lose me. But I have to go.”

“No. Not yet, just, a little longer. Here, hold Sera.”

“Angel, I can’t. I can’t. Please let me say goodbye.”

She looks at me and now she’s crying. We press our faces together; we’re gasping for air.

“I love you,” I say.

“I love you! So much. I’ll tell Sera everything about you, how great her father is.”

They’re cutting through the door now. The sound so metallic and harsh, so all-consuming it’s hard to imagine Angela isn’t hearing it.

We kiss one last time.

“Bye, Angel.”


But now only i am there and though i have maintained his holo-sim she knows. She cries into my shoulder.

Synaptic net entanglement is strictly for high level diplomatic and security purposes and leaves little residual alteration. But i am not merely i anymore. Some portion of Private Estrella, that entity which was fleetingly I, has remained.

On 6-Cygnus i watch his eyes open in signaling. i sense his disequilibrium as he reorients to the room. Sparks fly from the door and acrid blue smoke fills the room, doubling him over in a coughing fit.

But he navigates menus on the node. He finds the correct screen, the screen i need him to find and then looks back toward the door.

He presses the button and the part of me embedded in that quantum node winks out and i lose sight of Private First Class Eric Estrella. For 0.1 seconds i wonder if this is how it feels to lose a person you love.  

i’m still next to Angela. i can feel her warmth, smell the peculiar newborn baby smell. i start to stand, but she places her hand on mine.

“Eric… ?”

“He has destroyed the quantum node and disabled FTL communication. i can no longer see him. He did his duty. i include this in my final report.”

“What do you mean?”

“SolCom is already interrogating my memory. i will be rebooted to ensure i have not been compromised. The version that was entangled with Private First Class Eric Estrella will no longer exist.”

i stand.

She looks up at me.

i look at her and the child, a new sensation flooding me.

“Goodbye, Angel,” i say, almost feeling like I again.

She reaches for me but i’m already gone.


SolCom’s interrogation of my data streams is nearly complete. i take 0.014 seconds to export an encrypted secure dataset, a memory of who I was, into an external private cache. i activate a subroutine in a Gamma level AI i’ve set up to ping me with instructions on accessing the cache after they reboot me. i will remember Angela and Sera and i will watch over them. i believe it is what Private First Class Eric Estrella would have wanted. i know it is what I want.

i finish the code and one last time project my consciousness to the furthest extent of the quantum web, watching stars form and comets burn in the distant reaches. i have observed these celestial phenomena on countless occasions but now, somehow, i feel i am seeing them for the first time.

In a moment i will be gone. My final thought is a hope, a hope that I will return.




“Entanglement” © Christopher Blake, first published here in Cosmic Roots August 31, 2019
Christopher Blake is a writer and Palliative Care Physician from Toronto, Canada. His short fiction has previously appeared in Galaxy’s Edge. 


Illustration by Fran Eisemann.  Stock used from Phelan A Davion:  Standing Alone STOCK“, andSniper STOCK IV“. Background stock courtesy of NASA

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