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  1. The Nijil (Log of Shadow and Nijil) "We could have easily conquered your people if not for the Praxis incident," the burly Klingon hologram boasted to his corporeal Rihan programmer. "Oh really, that was how many years ago? The fact you did not see us galavanting across the quadrants does not mean we were weak. I also doubt the Federation would have let that occur, you know how they were then, and now." "Ha!" The Klingon exclaimed. "Romulans never fight with honor and that would have been their undoing." Nijl sighed. "Honor does not win battle, cunning tactics sprinkled with a touch of treachery would win the day. We are not dealing with pistols at twenty paces." "What is that?" "Something from ancient Earth history, a duel where you stand back to back, walk twenty paces forward, then turn and shoot." "Hmm, backs to each other? Sounds like a Rihan would go five paces then turn." "You may be right," Nijil said with a terse smile. "Now to matters at hand. Will you help teach this entity about the Klingon people?" "You have my word, but," he raised his finger, "only if the others do not badmouth other worlds. The teachings, even from the Rihans, must be true and honorable." "Agreed, lying would get us nowhere. Besides, I can have a fact-checking routine added to avoid that." "Whoa, wait a minute, a good story is nothing with a touch of embellishment." "Grr, fine," Nijil nodded to the Klingon hologram. "Computer, save then end program." The computer chirped then shut down the program, the Klingon flickering into nothingness. The lights of his quarters came up. The sudden brightness gave him a headache, or was it from the conversation. He walked over to the replicator on the far wall then ordered a water. He turned to see something not normally in his room. "Technology," Nijil muttered under his breath. "Computer, turn OFF the hologram system in this room." "The hologram system in this room is currently not running," quipped the computer. "What?" Nijil stood his ground as he squinted at the figure clearly in the room with him. He backed up a bit as he realized who this could be. "You look better than last we spoke." “This one learn. This one Seeker. Must learn,” replied the figure, flatly, as it stared in the direction of the inactive hologram. “The Nijil speaks to nothing. Why?” "Speaking to nothing?" The engineer thought for a moment. "Oh, you mean the hologram, that Klingon? It is really just an advanced manifestation of the artificial intelligence programs built into our computer systems to simulate familiar species. An interactive interface really. Used for all kinds of entertainment, information, and training. If that makes any sense to you. Could you not see him?" “The Klingon non biological. Deck 7 Klingon biological. Why speak non-biological when can biological?” "The non-biological one can be told, commanded to do particular tasks, plus he does not tire or question my orders, well, this one does, but I programmed that in too. I guess this one may not have a bias if I program carefully enough." The entity stared intensely, as though the image would return, then turned to Nijil. “Waste energy. This play?” "Waste energy? We have a lot here, but this was developed for you to answer questions about us you may have in a timeframe the computer can handle, but we may not." Nijil thought for a moment. "You mean play as can the program continue or you mean play as in have fun?" “Fun. Waste energy.” "Well, there are a fair amount of programs for fun, but I think most species, at least of higher intelligences, need activities they enjoy rather than duties they have to perform. I often just recreate far away places that I can't visit or that...don't exist any longer." Nijil frowned a bit at the notion of his visits to Old ch'Rihan, specifically his childhood farm. The form took on an expression of curiosity, then the face mirrored Nijil’s frown. “Sad. The Nijil place ceased to exist?” "ch'Rihan was wiped of life on its surface by what we call a gamma ray burst, a highly energetic burst of devastating gamma radiation normally from distant supernova explosion. This particular event propagated through upper subspace levels to reach our homeworld at faster than light speeds." He paused. "I was not on the homeworld at this time. Some escaped, many did not." “The gamma energy powerful. Many biologicals cease to exist?” "Yes, in the billions, but do you mean in general? I would guess nearly all biologicals cease to exist." It regarded Nijil for some time, then a ghastly groan echoed through the room. “The Nijil sad. This one sad. The gamma energy destroy much. The Nijil not cease to exist good. This one protect the Nijil. The Nijil not cease to exist.” "What? I don't think you can protect me from everything, namely myself. If you can stop a gamma ray burst on myself then you posses a truly unknown protection. More importantly, why me? Was it that touch the other day? It was an accident." “Accident.” It seemed to ponder that a while. “Accident. Not on purpose. Unintended.” "That's right." “This one much energy. Biologicals weak. This one learn. Now not so much energy. Less energy? Lower energy? Biological level energy this one now. This one form easier also.” "Listen, you can't go...tasering people around me that may or not hurt me. No matter how careful or intelligent you are I don't believe you are all knowing and immune to the heisenberg uncertainty principle." He shook his head. "Again, why me? I'm one biological among trillions or more in this galaxy alone." Another sigh, softer than the last, came from the form. “This one injure the Nijil. Sad. Must protect.” "Must protect? Oh." Nijil wondered if his new friend could sense the inflection of concern in his verbal response, or worse, in his electromagnetic signature. It faded where it stood. “Must. Protect. The Nijil.”