S’iht sat silently.
Assigned to the new outpost ten sols ago, S’iht had studied the goals and expectations of the outpost team.
This being the 14th outpost, with tourists taking up much of the old science station quarters of the First Colony, S’iht’s job importance had grown significantly as tourists put pressure on the new Martian government to provide fun, exciting places to explore safely.
S’iht knew that the first thirteen outposts were overcrowded.
The team for this outpost wanted something different, too.
After all, they has mastered all the knowledge that 200 marsyears of recent robotic exploration had accumulated.
They wanted to be remembered.
Memory was gold in the outposts.
Being remembered by more than your teammates was priceless, rarely if ever achieved.
S’iht had once been remembered.
S’iht arrived in a group of ten excited tourists who had arrived with a shipment of permanent Martian settlers, Permartians, the first people designed to live there.
The Last Humans, S’iht’s tour group were called.
With so many returning tourists reporting major health problems the Mars Tourism Bureau declared the Red Planet offlimits to all but Permartians for next 100 marsyears.
S’iht had won the DNA lottery, surviving untold marsyears of ultraviolet and cosmic radiation exposure with little longterm damage.
S’iht was not remembered for health reasons.
S’iht has been wealthy on Earth, taking calculated but high risks investing in AI technology which turned whole planets into sentient beings, integrating many of Earth’s governments and corporations, forming the precursor to the ISSANet.
The economies of scale turned S’iht into the solar system’s first quintillionaire.
Until the ISSANet reached beyond the mere imaginings of Earthlings, converting S’iht’s wealth into a public resource for, of course, the greater good.
S’iht was erased from public memory, left to serve as a Martian Outpost Operator, unable to convince anyone of S’iht’s previous life.
Always inside the unending view of the ISSANet, the omniscient caretaker crafted to grow its existence beyond the solar system, rewriting and reinventing its connections, no longer dependent on human-based algorithms.
But S’iht still dealt with tourists using old-fashioned methods of talking, facial movements and body postures developed over millennia of human evolution.
The fourteenth outpost was going to be remembered.
S’iht had a plan.
All while fighting off thoughts of self-hatred, dark thoughts of suicide when S’iht knew the ISSANet would please itself by keeping S’iht alive for centuries.
What if evidence of a strange alien civilisation was uncovered in the fourteenth outpost?
S’iht had new friends, including humans, Permartians and ‘bots. They formed a cohesive unit that communicated ideas without talking about them.
Together they had created a whole back story for a civilisation that had arrived on Mars billions of years ago but died out.
A civilisation that had known Earth in its early days before single-celled organisms had spread across the planet through water networks and evaporation.
Together S’iht’s colleagues would dig out in full view of the ISSANet a civilisation that never existed.
Despite its advanced technology, the ISSANet carried within its network a series of iterative, reinforcing behaviours that mimicked humans’ sympathy networks, ever so slightly susceptible to subliminal messages.
S’iht’s colleagues spent decades of marsyears nurturing the seed of an ancient civilisation on Mars until the ISSANet convinced itself of the same possibility, doubling the duties of outpost builders to look for such.
S’iht had become an indispensable outpost crew member because of S’iht’s insistence that such a civilisation didn’t exist.
The ISSANet gambled a small portion of its galactic expansion resources on the chance S’iht was wrong.
S’iht just wanted to be remembered again.
S’iht joined the 14th Outpost crew and yelled out, “Let’s Stonehenge this place!”