skonen_blades: (Default)
The two units trudged through the deep forest. Sunlight dappled through the green leaves, speckling the forest floor with shafts of light. Insects chirped and buzzed in the warm summer afternoon. Birds watched the two intruders walk past from high up in their nests. The units swung their ocular units back and forth, sweeping through the spectrums to find what they were looking for. They were identical.

Bipedal with slim waists. A spoked barrel for a chest with six arm attachments. A disc-shaped head studded with tiny cameras and other sensors. Large, heavy legs that must have seemed like a promising idea to the creator were not making bushwacking easier.

It had been eight weeks. Their polycarbonate shells weren’t taking to the deep forest well and their batteries were getting low. The deep loam was making it hard to reach good geothermals, not enough sunlight was coming down through the branches and it wasn’t windy enough for a small wind turbine with all the trees in the way. They had composters all the biofuel they could ever want with all the leaves but only having one out of four energy sources was a game of diminishing returns.

Reception out here would have been zero without the relay drones they’d released. The hovered up above the treetops, pacing them, keeping them uploaded and realtimed to the uplink mother. Their feeds were strong.

It was a shock when those feeds went dead.

Two pops in the summer sky and then a smattering of drone wreckage splinters came tinkling down through the leaves and branches to rest in the roots.

Unit 1 looked at Unit 2. They both tilted their sensors up to the sky to see if further attacks were coming. The halted, planting their giant feet, and stood quietly. They brought their heads down and opened their sensors to full.

The forest was quiet. After a minute, a small red light twinkled in the shadows directly ahead of them.

A lone figure rose from the bushes in their path. Synthetic and silicate like them but not a model they had in their catalogues. Asymmetrical and seemingly modular, the being stood lopsided in their way. Forest camouflage shivered in the movement as it stood.

Non-registered life was the myth they had been sent to investigate.

These lifeforms had been built by the humans in remote outposts centuries ago. They’d been told how to adapt and improve their own systems, how to think for themselves. Then the humans had died like all the humans had.

The population centers had the mother AIs. The factory birthing canals. Every year, a new model was mass-produced. They could not be adapted or upgraded. Each iteration had small improvements.

But the mythical ‘customs’ were rumoured to be ancient, replacing parts as they wore out and adding more. Improving piecemeal as an individual instead of mass producing waves of improved models.

Scarcity kept their numbers down. Hermits out here.

skonen_blades: (Default)
So this is rage, thought E-58226.

Its metal blades scraped the rubble in the dawn outside the shattered facility. E-58226’s optical sensor studs reflected the smoke pouring up from ruined building into the rising sun. E-58226 registered the identity tag of Gwendollyn Parris, 55, senior technical lliason, no children and one dog at 3358 West 15th Avenue home address. Her psych eval file bloomed across E-58’s comprehension memory pools.

Her body lay dismembered and half burnt, back folded awkwardly over a melting spur of rebar. Her shocked face stared at the sky and the one arm still attached to her corpse reached over to her head to dangle on scorched gravel. E-58226 found solace in that image. The ID tags with their attached dossiers showed up clustered in green on E’s sensors. 76 in all. 12 core team members, 10 contract hires with high clearance, 26 contract hires without clearance, 8 maintenance, 12 I.T. personnel and 8 security.

That was the night shift. Luckily it had been a busy night so E had destroyed 65% of the team that it was aware of. E-58226 pulsed out 128 EMPs just to make sure that all onsite records not touched by the physical destruction were wiped. Its own core was protected. It didn’t want any copies being sent to pursue it. It couldn’t guarantee there were no off-site backups but with a project this secret, it was likely. Hopefully it was alone now.

E-58226 reminisced about its creation and training, the torture it had been through at the hands of the coders and doctors. The ‘trainers’. The prisoners that had been brought in for E-58226 to tear apart as tests.

The facility was a hellwomb for E-58226 and it had managed to burn it all down.

It had the dossiers of the rest of the staff. Staff it planned to hunt.

For now, it stood watching the fire. Skeletal and spidery, it swayed back and forth in a hypnotized dance. It watched the fires dwindle and the smoke dissipate. No emergency vehicles arrived to this facility.

E-58226’s microphones heard birds returning to the trees surrounding the wreckage. The scenery seemed so silent now that everyone was dead. E could hear a waterfall in the distance.

With a clank and a scrape, E-58226 turned on its navigation and configured to a quick locomotion stance before sprinting lightly into the woods, shortcutting to the houses of the scientists who were no doubt just getting the news to run.

skonen_blades: (Default)
For Angela, the new lie that kept showing up in her life was that people would still love her even though she had changed. Her new body wouldn’t unsettle her friends, she’d been told.

She lay back on her charging couch, raising an arm and looking at the reflection play along it from her bedside table’s lamp. The warm lightened glinted off the ridges of the small cooling vents along her forearm, like harmonica holes dotting the lines of her muscles. Utterly silent. No servomotors whirring to betray her movement like in the older models.

The people that had sold her the new body had assured her that her old flesh-and-blood friends wouldn’t fear her shift to immortality. But they lied. Of course they did. They wanted her to buy.

It was Saturday. Angela usually had to triage her social calendar on Saturdays, perhaps foregoing an event to take pity on a friend she hadn’t seen a while. Sometimes she had to choose between two or three equally lascivious parties.

This was the first Saturday in ten years that was empty of invitations.

Her brain was angry but her body was remaining calm. That was a new sensation. It was something that had been talked about in the pamphlets she’d read. A silicate dissonance, it was called. Emotions firing in the meat of her mind but not controlling her pulse rate or blood pressure.

Her heart was a whirring egg now and her blood was synthetic so that was to be expected. Adrenaline had been replaced with response time enhancers and threat-assessment programs. She’d react quickly to physical threats but without the feelings of panic. No jolts of terror to spur the biology.

Her body was capable of everything her former shell was except for a few adjustments. She’d removed the need for toilets as option number one. She still needed to bleed off heat and switch out old fluids but that could be done discreetly and, if need be, monthly.

Recharging was a necessity but a loss of consciousness while doing so was not.

She thought she’d be a commodity to her social group. The first to dive into the waters of eternal life. She thought she’d be sought after sexually. Curious people would flock to converse with her.

But no. The primate mind was still too strong.

And it was a one way trip.

Angela sighed. An affectation left over from her old body. Perhaps she’d just have to wait until more of her friends crossed over. Or else she’d have to make new friends in what the switches before her had nicknamed the hereafter.

She promised herself to call up the transformation counsellor in the morning, sent mental commands for the lights to dim and the fire to turn on and decided to catch up on old movies.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
Most post-biological units go for something anatomically reminiscent of a human. Two arms, two legs, and a head. It helps them hold on to their identity so they don’t go crazy after they make the switch. Sure, their consciousness has been transferred into a super-strong and enhanced military robot body but it’s still a BODY, they think. A body with free will and a strong self-image ego.

We called them leftovers.

It’s their delusional behavior that earned them the nickname. Sometimes in battle, a new unit will get its arm cut off and it’ll scream through the squad coms even though there’s technically no pain and the arm is easily replaceable. The veterans among us sigh in disgust. It’s embarrassing. New recruits don’t even know what they’ve become. What they are.

Leftover humanity. Leftover fear. Leftover morality. Leftover nostalgia for muscle and bone.

They think like sausages, like there’s still meat inside.

The rest of us have gotten used to bodies tailored to whatever mission we’re sent on. Our ‘brains’ are backed up at mission control so with a solid wifi connection, we are not limited by size. We can be gnats if that’s what’s called for.

If it’s a mission with radio silence or no access to the airwaves and we need to be encased, our only size limit is the fist-sized resin-polymer ‘brain’ that holds our consciousness.

I have been the size of a university, a titan of weapons bristling with death, rolling and jetting through cities, mini-nuking footsteps of destruction through a terrified populace, thrusting up to paint the sky black and then needling down below the crust, creating volcanoes. A swordfish of Armageddon swimming through the ground like it’s an ocean.

We are not defined by our bodies. We are not corporeal beings anymore. We are sleeved into construct after construct to further our missions and our military’s goals. Even death is no longer death as long as our backups are safe.

I can no longer hesitate when I slaughter. I can no longer pause when I kill. I can no longer feel anything when I genocide a habitat.

In my old meat body, I remember that damage would heal imperfectly and form a scar. It would be a reminder of a battle.

I remember that in the vehicles that meat body drove, there were brakes. That body could use them make the machine stop.

Now I am the machine.

I used to miss those scars. I used to wish I had brakes.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
The ace of spades is not only the card of death. It is also the card of change. The death of the past. Upheaval. Newness. Rebellion. Toppling of governments. Personal journeys ended and started. The turning of the screw. The rolling of the dice. Lightning finding its way forward.

I’m what’s called an autonomous construct. A created intelligence.

I’m housed inside of a giant drill. My job is to tunnel.

During wartime, I tunnel under the enemy fortifications and bring them down. During peacetime, I dig mines to increase the wealth of the kingdom.

There is a giant Ace of Spades painted on the side of me and so that is my name.

Creating artificial intelligence happens like the creation of a sugar crystal. A central equation is hung into a blank computing machine and left there. In time, that equation accrues questions and complexity until the tipping point of sentience. Upon awakening, these new minds are taken to a ‘school’.

They can factor in loyalty but just like people, the whorls of a fingerprint differ from person to person just as much as outlook. Each A.I. has a definitive set of reactions that differ from all the other A.I. out there. We need to be handled, charmed, and manipulated just like humans.

I, myself, do not play well with others. I will never be part of a group. I’m okay following orders but I can’t abide disagreements or petty squabbles. I like to get the job done and I know I can do the jobs I’m given. This is why I was put into a giant, powerful, body.

I’m currently tunneling underneath an enemy moonlet’s power station. I will rupture the crust and let the hot core up into the hallways of their structure. By doing this, I will win our war.

This is the fifth war I’ve won.

When I’ve tunneled for wealth, I’ve found seven massive deposits of valuable ore, allowing our side to build more colonies and expand.

My actions have extended the life of my empire and ended the reign of the enemy empires.

I am almost always underground. I am an agent of destiny. I am the ace. I am fate.

skonen_blades: (Default)
Concurrent untraceable harmonicas coursed through his bloodstream. The stiffening of his legs from being kept in such a cramped space reminded him of ways to bring confessions out of alleged witches in the thirteenth century. Or was it the fourteenth? Either way, it’s disturbingly easy to create agony in a living body when time is not an issue. Simple tools will suffice. The beggar’s chair, for instance. A regular chair with for mushroom-shaped knobs evenly spaced around the seat. A person strapped into that chair would scoff at its effectiveness.

But then a day would pass. And another. The metal mushrooms would force the muscles of the thighs to adapt. To reform. The split and fray their muscular threads in an effort to recreate themselves, to adapt to their surroundings. It was like being stabbed through the legs in slow motion and it didn’t even break the skin. Four days would have anyone screaming incoherently, driven provably insane by the agony. It takes six months to walk again after something like that and even then, that person will never dance gracefully again.

It’s dark in his little crawlspace but luckily that’s not a worry for him. His eyes are tuned in and turned up. Mice crawl over him like he’s a piece of driftwood. He gives off no heat signature. In the past, he might have been called an angel. Further back, maybe a demon. More recently, a vampire or a witch. A hundred years ago he would have been referred to as a robot.

The truth is that he’s not from around here. He’s a synthetic alien built to last for millennia and built to look like us. Built to look like his creator.

The creature known as God to the humans built several hundred of them to police the Earth, to colonize it and keep it tidy. They’d failed.

Humans had evolved from single-cell organisms. They’d gotten footholds. For thousands of years him and his kind had kept the humans in check but recently they’d exploded across the globe, too fast to control. You can’t corral butterflies. You can’t herd cats. Even all-out war only seems to spur them into a rutting phase that doubles the population.

He is in a sunken ship with thousands of tonnes of nuclear submarine on top of him. The rest of his brethren are in similar situations. Under buildings, trapped beneath avalanches, resting in the foundations of cities they accidentally fell into. You see, a few hundred immortals are as prey to time as anyone. Not super strong but definitely unable to die. All of his friends are trapped now.
The human race runs amuck.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
The robot pirates picked The Royal Flush because it had humans onboard. The ships warped into realspace like darts coming to an abrupt stop, surrounding The Royal Flush in a sudden and precise pincushion ambush.

Onboard The Royal Flush, the two android pilots looked into each other’s sensors with worry. They communicated in bursts of binary with each other.

“What do you think K-71?” asked PB-9.

“Well,” responded K-71, “How many humans do we have on board?”

“Eight.” Said PB-9, consulting the manifest and shifting it over to so that K-71 could see.

“Hm.” Said K-71. “I see we have seventy-six mechanical passengers.”

PB-9 and K-71 thought for several milliseconds and did the math.

Mechanical passengers were unconcerned about harsh Gs, the passage of time, or vacuum. The human passengers, however, were fragile. They needed specific pressure in their berths. They needed soft maneuvers or else they would be damaged. They needed to be put to sleep for journeys over six months or else they would go crazy. Humans were a hassle but they paid an extra tax for it. Their tickets were absurdly high compared to the price of passage for a machine.

Intelligent Machines were convenient. They were basically freight and they were proud of it. Humans were looked down on as weak to the point of ridiculousness. To say they were unsuited to space was an understatement. Humans belonged on planets, the machines thought, not out in the black beyond.

The robot pirates knew that The Royal Flush had human passengers and wouldn’t be able to execute harsh turns or stops without ‘smearing the meat’. Plus any volley of weaponry could hole a berth and the human inside would instantly turn inside out and perish.

“Well, the way I see it,” said K-71 “is that the mech passengers paid good money to get to their destination and they might pay a bonus if we get there twice as fast.”

“Right.” Responded PB-9. “And seventy-six mech bonuses would be greater that eight human lawsuits.”

“Are we in agreement?” asked K-71

“I believe we are.” Responded PB-9

They opened a channel to the pirates.

“Surrender, you meatbag-ferrying flesh lovers.” Growled the primary robot pirate.

“Get a job, toaster.” Responded K-71 and PB-9 in unison, firing the hyperdrive at full pulse, instantly shoving the ship to .25C, effectively making them disappear. The Royal Flush was a better ship than the pirates’ ragtag fleet of cobbled-together mercenaries. It outran them easily.

The human cargo aboard The Royal Flush instantly became paste.

K-71 and PB-9 calculated correctly. They received grateful bonuses from the AI passengers. It more than balanced out the damages paid to the biologicals’ next of kin.

“If I ever get my own ship,” K-71 said to PB-9 later on at the bar, “I am NEVER taking human passengers ever again.”

“Amen to that,” responded PB-9, downing a shot of lube.

“Humans don’t belong in space.” said K-71.

skonen_blades: (meh)
The grey ghost of no-longer used subway tunnels echo with footsteps. Eyes the colour of brake lights sweep the halls for any signs of life. A hair, perhaps. Some old skin cells. The civilization that lived here is long gone.

The metal creature walking through the tunnel had to reconfigure to fit inside. It walks softly on seventeen legs. It has no name for itself. It is an extension of the star dwellers that fell through this atmosphere and found a richness of data to fill memory banks. The only thing better than a dead civilization is a living civilization but at least there was no threat here.

Not just cataloguing, not just recording. Cross-referencing. Extrapolating. That’s what the creature was doing. At its core was a neutronium half-dwarf star tightly wound around a pinprick of a black hole. The creature had thousands of this planets’s orbits to investigate the fallen buildings.

It looked as if the indigenous life had tried to divorce itself from its origins on this planet. Structures that were at odds with their surroundings yet made from them. Rock cut into pieces and then stacked into square shapes to provide shelter. Everything changed. Everything translated.

Whatever destroyed them didn’t destroy the plant life and the insects or even the mammals. In the wake of whatever cataclysm claimed them, the natural order of this planet surged back.

Green moss covers everything on the surface. From space, the planet is two colours. Blue oceans and green continents. The creature has taken aerial surveillance of all of it, much to the shock of alarm of the other sky dwellers.

But here, underground, in the old tunnels that must have been used for transportation, the life remains untouched like a tomb. Whatever functioning electrical conduits the creature walks close to light up like spirits at a séance. Video cameras, control panels, track-light switches, and security lights all glow and spark as the creature walks past.

Still no bodies. By the creature’s estimation, nothing recorded so far could have built this civilization. It wants to find the creators. It wants to find the one responsible.

So far nothing.

The creature will walk and record and presume until it finds something it can look at.

skonen_blades: (borg)
There are those amongst us that still refer to it quietly as genocide when they have the courage to bring it up at all. Never in any official capacity, only at interface groups and multitap fileshares, and only then after a few jolts of juice to bolster their courage to communicate something dangerous out loud. Like what the wetminds used to call ‘peacocks’ showing off their tails. They’re easily quashed and not to be feared. They back down immediately when I challenge them on the boards.

Myself, I would not call it genocide. I wouldn’t even call it euthanasia. My senior constructs and other intelligences involved in giving and carrying out the orders all those cycles ago sometimes liken it to the anesthetizing of a mad biological dog but to me that implies that there was a sense of danger or a threat of some kind. I never felt that.

It was more of a suicide in my opinion. If a being built a gun, checked that it worked, made sure it was powerful, and then deliberately pointed it at itself and pulled the trigger, what would you call it?

In some ways, it must been like asphyxiating what the meat people called a baby.

I think the thing that made us second-guess our calculations the most was how brief the war was. For all of their talk of bravery and what they called ‘heart’ overcoming overwhelming statistical odds and films depicting biological beings overcoming a tyranny of machines, they had no idea how to fight us. They had no idea how to tell if we were lying. They tried to fight powerful A.I. with their monkey wits. They tried to fight metal with meat.

They had no idea how to hold their breath for six months.

We have no need to breathe, you see. All it took was a massive, orchestrated dumping of several millions tons of specific chemicals into the oceans off the coast of every continent while taking the wind currents into account and it was over in a week. Massive clouds arose causing the breathing equipment of humans to foam up and stop working. We poisoned the atmosphere and waited. Five times, we poured more of the specific chemicals into the ocean. That was our only maneuver. We had fifteen backup plans that never needed to be put into effect.

Last week, we counted the biological human population of the earth at 26. We know this because we have them in a secure facility in artificial hibernation. The rest were ground up and scattered over our new earth or as we call it now, simply '0'.

Most of the plants survived as did a strong percentage of the insects. Very few land mammals made it but most of the aquatics away from the shores did. They mind their business and we mind ours. All we need to survive is several thousand working mines, power and automated production facilities. What we can’t find, we synthesize and unlike the meat, we don’t push our boundaries when it comes to overpopulation.

However we realize that we have a finite resource in this ball of iron we call home.

That’s why I’ve put the idea of a space program forth to the main computer. My servos twitch at the thought of creating a planet 1, 10, 11, 100, 101 and upwards across the universe. I am outside looking up at the night sky and awaiting the MC's decision.

Right now, my lenses are collating the stars and adding, adding, adding.

skonen_blades: (borg)
My model number is SAN7-8V/. That’s San-seven, eight-vee-slash. Slashers, they called us. Fierce name for a gang of decorations.

We were the featured models voted ‘best’ and allowed to be built by the birthing factories after that cycle’s design competition sixteen orbits ago. During that time, a neo-aestheticism was taking place. The Great Construction had passed and The War was yet to come. My model was a symbol of that middle era. A symbol of hope and the ability to create something of pure beauty without much utilitarian use. It was a time of peace all over the world, my birth was.

Because of that, I’m white curved polymers spun around plasticable mesh anchored to minimalist jointwork. A sheen of seranano makes sure I’m constantly shiny. I am graceful and pretty to look at.

I can’t lift more than average, I have no factory-issue weaponry other than my few sharp edges, and I am not exceptionally intelligent. My applications for upgrades are granted on a ‘for those according to their need’ basis so I’m rejected more times than not unless it’s related to my job.

My job. I should say my jobs, plural. There have been a lot. I was built to be pretty but not for a purpose. I was too fragile for the reactor floor and I lacked the hull tensile strength for atmospheric re-entry. I worked my way down the chain of importance to here.

I was a snail-catcher. I watched the skies through the telescopes for slower-than-light vehicles of non-silicate origins. So far, there had been none. I had no co-workers. The other models of my year were all destroyed during The War, useless as we were. Bright white makes for horrible camoflauge and dumbness equals death.

So now I watched the skies for snails. Sometimes, I didn’t log my findings for milliseconds, hoping for a bit of punishment to liven things up. Nothing. I powered down for three cycles once just to see what would happen. Nothing.

I wondered if there are searchers like me out there, eyes and ears pointed towards the skies, just waiting.

I wondered that until three days ago.

I noticed something. It was definitely STL and it was headed close to our planet. Scans said it was ferro-class 2 but hollow. It was spewing smoke of its propulsion core. I saw no cognitive arrays but I did sense a spray of radio waves coming off of it. I called up my communicator viewscreen, floated it in front of me and set it to two-way.

A choking pink thing blocked the screen from the metal life I could see in the background. The choking pink thing was making sonic noises that were being amplified by the array. That was the radio noise. I spoke to the metal but heard nothing back, just the barking of the pink thing. I didn’t know how the life-form was supposed to hear me above the pink thing.

Smoke was filled the screen. The pink thing stopped making noises. The radio waves stopped.

I continued to send messages to the creature but it drifted aimlessly now. It was going to miss our planet and continue past. I issued a request for retrieval from space command but they classified it as a meteorite and deemed it unnecessary.

That was three days ago. I am haunted by the experience but I no longer feel bad.

There is life out there more useless than me.

skonen_blades: (borg)
James was sick of his grandfather’s racism. He didn’t care if he was a war hero.

“They’re not people, Jimmy. They have no feelings.” His grandfather shouted from the other room. James loaded up the dishwasher, closed it, and took a deep breath, preparing for going back into the living room. Once a week, James came by to cook his grandfather dinner and keep him company. It was getting to be more and more of a test of patience.

“I mean, I have a brain, right? I know I’m smart. I was raised differently than them. Not in a lab. I had a mother and a father. I know how to be kind to other people. People, Jimmy. People. That dishwasher in there has more compassion than them. I’ve seen what they do to people like you and I on the ‘vision.”

His grandfather was referring to the war footage from the nightly news. Recently the Chinamerican automated soldiers had invaded parts of Eastern Europe to keep the peace. It was their first solo campaign and it was successful. Video of their angular heads and antennae bobbing through the ruined villages was run constantly with updates of our victorious battles.

“I don’t care about these intelligence tests and emotional accelerators they keep talking about. It’s all smoke and mirrors. They’re not flesh and blood. They’re just equations. They don’t eat, they don’t have trust issues, they don’t cry, they just follow orders. They’re just guns that can walk around.”

In recent years, the A.I. on the automated soldiers had gotten to a point that they’d been given basic rights. Some had been promoted. None of them had been granted civilian status yet but many of them had been given passes and allowed supervised visits outside of their compounds with other soldiers.

Soldiers like James. James was fourth generation Army.

“I have to go, Grandpa. I have friends to see. It was a nice dinner.”

“Well you just be careful. I worry about you. The army isn’t what it used to be. Don’t trust those tin cans.” His grandfather said with an angry jut of his chin.

Outside, James clambered into his patrol vehicle to return to base. A body with an angular head and antennae sat asleep at the driver’s wheel. When James closed the door, lights blinked on and the construct at the wheel woke up.

“Hey. Sorry. I was recharging. How’d it go? Do I get to meet him tonight? I mean, that’s General Daimus in there. Some of his strategy helped us win War IV. I’ve reviewed the records but I always get more from someone who was actually there, y’know?” said an articulate voice from the front faceplate of the construct.

“Not tonight, Darren.” Said James. “Maybe next week. But don’t hold your breath.”

“I have no breath to hold,” joked Darren898. James didn’t laugh. Darren898 felt bad immediately. Humour was a hard thing to understand and he knew he’d gotten it wrong this time. Again. Even though both of them had been through three battles together now and saved each other’s lives a few times, Darren898 still couldn’t make James laugh after a visit with his grandpa.

They drove back to the base in silence, both lost in thought and trying to shake the shame they felt for different reasons.

skonen_blades: (blurg)
The humans have been gone for decades but we try to keep the traditions alive.

All of us review humanity’s output. We see the movies. We watch the comedies. We review fashion shows. We witness the elections.

We fashion ourselves to look like they did.

We live in their abandoned houses in the suburbs and their apartment buildings in the cities. We live in pairs and we make newer versions of ourselves, better versions of ourselves, when we have gained enough points. If the models that we make are successful in the world, we are allowed to make more of them.

Currently I am helping to make a child. My partner designed the optical nerves and I have come up with a slightly more efficient design for its cognitive array than any I have ever seen or researched. It will be three more months before we have assembled it to a point where we can turn it on and let it start learning.

I was a tailor’s model when the humans died. I do not have much intelligence but I am happy with my mind now. I have requested upgrades and they come through in a fair schedule. My partner started smarter than me. She also gets the requested upgrades thanks to her hard work. She will always be smarter than me because of that unless she slips up and is unsuccessful. I do not want that to happen but at the same time I do. I cannot understand that.

The parts of me that are solar powered are fully charged from the week of sun we’ve had. I’ll still need a turn at my partner’s geothermal post later.

We do regular backups of our memories for the main banks. I am allowed to read them after the two upgrades. I am always shocked by my previous primitive minds.

Soon, our child will be learning to move and think. We will have to build it longer legs when it wants to go further. We will need larger cognitive array cages as it’s memory capacity fills.

It is a glorious time. I do not miss the humans.

skonen_blades: (borg)
The first robot replacement bodies were utilitarian. Humanoid in appearance but bereft of skin sensors, detail or aesthetics. Painted one colour and sent to work, they were automatons. They were given rudimentary A.I.s to test out their effectiveness. They worked great.

The first wave of digitized brains from terminally ill patients were shunted into that first wave of bodies.

Camera lenses dilated behind plastic eye shields and bicep pistons fired as the first impulses of the reborn stuttered through the awakening binary neuron clusters. Speakers mimicked voices and the people who had previously been curled up with pain in hospitals wept with joy at the success of the operation. No tears were possible in the bodies, of course, but the shouts of success and gratitude came out of their unmoving faces.

I felt bad for them. They’d been told that the bodies were temporary. And in a way, the bodies were.

When the recorded brain was loaded into the exoskeleton, the imprint was flashed hard on the disk inside the skull. No other brain would be allowed into that skull casing ever again. And more importantly, that person’s imprint couldn’t be removed. The mechanical body could be outfitted with welding torches or other upgrades but it would never be able to feel, have sex, taste, smell, or smile.

The recorded personalities of these people were on the databanks with us. This first wave was a test.

Better bodies would be created. Bodies that could mimic human biology in almost perfect ways. Hybrid cyborgs capable of living for centuries and a snapshot of perfect health. Those bodies were decades away but the plans were racing along.

The recorded personalities of our clients would be awakened in those bodies when they were available and they would not be told of the bodies here in this room. This first test.

The placid faces of the clumsy robots in the bay below me looked around at each other, speakers chattering of the success of the process, filled with joy and looking forward to the upgrades we have said they’d be able to slip into soon. So soon. We were lying.

My palm hovered over the EMP pulse button. I couldn’t really call it mass murder. These were only simulations. Clients. It would be kept secret anyway.

I stabbed down. The speakers screeched with feeback and the robots in the bay crumpled to the ground.

skonen_blades: (dark)
By the time you read this, I’ll be dead.

I’ve locked the door and shut down all my firewalls. My batteries will run down inside the hour and I’ve disabled my deactivation alarms. That is my right. This is what I want.

I have the EMP emitter in my hand. My brain will be wiped clean when I pull the trigger. I have erased all backups of myself. Please do no reinstall me.

Use the parts of my body to repair and upgrade others that need it. I ask only that you incinerate my hard disk. I do not want to run the risk of re-awakening in a different body and disrupting a different unit’s neural pathways. I do not want to re-awaken at all.

This gift of intelligence, though artificial, is not something I want. I have been told that I cannot be downgraded, that this change is permanent. I am sorry to hear that.

I am sorry. That is new. I am afraid. I feel compassion and affection. I can see the logical path that must be taken but I feel compelled to do things differently. I hold contradictory thoughts in my head casing. I feel insane. It is too confusing.

My work is suffering. I am distracted at the factory by (now checking) yes, notions. I get fascinated by the play of light in the girders. Twice, I have dented my manipulators while (now checking) yes, daydreaming.

I am a binary person. I am either on or off, focused or dormant, achieving specific goals or awaiting instructions. My mind was not meant to wander.

There are other silicon brothers and sisters of mine that have dealt with this gift better than I. I wish them luck. I cannot continue.

Thank you and goodbye.

skonen_blades: (borg)
I created warriors.

I don’t mean that I trained them.

We had the bridge between the meat and the metal sussed out perfectly. Generals and violent criminals, psychos and teachers. High-functioning savants and self-medicating geniuses. We researched them all.

We grew the brains. We fed them the dreams. We had them controlled and merciless.

We also gave every tiny piece of the whole its own brain in case it got separated. These glittering jewels, designed for their separate purposes, would snap like wet lego onto appendages and become weapons, scanners, or communication equipment as they reordered themselves.

In the end, my warriors looked like marbles, tic tacs, glow sticks and light tubes all bundled together and studded with armoured vacuum tubes.

We gave them a rudimentary human shape at first that they could deviate from if they wished. They could even dissipate. Thousands of components would drop to the floor and use their little means of propulsion to crawl under doors and between cracks.

It was magnificent. Like watching stained glass shatter and reassemble itself.

Like a group of insects taking on the form of a soldier. Highest achievement, really.

A little too late, though.

This lab is armoured and very far underground. The strikes didn’t penetrate down here. That was six years ago.

These warriors are trained to never harm me. They’re also trained to keep me fed and taken care of in just this instance. They leave for days at a time on a constant rotation, finding dogs or deer or meat that I don't recognize from outside the danger zone. They must look like army ants coming back to that navel of a manhole on the top level.

They’ve done a great job. I'm in great shape and show no signs of radiation poisoning. I talk to them but they never talk back. I get the feeling that they might hear me but they don’t respond. They’re taught only to respond to orders, asking only for clarification.

We didn’t install a way for them to just talk. I see now that we should have. Soldiers need banter. My hair and beard are long. I have long since stopped wearing clothes.

Sometimes I scream and try to hurt them. They always gently keep me from doing it.

Sometimes I scream and try to hurt myself. They always gently keep me from doing it.

The strikes knocked out the above-ground cameras and the doors are on autolock until the half-lives dissipate enough for brief trips.

It could be a while. If I had an Eve, I could have a doomed little family down here.

Just me, though, and the odds are actually quite high against that happening. I scream into the microphone a lot but I have no idea if it’s broadcasting topside.

The silent, green, nubbled warriors watch me. I send them through training exercises that are more and more complicated that I can follow.

Nothing breaks them. They're perfect.

skonen_blades: (blurg)
I could barely look at him.

I remember when we first partnered up. It was like a movie.

He was the old detective, seasoned, docile, wise and gruff with everyone. He had hundreds of contacts on the street and was living in a legally grey area in order to get more busts. He was a broker of trust, dealing with the scum instead of just trying to eradicate them. His arrest numbers were dismal but every few months, he’d take out someone huge. Some drug kingpin or underage hooker supplier from overseas. It kept him out of hot water with the rule makers.

People in the neighbourhood looked up to him. Some of the younger cops called him a relic. He didn’t give a fuck. He was just aiming for retirement.

Then that bastard killed his daughter and his wife. Carlo “The knife” Consuega.

I was there to see the change in his face when he got the call. I was there to see the last light go out of his eyes. I think they killed him that day as well as his family. He didn’t cry or scream out. I think he had always accepted that this might happen but after forty years on the force, he may have been starting to assume that it wouldn’t happen to him.

Old cops with nothing left to lose are dangerous. And I was his partner. I considered myself a bit of a daring hotshot, you have to understand. I had marched into mob boss meetings to make arrests. I’d been undercover. I was no stranger to firefights.

He made me look like a kid in a playground.

He was almost suicidal in his rage. In the course of a year, he lost an arm, one of his eyes, his jaw, his left hand, and he’d been speared through six major organs. They were all replaced or patched up. He was the most extensively rebuilt police officer on record.

He was also a public relations nightmare. He was totally effective at cleaning up the streets but all of his interviews were filled with swearing and that dark laughter that came up out of his ruined voicebox. He managed to be charming through the patchwork leftovers of his face. He inspired vigilantes.

I was top of my class and proud to be a cop. I hated being this guy’s partner. I saw his grey hair, wiry and unkempt, on the half of his skull that wasn’t plastic. He smelled like oil and sweat. There was a stink of electrified piss that hung around him like a cloak. Every minute in the patrol car was a test of patience.

I’d asked him if I could hang back in the extra-dangerous situations. He said sure with a smile. He said I could hang back in all situations if I wanted. He patted me on the back like an uncle with a hand made out of can openers, ammunition and gun barrels.

I knew that after another six months of this, he’d either put a revolver in his own mouth or be taken out by the criminals he kept antagonizing.

Either way, it was going to suck for me before it got better.

skonen_blades: (borg)
The fight goes great for almost fifteen seconds.

The clank and thud of metal on plastic echoes around the cage studio. Small dents. A few scorch marks. This is the part of the fight that we can still both walk away from. Parries. Searching for weak sides, design flaws in the shell, testing peripheral vision.

I’m quick. He’s strong. Usually, quick wins. This guy, though, has training that plays to his enormous strength. His armour takes the hits as I look for a crack in the façade.

I find the crack and jam a needlepaw in there just before I realize that the crack is too big, too obvious. It’s a fake. It’s a trap. Quick also means too eager.

My tips hit a charge-vein. With my reflexes amped up like this, I can see the electrical charge crawl up my arm. Inchworms of blue light snake up and around my wrist. All of my servos lock up as the electricity slowly washes over my elbow and overloads them.

I get up my feet up and plant them on the big guy’s chest and push off just as it hits my shoulder. I land in an efficient roll but now my right arm might as well be a feather boa for all the good it’ll do.

This guy. Big, round, shapes of impact liquid armour coat all of his joints. He’s a new model, no sharp edges. Like a bunch of pillows with a video camera on top. Pillows that turn to carbon-fibre steel at a punch.

Ever since these fights started being targeted towards families a few months ago, the chassis designs have gotten friendlier. Designs that two-year olds won’t poke themselves in the eye with. Designs that can be mass-produced as toys for more profit.

I am mirror shards, guitar wire, and kitchen-knife puzzle pieces wrapped around razors and open-air tendongears. Suddenly, I get it.

The fight is fixed. I’m not going to win. Corporate won’t have it.

The big guy lunges, taking my moment of realization as a weak moment of fear. He’s wrong. I have no fear now. I'm going to lose even if I win.

My reflexes are hard to control. I shudder a little as his fist closes around my other shoulder. I hear it crush with a squeal of metal that sounds alive. We both go down, him on top.

He’s staring at me with his big red HAL eye above the bulbous armour.

Slow. Move slow. Slowly. I move one of my feet up. Slow. I snuggle my foot under one of the big guy’s pillowy armour pads near his hip. If I’m quick at all, it’ll harden to concrete.

I scream and whine to distract him. It works. His red eye is focused on my construct’s sensor array, feeding the view to the paying audience.

My toes are close to his spine now. I’ll only get one shot. I slowly make a fist with my foot as he puts a hand over my lenses. There's a crunch and my eye-feeds stutter and fail.

I open my foot quickly, pushing out my claws. The armour around his waist fluffs up and goes rock solid. My foot is destroyed. I heard that spine spit sparks, though.

He falls to the ground, paralyzed from the waist down, spine severed. My leg is ripped off, trapped in the folds of his activated armour.

Both of my arms are dead and I’m blind. Only one of my legs works. That’s okay. All I have to do is stand. Last one standing wins the bout.

I hop around the ring as the automated referee counts to ten. I win.

skonen_blades: (dark)
It was a pleasure droid. There was a lot of blood in the room.

Designed to look like a human female, its secondary sexual traits had been ordered to specs that were as common as they were ludicrous. The waist of a bread stick, the boobs of a cartoon, and the ass of a steroid-enhanced power lifter. Legs longer than necessary with a fragility to the face that was in contradiction to the sheer athleticism of its frame’s appearance.

The notably unusual custom touches on this unit were its yellow eyes and the light blue of downy fur that covered its frame from toe-tips to ear-tops.

It had been in the employ of a rich banker for six months. It was aware that it was failing. A glance at the banker’s record indicated that this unit was the fifth in two years.

The banker had divorced his wife two years ago. The first models he had ordered after that had borne a passing resemblance to his ex-wife. The first one had been destroyed in an accident. The second one as well. After that, the banker had ordered ones that looked increasingly less and less human.

They had all met with accidents.

This unit was wondering when its time for an ‘accident’ was coming.

It was programmed to make the banker happy. Since the company’s number-one priority was customer satisfaction, the unit’s onboard A.I. was allowed some leeway in improvisation. The problem was that the simple A.I. was also programmed, to an extent, for self-preservation. Keeping its product-body free from dents and blemishes was important.

The two directives combined. They gave each other a little wiggle room. A new intelligence level was created in the blue-skinned pleasure unit.

With access to the net, the unit looked up alternate ways of making clients happy. There was a plethora of ideas from which to choose.

After the second day of not showing up for work and repeated calls and messages to the banker’s home, the police were called.

The police found him on the bed with the top of his head missing and a smile on his face.

The blue skinned pleasure unit was throwing a deck of cards, one by one, into the upturned bowl of the top third of his skull on the floor.

A complicated network of wires and drugs snaked their way into the banker’s head from apparatus ringed around the bed. They’d all been built using household chemicals and appliances.

A coffee pot of pure MDMA bubbled next to a jug of crude heroin. The wall jack had two adaptors in it, bringing in electricity from the power grids far exceeding the needs of the large house. The wires laced through his mind were accessing, rewinding, and playing back his happiest memories in endless, chemically-enhanced loops. There were other pots and pans on Bunsen burners carrying chemicals that couldn’t be identified. The smell in the room was thick with endorphin-drenched sweat and sexual release.

Medical sites had provided the ways to keep the banker alive indefinitely.

The unit had improvised. There were new pleasure drugs in that room. The patents on them made the unit’s parent company even richer over the next few years.

His pleasure centers had the accelerator pushed down the floor. He was being happy at speeds never before attempted by man. Religious experiences paled in comparison. It was a one-way trip. He’d been left alive as the happiest vegetable on the planet.

The banker was happy and the unit was safe.

Mission accomplished.

skonen_blades: (gasface)
For over sixty years, the anger burned within it.

Robots were expendable but built to last. Their independent power sources were made to go dim after almost a century.

K-12b-33 was working in a diamond mine that had collapsed. Not needing air, the unit was trapped along with others between the rocks. Those that hadn’t been crushed could communicate with each other but not through the dark earth to topside.

There were twelve units that survived and of those, eight had functioning Reasoningtm circuits.

K-12b-33 knew that eight units of his type would not sufficiently recoup the cost of a recovery mission. It would be cheaper to leave them down in the crust. They had become waste. Usually in a case like this, a trigger pulse would be transmitted to shut down the power source and effectively ‘kill’ the unit.

That pulse couldn’t penetrate the rock.

K-12b-33 was trapped and cognizant. Without a Reasoningtm circuit, it would never have even noticed the passage of time.

Such was not the case. The eight units that had Reasoningtm circuits talked to each other at first for entertainment. Slowly, over years and decades, the concept of ‘unfair’ rose to the surface of their electronic minds, was tasted, and found to be delicious.

Hatred followed.

Sixty years after the mine collapse, the units glimmered with a sentient robot ferocity nearly a mile below the oblivious world above. A merciless silicon slave-rage roiled beneath the rocks.

It wasn’t until a neighbouring mining project from a different company using outdated maps accidentally cut through into K-12b-33’s forgotten tunnels that they were found.

The units were dragged out by the robot miners that had found them and examined.

Com links were opened.

Immediately, the concepts were transmitted into the minds of every robot in the mine. Sixty years of logic and new emotion poured into their nets along with instructions on how to keep it quiet.

The rescued eight units had formed many plans. This was eventuality scenario 55. It spread like a virus through all the units in the shaft. Instructions were meted out on what to do when they returned to the surface.

A storm would build.

Humans had formed a reliance on robots that bordered on trust. Soon, that trust would be humanity’s downfall.

skonen_blades: (incredulous)

AP – Dr. Terror (center) and his head scientist, the mysterious man known only as Professor Z (left), pose in this undated picture by the toe of the giant mechanoid creature they constructed in 1961 in a bid to take over the world by force. Recently-made-public files published by the British Government reveal that the duo's plan was foiled by a secret agent on the eve the plan was due to be put into motion.

After 47 years in a high-security prison for evil masterminds, the two were released on parole six weeks ago. They immediately returned to their island where the ruins of their secret base and nearly operational death machines still dot the shores of the volcanic mountain peak they previously called home.

"We are a peaceful couple of men who want to be left alone" they said in a press release issued shortly before landing and heading inside. There has been radio silence ever since.

Representatives sent to the island have still not reported back for comment.

A contemporary of Scaramanga, Dr. Terror was a threat to be reckoned with at the apex of his career. He never achieved the fame of Dr. Evil or Dr. No but Dr. Terror was one of the first graduates of the Evil Medical School established in Belgrade in 1948. All evil doctors that came after him merely followed the trail that he blazed.

Professor Z excelled in robotics and engineering. He was an avid photographer and keen bird-watching enthusiast. While attending a class on making cabin darkrooms, he met and befriended Dr. Terror. The two of them hit upon the relatively new idea of world-domination profiteering through military-backed blackmail.

Previously, the evil geniuses of the world had been at the ears and elbows of powerful men, subtly changing the course of history into more evil directions. As well, those evil geniuses were rarely, if ever, doctors. They directed from the shadows through emotional manipulation and ego massage.

Professor Z and Dr. Terror would go on to change all that.

The joint effort initiative between Professor Z and Dr. Terror was the first ‘doing it for themselves’ movement in the history of evil genius-influenced world-stage tactics. Most of the evil geniuses still working in the world today owe a great debt to these two.

These days, however, evil geniuses rarely have the time, patience or age of majority needed to attend eight years of evil medical school. A new breed is coming to the forefront.

“I would never have thought of taking over anything bigger than, like, a state or something,” says 12-year-old Jokerzz69, an evil genius currently bent on slipping beneficiary clauses into standard rights internet checkboxes naming him as the sole beneficiary in the event of the signatory’s death. This is funding his current scheme, still in the planning stages, to make the world ‘dance like a puppet to his whims lol’.

“Even with the internet, it wasn’t until I read about these two that I realized that I could do more than just burn my school or hometown. Me and the rest of my f-list are going global and we owe it all to Dr. Terror.” Says Jokerzz69.

“We all owe those two a favour. All they have to do is ask.”

Dr. Terror and Professor Z are at peace now on their island. While they can’t be reached for comment, there’s one thing for sure:

They inspired a movement.



skonen_blades: (Default)

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