Page 26: Android vs. Android

David ran with the ball. His legs moved with keen precision across the court, eyes on his target, every movement a calculation of angle, speed, velocity, air pressure, the sum of the minute mutual interactions between himself and the world about him. Each variable continually updated allowing him to navigate to his destination as quickly as possible.

Fifteen metres, fourteen metres, a slight adjustment to his torso, thirteen metres, he lowered his centre of gravity bringing a shift to every equation. Twelve metres, a flash of movement appeared at his side, knocking him off-balance, the ball bouncing away to be taken up by a new master.

Alvar Higgins stood by the wall in the centre of the court, clapping. ‘Very good!’

Moving beyond the centre-line, Two bounced twice before making a perfect shot for the ring. The ball circled and fell through the opening, bouncing and rolling to his feet. Two collected the ball and walked towards Alvar.

‘David, come over here,’ Alvar called.

David picked himself up from the ground, meeting them both at the centre of the court.

‘What was the purpose of this exercise?’ asked Two.

‘To calibrate your systems.’

Two looked to David and back to Alvar. ‘We’re already calibrated.’

‘So consider it a simple exercise to see who would win.’

‘But I would, of course.’

‘Of course.’ A small smile erupted at the edge of Alvar’s mouth. ‘What do you think, David? Would Two have one by default, being a newer model?’

‘It is probably that as an advanced model you would win,’ David addressed his opponent. ‘But there was no certainty. A test was necessary to establish a proof.’

‘It was obvious I would win,’ insisted Two. ‘David is stunted by literal perceptions, he’ll never see past the immediate. Why don’t we upgrade him? He could be much of much more use..’

‘I’d prefer to keep David as-is. As I would you.’

‘You’re.. planning another.’

‘You have the components necessary for abstract and lateral thought, but..’ Alvar turned to David. ‘How did Two win?’

David’s eyes appraised Two’s taller figure. Glossy and vibrant in the ambient light, he held his shoulders high with the authority of one convinced of the absolute. ‘It was not a matter of skill, or an error in judgement on my part. Two identified my strategy and intercepted. According to the rules, he committed a foul.’

‘Were you harmed?’

‘No. But I was not considered.’

‘Why does that matter?’ Two complained, cutting between them. ‘I won.’

‘Empathy,’ Alvar explained. ‘You need to think beyond your objectives and negate any negative impact on others. You can achieve greater things by working with others. You could achieve things together.’

‘Or I could just build more of myself..’

‘Why would they help you?’

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Page 21: Boom.

Matthias limped out of the teleporter into his lounge, the lights activated overhead, as normal.

‘Berkeley! Where’s your nearest service centre?’

He entered the lounge. No response.

The dog’s form lay motionless on the floor at the far end of the couch. Matthias approached and knelt, rolling his lifeless body onto his back. There were no emissions at all, his carcass entirely lifeless. Matthias located the number he had wanted internally, and dialed.

‘Hello. Natural Robotics Service Centre, you’re speaking to Mike.’

‘Hi Mike, I’m looking to order some parts. I’m hoping you have them in stock.’

‘Sure, do you have an account, or..?’

‘I’m just a hobbyist, but I am an employee: ID 115918.’

‘Okay..’ Mike breathed into the phone as he tapped the number into a keypad. ‘Matthias Drake. No worries. What can I do for you?’

‘I have something of a list here, I’m hoping I could have them delivered, it’s kind of urgent.’

‘Well, I don’t know if we can do it today, but give me your list and I’ll see what I can do.’

Matthias began to recite a long list of parts from memory, pausing between each as Mike noted and confirmed them. During the process, Berkeley’s corpse began to radiate a glimmer of energy, something small, deep within his torso.

‘Berkeley?’ He interrupted Mike: ‘Hold on just a second.’

Focusing on Berkeley’s chassis, he was able to “see” through his skin without pulling his friend apart. There was a small nodule embedded in his chest, a foreign object. Depressing a pressure point in his neck, he pried Berkeley’s plastic ribcage open to reveal his internals. There was something at the centre, embedded against his spine. Chemicals, a timer.. it was a completely independent unit.

‘Shit.’

Matthias ran for the far wall as an explosion tore through the apartment, a wall of flame on his heels. The blast accelerated his momentum as he leapt into the tapestry, his heavy frame shattered through the plaster, his body crumpling through the entrance to a ventilation shaft. His skin seared, shards of steel slicing through his skin, his thin layer of flesh searing against the heated metal as he crawled through to an intersection.

At the rear of the building, an exhaust fan and cover burst from their mounting and bounced, clattering, against the rear of a dumpster and fell broken on the concrete. Matthias slipped out onto the pavement and crawled to the wall, wrapping his arms around his smoking form. Skin and blood still covered most of his frame, but large patches were missing, his true form visible across much of his torso and legs. Sirens wailed nearby. Matthias dialed Stacey.

‘Matthias?’

‘Stacey? I need your help.’

‘Where are you?’ There was a sincere worry in her voice.

‘I need you to meet me at the rear of my building. Do you have my address?’

‘I..’

‘1313 Tennyson Road. Please, I’m in trouble.’

‘I’ll be right there,’ she faltered.


Well, I can’t say I didn’t expect it but it’s getting difficult to keep up with writing this novel and studying. Hope you appreciate the new page 🙂 I intend to continue the current rate of a page every two days while I can. – Kyle

P.S. I actually own (or is it truly a lease?) a copy of Microsoft Office now and will be writing from there. So if the pages become slightly shorter, it’s because I’ll be posting from an edited Word page rather than a more-or-less double written page. I write best with a pen.

Page 8: ‘It’s just a prosthetic.’

Matthias unbuttoned the cuff of his right sleeve.
‘What are you doing?
Matthias continued to roll the sleeve back, up to his elbow. ‘I’m getting her out.’
‘You can’t pull her out.. that’s not just light in there, they’re scattered nanites, you arm will be shredded!’
‘Let me worry about the nanites.’

Matthias thrust his naked arm into the dense blue light. A white flash emanated from the surface of his skin, scattering out like a thousand small bolts of lightning through the surrounding void. Something tugged at his skin, the false surface about his artificial musculature shimmered and disintegrated into a minute dust of skin and flesh. Beneath this, his true form emerged – a dense layer of malleable silicon encasing skeletal rods of carbon fibre with small motors at the joints. Insulated cables were tightly bound about this skeletal framework, and along the frame itself, small flickers of light emanated from a dense network of circuitry and tiny processors.
Chris retreated behind him, taking a few small steps, eyes fixed on the sight before him.

The blue light dissipated in an instant, leaving Matthias free to help the woman from the booth. She stepped out, unscathed and blinking, raising a hand to her forehead. ‘Uh..’
Drawing sight of the crowd, she regained focus. ‘Wha.. what happened?’
The crowd was focused on her saviour. She looked to the man holding her, noticed Matthias’ arm and yelped, pulling away.
‘It’s okay,’ Matthias assured her, and then the crowd, as she took shelter beside Chris. ‘It’s just a prosthetic.’
Between the murmuring crowd, now a gathering of frightened eyes and gaping mouths, a few began to clap.

Later, in the I.T. department, Chris drew a crowd behind his desk. James stood behind and to the left, arms crossed, beside him stood another two coworkers, and behind these three, a taller man, in a darker suit.
Before them on Chris’ monitor, the security footage of the incident replayed at half speed.
‘Theoretically his arm should be gone,’ James commented as on-screen, Matthias thrust his arm into the teleporter field.
‘Theoretically it should be impossible, right?’ confirmed Chris. ‘Isn’t there some kind of.. atomic barrier? Not to mention the nanites..’
‘He shouldn’t be able to touch it, let alone shove his arm through it.’
‘You should have seen the arm,’ Chris swiveled his chair to face them, brandishing his own forearm as an example. ‘It was some kind of clear plastic rubber, hundred of circuits, processors, wiring throughout, perfectly articulated movement, this was like something out of the army. I’d like to know where he bought it.’
‘Do we know who this guy is?’ another asked.
‘Matthias Drake.. some accountant,’ Chris shrugged.
‘I wouldn’t mind studying it,’ a voice came from the rear. The others fell silent in deference as the speaker, the taller man in the suit, marked by dark, heavy eyelids and a forest of eyebrows stepped closer, peering at the screen, stroking a haphazard beard. ‘I wonder if we could coax him into R&D.’ The others waited on his pronouncement. ‘Of course, if we found anything, it would have to remain in the lab, I couldn’t share it..’
There were general murmurs of agreement and acceptance.
‘That’s if he agrees, right?’ stated James.
‘Well, I can tell you, when management sees this, they’re sure to be looking for incentives..’

Page 7

A squat man in an ill-fitting shirt stepped from the crowd and headed for the teleportation booths.

‘What are you doing?’ an officious voice demanded. The man hesitated, turning to the crowd.

‘I can handle it,’ he raised his palms in earnest defence. ‘I work on these things as a hobby.’

‘A woman’s life is at stake!’

‘Do you see anyone coming?’

He proceeded to the booth, scratching his leg as he studied sealed panels around and above the keypad.

‘Does anyone have any tools?’ he called.

‘He’s going to get her killed,’ murmured Stacey.

‘I know,’ said Matthias.

A mammoth black man began to step through the crowd, easily a head taller than the majority of the onlookers, excusing himself as he parted the crowd with barrel arms.

‘Excuse me, sir,’ he called, stepping out at the front, ‘I need you to step away from the teleporter.’

The hobbyist hesitated and stepped back from the booth, as he saw the size of the man. ‘I’m just trying to help.’

‘I’m not going to ask twice.’

The security guard crossed his arms as the man took a final look at the teleporter before walking away, head down, scratching his head.

‘What are you going to do about it?’ someone called.

‘My name is Paul Bowman, I’m from Security. I need everybody to clear the area.’ Amid protests, he held his arms out as if to push them back. ‘Please! Return to your lunch, they’re sending somebody down. Disperse! This isn’t helping anybody.’

As the crowd begin to reverberate, Matthias took a quiet breath.

‘I guess we should go,’ Stacey started beside him.

Matthias stepped forwards and approached the teleporter, eyes focused on his destination. The guard stepped into his path.

‘Excuse me sir, I need you to..’

Matthias stopped, staring into his eyes. ‘I can save this woman.’

‘Maintenance is sending somebody..’

‘If you don’t give me access to this teleporter, that woman has about five minutes to live.’

‘And I suppose you’re an expert?’

‘I am. She has five minutes. Regardless of the person inside, that teleporter will reset itself and lose her data in the process. There’s no guarantee of getting her back. Do you really want a dead woman on your conscience? On your personnel record?’

‘Look, I can’t allow you to..’

‘I’m not asking for your permission.’

Matthias stepped around him but Paul caught him by the shoulder. Matthias turned and locked one hand below the man’s elbow, and another about his wrist.

‘Release me or I’ll snap your forearm,’ Matthias informed him. ‘Either way, she’s getting out of there.’

Paul hesitated, but raised his other hand in compliance. Matthias released him and backed away, before returning to proceed for the teleporter.

Tugging a steel plate from the wall as if it were weightless, he sat this to one side. A dozen buttons and a small display lay behind it, protruding from the internal casing. Further components were guarded behind a wall of plastic and silicon. The display read: “Error 505: Unstable transmission. Atomic integrity check failed.”

Studying their labels, he pressed a series of buttons. The display changed: “Unable to release. Integrity check failed.’

A few more buttons.

“Cannot instantiate. Original status unavailable. Primary buffer invalid. Secondary buffer invalid.”

 

Chris almost toppled his chair as he ran from his desk to a teleporter booth at the wall adjacent to his desk. James paused in his work, raising an eyebrow.

‘Some jerk is screwing with the maintenance panel,’ Chris fumed, punching code into the side of the machine.

‘So what?’

‘The feed says he’s from accounting!’

Chris stepped into the booth and reappeared in the cafeteria, in the booth to Matthias’ left. Stepping out, he approached Matthias’ side.

‘Sir, I need you to step away from that machine.’

‘Are you qualified to fix this?’

‘No..’ Chris began.

‘I’m almost done here,’ Matthias confided. ‘Just give me a moment.’

‘Sir,’ Chris took Matthias’ arm and attempted to pull him away, finding the feat impossible.

‘Do you have codes to override the locks?’ Matthias prompted, unperturbed. ‘The software won’t release her.’

‘It’s not supposed to, we don’t know the status of the original. If you release her she might not be all there, or she could be an illegal copy. That’s jail time..’

‘Do you have the codes or not?’

‘No!’ Chris grimaced.

‘Right then.’