Author Topic: Me Am Robot  (Read 3881 times)

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Offline NicTei

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Me Am Robot
« on: March 30, 2015, 09:32:37 AM »
There's no designated Sci-Fi section in Traditional Tower (get on that, Ovey!), so [desc=Mostly so I can procrastinate on my assignment a little further and turn this late-nighter into an all-nighter.]I'll just toss this here for the time being[/desc].  This one was up for a while on Old Tome, so some of you may remember parts of it.  It's in roughly the same place as Vagabond, so I might begin alternating chapters between the two.



Table of Contents

Prologue - Click Here!
Chapter 1 - Click Here!
Chapter 2 - Click Here!
Chapter 3 - Click Here!
Chapter 4 - Click Here!
Chapter 5 - Coming Soon
Chapter 6 - In Progress

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« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 08:59:52 AM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline NicTei

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Prologue - In Which I Rant Uncontrollably
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2015, 09:38:54 AM »
   I used to be like you.  Well, okay, maybe not exactly like you.  It really depends on who you are.  If you’re a Caucasian male born and raised smack dab in the middle of the good old North American Empire, then my initial sentence was spot-on and I didn’t really have to waste your time—and mine—with this little rant.  If you’re not a Caucasian male born and raised smack dab in the middle of the good old North American Empire, please forgive me for giving you the wrong impression.  I can’t really afford to be sued for false advertising, after all.

   As you may have gathered, I am—sorry, was—a Caucasian male born and raised in the good old North American Empire.  Another thing you might have picked up on is that I’m not really a writer by trade; from the clichéd opening sentence to the repetition and the fact that it took me an entire paragraph to establish the simple fact that I am—dammitall, was—a Caucasian male born and raised in the good old North American Empire1, you should have guessed by now that this will not be, in any way, shape, or form, a prized manuscript that agents will fight over.

   You know what?  We should start over.  I don’t like this at all.

   My name is Alex Iverson.  Yes, you are the first person to point out that my initials are ‘A.I.’, which is absolutely hilarious because I’m a robot.  And just like the other hundreds of people I haven’t met who haven’t made that same joke, I won’t correct you by saying that I’m more of a cyborg, because you fleshbags need every precious parcel of air you can spare and I’d hate to waste it trying to beat something I know won’t stick into your stupid organic brains.

   I’m sorry, that last one was a cheap shot.  Technically, I have an organic brain, too.  Parts of one, anyways.  Sometimes I forget how much of me is still human.  Now, I could bore you with the details of how that came to be a problem in the first place, but that’s not the story I came here to tell.  I’ll probably tell you later, anyways, when I want to build the suspense.  My friend—yes, singular—told me that editors love suspense.

   So sit down, shut up, and hang on; it’s going to be one long, bumpy ride.



1. I would swear that I’ll never repeat that phrase again for the rest of the story, but as my lady friends would tell you, I’m really bad at keeping promises.


« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 09:01:22 AM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline Phoenix

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Re: Me Am Robot
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2015, 03:16:35 PM »
A good start here Nic! ;D I'm really interested to see where this one is heading  :coolthumb:.

Offline Angel

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Re: Me Am Robot
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2015, 11:07:12 PM »
Another one I remember! :faint2: Did this make it on to Old Tome or just TempTome? It was definitely on Mibba. *ponders unnecessarily*

It's certainly a snappy opening which sets a nice tone for the narrator. I'm sure he's going to get into all sorts of scrapes! :laugh1:

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Offline New Overlord

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Re: Me Am Robot
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2015, 08:52:14 AM »
[offtopic]This topic has been moved to The Lab.[/offtopic]

Offline NicTei

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Chapter One - In Which I Receive an Offer I Can't Refuse
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2015, 08:56:51 AM »
   I suppose the best place to start my tale would be in my office.  Though, to be fair, when I say ‘office’, I mean ‘janitorial closet with a view’.  It also doubles as my living space; when you don’t actually need a bed to sleep on or food to eat, you’d be surprised how little space you can live with.  There is a closet for my clothes, though.  There may not be anything indecent to see without clothes, but I still feel uneasy going out ‘naked’.  Plenty of older models don’t seem to mind, but I attribute that to their human nature having died long ago, and their robot shell simply living on, following a route that’s been hard-wired into their motherboards until they short-circuit.

   Damn, that’s depressing.  I wish I could still drink and not risk a short0circuit of my own.  One of the things I miss about being organic is being drunk.  Sure, I can download a temporary ‘state of mind’ patch off the black market for that sort of thing, but it really isn’t the same; all of the hazy processing, none of the good times leading up to it.  Granted, scotch and whiskey always tasted like shit to me, but a nice cold beer?  Damn.

   Sorry, sorry; I’ll get on with my tale.  I just get a little sidetracked sometimes, especially when I’m thinking about being a fleshbag.

   At any rate, I had just unlocked my office door and settled down behind my desk with my data tablet when a young man burst in.  Like all the kids his age—early- to mid-twenties—he had a few shiny pieces of his own.  Nothing as extensive as my own refurbished body, mind, but eye-catching enough that I could tell they were purely aesthetic, not out of necessity.  In all likelihood, he was a Modder, and well-off by the look of it.  A gleaming ring encircled his left eye, and his expensive button-up had the right sleeve torn clean off to showcase a brilliant chrome-plated arm.

   “You’re A. Iverson, right?  A.I. the P.I.?”

   I had half a mind to shoot him right then and there, but that would have been a neat trick without a gun.  He was referring, of course, to the rather unfortunate nickname I’d received after I made the mistake of helping a minor media mogul locate his missing mink.  That story is exactly as sad as it sounds, so I won’t bore you with a retelling.  Needless to say, I’ve avoided felines and the media as much as possible since.  Instead, I rubbed my temples; a pointless gesture as I couldn’t actually get a headache, but it conveyed the message well enough.

   “If you’d bothered to read the door, you wouldn’t have to ask.  Please, take a seat,” I replied, pointing towards the dingy chair in front of my tiny desk.  “What can I help you with?”

   He fidgeted in his chair for a little while before answering.  “It’s my fiancée, Greta.  I think she’s planning on leaving me for someone else.”

   Part of me groaned inwardly; I absolutely loathed chasing down cheating wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, and life partners.  More often than not it was pure paranoia on the client’s part, and even when it wasn’t the job entailed too much sneaking around for my liking.  The only fun part of a job like this was roughing up the cheater—so long as it was a man.  I don’t hit women.

   The other part of me, however, saw only dollar signs.  This kid had money; his top-of-the-line, back-to-the-2000s haircut reeked of a professional salon, and he had enough prominent, desirable facial features—a chiseled jaw, proud cheekbones, and perfect complexion to boot—that he had to have been engineered.  No doubt his parents paid top dollar for him.  Who was I to turn him away if he wanted to discover what his lover was up to, no matter the cost?

   While an internal war was being waged between preference and profit, he simply stared at me with his big blue eyes.  Well, one was blue.  The other was bright red, and was probably capable of viewing whatever made me tick from where he was sitting.  X-ray eyes had been popular since they were invented, and I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t understand why.  Luckily, my outer plating is supposedly coated with something that those types of implants can’t penetrate.  Even so, it made me more than a little uncomfortable.  Finally, I nodded, though what I really wanted to do was sigh.  I miss sighing.

   “I’ll need a name before I make any promises,” I answered, though I was probably going to say yes anyways.

   He gave me a funny look.  “I told you, her name is Greta!  Greta Schindler!”

   I rubbed my temples again.  “Yes, that’s all fine and dandy, but I’ll need your name, too.  I need to know who’s footing the bill.”

   “Nathaniel Redding V.”

   When I heard his name, I was able to put two and two together a little more easily.  The Reddings were an influential family in the North American Empire, and had made their fortune with a knack for knowing when to invest in stock and when to sell shares.  Having a prominent Modder engineer in every generation for the past hundred years didn’t hurt, either.  With all that money, they should have been able to afford the best of the best—not me, in other words.  I’m not terrible at what I do, but I’ll be the first to admit there are others much better than me, at least in cases like this.  There had to be some angle he was working by hiring me.

   “Well Mr. Redding, I’m a busy man,” I lied.  “Assuming I can take your job, we’ll need to discuss my fees.”

   Before I could continue he slammed something down on the desk in front of me.  It was an old paper check, though that didn’t really surprise me; the rich liked to keep around relics like that to prove that they could still afford things like paper, pens, and whatever else might have been replaced by data pads and computers.  The name at the bottom was written in the sloppy hand of a toddler’s first signature.  With handwriting classes replaced by keyboarding, this was to be expected, though I’ll note with some pride that I can still write the flowing, curvy, illegible signature of yesteryear as if I’d never stopped.

   What was more important than the signature, however, was the number above it.  My heart skipped a beat—well, you know what I mean—when I saw how many zeroes the young Redding had penciled in with his sloppy hand.  This Greta girl either meant a lot to him, or his daddy really wanted him married off so he’d be someone else’s problem.  Whatever the case may be, I couldn’t really afford to pass this opportunity by.  Still, I had to keep my cool.  I cleared my throat—or made a noise to that effect—and tapped the check.

   “That’s a very generous offer, Mr. Redding, but if I may be so bold as to advise you I would suggest not giving your humble employee the full payment up front like this; half paid in advance and half paid on completion would ensure the job wasn’t simply dropped once the check was cashed.”  It was a harmless little threat, and one I wasn’t sure he would be attentive enough to pick up on, as distraught as he looked, but to my delight he nodded.

   “Thank you for the advice, Mr. Iverson, but that is half of your full payment.  You’ll receive another check of the same amount once you’ve delivered your report on my Greta.”

   Something about this kid made me like him, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was2.  With a final nod, I rose and extended my arm towards him.

   “Mr. Redding, you have a deal.  I’ll track down your fiancée and see what she’s up to.  Do you have any pictures of her, or a rough schedule of her usual movements that I could follow?”

   Retrieving a small slip of paper from his pocket, he handed it to me; it was a picture on photo paper.  He was really pulling out all the stops to impress me, that was for damned sure.  She was definitely a looker; chestnut hair, a perfectly imperfect face that I knew couldn’t have been engineered, and jade eyes that melted my motherboard.  I was a little jealous, really.  My chances of finding anyone who could live with my condition were unlikely; when your body is ninety-percent circuitry, romance may as well be dead.  Not that I hadn’t tried, of course, but in my experience few women want to cuddle up to cold metal.

   “Most mornings she stops down at Jupiter’s for coffee, but after that I don’t know where she goes,” Redding explained apologetically.  “I see her when I can, but between her work schedule and my own routine we usually have to schedule dates weeks or even months in advance.”

   I put the picture in my own shirt pocket, despite having already added it to my memory banks.  Carrying around the physical object helped me feel at least a little more human, and I’d need to bring as much humanity with me as I could if I was going to be hanging around Jupiter’s Café tomorrow morning.  As much as I missed getting drunk, I missed coffee even more.  Not for the pick-me-up, of course, but more for the taste and the aroma.  Losing three of the five senses sucked big time, but all in all it could have been worse.

   As I showed my new client to the door, I put a hand on his shoulder.  “Don’t worry, Mr. Redding; I’ll find out what your fiancée is up to.  Expect a full report by next week at the latest.”



2. Yes I could:  it was the money.


« Last Edit: April 18, 2015, 05:36:30 AM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline Phoenix

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Re: Me Am Robot
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2015, 05:57:24 PM »
An interesting development Nic :), definitely looking forward to reading more of this, so glad I caught up.  :read1:

I was just wondering about this whilst I was reading, is the '0' intentional? It may just be nothing, but thought I'd point it out anyway.  :popcorn:

   Damn, that’s depressing.  I wish I could still drink and not risk a short0circuit of my own. 

Offline Angel

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Re: Me Am Robot
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2015, 07:09:25 PM »
Excellent! I'm loving this so far. There's always something just ever so slightly amoral about PIs which make them so interesting to read.  :read:

Looking forward to next friday already!

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Offline NicTei

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Chapter Two - In Which I Download a Cup of Coffee
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2015, 05:36:05 AM »
   My day after Nathaniel Redding V left my office was pretty standard:  I paid my rent, lost more money than I earned playing poker on my data tablet, and even managed to pick up another client with a short job—locate a long-lost great-great-granddaughter.  That particular request surprised me, as the woman asking looked to be roughly the age of Mr. Redding.  Closer inspection, however, revealed to my discerning eye that her skin was actually synthetic, and I could hear a slight tinny undertone to her voice.

   Where her age showed was in her inability—or flat-out refusal—to learn to operate something as simple as data tablet.  All of the information she was looking for could have easily been looked up in the comfort of her own home, but she insisted on transferring three-hundred-and-fifty credits to my account so that I would do all the grunt work.  I tried to show her what to do, but she simply gave me a blank look when I’d finished my demonstration.  This indicated to me that her gray-matter may have been fully intact, which in turn would have suggested that she was one of those elderly types that believed the brain was too sacred to modify or augment for any reason.  After she’d left with the address she was looking for, I transferred the money back into her account; I’m by no means a saint, but I’m no thief, either.

   By the time the next morning rolled around, I was itching to get out and do something constructive with my time, even if that meant chasing down a possibly unfaithful fiancée; as you may recall, I loathe tailing a client’s significant other.  So, at seven o’ clock the next morning, bright and early, I was sitting in Jupiter’s Café, more commonly known as Jupiter’s, with a newspaper in my hands and a hat on my head to reduce the glare for whoever happened to be sitting at precisely the wrong angle.  The serving staff had given me strange looks until I ordered a cup of black coffee, mostly to see what they would bring.  What was brought to my table was not a mug, but a small chip that I was supposed to slide into the reader on my forearm.

   This seems like the perfect time to explain to those who aren’t familiar with our current technology how sad it really is the majority of the time.  You see, the more ‘extreme’ cyborgs—like me—occasionally miss being human.  Big shocker, I know.  Because of this longing to return to what we once were, some companies have made a killing with chips like the coffee chip I paid an outrageous seven credits for.  It’s not limited to food and drink, either.  On occasion, I’ll get bored and browse the internet for other kinds of chips, and I won’t lie to you:  some of them are downright disturbing.  So far, ‘Ultra-Real Asphyxiation’ is at the top of the list.

   But, as you may expect, nothing beats the real thing, as far as food and drink are concerned.  I’m not sure how they work, but something is definitely lost in the translation, so to speak.  My coffee chip, for example, managed to produce the taste of coffee, but there was something metallic to it, almost like I was licking it out of an aluminum saucer.  I didn’t even get a simulated caffeine kick out of the deal; according to the menu, that would have cost another credit-and-a-half.  Subpar as it was, it was something to keep me occupied while I waited for Ms. Schindler to make an appearance.

   I didn’t have to wait very long; a short hour after I had sat down, I saw a familiar face stroll in the door with the kind of grace cybernetics couldn’t replicate.  As per typical Private Investigator protocol, I had chosen a booth in the corner with a view of the entire café, so I was able to watch as she casually sauntered up to the counter and order a cup of coffee.  She was a little taller than I expected, and very shapely; the picture Redding had handed me was only a headshot, making the rest of her appearance hard to gauge, so I was pleasantly surprised.  Where I’d been expecting someone as modified as her fiancée, Greta seemed to me to be completely organic, a rarity in this day and age.  She was making no attempt to hide her skin with a bright, tight tank top and shorts, and I couldn’t see any of the tell-tale creases or folds of synthetic skin anywhere on her.  Trust me, I triple-checked.

   Dressed as she was, like any other college girl on a summer weekend, it was hard to imagine her with the richly-dressed Modder, Nathaniel Redding V.  Perhaps he was marrying below his station, which was why he was coming to a lesser-known investigator like myself.  Maybe he meant to elope?  Or, worst-case scenario, she wasn’t actually his fiancée, just another pretty girl he bumped into that he decided to stalk through my eyes.  I might end up passing notes and serenading her for him.  If that were the case, I’d have to download a better voice module.

   My train of thought came crashing back to reality as I saw her pass by the window by my table.  I had absent-mindedly watched as she paid for her coffee-to-go and walked right out the door.  Cursing, I tossed the coffee chip on top of the table and left, pulling the brim of my hat down over my eyes to cover as much of my face as I could.  I’d opted for a relatively plain-looking, obviously robotic face model when it came time for that particular upgrade, but a good deal of the general population found a fully-clothed robotic form like my own disconcerting; too close to the Uncanny Valley, I suspected, so I made a point of covering my face as much as I could when I was out and about.

   It occurs to me that I haven’t told you a whole lot about where I’m located in the world.  Not much on the North American Empire’s map has changed since the late 22nd Century; Florida is still the ruined little stub Superstorm Hans left behind, California is still a burned-out wasteland, and New York City is still expanding past the former borders of the state it was named after.  My usual stomping grounds are the Sky District of Chicago; you know, the big platform that’s been floating over the city since about 2102.  The last major gravity scare was half a century ago, so no one’s too worried about it falling anytime soon.

   One thing everyone should know about the Sky District is that it’s as crowded—if not more so—than the city below.  As a result, you’d think tracking one person on a street full of people might be difficult.  Augmented vision helps, but only so much.  If I’d shelled out the credits for the facial recognition patch that came out a few months back, I’m pretty sure the task would be a cake walk, but I was conveniently broke at that time, and the price has only been rising.  After I had my full payment, I could download the upgrade if I really felt like it.  Until then, however, I convinced myself that I was honing my sense of perception the old-fashioned way.

   Spotting her just as she rounded the corner up ahead I hurried along, gently pushing people out of my way.  My favorite thing about being almost fully robotic?   People make an effort to give you room.  My guess is that they expect all sorts of weird weapons to come flying out of you when you’re pissed off, which isn’t far off most of the time.  In my case, however, my only weapon is a slightly loose left arm socket.  I could beat you to death with my own arm, and let me assure you that’s exactly as cool in reality as it sounds on paper.  Reattaching the arm is a total bitch, though, so I consider it a last resort.

   Catching up to her was easy.  It was maintaining a safe distance while keeping her in my sights that was usually the difficult part.  With hundreds of people sharing the same sidewalk, running into obstacles was inevitable.  Whether it was tripping on a homeless person, being tackled to the ground by a thief making a hasty getaway with some poor old woman’s purse, or a charity worker seeking a healthy donation or two, you could always count on something slowing you down along the way.  Thankfully, it seemed to be working in my favor today:  a few yards away from the corner where I might have lost her, a truck pulled out of an alleyway mere inches in front of her.  Another second and it might have been a disaster, both for Greta and my bank account.

   My thankful attitude soured when she waved to the driver, opened the door, and was driven out of sight in a matter of moments.  It wasn’t going to halt my search for the day, but it would delay me for a little while.  I managed to catch the identification number on the truck, so all I needed to do was hack into the street cameras all over the Sky District to watch for the vehicle in question.  Good thing one of the district’s coordination AIs was sweet on me.

   A short jog down the sidewalk put me in front of one of the public access terminals that would allow me to speak to a coordinating AI.  Pulling my tablet and the proper cord out of the bag that hung at my side, I plugged it in and punched in the last access code I’d received.  A small ring appeared in the center of the tablet, composed of the words “Connecting to Administration Office Channel 63”.  I will never understand the apparent obsession software designers have with wheels and rings when it comes to showing a connection being made, or a download in progress.

   After a few moments, the screen went from black to a muted blue, and a face materialized where the wheel had been.  She was pretty, for a purely digital avatar.  Like a real woman, she seemed to change her hairstyle frequently; last time we’d spoken she had straight black hair, but now it was curly and almost white.  She smiled and winked at me.

   “I was wondering when you’d call me back,” she said demurely.  “You sure know how to leave a girl hanging.”

   I shrugged.  “What can I say, Dora?  I’ve had work to do.”

   Dora wasn’t her real name, of course; her official designation was a long string of numbers that I really couldn’t bother to commit to my memory banks.  Besides, I wasn’t going to refer to her as ‘three-two-forty-six-niner’, or whatever the number was.  She was as good as human, as far as I was concerned, and that warranted a name.  I’d just taken to calling her the first name that came to mind whenever I spoke to her.  Dora was about the seventh attempt at finding a name she liked.  To my dismay, she grimaced.

   “Try again, slugger.  I will not go by the name ‘Dora’.”

   Women.  “I’m sorry babe, but this is a business call; I’ve got a truck that needs tracking and you’re the best girl for the job.”

   She sighed.  “You’re lucky I like you, Alex.  What’s the ID on the truck?”

   “Six-nine-Bravo-Juliett-four-Alpha-nine-nine.”

   The AI rolled her eyes at me.  “You could try saying it like any other normal person might.”

   “You love it and you know it.”

   “Yeah, yeah.  Just give me a second.”

   One point I’d meant to bring up to her many a time was her lack of a ‘searching’ screen, or graphic, or expression.  When she went digging through old records or camera feeds, the graphic displayed on my screen was simply her giving me an unnerving stare.  I knew she couldn’t actually see me through those eyes—she was probably watching me through the camera on my tablet, or one of the surrounding streetlight cameras, but it was creepy nonetheless.  Especially when she suddenly came back to life without warning.

   “I’ve got a location on your truck:  it’s currently parked in front of a warehouse on Highcloud Avenue.”

   “Thanks, Kat; you’re a lifesaver.”

   She thought for a moment, then shook her head.  “Not Kat, either.  I’m strictly a dog person.  Is there anything else I can help you with?”

   “That’s all I needed,” I answered apologetically.

   “Alright, then; happy hunting.  And Alex?”

   “Yes dear?”

   “Call me for fun sometime.  All these business calls can really wreck a girl’s mood.”

   With that, she disappeared from the screen of my tablet.  I left it plugged into the terminal long enough to hail a cab to my location, then stuffed it back in my bag.  The taxi was chartered to drop me off a few blocks away from the warehouse my AI friend had pointed me towards; pulling right up to the front door was bad form.  I wanted to check out the place from a distance, get a lay of the land.  The garish yellow-and-green vehicle that scraped to a halt in front of me inspired little confidence that I would get much farther than a few blocks from my current position, but I knew I could count on it.  City administration poured enough money into public transit to ensure it could get passengers to their destinations in one piece, but not enough to get the cabs and buses to look nice.

   One short, hectic ride later I was approaching the warehouse, my account about fifty credits poorer and an unidentifiable stain on the leg of my pants that I hoped was dried ice cream.  I tried not to think about it.  Instead I focused on the building my client’s missing bride-to-be had been seen entering.  It was short—probably only three floors—but spread wide enough that it probably covered roughly the same area as a small skyscraper, provided it had a large basement.  The sole reason the Sky District had warehouses was to handle the overflow from down below, which was rare indeed.  As a result, many had been abandoned, or bought by private citizens and turned into condos, nightclubs, or other facilities.  The prominent example that came to mind was a BDSM club, the name of which I couldn’t remember.

   At a block away, I could see the truck Greta had jumped into parked in front of the main gate.  Two tall, burly men were standing guard at the front doors, a short distance away from the gates.  I couldn’t hear any music coming from within, even when I strained my audio sensors, so I decided she hadn’t gone into a nightclub.  Granted, it could be in the basement to muffle the majority of the noise, but why bother?  Loud music, strobe lights, and dancing hadn’t been outlawed.  Crossing to the other side of the street, I worked my way around the warehouse, keeping at least a block away and stealing what glances at the property I could through the spaces between houses and across playgrounds.  Guards had been posted at every door, even those that were obviously locked and chained shut.  What’s more, all the guards were identical, so they were probably drones purchased from some private security company.

   This was vastly outside my area of expertise.  Maybe if the two guards at the front had been the only two on the property I would have been fine, but a whole damn platoon was way too many.  I would either need backup or a different approach.  As I continued to circle the building, making note of possible entrances and other weak points, a plan started to form in my head.  It wasn’t a good plan—in fact, I was pretty sure the cybernetic parts of my brain had become self-aware and were trying to get what little organic matter I had left killed—but it was better than nothing.

   With no idea how long Greta would be occupied inside the warehouse, I set to work.


« Last Edit: April 18, 2015, 05:37:46 AM by NicTei »
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Offline Rabbit

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Re: Me Am Robot
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2015, 03:56:09 PM »
Finally caught up on this. May I say, it is quite delightful. I love this vision of the future - very science-fictiony but not too hard to imagine happening in reality. You incorporate all these little details about the world - like the genetic engineering thing - without it being too much, or info-dumpy. I love his A.I. friend who is sweet on him! If she makes another reappearance, I think Alex should see if she likes the name Harriet.

Going to bookmark this one for future reading. Looking forward to more!  :thumb:
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:R.I.P:

Offline NicTei

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Chapter Three - In Which I Make a Mistake or Two
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2015, 08:23:28 AM »
   Before I tell you exactly what went down in the warehouse, I feel it’s important to let you know that I am by no means a genius.  Nor would you be with my augmentations.  For that matter, I don’t believe there are any cybernetic enhancements that will actually make you smarter than you were when you were completely organic.  If you were an idiot going into the Mod shop, you’ll be an idiot coming out of the Mod shop.  Now, I’m not saying I’m stupid or mentally impaired in some way, but I tend to act before I think.  Consequently, I occasionally end up in a bit of trouble that could easily have been avoided with a little foresight.

   I’m not just talking about not looking before crossing the street, either; I’m talking about accidentally blowing up half of the moon because I didn’t stop to think that when I caved a madman’s head in with one swing of my arm3 his hand might spasm and push the button on the suspicious remote he was holding.  Before you ask, I do realize it’s bad form to mention something with that kind of weight to it and not elaborate, but I’m not really allowed to talk about it until the lawsuit is over.  Those lunar colonists can be a touchy bunch.  And not in the good way, no matter what the flyers tell you.

   Getting back to my tale, I finished piecing together my foolproof plan—which was incredibly sketchy from the get-go, in hindsight—and began approaching the warehouse from the side with the biggest gap between guards.  I was so concerned with the guards I could see on the ground that I forgot there might be more muscle-bound meatheads inside, watching through the windows.  We’ll call that ‘mistake number one’, though I seemed pretty safe for a while.

   The distance between the fence and the building was the tricky part, of course.  What I was aiming for was a cellar entrance that had been left unguarded, one of those archaic, nearly horizontal sets of doors jutting out a few feet from the base of the building.  They had been secured by a relatively new-looking chain that I’d probably have to cut to get in, but I wasn’t too worried about that.  I could probably just break them with my bare hands.  That was where mistake number two came in:  that kind of noise would almost certainly attract the attention of the doormen, given that I’d already decided they were at least partially robotic and would probably have enhanced hearing.  As things were, I was more focused on their sense of sight than their sense of hearing.

   When I was sure the bouncers were looking away from me—in other words, when I got tired of waiting in front of the gate—I pushed whatever power I could into my legs and jumped.  I want it on the record that I do not by any means approve of altering the flow of power in your prosthetics; while it can be convenient at times like this, it can also be dangerous.  For example, the power I used to fuel my super jump and subsequent speed boost was power that was supposed to be running my internal cooling fan. 

     Over the short distance I had to run that wasn’t a problem, but any prolonged running would have resulted in a heat-induced shutdown.  My auxiliary power would keep me ‘alive’ until my body cooled down enough to run safely, but in the meantime I would probably be found by one of the bouncers, at which point I would probably have the tar beat out of me.  Mostly on principle, of course; unless they managed to pinpoint the small sections of my brain that were still functioning, I wouldn’t feel any pain.  I knew some people whose cybernetic parts were advanced enough to include nerve endings to simulate pain, but mine weren’t that state-of-the-art.  Oddly enough, I was okay with that.

   Arriving at the cellar door a few short seconds after landing on the other side of the fence, I grabbed the chain in two different places and tugged sharply.  The metallic snap should have registered in my head as a touch too loud, but as soon as I felt it give way I had the doors open and was inside, already congratulating myself on a successful infiltration.  Behind me, I heard the doors close quietly; there was a hydraulic damper on each one, likely to prevent any fingers from being severed prematurely in the event of a careless worker.  I wasn’t concerned about my digits, though.  Light was my main concern.  I was in the windowless basement of a warehouse that, as far as I knew, had absolutely no power.  In short, it was dark, and once again, enhanced eyesight can only help so much for some things.

   Instead of waiting for my light sensors to adjust to the darkness, I forged on ahead without much clue of where I was going.  That was mistake number three:  following a hunch.  Never, in my entire decade-long career of being a private investigator, has a hunch steered me out of harm’s way or in the right direction.  Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and he was spot on.  When it came to my hunches, I was clearly insane.

   By the time my sensors adjusted I’d found the door out of the small basement entry chamber.  Pushing it open slowly, I slipped through the gap I’d created and out into the basement proper.  To my surprise—and horror—I found myself surrounded by machine parts.  Not just any machine parts:  cybernetic prosthetics not unlike my own.  Arms, legs, a few torsos, and even a head or two; it was a veritable graveyard, and quite the display of carnage for someone in my position.  In the best-case scenario, I was in an unlicensed Mod shop and these were unused spare prostheses.  The worst-case scenario was that I was in an unlicensed Mod shop and these were used spare prostheses.

   Aware that I could be walking right into a horror movie, I slipped my shoes off and hid them underneath the nearest table, pushing them up against the wall to keep them out of sight.  My hope was that my socks would dampen my footfalls in case I needed to sneak past anyone or anything.4  Here again, I was failing to take into account that any worthwhile security personnel would have their hearing enhanced to the point where they’d be able to hear my loose left shoulder socket click as I moved, but any excuse to pad around a dark warehouse in my stocking feet is good enough for me.

   As I crept forward into the darkness, I started to hear voices from somewhere up ahead.  After a moment, they were accompanied by the faint, high-pitched whine of some sort of old machinery.  I’d already decided that I would go in swinging if I witnessed them tearing prosthetics off of some poor young Modder, but I suddenly remembered why I was here:  Greta.  Her only possible motivation for coming to a Mod shop—if that’s what this was—would be to get her own augments to be more like her future husband.  Even if the shop was unlicensed, that wasn’t strictly illegal.  Unless they were harvesting augments from unwilling ‘donors’, going in swinging was more likely to get me in trouble than stop a crime.  I would have to wait and see what was going on before I made any snap decisions.

   If the above instance of thinking before I acted had occurred sooner, of course, I would have been saved the trouble of being lifted off my feet and hurled bodily through the air, bouncing off of the wall across the chamber I’d been crossing at that point.  As I pushed myself to my feet, a little startled but otherwise unhurt, I saw that my attacker had been one of the bouncers I’d seen outside.  Beside him was his identical twin.  As they approached, their third sibling entered behind them, accompanied by a fourth...  You know, in retrospect, they were probably identical robots.

   Anyways, the four bouncer brothers charged me at once with speed that belied their size.  To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have had a chance if there had only been two of them present, so I can retain my dignity when I tell you…I totally kicked their asses.  I had them right where I wanted them for the duration of the short-lived bout.  When I stopped the first one’s fist with my faceplate and softened the third’s kick with my spine—and this after intimidating the second with a warning punch that narrowly missed his cheek—I knew I had the situation under perfect control.  In the end I had mercy on them, and even let them restrain and drag me from the room after they realized I was impervious to their assault.

   As my blissfully unaware hostages escorted me gently down a long corridor towards the sound of machinery—a large saw, I’d decided—I took in as much of the warehouse as I could, making note of possible exits for when I put my flawless escape plan into motion.  By the time we reached the end of the corridor, where the noise of the saw was the loudest, I only had to formulate said daring plan and I would be golden.  To my delight, they made it easier for me by opening the thick door in front of us and shoving me into the room beyond, slamming the heavy piece of iron closed behind me.

   When I picked myself up off of the floor again, I expected to see a dark, dirty room with Greta strapped to a table having her arm sawn clean off by an old circular saw, all while some over-Modded prick removed her new limb from a completely drugged-out nobody who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Or maybe Greta was the one performing the removal!  That might be why she was acting so suspicious and secretive:  the news that the wife of one of the Reddings ran an unlicensed, possibly shady Mod shop would ruin the family name, so she was keeping her work away from the man she loved!

   Far-fetched as those ideas sounded, they were much more believable than what I did see:  a clean, sterile, stark white room with a screen just ahead of me on top of a desk.  On that screen I could see myself leaping over the fence and sprinting to the cellar door, disappearing inside like the badass ninja I was.  The camera then turned to look at one of the guards that had jumped me moments ago before chronicling his journey down to the cellar, where he followed me as I moved through the basement for a few moments before hurling me across the room.  As I hit the wall, the video paused.

   “You have to be one of the stupidest men I have met, and believe me:  I’ve known some real idiots,” a woman’s voice said.

   She stepped out from behind the screen; tall, willowy, and dark, with skin the color of amber and hair so deeply black it seemed to scream at me against the nearly perfect white backdrop of the room.  The condescending, imperious look she was giving me would have made my blood run cold.

   “I never claimed to be a genius, miss.

   She rolled her eyes, another gesture I miss.  “Obviously not, but that leads us to the matter of who you do claim to be.  And, if you’re feeling talkative, who sent you here.”

   “Well, my name is Father Yuri Volkoff, and I was sent here by the Lord of Singularity to bring the Good Code to all who would hear it.”  Damn, was I a smartass.

   Her smile was icy.  Turning back to the desk, I watched as she picked up a chip not unlike the one that had imparted the ‘taste’ of metallic coffee to me earlier this morning.  I tried to back away as she strode towards me, but there was nowhere to go.  With inhuman strength, she grabbed me by the wrist and whirled me around, slamming me face-first into the door.  A second later, I heard a chip click into the slot on my forearm.  Almost immediately, I felt an excruciating pain spreading throughout my chest.

   “That chip will simulate a massive myocardial infarcation; simply, a massive heart attack.  Since you have no heart, clearly, you will simply suffer intense pain until the chip is removed.  However, I feel I should warn you that attempting to pull it out now would end very badly for you.”

   In my head, I retorted with “That’s what she said”, but outside I only screamed.  One thing I’d forgotten about pain was how…well, painful it is.  My brain was instinctively pulling my robot muscles into a fetal position, as if that would protect me from the pain.  Even though I knew it was only a program running through me, and I could easily pull the chip out of my forearm, I hadn’t felt so much as a scraped knee for a long, long time.  A heart attack—massive or minor—was pure hell.  All I wanted to do was pass out, but I didn’t have enough fully-functioning gray matter for that luxury.

   “Alternatively,” the woman continued, pulling something off of the desk behind her, “I could press this red button and deactivate it remotely.  Before I do that, however, I need to know that you’re willing to give me a few answers.”

   Being the strong-willed man that I am, I held out for an impressive two seconds before nodding my head as vigorously as I could.  The motion was probably a slight, almost imperceptible jerk, but the woman noticed and pressed the button.  Immediately, the pain disappeared.  I was glad I didn’t have any sweat glands; my clothes would probably have been incredibly wet, and very uncomfortable.  As I pushed myself into a sitting position, the woman sat on the edge of her desk, finger hovering over the button.  She was watching me very carefully, almost daring me to try and take the remote from her.

   The loud, mechanical sawing noise I’d heard from outside hadn’t stopped, but I couldn’t find a source.  Granted, my back was against the door, and there was a great deal I couldn’t see from a seated position, but I didn’t dare move while she had that remote in her hand.  I’d decided that heart attacks were not fun.

   “Who are you, really?” the woman asked.

   “Alex Iverson.”  I didn’t see any point in using a fake name, but I’d keep my profession quiet for the time being.  She didn’t seem like the kind of woman who would like to have a private investigator in her building.

   “The private investigator?”  So much for anonymity; damn that cat!  “Who sent you?” 

   Client confidentiality agreement aside, I didn’t feel that giving Redding’s name would be a good idea.  Still, her finger was awfully close to that button.  I just had to hope that the Redding’s security personnel were up to the task if she should happen to send a few of her bodyguards after him for whatever he might know.  Hell, for all I knew, mentioning such a high-profile name might get me some measure of protection.

   “Nathaniel Redding V.  He hired me to find out where his fiancée was going when she wasn’t with him, so I managed to follow her here.  Greta Schindler.  Maybe you know her?”

   That seemed to give the woman pause.  Wordlessly, she rose to her feet and stepped around her desk.  As she touched the wall, a small square lit up yellow around her hand, and after a brief second it turned green.  I’d already seen this trick a hundred times before, so I wasn’t all that surprised to see an entire section of the wall slide away where previously there had been no creases.  The wonders of nanotechnology were seemingly endless.  What did surprise me, however, was the naked—and gloriously so—figure of Greta levitating just behind the wall.

   Closer inspection—oh shut up, you’d look closer too—revealed that she wasn’t actually floating on air, but in some sort of fluid behind some sort of transparent membrane.  I watched as a large chunk of her side fell away.  To my surprise, there was no blood.  Instead, I saw circuitry quickly dissolving as a real, organic kidney began to form in front of my eyes.  Greta was having a serious Mod job, one closer to my own than anything I’d seen for years, reversed.  She was becoming fully human again.



3. A deadly weapon, as mentioned last chapter.
4. Yes, I wear socks.  I happen to like the little boost I get from the static shocks off the carpet in my office.  Sue me.

« Last Edit: May 21, 2015, 08:51:45 AM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline NicTei

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Chapter Four - In Which I Am Confused by Womankind
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2015, 08:48:47 AM »
   For a moment, I was speechless.  The very process I was witnessing was something I’d spent a few restless nights dreaming about after my first set of robotic implants.  Before now, though, I’d dismissed it as an urban legend, or a pipe dream shared by other people like me.  Seeing it happen in front of my eyes was about as close to a religious experience as I’d ever come.  Seriously, there were singing angels and a giant white motherboard and everything.  I finally came back to my senses when I realized someone was calling my name.

   “Mr. Iverson!  You have three seconds to stop staring at her before I press the button again!”

   Reluctantly, I averted my eyes, and a moment later I heard the wall sliding back into place.  When I looked up again, the tall woman had returned to her perch at the edge of her desk, though now her gaze was a touch more critical.  Something told me she wouldn’t believe it if I told her I wasn’t really staring at Greta.  Instead, I just waited for her to talk.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait all that long.

   “That, Mr. Iverson, is what Greta is doing when she’s not with her Modder boyfriend,” she stated imperiously.  “Now, what do you intend to do with this information?”

   I had to think hard for a moment.  Chances are the woman didn’t want this getting out; that this process had been secret this long was a sign that it was a closely-guarded secret.  Greta would probably have her mind wiped of the location when she was finished.  Either that or the whole operation would move house.  That was what made nanotechnology convenient to use and incredibly annoying to track:  it was very portable.  Everything I’d seen could probably fit into a small briefcase.

   At length, I shrugged.  “Nothing.  No one would believe me if I told them this place existed, and even if they did I highly doubt you’ll be sticking around here very long.”

   A cold smile crossed the woman’s mouth.  “Exactly.  I’m surprised a clunky robot like yourself can reason that well.  Usually you’re programmed to do each task to the letter.”

   I sighed.  “I’m a cyborg, dammit,” I murmured.

   She looked at me strangely.  “What did you say?”

   I looked up at her again.  “Er…I’m a cyborg, dammit?”

   The pure confusion on her face was enough for me to decide that repeating myself had been a good idea.  She started to rummage around on her desk, looking for something while muttering to herself.  Finally, she pulled out something that looked like the unholy lovechild of a gun and a flashlight.  Pointing the end at me, she watched her datapad closely as she moved it around, scanning me thoroughly.  It was at my head that she stopped, and I knew what she was probably seeing:  three bright red blobs amidst a confusing map of blue circuitry and green motherboards.  In that instant, her entire demeanor changed.  With three short strides, she was kneeling with me, her arms wrapped around my neck.

   “Oh, you poor thing!” she sobbed.

   I was, again, speechless.  In my experience every woman was just a little bipolar, but this one was seriously taking the cake.  It was as if she hadn’t been giving me a heart attack a few short moments ago.  Dumbly, I simply patted her on the back and waited for her to let me go.  When she did, she sat back on her heels and looked at me with an expression of pure pity that was almost painful.

   “How did this happen to you?” she asked, the very definition of tenderness.

   “I had a few accidents,” I answered dismissively; I was so caught off-guard I wasn’t even sure what I was saying.

   The tall woman nodded sympathetically.  “They must have been horrible, to turn you into this…this thing!”

   I was getting the feeling that she was one of those precious few people on Earth that was completely prejudiced against anything robotic.  Some people claimed the paranoia could be traced all the way back to a movie released in the late twentieth century, and still others claimed it could be traced back further.  Personally, I didn’t care how far back it went; it was racism, plain and simple.  I just felt lucky this woman wasn’t of the more extreme variety, who shunned even unwilling cyborgs like me.

   “They weren’t exactly a walk in the park, that’s for sure,” I muttered.

   They really weren’t.  The first was a serious car crash that resulted in the amputation of both of my legs and my right arm.  Another car crash took everything from my waist down, as well as my kidneys, stomach, and liver.  I can’t really go into the final major accident—again, lawsuits—but I can say that it more or less resulted in who I am now.  Upkeep and gradual decay completed the evolution.  None of my original augments were voluntary, and I would guess that a little more than half of the upgrades to my robotic parts were involuntary as well.

   But I was over it, really.  Humans got old and suffered from all sorts of diseases.  Barring the use of a black market chip, I couldn’t catch a common cold anymore.  Furthermore, I’m roughly thirty-five now, and I don’t look a day older than I did when I was twenty-three.  If anything, I look a little younger.  Given the small repair engines surrounding the largest intact part of my brain, I could probably stay this way until the sky opened up and whatever cruel god made our world decided the show was over.

   “Oh, here; let me get that chip out of your arm!” the woman said suddenly, producing yet another chip.  This one, however, was paper-thin, and slid in right beside the other one she’d installed in my arm slot.  I heard a small click as they fit together and a short while later they both popped out like toast out of a toaster.  Damn, I missed toast.  The woman put the chips back on her desk before pulling me to my feet and offering me a chair.  I took it with another dumb nod.  This heel-turn personality change was really throwing me off, and I wasn’t entirely sure I could trust her yet.  She might still be planning on scrapping me, or something.

   “As you may be able to guess, Mr. Iverson,” she began while toying around with her data pad, “Ms. Schindler has been coming here in her time away from her fiancé in order to return her body to ‘mint condition’, so to speak.”  She set the tablet down and looked me straight in the eyes.  “I shouldn’t have to tell you why her husband-to-be can’t know she’s here.”

   She really didn’t.  The Redding’s current fortune was in Modding.  If Nathaniel found out his beloved bride was having her own modifications reversed and replaced with flesh, then the wedding was probably off.  Worse, if his father found out, there might be more fatal repercussions.  Nathaniel Redding IV—the young groom’s father—seemed to have a very lucky streak when it came to people opposing him or defying him.  They tended to disappear.  I was willing to bet that his son’s beautiful wife having her mechanical parts removed and replaced with flesh and blood would be seen as the ultimate defiance, whether or not it was intended that way.  I nodded to the woman.

   “I understand completely, Ms.?”

   “Martin.  Loretta Martin,” she answered with a smile that was a touch warmer than her previous smirks.

   “Pretty name.  Pity it isn’t your real one,” I replied with a knowing nod.

   She looked surprised for a brief moment before smiling again, this time even warmer.  “It’s not often I meet someone who knows classical music.”

   “What can I say?  Exterior aside, I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy.”

   That was a blatant lie; the only reason I’d ever heard anything by the Beatles was because my father had been a total history nut.  Occasionally I still found myself humming ‘Yesterday’, but otherwise my knowledge of the songs had faded quickly.  Still, on occasions such as this, my memory was able to make an astounding comeback.  So far, I had yet to be disappointed by the results.  After all, ‘Ms. Martin’ was a bit psycho, what with the heart-attack chip and dramatic mood swing, but she wasn’t at all unpleasant to look at.  Not to mention it had sort of been a while for me.  A decade and a half, to be a little more precise.  I could go into minutes and seconds, but I think you get the picture.

   “So, just out of curiosity, how long does this sort of procedure take?” I asked, nodding to the wall panel that was concealing Greta’s recovering body.

   Ms. Martin shrugged.  “It really depends on the extent of the augmentations.  Ms. Schindler suffered a severe internal injury when she was a child and needed robotic replacements for nearly all of her internal organs, as well as a good portion of her rib cage.  Even so, she’s only had three hour-long sessions in the vat so far, and this will probably be her last one.”  She glanced at me.  “Extreme cases, however, can require as long as a month submerged in the vat, assuming there’s enough organic tissue to work with.”

   I made the fatal mistake of asking how much tissue was required, at which point Loretta launched into a long, boring, technical discussion about the process.  Once again, I wished I could faint.  Still, I nodded when it sounded as though she was looking for a response from me and let her continue talking until the wall opened of its own accord and Greta stepped out with only a towel around her hair.  We made eye contact for a brief few seconds before she screamed and ducked behind the wall.

   “Loretta!  Why didn’t you warn me there was a man out here?” she shrieked.

   In response, Ms. Martin glanced at her data tablet and lightly slapped her forehead.  “I’m so sorry, Ms. Schindler; I lost track of time talking to Mr. Iverson here.  If you would be so kind, Mr. Iverson?”

   “Please, call me Alex,” I replied as I covered my eyes.  It was a useless gesture, of course; not only could I just shut my light receptors off for a brief moment, but I could also see through the cracks in my fingers better than a human would have been able to.  Don’t judge me.  Even cyborg men have needs.  To my dismay, of course, Loretta handed Greta her clothes and she changed in the other room, out of sight.  Still, I kept my eyes covered as though I couldn’t tell she’d left the room.  When she returned, dressed as she had been at the coffee shop, I pulled my hands away.

   “I do apologize—Ms. Schindler, was it?—for intruding on your session,” I began apologetically.  “I heard from a friend that this place was real, and I simply had to see it for myself.  You can see my…er…condition is pretty bad, so I thought a consultation with Ms. Martin here might be a good idea.”

   Greta still looked a little flustered, but nodded in agreement.  “It’s not easy being part machine, so I can understand where you’re coming from.”

   “Thanks for understanding.”

   She gave me a small, shy smile, and I’m pretty sure about half of my motherboard fried instantly.  While she talked quietly with Ms. Martin about payment and her next few sessions—I tried not to eavesdrop, but I can’t help it if my ears are amazing—I sat quietly in front of the desk and watched her face.  The way her lips formed her words, the way her eyes occasionally darted in my direction as she spoke; it was all enough to make me miss my skin for the first time in ages.  An unmoving, metal facsimile of a human face was absolutely perfect for poker and negotiations, but there were too many disadvantages, especially when it came to relationships. If few women wanted to cuddle up to cold metal, even fewer wanted to give it a kiss.

   When she’d placed a check in Ms. Martin’s hands, Greta acknowledged me a final time with another timid smile and slipped out the door.  I suddenly and inexplicably felt as though I had no further reason to remain in the warehouse, but as I turned to go, Loretta stopped me with a sharp click of her tongue.  She motioned for me to sit down again, pushing a manila folder towards me.  Paper trails were non-existent now that paper was a rare commodity, so actual paper files were usually only exchanged when something was to be kept secret.  Data tablets and personal terminals were far too easy to hack, and all-too-often monitored by the local authorities in some capacity.  I didn’t really need an explanation of what she was handing me, but she gave me one anyways.

   “I know you didn’t come here for a procedure, Mr. Iverson,” she began, “but I wouldn’t feel right about letting you leave without giving you some information.  Guard it with your life, and if you decide it isn’t for you, bring all of the information back.  Anything that’s leaked will be regarded as a hoax, of course, but I don’t want everyone who’s ever regretted their Mods swarming this place.”

   In truth, she didn’t want men like the Reddings hearing about her little reversal engine.  For whatever reason, Mod engineers thought that having their augments replaced with living flesh would cost them money, when in reality it didn’t really cost them a cent outside of possible upgrade costs.  Furthermore, so few people reversed their Mods that even if the process did somehow magically steal funds from their bank accounts, they would hardly notice the void.  Even so, they continued to root out any attempts at building a reversal engine, to say nothing of the lengths at which they pursued functional models.

   More understandable—and I use that term loosely—was the stance of the People’s Temple of the Sacred Circuit, who were every bit as ridiculous as they sounded.  Priests in the temple often preached that salvation was attained not through repentance of wrongdoing or good works, but by acquiring as many cybernetic augmentations as possible.  My church-smarts are a little behind, but most people believe the Temple got started when a priest from some other religion decided that the source of sin and corruption was in the flesh, and therefore the soul must be separated from the flesh.  Honestly, none of it made much sense to me.

   As you might expect, the priests had a field day whenever the subject of Mod reversal was mentioned; such conversations usually included yelling, wild arm gestures, and a shit-ton of quoting from the Sacred Code5.  If the local temple found out this place existed, I doubted the warehouse would remain standing very long.  Priests were still pretty influential, despite widespread reliance on science and technology.  That much, at least, hadn’t changed for centuries.

   I tucked the folder into my shirt as I stood.  “Thank you; I’ll think it over.”

   Ms. Martin smiled, and I almost forgot that she gave me a heart-attack.  “I look forward to hearing back from you.  Take care.”

   That said, she sat down and returned her attention to her data tablet, and I assumed the conversation to be over.  I saw myself out of the warehouse, nodding tersely to the guards that I had passed.  At some point during our conversation Loretta must have sent out a bulletin that I wasn’t a threat.  Which I wasn’t, not really.  However, I did still have to figure out what I would tell Mr. Redding V, since I couldn’t tell him that his beloved was erasing any and all traces of his father’s work from her body.  And then there was the matter of the folder… This would require some thinking, and luckily I knew just where I could do that.



5. Not to be confused with ‘the Good Code’, which is something I made up in the last chapter in a bout of brilliance. Or stupidity.  Probably the latter.

« Last Edit: May 21, 2015, 08:53:08 AM by NicTei »
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