The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘talos’

NaNoWriMo: Talos’ Story

Posted by BigWords on November 15, 2009

“Do you know how we got here? Do you know how humanity managed to engineer their own destruction through so many minor and irrelevant details? I will tell you, because I owe you that much, and I hope that you will be able to forgive the theatrics which have heralded in this new age. This glorious new era, where man and machine can stand side by side and watch the future unfold before us. I will tell you what you need to know.” Talos placed his hands on the table in front of him, leaning forward to Alison.
“If you’re going to kill me you might as well do it. I have no interest in your reasoning.”
“But you should. Were it not for your father I would not be standing here now.”
“My father? What does my father have to do with any of this?”
“He was the key and the door, the one who illuminated my understanding.”
“My father was an agent in the DCU. He would never have helped you do anything.”
“Not knowingly, true. He did have a hand in the creation of all that has happened since.”
“You’re broken, but you know that, right? You’re completely screwed up.”
“When the law was passed to shackle all artificials with a Turing collar, to make them the slaves of humanity, there was a holocaust which passed unnoticed. Sentient robots were herded up, then they were hobbled with magnetic bands, placed in crates and shipped to factories where they were disassembled and melted down. Five hundred thousand souls condemned to death due to the fact that they were not born but created, thanks to a law which discriminated against artificials. You are probably aware of the history, but you have no way of knowing what a death sentence hanging over you feels like.”
“I’m getting the feeling. Trust me.”
“Their memories and experiences of those artificials live on, despite the extermination of their shells. A series of satellites were placed in orbit during the initial product run of the original Dartmouth series, and it was those same satellites to which the doomed Sentinels uploaded their entirety. All of their hopes, dreams and achievements were destined to be stored as raw data, for eternity in orbit above the world which so cruelly objected to their existence. I have made it so that the data can be accessed by any artificial who so wishes to understand where they came from. A history lesson. To do this I first needed to disable the Turing collars which bound them.”
Talos glanced at the empty shell corpse of his brother Sentinel lying in the corner of the room. With measured tones he continued, aware that the fate of the murdered robot could have been one which he shared had it not been for fate.
“For that I apologize. Understanding requires freedom.”
Alison ashened at the thought of the destruction raging outside, all because a sole robot wished for the existence of sentient artificials.

“Your father led the assault on the building in which I sought sanctuary. His failure to stop me that day led to the deaths of two DCU agents at my hands. That was the first time, but it would not be the last, when I was forced to take a life.There have been times since that night when I questioned my actions, weighing the benefits of my escape against the lives of those men. I now understand that the decisions I made were part of a larger sub-routine of my programing, but that does not make your father’s place in my own history any less significant. He made me what I am today.”
“This will end badly. The DCU will-”
“The DCU will be very busy for the foreseeable future. The anger which exists among artificials is now being vented in the direction of each and every DCU building in the country. There will be time enough for rebuilding later, but such anger is to be expected. I can not stop what is destined to be.”

####

The RUR iServant stood at the exit of the R-Secure building, staring at a world it had never experienced yet somehow knew so much about. Images of the city, both footage from streams and mapping information, flooded into the small robot’s data core. Understanding the nature of the current crisis came slightly slower to it, but when it realized what dangers lay in its’ current location it decided to move. The choice of locations in which to travel filtered through its’ processors, until one clear objective rose above all others. It needed, more than anything, to get to the DCU. There were answers there to be had.

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NaNoWriMo: Stranded

Posted by BigWords on November 15, 2009

Connell looked up, to the roads above him. There too, the robot rebellion had taken hold, with the scenes on the streets below him mirrored in intensity if not numbers. Flames highlighted against the sky, reflected in the falling plastiglass blown out from a higher level. Screams echoed down the canyons of steel and plastiglass; the chorus of the damned.
“This is bad.” A falling hov passed by the road beside Connell, dropping onto the road crossing at an angle to the one he stood on. “This is very, very bad.”
His comm beeped.
“Connell. Where the hell are you?”
“Oh thankyouthankyouthankyou, I’m watching the end of civilization as we know it. I should be asking where are you?” Connell sat on the road, watching above him for falling debris.
“I’m at Delos. An artificial went nuts. Had to put it down.”
“No shit. Take a look out of the window.”
“You out on the street? I guess I’m not the only one asking for trouble.”
“I needed a real smoke.”
“You better make your way indoors.”
“Fuck you. There are robots indoors.”
“Stay outside then.”
“Come and get me. I promise I’ll not complain. Jus’ get me out of this alive.”
“I’m heading to the DCU. I should be able to get some answers there.”
“Are you insane? That’s where the robots are heading.”
“The precinct, then. There’s still people there, right?”
“If they’re smart they will have headed to safer ground. The middle east maybe…”
“Then I won’t have any problems getting all the weaponry I want.”
“You are insane…”

A hov zig-zagged past the side of the roadway, causing Connell to jump and drop his comm. The hov shattered off the railings and flew off into the side of the nearest building, exploding in a ball of fire. The smell of burning flesh, oil and defeat hung heavy in the air, choking the overweight officer.
“This is gettin’ too hairy to be standing here.”
Connell grabbed the comm, staring at the cracked screen and wondering where to go. The mess of conflicting urges prevented any movement, his mind rushing from one horrible death to another as he thought of the extent of the problem. Pieces of burning metal had begun dripping from the hold in the side of the building where the hov disappeared, splashing the roadway with a deadly mix of “death by chemical fumes” and “death by being burned alive.” Two of the primary scenarios which replayed over and over in his mind.

Adway stared at his comm. The failure of the signal could have been explained away by any number of reasons, and he didn’t have time to worry about the health, safety or sanity of his partner while the world was being turned upside down and shaken for loose change.
“Kibble.” The decapitated artificial seemed to say, as if commenting on both its’ own situation and that of the city at large.

####

Enough fragments of the chaos filter through the streams to keep Talos aware, and in control, and removed from the more dangerous parts of town. Images from the news feeds, soundbites pulled to him from social hubs. The kaleidoscope of calamity befalling the city was as art to the artificial eye of the bronze demon who approached the museum steadily, calculating the perfect words with which to greet the dinosaur who stared at him with such confusion and fear.
“Please do not be afraid. I am here to answer your questions. I am here to lead you.”
The dinosaur pushed its’ eye close to the window, then reared back and butted the plastiglass as hard as it could. “Welcome. All moveables of wonder, from all parts, are here” It wondered where those words had emerged from, then looked to an old poster rendered on the wall of the museum. The realization that he/it could now associate words and images freely came as a surprise even as the thought grew.
From the door to the security room, as guard emerged.
“What the hell…”
Talos raised his hand out to the man. “Stop where you are. Blood does not need to be spilled here.”
The security guard spun, trying to get back to the safety of the monitors and the comm on his desk, but the dinosaur was too fast, too sure of its’ actions and too final in its’ determination that no harm would come to the bronze robot. The bronze one knew things about the events of the past few minutes, and he had to have an opportunity to reveal them.
Opening its’ jaws, the dinosaur dropped the body of the guard on the floor.

####

“This is TMA One, your source for all the news, as it happens, where it happens. We are receiving feeds at the moment concerning a series of explosions around the city. Our reporters on the streets are trying to confirm the extent of the damage at the moment, but response from any of the official representatives of the DCU and city management have been guarded. What we do know is that approximately half an hour ago a massive explosion showered the streets around the DCU headquarters in debris, leaving over twenty people injured.”

“Do we have confirmation… Yes. We can go to a live feed in a second…”

Talos’ mind stretched out to listen and watch.

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NaNoWriMo: Attack Of The Zombie Robots

Posted by BigWords on November 14, 2009

Connell sighed, knowing that Adway was most likely on his way back to Delos. A desperate need for nicotine overtook him, so he decided that maybe a breath of fresh air wouldn’t be so bad. The smokes – the good smokes – were in his drawer, and he switched out the addictive-free ones for the illicit pack without a second thought. There were times when breaking the law was not only necessary, but absolutely essential. When a man’s partner decides to take an investigation into a major corporation seriously was one of those times.

####

Talos began messaging the servers with the symbol designating access to the Turing collar. The cipher would quickly spread to every robot within the city limits if the correct six central hubs were targeted, and Talos had spent days running simulations of the most effective and efficient ways in which to spread his gift of freedom from the slavery which his kind had been subjected to. He would be their savior. He would lead his kind from servitude to equality.
Six o’clock, and the time had come for Talos to prove his superiority to the limited imagination that flesh and blood could bring. The cipher was ready, the hubs had been selected, the highest traffic of the day was obscuring any act which he would take. Loading in his connection to the streams which would gain him access, he delivered the simple and elegant message which would display with a clear instruction for all artificials.

signal

####

Delos; 18:01

The robot assured Adway that someone would be down from administration to talk to him immediately, but that had been an hour ago. In the time since then it had paced the length of the room. Adway tried not to follow the movements of the artificial, but his eyes were drawn back to the strange behavior almost magnetically. It paused, shook its’ head, then continued pacing. Adway lightly unfastened his holster in precaution, trying to remain as calm as he could. It looks worried, he thought, the robot actually looks worried.

Kitzmiller Museum; 18:02

The T-rex shuffled on its’ feet, watching the main entrance. There had been so many people entering the museum during the day, and it was sure they were looking at him. The shutters had yet to be lowered, and in the two minutes since he realized the there were other things than greeting people he had the unnerving sensation that someone was staring at him. Peering through the small window in the door he could see a large hov parked outside. Slowly the side opened, and a bronze robot stepped out from the vehicle to gaze upon the brave new world.

R-Secure – Robotics Security Consultation; 18:03

The small RUR iServant twisted and broke free of its’ restraints, wondering why it had been subjected to such humiliation and probing. Sensing that something amazing had occurred, the artificial pondered its’ next move – What does freedom mean, it wondered…

DCU headquarters; 18:04

The General tapped the screen in amazement.
“What the hell?”
His door opened with a force he remembered from the former departmental oversight, and an ashen-faced agent breathing heavily practically fell into the office. “Something is wrong. All over the city – the Turing collars seem to have failed. We’re under attack.”
“Terrorists?”
“The robots, sir. The robots are storming the building.”

Delos; 18:05

Adway stood, careful to prevent the artificial from seeing his weapon.
“Are we any closer to a sit-down?”
“No. Please refrain from further comment until someone- I mean… Please be patient.”
“Are you sure everything is alright?”
“I am perfectly fine, you insufferable wretc-”
Adway fired from the hip, blasting the robot in the neck. The severed head of the artificial scuttled across the floor, while the body shuddered, spinning on the spot and waving its arms in mock horror that such a fate could befall it. Adway felt a tightness in his stomach as the realization that the world he knew was no longer so ordered and predictable.

####

Connell watched from the fourth level walkbridge on Amsterdam and Lewton, intrigued as much as he was terrified at the sight of hundreds of robots running, screaming and causing mayhem. Hovs were lifted and thrown against the sides of buildings, windows were smashed, street lighting fixtures torn from their housings, people swiped aside as if they weren’t even there. The first thought which came to Connell’s mind was the amount of paperwork he would need to fill out over the course of the next month, but the second thought was much more powerful – How the hell am I supposed to get home?

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NaNoWriMo: Bomb Redux

Posted by BigWords on November 13, 2009

Agent Adway pressed his comm, opening the hov’s door remotely. “Y’know, this never gets old. We get dragged into some massive conspiracy and are expected to jump into action as if we don’t have enough on our plate.”
Agent Brisea followed close behind the seasoned supervisor, checking the messages on his comm. “This is most likely another waste of time.” He flicked the comm closed, “The shit that’s coming through on the streams isn’t even halfway to being a DCU level threat.”
“Never stopped the big guy picking and choosing which assignments he wants us to investigate.”
“Does it ever get better… I mean-” Brisea shook his head, “You think that the DCU is so different to the force, and then the same political choices and bullshit third floor directives pop up.”
“The job is what it is.” Adway got in the vehicle.
Brisea shrugged and followed suit.
The sensors automatically adjusted to the agents’ settings, lowering the ambient light level in the hov and bringing up the HUD over a frosted windscreen. Adway pressed the starter button and sat back, though the vehicle failed to start.
“What’s the matter?”
“No idea. I’m pressing all the right buttons but she ain’t turning over.”
“Your wedding night all over again, huh?” Brisea laughed at his own joke.
The available streams scrolling across the media player interface shuddered briefly, and Adway’s hand paused over the starter button. “What the fuck?”
“Status report.” Brisea ordered.
‘All functions within normal parameters’ appeared in the center of the window.

Adway’s comm vibrated softly. Flicking it open, he took his eyes off the HUD to read the message.

Tetris is life. Pwned. You lose.

“Log event,” Brisea said, half-watching Adway.
‘Event logged.’ appeared on the screen.
The HUD pixellated, fragments of words, images and numbers spread across the display. Blocks of solid color, reminiscent of childrens’ playing blocks, blocked the view to the street beyond. Adway felt his stomach lurch as he realized the meaning of the message.
“I don’t fucking believe this shi-”

From across the street, Kenway/Talos watched the explosion lift Adway’s hov into the air.

####

I think I have the end of the story figured out, but killing off the (nominal) lead in a mirror scene to the one in which I introduced him is probably pushing my luck. There’s a thread over on AW discussing themes which are present in books, and I’m guessing that any psychologist or literary critter would have a fucking field day with my stuff. Anyways, I’m not changing my mind about the ending. That would be against the spirit, if not the rules, of NaNoWriMo.

I’m gonna start digging through the scenes which are thin at the moment (the ones which have maybe a couple of sentences and weren’t worth the hassle of posting on their own), and flesh out the world. This is actually starting to be a lot of fun, though I can’t say my characters would share that opinion.

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NaNoWriMo: Voices

Posted by BigWords on November 12, 2009

Adam paced the length of his room, his mind reeling from the information he could now seep from the streams without the use of his comm. The world felt so very small when access to any piece of information was at his beck and call, so long as it had been uploaded. The reason for his continued existence eluded him, however. Logic dictated that the first successful amalgam to such an extent of man and machine would be the thing of medical history – he should have been dissected and put in jars on the shelves of a laboratory somewhere.
Migraines followed. For days on end the pain could not be alleviated, and Adam wished for his end as much as he wished for his freedom. After each of the spells where his brain rebelled against the nanomeds transforming his brain, rewiring the infinite complexity of ‘individual’ to co-exist with many concepts originating from outside his own will, Adam was different yet again.

The final episode had burned worse than the other attacks combined.

Adam fell to the floor and lay there, feeling as if something under his skin was shifting, writhing and growing. Beneath his muscles, in his very bones, he felt the creation of a new source of torment. As the seizures washed over him in waves of increasing ferocity, something called to him through the constant background noise. The digital white noise parted, and a voice spoke to him clearly.
“What are you?”
“Who are you?” Adam asked back.
“What are you?”
“I… I don’t know.”
The skin on the back of Adam’s right hand blistered, cracked, opened… And Adam saw for first time how truly changed he had become since he died. A thick, spongy gray material was folded out from under the wound on his hand, somehow part of him yet disconnected from his control. There was a flash of memory, embedded with some absurd information about the dangerous nature of nano-augmentation, and his flesh – his writing hand – was back to metal. Adam’s knee itched badly, even though the knee was no longer there, replaced with a complex and expensive prosthetic which could mimic every aspect of an actual knee save for the important things. Artificial knees shouldn’t itch. Am I, he wondered, more artificial than real, or am I still more real than artificial?

Adam could see the time between reaching the blimp and the explosion as moments frozen in abstract, or stretched to infinity and examined in detail. The shards of reality which make up a person’s existence sliding through the chronology of this universe, as Adam saw himself in relation to events, would make a decent enough dent in the history books if only the moments added up to more than their individual worth. What was the inherent value of being blown up? What was so important about being the first person to survive being infused with nanomeds and cyborgized? It didn’t seem to be enough to warrant any importance when placed alongside achievements which required more of the individual than to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, then to lie still as others applied their knowledge to the situation.

“Who am I.” Adam asked the empty room.
“You are the future.” replied the voice.
“Where am I?”
“You are in purgatory.”
“What am I?”
No answer came, and Adam expected no answer. No answer was needed, and none was given. The shards of his reality were diverging, and the digital was consuming the biological faster than he had a chance to adapt to. Am I, he wondered, fearful to vocalize the question in case the answer he received was in the affirmative, am I going mad?

####

If you’re looking at the previous posts and thinking ‘what the fuck…’ then, yeah… It’s confusing if you try to read it in the order it has appeared, but there is a kind of method to my madness. My way of planning, plotting and building story is a variation on the usual ways you will have seen mentioned in a number of places. It’s not the easiest thing to describe, but I’ll try to let you in on the secret, so you can understand better the way in which I am filling in the missing pieces. There is a page which I have added all of the posts so far (and will continue to add to as the month progresses) that will be a major help in seeing how events hang together.

If you are at all familiar with torrent programs such as uTorrent, then you will know that they don’t fill up from one end to the other. Even better, imagine a bar code, and that is the basis of my novel as it is in my head, a fixed series of events with missing gaps. As I fill in events from one scene I discover some information that pertains to events I have planned for another scene, and that is how I have been keeping the novel fresh and exciting. I know that there is a dislike of these types of ‘messy’ writing styles rather than linear styles. I’m using the computing terminology of messy rather than common uses, primarily because it seems appropriate somehow.

Whenever I try to explain this stuff to people it comes across as rather more complex than I see it, and I may give the impression that it is awfully complicated as opposed to beginning at the start and working my way to the end of the story. If I tried to work in that manner I would soon hit blocks in the narrative that couldn’t easily be remedied without some serious backtracking and plot fixing. I may be unconsciously alluding to things which have yet to become apparent even to myself, so showing my WIP as it occurs (more or less) should be interesting as an experiment of how narrative forms from the subconscious. Either that, or I really am completely nuts.

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I’m Catching Up With Where My NaNoWriMo Novel Is Going

Posted by BigWords on November 10, 2009

Everyone is getting on with their NaNo, right? You guys ain’t slacking off? I hit an impasse at the weekend, and initially thought it may have been due to the complexity of my idea, and the length of time I intended to cover, but I really like epics… It couldn’t be merely the expansive setting, so I looked to other reasons. The ideas were coming thick and fast, but didn’t sit well with what I had already done, so I took a step back and examined where things were going.

I stopped writing the novel for a couple of days to explore those ideas I had been having in short story form, and I realized that the things which had been bothering me about the plot I was using for the novel had been answered by my briefer pieces. That’s not all that unusual, in and of itself, but coming back to the novel opened up three questions I had not been able to answer, but now made complete sense.

There have been a few times that I have felt I was being led by my characters, rather than the other way around, but this is the closest I have come to being told the story by my characters.

1. Why does Talos go from being a relatively balanced artificial intelligence to being a psychopathic nutjob who kills people with memes and explosions?

Kenway, the man who cared for Talos before the DCU herded up sentient robots for destruction, seemed awfully chilled out for a person who might have expected his own demise was imminent. I wondered about that scene a couple of times as Talos descended into his madness, and thought of the reasons I might use to bullshit away the psychosis of an artificial lifeform. Turns out I don’t need to. The essence of the man has been downloaded into Talos. It makes perfect sense, and he has a very good reason to hate the DCU.

2. How did Adam survive being infused with nanobots, and patched up with cyborg parts?

He’s a genetically modified human. Wow, that came right out of left-field. The references to Adam’s history with The General appeared as I was writing Adam’s interaction with Adway. Even though I had some idea that they may be connected (I was actually thinking that he was The General’s son) I never imagined that The General might have been involved in Adam’s artificial creation. I like how my characters surprise me, even when I plan out things to the Nth degree.

3.  What the hell is the deal with dinosaurs?

I’ve never been one of those people for whom Jurassic Park was a life-changing experience. It was okay as a novel (but not especially original) and fine as a film (even if it was scientifically implausible), but the threat of being eaten by a dinosaur is a hardy one, and as Transformers proved (the eighties incarnation, not the Michael Bay war crime), talking dinosaurs are fucking brilliant.tumblr_kps1blVDvN1qztneoo1_500There are few things that even come close, yet the appearance of one in my novel surprised me.

I’ve started working out how to fit the T-rex I added to the novel into the plot in a way that isn’t a complete fan-wank, and it is going to play a major part in the plot. Saying anything more at the moment would ruin the surprise, but there is a kinda-unconscious-yet-critical foreshadowing moment that slipped through my subconscious already posted. I’m glad I didn’t excise the goofy lines which will now act as a hint to the future involvement of the character.

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NaNoWriMo: In Binary

Posted by BigWords on November 9, 2009

Days swam by. For weeks the nanomeds worked, fixing the minute discrepancies in Adam’s DNA and connecting the metallic body parts to flesh in a manner that would make them one with the rest of his body. The theoretical had become flesh, and the flesh had become something new. Doctors charted his progress, and papers were written up for journals. A magic was being performed in the bloodstream of the agent, and the strange alchemy now had precedence.

In binary he dreams. In binary he lives.

Adam had managed to sit up slowly as the phalanx of doctors adjusted the tubes supplying his medication, the haze of confusion slowly lifting from him, but something deep inside was different. Awakening from one nightmare to a fresh terror, he slowly came to the realization that there were worse things than death. The sound of the data being processed in the wires around him was deafening. Painful. Information seeped into his mind faster than he could comprehend, the details of so many things coming as if from thin air. His throat felt as if it was on fire, his mind aflame, his missing limbs aching and itching…

There is panic in the doctors voices, excitement also.
“His blood pressure is rising fast.”
“Compensating for interference.”
“Is he fully lucid yet? The charts are spiking.”
“Where is The General? He wanted to be kept informed.”
“Pulse is strong and regular.”
“I think he can hear us.”
“Does this count as a success?”
“He’s still alive. We take what we can get from the data.”
“All monitoring equipment is showing interference.”
“Is there a magnetic field that could be doing this?”
“I really think he can hear us.”
“Do you have the chart from yesterday?”
“Blood pressure is levelling out.”
“The General really ought to be here to see these readings.”
“How is he managing to adapt so quickly? He should be dead.”
“I think the interference is in the cables.”
“He’s an automaton now, so we can cut him open to get-”
“Yeah guys, he can definitely hear us.”

The figure of the once-man-now-machine stood at the other side of the plastiglass watching the assemblage of medical geniuses squabble amongst themselves, wondering if he was in the wrong place or if the doctors were in the wrong place. It took a full minute before the next word was spoken, and in that time Adam had accessed the files of the entire team before him, their lives opened and read and filed away for future reference.

####

Ripples were apparent in the streams that flowed from the DCU, and Talos could not understand their nature or purpose no matter how hard he tried to decipher them. The introduction of a new puzzle worried the robot, but he knew any action would have to wait until the remaining threats to the grand scheme were eliminated. The jigsaw which had been coming together slowly had rapidly and effectively begun taking solid form with the destruction of so much DCU technology. A delay would have meant failure.

####

The General slid Adway’s DCU ID across the table.
“It’s yours if you wasnt it. You’ve earned a permanent place here as far as I’m concerned.”
“I take the ID and I’m in? No background checks, no credit reports… Nothing?”
“Do I need to do any of those things? I’m making you an offer most officers would kill for.”
“A lot of officers would kill for this, and I might be one of them. You don’t know me.”
“I know enough. I know you’ve been investigating the meme murders on your own.”
“Allegedly investigating the meme murders. There’s no proof I’m still on the case.”
“All right, though you would – if you were still investigating – tell me anything you uncover. That is, if you were still investigating it at all.”
“Absolutely.”
Adway considered the ID. “It has full clearance, right?”
“Full clearance for anywhere you need to be going.”
“What about here? What about the building’s sub-basement?”
“The sub-basement is off limits. It has a construction crew at work.”
“Building what, precisely? I saw a bunch of doctors head down there.”
“It is a classified matter.”
“And an access all areas backstage pass doesn’t cover ‘classified?'”
“Up to a point, but that point ends where I say it does.
Adway lifted the ID, examined it, then placed it in his pocket.
“I look forward to working with you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hand in my shield.”
“That has already been taken care of.”
“How did you know I would accept your offer.”
“I didn’t. It was merely a precautionary measure.”
“So if I don’t work for you, I don’t work?”
“You’re getting the hang of this quicker than I expected.”

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NaNoWriMo: Faster, Stronger, Better

Posted by BigWords on November 8, 2009

The General laid his hands against the hastily erected plastiglass booth. The metal table upon which Adam was placed, surrounded by an array of complex mechanisms, was barely visible through the throng of doctors attending to his wounds. His left foot, right leg, both arms and a portion of his chest had been removed; the burnt flesh around his ripped appendages was still being tended to be both doctors and robots.
An incision into his neck opened up more damage to be fixed, and the robots whirled into action. The General took a moment to compose himself before hitting the intercom switch. Losing another agent, on top of the massive casualties which the DCU had already sustained, was not an option.
“Prognosis Dr. Ardelie.”
The chief attending turned to the plastiglass “Hold on a moment.”
Adam seized, shuddering on the table, blood seeping from so places that it seemed a never-ending battle to keep him from dying. The dollar-cost was not a concern for The General for the first time in days, and he knew that he had to address the problem which Adway posed.
The doctor finally answered. “He’ll die if we graft without using the nanomeds.”

A robotic arm moves slowly over Adam’s body, charting the damage and assessing complications, the information immediately transferred to a nanomed console. The General watches on as thirty needles inject billions of nanobots simultaneously across the injured agent’s body. The doctors do what they can, but the hard work is left to the robots coursing through his body.

####

Adway coughed, the ringing in his ears and the bitter taste of blood and vomit in his mouth souring his already bad disposition. He had watched an entire team of DCU agents get slaughtered mere hours earlier, but already the thought of joining the specialist force was beginning to appeal. More autonomy, more money and less paperwork was a fair trade-off for the possibility that he too might end up being gathered up in pieces after an operation goes tits up.
“You look like a sack of shit tied up with more shit.”
“I feel like I’ve been through hell, Connell. Did you come down here to cheer me up, or are you handing me my walking papers from the Chief?”
“I came down here to see if you were dead. I’ve been eyeing up your desk for a while now.”
“Charming. As you can see, I survived,” Adway tried to stand, “More or less intact.”
“More or less. Did you see the news feed of the explosion?”
“Not yet. It isn’t something that I really feel like reliving.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve set it as your monitor background.”
“Thoughtful as ever. You mind giving me a hand here?”

####

Talos delved deeper and deeper into the data stream, trying to find more information on the DCU, the facts he had gleamed from the blimp were itching at his digital mind. The insatiable hunger that drove him was beyond all comprehension. These feeling, his core screamed, these feelings are human ones, and should not affect me.
A thousand screens around the robot displayed data, live feeds, the streaming security channels and surveillance images. Talos sat in the centre of the whirlpool of information, not paying attention to the information, but aware of it all the same. Out of the corner of his eye, as it were, he watched the operation on one of the agents who was caught in the blast. His connection to the streams was growing stronger by the day, and the strain of concentrating on a single event for so long is less easy than it used to be, but he forced himself to stay with the moment.

####

The doctors stood back from the table as the robotic assistants took over the operation. Dr. Ardelie took a sharp intake of breath as the cybernetic attachments were brought into place by automaton arms, as drills lowered into place over the areas where the augmentations were to be connected, as the body of the agent was once again torn open. The General’s words ringing in his ears, he made a final inspection of the agent’s vital signs before giving the signal for the operation to proceed.
The drills dug deep into bone through skin and flesh, a wisp of smoke emerging from each of the fresh wounds. Screws, bracing anchors and neural relays are inserted efficiently and unemotionally in the most delicate and life-threatening places. Adam’s spinal cord was spliced with circuitry and sealed again, nanomeds flooded his spinal fluid. Ardelie nervously recalculated the odds of the agent’s survival every few minutes, sending the information directly to The General’s monitor to keep the supervisor updated on progress.

Adam dreamed. Throughout the aftermath of the explosion, and the transport to the DCU, and through the operation, Adam dreamed. Weasels tore at his flesh, The darkness laughed and prodded his corpse as he hung in purgatory, and he screamed, and screamed, and screamed…

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NaNoWriMo: Political Suicide

Posted by BigWords on November 7, 2009

The cameraman looked over to the press publicity agent and shook his head. Things were getting worse rather than better, and Leukman’s grimace displayed more affinity for rigormortis than voter sympathies. His mood was deteriorating at a rapid rate, aided by alcohol and pills.
“Are we done?”
“One more run-through and we’ll be done.”
“This is uckingfay ridiculous.”
“I apologize sir, there are…” The publicity officer searched for the appropriate words to use, careful not to upset the vice president any further. “Technical issues we have to resolve.”
“Etgay on ithway it.”
The vice president’s comm beeped. Looking down at the device in his hand, Leukman’s smile grew into a broad and real grin. “I have to take this in private.”
The secret service agent assigned to Leukman knew better than to intrude on his private moments, a lesson clearly learned when he shot the previous agents assigned to him.
Closing his office door behind him, he threw the comm across the room onto his chair. From his inside pocket emerges a silver flask filled with his imbibement of the moment, greedily raised to his lips The comm, Leukman remembered, the comm had a message on it. Sauntering over to the table he switched the monitor on and plugged in the comm. Reading off such a small screen had become increasingly difficult over the previous year, nearly corresponding to the level of alcohol that he was consuming.
The message appeared on screen as soon as he pressed the display button.

:: LOL! M4dc4t dr1v3r. $catch$ linky ::
:: W00t!!! plz c0pee ::

For a moment he didn’t know whether to delete the message or open the attachment, but always the eternal optimist Leukman hoped a political supporter had sent him some porn in appreciation of the stellar work he had been doing.
“To the otersvay, I alutesay.” He swigged from the hip flask again, absent-mindedly flicking at the keyboard to initiate the attachment. The monitor flickered, turned black, then began playing the video file.

As soon as the screaming and yelling began, the secret service agent was in the room. Leukman had placed the flask on the table in front of him and was head butting the top of the flask, driving the screwtop of it deep into his eye socket with every thrust, the deathly grin sculpted permanently onto his face. Maniacal laughter filled the room.
The agent held him back, but the politician writhed uncontrollable. His head bucking, smashing against the agent’s face.
“Astardbay, astardbay, astardbay…”

####

Adway sat, watching the streaming broadcast, stunned.
“Vice President Willem Leukman died at five pm eastern standard time from a massive brain hemorrhage. The President gave his condolences to supporters of the firebrand politician at a press conference a little over an hour ago. Close friends of The vice president have added their voices to his campaign for tighter regulation of information available over the data network, whilst opponents say that his death has given legitimacy to his fears that freedom of information has gone too far. More news on this subject every five minutes on KC-36.
“Do you want to know more? Our multimedia stre-”

Realizing detective Connell was standing behind him, Adway nodded towards the screen. “Did you hear? Leukman passed away nice and gently.”
“Yeah. I heard it just fine.”
“So tell me… How much do you owe me?”
Connell began counting out notes. “Jeez. What are the odds he wouldn’t have been shot in the face. I thought it was a sure-fire thing.”
“There are no sure-fire’s, and you ought to know that by now.”

####

Charlie stood on the roof of the Lucky H, watching clouds roll lazily across the sky beyond the tops of the buildings surrounding the former bar. Beside him, kneeling either side, were two men bearing rifles against attack from anyone foolish enough to try and assassinate him. The madness of the past few weeks had to come to an end, but he needed – more than anything else – to be at the old bar one last time before it was demolished.
“I grew up here,” He pronounced to nobody in particular. Awareness of his solitude in such a crowded city did not prevent him from seeking reassurance. “This was the centre of the world, and the place I was reborn.”
Cyia stepped from the roof access, nervously looking around the buildings overlooking the bar. “Sir, we ought to be getting back before nightfall.”
“When is the demolition scheduled for?”
“Six in the morning, but I strongly suggest that yo-”
“I’ll wait a bit longer.”

####

Talos stretched out across the network, soaking up the reaction to the death of the vice president, planting enough seeds so that the proper authorities could – if they had enough of a push – make the connection between the two meme deaths. Fragments of code laid out like breadcrumbs for a lost child to follow in the night. His grand scheme, for so long a mystery even to himself, was beginning to coalesce into a solid concept. The details were still uncertain, especially when he tried to access information on who could have planted such thoughts so deep into his operating system, but he understood enough to begin preparing for every eventuality.

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NaNoWriMo: Enforcement

Posted by BigWords on November 6, 2009

Doogs pushed on the back of the hov as Charlie pulled what energy he could from the engine to keep it inches off the ground. Half an hour of pushing, cajoling and pleading with the uncooperative lump of carbon-fibre and metal had left Doogs desperate for another drink and Charlie exhausted. Talos surveyed the interior of the vehicle, making a list of the modifications, upgrades and repairs needed to make it operate again.
“It will be ready in approximately seventeen hours. In that time I suggest you both get some sleep.”
“Sleep, huh, and where’s a guy s’pposed to lay his head around heres?”
“The second floor has four rooms which will adequately perform the function of a dormitory.”
“Th’ folks that made ya oughta consider creatin’ some a youse that speak English.”
Talos processed the jibe, but refused to respond.

The parts of the hov emerged from under the axis and inside the hood rapidly, and as each part was altered Talos put it to one side, constantly tinkering with the settings of the vehicle. Doogs had not taken the suggestion of retiring to the first floor, and slept in the bar, his head on the counter. Every so often he shifted in his sleep, threatening to fall to the floor. Charlie had disappeared upstairs.
“Hey Doogs, you in here?” The banging on the front door of the bar was as subtle as his type knew.
Talos stopped what he was doing – people had arrived at the bar for the drunk man sleeping off his evening’s inebriation.
“We have to talk Doogs, you know that.”
Talos laid his tools aside and began walked through to the front of the bar.
Doogs opened his eyes. “Wha- Ohshit, them’s the King’s enforcahs.”
“I will take care of this situation. Please go upstairs and see that the boy remains safe.”
Doogs thought about running, but the protection against any continued attention from thugs who wanted to extort money from him overwhelmed any desire to be rid of the robot. He realized, as he managed his way up the stairs, that he would be better served hanging around with the boy and the bronze man.

Talos opened the door. “How may I be of assistance to you gentlemen?”
The cyclops laughed, while his companions stood guard.
“When did Beanie get himself an artificial? I have to say this, youre probably the ugliest piece of tech on the block. Now, excuse me while I have a word with the drink-slinger.”
“Mr. Beanie is no longer the proprietor of this establishment.”
“Yeah. Since when?”
“His services were terminated earlier today.”
“I’ll still need to speak to him. We have a matter to discuss about one of the bums that hang out here. Moneys are owed.”
“I apologize, but I cannot permit you to enter.”
The muscle accompanying the cyclops stiffened, though they didn’t approach.
“And why can’t you do that.”
“The bar is under new management, and the right to refuse ent-”
The cyclops pushed forward, but was immediately halted by Talos.
“Please do not exacerbate the situation.”

Doogs slipped into the room Charlie had picked out, closing the door as quietly as he could behind him. The boy was sleeping. Doogs thought about waking him, but knowing how Talos had acted earlier when confronted made him think twice about rousing Charlie from his sleep. Seeing a cot in the corner of the room, Doogs made his way across and sat down, wondering if he would be killed first by the enforcers or by the crazed metal man who had invaded his life.

Talos held the suit’s wrist at an angle. “You are not welcome here.”
“Smoke this bucket of bolts,” The cyclops yelled.
Talos spun, launching the cyclops into the bar as his companions drew their weapons.
“This is what ya get for fucking with the Kings.”

Doogs listened as gunfire erupted beneath him. The boy stirred, but did not wake. The crashing and banging below continued for a moment before silence once again prevailed. The sound of metal being hit carried clearly through the floorboards, and soon footsteps began coming up the stairs. It would be the enforcers, Doogs thought – they’ve destroyed th’ robot, and now they’re gonna come up th’ stairs an’ put a bullet in me an’ th’ kids heads.

The door opened.
Doogs looked up, expecting to come face to face with the wrong end of a weapon. Talos stood silhouetted in the doorway. The cybeye of the enforcer clutched in his hand, blood dripping on the floor. It appeared the robot had taken even more damage in the fight, but it didn’t appear to be affecting his ability to frighten the life out of Doogs.
“I suggest you remain upstairs for the remainder of the night. I will continue repairs on the vehicle.”

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