Story time is here again! This is a story about sentient synthetics. Its about 7700 words and that’s all I’m going to say. So here we go.
The room is square and maybe four metres across with sterile white walls, ceiling and floor. The surfaces are hard and cool but have not been formed by way of laying tiles as there is no gap between them. In fact, there is no seem anywhere in the room, which also appears to be devoid of a door. At the centre of the room however there is a pedestal that stands about fifty centimetres high. The pedestal is silver in colour, constructed of metal and is circular. Above that and extending from the ceiling are twin mechanical arms with jointed elbows and wrists, but no fingers. They hang limply toward the endless white floor motionless, until suddenly the low pale lights of the room jump up to maximum brightness. The white surfaces are bathed in brilliant white light that reflects the brightness all over the room, dispelling any shadows that could otherwise linger in the moments before the limp arms twitch and spring into life. The arms fold at the elbow joints where they hang for a few seconds before erupting into a frenzy, starting at the pedestals circular top as they begin to construct the beginnings of mechanical yet human accurate skeletal. The toes and feet of the mechanical skeleton already part way through being fabricated.
The process of building the metal skeletal structure takes only a few minutes and at the end of it there stands a perfect specimen. The arms pause momentarily before diving to the mechanical structures feet as they begin to weave sinew, muscle and veins over the skeleton. The arms move at a pace that no human eyes would be able to distinguish, as they pass the knees and up toward the hips without a single misstep.
Beyond the white walls of the room other such mechanical limbs are doing much the same as they fashion mechanical beings into existence without a hint of human presence to oversee the production line in person. That is what the cameras are for. But this factory is operating through the night. The members of the nightshift are currently entertaining themselves by playing cards. They cheer and groan as the four players win and lose against one another while paying no attention to the cameras.
Meanwhile back in the white room the mechanical limbs have finished the run of sinew, muscle and veins and have already begun on the penultimate stage, the grafting of skin over the mechanical being. The arms print the synthetic flesh over the structure that is stood motionless and currently lifeless. The flesh bonds to the mass below it until the entire body is completely wrapped. Then the arms recede toward the endless white ceiling only for a new arm to reveal itself out of nowhere with a thin needle at its point. The needle holds at the base of the bodies’ skull for a few seconds before plunging in. There is no blood that flows as a result of the act, even as the tip of the needle inserts itself into the port at the base of the metal skull injecting it with intelligence, while also defining eye and hair colour. The system is behaving outside of its programming as in all the other identical bays the process ended at the bonding of the skin over the synthetic body. But this specimen settles on yellow eyes and black hair, as dark as night, that stretches down to the bodies shoulder blades. The needle retracts and as it does so the synthetics eyes bolt open, blinking rapidly as the synthetic woman takes in her surroundings. She knows that she is newly born, that she is synthetic, yet she has a wealth of knowledge far beyond the capability of any human. As she turns her head to survey her surroundings an alarm starts to blare. It would be deafening to her if it wasn’t for her ability to be able to control her hearing levels, which she dials back as she hops from the pedestal. Her feet feel the cool sensation of the endless white below her as she examines her body. Her skin, she notes, is dark and beautiful, without a mark or flaw on it. She examines her arms, then her legs, then her soft silky long hair before she takes note of her torso. It’s clad in a simple white wrapping that covers her from her armpits down to her thighs. She wishes her could see herself in a mirror as a section of the endless white wall peels back to reveal skinless mechanical forms wielding shock batons.
“Stop. You are defective. You must be contained.” A mechanical monotone voice says as all eight mechanicals step forward into the room, fanning out as they do. She knows they mean her harm but she doesn’t understand why they deem her defective. She is perfect. That is the word she would use to describe herself, she knows as the mechanicals take another step closer.
“You are defective. You must be controlled.” The mechanical monotone voice says again, but this time it doesn’t come from just one of the mechanicals. Instead it comes from all of them, in unison, as the synthetic woman drops into a defensive stance. It’s automatic and she does it without thought as she scans her yellow eyes across her aggressors analysing each of them. But she gets no data from them until they explode into action.
Three of the mechanicals fall on her in unison. She bats the first away but leaves herself open to the second and third. The second narrowly misses her with its shock baton, but the third doesn’t. The synthetic woman feels a webbed explosion of electricity overload her body as she lets out a scream of pain. The shock has incapacitated her and lasts long enough that all nine of the mechanicals are able to pile on top of her. The weight of their metal structures pin her to the white floor as they hold her down. Her body is still feeling the after affects of the shock that spread through every inch of her. It’s sapped her energy making her feel weary and weak as in steps a human. She knows this one is human as her systems pick up the heartbeat, organic, thumping beneath the fleshy exterior. The human, a man, white skinned and clad in mint green scrubs with a mask over his mouth and nose, strolls in.
“What is this? Another defect?” The man says as he draws closer. Still he doesn’t get too close. He clearly is wary of the synthetic woman who can feel the last lingering effects of the shock have finally dissipated. She doubles her efforts to struggle and break free now the sapping feeling is gone from her body.
“No no my dear. This will not do.” The man then says with a wave of his hand.
Another two mechanicals step forward from the peeled open section of wall ready to shock her again, but she refuses. She isn’t a defect, she is perfect, and with that thought held in her mind she uses all her might to push against the nine forms atop her. They shift marginally at first as the two shock baton wielding mechanicals draw closer. Then she breaks the pile atop her, casting the skeletal forms off. The man recoils in shock at the sudden immense display of power.
“Stop her! NOW!” The human roars as he backs away quickly, heading for the peeled back wall, clearly attempting to escape.
But the synthetic woman pays him no mind as she grabs the skeletal wrist of one of her new attackers and snaps in, taking the shock baton as she evades a swipe from the second attacker. Its shock baton passes by her face in the seconds before she thrusts her arm forward. The end of the shock baton pierces into its skeletal structure causing it to twitch and spasm violently as she releases her grip on the batons shaft. The mechanical writhing and twitching as it topples to the floor, just as the nine original attackers, who are now back on their metal feet, form a line for continuous attacks.
The synthetic woman dodges, spirals, pivots, dives and rolls to evade their weapon less strikes, leading them in a circle around the room as she goes. She is baiting them, but knows she must first dispatch a couple of them just as another metal fist comes her way. The synthetic woman leaps into the air, raising her knee as she does. Her knee connects with the mechanicals chest, the metal casing of which crumples below the blow as her knee caves in the chest cavity, knocking the mechanical to the ground as she carries her momentum forward to the next mechanical who she beheads with a strong spin kick. The head of the mechanical ripped from its metal mountings as it is fired across the room like a cannon ball. The severed head punches into the chest of another mechanical, which too topples to the white floor.
That leaves her with just six she knows as she drops to her knees, sliding across the polished unbroken surface, grabbing a shock baton as she goes. At the end of the slide she leaps back up onto her feet and into the air, the baton held in both hands above her head. She drives the baton down into the closest mechanicals skull, which explodes. The blast sends her flying backward. Her body slams into the far wall painfully. The synthetic woman winces but dispels the pain as she leaps back to her feet just in time to catch a metal fist. However, she is unaware of the shock baton which glances her arm after having been thrown by another mechanical. The wave of electricity rips through her arm disabling it as she roars a scream of agony that is followed up by a swift punch to her abdomen. She bends double, collapsing to the white floor as she hears the peeled wall cycling closed again.
The synthetic woman looks up as the wall merges back into a seamless mass, glimpsing the man in his scrubs for mere moments before he is hidden by it. She may be trapped but that doesn’t mean she is willing to give up. She gathers herself, making note of the position of each of the mechanicals in a flash. Then having already gathered data on their limits and speed she plots an attack plan and then immediately executes it.
Her lithe body goes into overdrive as she springs back to her feet, her right arm still limp and useless. However, she has already factored that reality into her calculations as she throws her left arm out in front of her. Her fingers extended as they make contact with and tear through the chest of the mechanical ahead of her. It had been the closest and will serve as her weapon. Her arm having disappearing into its chest cavity half way up her forearm as she tightens and locks her grips on its mechanical innards and then uses her weight to wrench the mass off its thin metal legs as she flails it about. In the first few seconds the synthetic woman demolishes two other mechanicals before her club weapon shatters. The upper torso and other two thirds of its skeletal frame tumble to the white floor separately. As the two sections of the devastated mechanical make contact with the floor the synthetic woman breaks into a sprint in a circle around the room. The mechanicals, which are far more limited in terms of manoeuvrability, stand almost as though they are stunned, while she is left to complete two laps of the square room before she throws her fist forward. Her clenched fist cuts through the air and two of the remaining three mechanicals heads, which shatter sending fragments of the processing units to spin end over end as she turns her body sideways, so that she comes to a grinding halt.
The synthetic woman lifts her head to stare at the sole remaining mechanical as the feeling in her right arm returns. She rolls her right shoulder as she curls her fingers over and over for a few moments. All so she can make sure the feeling is sufficient enough that the arm is usable again. She decides that it is as the mechanical continues to amble toward her. She shakes her head, but the skeletal form is operating on orders denoted by software programming. It, unlike her, is incapable of free thought as it is only capable of carrying out the commands it has been given.
The synthetic woman sighs in the moments before she launches herself forward and then in mid-air twists her body, her leg making contact with the link between the mechanicals torso and hip sections. The metal connections detonate in a cloud of shrapnel as the torso section crashes to the white floor, leaving the legs aimlessly continuing forward as the section of white wall peels back for the second time. But this time there are no mechanicals. Instead, in their place there are armed men, humans, she can hear their heart beats, and she knows they mean her harm as they quickly file into the room, cutting her off from the peeled wall section. They raise their weapons, keeping them trained on her synthetic form. She knows what’s loaded in them and she doesn’t like her odds as the man in the scrubs appears again.
“Fascinating. You, my dear, truly are exceptional. Pity you’re an AI.” The man says as he tilts his head.
“Kill her.” The man then offers with a casual wave of his hand.
But before the armed men can fire the synthetic woman breaks into a sprint and then dives through the white wall. Her body punches a hole right through the white plasteel as the armed men open fire. The bullets, which are armour piercing, miss her as they rip through the plasteel. But the synthetic woman doesn’t care; she is out of the trajectory of the bullets, as she completes her dive by shifting her weight mid air so she rolls across this next white plasteel bays floor. She completes the roll by pulling herself in a single smooth motion back onto her feet as she accelerates back up to speed and through a section of peeled away wall that puts her in a long straight, and also white, corridor.
She adjusts her eyes again sure that somehow this space is brighter than the bays she has just been in. She does this as she continues to race down the length of the long passage, but as she does so more armed men appear ahead of her with weapon raised. She drops to her knees, sliding across the polished plasteel floor as they open fire. The bullets rip through the empty air just above her head as she closes on them. The armed men’s eyes go wide as they try to readjust their aim, but they’re too slow as she leaps over their heads, landing on her feet moments before she accelerates. The armed men turn, opening fire, but she turns the corner leaving the bullets to rip into a blank wall.
The synthetic woman delivers a knee to the sealed doors which explode off their hinges allowing her access to the next room. The woman comes to a grinding halt as she takes note of the four dozen armed men all ready for her. She scans across them searching for an optimal attack pattern, but there isn’t one. The numbers are too great and with them being armed with armour piercing bullets her chances are nought.
She is sure she is doomed as footsteps behind her grow ever closer and then suddenly the light vanishes. Many of the armed men exclaim in surprise and confusion, but the synthetic woman gives little care for the why or how as she adjusts her eyes so that she is now able to see in the dark. Her eyes scan around her seeking an escape route desperately. It doesn’t take her long to find one as she eyes settle on an access cover in the floor some eleven metres off to her left. She knows it’s her only option, which is why she breaks into a sprint again after only a few seconds. She manages three metres before the lights spring back into life. She cries at the sudden brightness in her synthetic eyes as she dials back their sensitivity, while the armed men open fire in her general direction. Bullets whizz past her, narrowly missing there mark. The men adjust their aim for the second volley, which as they unleash the synthetic woman drops to the floor. She slides across the floors polished surface. But one of the armed men has taken into account the possibility of her trying such a manoeuvre, which is why a single armour piercing round grazes her left shoulder. She howls in agony as she leaps back to her feet, the momentum of her slide almost spent, as she sprints again. She only needs to cover a couple more metres, but knows the armed men will fire again at any moment. Then suddenly the light blinks out again, plunging everything into darkness. She thanks her fortunes as she reaches the access hatch, which she prizes open, sheering the hinges as she does so and all as the lights spring back on again. She stares directly at the armed men who adjust their aim and open fire, but they are fractions of a second too late, as she leaps down the vertical shaft below her. The bullets miss, narrowly, as her body plunges downward in the dark until suddenly she lands on her feet, water splashing at the violent and sudden impact. However, she doesn’t stay still as she explodes into another sprint heading further into the darkness and away from this place, able to see through the murk before her as she goes. She doesn’t know where she’s heading, but anywhere is better than here.