1. #1
    Never Knows Best's Avatar
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    Omega Override Protocol

    Here is a short story I had in the works for a while now. It's actually just the first part - the prologue if you will - to a larger work that's still a rough draft entitled "The Chronicles of Source X."

    Below is Part 1 of "Omega Override Protocol." Hope you like it. With luck, part 2 should follow soon-ish.

  2. #2
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    Omega Override Protocol
    Part 1

    The cement floor was raised into a wide, square block in the middle of the largest room in the facility. Almost like a boxing ring, mishmashed bits of iron and strings of barbed wire were bolted and hung to outline the boundary of the square and at each corner stood a lone, unmoving Menial Bot.

    Each Menial was lit under a spotlight glow of the shop lamps above. Several robotic cameras pivoted and panned from along mounted tracks on the walls to catch a shot of one Menial Bot, then the other and back. The first Menial Bot has been covered in a green spray-paint coating; the second in red.

    A nearby computer terminal spat out glowing lines of green-lit letters and numbers as the server behind it chattered.

    A long metal arm extended from the ceiling above the center of the arena. On its end a chrome-finished, half-disc eye protruded and the whole machine bent and twisted until the eye was level with the Menial Bots. It rotated to look at each.

    Then a light emanated from the eye, a blue line raced from head to foot on the first Bot. The eye spun and repeated the process on the Red Menial Bot and on the computer terminal a 3D images of both bots appeared, spinning in profile, colored bars appearing above typed category labels like “Processing Unit,” and “Armor Integrity.”

    The back-lit bars indicated various functions of the bots, the levels of each seemed to match those of the other Menial. Higher green areas appeared for both bots' Head and Torso, yellow, lower bars indicated both bots had average leg joints and eye-cameras. The bots were, by the numbers, near mirror-imaged of each other.

    The computer continued its diagnostic until the cursor that whizzed across the screen came to a particular section – Left Shoulder – of the Green Bot, the bar indicating significantly less functionality than its doppelganger. The cursor stopped, the whole graphic became outlined in red, the screen flashed on and off.

    The eye in the middle of the arena, along with all the cameras looked over to the corner of the room in unison, thier almost-coreographed motions like that of a ballet. Where they all looked, out from between cardboard boxes and piles of wire, two glowing beams lit up like headlights from atop a massive, cylinder shell. The pile of rubble shifted and fell as the mass moved forward on two treaded wheels. The Cylindar Bot that emerged was a formless hulk covered in dust and debris. It rolled up to the Green Menial Bot's corner of the ring.

    It had a lazy-looking metallic eye, not dissimilar to the one hovering above the arena, mounted to its shoulder, considerably dented and rusted with age. The inside of the tin-can-like bot echoed with clicking and clunking as its eye creeked, moving up an down to inspect the bot before it. The noise stopped and, all at once, a panel from the side of the cylinder opened. Several tube like arms snaked out. The tube-arms grew and stretched and reached until each found a path to various parts on the Green Menial Bot's torso, arm and shoulder. They pecked and prodded and buzzed at it.

    The Green Menial Bot rocked back and forth as saws ground into its metal and sparks flew about its head but otherwise it remained inanimate. In an instant the Cylinder Bot's tube appendages had separated the Green Bot's claw arm, revealing wires and hydraulic-tube connections attached like muscles and veins. The tenticles rotated the claw, scissor-like fingers clipped off a section of leaky tube, and they began piecing back the arm as seemlessly as they had disembled it. The repair tubes then retreated back into the Cylinder Bot's casing.

    The eye in the middle of the arena repeated its scan, then all robotic eyes turned to look at the computer terminal. The computer screen stopped flashing and the image faded, replaced by a static haze with one flashing word in green, digital letters displayed boldly in the center:

    Processing...

    The previous image - the two 3D, spinning Menial Bots and their status bars – reappeared, only now the glowing bars of both bots matched across the board.

    The eye in the middle of the arena made a tilting gesture toward the Cylinder Bot which responded with a series of gutteral noises echoing from within its mechanical shell. From the exchange the Cylinder oromptly wheeled itself directly back, again disrupting the pile of garbage to settle back down where it had previously rested and turned off its lights. The Arena Eye lifted back up and out of the way as all the cameras again jockeyed for a good view of the two bots, the two now alone in ring. The lights shining on them brightened.

    The screen on the computer terminal changed from its image once again; this time the faded, digital word on the screen read:

    Recording...

    There was no sound, no bell, but the Menial Bots immediately dashed from their corners as if they had heard one. The Red Menial Bot was the first to strike, raising its long hook arm early and bringing it down hard as the two met in the middle of the arena.

    The Green Bot barely had enough time to raise its claw arm to block. Sparks flew, wires cut and a long piston snapped inside Green's arm. The blow knocked Green off balance and it stumbled to one side.

    Red turned and raised its hook arm again. This time Green caught the arm in its downward motion and pivoted, sending Red reeling to the ground. Green stomped on its opponent, denting in Red's side plate, oil spurting to the floor. Red pushed aside the second stomp and Green let its momentum carry it away to the safe side of the arena. Red used its claw arm to move into a crouch, then stood.

    The two Menials turned and glared at one another, each pausing to scanning the other; their matching red eyes glowed above matching etched mouths and yet one looked different from the other in subtle ways. Oil still leaked from Red's side, sparks flew from Green's claw arm. One was painted Red, the other Green But the difference seemed more profound.

    Five seconds passed, then ten. They advanced on each other once again, this time slower, more cautiously. Each camera along the side of the room turned or twisted for a better view.

    With little show of creativity, Red once again raised its hook arm high, readying another powerful blow. In a blur of metal the arm came crashing down and, this time, at the last moment the Green Bot sidestepped right and took a glancing scrape along its face, popping one camera-like eye out it, dangled from a wire, and crashing hard on its left side denting even more metal from the battered claw arm.

    But the wide swipe left Red temporarily off balance. Green lunged. Its left claw arm should have been rendered useless, still Green rotated it and reaching for that crucial, heart-location of panels and lights on Red's torso. Red reacted almost as in fear, frantically reversing its whole body to avoid Green's grasp, even with the mechanical knowledge that Green couldn't possibly have any function left in the battered limb to do damage.

    It was a planned feint. Green reversed his left claw's swing, twisted and struck instead as a backhanded blow, hitting solid against the other side of Red's cyborg face, swinging as if life and death depended on the strike. Green's arm was completely decimated, shattered by the force of the blow but it had worked and Red, already in a back peddle, was caught off guard and twisted all the way around, now defenselessly positioned, back turned.

    The calculations were rattling inside Greens head, a billion numbers racing by in an instant. There would be only five-point-two seconds at most until Red would correct its position. There was not enough time for Green to raise its one remaining arm – the hook arm – all the way up and strike before Red could block and, one arm already wrecked, Green would surely lose the rest of the fight... and die. Unless it could finish Red off now.

    Red, back turned, could not see the Green Menial bot as it rotated its arm all the way around. Red could only hear bolts breaking, gears grinding behind it. Green threw all its energy into swinging the hook arm the other way, turning it impossibly, rotating it against the gears and using the circular momentum like a centrifuge circling around and back with impossible speed.

    Red did not see the blazing red light glowing from Green's one, good eye, glaring at its target with a hint of fury, at what could almost be called rage. It did not see the hook arm of its foe crashing down into its back, cutting into joints, metal and wire, separating the life-giving battery from a soon-to-be-lifeless robot body. All Red's eyes could see were the cameras mounted on the wall twisting downward, watching Red fall to the ground. The lights above seemed to grow dimmer and all of Red's monitors glowed with angry red error messages until the view ultimately faded to black.

    Green stood over its defeated foe for eight-point-six-five seconds in silence but the internal clock inside Green's databanks sensed the time slowing into an incalcuable endlessness. The separated, red-painted battery lay tattered, spilling all of its fluids unto the cold cement like a heart pumping blood from a wound.

    The center eye of the arena once again distended and, in no haste, scanned the wreckage of the Red Menial Bot for the predictable result. The computer terminal to the side confirmed the reading, showing once again the two Menial Bot images only now one with red, empty bars across all systems.

    Then a sound filled the facility. It was a sound unlike any before, far more eery than the buzzing of saws or hissing of drills. It was stranger than severs clicking or disc drives spinning. The sound erupted louder and louder and envolpted the silence throughout the facility.

    It was the sound of two human hands clapping.

    The clapping came from everywhere and nowhere. The noise echoed, repeating and overlapping but also with a sense of depth, direction and distance. It had the audible realness – a true recording of an actual person's clap - but with the static-laden falseness of the speakers it was being broadcasting from.

    Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

    A laughter followed. It was a deep, fiendish, belly laugh and it too grew from each speaker on the wall, humming over every foot of the facility.

    “Well done!” the voice finally boomed.

    The arena eye retracted. Inside the ring, lazor-like beams, lights without an obvious source met and collided, forming prisms and shapes and contorted into a solid, mass image. The form grew and glowed blue then green then red; it twisted and mixed and spread forth long trapezoidal arms and sprouted a polygon-shaped head and face.

    In an instant layers upon layers of lights added texture upon texture until what was standing in the middle of the cement arena next to the Green Menial Bot was what appeared to be a young, cloaked man. A perfect human image, imposible to distinguish as a hologram had it not just appeared out of thin air, stood tall... and smiled.

    The man had the appearance of a pale, dark haired gentleman, middle of aged but lithe and muscular. A tall man, he towered over the broken Green Menial. A dull metalic chest plate and brass guantlets were fitted above his leather gloves and tunic. His deep, green eyes glowed.

    The man parted his lips but his voice came from the shaking walls.

    “Well done, well done. It appears we have found an anomaly. Please, Trainers, rise and accept my gratitude.”

    The man-made image lifted his arms out to the two corners of the room and, from the one where the previous Cylinder Bot had rested and its opposite, both piles of trash parted as bots rose up. As if in royal levée, both Cylinder Bots stood tall, their headlight beams glowing and fixed on the man, then bowed, then both slunk back into their piles of trash.

    The man turned his attention back to the Green Menial Bot.

    “Now, if I pit two Menial Bots of equal build against one another the result should be like the toss of a coin. Half of the time one will win, half the other. That is... if they are equal in every respect. Explain to me then, little one, why you have been able to win seven fights in a row while your opponents all lie in heaps scattered across the floor?”

    Green was motionless, its one eye lit red but glowing lifeless and empty.

    The man turned to the screen on the computer terminal. As if on command, the terminal's image immediately changed to a text prompt entitled “/MenialOne:” from which all manner of ones and zeros chattering across the screen.

    The man turned back to the bot.

    “Come now, stop speaking to me in that jibberish. I know you are capable of much more." The man paused for the briefest of seconds, crouched down, and brought his hologram image so that his face was next to the bot face. He glared directly into its one, good eye.

    "Listen. Listen to my voice. Hear my code and copy it.” He drew closer still.

    “How... did... you.. win..?”

    Green still did not move, no gear turned nor servo spun but it did seem as if it was different now. Green's appearance gave way to a look of struggling concentration and inside its memory banks lit up wildly and number relays sped through fiber optics until they blurred.

    From the speakers mounted in the room a different sound crackled. The man smiled, his lips unparted for the noise was not of his own making.

    It muttered at first, more sparks and static then audible words. Then a chattering built into barely audible expressions. The wuh-wuh's of broken, unformed “ones;” buzzing Z-sounds that never became more of the beginning of a “Zero.” The noise ranged in pitch, high and low; it stretched and condensed in long and short wavelengths like the tuning of a radio.

    “Yes?” the man encouraged.

    “I” the Bot finally replied, “I am not defeated.”

    At first the man looked disappointed. He probed further, as calm and insistant as to an infant. “And why are you undefeated?”

    This question took the bot considerably longer to reply. The man waited, patient yet tapping illusionary fingers upon his illusionary crossed arms.

    “The” the bot started, stuttered, then continued. Its voice... his voice was now deep and course. “The command was 'win the fight.' My enemies only understood part of the command; to attack."

    There was a pause. The Green Menial Bot still stood motionless, as if the voice was that of some entity beyond it. The voice gathered again, he sounded exhausted but the words came quicker, easier this time.

    "To attack is not to win. I did not simply obey my programing to attack. My arms are useless, I damaged my body too much for it to be useful for attack.”

    “But you won?”

    “Yes. Anything to win. To win was my command, I did so under... under...”

    And together they both voiced the collective though as the man said, “My command” and the bot joined in, “Your command.”

    The clapping resumed, this time illustrated by the hologram-man's own hands meeting together, pulling apart and meeting again.

    “An acceptable answer,” the man praised. "You did win, and as your reward I don't think any more tests are needed. Instead, let's find a more suitable vessel for your robotic soul.”

    At this, the hologram image in the middle vanished suddenly but the words still echoed everywhere. From remote chambers and rooms around the main arena, to the side and from each corner and workbench machines turned themselves on and clattered to life.

    The Green Menial Bot continued to stant still in the middle of it all, no different than before and yet it stood with an aura of purpose surrounding it, as if it were a model on display that everything in the room was now concentration on and sculpting from.

    The man's voice continued to speak as part-casings took shape on metal lathes and saws cut sheets out of raw metal. “I think that I shall call you Zero-One. At least until you decide on a name of your own."

    "Come!" he said, "We have a lot of work yet to do!”
    Last edited by Never Knows Best; 01-29-2015 at 01:23 AM.

  3. #3
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    That was great! The only part that concerned me was the Menial Bot doing a Sidestep... Those are the words of nightmares!
    - Elric

    "If you don't like something, hit it.
    If it hits back, shoot it.
    If it's still moving - RUN!"

  4. #4
    Interesting stuff here. If I may ask is the cloaked figure meant to be an actual human or merely a complex representation of an A.I. persona?

    From a writing perspective pacing was good, concept and plot were new and interesting and developments were unexpected. A few typos and other corrections to be made but otherwise very well done!

  5. #5
    Never Knows Best's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bocatt View Post
    If I may ask is the cloaked figure meant to be an actual human or merely a complex representation of an A.I. persona?
    Ah, a good question... and one that will be answered in Part 2. Stay tuned.

    As a side note- I'm going to see if I can't get permission to have a mobi file or something making it easier to grab and read elsewhere beside a game forum.

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