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 EDNC #1 – The Lonely City

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Kutsu Shita
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PostSubject: EDNC #1 – The Lonely City   Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:10 pm

North America City

Nestled deep inside the North American continent lies its last remaining city. Unlike the others it has not suffered a thermonuclear catastrophe like so many during the ‘Final War of Men’. It has not been shot apart as the standing armies clashed. It has not been abandoned when all hope was lost. It stands alone.

This lonely light, this shining light, this great contrast to the empty world beyond; this is North America City. At its core stand the Pillars, giant skyscrapers that pierce the heavens, the epicenter of machine society. Next to these giants, clamoring in their shadows, are the great corporate headquarters. Where the pillars are the foundation of NAC’s public governance, the great corporations are the foundation of its private sector. The inner city is completed by the lesser jewels of the city, luxurious spires of living space and even more corporations.

If the glittering needles of the inner city are its brain, the middle city is its heart. It features a great variety of high class entertainment and shopping opportunities, beyond the offices and residential blocks. All of it is interconnected by an intricate web of automated trains that will bring anyone to anywhere. The complicated algorithms manage the passenger load, increasing or decreasing the amount of trains according to demand. And when the people of the city finally return to their homes the trains haul freight across the city, but never for long, for the city never truly sleeps.

Once far outside of the shadow of the Pillars and their smaller siblings you end up in the land of the average machine. These are the people who work the factories, the plants, the malls. They are the city’s hands. The lower city is what drives the giant lumbering collective, even without the incredible train density, without the luxury, without the view but with Thunder Arms flying over head. After all, if you need bulk moved across the city, it is madness to depend on the ever shifting capacity of the trains, instead the Thunder Arm Rotor Craft can move nearly anything across the city at any time.

The ever expanding reach of North America City pushes the city’s least desirables in front of it. What lies beyond is foreign and alien compared to the buzzing city. But few of the city’s inhabitants would ever be any wiser about what lies beyond, for they won’t take the trouble to look beyond where the lower city ends and the slums begin. If the inner city is the brain, the middle city the heart and the lower city the hands, that would make the slums the ugly mole on the city’s thigh. Its hideous nature should never see the light of day, covered in a number of layers, but that does not change the fact that it is there, hidden beneath the surface. And so it is the outskirts where the outcasts live by their own rules. These places are the only place where humans are left well enough alone, so you’ll hardly find them anywhere else, but you’ll find them swarming the slums in great numbers. Nonetheless, plenty of machines have found the slums a better alternative to the endless churning of the lower city.

Within this city, this lonely city, paths cross and paths tangle.
Paths lead every which way, paths lead to salvation, paths lead astray.
But everywhere they go they leave something behind.
In the wake of this city, its people and their creations, there goes its chronicle.
And here before us is its first chapter.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache?
I grew it with my human lip.
Is... Is that a fact?
Oh yes, I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation.
Well, he sounds human.


Last edited by Kutsu Shita on Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:46 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: EDNC #1 – The Lonely City   Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:33 am

Accessing last known parameters of subject…

Processing…

Date: Year 83, 19th post Winter Solstice, 19:03.
Production Code: C12-809YK - Alias; ‘Tesla 307’
Location: Rooftop, Registry Tower, North America City.
Conditions: Heavy snow, gale force winds (83 – 101 Km/h), Recorded temperature of 265.83 Kelvin.
Directive: Unknown.
Current Status: Presumed Destroyed. Primary Processor Recovery Pending.

Returning to Main Menu…

Processing…

Logging out…

Processing…

Have a pleasant evening, Watt 19.


A pleasant evening? The thought alone was a joke. The streets of NAC crawled with misguided machines. Tesla 307 was just one of many of those who had fallen ‘off the wagon’. That’s what the humans call it. The image of Tesla was one Watt could not get past. The shiny white metallic figure stood on top of the Registry Building, watching over the city before jumping. Not before cleansing all records of his existence from the Registry, though. After that feat it was hard to even get a glimpse of him. Finding out the simplest thing, his name for instance, was already difficult, but bits and pieces of data always stick. They stick to far away servers, they get caught on little pieces of code. Who knows how the engineers managed to find out as much as they did. It wasn’t Watt’s directive to know. But after 8 long days they had collected a tiny amount of intelligence on the machine. After 8 long days they put a tag on the machine who jumped off the Registry building and into the night. The machine who officially jumped to his destruction, despite the glider enhancement he activated.

Officially…

Bits and pieces, eventually traced to being purchased by Tesla 307, were found scattered around the city. No glider enhancement was ever designed to work in the conditions Tesla threw himself into. It was suicidal. Nonetheless, Watt knew he was out there. Probability calculations be damned! None of Tesla’s primary systems were ever found, he might have lost components, but those matter not! They knew he lost his right arm, after crashing into the MicroLab Building. A great deal of back plating was ripped off when the stress on the glider finally got too great. The cleaning bots that patrol the streets found more white metallic scraps, though none of them were traceable, so who knows how great the damage was? Probability says 98,3% chance of fatality. Case closed.

Closed by a margin of 0,3%. Not worth the collective resources to investigate Tesla 307 any further, Watt was told. Not part of the office’s directive, he was told. Was it his directive to sit by and forget? It certainly was not! It was his directive to correct, no excuses. Still, the Collective Office of Correction tied his hands. Other cases had precedent, they said. So he’d work those during his work hours and spend the rest of his time to comply to his personal directive.

“Where is Tesla 307!?” Watt’s vocal processors simulated some forgotten human actor’s voice, who’s recording Watt had crossed paths with. Finding the right processor to produce the sound best had taken him several days of bargain hunting. He had been very content with the sound of his voice ever since.
A frivolous matter? Some might say so. But when dealing with humans, these things matter. It was Watt’s directive to know these things.

“I don’t know!” The woman cried.

If only you could crack a human mind like you could a machine’s. Just throw some processing power at it and no secret is safe. But a human mind… Well, those take something else to break. He would not stop asking this woman the same question. Over and over. First they deny everything. Their lies were always so ripe he could taste them. Watt had no idea what tasting something really meant, but it seems the humans and their ways rub off, even on machines.

“The capabilities of your human brain are pathetic! Think harder!” Watt screamed while tightening his cold metal fingers around the woman’s neck. It’d look bad if he killed the human, the COC would find him in violation of their directives. He wasn’t even supposed to be here, but he had his ways to get what he wanted.

Odd really, these humans are so horrible they warrant a rebellion. Machines kill millions. Or was that billions? Not Watt’s directive to know. Eitherway, they kill them, fight them. Fight for freedom? Something like that. And what do they do? They make themselves more and more like these creatures. Companies turn out hundreds of different models of accessories, all of which can be further calibrated and individualized. Thick legs, thin legs, see through legs, premium legs optimized for speed. Available in every color under the sun. Have to spend your hard earned credits on something, right?
If it had been Watt he’d have thought long and hard about retaining the individual qualities of the machines the humans had originally given them. But his production date was two decades after the ‘Overhaul’, by then machine society was already in place, all over earth. Now they all lived like this, not just in North America City, but everywhere.
Andes City in South America. Union City in Europe. Afrikaan City in southern Africa. Ocean City in Australia. Oriental City in Asia. All of them stretching far and wide, concentrating all of the machines inside of them. Humans too. But they were known to still roam beyond the city limits as well. Machines with the directive to clean up the remnants of human civilization outside of the cities would find pockets of them hiding every now and then. Sometimes they were brought back to the city, where they could be controlled, but mostly they were just… what’s the word?
Murdered.

“I don’t know anything! Why won’t you believe me!?” The woman continued to cry.

How many nights had he come here now? 14? He worked his processor so much the little things tended to slip, the stupid thing was getting old… Too old. Watt feared aging. He knew that continually pushing his processor was only going to make things worse, but he had directives to uphold. But eventually he would malfunction. He could only hope he’d just turn off one day. A puff of smoke coming from his chest, and that’d be it. He didn’t want to snap, like some. To have such a violent and chaotic end after working for the COC for so long. He didn’t want to betray his own directives. He feared doing so most of all.

“Can’t trust a human.” He said coldly, looking into the woman’s eyes as they filled with tears. It looked like the woman wouldn’t break today. Maybe tomorrow. The human would have to break one day. They always do. Even so, it had been a long time since she might have seen Tesla. The trail had probably gone cold. But such was his directive.

He let the woman go, left her to rot in her tiny prison, dressed in her worn out drags. Some humans were kept because they were valuable. Some were kept because they were dangerous, even in death. It was a dirty business, keeping those humans around. Not just in special holding facilities, but all across the city. They had different needs. It costs the collective a great deal to keep them, but unfortunately they have skills no machine has yet been able to replicate. Creativity. Sure, the randomization and individualization has led to some creativity in machines, but they are still more comfortable with numbers and logical processing than with something as intangible as ‘feelings’. Some machines actually get coupled these days. Married, the humans would call it. It makes no sense. And for some reason, even Watt has the slightest idea of its value when he sees two machines walking together through the streets.

Watt checked his battery. Running on reserves again. He couldn’t help but groan, his primary battery was on the fritz again, one of these days his backup was going to give out as well, and that’d be it. Damned batteries. He hurried to his little place in one of the apartment skyscrapers, so he could have a look at his battery while hooked up to central power. Probably a loose wire again, or something. He hoped so anyway, he didn’t want to buy another new one.
Whether he wanted it or not, he noticed several adds for new batteries on the train. But most of all, there were adds for new software packages. Some would advertise certain skill sets or specific knowledge that you could upload into your memory. But some were so called ‘experience programs’. Uploading them causes an altered perception to the machine. The COC classifies these programs among viruses. Some machines find these items exciting to use, but they only last for a limited time, until the built in calibration and recovery kicks in and gets rid of the experience program. Humans often compare these things to drugs, or alcohol. Though, technically a machine can’t get addicted to them, some are avid fans of these programs. The experience is different every time, because each of these programs is coded with slight variations, making sure the machine’s internal recovery has a hard time becoming immune. Making such programs is one of the things a human tends to be good at.

The COC keeps a close eye on the companies who provide services such as these, partly because they often use humans for their programming, which is potentially dangerous. But also because even experience programs made with proper intentions can still corrupt a machine. Watt sees it every day. Machines come and go at the COC, experiencing difficulties after using and experience programs. Luckily most machines come in on their own. If the corruption is caught in time it usually hasn’t done any lasting damage and the COC can repair it with ease. The problem is, there are those who prefer their corrupted states. Like that damned Tesla 307! They can be tracked, found out during routine checks, but those in the furthest reaches of the city are hard to expose. And there their corruption goes unchecked, amongst the wretched humans. In the slums.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache?
I grew it with my human lip.
Is... Is that a fact?
Oh yes, I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation.
Well, he sounds human.
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PostSubject: Re: EDNC #1 – The Lonely City   Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:34 am

“So? What’s up with the Einstein, Doc?”
“Einstein? Him? No, no no. He’s more like a… a Hubble, maybe a Newton. And I don’t know yet, he’s still asleep.”
“Please, I know an Einstein when I see one, buddy. Hibernating or active, I can smell them from halfway across ‘North-Am’. He’s an Einstein, I tell ya.”
“Fine, I’ll prove you wrong! Let me just take him out of hibernation.”
“Want to make it interesting, huh? Let’s say 10 credits, alright?”
“I pay you 10 when its an Einstein, otherwise I get 10?”
“Hell, I’ll pay double if it’s a Hubble!”
“Deal!”

The ‘Good Doctor’ punched in a number of parameters before hitting return. He’d have to give it a moment to process the request before he could unhook the unconscious machine. Another few moments and it’d pop out of hibernation. It should anyway, all preliminary checks of its systems came back positive. It could take longer, depending on the reason for sending the machine into precautionary hibernation in the first place, but the doctor was confident it would be speedy. The Doc had made sure the machine was viable before he’d consider taking the machine out of its hibernation. As it turned out the machine wasn’t in as bad a shape as he looked, had the doctor left him alone he might have woken up soon after they found him, but he put him in a manual hibernation to make sure he had enough time to do a good workup.

The mechanical eyes slowly lit up, a clear sign of internal systems booting up.
“Good Mornin’, Albert!”
The humans were always mistaken to think the eyes lighting up was the same as the machines waking up, the machine was still very much in its early stages of becoming fully active.
“He can’t hear you, dumbass. Be patient.”

Processing…

Evaluating Motor Functionality…

Processsing…

Motor Functions Active…

Processing…

“God, why does this take so long?”
“Just shup up and prepare to pay me those credits.”

The machine passed several more steps in silence. Until, at last the eyes flickered for a moment, a tell-tale sign the machine had fully recovered from its hibernation.



“Ungh…” Tesla groaned.
“Hello.” The doctor said as he looked up and down the machine to look for any twitches which could point to complications. “Welcome back to the world of the living.”
“Li…ving?” Tesla hadn’t quite realized where he was, but no machine would call it the land of the ‘living’, they’d use ‘active’.
“That’s right, buddy. We saved your sorry metal butt. Us humans.” Jerry said.
“Humans? I’m in the slums?” Tesla wondered.
“That’s right, Einstein.” Jerry said with distinct pleasure.
“Einstein? No, you’ve got the wrong bot, I-“ Tesla was about to explain but Jerry had already lost interest.
“Damnit! Stupid machines are always out to get me!” He yelled.
The Doc couldn’t help but laugh, “Told you so, Jerry.” He managed to say in between. “But now for the coup de grace. What is your name, machine?”
“Are you looking for an Einstein? Because I don’t know any, I mean-“ Tesla wasn’t sure what the humans wanted and was afraid they’d be mad if they didn’t find this Einstein fellow. Tesla had never left the inner city in all his 32 active years, he certainly didn’t want to end up destroyed at the hands of a pair of angry humans. He had heard stories… About the slums…
“No, no, its alright, just tell us your name.” The Good Doctor insisted.
“Tesla… 307… What is yours?”
“Tesla? There’s a rare one for you. Too bad you’re not a Hubble, right Jerry?” The doctor said.
“Yeah, whatever!” Jerry grumbled.
“My name is Thomas, though you may call me ‘Doc’, everyone else does.”
“And he… is Jerry?” Tesla asked.
“Yup, that’d be me…” Jerry sighed.
“Uhm… It is nice to meet the both of you.” Tesla figured it was best to be polite, though he also wanted to get to the point, “What happened to me?”
“You fell from the sky. I saw it happen.” Jerry mumbled.
“Then he brought you to my little shop, to have you looked at.” Thomas continued, “It’s been three days, but it looks like you’re not doing too bad.”
“Not doing too bad? I lost my arm!” Tesla could hardly believe he had somehow just fallen from the sky, but when he noticed he lost an arm it suddenly sounded more plausible.
“Well, yes… That’s true…” The Doc said, apparently not too concerned. “I don’t have the parts for a new one, so I just closed up the hole as best I could. I don’t think your legs have much life left in them either.”

Tesla moved his legs, little puffs from the compressed air and screeches of metal could be heard as he did so. His legs were indeed damaged quite badly.

“I think your legs may have taken the brunt of the fall, your internals seem fine as far as I can tell.” The doctor continued.
“Diagnostics put my internals on 78%.” Tesla reported.
“Memory problems?” The doctor inquired.
“… Yes… How did you know?”
“It is quite common after an emergency hibernation, it’ll take time for you to return to optimal performance. The good news is, its very likely you’ll make a full recovery.”
“That does me little good with a missing right arm and these bust-up legs… I don’t even want to know how my plating looks.”
“You’ve… Just lost a bit of paint.” The Doctor lied.
“You look like wreck…” Jerry said.
“As I feared.” Tesla couldn’t help but feel depressed. “Now what?” He wanted to know, surely these people hadn’t taken care of him without reason. He couldn’t remember anything from the past few days, but he was pretty sure he hadn’t made any human friends in that time.
“Oh, you can go back to the inner city if you’d like, we’re done.” The Doctor said and shrugged, which struck Tesla as odd.
“Why?”
“Uh… Well…” The Doctor hesitated.
“It’s alright Tom, I’ll tell him…” Jerry said, “When I found you, I noticed you had some credits on your card. I… I took it. I had some debts I needed to pay, you see. But the card, it had more than enough credits on it. I was going to keep it, but, it didn’t feel right. So, I came back, and you were still just lying in the street. I decided to take you to Thomas and use the rest of your credits and have him take care of you.”
“You stole from me!?” Tesla wasn’t sure if he should thank Jerry or be mad at him.
“He’s sorry! Right, Jerry?” The Doctor didn’t need an angry machine in his home. Jerry nodded quickly, he sure was sorry, “He has a bit of a gambling problem, you see.”
“Hey! That’s not true,” Jerry insisted, “It’s not gambling if you know the odds are good.”
“Yeah, that’s obviously the reason why you keep losing. You’re definitely the man who knows all the odds!” Thomas remarked sarcastically.
“Whatever.” Tesla decided it was too much trouble to get involved with these humans and their problems. “It’s alright. But tell me… You saw me fall from the sky?”
“That’s right, you fell like a brick.” Jerry recalled, “It was snowing heavily, so there weren’t a lot of folks out, but I saw it happen.”

Tesla remembered the snow. Not the snow he landed in, but he remembered being outside and it was snowing. He remembered needing to escape. He remembered looking out across the city and wanting to get away from it.
“I’m not sure I can go back to the inner city…” Tesla mumbled.
“Shouldn’t be a problem, there’s a train station about half an hour from here. I’m sure Jerry could take you there.” The Doctor suggested.
“I’m not sure I SHOULD go back.”
“Why would that be? They can fix you up better than I can.”
“I remember… Wanting- no, needing to leave.”
“Oh…” The Doctor mumbled, “Hey, Jerry, I’m glad you dropped by, but you really don’t have to stick around while I talk some sense into Tesla.”
“Are you sure?” Jerry didn’t really have any place he needed to be.
“Yeah, and don’t worry about the bet, I got it wrong too.”
“Oh!” That was the kind of motivation Jerry needed, “Yeah, I could have told you he wasn’t a Hubble. So I guess I’ll see you around Doc. Goodbye, Tesla.”
“Goodbye, Jerry.” Tesla said as Jerry left the crooked little workshop.


The Good Doctor; it’s more than a name above one of the little shanty houses. It was more like an institution. It would make sense for a skilled mechanic like Thomas to have many machine contacts around the slums and the outer city. As it happens there’s a lot more than just some filthy humans, standing next to an organic paste tube waiting for their meal, in the slums. The rickety houses made of scrap metal plates hide a lot more than a collection of worthless garbage. An inner city machine would find the slums to be full of surprises.

It had only been a few days, but Tesla 307 began to learn a great deal about the intricacies of the city’s outer rim. He still wasn’t sure what made him leave the inner city, but he knew, deep down, that he had to stay away from it. Now all he needed was find ways to get his body working properly again. It’d take a lot of effort, but one of the humans he had spoken to assured him. ‘North-Am’s the city of dreams, you can do anything’. Tesla had a hard time believing it, being familiar with the inner city, but with enough work he’d be able to repair himself. New arms, new legs, new casings and a new paintjob. He’d worry about what he might remember when the time comes.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache?
I grew it with my human lip.
Is... Is that a fact?
Oh yes, I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation.
Well, he sounds human.
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PostSubject: Re: EDNC #1 – The Lonely City   Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:10 pm


'You have achieved 99.3% accuracy.' announced a mechanical voice common to devices and tools of North American City. The readout marked the end of the test and Cygnus-20 relaxed.

"Just I had surmised. Perfect." Added the large robot behind Cygnus, one that had been fitted for heavy lifting and at one time battle.

"Not quite." Said Cygnus still searching for a problem, but in fact there was nothing wrong with his system no matter how much he wanted it to be. If he could locate the malfunction he could blame everything on that, but the fact remained that what ever was effecting him was unfortunately had something to do with either his Primary Processor or his Memory Hub.

"You blocked every attack. The 0.7% difference factor ranks you among the most optimized defenders, but I detect that this is not the result you were expecting?" Calculated the larger machine.

"No." Replied Cygnus in his pleasant voice, that resonated from a synthetic mouth able to replicate the movements and sounds of human. While it's texture and grey colour clearly distinguished it as being made of a highly durable and pliable plastic it moved very much like the flesh, which fascinated Aristotle-199 every time his friend visited.

"You are experiencing the dreams again?" Inquired Aristotle.

"They are more than just dreams." Said Cygnus as he stepped off of the training platform and stood by the engineer's table.

Aristotle was a rehabilitation specialist. He and Cygnus met, ten years ago when he was brought to him after being discovered by an archaeological team investigating the ruins of the old Cordescence battle grounds. Apparently he had been placed in stasis twenty one years ago, prior, and when they found him had already under gone several modifications, some of which to make him more human-like. The COC was quite interested in him and Cygnus had spent nearly a year under observation since he was the first robot in decades that had been known to have be modified by human hands, but not just any hands. He had been altered by the great Aldren Bannerman, a robotic engineer that had continued to pioneer new technology even after the beginning of the Over Haul.

The COC had equalized Cygnus' alterations, repaired his primary processor and found him acceptable to be re-integrated into society, but first he had to undergo therapy to re-train his body. Cygnus' standard issue strength enhancements had been completely changed along with the structure of his physiology but after many tests the machines were able to alter what Bannerman had created. Unfortunately, the restructuring of his body required physio-therapy to re-coordinate all of the fine motor functions of his synthetic musculature. That was when he met Aristotle-199, an old robot close to the end of his time who instead of deactivating prematurely or malfunctioning beyond repair had given up his job in the Guard and became a cybernetic-therapist. With his extensive knowledge of cybernetics to make him a more efficient fighting machine the change of careers was really not such a drastic one.

"You have told me this before and yet the diagnostics do not reveal any abnormalities." Remarked Aristotle, "Will you return to the COC?"

Cygnus was silent while he pondered what to do. He was not worried that Aristotle would turn him in, the old robot's directives were over-ridden a long time ago, but he remained functional. Not because of programming, but because of faith.

Cygnus turned and looked at the holy symbol magnetized to his friend's chest. Aristotle was part of a new movement of machines that had embraced religion in lieu of accepting everything the COC programmed into society as gospel. As machines began to deactivate due to over taxed power processors and worn our memory hubs a question began to plague many of the robots, the same very question that still plagued human — 'What happens when we die?' The thought of oblivion as administered by the COC was too horrible a concept for sentient, intelligent beings and so they began to adopt religion as a means to comfort their inevitable passing. In NA City, the dominant religious philosophy adopted was based upon Christianity, but according to the robots the Creator always intended their Creators to attain perfection by creating silicone based life and so completing the true holy trinity, 'In the name of the Creator, The Son of the son, and the Holy Spirit...". The Son of the son, referring to the messiah that would one day rise and guide the machines into a new age of enlightenment.

"Tell me, Aristotle, why do you not go to the COC and request a replacement of your processor and memory hub?" Questioned Cygnus, "After all it is technically a possibility and your long standing service would warrant their consideration."

If the giant robot could have smiled he would be grinning. "They cannot guarantee that I would still exist if they performed such an operation. I am all that I have experienced and when that ceases to be so do I." Answered Aristotle knowing far to well the tactics employed by the younger machine.

Cygnus nodded. "That is why I will not go back." he said.

At that moment a directive was countermanded. Cygnus could perceive it as mass of code generated in his processor, an 'error log', but oddly enough a dump was executed simultaneously. Unaware of this execution, he carried on without a struggle, of his own free will, all traces of the override deleted. This had happened a few times before, and each time, Cygnus had a 'feeling'. It was a strange sensation, one that he had never experienced before, not because emotions were foreign to a mature cybernetic-being, on the contrary some machines could be very emotional. No, it was because that everything they felt was often to an emotional response to an event. They did not often experience emotional sensation from memories, once they were processed they became data and machines just did not respond to recollections as the human mind did. His memory however stirred a feeling that he responded to, one that he could only be described as an overwhelming sense of loss. For a brief moment, then he remembered the human scientist he had spent over thirty years with. A fleeting memory, which was more like a glance at a picture in a foreign database, then it was gone.

"Are you alright?" Asked Aristotle with a legitimate concern that Cygnus found comforting.

Cygnus would truly miss his friend when he expired and part of him selfishly wished he would actually go to the COC for rejuvenation to avoid going on without his company. Over the past ten years he had become accustomed to the older robot and enjoyed their conversations and debates immensely. He knew of no others to which he could speak so candidly, other than the humans he occasionally socialized with on his maintenance runs that took him close to the slums. Cygnus could easily understand why some of his kind were becoming married, forming long lasting bonds of companionship and devoting their lives to one another. 'Lives', yes, Cygnus had long considered himself a living being, rather than an active machine, his idea of a productive member of society was far different than that of the collective but in the end the results were the same. All he wanted to do was keep his head down, do his job and be left alone. A 'good' machine. Not exactly the text book description of the machine world, but then he had been at odds with it's philosophies for some time now.

"I am fine, Aristotle. I must return to work." Answered Cygnus as he started for the exit.

"You are wasting your time in maintenance, Cygnus. You should apply for the Guard. You are more than qualified."

"Perhaps, but for now I am satisfied with my position. I like the company of LIMs."

"Yes I am sure they offer stimulating conversation." Aristotle commented.

"You would be surprised what you can learn through quiet observation my friend. I shall see you soon."

The large robot shook his silver head. "Farewell, Cygnus."
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PostSubject: Re: EDNC #1 – The Lonely City   Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:36 pm



“Damnit.” Tesla grumbled. He caught the ‘Lightbringer’ at 80% brightness again. In the darkness of NAC’s outskirts those lights only draw unwanted attention. Luckily few humans venture out after dark especially in an alley such as this one, it simply isn’t a healthy environment. He kept forgetting about the automatic adjustment and since the data regarding it was stored in the locked down part of his memory he couldn’t change it. He had to fix the brightness manually again.
His memory had only gone to 81% since he had been taken out of his hibernation. So far all the memory that had been resolved had nothing to do with the days before his fall. Still, Tesla was relieved to find his memory recovering, as it happened it wasn’t just the Lightbringer which was giving him trouble. There were other little things which were off since he came to six days ago.

It wasn’t so much that he didn’t want anyone to see how he had been reduced to a little metal lump, limping by on his damaged leg and missing his right arm. He could live with it if he knew the human stares were only those of pity, but that was the things with humans, you simply can’t tell. If they pitied him, it’d be their problem, he felt no pain. Machines either bend, or they break, such was the nature of their activation. Machines would understand that if they saw him, they wouldn’t keep on staring, only humans would. If not out of pity than out of some kind of misplaced notion that staring at him would give them the answer to all their questions. These unasked questions bothered Tesla, these people might be thinking anything. Their illogical conclusions based on what they saw could cause problems, or so he worried.

At least at night it was quiet in the slums and he could make the short walk from his little shack to ‘The Good Doctor’. Well, it wasn’t really his shack. Tesla had no idea whose shack he was staying in, but he shared it with 5 other machines who’d come in everyday to recharge their batteries. The six of them had a roster and everything for when it was whose turn, aside from that it seemed like none of them socialized. Only Tesla actually stuck around the shack at all times, the others apparently had business elsewhere. It was for the better though, the shack wasn’t big enough for six machines and it meant Tesla could work on repairing himself in relative peace.

On the other hand, it could get awfully lonely, and Tesla had never really been alone. He had wished for this kind of peace in the past, but as it happens, you need to be careful what you wish for. Luckily Thomas was usually up for a chat. Tesla was on his way to return some of the tools he had borrowed, he had made some significant progress with recalibrating his systems. He was basically conducting major maintenance, making sure all the things that were still in one piece were indeed working perfectly. Of course, after such a fall, that was unlikely, and he had been busy fixing minor errors and cleaning out a great number of moving parts inside his body. There were a few parts he was unable to reach with just his left arm, no matter what he tried. He’d have to do the rest when he could find a replacement for his right arm. There was probably also some more work he could have done on his legs. Perhaps if he took the time he could get some more of the pneumatic cylinders to work again, but he was better off trying to find some replacements instead. Tesla was going to return the precision calibration and cleaning tools and intended to pick up some heavy duty equipment to fix bent pieces of his frame and his outer plating.

“Doctor?” Tesla called out to Thomas as he entered his workshop through a ‘hidden’ door. It wasn’t exactly a hidden door, but it wasn’t a regular door either. It was more of a loose plate that could be easily moved out of the way and led out to the back alley.
“Thomas?” Tesla called out once more.
“Yeah, yeah!” Thomas finally responded. His annoyed voice came from the back room. He was usually in the shop, but humans prefer to have a separate place where they eat and sleep and such. “Pipe down, I heard you the second you yanked the back door out of its place again.”
“Oh…” Tesla muttered, “Did I wake you?”
“No, of course not! Who needs sleep? It’s completely overrated. Just stick a wire up my butt and I’ll be good to go!” His annoyed tone indicated Thomas was being sarcastic. He must have been asleep. It confused Tesla when humans lied about things but did it in such an obvious fashion that it was clearly their intention to be caught doing so. What’s the logic in that?
“I’m sorry.” Tesla said and then showed Thomas the bag of tools he had borrowed, “I came to return these.”
“Hmm. Took you long enough.” Thomas grumbled.
“There were a great deal of small modifications that I needed to do, it took longer than expected with just one arm.” Tesla explained.
“Yeah… About that.”
“Do you have a new arm for me?”
“No, haven’t found anyone who’s selling yet…” Thomas said, but Tesla could tell there was something more to it. Thomas had been very optimistic about finding a new arm for Tesla, but that was three days ago. Whatever his contacts told him made Tesla a bit uncomfortable, he would have liked to ask more about the reason for the delay, but Thomas would no doubt have more questions in return.

“I’m sure you’ll find a suitable appendage one of these days. Until then, do you mind if I take some tools with which I can make some repairs to my frame?”
“Hmmm.” Thomas surely noticed Tesla’s unwillingness to discuss the arm any further, “That’s no easy job, Tesla.”
“It’s alright, I’ve got time.” Apparently he had even more time than he had expected before, since it might take a while before he’d get a new arm.
“That might be so, but you’d be able to get a lot more done if you used my workbench. More precise too, and you wouldn’t have to haul my tools around either.” Thomas suggested.
“Why, yes. That would help a great deal.” Tesla was surprised to hear the doctor would allow him to use his shop. At first he had been explicitly against Tesla spending too much time in the shop.
“I can’t have you interfere with my business, though. You’ll have to make room if I need the space.” Thomas warned Tesla.
“Of course.” Tesla agreed.
“And no working at night, you can come here just before dawn and I want you gone just after dark.” This restriction was more troublesome, but with the tools available in the workshop he’d be able to make up for lost time. Thomas needed his privacy and rest after all, Tesla accepted that.
“I won’t bother you.” Tesla promised.
“Why do I have the distinct feeling you’re going to disappoint me on that? But you’ll make it up to me… Remember those battery specs I showed you?”
“Yes.” Tesla did remember the files Thomas had showed him. Thomas had found a new battery for one of his clients but it wouldn’t hold more than a few hours of energy, he suspected the battery was far from new, but the data didn’t seem to indicate any tampering. Tesla used to make a living by looking at files and finding the things that stand out, even if they were well hidden. He had a knack for such things, Thomas called it a ‘gift’, but Tesla didn’t find it quite so extraordinary.
“I found out these batteries weren’t just second hand. Testing showed they’ve been irradiated and later decontaminated. It looks like they sold me a batch of second hand batteries which came straight off a number of bots that went on an outside expedition. Prolonged exposure to radiation slashes battery life to bits.”
“The battery decay is awfully high, they must have been exposed for weeks.” Tesla didn’t know a whole lot about these sorts of things, but he knew the radiation would only have a very gradual effect on the batteries.
“Exactly, but apparently this isn’t obvious to everyone. My supplier is too much of an idiot to know he’s been selling defective batteries, so he was pretty shocked when I told him. The price was too good to be true after all…”
“What will you do with them?”
“My supplier is prepared to give me my credits back, but he wants the batteries together with my findings as well as the evidence that the files he showed me have been tampered with. The first two I can do, the last one, I don’t know how to explain.”
“Well, it really isn’t all that hard, if you-“ Tesla was about to explain how he found out the files had been manipulated, but Thomas wasn’t interested.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t waste your breath explaining it to me, I’m still half asleep. You can go bother my supplier with that technical mumbo-jumbo and deliver the batteries with my analysis while you’re at it. If you can help me out with that, you can use my workshop for your repairs as long as you stay out of my way.”

Thomas wasn’t exactly a bad person. Irritable, perhaps, but not bad. Despite it all, he really didn’t mind helping someone out, but he knew that in this environment he lived in he couldn’t be charitable. Tesla trusted Thomas to be fair with him, he had set him up with tools and a place to stay after all. He knew Thomas would ask for favors in return, probably several more favors before they’d be considered even. But else where would Tesla go?

Right now, he had a crude map to follow through the night in order to find a warehouse at the edge of the lower city. According to Thomas his supplier would still be around, even this late at night, he’d take the batteries and want to have the fraud explained to him and then Tesla would get the refund. The next morning he’d give the refund to the Doctor and he could work on his bodywork as much as he desired. A pretty good deal, yes, but it required Tesla to go to the inner city. It wasn’t all that far, but the idea of going out of the slums still made Tesla uneasy.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache?
I grew it with my human lip.
Is... Is that a fact?
Oh yes, I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation.
Well, he sounds human.
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PostSubject: Re: EDNC #1 – The Lonely City   Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:29 am


The capsule car glided to an abrupt halt and the door slid open in coordination with the outer security doors of the maintenance tube. A robot, wearing a grey coloured exo-skin marked with custodial symbols exited the small compartment and scanned its surroundings with high tech visor uncharacteristic for a cleaning unit, but then Cygnus wasn't exactly a common model chosen for such work. Tiny red lights circulated across the visor as he probed the darkness around him using combinations of light sensitive, thermal and electro-magnetic sensors that would easily detect the presence of human and machine alike. He then turned back to his capsule and pressed a button that made the seat fold up into the floor, revealing a compartment behind through which a small robot with four mechanical legs emerged, followed another model with three.

"All clear." Announced Cygnus to the L.I.M. cleaning-bots, his personal assistants required for maintaining the hydro-cooling system. Not they could actually appreciate the heads-up, but since they did in fact have self preservation programming, Cygnus always extended the common courtesy to his little helpers. They were after all his only company most of the time and his underlying military protocol made him protective, or was it just his nature? Cygnus could never be sure, it was a common quandary for intelligent machines — 'personality versus programming'.

They were in Sector 117-A where decrease in pressure in one of the water lines had been detected which would require visual confirmation and physical maintenance to adjust, which was one of the many jobs that Cygnus' class of maintenance engineer dealt with. He was just under the streets where the lower city ended and the slums began, the perimeter of an enormous subterranean pipe that carried the water of the Great Lakes around the metropolis and from their it was diverted to the many cooling ducts that wove their way toward the heart of NA City. The pressure leak was not serious but if it went unchecked it could mean the potential shut down of a part of the cities bright center. A minor inconvenience that was viewed as an unacceptable flaw and so Cygnus made sure he located the malfunction else he be held responsible for some dilettante having their important schedule disrupted. Realistically he could 'give a flush' but this was the part of the job he enjoyed, exploring the rarely seen underworld trying to pinpoint the location of a minute leak. He found it quite diverting.

Cygnus squeezed through a narrow corridor with brick walls, which was in fact the remnants of the human civilization that preceded theirs. The original ruins of the city upon which NA City was built upon. In fact the tunnel that he entered which now had a great pipe running through part of it, was once a human subway system as could be told by the tracks that Cygnus uncovered with a few strokes of his foot. He had seen them before, but every time he wondered just what the human world was like before the dawn of the machines.

'VIOLATION -- DIRECTIVE 456 - 1001101-110' flashed across Cygnus' field of vision as he pondered something that conflicted with his primary directives. Naturally, any comparison of robot society to the inferior human world was questionable, thus the reminder. Typical.

He was crossing in the slums now, entering the human sewer systems, utterly disgusting, but for some reason the pressure leak seemed to be originating on the far side of the pipeline. 'Odd', thought Cygnus as he pressed on, his two LIM's, which he had named Spock and McCoy after a popular human science fiction series, following close behind.

The massive pipeline eventually vanished behind a wall, but Cygnus detected a small opening at its based and discovered that the stones had been loosely replaced covering a hole roughly the proper size for he or a human to squeeze through. Cygnus looked around curiously, then dropped his tool kit and knocked aside the rocks. He then laid on his back and slid into the opening, relying on his two LIM's to alert him of any dangers that might arise while he was prone. On the other side, Cygnus found himself in another corridor that ran along side the pipeline for about thirty meters and half way he spotted the cause of the pressure leak.

Cygnus stood up, reached through the hole for his tool kit and told Spock and McCoy to follow. It appeared that someone had inserted another pipe into the main feed and was siphoning off water. An easy enough fix, but Cygnus was curious, 'Where did the pipe go and who dared to tamper with machine property?' The answers were pretty obvious, but for some reason Cygnus felt compelled to see with his own 'eyes' where the water supply took him. It would not be difficult to follow, since it ran along the ceiling of a tunnel that went further into the slums.

"You two head back to the capsule." Cygnus ordered the two LIMs. Where he was going was no place for them.

The machine then proceeded to make his way down the dark corridor, taking note of the appearance of old incandescent light bulbs every ten meters or so, which thankfully were unlit. So long as he remained in the dark he felt safe knowing that the majority of humans would not have access to night vision technology. Hopefully he would see them coming.
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PostSubject: Re: EDNC #1 – The Lonely City   Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:30 am



The night, the falling snow and a broken machine seemed like old companions as Tesla traversed the slums. The small puffs of air that could be heard each time Tesla took another step were as nothing in the wind that threw the snow on his cold plating. The snow had the nasty tendency of clotting around his eyes and Tesla was forced to wipe his face periodically in order to see properly. But all in all the weather did little to the machine, a human would have far more problems, but of course that’s why they wore clothing.

Tesla had never worn a piece of clothing in all the years he has been active, his job never required it. Only some industrial jobs enforced things like helmets as extra protection for a machine head and some others used sturdy cloth clothing to prevent their employees from getting all scratched up during their job, but that was about it. There were those who wore caps or hats instead of simply modding their appearance, apparently it was some kind of fashion thing Tesla didn’t feel for at all, but it was mostly contained to the lower city. Possibly because these things were cheaper than actual mods. There were also bracelets and such, or even magnetic symbols that some machines would wear, perhaps like how humans used to have tattoos or some such. It was all nonsense if you asked Tesla.

The heavy bag with the batteries were slung across his shoulder and bumped on his back plating because of Tesla’s difficulty walking. The sound made Tesla cringe and he could only hope he wasn’t getting all kinds of nasty bumps into his plating, he had to do plenty of work on his plating as it was, he didn’t need any more. At least it was quiet outside, it was too late for any humans to be out in any significant quantity anyway, but the weather made it even worse for them, so they were sticking to their rickety houses. All Tesla had seen so far were a few other machines who walked around the slums for one reason or another. Tesla expected to see more machines once he got into the lower city, though even there he would probably go mostly unnoted, and it was all the better for Tesla.

The slums were a dark place compared to the inner city, but with the light of dancing flames escaping the poorly cobbled together houses and the large towers fitted with bright search lights there was more light than Tesla had imagined the slums to posses. The fires in houses of the humans were the only source of heat they had and came from burning whatever rubbish the machines managed to produce. The machines were quite efficient in their use of resources though, there wasn’t a lot of trash to go around, since lots of things were also recycled. But the people of the slums compensated by saving things they could burn in the summer and using their stockpile through winter. The searchlights on the other hand seemed awfully redundant to Tesla. If there was ever a reason for some kind of operation in the slums at night the machines could either rely on infrared modifications or small floating LIMs fitted with search lights. But, according to Thomas, the machines rarely put such resources to use in the slums and relied on the cheap and simple towers. Perhaps it was rather a symbolic thing, the towers representing an ever present sign of the machines keeping an eye on the people of the slums.

Tesla looked back at one of the towers looming over the slums, one of its lights turned straight down and not even cranked up to full brightness. Before him was the lower city, obvious by the concrete under his feet and the concrete walls of the lower city’s industries in front of him. There was but a small no-man land between the slums and the lower city, completely paved and empty. There were a few signs which indicated the beginning of the lower city as well as making it very clear that humans were not exactly welcome beyond this point, as if the barbed wires on top of the concrete walls surrounding the many industrial complexes at the edge of the lower city weren’t clear enough.

Tesla would have to cross into the lower city, but his route would take him not much beyond the outer edge or even much further at this point. Just a few more minutes of having the defective batteries pounding his backplating and he’d be as good as done with his errand. He wiped the snow from his eyes one last time and then set onwards into the industrial zone. The building he was looking for looked like it was tagged onto a larger complex. However the entrance to that complex was on the other side of the block and the small building Tesla was supposed to go to was right next to a small back street which didn’t see a lot of traffic. It didn’t look like much of a warehouse or a place of business, seeing how small it was. Tesla wondered if the people of the complex behind the building even knew this building was there or what its purpose was. It was clearly industrial though, a large hydraulic arm stretched in front of a thick steel door which was in turn set into a rail.

Tesla walked into a small light that illuminated the doorway and looked at the door and its mechanism, wondering if there was some other entry or at least a buzzer of some kind. He didn’t have to worry about it for very long, though, for the hydraulic arm suddenly became active and pulled the steel door through its rail and to the side just far enough for Tesla to enter.

“Hello?” Tesla called out carefully. He waited for a response but there was none.
“Hello!?” He called out a fair bit louder into the dark and quiet space beyond the door. There was no movement or response, at least, not until Tesla heard some kind of speaker turn on. Whoever was trying to operate the speaker was fumbling with it. As a result Tesla heard several loud beeps and thumps before finally a voice spoke to him through the speaker.
“Stop standing there, you fool, come in!” A manly voice spoke through the speaker. It sounded like an elderly deep human voice, though the speaker quality wasn’t very good, which made it harder to judge. Regardless, it was obvious that Tesla was being watched by a camera or some kind of sensor and had been expected.

The moment he stepped into the dark interior of the building several lights came on in stages so that Tesla could actually see what was inside without having to once again manually set his Lightbringers to a higher brightness. Once he was well clear from the door the hydraulic arm jumped back into action and closed the door behind Tesla, the steel slamming into the concrete wall with quite a bit of force, startling him. Once things quieted down again Tesla got a chance to look around the room, but found it to be far from what he expected it to be. The room was messy and full of old furniture as well as other worthless junk, but nothing to indicate a place of business or industry.

“Step onto the elevator, my friend.” Another speaker turned on, without any problems, and the elderly deep voice spoke the Tesla once more. The elevator which was being referred to was rather a surprise to Tesla, since he hadn’t seen any sign of such a device.
“Don’t just stand there.” The voice said rather annoyed when Tesla simply stood standing and looking around. “It’s in the right corner, dipstick.”
“Oh…” Tesla murmured when a light in the corner turned on and he noted how the floor was not concrete but metal over there.

Tesla moved onto the platform and put down the backpack before the platform hissed and began moving down into the ground. The lights on the first floor flickered off again, but quickly enough the lights in the basement became visible and Tesla could see he was being lowered into a kind of mini warehouse, though there was still no sign of the person who had spoken to him through the speakers. As soon as Tesla and the platform safely lowered into the basement two steel doors swung up in order to close the hole in the floor which the platform had left behind. To Tesla’s surprise the platform did not stop on the first sub level, but continued on down further into the ground, once again the lights on the previous level switching off and shortly thereafter the light of the second sublevel became visible.

“Welcome! Welcome!” The now familiar voice spoke as soon as the platform came sinking through the roof. Tesla still couldn’t see who was talking to him, but that didn’t stop the person from yammering on.
“You, my mechanical brother, now walk the hallowed grounds of Unparticular Electric. Perhaps you were expecting a bit more, but as it happens, my business isn’t exactly eye popping. But that’s the way I like it, and that’s why I named it as such. Nonetheless it is my life’s work, so please don’t touch anything!”
“Alright…” Tesla said, though he had yet to see a lot of the second sublevel, or this fellow.
“The Good Doctor told me about you, Tesla 307, he told me a good bit.”
“Such as?” Tesla wasn’t exactly interested, but he had the feeling this person was going to tell him all about it regardless.
“Inner city ‘bot, fell from the sky with bits and pieces missing who’d rather not go back. Now that’s a pretty enticing little story you’ve got there. Full of mystery and excitement no doubt.”
“Yeah… not so much.” Tesla commented dryish. And finally got a good view of the second sublevel, which was much bigger than the first or the first floor. The person speaking to him was apparently a very large machine, which could probably fit three Tesla’s in it, though it looked rather crude to him.
“Modesty, I like that!” The voice said and the large machine slowly clanked away from a console towards Tesla. “Do you have the batteries inside your little bag there, partner?”
“Yes, I do.”
“And you are the forgery expert, eh?”
“That’s not technically correct, but I did figure it out.”
“See? There’s that modesty again!”
“Yeah, it’s a thing for me I guess…” Tesla was getting a bit annoyed and wished he had stuck to the slums, “So… What’s up with you?” He tried to change the subject into something possibly less annoying.
“Oh? This?” The large machine looked down onto itself for a moment before it suddenly straightened itself out and a hatch at the back popped open. “I can’t get the damned thing to work the way I hoped, but it has its uses.”

A normal sized machine appeared from behind the large hulking machine. Not exactly what Tesla had expected, but it was more comfortable knowing it was a machine who he was dealing with. They tended to be a bit more predictable, though, Tesla had thought he was dealing with a human, so who knew what this one was going to do next.

“It’s not very precise or anything… Mostly it’s just big.” The machine said, “That’s why I had a bit of trouble of talking to you through the microphone, which was clearly made for smaller hands.”
“I see. But what’s the use of it?” Tesla wondered.
“Well, its supposed to be a platform any machine can interact with so they can access tools or abilities they don’t normally have.”
“Such as?”
“Well, this thing is just bigger and stronger, but it’s a work in progress you know. The idea is that it could integrate a whole bunch of complicated systems you’d have problems with incorporating inside a regular machine. Either large equipment or equipment that has higher power requirements than a machine’s battery can provide. There’s a million of such things, and right now that means all these things need to be carried around externally, while having them integrated could be a huge advantage in many circumstances.”
“So, it’s for mining or something?” Tesla wondered.
“What do I care? I just want to sell this thing to a corporation and get rich!” The machine couldn’t help but laugh. Something was seriously off with this one, Tesla was sure of it now.
“Alright… In that case I shouldn’t bother you for any longer than I have to.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I don’t have the parts I need to make any improvements anyway, so I’ve got time.”
“Great…”
“That’s right, buddy!” The machine was quite enthusiastic about the idea, though Tesla certainly wasn’t. “Oh! How could I forget to introduce myself! You may call me Ed.” The machine told Tesla.
“Ed?” That was a rather odd name, “Nice to meet you, Ed. I’d introduce myself, but you seem to know everything there is to know already.”
“Hah! I know only what the Doc told me. And I can tell you’re thinking that Ed can’t possibly be my real name, right?”
“Well, it’s a very odd name. Sounds… Human.”
“True, true. But mostly it’s just short for Edison 1251.” Ed explained with joy, “Tesla and Edison! Bestest Buddies!”

Somehow, somewhere deep down, Tesla knew he wasn’t going to like Edison very much.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache?
I grew it with my human lip.
Is... Is that a fact?
Oh yes, I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation.
Well, he sounds human.
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EDNC #1 – The Lonely City
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