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|This is the first chapter of my soon-to-be-novel 'Advanced Directive' - it's about making and breaking ties in the future||
The night sky sparkled with millions of stars, the planets clearly visible on this clear night, the air just crisp with the cold chill of winter. It was the year 2739, and Khet was hopping with activity. The streets were crowded with people, and loaded with trash. Khet was the city where the worst-of-the-worst came to play. Prostitutes, dealers, gangs, pimps, and punks were allowed to roam the streets, prowling for innocents from which to feed their greedy wallets. All in all, it wasn’t the kind of city that was advertised as being “clean”. Where Karai might be the top of the top in the “high-class” world, Khet was a stop-off all the major players of the nightlife, the underground.
Within Khet was housed, surprisingly, one of the largest corporations on the face of the globe. StarTel was the company responsible for funding the multiple wars, and supplying the infamous “super-soldiers” to the war fronts. More than one war had been won with the help of those incredible humanoids alone, and there was always a better, stronger, faster, smarter type of soldier being “grown” in the vats inside the labs. There were only a select few that saw the prototypes and different projects going on inside that building. The skyscraper stretched for eighty stories, all of those filled with people, either researching, working desk jobs, hacking, or tending the specimens – all 972,000 of them. Most were the kind of soldier that gets written into comic books – things like Captain America and the like. But there was one very special project, that wasn’t producing great hulking cannon fodder… Christopher Drayton worked for StarTel as the head of the science department, and the caretaker of one of the most important new experiments, and perhaps the most revolutionary ideas to ever leave a scientist’s head, and land itself a place at the StarTel meeting table. The idea was simple: A variation of the “super-soldier” theme, something quick, light, agile, something that could get into places not one of the others could reach, something that could detonate explosives quickly, and get out of range even faster. But the most important point: something that could LEARN. The StarTel CEO fell in love with the idea, and it became almost a pet-project to her.
Chris’s son, Ian Drayton was almost always opposed to anything that had to do with the project his father headed. The Advanced Directive project was, by his view, destined to fail. After all, didn’t people already have machines that learned simple commands? Like robot cats and dogs? He himself had a robotic cat, and she was plenty intelligent. One of the “learning” breed, he supposed, if there was such a thing. The stress it put on his dad wasn’t what concerned him – it was the drain on the money. This damn project was putting his dad and himself out of house and home. And his father didn’t seem to care one iota that it was happening. Of course, like all kids his age, eighteen-year-old Ian was selfish. He had the “I’m invincible, nothing can ever stop me” mindset, drilled into him by the countless peer groups, the shows on TV, the drugs, sex, and violence around him. Nothing could ever happen to him, as far as he was concerned. And also, as most boys that age, money was everything. If you had the money, you had the power, and power was what made the world go round. No money, no power, no lifestyle. That, was just something Ian wasn’t willing to live with.
Chris himself was too engrossed in the project to pay too much attention to the way things were running in his daily life. They were so close to perfecting the right sequence of genetic code for resistance to poison that it was almost frightening. He was taking a major role in creating one of the most advanced beings on the face of Juridia! It was exhausting work, yes, but also INCREDIBLY exciting. There was so much to do, so little time to do it. There were currently nine hundred specimens being grown – most of which had died in “conception” – and were being used as mistakes to learn from. There were currently seventy LIVE specimens, and almost thirty ready to be awakened when the coding sequence was finished. It wasn’t easy being this busy. He’d have liked to spend some time with Ian, since the boy had no mother anymore to spend time with. But he’d been too busy at the lab and whatnot, and Ian had been too busy with his own plans. His friends, Kylie and Texas, were the main reason he gave for never staying for dinner. Chris hoped that on Saturday, Ian would be bored enough to go out to the Platform with him. The Platform had been one of his favorite spots when he was Ian’s age. Whenever you looked up into the sky from there, you could always make out almost every constellation. He’d even kept a journal of the stars for the longest time… he still hadn’t shown Ian that – but he planned to this weekend. Saturday was one thing, but Chris had to keep his mind in the present, had to know what was going on, and was soon lost again in his strategic mess of formulas, dosages, rates, and readouts.
The most promising specimen so far had been AD4440, one of the physically older models being created. AD4440 was in the form of a woman just past 35, and it was SHE who was ready to be awakened first. Already programmed into her stream of consciousness was the desire for sexual pleasure. She was meant as a test for the learning system – Unlearning a programmed behavior. However, the other tests subjects had been failures. Either the code stream was too complicated, or there weren’t enough files to download into the consciousness, or the idea didn’t fit the specimen. AD4440 was perfect, and nearly ready. All that was left was the series of complicated formulas that had to be worked and reworked in order to take in all possible failures. If it wasn’t for that process, that delicate, required process, AD4440 would have been declared a success from the get go. Once AD4440 was declared, there were going to be other things to do – tests to run, papers to sign, formulas to puzzle over, stats to run, etc, etc, etc. There was easily enough here to keep him busy, and well set, for the rest of his life. But he had plans. The first was to steal and sell one of the younger models to one of the other big-name corporations. That would get cash… and then there was the whole selling the actual process, which might, and most probably would, increase those funds tenfold – and also his workload. These things had the potential to be super weapons! And they were his… all his… Or would be, once he stole them.
The day was starting to slip on into FirstDark by the time his work for the day finished. Chris stopped by one of the newer – non-active, unsuccessful tanks, on his way out the door. The face and body inside was that of about a 25-year-old male. He rested his hand against the cool glass, the ambient light from inside giving the liquid supporting the specimen a bluish glow. The wires and tubes from the wrist, neck, back, ankles, and head, did nothing to attract from the pure feeling of POWER that face possessed. That face would someday be a ruler, or the president, or a CEO – it was a face to be feared… and it looked human…. so human, as to completely unnerve Chris for an instant. A brief flash of What the hell do we do here… crossed his mind, but was soon forgotten in the lieu of the numerous experiments running through the scientist’s mind as he walked home. One of the big questions he was faced with was the whole unlearning test. How was it going to be pulled off? Would more programming harm the project in any way? He supposed that the answer was yes, after briefly calculating the success rate in his mind.
As he arrived home, he found Ian already there. The boy didn’t even talk to his dad to tell the old man where he was going. He merely walked out the door and into the night. Chris sighed, and dropped the keys to the StarTel building on one of the counters, before headed upstairs, and dragging a hand through his hair, and having a good look at himself for the first time in a while. What he saw staring back at him was not encouraging. A forty-odd year old man with brown, graying hair, glasses that rode too far down his nose, and bright blue eyes, with circles under them, that looked like they belonged in the sky, and not on someone’s face. The scrawny body was ridiculous, the lanky arms and legs a definite minus, and the white lab-coat, black sweatshirt, and jeans a shame to admit. All in all, the image staring back at him was a mismatched teenager, in the body of a forty-three year old. It was rather depressing. Not that he had the time to be depressed. While he was changing, he thought of his son. Ian looked so much like his mother – the same brown eyes, the same blonde hair… Ian had inherited Chris’s body type though, long, lean, lanky, call it what you would. Ian wore contacts that hid his natural, beautiful brown, with a hideous, garish purple orchid with red stripes. Chris had FLIPPED when Ian brought home his eyes that color. So had Violet…. Violet… his one and only love… she gave him Ian… and nothing else. She never had the chance. But that memory was too painful right now… much too painful.
When Chris had eaten, washed, and tucked himself into bed, his mind turned to the “test” date of AD4440. It was going to revolutionize the science world – and probably earn him some nice, cold cash. Maybe then he’d be able to retire – far, FAR away from this slum of a city – maybe a nice lookout beachfront property on the far side of Karai… with a view of the moon… Violet had always loved the moon…
Nothing was more sickening to Ian than the fact his father was actually DOTING on this damn project. It was costing money, and costing money, in his book, wasn’t a good thing. He’d stolen his father’s diary for a bit of light reading, and was currently laughing over one of the entries with Texas, while Kylie primped herself for this night’s raid.
“Dear diary. Today is the seventeenth of December 2739, and once again, I am alone at home. Ian is off doing his thing, and I’m fine with that. I just wish he’d spend more time at home with me.”
At that line, Ian broke off into laughter.
“Sentimental old fool.”
Texas nodded his head up and down. Tex was mute, which made him a MOST excellent friend to have around. Friends who can’t defend themselves can easily be manipulated. And easily manipulated was the only kind of friend Ian surrounded himself with. The black leather jacket, black shirt, blue jeans, and myriad of chains and spikes were only the beginning of intimidation. The drugs he’d been selling had paid well, and the sideline of hookers was also coming along quite nicely. There were plenty of customers for such activities in Khet. Not that he was planning on staying here for the rest of his life. Sure, hawking drugs and bitches might get him far HERE – but there was so much more to see, so much more to DO. He was eighteen! He had his entire life ahead of him to plunder all the gains he needed, from wherever he needed.
He was getting tired of waiting for Kylie to primp. There was a part of him that wanted to just stroll in there and strangle her, for the supreme pleasure it would bring. The blood on her hands would be nothing, for Kylie was an android – a pleasure slave android at that. That was another thing he liked about his friends. Expendability. They’d both give their lives for him, and he didn’t have to do nothin’. It was a fine deal for Ian; he didn’t have to get his hands dirty unless he needed to. Even if it came down to that Ian Drayton was a well-known name in the fighter’s rings. He didn’t NEED bodyguards – hell, he was one himself. He was a damned good one at that – the rich and the famous scrambled for his services, which he sold to the highest bidder. It wasn’t much of a life, at least not yet, but it was a nice “healthy” start, with a check coming in every week, with almost enough money to make up for what his father put into his damned project. But Ian wouldn’t show one penny to his dad. No, he had other plans, and those were MUCH more important than some stupid android recreation. He was going to level StarTel. It was an ambitious goal perhaps, but one well worth achieving. If there was one thing Ian was good at – and there were many – it was making plans. He already had bought enough C4 the lay half the city low – but there were other preparations. There had to be a way to get inside info – and Ian had a plan for THAT, too. Bribed to silence and surveillance, he already knew a couple dozen who would all but knock down the building themselves for the amount of money they could earn by sabotage. It wouldn’t be too much longer until Ian’s plan went into action.
Kylie finished primping and opened the door to step out. Her makers had the right ideas, just in the wrong place – and they had paid for that with poverty and death. Kylie was, to put it mildly, stunning. Made in the image of the creator’s daughter, she was permanently sixteen, with bright green eyes, locks of fire-amber, and the sweet, gentle nature of an animal and nature lover. She would have been perfect for a park, to greet guests. In her current attire, an inky black silk evening dress, white kid gloves, a black beret, and midnight high-heels, she even made IAN’S mouth water with want. She was Ian’s favorite, and she knew it, but didn’t flaunt it. Ian had chosen well as to the outfit she now wore. Androids weren’t allowed to handle money – Ian bought everything. Kylie gave a squeal of glee when she saw herself in the full-length mirror on the wall opposite her chambers, and ran to throw her arms around Ian’s neck. He picked her up and swung her around, setting her back on her feet with a small kiss on her cheek.
“You like it, doll?”
Kylie beamed at the nickname. Never was a truer name given.
“Very much! You’re the best, Ian!”
Tex watched with a bit of distrust for the female android. Indeed, the sentiment wasn’t unearned. Kylie was as deceitful as her master. Texas was another piece of refuse society had thrown away, and Ian had scooped out of the gutter. On top of being mute, Tex was a were-rat, rare. The rare, in this town, were mistaken for the flawed, for the “runts” – and thus were thrown around Khet like bored children throw toys around a playroom. Ian most often picked them up. His intentions, however, were far from charitable. He made these rejects street-wise, tough, and most of all obedient to the point of subservience. It wasn’t a new thing to Tex – he had been a slave before Ian bought him. His massive rat-man form was most formidable, and under Ian’s control, quite useful. However, Tex’s usefulness was wearing thin – and it was getting heavy on Ian’s wallet to keep him around. This was another law most of Ian’s “pets” learned early on. When your use to Ian was minimal, so was the worth of your life. He had made “examples” of this rule out of many former playthings of his – and it was enforced with a heavy hand.
“Tex, doesn’t Kylie look absolutely to DIE for?”
Tex nodded wordlessly, feeling a shift coming on. He quelled it. IF he managed to shift to full rat form, and squeeze away into the woodwork, Ian would hire a were-cat to find him. Of this, Tex had no doubt. It was better to go along with the young master’s harebrained schemes and plots, than to bring up the fact that they were just that – harebrained. Tex was thirty; it wasn’t like he hadn’t seen the young master’s plans fail before. This latest plan had SO much promise, he agreed, but Ian was going about it the wrong way. He wasn’t going to argue though, might as well save his hide while he had a chance. As soon as another poor street-waif caught Ian’s eye – he’d be colder than steel with a bullet through his brain.
“Now then, shall we, my lovely doll, and silent friend?”
Kylie jumped up and down with glee, and nodded frantically. Tex merely nodded his head once, and started off without them as always. Ian drew his revolver. Tex hit the floor, as three blood-bright roses bloomed on his back. He twitched for a few moments, and then lay still. Ian smirked, and tossed the murder weapon on one of the chairs out in the hall, before taking Kylie gently by the arm, and leading her past the body while he walked over it.
“Makes a better rug.”
Ian smirked once more, and led Kylie out the door to the waiting limo; heedless of the frantic cry of a woman inside the complex he had just left.
|Advanced Directive - BOOM||Advanced Directive - Learning Curve|