Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Fall 2018

Archetech 

 

When the self-driving car from Archetech arrived, there was an Omegadrone inside it, sitting in the rear passenger compartment. Steve looked up at Delta, his scarred face hard to read through cybernetic enhancements designed to give tactical feedback rather than the finer points of humanoid facial expression. "Delta. Miss Americana felt you would want company." It was his first chance to meet the woman who had been described as the leading expert in Terminus technology on this plane - the greatest who was not  mad, anyway. The Omegadrone's voice was grave and deep; an impossible thing given the cold, emotionless horrors that were Omegadrones but one Delta had heard already. After all, the Omegadrone had been among those who'd met him in this new realm and had asked him questions about a realm both of them knew only too well - questions about dread Nihilor. "I have secured a collection of Earth-Prime music and educational recordings for the drive. It is short but you may find them productive. How are your studies progressing?"

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

It was still almost impossible for Delta to accept that the hulking Omegadrone sitting at the back seat was not going to attack him, and more so that an expert on Terminus technology who wasn't insane wasn't actually a trap by the 'good' Doctor.  He raised one of his black mechanical hands and opened the door before sliding in next to Harrier, seldom had there been so much death enclosed in such a small space an Omegadrone and one of the attempts to improve on them sitting in the back seat of a self driving car the irony was lost on Delta as the door closed.

 

The diodes on the side of his head flashed green and then read as he processed the question,"They are going well, currently processing millions of things called...memes, they are not what I thought they were originally and provide much insight into the human construct of humor." He understood very few of them, because they all seemed to be connected to movies and tv shows that he had to download and process....he was making inroad on Netflix but still had the looming specter of Hulu and Amazon Prime to defeat as well....so much time and effort spent on entertainment, how had the Terminus not won?

Share this post


Link to post

"I too was concerned about their use in psychological warfare," agreed Harrier, appreciating the other man's sharp 'eye' in finding the most obvious dangers of Earth-Prime's information network. "But Miss Americana assures me that their intended use is indeed for humor." As the car drove on, he said, "One can find a great many things on their information network, their greatness and their folly, and little of it protected." He settled back into the seat, the material of the car creaking slightly beneath his great weight. "It fits them well." It was much easier to talk about this than anything about himself, or certainly anything about Delta - but what was easy? So he continued, "You will find Miss Americana a skilled engineer and wise scholar...and with that in mind, may I make a suggestion?" Upon given permission, he said, "I remember what it was like to be...analyzed. You should designate a word that will stop the analysis, something that you can tell Miss Americana that will end the study without shame."

Share this post


Link to post

Delta spent a lot of time nodding, his default when he was listening but had no desire to guide a conversation any further than it was already, he knew the uncomfortable parts would come and lo and behold there they were. Agreeing to hear out the older Terminus' escapees suggestion he raised a hand and rubbed his chin thoughtfully, a small part of his mechanical brain analyzing the words and coming up with a reverse definition he didn't like,"A safe word? Like in the humans procreation games they play involving removal of some consent without actually doing it?"

 

He nodded and frowned some more,"I shall consider a word that is suitable but first she will need to explain the Analysis and what she hopes to learn? I have spent enough time under scrutiny and the knife to know what to expect and be a little hesitant about it."

Share this post


Link to post

Steve coughed discreetly and hesitated before saying, "Your-your grasp of Earth-Prime culture is impressive." Delta certainly hadn't learned about safety words in the Terminus - and he didn't know any humans well enough to learn it from them, as Steve had. "Her analysis will give ammunition to use against the forces of the Omnicide - and be valuable for your well-being. There are many ways that machinery can break, or be broken - but few with the arts of repairing such as us. Her knowledge both fuels the war against the Terminus, and our own survivals." 

Share this post


Link to post

Delta paused, trying to determine if Steve was using sarcasm,"I don't think my grasp of Earth-Prime culture has anything to do with the reverse definition search, coupled with a rapid search of sites that reference the word. I have something resembling a computer in my head, it allows me to process information very rapidly when I focus on that."

 

Delta nodded at his words,"So far I am mostly self repairing, but modifications and explanations of how some of the things inside me actually work might make my growth easier. And anything that harms the Terminus and the forces of Omnicide is good for me..." He didn't mention his personal crusade, he'd love to rescue his squad mates, but the thoughts of going into the Terminus to rescue mind control soldiers was not something many would consider sanity.

Share this post


Link to post

"Then you are to be commended on your integration into Earth-Prime's technological network," said Steve neutrally, having overcome his earlier embarrassment. "Be mindful that there are many in this realm with abilities that give them mastery over that network." He didn't need to explain Delta's need to be concerned about being compromised technologically - it would have been on par with explaining to a vermin that it needed to be concerned about predators. It was a concern he knew only too well. He turned his head and peered outside at the trafficked, all-too-human world of Earth-'Prime' (for after all many worlds called themselves that) that lay beyond the window. "We will arrive at Archetech shortly. Do you have any questions?"

Share this post


Link to post

Unaware, or unwilling to acknowledge, Steve's embarrassment Delta nodded,"It is most strange, they only seem to have extremes on this world. The vast majority have little no idea how to utilize the network around them in any but the least basic ways and then there are some who are so far ahead of the norm that they rival the greatest minds of Terminus." And yes being in large part computer, or machine, left them vulnerable to the kinds of attacks that very few flesh and blood beings had to deal with. Following Steve's look he watched the people whirling around outside the vehicle doing the little things that were important to them, important to keeping them unaware of the dangers that surrounded them, and sometimes stalked them.

 

The last question brought him up short and he frowned, again a little hard to tell with only the lower part of his face to give it away,"Yes...why do you trust this engineer to work on you? I am as familiar as any with people poking and modifying me before my freedom....what is there that is in this woman that makes you believe she won't try to take this freedom, such as it is, away?"

Share this post


Link to post

"She...is my woman," replied Steve, his voice just as even as if he were talking about the weather. Even with his armor retracted and his skin exposed, he knew it was hard to believe he could have a mate - especially if one was familiar with the Terminus. "And beyond that, she is a woman of uncommon character, who faces foes greater than most." Which was all true, though details beyond that were certainly not Delta's business. With that, their car reached the Archetech compound and headed quickly inside, passing through a high, double-layered security fence before circling around the main buildings of the facility to head around the back of one of the many large, grey and white 'boxes' that made up much of the institutional architecture of Earth-Prime. They stopped in the sunshine, albeit the sheltered sort; alongside an open metal door, it would be better for Delta to enter the building on is own. 

Share this post


Link to post

Delta paused, his aperture covers widening out to almost half their maximum size as he analyzed Steve's features as he spoke about her, there was a moment where he considered asking if Steve was then an impartial judge of the woman's characters and motivations? That said he was in this too deep to worry about this, he was still surprised how many people simply trusted him because he said he was here to fight against the Terminus forces.

 

Finally they came to a stop and Delta stepped out, his black and red armor and cybernetics creaking as he stepped from the car, before stopping and asking Steve,"Do you have a map or will she find me?" It was not like he would be easy to stop with all of his metal parts and distinctive coloring that Dr Duster said was to strike fear into his opponents.

Share this post


Link to post

"We shall meet her inside," said Steve, stepping out of the car as a way of showing Delta they had nothing to fear here. The sun shone on his bald head, his brown skin polished bright where it wasn't scarred. And it was scarred in many places. They weren't that far from the main building with its distinctive A-frame shape, but entering through this entrance would get them inside the Archetech facilities without sending Delta through the lobby or exposing him to the psychological risks of walking through their front door. "I will not abandon you inside," he offered, suddenly thinking of how an encounter like this would go in the realm both men were from. It was additionally true that if Delta did prove to be a hostile invader of the facilities, the Omegadrone would be in an excellent position to remove his limbs. 

Share this post


Link to post

The building itself was hardly imposing, especially compared to the terrifying laboratories of Nihilor, just a squat building that looked like it was probably used for storing vehicles and loading trucks. It did have sturdy-looking security; the sliding doors were thick and set deep in their frames, and cameras and lights dotted the covered portico they'd pulled up under. As the two exited the car, a red light next to the door cycled to green and the doors slid silently open. "Welcome, Steve, Delta," a smooth and accentless female voice greeted them. "Miss Americana is waiting for you at Elevator Bay One." A series of LED arrows lit up in the surbase along the wall, pointing the way they were to go. 

Share this post


Link to post

Delta was trying not to let his nervousness show but clearly Steve was aware of what was going on in his head, he gave him a long look before letting out a breath he wasn't sure he had been holding and shook his head. Stepping thought the door he couldn't help the glance he gave the Omegadrone over his shoulder, and it wasn't a glance for support it was a suspicious one as though he was aware of the advantage the Drone's position gave him. Instincts died hard and it was only once they were walking inside the building that he relaxed slightly.

 

Looking down at the LED arrows he frowned, again almost invisible with only the lower part of his face actually moving before he started walking towards the Elevator bay, his military style boots seeming to make little noise as he stepped with powerful strides, his mechanical fingers flexing as he walked betraying the nervousness he felt at what was about to happen.

Share this post


Link to post

Behind him, Steve kept up conversation - somewhat roughly, remembering the dialogues they'd both have heard from the Nightmare Nurses and things like them. Better to be frank than overly reassuring. "The recent invasion awakened many long-neglected fears in the citizens of Earth-Prime - but you will find plenty willing to greet you as an ally against the forces of the Omnicide." He paused reflectively, then admitted, "You should use a disguise. One can tell oneself that fear in the minds of the citizens is good - that they should never look on a denizen of Nihilor as a friend." He looked down at the scarred backs of his hands before saying "But it can be a hard thing to see their terror." 

Share this post


Link to post

It wasn't a very long walk to the elevator bay, a nondescript lobby with a few chairs and vending machines arranged around a wall of four stainless steel elevator doors. There was a woman seated in one of the chairs, legs comfortably crossed and an open can of soda sitting on the table next to her. She was uncommonly beautiful for someone from Earth Prime, with perfectly flowing hair and flawless facial symmetry over an exquisitely proportioned body. The woman was reading from a tablet, but looked up with a smile as they came into the room. "Welcome to Archetech," she began, addressing herself to Delta. "I'm Miss Americana, I run this company and I also work hands-on with a lot of our metahuman science initiatives. Steve's told me a little bit about what you're looking to have done. Do you have any questions in particular about your modifications?" 

Share this post


Link to post

Delta snorted at Steve's words, diodes flashing along the sides of his head as his bulbous eyes focused on the Omegadrone,"I don't disguise, but I can vanish...I wear a hoodie sometimes that's good enough if I don't draw attention to myself but I prefer being cloaked and out of sight. I know what I look like, I was created to strike fear into the foes of Nihilor, as were you, and I do a very good job at it." His eyes were drawn to the sitting lady and for a moment he stopped, he prided himself on his logical thought but there was something about this woman that drew out the part of him that was still a man. He stopped and turned to look at Steve, an Omegadrone, and shook his head...there was a story here, one where a woman who looked like that fell for a monster with good intentions. A story the humans loved to tell....a fairytale they called it...he hoped for Steve's sake it wasn't just fiction.

 

Stepping forward he nodded as she spoke he listened intently, his eyes drawn to her flawless features time and time again as he worked through her words,"I have many, many questions about myself. I have so many parts in my body that I don't understand, so many that are still growing and developing and some of them are at the hand of my creator, some seem to be the result of my psionic abilities that are manifesting. I have become aware of some changes in my nerve structure, it is being mirrored, a mechanical copy, or improvement is being made, but as of yet I cannot access it. I have a suspicion that it would allow me greater control over my movements to a superhuman level...useful in my original design as a scout and saboteur. I want to ensure it isn't attempting to wrest control of my mind away from me again, and perhaps activate it earlier as I think it would be useful....."

 

The mind control was his greatest fear, every time his diagnostics found a new mechanism  that was what he had to determine first, the fear would never leave him, he didn't wish to be a puppet again.

Share this post


Link to post

Miss Americana nodded gravely, looking at Delta with eyes that were at once sympathetic and incisive. She was holding her body very deliberately relaxed, hands open and palms turned slightly out at her sides, unarmed, nonthreatening. She didn't seem afraid, it seemed more like she didn't want him to be afraid.  "Understandable. Making sure you have full control over your body and mind is going to be our first priority, and we can start with an in-depth examination of your nervous system. I've gotten a lot of baseline data on the cybernetic engineering of Nihilor from Steve and a few other former Omegadrones I've been able to work with. It's not quite the same, but it'll give us a jumping-off point. If you like we can start easy, just a tour of the facility and whatever questions you'd like to ask today, or we can do all that and then start with some scans and noninvasive testing."

 

The elevator door slid open behind her, revealing a clean white and blue interior softly lit by wall panels. She stepped aboard and waited patiently for the others to join her. "We'll be going into the main facility for some of this, but not for a little while yet. There'll be fewer people running around after the end of the workday." 

Share this post


Link to post

Steve hung back as the duo left the elevator, aware that Miss Americana was in her element and that distractions were not called for. He was aware of Delta's reaction to Miss Americana (not an uncommon one) and found himself more wryly sympathetic than anything else. Miss Americana was indeed an attractive robot, and Delta was hardly the first man, or woman for that matter, to have quite that body language and tone of voice around her. Still, knowing that Miss Americana was just a robot, he found himself no more jealous than of the men who complimented Gina on her avatar in World of Warcraft. Having already discussed what he knew of Delta's case with Miss Americana, he opted not to speak about that."Good hands," he commented out loud, words that might have been directed to either of them as he headed after them into the complex.

Share this post


Link to post

Delta looked at the two of them for a moment and then shrugged,"Let's get this over with. I don't want to wait and see what happened. Let's do the scan and see what we an learn...but the tour first, if you don't mind. Ma'am." It still puzzled him this situation with Ms. Americana and Steve, but he was prepared to observe and see how things worked out between the two of them. There might be a lot he could learn from Steve's integration into the Earth-Prime society.

 

There was an emotion he wasn't familiar with, particularly considering he'd never had it before, he was not sure he felt good for Steve and his relationship with the attractive Ms. Americana. Either pushing that away he slipped into the Elevator, standing near Ms. Americana,"Very good, let us begin."

Share this post


Link to post

Miss A started the tour off slow, avoiding the high-traffic areas for the moment and instead heading for areas that Delta would likely find interesting from a tactical point of view. She'd done the same thing with Steve years ago before she'd brought him to this building for the first time, letting him see how secure the place was before asking him to make himself vulnerable in it. She took them past the garage area and through the security and maintenance floors, showing off a bit of the security surveillance web and the biometric security on sensitive areas. "I can turn off the cameras in the labs," she assured Delta, "to ensure that your information stays completely private, but we take data security very seriously in general, for every lab and every person we work with." 

 

By the time she'd showed them the guts of the building, it was after five-thirty and the rush of people leaving for the day would be tapering off. She took them up to the main lobby of the tall glass trapezoid that was the main building and pointed out the restaurants, the scientific and historical displays, the subtle security features to ensure that even in such a large space, no intruders would pass through unseen. A security badge was waiting for Delta at the front desk, Miss A picked it up and offered it to him. "The labs are on the secure floors in the upper third of the building. Nobody without clearance can get up there. I have two doctors and a few lab assistants waiting up there to help with the scanning, but if you're not comfortable, I can do most of the work with my AI assistants for now." 

Share this post


Link to post

Delta didn't say anything but the tour did as it was designed to do, slowly he felt himself relaxing, he nodded to her offer to turn off the camera's, that would be something he would need to appreciate. He didn't avoid people per se but he knew that people didn't respond well to who and what he was, and he preferred to avoid them if he could. Taking the security card from her perfectly shaped fingers he nodded,"Let's start with just you and AI if that is okay."

Share this post


Link to post

Steve hung back as they passed through Archetech, knowing that Miss Americana was a far better tour guide than he could ever be. If the silent, scarred man seemed an odd fit for the place, nobody seemed to notice it; indeed, from what Delta could tell (from the occasional nod or comment by people that passed them by), he was evidently well-known here. Hanging back or not, he did join them for the ride upstairs - and for a moment, meeting Miss A's eyes, he remembered something interesting. "You are getting fine treatment. Miss Americana shot me with her lasers the first time we met," he commented. "And soon we were friends." He smiled awkwardly, then said, more seriously, "Have you considered a holographic disguise? While you are not recognized now for what you are, you will be," he said with the knowledge of one who had been there.

Share this post


Link to post

Delta's twisted his head to look at Steve, then back at Miss Americana and a small smile curved his lips,"Lasers?" He shook his head,"Glad I don't have to deal with those. I suppose I could work on adjusting some of the gimmicks on my belt to disguise who I am. For now complete stealth is fine...I do not do well in social situations generally."

 

He shrugged,"I am adept at overcoming difficult situations should I have to."

Share this post


Link to post

Miss Americana gave Steve a look that was both affectionate and exasperated. "It was a misunderstanding, he was in his armor and in the middle of an emergency situation. It took us a few moments to realize he wasn't the one who caused the emergency and was actually trying to help. Nobody's going to shoot you with lasers here," she promised, then reconsidered. "Well, nothing that's not harmless and diagnostic, anyway." 

 

When the elevator opened again they were in a quiet, empty and very clean hallway. Miss A stepped out first and led the way to a double-airlock door that opened into an expansive lab full of equipment that looked sophisticated and expensive, but mostly was impossible to determine the function of. A robot that looked like an upended trashcan with arms rolled up to her and presented her with a tablet and a surgical cap. Aside from it and two others like it, they were alone in the lab. "Thank you, Emerson," Miss A murmured, briskly twisting her blonde hair back into a bun and securing it under the cap. "All right, Delta, if you could step behind that curtain over there, you'll find some surgical gowns and drapes. If you feel more comfortable keeping some or all of your clothes on,  you can keep anything that doesn't have metal on it. When you're ready, you can climb onto the table." 

 

Her meaning was obvious; the entire lab was centered around the table that stood alone in the center of it. It wasn't made of stainless steel like much of the equipment, rather it seemed to be made of some plastic or foam substance and actually looked like it might be almost comfortable if it were in an austere bedroom instead of in the middle of a research facility. "Take your time, I'll be setting up." 

Share this post


Link to post

Delta looked over the situation, the table and the changing curtain and surgical gowns and shrugged,"In the end metal is the one thing I can't divest myself of...I'm made primarily of various metals."

 

He stepped behind the curtain, his boots clunking off to one side, socks flipping over the top, the technological wonder that was his belt followed, a set of camo cargo pants and then he stepped out.

 

The problem with having worked in a military organization where he had been assembled from the ground up was that he had no idea about modesty so he didn't bother with gowns or anything like that.

 

Naked as the day he was constructed it was obvious he had many, many cybernetic modifications. Mounds of metal bulged from his skin, his spine, both his arms, shoulders and more than three quarters of his head was completely replaced with cybernetics.

 

That said he moved smoothly, swiftly and unabashed to climb on the table. If anyone glanced at his clothing they would see each item arranged so he could dress very, very rapidly and everything was organized as he settled on the table, arms at his side, staring at the roof,"Ready, Doctor."

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×