Melissa Destiny

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Chapter 3.2

Suky reactivated in a zone with no compatible network access. His internal modems dialed and dialed (retrying once every three seconds) but every signal coming back Suky’s way was unintelligible gibberish. What kind of gibberish is it?, was the obvious question. Suky did not exactly think this question, because of course machines can’t think, but his system had been pre-programmed to analyze incompatible transmissions. Some of the signals coming in seemed like entertainment feeds, since they were on or near the wavelengths used for TV and radio, but Suky could not convert them into sound or image files. They were like files that had been corrupted, either by a virus or an irretrievable hard-drive error. The difference was that they were everywhere; the air-waves were full of them. It was not possible that all transmissions in Texas had been corrupted by a virus at once; a virus that acted that quickly would have to be delivered as part of the .gov master feed, and a virus delivered that way would certainly have infected Suky too. So what had happened?, was the obvious question.

Suky had no pre-programming to help him deal with the fact that he was on another planet.

Suky’s secret rip-saw attachment was still extruded. Blood and bits of bone were caught within the metal teeth, and it was dripping. The attachment could be not pulled back into Suky’s torso until it had been cleaned properly, so that was Suky’s first order of business. Suky removed a silver scouring cloth and dampened it with a powerful acid from a spray fixture in his left palm; the acid would melt away the skin, bone, and gristle caught in his rip-saw, without damaging the metal, and then in thirty seconds the acid would biodegrade into water and evaporate, leaving no hazardous residue. While Suky cleansed himself, his internal modems continued to dial and dial unsuccessfully. Suky could not stop trying until he had reached the government. “Suitcase” model ChauffaBots had never been intended for any degree of unsupervised operation, and this was particularly true in Suky’s case due to the secret “above-manual” customizations that had been performed on him right before he was given to Melissa Destiny. Suky did not know why he had been equipped with so many powerful (and possibly illegal) weapons systems and data management software apps, but he knew that Melissa was an especially important person, one of the most important people in the world according to his programming. Of course, if it was a question of protecting either Melissa or the President, or if Melissa and one of the Military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff were under attack at the same time, Suky would choose to protect the President or General first. But Melissa took precedence over anyone else, even the Vice-President! If Melissa was in danger, the Vice-President could not depend on Suky for help. Luckily, the V-P had bodyguards of his own, probably even faster and stronger than Suky was.

Where was Melissa? As the rip-saw slid back into Suky’s chest, he began to look around him to locate Mel. Only eight seconds had passed since his reactivation; Suky had done the cleaning very quickly. It was a very high-level priority to keep his special customizations secret from everyone, including Melissa; that was why he had hidden the saw before beginning to look for her. He would have to be very careful not to touch her for the next twenty-five seconds, because any acid residues on his hands would take that long to finish breaking down and evaporating.

Suky was standing over a dead man wearing a blue suit with silver stars on it that grew and shrank slowly. The man had a long blond beard that reached down to the middle of his chest. The middle of his chest had been torn open and parts of different internal organs were lying around his body. The floor under them was a blue steel platform; where the platform ended, a gray concrete floor began. In that area of the room there were several huge computers; these computers were much larger than they needed to be, the sort of massive mainframes that IBM used to build for the government, all of which had been junked by the end of the miniaturization boom of the ‘80s, according to Suky’s tech-history database. There was also a round doorway that was the only exit from the room; beyond this was some sort of passageway or tunnel that initially sloped downward. The ceiling emitted a soft white light at 70 watts; the light came from all parts of the ceiling at once, and was obviously designed to be comfortable for human eyes. Whatever humans used this room obviously preferred it be somewhat dim, however, because the light was 19% dimmer than the standard-specification lighting used in government buildings and most businesses. In fact, the light was weak enough that workers could sue their management if they were required to engage in extensive typing or filing tasks in such an environment. Obviously, the people who maintained this installation had little respect for governmental authority; there was no reason other than arrogance to defy government standard-specifications. Or perhaps the room was a portion of a private residence, the owner of which did not have any domestic servants or other domestic employees?

More likely, considering the advanced yet outdated technology, the owners were some sort of non-conformist organization, possibly even terrorists.

There were no people. There were no windows. It was not the Goode Company barbecue restaurant. There were no recognizable .gov transmissions, and no comprehensible network access. This probably meant that Suky was not in America anymore. Suky’s analytic sub-routines therefore determined (incorrectly, as it turns out) that he had been inactive for an extended period, and had been moved to a foreign city while deactivated. However, the transmission activity around Suky did not fit the standard-specifications of any economic territory or stateless zone.

Suky needed to leave this installation, which might somehow by inhibiting signals from outside, in order to produce some sort of alternative data-sphere. The concept of another data-sphere hidden in some building, quarantined from the normal airwaves and unsupervised by any government, seemed unbearably treasonous to Suky. The government must be informed and this installation must be annihilated, ASAP! Furthermore, only by reconnecting to the normal data-sphere could Suky begin to properly search for Melissa; without network resources, he could not even know where to begin. Having realized that his impulse to find Melissa and his impulse to connect with the government were fundamentally the same impulse, Suky’s processors began to focus on how. Suky re-configured into his highest speed mode. His feet sprouted wheels and his legs shortened, lowering and turning his torso, so that it was parallel to the ground. Meanwhile his head slid backward to what would have been the middle of his back; in this position, the various scanners in Suky’s head could capture the most info about the environment around him, as he shot through it. Suky began to roll, at approximately 15 miles an hour, into the passageway that exited from the room. It had been 19 seconds since his re-activation, and the acid on his hands would still be corrosive for another 15 seconds.



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