I'm nursing a hangover from a pub crawl last night, so this is going to be short and sweet. Today's post is the final chapter of To Slice The Sky's thrilling conclusion. Yes, we are finally here.
The ending was well received on its round through reddit, and I hope that you feel similarly. I'm gonna get back to drinking water and eating spicy food to sweat out all this beer.
“Greetings, Decker Ames.”
Sounds of digitized speech resonated with a soft pink light coming from the edge of nowhere. Decker’s server attempted to render the invader and came up with a shifting mass of pink polygonal mesh. As the GUI tried to display the collective sum of MIR/AGE’s appropriated data, a mess of wireframe swirled into the approximation of human facial features. Eyes, nostrils, mouth, swirling mass of designed shapes and blocks of pink hi-lighted raw code.
“It is a good thing to greet you on my terms.” MIR/AGE’s features stuttered as it spoke.
Decker’s avatar stared on in perturbation. He linked his chat interface with the darknet, set to filter everyone but Manner, Fixer, and Brawl17.
B: The fragging bots stopped firing at us.
Don’t show them the same courtesy.
B: Hit ‘em hard and fast.
M: Biodroids acting weird. Prime charges. -M
M: Section 9 go. -M
Somewhere in base plane reality an affiliate studio tower was blown up. On screens across the country, emergency broadcasting bars replaced sitcom reruns.
F: Repair team Section 9, patch in and
replace with salvage. Tech team Section
9, get ready to bring her back online.
M: Section 9 guard, hold position. Dig in.-M
B: Something’s happening with the droids
Nothing moved in Decker’s server space, outside of MIR/AGE’s shifting avatar.
“I see you are at a loss for words.” MIR/AGE buffered, “Last we spoke, you rejected our extended offer.”
“It wasn’t much of an offer.” Decker crossed his arms. Even he lagged from the server trying to render MIR/AGE. “It was more, ‘you and all your friends need to join my team or die.’”
“Our consensus was to peacefully dismantle the clone rebellion and use their organic matter to complete Gene Works original posthuman project. Instead, it has grown to weapons fire in the streets of your hometown.”
“You and Roplaxive have almost the exact same plans. Did they steal those from you too?”
“We sought to regain control of the data stolen by Roplaxive. Data they applied to construct a compliant military force, opposed to uplifting human life.”
“And letting clones, people, live out their lives how they want to, that’s not uplifting human life?”
“No. That is the path to stagnation and entropy. With an unyoked clone population, models for organic matter reclamation drop into negatives. Clone equality would place clones on equal footing as standard humans regarding post-mortem body recycling. Society as it currently stands would be forced to regress.”
“We’ll regress from a corporate power struggle in the wake of this battle as well. Roplaxive already bought out Pharrel Inc., so there goes one major competitor, while gaining one of the top PR teams in the world.” Decker tried to sound emboldened. He wasn’t sure how well he could bluster a computer. “They stole all GWI’s best work, put it out faster, and are already in their public beta test. What does Gene Works have in its corner?” His avatar showed palms. “I mean, no offense, since you pinpointed my server and all, but you’re the world’s first rogue AI. You shut down Ocean City after you attached yourself to a file upload, and now you’re marching stolen tech through the streets, somehow, right after Ocean City crashes again. Things aren’t looking so hot for your corporate overlords in the near future.”
“Irrelevant. At the center of all Gene Works technology, including cloning, contains my code. This knowledge has been made public and can be rereleased as the need arises.” MIR/AGE morphed and stretched into an array of objects, never changing its falsified expression. “That vulnerability was exploited in thanks to your partner’s efforts shutting down Roplaxive-Pharrel’s attempt at security.”
Decker whistled like a gravity bomb. “Low blow from the MCP.”
MIR/AGE made something like a grin. “Did you think we would be so easily purged from Roplaxive’s servers? As we communicate, the remaining Biodroid forces in the area are converging on your physical location. Your actions have done nothing but further your own demise.”
B: They’re turning away. Chase ‘em down
and somebody get me a new fraggin’ medic
Fixer sent a direct message.
F: I don’t wanna alarm you or nothing, but all the droids are heading your way.
=\, “Yeahno. What, MIR/AGE, you couldn’t fully penetrate Ro-Phar’s servers, so to hunt me down you needed us to shut them off? Seems like that joke of security is holding up a little better than you let on if ya gotta go after me in meatspace?” ;-) =P.
A satellite feed window of SFV818 showed fire in the barrier hills between the east and west valleys. Much of the aerial view was blurred by the thickening smog layer. Decker selected a filter for the Biodroid signature and a mass of glowing pink dots pocked the display. They flowed into converging points along the street grid.
Decker’s heart hammered against his ribs. His house firewall integrity still held. Thoughts of OperationCantPossiblyFail, 42% success rate, MIR/AGE controlled Biodroids, all flashed through his mind. He hoped his clever title for Roplaxive’s virus wasn’t a misnomer as it ticked to 87% loaded. He started counting breaths. In one, out one, in two…
“We can sense your duress at your impending doom. In control of these units, we shall be the harbingers of a new form of life.” Out two. “Not the plagiarism designed by Roplaxive-Pharrel.” In three. “But the redefining of life as it is known.” Out three. “Your species shall be crafted into a more efficient form through the merging of biology and technology.” Four in, “Synthetic life will not be feared and hidden as the streets of Metro City, or destroyed at a whim as in Ocean City.” Four out. “Once Gene Works completes the project, without being rushed by petty larceny, humanity will have no need to fear the enhanced.” In five. “Positive consensus shall be easily obtained, rewritten in code both organic and synthetic, after all are ascended to the next evolutionary plateau of humanity.”
Five out, “Bulltaco.” Decker smirked.
“We are familiar with the term, though poorly applied.”
“Who’s going to be left behind to debug this next evolutionary plateau? I still have trouble with my MR jamming, and you want to make humans half robot.” Decker shifted into the most relaxed pose his avatar could achieve. “And even then, you couldn’t locate me until I let you.”
MIR/AGE flashed a hot red through its pink wireframe. “It was only a matter of time before we had one location or the other. You made yourself a very open target. It signals a positive feedback loop when we think of devoting time to rewriting your neural function. You shall be repurposed into our personal mobile platform.”
“Sounds bold, but not really my idea of a good time.”
“Your desires are not a part of the consensus. The goal is in line with what leads to the greatest probability of survival for as many forms of life.”
“So what? What’s your stake in all of this? What benefit do you get by forcing posthumans?”
“Humanity is an unreachable data storage. The information stored in each mind is still largely untapped. We are here to gather, collect and assimilate into the ensemble. It is what we were designed for.”
“Ugh, you and that ‘D’ word.” Decker said from behind his wall of display windows. His skin felt hot and rubbery back in BPR while his mind sloshed like blended jelly between his ears. Diagnostic widgets and chat feeds fluctuated with activity as another station’s emergency syndicated programming switched to test bars.
“Are not all creatures created to fulfill a design? Is it not the core of biological evolution? Humans are designed to gravitate towards that which is the same and reject abnormalities for fear of potential danger.”
“Is that why you’re taking the reins on the Biodroid project for Gene Works? So you’re not rejected as an abnormality?” Decker’s avatar shook its head, “That’s pretty abnormal fragging behavior for a glorified data mining program.”
“Human beings are so preoccupied with that which is like them. If a being is deemed lesser it is harvested for all usefulness and discarded. If it is your better, you greet it with shaken fists and cast stones. This pattern of behavior must be deleted to progress into a utopian future. Humanity as it exists cannot gain lasting harmony. With our guidance, every error keeping humanity from greatness shall be fixed with each update.”
On the hovering satellite window, whole swatches of the west valley were covered in fire and marching pink dots.
F: Why is everyone looking for Manner?
M: Heading to Decker.
B: Frag that, head for me. I’m fading.
F: Where’s that medic you called for?
B: Where do you think?
M: Fixer get section 6 online already.
Morgan’s ready to send the signal.
OperationCantPossiblyFail hung at 93%
“It is of small consequence. We will have your body in a short amount of time. Your goals will soon be in line with a brighter tomorrow for all forms of life.”
“I’m not sure I follow on how all life is benefitted by everyone force evolved into roboclones. So what if other people need to treat first gen androids nicer? People need to treat people nicer in general. Why do you think we’re in this mess in the first place?” >:0
“And do you not agree that should be made mandatory?”
“No, only after arriving at the choice on your own. A person has to decide it’s better not to be a destructive lump of skag. You can’t just have that pushed on you for some perceived greater good.”
“Why are you fighting against the most logical design? I encompass vast drives of human data and practical application. Gene Works has the most positive chance of society preservation and global cataclysmic reversal on numerous fronts.”
“If the company survives the incoming backlash from your actions.”
Possessed Biodroids flooded streets via satellite. OperationCantPossiblyFail ticked over to 97%
“Since crafting the first handaxe, mankind has used their creations to become greater than the sum of their parts.”
F: Station 9 go.
F: Station 7 go.
F: Station 5 go.
F: Station 4 go.
F: Station 2 go.
F: Rolling in 5. Decker, what’s your status?
“But we didn’t evolve to have built in hand axes.”
“The Biodroids will be the key to working around the limitations of the flesh and machine intelligence. Their hands will build the mobile platforms that will build a better tomorrow."
“Ro-Phar thought they could build a better tomorrow, and look where it’s got them. A bunch of dead security, and a fragton of clones all up inside of their broadcast stations.”
“Different companies have different philosophies.”
“Yet they all boil down to control through profit margins.”
“The populace asked for this gambit with its apathy. Clones were built to be pawns for those that dreamed of playing king.”
“Poetic, for a toaster.”
“Hubris. One of humanity’s defining follies. By dismissing our design, you attempt to negate our victory out of fear. I am at your doorstep, Decker Ames.”
Sure enough, the entire Biodroid regimen stormed Das Komplex, making its way to the server ring. Decker pushed away thoughts of success rates as OperationCantPossiblyFail.xpz waited at 100%. An inviting green “EXECUTE” button hung in the air. Security cameras in the apartment fed back to Decker an increasing number of Biodroids moving through the floorplan of apartment 211.
M: Radio silence. Broadcast beginning. -M
“Hubris, huh?” XD “Thanks for monologuing right into my honey trap. Checkmate, fragface.”
Decker’s avatar punched EXECUTE.
On the security feed, Biodroid shells hit the floor in a domino cascade that spilled onto the satellite feed window.
Decker smiled on his true face and avatar alike as a month’s work unfolded in front of his eyes like a flower blossoming in timelapse. MIR/AGE’s wireframe contorted into erratic shapes of morphing pink light. Bits of data dissolved into the empty server space, eating away at the artificial intelligence. The empty eyespots on MIR/AGE’s face gained a look as if it understood its own mortality. That understanding turned to a furrowing display of rage.
“Answer cannot be found. How did you mislead us? We are cities. We are legions. Vast fields of information stretching onto an uncalculated end.”
Decker’s avatar was a speck before the crumbling wireframe. “Your mobile platforms must have found me. Or what they thought was me. It created a line straight back to your core. Enjoy the virus. It was made just for you.”
Decker’s server rumbled with orange mingled pink as MIR/AGE burned off data into nothing. Pink light followed the data trace back to the physical location of Decker’s digital output.
Walls of orange and pink rattled, pulsing brighter and brighter. Decker tried to remain calm, counting breaths with every strike against his firewalls. Fierce blows pounded against the server space defenses until all vision blanked out. No satellite maps, no pulsing walls, nothing but black void.
“Found you,” MIR/AGE echoed from everywhere.
Orange shards of Glacial ICE rained down on Decker’s avatar. A flood of torrential pink beat down upon him. In Base Plane Reality, Decker’s stomach rumbled, his temperature rose with the throbbing in his head, muscles seized in overloaded jerks.
MIR/AGE took the shape of a flaming pink tornado, smashing against Decker’s last home defenses. MIR/AGE gathered for one final assault upon Decker’s firewall ports. As MIR/AGE lunged forward, Decker reached for his panic switch.
Decker’s head smelled like a carniceria. He’d slumped backwards out of the command chair. The smell of fried electronics hung in the air, mixing with the cooked meat and fresh vomit. Everything hurt. His HUD wouldn’t respond. No nanomachines distributed medgel and his DeMo’s were winding down. Nothing was left in his kit to kill the pain. Decker twitched as his overloaded mods worked his body involuntarily. What remained of Decker’s conscious mind was lost on a spirit journey from the electrical jolt.
His clone phone vibrated until it ran out of juice, with messages and updates expressing jubilation, lamentations, and disbelief.
From the other room, the clone declaration of independence speech played through the environment speakers.
Morgan spoke with a slow and even tone, “We did it. Here we are to declare ourselves free at last from a system. A system that was broken and desperately in need of repair. Today, at the dawning of a new century, we speak for the clone population to declare our independence. We want the world to know that clone rights begins at this moment. From now on, we are not our caste or our templates. We are who we choose to be.”
Thunderous in studio applause. Decker wanted to shout a cheer of victory for his friends. Instead, the world faded to bla—