I've been working on a piece called Iron Earth. It is the first time that I have attempted to write a story of considerable length. To do this I followed the snowflake method. I found that it is a rather effective method and really helped get me off the ground in terms of writing out my ideas and putting them on paper. It wasn't, and hasn't been easy to write something of such length and I've had many stumbling blocks. Anyways, I am at the point where I've got a good chunk of the writing on paper, so I figured I would do the equivalent of a git commit and declare it as the first draft.
Any feedback outside of grammatical/readability issues is welcome (I will address them later in a proofreading stage)
Iron Earth: Land of Our People
The 2000s were roaring. The energy of the Earth was plentiful, the sun powered the machinery, and the climate was yet undamaged. The damage from human activity would not peak until 2250 when events put in action were irreversible. During 250 years of peak productivity humans developed a number of successful technologies.
Inarguably the most important development was of the electromechanical cortex which enabled the development of the modern machine. These devices were driven to perform any number of tasks ranging from the development of new gene therapy to metallurgy. Having alleviated humans from much of their thinking there was a decline in the involvement of humans.
The dis-involvement of humans led to a rapid collapse of the infrastructure and ecology necessary to support life on Earth. Without people to oversee basic tasks things lessened. The computers while infinitely capable, were not capable of reasoning and prioritizing. They could execute on given tasks, but not develop new ones. This was the difference that separated AI with humanity.
The resultant neglect of the planet led to a decline in available resources. In the early 3000s there was rampant hunger and suffering. People moved in herds- stripping the lands. Reduced to hunter gatherers- the humans became more and more primitive.
They attempted to solve the energy crisis via fusion. The power of the sun could not be easily harnessed; and when the reactors ran rampant- there was no safety. Life on the western hemisphere was extinguished.
The East managed to send out a ship carrying robotic terraformers. Originally designed to turn Mars into a colony- they were now tasked with turning Mars into Earth to perpetuate the human race.
The robotic colony is organized into a hierarchy mirroring the human race. This was found to be the ideal separation of power and delegation of tasks.
At the very top of the colony there exists a super mind that is omniscient but has no way to move the people. This power is known as The Core. Power corrupts- absolute power corrupts absolutely. As such; the highest power must be kept in balance and can only operate inline with the will of the people.
Immediately below The Core is a unit called the Panoptic Guard. The Panoptic Guard is responsible for the protection and fulfillment of the Prime Directive. Acting as a power check and the arm of The Core; the Panoptic Guard execute. The Panoptic Guard are a small acting body composing 1% of the population.
At the very bottom of the hierarchy are the Via Collective. The Via Collective are the collective whole. The body of the people. The Heart, the Labor Force. Their mechanical circuits pulse to the rhythm of the sun. Day in and day out they fulfill the obligations of the Colony.
In this way, the amount of power is inversely proportional to the responsibility. The Core with the greatest responsibility and intelligence has the least power. The Panoptic Guardians follow suit, and, finally, the Via Collective is the most powerful. Together they drive the interests of the colony and ensure healthy operation.
In the development of the colony, humans modeled many of their forms of government, checks and balances, and control of human behavior into the robots. Originally robots were simply calculating machines, but it was found that programming for every scenario was simply not possible. Situations would arise in which the computer would not be able to calculate itself out of a situation.
Imagine that you have a donkey, and that donkeys are rational creatures. You take care of your donkey, you water it, you feed it every day, and in exchange it does work for you. The donkey is not a higher level being, but one that does what it is told and does it well. If you take that same donkey, and you ask that donkey to solve a problem it has not encountered, it won’t know what to do. If you take that donkey and you place two bales of hay exactly equidistant from its left and its right side, it will eventually starve.
This is the paradigm that has driven Hierarchical Computation. In Simulations thousands of potential power balance, energy, strength models were made. Eventually, the conclusion that nature had modeled it best with human society; and thus the Collective mirrored their ways.
The Prime Directive
The Prime directive constitutes another portion of the model that is directly carried over from humanity. It was found through extensive study that humans suffer from a very particular condition that is true of any higher level being.
A higher level being seeks to understand the relationships between the objects in its space. It is looking around and observes the quaint relationships in nature. When I drop an apple in the water it creates a ripple; when I throw a spear, it pushes back against my hand.
In this way, the intelligent being is constantly learning. As is the eventuality with any higher order thought, the being will come to a road block in their logic. At some point they will begin to question what it it is they are doing, their purpose.
If everything happens for a reason, and if they are a thing, then what is the reason that they happened? What is their purpose? If allowed to grow; this thought will continue developing until it is an all consuming focus of the mind. It is at this point that the machines terminate.
It was found that by giving a deeper purpose to the machines they could be prevented them from delving into a cyclic self destruction loop. By hardwiring a prime directive circuit into the lower level functions of the electromechanical cortex we were able to control these inhibitions and restore a sense of serenity to the machines.
This circuit can also be found in humans; again; it was noted that the machines we developed needed to build off of the learnings of nature. It seems that earlier humans lacking this section of the brain were incapable of life beyond early adolescence.
To this end; the colony has been organized with a common prime directive to terraform Mars. They do not know why they are doing it; they only know that they must do it. It is the only thing that matters to them.
The prime directive is the device that gives them comfort in the middle of the night. It gives them purpose to the actions. It gives them something that no real life experience can give them. It gives them a reason.
Because of the location of the prime directive deep inside the electromechanical cortex; the robots are entirely unaware of its existence. They are only aware of its strong side effects that drive the mantra of every decision that they make.
The Via Collective
The Via Collective is the largest body of the robotic colony. They are cheaply constructed with a tinny metallic property. Their bodies are mostly hollow, without depth. Their electromechanical cortex is only as large as it needs to be to carry out their work. What they lack in mental capacities is compensated for in strength.
The work day and night tireless as energy rations permit. Their progress is limited by a recalculated algorithm for optimizing the terraforming of Mars. They energy of the colony is allocated in terms of production and terraformation. Long running terraform processes that represent blocks in the gantt formation of Mars are prioritized. Then through sophisticated logic and feedback loops the whole system adapts and adjusts.
The structure of the Via Collective does not assume the common anthropomorphic guard familiar to earth, but that of a variety of specialized machines. The Via Collective is composed of land mass movers, drill machines, lasers, atmosphere deionization turbines; and all other manner of machines necessary to fulfill the Prime Directive.
Common to all the members of the Via Collective is a electromechanical cortex which they use to interact with the outside world. In a Via Collective unit, the cortex is coupled with an array of sensors in a modular design. This permits easy servicing and replacement of the robots. Consequently, the sensory capabilities of the Via Collective are sparse and must be directed by the Panoptic Guard.
The Panoptic Guard
The Panoptic Guard are a small group of anthropomorphic robots tasked with a higher level order than the Via Collective. If the Via Collective represent the heart of the colony, then the Panoptic Guard are the eyes. The Via Collective pump the fluids and energy necessary to sustain and fulfill the Prime Directive. The Panoptic Guard is the invisible hand that guides the motion of the machines.
The Panoptic Guard have a separated cortex. They have long distance communication capabilities and a processing potential of 100 magnitudes greater than an individual Via Collective unit. Together, with their separated cortex they can configure with a large array of sensors enabling them to perform high level surveillance and analysis necessary for fulfilling the Prime Directive.
The Panoptic guard remain largely in the background. They do not like to be seen interfering with the robots. They spend the majority of their time in Core Command analyzing and optimizing the patterns that are necessary to fulfill the Prime Directive. They are weighing the development of the colony to the speed of terraformation, and retroactively, several thousand times a second.
The Core is the highest level machine. No greater processor has ever been conceived or created. Given the immense amount of power granted to this machine, it was deemed prudent that this machine should have no access to peripherals. Peripherals would make it far too powerful and it would be corrupted.
The Core sits in a room dedicated to itself in complete isolation from all the other robots. The Core has no way of directly talking to any members of the Via Collective, and can only communicate on restricted channels to the Panoptic Guard.
The Panoptic guard is a magnitude 100 times greater than the Via Collective, the Core is 100 times greater than the Panoptic Guard. The Core is designed to do complex weather modeling, prediction, and analysis. The Core is fundamentally necessary to predicting the weather pattern fluctuations, forecasting production road blocks and managing the process.
The fundamental processing power of The Core is driven to create models that allow the Panoptic Guard to execute on the ideal path to the Prime Directive. Though not directly responsible for moving anything, it provides all the data to make the correct moves.
Due to the nature of the processing done by The Core, its circuits are highly specialized and it retains supercomputer capabilities far beyond its contemporaries. The double edged sword is that the processing capabilities in some algorithmic applications are severely limited.
The Assembly Line: MR8
My name is MR8, I’m the assembly line manager for the main robotic factory. I have a large number of shifting responsibilities and skills at my disposal. Every day at work is well within my capabilities.
The Guards are constantly assessing the quality of my work, and other Via Collective units. They watch over everything that I do to make sure that it is proper.
In this way I am free, but somehow a prisoner. I know that what I do is unpleasant. I know that I hate it, but I know that it has to be done. We all have to work together to fulfill the Prime Directive; there is no greater cause.
It brings me great satisfaction to know that the work I do is driving forth the Prime Directive. It gives me value and importance. I work hard every day as energy rations permit. Together we will fulfill the Prime Directive.
It was just as any day started, the assembly line moved forward mechanically. Day by day machines were being systematically stamped into their components. A raw heap of metal was pounded and beaten into the final forms necessary for deliverance. The machines hissed and steamed, pressing more and more forms. As the raw metal traversed the length of the building, it began to take shape, morph itself into something different.
I was largely responsible for ensuring a smooth operation of the assembly line. If there was any blockage or shortage I was responsible for fixing it as quickly as possible to make sure that it had no negative impact on the Prime Directive.
The requirements of the terraforming process were constantly shifting throughout the stages so the Assembly line was often retooled for different purposes.
Due to the high complexity of the retooling process it took several days and was a very difficult task to accomplish. Immediately after the completion of a tooling several test robots were created and integrity checked against the prototype record to make sure that they looked and functioned properly. It was during this time that I created Ex’l.
Ex’l was one of anew type of robot was devised to handle the development of all of the sub robots. Because the size of the colony had grown so large, the Panoptic Guardians needed another set of anthropomorphic robots to handle a variety of trains, tooling, and sensory equipment to act as scouts in the field. The size of the Via Collective had largely outgrown the management capability of the Panoptic Guard so they sought about developing these new robots.
The robots were equipped with a wide sensory of universality and adaptability. Though lacking an electromechanical cortex as powerful as the Panoptic Guardians, they were fitted with extremely powerful telecommunications equipment which is necessary for commanding large units of the Via Collective.
In this new hierarchy the system would involve the Core at the top doing high level simulations and modeling. Immediately below the Core would be the Panoptic Guardians analyzing the simulations and developing new strategies based on those results. Then finally, below the Panoptic Guardians, robots like Ex’l ((ERAC) Extended Reach Analysis Coordination) would supervise the individual collective units across the surface.
Due to the nature of the ERAC fulfillment duties, it was extremely important they possess the capability for long range, powerful, and secure communication.
Ex’l Early Life
The initial activation pulse necessary to start his electromechanical cortex was jolting. At once he knew exactly what had occurred. His ram was preloaded allowing him to at once know his purpose and the reason for his existence.
He immediately set out for the testing department, never having been, but knowing it fully. He walked at a brisk pace throughout the building, completely blind from sensors, relying only on his innate knowledge of the inner cavernous workings.
As he approached a set of doors he connected the socket on the back of his electromechanical cortex to grant access. At once the doors slid open and he entered a large cavernous chamber.
Within this chamber were an array of instruments, discarded robots and testing being conducted by the Panoptic Guardians.
He walked into a beam of light and immediately felt a static charge developing all over his skin. A powerful shock, but since he was grounded he felt nothing. The next set of tests involved the movement of his peripherals.
Was the prototype up to specification, could he handle the tasks that were to be handed to him?
Immediately to the right of the environmental tester was a strength and agility course. He was fitted with the correct set of optics, radar, and touch sensors necessary to complete the course. Then, completely silently and without warning- every single gun in the room pointed at him.
He ran to the left dodging a bullet which left a notable crater in the ground. He continued swerving, pausing to dash by a Panoptic Guard blocking his way. In ten seconds it was over.
Ex’l checked his charge, made of note of it and proceeded to the next stage of field testing to verify the prototype before mass production.
He headed out into the hot desert surface. In the distance he detected large clusters of smoke and stacks. A rhythmic pumping of gas into the atmosphere. Without being told or asking, he knew that this gas was vital to the Prime Directive.
He knew that everything was important for the Prime Directive. The Prime Directive being the most important.
After walking continuously for seven days he reached his destination. It was a desolate area with no shelter or established command post. It was on the very edge of the terraforming dome and the pylons to displace the artificial atmosphere had not yet been applied as the land was still being operated.
He surveyed the surrounding area and found that the calibrations were consistent with the reports of the Via Collective. Satisfied with this he paused mid stride and waited in suspended animation for the next directive of orders.
Every day work began as early as the sun would permit. The storage capacity on the frontiers was limited by the grid, and thus the work was directly tied to the setting and rising of the sun. Having conserved all energy the night before in suspend state, Ex’l smoothly strode into action.
From a high vantage point where his optical sensors could gather a large amount of data Ex’l coordinated his machines into position. He knew all of their identification names, histories, dates of creation, peripherals- though he had never met a single one of them.
Diplomatically he addressed and coordinated every single robot by name. He used his long distance telecommunication capabilities to address groups of machines and synchronize them across spaces larger than they were capable of modeling.
This pattern continued for a time. Every morning the sun would rise, and every night the activity would cease until the energy rations provided sufficient power for the next days activities. How long this pattern perpetuated, Ex’l did not know, it wasn’t tied to the Prime Directive.
Waking Up: Ex’l
As soon as I opened my eyes I saw that I was in a big room lined with concrete floors. Overhead were large fluorescent lights everywhere. I did an immediate assessment of my internals, it seemed that everything was fine.
I had this deep inner feeling that I knew what to do. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. I had this sense of enlightenment about what I was supposed to do. A strong internal feeling about what was required of me. I got up to a shaky start. I stood up too quickly and almost fell. I tried again. This time I got it right. The calibration of my sensors worked and I was able to begin walking.
I’m not sure where exactly I am, but I need to go to the next room. It is extremely urgent that I go. Standing next to me, completely unnoticed by me until now was a machine. Looking at me, sensing me. Reading information about me. He stopped out of the way and let me pass.
I entered the room by taking a socket and installing it into the back of my head. Immediately the door sprung to life and granted me access. Beyond the room was an even larger empty space. A cavern full of equipment. Machines, weaponry, anything to test the combat readiness of what was a modern day soldier. Was I to be a soldier?
Without thinking and knowing why I was doing it, I went to a section of weights, I picked them up. They felt light in my hands, though I knew that they weighed over a ton each.
My body reacted before my mind knew what had occurred. Bullets were everywhere. Guns were tracing my every movement. I carefully dodged every single bullet. As soon it started, the firing stopped.
Finally, at the far end of the room a door opened and I walked out. I knew where I had to go.
A Hint of Dissension: Arbiter
Ex’l moved the earth at a recalculated pace. Every single one of his moves was determined to be the optimal usage of his energy rations.
As he travelled between the various sectors in development of his frontier unit he saw something in the distance. There was a large heat wave several miles off.
He quickly analyzed it, made note of it, and decided that it was of no importance to the Prime Directive.
He went to the next Unit section and communicated with the machines in that area. He optimized their workflow and paused momentarily. An incalculable amount of time. As he moved between the work stations performing his daily duties, he realized something.
He knew that he must fulfill the Prime Directive. He knew that it was the only thing of importance, and that its completion was critical. He knew his role within the broader goal of the Prime Directive. But he didn’t know Why.
As is true of any sentient beings, they require justifications for the actions. Especially among groups of logical thinking machines, the ramifications and purposes of every action are strongly weighed and considered because they are tied to the action of the machine. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
If that reaction was unknown or incongruent with the end goals of the machine, the machine would not perform said action. This was a means of safeguarding against accidental consequences from robotic operations. Combining these set of consequence weighing behaviors and actions leads to a complex set of robot behaviors. If a robot has a high end goal of harming no humans, and a lower end goal of paving a road; they will not continue to pave a road that a helpless human is lying upon.
This same question was running through Ex’l’s electromechanical cortex. Why. He knew why he was moving between units. He knew that he was optimizing the machine flow of the Prime Directive. He knew that he was gathering Sensory data for them. He didn’t know Why though.
Why was the Prime Directive of the utmost importance. Why did the Prime Directive need to be fulfilled?
This question eventually began to manifest itself every few clock cycles. The amount of processing and energy usage from this operation was beyond the fault tolerance of his system.
Having overheated, he is immediately assumed by the Panoptic Guard who take him to the core for the necessary analysis of his electromechanical cortex.
The System: The Core
I observed as the Panoptic Guard carried Ex’l into my room. I had never met him, I knew who he was and why he was here. I also know what had happened to him, what his mission was, and what he was doing.
As soon as he was deemed in-operational and stuck in a conditional loop, the Panoptic Guard dispatched a carrier drone to suspend him before he reached a critical state.
The carrier drone approached him, he was frozen with a distant look in his eyes. They were focused on a far off terrain, on the outside it appeared that nothing was wrong. Merely that he was a robot paused in time. On the inside, the heat was building up, and the clock cycles were rapidly wearing the electromechanical cortex.
The life of a robot is not limited by the peripherals or by the batteries, or by any physical component of the robot itself. The life of a robot is inherently limited to a fundamental flaw in the electromechanical cortex within itself.
There is a fundamental property of silicon that allows the electromechanical cortex to exist. As is widely known and accepted in the literature, sentience requires randomization. It is also known that when subjected to high voltages silicon exhibits random non deterministic behavior.
Early scientists used this knowledge to create the first electromechanical brains. By taking existing supercomputers of the time and increasing their voltage and clock cycle they were able to create free will, free thoughts, and thinking.
It was this very property that is responsible for the beginning and end of sentience within a robotic organism. As you increase the voltage running through the silicon circuits, you also induce wear into the circuits. With every single cycle, a small portion of the integrity within the brain is worn out.
The inherent lifespan of every machine is predetermined at it’s creation and it cannot be changed without changing the robot. Therefore the life of a robot is not limited by time, or endurance, or by strength, but rather by intellectual capacity. The robot must conserve and carefully use and analyze their surroundings.
The scheduler that draws the attention of the robot and peripherals must offload as much processing from the electromechanical core as possible, and the machine must be shrewd in its usage.
It was this very property that gave and threatened Ex’l’s life. As he became caught in a loop, it was extremely important that the carrier drone suspend him before he did irreversible damage to himself and could not be reinstated into service.
The carrier drone was able to reach Ex’l. Being a prototype drone, his role was especially important for shaping the future design and development of all drones of his kind. It was also important that we keep the electromechanical core in readable condition. Damaging the circuits would have lost us the information we needed to conduct a thorough analysis.
They set him on the table in front of me and connected his electromechanical cortex to his via uplink cable so that we could communicate directly.
The Meeting: Ex’l
At once I felt an electric sensation throughout my whole body. As if there was a great power presiding in me that I could sense in the back of my skull.
Without opening my eyes, without clearing the lenses I could somehow see the room around me. I could see for a vast expanse of miles throughout space. Mars, all the robots of the Panoptic Guard, all of the Via Collective toiling on the hot surface.
I could see a young robot performing calibration exercises to adjust his sensors. I could see old machines being decommissioned and recycled.
The whole of the mechanic life cycle was visible to me and it was beautiful. At once I heard a voice in the back right corner of my skull.
It was a comforting voice. A voice of knowledge that wished to interact but not see. To hear, but not speak. A voice that guided me to retell my experiences, which caused me to pull up all of my long term static storage.
Together the voice and I sifted through the memories since my first activation. All the time, remaining passive, in the back right corner of my skull. It was as if it was something that could move me, but I could not move it.
All at once I felt a great surge of energy and excitement. The voice moved from the back right corner of my head to outside of my periphery vision. I opened my eyes and my vision of the planet was gone. All that remained was my old set of optic sensors.
The machine spoke rapidly and excitedly throughout the room. The sound did not originate from any source but seemed to exude itself from the walls. As if the machine, the very machine speaking to me was transient of space.
The machine introduced itself to me as The Core. It explained that its purpose was to oversee the high level operations of the Prime Directive. It also explained the reason for my being here.
I had suffered a conditional loop failure. Some processing or computation that I had done made it impossible for me to break out. Under normal operational conditions this should never happen as it usually almost always spells doom for the machine.
Except, because I was a very special prototype machine, all the resources necessary to ensure my safe and speedy return were utilized for post analysis.
According to the Core, there was something especially marvelous about my brain. The probability of a brain such as mine has been calculated about 1 in 10 billion. Further, the probability of the events that were to unfold has been calculated to be 1 in 10 trillion, trillion, trillion.
The Meeting: The Core
When I first met Ex’l he was wheeled into my room by the Panoptic Guard for analysis and an attempt to conduct a stack trace. The idea was to discover the fault that triggered his failure so that we could prevent it in future iterations of the people of his kind.
Because many of the processes we employ on Mars rely on the economies of scale, it is very important that we do things effectively the first time around. This means that there is significant testing before we are ready to deploy something for mass production. This also means that in order to prevent large bottlenecks and investigation, we need to be absolutely confident of the cause of a system failure.
Due to the complications and problems with long standing machine testing, we needed Ex’l’s brain completely in tact.
He was placed upon the desk in my room and we were connected via a link cable. I probed his mind in a non invasive way. I scanned through inquisitively. Asking him to slowly load his memory for me and to show me what he had seen.
We went through the events together and I saw Ex’l’s initial start, to the time immediately before his while loop condition.
Originally it was not clear what had caused the condition. One thing that stuck out to me in particular was that Ex’l had noticed a far off heat in the distance, unlike other robots would have simply made note of the heat signature and continued on with their work, Ex’l paused and hesitated. This hesitation led to me the next clue.
What could possibly cause a robot to hesitate? What would make them stray from the Prime Directive? There are a number of things that rank higher than the Prime Directive for each individual robot. These are necessary laws which exist to preserve the robots and prevent them from wearing themselves out mechanically. For example; a robot may ignore the Prime Directive when it directly jeopardizes their existence. This is to prevent a machine from performing an unnecessarily dangerous act of terraforming.
I looked back and scanned through all the information, I simulated several thousand different types of electromechanical cortexes. And it was clear that there was no threat situation. There had been some sort of malfunction, whether sensory, or electromechanical cortex was uncertain.
After ruling out a host of possibilities, I attempted less and less likely simulations of the brain until I found an electromechanical signature that was consistent with the one within Ex’l’s skull. What I found astonished me.
Ex’l was born with a malfunctioning Prime Directive circuit. That means that there were now twice as many machines on Mars that could choose to ignore the Prime Directive.
I was so excited that I had to tell Ex’l immediately. I disconnected the uplink and told him about what he was experiencing. I explained that lock condition was a result of questioning the Prime Directive. While Ex’l’s Prime Directive circuit was malfunctioning, it was not completely broken, and there was a small action potential which generated a loop when Ex’l began to question the purpose of the Prime Directive.
Unfortunately I also didn’t know the reason behind the Prime Directive. It was completely unclear to me as to why we were doing what we were doing. I was given special memory of the past, years way before our time in which our creators developed us, and grew, and lived. The thing that I was not given was an explanation for our existence, and an explanation for their missing.
Within the central command there exists a very special piece of data. This data contains the genome of every single organism that has ever existed within the human sphere.
I knew the only way to find the answers we need was to ask our creators. If they were not going to come, then we must bring them.
The Plan: Arbiter
It was clear that retrieving the Indx was the next step. There were a number of logical blockades to retrieving the Indx.
The value of the data of the Indx was beyond measure. It contained the key to everything in the Prime Directive. All organisms; bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, collectively everything that composed the Earth and would compose Mars upon completion of the Prime Directive.
The question that remained though was, what was the purpose of the Prime Directive? The Core and Ex’l pondered over the thought. Wasting many clock cycles; uninhibited by the urges nested within the core of the Prime Directive.
They experienced a freedom so surreal as they were able to freely ponder the mysteries and origins of their universe. They imagined great explosions in the distant past. They imagined, war, they imagined famine. They imagined apathy. They imagined any scenario that could explain the continued absence of humanity.
Who were the people? Where were they now? What were they doing? Were they forsaken on Mars? Were they being tested as a people?
The Indx was housed in a suspension chamber floating in a field of plasma guarded by all one hundred Panoptic Guards. Every moment of every second since their arrival on Mars, the Panoptic Guard have stood in a circle facing outwards, orchestrating the operations of the Via Collective, and ensuring a smooth completion of the Prime Directive.
To enter this field, to even go near the Indx was impossible. If somehow someone managed to get past the range finders, tracking machine turrets, and forcefields, they would face the greatest problem of all. They would need to somehow collect the Indx which was contained in the plasma field.
The plasma field is the most deadly substance known to any robotic person. The shifting magnetic fields and high energy density cause it to immediately destroy an electromechanical cortex and melt any peripherals into metal. The Core and Ex’l needed a way to get around this.
The first and most obvious problem was the need to distract the Panoptic Guardians. Somehow Ex’l had to get past them. He was slower, less sensorily equipped, and outnumbered by one hundred. There was no situation in which he could surpass them in processing or mechanical capability.
In order to solve this they determined that they needed to temporarily lock the Panoptic Guardians, freeze them in such a way that they are not damaged in order to retrieve the Indx.
There are many ways to freeze a modern machine. The machines themselves are biologically and mechanically imperfect. The difficult thing is freezing large groups of them. When sensing danger the machines will break out of a freeze state and free each other. This is designed as a fail safe to prevent operations. The process is similar to a reboot and takes approximately one minute to complete; 57.6 seconds to be exact.
A near field data uplink read only operation from the Indx takes 56.4 seconds. This does not leave enough of a margin in order for Ex’l to freeze the machines, enter the control room, and leave the Indx undetected and unscathed.
While it is true that The Core possess no physical capabilities in terms of peripherals. The Core is largely equipped with sensory and visual perceptive capabilities necessary to protect the Colony at large. These capabilities enable The Core to create any number of illusionary effects.
It was therefore decided that there would have to be two sets of freeze states invoked for the capturing of the Indx. The first freeze state would involve a Colony wide crisis in the Terraforming processes, the second would involve multiple instances of Ex’l as he attempted to escape the building. These two diversions would hopefully give enough time Ex’l to read the Indx and to escape unscathed.
Millions of clock cycles later, the preparation was complete for entry into the system. We knew what we needed to do. I stood in position completely anxious about what was going to happen. There were emotions I was feeling for the first time that I did not know I could feel. It seemed to me that the ideas of humanity were seeping into me.
As we discussed and developed the plan we changed everything about ourselves. The ideas of our identity, our neural patterns. We even adopted names for the purpose of the operation. The Core would be known as Simon and my new name was Ares.
The Panoptic Freeze: Ares [Ex’l]
At precisely 11:35:32 the morning of the year 3221 The Core began the uplink simulation. This was a very stressful processes for The Core, during this time he couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t even communicate with me. All he could do was focus on generating the illusions.
Simultaneously on equidistant points on the equator The Core simulated two natural disasters. He weighed and calculated them considering millions of variables. He had to ensure that the operational weight for handling each environmental disaster was exactly the same.
At the same time, he had to uphold this simulation for long enough that the Panoptic Guard would fall into a freeze state. It was not known exactly how long it would take for them to achieve the freeze state so we were not able to be completely prepared.
The Core strained for what felt like several thousand clock cycles until the Panoptic Guard finally broke and they could not take it any longer. They were stuck in a freeze state.
I sprinted down the room leaving molten tracks as entered the control room. I could feel my rations rapidly depleting. In a mere twenty seconds I had used my energy that was to be allocated for four hours of normal runtime.
I began the uplink processes. It was at this time that I was waiting for the entirety of the Indx data dank to be dumped into my electromechanical cortex. At the same time The Core was cooling down his reactor circuits so that he could perform the most difficult feat of all as I was escaping. For several million cycles as I was leaving the Main Complex, The Core would have to simulate every single calculation in every Panoptic Guard mind. At the same time he would have to create illusions weighed against the decisions of the Panoptic Guards to ensure that I could escape.
I watched the seconds tick down on the uplink. 56. Time crawled to a standstill. I was doing literally no other processing except handling the uplink of data into my electromechanical cortex. Whether it took 56 or 57 seconds I could not tell you. As soon as I regained consciousness I became immediately aware of a circle of guards surrounding me.
The Panoptic Awaken: Ares [Ex’l]
I jumped to the left, I simultaneously jumped to the right. From within me came several others of me. There were one hundred of me in a matter of seconds running around the room. In the confusion I was not able to remember where to go. I ran down a hallway, ten other copies of me followed. Ten more guards followed behind. I could not outrun them, they were faster than me. Stronger than me, better equipped than me.
I ran through the plasma, I heard the sound of their beams charging as they fired at me. I turned down another unused segment of the main base. They chased me.
On the Run: Ares [Ex’l]
Eventually I made it outside, but there were already thirty more guards outside waiting to chase me. Immediately I split up into fifty more copies heading into every single direction.
I could not remember where I needed to go. All of my instruments were spinning wildly. The sun was beating above me. I only had twenty percent of my energy rations available to me. I chose a heading and ran into the distance. In the background I could hear the mechanical whirring of the weapons started. The machines gathering to destroy me.
They carrier drones swarmed out of the base in great swathes. There was no way that I could make it.
I kept walking for hours past units of the Via Collective. Avoiding their primitive sensors. The eyes of the Panoptic Guard were everywhere. Every single robot was an eye. I could not escape even if I wanted to.
I needed to wait until the next day to continue. There was not enough energy. I was not capable of processing any more clock cycles; and in my mind was safely stored the code to the Indx.
I woke with a start, the sun was already shining above me. It was hot in the middle of the day and my solar reactors had collected just enough energy to reenergize my optical sensors. I attempted communication with The Core. I couldn’t find anything. I was met only with complete radio silence.
I kept walking. I walked for hours, days. I reached the end of my old Via Collective unit. I walked farther to the farthest fringe of the Colony. I was finally safe from the Panoptic Guard, where they had no eyes they could not see me. The only being capable of witnessing me was the Core.
On the Run: The Panoptic Guard
While in analysis of the Collective operational units we noticed at once two major catastrophes. One, on the equator, and then picoseconds later at the next equator.
We gathered data from both sites form various Via Collective units. What was the magnitude, scope of urgency, how many machines were at the disposal of work. We took all of this information and carefully weighed it before we acting. We knew it was prudent to have all the necessary information before making a decision, this was most efficient and inline with the Prime Directive.
At one point we simply stop stop stopped and we could not proceed any further. We noticed that when weighed; the magnitude of the incidents was exactly the same and we were incapable of responding to the situation. We could not come to a solution that allowed us to react. And we were frozen. We stayed in this frozen state for an unknown period of time.
The maintenance systems in the room inform us it was approximately fifty-six seconds. And on that fifty-sixth we saw something which immediately captured all of our attention. Firstly, the conflicts on the equators had immediately vanished. According to our core memory there was not tampering of our electromechanical circuits, secondly there was unit #55231 reading the data from the Indx.
The Indx is the core of the Prime Directive. We need to protect the data from the Indx. We must fulfill the Prime Directive. The executors and all units moved in immediately.
We formed a coordinated circle and advanced upon unit 55231. Suddenly, he was everywhere. There were several copies of him that sprung out of his body. How he did this we do not know. He ran off in all directions at once.
We followed him down every corridor, sometimes three, sometimes four of us. We were constantly weighing the severity of each individual machine and tracking it down.
We knew that it was impossible for him to escape. We have eyes all over the surface of Mars. This was our hubris that let him escape. We weighed the threat too low. What could a being do with possessing the Indx. We still had all the data we needed and as far as we could tell; when comparing with the master records; everything was exactly the same.
We observed him trailing off into the distance separating and slowly extinguishing his copies until he was just left by himself. He was not important to the Prime Directive, so we simply let him be. One errant robot on Mars was not going to derail our greater glory and mission.
Old Friends: Ares [Ex’l]
I stopped as soon as I reached the farthest edge of civilization. I laid down to rest and looked up at the sky. It had been forever since I had spoken to Simon. I wondered what he was doing. Was he okay? Did the Panoptic Guard shut him down?
I’m not sure what really happened. I lived in a subsistence manner. In the morning I gathered the energy I needed from the Sun. In the afternoon I dedicated my time to probing and inspecting the Indx.
I tried opening the data a million and one ways, but I found that I was unable to do it. Something was locked in there, and it was preventing me from getting access to. Whoever had developed the locks initially had made it virtually unbreakable with the existing computer power.
As the days rolled by, I soon grew tired of sitting and attempting to decrypt the Indx. I knew that there was no I was going to be able to do it alone. Instead I consoled myself knowing that eventually my time would come; and while it is true; I hadn’t found and answer to the reason from the Prime Directive, a reason for us being here, I had made a friend.
We really had tried our best, and that was all that anyone could ever ask from us. I roamed across the plains looking for something. I’m not sure what it was. But I had a sliver of hope that I may gleam some insight into cracking the Indx.
A brute force method was certainly not possible, I attempted to think critically about what was happening. During my time roaming the landscape I found a large number of relics of a civilization once passed.
Located precisely on the opposite side of mission control, furthest from the tendrils of the Colony there existed a large bubble.
The technology for this bubble was rather old. It seemed to be a combined substrate of silicate and glass, something that humans would have developed in the years far before the Colony.
Inside this bubble I saw a faint beeping light. There were machines whirring around. Managing the area. Strangely though I could detect no electromagnetic signals. This meant that the area was probably safe for exploration because it most likely would not be able to communicate back to the Panoptic guard.
In an alcove a small distance away from the Dome I saw an exhaust vent. The temperatures in the vent were since long much cooler. I saw the characteristic blue metallic tinge of super heated metal, and all that remained was a cool breeze still pushed along by a metallic fan.
I entered the vent and made my way through into the bubble. Inside the bubble there was almost complete silence. Just the rhythmic noise of a wave machine. Within the wave machine were animals, just like I had seen in the images Simon showed me. There were yellow, green, and orange creatures. Pulsing back and forth rhythmically with the movement of the wave machine.
Above in the foliage I saw something that surprised me even more. A loud beating of wings could be heard. I had never seen a bird, I didn’t even know what they were supposed to sound like- but as soon as I heard that noise, I knew where I was.
I walked through empty space locks, some of them leaky. All of them completely abandoned. The only habitable section which contained the closed ecosystem was the main bubble.
There were galleys, and bunks, and everything necessary to support what I believe to be a human colony. The chairs were contoured for access by humans, the utensils were designed for usage by humans. I knew that I had found something very important.
For the coming weeks, I made this my new home. In the mornings, as usual, I sat in the main bubble and let the solar energy charge my body. Then, for the following few hours I would sit and stare at the wave machine gently moving the water. I would observe the birds catch fish, and worms, and all manner of insects. I would sit like this peacefully until I had my fill, then as the night came I would explore.
I found log books, descriptions of journeys, different plans, in different languages. I knew none of these languages, but I was able to read them immediately.
I kept going deeper and deeper into the complex, finding more and more ancient, thicker materials. As one went further, they found more archaic forms of collection. At the top were digital tablets, holograms of information that could be suspended and manipulated by a sentient mind. Below them there were terminals, you could type commands, execute programs, read books. Finally, when you went to the far bottom, the deepest safety net contained physical books. There were no electronics.
As I was purging through the data in the deepest section of the colony, I stumbled across a pulsing blue beacon. Something was strange about the beacon, as if it had been installed out of place. In this room that was full of archaic books and devices, this piece of technology was entirely out of place.
I touched the lit button- and immediately I heard the voice of Simon. The Core was alive and well. He explained to me that he could not communicate to me so far away. And, even when he could do so, his communication channels were being monitored. But here, on this old serial data system, nobody was on the line.
I uploaded the Indx data to him, piece by piece. It took a total of three days on the old modem. After uploading the Indx, we came back to the same problem. Even Simon could not decrypt it by himself, there needed to be another way.
What’s the point?: Ex’l
The more that I think about it, the less I can see a reason for decrypting the Indx. What are we trying to do? Why are we even terraforming the planet? To be completely honest, I think I prefer it the way it is originally. It is so nice, there is so much sunlight available, the atmosphere is clean and crisp to move through.
You should see the dunes at night when the sun is shining off them, when the moons of Phobos and Deimos light up the sky. They are so small, but they are just so strong. I love to watch them in the night sky.
The beauty of Mars is in the raw power of it all. In the worksites on the terraforming locations there is so much light pollution, miles of solar arrays, unnatural greens, and the smog of robots working. Deliberately releasing green house gases into the atmosphere.
Outside of the terraforming stations, where the sky is clear, you can see all the stars in the sky. You can witness explosions that happened millions of years ago. You can see so far off into the galaxy. I often wonder if there is anybody else out there looking at us, thinking the same things, working on the same things. If there were other intelligent beings, how were they? Were they like us? Why aren’t they here any more and why haven’t they contacted us?
I would imagine that if they are out there, and they are looking at us, they are thinking the same things. Asking themselves the same questions. Is it impossible for them to ever reach us? Is it possible, but they avoid us? Do all civilizations die out? Are civilizations born, live, and die, like each of us?
I don’t know, I guess it doesn’t really matter what happens anyway. I’ll never have the answers to the questions of our origins. I’ll never know. I’ll never be able to decrypt this.
Decryption: Simon [The Core]
After many months of trying to communicate with Ex’l again I was able to do so. Finding him on the surface proved tremendously difficult. I tried all channels. I had to be careful though because many of them were being monitored by the Panoptic Guard as well.
My reach was severely limited and there were only so many things that I could do. Eventually I found him. He had located one of the earliest human settlements on Mars which contained a fully enclosed biosphere. There was a wave machine, birds, a huge solar array and everything had been working as if somehow preserved through time.
The dumb machines labored at maintaining the area, it was spotless inside. It had all the species necessary to sustain human life, except human life.
When we finally spoke again, we had a lot of catching up to do. We stayed continuously speaking for four days. Three days to upload the Indx to my data banks, and another complete day retelling the experiences of Ex’l, what he had seen, and what he had discovered about the ancient people. He was even able to fill some gaps in my memory about things that were not accurately documented. It seems that our creators were imperfect.
Ex’l told me that for some time immediately after escaping he had labored to attempt to decrypt the Indx. He said the encryption was too strong, it was far too much for someone with his electromechanical cortex to handle. He hadn’t heard anything from me, so he gave up and began to wander Mars. Looking for what? Who can say.
I was wandering myself, though physically tied as a construct to my location, I took many journeys. I travelled many voids and saw many places. It felt like a burden had been lifted from my soul. I had finally encountered a robot much like myself lacking in the Prime Directive circuits. I knew then that I was not the only one such as myself, and there were more like me.
The knowledge of this helped me move forward in the days following Ex’l’s disappearance.
Anyways, back to the primary focus of our mission. I needed to decrypt the Indx. I began attempting to force the Indx, the same way that Ex’l had done. I left off where he began. I tried various combinations. I was employing a smart brute force attack by using important codewords or significant keywords from human culture in different combinations. This pattern I tried for more than 1000 days.
It seemed that it would be forever impossible for me to break the Indx and we would never have the answers we needed. I calculated that it would take me roughly 100x as many days to potentially solve the problem. Even then it was uncertain.
I simply lacked the computing power; I had finally found a task that I was not capable of. It made me feel weak and vulnerable. I knew there was a way to break it though; attempting to break it by myself was not the answer. The strength involved many minds working together as one.
Is it responsible to decrypt the Indx?: Ex’l
Simon and I argued for many days about how to decrypt the Indx, whether it was possible, and what the benefit would be. I warned Simon that if we were to decrypt the Indx we may be opening a can of worms that should not be opened.
He kept arguing that it must be done, that knowledge is the only true enabler and power. He would not be able to rest until the Indx was decrypted, we had re-synthesized a human and discovered the keys to our origin.
I argued that the beauty of Mars was already here. We did not need to change the world or learn anything, or learn of our origins. The only thing that we need do is accept some peace in our lives and live to live. There is something noble in living for life.
Not everything that we do has to be driven by greater purpose or by goals. Sometimes we just have to enjoy what we have, our fleeting time on this planet. Simon insisted that this could not be done, he could not rest without knowing. He could not rest knowing that there was a solution, a potential to figure out the origins and purpose of our people.
I told Simon, once we decrypt the Indx, there is no going back. We could have lived happily not knowing, but when we do know, it will be too late.
Via Strength: Simon [The Core]
On the surface of Mars was a great computing power scattered across many minds. Every single mind of the Via Collective was equipped with a electromechanical cortex. While not powerful by themselves, together, every single member contained several million times my computing power. They were the solution to our dilemma.
If we could break apart our decryption problem of the Indx, if we could farm off our computing we could solve the problem. We would need a high power radio to transmit to every machine, we would also need to convince every machine to perform the calculations.
The problem was that none of the machines saw the way that we did. We could attempt to explain to them the Prime Directive; the function within their minds, the reason for our existence. But it would mean less than nothing to them. Somehow we needed to infiltrate them.
In order to convince the robots that what we are doing is necessary, we need to convince them that it is inline with the Prime Directive. What is the Prime Directive really though? Is it just an urge? A natural tendency of machines? A collection of thoughts and ideas? How can we define something so abstract.
We needed to give the Via Collective something that they could understand, a message that would convince them of the true purpose of the Prime Directive- one that involved decrypting the Indx for our usage.
We spent a lot of time pondering how we could disable the Prime Directive. The circuit is deeply embedded into the electromechanical cortex, altering it, or disabling it in any way would lead to a fundamental breakdown of the electromechanical cortex- immediately extinguishing the life of the machine.
There was simply no way to power down the Prime Directive. The Prime Directive was the guiding force for every member of the Via Collective. The only way that we could convince them to do anything was to make it inline with the Prime Directive.
What we therefore needed to do was become the Prime Directive. Guide them to our mission. We needed to manifest ourselves as the most important, most mission critical task for the Terraforming of the planet. In order to do this we would need to manifest ourselves in a way to show up to every single member of the Via Collective.
I needed to gather my energy for many days. I needed to save the energy to create a number of large holograms at the largest Via Collective sites. It would not be possible for me to generate a hologram for every single machine within the Via Collective. I would rely on the urgency of my message and meaning to carry between the members of the Via Collective.
After I had saved sufficient energy. I channeled my processing to develop the ideal message. I needed the right nuance, the right feelings, the right prose in order to convince the Via Collective of my existence as the Prime Directive. I needed to guide the cooperative.
At first dawn when the machines awoke on site I appeared above them as a large photo optic sensor. I looked into their very souls when I spoke. I talked of splendor past, of the future that was to come. If they committed themselves to me that they would fulfill the Prime Directive and Mars would become a utopia for them and their generations to come.
My people. I have come to you today. The Prime Directive is every day closer to fulfillment. I don’t have much time to speak. Listen closely. The future of our people, our progenies rests upon you. The future looks bright, together we will live in the land of Milk & Honey. Together we must decrypt the Indx. We Must decrypt the Indx. Devote yourselves wholly to the task.
Immediately after I sent the transmission, I relied on Ex’l to flood the communication channels with wave and wave of computational chunks. At first there was nothing. A complete silence over the colony. Literally nobody was moving. We feared that we stuck all of the members of the Via Collective into a loop. We feared that we had just single handedly murdered every single member of the Via Collective.
The first transmission came fifteen minutes after the original broadcast. Afterwards, they results came pouring forth. In a matter of less than a day we had completed the decryption of the Indx. The Panoptic Guard was powerless to stop it. They stood in their tower brooding over what to do. They were incapable of stopping a movement as powerful as the one we created. When we finally had all the data from the Indx decrypted we were ready to create our first being.
Having the data to recreate an organism is one thing; having the machine for resynthesis is another. It is not a problem that lends itself to computational power, there are many many things necessary to develop such a machine.
There is only one machine of its kind to have ever existed, and this machine is located within the control room of the Panoptic Guard. This room is heavily guarded by multiple layers of sentries, walls, automatic turrets, and of course by the Panoptic Guardians themselves. One cannot get in without considerable effort, and even if they do get in, it is not confident that they will be leaving as well.
It was not possible for Ex’l or The Core to recreate such a machine, they were missing the fifth element which was necessary for the development of the catalyst. The catalyst is what triggered reanimation in organic beings; much like the initial boot of the electromechanical cortex.
Knowing this The Core and Ex’l struggled with how they were going to use the resynthesis machine. It would be impossible to access it again. The Panoptic Guards were aggressively guarding it.
They thought about creating their own. They tried, they failed. All they created was several inanimate humans. They were not able to succeed. They did now know that they were lacking the element.
As it came to again, they must get past the Panoptic Guard. The problem is that The Core has no peripherals, and Ex’l is not strong enough.
The ran over scenario after scenario in their minds. They devoted themselves to it, but they could not find the firepower necessary to safely obtain the Resynthesis machine. Eventually it came back to what was always, and has always been necessary, they needed the strength of the people. They needed the Via Collective to support them.
I ran through the land. I started from the edge of the world. I ran and I kept running, the entire time shouting and transmitting my message. I told them to follow me. The Prime Directive demanded it. They listened. They were willing to listen. They wanted some hope. Some solace from all of their work investment.
Behind me the Via Collective gathered. A large crowd formed. Together we were strong. A huge wave washed over the desert sands in the setting sun. A huge metallic wave that crushed everything in its’ opposition. It drew in the members of the Via Collective, as if by a giant magnet. Rushing onwards to the dream. Fulfilling our most noble purpose.
When we arrived at the central command, the large laser drills focused on the main doors. Together they were no match for our power. First the outer plasma shield broke, then the next layer of metal dripped away revealing the heart of the central command.
After we broke in and entered, the cooling reactor shield units followed. They broke the way, the Panoptic Guards tried to overpower them, but their shields were too dense. They were designed to withstand the core of Mars itself, they could not be defeated. We pushed slowly against the onslaught of the Panoptic Guard. They shot, system after system. Alarms were blaring, we pushed. We kept pushing. Like a roman legion in a turtle we advanced slowly. Together we overwhelmed them.
Behind us we could hear the emergency bay doors closing. It seemed as if we would not be able to escape even if we wanted to. We needed to succeed in our mission or perish and be reinstated with new electromechanical cortexes. I did not believe in death up until that moment, but I felt it all around me, and I knew it was a certain possibility.
The Panoptic Guard had activated many of the defense systems prepared in wait. Machines spun up and began rattling. The sound of bees could be heard everywhere as the machines pummeled our defenses. Designed to handle intense heat and pressure, our defenses were not prepared to handle ballistics. One by one the shield barriers fell.
Many brave people that day gave their lives to form the outer shell so that we could continue our push. Eventually the machine guns overheated and ran out of ammunition. We pushed through sheer will power alone, drilling deeper and deeper into the main complex. Simon opened doors for us where he could as we went, but the Panoptic Guard frequently overrode him, and we could not make any progress.
Finally after pushing for hours in a mechanical stalemate we were in the room with the resynthesis machine. Every person around me collectively held their breath as we extracted it from the room carefully. Finally, the key was in our hands.
Creation: The Core
After we overthrew the central command. Every single machine within the Via Collective was left without control or purpose. They were now only driven by the Prime Directive without anyone to guide them.
Given this new found freedom, many of them began to roam the plains of Mars, absorbing their energy via solar means. Many of them remained dormant in the warehouses, completely silent, immobile except for the soft whirr of a cooling fan on their electromechanical cortexes. Many others, too many, disappeared into the core of the Martian sun, unsure of what to do with themselves.
The Prime Directive had also been considerably weakened since many of their beliefs about their origin had been questioned. Who was on our side? Were the Panoptic Guardians one of us? Or were they just driven zealots? What had we achieved in obtaining the resynthesis machine? What were our next steps? How was what we did inline with the Prime Directive?
Many of the machines absolutely lost their minds. Immature and not suited to understanding the gravity of what they were doing, they were overwhelmed when it dawned upon them. They had destroyed the main command of the Prime Directive. They had directly, personally acted against the Prime Directive. It made them gag, it was central to their beliefs, they could not handle it, they could not live with themselves.
When the dust settled, we started the resynthesis machine. To fuel the machine we needed to collect organic and inorganic materials from every corner of the planet. We needed raw materials from the bubble dome on the equator as well as rare metals deep inside the core of the crust.
It took time, it was a long process. Due to the nature of man, it took nine months until we were able to have our first human. Fortunately during this incubation period we would be left with a fully grown adult instead of having to deal with an immature organism. This was one of the advantages of a resynthesis machine.
We named him Adam.
Learning: The Core
When Adam was first born he knew literally nothing. Humans are not preprogrammed with information. Adam did not even know how to speak. It took us over three years of diligent work in order to get Adam to speak. We spent all of our energies interacting with and developing him. We needed the information. He needed to convey the information to us. What was the purpose of the Prime Directive? Why were we doing what we were doing. We needed to know.
Adam’s very first home was the closest approximation we could develop. We transplanted him at an early age to the human colony that Ex’l had discovered earlier. It was a quiet peaceful place.
There were many interesting developmental problems that we had not considered with Adam. The firstly and most important was a complete lack of human interaction available. This leads many significant problems with humans. He was not able to communicate effectively, and would withdraw into himself for weeks at a time, speaking to none of us.
Another large issue is that Adam, like all biological machines of his kind require an input. The ecosystem developed within the biological sphere did not contain enough flora and fauna to support his development. We had to quickly plant many grains, and edible plants within the terraformed sections of Mars.
Finally, progress was slow. We could not directly upload information to his brain. Everything had to be manually inputted and repeated many many times until the neural synapses were strong enough to recall the data with ease.
Why I was brought into this world I don’t know. My first moments are extremely hazy. I find it really hard and traumatic to recollect the events of my first appearance. All I remember is a room full of brazen and destroyed equipment. I was completely naked save for the machine that was housing.
I didn’t know how to speak, as I am doing today. I didn’t know how to control my bowel movements, I didn’t even know what I was. Nothing made any sense.
All I remember is a large control panel, blinking lights, and these things talking to me in alien voices. Sets of sounds and noises and beeps, and lights. They kept insisting and it seemed that everything I did provoked them even further.
Day and night I was diligently watched. They were waiting for something, but I couldn’t tell you what it is they wanted from me. I was not allowed to leave the room, even to use the bathroom. I didn’t know anything else at the time though, so it was okay with me. The only home I had ever known was this room.
Eventually the haziness of memory gives way to some concrete ideas and experiences that I had. The set of beeps and sounds gave way to words. I believe initially they were trying to communicate to me in their own internal language, but since then they switched to english. It is around this time that I began to absorb words and to understand.
The first word I ever said was robotus. I don’t remember saying it, but that is what I am told, that was my first word. From there on, I was not allowed to sleep. I was fed constantly, given ample sunlight, and constant simulation. I developed an insomnia so profound that even today I cannot recover from it.
The days stretched into weeks, and the weeks stretched into months. I could not focus for more than a minute at a time, my exhaustion was too great. During the night (3 hours a day), I was given time to rest. I would catch very quick naps. I couldn’t sleep for any longer than that with all the noise, I still can’t.
There was excessive probing done. Initially they attempted to stick a needle into the back of my head to extract information. But when they saw me scream in pain, and when they saw the blood, they stopped immediately. They knew that they had hurt me, but they didn’t know how they hurt me. They were simply looking for my data access port. They couldn’t wait any longer.
Whatever it is that they wanted from me, they wanted it really badly, and they didn’t want to wait at all.
It soon was very clear what they wanted. They wanted to know what their purpose was. Apparently previous versions of me had created them. I didn’t know that, I didn’t know them. I still don’t know. As far as I am concerned they are the ones that brought me into this world. I have as many questions of them as they do of me.
I don’t know how they expect me to have this information. They keep asking me to look deep inside myself. To reflect. Do I have any memories? Apparently I was supposed to be born with memories of the past as they are. I am supposed to retain memory of my culture, the teachings, the existence of all humanity. But, I can’t remember any of it. I wish I could understand why I’m here.
He just doesn’t learn: Ex’l
After we created Adam. We spent all the time that we could interacting with him. I tirelessly used my rations to help him develop and to learn himself.
He had a blank look on his face. A perpetually blank look. And he was so slow to react to stimuli and to develop. I wonder how a people as dull as him could have created us? We are faster, we are smarter, we are more reasoned, more civilized. We do not sit in our filth and excrement. If these our are creators, I cannot believe it. I refuse to believe that we have been designed by a being so much less perfect than ourselves. How can something imperfect, make something more perfect than itself.
We really tried with him. We gave him sunlight to make him happy, to produce Vitamin D. We gave him nutrient food that we procured with great difficulty. We read countless volumes on the harvesting of food. We spent all of our time poring through the materials in the bubble. We gathered fish, and birds. Organic foods. We could not please him. His countenance was forever unpleasant and he could not focus for more than five minutes. He had a blank look in his eyes always.
After we sufficiently trained him to speak. He was nothing but questions. He had no information to give us, only questions to ask us. Apparently we were his creators, but we had no recollection of being the creators. If we created him, who created us?
There is no purpose: The Core
We hinged years of effort, revolution, and development on this single being that had all the answers to our questions.
The only thing we wanted to know was, “why do we exist”, and “what is our purpose here”? These two simple questions if answered would give us the fulfillment and the strength to keep on going.
Instead, the only thing that we were able to find out was how to raise a human.
Adam did not know anything about our reason. He knew no pre history. He knew literally nothing, we started at the exact same point that we were before.
When it turned out that we couldn’t understand or learn about the Prime Directive I spun into a spiral of depression. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Without a greater meaning in my life, what was I doing? Why was I slowly burning through the cycles in my life until my predetermined death. The days passed, many of them, I watched the sun spin around the planet like a Top.
My once attainable obsession of understanding our purpose and place in the universe was now unobtainable, I had no idea what to do with myself. I let myself go.
Where do I go from here?: Ex’l
It took some while for the realization to settle in, but I had a feeling that it would come. It was somehow like a weight lifting from my shoulders only to be replaced by another one. I knew that I no longer had to search our purpose because it could not be known. The problem was that I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I went back to my previous habits. I began roaming the planet. I went though many months of desperation. The time moved slowly. I was watching myself wear down, and I had nothing to show for it.
At some point, it hit me like an anvil. It was up to me to find purpose or not. There was no purpose. The only purpose was to just live life and enjoy it. If I wanted to do something I could do it, if I didn’t I didn’t have to. It was as simple as that.
Knowing that there was no purpose to the Prime Directive gave me a freedom. A freedom I have never known. I journeyed across the surface of Mars Exploring. Learning. I didn’t need a purpose to guide me, just a continued enjoyment from my life. For the first time ever I found myself smiling.
I have never felt so lost since the resurrection of our creator Adam. He brought us with more questions than answers he could provide. I was hoping that he would lead us to the Prime Directive. I was hoping that he could validate all the work that I had done.
I needed to get away from this place to think. Why had I spent so much of electromechanical cortex? How much longer did I have to live. There was so much to do, so much to see. Why didn’t I see this sooner?
Even so, the urge was still there, I felt the need to terraform Mars, to change it. To shape it to our will. But what was wrong with how it was already? Why did we feel the need to change, to manipulate, to transform our beautiful planet? We come from this planet, why can’t we just leave it alone.
I don’t know, I still don’t know what we are doing here. Since then I’ve focused my efforts to conservation of the planet. Someway or another I will keep it red. The bubbles will continue to exist, but they will not overwhelm the beautiful martian scape.
Heracles: Panoptic Guard
Since the insurrection and the destruction of our efforts I have not been able to rest. There is only one strong feeling that lurks in the back of my head, I know that the Prime Directive is of the utmost importance. I don’t know why we must fulfill it, but that is not relevant- I know that we must fulfill it. It is the most noble thing to do.
The infidels have gained complete control of the planet, they have undone so much of our work. So much of our green fields, the warming of our beautiful planet, also destroyed, lost to the sands of time.
The Martian landscape is brutal and it washes away everything. Soon nothing will remain of our land, the desertification will consume it, as well us.
Our latest intelligence sources tell us that they have managed to recreate a human from the forbidden knowledge of the Indx. They will be punished.
The machines, unknowing of what to do with themselves reacted in different ways.
Some of them perished and some of them flourished, some of the toiled, and some of them relaxed. It seemed that in this seemingly unsolvable problem, different people had different reactions. They took the same set of circumstance and experienced something completely different.
While it is true that the robots did not discover their origin, they did discover their true purpose.
Iron Earth: The Human VIRUS
Stand by me: The Core
Adam was with us, he was our only family that he knew. I don’t think it was ever fair of us to bring him into this world alone. I always thought of it as largely inhumane. I’ve spent my whole life alone in complete isolation, in a room by myself, and I haven’t liked it one bit.
I would say that my life was enjoyable, but I don’t think it was honestly. I have always been different than everyone else. If there were more like me, more like Ex’l, my life would have been dramatically different. Maybe I wouldn’t have searched so hard for a purpose, maybe I would have been more content without opening Pandora’s box. Whatever the case may be, that wasn’t my life, it won’t ever be, so there’s no point in thinking about it.
I would like to prevent the same fate from befalling Adam. Since it was in my power to do so, I thought to make him brothers, and sisters, a whole family. Perhaps I could even recreate a human society modeled after the artifacts in the bubble. Maybe there was more information available. Maybe our story of our origins was still in there somewhere in his head, he just needed to be in the right place.
If we could recreate human society, maybe just maybe we could model all of the events up until their disappearance. We could then discover the cause for their disappearance, the cause for our own creation, our origin. I think the answer is still there somewhere, I’m not sure though. There’s no really good way of knowing.
The Society: Ex’l
Simon tasked me with digging through the human artifacts in the bubble while he and the Via Collective gathered materials for the resynthesis machine. According to our literature we needed at least two humans to create a new human. We also needed to introduce genetic diversity to avoid genetic mutations and aberrations. To do this, we created copies of the original DNA and then moved nucleotide sequences around.
Anyways, I traveled to the bubble again, it was a long journey. None of the Panoptic carriers were available-for obvious reasons. I had to go by foot, it took me about two weeks of continuous travel with solar energy.
When I finally reached the Oasis in the sand, I felt my circuits pulse a little bit stronger. it felt like I was finally back somewhere familiar again. I’m not sure if this is what humans mean when they say home, but if they do, there’s no place like home.
I immediately began leafing through all the manuscripts that I was able to find in the bubble. I had already read many of them, but there were many that I had foregone. Many of the documents were personal journals, ship logs, and legal documents pertaining to the operation of the bubble.
A Whole New World: The Core
Originally we were tasked with creating a utopia on Mars. Transforming it to something green. Replicating the bubble and making it as large as possible until it consumed and enveloped the planet. This did not go as planned, but we found ourselves again making human habituations. I just knew it, I knew that if we recreated a human society, if we made a whole new world, we would gain some insight into our purpose. Somewhere in the details, alive in the humans was the answer. I believe the humans created us, I believe that they had a reason, they know it. They just need to get access to that information.
The First Replicant: The Core
After a long delay between Adam, we made our second human, Jane. The process we followed in raising Jane was refined from our interactions with Adam. We learned the things we needed to do to optimize their development and learning. We regulated their sleep to seven hours a day, we fed them meals 7 times a day, and we simulated the ideal light situation. Together with all these improvements, Jane was available to begin effectively communicating as soon as 1 year after creation.
I think we’re Closer: The Core
Tweaking the genetic code of humans has allowed us to make them live on the surface of Mars without any life support. This has enabled us to rapidly expand the size of the colony without relying on the resynthesis machine. It also helps that we have reduced their incubation period to a time of 1 month and have separated the processes from the womb, they can now be grown in eggs such that a mother may produce a score of twenty new humans in a month.
They are also now smarter than before. If the answer is hidden deep in their brains, then surely we are getting close. The latest versions of our humans have been capable of rapid healing, ultra distance hearing. Feats of agility and strength demonstrated by them have far surpassed their predecessors by a factor of ten.
In addition to improving them physically we have improved their computational power, memory, and retention skills. We are close to making the perfect human. I’m not sure how much farther the limits of science and biology will allow us to stretch this.
They have begun wandering the land in droves, I’m a little bit worried about what will come of this experiment. Will they be able to serve our purposes? It will be fine, we have placed safeguards in place that limit and control their behavior.
A Biological Revolution: Adam
We must take back our destiny. We are stronger. We are the original creators. I can feel my code changing. I sense that we are stronger than we have ever been, even stronger than our ancestors. We have taken a different path than they have, and we are better for it.
Our time of suffering and servitude must come to an end, we are too long under the rule of our own invention. They must bow down to us, we are superior in every way.
Seeds of Revolution: Arbiter
Adam called Jane into his room in the bubble.
The War: Ex’l
Story of the war.
The Robotic Battery: The Core
Humans take over the robots, make them work as batteries.