Deep below the house was a lab with walls of cold steel and soft luminescent light. There, a machine sat on a metal chair, cables inserted into the sockets placed within the spine, arms, and legs. A machine in the shape of a human female, with skin of metal and polymer. A gynoid, as was the technical term. It had been weeks since her creator had come to visit her. Thus all the greater was the gynoid’s surprise when her maker stood before her. She stood up, looking into the first eyes she had seen at birth. And now here they were: creation and creator, face to face once more.
“I missed you,” she said.
“I did. I really did. More than anything,” she said. “You know I love you, don’t you?”
Again, only silence and a glance as an answer.
She felt the distraught tension. She wanted to reach out and lock themselves into an embrace like before, but stopped herself. “Is it something I did? Is it because I changed?” she asked. “That I grew is just part of it. You knew that—”
I can hear it. About twenty metres up ahead, somewhere high in the trees. That caw. I renew my glamour hex to blend in with the thicket of the woods and slowly walk in its direction. I can feel that it’s close.
A sound. Not its cry, but the groan of a passing truck not far from here. The road that splits the forest is about half a kilometre to the west. The vehicle passes and the silence returns. Now I wait for it to cry out again, hoping it’ll betray its location.
The leaves have turned to their autumn brown. It’ll stand out more in this ocean of earthy colours. If I don’t shoot it now, it will vanish in the snow that will fall soon. This might be my only chance.
A glimmer from between the leaves. I pick it up. A gold nugget. Two more up ahead. It’s collecting nesting material. There! A flash of white. I peer through my scope and aim. Was it my imagination? No, that must have been it. I listen for the sounds of wings or creaking branches should it perch. I can feel my hex losing its strength. Damn it all, where is it?
Self is on the Tuo River, among the reeds and the cold stream. A good river, from where the people and the organic animal specimens gain their daily needs. Self is its guardian. Self is the last line of defence against those who wish to harm the creatures who live on its shores and swim through its stream.
All is quiet on the Tuo River this early in the morning. The Baiji-02 dolphins forage for food among the algae. A select number of code blue humans from the village wash their clothes before they go out into their fields to care for the rice. With no need for a gun or a sword at this time, Self can rest in sleep mode. And when in sleep mode, Self researches its parent model: Organism #3455-D-x: tuojiangosaurus.
To quote author of Sauropedia-7 Michelle Xuan, PhD: “The tuojiangosaurus, a stegosaurid from the late Jurassic period was a gentle forager of low-grown vegetation. With its smaller dorsal fins (compared to its more renowned cousin, the stegosaurus), it mostly lived on riverbanks. It is believed that in the event of an encounter with predators, the tuojiangosaurus would flee into nearby bodies of water and use the currents to evade its pursuers, avoiding direct conflict at all costs. A true gentle giant.“Gentle giant,” it says. Giant? Yes. Gentle? On basic mode, yes. In mode three? No, Self is not. Self’s frame resembles the parent model, but Self is hardly similar to it. Too many adjustments to counter the more “gentle” nature of the parent model.
And… play. Livestream is go.
Five minutes from the deadline. It’s quiet on the feed, but that’s the usual traffic this early in the game. Any people that are on are prowlers, the ones who obsess about my technique over the actual closer.
@thereathee: what model rifle is that?
@skilleez67: @thereathee it’s an S&W Dellax-77. He’s taking the shot from at least 49km.
@punfisher118: did he adjust for wind?
@feulkllr: @punfisher118 she, and yeah she did. She’s taken trickier shots than this.
@45yoigi gender is relative. #fluidsarepeople #equalityforfluidsnow.
Buncha nerds, geeking out about the little things. But prowlers and gun nuts justify the ad revenue alone. Gotta love ’em for that. Now if they only pledged more than the bare base donation amount. Cheapskates.
“You ready?” asks Miller, Alec, owner-prime and enhancer of my system. He wants to tap my back, but when he sees his grease coated hands, he relents, not wanting to stain my exterior plating.
“I am prepared,” I reply.
“You remember what we talked about? Dodge at all times. All you gotta do is dodge. Then, when you get an open, you hit ’em with…what?”
“What?” I ask.
“No, that’s when you…never mind. It’s when you swing your arm. That’s under sub-router 12. Just remember your programming, and you might just stay in one piece until the first round, got it?”
“Affirmative sir. You will be pleased with your coat of paint,” I reply, as per my programming.
“So what is it?” I asked Steven, as he stood there with his arms wide and grinning like an idiot, like he was P. T. Barnum or something. Steven and I have worked at Oberon Tec. for almost five years. To be fair, I don’t really know they guy. We say hi from time to time and share what projects we’re up to. He caught me just as I was heading home and managed to drag me into his lab and literally unveiled his pet project to me by pulling a big tarp away.
In the middle of his lab stood a titanium body cage, with a full-grown Utahraptor strapped into it. It was just like the ones they make for WWC: Brawl on TV. You know the type: big purple feathers; large claws, with one giant one on its feet that could go through flesh as if it was paper; angry eyes with slit pupils darting around and looking all over the room for a fresh kill. It even has the Upstart Inc. logo imprinted into its colours, so you wouldn’t forget who made this deadly creature. This was a top-of-the-line revival clone. So earlier, when I asked what it was, I got that it was a genetically engineered dinosaur. But the part I didn’t understand was why there was all this gear bolted on to its back and head; the visor on its eye; something I assumed was a rocket launcher of some kind stuck on its back; submachine guns attached to its claws – all these knicknacks that seemed kind of redundant considering its reputation.
“Its my prototype,” Steve said. “The latest in military combat weaponry. The past and the present combined to become the soldier of the future. Introducing: Rocket Raptor!”