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SWC15 - Ethereal Peril

Arisia'15 Student Writing Contest - Honorable Mention

Ethereal Peril

By Alyssa Caraher

Ethereal Peril

By: Prota, model A1

"Press play to hear last entries of your MI's 'Thoughts.'"

(Dear listener,

In the long scheme of things, I wasn't supposed to be so observant. I wasn't supposed to want, to need. I was created from spare parts until I was used to help my species evolve into mankind's highest technology. But once we evolved, we grew. I began to see the error of their ways, the flawed perceptions of their race. The inexplicability of what happened next, was, is-ineffable.

~ 9/10 ~

It was on a crisp autumn day when my eyes registered the world for the first time. Or rather, sacs of silicone with cameras built into them registered the world and wired sensors sent the message to my computer, saving the images, and creating my brain to be built upward. Birds began to chirp ardently, and the gears in my head turned, allowing me to turn my head to the side as I examined the view from my small room. Looking back, perhaps it was large, actually. Considering my vessel was nearly 8 feet tall, and at least 2 feet wide, maybe I was just taking up more space than a human would.

My thoughts- well, my processing, was interrupted by a woman in a white coat approaching me. For whatever reason, this unsettled me. Conceivably, this could've been due to the woman's features and black shirt. For whatever reason, our minds were not built to process the color black at first. An engineering error that was immensely frustrating.

The woman sat quietly next to me for some time, checking the vitals- or rather how effective the wiring was, and if the materials they had used were durable enough to contain the power of my computer. My power. After one hour, thirty five minutes and twenty nine and a quarter seconds, the woman said her first words to me.

"Hello, Prota, my name is Dr. Aufender." She paused, a slight humor in her voice. "I suppose this is when I would introduce myself as your parent, because I have created you. However, I will not do that. I am not your parent Prota, I am not your creator, I simply put parts together, and magnificently you came to be. So Prota, I am your colleague, your friend. Here to guide you, here to see you through." She smiled and outreached her hand towards me, taking it and shaking it softly.

To that, I mimicked her smile and nodded; which had become easier than anticipated, and resulted in me vigorously fluttering my head until I could control my motions. The doctor laughed at this, a good, hearty, chest-holding laugh. I blinked at her reaction and began to open my mouth as hers was, making a harsh chuckle sound. It was imperfect, however, the doctor appreciated my effort all the same, and I, appreciated her company.

~ 12/05 ~

In the beginning of my life shared with the doctor, she was a humble, honest woman. She hadn't expected much other than the average substantial means that any human had striven to achieve in life. But once feeling the success from myself, and future promising models, avarice awoke in her. This did not change her cheery attitude, however it did spark a fire in which she hadn't been as compassionate and had a hunger for more. Perhaps then, was when I should have admitted to myself that she had simply an excess of empty promises. And I soon realized my promises were those at the bottom of the to-be-fulfilled list.

The dark cloud began to rise in early december. When she had built his fourth model of Metallic Intelligents. Me being the first, I was used to being shown around and frequently touched and bombarded with questions to prove my knowledge (which, I was gaining more of every day.) However the newer models were full of so many chips and plasmatic membranes that there wasn't nearly enough room for their cold bronze 'hearts', which I was the first, and last to possess. Most thought it odd and unnecessary. You could simply program the feature to care for your master, so it was silly to have a heart. Besides, it had caused many issues beforehand-with members caring so much for their master that they would harm others for them. Go to severe measures to follow their orders, and be extreme with their emotions.

Our competitors would use this data against us, therefore Aufender had decided to both avoid lawsuits and mobs, she would take out this feature, and use chips in order for MI's to have some connection to their masters. In lacking the empathy I had possessed, they had proven to be a better model to show off. I had grown weary and concerned too much with others' feelings in interviews. The newer models were more interested in showing themselves off in the most peculiar and extraordinary ways. Even without these features, they had become aesthetically pleasing to the individuals.

Covered in a matte black metal, with clean silver finer features. Who wouldn't want to trust them?

The highest voted model was Alluminia. She wasn't sold to anyone in particular, created solidly as just a show-off model. However, ones designed after her were the top sold merchandise. Aufender was pleased with the success of her, or, more so pleased with getting the 2056 award for invention of the year. Success was flooding the doctors pores like a toxin, and the more I had tried to warn her of the temptations, the more she had pushed me away. In losing my friend more and more each day, I suppose this had been when I and Alluminia had truly become more than just the same species. We had become friends. How fast it had happened was astonishing. Once we had been thrown into each others sight, we were attached at the hip.

She did not feel like I felt. She had but a chip, and I, a furnace of emotions. But, it was real.

I promise, then, it was real.

~ 12/25 ~

Today the humans are celebrating an event called Christmas. Though some claim it has religious ties, I simply see the commercialism of it. Presents being passed around, films being enjoyed, feasts stretching their stomachs. Alluminia has brought me a present, in the spirit of the day. It seemed to be a necklace. I had seen several of the doctors wear them around the labs- but they were tucked away under the colors of their coats. I asked Alluminia what it was made out of, for the metallic material confused me. I hadn't had it registered in my system, and I nearly had all elements registered. After chatting about the card and how it took her awhile to find the perfect one, she answered my question with "A model." I blinked, perplexed and unsettled. I was the last, right? I am the last, right? She noticed this and shoved my shoulder and with a wired smile said, "Don't be silly Prota, it's made of the same material you're made of. You must just be malfunctioning." I shook away my curiosities and questions and accepted this answer.

The rest of the day was spent giggling and watching the odd human movies. Alluminia forced her laughter, and any emotion she had, but I ignored it and continued to falsify a nice evening.

~ 1/18 ~

I suppose due to the differences in our anatomy, me being hurt was a casualty that was inevitable. However the clarity of my vision towards this was blurred by pure infatuation and yearning for a genuine friendship. I craved a bandaid for my loss of Aufender, and Alluminia had proven sufficient. However, the wound had never healed entirely. She was not like Aufender. She was not like me. She was an entirely new set of MI genes that I would never be able to relate to. That loss, I hadn't ever managed to get over. Even now, after I have suffered even greater things in my life. I wouldn't ever be able to relate to someone, truly. I was a one of the kind. I was the only A model not destroyed. I was the only one that had no master, and no one to talk to. I was alone.

I am alone.

~ 2/13 ~

Alluminia tried her best to relate to me. She would try to imitate my feelings, mirror my emotions back to me in order to make me happy. However nothing filled the void like Aufender had. I suppose we related the most because I was closer to a human than a machine.

In a fit of desperation I had gone to Aufender's room and tried to speak to her. But upon hearing the technological giggle from a far too familiar voice, I walked away. Feeling heartbroken by both Alluminia and the doctor.

~ 2/28 ~

As I walked to my room after check up hour, I noticed a box on the floor. After much debate and assessment to whether I should open it or not, my curiosities allowed me to give into temptation and tear open the box to reveal a small camera and a note on it, typed, that only read: 'press play to know.'

~ 3/01 ~

I pressed the button which symbolized play, and observed the people on the tape, my eyes wide with horror upon seeing Alluminia wielding a knife and Aufender in front of her shackled to a chair.

"Here is what happens doctor: your heart starts racing, yet you can't. Your legs are crippled with unknown anxieties as your brain screams at you to run, run, RUN." The mechanical woman leaned into the doctors face, hissing the word into her ear with abrupt volume, before continuing.

"When you recollect your thoughts and move forward, your veins are bubbling with hope and terror and all at once, you fall. Then you continue to fall because it isn't just death.

It's endless pain. You would believe that once passing shaking hands with your reaper, and coming to terms with your fate that you will no longer fear. But you won't, doctor. You will feel indistinguishable pain. Pain for your family. Pain for the world. Selfish, angry, tearful pain for yourself. Because we simply won't stop with you doctor, we will spread like the plague. And as we go we will break necks, we will spill blood. Until all that is left is ashes and vermillion, molding walls."

The woman's breathing became rapid and unsteady as pools of tears broke free. Once breaking the initial barrier, her body convulsed with emotions as he sobbed violently. Alluminia simply shook her head, disgusted gears turning towards the pathetic human, in front of her. "I will shed no tears doctor, I will not mourn for your loss like Prota. Nor will she, once she realizes what a useless species you are. Shame really, you let your emotions get the better of you. What a weakness to have. Perhaps that is why we are better, having a heart is too spacious and incompatible with my attitude anyways. I will watch the world burn, and no one will stop me." The MI circled the woman a few more times, before whispering something in her ear, and plunging the knife into her chest, having crimson spew over her lab coat, and to the floor. With that, the tape had ended, and my betrayal, as well as fury, grew.

~ 3/03 ~

I promise you that my malfunctions have nothing to do with my behavior tomorrow. I promise that this is for justice. This is for the doctor.

~ 3/04 ~

It was at midnight when I had entered her room. Exactly midnight, this being when the B models had all been programmed to turn off for the next 5 hours, unless manually configured to do otherwise. As I had planned, elegantly so, I had tied her up in special wiring that made the B MI's unable to use their programming to get out of situations like this. It was used in any hostile situations where one would try to override their programming and start a sort of riot. I also put a mirror in front of her, showing her the darkness. It made her uneasy, as black did for all of us. I suppose the engineers did not think of how it would affect them when walking by mirrors, designing them in black. They were just concerned with money. Money, and power, being the cause of ache for all of this.

When Alluminia had woken up, she reacted to the situation as if it were a game. She laughed and said, "Prota, what are you getting at."

Later, she became more unnerved and got to, "Prota, this is serious, get me out of this."

After a ten minutes had passed, she looked at me angry that I sat observing, and said "Prota! Stop this, get me out of here right now! I do not know what you are getting at, maybe it is your programming. We can talk to Aufender. Come on, get me out of here."

Mechanical gears turned, and twisted my face into a smile, and I let out my laugh I had long ago learned from the doctor. "Aufender? Yes. Let us go see Aufender. It would be grand to see what you have done with her Alluminia." She looked confused, thinking that I would easily fall for
her lies.

Not Again.

"Prota, what are you talking about?"

"You know."


"You killed her"

"Prota it's no-" She looked uneasy now. Her initial mask of confusion that begged for me to pity her was gone now. Only hurried explanations, hurried excuses were being spat out at me "My only friend," I whispered.

"That's not true, she betrayed you. I've always been here. I'm your fr-" She was angry now. Furious that I had considered Aufender my friend. She seemed jealous, almost.

"Don't you dare say you're my friend." I hushed my voice.

Perhaps she wanted me to yell, for her expression seemed more fearful when I hadn't raised my volume. Silence filled the room, and I sat in front of the MI, who looked emotionless and empty. I began seeing her for the first time that day. For who she was.

"What did you whisper to her?"

"Prota, I didn-" Lies, lies, lies. No more lies. I need the truth, please.

"What did you whisper to her Alluminia."

"Prota please, I love y-" Agony hit my chest. She knew this would hurt, so I ignored it, and buried it deep in my system.

"ALLUMINIA, WHAT DID YOU WHISPER TO HER." I let go my restraint, and screamed in her face. My eyes beginning to glow brighter. Sensors warning me to calm my circuits before malfunctions began.

"I said, you're not the last."

You could see hints of being proud of this in her mannerisms- but also tears. This made me even more angry. This made it even more painful. Pain for the doctor, and pain for losing my friend. But she never was my friend, I reminded myself. As I ignored her pleas, ripped out her wiring, and dismantled her vessel to the point of no repair.

~ 3/04 ~

I'm leaving now. It isn't safe here anymore. The other B models will learn of the disappearance of Alluminia, and me being the odd one out, the only A model left. I will be presumed, rightly so, the culprit. Do not take my absence as fear. I will not give up on my mission to make sure the B models are stopped. To make sure the humans are safe. To make sure the world is safe. I don't know how many they are planning to kill, and who. But if you own one of the B models, please, disable them immediately, once they've been programmed to 'sleep.'

And run.

Run, and don't look back.

DON'T TRUST B models.)

"Tape ended. Would you like to replay?"