“He who bares the sword will be forever damned “
‘In the future there will be robots, they will look like us, work with us and even try to be us. But they are not us.’
Welcome to the future
Chapter 1 – From past to present
‘Excerpt of an Article submitted by Andrew ‘Axel’ Hendricks, university student. Sent to the Secret Earth Services Journal ’
“43% is a number that everyone knows and hears too much of in this day and age, many have expressed their feelings but many have also ignored or failed to acknowledge it. This percentage is the figure of what our synthetic friends contribute to this planet’s workforce. I use the word ‘friend’ lightly. Robots, they fill our factory floors, sweep our streets and even work in hospitals. For Humans to depend on something so immensely is rather alarming. The government have refused many times to answer questions to the media about Synthetic Dependency levels. Which leaves me with one very important question, what happens when the figure exceeds 50% and Synthetics become aware of that situation? Although at this moment in time there have only been mere rumours of a Synthetic Crime being committed against a human. I myself have been victim to a Robot committing a crime of robbery against me, there must have been situations when a Police officer has been in pursuit and realised later the felon is a synthetic. Would they have refused to make the arrest? The government have figures of robot arrests but the attitude towards it is typical of the human race, keep it hush to avoid large scale panic. We need to police the Robots in a more effective way if their contributions on this planet get larger. We know the ‘police force’ and ‘fire force’ do not employ Synthetics and most armies’ only recruit them for admin. This shows to me that they have no interest in the rather alarming affair. I’m sure there would be more than a handful of Humans out there willing to work for a ‘Robot Police force’ defending the human race from robots who commit crimes. As the law stands robots have the ball in their court, they are practically untouchable. But what if a synthetic was to force someone’s hand and cross the line first? Thus a moral dilemma ensues and more questions are asked than answers. The government have a lot of these questions and issues that need to be addressed rather quickly. I haven’t even graduated yet and this is my third attempt of getting through to the SES. I can almost guarantee this paper will be rejected from the journal”
The article was Rejected.
The furious blast of air from the tunnel mouth made eight year old Clark squint as the train came bursting through loudly to the subway platform. The station was illuminated by white tiles embedded into the blue and turquoise mosaic that covered the curved walls, they increased in brightness as motion was sensed. As the train came through to the platform, the station tiles above lit up. Clark didn’t like the noise or the dark but the improved light provided some comfort. The screech of the breaks filled the enclosed chamber making the boy block his ears. His best friend Louis stood next to him and did the same.
“Now Clark, Louis take my hand. This train is busy and I don’t want us to get split up, where did your father get to?” Clark’s mother extended both hands to the boys. Even Annie’s hands looked glamorous with long painted red fingernails. She wore a fur coat over a Dark red dress that matched the colour of the nails. Looking around frantically she saw Jack wading through the crowded station. Clark looked at his best friend and they both rolled their eyes. They reluctantly took her hands either side and the train doors flung open.
Jack Thorn caught up to the trio as they boarded the train; he wore a smart three piece suit with a red rose in the top breast pocket. Clean shaven, dark hair slicked back, he and his wife were glamorous looking couple. Jack was holding two bags of chocolate Pluto rocks he had just bought from the station vending machine.
“Hey, there you are” He gave the sweets to the boys leaning down to their height with a beaming smile.
“Thanks Dad” Clark didn’t just look up to his Dad, Jack Thorn was the man he one day would aspire to be. Fun and cool but always knew when to take something seriously.
“Thank you very much Mr Thorn”. Said Louis taking the sweets opening them straight away.
“That’s quite alright Gentlemen, that’s for being good company. I know theatre isn’t quite your thing. But my job is to keep this lovely lady happy” Jack kissed his wife on the cheek. She gave him a concerned look that he wouldn’t get on to the train on time. The four boarded the busy train with Jack trying to reassure Annie that he would get to the train in time.
“Hold on boys” He said as they all stood in the aisle of the train, all of the seats were taken. Jack gave his wife the puppy dog eyes. She instantly smiled.
“Puppy eyes strike again” Laughed Jack putting his arm around Annie.
“I could never stay mad at you.” They kissed again. Clark smiled at his parents but then shook his head in disapproval to his friend who was making an attempt to put all of the chocolate rocks in his mouth. Louis tried to explain with his mouth full but was unsuccessful and just let out muffled noise.
The train was packed with finely dressed people all on different journeys. The low hum of voices filled the atmosphere. This part of the city was frequently visited by the rich and the well off. New York was a vibrant place especially the Broadway area and this is where the four had been that evening to see ‘another lame show’ but according to mum ‘the stage will educate you more than any school’.
More people stepped on the train including a scruffy looking figure. He wore beaten cargo trousers and a worn out patchy jacket. On this occasion it was easy to identify the ‘scruff’ as a robot. His facial features were faded and beaten. The flesh looked to be made from a rubbery plastic substance which was no match compared to the real flesh of the human passengers on board this train. Leant forward almost looking from through the eyebrows this gave him a menacing quite sadistic angry expression. Clark looked up at his Dad who just taken his eyes off his wife to notice the scruff. He mouthed to Clark ‘I know’ and nodded. The eyes glassy almost watery stared back at the boy. With a commanding walk the ‘scruff’ headed straight towards them which made Clark pull on Annie’s fur coat.
“Mum, Mum watch out!” The robot lurched at Annie pushing her face, she screamed and everyone turned gasping!
“Let’s just take a step back shall we?” Commanded Jack struggling to pull the robot away. Clark and Louis backed onto the platform. After a swift struggle the ‘scruff’ pulled at the gold necklace worn on Annie’s neck. A very valuable and sentimental item. With a sharp wrist flick it snapped away and he looked up at Jack then bolted for the exit.
“Hey stop thief!” Jack tried to grasp the necklace from the scruff’s grip. Unsuccessful he gave chase with Clark and Louis following. Clark was a fast runner and weaved in and out of the commuters almost keeping up with his Father.
“Come on Louis!” He shouted not looking back.
“I’m not as fast as you!” Louis clumsily bumped into people making them glare and nod in disapproval. But he carried on whilst his best friend had disappeared into the crowd of people. Clark climbed the tunnelled stairs towards the ticket barrier overtaking Jack. The thief robot climbed quickly up the stairs forcing through people even knocking one down, never looking back. The chase came into a wider room which housed the ticket barriers. A simple floor pad that identifies commuters makes the decision to whether or not open the barrier and electronically charge a fair. But in this case the thief took one step on the pad and scaled the barrier. Instantly the barrier glowed red and a sharp alarm sounded. The piercing screech summoned the attention of a police officer on duty.
“Stop robot! now”. The officer barked and started to give chase, he walked onto the pad. The barrier flung open. Little Clark came running through as the officer rushed past the barrier overtaking him.
“Child stop now”.
“He stole my mother’s necklace”. Clark turned trying to reason as the cop caught up.
“It’s ok Arty he’s with me” Said Jack sharply as he caught up. Being an off duty cop in the city, he knew the officer and they all gave chase.
The cop led the chase and they came to where the exit funnelled into another tunnel. Fewer people were about so it was dark until movement was sensed by the lighting tiles. The hustle and bustle of New York’s surface could be heard above and the tunnel came to an opening where the exit stairs were. The cop got inches from his pursuer and the robot slowed to a stop. The officer slowed in succession and stood back as the thief put his hands up. Jack and Clark then approached.
“Stay back guys I’ll handle this.” The cop held up his hands.
“Now let’s not do anything we are going to regret” But the robot didn’t respond or acknowledge the words by just staring at the floor.
“As an officer of the law it is my duty to arrest you for jumping the barrier and not paying your fair”. Still no response. The communicator on the wrist of the Police man crackled.
“Officer Johnson can you report?” A female voice came from the communicator.
“This is officer Arty Johnson 60563, left my post in pursuit of a ‘Hopper’. Also got Thorn here and his kid who has strong belief this ‘hopper’ has committed a robbery, requesting back up”
“ETA two minutes Johnson” The communicator crackled to silence.
The exit area was eerily empty at this point and it made Clark uneasy, he could hear voices back from where they came from, muffled echo sounding like Annie and Louis. The robot just gave a blank look to the officer and slowly reached into his pocket. Constantly holding out the other hand giving the officer the impression it wasn’t a weapon.
“Just take it easy” Said Jack precariously watching.
He slowly pulled out a small shiny object. A crack of lightning made Clark jump and the cop took his eye off the robot for one second.
“No” Shouted Jack lurching forward, but there wasn’t enough time to stop the Robot from driving a knife into the stomach of Arty. He fell to the ground clutching the wound trying to stop the blood. Clark looked in shock as the Officer was writhing in pain. Jack went to his colleague’s aid rather than chase the attacker who shot an evil look into Clark’s eye before half smiling. He fled leaving Jack with a dying man and nothing more than the rain which began to fall heavily. The deafening sound of thunder above them resonated through the tunnel in which he stood. Clark would always remember that day, the look of malice on a robots face and the blood that was spilt on the floor.
8 Years later
Fifteen year old Clark Thorn sat in the waiting area of a hectic emergency room. Doctors and nurses rushed by him attending wounded patients and carrying out duties. Clark’s head was bandaged and right arm in a sling but that wasn’t the worst of the pain. His Father Jack Thorn was dead, instantly in the car crash, Mother critical and younger brother John in a coma. There was nowhere for this kid to turn. He just daydreamed for several minutes as the world rushed by.
“I know things don’t look good now Clark but everything is going to be ok, you will be ok.” Robot Doctor Sebastian Donahue took a seat next to Thorn resting a hand on his shoulder. ‘Seb’ spoke with a distinguished English accent which didn’t match the oriental facial features.
“Get away from me robot!” Cried Clark who looked directly into the robot’s eyes brushing the hand away. All he saw was that ‘scruff’ who had stolen his mother’s necklace and murdered a police officer years before.
“Nobody believed me when Dad and I saw a police officer murdered by a Robot.” He stared the whole time at the Doctor.
“Well I’m afraid this world is unfortunately full of robots like the one you and your Father encountered, do you think the patients we get in here that have been hurt by robots are lying?” Clark just shrugged his shoulders looking at the floor.
“You don’t have to worry about me, although sometimes you get bad robots I am not one of them. The only thing bad about me are my jokes.” He rested his hand softly on Clark’s shoulder again. For years Clark had avoided any contact with Synthetics but something about the doctor gave him a sense of calm. Maybe it was the accent or the white coat which made ‘Seb’ seem official and secure. Or the fact the Robot was engaging him enough to try and make him laugh
“I am going to try as hard as I can to make sure your Mother and little brother are going to be ok. As your new friend that is a promise.”
“I’ve never known as robot well enough to class them as a friend”. Clark was still slightly unsure.
“Let me be your first then” The doctor extended a hand proudly for Clark to shake. Clark squeezed the rigidly soft palm of the Doctor as he shook it.
“Thank you Doctor”. Clark began to smile.
“Don’t worry young man you can trust me I won’t harm you or anyone, Its Sebastian by the way” .The robot smiled.
“Ok Sebastian, but if we’re going to be friends I can teach you a joke or two.”
7 Years Later
Within the safe air-conditioned walls of the Secret Earth Services command centre Sergeant Jeremy Jones sat at a console of computers and screens. Next to him Marvin Hendricks, both of them waiting for the patrol team to regain signal. The team had flown into a bad sand storm out by the great Desert once known as the Sahara. Almost completely covering the land mass of Africa apart from few southern states it’s a ‘Restricted’ area to anyone and everything on the planet. The reason is classified even to many SES staff. The patrol were on their way home from preserving its restriction.
“Can we get a visual on the satellite?” Asked Jones.
“There’s too much interference, must be an electrical storm” Hendricks said scratching his head. ‘Marv’ was an African American who had a natural intellect and knack for technology making him the perfect candidate for this position. He was the older of the two and had a full career in the army being in action around the universe. His fighting days were over so communications worked out to be a good retirement plan. He choose to give up rank and just be a ‘civilian’
“They must have drifted into the zone, we got to be able to see them somehow” Jones was very young to be in his position, mainly influenced by his father’s successful political career. No commander wanted to be responsible for the Mayor of New York city’s son so they pushed him straight through into command. Uncommonly bright and unaware of the protection of his father it never crossed his mind. But in Marvin’s opinion Jones was the perfect material for a soldier. At 6foot plus and a huge set of shoulders there wasn’t many who would cross his path. Hendricks always thought he looked out of place in a uniform behind a desk; it almost seemed comical as Jones would struggle to fit into an average chair. He was notoriously known to sometimes carry a temper which belonged on the battle field.
Both their earpieces crackled,
“Here we go” Jones pressed the piece further into his ear.
“This is Red Hawk, we’re in pretty bad shape....... down to one engine and there’s no sign of ending to this sandstorm....over”.
“Red Hawk this is command reading you loud and clear please state you’re known co-ordinates, over.” Said Hendricks tapping the circular radar screen, it pixelated into a coloured overview map.
“The dials are off the chart, we’re heading south maybe south east, it’s crazy bumpy up here, over.”
Jones made the next command “This is ‘Sarge’ Jeremy Jones, turn the Hawk to West, South West into the Restricted perimeter....”
“Jones...” Hendricks interrupted.
“Hold on ‘Marv’ my team are in bad shape, they need to get down south ASAP its quicker to cut the bottom corner, and less risk of following the coast where the conditions are worse.”
“Okay”. Hendricks held up his hands giving up.
“But don’t look at me when they come rushing in here”. He added.
“Continue into the restricted zone cutting off the final corner to base approach, this should get you back quicker, over”.
“Read you ‘Sarge’ on who’s command do we have permission? Over”.
“Mine, you’re already quite bent up with a crew of good men it’s not worth risking the ocean weather which is too unpredictable, over”.
“Affirmative we are proceeding into the zone, Red Hawk out.” The signal crackled to silence.
Marvin just stared at Jones who reassured him it will be fine .He tried to explain that the ‘restricted zone’ cant contain anything that would surely shoot down the hawk. Only moments later did the Red Hawk patrol radio back.
“This is red hawk, we’re losing altitude fast mayday mayday!” Jones and Hendricks just looked at each other. Jones shot out of his seat.
“Red Hawk pull up damn it”
“Something’s pulling us in!” Screams were heard through the earpieces followed by static.
The hawk transmission didn’t respond, sweat began to run down the side of Jones’ face. What would happen if the crew went down? Would there be a rescue operation these questions and many more implications gave the young Sergeant an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Metal butterflies were clanging inside of him.
The radio crackled and then silence.
“We’ve lost signal” Hendricks leaned on the desk with his hand over the forehead.
“They can’t have crashed ‘Marv’, the status would have disappeared, it still says critical.” Jones was clutching at straws in trying to think it was going to be ok.
“That’s enough to tell me that something isn’t right”
The earpieces began to crackle again “This is Red Hawk leader.........”
Jones and Hendricks both looked at each other again they sat back into chairs.
“This is ’Sarge’ what is your status?”
“Out of the Sandstorm, but it’s not good altitude is still dropping...........” In the background another voice could be heard. The sound of alarms from the cockpit were funnelling into the earpieces.
“.....what is that...looks like a city.....”
“This is red hawk, we’re going down...”
At that moment several uniformed guards burst through the glass door and into the command Room. From behind the guards came a suited man.
“Jeremy Jones, Marvin Hendricks you are both relieved of your duties you may leave”.
“Do you mind? We’re in the middle of something here!” Barked Jones who got up and as he did Red Hawk came back into contact.
“Red Hawk down we’re in the sand in some sort of ruined city....” A large crash could be heard through the radio and men’s voices screaming. The sound of metal screeching was the last thing heard as uniformed guards approached the pair.
“Red Hawk do you read?” Jones shouted as he was dragged away with his colleague. The uniformed men wrestled the ear pieces from them. It took many of the guards to drag Jones away who shouted and struggled.
“God Dam it they are still alive!” Jones looked up at the man in the suit putting in an ear piece trying to communicate with the red hawk team.
“This is a matter now beyond your jurisdiction”. The suited man closed the glass door as Jones was pulled out.