Cogito Patris

Random Thoughts for Random People

The Story of J: Chapter 4 – Introducing Kay

=====Work of Fiction=====

Previous:
Chapter 3 – Human Contact…and a mystery
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 5 – Beginning a Search

J couldn’t sleep.  The room was comfortable.  The medical staff had gone to great lengths to keep him nearby.  Obviously, they wanted to run more tests.  But the tests seemed more for their curiosity than to help him with his amnesia.  A “Metallurgical analysis of his pseudo-skeleton” would probably tell the doctors plenty.  But it would not help him get his memory back.

But at the moment, J had no alternatives.  He didn’t know where he would go if he did leave.  So, he waited, and tried to sleep.

Sleep didn’t come and he was relieved when he heard the door chime.  He didn’t even check to see who it was.  He just pulled on a pair of shorts and opened the door.

“Are you  the owner of XG-259?”

J just stared.  Not only was he not sure he was the “owner” of the vehicle he had found himself in, but the person at the door was a very beautiful woman.  She was short, at only 160 cm or so.  She had black hair pulled back in to two pony tails.  But it was her eyes that really drove J to distraction.  They were the most perfect blue he had ever seen.

She asked again “Are you tho owner of XG-259?” this time with a little annoyance.

“I’m not sure” he finally choked out.  “That is the vehicle I am driving.” he added.

“What do you know about it?” she asked.

“The food stinks but the bed is pretty comfortable.” he said, motioning her inside.

She came in and took a seat saying “What do you know about the ship itself?”

“I found myself in that ship…” he paused counting the days “3 days ago.” could it only be 3 days? “I don’t know anything other than the few repairs that I made and the fact that the computer would not let me land on Dundalk-4.”

“So you don’t know where the computer core came from.” she asked.

“Who are you?” he asked, feeling as though he had already answered the question.

“Oh” she looked surprised and for the first time noticed that he was only half dressed. “Did I wake you?”

“No, I was only pretending to sleep.  But you still haven’t told me who you are.” he noted.

“My name is Katelyn Mangello.  Most people call me Kat.  I am a computer technician.  You were complaining about your computer?”  She said it as a question, though it sounded more like a statement.

“‘Complain’ is probably the wrong word.  It wouldn’t let me land on the planet’s surface.  It said that it was too dangerous.”

“As it turns out, the computer was right.  There was a hole in your rear EM and the damage to your engines would have caused an uncontrolled entry.  How it knew that is beyond my understanding.  When I opened the computer core to do a diagnostic, I found this…”

For the first time J noticed that the woman was holding an electronic tablet.  She handed to him with her last statement.  It showed a picture of the computer core.  J’s memory could not be trusted obviously, but he remembered the computer core being a collection of crystalline modules with a dual electrical pillars to access data.  What he saw was a spongy substance that literally filled the whole compartment.  It was translucent, but showed small flashes of light here and there.

“I can see from the look on your face that you didn’t know about this.” Katelyn continued. “What do you know about the legends of robocks?”

“I don’t remember anything about them.  But I do remember the word as being ‘robots’.  I’m not even sure I know where I heard it though.”

“Well, the legends that I have heard implied that their positronic brains were descriptively similar to the substance on the insides of your computer core.  Not only that, but they were said to have three laws built in to them.  The laws could be summarized as ‘Hippocratic, trusted servant and valuable commodity.  The full first law was supposed to be ‘A robot'” she said with a sharp enunciation of the final syllable, then continued “‘a robot must not harm a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.'”

“What does this have to do with anything?” J asked innocently, though he was pretty sure he knew where this was going.

“The standard computer on an XG class vessel is little more than an interface between the ship and the pilot.  It could no more hinder your landing than it could have detected the problems with your ship.  This computer core however not only could diagnose the problems with your ship, but took action to keep you from harm.  A positronic brain, with the first law, would have to prevent you from landing if it detected a problem.”

“Doesn’t one of those laws say that a robot has to follow orders though?” J asked, yet again not sure where the information was coming from.

“That was supposed to be the second law ‘A robot must follow the orders given it by a human being, unless those orders conflict with the first law’.  But both the first law and the third law worked against you in the case of your landing.  The third law is ‘A robot must not allow itself to come to harm unless such harm is necessary for the first or second law.'”

“So by countermanding my orders…or in this case my attempt to land…it would be following the first and third laws.  But robots are mythological.”

“I’m not sure that is true.  I understand that you are a cyborg.”

J startled at the apparent change in subject.  He also had not yet assigned that label to himself.  ‘Cyborg’.  The thought disturbed him, although he wasn’t sure why.  Anyone with an artificial appendage is a cyborg of sorts.  He simply had a few more artificial parts than normal.

“I suppose that would be accurate.” J said with a slight hesitation.

“I also understand that the doctors are not sure how your…parts…were constructed.  What if they are robotic parts?”

“If you acknowledge that there is such a thing as a robot, then I suppose the thought makes some kind of sense.  But wouldn’t it be possible that it is simply a medical experiment.  Achems Razor states that: All things being equal, the most simple explanation is probably the correct explanation.  So, which is more likely?  A secret society of mythical mechanical beings?  Or memory loss due to a medical experiment gone wrong?”

Kat looked thoughtful for a moment.  Then said uncertainly “What about your computer core.  That is not explained by your assertion.”

“That is true.  But if I were the subject of a military experiment, perhaps the ship is experimental as well.”

“Now who is playing with razors?  I’m not sure a military and medical experiment gone wrong scenario is any more likely than the existence of mechanical beings.  Robots have been a part of our literary culture for centuries.  Maybe at some point in the distant past we actually built some. Non-humanoid robots already exist today.  They are used everywhere to cook, clean and build.  Out technical society has been around since the first fictitious stories of robots were put to paper.  In all that time, maybe someone came up with the idea.”

“And forgot?” J added sardonically.

“I could see a social evolution away from mechanical servants. When society turns it’s back on an idea, the idea is bound to die off.” Kat added, as if the same question had come to her. “Besides, you are stuck in this room doing nothing.  If you are right and this is some kind of conspiracy, then where are your handlers?  What are you going to do next?”

“The same question could be asked if you are right.  What should I do next?”

“Look for them.” Kat added calmly. “For that matter, “‘Them’ could be your conspirators.  Let’s try to find out who did this to you?”

J considered that for a while.  He had never considered himself cynical.  ‘Never’ of course being a relative term.  But a question came to his mind. “Why do you want to help me?” He asked simply.

She blushed slightly, but perceptively. “I said I was a computer tech.  I would relish the chance to study an advanced, walking computer.”

J considered that for a slight moment.  But dismissed the idea immediately. “You already have an advanced flying computer here to study.  If I stay still, you can study my ship’s computer right here.  What is the real reason.” He said a little more harshly than he intended.

Kat was quite for a long moment.  Debating as to whether or not to trust this stranger who didn’t even know himself.  Finally she started her explanation. “What I was five years old, I though I saw a robot.  Although the robot did not look like the mechanical automatons that you find in sci-fi hyperwave shows.  It was almost human looking.  In fact, if I hadn’t seen what I saw I would have thought he was just a man.  Like any other man.

“I was maybe five or six.  I don’t remember exactly.  Like most kids I was having fun playing on a play ground.  I was alone, probably because it was a rainy day and the other kid’s moms wouldn’t let them come out on the playground.  My mom wouldn’t have either, but I didn’t ask permission. The playground was slippery because of the rain and I was playing with the reckless abandon inherent in the young.  I didn’t even pay attention to the weather.  The storm was getting worse.  Lightning was flashing but I continued to play.  Just then, a man, or I should say a robot, came running out of the trees that lined the playground.  He pulled me off of the monkey bars just as lightning hit the playground.  The thunder was deafening.

“Without saying anything he got back up, apparently the force of the thunder had made him lose his footing.  I found myself separated from him on the ground.  He apparently had thrown me to the ground before the lightning had hit.  He tried to run away, but he kept stopping and going in an almost comical manor.  As if he, or I should say it, could make up it’s mind. 

“While it was doing the chicken dance, I noticed that the skin on it’s head was charred.  I looked at it’s left arm and the skin was missing from part of it.  Apparently the lightning had struck him.  As you know, a human arm has two bones in the forearm area.  The ulna and the radius.  This create had only one, and it was silver.  He finally spoke and said in a voice that was a little too gruff or maybe just a little too mechanical ‘Little Miss, are you OK?'”

Kat fell quiet.  J waited for her to collect herself.

“I said that I was OK.  With his mind finally made up, he ran off at too great a speed for any human to achieve. That day I decided to study computers.  I wanted to find the man who saved my life.  I also wanted to know what it was doing.  I got the impression that saving me wasn’t it’s primary purpose, but it couldn’t continue with it’s purpose until it knew I was OK.  I studied the legends of robots.  But our own computer systems are not nearly complex enough to have acted the way my savior acted.  I thought I would never be able to find my savior.

“When I heard about you and your artificial skeleton, I bribed a nurse to see your x-rays.  Your arm” she said, gesturing toward his artificial limb “Your arm has a single forearm bone.  I finally had a link to the secret society, and hopefully, to my savior.”

She fell silent again.

“You knew about my medical condition.  Surely you know that i don’t remember anything.  So, why didn’t you just take my ship?” J asked.

“In all honesty, I tried.  But your computer wouldn’t let me leave you.  It said that it had instructions to obey your orders above all others and to remain available to you at all costs.”

“A loyal ship.”J said under his breath. “So, you need me, but why should I go off on your crusade? What’s in it for me?”

“Don’t you want to know what happened to you?  You were probably saved by this secret society too.  Don’t you want to thank them?” She asked innocently.

“Thank them?  They left me alone and unconscious in a derelict ship?  Why would I want to thank them?” J said with more vehemence than he knew he felt.

“Then don’t you want to confront them?  At the least, you could find out more about yourself.  I assume you would like to know that.”

J considered that for a time.  Then, he finally made up his mind. “OK, We can leave in the morning.  There is only one bed, so pack lightly.”

With that he showed her to the door.  She beamed with a triumphant smile.

“Don’t get too excited.” he said “If this secret society exists, they have remained hidden for more than a millennium.  I’m not sure you and I will be able to find them.”

He smile only dimmed slightly. “I have been passively searching for them for two decades.  I think a little optimism is expected upon actively searching.”  She turned and kissed him on the cheek.  Then, left quickly.

He smiled and tried to go back to sleep.

Previous:
Chapter 3 – Human Contact…and a mystery
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 5 – Beginning a Search
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November 7, 2007 - Posted by | Sci-Fi, Story of J, The

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