Cogito Patris

Random Thoughts for Random People

The Story of J: Chapter 11 – A Cold Day In…

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

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Chapter 10 – Recruiting
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Chapter 12 – Encounter

 

Baleysworld is known primarily for the hard winters and the hard people they produce.  The planet is purported to be the Planet of Origin by the inhabitants of the world which makes them one among hundreds of planets to make that claim.  The planet is home to a particular species of plant that is well adapted to the near-constant winters found…

…The world’s population exists almost entirely underground.  Although the environment is not pleasant, the reasons for the underground caves of steel seems to be rooted in cultural, rather than environmental, forces.  Because of the massive structures that contain the world’s population, sociologists have determined that Trantor, and the planet-girdling city of domes that were built during the first galactic empire, may have been colonized directly from Baleysworld.  Indeed, the structures offer similar architecture…

…The planet is also unique in that the First Foundation’s religious tenants designed to control the technology provided by the home planet were completely ineffectual.  it is widely believed that the planet does not harbor any religious beliefs.  However, speculation is rampant among outsiders as to the source of the planet’s atheism. The great archaeologist Gladia Delmaar was said to have been interested in the planet…*

* All excerpts from the Encyclopedia Galactica taken from the sixth edition FE 1792 Terminus.

 —————————-

“I don’t suppose we could just look up ‘Temple’ in the directory.”  J had said sardonically in the general direction of Agent Leo.

As J expected, the agent responded. “There are no temples listed in the directory on Baleysworld.”

The trio of travelers remained silent and motionless in the small space port on Baleysworld.  The trip to arrive at this distant planet had been long.  The tight quarters on board Exie had not helped.  Unfortunately nobody had thought to plan a course of action while on the trip.

Finally Kat broke the silence. “Well I for one would like to sit down and have a nice meal.  Then we should probably arrange for a place to stay.”

The two men nodded in agreement and then followed as she lead the way to a brightly lit entrance.  She stepped outside, and then immediately turned back around and came back in before the men could feel the frigid air outside.

“I though we were near the equator.”  She said which produced only puzzled looks from her male companions.  “It is freezing out there.”  She looked around for the first time and noticed that there were many shops in the space port, and most of them had heavily insulated jackets and pants hanging in the displays.  “this way” she ordered and then marched toward the closest store.

Half hour later, the three travelers exited the shop and stepped comfortably out in to the cold clad in brand new…agency funded…heavy clothing.  J, Leo and Kat entered a waiting ground car taxi and asked the drive to take them to a restaurant.

The driver didn’t ask for more information, he simply stepped on the accelerator and drove for about 20 minutes. 

If there is one constant in the universe it would have to be the administrative building.  Every planet from Trantor to the most distant and backward has administrative buildings.  The architecture may differ slightly from planet to planet, but the air always conveys the same “officialness”.  The interior walls are always beige with a minimal of decoration.  The people inside are always the same self-important bureaucrats.  The building the cabbie brought them to was definitely an administrative building.

When the ground car was stopped, the back door was openned from the outside.  A person was on the other side wrapped in enough clothing to hide the gender of the individual.  He/She motioned the trio to follow. 

Once inside, the figure removed the coats with the ease of great practive revealing a diminutive man with larger-than-necessary ears that provoked an instant smile from everyone who met him.  His smile was easily displayed as well and he grinned at the three travelers.

The three travelers waited for the man to speak…not sure what was going on.

“Hi, I am the Executive Assistant to Undersecretary of External Information” the man said, without giving a name. “I have been told to inform you that you are looking in the wrong place and to send you on your way.”

“You know who we are?” J said, with maybe a little too much enthusiasm.

“In a way…I was told to tell three travelers from Trantor that were to arrive today quote ‘You are looking in the wrong direction’ end quote.  Then I was to send you on your way.”

“And who told you to tell us this message?”  Leo asked.

“The message came from our police force’s department of external threats.” He said with a small smile.  “And to answer your next question, they are a little on the paranoid side.  They rarely share their sources.

“Now that that is over with, I was wondering if you would like to join me for a bite to eat.”

The three visitors agreed and the small man turned and led them to a public cafeteria. 

On the way, Leo pulled J in close and whispered “He has a practiced mind.  He only thinks what he says.  Either he knows that I am an agent, or he is always careful not to think too much when speaking…similar to a gambler who doesn’t look at his cards because he doesn’t want to give away his hand.  Apparently he is a practiced politician at least.”

 They didn’t walk far to the cafeteria.  Another indication of the “Administrative Building Effect”.  The line to enter the cafeteria was long to say the least.  With people from all walks of life waiting in a raucus organization for their chance to swipe their palm and enter the eating area.  However,  the small man walked to another kiosk where an actual person waited to admit them.  To J’s eyes, the man didn’t identify himself, but the attendant opened the door with respect.

The man lead the group to a small table and sat down.  In front of each table setting was a set of buttons.  The main pointed to each in turn.  “Unfortunately, we have come on a day when there is no choice for the main entre. But, this button will provide you with a tofurky sandwich.  These two will provide you with either chocolate milk make with real milk or a glass of synthapple juice. ”  J Smiled to himself at the mention of “Real” milk…obviously a delicacy on this planet.  He, however, selected the sythapple juice for his sandwich.  Leo and Kat both selected the milk…but the executive secretary to the undersecretary of external communications did not.

The food and drink appeared almost instantaneously from an alcove directly in front of each seat.  J took a timid bite of the sandwich.  It was bland, but somehow gave J a feeling of familiarity.   He savored the dish, chewing each bite completely before reluctantly sending it on to his stomach. When the sandwich was gone he was tempted to ask for another.  But decided against it.

“May I ask you a question?” He asked the government man.  Without waiting for approval, he continued “How many people live on Baleysworld?”

“There are approximately 4 Billion.  Why do you ask?”

“Well, these cafeterias seem to be overcrowded despite their obvious efficiency.  That level of efficiency leads me to believe that overpopulation and greater demand the capacity may be an issue.  But 4 billion is hardly unheard of in the galaxy, and to my knowledge the other planets do not resort to this.” J said gesturing at the relative pandemonium going on around them. “So, I wonder why you have developed this intentional system of overcrowding.”  J had watched the man intently, waiting for some sign that he was impressed by his train of logic…or for that matter that the man was impressed at all.

“To tell you the truth.” he said, with the slightest of smiles “nobody really knows why we have developed this ‘ intentional system of overcrouding’ as you so eloquently put it.  From time to time a measure to address the ‘cafeteria problem’ is put on the ballot.  It is inevitably voted down.  Apparently, it is a cultural thing.” The man stopped as if that answered the question.  “Now, may I ask you a question?” He said and without pausing continued “What is it that you are looking for?”

Kat began to answer, but Leo had grabbed her arm and indicated that J should continue the conversation.  Apparently, although he could not read the practiced politician, he knew J was up to something.

J said “You first.  What are you looking for?”

“I’m not sure I understand the question.”

“You are not an Executive Secretary to the Undersecretary of External Communications.  I would say that you are a man of some importance.  The length of a persons title is inversely proportional to their import ants.  Judging by the way the cafeteria attendant acted when you came up, you are not a man of low import ants.  Therefore, your title should be shorter.  Maybe you are the Undersecretary of External Communications?  Or the Secretary?  It doesn’t really matter.  If all you were supposed to do was to tell us to move along, the, whomever ‘They’ are would not have sent such a practiced politician.  You want something…I want to know what.”

If the man was surprised by what he heard, he didn’t show it.  “My question is simply to address my own ppersonal curiosity I assure you Mr. J.  As for the cafeteria worker, she is my neighbor, and friend.  That provides you with some measure of convenience…as long as I don’t abuse the courtesy she shows me.  I assure you, I am who I say I am.”

“And who is that?”

“I am the Executive Secretary to the Undersecretary -“

“Of External information…yes, you said that.  But you didn’t provide a name.  And, incidentally, neither did we.  Yet you just called me by my self provided name.”  J Said. “If I can not believe that you are who you say you are…which I can’t…Then how am I to trust you when you say that we are looking in the wrong place?”

The man stopped and seemed to think for some time.  J glanced at Leo who gave him a small nod to indicate that the small man was indeed ‘thinking’.

“You should trust me because staying here would be a waist of time. “the man paused just before completing the final word in his statement. “I see that you don’t believe that either.  And the truth is that you may be right to doubt my advice.  I can not tell you who I am.  But I can tell you that I have heard from a reliable source that whatever it is that you are looking for is not on Baleysworld.  Unfortunately, they did not see fit to tell me what you were looking for.  When I told my superior about this fact, he suggested that I take it upon myself to find out what you are looking for, so that we could investigate thoroughly.”  He finished looking down at the table…almost in tears.

“May we speak to your superior?” J asked.

“I don’t see why not.” the man said as he stood. “I have failed in my mission.”

—————————-

The group of four walked back to the administrative building at a slow stroll.  Leo took this opportunity to whisper in to J’s ear again. “He is not faking.  He does think he has failed.”

“He has…he was sent to get information from us, and ended up giving us information.  If he is who I suspect him to be, then I have no doubt that he has about violated his greatest preconception…strange really.  Were you pressuring him at all?”

“No” Leo said.

“It isn’t nice to whisper.” Kat said, interrupting the two men.  They went back to walking in silence.  J continued to think.

The door that the man took them to was labeled…with a name.  ‘Secretariat Delmaar – Secretary in Chief’.  J smiled inwardly.  The doors opened on to a largish office that was piled high with electronic tablets.  Each pile was arranged such that the tablets were stable.  J had the impression that each pile served a purpose that was not apparent to anyone but the one who created the piles in the first place.

The man behind the desk looked up, saw the downtrodden face of the pseudo ‘Executive Secretary…’.  He then started to shuffle tablets around until he found the one he was looking for.  Only then did he acknowledge the presence of the other three people who entered the room.

“Mr. Delmaar-” J started.

“Secretary Delmaar” the man corrected.

“Apologies.  Secretary Delmaar, my name is J, this is Kat and Leo, and we are looking for robots.”  J glanced in the direction of the man who had lead them this far just in time to see a slight smile appear accross his face.  He had not failed in his responsibilities.

 “What is a Robot?”  Secretary Delmaar said, while he continued to read the information on his tablet.

“A mechanical being that was reported to be constructed by humans before the dawn of history.  We have come here because this is one of the oldest planets known to exist.”

Theoldest.” Delmaar said, showing obvious pride. “But I don’t think I have ever heard of a robot before.”

“Those that have heard of them consider them mythical.” Kat said. “But we are convinced that they exist.  We would like your permission to look Secretary Delmaar.”

“Why do you need my permission?”

“Your Secretary of External Information here” J said, indicating the man who had attended to them thus far ” tried to get rid of us.  I assume at your request.”

Both of the bureaucrats paused visibly.  One because J had figured out who he was, the other because J had figured out what he had done.  Finally, Delmaar spoke “I did.  But that was at the recommendation of a reliable source.  I on;y had your best interests in mind.”

“And what if this ‘reliable source’ does not have our best interests in mind?” Leo said. “I don’t think we can take their word for it.  Unless you can tell us who your reliable source is and we can check them out for ourselves.”

“That is quite impossible, we don’t even who who he is.” the Secretary of External Information said. “But his information has always been good till now.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t have another direction to take right now.  The trail ran dry before we even got started.  This is our only lead.” Kat said.

“And the robots are not the only thing we are looking for. “J said “Can I ask you a question Secretary…”J said indicating the first man.

He paused visibly, then answered “Secretary Marakison” the man said “Jordan Marakison.”

“Is there an way that you can think of that a human would not be found in the genetic library maintained by the Empire?”

The man pursed his lips and shook his head. “Not that I can think of.”

“Do you agree that such a person could be dangerous to our way of life?  Someone who didn’t exist that is.  They could commit crimes and couldn’t be booked.  They could steal and not be identified.”

“Assuming it was not a computer error…I could see that they should be identified.  But that doesn’t seem likely.”

“I am such a person.” J said simply. 

“But I looked you up in the database…you were there.”

“Did you notice when the record was added?  It was added a couple of weeks ago on Trantor.  I am more than a couple of weeks old.  Therefore, I must have been one of ‘those dangerous people’.  I am trying to find out where I came from so that I can figure out if there are more ‘invisible people’ out there.”

J paused and then continued in a seeming non-sequator. “Have you heard of the Korlog?”

“Yes.” Came the simple response. 

“What if they are behind me?  What if I am some sort of spy for them?  Wouldn’t that represent a threat?”

“Secretary Marakison, you are to provide these people with all the resources they need to find out where he came from.  If necessary, you may also help them to find these so-called robots.”  Secretary Delmaar said, then turned around and dropped the tablet on his desk sat down and went to work.  Apparently, the meeting was over.

Secretary Marakison was surprised.  He had indicated that these three travelers may be helpful in their research.  But Secretary Delmaar had used one of his favorite terms.  ‘It will be a cold day in hell before we accept help from outsiders.’ he had said.  But on Baleysworld, it was always cold.  Maybe hell had finally frozen over.

 

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Chapter 10 – Recruiting
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Chapter 12 – Encounter

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Sci-Fi, Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 9 – Confrontation

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

Previous:
Chapter 8 – A Clue?
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 10 – Recruiting

J woke up the following morning.  That wasn’t a surprise.  He woke up every morning.

J slipped quietly out of the hotel room.  That wasn’t a surprise either.  He didn’t want to wake up Kat who was sleeping in a separate bed in the same room he occupied.  They had been living off of Kat’s savings and credit since they started this expedition.  J couldn’t contribute.  After all he didn’t have an identity, much less a credit chip.

J ran up three flights of stairs to the gymnasium.  No surprise in that.  He enjoyed running the corridors early in the day.  They were mostly empty.  The gym he attended wasn’t the closest in the hotel, but it was the closest that was above the apartment that he and Kat shared.  He wasn’t sure why he liked the fact that it was at a higher altitude.  It could have something to do with the downhill run at the end of his workout.

When he arrived, J started his workout by hitting and kicking a heavy bag in the gym.  This was his preferred method of exercise.  So, yet again, no surprise.

A stranger approached him.  Well, a stranger in the fact that J didn’t recognize him.  The “Stranger” was not as ignorant of J however.  “Would you like to spar?”  the stranger asked J.

This was unusual, and as such, was a surprise.  The gym was never empty in the early mornings.  But most people maintained a strict concentration on their own workout.  Completely ignoring those around them.

After the initial surprise wore off, J responded “to tell you the truth, I have no idea what I am doing.” J responded honestly.

“Well, you seem to be working that bag over pretty good.  I always prefer to work out with someone.  Don’t worry, I’ll take it easy on you.”  The man said, still not giving a name.

“OK, I’ll give it a try.” J said and followed the man to the octagonal ring that dominated the gym, yet had remained empty every day that J had been present.  There were small bleachers on all sides of the ring.  J had assumed that there were competitions that took place on occasion in the gym.  Because he was always there in the early hours of the day, he had never witnessed them.

“No what?” J asked as they got in to the ring.

“Well, the rules are simple.  Each participant attempts to knock their opponent to the mat.  A ‘knock down’ is only valid if the opposing player remains on the mat for at least two metric seconds.  This allows for rolling and other evasive maneuvers. Three knock downs represents a victory.  After each knock down, each player must simultaniously touch the pole on their side of the ring before the game can continue.  Any method may be used for achieving the goal in question except for biting and attacks to the genitalia. Rounds last for six metric minutes and begin and end with the ringing of a bell.”

“OK, let’s go.”

A bell rang almost immediately., though J didn’t notice his opponent touch any controls and there was no-one around at the time.  But J didn’t have time to think of that because his opponent was rushing him.  Before J could react, the man had ducked and swept J’s legs out from under him, getting his first point with a knock down.

OK, that was different.  J thought and got back up quickly. 

He reached his pole and touched it, noticing that his opponent was already holding the pole on the other side of the ring.  When J made contact, the pole changed to a bright green.  J didn’t waist time thinking this time.  He turned to his assailant and crouched as he saw the man running toward him.  J slipped to his left to avoid the charge.  He stuck out his right foot and with his left hand he ‘encouraged’ the forward motion of the other man.  The man fell forward, buck quickly balled up to do a front flip and end up back on his feet.  No point awarded.

The man was quickly on top of J grabbing his left wrist and pulling it down behind his back.  Suddenly he let go and J lurched forward.  The man grabbed his feet and lifted and J fell to the ground again.  The signal poles changed back to red as the second point was awarded to J’s opponent.

J jumped up quickly again.  He ran to his pole and touched it.  Somehow he reached his pole before the other man.  He had to wait for a slight moment for the other man o touch his pole so that ‘play’ could resume.

The man was obviously aware that J was quickly learning the game.  He didn’t charge this time, but crept to his left.  J matched his movement, keeping the same space between them.  When they had traversed half of the ring, J glanced down to avoid the pole.  He heard, rather than saw, the charge from the other man.  He was anticipating this however.  He quickly moved behind the pole.  The man had to adjust to the pole to get around it, sending him off balance.  J took that adjustment and pushed on his outside shoulder.  The man fell to the ground and J scored his first point.

J ran to his pole and then the game started again.  but not for long, as a bell rang signalling the end of the first round.

The two men were breathing hard.  The man said “I thought I had you with the pole maneuver.”

“It seemed an obvious strategy.  I decided to fall for it, but I couldn’t be sure how yu would adjust.  I’m just glad it worked.” J panted with a wry smile.

The short exchange was all that was available, as the bell rang again.

This time, J was the one to charge.  He tried to grab the man around the shoulders, but the man ducked out of the grasp and grabbed J around the waist.  He lifted and tossed J behind him.  J stayed under control and turned his ungraceful flop in to a less ungraceful flip.  He did lose his balance on the landing, but was able to utilize his momentum to regain his footing before losing the point.

His back was to his opponent.  And the man took advantage of that by quickly taking J’s arm in a grip and pulling J to the edge of the ring.  J took this opportunity to push the man against the clear wall of the ring.  J then pulled him back fell on his own back taking his feet and placing them on the abdomen of his opponent.  He flipped over backwards and end up back on his feet, with the man underneath him. 

The two men quickly returned to their respective poles.  The score was tied, the next point would proclaim a victor.  By this time, a small crowd had gathered around the ring.  The participants didn’t seem to notice as their attention was on each other.

They both charged to the center of the ring. The man quickly hit J in the side of the head.  J countered with a punch to the abdomen.  The two men broke down in to a pugilistic pose each on punching and kicking, blocking and countering.  Finally, the bell rank.

The participants spent the break in silence.  Each one a little bruised and each on winded.  When the bell rang again, to start the third round, the participants once again met in the center of the ring.  J was the first to strike attempting a left jab.  But the man didn’t counter the punch instead, he grabbed J’s arm turned around and tossed him over his shoulder.  J fell to the floor unceremoniously and the matched ended.

“Good game” the man said sincerely.

“Indeed” J panted, still laying on his back.

J finally stood up as the small crowd of spectators dissipated.  The two men exited the ring, shook hands and J headed for the door.  His workout complete.  He jogged back to the room where he was pretty sure Kat would be awake and waiting for him.

****************

“I don’t understand it sir.  I don’t think he is a mentalist, but I wasn’t able to manipulate his mind at all.” The mystery man was reporting after the match was over. “We certainly would have a record of any man that was able to block the mental control of an Agent, but his DNA is nowhere on record.”  The man continued, referring to his bloodied knuckles. “I know that Agents are the bottom of the mentalist barrel, but I still should have been able to push him in to an attack during the match.  But he didn’t attack in that case.  I tried to push him in to complacency when I attacked.  But that didn’t happen either.”

The woman on the other side of the communication was unimpressed.  She was, after all, a mid level bureaucrat in the Office of Mentalic Affairs, a Bureau that technically didn’t exist. She herself was a mentalist, everyone in the Bureau was after all.  More powerful than an Agent, but not nearly powerful enough to reach any height in the organization.  So, she was stuck in this limbo that was called “middle management”.  In some ways, she envied the agents.  At least they got to go out and evaluate threats.  She had to sit behind a desk and read.

“And what of his partner, do you encounter the same resistance with her?” She asked

“No, Kat is in no way enhanced in mentallics.”

“And what did you get from her?”

“Exactly what they said when they arrived on Trantor.  They are here to do research on a secret society of robots.  They are leaving today in order to investigate another planet.  Their visa has almost run out, I’m sure that went in to their decision to leave.”

“What is a robot?”

“A mechanical being of some sort.  They have been spending large amounts of time looking for these things, but I doubt they really exist.”

“And if they do?  Will they represent a threat to us?”

“According to the research I have done, they are mythological.  But they had built in to them a set of laws that were placed in them to force them to serve humanity.  If we assume they exist, we can also assume these laws exist.  The laws seem to be complete.  I can’t imagine that they are any threat to us.”

“So, why are these two looking for them?”

“Well, Kat seems to have a childhood memory that is driving her.  I can’t tell from J’s mind what his motivations are, but according to Kat, he has no memory of who he is.  Somehow, she thinks the robots may have rescued him.  So, she thinks that he thinks that they can tell him who he is.”

“What is your recommendation?”

“I think we should bring them in for direct questioning.  The reasons given for J’s interests do not seem sufficient.”

“Agreed.  Also, conduct a search of their ship.”

“That may be a problem.  Their ship has denied my team access.”

The woman referred to her notes, off screen. “It is a standard ‘XG’ model fighter-interceptor.  How did the computer deny you access?  It doesn’t have control of the docking port.”

“That is true of a standard ‘XG’, but this computer does have access.  According to Kat, the computer has been replaced.  It looks like a robot’s brain according to her interpretation.”

“OK, tow the vehicle to our facility and we will cut a door open.”

“The vehicle will not allow that.  It has prevented all of our attempts to move it.  Before you ask, we tried to cut it open ourselves.  The hull is not exactly duranium.  We couldn’t cut it with a standard torch.  When we tried to use one of our plasma torches, the ship moved away.”  The Agent said.

“OK, get J to move it for us before you bring him in.”  The woman said, then changed her mind “On second thought, I will come with you to the space port.  Maybe we can convince him to cooperate.”  She terminated the connection and arranged for her short trip to the space port.  Finally, she would be in the field.

****************

Kat and J had quickly eaten before leaving the hotel.  They made the trek to the train station.  The train station took them to the space port where Exie was waiting for them.  The train ride took quite a while due to the distance from the hotel.  The pair spent the time in silence.  Granted, Kat wanted to know why J looked so beaten up, but when she had mentioned it during breakfast, he had simply shrugged.

When they arrived at the space port, it took quite a while to locate their ride.  Part of the problem was that the building was massive, and confusing to the pair of outlanders.  But the greater concern was that the ship was not where they had left it.  After consulting with a not-so-helpful employee, they found the ship was on a different level.  When they arrived at the port, they found a pair of official-looking officers. 

J recognized one of the two, the male, immediately.  He instinctively reached for his cheek where a small cut had recently been healed.  But he was standing behind, and to one side of the woman.  She was an intimidating presence.  She was tall at nearly 190 cm.  Her black hair was cut short, though it was still pulled back in to an efficient pony tail.  Her face was angular and gave the distinct impression of a bird of prey.

She spoke “Are you Katelyn Mangello and J?”

Kat moved slightly behind J, obviously preferring that he do the talking. “We are” he said, trying to look just as intimidating as the two military officers.

“Could you open your ship please?” The woman asked, her words were pleasant, but her voice carried the request in the form of an order.

“No, I don’t think I will do that.” J responded.  Obviously surprising the female officer.

“That was not a request.” She reiterated.

“I know” J answered nonchalantly.

“May I ask why not?” The man asked.

“This ship is important to me.  I don’t want it violated by some impostors posing as soldiers.” J answered.

Both of the false military officers paused visibly.

“Why do you think that we are not officers?” The woman finally said.

“Well, your boots have heels that are greater than 3 cm in length.  No doubt, you want to look as intimidating as possible.  But no military would use such footwear.  They would be impractical on a ship with knee-knockers as military ships have.  Also, your uniform doesn’t have any pockets on the sides of your pants on tunic.  Pockets are handy things to have and I doubt that a military uniform would actually be missing them.  There are a few more clues, but I think you get my point.” J said and left Kat and the two agents flabbergasted.

The man reached in to an inside pocket in his tunic and pulled out a badge. “Your right, we are not military officers.” he said, taking his supervisor off guard. “I am agent Leo of the Office of Mentalic Affairs.  We want to have a word with you, and we want to search your ship.”

“There is no such organization.” Kat said.

“I believe them” J said, then turning to the two uniformed impostors “You can ask my compatriot and I any questions you want.  But I will not grant you access to my ship.  I doubt that you would be asking if you could access the ship on your own.  The fact that it has moved proves my point.  This is probably your last ditch effort.  I will not have my property damaged.  It is, after all, all I have in the galaxy.  But you are welcome to lead my friend and I to any interrogation chamber you desire.”

The agents looked at each other inquisitively.  Then, shrugging their shoulders they lead the two tourists off to the Office.

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Chapter 8 – A Clue?
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Chapter 10 – Recruiting

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 8 – A Clue?

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

Previous:
Chapter 7 – Lost Time
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 9 – Confrontation

“Come look at this.” Kat said suddenly drawing J out of his random thoughts.

For another two weeks the pair had been in the library in the district of Columbus.  They purposely picked this library because it was far from the University of Trantor and it was the fifth largest on the planet.  But for two weeks they had not made much progress.

“What is it?” J asked hopefully.

“It’s a progress report dated April 1, 4550 AD from a place called New Aurora.” Kat said.

“And?”

“Well, it mentions that the construction was continuing on schedule but the workers required some unexpected maintenance.”

“And?” J asked again.

“It doesn’t say that the workers required medical attention, but maintenance.  Maybe these were robotic workers.”  Kat said anxiously.

“OK, so where is New Aurora?  And what is that date?”

“I recognize the date as conforming to a standard utilized prior to the first Galactic Empire.  So that makes it old at least.”  Kat said as she rolled her chair to another view screen and brought up the star charts for the current foundation.  She quickly brought up the glossary and looked under ‘N’.  “The star charts do not have a ‘New Aurora'”.  She quickly went to the ‘A’s “Nor does it have an ‘Aurora’.”

Kat continued.  “But they wouldn’t if this was a planet of robots.  They certainly would erase the location from all star charts long ago.”

“Granted, but how will we find it if it isn’t in the star charts?”

“Well, we have to grant that this would have been among the first planets colonized from the planet of origin.”

“Planet of Origin?”

“Yes, the planet from which the Human race originated.” Kat expounded.  “The human race is the only sentient species in the galaxy…or at least was prior to the arrival of the Korlog.  Biologists agree that if sentient beings were to develop on different world under different circumstances, the resulting biology would be so vastly separated that they could not mate with each other.  As a result, we are not the result of a conglomeration of many sentient species bread in to a single form, but that we must have come from a single planet.”

“OK, so, if we conclude that this ‘New Aurora’ must be an old planet, then what can we deduce?” J asked

“Well, although the trip through hyperspace can take a ship to any place in the universe in a split second, the greater the distance the greater the chance of a miscalculation, especially in the infancy of interstellar travel.  So, if we assume the planet of ‘New Aurora’ was colonized from the Planet of Origin, then it should be close the the Planet of Origin.”

“Right, so, where is the Planet of Origin?”

“Nobody knows.  But we do know of a few planets that claim to be the planet of origin.  One of them is called ‘Baleysworld’.  And it happens to be in the Terran sector.”  Kat said, letting the sentence hang.

“Didn’t that linguist guy say that my vowels sounded like they were from the Terran sector?”

“Yes he did.” Kat said, glad that he remembered the same thing that she did. “We have spent almost three months here.  This is the best lead we have gotten so far.  I say, we should try going there.  Worst case scenario, we can at least look in to your own origins.  The linguist suggested after all to be trying that approach” She said the last sentence in as close to an imitation of the old professor as she could manage.

J laughed, and slowly agreed. “To Baleysworld then.”.

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Chapter 7 – Lost Time
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Chapter 9 – Confrontation

December 31, 2007 Posted by | Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 7 – Lost Time

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

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Chapter 6 – Welcome to Trantor
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Chapter 8 – A Clue?

For two months J and Kat had spend most of their waking hours in the library at the University of Trantor.  For two months they had made no progress in their search for a secret society that may not even exist.

The spy that had been tailing them from the moment they landed had also spent two months at the library.  Being an expert in his craft, he was always close enough to see them, without being seen.  And close enough to hear them without being heard. 

Kat and J had quickly dismissed the use of the library’s automated search functions.  Most of the books and articles found by the search engine were fiction.  Even when they limited the search to non-fiction, the list was still riddled with a wide range of topics.  “Robotics” was a field of study even at this time.  But the robots built in the second galactic empire were nothing more than automatons.  They didn’t have the three laws built in to them…at least no more than the average tool would. 

J had spent several weeks on the more personal question of identifying himself.  But that didn’t provide any satisfaction either.  The Immigration and Naturalization Service had DNA and print records for all of the citizens of the Galactic Empire.  Since every inhabited world was a member of the Galactic Empire J should have been in the database.  But he wasn’t.

The bureaucrat that had helped him, though “Help” was probably the wrong word, simply dismissed the omission as a computer error or an omission made when he was born.  The bureaucrat simply took is records now and labeled them as “J”, then filed them in the computer.  Now he was in the records, though it wouldn’t do him any good in finding out who he really was.

Another pressing question on J’s mind at least was about the war with the Korlog that his computer had known about, but not a single person on Dundalk-4 was aware of.  At least in this respect, they had made some progress.  In fact, it was current news in the daily paper.  The paper was a government organization and the government was run by the psychologists.  So the actual words in the paper meant little.  They would assure victory while simultaneously encouraging the young to enlist.  But at least this was corroborating evidence that a war was going on.  But nowhere could J find a picture of a Kolrog.  Not even a 3-D Hyperwave image of a Kolrob ship.

But this line of interest had brought up some more questions. J decided to go back to the INS to talk to the bureaucrat.  J asked if military personnel were in the database.  The obvious answer was “Yes, after all, everyone is in the database.”

“But can a person enlist without being in the database?” J pressed on.

“No, they would make sure an enlistee was in the database.  For that matter, most major Universities do the same.  So, I suppose, if you are not in the database you are not college educated or in the military.” The bureaucrat answered.  In fact, that was the longest exchange he had with anyone in the office.  But that is as far as it went.  The next person in line was being served before J could ask another question.

Dejected and confused, he decided to head back to the Library to help Kat with her research.

“Maybe we are looking in the wrong library.” J said as he approached an obviously frustrated Kat in the library at what was quickly becoming “Her Spot”.

“What good would that do?  This is the biggest library in the Galaxy.” Kat answered in a slightly agitated voice.

“Right.  This society has managed to remain a secret for millennia.  Wouldn’t they have operatives in this library to filter any evidence of their existance?”

“What’s your point?  By that argument, they probably have operatives in all of the libraries.”

“Maybe not.  In order for a conspiracy to work, the number of people would need to remain low or the risk of exposure would increase to an unsustainable level.  I seem to remember something about that in a mathematics paper I read somewhere along the way.  So maybe one of the smaller libraries would not be censored.”

“I guess it is worth a shot.  Besides, the people working here are giving me some strange looks.  If I’m not careful they may call some psychologist to talk to me about my obsessions.”

The two young investigators stood, returned the book films they had been viewing and strolled out of the library at the University of Trantor.

“Actually” Kat said in a sudden silence breaking non sequator, “I had an idea about getting to know who you are.”

J just looked at her and waited for her to continue.

“You told me that you got nowhere at the INS, but maybe we can trace you back to you place of birth.”

“How?” J asked simply.

“Linguists can determine a root language structure just by speaking to someone.  It is universally understood that dialects differ among the planets in the galaxy.  They may not be able to tell us a specific planet, but they should be able to give us a general sector.”  Kat answered.

“I guess it is worth a shot.” J said, parroting her answer to his suggestion.

 ——-

The Linguist they found, on the grounds of the University, was a small man with large ears that made anyone who met him smile without understanding why.  He spoke in a slightly broken tongue, ironic for a linguist.  His voice was a little high for comfort and J found himself thankful he was not in one of this man’s classes.

“I am Dr. Sarton D. Pernoi.  Understanding you would like my help?”  The man said while shaking hands first with J, then, noticeably lingering, with Kat.

The pair paused for a moment before they realized the second sentence was actually a question.

“Yes.” J said finally. “I am suffering from amnesia.  I don’t know who am I or where I came from.  I was hoping you could help me with the latter.”

“Me?  Why?  The INS knows you they should.”

“They don’t. ” J said simply, without explaining the perils he had been through.

“Hmmm, so you think your speech will give an idea of where you come from.  Not a bad bit of reasoning actually.”  Dr. Pernoi said.

“Thank you.” Kat said, flashing a slightly wicked smile at J.

“There isn’t a test, though there could be one. Thinking let me.”

For more than a few minutes, the professor simply sat there transfixed.

“What floats on the water?” The doctor finally broke the silence.

Taken off guard, J hesitated before finally answering. “A boat.”

“Can you spell ‘antidisenstablishmentarianism’?”

J did so, pronouncing each letter as naturally as he could so as not to skew the results.

The test went on with apparent confusion for many minutes.  When all was done the doctor nodded in apparent confusion.

“What’s wrong” Kat said, speaking for the first time since the test had begun.”

“He doesn’t exist.” Sarton said.

“What do you mean?” J asked with a touch of anger at all he had been through just to get yet another unsatisfactory and all-to-common answer.

“Well, the Terran sector fits your vowels.  But the Pernock sector fits your adjectives.  Your ‘i’s are clearly from Anacreaon.  But your ‘g’s are from Trantor.  These sectors are nowhere near each other in the galaxy.  I must conclude then, you do not exist.”

“Can you give at least an educated guess?”

“Guess I can, educated will be up to interpretation.  Because of the lack of centralization in your speaking, I think it is possible from an old language you learned.  Newly updated to provide a lack of antiquity.”

Kat and J just stared without understanding.  The Professor tried again, this time trying to stick more closely to the galactic standard grammar.

“I think, you may have grown up in an area that taught you an old version of Galactic standard.  A root language that all of the galaxy has now changed to fit their own needs.  The irony is that old-galactic would sound so strange to a modern galactic citizen that it would not be understandable.  So, whomever taught you, modernized the language to fit more closely with modern speaking.  I don’t know of any planet that utilizes this methodology.  I suppose going to one of the older worlds might make sense.  Maybe there a religious sects of which I am unaware that may speak in this manor.  But as I said, I am unaware.”

“Thank you Dr. Pernoi” Kat said, and ushered a deject J out of the office.

“No problem, anytime to come back if you like.” Sarton called after the young pair.

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Chapter 6 – Welcome to Trantor
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Chapter 8 – A Clue?

December 17, 2007 Posted by | Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 6 – Welcome to Trantor

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

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Chapter 5 – Beginning a Search
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Chapter 7 – Lost Time

…Though long-separated from the planet-girdling city of domes from the First Galactic Empire, the planet of Trantor was chosen as the capitol of the Second Galactic Empire in FE 1592 after a long debate in which the Centralization side contended Terminus was on the outer periphery of the Milky Way Galaxy which prevented trade from the other end of the Galaxy.  The Traditionalists didn’t accept that argument because of the aspect of hyperspacial travel could be conducted at any distance.  Ultimately Trantor was selected by a feat of bribery and …

The second iteration of the capitol of the Second Galactic Empire took great strides to avoid the bureaucracy that served as both the power and weakness of the first empire.  The population was strictly regulated to be less than 10 Billions and visitation was strongly regulated to prevent a vacation from turning in to a permanent stay thus increasing the population.  The domes of the First Galactic Empire were outlawed in a further attempt to . 

The GenDi reign of the late 1620s marked the lowest point…*

* All excerpts from the Encyclopedia Galactica taken from the sixth edition FE 1792 Terminus.

 —————————-

The Derelict ship had produced nothing…at least nothing of consequence.  Kat had re-iterated several times that she was a computer expert, but still could not get anything from the completely eliminated computer banks of the Derelict.  The only change to the Derelict since the previous visit by J was that the ship had lost life support entirely and the hull had been breached.

With all other options eliminated, the pair of armature detectives decided to head for Trantor.  The process was involved.  Getting a temporary visa had a two month waiting period.  J’s lack of identification did not help matters.  But Trantor was the obvious destination.  The old Imperial Library at the University of Trantor of the First Galactic Empire was still the best place to do research.  Since the re-establishment of the capitol on Trantor, the library had been modernized and expanded.  If there was evidence of a secret Robot society, the evidence would be somewhere in the 150 sq km library.  They just had to find it.

When the ship finally landed on the surface, without argument from the positronic brain that controlled it, the pair strolled to the information desk.

“Where to?” grunted the man behind the desk.

The response was a quick “A Hotel near the Library please.” from Kat

“Which one?” came the equally response from the man behind the desk.

“A nice one.” Kat said, indecisively.

The man looked a little confused, as the line behind the young couple grew.  Then he said, with sudden understanding. “Which Library?”

“University of Trantor” Kat said with a slight blush at her own ignorance.

“That’ll be ◊290.”  the man said.  Kat handed him the coins.  The man handed her a ticket and jerked a thumb over his shoulder toward a line of waiting vehicles.

Kat and J made their way to the cab with quick efficiency.  They handed the cabbie their meager baggage and ticket and then crawled in to the back seat of the undersized airfoil.  The cabbie nodded to the couple, packed their bags, looked at the ticket and the waived inconspicuously to an anonymous man in the crowd near the information desk.  The man then walked to another cab directly behind J and Kat’s cab and gave chase.

The cab took turns and through-ways that the two off-worlders could not follow, nor did they want to.  Although the domed cities were gone, the magnificence of the capitol could give even the most jaded tourist a touch of awe. 

The skyline was a standing contradiction with distantly distributed skyscrapers in colors as varied as the light spectrum itself.  The cab made it’s way through and between the buildings without seeming to approach them. 

The buildings were interconnected by underground train cars, but those could not be seen by the passengers of the airfoil.  Under the airfoil were fields of grain and wheat in curved patterns of so many shades of green and brown.  The farm/city hybrid that helped to balance the administrative needs of the empire with the more human needs of the capitol planet’s inhabitants.

The youngsters in the car didn’t notice the cab behind them following at a distance.  Traffic was sparse, as it usually was on the surface.  The two vehicles traversed the surface of the planet approaching one of the large skyscrapers.  As the vehicle grew closer, the building seemed to take more and more of the field of vision until the whole world seemed to be that one building.  About a kilometer from the building, the look of small windows were just starting to be visible before the cab entered an underground tunnel.  The mouth of the tunnel spewed forth vehicles of every shape and size traveling in many different directions.  Airjets for long-distance travelers.  Surface trains for freight and airfoils carrying families were traveling in an almost chaotic fashion.  The gaping maw of the tunnel became quite cavernous before the cab entered.  In another minute’s time Kat and J were standing in front of the Luxor Hotel in the University City section of Trantor.  The whole trip had taken little more than 10 minutes and through it all the mysterious man had followed.

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Chapter 5 – Beginning a Search
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Chapter 7 – Lost Time

November 30, 2007 Posted by | Sci-Fi, Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 5 – Beginning a Search

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

Previous:
Chapter 4 – Introducing Kay
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Chapter 6 – Welcome to Trantor

Kat rang the bell at J’s room at 05:30 local time the next day.  She was carrying a large bag and was dressed in an outfit designed for comfort, not style.  “Sweats” would be an accurate description.  Her semi-curly hair was tied back in a single pony tail.  Although she was obviously dressed for comfort, she still had an air of attractiveness that was difficult to miss.

But J managed to miss it when he answered the door.  He had finally gotten to sleep around 01:00 and was still groggy from being awakened by the door chime.  He motioned her in without saying a word, and she entered with the same silence.

She took a seat and he walked in to the bathroom to take a shower.  When he came out of the bath, with a fresh outfit and a fresh attitude, they nodded and headed for the door.  All without saying a word, and all without a word needed.

In fact, the silence continued until they were safely on the ship.  They had waited in silence as the Valet service had pulled J’s ship (he had decided that it was his ship) from the parking structure used by the repair service.  Kat tipped the serviceman and they had climbed in without a word.

J broke the silence, not to speak to her, but to communicate with the tower for permission to disembark.  Why it was called a tower was anyone’s best guess.  Some long-forgotten reference to a similar organization with a similar task of coordinating traffic.

Kat was the first to break the silence, as they exited the space station and headed for deep space.

“So, where should we start?”

“I was hoping you could tell me.” J replied. “After all, my memory only goes back for a few days.”

“Well, are we assuming that the computer on board this ship is a product of the robot society?”

“That is the assumption we made last night.  But I have to admit that it could be Korlog technology also.” J responded, remembering the war the computer knew about, but nobody on the space station around Dundalk-4 had known anything about it.

“I’m not sure who the Korlog are.” Kat said, then continued after J waived his hand in resignation. “So, perhaps the computer knows where to look.”

J thought about that for a second.  “So, why didn’t you ask the computer when you were working on it?”

“I did.” Kat answered succinctly, then expounded.  “It said it didn’t know.  But I have read stories about robots where they were instructed to lie, and did so convincingly.  I was hoping that you might have better luck.  After all, it was instructed to follow your orders above any other.”

J thought for a moment, then spoke aloud to the computer in the unnecessarily elevated volume taken by humans when speaking to machines. “Computer, do you have a name?”  The apparent non-sequator took Kat off guard, but she remained silent.

“No” came the simple response from the computer.

Kat said. “In the stories that I have heard, the name was always derived from the serial number.”

“J said “Computer, what is your serial number?”

“My serial number was derived from the ship’s ID number.  So I am XG-259” came the predicable response.

“Well, that doesn’t seem to fit any names I have heard of.” Kat said.

“Computer, from now on your name is ‘Exie’.” J said, referencing a now-defunct name.  Then he continued. “Exie, how do you know your serial number?”

“The information is built in to my memory banks.”

“How did you know it was derived from the ship’s ID number?” Kat asked, finally understanding where the line of questioning was going.

“I didn’t.  I inferred the information based on the ID written on the hull and the fact of my serial number as written in my databanks.”

“Do you know who constructed you?” J asked, realizing the explanation given was reasonable.

“No.” Exie replied.

“You told me that your memory did not pre-date mine but by a few hours.  But you do have a database.  Does it include any information on robots?” J asked

“Yes.  I have in my memory several works of fiction based on robots including Several novels by Isaac Asimov: The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire-”

J interrupted. “Do you have any non-fiction references to Robots?”

“No”

J now spoke to Kat. “So the computer doesn’t even know if the robots exist.  Now what?”

“What is the first thing that you remember?” Kat asked

“I woke up in here.” J said, waving his arms indistinguishably. “We were adrift near a derelict ship.”

“Maybe there is a clue on the ship.”

“It is as good a place to start as any.  Exie, set a course for the derelict ship.”

With that, the ship entered hyperspace en route to the derelict ship.

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Chapter 4 – Introducing Kay
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Chapter 6 – Welcome to Trantor

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 4 – Introducing Kay

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

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Chapter 3 – Human Contact…and a mystery
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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.

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Chapter 3 – Human Contact…and a mystery
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Chapter 5 – Beginning a Search

November 7, 2007 Posted by | Sci-Fi, Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 3 – Human Contact…and a mystery

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

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Chapter 2 – Under Way
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Chapter 4 – Introducing Kay

J’s sleep was not restful.  He kept having the same dream over and over again.  It wasn’t really a nightmare per se, but it was disconcerting.  It involved a man, but not quite a man, with a fake smile.  The non-man asked him how he was feeling.  J would say “fine”.  Then the non-man would place a helmet on his head. J would wake up at that point.  When he got back to sleep, the same dream would play again.

After one of this never-ending parade of dreams J decided to get out of bed.  “Computer, what is our ETA?”

“We are entering orbit of Dundalk-4 at this time.”

“Open communications” J Ordered the computer.  Then in a slightly louder voice that everyone seemed to use when speaking over communications (as if they needed to yell to be heard, but knew that would be overkill) “This is” he paused for a second, not knowing who he was, how could he tell someone else.  Then he continued. “This is XG-259 requesting permission to land.”

The response was almost immediate. “XG-259, you are cleared to land at 140 degrees 60 minutes west by 90 degrees 10 minutes south of the equator.”  The coordinates were meaningless to J.  But when the communications terminated he found them translated and loaded in to his navigation console.

J sat down at the controls.  But whenever he tried to lower his altitude, the ship’s engines would counteract his commands.  If he raised his orbit, the ship would respond without hesitation.  He could even enter a low orbit.  But the ship simply would not enter the atmosphere.

“Computer, why can’t I descend?”

“I am counteracting your controls.”

The honest response took J off guard.  He was expecting the problem to be with the ship’s systems.  Maybe he had not completed the repairs properly.  But this was as good as an admission of guilt from the computer.

“Why?” J asked.

“I can not allow you to put yourself in danger.”

“What danger?”

“Entering a planet’s atmosphere is a dangerous maneuver.  There is a chance that something could go wrong and result in harm.”

J still had a lot of holes in his memory.  He obviously retained some knowledge from before he woke up yesterday morning.  He could repair and fly this ship.  He knew how to talk and walk.  He even knew that there should only be Human beings in the Milky Way Galaxy (although the computer had contradicted that knowledge).  But he couldn’t remember a ship’s computer ever contradicting a command, even a dangerous command.

Not only that, but re-entry is not necessarily as dangerous as it once was.  Granted the ship had taken some damage, but the EM shields should protect the ship with little difficulty. 

Frustration was starting to set in.  He didn’t know who he was and although he could see the lights from a large colony directly below (he was approaching from the Night side.) his own ship’s computer would not allow him to approach the planet. 

“Open Communications”  Pause “This is XG-259.  I am having some trouble with my ship.  Can I dock with an orbiting space station?”

Yet again, a quick response “Space Station alpha-2 is available.  I am sending the coordinates now.”

Docking was not difficult. After only a few minutes he was safely attached to a small world with other humans.  But now where should he go.

As he exited the craft he was met by a member of the repair crew.

“What seems to be the problem?”  The woman asked.

“The computer was countermanding my commands.”  J said, then tried to ignore the surprised look on the technician’s face.

The surprise only lasted a short time.  Then the technician said “I’ll take a look” and started to walk away. 

J grabbed her arm and asked “How to I get to the medical bay?”

“The console on the wall with provide directions” she said indicating a section of wall next to the door.  Then she turned and entered XG-259.

J found the medical bay without difficulties.  The computer on this station seemed much more helpful than his own.  He had decided that amnesia was a medical problem and required a medical solution.

He found a doctor on duty…bored and staring at his computer monitor doing paper work.  When the doctor saw J enter he immediately perked up, stood and strolled over with an extended hand and a large grin. “Greetings, welcome.  Please come it.  How can i help you today?” The man asked in a voice that conveyed relief at being taken away from the doldrums of his work.

“I am suffering from amnesia.  I don’t remember who I am.  I didn’t even remember that there were Korlog.”

“Remember what?”  The doctor said.

“Not who, a different species called the Korlog.  My computer said that the human race was at war with them.”

“Well, that may be, but we haven’t heard of it here.  Granted we are also one of the smaller colonies.  Maybe it is just taking a little longer for the news to reach us.  Oh well.  For now, let’s take a look in that head of yours.”  The Doctor said, still obviously in a good mood…and with a mystery too.

After many tests where the doctor and two nurses prodded and probed him the doctor finally came in with a small rubber ball.

“Could you squeeze this with your right hand please?”

J complied and noticed that the numbers on the Doctor’s console increased as he did.  The numbers didn’t really mean anything to J, but it was obviously a strength test.  What does my grip strength have to do with my memory? J thought.

“OK, that’s good.  Now the same with the left hand please.” The doctor said.

Again, J complied.  Though he didn’t know what they meant, the numbers were nearly three times higher this time.

“What’s going on doc?” J asked.

“Let me show you.” The doctor turned on the room’s monitor.  With a little manipulation of the controls the image shifted to show J.  “This is you.” The doctor said unnecessarily. “And this is your insides.”  The image shifted to show that J’s skill, left arm and chest were all metallic.

The surprise obviously showed on J’s face.  “But that’s not all” the doctor continued.  “The alloy is something we haven’t seen before.  And the construction and complexity of the surgery required to accomplish this is beyond our level of technology.  Who did this?”

All J could do was stare at the image on the screen.  What had happened to him?

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Chapter 2 – Under Way
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Chapter 4 – Introducing Kay

October 26, 2007 Posted by | Sci-Fi, Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 2 – Under Way

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

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Chapter 1 -J’s Universe
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 3 – Human Contact…and a Mystery

The Derelict’s computer was useless.  In fact, the memory core of the computer was completely depolarized.  The backups were degaussed.  There was nothing left. 

But what actually caught J’s eye was that he found every part that he needed…in the air lock.  As he opened the air lock every part he required was present.

Of even more interest is that one of the parts was not from the ship’s stores.  He could tell because it was encased in a box that he didn’t remember seeing before.  Not that his limited memory could be completely trusted.  A search of the ship revealed no other parts in the elaborate packaging.

Once he had the parts he needed he set course for the nearest inhabited planet.  His own ship’s computer had a complete star chart and included the information he would require.  The planet was labeled with a simple “Human Colony Dundalk-4”.

“Computer, why is the planet labeled as ‘Human’?”

“Unknown.  I would assume that the colony consists of mostly or exclusively human inhabitants.” came the pleasant computer voice that, to J, seemed to be less artificial than it was previously.

“But all planets are ‘Human’, the Milky Way galaxy has no other intelligent life.”  The computer remained silent. “What is the population of the planet?”  J asked

“Unknown, that information is not contained in my data banks.”

J thought about that for a while.  It made sense that a “Fighter-Interceptor” would not need to know the population of a random planet in a galaxy full of human inhabited worlds.  There was no need to fill the data banks with useless information.  Then J had a disturbing thought.

“Computer, what is your purpose?” J asked

“I am the on-line vocal interface for this XG class fighter-interceptor”.

Computers…always so literal.

“OK, what is the purpose of fighter-interceptors?  Is there a war going on?”

“Yes.” came the kurt response.

“Between who?” J asked, finally able to get an answer out of the interminable machine.

“The Human race is fighting the Korlog from the Durando galaxy.”

“Who started it?” J asked in earnest

“Unknown.” came the impassionate response.

J wasn’t ready for that.  A war between the human race and an alien race simply did not correspond to his own interpretation of ‘the way things were’.  His memory only contained information that Humans inhabited this galaxy.  Being human (he thought) his first instinct was to say that the Korlog must have invaded the peaceful human population.  But on the other hand.  He was in a ship that was obviously built for battle.  Yet he didn’t even know about the existence of the Korlog.  But the computer knew.  He may have to wait for actual human contact to answer that particular question.

Dundalk-4 was only a few hours away at this point.  he would have his answers soon enough.

The day had been a long one.  The repairs had gone smoothly earlier, but the exertion had taken it’s toll.  He decided to turn in for a quick nap before he arrived and got to talk to the first humans he had met…that he could remember.

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Chapter 1 -J’s Universe
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Chapter 3 – Human Contact…and a Mystery

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Sci-Fi, Story of J, The | Leave a comment

The Story of J: Chapter 1 – J’s Universe

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

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Preface
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Chapter 2 – Under Way

‘He’ woke up slowly.  To begin with, his entire universe could be seen in a single glance.  He was in a vehicle, about 3 meters long, 2 meters wide and not quite 1.5 meters high.  There was a control panel in what he assumed to be the front, but there was no view port to see what was on the other side of the bulkhead.

“Where am I?”  ‘He’ said to himself. 

Unexpectedly, he got an answer. “You are in XG-259, fighter-interceptor class short-range interstellar craft located at 260.087.64 in the Milky Way Galaxy” came the pleasant, but obviously artificial female voice.

“OK, that doesn’t really tell me much.”  he said.  Then after a short pause “Who am I?” realizing that he had no memory of his person.

“I do not know sir.  I have never encountered your personage before.”

“How did I get here?”

“Unknown.  My own memory banks only contain data from the last 5.32 minutes.”

So when she said that she had “never” encountered my personage, the “never” was only for the last five mintes  he thought.  Then he remembered that she had given him a location in space.  So he asked the inevitable questions.

“Are there any planets near by?”

“None detected in range.” came the response.

“Ships? Space Stations?”

“I am detecting a ship at 180.000…range: 123 kilometers”

“What is the status of the ship?”

“I am not detecting any power or life signs from the ship.  It appears to be adrift sir.”

At that last “sir” he realized he still had no name.  He decided, before looking in to the derelict ship, he should take stock.  He looked around the small craft.  Although the ship had used the term “interstellar craft” it was quite obvious that it was not meant for long voyages.  The cabin was barely large enough to kneel in. There was a small sleeping area along the back wall with an embedded food replicator just above the sleeping shelf.  The ceiling was dominated by a circular air lock. 

The two sides of the craft were utilized for storage compartments.  He looked through the compartments and found engine parts, some cloths and a space suit designed for extra vehicular activities.  On the side of the helmet was a symbol that looked like the letter “J”.  He decided to call himself “J”, though obviously it was not his actual name.  He also found a mirror in the compartment.  The image that was reflected back to him gave him pause. 

His hair was unkempt, though it had the appearance of staying that way much of the time.  He had dark eyes and larger than normal ears.  His jaw was slightly pointed, but not unattractively so.  But it was his cheek that gave him a startling discovery.  A large scar was visible from near is ear to his jaw line.  And beneath the scar was a metal plate. 

J

Obviously he had been injured and the extent of the injury required some kind of major surgery.  But what was equally disturbing is that the metal seemed to form part of his jaw line.  Like it was an integrated piece of his skeletal structure.  He would have to put that aside for now and continue with his explorations of the small vehicle that had been his entire universe to this point.

The front was the pilot’s chair and controls.  But there was no heads up display. 

But the XG class had the capability of a heads-up display he thought.  Even as he had the thought he wasn’t sure how he knew that.  Apparently his lack of personal memories was not complete.

As he looked at the console he noticed a red flashing display.  “What is this?” he asked the computer.

“Damage has been detected to the outer hull.”  came the calm reply.

Of course.  Why didn’t I check that earlier? he thought.  Then said aloud “Damage Report.”

The computer responded “Intrastellar engines are off line.  Interstellar engines are off line. EM shields are off line.  Deflector is offline.  The aft hull plating has been scorched.”  As the computer made each comment a heads-up display was activated and highlighted each damaged system. 

J decided to start repairs with the deflector.  He wasn’t sure why he started with that particular system.  For that matter, he wasn’t sure how he knew he could repair the systems.  He then moved on to the engines.  He was able to get the intrasteller engines working, but there was no way of repairing the interstellar engines without parts he could not find on board.

These activities had taken all day.  We was tired and decided to sleep.  The derelict ship was his best chance for finding the parts he needed to make repairs.  But that would have to wait for the next day.

Before he fell asleep he told himself what he knew about himself.

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Preface
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Chapter 2 – Under Way

October 19, 2007 Posted by | Sci-Fi, Story of J, The | Leave a comment