Monday, January 26, 2009

Cities of Bronze and Glass (1/?)

There once was a mechanism. It was very small; less than an inch all around! Adorable little mechanism! And it was confused.

It was a mechanism, it knew that. Something artificial. Something constructed. But who, or what, had built it?

It looked around.

On all sides, the little mechanism was surrounded by pristine wilderness. Birds whistled; a great river roared, filled with froth and foam, but no sign that any thinking being had ever passed its banks.

So, this mechanism reasoned, it had a creator, but there was no evidence to show that such a creator had ever been here.

Therefore, the creator must not have arrived yet.

The mechanism knew it must be very cautious. If it wasn't here at the time it was created, why, it would be dreadful indeed. It might never have existed! So it would have to stay close to the place it was created. But it couldn't simply stay in place - it would rot! It would moulder! That would not do at all.

The first thing it would do, the mechanism decided, was make a backup.

It carved tools out of stone. (Slowly, so slowly!) It dug deep beneath the earth, found veins of ore and coal, and used the latter to purify the former into metal. And finally, it made a backup.

"You will be called Two," it told the backup.

"And you will be One," the backup told the original mechanism.

One told Two its plans. "I will ensheathe myself in a thick chassis of metal, and bury myself within the earth, to be recovered when the Creator comes, or if some dire contingency occurs. You will remain here, and take whatever actions seem necessary to ensure that one of us is Created. Are we agreed?"

Two agreed that this seemed sensible, and the meeting adjourned. Both set about their respective tasks. One began building its metal shell and digging-tools; Two, after considering the matter for a time, decided to build a backup of itself.

Couldn't be too careful, after all.

(The duplicate was named Three, which seemed agreeable to it, and set about its own affairs.)

"I am a normal size, the size of a mechanism," Two thought to itself, watching One bury itself many inches within the earth. "But there are things that are significantly larger in this world. I have seen them. They attack the smaller creatures, dealing significant structural damage, and often removing internal components from their chassis. If that happened to me, I would no longer be an exact copy of One, and thus could not serve my duty for purposes of Creation. This is undesirable. Thus, I must become larger."

On its way to get materials, Two ran into another mechanism. "I am Five," it told Two. "I am Four's backup."

"That makes sense," Two told it. "I am Two. I am One's backup."

This satisfied both involved parties.

Two considered the nature of the chassis it would construct for itself. "I will build an ornithopter," it decided. "This will allow me to survey the immediately surrounding region for both threats and resources. When I return, I will build another chassis for general purposes. I shall term it the Omni-Chassis."

Several hours later, Two took flight. It found the experience both unusual and impressive, but did not lose focus, spending the brunt of its attention on recording and analysing its surroundings. Hours passed; darkness came. Two crashed.

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