Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cities of Bronze and Glass (3/?)

(Parts 1 and 2.)

"So," Seven said upon the conclusion of Two's narrative, "We are in the midst of a great forest, with a river that runs into distant mountains. You also mentioned a number of animals, unlikely to be overly dangerous, provided that we construct chassis of sufficient size before too long, but it is your last item that concerns me most. You say that you crashed after darkness fell?"

"Yes," Two said. "My consciousness seems to have temporarily ceased. It wasn't immediately upon the fall of darkness, but shortly after; and when my memory resumes, it was light."

"It is true that the darkness we noticed did not last long," Seven said, "and that some of us noticed strange behavior in fires that were burning in the dark, but seemed to instantly extinguish themselves when light came... we had not realized that time was passing in-between. Obviously there are tests that can help clarify if time really is passing, and if so, how much... this will require further consideration."

"This requires immediate consideration!" Four exclaimed. "We all know that the Creator may come at any time. We cannot allow a vulnerability like darkness to prevent us from being ready."

"Would you like to deal with that now, then?" Two asked.

Four departed.

"Very well, then," Two said to the remaining Councilmechanisms. "I have an agenda I would like to deal with, and then we can finish with anything remaining. Agreed? Very good."

"Firstly, a lower priority item. I explored for some distance, but there is a tremendous area around us of which we know nothing. This cannot stand. We must send some number of scouts out into the world to finish the job I began. My crash need not be repeated; now that we know that sundown is a danger, the scouts can land well beforehand. Repair tools can be sent with them, in any case. Twelve - you are there, yes? Yes. - can deal with the details after the meeting concludes. All in favor? Against? Good."

(Mechanisms are built with perfect knowledge of meeting etiquette. It's more useful than one might expect.)

"Second. I've noticed that our numbers have increased rapidly, both before and after my departure. What's the current tally?"

"Until Eight finishes with the name-tokens, we can't be sure," Seven responded. "My best guess would be somewhere in the range of one-hundred fifty."

"That ends now," Two said. "Our resources are not infinite; more importantly, our organizational capacity is not infinite. The more mechanisms we have working, the more managers we need to oversee them... administrative overhead will grow intolerable if we allow growth to continue. There must be no more backups."

"How did you think of this?" Five asked, impressed. "I mean, it sounds plausible, but none of us had ever thought of things that way."

"I had a lot of time to think on the walk back from the crash," Two told them. "Now, there's one more thing I have to say."

There was a pause.

"There were eight mechanisms in this council when I arrived," Two said. "Four and Eight have left, off to their own separate projects. One is, of course, underground, and Forty-Three tells me that Six followed him; the Council is composed of the most senior mechanisms remaining. (A good system, enough for the moment, at least.) So I see Five, Seven, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve."

Another pause.

"Where is Three?" Two asked, looking toward Five. "Where is my backup?"

For a mechanism less than an inch in any dimension, with no external moving parts aside from legs and manipulators, Five managed to look extremely uncomfortable. (The others backed away from him.) "You should really be asking Four," it said. "It is Three's backup, after all."

"Four is not here," Two said coldly, "And you are its backup. Serve your role. Where is Three?"

"Three is gone," Five said. "It left before darkness, some time after you did, along with Fourteen and Twenty."

"Where did it go?" Two asked.

"I don't know," Five said evasively. "Away from the river."

"Do you think I am corroded?" Two asked. "Serve your role!"

Five sighed, as well as any mechanism can. "I don't like to say it - Three was your backup, after all. But this is what it told us, before it went - "

"It goes to find the Creator."


Special bonus: Someone's kindergarten-age child drew a picture of one of the mechanisms! (Or that's what it looks like, anyway.) Here, have a look!

They might not have gotten a lot of the details right - or any of them, maybe (though they had the right idea with the eyes, and the limb count is in the right neighborhood) - but they're just a kindergartener! Give them a break. So precious!

Edit: Removed a particular link, for tone reasons.

1 comment:

Calvacadeofcats said...

we r burg
u will b assimilited