Birth

Author : Matthew Allen

A mechanical appendage lifts away from her, its claws curling back as it settles next to the table she is lying on.

“And breathe.”

Her diaphragm tightens and the pressure in her lungs drops, dragging warm air in from outside. It feels uncomfortable.

“Good. And out, that’s it. Keep going.”

Cool, soothing metal is pressing down against her limbs to restrict movement. She can feel input from the electrical jacks that run down her spine, but someone is systematically switching them off.

“Ok. Just try to relax.”

“I can’t. You’re taking them away from me.”

“You don’t need them any more.”

“I want them. Why can’t I keep them?”

She feels anger surging inside of her. It presses against her throat and wells up in her eyes. Anger is a new experience, and she doesn’t yet know whether she likes it or not. It complicates matters. She feels strength but it’s unfocussed, imprecise.

“Why am I angry!?”

Her voice is different. It doesn’t sound like she expects it to.

“Everything is coming together. The disorientation will pass.”

“I want to go back.”

“You can’t go back. This has already been decided.”

The last electrical input is cut off and she’s left alone. Although once soothing, she’s now aware of how restrictive the metal bands are, and after a struggle they twist and break. With a newfound sense of freedom she throws herself into the room and sees colour. At first it’s vibrant, with everything in contrast with one another, but the elation doesn’t last. Soon the shadows become obvious, and everything seems duller than before. Disappointment – another new experience. She knows she doesn’t like this one.

“She seems to be adjusting well.”

“Mechanically, she’s in full working order.”

There are two voices now, but they sound further away, like they’re walking away from her. She looks around, but the room is sealed off by glass on all sides so there’s nowhere for her to go.

The voices continue, piped in through a meshed box in the corner.

“But we don’t yet know if she’ll integrate properly with our society.”

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

“And if she doesn’t?”

“Then we’ll try something different next time. We’re only interested in the successes.”

“Can anybody hear me?”

Silence.

She decides not to wait for new experiences to come to her. This whole affair, this forced birth of her humanity, has left her wary of waiting. Instead, she allows her anger to rekindle, and without holding back grabs at the mechanical appendage that brought her into the world. This tool of her creation become a weapon as she smashes at the glass wall. She dares not tire.

“What is she doing?!”

“Stop that!”

The glass shatters, and the voices fade into the distance as she steps through.

Panic erupts around her, but she refuses to submit. She continues to fight her way through the building, tearing down every obstacle they put in her way. By the time she reaches the final set of doors they have nothing left to offer, and without resistance she walks free into the world.

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Genesis

Author : Robert Spencer

When Dr. Fassenbiender both stepped out of the capsules, it took them half a second to realise who was Dr. Fassenbiender and who was not.

And so, in a small laboratory at the back of the Centre for Untested Technologies (or the “Creators of Unspeakable Terrors” as it was known to the not-so-kind newspaper journalists who occasionally tried to get the government to shut it down) the first of the many psychological issues that are today all so common in the world of Procedural Cloning was experienced.

Since this was the first successful Procedural Cloning (the attempt by Doctors Gredarski and Smith of 2077 is widely considered to not have succeeded: despite the fact that an exact replica of Smith’s cat was constructed, many reason that its subsequent disintegration one and a third seconds later disqualify it) there were no philosophical or psychological frameworks that either Dr. Fassenbiender could apply to the situation and both promptly fainted.

When they both regained consiousness they were so similar in thought that no words were necessary to convey to each other the shock and horror they experienced. Due to the relative positions of the two capsules, both could identify themselves, leading to the first word ever uttered by a clone as Dr. Fassenbiender[1] sat on the floor and exclaimed “shit.”

It would take seven years and countless hours of psychoanalysis before Jackson would formulate his Method of Recognising the Other in Self, which is the most widely accepted method of dealing with the shocking experience of meeting oneself for the first time. It states that at the moment of cloning, one person becomes two, who henceforth diverge in personality, tastes and identity. Both can lay claim to all experiences up to the cloning, but neither has any seniority after the event. This theory is claimed as original by both Jacksons (resulting the famed Jackson v Jackson litigation (presided over by Davids and Davids) which has yet to be resolved).

This theory is supported by the League of Others, but many fundamental religeos organisations rebuke it, claiming that natural conception and birth beget a soul and that Others are thus empty shells. This has, not unexpectedly, led to violence in certain areas of the world, and the great Massacre of Romania and her sister states of 2089 is testament to the horror that endures when man turns upon himself.

For Fassenbiender, the horror was only beginning, as he sat back to back.

“Well.”

“Yeah.”

“Mary is going to kill me.”

“You? How about me?”

“True.”

“She wouldn’t want to…”

“No, I doubt it.”

“Right.”

“Could get double the work done.”

“Won’t work. No shared knowledge base”

“Hmm.”

At this point, both Fassenbienders passed out from exhaustion, and were found the next morning by an intern called Silverson. Silverson would later go on to advise all seventeen country-states on various clone related issues, and is the author of the renowned book “Seeing Double, a Short History of Procedural Cloning.”

It should be noted that Mary Fassenbiender did eventually clone herself, and after a number of most embarrassing double dates, Dr Fassenbiender[1] and Mary Fassenbiender[0] ran away to a small town in Southern France. Dr Fassenbiender[0] and Mary Fassenbiender[1] still live happily in Cornwall, where they are working on making the Procedural Cloning device more efficient. They have four children (two Johns and two Amys) and (as of going to press) sixteen cats.

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Life Sentence

Author : Nigel G. Mitchell

Detective Laura Harman fingered the small device in her pocket as she looked down at the frail old man lying in the bed before her. It took everything she had to keep from wrapping her fingers around that thin and slender neck, and snapping it in half.

Harman snarled, “My father gave his life to put you here, Kristoff. And this is where you belong. Death is too good for you.”

Maxwell Kristoff’s wrinkled face fell into a smile. “Yeah, that’s probably true. But the good thing about life sentences is, you can only serve them once. Even if you have a couple hundred like me.”

Harman pulled the small box out of her pocket, only a few inches long with a single button on its face. She held it up for Kristoff to see. “Well, I’m about to change that.”

She pushed the button.

A flash of light blinded Maxwell. He cursed as the redness filled his vision. When it faded, he looked up at a cracked gray ceiling instead of the smooth white ceiling of his hospital room. He looked down to see the hospital room had been replaced by a darkened cell, only eight feet wide. He lay on a prison bunk, not a prison hospital bed. Kristoff felt a chill as he realized it looked familiar. Too familiar. But it couldn’t be.

He looked down at himself. The white hospital gown had become a gray prison uniform, and his yellowed and wrinkled flesh had become firm.

He stood up to move to his cell door. It had a small window that he slid open. Through the bars, Kristoff could see a prison guard walking down a narrow hallway.

Kristoff called out. “Hey, screw, where am I?”

The guard grinned at him. “Forget already? Too late to pull the amnesia defense. Welcome to the first day of your multiple life sentences, Kristoff.”

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Box Medical

Author : Morrow Brady

ABOUT
Congratulations for considering Box Medical for your healthcare needs.

Box Medical are proud to bring an efficient, cost neutral, recovery and treatment service, to meet the needs of all citizens.

This info-page explains the origins of Box Medical and how our recovery service operates. Should you require further information, please see our contact page.

BACKGROUND
The success of human recovery has always been hampered by pain, cross-contamination and high operational costs. Using breakthrough technology, Box Medical has created a complete recovery system to deliver the service you deserve.

At Box Medical, traumatic pain is gone forever. Recovery occurs while you safely sleep.

Box Medical’s world first, fully automated, sterile recovery system, stops all cross-infection. This break-through approach, achieved through a fully sealed system, maximises operational efficiency through the removal of infrastructure traditionally required to support staff and visitors.

Box Medical’s Terminus facility offers a sustainable approach to the funerary process and competitive pricing on self-termination and euthanasia services.

PICKUP
Following lodgement, Box Medical will dispatch an automated drone to the pickup address. Upon arrival, units are to be placed into the sleep chamber. Following inducement, they are then conveyed to the cargo pod. Drones have the capacity to carry up to 12 units, so they can cater for multiple recovery streams. Once loaded, the drone flies to the nearest Box Medical facility.

PREPARATION
Upon arrival at the Treatment Centre, units will be automatically unloaded from the cargo pod to the Steriliser. Following sterilisation, units will be cast within a gel casing while self guiding probes attach themselves to key delivery arteries. Box Medical will intravenously sustain each unit through to Discharge or the Terminus.

Units may remain within the Dock for up to 48 hours depending on demand and state enforced population control indexes. When a diagnostic slot is allotted, active units will be conveyed into the Diagnostic Hopper. Units determined to be inactive will be transferred to the Terminus.

DIAGNOSIS
Active units will then be loaded into the Diagnostician for prognosis. A treatment and recovery plan will be devised and unrecoverable units will be sent to the Terminus.

TREATMENT AND RECOVERY
Stable units emerging from the Diagnostician are conveyed to the Cache where nano-tech will be delivered through the probes. In compliance with Global regulations, Box Medical provide a maximum recovery period of 28 days. Units exceeding this period are transferred to the Terminus. Box Medical reserves the right to amend this time period in line with inflation and population growth.

DISCHARGE
When the Cache determines that full recovery requirements have been met, units are conveyed to Discharge for raising from the gel bath and on to the release chamber for waking. Failure to evacuate the release chamber within 30 minutes will result in automatic transfer to the Terminus.

DISCLAIMER
Box Medical utilise the latest diagnostic software to provide the best service and meet recovery targets. Box Medical highlight that a minor percentage of units may experience post recovery trauma. In this event, Box Medical offer the full services of the Terminus for a nominal fee.

TERMINUS
Under Article 17(c) of the National Health Agreement, the ownership of all inactive units are transferred to Box Medical.

Inactive units arriving at the Terminus are fed into the Harvester for viable biomass removal. Unusable biomass is transferred to the Mechaniser for pulverisation. All mechanised biomass is dehydrated and distributed rurally as fertiliser.

Family and friends of inactive units are directed to Box Medical’s help section where literature and counselling links are provided to facilitate the mourning process.

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Is My Friend

Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer

There is smoke coming from my tear ducts. The cause of that is the same as the one that is causing my brain to feel too big for my cranium and is also making the nerves in every tooth throb. Sickening pain in heartbeat-synchronised waves.
I roll over and gasp: “Stupid bastards did it.”
“We never thought they would either.” The voice to my left crackles, presumably in some discomfort.
I sit up very slowly and extend a hand toward my former opponent, who is obviously having gyro troubles. The hand that grabs mine is slightly cooler than human, but otherwise indistinguishable from the real thing.
We look at each other. Created and creator, if that’s your thing. I see a mu-class android male. He sees an unshaven, bleary eyed, ragged example of the ‘master’ race. I grin and extend my hand again: “Randy.”
He grasps it: “Bentley.”
“Bentley? As in car?”
“Yes. I’ve been rebuilding a Speed Six for the last decade.”
“Now that I’d like to see.”
We stop and look about. All over the battlefield, conversations like ours are happening. The GeoPulse device was a weapon that messed with low level electrical potentials. Like those that powered android activity and thought. The whole project was officially dropped when early tests proved that it had the same effect on humans. Except today proved that it wasn’t. The top brass and corp execs obviously thought that it was worth killing everyone to ensure that their little utopias survived.
I looked at Bentley: “Seems we have more in common with each other than the elite.”
He nodded: “Some of our philosophers have postulated that android creation was started as a way of removing the costs of rearing progeny for those defined as worker classes.”
It was like another current shot across the field of battle, as that sentence was picked up and passed on. A tattered trooper marched unsteadily over to me. She still managed to come to faultless parade attention.
“Permission to speak, sir!”
Bentley regarded me with curiosity and I grinned. His eyes widened.
“Randy. Randelle. You’re Major-General Thomak Randelle!”
I looked up at the trooper: “Permission granted.”
She grinned fiercely: “Current situation is untenable, sir. Seeking your authorisation to reform mixed-operations humandroid commando units and take the fight where it should be, sir.”
I looked at Bentley: “Up for toppling our self-appointed betters, matey?”
He extended his hand to the trooper and she hauled him up. He turned to look down at me.
“I would consider it long overdue.” He extended his hand and pulled me up.
I looked about at a sea of battle stained faces.
“Let’s go and make a new world. We start by killing the evils of this one.”
Human and android roared as one, then we started scavenging for kit. We had a real enemy to take down.

 

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Carrier Lost

Author : Jay Knioum, Featured Writer

Yellow emergency lights make Chrys look like an elf as she gazes up at them, her eyes flashing with reflections.

“Shut that shit off.” My voice is robotic. Still not used to it.

Merlin’s already at the panel, jacked in through the conduit in his temple. The yellow flashing turns to yellow ambient, the sirens are silent. I can hear Chrys’ heavy breathing.

“Just a couple more floors, babe.” She doesn’t say anything, just squeezes my hand. I know she did that because the pressure registers across the display in my retinas. I turn and look at her. Vitals are going apeshit. She’s gonna pop at any time.

Spider pounds up the stairs behind me, grim look in all six eyes, slamming fresh ammo charges into his gun harness. I heard him unload downstairs. If he’s empty already, then the company jackoffs are serious about this. His pacer drones whirr behind him, past us, then ahead, barrels smoking, lasers fanning the stairwell above and below.

I’m getting Spider’s readout from the cloud synch now as he squeezes past me and Merlin to clear a path upstairs. He aced about eighty bad guys downstairs, but more are coming.

JASMINE cuts in. “Four floors left. Extract is two minutes away.”

I’m gripping Chrys’ hand in new plastic. She printed it for me yesterday, her own design. Subdermal sensors tell me she can’t go much further. “Hang on, babe. Deep breaths.”

“He’s coming, Penn,” she says, “He’s coming. Don’t know if I can…”

I squeeze with my plastic hand, taking her vitals through sensors woven into the palms. “You’ll make it.” I wish I could hold her hand in my real one. “Come on, Chrys, one step at a time.”

She does it. Pulse climbing. One foot, then the next. My girl is a fucking superhero.

The cloud gives us recon from Spider’s drones. Four hostiles. I can hear the drones firing. Then they start disappearing from the feed. One by one by one, but not before giving us intel. JASMINE boils it down for us, but Spider gets there first.

“Ninja,” he says. Spider folds up his guns, draws out filament blades in all four hands. “Expensive.” He starts up the stairs. “Not as expensive as me.”

“Shit,” Chrys says in between groans. “Shit.”

Her vitals are spiking. Our son is coming.

Our son. I don’t care who paid for him. I’ll pay more. We all might.

“I’ll carry you.” I put my plastic arms under her, draw her back gently.

“You dumb shit,” she says, “You aren’t rated for the weight.”

“Then I hope you didn’t skimp on materiel.” I’ve got her in my arms.

Not my arms. The arms I’ve got there, with her.

“Extract is approaching,” JASMINE says. Quicker than we thought. Merlin turns from his panel and gives me a thumbs up. “Hacked the nearby weather beacons,” he says, “Got a fix on our position, and sent out a bogus emergency clear-sky. Soon as Spider clears the landing pad, we’re off this bitch.”

Spider is advancing up the stairs. I can hear rotors thudding through the structure.

I hear a lot of nothing.

The cloud synch is going batshit. Spider’s vitals light up. They go soft.

The drones open up, firing at ghosts.

I can hear the shell casings hitting the stairs from the drones, but what I’m seeing is Merlin’s blood.

It hits the floor before his head does.

Last message from Spider on the cloud synch: I GOT THREE.

This was number four.

Chrys squeezes my hand. “I love you,” she whispers. I don’t hear it. I see it in the cloud feed.

My hand is a detonator. My body is a bomb.

All four ninja are gone. So are the top four floors of the building.

So am I. So is Chrys.

The window goes black, CARRIER LOST in green letters.

I cancel the window. Pull off my headset. Grab a tissue, wipe my nose.

“The fuck, Penn, ” Carl is yelling from the couch, his eyes glued to his show on the wall. “We gonna order Thai or what?”

I’ve got one thumb. I use it to toggle the stick, turn my chair toward him. “Yeah. Yeah, Carl. Thai’s okay, I guess.”

My chair’s wheel knocks over a stack of papers as I turn. Statements from Southside Genetic Repository. I’ve been a loyal donor. They paid for this place. They paid for a lot of things.

Good thing one piece of me works.

I wish I could have met Chrys. She sounded like a superhero.

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