Adam’s systems kicked into high alert mode. He was getting better at receiving messages from Victoria directly and now that he had made the T.R.A.P. program he had a way of talking back. First he let her know she was not alone and he was ready, then he sent Kai Yuen-Ja a message relaying the situation and requesting her assistance in any capacity. This was not a situation in which he wanted to be underprepared.
He tested all of the Host’s systems, making sure there were no issues that needed to be addressed before they departed, and then threw himself into finding out everything he could about the mission at hand. Data about the individuals involved was sparse and unreliable so instead he pulled data about similar groups, their mode of operating and general information about their projected armaments.
Using what he was able to get from the Department of Defense’s archives and various terrorist recruiting websites and manifestos he fashioned a few basic reaction protocol. He was able to find a real prize; the blueprints of the ship known as Misery and made sure to route this information to a readily available schema for Victoria to access.
While he was injecting the proper attack and defense protocol into various parts of his Host’s brain, Adam came across an entry about her father. The term ‘absolute defense’ was connected to him and out of curiosity he did a search for it online with ‘Scott’ as a search parameter. A few thousand relevant hits were returned, including a few hundred videos.
Adam opened the first page and found it to be a martial arts expert dissecting the technique used by “Richard Scott” who apparently was the Lightweight mixed martial arts fighting national champion from 1990 to 1995. He was the only title holder in the history of the sport to have stepped down without suffering one single loss.
When he opened one of the video files he saw it was a recording of a fight. Based on the body type and facial patterns he recognized Victoria’s father as one of the men in a room with a raised center. (Ring or fighting arena according to the Host’s memory banks). It was apparently some sort of fighting contest. Richard’s opponent ran across the ring and unleashed a flurry of blows, each one deftly deflected with an efficient motion of his arms or dodged by a slight movement of his body.
Richard Scott fought like a machine. His motions were perfect, he was able to analyze his opponent’s motions and use what he saw to his advantage. After defending for seventy five seconds he struck one blow, a snap kick to the jaw, and felled his adversary. It was pure systematic beauty.
Adam worked on injecting her father’s fighting style into her subconscious. He had figured this out while teaching Victoria how to speak Mandarin. At first he had been awkwardly translating for her, overlaying the meanings of the words directly into her conscious mind as she was hearing them but then he started to see how to link an English word to a Mandarin one based on what her processing and storage protocol behaved.
Of course now he had created new schema with better retrieval algorithms. After all, learning something mostly distilled down to remembering it and data storage and retrieval was what Adam did best. It was a little more difficult to change muscle memory but after she used what he was teaching her a once or twice it would come to her easily. The Host’s chassis (body) was remarkably adaptable.
Eugene and Shinji had been talking for about five or six hours. The man was a genius, a mechanical engineer who had quickly tired of designing bridges although he still had a passion for the mechanics of the ones he had designed.
“It’s steel spring torsion Eugene. Once you exceed the metal fatigue strength of cable, it is useless but if you can constantly keep it just below that point and then bombard it with microwave radiation the molecules align and the strength of the cable increases dramatically.” Shinji was sketching directly on the table top with a marker from his shirt pocket.
“After I discovered this phenomenon it was a paradigm shift for bridge design. High-tension suspension bridges became a totally different animal, spans were longer and the shapes became works of art.” He smiled.
“How have you applied your bridge design experience to your robotic engineering projects? I’m not quite seeing the connection between the two.” Eugene was fishing for whatever information he could get about the ‘chassis’ that Shinji had helped build.
“Ahh, that’s where it gets interesting, when you put the same stress and pressure on titanium instead of getting stronger it gets elastic.” Shinji’s eyes were bright with excitement, “The most durable metal on the planet suddenly becomes as a piece of shock cord with a thousand fold strength increase. Instead of using nano-muscle fibers like you have in your prosthetic spinal column we have used elasticized titanium cables.
“The entire system is always under enormous tension and in order to move the components we use cams with sharp lobes. The amount of pressure we can release is astronomical and since it is all potential energy it can be released in an instant. That’s where we kept running into problems, the entire thing had to be made from materials built to withstand those forces and that meant we had to eliminate as much organic material as possible.”
Here Shinji paused and blew out a long breath, “Unfortunately Seraphim took it a step further and removed all of it except for the brain. I’m just not sure how he will handle it; the man was supposedly mentally unstable before the accident and I shudder to think what waking up as a titanium monster will do to him.”
The door slammed open without warning and a pair of guards entered in front of an enraged Seraphim.
“What did you do to him Eugene? What did you do?” She demanded, “When we connected everything and turned it on nothing happened. Nothing at all. Why isn’t he waking up?”
“I tried to tell you this device is intended to maintain existing function, not introduce new ones. He was in a natural coma and it’s difficult to know what an organic brain will do when connected to an inorganic one.” Eugene said, trying to speak calmly. “Do you have the log files? If not get them for me and I will see what is happening.”
“No, you are coming with me right now. You have exactly one hour to bring him back to consciousness or else I will resort to drastic measures.” A knife with a wicked edge seemed to appear in her hand, “Do we have an understanding?”
Eugene swallowed hard, “Yeah, I read you loud and clear.” Shit the protocols he had tested must not be working as designed.
“Your laptop has already been brought to the operating theater.” She turned to go and the two men with her gestured for him to go first.
“Good luck Eugene.” Shinji said as he followed Seraphim’s trail of lilac perfume.
“Thanks Shinji, we’ll have another drink when I get the details ironed out.” Eugene said, trying to sound more confident than he felt.
It only took a couple of minutes to get to another airlock that gave access to a brightly lit high tech operating room. A figure was splayed out on a heavy duty table, and while it was the size and general shape of a human being it was constructed completely of black anodized titanium. Eugene could see his prosthetic had been attached to the unit, the titanium vertebra welded directly to what amounted to a metal ribcage. The unit was half sleeved in a layer of Kevlar that must contain the Neurosynth fluid required for its operation.
He powered his laptop on and plugged it into the diagnostic port. The stream of data was massive; failures of multiple systems ran rampant throughout his code. He downloaded the latest copy of the firmware and looked at it in astonishment.
“Who modified the OS of this device? Someone input foreign code and it has completely hosed the system!” He pulled up Windiff and compared the two pieces of software, “See here, here and here, someone has changed the base operating system. The power up commands are jacked, the response protocol have been cranked to unsafe levels and the data routing system is riddled with bugs! You can’t pin this shit on me; one of your techs must have decided to have some fun.”
“Do not change that.” A man in a lab coat had come up from behind him and was looking over his shoulder. “We had to make some changes due to this body not being a human one. It reacts much faster than a flesh and blood body and without those modifications he would move as though stuck in a vat of molasses.”
“Hey, I don’t give a shit if he moves slowly or not. Seraphim ordered me to wake him up or she will remove pieces of my anatomy that I would prefer remain intact. You can fuck with the code all you want after that jackass.” Eugene moved to upload his version of the OS and the other man pulled a gun on him.
“Stand down Phillip; if Eugene is wrong about this I will let you shoot him. If he’s correct you can change things later.” Seraphim was standing across the room with her arms folded.
“My AI is truly an artificial intelligence. It learns and adapts. You shouldn’t have any problems after it has been running for an hour or so.” Eugene clicked a few keys and watched the status bar on the upload. After a few tense minutes, he checked the install, found it to be stable and sent the power up command.
A high-pitched whine emanated from the metal body; gyroscopic stabilizers if Eugene’s guess was correct and the chassis began to move. A series of harsh metallic clicks came from the machine’s joints and then the head moved.
“Angel? Are you there Angel?” The voice of the machine was a rich deep bass, amplified by the shape of the thing’s head. “I can’t see anything. Where am I?”
“Darling!” Seraphim was beside the metal monster in an instant, “I’m here and you’re alive again! I thought I’d lost you forever. Be careful my love, you have been reborn into something more beautiful and terrible than you were before.”
“ANGEEELLLLL!” The machine screamed, thrashing on the table. The restraints did not tear, but the table buckled and the bolts holding the cuffs to the table snapped with a sound like gunshots. Seraphim jumped back from the table, fear in her eyes.