|Enter the Ex-Keeper
||[Nov. 17th, 2005|09:19 pm]
I drained the cup of ALCOHOL-14 solution and put the container away. Drinks were one piece of old human lore that the Machines decided to keep. They actually synthesized a pretty damn good beer. The last attempt to prohibit alcohol consumption ended in a bloody rebellion and the Machine Authorities settled for simply denying us guns. I can't complain, they could've eradicated us if they wanted.
I would be heading out on the next transport to Dome 9. As Organic Insider Security for the Machines, I was one of the human 'volunteers' who made sure that the Machines were capable of enforcing their laws on human territory without destroying our last vestiges of privacy. They can be sympathetic, those rusty old bastards, in a cold and arrogant way.
I'd heard that there was rebel activity in Dome 9, and any human who helped the Machines in any sort of service would face a lot of trouble from the gangs. I could get in a bad situation if I was not careful.
But it didn't matter. I would never feel the embrace of the Ancestors again, and without that I hadn't had much to lose.
Cheerful thought to begin that walk down to the transport terminal with. In retrospect, I should have saved some of the booze.
Nielthunn Zagy. For all my family hated me, I gotta say I like how the name sounds. Even coming out of a synthesized computer speaker.
"State name," played the voice, an artificial middle aged female. It was emanating from several sonic producers smaller than the naked human eye could see. I was in the transit terminal's entry booth for ERECs: Entities Requiring Environmental Control, or layman's terms, everything that had a problem breathing the low desnity chemical soup that used to be our atmosphere. The 'booth' was a rectangular prism of solid metal that seemed cut out of the wall surrounding the terminal. You walked in and a liquid metal door coming out of the ceiling closed behind you, then vaccum sealed the chamber. I wasn't incredibly tall, but my short and scruffy black hair was brushing the top of this pen. I've always felt sorry for the taller guys of my job; we travel the most for humans, and some of the really tall guys even had to kneel in these cramping compartments.
"Nielthunn Zagy," I responded.
"Processing voice sample...Voice ID confirmed. Scanning for vital signs...biorhythm patterns confirmed. Scanning equipment and all possessions..." and now, for the fun part, as the whine of the scanner turned on high to intensify the claustrophobic nature of the booth, "...rechecking ID authorization for restricted equipment..." which meant double check the database that yes, Organic Insider Security Worker Nielthunn Zagy was allowed to carry those knives and the liquid metal blade at his side, "...all equipment authorization successful. Now pressurizing safe route to terminal for transport to Dome 9 as per your orders." One thing that I'd never deny the Machines as being superior to us in: they had no bureaucracies. No paperwork, no interns, no offices, no clerks, no physical libraries. You had to envy them for that.
The wall in front of me, a liquid metal door like the wall behind, opened up to a corridor (with higher ceilings and more breathing space, thank the Ancestors!) A line of red lights snaked its way down the corridor and to the turn I should follow. Not like I needed the lights, all the other doors were closed and vaccum sealed. They couldn't let me go anywhere, not if I wanted to live. Odds were that there was no air whatsoever outside. Other chance was a sea of chemicals, kill me just as quickly. Machines don't get cancer, so they don't worry where their industrial pollution goes. As long as it doesn't get into our Domes, we humans don't worry either.
I fingered the hilt of the liquid metal sword I carried, known more commonly as a soft blade. Hard blades were the regular weapons we've been making for billions of years, and I kept a few of those hidden away too. But, as in many other things, the Machines surpassed us in swordsmithing. The liquid metal sword was very different from the liquid metal technology in the doors I passed through. Those contained electronic circuitry (nanotech, of course) in them that allowed the drone program utilized at the booth to control the doors. The Machines really don't take kindly to us using any sort of electronic mechanisms, they see it as slave labor. Most advanced thing we were allowed to use was a lightbulb. The sword had no electronic circuitry in it, merel a line of very small and very precise magnets in the backing. The most advanced weapon any human could hope to control, and only OISers like me were granted authorization for possession. They aren't the sharpest blades around, but sharpness all kinda goes out the window when the blade can reshape its form to squeeze between the molecules of what its striking. The weird looking 'molten' scar on my shoulder was testament to my experience of being cut by one. It was an antiMech rebel who'd managed to kill and OISer and take his soft blade. He wasn't a half bad fencer. I'll always remember it, creepiest feeling in the world; it feels like something is seeping into your flesh, then there's suddenly this gap there, that's the wound. Oh yeah, and it's ridiculously painful. Glad I have a softblade of my own now.
My twisting, turning, light marked passageway finally ended at a little door, the entrance to the transit capsule. It was like the inside of the egg, but there was enough room. One single seat - soft, must be synthetic varying-density plastics, pretty damn comfortable. As I got in, the door closed, and whoosh went the vaccum seal to protect me from outside. I could smell the air recycling system activate - it suddenly wasn't as stale as in the rest of the transit structure - and the magnetic track engines activated. Their hum varied a little, then there were two dull thumps and the hum turned to a lower pitch as the capsule gave the tiniest of jerks. Those two thumps were the sonic boom, like all outside motion, sound waves were distorted or muffled completely by the magnetic countermomentum system, which is why I felt the tiniest of jerks instead of being plastered to the other wall of the capsule by G forces that would flatten my skull. The capsule had no windows, but I didn't need to look outside to know I was heading to Dome 9 at upwards of Mach 4.