|Arrival at Dome 9
||[Nov. 17th, 2005|09:47 pm]
The camera in the interior of the station watched the tram coming in from Dome 5 as per usual. Silent and unblinking, the round mechanical eye recorded the comings and goings of many organics, some returning to waiting families or men of business traveling abroad. Each of them was scanned, identified individually, recorded and catalogued. No one was unknown to the Great Machine. Those that had no name or identification were watched, carefully, given a barcode with their movements studied, their actions monitored.
The dance of many human legs traversed across the station, and suddenly, coming out from the train doors amid the dispersing crowd, a dark-skinned man in a long jacket came out, leading a pale-skinned brunette woman by the elbow.
The man was catalogued, identified as Hilber Marisen. The woman’s birth ID recorded her as Elishel Lotley.
The mechanism in the eye set out a silent communication, requesting that the two organics arriving from Dome 5 be watched, carefully.
After all, the woman Lotley had been declared deceased a scant 52 hours ago, and Marisen had been missing for nearly two years.
When we left the station, I took a moment to study the view and to take a deep breath of artificially produced oxygen in the dome that I arrived in. The buildings were towering in size, red, yellow and green lights flashing off the shiny steel monuments. Machines loved the colour gray, it seemed. Where I was raised, the building exteriors were made more colourful by the local graffiti.
The dead woman followed me in a dazed, slow manner, and I couldn’t tell by her eyes if she was watching or daydreaming. Slowly, I turned to her, and spoke in a wry voice, “Dome 9. The name mean anything to you?”
The woman looked at me at that moment, and blinked once, remembering. “Yes,” she replied suddenly, after a pause, and then, “No.” She frowned, and shook her head. “It doesn’t, no. Sorry.” It was clear by her face that there was something else going on that I wasn’t aware of. Briefly, I wondered if the dead could lie.
“We can’t stay here much longer,” he whispered. “There’s a place where they don’t put any cameras or monitoring signals. We’ll lose them there.”
The surveillance equipment decorating the walls and filling the cracks between walls made me nervous. It had been risky, taking the train out of the Dome, but I was in a position where I had to move fast and I was pretty sure that the underground trainman I had for a contact was dead.
Ground zero. The tall buildings above made me feel small, inferior. It reminded me of man’s place in the food chain. Silently, I led the girl out of the area, where crowds of people and machines, bipedal and hovering, wandered by. There were always people out in these sectors, even in the artificial darkness we called nighttime.
We went by foot, down to the warehouse district. The false lights, pretending to be stars, loomed up ahead of us, guiding our walk.
The machines built that fake sky, just as they had created everything. When my ancestors sold themselves off to them, these omnipotent, logical, thinking beings of metal and hardware, they exchanged freedom and creativity for safety, security. The machines were the responsible beings now, not us. They ruled us, governed our lives from the structures that they made to the factories they controlled.
We live in a world that’s dead. Without human expression, there is nothing for us. I’d have marvelled at the towering structures dwarfing me but I knew that all of it was built by machine, not man. In this day and age it was the being without a heart that did the work that we once did, long ago... back when we were in charge of the grand scheme of things, or thought we were.
It’s no wonder then, that I joined one of the revolutions, out to change things. The Human - not Organics, which the Machines loved to call us - the Human Campaign for Virtues and Responsibility, where we could stage our own holidays and build our own buildings and breathe life back to our stagnant race. There were others like us, other groups of men and women who wanted change. We wanted to establish relations with our overlords, build a bridge between human and mechanical understanding.
It wasn’t so much that we were rejected by the machines so much, more like they never allowed us into their own order of mathematics and predictability. We were so low down at the bottom of the food chain by the time we got to thinking about our own needs we were barely a factor in their equations. And so when we tried to push forward with our beliefs, they used that momentum against us - warping psychology to bring out our worst and most dangerous traits, creating extremist factions built of anger and boldness - so that they would have a good enough reason to beat us to the ground.
We live in a world that’s dead, a universe that’s already in its death throes, and as I made my way to Dome 9’s shipping warehouse district on the periphery, the downtown area that I traveled through brought back old, painful memories. I was part of the visionaries of that group, the (supposedly) old and wizened scholar, trained in a magic that was new, hip and trendy two generations ago. When we got stamped out, I was one of the few pieces of driftwood that floated away from the proverbial Ark that we built to brave the storm.
And now... now, here I was, emerging from underground to escort a dead girl to an abandoned warehouse, to find an old friend who may or may not still be alive after two years of radio silence.
I looked back from my musings at the girl whose cold and clammy wrist was in my grip. She payed little attention to where we were going, pausing sometimes to watch the lights and machines flit across the sky, the neon and electrical causing a sort of dazed euphoria in her. It was as if her soul had taken flight for just a brief moment before being tied back to the body that had been rendered cold and lifeless by the loss of a heartbeat.
What magic powered her now? What supernatural force caused her to see through dead eyes?
In my gut, I felt that the more steps I took, the closer I got to the mystery. The derelict storage buildings of machine-kind loomed before us, and I strode on with a purpose.