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Memories of the future. An eyewitness notes






Chapter 2


Sometimes its worthwhile talking to a stranger


He looked like a large wolf of at least ten feet long and no less than five feet high at the withers with flexible upright pointing ears. His hair, as Alex guessed, consisted of nano-fibers and could change its color for disguise purposes. At the moment her new acquaintance assumed reddish brown color. Only one thing distinguished him from a dog his hind legs were more muscled and hint feet themselves were heftier.

"He might be able to walk on his hind feet or move in big leaps. It was his traces that I saw on the sand, Alex though.

She was stunned by his extraordinary proportions. Normally such creatures were produced by scientists; their bodies were made on the Printer based on specific objectives, while the appearance was chosen at will. That could be a huge bird resembling an ancient pterodactyl, eagle, dolphin or shark. Cybernetic beings in the forms of cats, dogs or even spiders ware frequently utilized for purposes of invisible enemy monitoring. In interacting with human beings, artificial intelligence used either verbal communication or thought forms transfer through nano-chips implanted in brains of humans authorized to exercise control over cybernetic organisms or cooperate with them.

Many people chose to have a so-called "cyber friend". Nano-chips were easily implanted in human brains, which allowed them to conduct voiceless communication and even to project fragments of their memories recordings.

Like all others, Alex had such implant, but in addition, she had one more designed to expand her memory and to facilitate foreign languages study or skills acquisition by means of downloading special programs.

The Wolf slowly lowered and raised his eyelids, moved his ears and sent her a thought form:

"Alexandra, what mode of communication would you like to use to exchange information? Shall I refer to you with the informal you or by rank?"

Alex nodded and gave an encouraging smile to the Wolf to recognize his good manners. She repeated the sweeping motion of his eyes and sent him a response thought form with a barely restrained joy:

"We can communicate like combat friends and please address to me with the informal you without any curtseys (someone once showed Alex what curtseys and bobs were like).

Are there people at the base?

"There used to be a division consisting of five humans and one AI in charge of information compilation. We conducted air and ground intelligence in this region, designed drones and new bodies for AI. By the way, this cyber-body was developed here, Wolf Abel said proudly.

Alex was aware that their though forms exchange in fact took a short period of time, which was an advantage of this communication mode. Her instinct told her that they should leave open area at once.

Abel, she referred to the wolf, wed better get out of here.

Is there an accommodation module at the base? Can I hide in you place till morning? Before dawn I will be off to the north-east to join my people. All data related to you and the base will be blocked and deleted to prevent their scanning from my chip in case of my being taken captive.

Alex knew she had no right to give orders in another operating unit and it was AI Abel who was in charge there. She took a liking to the Wolf there was something appealing in the way he held himself. She instantly heard Wolf Abels response thought form in her head. The tone of his voice suggested he was also glad to have met her.

Well, he said drawlingly Of course, the information weve compiled is somewhat unique, and I should keep our location in secret. The enemy believes us to be completely eliminated. But, taking into account that you are wounded and lots of other factors, I seem to be obliged to extend you a welcome. But wed rather get into the biological unit or else we may come in sight of drones. Are you coming?"

With these words, the Wolf came up to a big concrete piece of wall and made a slight move with his face. Instantly, a rectangular passage appeared in the block, and a heavy door smoothly opened inward. Alex saw a stairway leading downwards. The Wolf gave a quick look at Alex and disappeared in the aperture. Alex saw his broad back, low hanging tail and heard his claws making a scratching sound.

Without a moments hesitation, she followed him. Her eyes were becoming to get used to the greenish light filling the long stairway.

"Its a good thing he is among my friends, Alex thought, looking at the handsome, well-muscled body of the cyber animal. The Wolfs hair was now light-grey with black scorch marks. As they were silently descending, Alex remarked a good quality of the indoor air. The bending wide stairway went deep downwards. The walls radiated soft greenish light. Alex was familiar with facilities of that kind. As a rule, such bases were well equipped so that one could stay there for years without the need to come up to the surface.

Soon their descent was over, and they found themselves in a tiny hall. A few heavy doors led to corridors of different blocks, each featuring a specific pictogram in accordance with the room purpose. The facility was perfectly clean.

For the first time Alex felt safe. But she was overwhelmed with fatigue. The wound began to sting with an unpleasant dull pain.

Having come a bit ahead, Abel turned sharp round and set down beside her. Then he looked her closely in the eye. Alex guessed that he was scanning her biological state.

"Its the logical thing to do now," remarked Abel prudently in a soft low voice. And his honey-yellow eyes again stared at her face. Go to the medical module, where youll get your wound properly mended. By the way, dont forget to thank the doctor. She can do unique operations. When you are done there, pick up a uniform and a complete set at the warehouse. Then well meet in the bunk room, where youll get something to eat, I will tell you our story and listen to yours. Then well outline a logical course of your actions, he said, wiggling his ears. All along, the Wolf was blatantly gazing at her right in the face. But strangely enough, the girl was not annoyed at that. And while you are busy doing all this stuff, I will go and get my hair decontaminated and cleaned, with these words he came up to the door with a pictogram, again made an elusive gesture with his face, and then the door noiselessly creped aside. The Wolf unhurriedly walked away down the hallway.

Alex headed to the medical block. Not to waste her time, she started unclasping her suit on the way. Before medical examination she had to undergo decontamination and cleaning procedure.

The hallway ended up by hinged doors. She found at once all the things required: shower, warehouse, arsenal, equipment. Having taken a shower and popped her shirt and underwear into a utilizer, Alex decided to leave her suit and boots at the warehouse in case she would need them again. She put her pistol and holster on an empty table next to the exit, threw a bathrobe on shoulders and went to the room with a pictogram indicating a medical station. Upon entering the room she underwent one more decontamination procedure. Now she was prepared to see the doctor.

Hello! Please come in, said an agreeable female voice. I see you are injured in the stomach area. It was a good idea to use a nano-gel. Lie down on the surgical table with your back down and hands over the body. Breathe smoothly. I will do an examination. Close your eyes.

Alex nodded politely in response and, as directed by the doctor, stretched herself on the surgical table. Biological scanner rays were slowly crawling along her body. The doctors AI could operate all equipment in the room by shifting to any appliance. In fact, AI was part of the bases command processor.

Alex felt the touch of arm manipulators and realized that the doctor started her job.

Something serious? she asked.

Not at all, officer, replied the doctor in a soft voice. Only youll have to endure a slight discomfort for a couple of days. No meds are required. Ill make all necessary injections.

I see you still use your biological body. I should notice that its in good shape, the doctor tried to distract Alex from unpleasant feelings, There were times when the scientists in our base, all of whom were advanced researches and gifted individuals, used to design and develop artificial bodies on their own and to successfully rewrite anyones conscience wishing to change their body for a mechanical or biomechanical one. Oh! What awesome bodies our guys produced! Just take Abel or Arwid for example.

Arwid? Alex asked.

Oh yes. Translated from an ancient language this word means eagle on a tree. He is a most interesting person yet a bit short-spoken. You are sure to like him.

What happened to the people? Alex asked.

Arent you aware of that? the doctor inquired in surprise. The Coalition had spread a nano-virus. We were not prepared for that. It began to quickly infect physical bodies and brains of our natural biological organisms. Of course, bodies affected were instantly becoming unfit for use. Fortunately, we managed to rewrite ourselves into the main processor. I hate to remember those bad days.

Nevertheless, we managed to preserve our staff, although in a slightly different form. At least now we can unite into a single controlling component. This is a unique case, as you can see. However it came as a shock for me to have to abandon my physical body to wake up inside a machine. Can you imagine that? You see through monitors your biological body being disposed while you are still alive! And what is even more complicated is that you have your mind transferred from your natural body into an artificial one or the processor. Feels like your brains are being scrubbed with a brush.

Also we had difficulties adapting to the new living conditions. Just imagine, you still have all human qualities being deprived of your physical body. While something was lost forever, new qualities were acquired, and the perception of the world itself was altered. For instance, the whole visual and auditory wave range remains available. One has only to limit perception so as to perceive the world as a human being living in a unique biological body.

The human mind potential multiplied several fold, coupled with the factor of immortality. When faced for the first time, it is a shock. But then, you simply change your body as clothes. It doesnt take long to get used to a different capacity. Moreover, I now consider the natural biological body to be highly fragile. By all means, this situation has an advantage weve survived. And do you know what weve come to realize?

No matter where a Piece of Mind abides: be it an innate biological body or artificial one. Everything depends not only on the number of neural impulses but also on the DNA genetic memory. The biological body has more capacity for self-regulation thanks to the Creators vast experience.

By the way, the cyber body biosensors allow for a deeper perception of the world. For example, the range of my visual and audible perception stretches far beyond human capabilities. What also changes is the thinking pattern. The unique human brain is more adapted to the conventional three-dimension perception of the world. Far more is available to me now. And you know how this affects ones outlook on life? Life goes on, but on a different scale with changed priorities.

Alex had never seriously considered changing her physical body before and was listening attentively to the doctors account.

Whats your name? What do you do at the base?

Bioengineer, Captain, Helen by name. Nick: River. Another nick given by our guys: Cyber-screw. Ha-ha! Doesnt that sound funny?

Alex could felt the arm manipulators proceeding with operation. She enjoyed her talk with Helen.

How many of you were there at the beginning?

There were five of us: two girls and three boys. The fifth was Ninochka named Arrow, our pilot-explorer. When the enemy detected us, they started bombarding us heavily. But that caused us no harm. The base was hidden deep underground. But what we did not expect was the nano-virus attack. Helen sighed, No matter how hard we tried, we failed to rewrite Ninochka and so we lost her.

Alex saw that Helen felt uncomfortable remembering the nano-virus attack. She could barely imagine herself in a similar situation.

Well, said Helen, Ive almost finished. The edges are being coupled. Avoid abrupt movements for two or three hours.

There are also a few micro-bleedings in the brain. You seem to have been beaten up pretty bad by the Coalition. You may have headaches, but I will deal with that later on, the manipulators stopped operating. Alex, pick up some clothes at the warehouse and come to the bunkroom. You are already being waited for.

Alex slowly got off the table and examined herself: instead of the lacerated wound there was only a barely visible scar. The air pleasantly smelled of medical drugs. With a hum of content Alex headed to the equipment warehouse, where she started raking around shelves for something suitable. She came across packages with standard underwear, shirts and shoes. All necessary combat gear was manufactured by the military Printers in compliance with the standard programs. The military never washed their clothes by themselves, but simply disposed of them, while new clothes were printed as required. Alex knew that clothing printer operators liked creating something non-standard and unusual. They proudly referred to their works as military collections in Gladiator, Viking or Star Wars styles. Those could be colored shirts made of gyroscopic material or unusually designed trousers. Such clothes were especially favored by soldiers and officers. Everyone wanted to have, aside from standard suits, something unique and convenient.

Soon Alex found a one-size white shirt adjustable to the body dimensions with a fit-in heat control system. Her clothing set was supplemented with sand-colored sports trousers and loafers. Having changed, Alex threw her worn underwear into a utilizer and returned to the equipment warehouse to explore its contents. There she saw racks with combat suits designed for military campaigns in desert environment.

The gear was properly improved and upgraded directly at the base and included built-in batteries protecting hips and back, stimulating agents reserves, hypodermic injectors used for wounds healing, high-protein food stocks and body heat control systems. What a remarkable collection! Alex added some required devices to her combat gear set. Having studied and assessed the most advanced gear options, she went to enormous sand-colored machines that reminded of scorpions.

Combat cyborgs, she muttered and evacuators as well. You guys seem to be specially made for deserts!

The scorpions were standing in the depth of the warehouse near a large hinged door corresponding to their dimensions. But Alex passed them by, as her attention was caught by most unusual combat exoskeletons. Alex turned short in admiration before them. The nearest exoskeleton steadily rested on huge legs that looked like those of a tyrannosaurus. The second one was similar to a mantis. At a closer look, Alex realized that their legs length could vary as required.

A pilot could ensconce himself cozily in the mass center point, which provided for balance and easy control. A pilots body was securely protected by several armor layers. And the air regeneration system seemed to be provided as well.

Close by there were manipulator samples and weapons specially designed for state-of-the-art developments. Everything was thought out to the last detail in terms of functionality. She touched and closely examined the rough mat surface of the exoskeleton to make sure that it was also designed on the Printer. The design author took as the basis the insect body structure, inspired by its perfect and simple natural forms.

The master touch is clearly seen, she reflected in admiration. Further on there were various new models of AI-based exoskeletons and combat machines. Alex with professional interest noted a few advanced and highly sophisticated models of flying exoskeletons, whose distinctive feature was the capacity to fulfill combat mission both under a pilot control and in automatic mode. In addition, their control function was extended in such a way so as to allow a pilot to use either standard control systems or verbal and mental ones at choice. In essence, those models were universal combat platforms for any equipment or gear to be built on. She looked automatically at a hanger with her old worn-out flight suit and boots that now seemed to be part of her past.

People seem to have surpassed themselves in efforts to destroy their own kind, Alex muttered, I will back here later theres plenty of interesting, she thought decidedly. Alex put a pistol with a holster next her new suit. "I ought to make sure the suit is filled with water and all required medical arsenal before going out, she thought.

Lovely, Alex said to herself as she stepped out into the hallway Im really lucky to have access to such a warehouse!

A convenient combat suit and sophisticated armored exoskeleton were what anyone in her world would like to have.

I wonder what is there of interest in the food unit? she said to herself again.

She liked the base: like any other military facility it was perfectly clean, neat, and functional. She guessed that the base used to be a home to a special reconnaissance unit. Used to be..?

No, they are still operative. Only they have abandoned their natural biological bodies. Still Alex could not get accustomed to the concept of abandoning a body.

Thinking about that, she stopped near the next door down the hallway; the door noiselessly crawled aside upon her approach. On entering, she immediately saw Wolf Abel. He was lying on a large table and funnily swirling with his whole body in a doggy style. The long soldiery table was the ideal place for that amusement he obviously enjoyed.

At her unexpected appearance, the Wolf stopped swirling, deftly turned over and assumed the sphinx position.

Smiling, Alex stopped short at the doorway, staring at the Wolfs huge body whirling like a small puppy. He slowly and proudly turned his head in her direction and, gazing her in the eye, sent a common thought form to all present in the room:

"Friends, allow me to introduce Alex Bjorg to you! As soon as the commander joins us, I will acquaint you with our guest in due order, the edges of his chap slightly went up, showing white teeth, which evidently indicated a smile.

I was showing guys some techniques of fight with GMAs, such as a counter-move with ones tail and pads to ensure a swift turn-over. Come to the vending machines, our synthesizer is up and running, choose whatever you like and take a seat at the second table, which is my favorite place.

As you can see, we no longer use the notion food as such. Instead, we say energy. However our medical and catering blocks are maintained in operating mode just in case we have to host a hundred of soldiers in biological bodies or a pilot-girl, he explained by sending another thought form.

Alex approached the food synthesizer and habitually picked up some meal from dispensers and put it in an expendable plate: protein porridge with albumin balls and a glass of pure water. She sat up on a wide bench by a long soldiery table, put a tray with her meal next to her and turned to the Wolf. Alex felt she was being looked at by the whole staff of the base through the boards with scanners.

The bizarre aspect of this situation was that artificial intelligence could be present at the room without any body, while watching the interlocutor in any spectrum of their vision, starting from infrared one. It looked as though she had to talk with empty space. Alex was more accustomed to large animated officers gatherings in the bar of her squadron. However not all people were able to retain their natural biological bodies. As a result of serious fight wounds or injuries, many of them had to transfer into cyber bodies that sometimes could look rather peculiar. The protracted war and diseases usually left people no chance but to abandon their natural bodies.

Now that everyone is present, announced the Wolf in a common thought form.

Alex told him: Abel, lets not stand on ceremony, just put everyone into the picture and introduce me to the guys.

Abel looked up the black sphere under the ceiling and solemnly said:

Colleagues, this is senior lieutenant Alex nicknamed Bjorg. It was her landing that I showed you. The aircraft is beyond repair. But, fortunately, I was able to save the second pilot navigator. I have rewritten him temporary into myself. He is now within a separate processor of the base. Its an artificial intelligence named Eol after the ancient God of Winds. So lets welcome new members! By the way, we are in need of pilots, operators and simply someone to talk to! he uttered, wiggling his ears, Therefore I will try to convince Alex and Eol to change their job places and stay at the base. And if she accepts our offer, well delegate her the north-western sector stretching up to the Ocean that Ninochka was in charge of.





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