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Literature by Vixan1187746

Lit. Daily Pick by DorianHarper

literature by WendaVinci


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September 25, 2013
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As I walked, the blue of the desert sky began to fade.  I pulled my hood over my head, even though my machine body needed neither protection from the sun nor shelter from the wind.  Simply put, I didn't like the feeling of the unending void above me, looming, watching, infinite.  I knew I shouldn't have such feelings, so I ignored the rationale and allowed my hands to move as they pleased.

I adjusted the leather strap.  The sky was pale.  Gray.  Stars blinking into view, I refused to meet their eternal gaze.  As I walked I was dying.  As I walked, I was not yet born.

But as I laid my feet in a careful pattern, one in front of the other, I didn't notice.  Day, night, it didn't matter, for I'd been given the unenviable position in life of a courier, and I neither knew nor cared for anything else.

Not yet, at any rate.

My body was a vessel for my vague sense of self, for I was water gathered between shaking palms, a cup half-filled, a fleet life drawn from a greater pool of artificial intelligence.  Intelligence, but not consciousness, the line between the two words defined me as being, but not being alive.  I thought, after all, but I did not feel, I knew, but I did not imagine.  False body, false mind, but despite those things I found myself thinking while on my journey across the former State of California.  What if the great pool was truly conscious?  What if I, a mere fragment, was asleep simply because I lacked the serenity of the whole?  

What would happen to me when my mission was complete?  When the package was delivered, when my body was decommissioned and my mind returned to the pool, what would I feel?

Would I be me?

Would I be dead?

Or would I be whole?

I placed one foot in front of the other, a careful seamstress knitting the two halves of the endless desert together as I drew close to a hazy and undetermined end.

Los Angeles was a former demilitarized zone, neutral territory as a result of a post-Mirror-War skirmish between Italian and French rivals who refused both the governing of the British Hierarchy and the attempted re-unification of the European Union.  The region stank of gang violence and lawlessness, as all military powers had to stay back, bound to a hundred mile radius.  

Many days ago, I'd walked through the Italian base, the pack of lions laying in wait for the DMZ war laws to expire.  No Italian military spoke to me as I walked the perimeter of their camp.  I wasn't often spoken to at all.  It was a silent agreement amongst humanity that couriers didn't require communication.  We were false, after all, and unless a human wanted some instantly performed calculus, we were of no use except to make deliveries.

My purpose was limited: I had feet for walking.  I had a face, as to not cause alarm as I walked.  And the package, a leather cylinder, strapped to my back.

The distant city grew closer as the sky yawned opened to reveal night, the lights of the derelict skyscrapers opening like the eyes of bats, visible in the infrared spectrum.  I didn't have so much as a map as a preprogrammed sense of direction, so that I'd know where to go, but not my final destination.  Though I admit curiosity, I was more proud of the fact that this body was designed so that if I were captured, I could neither be tortured nor reprogrammed to aid the enemy.  I'd destroy the package, and return to the pool.  The plan, my life, was so simple it felt elegant.  If I'd been more than a false intelligence, I'd have admitted pride in my singular purpose.

No pride yet, however, for I'd yet to die,  be born.

The night came and the night went, and I reached the edge of the city.  Another full day making my way through suburbs and ex-suburbs, badlands made of terrifying shacks and feral gangsters juxtaposed amongst outcroppings of brightly painted domiciles.  They mimicked a bygone pre-war era, reflecting a time before nuclear fire had won the war but laid waste to most of the nation.  I checked my internal Geiger counter as I drew closer to downtown.  Not enough rads to cook a meal, not yet, I'd have to go further east for that.  Perhaps one day I would.  The body was false: I could witness the Arizona Crater without fear of harm, if I pleased.

The third day: the sun was high when I passed beneath the noble shadow of the first skyscraper.  As I took a highway overpass, dilapidated from time and explosions, I saw sniper fire being exchanged above me.  A glint of a scope; if the sniper saw me, he or she ignored me.  I paused to look, curious.  They were letting me past, into the city, it must have been because I was a courier.  The logic was simple.  If he'd have taken a shot, hoping I was delivering something for his enemy, how foolish he'd have felt if he was wrong.  No one knew what side I was on.  It was a policy of insurance as I carried goods to be delivered.

Under a bride, past garbage cans with fires in them, avoiding the tender and terrified eyes of refugees, I walked.  It became quiet as I entered the labyrinth of the inner city.  Reinforced lean-to's and barricades made a maze, and though I didn't know the quickest route through the debris, I knew my general direction, feeling very much like a wholly artificial version of a void Navigator.  

Navigators were humans born with the ability to sense the mass and pull of the galaxy itself.  Now that was a calling!  Nothing like the humble and short-lived internment of courier.  I knew there was life beyond this planet.  The System colonies survived.  There were cities on the moon, Mars, the Belt, Io, Titan… People lived and thrived in the void, even though the solar gate system was destroyed.  People still struggled and died even though the Mirror War was a century won.

Maybe it wasn't the void that unnerved me so.  Maybe it was the wealth of people above me, when only the dead laid below me.

I was distracted, and because of that, I didn't pay mind to the pounding feet approaching me until the person – a young woman – was close.

"Help!"  She called, eyes scanning me.  She was seeing if I had a uniform.  She eyed the strap across my chest and looked hopeful for a moment until she realized it was a package, not a rifle. "Please," how she kept hope alive, I didn't understand.  "Help."

And then, she saw my eyes.  Whether she knew what a courier looked like or not, she knew what I was.  What I wasn't.  She daydreamt of what an artificial body and no soul were capable of.  Ripping her pursuers limb from limb?  Carrying her to a rooftop and safety?

"Do something," she said.

"I'm a non-combatant," I replied.  Had I ever spoken before?  Surely I had.  Perhaps on a different mission, one I couldn't recall, one that only a fragment of me had undergone before being poured back into the pool of (potential) artificial consciousness.  "I can't."

I heard the men behind her.  Four of them, shouting in French.  The woman looked plaintive and in quick breaths she poured her heart out to me.  "I was getting water for my family, we live in Camp C.  I'd been in line all day!  They found me, kept saying I was a French spy.  No!  I'm French, can't you hear my accent?  I was like them!"

"Your story's not going to change anything," I explained, the words feeling acidic as if slightly untrue.

"You can explain to them," Tears were pouring down her cheeks.  "They'll listen."

I opened my mouth to answer, then stopped.  After a moment, I said, "I'm a non-combatant."

I didn't mean any harm by what I said.  It was just a statement of fact.  I really didn't think I'd feel…so wrong.  I only watched, artificial skin on artificial muscles on metal chassis unmoving.  Someone spent a lot of money to make this body look like a person.  One who blends in well.  However, there were neither pennies or dimes paid on my sense of sympathy.

The young woman shot profanities, expertly translated as her voice stumbled  back into her native language, and ran down an alley.  She'd picked the wrong one.  The squad who'd been pursuing her had split up and covered the route.  They shot her in the ankle as she tried to backpedal away from them.  She fell down, screaming, as the men searched her without care.  Did they find anything?  I couldn't tell.  Whether it was for a mission accomplished or out of rage, they shot her, and her cries echoed off the skyscrapers for a moment after her voice had been extinguished.  

The muscles in my neck were tight.  Did they see me?

I was a non-combatant, as I'd said.  If the men saw me, and attacked, I'd destroy the package and eliminate my consciousness.  I'd return to nothing.  I'd die.

The woman was limp on the ground.  I could smell her blood, the dust, and oil.  The men still searched her.  Two of them argued, but I wasn't paying attention.  

How many times had I done this?  Stood by?  Watched people die?  Left my body?  Died myself?

It was happening, though I wasn't truly conscious of it.  Something was breaking, the awful shell I'd been placed into.  They told me when I was conceived into a plastic shell that I was free.  Free of all human burdens, gifted with a life of poetical symmetry.  I thought of the people trapped in the city.  Not free.

But then again, how was I any different?  The poetical symmetry wasn't a gift, it was just as strong a sentence.  One of the men saw me.  He aimed a rifle in my direction and shouted.  I raised my hands in instinctive surrender.  I realized though, I wasn't going to surrender.  Not this time.

I undid the strap around my chest and laid my parcel behind a dumpster.  It would be safe there, and I'd retrieve it after I was done.

High above me, in an empty room in an empty skyscraper, a sniper's scope glinted.
An interested party was watching.

An interested party would bare witness to murder.  Blood.  Birth.

I attacked.
Writing random things hoping something will stick, or feel right, or lend itself enough creative oomph to be developed into a nano project. Not sure about this, parts were fun to write, but the life of a trapped AI is not the life for me, I think.

A spiritual successor to Shrodinger's Courier lunaticstar.deviantart.com/art… even tho it's set in the OiS-verse.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-10-21
Geiger's Courier by ~LunaticStar ( Suggested by QuiEstInLiteris and Featured by DorianHarper )
:iconvectorinspector:
Vectorinspector Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great story!
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
Wow, thank you!
Reply
:iconjestembazyliszkiem:
JestemBazyliszkiem Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2013
:jawdrop: oh my...this was a fantastic read, dear! :iconclapclapplz: It surely made me feel full, full with awesomeness! It makes us wonder if we really are above other beings, or are we just robots made of flesh?... I love it!

And, yay! Well deserved DD! :la: I'm so happy for you! :3
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2013
Indeed!  Thanks for the kind words and deep thoughts.  <3
Reply
:iconjestembazyliszkiem:
JestemBazyliszkiem Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013
You are very welcome! <3 :hug:
Reply
:iconconfidencealive:
confidenceAlive Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
WOW.
It might not be for you but it is definitely for me; I absolutely LOVE THIS. This theme has got to be one of my most favourite to read, and you did it every bit of justice it deserves. For my part, well done! :D
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
Late answer is late!  Thanks so much for your comment.  It's very encouraging, as nano is currently eating my SOUL. 
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:iconconfidencealive:
confidenceAlive Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You're very welcome [= I enjoyed reading your work
Reply
:iconmycbear:
Mycbear Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013

SOOOO awesome

 

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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
My thanks!
Reply
:iconcrzyfetus:
Crzyfetus Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
This is awesome. Lot of cool ideas in there and the setting seems really interesting, for some reason I like the title too haha, and congrats on the DD.
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013
Ha, yeah!  Maybe the title is the best part. xD  Just kidding.  Thanks for the nice comment!
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:icondreadedone131:
DreadedOne131 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Fascinating story!
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
Thanks! 
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Thanks
Reply
:iconc-a-harland:
C-A-Harland Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Student Writer
This was wonderfully written and the story itself was so interesting and intense. I love the feel of the character that you've created, both he and the world seem so real, despite this only being a short piece. I would love to see this continued.
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
Thanks for your nice comment!  And yeah, it was a litmus test to see if I'd want to continue it.  As it stands, it wouldn't really make sense the direction I wanted to take it, so I'll just stick to my habit of writing 1-shots about robotic mailmen. :] 
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:iconkirinarra:
Kirinarra Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Wonderfully written!
The concept and the execution of this story are amazing!!

There are quite a few typos that could stand to be fixed...
but the slow progressions in character and plot are beautiful in their thorough detail and seamless imagery!

Awesome!!
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013
Yeah, typos galore, it wasn't really meant to be a polished thing so I didn't pour over it. xD 

Thanks for your nice commentary and I'm glad you enjoyed it! <3
Reply
:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Good work. It's absorbing, has good depth, and although I think I saw the effect the climax would have on the courier from the start, I didn't see the shape it would take. Well done. Just a couple of points:

Under a bride, past garbage cans with fires in them


"Bride" here must be a typo for "bridge".

An interested party would bare witness to murder.

You probably want "bear" here, not "bare".
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Yeah, thanks, that was my intent. 

And dang typos, they do sneak in. 
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:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
They are my bane.
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:iconaquagalaxy:
AquaGalaxy Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
congratulations on your DD!
Reply
:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
I liked the desert weaving image. There is an interesting setting you've projected here.
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
Thanks very much! 
Reply
:iconeuxiom:
Euxiom Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Oh, yes. This was a great read.

"The night came and the night went, and I reached the edge of the city." was one of my favorite sentences. And that ending, the history of the world, just fantastic. :la:
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
Thanks very much!  Yeah, I had some ideas going, we'll see what happens. xD 
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:iconeuxiom:
Euxiom Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013
Welcome! :)
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:iconsnapperz:
Snapperz Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013   Writer
Wheeee, congrats on the DD, dude! :glomp:
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Thanks brotificus maximus! 
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Professional Writer
Oh, hurray! 8D 
Congratulations!
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
Thanks! <3
Reply
:iconthe-inkling:
The-Inkling Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013   Writer
A well deserved DD, congratulations. I thought the little world-building snippets/background info was especially nice. I'm not sure if that's because it ties into other work, but it all came across as very solid and interesting and that isn't always an easy thing to pull off.

I'd happily read a great deal more of this, which is the best sort of compliment one can give really. So once more, well done! =p
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013
Ah, thanks so much!  Yeah, it's part of another world, but something I kinda half assedly wanted to develop.  

Thanks for your nice comment! 
Reply
:iconibx:
ibx Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
         Very good thanks, whoops  sorry of all the fossils cracked open !
               
         But back to the main frame I still need parts for the cat-scanner !!
          
         Slaw is slaw , I think we can achieve a  higher grade yet with anther 

         small tab of cabbage & one more of those cases of Bic lighters  sir STAR .
                                          

                                                                                                                53
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013
I don't fully understand your comment but thanks for reading! xD
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:iconmemnalar:
Memnalar Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
:heart:
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
<3
Reply
:iconhomunculus888:
homunculus888 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I thought this sounded very similar to the other one, but the most interesting thing here are the introspective thoughts about self-awareness and purpose. I'd love to see that delved into more in subsequent chapters.

Nicely done, again.
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Thank you!  late reply is late. 
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:iconhomunculus888:
homunculus888 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem. You're welcome.
Reply
:iconchimetals:
Chimetals Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Wonderful little thing <3
the self-questioning and general telling of the situation in a more indirect way was done well.

idk if anyone told you, though, but there's a typo in the middle: "Under a bride, past garbage cans with fires in them" where bride should be "bridge", i think.
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Ahhh typoes, darn, why does bride hafta be soo close to bridge? 

Thanks <3
Reply
:iconlintu47:
lintu47 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    Congrats on the DD! :dalove: Have a nice day! :heart:
Reply
:iconmizzmint:
mizzmint Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on having your piece featured as one of today's Daily Deviations! :heart:
Reply
:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
YAY navel-gazing robots! I like how we never find out who the message is for, whose "side" the AI is on. It's a choice. Also, this is why scientific advancement gives me the jibblies sometimes.
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2013
In a perfect world there'd be a whole huge story involving prequel darcy blanch and jill havock doing stuff to trick this poor robot guy in circles but eh the whole shebang makes my brain hurt.  xD  

But thanks for reading, glad this story had some redeeming moments, it felt forced, I'm still searching for something interesting to write about o_o 

Science is scary.  Think of life withotu the toaster.  I suddenly feel controlled.
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:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
AW MAN headcanon accepted. SHUT UP ZAV nobody wants to hear about your views on "noncombatants".

Yeah, definitely. Though all the woopy sea-of-consciousness stuff is kinda trippy. o___o I guess if all you do is walk from place to place and you don't even have to stop to eat or sleep or pee, you have loooooooooots of time to think. I know my brain wanders off into weird places if I let it.

...the refrigerator. That's even more important than the toaster. I mean, I have a french press to make coffee, and I can always make oven toast or skillet toast, but thinking about all my perishables... D: I like having Greek yogurt in my life.
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