Author: Joyann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Total Recall 2070 (Alliance/Atlantis)
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The plasma drive engines pulsed softly. Some found the rhythmic sound soothing, while others were annoyed by the incessant drone. He had never really noticed it before. Until now it had seemed merely a necessary mechanical noise, easily tuned out as were so many others. But now sitting here alone, the sound intruded on his private thoughts. The low thrumming seemed to come from every direction at once. Soft and steady like a heartbeat. A heartbeat he did not have. His circulation was performed with great efficiency by a series of microscopic turbines. The Maker had considered including a circuit to mimic the sound, but such a thing would have served only to deceive. To seem to be human. There would be no need for deception by his magnificent creation. He did not realize how necessary deception was in Ian Farve's everyday existence.
Farve leaned back in his plush, high backed seat. This was not necessary for his comfort but in his study of humans he had learned it was a common posture and wished to blend in with the other passengers.
He was on his way to a meeting with an unknown party. A message had come by anonymous eComm a few days before. It specified a meeting in the domed industrial complex of Euridice in the southern Martian highlands. Euridice was one of the oldest domed factory cities on Mars, being almost entirely devoted to mining and ore processing. The anonymous sender had promised information about top secret programs involving UberBraun, in exchange for CPB protection. The meeting place was not given only the promise of more information when he arrived on Mars. Hume was tied up in court on an extortion case. Farve's presence was not required and he was to be reassigned until David had finished his testimony. When Ehrenthal had showed them the message, something in the phrasing had struck Farve. He could not have explained what. Something familiar but not remembered. Something he was not supposed to remember. Related to the Maker he was not supposed to remember. Ian readily volunteered to
take the17 hour trip to Mars to check out the message. The transport was to depart Friday night and arrive Saturday afternoon in Euridice. The meeting was to take place at Saturday at 9:30pm local time. None of the detectives wanted to spend their weekend on Mars unless the trip included a visit to one of the famed Martian pleasure domes. It would certainly have embarrassed Farve had he known why many of the other officers grinned when he volunteered for the assignment. Hume thought it best to let this one go. Although, he secretly thought it might do Farve some good.
The huge jump station seemed all out of proportion for a mining colony with a population of 150,000 humans and 50,00 androids. Until Ian realized almost all the traffic consisted of ore barges and related shipments. Passenger transports were but a tiny fraction of the comings and goings at this colossal port. Barges hauling iron, copper and aluminum ran 24.6 hours a day delivering raw ore to orbiting processing stations. From there the refined ore was sent via heavy transport to a resource poor Earth. A good portion of the mining work was done by industrial Epsilon class androids. The Epsilon class was a stripped down, souped up version of the Deltas. They were used for heavy work in the dangerous lower sections of the mines. Digging and blasting in the often unpressurized tunnels was far too dangerous for human workers. Epsilons (E's) were built on the basic humanoid model used for all androids, but the likeness ended there. Whereas androids had always been built with ease
of human interaction in mind, E's were totally lacking in the social graces. All the extras had been sacrificed for economy and ease of repair. The most striking visible difference being the lack of hair and fingernails. Only the head and hands were covered with synth skin, the remaining body was encased in a gray polymer alloy and hidden under nondescript coveralls. All had the appearance of males because they were built with the same basic, interchangeable parts. The faces changed only when a new model was produced. They could speak, although it was rarely required. Most commands and information were exchanged through an internal data link. E's were specially designed and built for Martian facilities. They were outlawed on Earth, where too many feared a replay of the Warrior class massacres.
Farve had never seen an Epsilon android and his curiosity was intense. He had, of course, studied their plans along with all of the other android classes. But as he had recently learned, education was not the same as experience. He approached a lone E waiting near the departure gate. Farve politely excused himself and asked for directions to the main rail terminal. After a moment, during which Farve wondered if he would get a response at all, the E turned toward him. He (It?) pointed toward the back of the station, "Follow the green mark on the floor, turn left at the ticket counter, proceed 10 meters". He did not look at Farve and spoke stiffly, as if not used to the process. Farve found the encounter informative but also disturbing. The Epsilon had no expression, no spark, no awareness. Other androids emulated these things even if they did not truly possess them. Was he really of the same stock as that machine? Most humans thought so. The idea further disturbed him. The
Epsilon seemed as different from himself as a human was from an automated loader. He hurried away. Ian emerged from the cavernous jump station into the Martian evening. He looked back at the string of barges and loaders waiting their turn to dock. The lights of the orbiting ore processing facility were clearly visible in the fading light. Sunset lit the sky with every shade of red, orange and pink. The great ribbed arms of the dome arched across the sky, covering the five square mile city complex. The beautiful view was rapidly disappearing as the electrostatic dome was tuned to an opaque frequency to conserve the heat of the day.
There was a room reserved in a business hotel considered fairly secure by the CBP. However, David had pulled Ian aside after the meeting and whispered that it was not a good idea for everyone to know where he was going to be. Farve choose a small rooming house on the far outer ring of the complex. Most of the tenants were transient miners, so one new face would not be noticed. The room was shabby but clean. It would serve his purposes. He paid with a credit chit bought from a vending machine at the jump station. Ian inspected the room and found no listening devices or video feeds. He required a place to safeguard whatever person or information he gleaned from the meeting until he could catch a transport back to Earth. He walked the quite streets toward the downtown area, searching for a public eComm terminal. EComm was easy to trace so he choose one some distance from the hotel. He left messages on the CBP service for Eranthal and David, reporting his safe arrival. No need
to bother them at home unless he had news.
Following the directions given in the message, he logged onto CorNet and waited to be contacted. Within a few moments he received a brief note containing only directions to an old storage facility on the lower level of the underground tunnels. The link was severed before he could ask any questions. A search for info on the tunnels, yeilded little. A map of the tunnels and storage areas was all he could find. A note at the end of the map stated, "Not complete for all sections. Occasionally used for public gatherings". The underground was made up entirely of tapped out miming tunnels from earlier digs. The high cost of excavation made these empty tunnels useful as storage areas, maintenance bays and offices. Anyone with mining experience knew that ore containing veins of rock never ran straight and true. As a result, the tunnels followed no discernable pattern. Long stretches of straight tunnel were rare. Mainly the straight parts were interrupted with sharp turns or
continuous corkscrews of turns leading up or down. Often tunnels would veer sharply left or right and split into two or three before coming to a dead end. There were room size chambers, cavernous halls and passages barely large enough for a man. The situation made Ian wary about a possible trap, but he had no choice. The possibility of learning any information about his Maker pushed him onward.
As Ian made his way toward the meeting place he thought about what the next hours would bring. Would he find out anything about his maker? About himself? The questions zinged throughout his positronic mind, bouncing around his neural net again and again. Why was he here? Did he have a purpose? Did the maker have a plan or was he just an experiment? What was he supposed to do? Oh well, Ian sighed, another habit he had picked up from David. David, his friend, his partner, the person he cared about most. He missed having David to depend on. Someone to defer to if a situation became strange or confusing. He was sometimes frustrated when David would not fully explain something to him, but he always belived David wanted the best for him. He descended into the underground through a public entrance. Suddenly he understood why the streets were so empty. There were hundreds of people milling in the brightly lit corridors. Colored lights mixed with a dozen kinds of synth pop and techno
music as dancers spilled out into the narrow streets from the many bars and rave halls. Throngs crowded around the countless bars and shops. Vendors hawked everything from food to black market Recall disks. This was the only kind of night life available in Euridice. Most forms of recreation were banned by the puritanical CEO of the mining company. His personal philosophy was, "Work is good for the soul and recreation takes the mind away from work".
But his wishes hardly mattered, most of what went on here was illegal as well as immoral. Ian hurried along the crowded street. He stepped into a dark side tunnel away from the revelry. This led to several smaller openings branching off from the main tunnel. Each time he followed the directions to the letter. The passageway turned and dipped and narrowed until he reached a rough hallway with a low ceiling. The last signs of recent habitation had passed some time ago. It was then he realized he had passed into an area not charted on the map. These tunnels probably dated back to the first excavations in 2013, a good hiding place for someone. He surveyed the dark hallway and knew he must proceed. After several yards he noticed a shallow depression set into the wall. Possibly some kind of doorway, but how to open it? Along the corridor were many more doors. Each door was as anonymous as the first, with no visible means of entry. Farther along the hallway he came to a door marked
with a pattern of some kind of electrical circuitry. He ran a finger over the mark. It was only painted on, and recently too. He recognized the mark, but again he could not have explained why.
Ian listened carefully at the door. There was a faint stirring inside. In the dim light he felt the surface trying to find an opening. As he raised his fist to bang on the door, it flew open. Farve stepped back in surprise. He was looking down at a small Chinese man. The man spoke something in an ancient Cantonese dialect. Ian just stared at him for the moment it took to register what he had heard. The words were unfamiliar, as they bore little resemblance to modern Chinese. "Have patience in a moment of anger...." The reply, in the same dead language, came unbidden from Ian's lips. He knew it was the correct answer, more of an instinct than conscious thought. "And you will escape a hundred days of sorrow." The man shut the door most of the way. Ian heard a harsh voice call out in heavily accented English, "Bring her!". Ian hesitated, unsure how to proceed. Moments later a young woman was shoved through the door. The small man pushed a black knapsack at Farve. He started to
shut the door. Bewildered, Farve held the door open, "Wait!". He tried to explain about the meeting. "You are the andy man, right?", Farve nodded. "They took Dr. Latham last night, They are looking for her too. She can't stay here. You must take her and go!" "Take her where?", but Ian was only speaking to the closed door. He retrieved the fallen bag and turned to face the girl. But she was nowhere to be seen.