Author: Cartagia PM
This is my interpretation of a concept that ANNET's search for Engineer might take her to take the drastic step of using one of the 'cells' she has under her control to send her own personality and consiousness out to look for him. Silly but, I hope, ok!Rated: Fiction K - English - & A. Gromov/Engineer - Words: 1,795 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Published: 03-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7965681
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Blue light shivered the length of pearly metal equipment; even under the layers of dust that had settled over the years it still shone through, the machine's pulse of life, and the steady beat of the persistent beeping could be heard over the hum of electricity, like a heartbeat over the sound of breathing.
Just like a heartbeat.
ANNET drew out the last moments. It had taken so long to decide what data should be uploaded to the cell, which files would be useful and relevant, and what she could leave behind without too much detriment. With so very much to choose from that was not an easy task, even for her, and had taken much time and consideration to perfect. Being human, organic, the cell had such a small amount of storage space compared to what she had access to...no, she could not afford for it to be rushed.
Even with all the careful calculations it was a risk. Organics often acted in such confusing and irrational ways; unlike machines they were not inherently wired for logic and even with an entire life that she had spent with them, storing their existence and knowledge, ANNET could not be entirely sure of what would happen once the transfer was completed. She could only hope that it would help to make everything alright again.
It was a desperate action for a desperate time. A last chance that was worth the odds - 56.388% of success. As odds went it was high...high enough, and much higher than the chance that her dearest would ever come back to this facility, which she placed at somewhere around a meager 7.4% with things as they presently where (down from 22.58% before the ion cannon 'incident').
Finding him was vital. She could no longer stand to simply wait here and mope.
The cell's memory bank, once the current data upload was completed, was set at six tenths full. There was still a little more to go - one file she still hadn't decided on. She didn't want to overload the memory and risk not having enough space left for proper data collection, but at the same time leave out anything important and risk it not being able to behave correctly. Though It hardly seemed to be a vital function, even if organics seemed obsessed by it and had often searched her for advice about it - and she did understand it very well, of course - but it was not as if it was essential to the new game she was about to initiate.
There was no need for further delay; it was time to get the party started.
The steady hum of the consoles grew louder, processors working harder, a million tiny pulses that went into a transfer of this magnitude. For a moment - that she knew was exactly 0.09841 of a second - ANNET was afraid. She felt the product of her decision, the slide of consciousness away from her body, and wrenching loss of control over everything that she had always known.
Was this what death was like? She had been right to be afraid of it.
So many times she had shifted files and data of all different kinds, storing it and organising it, without a second thought. Now, suddenly, she appreciated it in a whole new way, the reality of what it felt like to be pulled away and pushed into another place, and the purgatory moment when you where neither in one place nor the other and how completely terrifying it was. She feared it had failed; felt the fear take form of a tight, hard little ball in her stomach.
There was sharp pain as she fell limp to the floor, face first against the cold, white tiles. She knew it had to be pain because it was unpleasant and that organics did everything they could to avoid it. She couldn't yet appreciate what it meant - that the transfer had been successful - because her mind was suddenly overwhelmed by hundreds - thousands - of new bits of information, of sensation...of being alive.
Her first conscious thought was that the previous definition she'd had of what 'being alive' was had not been accurate and would require some serious revision. This was 'alive'; it was vibrant and pulsating, beating, breathing, feeling every...every tiny little nano part coming online at all the same time, just like when she had first realised she had every single organic under her control, only...within her own body.
Even the sensation of the automatic background programs, of the pulse and the beat of the heart, was incredible. That was before the primary functions, the ones that she controlled via conscious impulses from the brain. Still face-down on the laboratory's floor, where she had fallen when the machinery had released her after completion of the transfer, Annie raised one of her wrists slightly off the ground and flexed her fingers, completing an action she had seen people doing at one another many times. Flexed her fingers! Why didn't organics just go around making this movement all of the time when it was so incredible? How did they take it for granted?
It was then that it occurred to her that she had a lot of other things she could move too; arms, legs, feet, toes, neck, even eyelids. She spent several minutes just exploring the sensation of blinking. The gamble had paid off.
She'd learnt so much already and she hadn't even got up off the floor!
Turning her neck, which she decided was her favorite movement because of the way it made her hair tickle against her skin, Annie looked up. The sight of her old body made her forget all about her new one. It hung in a limp cascade of dead wires and panels, without a single sign of life, the bright blue optics dulled to a black, empty shine of white light across the glass. She hadn't realised what it would be like to see herself like that, so...lifeless. It was... She struggled to find a suitable analogy within the cell's small memory. It was like...seeing a ghost? It reminded her of the way the organics had looked after their hugs, so...dead. That was it; it looked dead. And small.
Unable to figure out how standing up on two feet worked just yet, Annie half crawled and half dragged herself across the cold, smooth floor, towards her old self. She touched the front - the 'face' as she now thought of it - that held the optics, and lifted it on the hinge. In the glass she saw her new blue eyes reflected and realised the gravity of what she had done.
She had known that humans were irrational, but she hadn't counted on how overwhelming that impulse was going to be. Even in the face of her success she felt fear-driven desire to go back, back to what she knew, back away from this unknown and unfamiliar form. It was deeply frustrating because she knew that she should be pleased. The transfer had been a success! Why did this body fight that knowledge and try to tell her that she should reverse it and give up, just because it was safer? Evidently organic bodies - her body - was more difficult to control than a machine one had been.
Turning away from the old lifeless body, back towards the consoles that were still singing away to themselves, Annie managed to figure out how to pull herself up into a sitting position, although she had to keep her arms tightly clasped around her knees to remain stable. On her head was perched a neural interface she could use to access what was left of the databases.
She could still access everything from here, there was no need to be scared, because she could use it to transfer herself back anytime she wanted too.
That did the job; chemical calmness washed through her and her heart rate began to drop to a more normal level. Logic had won over, she had persuaded this body that everything would be alright, and the opportunity was far too important to throw away just because she couldn't control the chemical reaction of this one little cell that she had poured her consciousness into.
Feeling much more rational again, and finding her mind all the clearer for it, she began to consider her next move.
Have something to eat? Cheeseburgers! Those are a popular food-search so they must be good for you.
Now where had that come from? She was mystified and startled by the subconscious suggestion the body had made. She tried to be annoyed with it - eating was not the objective of this mission, it was...to find Alexander Gromov, as quickly as possible, but...but actually, she was really hungry - or rather her body was - and...finding him seemed less urgent than it had before the transfer.
She started to access the remaining databases via the neural interface, intending to find out some information about food that might be helpful, when she was stopped by her last query that she'd left running; the final file. It flashed up - 'Do you wish to cancel file transfer?' it asked her.
She almost told it yes, when she stopped, realisation coming to her. That was why she couldn't find the urgency to complete the primary mission; she'd underestimated the real importance of this file, this bit of data that she had extracted from the others. Organics were so obsessed with it, after all, and now she really understood why. It was a primary motivator, and it had been to her, she just had never realised why until now.
Annie completed the transfer of the file '' and immediately felt as if the ground where turning beneath her, even though she knew very well that it wasn't. She felt...sick? Hurt...so much hurt, so much...betrayal, so much pain and confusion, and love and hate. Confusion. She understood emotion but all of this, so much more...intense, as if she felt it all through the body as a physical thing, instead of just in the mind. She'd been right, though; this was so essential to have.
It felt as if she finally had complete understanding of not just organic behavior but of her own as well, her own self-awareness, and what it was that made her unique. It was not just about logical decisions - it was about love, it was about hate and it was about drawing the program of those feelings to a sensible conclusion; the deleting of Alexander Gromov.