Logan's Run, The Transhumanist by Chip Bell
The solar car floated along at a good clip. Jessica operated the controls expertly and had it a good 14 inches off the ground. Logan lay against her with his head on her shoulder sleeping and Rem busily downloaded music into the cars computer system from his memory. I think you will like this one, it's what used to be called techno pop in the past. Not to different from some of your music from the City of Domes. The group is called "Perfume" from an island called Japan. the song is Electro World. Of course you won't understand the words, but it really has a beat. And … I have here 3 new sets of DS uniforms for Logan I got them from the Sandmen at our last encounter, Snuck them right out of an Outside Car. "Ha ha" Jessica laughed, wouldn't it be funny if they were Frances's. Rem chuckled, they are about the same size, but they were still in a package, I doubt they have ever been worn. Up ahead, the road narrowed and the ruts deepened. The Solar Car glided easily over them. They were climbing a slight hill and rounded a bend. The terrain was interspersed with tall brush about 10 feet tall. "This looks like Great Basin Big Sage" Rem remarked as he leaned forward for a better view. But there's fruit growing on it. On the pale sage green plants hung reddish oval shaped fruits. As they moved up the road the brush began to look more like trees with a central stem and rough wooly bark. In seconds Rem scanned the fruit. This fruit is full of all sorts of vitamins even protein, and a stimulant. Logan sighed softly and kissed Jessica's shoulder as he sat up. We were talking about the fruit on those trees.
Logan rubbed one eye and stretched. Their quite edible said Rem. Jessica pulled the car over under one of the short trees. "Lets try them" she said. Logan shrugged and they all piled out. Logan reached up and pulled a large fruit off the tree. It was red and had small rubbery spikes covering the surface. He bit into it. Oh wow these are really good., very sweet. They spent the next 20 minutes talking and gathering fruit. Jessica felt a euphoric rush. Logan turned around to see Jessica hanging in the tree. He should have been shocked but he was overwhelmed with the urge to join her. He did not climb up slowly but jumped up and grabbed a branch hauling himself up like a gymnast. They swung and climbed like monkeys for a while before jumping down somewhat out of breath but obviously not worn out. "The stimulant" said Rem. it's got you both climbing the walls. Logan held one of the fruits in his hand, he and Jessica looked at each other as realization struck. What if the Sandmen come this way? Can you imagine Francis on this stuff? Logan held up the fruit. Jessica sighed, we'll have to hope he doesn't come this way and hope he doesn't eat if he does. They hurriedly buried the rinds and seeds and as much evidence as possible that they had eaten the stuff. "Francis doesn't have me to tell him the fruit is edible" said Rem. His follower can tell him that easily, but he'll have to go into the program and use it, he may not.
Ahhhhh! screamed the wild eyed Frances he drew his blaster and began randomly blasting the short trees into splinters. Ha ha ha ha! Sweat beaded on his forehead and his pulse raced. I don't think you should eat that much said Benjamin. Ha ha ha ha Francis half laughed, half growled and took another bite of the fleshy fruit. he chewed a little and than spit it as far as he could. Nonsense! I feel great I could track and kill every runner out here! "How many of those did you eat?" asked Benjamin. Francis turned around sweating "I don't know, maybe 5". The stimulant is poultrasol, very powerful. You shouldn't eat so much of it. "Never mind about that"said Francis, shaking a little. He maid his way back to the DS Outside car and sat in the seat squirming around. Ha ha, he giggled clenching his teeth. Maybe I should drive? NO! I told you I feel great, right now, I am THE man for the job I know where they went, I know how to find them.
Francis roared off in the car as Benjamin clung dearly to the seat hoping Francis could stick to the road. I know they went this way. Francis fumbled with the cars controls and selected a piece of music. It was loud and thumping with squalling strings and drums beaten to the point of abuse. Francis turned the stuff up and pushed the car faster. They came over a hill and saw smoke raising into the sky. A fire! See I told you I could find them! Francis quickly parked the care and sprung out. He ran to the top of the hill and dropped into a crouch. He ran crouched over the rise and jumped into a clearing drawing his blaster, RUNNER! His voice was horse and seemed to crack. Frances stood looking at the remains of a fire and some foot prints. Gone? They were long gone. He felt forlorn and a new sensation as well, nausea. He looked at Benjamin sickly. Oh no, Francis ran over to some bush and heaved the contents of his stomach, he finished weak, and shaky. I never want to see one of those miserable things again, ever. Benjamin fought the urge to laugh. Francis gave Benjamin an angry look and entered the car.
The solar car floated down the other side of the vast rise. A plane opened up below ,dotted with small brush and the soil was a tan silt. The plane stretched for miles to the east where it butted up against some far off purple mountains capped with snow. Jessica was interested in the line that traversed the middle of the plane and headed the car for it. Jessica pressed on the controls and the car accelerated. Logan bought up some files on the screen and selected some music to play. A woman started singing in some foreign language he couldn't understand. I didn't know these files were here. "Let it play Logan "said Rem from the back seat "she's good." Jessica eyed the terrain and checked her panel. Every thing read normal. "I'm getting a strong magnetic field " said Rem. I think that road is an old track for mag-levs. The magnets would still be there, buried under the deposited silt. Parts of this car will stick to magnets so don't try to drive on the track. As they approached the track, Jessica spotted a large concrete tunnel under it and drove the car in. Let's explore. "I'd like to take a look around to" said Logan. The three of them climbed the bank on the other side of the track and began walking along it. Here and there, the corner of a large plastic rectangular box stuck out of the dirt. "Magnets " Rem pointed to one of the boxes. "Look" said Jessica. "and opening" off to the west side of the track a clump of large green brush hid a concrete opening. The three made it over to the area and beheld a wide concrete opening, it's floor half full of sand and silt. Jessica entered , "there's a door off to the left. Logan and Rem followed her in. The door lead to a large room, sand and silt was piled half way up the doorway but the room was empty, high water marks reached to the last 4 inches of the tile walls. This is a rest room probably for the trane. Against one wall was another door leading back into darkness. Logan pulled his follower off of his belt and shined it's light into the gloom. Some sort of office here. The office room was fairly cavernous and complete with a large computer screen on one wall and desks with computer terminals on them all covered with silt from the flooding. The east wall contained yet another door and they entered. This room had been cleaned completely and was even larger than the first. "Some one lives here" said Jessica. Against the wall, stood an ungainly looking robot. The thing had what looked like pipes for legs and what Rem referred to as a standard enclosed vertibral assembly. Some of these parts are robot parts and some are just cleverly assembled junk. Piezo electric mussel to move it about. It can't be from here thought Jessica. Logan eyed the robot. Rem, Is it active? Yes I think so, it's gone into some sort of house keeping mode. I don't recognize the soft wear at all, but in some ways it's very similar to my own. Definitely an AI program of some sort.
Will it come back on line soon? Yes in a few minutes I'm scanning it's clock. "We better get clear " Logan said. "Powering up" said Rem. A series of small lights lit up on the area around the chest and the head turned. Jessica didn't know why, but she felt pity. The things head was just a cone laying on it's side point forward with one large and one smaller lens facing forward. Their had been paint on it once but that was long gone. Humans? The synthesized voice came from the chest aria. "Yes" said Jessica. I"m Jessica, this is Logan and this is Rem. Rem stepped forward and shook the robots hand. The machine stood fully erect and cocked it's head in the most peculiarly human fashion. My name is Cheval Prode. I live here. I lived here when it was a city. "That's a few years" Logan said. I am not what I look like. Ha ha ha came a rueful laugh from the rusty thing. "Your quite human seeming" said Rem, I'm loathe to call you a robot. Cheval looked at Rem. You're an android? Would that I could have taken refuge in a body more like yours instead of this. See I was human once. I was a scientist working on transferring the contents of a brain to a chip. See, it started out as brain research, we wanted to answer the question "is there a ghost in the machine" I always thought there was, turned out I was right. When the fall out came and every one stated dying I realized I was dead any way so I plugged my self in for one last time. I have had several bodys, this one is pretty much all I can find at the moment. Long as the part that holds me is intact I'm fine and I can attach it to almost any robotic body. You see, what I long for more desperately than any thing is flesh. To breathe again, to have blood in my veins, to live again." Renewal" said Logan, "you want what we call renewal". Logan began to explain about life in the city of domes. It sounds wonderful except for the carousel part.
And no one falls in love? "No" said Logan except for me and Jessica I don't think any one ever has in the city. Probably altered your physiology slightly other wise it would have happened. You two are a fluke. They got something wrong. Well, my old partner from DS is pretty upset about it. I understand what you mean about it though. See, I can "renew" as you put it. Let me show you something. Cheval lead them into another room Two rectangular tanks sat on tables in the middle of the room filled with a kind of teal blue liquid, small hoses ran in and out along the sides of the tanks. I have power in here from an over unity device. Logan looked down at his utility belt. Same as our equipment.
See all I need is a small sample of human tissue and I can grow the rest. "Why are there two tanks?" said Rem. One for me and one for her. Cheval pointed at a dusty picture on the wall of a woman with short brown hair in a blue blazer like jacket. She was head of our department, but she died in the fall out. Fortunately I saved some good DNA from her. I intend to clone a copy. Logan looked at Cheval. This creature was mad. See, she ran in different circles than me. She would never have been with me because of the way she was enculturated , but I love her so much, I long for her still. In my memories, in my essence, I long for her. I will at least have a chance if I clone her with a little alteration, a personality trait enhanced here, removed there. Jessica felt sorrow for Cheval. So much grief had warped him, made him insane. Would they give him tissue? If they did he most surly would perform his twisted cloning experiment. "I would for once in my life like to see a real renewal Cheval. I don't condone what your doing with the girl but I'll donate some tissue, I have taken so much life, maybe it's my time to give it. Excellent! I only need to scrape a few cells off of your arm or hand. Cheval deposited the scraped cells into the vat and adjusted some controls on a panel near it. The vat glowed and some tinny bubbles hissed up from it. Cheval lay down on a table next to the vat and plugged a cable into his head. Wate about an hour said Cheval. Logan was in the other room loading a game onto his follower from Rem's memory. "Logan, Rem " said an unfamiliar voice, Logan turned to see a soaking wet young man standing in the door way wrapped in a plastic sheet. He took a deep breath, so good to breath again. Jessica! Come quick! Jessica scrambled down into the opening. What is it Logan? Renewal Jessica! Renewal! The young man smiled. I need to clean up. I'll get one of Logan's new uniforms out of the car. Cheval stepped out of a back room into the room outside the tank room clad in a brand new DS uniform. "Just like back in the city" Logan smiled, you need a belt and a blaster to complete the look though, they would demote you for appearing at HQ looking like that he laughed. Cheval ran his hands over his face and down his chest. Alive , I can feel that electric charge, that field or what ever it is. It's been so long. He took a deep breath and sneaked a peek at Jessica's curves, he had missed that to, missed it a lot.
Cheval approached Logan and embraced him than Jessica followed by Rem. I want to thank you all for, his voice choked and he wiped a tear with his left hand. Oh my, that hasn't happened in a while either ha ha. He laughed and hugged Rem again. If you will excuse me I will return to my Laboratory I have more work to do. Jessica sighed, we can't stop him from chasing his dreams. "No... we can't" Logan Rem and Jessica headed for the entrance. Runner! Frances stood amid the thick brush pointing his blaster at the three. You should have kept running Logan, you to green, and taken that thing with you! Jessica looked over her shoulder into the opening. What are you looking at? Someone in there? Did you find runners after all? Frances crept closer to the dark opening. Uuug! A hand literally yanked Frances off his feet. Frances hung in the hair his feet dangling. An attractive young woman with short downy brown hair wearing a black unitard stepped into the day light holding Frances in one hand and his blaster in the other. The woman from the picture, only she was a good 6 foot 10 or more. Cheval stepped out behind her and smiled sheepishly. I said a few modifications, might as well modify the way I like. "The other sand men won't be far away" said Rem. Maxine, put him down said Cheval. Maxine stripped off Frances's utility belt and tossed him on the ground. Get out of here, or I'll snap every bone in your body. Francis scrambled to his feet and ran over the rise to join his comrades. Maxine walked over to Cheval and put Frances's utility belt around his waist placing the blaster in it's holder. I like this business of being alive, seems your machine has downloaded an encyclopedia set worth of knowledge into my mind . As to the reason you created me, she laughed and shook her head,- we'll talk-, she stooped down and cupped Chevals chin in her fingers causing him to shiver slightly.
"Do you think Maxine really liked Cheval?" asked Logan. "Oh yes" replied Rem I scanned her brain waves heart rate hormone levels, just like Jessica when you two are together. Jessica, headed the Solar car toward the north end of the valley and accelerated. "Lets put some distance between us this time, shall we" said Jessica.