Article: 288545 of talk.bizarre From: "Nikolai Kingsley" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: watcher Date: Sun, 1 Dec 1996 00:57:48 +1100 Organization: anarchartists Lines: 129 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Recently I've been spending far too much time worrying about my memories. The recent ones are fine as they should be, mechanically fixed but my memories from before then, from when I was fully human, are patchy at best. I'll spend whole milliseconds trying to remember the first and fourth lines of that poem, lines two and three being: " And all through the house not a creature was stirring " the other lines hanging frustratingly out of reach. If I was off duty, I could drown this feeling out with music. Right now, I can't afford the distraction. I'm standing guard over her bed. If she woke up, she wouldn't see me unless she turned on the light, and even then to her I'd probably fade into the background with the rest of the furniture. I stand exactly one metre from the end of the bed, leaning forward slightly on my hooves, arms tilted back slightly to counterbalance. I've almost completely closed my facial armour-plates, so that a mere fraction of a millimetre of my visual sensor array (which gives off a red glow) is exposed; I am completely silent. I stand here and watch her sleep. But, if she did wake and see me she'd see two and a half metres of gleaming chromed metal, proportioned like a gorilla with two huge arms and no neck, thin section lines which indicate where my weaponry will emerge when required. And if the face-plates were retracted she'd see an undetailed curve of metal broken by two horizontal slots, like the top of an old pop-up toaster: the lower, an audio sensor (and speaker when required); the upper, my visual sensor array part of my fearsome tracking system which can acquire and track five hundred and twelve targets per second. From the roof of the building, I can see fleas on the household pets while they play in the garden at night. I can read the logos painted on the sides of satellites in orbit. I can see her form under the sheets, her body faintly glowing with the dimmed warmth of sleep. I can easily read her pulse from the way her eyelashes twitch. I can hear her slow, measured heartbeat, and I can tell what phase of sleep she's in from her breathing. I do this, even though it's not part of my function. Less than two percent of my attention is on the perimeter warning system (which is almost smart enough to be in business for itself); most of my attention is focussed on her. Although I no longer have enough of an endocrine system to appreciate it fully, she is beautiful. My memories aren't that far gone. I remember beauty. I allocate approximately forty percent of my processing power to viewing a recording I made of the second week after I started working here; the day when she'd overcome enough of her fear to approach me, talk to me, ask me what it's like being a few kilos of scattered nerve tissue hidden inside a huge metal shell. She was tactful enough to avoid asking me how I became this way, and instead admired my exterior, running her hands over my fireman's-helmet-polished shoulders, down the bulging casing of my upper arms; her tiny hand resting in mine, looking like a doll's hand in the grip of an industrial meat-tenderiser. She looked up at me, and I imagined, then, even as I do now, that I saw her pupils widen in appreciation of my strength. But that's all I imagined. Just as the recording ends, a perimeter alert sounds; not some animal testing the fences, either the system has made a positive identification. Silently, I back away from her bed, my hooves automatically finding spaces amongst the clutter of things on the floor porcelain figurines, her boots, fluffy stuffed toys, books through the door, which I seal before running down the corridor to the nearest subway access hatch, my footsteps thudding into the carpet. The access hatch is open before I reach it; I leap down into the tunnels below the house and make my full speed, leaning into corners as I accelerate towards the outside gate nearest to the attackers. It opens into a secure bunker some twenty metres behind where they are even now trying to disable the perimeter sensors. They are, technically, on our property. While they waste time trying to spot wall-mounted weapons, I approach them from behind; my tracking system outlines them, nine of them, in bright green on my visual display. I spend perhaps four seconds identifying the leader of the group before I pass the shapes of the others to a shoulder-mounted wire gun and let it silently shoot hair-thin sections of tungsten through their spinal cords. Casually, I walk forward as seven bodies fall to the ground; the leader and another (his second-in-command perhaps, who was wearing a ceramic collar) remain standing for a moment; then they whirl to face me. Mister ceramic collar has a fusion torch in his left hand the only portable weapon which could conceivably do me any degree of damage and my body reacts instantaneously, my hand darting forward to take his forearm in a crushing grip, the pressure increasing until I have severed his hand, bones popping like muffled polystyrene. He's about to scream; I determine that there's a chance he might wake up someone, so I release his hand, deal him a backhanded swipe which breaks his neck, catch the fusion torch with that hand and at the same time clamp my other hand around the neck of the leader. She's wearing a ceramic collar too; I take care not to crack it, which might send fragments into her throat, inadvertently killing her. I want to be able to take at least one of them alive. I lift her off the ground to minimise the amount of effective struggling she can do and regard my left hand balefully; it's coated in blood. Rotating at the elbow joint, I spin my lower arm as fast as possible, fast enough to centrifuge most of the liquid off. The rest I wipe on her charcoal-grey camo suit. Somewhat awkwardly, I walk back to the bunker with the feebly struggling woman held out at arm's length. Just before the hatch closes, she decides to start screaming hysterically. I gauge the strength of the ceramic collar and apply just enough force to crack it in two; the halves contracting against her throat, effectively silencing her. I lift her up towards my face, armour-plates clacking open, my red optic sensor bright in the unlit bunker; I intone with my most menacing cyborg voice: "If your noise wakes up any of my clients, I will be extremely pissed off. Right now, the only reason you're alive is because you can be relatively quiet. I suggest you contemplate the relationship between those two states, and keep in mind that you would naturally be a lot quieter if you were dead." I relaxed my grip to the point where she could breathe again, and apart from the choked gasping of her breath, she didn't make any noise after that. I dragged her down to the holding system, which anaesthetised her until the authorities could come to pick her up tomorrow morning; then I scrubbed the rest of the blood off my chassis and went back up to her room, silently stalking close to her bed, settling back into the position I'd previously held. The wire gun ticked a couple of times as the delivery aperture cooled, the sound causing her to half-wake. She sleepily muttered a few words and a name "Dorian" then she turned over to lie on her other side, stretched and went back to sleep. I watched her throat pulse under amplified-light-vision, then went back to a less detailed but more holistic consideration of her beautiful form under infra-red.