Article: 288545 of talk.bizarre
From: "Nikolai Kingsley" <>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: watcher
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 1996 00:57:48 +1100
Organization: anarchartists
Lines: 129
Message-ID: <01bbdec6.785be5c0$>

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

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

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.