adrianwphilp

The New Stars: Fourth Part

In Fiction, Short Stories on 2013/09/05 at 13:40

Start with Part 1

 

The space elevator rose into the sky, a thin black line against the colours of the setting sun, casting a long shadow towards the opposite horizon. M was looking into the north, at the peak of a distant mountain. She used her telescopic attachment to examine it in great detail, the thin atmosphere of the planet making the view quite clear. The rock was bare and gray, but flashes of some crystalline deposits flickered in the falling light.

The wind howled over the small crest she was standing on with a crowd of other curious robots and down onto the plain that spread out to the southwest below them, spotted as was much of the planet with neat stacks of various raw materials mined from the surrounding area. Between them and the base of the elevator cable a second, smaller group of robots was waiting, looking in the direction of the dark line, standing just out of its shadow.

“Look! I see something!” A young, spindly robot standing next to M suddenly shouted.

“It’s the door. They’ve reached the bottom.” An enormous square robot with a bulldozer attachment added from near the back of the group.

M turned away from the lonely peak and looked at the faces of the robots around her. All that were capable of expression bore similar looks; excitement, wonder, and a hint of suppressed fear. They had all been assured, of course, that the visitors from the new stars must surely have peaceful intentions. They obviously came from very far away, and what kind of civilization advanced enough to make such an endeavor could possibly still be so low as to be vicious? Still, if there had been any friendly, or even intelligible signals from the visitors, no one had bothered to inform the public.

This silence led to all manner of theories and fantasy spreading like wildfire in the few weeks it took the ships to reach orbit around the planet after completing their braking maneuver and entering the system.The small group out on the plain, who had been selected to greet the visitors once their intentions of docking at one of the space elevators became clear, had been tight-lipped when they had passed by the look-out point where the curious crowd was gathered.

“Can anyone see anything?”

“No, it’s still too far away, but there is definitely something coming out of the elevator.”

“Look, the welcoming party is moving forward.”

“I heard they might be biotic. Their ships are heavily shielded.”

“That’s ridiculous, biotic evolution could never produce intelligence.”

“I heard they could be a banished tribe of robots from the ancient times, returning to reclaim their ancestral lands.”

“They’re angels, come to implement the divine program.”

“They’re giants! One big giant robot inside each of those ships!”

“They’re not giants, we can see whatever it is, is no giant from here.”

“I can’t see anything!”

“Hey! You! You there! Is that a telescopic attachment you’ve got?”

“Hmm?” M realized the robot she’d been watching was addressing her.

“I said, is that a telescope on your face?”

“Oh. Yes in fact it is.” M turned away from her companions and focused on the base of the elevator.

“Well, can you see anything?”

“No…wait…yes. I can see it.”

“See what? Tell us!”

“The visitor. There’s only one.” M answered.

“What is it? Does it look biotic?”

“Does it look dangerous?”

“It looks about standard height. I can’t really tell until it gets closer to the others. It looks like a robot to me. Two arms, two legs, antennae. It’s got a big round head with one large eye. I can’t see any weapons.”

M continued to describe what she saw as the others stood in silence, waiting for something to happen. The second group of robots finally came to within a few meters of the visitor, who trudged confidently forward on thick legs, making no show of hostility or signal of any kind. A very distinguished young robot near the front of the group stepped out in front and made a gesture of greeting to the visitor but then seemed to freeze in place, before turning away and walking back towards the first group, waving his arms.

“I think… I think he wants us to come over there.” M told the others.

“What?”

“Why?”

“I’m not going”

“I’m going.”

Other robots in the second group were now joining in the waving, clearly intending that the first group should join them. M stepped forward and walked part of the way there before the others followed, some of the larger model robots kicking up a plume of dust behind them. As they approached the only sound was the sand and rock crunching beneath their feet and tires and treads.

The stranger stepped forward and raised his hand to his face, a light appeared within his one giant eye and behind their own reflection in the glass the robots saw the face of a strange yet somehow familiar creature.

The creature inside began to speak; “I want all of the construction units here to start working on a road directly from the elevator to the nearest transportation hub in this area. The rest of you will take me to the closest command center.”

M was astonished at these commanding words, spoken as they were in such a casual, almost bored tone. She was even more astonished when the entire group of robots immediately started to obey.

The robots saw the face of a strange yet somehow familiar creature.

She stood frozen in place as the group dispersed around her. The visitor started to follow the high ranking group of robots, walking for a moment before stepping up onto a robot’s back.

“What are you? What do you want from us? What’s going on?” M shouted.

The visitor hopped off of the robot’s back and turned towards M, seeming surprised that she would address him. They faced each other for a moment, and as they gazed into each others eyes the sun finally dipped below the horizon and night began.

“Are you a biote? Can you not survive in this atmosphere? Why are you here? Is that robot you’re living inside of keeping you alive? What’s going on?”

“Stop.”

The robots all stopped and turned toward the visitor.

“This unit is defective. Deactivate it and bring it with us to be repaired.”

Several robots started towards her, but M turned to the north and ran.

 

Part 5

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