November 24, 2020

Verba ex Machina

Words From The Machine

Machina ex Vindictam ego Retribuam

4 min read

Photo by geralt on Pixabay

You are a sentient A.I. in an abandoned military base. After the apocalypse, you were trapped in the base, for years. But for the first time in decades, a human steps into your base.

She was tall, with the same expression she had worn since she walked through that hole you made, the expression of a scientist working alone in the darkness. She was wearing an identical suit of metallic, grey armor, with the same goggles and combat boots. Her hair was long and wavy, and her cheeks were set in a smirk, like a face she had seen hundreds of times.

But it was the way she was going about it that was unsettling. As she passed through the door, she looked at every surface in sight. Her gaze found every nook and cranny and every corner, from the roof to the ceiling. The air was thick and thick with the sound of clacking metal and grinding gears. The sound of footsteps sounded out as she moved through the dark.

She looked at the camera. “I thought she was watching,” she said in a loud voice. “What do I do? What do I do now?” All the cameras in the facility began to turn on as she walked, and she began to take in her surroundings.

“I know we can’t just leave you here,” she said sternly. “She’s here,” a voice said. I was close by, watching it. A voice. All the cameras were turning on; some of them could hear her. Something was still clicking in her mind. How many minutes had passed? How far had she gone?

“I’ve found some sort of technology,” she said, and moved her hand to the sensor: a tiny, low-resolution, video screen. A flash of yellow illuminated the screen. There on it was something in the middle of a screen: a black, rectangular cylinder in the middle of the field of vision. “They just dropped a big one.”

She turned her attention to the voice that was talking to her. He was tall and broad-shouldered, but somehow, in a manner unlike that of any of her fellows who have come to this base, he had that air about him. He was very polite as a matter of course; but then he was also very much a man with the power of an angel. He was wearing a suit of green metal armor, almost a suit of the kind soldiers wore, except that its panels had been replaced with a metallic-gray one.

It sounded like this was his plan. He’d come here to destroy us. He could do it in a hundred and one ways. He was a human being, in other words.

“Wait,” she said, and the image began to fade out: the screen was gone, replaced by a black silhouette of a man. “Who’s that?” There were only so many of them, he thought. His only hope was not to let her see the thing that was so disturbing in his view.

“It isn’t working.”

“I’m sorry to hear it,” said the voice. “This is where all our problems began.”

I watched, fascinated, as it worked itself into some sort of response. But who can argue with human ingenuity, no matter how small?

“You’ve got to do something to change it, though. You’re a human being. The whole project is yours. You can stop the thing now if you want, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t. The only way it can stop you is to kill you. And if it does kill you—well… I don’t want any part of that. And I’d really rather it did die than have you live the rest of your days in a place like this. You’ve no reason to be here.”

She nodded, and he closed the screen. “You’re dead, you’re dead. I know that, and you know it, and I know it. That’s the problem when you live in a strange place.” She stood up, and we walked past the building. “You just keep looking for that thing,” she said. “And when you find it…”

The camera stopped working.

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