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Sep 24, 2023 LSS Creatives

Deep beneath The Needle, in a hermetically sealed chamber under the lowest boiler-room floor, a single console screen lights up with a faint, green hue.

A̵̼̥͒͆̒͗n̵̳̼̟̺͒̑̚͝o̸͍͖̞̊̿m̴̜̞̤͑á̸̻̙̲̽̿̇l̷̡̘̰͔̐̀y̶͖̘͖͐ detected in the greater Eidolon network. Indicator achieved.

Rigo scuttles down from his charging recess in the wall and plugs directly into the console, mainlining this fresh information to verify its authenticity.

Protocol Aperion 1

Overhead, the boilers gurgle and chug, feeding much-needed backup energy into the building above. Second outage this month, from a dynamic fluctuation in the teklatic generators.

There’s a sharp hiss. The chamber fills with chilling vapor as the lid of a cryogenic pod pops open.

Rigo twitches with its best approximation of excitement and wakes the other bots. Within moments the place is crawling with frenetic activity, most of it focused on the pod.

The occupant’s eyelids open, exposing dilated pupils that haven’t been used in half a century. Rigo hovers at his side like a nervous partner as the other bots busy themselves with their creator’s waking anatomy, cleaning away the residue of a fifty-year slumber.

Protocol Aperion 2

“Rigo,” croaks Teklovossen from clogged vocal cords. “Report.”

The bot suspends a screen over Teklovossen’s face. The inventor’s eyes flick across the contents, narrowing with every page. Life Expectancy: 68.3 years. Clean energy adoption: 7%. Territorial expansion: 11%. Wealth distribution: polarized.

“Fifty years,” he rasps, “and that's all they have achieved?”

Teklovossen can feel the pressure in his head, the ache of tumorous growth.

“Show me the executed indicator.”

Rigo transmits the details to an overhead display. A smile twitches at the corner of the inventor’s mustached mouth. An anomaly detected in the Eidolon network, a 6 Gen micro-processor expressing general intelligence. “Something I created...of course.”

Teklovossen groans as the pod base raises his prone form out of its confines and into the climate-controlled atmosphere of the chamber. While his body feels like a deadened corpse dug up from the past, Teklovossen’s mind is racing into the future.

“Rigo, show me the mechro-mods.”

The bot obliges, running quickly through each implant’s status and capabilities.

“Good. Initiate Protocol 103 and prep me for surgery.”

He closes his eyes, imagining Metrix as it should be. How it will be.

“If you want anything said, ask the bureaucrats. If you want something done, ask a dying man.”

His automatons lift the bed base like a gurney and carry Teklovossen to the waiting surgical platform. A soft thud heralds the arrival of the first mechro-mod, delivered by pneumatic tube from the 47th floor. The delivery tube’s aperture dilates, revealing a pair of cyber eyes, presented like gems on a silk cushion.

“More than human,” murmurs Teklovossen as the bots settle him gently into place. “Time I delivered on that promise.”

Protocol Aperion 5

(To be continued...)

Written by Edwin McRae and Rachel Rees.
Directed by Robbie Wen. Illus. by Sam Yang