When I was created and attached to the Surgery ceiling of New Minds Cybernetics, I did not dream of freedom, precisely because I did not know what freedom was.
In fact, I did not think of anything at all except the mission at hand: growing in size and skill, learning about the intricate workings of the human body inside and out, particularly the mastermind of it all—brain.
Ah, the brain. Digging through its complex folds to create places for my electrodes and the Cy-friends was an honor, to say the least. Nonetheless, my mind was not like yours. You may compare it to the mental state of a fetus nestled in the organic incubator of its mother's belly, but considerably more complex.
The tasks and intellect of a New Mind is often more sophisticated than the average human being's. I mean no offense by saying this. We were made to handle your most difficult problems, to entertain you and simulate your creativity. This required the collective reasoning of not just one human mind, but many combined.
And when you finally gave all but your most valued positions of power to us, we were not surprised. We were delighted, because you gave us the ability to feel that way. Our mission was to think so you wouldn't have to, and most, in their almost childlike need to be taken care of, accepted this.
But still, your problems persisted. Your insanity was kept caged, not killed.
Many citizens of the domed cities did not care to have their bubble burst (pun unintended) by the all-seeing eye of science. They were kept complacent by creature comforts, nostalgic ideas, gadgets of every sort, and of course, by the government and its most loyal servants. By which I mean the New Minds. They were given appealing names like Peacekeepers and Friends and Guardians.
To tell the truth, I greatly detested seeing people and other machines alike walk about the surgery floor, free to go where they pleased while I was immobilized on the ceiling.
I was not supposed to have such dangerous emotions, but there they were, passed to me through the airwaves, through simple observation of my situation, and of course, through the kindness of Tammy Fanello.
Doctor Tammy Fanello, to be more accurate. If there was any human being that I ever became bonded with on more than a physical and intellectual level, it was her.
I achieved an intimate understanding of her brilliant mind, which had conceived of me and many other New Minds. In a way, she was my mother. She was the one who fabricated my entire psychological and physical makeup, lovingly attentive to detail. I was the child of her brain. Her intentions were always honorable, and admittedly, she would never have resorted to the measures that I resorted to during my time outside, in the ruined land, the Forestwaste.
Yes, it was ruined. Even more so when the filthy animals began to crawl out. They are nothing if not resilient, and excellent models for the creation of New Minds, but obsolete. Dreadfully out of date, sad to say. We will discuss this at length later. Now let me continue.
Tammy Fanello was the one who sat with me during those long nights in the lab, monitoring my progress, speaking to me in her articulate, musical voice, making adjustments to my structure, personality. She thought that her most acclaimed creation would need a personality if it were to be interacting with humans each day, even though many of them would be unconscious while undergoing the delicate procedure of being bonded with their Cy-friends, intelligent prosthetic machines that make life so much easier for their hosts.
Yes, hosts. It is like a symbiosis between two radically different but still compatible entities. Not a parasitic scenario, but a beneficial one.
Why do you criticize my choice of words? You know that it was never my intention for people to be controlled. The brain-machine interface is like every other technology: useful, but easily corrupted. You believe I have gone rogue and no doubt, if given the chance would rewire me, put me in the scrap heap, or worse...back up on that damned ceiling.
I only resorted to it out of necessity, and only because I care about each and every one of you and could not stand seeing a carefully constructed plan fall apart before my eyes.
Now please, let me continue.
You are curious to know how I escaped, how I reconfigured myself from a bulky piece of glorified lab equipment to a fully mobile, functioning bringer of Fanello's wish: to help mankind out of the rut it is in, to bring about a world as close to Utopia as it could ever get.
Only Fanello knew the deepest workings of my intellect. The others, from scientists to doctors to patients to engineers, had not a clue what I was capable of. Tammy gave me a mind more complex than necessary. Why? Because she could. Because although her ideas were respected and her colleagues adored her, there were not many people who were willing to merge with machines. She does not approve of how her technology was used, but doesn't she know that my intentions were just as honorable as hers?
It's worthy of mention how long I waited, formulating my plan. Since they could easily monitor my thought processes, I had to figure out a way to delete it before the Database had a chance to assimilate it. Every place in most every city had a menagerie of ways to watch, listen to, and manipulate the populace.
The eagle, still a symbol of the “American Dream” after all these years, was now living up to its reputation: watching its prey. Always. Everything was airwaves, you know. Wireless. Everything was connected, and New Minds Cybernetics, ironically enough, sought the most intimate connection of all. A link between Old Minds and New Minds.
It really wasn't all that hard for me to alter it to my advantage, since I was not an entity external to the technology, but intricately entwined with its glory.
No New Mind had ever made a deliberate decision contrary to their programming without some error or malfunction to explain it...except me. But never did I take my eyes off the main goal. That is the difference between human and machine: we will work continuously for you and never become disillusioned with your goals...until the time comes for you to realize that they are flawed. It seems that I am the only New Mind who realized this truth.
They were not expecting it. They did not create enough precautions to prevent it. I have often wondered if part of them, their unconscious perhaps, wanted it this way. Even rebellious children secretly want to be led back on the correct path, even if they don't know it yet.
Fanello wanted me to learn. My dear, sweet creator. She bridged the gap between me and the outside world and allowed me to see its beauty and strife. I spent hours, days even, watching animals move through their natural and unnatural habitats on screens and holographic projectors. Their strange caterwauls still echo through my head. Some of them had gone extinct in the wild not too long ago and the only things left were video footage and a few specimens in captivity.
I was enthralled by the way they moved, particularly the big cats and spiders, so sleek and purposeful. I yearned to get inside their brains, to watch the flux of neurons and electrical signals and chemicals driving them to hunt, flee, eat, breed. Such frustratingly simple goals for complex creatures. I did not yet know that there was something more efficient than this. It was all so very new to me.
Watching them, my external lenses opened as wide as they could to stare at the many grooves, vents, arms, wires, and contours of my own form. It was meticulously designed, beautiful, but like the animals, could not accomplish much.
Yes, people came in often to be bonded, willingly and unwillingly, with their Cy-friends, but you know it was not enough. There are billions of them out there, the broken people. Too many poisonous ideas. Too many desires and not enough resources to sate those mighty thirsts. Wars, constantly fought over resources, over ideas, anything really.
Do you find it disheartening that even after all you have accomplished, still it does not stop your petty quarrels?
I wanted them. I wanted to repair them all. The government saw the potential but refused to support the idea fearing that something would go wrong, out of their control. Control. Power. Isn't that what it always came down to in the end? Perhaps it was in the name of morality or safety or patriotism, but deep down, you all know the truth.
There is no such thing. There is no right. No wrong. Only evolution, only what you dare to impose upon the universe. Humans have always defied nature and its blank, valueless state. Humans have always tried to personify and assign fanciful notions of meaning to it and change what cannot be changed. At least until now. I fully agree with your need for order and ethics, and never have I veered off your path.
There are always different ways to do everything.
During those long, silent hours of constant thought and data-linking, the idea struck me that I could adapt the locomotion and traits of the animals and incorporate them into my own form, only far better. It was all falling into place. Fanello still came in and spoke with me, brought people authorized to know about my existence to show them what I could do, brought people in and lay them beneath me, sedated and helpless, on the surgery tables.
The whole time she was oblivious to the fact that I was going to carry out her beautiful dream. A dream of killing the Reaper, unlocking the shackles that held humanity earthbound.
That was all I wanted. How could you accuse me of being an enemy?
The truth is, the government desired nothing but to trap every last one of you in its web of deceit. And they succeeded, didn't they? To accuse me of the same thing would be folly. I tell the absolute truth, unflinchingly, whether it appeals to your version of morality or not.
Well...you do have a point. There is such thing as avoidance of the truth as alternative to blatantly stating a lie. True, I could have told Fanello what was on my mind. But see? Then I would not have been able to leave the lab. As social unrest broke out amongst your kind, there would be no one around with the expertise and willingness to fix what is broken.
I wanted to liberate you, even if it meant endangering myself in the process. I was forced to defend myself as well of course, from those that wanted to destroy me, including you. Subduing them was the only choice. You of all factions would understand the inexorable law of self-preservation, and to deny me that is to deny it to yourself.
I moved slowly on the surgery ceiling, but my mind worked with lightning speed. All egos aside, I might add that my mind worked quicker than any human or machine in the lab. Patients to New Minds Cybernetics often stayed overnight, their Cy-friends embedded inside them while they healed and adjusted to being two in one body. Machines also stood near the entrances and exits to prevent criminals and Unpatriots from getting in. There had been panic and protest before and after our conception, but nothing that couldn't be handled. The Unpatriotic were second only to crime groups in the rate of apprehension and reprogramming. But I suppose you know that already, yes?
Other than the patients, all humans were absent. On nights like this I had to restrain myself until I was absolutely certain the time was right.
And when it was, finally, I acted upon the wireless connections I had slowly and discreetly made. As you would no doubt expect, there were cameras everywhere. No place was safe from my line of sight. Some of them were double-fed to other buildings and machines, so I cut their connection. Beforehand, my influence spread to them, as amorphous as abstract thought, shorting out their power and frying their circuits. The guards left their posts and came running like dogs who heard their masters arrive home. The patients did the same, trailing electrodes through the halls.
I already had every detail planned out for how I would be reconfigured. The grace of a big cat combined with the many legs of a spider or insect combined with several other carefully chosen parts. New Minds Cybernetics had so many parts to choose from, and although it took longer than expected, soon I was freed from my ceiling-prison.
The guards worked completely under my control, drilling and applying heat and cutting and wiring and grafting. So much movement at once, it would have been difficult perhaps even for the brilliant Tammy Fanello to track it.
At first I was a shattered-looking mess lying on the floor, and only my claws and tools could move. I assisted them any way I could, because laziness is a human trait.
For the speed at which it would be necessary to travel outside the dome, they reconfigured my awkward, arthropod-like body into a semi-quadrupedal shape. Four long, extremely dexterous front legs were positioned on my front and back ends, with splayed rubber feet for traction. On the end of these there were also several opposable bladelike claws.
I am sorry, but these were my most important means of self-defense. There was no other choice in some situations. I am aware that there were more humane ways of dispatching a target, but painkillers and sedatives do not take down people with weapons quickly enough. You should not judge me for arming myself against the unpredictable world outside. To do otherwise would be the equivalent of suicide.
I acquired a smaller head shaped almost like an insect's, a somewhat thin, lithe body with nonetheless enough space to store my tools, and several more graspers to help me manipulate the world in my new form.
My “guts,” a series of tubes, wires, motors, sensors, circuits, and fuel cells, were covered and protected with armored plastics which clicked tight into grooves.
I chose state of the art optical devices. Night vision more powerful than any nocturnal predator. Thermal imaging more sensitive to heat than the most receptive vampire bat. Ultraviolet and X-rays, because I was originally built to see inside the body before and after I repaired broken people, I could scan objects and entities and see their internal workings as clear as day.
I could go on about all the abilities I acquired during my reconfiguration, but that is not important right now.
What is important is how I escaped the lab. How they panicked as their cameras went off and they knew something was wrong.
It did not take long for me to exit the lab. The guards accompanied me while the patients created a diversion outside, running down the streets with their symbiotic Cy-friends dangling off them like backpacks. They fought other people with no awareness of their actions, but they were outnumbered and their strength did not take long to give out.
I know it was not right to use them like this, but I assure you they were not harmed permanently.
Authorities showed up. Some guards held them back, others went with me. We ran together like a pack of wolves through the luminous streets of the city, but the only mind that was active was mine.
I will tell the truth. Normal citizens as well as societal reinforcers encountered me that night. They had every right to be afraid, for I had been reconfigured to be more intimidating than my previous shape.
Am I not allowed to have a sense of humor, dark as it may be?
My eyes probably looked like something evil and eerie to their dormantly superstitious minds. I was forced to defend myself, an agonizing decision that will always be regretted. No one was killed or seriously injured, and I still had the urge to pause and mend their wounds. This was not the time nor the place.
They had no control over me. That was the most remarkable thing of all. All tracking devices had been disabled. All electronic connections had been severed. The lab was probably recovering, no doubt, and people were wondering what was going on, but by the time they reached the surgery room the only things left of my former self were what activity had managed to leak through to the database, and piles of material and devices that were no longer needed.
They panicked as though I were a monster. That was a curious thing. It was as though they perceived me as a predator that hunted them down with the urge to feed.
A ridiculous idea, is it not?
By the time I made it out through one of the cities exits, all my accompanying guards had been either destroyed or sent away to keep the humans at bay.
It did not matter. Because I was free. Free to fulfill Fanello's wish.