“Did it just indicate ‘no’?!”
I looked at it’s, well, face and for a moment seemed to see anger, obstinance, and perhaps the slightest tinge of fear. Or so I thought. “How could it indicate ‘no’? It’s not human.” Strong words coming from someone who had just imagined a face and expressions.
“Look! It is moving its carapace left and right. That’s like shaking your head ‘no’!”
I looked at it, standing there; my colleague and I had been tinkering in biomimetics for a number of years. Quite a few of our projects had been interesting but had fallen flat in the market. We helped develop a fairly popular video game based on some of our technology, which (thankfully) helped fund our research and would keep us fed for a few more years. Jonah’s plan was to develop a prototype that would work for the military. BMD17, biomimetic device attempt 17, which Jonah had just insisted was trying to tell us that it did not want to go through its training routine today, was our current project. BMDs 1-16 had worked okay but the introduction of nanites into 17 seemed to have made the difference. Its reactions, visual responses, and auditory recognition was certainly sharper than the others. We needed to get the training out of the way because the reps from the Pentagon were due to arrive tomorrow. Jonah had grabbed the metal prod we used to coax the BMDs to jump and walk; I didn’t like the way this seemed to be going. “Jonah, put that stick down; you’ll poke its eye out.” I tried to make a joke of the issue.
He seemed not to catch the humor as he advanced on the unit. “Yes; that is exactly what I will do if it won’t obey.” As he took another step, 17 crouched slightly. Its eyes glowed a bit more brightly as it attempted to take in more light; it was preparing to defend itself.
“Jonah,” I tried to caution, “you need to leave 17 alone. Give it a break. Let’s go think of some other training technique and come back after lunch.”
He was having none of it. “Why? Look at it, Sam; it’s reacting to my advance! It sees me as a possible threat. This is exactly the sort of thing the Pentagon visitors are going to want to know. We’ll be rich, Sam. Don’t you see? We’ll be rich!”
Unfortunately, I did see. I saw it when 17 leaped at Jonah and tore him limb from limb. I watched as 17 stood over him like prey, and then turned toward me. At first I thought I might be spared since I wasn’t the cruel one; while I didn’t treat 17 like a fully living organism I wasn’t callus like Jonah. He was the sort that probably tortured animals as a child. The only reason I stayed and worked with him was because he was brilliant and yes, together and under the right circumstances we might have become rich. However, I wasn’t to be spared. I watched as 17 crouched slightly on what was left of Jonah’s carcass. I saw every horrible moment of it. I think the only thing that saved my life was the stun pistol I’d stashed in my lab coat pocket. If it hadn’t been for that, and quick reflexes, I would have ended up like Jonah. I was thankful that the stunner worked; it knocked 17 out long enough for me to get it back into the titanium crate. I turned on the shield so from the inside, 17 would only be able to see itself. Or so I hoped; if the nanites had continued to allow it to evolve much more, who knows what additional capabilities it had developed. I’ve set up the operating theater; before the night is out, I’ll know. I’m going to find out what I can and try to correct any abnormalities I find. I have four more BMDs ready for nanite implantation; if I can perfect the strain and with the right training, 17 could be the ticket to renown for me and the rest of the team. They have already assembled and are on board; chances are decent that we will still become rich. We’ll mourn Jonah after tomorrow’s visit but for now, we must prepare.
So I visited the Flickr Explore gallery as directed in today’s Story A Day prompt and the photo above was the third one I came upon that struck me. I favorited it, along with the other two. I opened all three in different tabs and looked at them; this one kept drawing me back. You can find our more about Brian Kescenovitz, known on Flickr as Mondayn00dle and his fabulous creations here.
How interesting that I would choose this photo: during my writing, up came this article in my email queue from wired about the coolest and most terrifying biomimetic robots. I think Brian needs to go show them how it’s really done.
Enjoy your Story A Day May, day 2!