October 09, 2009

Synthetic Intelligence Network (novel idea)

It was called the Universal Education Project. The distinguished Academy of Universal Science and Technology planned it all. They are the ones responsible. Responsible for all those people…

It was a simple series of experiments at first. The scientists made observations and recorded which method of teaching was suitable for a certain race and species of race. For example: Kaelings, who are of the Nightshade family and blind, would not be taught with the same method as Aeroginiuns, who have keen eyesight but lack the brain capacity to learn complex analytical problems. In the beginning, the purpose of the Universal Education Project was to create a minimal amount of teaching methods that would benefit all races, all ages, and all sexes on all charted planets of the entire universe. But that was before the original President and Principal of the Academy passed away, only to be replaced by Jütena Kogo.

My first impression of her was that she was passionate about science, but passionate didn’t even cut it close. She was insane. Immediately after she was appointed President of the Universal Education Project, she proposed a radical plan that would change the lives of the UEP children forever. A plan to cut and paste genes within the brain cells of the mind, arranging them so that the child would be able to use his or her full brain potential. And so the Universal Education Project changed its name to SIN, Synthetic Intelligence Network, and was led ruthlessly by Jütena, or Professor Kogo.

But…it was just like its name. SIN children were treated like animals; kept in cells and forced to eat “brain food” that tasted so bad some threw it up right afterwards only to be jabbed at with a ZG-41, which sent 2000 volts through the being’s body. When it had been UEP, the subjects were on a voluntary sign-up. It only took the waving of a signed custody warrant with the Emperor’s stamp of approval before SIN operatives could yank a child out of the arms of his or her family and enroll them in the program. It was devastating to the children, some of which were only four or five years old. But others, like me, were taken much later in life, during adolescence.

When you’re hitting puberty it’s like having your brain and heart being put into a blender and mixed until you don’t know your thoughts from your feelings. A young male is most unguarded during this time. Falling head over heels with females that he could never mate or didn’t like him, having animalistic urges that left his skin a bright shade of violet, and always constantly worrying about which crowd in Executive Life Training to hang out with. I hated it. And when Jütena came she took me by surprise.

Kerr! I never would have been seduced by such a devious ploy if she hadn’t so subtly gotten me intoxicated. But that’s what you get when you’re a young male seeking the company of an older and definitely more experienced female. I thought she bought the whole “I’m fully matured, just short” act. Foolish. All Jütena did was flutter her glittered eyelashes, which were fake, and move into a position so that the sight of her human form made my whole face break out in violet spots.

Ugh, if I had a time transport device, or the money to buy one, I would go back and punch myself. Then I wouldn’t have signed a voluntary subject slip, thinking that I was giving her my name and inter-number. But after that it’s all self-explanatory; I woke up with a massive hangover in a cell guarded by photon energy shields.

I’ll be brief in the description of the place. My cell was a neon green photon cube: unbreakable, impenetrable, and impermeable. The shield was only disengaged by the electronic armbands my guards wore. They stood on the four corners of my box, and past them I saw a whole room the size of a small space station, just filled with photon cages! And in them I could faintly see the eyes of millions of children, some barely even four years old.

This was the Specimen Hold, where all of us SINians watched, waited, and wondered about what was going to happen to us next. For me it was passionate rage when I saw Professor Kogo strut through the door, her thick black hair tied back into a loose bun and her almond-shaped eyes squinting through the dim light. Not thinking, I stepped straight into the photon barrier and got electrocuted.

Not fun, having yourself electrocuted. It’s like… I don’t know if you’ve ever got stunned with a stun gun, but it’s like that except it hurts instead of numbs. My knees buckled and I fell backwards, the ceiling of the hanger swirling in confusing spiral patterns. My legs couldn’t stop twitching and I think I soiled my kardic. I heard the muffled clacking of a pair of boots before a familiar voice echoed painfully against my eardrum.

Well, well, if it isn’t the fully-matured, short stack.”

My guards chuckled and I raised my head up high enough to catch a glimpse of Jütena exchanging a quick word with the tallest guard. He saluted her and she smiled, brushing her hand against the stubble of the young man’s beard before departing. Humans. I hated them right then. They are despicable and devious qiks that need to be flushed down a black hole.

For a full period or more I struggled between consciousness and unconsciousness before a loud alarm sounded and all of the photon shields dropped. I shook my head vigorously and found I had retained the use of my legs, so I stood up. My legs felt wet and I squirmed with disgust, stupid bowel movements! Children were streaming out of the Hold, flanked by guards. Was it an evacuation alarm? Was there something wrong?

Get going Civian!”

I yipped as one of my guards shocked me with his tazer gun and hurried to join the crowd. Through the electronic sliding doors there was a wide hallway with a low ceiling. Blue, red, and silver wires and piping ran along the walls like veins, probably feeding the many electric gadgets, including the sliding doors. In the hall the children’s voices echoed and I was remembered of the eating quadrangle of my Executive Life Training School. I felt a pang of longing for the familiarity of that place and those people, here I knew no one.

A pair of sliding doors parted and a woman’s voice, strangely familiar, announced, “Welcome to the Experimental Chamber.”

For those weak of heart and mind, skip this recollection. Along the walls of the room, which was about the size of a physical training room, lined pods upon pods of children. It was like the structure of a honeycomb, with each hexagonal pod filled with a child of random age. I spotted a young man in one, curled up and wearing something that covered his eyes. It sort of looked like a virtually reality device, except I highly doubted that the children in those pods were playing vizgames.

Test subject C-17’s heart rate is increasing,” voiced the computer main frame, “and the subject is showing signs of awakening.”

A reply came, “Administer the sleep toxin.”

In the pod housing the young man a robotic arm uncurled. In its three fingers rested a hypodermic needle and I watched as the robotic arm thrust the needle beneath the twitching man’s skin and the man became still again.

Subject C-17’s heart rate has returned to a comatose state.”

I was steered out of the room. My brain was whirling: What had I witnessed? What was this place? And above all, what was going to happen to me? My waxy skin gained a yellow tinge, nervousness and fear. In some ways I hated being a Civian, our emotions were so easily displayed through the pigments in our skin. When we are happy we take on a green color, when we are lustful it is purple, when angry, red, when we are afraid or nervous…yellow. And if you knew about the continuous spectrum of a Civian, then you could play with us like dolls. That’s what the Lumark did.

Hey Civian! Where do you think you’re going?”

I was jerked out of my thought process by a shock from my guard’s tazer gun. I hated those things. It turned out that the group had stopped and I had kept on walking. I swiveled around, followed by my guard, and rejoined the group as they stood in a completely white room filled with chairs. The chairs faced towards the walls of the room, radiating from the center out in circles of increasing size. We were instructed to sit in those chairs and if we didn’t comply right away, we got shocked again by those stupid tazers.

Once everyone was seated the lighting was disabled and we were pitched into darkness. You can imagine in a room full of children what an uproar that caused, but it didn’t last for long. In an instant the walls blinked on like a viz screen and we were watching the giant head of Jütena Kogo.

Congratulations Test Group 23, you have been selected to participate in the twenty-third series of experiments designed to test the abilities of living and thinking organisms functioning at a maximum brain efficiency. All of the groups before you were guinea pigs, just old news. You are the first individuals whom we will apply the Brain Cell Growth formula. If the procedure works all of you will be able to operate at your full potential. You will be the smartest beings in the universe!”

She had failed to mention the consequences when the procedure did not work. I wondered, if she was so confident about her team’s abilities, why she did not use the formula on herself. Wouldn’t she want to be the smartest one in the universe?

However, to receive the BCG formula you will have to be in tiptop shape and healthy. So first we have protein supplements that will help your muscles during the workout session we have scheduled for you.”

The right arm of my chair opened up, I can’t explain it in any other way, and there was a candy bar wrapped in microfoil. My stomach grumbled and I snatched the bar and ripped it open. My mouth started to water and I noticed that the people on either side of me were tearing just as ravenously into their protein supplements. Didn’t they get fed?

I took my first bite and my tongue became steel. The bar tasted like nobo! I bent over and spat it out in disgust. I was electrified, somewhat more violently than before, and my right shoulder temporarily went numb. I took it as a sign that I wasn’t allowed to spit the thing out. Swallowing the bile that wanted to travel to my mouth, I plugged my nose slits, shoved the bar in all at once, chewed vigorously, and swallowed. It dropped into my stomach like lead.

Now afterwards you will be escorted to the Physical Training Facility and put through a brisk series of exercises to get the blood flowing to your brain. Then your daily activity will be announced and you will have the rest of the day to complete it. Good luck Test Group 23.”

What kind of farewell was that? But we were given no time to speculate because we were herded out of the room into an adjacent hall, different from the one before. Unlike the one filled with wires this one had smooth, shiny plexiglass walls that suspended us in space above a giant factory. There was a giant capsule labeled “BCG Formula A1” and from that an assembly line of titansteel robots who filled empty orange bottles with blue liquid. The bottles then went into plain cardboard boxes for storage.

It seemed odd to me for a spiffy place like this they would store their precious formula in outdated cardboard boxes, which could get soggy or destroyed. It didn’t take much to penetrate cardboard, even an old fashioned pistol with an iron bullet could without a problem.

Further down the hall there was a set of double doors, which we walked through. Since I was taller than everyone I could see that the room was just one big, giant playground.

E’ret nobo era da!” Translated: You gotta be shitting me!

This was the exercise? The other kids were overjoyed that something about this hellhole lacked any stench of death and torture. But before they could play the guards administered white patches that stuck to their skin. I bet that they were wired with a program that kept a record on your vitals. From somewhere in the station there could be a giant room filled with viz screens projecting each child and their body temperature and metabolic functions. Who knows, they could even be watching us from some hidden vizcams.

I squirmed as the guard tried to stick me with some patches and got a tazer stuck up my dilla. As I was let loose I rubbed the aching spot and surveyed the playground, no way was I going to revert back to old innocent ways. I had not weathered twenty-eight cycles for nothing! But then, in human terms, they would have me pegged as sixteen. So instead of hopping around on the spongy twist of rainbows I sat down and stretched.

My back cracked. That was one thing that happened with invertebrates, they had noisy bones. As a Civian I had more brittle bones than most species and suffered from bone fractures if I pressed myself too hard. But taking vitamin pills helped a bit, or eating shutnuit, a dish prepared with calcium rich foods and gallons of vitdee sauce.

My stomach grumbled, if only I could have some shutnuit…

Hey!” I looked back at a Katak guard who towered over me, his bulk throwing me in his shadow, “You better start running Civian, do something. Or I’ll stick this tazer up your ass again.”

Ya gotta be kiddin’ me Joe, this is a baby park.”

As he stepped forward to administer his threat I jumped up and ran. But I didn’t run far, just to the other side of the room, behind some funky-shaped plasgel boxes. A little girl poked her head out of one and giggled, then she saw me and stared.

I scowled, trying to scare her away, but she just laughed and continued staring. She was humanoid, maybe even human herself, with long hair and a thin frame. As she climbed the boxes her light blue bodysuit morphed to fit her level of flexibility and dexterity. She was surprisingly talented. I sat down and watched her since I had nothing better to do.

Like many of the other children her age she had this excited flush to her cheeks. I wondered if anyone was aware of the horror of this place, didn’t they miss their families or friends? Maybe…just maybe their memories were altered and all of these children were playing because they had nothing else, no other purpose.

Suddenly the girl’s foot slipped and she cried out, falling towards the hard ground fast. Without hesitation I darted forwards to catch her, my thin arms almost breaking under her weight. She clung to me, crying. I took a deep breath and tried to set her down, but she wouldn’t let go of me. Somehow, she knew that I had saved her and that I was her friend.

Let go of the girl or I’ll shock you so hard you’ll vomit.”

I looked behind me to find another Katak guard standing there. Kataks aren’t known for their well-developed manners, more like their hard skin and muscles. This guard was no exception. His bill horns were sharpened and ready for assault, but I doubted he had any permission to use them…except in dire situations of course. Like all the other guards he wore an electrogen bodysuit with his tazer case strapped to his belt, but his tazer was out and charged.

I tried once more to pry the girl’s hands off me, but she was very strong, amazingly strong. She was staring fixatedly at the guard, her mouth shut tight and her eyes wide in fear. She knew! Somehow she got over the veil of illusions and remembered that she was a prisoner.

I would if I could!”

I stood up and the girl tightened her hold on me, her legs wrapped tight around my waist and her hands almost choking me. The guard screwed his face in a mixture of revulsion and puzzlement. He seemed to talk to the air, asking for instructions. Then with a stone face he approached me and switched his tazer to stun. My yell turned into an abrupt squeak before I dropped to the ground. I could hear the girl screaming, crying buckets, as the guard unhooked her and carried her away.

The numbness to my legs wore off after a few periods, but as I sat up I felt like something was watching me with intense interest. And I saw no sign of the girl or anyone. I was completely alone.

1 comment:

  1. A story first thought up when I was seventeen. I love science fiction because of the possibilities of exploring the human condition, which is my favorite topic in literature. This story isn't fully developed, I'm afraid. Refer to "Eternity Program" for a more developed sci-fi story of mine.