Fiction Fragment Friday
No real news this week. It is a busy time as the holidays get closer. Always so much to do and not enough time.
“I should warn you this might feel a little strange.” Professor Danchiev was leaning forward over her desk to speak into the microphone. She was surrounded by computer monitors all displaying different datasets. On the wall in front of her five TV screens were mounted on the wall. Each was displaying the same set of data, but for a different individual.
“A little strange? Our minds are synced up with these giant robots. I’m seeing, hearing, and feeling through my own senses and it’s simultaneously. It’s already strange.”
“I understand that unit red one, but I’m just warning you that”
“Steve Sanderson. My name is Steve Sanderson. The robot is red one. I’m a person not a nameless pilot for you to experiment with.”
“Ok, Mr. Sanderson then. I am warning you that any amount of disorientation you are currently experiencing is likely to increase exponentially. Now please keep your outbursts to yourself or I will have you removed from this project. Test subjects are a dime a dozen and I prefer not to get attached because the turnover rate is rather high.”
This time it was green two who spoke up. “Have you ever thought that maybe your lack of empathy could be why you have such high turnover?”
“My soft skills are irrelevant to this project. The turnover rate is due to fatalities.” She frantically typed on her computer taking control away from the pilots and running the combination sequence program. “Now don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Professor Danchiev turned off the sound from the pilots. Since this was her third attempt, she knew what she would hear. Screaming and panicking coming from the speakers. The first attempt she allowed the pilots to retain control. That was a huge mistake. The process failed and she lost two of her pilots from the impact. On the second attempt she tried to cut the sync during th process. This turned out worse as all pilots came out of the experiment with their minds completely shattered. For this test they would be fully aware of the entire experience, but the computer would take over piloting during the combination sequence. It required precision movements that the pilots just were not capable of doing at this point.
The external video feed was displaying on a large monitor to her right. She could see the robots coming together. The twisted and bent into new shapes that fit into connectors. When the sequence was completed one large robot more than the sum of its parts stood in the field. It towered over all the buildings on the complex. She reached over and hit the button to unmute the pilots.
“Please describe what you are experiencing.”
“I am trapped with no control of my own body.”
She looked over the data coming in. The pilot’s bodies were stressed, but not to a dangerous level. Their brain waves were showing a full sync with their robots. She could not figure out which one had spoken though. The voice sounded mechanical and came from all the speakers creating a bit of an echo. She hit a few more buttons and ran her custom script. “I am giving you back control of the robots. May I ask who is speaking?”
She watched as the now combined robot looked down at its hand and flexed it. “I don’t have a name and yet I have five names that I feel are mine.” It took a few cautious steps forward. “I have five sets of memories and also a large database of information.”
“Are you saying you are a new mind made up of the five individual test pilots?”
“Yes, and also no. I am the five, but more. I am also the on-board computer system. Some of the minds are stronger than others. It is not an equal blend of minds, but there are not individual thoughts either.”
“This is a fascinating development. None of my theories predicted anything like this.” She began frantically typing notes. “The connection seems to be completely stable. I’m going to start the disconnection process now.”
“Wait what happens to me when I’m reduced to my parts?”
“I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.” Professor Danchiev was smiling for the first time in weeks. Her mind was filled with questions, theories, and future experimenter. She removed the pilot’s control over the robot again and triggered the script to return them to five smaller robots. When she hit the execute command the speakers were filled with screaming.
“What are you doing? It hurts. We are being torn apart.” The TV screen displays all started flashing red as blood-pressure, pulse, and respiration all spiked into critical states. On the external display feed the robot split into it’s five smaller robot components. The speakers went silent.
Professor Danchiev picked up her phone and dialed a well memorized number. “I’m going to need five more test pilots. I’ve got about a weeks’ worth of data to examine so you have a bit of time. Also please take care of disposing of the bodies and cleaning out the cockpits.” She hung up the phone and started downloading the data to her laptop. She was still smiling and could not hide her excitement. She had new test plans to put together, data to analyze, and a brand-new branch of science to define. She shut of the monitors for the dead pilots. She thought to herself that it was a good day, and she deserved a steak dinner. As she shut down the lab and headed out, she caught herself whistling.