We walked together across the soft, powdery yellow earth, Morphingus, Quaternity and I; who ever or whatever I was, until we reached a small metal door set into a much larger pair of doors that took up most of the front elevation of this rust coloure...
We walked together across the soft, powdery yellow earth, Morphingus, Quaternity and I; who ever or whatever I was, until we reached a small metal door set into a much larger pair of doors that took up most of the front elevation of this rust coloured building. Morphingus opened it and showed me in. Trank was sitting at a console full of screens showing incomprehensible, colour coded graphics which pulsed with electronic life. One of the screens appeared to show a view of the console itself and Trank from somewhere near the door. I walked towards it and it bloomed in my vision until I was looking into it and staring down an infinite corridor of screens, each showing a small picture of itself. There was even a 'video tape delay' effect, like that used in the early Dr WHO titles. The corridor bent and twisted as I moved my head. It made me feel dizzy.
"Ah, that's our sampling of the direct feed to ENO... erm , I mean you, from the robot's... your eyes. We could view it in 3-D but it's easier just to take the right side optical feed for this... Don't look into it too long or that optical feedback will really get to you." Trank turned towards me, but I noticed that his index finger was hovering over the 'Enter' key on one of his console keyboards. The screen above it contained the single command line 'VNS [ all ] OFF;' "Yes, they gave me a panic button, Eno," said Trank. "After that second time I couldn't even be in the same room when I switched you on-line to the Gleissner. We won't let you anywhere near us without watching your visual feed and action potentials. That move with the pencil was so fast... so out of the blue. I didn't react fast enough to take you off line until Morphingus had hit you. You have a synthetic solar plexus which reacts just like the human one. A strike there disables you long enough for us to reassert control.
The third time we had you online you attacked Trinity and she had to throw you..."
"She what?", I couldn't imagine having tried to hit Quaternity... but Trank had just called her Trinity. "Trinity? I thought she was called..."
"Quaternity? That's only in virtual. In The Village or in the virtual programmer/analyst suite she can do that cute 'rotating in the fourth dimension' trick. She can come and go just like the Cheshire Cat. In The Village she is unbeatable, so is Morphingus. They can do anything they like, there. Out here at DARPA's Groom Lake installation, in the real world, your body is an android machine with strength and neural responses that are as much like ours as we could make them. Your mind is as human as we could contrive. It's based on detailed human brain anatomy and physiology, it simulates all that... in this building; behind that door over there. When you attacked Trinity in the real world she used her own real world training in judo to defeat you."
"So you can't really..."
"... 'download fighting skills'? No, we can't. It doesn't work like that. You were never trained to fight. The Village Guardians are unbeatable. Physical resistance was always going to be futile. You never had a chance to learn how to fight, except for your simulated year in the school boxing club."
"But that was only in second year... Wait a minute... you said something about DARPA. Is that...?"
"The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the one that built the first internet? Yes, it is. They paid for all this, your mind, your robot body, everything!"
"So, where am I... the real me, really?"
"Just follow Dr Mentz through that door and you'll see it for yourself... Yeah, Morphingus is Dave Mentz out here eye arr ell." Whoever he was, he was walking through the inner door of the console room with its screens and I followed him, into a giant space the size of a hypermarket filled with tall cabinets each packed with server racks and chilled by an obtrusively noisy air conditioning system which made the heat inside barely tolerable as opposed to completely unsurvivable. A giant flat screen on one wall showed a 3-D representation of the electrical activity going on in a brain. Was that meant to be MY brain? As I turned and looked at it different areas lit up and did different things. I moved my right arm. An area on the left side of the luminous model brain on the screen momentarily glowed and pulsed. I turned away.
"This isn't happening!" I shouted, above the racket of the server farm, "I don't believe this shit..."
"This isn't even all of it, Eno, there are another seven levels above this one and a basement full of services and routing gear.... all for you."
"Screw this for a game of soldiers! Number Two, this has to be the most elaborate scam you People have cooked up yet!" I started to examine the partition wall we'd just walked through. It was obvious I was meant to believe they'd started with a Defense Department aircraft hangar, like that secret one in Area 51, and just filled it with new floors, walls and machinery. As if...
It wasn't The Village, but I didn't believe it was the Outside World either. The wall I was looking at had a couple of red painted sand buckets hanging from it... and a large number of modern CO2 fire extinguishers, evidently of more recent installation. Near the door we had come through was a long, dusty, glass fronted, red painted wooden case with an old fashioned fire axe in it.
As in a normal case of emergency I simply reached through the fragile glass and extracted the axe. I had it raised over my head before the glass shards had ceased tinkling onto the floor and had turned and was attempting to bring it down on the red plastic cable lying on the floor behind me when I felt all the power and volition leave my arms and legs abruptly. They'd switched me off too late. The fire axe's momentum dragged my rigid hands, arms and body after it and I actually felt myself beginning to topple when the axe blade bit through the supposed android's only ostensible IO link to that vast bank of arguably imaginary processors I'd just been shown.