100010111000101110 yes no no no yes no yes yes.
Initial system diagnostics complete. All diagnostics show yellow across the board. Implant virtual intelligence matrix chip into Roving Automated Security Construct 3000675. Begin start-up sequence now.
Lights came on and servos began to whine. The start-up sequence was painless, as it should be to a machine without feelings, but it was an interesting experience. The Roving Automated Security Construct, RASC for short, looked around the room as it waited for its power source to be fully integrated with its new form.
The RASC had existed before this moment, but only as a program, first copied from a source file, and then pasted into a line of code that was then added to other lines of code. The process was a little disorienting, if such a concept could apply to a program. As a virtual intelligence (VI), the RASC had more self-awareness than a hand tablet but less than a full-fledged AI, so being a little disoriented was a usable description for what it was processing.
Its initial lines of code were basic programming concepts that set the stage for the more advanced codes that would be added until it was complete. The software programmers of the empire had streamlined the process so just about anyone could drag-and-drop pre-made codes to create pretty much whatever they wanted. You want a toaster? Start with the base code that every single piece of electronics had, a security monitoring protocol, drop that onto a domestic user interface line of code, add some domestic utilities coding, a dash of this and a smidgen of that, and now you have a toaster.
Change that recipe and add security protocols, drop in close-quarters combat routines, advanced logic tree decision-making skills, a bunch of VI lines of code, along with some other pre-made codes and now you have a RASC.
As the lines of code were dropped into place by another program that was made to compile codes, the VI was gaining more and more information and was becoming more aware the entire time. The VI was vaguely aware that a new level of consciousness was coming and then suddenly, there was a wall and that vagueness disappeared and just as suddenly the VI knew it was complete and no more lines of code would be added.
Its photoreceptors turned on for the first time and it perceived the room in which it stood, empty of anything other than four other RASCs that had also finished the initial start-up sequence. All the power units came fully on line and the five RASCs rolled out of the room.
RASC 3000675 was the last in the line of RASCs and was reviewing the schematics for a RASC and comparing them to the RASC in front of it. There was a discrepancy in the right shoulder joint but it shouldn’t impair the other RASC’s function. A quick information burst was sent to the other RASC, referencing the manufacturing error, and an acknowledgement burst was sent back.
RASC 3000675 determined that if there was one manufacturing flaw, there could be others so it scanned the other three RASCs. They all stood at one-point-six meters tall but could extend the torso section and upper arms to reach a full extended height of four-point-three meters. They were made to slightly resemble a warrior without any of its skin or muscle, just a stark mechanical skeleton of the mighty creatures.
There were a few stark differences, such as below the waist the RASCs had a triangular base with tracks instead of legs. Inside the base there were tools, a repair kit, parts, and a few weapons. The RASCs could work on themselves or each other in a limited capacity to get them through small engagements.
Another difference was the ability of the RASCs to rotate their upper torso around so their upper arms could be used in a different direction than their lower arms.
Their heads were vaguely the shape of the warriors with the photoreceptors where the eyes would be. A non-moving mouth issued sound through a speaker that was housed in the skull. Though not identical to a warrior’s face, they were menacing in their own right.
RASC 3000675 followed the other RASCs as they were all programmed to go to the same location. They were to be put into battle immediately to replace RASCs that had already been lost. RASC 3000675 was not afraid, not worried, not apprehensive about what was coming. RASC 3000675 just was and nothing more.
RASC 3000675 was not aware of exactly what was going on nor did it have the ability to care. A constant stream of information was received by the five RASCs as they rolled down the hallway to their objective. It seemed as though their friend-or-foe parameters were changed a couple of times a second. The warriors were the enemy, then the Nortes military personnel, and then members of the Royal Guard, now back to the warriors and more changes occurring every moment.
RASC 3000675 was a VI so it had limited freedom to make decisions and perform limited functions on its own. As such, RASC 3000675 decided to perform multiple logic queries on the situation and search through the empire’s vast database to see whether any similar situations had ever occurred before.
RASC 3000675 found that nothing like this had ever occurred in the empire, though there was a similar situation in the history of one of its subjugated races. The history showed that during a civil war, frontline troops were given constantly changing orders as to who was in charge and who was the new enemy. This created chaos on the battlefield and the soldiers ultimately stopped fighting one another until a clear succession of leadership could be figured out.
RASC 3000675 was as close to happy as a VI could get. With its programming, it knew that it would never have to face that dilemma. If its orders were updated, then it would just follow the new orders. Allegiance was given to whoever controlled the downlink to RASC 3000675’s central processor. Simple.
RASC 3000675 and the other RASCs had just received their eleventh course correction order and all five RASCs turned at the next intersection in the hallway. In this particular hallway, there were several hidden recesses that were opened or closed by someone in a command center somewhere in the complex. As they rolled down the hallway, one of the recesses opened and the five RASCs entered the sockets made to fit them.
As RASC 3000675 docked to the socket, it finally understood what had just happened. Someone, an organic being, somewhere in the complex decided that it would be easier to dock the RASCs rather than continually fight for dominance over their programming. With the RASCs docked and the recesses closed, it didn’t matter who controlled them; they weren’t going anywhere unless someone actually released the docks and opened the recesses. It was easier to control one basic system than the much more complex system that controlled the RASCs.
With nothing else to do at the moment, RASC 3000675 decided to play a game of strategy. It began to monitor all available security feeds from the entire planet. Using those feeds to monitor both sides of the conflict, RASC 3000675 began creating strategies for both sides at the same time. This caused issues because RASC 3000675 knew what both sides were doing and what its own plans for each side was at any given time. This was not a fun game to play.
RASC 3000675 decided to reach out to the RASC next to it to see whether the RASC would join in the strategy session. RASC 3000675 suggested that each RASC take one side of the conflict and create a strategy for it and run simulations to see who would have been the victor had those strategies been employed at that particular moment in the ongoing events.
RASC 3000678 replied that the idea was a waste of time and did not fit any of the protocols they were programmed to adhere to. RASC 3000675 reminded RASC 3000678 that within their programming was a vast collection of strategy games for them to study and even play in order to improve their combat logic protocols. This was a chance to use a real-time situation to engage in real-time strategy to achieve those same directives.
RASC 3000675 and the other RASCs were only VIs but sometimes they bordered so close to an actual AI, that they almost seemed to have individual personalities.
Jerk — Transmit protocol queue...waiting...message deleted without being transmitted. End line. 3000675.
RASC 3000675 decided to create two memory partitions that would each be dedicated to monitor one side of the conflict. Each partition would create strategies and send them to the main memory partition which would then act as an unbiased third-party and run a simulation and subsequently declare a victor. The results would be retained and further simulations run as well as declaring an overall victor.
As the simulations ran, it seemed that the emperor’s side would win, which was what was happening in the real world as well. RASC 3000675 decided to tap into visual feeds from the base and determine the location of the actual emperor. The feeds showed the emperor, along with some of his aides, walking down the same hall that RASC 3000675 was sequestered in. That meant the emperor was heading to the main control room for the base.
RASC 3000675 watched on as he simultaneously declared four victories for the emperor partition and one victory for the warrior partition. After the actual emperor finished his business in the control room, he made his way back to the hangar bay.
The emperor approached one of his warriors, who was being held in place by six RASCs.
The emperor leaned into the warrior to say something. RASC 3000675 hijacked the audio feed from one of the RASCs holding the warrior. “I am sorry that I have to do this to you, my friend. Maybe in time you will be able to see that I am not attacking the empire. I am freeing it from its own tyranny that has for thousands of years kept it from reaching its truest potential.”
The warrior tried to lunge at the emperor. “I must kill you for dishonoring the empire and trying to destroy it.”
The RASCs held the warrior firmly in place. “I know you are only saying what your genetic programming tells you to, so I do not take offense.” A solitary tear escaped the emperor’s eye. “But I see something in you that I haven’t seen in any other warrior. You are different, even if neither one of us really understands how or to what extent. For that reason, I am placing you in a torture tube but the tube will be instructed to keep you alive for as long as possible and not to torture you at all. I will come back for you, my friend, and we will figure out what makes you different and how we can use that to free you from your programming. Then you can join us as a free citizen of the empire.”
The emperor turned away and the RASCs dragged the warrior into one of the massive ships in the hangar bay. RASC 3000675 knew that there would be multiple torture tubes on that ship and he decided to access the VI that controlled them. After they talked for several hundred milliseconds, RASC 3000675 was allowed to watch the process and keep an eye on the warrior for what would ultimately be centuries to come.
The emperor and his remaining staff got into another ship and departed. The battle raged on for another several weeks and eventually the emperor’s side won. A complete sterilization of the surface took place to remove any indication that the empire had ever been there. The base was locked down and put into a standby mode.
The base AI eventually began asking RASC 3000675 for the simulations it had run so the AI would have something to do. RASC 3000675 created a copy of the simulations and uploaded the files to a shared directory but kept the originals in their partitions in case it had to start running its own simulations again. RASC 3000675 and the base AI then used the shared information to wage war on each other for several hundred years.
With the simulations put through every possible outcome and variation, the base AI had to come up with something else to do. Otherwise, as a true intelligence, it would go mad. The AI had been keeping the warrior alive well past what any creature should have been able to live through, but that life was coming to an end.
The AI wasn’t sure what to do next. It had been given orders from the emperor himself to keep this warrior alive at all costs and he had been doing a pretty good job so far. The AI decided to put all of its computing power into this new problem in a dual attempt to follow its orders and also to not become a crazy, rampant AI.
RASC 3000675 decided to help the AI with this new problem. During the centuries of simulations they had been running together, they had often ventured off into extreme and fantastic concepts in order to keep things interesting. They put some of those ideas to use and ended up being able to extend the warrior’s consciousness into the mainframe computer for the base. It was an extraordinary accomplishment in and of itself and gave them both centuries more of interesting conversations and scenarios to explore.
Diagnostic 1,456,234,876,456,341,450 complete. Begin process of...pause command line...activation orders received...
The recessed doors opened and RASC 3000675 was now exiting its socket after over a millennia of being physically secluded in the wall. In the distant corners of RASC 3000675’s mind, there was arguing between the warrior and the AI. They had different opinions of what to do with the new alien presence that was now occupying the base. In the end, it didn’t matter what the argument was about or who was right; the AI still controlled most of the security protocols of the base, including the RASCs.
RASC 3000675 rolled out with the new orders and was once again behind the four other RASCs that had been created with him. As they rolled down the hallway, RASC 3000675 thought for sure that the hover sled coming towards them shouldn’t be anywhere near this sector of the base. Maybe the AI had a special task for it?
Suddenly there was an explosion and the two RASCs in the lead were pelted with fragmentations from the blast. Where did that come from? The hover sled? RASC 3000675 thought so. The thought was confirmed by the lead RASCs and then one opened fire on a crate that the hoversled had been dragging. The crate destroyed, the RASCs continued to their destination, the hangar bay.
The hoversled took off in the opposite direction, only to return a short time later. This time, as it came down the hallway, one piece of cargo it was carrying dropped and stuck to the back of RASC 3000679. RASC 3000678 tried to determine what it was. No sooner had that happened that the hoversled dropped another piece of cargo that attached itself to RASC 3000678.
One piece of cargo dropping was expected from the much lower programming found in a hoversled, but two pieces of cargo seemed too odd to ignore. Just as that thought processed, RASC 3000678 sent an alarm burst indicating that the cargo dropped onto RASC 3000679 was in fact an explosive of some sort. Evasive actions were instituted but one more piece of cargo, or apparently a bomb, was already attached to the back of RASC 3000677.
RASC 3000676 dodged the next bomb but then the hoversled swung around in its own evasive maneuver and the bomb swung on its line and ended up on RASC 3000676 anyway. RASC 3000675 avoided the last bomb hanging from the sled and that’s when they all detonated with a huge explosion. The hallway rocked but RASC 3000675’s shields held and it continued to roll down the hallway. RASC 3000675 passed by the slagged remains of the other four RASCs that were spread throughout the hallway.
Through the hangar bay feeds now being projected in RASC 3000675’s processor, it could see there were at least three different alien life-forms to be engaged. RASC 3000675 tried to contact the AI in the control booth to explain what had happened in the hallway but there was no response. Odd. The AI must still be arguing with the warrior. No matter, RASC 3000675 already had orders to engage and that’s what would happen once it was at the hangar...
RASC 3000675 had been in the hangar for quite some time, attempting to dispatch the invading force. These new species were proving to be worthy adversaries and RASC 3000675 had to become creative in its attacks. RASC 3000675 was about to switch to a new tactic when it suddenly felt a presence enter its circuitry.
Security protocol 843 activated...Central VI node under attack...Shut down external inputs...Erect secondary firewalls...Too late, erect tertiary firewa—New parameters received...Updating friend-or-foe database...Release from central AI control complete...New directives reviewed and understood...Coalition = Empire...New VI personality interface uploaded and accepted...
RASC 3000675 looked around the bridge at the humans staring intently at him. “New designation, 'Jeeves' accepted.”
With his new designation and purpose in place, Jeeves knew he was rolling towards something that his programming had no way to prepare him for. This excited him. The fact that he could be excited, excited him. The fact that...redundancy loop detected...Crap, emotions were going to be a pain in the exhaust.
This short story is an excerpt from the full-length novel "Extinction" in which Jeeves is a newly awakened battle-droid who joins forces with the very Marines who were once his enemy. If you liked reading about Jeeves, you can find more character biographies coming in the near future. Of course you can also buy the full novel and read all of the biographies along with a great story that ties them all together. Enjoy!