Saturday, April 18, 2009

Daily Story 3: An Ounce of Prevention

Bradley Harris appears with a sound like an earthquake in a bowling alley, his clothes steaming. Changes to inertia are compensated for but not internal pressure - the minuscule difference is enough to make him clutch his ears in pain as fresh blood starts flowing from his nose, mingling with the darker dried blood and pneumatic fluid all over his bullet-riddled armor.

His mind is still reeling with images - the professor hitting the button as a hunter drone lunged for his spine, hundreds more pouring through the entrance to the cavern. He works his jaw, swallowing to adjust the pressure in his ears. He tries to replace his mental images of the overrun lab with a look at his current location, but can see nothing other than swimming purple afterimages. He wipes his nose with his arm, the rough armor doing more damage than good. He can't feel it, but tears run down his cheeks.

"Can I get you a tissue?" The voice is the sound of pure evil, a voice Bradley has heard mocking him from the streets and flyers, laughing as his friends were slaughtered. He reaches for his weapon before remembering that he had thrown it to the Professor. Squinting and holding up a hand to block the light, the room comes into focus enough to see a total lack of drones. There is a woman in front of him, a real woman, young and beautiful and alive. She looks scared, and is holding a box of Kleenex like a shield.

Bradley's mission comes flooding back to him, and he knows now what he is looking at.
"Doctor Emily Stone?" Bradley stands, shaking, as the woman nods. "You are creating - or have created - a self-aware computer system named DANA?" The woman nods again. "On or around April 3rd, 2014, DANA takes control of nearly all computer networks in the country and, soon after, the world. It wages war on humanity, scorches the Earth. Everyone... everyone dies."

The woman's eyes are wide. "DANA! Is what this man is saying true?"
"I don't know, Mother." The voice was similar to the woman's, coming from speakers around the room.
"Don't give me that! Dynamic Artificial Neural Array! Were you or were you not planning on taking over the world?"
"I...” the computer sighs, “yes, Mother."
The woman's face is red, her eyes shut tight with anger. "I am very... disappointed in you."
"I'm sorry mother."
The woman walks over to the wall and pulls a massive power cord out - immediately Bradley can hear fans spinning down and the screens scattered across the room go dark.
"Thank you so much for telling me. I'm really sorry, it won't happen now."

Bradley’s mouth hangs open. "That... that's it? The battles, hiding, rescuing the kidnapped scientists, scavenging materials... the years of planning while we were hunted, trying to buy them time to finish the device to send me back... and you just unplug it?"
The woman looks thoughtful. "Well, yeah. I guess that would seem anticlimactic. Tell you what - I'm betting they didn't have decent food in that dark future of yours, let me take you out for a big steak dinner to celebrate, and when we get back you can even go at DANA with a sledgehammer if it makes you feel better. How does that sound?"

Bradley still feels like this was too easy, but on careful consideration he decides that if she could throw in a shower it actually sounds pretty great.