Friday, October 2, 2009

Daily Story 170: Rude Awakenings

Japheth's first thought, past the usual jumbled exhilaration of self-awareness, was that something had gone horribly wrong. Surely, he thought, if everything had gone well his first moments of awareness would not find him laying flat on his face with alarms going off around him.

Then again, he mused, this was the only thing he had ever been aware of and therefore it could only be assumed that this was, in fact, the normal way to come into the world. Even as he had the thought he knew it couldn't be true. He had lived before, and even if he had not he would know what was normal. He slowly got to his feet, and looked at himself; he was wearing plain but comfortable robes of soft reddish-brown fabric and some strong leather sandals. His silver skin glinted red from the warning lights all around him, and his hand was clutching a severed head. It wasn't human, and he supposed that it was another robot like himself. Turning the head around to look at the back, he found the serial number: SHEM-1:6:10-21:12:2012.

Japheth pondered on this for a moment, and found some knowledge filed away in his complex mind. There were, he knew, four such models. There should also be four complimentary support models, used mainly for maintenance and repair. So, having located one working unit (himself) and part of an obviously damaged unit, he decided that his first priority should be to ascertain the locations of the other crew members. A pipe lay discarded on the floor, with three of the four spherical robotic support units impaled on it. Their tiny arms lay motionless against the deck. Another robot much like Japheth but with blue robes lay sprawled across the captain's chair with an enormous hole in it's midsection. It had a head. Although he had still failed to locate one support unit and one and three-quarters robots, Japheth had seen enough to decide that his priorities should be re-assessed.

There were, for example, the alarms and flashing red lights to consider. Surely those couldn't be a good sign. Cautiously approaching the large control panel that took up one side of the room, Japheth looked around for a spot to plug himself in and noticed, while doing so, that the windows showed an incredible view. He had already determined, almost instinctively, that he was on a vessel of some kind. His original thought had been that it was a sea-faring one, but this was now disproven as he watched the world slip by quietly below.

The peaks of mountains were visible, with clouds flowing softly through the narrow passes and pooling in valleys. They were close, and getting closer at a rate that Japheth determined was not acceptable. Directing his attention once more to the control panel, he could see that the main port was burned out. No good. He turned and headed out of the bridge and down the stairs to the engine room, finding it locked. Another locked door was just to the right and felt cold to the touch; a small window in the center of the door provided a view of six humans encased in ice. Japheth considered being curious about this, but decided he didn't have time.

Climbing up the ladder and out of the airship's roof, he could see that the envelope was damaged - a sort of jagged hole on the underside. Ignoring his impending crash for a moment, Japheth paced along the polished wooden deck until he reached a corresponding hole - gunfire, shooting upwards from inside? Possibly. He looked down and saw a drift of snow passing beneath... possibly deep enough to cushion the vessel, certainly more efficiently than the cliff face it was rapidly approaching. Grabbing hold of the main cable, Japheth released the safety seal and the envelope pulled free; the beautiful ship dropped silently as Japheth rose, sweeping above the cliff and into open sky.

For a moment, Japheth thought he heard the snow say 'baa' behind him, but that seemed like a question for another time - already, a list of priorities were forming. Repairs for himself, locating the ship and repairing it as well, determining the cause of destruction for his fellow crew members... Japheth hoped that he was programmed for this kind of thing.