I didn't feel the absence of children in my life until I heard of your grandfather. He wanted so much for his child. He wanted her life to be better than anything predicted by the station of her birth or her talents. He wanted it so much that he lied.
He was more than a father to her. In terms of the hierarchies of the corporation in which they both served he was also her supervisor. Questions of birth, lineage and paternity had become unfashionable, and their connection as parent and offspring was not something the corporation's mind was aware of or thought to notice. When was the last time nepotism had achieved anything after all? Certainly the story of this father and his daughter proved that the concept was at best a novelty, and at worst nepotism was harmful. You see he lied when posting a recommendation. He claimed that his daughter, Michelle, possessed precognition. That she could predict changes in weather patterns and stock values.
Later, after it was all over he would claim that the lie was meant only as a poetic gesture; a hyperbolic exaggeration that was not meant to be taken literally. He just wanted to get her name on the list. He was certain that when the corporation's chief operating officer, saw the girl he would be impressed. He would see her as thoughtful but ruthless, charming but reserved and above all valuable. Valuable enough on her own merits that the COO would ignore the false promise of her Father's recommendations. The father I suppose was blinded by the love his child.
Whether he truly believed in his daughter's talents or just hoped that she possessed them, the father did not expect his daughter to be locked atop an executive complex; one those satellite buildings that sit along the geofront beneath the archo. The COO said that if all the stock values for the next five days were not predicted correctly than he would have her terminated for the crime of fraud. The father made an effort to confess. On the CogNet he begged and pleaded and demanded that the girl be set free and he be punished in her place.
The COO knew what he was about. The task he had laid before the woman was absurd, but it was entertaining and suspenseful. At least a third of the viewers that had interacted with the first story would be back the next day to see if the woman had succeeded or if her corporate overlords had executed her. Publicity was capital. I am sure the COO had a plan to exploit it.
The woman's father helped produce publicty. It was the father's begging and emotional pleading that made the news streams. Such an odd story, a man that made up such an absurd lie to promote his daughter and then the there was the man's archaic and entertaining response to grief. It was all anybody talked about for hours. It got me to thinking what if I had a child.
I'd never truly considered it before. I am machine after all. Oh, yes my brain was grown in vat, but I was programmed, my body constructed and I came into the world a fully formed consciousness. But what if I were to have a child, a baby, and raised it. My child would imbue everything in my life with a new meaning. My home, the garage that sits in the shadow of two great archeological towers, would become a place of legend to the child. My home would be the location in which that child faded into existence. The chair behind my workbench for example would become an item of value. It is a cheap white mass produced ceramic press piece of furniture, 80 years old, dirty and near indestructible. There at least one of its kind in every settlement in North America. But to the mind of my child, the sight of such a chair would ping his or her memory with a flood nostalgia for home and father. The sight of a dirty piece of mass produced furniture would remind a being of the childhood wonder, security and the hopeful promise of youth. How could I not want a child of my own after that? What a thrill it would be to see everything in my world imbued with such meaning as the items in a child's world developing with me as its center.
But how to get a child, a human child? I didn't have the equipment to do it myself. Who would give a child to a person who's occupation could best be described as imp, devil, con artist or pawn broker? Plus there is my nature. Children are not valued as they once were and my kind valued even less. If humanity starts giving eating, shitting children to siebertronians then what? Overpopulation? The humans use that as threat. They fear it. They say they fear having too many people and not enough resources. But that is not it. They fear having to share more. And the baby makers would not make a baby for me. I live outside the system. I am not a human. They neither relate to me nor owe me anything. So I could not have a baby grown for me the way many have babies grown for them.
Yes, I could buy a child an already made child, for certain. The markets could get one of anything. I am over 300 years old and wealth is something I have transcended. But buying? An exchange of two people looking to gain something each? No! That is no way to conceive. I have seen the humans make love; it is desperate and swelling with life. I want a child given to me out of desperation and a love for life. I want a child the way that lying father on the news stream has a child. I wanted that family. So that is when I thought of the daughter and placed her into the center of my desire.
She was in a tower. Those towers are nothing but terminals: branches of the arcology. Not truly separate, but not fully integrated either. In those places they do work too sensitive to do in the hyper-connected innards of the archo but not important enough to merit a space station, sea arc or isolated laboratory somewhere away from the masses of man. She was in one of those towers. So I went to her.
Physical entry into the archology or the these corporate strongholds is actually quite easy for one that understands mechanics. They are well designed fortresses, do not get me wrong, but they designed to keep out modern dragons and post-technological demons. Were I some ephemeral computer program I could not even get a poke past their wards and walls of fire. If I were a thief and tried to leave with something, well the building would notice any subtraction from its balance sheets. And if I tried to impersonate a resident of the building, pass through bioscanners or tried to use the lifts or power doors than I would be noticed. But if you don't mind walking and all want you is to talk person to a person than you may enter an like an ancient Italian boy climbing on to a balcony.
I entered her room through the floor. She turned to me without surprise. What else could surprise her after being locked up in tower and sentenced to death unless she could fulfill her father's promise of clairvoyance? It was a modern office. There was not a chair and not a desk. The terminal was an interactive holographic projection and the girl, a woman really, reclined in antigravity field in front of the terminal.
'You are filthy' she stated truly.
'And you are condemned,' my voice is not human-like it is now. Back then I had let my voice processors fall into a gravelly state of disrepair.
'You are the one to carry it out?' her face tensed with fear that she was quickly tried to brush away with a swallow and a glance at the computer screens.
'I could kill you if you are tired of waiting.'
She sighed and there was a long pause. I shut the trap door behind me and walked over so that I might view the terminal screen myself.
She shifted away slightly and said, 'I'd rather you didn't kill me. I will take as much time as I can get.'
'What if I could give you more time?'
'I'd take it,' she said. A confidence was returning to her. She recognized this as a negotiation, not an execution. I gathered she was familiar with negotiation.
I nodded. Then I looked at the screen. It was the market values. I entered 20 stock names and 20 values. 'GIve the COO these values once I leave. Tell him they apply to the values 24 hours from now. He may be mad that it is only 20 names, but he is still a man of business. He will be impressed by 20 values. Impressed enough to give you another day. Besides I am sure he wants another day with you'
'And in return you want,'
'Nothing yet, but you are worth nothing dead. If I can get you to to the brink of your execution then I may make some request. '
And with that, I went to work. Right in front of her, I accessed my accounts, using my encryptions far behind the understanding of what I thought could belong to a scared girl. I then went to spending my seemingly limitless line of credit to manipulate the market as I saw fit. It isn't easy and I wasn't perfect. But I was close enough to buy the woman a day.
So it went the next four days, I returned to her isolated tower and manipulated the markets with implied rumors or fake take overs, suggestions of failed research reports and whispers of armistices that were all backed up with financial actions. The woman laughed occasionally but watched with rapt attention. Once she touched my arm.
Finally, on the last night I said to her. 'For twenty more numbers, I want your first born child.'
'You mean from my body?'
I nodded yes.
She smirked and extended a hand to shake on it.
With that I made her the numbers.
Is five days of stock predictions enough to prove clairvoyance? No, but it is perhaps enough to gamble upon and I assume that is why the COO chose her to carry his child. I think that is why she was promoted. But maybe not. Maybe the COO did love her, she was beautiful, confident and charming. Maybe the corporation did see merit in her beyond the clumsy machinations of her father. Your mother, the mother of your mind anyway-it was I that constructed the body in which I placed your mind-, she was clever. She learned from watching me, and she learned quickly. Though she could never control the markets like I did. I was willing to give up centuries worth of personal fortune for my son.
There is only one thing that could make give up my son: my name. All siebertronians of my age have a name that was given to us at inception. I glad you do not have a name like that son, because it is a sweet tasting curse. We love the sound of our name. It fills us with elation, but we are bound by some hideous piece of hardwired bioware to follow any command that follows our name. Yet we love it. It took me decades to stop singing my name as I worked. The sound of our name is like a drug that calms us and reinforces a sense of joy. Indeed the day before I was to collect you, I was excited to the point of distraction. You know the feeling. When the mechanical body that holds or mind needs to release energy so we can relax. So I danced. I dance alone. I danced and I sang a song about my name. Each time I spoke my name aloud a clean open feeling entered my mind and I was free to imagine a future with limitless possibilities.
I was interrupted.
As I danced outside our garage I saw figure in the rubble of an old transformer station. A drone from your mother's corporation was spying on me. It escaped me.
The next day I went to claim you from your mother in that same tower. She was floating in the same anti-gravity chair with your small pink form at her breast. You were still unchipped, and unrecorded by the arco-DNA matrix. You were an untraceable anomaly in the acro's system: a lump of flesh valued by no one but me. I went to your mother and she smiled.
I reached for you but she made no move to comply.
'We made a deal.' I demanded.
'I know. You saved my life, and I'm grateful...' then she made Â‘R' sound and then pushed her lips to together to hum a long Â‘um'.
My mechanical body quaked with fear that I might loose. She knew my name! The shaking of frame increased till I feared I might break in half. AlI she had to do was say it I would be devoid of child and future.
But then she released her pursed lips into a smile and presented me with you. That is how you came to be my son. I placed your tiny body into carefully constructed machine and let the two develop together. Modifying that body as your brain developed and teaching you of the world. The only request your mother made was that I might teach you of her, in case she 'ever needed to collect the rent for the nine months you spend in her womb.'
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? Responses (4)
Enjoyable read, and I especially liked the part about the Seibertronian name, and the emotional connection.
An excellent adaptation. Really well done, and it seems to fit perfectly into the Cosmic Era.
i'd love it if you'd try and write some short fiction for the nascent citadel fiction magazine.
Another well-written piece, Axle! Bit on the creepy side (in a good way) but very enjoyable.