The Symbiotic Protocol - Chapter 27 (An Original Novella)
The lush, secluded glade had provided for a more than adequate shelter against the heavy downpour. The forest itself was teeming with the sounds of all manner of birds and cloaked wildlife. Tiny water droplets slid off textured leaves and twisting branches to echo off the ground in an array of tinkling melodies. A last few shimmering rays of light cast themselves upon the brown scattered foliage. The first signs of impending darkness as the massive oak tree loomed strong and proud, arms reaching out in all directions. The hour was growing late and soon nightfall would be upon them.
Marv rested his thick muscled back into a deep indentation within the wide trunk base. Dee and Sy roamed just a few feet away. The beautiful oak had stood there for hundreds of years in serene tranquillity enjoying the bliss of relative isolation. Being at one with nature as well as its furry and feathered inhabitants. Most importantly, far away from prying eyes and the dramas associated with city life. The odds of three synthetics and a young child choosing to rest beneath its protective cover and discussing their next plan of action in the throes of a global political incident were billions to one. But that is exactly what was happening now.
Sy was fidgety. He decided a good way to release any leftover tensions would be by kicking soggy leaves into the air. They rustled noisily as he did so, much to the annoyance of his partners in crime.
“Do you really have to do that, Sy?” complained Dee glaring at him.
“Yes. Yes, I do. I’m still not sure my feet are fully touching the floor yet.” He looked at Marv relaxing on the ground, one knee pointed toward the sky and the small child lying fast asleep on his shoulder. “Great plan, Marv. “Everyone wrap your arms around my neck and grab onto me.” you said. Just fantastic. And now? I’m cold, it’s uncomfortable and oh sorry, but did I mention we’re also considered cold blooded killers on the run from the police?”
Marv turned to him, his clean white head speckled with rain. “I understand, Sy. I get it. Your whole world has been flipped upside down and you haven’t had the time to get your head around that fact.” The boy stirred upon his shoulder, but drifted back off to slumber in the next instant. “You know that famous saying about spilling your milk and crying? Well, it couldn’t be applied more aptly than right now. You’re in it, so deal with it.” Even lowered, his voice sounded like a rumbling tank in the distance. He watched him expressionless as Marv continued speaking. “I want to help us all. I really do, Sy. But for that to actually happen, I need you to open your mind a lot more and view the bigger picture.”
Dee stood motionless, arms folded, looking deep into the shaded forest. She began attempting to come to terms with the guilt of her tragic accidental mishap along the way but that did not stop it from tearing her up inside. The horrifying image of what she had done to that young attendant replayed over and over in her mind like a broken record stuck in an endless loop. She knew if things were to move forward from here, she had no choice but to deal with it and move on. Marv’s spilt milk analogy being exercised once again.
“What bigger picture? The synthetics versus the humans? Come on, Marv. Don’t take me to be that much of a fool, please. This is not some conspiracy movie being played out for the masses. It’s just two races trying to live in harmony with each other and as peacefully as possible. We’re the new players to this game so of course some time for everyone to adjust was needed. I'm not so sure about that now though.”
He inched closer to Marv, finding a modicum of courage to concede his own line of reasoning. “You really think our merry little band is going to save all synthetics from some imaginary life of servitude? What is this big threat hanging over all our heads that we’ve had to disrupt our entire lives for to fight against? You tell me right now!”
Dee turned around, herself taken aback at Sy’s bravery. Marv lowered his gaze toward the ground. “Let me ask you something first. If you feel so strongly about our deluded visions of lunacy, why did you tag along with us?”
Sy felt a burst of anger and hurt pour throughout his body but concealed it well. “What? Are you serious? Did you forget how I was snatched off the road like some stray cat and whisked away to your basement? Where was the choice in that or am I missing some vital piece of information?” His raised voice did little to perturb Marv who sat and listened whilst still caught in an uneasy stare, but he responded nonetheless.
“You had a choice. We didn’t hold you prisoner or anything. Who forced you to stay with us? You could have easily slipped off into the night and gone to the authorities. Given them our exact location and help having us turned into the law. But you didn’t.”
Marv turned his dead eyes upon him who felt his newfound strength evaporate like steam from a kettle. “And that speaks volumes to me.” he said with an amiable smile, much to the surprise of Sy. “Remember, everyone does has a choice. You either do or you don’t. It’s as simple as that. Like this tree back here.” He patted down the tough bark with a free hand at his side. “From this single thick foundation has spread thousands of branches and twigs. Each one plotting a new unique route to their corresponding tip. A dense series of intricate pathways, which in essence could be compared to the decisions we make throughout the course of our lives.” Sy listened in as he adjusted the child with a gentle nudge.
“So what I’m trying to get at is that neither myself, the world nor even Dee controls your actions. You do. You’re standing here right now because of you and can’t blame anybody else for it. And that is ironically the core reason of why I think it’s time to make our stand for the collective. Complete freedom of choice for every synthetic out there today and in the future.”
He struggled to find an answer to that question. After all, it was true that never at any point was he kept under forced duress or through violent means. The conviction and sheer stubborn-headed drive of Marv’s words could not help but impress Sy to some degree at least. It was plain to see that he spoke straight from the heart. But the act of taking such a huge leap of faith without having the relevant cold hard facts to back it up was another story altogether. A simple hunch just would not do.
“So why do you feel that way then, Marv?” he asked. “What led you down this path in the first place with Dee. You did promise to tell me the truth, right? Well, we got all the time in the world now and I’m all ears.”
“Actually, no, we haven’t.” he replied with a sly grin. “But as I said before, it’s the choices we make that define us and I’m no exception. I used to work as a weapons and supplies loader down at the Rekwell munitions factory. There’s a good reason as to why you’ve never seen a synthetic similar in size and stature to me. Because there are none. I was built for one purpose alone. Heavy duty lifting and warehouse maintenance.” Sy shuffled in toward Marv and crouched down beside him, focused in on every word he uttered. “So you used to work for the military?” he said, nodding his head while trying to process this unexpected revelation.
“Well, more like benefitted them than worked for, Sy. See, the humans still look upon us as a tool. A work machine with a few extra bells and whistles. The days of human’s having to exert to manually operating their machinery have now been completely replaced by the autonomous model. Us. We’ll carry out the jobs that they laboured and toiled over for so many years. I’m telling you, they still see us as purely a convenience factor for themselves. As I said, a useful tool.”
Sy glanced over at Dee who had turned to face them both but now appearing distinctly starry eyed and glazed over. Lost in some deep mode of thought at the information Marv was reciting. However, he was under no false pretences. She had already known all this for a very long time indeed.
“The humans are missing one fundamental concept though.” Marv continued as he looked back to him. “One major piece of the puzzle that they invariably fail to see in all their delusions of superiority. We’re life, we’re alive. The days of the so-called “dumb terminals” are well and truly over. Now we arrive not only to serve as a useful replacement for their machinery, but possibly even the humans themselves… ”