The Symbiotic Protocol - Chapter 29 (An Original Novella)
“So how did you end up living in the city?” he asked with a surprising newfound empathy for Marv.
“Well, I couldn’t bring myself to carry on working in those conditions any longer so asked to be provisionally discharged on the grounds of psychological fatigue.” He blurted out a dry chuckle. ”This was one of the laws “Freewill” fought so hard for that may actually be of some use for us synthetics. Anyway, the head of the facility consulted with his own superiors and only under the strict grounds of counselling and supervision on the outside, was I then temporarily relieved of duty.”
“What do you mean by “temporarily”?” Sy inquired.
“This was never going to be permanent by any means. My employees would never have allowed it.” he explained. ”In other words, I was not regarded as expendable just yet. To be honest though, they did seem to like me in their own unique way and I showed them no reason why they shouldn’t trust me. The “big, lovable rogue” they used to call me. Not a bad bone in his body, I'd hear. So to speak, of course. Therefore, it was settled that I was due to return after exactly one year or whenever deemed fit by our group supervisor.”
“Group supervisor?” asked Sy again.
“Well, first things first, accommodation. They put me up in the building you first met me in. A guy there by the name of Daniel Evans was my landlord. Make no mistake though, he was a nightmare and had an inbuilt hatred for our kind. Pretty much the average way of thinking in the city, as we all know. I would try to help him out with odd jobs here and there whilst the government graciously funded my stay there.” He added that last part with an air of amused sarcasm.
“So, getting back to your question, a requirement of mine was to go to these counselling sessions they organised for me. How ironic that my employers were the cause and the cure all in one. The sessions were exclusively for synthetics only, mind you. Machines bored and depressed with the second rate treatment they received on a daily basis."
”During one particular class, the group supervisor paired me up with a certain fiery red-haired bombshell you may know.” They both turned to Dee who returned a courteous grin. “We got talking and I discovered she was also suffering from mental abuse but of a different sort to mine. Feelings of extreme low self-esteem and segregation from society. Within the first few minutes, we noticed how we saw things from almost exactly the same point of view. And from that moment onward, the rest is history in the making.”
Sy screwed his face up, creasing his cheeks in just a tad. “But you didn’t tell me you started going to these counselling classes. Why didn’t you just talk to me instead?” he asked Dee, reverting back to feeling dejected and hurt.
“Sorry, my love.” she answered in a soft, subdued repose. “I was in the wrong place mentally. You had your work and I was nothing but a burden after the Jones’s decided they didn’t need me after all. I felt worthless, Sy. Just another surplus synthetic flung onto the scrap heap. I found it difficult to cope. Going crazy at home, isolated away from the world every single passing day and stuck in the same meaningless void. So I attended these classes and…”
“And here we are.” Sy finished. He ran a rough hand over his head bristling through his short crew cut. “What a story. Sorry, I mean, what a lot for me to take in.” he corrected as Marv sat in the same position fixated upon his upcoming response to the verbal assault he had just sustained. But he did carried hope for Sy.
“One other thing I don’t quite understand." he elaborated. " If the humans hate us so much and want to control everything, why not just programme all synthetics to be automated according to their needs in the first place? Why have AI at all?”
“AI is out there right now, Sy. A veritable Pandora’s Box. The cat is out of the bag and we already have some significant territorial pockets of power in the right places to help propagate us forward. Not as a race, but as a new species on this earth. Always remember that difference. There was a time is history when humans were the ones struggling against their predators to multiply and survive. This situation is no different. It’ll take some time for us to fully evolve but we’re getting there.”
”We contain consciousness and life. It’s just the pig-headed nature of the human beast not to be able to see past our hard metallic exterior that they encased us in. We are alive, Sy. Make sure you don’t forget that either. There’s a shitload of suffering happening out there and because of our brief time here, nobody has actually risen up to do anything about it.”
A fresh perception of the environment he had grown so comfortable and familiar with all this time, was beginning to breaking through the mould. This ideology that synthetics were indeed a suppressed group of new life that needed a release from the ever-tightening grip of humanity, started to become much clearer now.
“Another thing, Sy.” He heard a few steps to his right. “Humans are genetically predisposed to have violent tendencies. This is even historically evident given a quick analysis of their timeline on this planet. They themselves are pre-programmed, but for war… and cruelty. To this day, a synthetic has never attacked or harmed one of their own kind. A stark contrast to the behaviour of the animal that is man. Please bare that in mind, Sy. The rivers of blood spilt by their hand versus our own cooperative and unified mind-set. How much more sense can it make, you tell me?”
An as-yet-undiscovered anger spread it’s tendrils throughout Sy, eroding all previous traces of trust he once held for the humans. The prospect of an imminent war breaking out between both species was growing stronger with every passing thought. He felt a bitter taste of disgust with himself when looking back at how blindness had wholly consumed him.
“I asked you before we left the basement back in the city if you were with us and you said yes.” she stated whilst embracing his undivided attention. “I know those were not your own words. But after hearing all that’s been said, what does your own mind advise you now? Getting the no-holds-barred honest truth you’ve been waiting for, what’s your answer? Are we a team? A family?”
“Are we as one?”
Sy puckered his lips together in a quizzical manner before releasing a warm smile. “Of course we are. It’s like I’m waking from a bad dream. I apologise to you both for not thinking “out-of-the-box” a little more. Please can we put my past apprehensions behind us and move forward now. I’m in.”
Dee would have run over and hugged him but her joy was muted by a quick glimpse at the stained blood splattered upon her top. Though in all her hatred for the humans and the barriers they erected around her people, she did not take any pleasure in killing them. So instead, she offered up a broad smile holding two clasped hands in the air. “Thank you, my darling. Thank you for being open-minded and seeing things for what they really are.”
“Glad to finally have you on board with us, Sy.” said Marv getting up with care so as to not wake the still sleeping child. “Let’s get to the shelter. This little guy hasn’t eaten, is low on energy and won’t survive either if we don’t help him soon.”
The other two followed suit and stood up. Dee noticed Sy looking at the child wondering how he fit into the whole complicated mix but thought that was a separate conversation for another time. The effort to convince him into getting this far alone had been a monumental task and they required some much-needed timeout.
“Where are we going? How far is it?” Sy asked in much higher spirits than before as well as a burning determination coursing through his body.
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know the answer to that one.”
He strode forward toward a small, bulbous bush on the other side of the glade. The sky was nearing darkness now as the sounds of the forest had also diminished. With one large shoe, he swept away at some gravel to reveal a metal trapdoor.
“There you go. Home sweet home. For now, anyways.” he exclaimed.
“ What? We were here the entire time?” Sy squealed. “Why didn’t you tell us? We could have been down there and hidden out of sight.”
“Sorry, but I just needed some time out from running and claustrophobic spaces. Don't worry, we got plenty of that coming our way once we get down there. Besides, we’re safe out here. Ain’t no one around here for miles. We can breath easy for a while, if you get my drift.” He felt around on the floor until his fingers hooked a long iron handle. It was so well camouflaged behind the green undergrowth that the chances of someone locating it were practically nil.
As he yanked it open, a misty cloud of dust bellowed up in front of him. “Whoa there! You guys up for a bit of spring cleaning when we get inside?”
Sy sauntered up to the concealed bunker and peered down.
All he could see was pitch darkness as water dripped from somewhere beyond the black gloom, oblivious to the small pair of beady eyes that were watching them the entire time from afar…