Posts Tagged ‘Space’

Mercer Holliday

February 26, 2018

Mercer Holliday was an android assigned to cleaning up sector 7G of the Haverford Complex for the Titus Corporation. Of course, that was not something that he had any interest in doing. Mercer was loyal and would never abandon his duty but he had different ideas. He knew that he had been constructed for this purpose or a purpose closely related to it. He knew that he owed his manufacturers his life. He had been happy to be a janitor for a long time, never doing a bad job and never leaving a single spot uncleaned if he could help it.

The question was posed a long time ago that if androids dreamed, what did they dream of? The cute answer had been electric sheep. Mercer could tell you that he dreamed of being a hero. After an efficient cleaning of his area of the facility, he would go back to his small home. He was an android and he did not need much which was good because he had very little. Still, when he returned to his abode, and before he powered down to recharge, he always watched a movie. He watched a lot of different genres but he had fallen in love with the ‘Western’ of the American Southwest of the planet Earth. He had never been there but he loved the tales of gunfighters who took on crowds of ne’er-do-wells with nothing but their grit.

He wished that was him. He did not want to be a war machine like those war droids who had been programmed for fighting. He wanted to be a defender, a seeker of truth like the gunfighter, the superheroes, and the knights from the stories he liked so much. He did not know if it was possible but he spoke of it whenever he had the chance to whoever would listen. He wanted to be the guy that people called on when they needed help when nobody else could help them. The dream burned within him and it perhaps once again raised the question whether androids had a soul and what that soul might be imagined as.

“Mercer!” A voice called out that broke Mercer from his reverie. He had been mopping on autopilot, an ability that made it obvious why you would utilize androids as workers instead of biologicals. It was Dr. Toma Wright, the young rebellious prodigy who had arrived a few months earlier. Unlike many, Toma did not ignore those around her and excitedly discussed whatever with the menial workers in her sector. That included Mercer.

“That’s my name,” Mercer said. He tried to blink realistically and Toma laughed, appreciative of his efforts to appear lifelike.

“Yes it is, Mr. Holliday,” she said. “I’m glad I caught you.”

“Holiday is not part of my official designation, Dr. Wright,” Mercer said. His official designation was Mercer-2547 after the scientist who had designed him, Victor Mercer. Most androids had no need for an original name.

“No, of course not,” Toma said. “However, I think it suits you after you recommended Tombstone to me. Doc Holliday was one of the most famous historical gunfighters of Earth.”

“I am aware, Dr. Wright,” Mercer said. “I admire him very much although he had many ethical failings throughout his life. In the end, he was very loyal to lawman Wyatt Earp.”

“That’s what you want, isn’t it?” Dr. Wright asked. She watched Mercer as if his face would give away some emotion. Of course, he did not even blink.

“Yes,” Mercer said. “If I had my way, I would be a hero like Mr. Holliday or Mr. Earp or Mr. Eastwood in his many roles.”

“Yes,” Doctor Wright said, cutting off a rant she knew might be incoming. “I’m aware you prefer Mr. Eastwood over Mr. Wayne.”

“I just find Mr. Wayne’s dialogue so stilted,” Mercer said.

Toma choked back a laugh and shook her head. There was something profound there perhaps but it was not worth pursuing. “Maybe I can help you achieve your dream.”

“How so, Doctor?” Mercer asked.

“Come with me,” she said. She led him back to her lab and she pressed a button and opened a few compartments. She pulled out a few chips and loaded them into a gun-like device. “Please expose your upper port.” Mercer trusted the Doctor and so he reached up to his neck and worked loose a panel and exposed a communication port.

Toma took up the device and plugged it into Mercer’s neck and pulled the trigger on the device. Information flooded into the construct that was analogous to Mercer’s brain. He suddenly knew how to operate weapons. Guns, knives, and hand to hand combat were suddenly second nature to him. He also suddenly knew more about computers and he had the first inkling about how to perform a ‘hack’, something he would never have even thought of previously. If androids could smile, Mercer would be grinning ear to ear. This was indeed a great gift.

“I’ve also included a program that modifies your hazardous materials containment device,” Dr. Wright said.  “It will now create a protective shield that will allow you to protect yourself and others.”

“Why have you given me these things, Dr. Wright?” Mercer asked.

“I want you to go out there and find some way to protect people,” Dr. Wright said.

“But my position is here,” Mercer said. “I must clean Sector 7G. Forever.”

“Somebody else will fill your position, Mercer,” Dr. Wright said. “I think that your passion will help you be a better hero. I think there are heroes out there without half of your passion. Besides, I have another gift for you.” She opened up another compartment and there hung a long brown duster. Mercer instantly grabbed it and put it on, a little unaccustomed to wearing actual clothes instead of panels that simulated clothes to make humans more comfortable.

“Thank you, Dr. Wright,” Mercer said.

“You’re welcome,” she said. “I have a few contacts that I can hook you up with and soon, you will be on your way. Meet me back here tomorrow and I will have your ticket to your first job. Once you have your foot in the door, nothing will be able to stop you.”

“I will be here as you say,” Mercer said.

Ion Flow

April 10, 2017

I woke to the sound of the base alarms going off. The sound made my eyeballs jiggle in their sockets and made the rest of my body feel like jello. I scrambled to get out of my bunk and stood for a moment in my boxers trying to get my bearings. There was a chill in the air which meant that something was wrong. I reached out to turn the lights on and they flickered for a moment and then the fixture exploded with a loud pop. I flinched. I realized that there must be some sort of electrical problem. There were never electrical problems at Base Victor. It was close to a solar panel array and had state of the art energy storage.

I reached for the disk on my bedside table without having to look. It was nearly a year since I had started as a researcher at Base Victor, a forward research station on the moon over Arcturis. All of the little things had become easy through the routine. I slapped the disk against my chest and I closed my eyes as cloth spread over my body. The bodysuit would keep me warm with the malfunctioning climate systems. I immediately felt more prepared for the emergency. The cloth over my feet hardened into boots. I grabbed my jacket and walked out into the hallway and tried to get the jacket on as I ran toward somebody who could tell me what was happening.

Like its name might suggest, Base Victor was a lonely place. The highest number of staff members I had seen in the base was fifteen and that had been maybe one week before many of them were transferred. The base currently only had five staff members. It was divided up into different laboratories and offices that researchers took over and practically lived in. My office was set up with shelves and shelves of recently discovered books. We had already deciphered the alien language a few years ago and now I was trying to piece together the history of their civilization. I was starting by trying to sort books into fiction and non-fiction.

I stormed down the hallway toward the Command Action Center. It was the one common area beside the kitchens and it was supposed to be the nerve center of bases like this. Most days it was neglected but now I could guess that it had four people in it. Make that three, Holly turned the corner ahead of me and looked at me with an exasperated look in her eyes. She stomped toward me and I slowed my pace to a stop as she approached. In the flickering emergency lighting, her pink hair practically glowed.

“Where have you been?” She shouted.

“The alarms woke me up,” I shouted back. The alarm shut off so my next words still sounded loud even though I kept myself from shouting them. “I was up late reading a book of poetry.”

“We have an emergency,” Holly said as if they had been waiting for me.

“Can it be solved by reading more poetry?” I asked and I believe that Holly nearly slapped me. Her eyes narrowed and I shrugged. “What? I know nothing about engineering or science like you and Arif.”

“It’s some weird sort of ion storm. It is messing with most of our systems as you can see,” She said, releasing her anger visibly.

“Will we survive?” I asked. I was a little shaken knowing that our two scientists were not exactly sure what was happening yet.

“I think it will pass. Arif seems to agree,” She replied, leaning against the wall for the moment. She looked tired. It looked like she might have been up for hours already or maybe she had not gotten to sleep yet at all. There was always a danger of that out here, free from the conventions of the time cycles of normal society.

“Should we go back and check it out some more?” I asked.

“Only if you promise to lean against the wall and not touch anything. Can you promise that?” Holly asked. She had a smirk on her face that felt insulting. Well, sort of insulting. She was not in the wrong.

“I promise,” I said. “I’m curious what’s going on.”

“Come on then, poet,” Holly said. “Follow me.”

We walked back the way she had come to reach the Command Action Center. Arif was lounging in front of a console, not really working on the problem. He looked like he was deep in thought. He snapped to attention when Holly and I entered the room. I dutifully leaned against the wall with my hands behind my back. I may have smirked when I did it.

“There’s a strange build-up of ionic charge,” Arif said. He looked at me. “Before you ask, it’s strange because there’s little to no atmosphere out there. It’s almost like a lightning storm. It shouldn’t exist.”

“Maybe it just wants to exist,” I offered. I got looks for that comment.

“Holy shit, we’ve got incoming!” Holly yelled, rushing up to a console. Before I could ask what that meant, the base was raked with what looked like lightning. It was both terrifying and awe-inspiring and I pressed myself closer to the wall as if that would save me. Holly and Arif scrambled around trying to monitor the situation. I saw the emergency teleporter start to glow in the corner and even I knew it should not do that. Before I could alert them, it exploded.

We all hit the deck, our training kicking in. Thankfully nothing was breached and there was no explosive decompression. Instead, there was a glowing figure standing where the teleporter had been. As the glow faded away, I stood atop the rubble looking confused. Against the wall, I was confused too.


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