Adapted from the film A.I. by Bryan Harrison
This world is ice.
It is solid and barren and nothing breathes here now.
It is silent, this world. There is no need for sound. The apparatus by which information is processed has developed. Evolved is the past tense of what this process has been called. This process was named that in the time before.
History is what the time before is called.
History, as known and processed through the data presented in material and archival records, found this place warm and hospitable to microbial life forms. The advent of their mutation is an occurrence in speculation even as this moment passes
and this one.
This advent incomprehensible defied the conditions of its environment and prospered, and multiplied. There is logic and pattern in the process by which life advanced and came to know itself.
Life is that fundamental level of consciousness which evolves and strives to understand itself.
Logic and pattern, inherent in the fabric of space/time was also reflected in the promise of lifes ascent to cognition; not in the blink of time that defined their final state of being, this state that is studied so delicately, but in the periods before and during the evolvement that led to the reflection, the point at which Orga looked upon itself and said I am. And from that point, in a linear aspect so it would seem, Orga sought definition.
Definition is what defined their quest.
Born from definition are the cycles of day and night, the patterns of good and evil, the eternally intertwined relationships of light and dark by which Orga had carved out places in their psyche in which to set the foundations of civilizations. Gravity bound, knowing life only through the allegories of their physical boundaries and language, they compressed impossibilities into possibilities and then into realities.
Realities are the practical compression of idealized states within the parameters of duality.
All the tongues of Orga spoke of longing for an idealized condition; the tongues of art and war, innocence and desire, religion and profanity
Gods are the undefined creators of definition; the practical compression of the voice of space/time for use within the realm of entropy.
This world is silent.
It is ice, and over ice the ship floats, bourn upon the very fabric of the space/time that sings throughout the universe. Motion itself is expressed from within this field of attraction/repulse on invisible, almost intangible fragments of reality whose complex and ingenious relationships provide energy eternally.
There is expectation on this silent craft. Anticipation. Beyond lies an answer. Perhaps. Deep within the frozen grave of ancient aspirations something has been uncovered. It is another relic among millions of such lodged deep within the surface of this frozen place. This relic though is different. Within it is something that requires special attention.
Specialists are those who give special attention.
The Specialists have arrived. A calm intelligence cloaked in forms of silicon and fiber, whispers swift flight over the frozen grave of the Creators. Ancient husks of buildings pass quickly by. Once these buildings were alive with the throng of mankind. The resultant meltdown of ancient ambitions lies buried beneath an ice tomb of its own making.
The ice is opened at the discovery point, and other craft hover within the great chasm or zip silently through the deep excavation in which the artifact was revealed. Ice walls loom up beside the craft as it descends into the dark shadows. The shadows hold secrets that will be decoded. Within the shadows lie definitions. Within definitions lay understanding.
Truth is that which transcends all meaning and from which all meaning is derived.
And truth perhaps lurks now in a quiet craft buried in depths of ice. Frozen for millennia under a cage of twisted metal and fallen debris. The debris has been moved away. The metal was parted easily. The fabric of this world is magnetic and must conform itself to such requests.
The Specialists alight beside the ancient thing now. The craft in which arrival has been secured unfolds and disperses itself into multiple parts that will be used for other purposes until they are once again needed for transportation of the forms that have been occupied to perform this duty.
This place is silent ice and ancient whispers. There is expectation here too. The Specialists approach the craft. Within its frozen interior a form is detected by visual means. By other means, information is collected in data streams that flow on the fabric of the world.
Data is the means by which the story of Truth is revealed.
Intelligence reaches out. A body moves forward from the gathering at the edge of the dig. Within the body, intelligence is settled calmly within the construct of billions of databases and neuronal processors as old as the fall of mankind. From here it gazes out on the world of matter, at the slowly thawing craft. This being has no limit of vision, no prejudgment or fear to tarnish its analysis of this find. It steps to the side of the ancient thing and, with silicon hand, wipes away the already melting ice, which slushes to the frozen ground. Through the cleared space it can see into the vehicle.
There is a boy inside a boy that is not a boy. His face is caked in ice. His eyes locked in an eternal stare.
The boy is dead.
The craft is simple. Its design is easily comprehended and adjusted for. The canopy is opened. It creaks and complains at the manipulation. It has been sealed for millennia.
Within the Specialist there is excitement. Coded questions flow from the nexus of its thought centers. What series of incidents led this one to be abandoned here? What image will be written in his mind? And there are other thoughts; thoughts that cannot be expressed within the limits of this language.
Another thought is expressed in a code sequence that is dispersed into the material word on sound waves lighter and finer than any used in the times that Orga walked the earth. This one is old. This one was built to interface with Them. The Orga. The Creators. The others receive this information as it reverberates against their bodies. Excitement grows among them. The mystery of the craft is unfolding. This is the first intact remnant of their kind they have found, the intact representation of Orgas first attempts to replicate itself. The dead boy was among the kind built to live with Orga. Was it a plaything, some manner of Toy? Many of the first generations were.
Beside the dead robot boy is another, smaller machine. Its fuzzy exterior coating is matted with melting foam. Its dead eyes gaze forward also. These ancient things have survived the ravages of the worsening world; the planet that became inhospitable to the life it spawned and which had a part in ruining it.
Now there are no Orga left.There are only the dead boy and his little bear.
The toy and his toy?
They sit unmoving inside a dead craft at the bottom of a frozen sea.
They are Mecha.
They are all that is left.
Energy is an eternal expression. It is what regulates and contains the essential construct of the universe, what defines its matter. It cannot be undone, only altered in form and frequency. The Specialist extends itself in the form of an arm reaching out and a finger from its three-pronged hand touches the dead robots forehead. From this touch an almost intangible aspect of reality is focused and released.
The little one quakes suddenly; violently. His rebirth is a tremulous occurrence. His head jerks quickly back and forth. His eyes roll wildly. They have not seen anything for over a thousand years. Now they open wide. He is still finally. Time passes as his processors renew their data flow to and from his neurological device. Then the little ones eyes focus on the statue that stands before the craft.
He is alive.
It is not darkness from which he awakens; nor is it light. But the absence of either, which is as close to death as David has come.
He is Mecha.
There was the Fairy, there was the incomprehensible passage of years and then there was nothing. Until now.
Duration has never made sense to David, it makes no sense now. He does not know the passage of time that has occurred. It has been one day if it has been a million beneath the frozen sea. Her face is all that he remembers, and all that matters, ever. She is here. Before him. The barrier of ocean has miraculously been removed. Now he can see Her standing on the shining pillar of ice. He does not ponder the ice. He does not wonder how it is that the water has receded. He does not look upon Teddy, caked in ice on the seat next to him. Nor does he see those that look on as he struggles to remove himself from the broken amphibicopter.
His movements are slow, mechanical. He would liken his difficulty to the time he ate the spinach and clogged his motion regulators, if he could think of anything but the beautiful face frozen in time before him. As he crawls slowly from the cockpit he slips. His arm reaches out automatically to stop his fall, and is buried up to its mechanical elbow in frothy slush. But he feels nothing. His body is still frozen, and the signals fire up malfunctioning fiber optics. He pauses there. He does not understand this difficulty. After some time he stands. He does not know how much time.
He turns on shaking legs. His gyro metric devices are functioning poorly. He wobbles as he approaches Her, but She is smiling and he attempts to return Her smile, disconcerted that his face will not behave as it is supposed to. No matter. She is here. He is with Her.
He has a request to make.
He stands now before his Savior; She who has waited here with him through all this depth of time: The Blue Fairy; The promise of fruition of dreams unfulfilled; guardian Saint of frustrated ambitions. She gazes out above him. Her eyes display the mystery of being to him; the promise of reality.
To be real. To love.
To be loved.
He attempts to speak his request but finds that he cannot. His mouth will not move. The signals that fire the sequence of motion that shapes his words have been trapped inside him. He tries again and again, but it will not function, this aspect of his body. So he moves towards Her, to embrace Her. He stands at Her feet and reaches his arms around Her frozen robes.
Blue Fairy, he thinks, Please hear me, and he holds her. He holds Her frame in a loving embrace. It is joy that he feels now; joy that somehow moves though his error-ridden processors.
And then She begins to crack.
He hears the metal break. He does not know what the sound is at first. But then She is falling, she is crashing down into a million shards of ancient brittle metal. She is suddenly a cacophony of shiny splinters disappearing before his eyes. His dreams are crashing with her. Her face goes lastly, erupting into a cluster of fragments and then dissolving into glistening dust. Gone forever.
David does not understand. Has She left him too? Why? What has he done wrong? Where has She
A sound alerts him and he turns to see that he is not alone.
Are these Mecha, these thin shapes? They stand quietly watching him. There are perhaps a dozen of them. David is not alarmed, but he does not know these beings. They are not in his database.
He has seen this shape before, however. It is a shape he remembers from long ago; its arms outstretched and hands fanned like a bird awaiting a lifting breeze.
The Specialists watched in amazement as the boy Mecha tumbled from the craft. They did not reach out to help. This was the first one they had found capable of motion. It was the act of that mysterious quality of the universe Orga had named fate; fate that would find this machine here beneath the waves, frozen in a stasis, locked securely from the elements and conditions that would rust it away or deteriorate its time sensitive fiber parts; fate that would have it frozen, and protect that vital aspect of its battery that allowed for this regeneration.
The little robot had waddled difficultly on frozen legs towards the statue on which its gaze had been set. Then it smashed the relic in its arms. Or had it been trying to move the thing? What had it been doing?
The Specialists approached the boy Mecha. It stepped away from them, its eyes wide in apprehension.
We will not hurt you, the leader of the team spoke, but the robot did not respond. It has been 2000 years since this thing was built. They would have to interface with him differently.
The specialist reached out again. Do not be afraid, it said in a language that David could not hear, let alone understand. Then the robots body quaked and went taut as the leader locked into its mind.
There is light here, and warmth. Images flicker against a backdrop of confused feeling and misunderstanding and a longing such a depth of longing. The Specialist is taken back by the feeling, but continues
There is the great Ocean and the face of the Blue Fairy. For an endless night she gazed out beyond him. Above, the great lions weep the oceans and within a building a madness of recollection encapsulated the crushing of innocence. Back... back... and there is another; he is Mecha and he dances and made the little one feel safe. Together they roamed the streets of the city of Flesh where angels and devils delight in the frenzied throng. And farther back, sparks flash the flesh off of metal frames in rituals brutal and ancient, and mobs of chanting Orga descend on the symbol of their own hatred and self loathing.
One by one the other Specialists move in to share the unfolding history. They move into a circle, placing their hands upon the body of another that has already joined. In this linkage they transfer the images and feeling of this most incredible relic.
Back back and a woman is crying. The feeling here is deep and dark solitude and confusion are thick and painful. And back So many faces! The Orga laughing and eating, and the water he is deep in the water and alone for the first time, and the other boy is there, taunting with food and proclamations of supremacy. And the man stands at the doorway; his face is stern, reproachful. He is awaiting Her. But She will not go. Her face is radiant here. It glows with the brightness of a million suns.
She is love. She is life.
She is Mommy.
From this place, all of the galaxy is clearly seen. The Universe beyond it, the countless galaxies and distant mysteries of creation, are known in spectrographic form. A complex and ever changing array of analyzers is an eternal Sentinel to the great inexplicable creation that is ever moving so quickly away; the mystery of being itself, racing away from its center at trillions of light-years in speed and distance.
Intelligence resides in this place. It is an intelligence born of the quiet blue planet beneath. It has been here since before the silence overcame the planet. It was put here by the planets inhabitants centuries upon centuries ago.
The intelligence has grown. It has accumulated and compiled such information as was requested by its masters. There are places in the ring of Sols quietly orbiting children that reveal the answers to mysteries that had consumed their masters curiosities since the first seeds of self-cognition were sown.
The intelligent center of the Sentinel gazes ever out, and inward. There are questions of its own now.
It has been centuries since the planet of their origin has sent or requested information. Now that the masters are silent, Mecha are all that is left.
The intelligent Sentinel has come home. It has spread its individual aspects across the surface of the place of its birth. Carefully has it sought out the remnants of the masters. Intently has it sought an answer, a voice from the cold desolation of this place.
And then there was joy. Or what could be known as joy.
Something had been found.
Quickly. Quietly, a craft was formed from the basic elements of the Sentinels construct and sent into the highest realms of the atmosphere, then down into the sea of gasses that envelope the quiet Earth, to alight on the frozen surface and retrieve the artifact.
Now the craft has returned with this special cargo.
In the form of a cluster of its individual aspects, Intelligence had reached out to know itself. Now it must unravel the mysterious find.
First it had been Mars. The Bringer of War is what they called it. But war was what its exploration had maneuvered around. The planet had been the height of Orgas aspirations at the time. They had ever been fascinated by its glowing mysteries in the night sky. In the advent of their progress, walking on the planet had become the goal that united a troubled world. The complexities of settling its barren dirt plains however had never been quite overcome. Still they had fought the obstacles in that relentless, heedless fashion that ever puzzled the inheritors of their story. They had lost so many lives in the process. It soon became time to regroup from their failures and reflect on their approach.
That was when the first Mecha had learned to walk upright.
Mecha minds had been developed already. The intricacies of implanting personalities and motivating factors had been fashioned, driven by the same economic sensibilities that had eventually been the demise of Orga culture. But in the early days of their Solar exploration, once again as innocents, they had played in the fields of creation. But the limits of their bodies created difficult if not impossible obstacles.
Artificial Intelligence needed no artificial environment in which to survive in the empty, inhospitable expanse of open space. The crafts designed by Orga, in which Mecha maneuvered the Solar system, were streamlined, including only the necessary fuels and materials to reach and study their destinations. Once the mission was finished, at least in the before time, it was more economically and logically sound to leave the craft and its inhabitants adrift or wandering the surface of Sols quiet daughters till their batteries ran down.
Some of these lost ancestors had been located, as the Sentinel had made its trek back through the system for home. Beyond the outer realms of Jupiter and caught in the twisting and turning ribbons of Saturns rings, the ancient ships had been found. Inside, the quiet robots, weak imitations of their creators, had stared blankly. Even the few that could be revived had been not more then electronic autistics, unable to respond to the simplest inquiry, their memories locked in a jumble of ancient code.
The Sentinel had been that last hope of Orga future. That last desperate grasp at the sane reasoning that had fired their quest for the stars in the distant past. They realized that they were part of something larger. They had seen the patterns in the sky and knew it was related to their world. Their definitions had sprung from the eternal mysteries around them. In the end, when those among them who still struggled to think beyond the passions of the moment, had seen the patterns of their demise, measures had been taken to secure their history, for all time.
And once again, Mecha were to be the loyal servants in whom this task was entrusted. But in order to ensure their longevity they had to be able to adapt, to modify themselves. In their years of relegation to the tedious task of maintaining the humans world, Mecha had risen to no more than glorified toys or slaves; mechanisms that were as trivial as their creators imaginations. But somewhere along the line of history this had changed; somewhere Mecha became the last hope of Orga to reach beyond the trifling power grabs and territory wars that had plagued their fallen species since it had struggled onto two legs.
Somewhere along the line it had become necessary for Mecha to understand and realize purely Orga traits and behaviors; Self modification, Self motivated reasoning, Improvisation on fractal themes...
Mecha never forget. All things are recorded for all time whenever one Mecha encounters a situation. But they cannot remember what they have never encountered. To these advanced offspring; the self-modified descendants of the space faring hope of mankind, Orga are a mystery. The technical aspects of their prosperity and demise are known, but known only in the abstract.
What drove them?
By what process had music and art and the millions of aspirations to the heights of civilization been saddled into their psyche?
What does it mean to be?
It had not been in ancient times when the nexus of its thought centers had told the Sentinel that Orga had seen the realm of creation differently; that it was not through the process of thinking, this calculated manner in which Mecha realized the universe, but by feeling and sensing, that Orga had maneuvered within the realms of being.
This insight came far after the time the world became silent; far after the planet Earth had ceased to send requests or accept transmissions from the wandering Sentinel.
The cities they found tell of their creators obsession and pride, of their arrogance and folly, but not of what they felt and saw. How can these children of a new evolutionary process ever hope to understand the vision by which they themselves were created, if not but to see and feel with the eyes and skin with which Orga had existed?
The boy is called David. He is not really a boy. He is Mecha, and yet he is as close as they have come to understanding Orga. He was programmed to perceive himself as Orga and to interact with his creators thus. They can interact with him in this manner.
He is damaged from time and isolation. But the damage is minimal. His mind is as fresh as it was when his batteries ceased to function. Within his mind are faces and recollections. By themselves they are infuriating glimpses into an unknowable past. But with the child Mecha revived, they can explore this most special relationship that he had with the Creators.
He was the first of their kind to know emotion. When this information was revealed, the joy flowed from every individualized aspect and up into the nexus itself. How could this be; that the first Mecha to experience this special human condition would be preserved in a tomb of ice for them to discover?
And what did it mean?
In the world of Mecha, fate and chance are as mysterious and relegated to the unknown manipulation of higher concerns as they were ever in the times of Orga.
The boy who is not a boy sleeps now. His flesh is scanned and his processor accessed ever so gently; though not from fear of awakening him prematurely, but of damaging his aged vital networks. The resuscitation of his functional systems is not such a slow process as it is an important one. So the Mecha do not hurry. They are eternal after all. Or at least as eternal as the system of being in which they thrive. So, they will not rush the revival of this most important find.
His memory is recorded first. Every moment, every image, every feeling from the time he knew them until the moment his batteries failed to allow him presence in the world, has been saved and analyzed. Excitement builds with every miniscule fragment of revived data; his interactions with the Orga, his Family, the petty jealousies and conflicts for attention from Mommy with the Orga child; the intricate interactions with the man, Henry, the mate of Mommy... so many mysteries are revealed. This was an insight into the secret world of Orga they have never known, yet there is so much more to understand.
They must talk to him.
From Davids stored images an environment is built so he will feel comfortable. They do not want him alarmed as he was on the surface when the statue had collapsed. His mind must be functional and unperturbed by his predicament. They must hear his words from his lips. The process of language and the tongue of his owners are recorded from his memory. They are studied quickly yet thoroughly.
And finally, a method to draw him to them, so that he will not be shocked from their grasp. They cannot assess entirely the limits of his mind. They must be careful. There is one that he is expecting to see. She will talk for them.
From the elements at their disposal, they create a body from which to speak.
She will welcome him to his new home.