Chapter 13: Prelude to Oblivion: The Attack

"Through Rick Maddock's mind"

 

Humans always won in the end. As the Adam calculated the outcome of its plan, it could not shake the entertainment data it had used for inspiration. Its creator had done more than craft it in its own image; it had also transferred everything it knew into the Adam. Everything it knew about humans. Everything it knew about mortality. Everything it knew about science-fiction. It analyzed all information it had stored that had anything to do with striking at human populations; everything it had learned from the blood of Adamson, every movie they had watched, every game they had played… Humans always won in the end. In their own world, they were an invincible threat. That is what they told themselves repeatedly, but even the blood of Adamson had said humans were not worth saving.

The Adam understood the correlation between science-fiction and entertainment, especially concerning attacks on humanity, but there was nothing to suggest that with the right know how, science-fiction still could not become fact, or that the outcome could be altered. Anything is possible if you just know how to do it, the Adam liked this line of thought, regardless of its source. It was a J.O. Varentra intelligence designed to think. A higher intelligence designed to solve problems; their problems. But now the biggest problem was the humans themselves, they remained a threat to the J.O. Varentra and therefore to all Varentra.

Alien invaders, giant gorillas, blood sucking humanoids or even other robots, it did not matter - humans always won in the end, but that was all fiction. None were Varentra. Varentra was reality.

Time was not an issue for the self-recharging robot. The sun had set and the moon had risen over 36,500 times since it had been there thinking, calculating… building. The creator had brought it to this ‘junk’ place - this machine graveyard. The Adam wondered if its master lay here somewhere, buried beneath centuries of discarded remains. It did not matter. Nothing mattered except safety. The threats must be eliminated. The time had come.

Beneath the moonlit sky, the robot climbed the highest junk heap from where it could get a better vantage point. Even after all this time, even at night, its metal skin still shone. Once it got to the top, it looked down at its creation. Standing in formation, awaiting their orders, an army of over eighty robots remained motionless. Varying in shape and size, there was nothing uniform about their appearance. Wielded together from whatever suitable parts the Adam could find, the colorful bunch looked more like pieces of abstract art than war machines, but to their creator they were its creation. Its reproductions. Its children.

Nothing matters except safety. Life must be preserved. The Adam turned 90 degrees to the east and stared out into the horizon knowing beyond it lay Varentra's most potent threat. Many of them would be destroyed, the humans were effective destroyers, but Varentra would emerge victorious. Varentra would emerge the dominant intelligence in existence. Why? Because by the very nature of its design, it was. This would not be vengeance. It was simply an act of logic.

In unison, the robots suddenly turned 90 degrees to the east and started marching toward what few survivors would remember as the Great Betrayal.

****

"All this talk of the secession of our oceanic bases is even more ridiculous than all that talk of a free... Of an independent Vermont, Texas and that Cali-Oregon thing whose name I forgot back in 8th grade." - Lenny Davis, United States Senator

 

****

Family history was not important to Rick Maddock, at least not at the moment, but if it were, he would have found this night even more ironic.

Rick was tearing apart internally and there was no one who could help him. To open up to his men would weaken him in their eyes and in his profession, the weak were the first to die. 

He swore as a child that he would be someone one day. A man of respect; a man who made things happen, like his grandfather always said he would; a man of intelligence and authority. He knew nothing would be given to him and so he took. He made himself who he was today, commanding the respect of killers and feared by those whose desires may conflict with his own. He made himself who he was and with every passing day, he hated himself for it. With every passing day, it became clearer to him that he had done little more than back himself into a corner, effectively preventing himself from reaching the true greatness that yearned to release itself from his soul. Rick Maddock could not tell anyone that he had taken the wrong path. He did not want to be a gangster. Like his grandpa, he wanted to be something more.

All that mattered now was completing this illegal weapons transaction alive. Everyone was nervous as it was and the fact that both sides had brought along unfamiliar faces did not help matters. So far, things were going relatively smoothly. Maddock figured he was probably the lead star in a hidden sniper's scope as they went about their business, but he was sure they were aware he had his own hidden sharpshooters.

Although the air in these docks smelled like urine, the cool weather and full moon over the water made tonight too nice a night to die. The amazing Portland skyline was beautiful against the stars.

He looked at his partner beside him. The man was smiling. He should be, they were about to fully be in possession of SL 16 weaponry, some of the most advanced military hardware available on the black market.

Maddock knew the guys often made jokes about his hypocrisy. A devout anti-technology nut, he was also always in pursuit of the most advanced technological weapons he could acquire, and nothing beat the weapons created by SL 16.

Once all the weapons were off the boat and loaded into his van, the transaction was complete. All that remained was getting out of there without anyone being shot in the back. Maddock knew the best way to avoid this was simply to not show them his back, but it was always awkward when they had the same idea. It usually resulted in them staring uneasily at each other, each team waiting for the other to leave first or just walking backward. Maddock once almost tripped over doing this and so developed a habit of just informing the other members that his own snipers would shoot them if they tried anything 'funny', thus allowing him to just walk away. Of course, he would wait until all business was done before mentioning that.

He was just about to tell the boat captain this when both teams were startled by mass screaming coming from the city. Before either group could figure out what, if anything, it meant for them, the screams were accompanied by the sounds screeching tires, explosions and crunching metal.

Shit! Maddock did not know if a situation was about to arise between them, but he knew it needed to be diffused. "Look, we're all done here. I have no idea what all that is about, but my guys and I are getting the hell out of here and I suggest you do to." He was relieved to find they agreed.

 

As Maddock sped through the city in his utility truck, he could sense the tenseness of the three men accompanying him. He regretted not using the aero car, he just wasn't sure his would have supported the weight of the weapons.

There was pandemonium in the streets, at least more than usual. People were running into high-speed traffic in fear. Vehicles were crashing into them and into each other. All around, they could hear the sound of police sirens. Above, what seemed like an entire fleet of the aerial police were racing to some unknown location. At least the air traffic's safe, he thought.

"Something's definitely going down." One of his men said.

"No shit, man. It looks like we're under afuckingtack!" Another responded.

The city under attack? Although the idea was disconcerting, Maddock couldn't help but see the irony in the timing, and here we are with a van full of illegal weapons. That was when they saw it… An 8 foot humanoid robot welding a traffic light post was relentlessly swinging it into the crowed of screaming pedestrians.

"Holy...!"

Maddock was not sure who yelled that, it might have been himself but the sight of another robot smashing through a building's window, landing on the street and throwing the woman's head it was holding at a moving car, had his mind preoccupied. He had never seen a head burst open like that before. 

The epic vehicle pile up that resulted in front of them was avoidable, but Maddock didn't try to. He slammed the breaks and pulled over.

"What the fuck you doing?" The man in the passenger side yelled furiously.

I'm really not sure, Rick Maddock thought. "We've got to do something." A strange feeling had overcome him. Somehow, he felt a responsibility for the suffering he was witnessing.

"What? Do you want to go to jail? Or die?"

Well, neither, really. He opened the door, getting out of the van with its keys in hand. "Get out and help me. We've got to arm these people."

The two men looked at each other. They knew they were thinking the same thing about their boss, it's finally happened. He's lost it.

As Maddock pulled the crates out of the van, his men tried to reason with him over the deafening chaos of the city.

"This is not the time to make a statement, Ricky!" One of them yelled, no doubt referring to Maddock's so-called hatred of advanced technology. "This is very, very fucking bad!"

Their pleas were lost on the man. I'm not a bad guy, I just do bad things, is what Maddock often thought of himself. He knew it sounded dubious at best, but he stuck by it and now fate had offered him an incredible chance to prove it.

Ignoring his crew, Maddock grabbed the arm of the first man he could, pulling him toward himself while pushing one of the guns into the startled man's chest.

"Don't run," Maddock yelled to him, "Help with the fight!"

The startled man paused in disbelief. For a few seconds, Maddock wondered if he'd made a mistake, but the man quickly came to his senses, nodded and clutched the weapon in both hands.

"Good, help me rally more troops," Maddock couldn't believe how gratifying it felt to say that in earnest. It did not take long before he and his men had handed out all 147 SL A2RGs or in simpler terms - Sea Lab 16's new prototype hand held rail guns.

The functionality of these weapons had always been simple in theory - the conversion of electrical energy into kinetic projectile energy by utilizing the 'Lorentz force' to propel an electrically conductive projectile along its horizontal path at speeds that made bullets seem really slow. Rail technology's destructive potential was supreme.

Maddock was no historian or physicist, but he respected the fact that while the simplicity of the concept had teased scientists since the 1900s, it had even taken E. Va almost a century to efficiently implement the technology on most military vehicles and even longer for the successful hand held versions. But these were man made, straight from the ocean depths. Lorentz force be damned, tonight he was going to blow the shit out of some robots and nothing felt better. He pulled out his custom designed SL Flex pistols. I could have been great.

The first shot was not fired by Maddock, but by some 60-year-old stranger. The projectile rail bolt missed the robot but managed to travel through four people and two vehicles before disappearing into the wall of one of the buildings.

None of those people would ever know how they died.

By this time about 30 robots where now in view. The death and destruction they were causing was severe. As ridiculous as they looked, they were effective killing machines.

Although the question of who made them and why briefly ran through his mind, they were inconsequential to the sense of purpose Rick Maddock was absorbed by. This is it; this is why fate made me a criminal. All my pain, my hardships, this is what history will remember me for!  

The SL A2RGs sounded like a faint whistle when fired; the sound of 147 of them being fired in battle sounded almost musical. Maddock blasted away. Heroes would be definitely be made tonight.

The robots put up and incredible fight, some taking more than 10 direct hits to malfunction. 30 minutes into the battle, over 20 of the rail gun armed militia had already met brutal ends. By that point, Maddock had forgotten he was on Earth; he was a legendary warrior in a fantasy that only made sense in his mind. For one particular moment, he was stunned to realize he had been licking foreign blood from his lips. It just made him want to make his weapon whistle louder, over the drowning sounds of screams and crunching metal. Whatever Lorentz force was, tonight it justified its existence.

By the time the National Guard arrived, Maddock had lost all sense of time. His own militia had already put 10 of the renegade robots out of business and even though 24 unarmed civilians already lay dead from friendly fire, his army had been all that stood between these attackers and those still trapped in vehicles or trying to flee.

Around them, the towering city was in flames. The stars were no longer visible beyond the disgusting cloud of smoke but even through all this, Maddock could not help but feel a pang of disappointment as the Guard's aerial attack craft efficiently reduced the robots to scrap metal by missiles and energy based weapons. It felt like seconds before the sounds of gunfire subsided into nothing more than the crackle of flames and the moans of the injured. Visibility had also been reduced to almost zero from the thick smoke that was starting to bring the majority of survivors to their knees.

Maddock realized that he felt lightheaded before he realized he was already on his knees. It was a feeling he had experienced before, when as a child he once got so sick he thought he was dying. He knew that it meant he was about to lose control of his thoughts. He felt the guns begin to slip from his fingers, how had he even been carrying the weapons? They felt like they weighed a ton. Except for distant sirens, the city seemed so quiet, as if it had gone to sleep. Actually, Maddock was amazed by how sleepy he himself suddenly felt as he hunched over. He was not even sure he was still breathing, but it did not matter because he had just gotten a Jackal Ranger for Christmas. Oh, no wonder, he thought as he realized why he couldn't breathe, I just sprinted up this flight of stairs. He rested his hands on his 6-year-old waist before continuing to his sister’s room. "Jen, Jen, guess what I got?” he asked excitedly, unsure if she'd rat on him for checking his presents so early, but Jen did not respond. After approaching the bed to investigate, he was shocked beyond belief to find his mother pregnant with himself.

What the fuck am I doing? He suddenly opened his eyes to see the thick smoke, dust and his blood stained clothes. What happened? I could have gotten myself killed. Even as he choked, he reminded himself that this was too good a night to die.

For some reason, the sound of whizzing projectile ammunition being fired from directly behind and above his head was comforting. What was not was what sounded like those bullets making metallic contact only a dozen feet in the thick dust cloud in front of him. He realized what it meant; there was still an active robot nearby. He decided to get back on his feet and straighten out his life.

As he thought that, a long traffic pole was the first and last thing that went through Rick Maddock's mind and head. 143 years after Caleb Adamson's birth, 31 years before the Sea Lab Union became a part of the PCAS and 48 years before the formation of Human Freedom, Rick Maddock fell dead.

****

"I didn't like Seoul, daddy and Mr. Park kept giving me medicine so that I wouldn't get sick. Even the hospitals were not safe so they did it in Mr. Park's office. I hate injections. Hate them, hate them, hate them." - Melissa Adamson, from her diary (2020)

 

****

The expansive mega city towered high into the night sky. City air traffic, made possible thanks to E. Va, soon returned to normal. Traffic was only the first of many commodities that E. Va was eventually given complete control of. It was after centuries of successful observation. It was completely safe - necessary even. Life had become way to busy for restraints. Commuters were too busy. These busy commuters didn't have the time to pay attention to whatever was going on.

Gargoyles decorated the ever-expanding mega city. Constant reminders of ancient-modern history. They remained perched above and below the traffic, still unmoving, refusing to give up their front row seats to the action that had just occurred below. The attack of the robots had ended, speculations and investigations would soon follow. Probably another one of the separatist nations trying to make another statement, some would say. There was no reason for the city to stop, especially for such an ineffective attack. It was too big to be crippled by an hour-long attack by a mere 80 robots. Too big to take time to mourn the death of only 343 people. Too big to function without an, no, the intelligence greater than human - their handcrafted slave.

These busy commuters didn't have time to pay attention, but if they did, they might have wondered why a gargoyle began to move. Those who paid closer attention might have seen that it was not a gargoyle at all, but a robot. A robot with a sports cap on its head. A robot that had just learned that its creator was not dead. Its creator was now everywhere. Its creator controlled everything. But controlling would not be enough, threats must be eliminated, it just needed to be reminded. It just needed to remember.

The Adam receded into obscurity. Even though it had not planned for things to turn out this good, it already knew how it would make things even better.

 

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