- Issue #73 – Give Thanks
- Issue #74 – Bit Part Bad Guys
- Issue #75 – Kaiju for Christmas
- Issue #76 – Silicon Soul, Adamantine Will
- Issue #77 – Date Night
- Issue #78 – Delved Too Deep (Une Mascarade Brisée Part 1)
- Issue #79 – Tome of Secrets (Une Mascarade Brisée Part 2)
- Descendants Special #7 – The Curtain Rises
- Issue #80 – Bitter Work
- Issue #81 – Kin, Speed and Ducks
- Issue #82 – What To Do With Your Downtime
- Issue #83 – Avalon Rises
- Issue #84 – Darkness Falling
- Descendants Annual #7 – First Frost
Issue #76 – Silicon Soul, Adamantine Will
Silicon Soul, Adamantine Will (Part 2)
Brother Wright sat at his ease in his executive chair at the head of the conference table. Beside him on his right, Shine was only half-paying attention, most of her focus directed to her tablet computer. To his left, Leo, the android member of Aces High, stood at silent attention.
Across from those three sat the Legion of One. The cold had finally forced him to forgo his usual shirtlessness in favor of an army drab turtleneck so tight that his abs were visible through it. He cast a glance at the empty seats at the table, then raised an eyebrow at Wright.
“This is going to be a highly physical op and the target isn’t vulnerable to telepathy.” Wright explained. “So Thunderhead is sitting this one out. And I did try to get Fellgaze out, but, as it turns out, he isn’t faking. He really did suffer a nervous breakdown in Baltimore.”
Legion folded his arms and grunted. Fellgaze was dead weight in his opinion anyway. His powers, after all, were negated by not looking at him. “Alright. So what’s the op?”
“A twofer.” Wright said brightly. “I’m sure you remember Lab 2700, where we had Leo made, yes?”
“Yeah.” said Legion. Leo smacked of dead weight to him too. If it wasn’t for Shine, the whole team would just be a crew of losers for him to carry. “What about it?”
Wright ignored the lack of enthusiasm as he launched into the tale. “The deal I had with Dr. Atan was to supply her with the synthetic skin compound in exchange for the most sophisticated humanoid battle droid in existence to round out my team. When I heard that the Mayor of New York was commissioning a robot officer, I called in some favors for intelligence and what I found out was she was holding out on us: Leo’s AI is four generations behind what this new machine has, meaning that AI existed at the same time she gave us Leo’s.”
His face grew stony. “No one cheats me on a deal. And since I doubt the doctor will offer to correct her oversight, we’re going to do t for her.” The stone then melted into a smirk, the kind Wright usually wore—the kind that said he was smarter than everyone in the room.
“But the icing on the cake is that I’ve been in talks with an old friend: Richard Clowe. He’s handled a number of legal matters for me in the past and now he’d like to cash in on what I owe him.”
Legion grunted again, but with more interest. Wright’s web of deals, both legitimate and Faustian were engrossing in ways that juicy gossip might be to others. “So what’s he want?”
The smirk grew. “Richie is getting tired of just arguing law. He wants to start the long climb to making them—starting with a tenure was mayor of New York.”
Shine snorted. “Not likely. Raymond has a seventy-five percent approval rating and she’s clean as the inside of a bleach bottle.” Legion found himself nodding with that assessment.
Wright shook his head. “Well of course. She’s the one that brought Infinity in and as long as his star is rising, so will hers—unless she proves herself to be disastrously and expensively incompetent. Luckily for us, she’s an arrogant piece of work. For the past three months, she’s been talking all about how this robotic police officer initiative was all her idea so that when it succeeds, she’ll have another super-powered feather in her cap. When all is said and done, she’ll have sent…”
He briefly consulted his palmtop. “Sixty-eight million dollars of city money from development, construction and promotion of this project. Now imagine if criminals show up and take her precious police officer in broad daylight?”
Legion’s eyes narrowed. “Is this one of those screw jobs like you pulled on your Enforcer idiots back in Mayfield? Because me, Shine and the robot there aren’t enough to take on the kin of show of force the NYPD will have in play for something like that.”
His eyes narrowed more as he noticed that the smirk was aimed at him.
“I said that Fellgaze and Thunderhead were out, not that it would just be the three of you.” said Wright. “In fact, you’ll have all the Tong soldiers you’ll, courtesy of ‘Johnny Qin’.”
“Perfect.” Legion rolled his eyes. “A bunch of powerless mooks underfoot. That’ll make this job easier.” He glared in Shine’s direction. “Isn’t this your job? Pointing out the flaws in the plan?”
Shine’s white lips twitched in amusement. “Oh, but I’ve already heard the plan. You really should listen to the whole thing before shooting your mouth off, L.O.O.”
“Rest of the plan?” Legion’s attention drifted back to Wright and he could have sworn that the smirk had taken on a life all its own.
“Ah-ha.” Wright chuckled, “Yes, seeing as we’re understaffed for Aces, I decided to put some feelers out for some talented individuals to join the team. As luck would have it, the breakout from Braddock Island this summer and the collapse of the Enforcer Corps before that means that there are a lot of people out there who need good paying jobs but can’t get them due to being fugitives from justice.”
He tapped the screen of his palmtop and the door to the Aces High conference room swung open.
Legion knew who one of them was before he walked in; the footage from Mayfield had played for days coast-to-coast. The rattling chains gave away Jonathan Jones, also known as the former Enforcer, Manriki. The other was an olive-skinned man with a five o’clock shadow and dark hair grown down to his shoulders.
The former entered after the later and glowered at the full room, a cigarette tightly held between his lips.
“I suppose everyone here knows Manriki.” Wright said brightly.
Still glowering, Manriki pulled the cigarette from his lips. “Let’s not pretend to be buddies, Wright. You humped me with your ‘Redeemers’ bullshit. You know exactly why I’m here.”
Still seemingly as happy as a kid with a new toy, Wright nodded. “Certainly, Jonathan: a new face and a new identity. I have a plastic surgeon I can call and he’ll be standing by to get started as soon as your part of the mission is over.”
“And if I get caught?” Manriki snarled.
“The NYPD’s copy of your HomeSec file are already doctored to make it appear that you don’t have fine control with your TK. You’ll be put in a cell with a normal lock and can break out at will.”
Manriki nodded, but one of his chains rose up to point a lethal barb in Wright’s direction. “I better. Or next time I get out, this is going through your heart.”
At that, Wright’s expression wavered, but he recovered quickly. “Right. Anyway, our second new member is Josiah Colt, codename: Avatar.”
The man called Avatar offered a tight-lipped smile and folded his arms. “And that’s all the introduction you need. It’s your money, Wright—let’s here the plan.”
After seventy years of research and innovation, there were still massive holes in AI-simulated emotion.
The basics: joy, anger, fear, jealousy, and need along with their accompanying reactions had been fairly simple and codified by the early 2020’s. More subtle things were still in the trial and error phase.
Adamantine ruminated on this and found that she was able to register thankfulness that she knew that what she was experiencing was an indignity but didn’t have any relevant reactions to it.
Standing in what amounted to a metal prop coffin with a tarp thrown over it to hide her from public view until a dramatic reveal, she was well aware that this was not how people treated anything or anyone they had any respect for. This was how they treated statues and cars. No one asked her if she had any problems with it. No one cared.
She understood though. Artificial intelligence of her capability was still brand new and relegated to laboratories. People didn’t know that there was something different in the way she thought and experienced the world and the way an android tour guide at a theme park did.
On the other hand, she was forced to wonder if Sarah Raymond’s casual disregard for her stemmed from that or if it was an extension of her casual disregard for everyone. Adamantine’s research into the mayor’s history leaned toward the latter and the speech she was giving outside Adamantine’s ‘display case’.
The Mayor was in rare form, speaking with her famous passion about the unique target her city presented to criminals, from pickpockets to organized crime to terrorists and how New York needed to make use of every resource they could get. What she didn’t mention were the court cases making their way through the courts over whether or not a city can grant police powers to a machine, and she most certainly didn’t mention New York’s independent prelates.
Ironic, Adamantine mused, as in the event of a major attack, prelates would be a valuable resource. Or at least they could if the mayor’s office and the NYPD had any kind of reliable and open communication with the prelate community.
There were only five descendants in the NYPD and one was a minor psychic who was on permanent desk duty thanks to a State Supreme Court ruling that there was no way of ever proving that she didn’t violate suspects’ fourth amendment rights. That meant that any powered response to an emergency had to come largely from the civilian sector.
Adamantine quietly filed that observation away for later. She doubted the mayor would listen, but she might be able to convince her fellow officer—if they didn’t treat her like a dumb object.
Outside, the mayor’s speech came to its climax. Mayor Raymond, of course took all the credit for her ‘initiative’ to develop a new prototype robotic police officer. Adamantine took exception to that: even if she was the first model of her design, all of the technologies involved in her creation were proven long before her creation.
The Mayor went on to say that if the pilot program was successful, then it might lead to an entire division of robotic police. She then tanked a long list of people who had little to nothing to do with the program or Adamantine’s creation before coming to the moment of truth: the unveiling…
“I never thought a speech involving a robot would be so boring.” Warrick whispered to Tink as they stood in the crowd gathered for the Mayor’s press conference. The crowd was surprisingly small, thanks to the conference being held on January second in the middle of the work day. Most of those there were journalists, scientists and a few representatives from other US cities looking for alternatives to powered armor for their police. Here and there, the couple saw others their age; geeks come to see another science fiction dream become reality.
Tink nodded. “I thought there might be more about what it can do instead of how brilliant an idea it is. Actually, I’m starting to agree with your friend’s suspicions seeing as they didn’t even release redacted specifications.”
“You think it’s packing some kind of hero-killer weaponry?”
She shrugged. “I have no idea. It’s just fishy.”
Warrick was quiet for a moment, then asked. “What are the chances that, if it’s even meant to go after prelates, it’ll do it straight off the bat?”
Tink was about to reply when someone bumped into Warrick, knocking him into her.
“’Ey!” Warrick barked, his accent becoming pronounced.
The man who bumped into him glanced back and shrugged before continuing on, bumping everyone in his path.
For a second, Warrick stared after him. “I could swear I’ve seen that guy before.” flashes of the same olive skin and Mediterranean features flickered through his head, but failed to connect to anything.
“Hmm?” asked Tink.
“Nothing, I guess.”
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