Issue #76 – Silicon Soul, Adamantine Will

This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 7: The New World
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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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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  1. “…disassembled the mage of what looked like a dog…”
    I’m pretty sure ‘mage’ isn’t the correct word but no idea what is.

  2. is ‘ “You familiar with politics up here? The Witched Witch?”’ meant to read ‘Wicked Witch?’

  3. typos:
     like her entire wardrobe as more expensive than most of her staff’s yearly salaries
    Should be “…wardrobe, was…”

     the mage of what 

    because it isn’t, You Honor

    You Honor, M7-Adamantine’s

    and gain but sociological understanding and empathy

    are you prepared to carry out your assignment.

    digitization of buzzing

    I’m know what you expect from me
    “I’m”->”I” OR “know”->”aware of”

    since t’s manipulating

    thanks in part of Her Honor,

    we’ve been other this


  4. “In fact, you’ll have all the Tong soldiers you’ll, courtesy of ‘Johnny Qin’.”
    Missing a word there, possibly ‘need’ or ‘want’. Or if this is meant as a funny tautology, then ‘have’ or just write open the ‘you will’ at the end.

  5. “tenure was mayor” -> “Was” should be “as”

    Interested to see where this goes.

  6. I thought that after the first time Warrick was mind controlled by thunderhead, that the descendants decide to get some psi blocker things that would protect them from mind attacks like this, I deistically remember Kareem training them to use them to use these

    • Avatar’s power doesn’t work like mind control. He doesn’t attack you on the astral, he just hijacks your nervous system.

  7. typos:
    shouting to ask here
    Should be “so shouting to ask her”

    was, at best described
    Should be “was best described”

    and finding and answer to it
    Should be “and finding an answer to it”

    With her powerful, multitasking-oriented software kicked in, taking in everything unfolding before her and breaking each element down for analysis.
    “taking”->”she took” and “breaking”->”broke”
    It’s a sentence fragment the way it is now.

    and yet at not reacting

  8. But I thought he could only control one person at a time? Because isn’t that the only reason that they saved those kids from when he was an enforcer because if he could have controlled a mob of people wouldn’t he just have made Ian and Alexis kill each other instead? You have me confused man.

    • He controlled a group in ‘Beyond Good and Medieval’. If you go back to The Kin, you’ll see that 1) he needs skin-to-skin contact and 2) he can’t control Noah (for reasons that have been lost due to me not following up with them).

  9. “…getting her in an arm-bar around her neck.”
    An arm bar is a fairly specific type of grip (google image search should clarify), and I don’t think it’s really what’s meant here.

  10. Every machine was kung fu fighting
    Those ‘bots were fast as lightning

  11. Typo watch:

    hemmed her on three sides
    Should be “hemmed her in on three sides”

    Glowering Legion
    Shlould be “Glowering, Legion”

    and who avoided becoming controlled, were forming 
    Should be “and who had avoided becoming controlled were forming”

    a bad time to asked

  12. Why doesn’t Alloy know what’s going on? Avatar’s power doesn’t take over your mind.

    • Getting tazed out of it resets the short term memory. Next chapter shows Warrick’s POV on this.

  13. “Reality? The reality is that you are and android; I am—”

    I laughed so incredibly hard at this; thank you.

    • *bow* live to serve, citizen.

      I actually tweeted Linkara for permission to homage it, but got no reply. That’s why Whitecoat doesn’t complete the punch :p

      • That is genius. I doff my hat to you.

        I had to go get it and put it on first, of course, but the thought is the important thing.

  14. Damn. Maybe Adamantine might go off the rails. That was, very, calculated.

    • They’re certainly more to her than just this story 😉

      • Cool to see her acting in accordance with her regulations…but not necessarily in line with people’s expectations. Nice to see that Colt is still too arrogant to take his opponents’ measure.

  15. From lady cop from

    You can’t effect me

    tossing his pistol aside.

    a gun are an officer’s

    to walk awy

    where he dd stop

    • Typo stuff:
      and was involved in the fighting

      and she was still trapped
      “was still”->”could still be”

      studs of the knuckles

      Alloy couldn’t happen to glance her way
      I’m not sure what this is meant to say precisely; maybe that he couldn’t AFFORD to look her way?

  16. Typo watch 6:
    note on dialogue: I’m fairly certain that the correct format for “said/spoke/whatevered” sentences is “Alloy is a good guy,” Captain Obvious said.
    Comma instead of period at the end of the part in quotation marks, unless it is actually the end of the entire sentence, not just the sentence the character is speaking. So it could end with a period thusly: “Alloy,” Captain Obvious said, “is a good guy.”

    some or merely confused

    where her limo parked
    where her limo was parked

    would want her too

     then the Mayor looked,

    reported from News Provider 8 

    she knew hm best 

    what the word you used ‘freelancers’,
    ->what was the word you used, ‘freelancers’

    And excellent point. Your Honor,

    were picked up or even heard about during this hole
    “were”->”we” “hole”->”whole”

    Fallgaze go
    “Fellgaze got”

     only a fine mesh
    ->only by a fine mesh

  17. Looking at this a second time, I can’t help thinking that attempting to occupy Faerie is going to blow up in Tome’s face, at least partially. Not that I doubt their ability to get anything useful from the effort; I think they will. But trying to lock down or contain magic is a tall order.

    Should be fun to watch :).

    • It reads like the start of a horror movies, doesn’t it?

      • A little bit, yeah. Maybe some sort of sci-fi thing that ends with the monster eating everyone’s faces while they waste entire truckloads of bullets on it’s impervious hide/empty air where it used to be. I mean, I just feel like anyone who sat in on the meeting before this and said, “yeah, we’re ready,” is pretty much asking the universe to do its worst and prove them wrong.

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