If anyone knows a good Christian book editor…
Aretherra Vol I
Created On: 04.08.2018
Last Modified: 08.10.2018
New Revision: 12.10.18
Word Count: 2760
Akula “joins” him
wake with emotions
speak and walk and talk with Akula
FYXYS://an android in distress//
“The Body Electric”
Someday soon, Master Akula would send him away and for the first time in his life, he would walk alone. He was an alien in a foreign land, far from everyone he ever knew, but he never felt alone. He was designed, built, and programmed to serve mankind for all of his days, and this he did well. Made in man’s image, he was an android and his name was FYXYS.
FYXYS was unable to recall the days before serving Master Akula in the mountain base camp, set deep in the land of Embia. Since his activation five years ago, Akula grew very fond of FYXYS and considered him to be a trusted friend and confidant. On many occasions, Akula confided in FYXYS, when he was exasperated and worried about his contribution to the project on the mountain. Unable to reciprocate Akula’s friendship, FYXYS never knew why he was treated as much more than the humanoid machine, originally designed for a life of servitude.
On the eve before his journey to the Gardens of Den, FYXYS and Akula went to a building on the outskirts of the encampment. From the outside, the one-room building looked abandoned and neglected. But inside told a very different story, the entire room was bathed in the glow of computers and candlelight. While scanning his surroundings, FYXYS noticed complex code being compiled on several of the networked computer monitors.
Akula had FYXYS sit on a stool in the center of the room and connected a single cable to the port on the back of his neck. Akula worked feverishly through the night, writing and checking code as he uploaded software into FYXYS’s core memory unit. Never before had FYXYS observed Akula like he did that night. He was anxious and did not speak for several hours, save for sudden outbursts and exclamations, or simply cursing to himself under his breath. When the candles burned low and the dustmotes became visible in the morning sunlight, the software updates were completed.
“Gather your things, you must leave within the hour,” a tired and emotionless Akula commanded, as he unplugged the cable from FYXYS.
Without hesitation, FYXYS stood and rushed towards the door, eager to obey his latest mandate.
“Wait!” Akula called out.
FYXYS stopped in the doorway and turned to his master. With a slight tilt of his head, he responded, “Sir?”
“You must act quickly. Assemble everything you need for your journey and don’t forget the PCU. Meet me by the old tree as soon as possible… Do not stop to speak to anyone before you leave.” Akula admonished with a stern tone.
FYXYS nodded, closed the door behind him and walked away. Everything about the last eight hours was unusual and highly illogical. He had never seen Akula act like that before, from his nervous behavior to his commands, this was not his normal self. Plus, why mention packing the Portable Charging Unit? Within minutes, FYXYS was ready to depart. As he left camp, he passed the border wall and the two watchtowers and then walked another .8 kilometers down the main road to his destination. Akula was waiting there, standing next to the old tree.
Akula nodded and smiled and said, “I’ll walk the first mile with you.”
Akula walked with FYXYS for the first two miles of his journey. As they walked, FYXYS continued to sense a palpable anxiety and fear, in his master. Akula did not speak the entire time, he set his gaze on the horizon before them. As they arrived at the intersection, where the main road forked into two, Akula stopped suddenly. FYXYS continued walking a few paces into the intersection, leaving Akula behind.
When FYXYS paused to turn back, Akula stood still at the edge, unable to go any further with his friend. FYXYS saw that he was downcast and somber, staring at the ground before his feet. He waited a moment, expecting a new command or a modification to his current objective, but this did not happen. Akula said nothing. FYXYS heard only their natural surroundings, the wind, insects, birds, and the rustle of grass and leaves, but nothing from Akula.
As FYXYS walked back to his master, he saw that Akula was softly crying.
“Master?” he asked. Akula wiped his tears with his sleeve and raised his head, but looked off with an unfocused stare. “Master?” he tried again. Seven and a half seconds later, Akula grabbed FYXYS by his upper arms and held on with both hands. Akula turned and looked directly into his eyes.
“If we had more time, I would tell you everything,” Akula said with a sigh. “Years ago, I told you that, one day soon, you would have to carry on without me. FYXYS, this is that day.” Akula briefly averted his eyes from FYXYS, a feeble attempt to hide his welling emotion. He took a deep breath and looked at FYXYS once again, “I have complete faith in you, my programming, and your most valuable asset, your humanity.” Akula proclaimed with a fleeting smile. “I know, I said humanity, but time will out. I’m afraid this will be the last we’ll see each other in this lifetime. Best you get on the road.”
Akula stood back and bowed before FYXYS. FYXYS turned and walked away. When he was almost a hundred paces down the road, he could hear his master whisper to himself, “We’ll see each other soon my friend.” FYXYS had seen a vast spectrum of human traits and emotions through the years, but what he just witnessed from Akula defied all logic.
After leaving Akula, FYXYS continued south across the rolling hills of Embia, until he reached the northern shore of Blackwater Loch. He made his way along the western shoreline until the Blackwater islands came into view. He then walked due west towards the distant mountains and then through a fertile valley, by the flowing streams of snowmelt from high above. He followed the swelling streams, which became rivers and he followed them south towards his destination. Finally, between the raging rapids of two conjoining rivers, sat a mighty boulder. At the base of that massive stone, was the secret entrance to the Gardens of Den.
After twelve days, he stood before the emerald green door, carved into the base of the impossible boulder. FYXYS opened the door and stepped through into another land.
Massive blue walls surround the land of Den. Hewn from a rare stone, the walls encircling the Gardens have stood guard against the outside world since the dawn of time. Like the land of Den, the origin of the walls is shrouded in mystery. Over twenty feet tall and half as wide, the walls of Den are protected by a mystical force. Throughout the centuries, no one has ever entered the Gardens of Den by scaling over or tunneling under the walls.
FYXYS followed the ridgeline of the forested hills and then made his way through the soggy wetlands. Eventually, he found dry ground again, as the vast swathes of grass-covered fields and towering evergreen forests of Den took over. Ever scanning his surroundings, FYXYS noticed strange and unnatural shapes in the upper reaches of the trees. When he reached the far end of the great field of grass, he passed through a dense treestand and heard the rushing of water nearby. FYXYS knew this was the sound of the next phase of his journey, he had found the River Den.
For many miles, he strode along the shaded path, tracing the banks above the rapids. He followed the river until it reached the outer edge of the meadow. From there it was a short walk to find The Deus Tree and The Cave under The Haunted Hill. FYXYS knew of the cave’s location but was never told what laid hidden in the darkness, deep inside. Safe from the ravages of time, some of the greatest secrets in all of Aretherra were held within in The Cave under Haunted Hill.
For as long as he could remember, he had lived in a dry savanna climate. The mountain by the camp was the only one for a hundred miles and could be seen from horizon to horizon. Embia was rugged, arid land, covered by wild grassy plains, scrub bushes, and very few trees. Before leaving Embia, he knew only the images from books and digital archives. Yet on his journey to Blackwater Loch, he had seen more of Areth than he ever knew existed. Walking among through the mountains and valleys, by the still waters of Blackwater and the raging torrent of rivers, FYXYS had finally seen these places with his own eyes.
Akula often marveled at the natural splendor of Areth. Sitting under an endless and star-filled sky, FYXYS spent many nights by the fire, hearing Akula wistfully speak of his homeland, dreaming of the places he hoped to roam someday. Although he knew it was an impossibility, Akula most dreamed of visiting the Gardens of Den. It was not lost of FYXYS the sad irony of where he now stood.
Now in the center of the Gardens of Den, FYXYS stood in the soft green grass and looked across the meadow. He felt no sense of wonder. He could not appreciate the beauty and splendor of Areth’s natural vistas he had witnessed. He appreciated the vast diversity of the natural world, but FYXYS could not enjoy it as Akula would. He saw only the science, he understood only the complexity and intricate details of creation.
After crossing the meadow, FYXYS approached Haunted Hill by the western bank. On the face of the hill, he saw primitive carvings adorning the flat rock wall. They were made before the day of the Elder Race before modern spoken languages existed. Near the carvings, he found the cave’s entrance, long covered by layers of fossilized vines.
FYXYS cleared the tangled growth and entered the mouth of the cave. The setting sun cast a long shadow on the cave floor before him. Once inside, FYXYS received a message. Akula had programmed a simple text message to be seen and read at the entrance of the cave.
“FYXYS: Before you venture into the depths of the cave, find a safe place to stay. After your long journey and before facing the unknown, it would be wise to plug into the Portable Charging Unit. Do not suspend functions or use low power mode, shut down completely for the night. When the PCU completes the recharge cycle, your system will wake and reboot your primary systems. After this cycle is completed, you will be prepared to continue your journey and complete your mission. Akula.”
Even though he was so far from home and alone in Den, FXYXS would obey Akula, as he always had. Soon he found a safe alcove off the main tunnel, took the PCU from his satchel, and plugged it in. He laid down upon the cold stone floor of the cave and shut down all primary systems, as commanded.
During the five years of service time spent with Akula, FYXYS had never dreamt at night, like his human counterparts. While in low power mode, all of his cognitive functions were suspended, with only root commands running to maintain basic monitor functions. On two occasions Akula speculated that one-day FYXYS might be able to dream like humans. FYXYS simply dismissed this idea as Akula’s attempt at humor. As a form of communication, he found humorous discourse to be entirely useless, a waste of time.
All was quiet, save for the echoes and dripping water sounding off the cave walls. The soft, pulsating hum of the PCU by his side was the only sound for the longest time.
In the blackness beneath Haunted Hill, FYXYS laid dormant and still. Save for a brief moment, when his fingers curled, as his head turned, while shutdown. All of his motor functions inert, all systems remained inactive. FYXYS was unaware of a new subroutine, running at the lowest level of his code. His movements were small and timid, nearly imperceivable. But for a hobby the first time in his life, FYXYS twitched.
Deep inside his synthetic brain, there was a movement of another kind. Like a dream, FYXYS heard Akula’s voice, softly speaking nearby. He then heard footsteps and other strange and unnatural sounds echoing from far away places. Suddenly he heard the crashing and splashing of falling water. In his mind’s eye, he soared over the deep blue water of a great lake. Toward a majestic waterfall, he was gliding ever. FYXYS would not think of these inexplicable and mysterious sounds again until a much later time.
Heat spread inside his body, as emanating waves of warmth from his power cores quickly restored his internal temperature to normal. His systems engaged and his motor functions were being restored. Although he did not possess a respiratory system like humans, coming back online was akin to a creator breathing life into a new creation.
FYXYS laid motionless, while one by one his systems engaged, from first to last, the basic to the vastly complex. Created in the likeness of humans, his mind emulated the human brain. Inside his biosynthetic cerebrum, the virtual hemispheres were capable of most human traits and abilities. FYXYS had the physical and mental capacity of humans, but he did not possess the one thing that made human beings uniquely special, he did not have a soul.
All of his systems were online and fully functional, save for the deep scan of his active and archive storage subsystems, a subroutine that ran after every complete shutdown, FYXYS was ready to continue his mission. He sat up and gazed into the pitch black of the tunnel, in which he would soon venture. As he switched his optics to night mode, he noticed a strange sensation while glancing through his internal operating environment. Akula had left him a present, one that could only be opened after rebooting all of his systems. His entire code had been upgraded, seemingly rewritten from the ground up. This was no easy task, Akula must have been writing this for years. FYXYS stood and was about to delve deeper into what exactly had changed, or perhaps added to him, when suddenly, behind him he heard a shuffle of two feet. Someone was standing directly behind FYXYS.
He spun around and standing before him was none other than, Akula smiling at him!
“My dear friend, it’s not like you to let someone sneak up from behind.” Akula playfully taunted. He was wearing his usual long dark coat and held only an electric lantern. There was no one else with Akula and FYXYS found it strange that he wasn’t wearing a pack or had any bag with him at all. Perhaps he left it outside the cave or tucked behind a rock somewhere, to move more stealthy through the tunnel.
“I was just thinking the same thing. I should have heard you a long way off, but instead, I heard nothing at all.” FYXYS replied, still mystified.
“You look…well, I dare not say. I will leave that to you.” FYXYS cocked his head to the right, perplexed at his master’s words. “Now, are you ready? Lead on, I say, let’s press on and finish this together!”
FYXYS held his ground. He felt strange, different, somehow. Akula stepped around him, further into the depths of the cave, leaving FYXYS behind in the darkness. He threw the discharged PCU into this bag and shouldered it, but stood still. “Master?” FYXYS called. Akula stopped short and turned back toward him. The cool blue lantern light bathed the surrounding walls and cast strange shadows off of the nearby jagged rocks.
“Please do not misunderstand, I am delighted to see you, but I…” FYXYS trailed off, unable to continue. Akula swelled with joyful pride and continued smiling as he approached and stood before FYXYS once more.
“What was that?!” Akula laughed.
“I said that I am delighted!” FYXYS marveled, amazed at the monumental achievement of his master, but more importantly of the enormity of what this meant for himself. “How? Why now?”
I’ve been rewriting your code for hours…