Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two Days on Justica Organic Seven

The red lozenge glowed and faded with the cadence of the warning tone somewhere in the hull of the interplanetary ship. Red light mixed with yellows, greens and blues... swirling and morphing as the chrome-skinned android tapped buttons and flipped switches to bring the massive craft back to it's intended course.

Below, the orange planet spun on it's axis, oceans of dust sparkled in the light of a distant sun. Micah, quartz and silica choked the air as global wind patterns sculpted the land's surface. This was the planet Justica Organic Seven. It was one of seven sisters spinning around a hot star in the Negron solar system.

The android, Terri304, was an older model and she - because 'she' had female anatomical body moldings - was en route to the solar system just beyond Negron. The freighter she piloted, the 'Callisto', was running empty and scheduled to pick up a load of fuel cells to transport to a small mining colony. Some 89,002 tons of high-density, pre-charged capacitors.

When the Callisto was approaching Justica Organic Seven, it's aft thrusters failed and the ship was dragged off it's course and locked into the grip of the planets gravity. Terri304 ran all the standard emergency procedures failing to yield the results needed to blast through the gravitational field and slingshot out of the dark side of Justica.

For all of Terri's perfunctory efficiency and vast intelligence, she could not bring the Callisto into orbit. The freighter plummeted through Justica's thick atmosphere, twisting and shaking... leaving a vortex trail of vapor like a monumental DNA helix, a monolithic testimony to the spacecrafts imminent demise.

Then the crash. The impact of Callisto's two million ton bulk made the planet surface shudder for some eight hundred kilometer's around. The resulting skid path was hundreds of meters wide and kilometers long. Terri's auditory sensors howled with a cacaphony of twisting metals, power line failures, droning emergency tones, fuel cell eruptions and the grinding of the hull into the Justacian planet surface.

The ship rested.

Terri304 was not just a machine running logical permutations and algorythms. She was the first of her generation to learn and mimic human behavior. Her knowledge multiplied exponentially with experience. She could approximate empathy... even love. Her fingers traced forms in the sand beside her.

She lay in orange light of the star that shifted and changed colors as clouds of sand drifted in the high atmosphere. She lifted her head, servos complained with whining and whirring as she scanned the landscape. The Callisto was bow down in the dunes, engines smoking thin blue serpents that faded into the orange. Her left arm was twisted at the joint and was rendered inoperable. She lowered her head to the soft, hot sand.

Time passed.

Terri could not move. Her ship was decimated. She ran countless scripts in her main processor and each one ended in abject failure. The heat from the planet surface began to severely tax her batteries. She began to shut down any system in her shell that was not absolutely necessary to her survival.

Night fell.

Morning followed.

The white star rose over purple jagged rock revealing the indifferent landscape.

Terri's batteries were at failure. She began to sense something... internally... but she could not articulate it. If she had a tongue, it would have shifted in her mouth, trying to form the 'word' that would release the meaning of what she... "felt".
Logically, she knew that soon... she would not function. This is android death. Her blue lit eyes went dim. She searched her vast cyber-sea of information and recalled a poem by an author on Earth. It was entitled 'All Creatures Die Alone'.

The data drives inside Terri's chest spun down as her survival programs began to fade with the lack of electricity. She couldn't even absorb the ambient electric currents in the land under her. Terri304's last movement was a finger... she pointed skyward... and inside of her, she approximated lonliness and fear.

When the white star crested the sky dome of Justarica Organic Seven, Terri's system shut down.

Terri304 died that afternoon.

Four days later, a rescue ship landed beside the dusty hulk of Callisto. The team of four androids found Terri's tarnished body, face down in the sand.

Beside her, scrawled in the sand was the word

L O V E.


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