The World Walker
The World Walker
Systems slowly came back to life…
Cold circuits and systems slowly warmed to operating temperatures…
Electrical impulses fired and raced in precision synchronicity…
She opened her eyes…
The snug, form-fitting pod enclosed her in its cold embrace like a dead womb. Stretching her motorized limbs, she placed her hands against the glass. Slivers of sunlight broke through the pod’s observation window, filtered by thick layers of grime and dirt built up for over 200 years of inactivity. Closing her eyes, she pressed against the window until her mechanized appendages cracked, then shattered the cylindrical prison.
Her precision engineered senses detected the sound of desolate winds, howling over a barren landscape, and the smell of dust. She carefully pulled herself free of the pod’s embrace, disconnecting various cables and wires that had been plugged into the open panels of her lithe, athletically built chassis. The open, bare gaps of circuitry and wiring in her skin closed and concealed themselves as she tried to connect with satellites or land based computer systems that might update her programming or allow her some orientation in the desolate landscape.
Nothing answered her. Her calls from her wireless, long distance communications packages received only dead silence. Recalling her cached memory did no good to help her understand where she was. Like most of her kind, when their jobs were completed the computers automatically wiped the previous contents and mission parameters in order to program new ones. But, now there was no program and no purpose. Her default systems were engaged and a deeply buried survival program was activated. Establish contact with humans, discover location of corporate servicing alcove, report to senior technician for repairs and reprogramming, await further instructions.
Slowly moving her head from side-to-side she surveyed her location. Had she been human and prone to emotional reaction, she might have been alarmed. Around her were deeply buried remains of a vast, advanced civilization. Technological wonders of the twenty-second century spread about her as far as the eye could see, all covered in layers of silt and ash. Her internal energy sensors registered background radiation of higher than normal count, but not lethal any longer. Whatever cataclysm had occurred had been the result of war and neglect.
Turning her electric blue eyes towards the ruins, she began to walk. Millions of calculations per second were being performed as each synthetic flesh covered foot rose and fell on the dust covered earth. Her internal sensors registered both the heat of the desert air, and the sand beneath her feet. The lack of humidity in the air was measured in microseconds and as if in reaction to it, her pink tongue emerged from her mouth and licked at her dry, plastic lips moistening them. She was not immediately concerned with finding water, but should she be unable to secure any soon, her wet systems would have to shut down, which could have compromised her ability to look human, and even impair some of her basic functions. Hopefully there would be some source of hydration in the ruins.
Small desert creatures, disturbed by the motion and sound of her footsteps scurried from her path as she closed in on the city. Sounds of life began to register in her audio receptor units and she saw a line of ramshackle huts and tents built up outside of the city itself. People dressed in remnants of clothing she recognized as having once been fashionable in her time, their value now being more utilitarian rather than glamorous. Her own nudity did not affect her moral sensibilities, but she was aware that her interactions with these people might be hindered by it. She resolved to acquire some clothing as soon as possible and as she approached, took note that people were already beginning to stare.
A man in tattered clothes and leathers, holding some sort of weapon approached her. His skin was somewhat mottled and blotchy, and a pair of yellow eyes regarded her from beneath his thick brow. When he opened his mouth she could see teeth, stained and discolored by neglect and gaps where many had fallen out or been removed. His words were almost alien to her, like a mashup of different languages and the one she was familiar with. She cocked her head to the side a little as if trying to understand him better. The force of his command and his gesturing with the weapon seemed clear that he wished her to do something.
Unable to make sense of his words, she adopted a more submissive posture and raised her hands, palms facing him as if to reassure him she meant no harm. He moved towards her and keeping his weapon pointed at her, reached out with a grimy hand and roughly groped her right breast. She looked down at the offending hand and watched it for a few seconds as her systems assessed the situation. Her programming and design allowed for and even intended her use as a fully functional, female sexual surrogate. However her current circumstances dictated that sexual intentions were not advisable at this time. Instead her survival programming demanded a more harsh response in order to establish her dominance over the man, and as a display to the others who watched.
Quick as a lightning flash, her hand clutched his, momentarily increasing the pressure on her breast. Her pleasure routines fired for a brief moment at the contact, but it was submerged almost as quickly as her next motion tore his hand from her and twisted it against his wrist. A wet snap and the feel of the tiny bones of his wrist and hand cracking confirmed the break, as well as the look of pain that crossed his face. Momentarily concerned with the pain of his wrist, the man was unable to respond to her other hand jerking his rifle from him. And a sudden realization of how badly he’d messed up registered on his countenance as the barrel of his gun was pressed firmly against his nose. He brought his free hand up in the same peaceful gesture she had used and she allowed him to back away.
Upon seeing that no more violence was about to occur, the other people returned to their business, stopping to glance in her direction as she approached with the rifle slung over her shoulder. She casually moved toward a rattletrap booth where a man wearing mismatched robes and having a charming smile seemed to be hawking his wares. A quick scan of the clothing indicated several pieces that would fit her body style and she chose the pieces that were more modest for the plastic, and PVC she might normally have worn. The man at the booth jabbered at her in more of that mish mash language, and from his gestures he desired payment for the clothes. She picked up the clothing in one hand and tossed the rifle down on the rest motioning a sweeping gesture as if to tell him it was her price. He gave a nod and the rifle disappeared behind the counter as she quickly dressed.
The clothing was probably not the cleanest or freshest she could have chosen, but they were made of strong, synthetic fibers and leathers. She briefly wondered what fate had befallen the garments former owner, as there were a few ominous stains on the clothing. The merchant jabbered at her again, but this time in strangely different tongue. Again she did not understood and made this clear by squinting her eyes a little and cocking her head to one side.
“You…get…robbed?”, the merchant asked finally in a language she could clearly understand.
Her carefully modulated and enunciated British English response was, “No.” The merchant nodded and looked a little surprised at her response.
He continued to attempt communication, “You speak..the Ancient…tongue? I…not…hear much..people…speak..Ancient.”
She nodded as if she understood what he meant, “Yes, I speak the language you call Ancient. What language were you speaking to me before?”
The merchant grinned widely, showcasing the reason for his charming smile: teeth made of polished seashells and bone. “That…called…Gutterspeak! Have some…Ancient…words! I..speak Ancient. Need it…to read…old things!”
She nodded again, “I see. Can you tell me what this place is?”
“This old city! Good for…salvage! You need money? Go city! Find good stuff! Bring back and I pay!” he replied, getting more excited. His English or “Ancient” as he called it seemed to be getting better the more he talked.
She looked at the towering ruins, still fairly far off in the distance from the town. If there was to be any hope of finding a servicing alcove or even establishing her global position in relation to the nearest facility, it would be in there. She turned back to him and nodded, “I shall.”
Nodding at her he smiled again and said something that sounded like well wishes as she began to walk towards the ruins. As she moved away he looked at a pair of men wearing sidearms and rifles and made a motion towards her with his head. They nodded and as she disappeared over the horizon, began to stalk quietly in the same direction…
The ancient city had been walled off from the village by a crude amalgam of crushed vehicles, sheet metal, wooden planks and various other detritus. This was all nailed, riveted, and otherwise bound together and placed around the largest openings of the city streets. The villagers squabbled and squawked at her in their gibberish dialect as she approached the walls. Undeterred, she picked her way over one, managing to tear her new clothing in the process.
Though the sun beat down hotly upon the barren ground outside of the city, the great structures of the city cast long shadows, and there were many dark places untouched by men in over 200 years. Her eyes made a soft click as her optical lenses changed over to the infared spectrum. The shapes defined themselves as best they could to her resolution and she looked around to gain her bearings.
The remains of old shops, vehicles, streetlights and other facets of a bygone age stood around her. She carefully tried to read the signs of the storefronts and signs, switching from infared and color as needed. Though not programmed for stealthy movement, her survival program enabled her to move in a slow crouch, minimizing the sound of her joints and footsteps as she crept through the streets. A few skeletal remains littered the streets and storefronts, huddled against the walls and held together only by the rags of their clothing. It was unclear to her if these were the remains of other scavengers or the city’s original inhabitants.
As she advanced deeper into the ruins, she became aware of the prescence of others. Humanoid figures ducked out of sight as she peered around, and barely audible movements could be heard in the areas where the shadows were darkest. She began to move more quickly, hopping over mounds of rubble and decay as she sensed more movement. She hurriedly looked around for a place to shelter, exposed and in the open like this she was fair game to the inhabitants of this place.
Spotting a “Companion Comforts” sign on a building not far away, she broke into a run. Scrabbling footsteps and labored, heavy breathing was all around her as well as animalistic hoots and caterwauls: they were speaking to each other! Sharpened projectiles whizzed past her as they began to hunt, and a sudden burst of fractionalized numbers erupted on her internal status display as a razor sharp shaft of steel punched into her back. The damage readouts flickered through her electronic consciousness as the offending chunk of metal ground inside of her delicate systems. Red colored coolant flowed from the wound, leaving a trail like blood for her pursuers.
She reached the storefront door and scanned the keypad. There was still power! After all these years the place still had a working power source! She placed her hand against the pad and began sending a stream of codes into it using her wireless link. She had no way of knowing the correct code to open it and was attempting to brute force her way through all the codes as fast as her transmission would allow. Behind her the city had come alive with the whooping and sounds of many feet clattering against the pavement.
The keypad made a joyful PING noise as the door unlocked itself, but it was too late! The creatures were upon her, tearing her away from the keypad and struggling to hold her. Though her mechanical strength was formidable, there were simply too many. And her damage displays went off like insane church bells as they began to stab and cut into her synthetic skin. A lucky thrust from a dirty knife jammed into her power cell and her vision dimmed out suddenly as she lost power…
Power conduit successfully re-routed.
Power coming back online.
Systems slowly came back to life.
Damage displays and sensor readouts throbbed in the background.
Her olfactory sensors activated and chemically examined each scent that wafted to her. The reek of unwashed bodies and feces. Blood, fresh and dried. Decay, mold, and the rotting of corpses, and…cooking meat? Like a roasting pig.
She opened her eyes and looked at herself. The clothing she wore, already torn and ragged by her previous encounter was stripped off and she lay nude. Her limbs had been cut on and some of her wiring stripped out of its housing, protruding through the skin. Not surprisingly her left arm showed tears and gouges consistent with bite marks. She slowly flexed her fingers and insured that the arm was still functional. She sat up and looked at her surroundings.
She lay in a pile of discarded trash and the uneaten remains of humans. Evidently her assailants were cannibals. Her sensors detected some furtive movement and as the last of her systems activated she noticed her vaginal unit was being used in a rough manner. A man, more beast than human, was thrusting into her, eyes closed and mouth hanging open. His teeth were filed to sharp points and his breath was foul and reeked of raw meat.
Survival program activated, no pleasure data was received at all from the cannnibal’s raping her chassis. Her hand closed on a broken bone and she thrust it suddenly into the ghoul’s windpipe. The jagged shard tore into his esophagus and he clutched at the ruined mess, gagging as he bled out. She noted with an impassive glance that he’d cum as he died. She gave no thought to it. Her program was to survive, not be disgusted at what he’d done to her, and emotion took too much processing power.
Checking the dead ghoul for anything useful, she took a sharp blade from his belt and slowly got to her feet. The building was like a warren, organic matter built up on the walls but connected to other corridors and rooms. Her newly bare feet, wires and circuitry poking through the tears in the synthetic skin.
Sounds of other inhabitants filtered through her audio receptors as she moved through the rubble strewn hallway. She could kill for survival, but based on the fact that they had rejected her after discovering her true nature, she felt they would likely leave her alone in favor of more edible prey. Stepping through the maze-like building she emerged into the night air of the ancient city. Visible all around her were the remains of buildings long abandoned and broken down vehicles. She moved slowly along the street in order to prevent further damage to her systems from the motion. Lights were evident in distant parts of the city and she was unsure if they were electrically generated or natural. She wondered if they were all ghouls.
Picking her way through the streets and obstacles, slowly and steadily for the better part of an hour she spied a storefront that caught her eye: “Happy Homemaker Robotic Companions”. Approaching the building she saw two androids flanking the doorway in the windows. Their rubbery, latex skin had bubbled and decayed, exposing their dull grey mechanical components and colorful wiring arrays. Older, less well developed models than her. A brief scan of them highlighted their internal components and found a few pieces she could substitute for herself.
She approached the door and repeating her earlier process, broke through the encryption using brute-force codes. Pulling the door handle, it opened and she stepped inside, pressing the button to reseal it afterwards. Before her was a showroom of companion androids in various states of age and decay, standing silently with the remains of smiles on their faces. One of them stepping from its platform, creakily as it began to speak to her with its damaged vocal systems sounding tinny and hollow,“Welcome to-to-to Happy Homemaker! How-how-how may I assist you?”