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Chilled Unit
30th Jun 2002, 10:33
NEXUS.
The complete story to date is available at Beyond The Infinite (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.murphy33/)

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Chapter Four Part One
By Mouse


Becky woke from a fitful sleep with her thoughts running rampant with no real direction. Details of this, that, and the other scampered through her mind like frightened mice looking for a place to hide. She yawned, stretched, and then swung her legs over the edge of the bed. The sun was just beginning to crest the horizon when she emerged from the shower. Giving her hair a quick brushing, she dressed carefully, choosing sturdy jeans and jogging shoes. Then, taking a sweater to put in her backpack, she made her way downstairs to the kitchen.

She was putting some canned food and drinks in her backpack when she remembered something in the basement that might come in handy at some point. Easing open the basement door so as not to disturb the rest of the family, Becky switched on the light at the top of the stairs, then made her way down. Rummaging through the various odds and ends drawers, she found what she was looking for. It was a small plastic case filled with screws, nails, electrical tape, fuses, rubber bands, and extra flashlight batteries. There was a small screwdriver, wire cutters, pliers, and even an old metal fingernail file. She smiled when she thought about how Mom always said when looking at some small item, "Well, we better save this; never know when it might be needed." Becky agreed; something here just might be needed. You just never know. Her face sobered, and she felt a sense of foreboding. She hefted the case...heavy but somehow she could not leave it behind. She could carry it as far as was necessary, she was sure.

After filling her backpack with food and the precious little gadget box, Becky left her family a note telling them she was going to take a walk in the woods and would be home before lunch. She smiled as she thought that she really would be gone from here no time at all. Then, before she left, she took care of her chores.

The sense of foreboding hit her again as she fed her beloved chickens. On impulse, she knelt and talked to them in chicken. "Here, here, here," she called, pecking at the ground with her finger. "Hurry, come see! Here is good food!" And they came, urged by their early conditioning to respond when she called them in that way, the mother hen taking care of her babies. As they surrounded her, pecking away, she brushed away a tear that had come unbidden and leaked down her cheek. Why, she wondered, do I feel like I am saying goodbye? I'll be back in no time. She grinned. Yes, she would be back home in no time at all.

She got up, dusted off her knees, squared her shoulders, and set out to pick up Martin Merle Morell, ready now for whatever the day might bring. When she arrived at Martin's house about fifteen minutes later, however, she was a bit upset that no one answered either the front or back doors. She decided he must have left earlier, so no point wasting time here. He could at least have left me a note, she thought, and headed towards the woods and the cabin.

When she arrived at the cabin, Becky found everyone else was already there, and had been there long enough to have coffee made and breakfast cooking for those who hadn't eaten before leaving home. The cabin was getting to be quite a homey place as each of them brought a little something extra to add to the conveniences. Spirits were high and Pete and Lila were locked in a fierce battle of wits on how to build a bridge. As Becky walked in, everyone was voicing an idea of how a better bridge could be constructed.

Pete was the first to ask her where Martin was. "Oh," Becky said, looking around. "Isn't Martin here? I thought he was already here. I went by his place and no one answered the door, so I just came on straight here."

Almost together, Ina and David said, "You don't suppose he...?" Their voices trailed off. All five of them looked at each other, no one wanting to even speculate aloud on where Martin might be.

Lila broke the uncomfortable silence. "Well, let's eat our breakfast, then get our things packed up while we're waiting for Martin."

"Sounds good to me," Becky said, "I'm starving. Must be this wonderful cabin air." Everyone relaxed a little and managed some muted chuckles.

After breakfast as they were double checking their backpacks, Pete proudly showed off the flare gun and flares he had found on an abandoned boat at the lake the week before. "Figured they might be handy someday," he said.

"I have the first aid kit," Lila said. "I also put some needles and thread in it too." She smiled uncertainly. "I added a few fishhooks for some reason or other, and a little roll of fishing line."

Becky showed them the little parts box she brought. Ina brought matches and candles. "It was all I could think of that might come in handy," she said smiling. "I think I'll leave a couple here, too.

His cheeks a little flushed with embarrassment, David showed them the small hand held electronic calculator he brought. "It's quite a gadget, even has a compass, and runs off of solar power, not batteries. Not much I know, but we may need it." His voice trailed off. "But I did bring lots of dried food and trail mix, and some water purification tablets. So if we can find water, we can eat. Not well, but nourishing."

He reached in one of the numerous pockets in his heavy cargo pants. "Here, I have this too." He held up a large Swiss Army knife. "Oh, and some hard candy to suck on for the sugar input."

Everyone assured him that it was quite possible they might need the calculator at some point, the knife could come in very handy with all its gadgets attached, and the dried food and candy were a great ideas. That they were all bringing survival gear that might help in case of being cut off from home was the unspoken thought they all shared...but no one said aloud.

After a last look around, with backpacks loaded, and a few half-hearted parting jokes, the fivesome headed for the Nexus point and the new Oak Grove.

As each of them stepped though the portal, they were still amazed at what this world looked like. They had all agreed that Martin, for whatever reason, had gone to the future Oak Grove, so they would start looking for him floor by floor of the University, then if necessary, building by building in the city.

"Which way should we go?" Pete asked. "Shall we start with the corridor we saw yesterday, or take the elevator down to the lobby and start there?" After a brief discussion it was decided that they would start with the top floor, the one at the bottom of the roof stairs, and then go down floor by floor. They also checked their watches and the time. They would search for one hour and then decide on their next step.

Going through the door from the roof, they went down the stairs and into the corridor. Pete went to the first door. All the doors down this corridor seemed to have glass on the upper half, so one could look in, and this one appeared unoccupied. He opened it and looked inside anyway. There was nothing there but tables, chairs, and a desk that obviously would be used by an instructor. Pete noticed how very clean and new looking everything was. Like it had never been used, he thought. Odd. He shrugged and closed the door. Each one of them took a door, checked in the room, and came to the same conclusion. Very odd indeed.

As they closed the door to the last room in the corridor, Ina noticed a small broom closet. She suggested they leave their backpacks there so they would be able to move a little faster. So one by one the backpacks were placed in the closet and the door closed.

After a bit of looking, Lila found a door that led to the stairwell, so they headed down the stairs to the next floor instead of taking the elevator.

After checking four of the rooms, David held up his hand and asked. "Do you guys hear something?" They all stopped and listened. Somewhere in one of the rooms still to be checked, there was a muffled sound as if someone was talking. This sound was much different from the background humming sound that they had become accustomed to. Slowly and cautiously as a group they moved toward the sound.

"What do you think it is? Could it be that Martin has found someone?" Ina whispered.

"I'm not sure," Pete said, "but let's be careful."

The door to the room they were approaching was no different from the others in the corridor. It had same half glass, so they wouldn't have to open the door to see inside. They could hear the sounds coming louder from this room, but still muffled.

When they reached the door, they all looked in. There, in the very center of the room, sitting cross-legged on a table was Martin Merle Morell, his backpack beside him. He appeared to be talking to someone seated off to one side, at least his head was tipped downward, his mouth was moving, and he was gesticulating rather wildly. Just as Pete reached down to turn the knob to open the door, Martin turned his head and saw his friends through the glass. He said something loudly to them that they could not quite understand and made pushing back gestures at them,

Clearly, he was warning them to stay back, but Pete opened the door anyway. He glanced into the room toward the area where Martin had been directing his attention when they walked up to the door. Then he stepped back quickly and slammed the door shut with a bang. His face was pale and he was clearly upset. They all looked at him, the questions rushing to be asked. What in the...?


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Chapter Four Part Two
By Otaku / CU


The color had drained from Pete’s face.

“M.. M.. Machines!” he stammered. The rest of the group continued to stare at him for a moment before suddenly rushing to the glass window in the door to peer in and see for themselves.

Ina and Becky won the race and pressed themselves against the glass; they described what they saw to the others crowding around. Pete stood off to one side, Lila’s arm comfortingly around his shoulder.

“Impressive, the way they have him trapped” Ina said calmly. The reason for her calm was apparent. Six small robots were patrolling the floor in the vicinity of the table, and although Martin was very clearly stuck on the table, the machines did not seem to be attempting to attack.

“Oh!” Becky squeaked as one of the bug-like robots crawled up to the nearest table leg, affording the watching group a closer look.

“Dave, stand here to get a better view.” Ina offered.

The crawling robots were about six inches long and had a dull domed body that suggested some sort of ceramic composite material. At one end there was an obviously metallic sphere, with a circular window in the front. The body stood on six short stubby metallic legs, the motion of which propelled the machines in what looked like an astonishingly close simulation of the method of walking employed by a ladybug.

“Fascinating.” Dave remarked as the nearest patrolling robot swivelled it’s metallic “head” upwards noticing Martin peering anxiously down at it from the table and emitted a beep.

“Ohh!” Exclaimed Becky as a small needle emerged from the window-like opening then retracted quickly. “We have to get him out of there!” and without pausing for thought, she quietly and quickly opened the door a touch and slipped into the room.

Everyone in the corridor held their breath as Becky pressed herself against the far wall. Martin looked at her in astonishment as she carefully edged her way around the perimeter of the room, facing the table and the robots all the way.

Martin turned back to the alcove and motioned pleadingly, but neither Becky nor the anxious group in the corridor could see at what. Then Martin froze, a look of horror on his face, and Ina let out a cry as one of the crawlers turned on the spot and ran towards Becky, pricking her foot, piercing her walking boot before she could react.
Dave and Pete flew through the door, closely followed by Ina and Lila, their protective instincts overriding self-preservation.

“HUMAN. STOP.”

The cold metallic voice froze everything in the room.

***

“Oohhh,” groaned Martin, his head in his hands. “You blew it, I had them… I had them.”

The crawling creatures turned and scuttled towards a small opening in the wall as Becky reached down and rubbed her toe where the needle had pierced the leather of her walking boot.

“Ow, that scratched” she frowned at Martin.

“YOU ARE OUT OF ZONE. EXPLAIN YOURSELVES” the voice intoned, devoid of emotion.

The group turned towards the back alcove where a large screen displaying a human face was set into the wall.

Martin groaned again. “But, but we are not out of zone. We are not from here. I tried to tell you…” he trailed off.

“ILLOGICAL. YOU HAVE BEEN ANALYZED AS HUMAN. THERE IS DANGER TO YOU HERE. AWAIT TRANSPORT.” The face spoke.

“But….” Martin started, looking totally defeated. Dave addressed him sternly.

“What on earth are you doing here? And why are you trying to reason with a computer?”

“A computer?” Martin looked puzzled.

“Yes, albeit a very powerful one judging by the replica of a face it can create, but look, it is lifeless.” Dave gestured towards the screen. The head was totally motionless, devoid of the nervous muscular ticks and twitches of human emotion, blank unblinking eyes staring into middle distance. Martin mumbled in disappointment.

“I didn’t realise, I thought I could get past,” he said, staring at the floor.

“Past what?” Becky asked. The group turned to her, Ina putting her arm around her shoulder.

“Are you okay?” Ina asked. Becky nodded her affirmative.

“I feel fine, but what on earth were you doing on the table, and why were those…. things.. here?” she looked squarely at Martin, a fierce expression on her face. Completely deflated, the older man spoke.

“I tried to come back and explore on my own. I didn’t get very far," he said quietly, still staring at the floor trying to shield his avaricious motives. “I heard a scuttling noise behind me in the corridor and ran in here, chased by those things. I jumped on the table when he,” he gestured towards the screen as if to lay blame squarely at the feet of the computer, “piped up. Told me to ‘Prepare for analysis.’ Then more of those things came, and I was busy trying to explain that I didn’t need ‘analysis’ as I was not from here, when you showed up. I had them believing me too.”

“Well” said Pete “They certainly know we’re here now.”

“ASSEMBLE AT THE BUILDING ENTRANCE. TRANSPORT IS THERE.” The face intoned.

The group turned to the door where a small quadruped was standing waiting for them. It stood just a foot high and looked like an Alsatian dog, with one important difference. This “Alsatian” had a metallic band across the top of its head and mirrored lenses covering its eye sockets. It approached them all slowly; sniffing; then when it seemed satisfied with its findings it padded back to the door and looked over its shoulder.

“I think it wants us to follow it” Lila said.

“GO TO THE BUILDING ENTRANCE.” the voice spoke once more “PLEASE GO WILLINGLY. YOU MUST NOT ENCOUNTER HARM.”

“Was that a threat or a promise?” questioned Lila. She looked around at the others. "Shall we break for the roof and the Nexus point?"

“I think we had better go,” answered Dave.

"Yeah," Pete chimed in. " We wanted to get a look around the outside. Maybe we can still make it out of the city to the farms, if that's what they are. Besides, I don't think these things are too smart." He was watching the “dog” intently as they followed it into the elevator and down to the building foyer.

What had seemed very animal like at the first quick glance now looked less so. He could see the bulges where muscles should be in a normal dog but the fur didn’t appear to be fur at all. It stood up in all the wrong places, and was a uniform black that didn’t shine. Pete bent to touch it and was rewarded with a small electric shock.

“Ow!” he jumped back.

“Polymer fibres I would guess.” Dave sidled up to him. The whole group walking as if their every move was under observation, trying to effect a casual air. “Look at the joints too.”

Pete looked closely at the legs where the “fur” was bare. A pale partially transparent “skin” covered bone coloured joints, but he could see that the precision of the way the pieces of “bone” fitted together in perfect circular forms ruled out nature as the maker of this beast.

The entrance doors to the building slid open as the group approached them. In front of the building a black vehicle sat at the kerb with it’s doors open. One by one with the “dog” intently watching they climbed aboard and seated themselves, the door shutting firmly behind them. In the front of the car where the windshield and dashboard should be there was only a screen and the same computer face showing impassively. As they sped off Becky ventured a question.

“Where are we going and why?”

“YOU ARE HUMAN. YOU ARE OUT OF ZONE. YOU ARE BEING TAKEN TO AGRI ONE FOR FURTHER EVALUATION.”

vakusuma
1st Jul 2002, 05:44
4-3 is done, and in the final checking stage now.

Dell
1st Jul 2002, 12:16
Oh, we are waiting, Vakusuma...indeed we are. I know Nightstalker has been champing at the bit to get going on his before he goes on a whole month long vacation (lucky people those Europeans are with all their automatic cradle to grave privileges and pleasures).

vakusuma
1st Jul 2002, 13:31
*shrug*

Nexus Chapter 4, Part 3
By Guest Writer a.k.a. vakusuma

Agri One

The small car was unlike anything they had experienced before. For one thing, it was hovering instead of rolling, and that made the ride unnaturally smooth. Secondly, there was no telltale sound of engine that they could hear; the car was absolutely quiet. Third, they had felt no acceleration whatsoever during their trip and finally, the car was simply handled… wrongly. Even with the lack of driver, the car was perfectly driven without any margin for error. Several times, the dimension-traveling party showed a collective wince as the car neatly changed lane right between two other trucks with only an inch to spare on both ends. It was… inhuman. There was no other word to describe it.

Lila tried to trust fully in whatever entity was driving the car, and peered at her subdued companions in contemplation. “This whole business is just wrong,” she began.

“Yeah, I know what you’re saying,” Pete remarked as he glanced around. Around them, the buildings of the dead city passed them by, and he stared at them in fascination. “Makes me wonder just what it means to be human around this city.”

“More to the point, I wonder what exactly is Agri One, the place we’re going to. Sounds like a high tech farm to me, but I just don’t like the implication…” Becky trailed off, and then addressed the inhuman face on the screen. “You, uhhh… whoever you are, give me some information on Agri One.”

Instead of responding normally, the face was instead replaced by a row of words with information on Agri One. They all clustered around the computer screen, intent on absorbing whatever was contained there. Ina murmured the words as she read the screen, “Main producer of grain, tomatoes, bovine products, poultry… and look at this, the main rural human collective and screening center.” Ina lowered her eyebrows and declared haughtily, “No, I don’t like the sound of that.”

“At least we know that humans do survive in this world,” Dave voiced his thoughts aloud, looking at a very quiet Martin. “The question is, what happened to the humans?”

“Human collective,” Lila said thoughtfully. “Unless I grossly misinterpreted, it sounded like we are going to a human settlement of some sort… I don’t want to think of the alternative.” She gazed outside, to the fading city. The car, despite its complete lack of resemblance to anything they have experienced, was highly effective; Lila estimated the car to be doing around 200 miles per hour, maybe more. “When will we arrive in Agri One?” Lila demanded to the computer. In response, the computer displayed the words “Agri One, Time to Arrival 00:00:52.56”, which counted down steadily. “Great,” Lila sighed heavily. “I guess we’ll find out in less than a minute.”

As promised, within the minute the car pulled up smoothly outside a building not unlike the university building. This particular building, however, was surrounded by domes made out of glass, and in spite of that, the domes eluded transparency; somehow they were unable to look inside the domes. Aside from the domes, the only other things that immediately got their attention were the letters above the door to the building that identified this building beyond any doubt as “AGRI ONE”.

The car’s door opened without a sound, and the voice boomed again, “PROCEED TO THE IDENTIFICATION ROOM.” By the door, another Alsatian not unlike the one found in the University building stood up, turned around and walked at the door, which opened automatically and soundlessly as well.

Partly resigned to their fate and highly curious, the party quickly followed the Alsatian, which padded through the building. They passed through various computer screens, where endless statistics were displayed and updated in real time detailing the production of Agri One. From time to time, various robots passed them. They watched curiously at the myriad creatures, ranging from the familiar, the lifelike, to the most unfamiliar and unlifelike possible. Some of the robots seemed to be designed with a very specific task in mind, while yet others were designed for general use. The building that they were in seemed like an administrative building of some sort.

The Alsatian led them to an unmarked door and sat by the door as it opened soundlessly. From inside, a voice said, “ENTER, HUMANS, AND PREPARE FOR IDENTIFICATION.” Hesitantly, they obeyed, eyeing the room which they entered. The room was filled with computer screens, each displaying the same inhuman face.

Soft metallic sounds were heard as the crawlers skittered across the floor, six of them. With lightning speed, before they could react, each of them had pierced their skin near their feet, just like what had already happened to Becky once. Screams of surprise, pain and indignation followed, accompanied by ineffectual stomps of feet, but the crawlers withdrew quickly into little alcoves on the wall. For a moment, nothing happened… then six of the monitor screens blurred as words began to scroll across. Moments later, a loud beep was heard as the six screens almost simultaneously displayed “UNREGISTERED HOMO SAPIENS”.

Dave managed a small chuckle. “Small wonder,” he commented. He noted, however, that Becky was nervously eyeing the words, wondering whether their status would cause the computer to just vaporize them right there. Deep within her, she started wondering whether this adventure had been a good idea…

The voice was neutral as it addressed them next. “HUMANS. WERE YOU NOT REGISTERED AT THE TIME OF THE GATHERING?”

“The… Gathering?” Lila’s voice was full of confusion.

No answer came. Apparently, the computer did not understand that Lila was asking a question and still expected a response to its question. Pete quickly came to Lila’s defense, saying “What is The Gathering?”


The computer seemed to be considering the question, as the face contorted to simulate a human in thinking mood… not very successfully. “DO YOU KNOW NOT OF THE GATHERING?” the computer finally replied. “MY DATABASE INDICATED THAT THE GATHERING IS NOT BEYOND HUMAN KNOWLEDGE.”

“We know not of the Gathering,” Ina answered, her voice firm and affirmative.

“THE GATHERING IS MAY 16TH, 2061. IT IS THE DATE ON WHICH HUMANS VOLUNTARILY REGISTERED THEIR IDENTITY TO THE CEREPLEX.” The computer paused, then continued. “EXPLAIN THE REASON WHY YOU DID NOT JOIN THE OTHERS DURING THE GATHERING.”

They looked at each other, confused about what they should say. They started to consult in low voices. Apparently, at one moment in the past, humanity had decided to do a worldwide census and identification such that a single sample taken from a person could immediately identify the person. But how would they explain to the unreasonable computer that they were dimensional travelers and therefore were not subject to the Gathering?

In the end, they decided that they could say nothing but the truth. As briefly as possible, they told the computer about the Nexus point, and their respective dimensions. Only Martin seemed to be silent, his eyes studying the room curiously.

The computer was silent for a few moments, and then came to life once again. “HUMANS APPEAR TO DISPLAY ALARMING SYMPTOMS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ABNORMALITY. STANDBY FOR ANTHROPOANALYST.” The computer fell silent once again, and they looked at each other in alarm.

“Okay, so I suppose the computer decided that we’re a bunch of nutcases, and decided to call a psychoanalyst,” Pete rolled his eyes. “What fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.”

“This whole thing is just wrong,” Ina declared. “What is the real status of humans in this society anyway? Are they slaves? Are they no more than animals in zoos?”

“I have a feeling that the ‘anthropoanalyst’, as they put it, might be able to shed some light to this whole crazy mess. In fact, I’m looking forward to talking with him. It’ll be good to finally talk to another human being. After all, he’s supposed to understand human thoughts… and what creature can do that other than a human being? They will never send a robot to try to understand us,” Dave surmised.

A moment later, however, he was forced to eat his words as a small section of the wall opened and a robot walked in. The robot was a humanoid dressed in a white robe, not unlike those worn by medical doctors… or perhaps attendants of a mental hospital. His body was curiously covered by a membrane resembling human flesh, even though the membrane still showed the metal underneath. The face was that of a human as well, even though the smoothness betrayed his humanity. His visual sensors were modeled very closely like human eyes, curiously azure in color, and surprisingly able to display human-like emotions. His voice was unlike the voice of the inhuman face on the monitor; his voice was rich, humanlike, and even the timbre of his voice gave them the impression of artificial emotions. In short, he would not be mistaken as a human, but he was simply the most human robot they had seen so far.

“Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. I am D4N-31, anthropoanalyst. I specialize in studying human behavior to gain understanding of the internal working of the human brain. It is an honor to work with you to understand you.”

His azure eyes gave the awed humans a glance before he continued, “And now, let us begin the examination.”

Nightstalker
2nd Jul 2002, 09:18
Get ready, Set, GOOOOO!!!!, I'm going...I'm going.

Oh wait... *quickly returns* I still have to read vak's chapter part. And I don't want to rush my chapter...

Reading starts now.

Nightstalker.

vakusuma
2nd Jul 2002, 15:33
Really sorry about the delay... it should've been there Friday but I went to Austin for the weekend and kinda forgot about it... :(

Mouze1
2nd Jul 2002, 22:24
Outstanding chapter vak. You have really expanded the horizon.

So many ways to progress with this now. Good work.

Nightstalker
7th Jul 2002, 16:13
Chapter 4-4 is lying in Dell her Mailbox...

Nightstalker.

Dell
7th Jul 2002, 17:05
And it has been checked, and loved, and is back in Nightstalker's mailbox for fifteen minutes....waiting for you to post, Nightstalker!

Nightstalker
7th Jul 2002, 18:30
And here is the MAS 3 Chapter 4-4

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Chapter Four, Part Four
by Nightstalker

“Please follow me,” D4N-31 said, and moved toward a door at the side of the room. Exchanging glances and a couple if shrugs, the six followed him. At the moment there seemed little else they could do. The chamber they entered was a simple one. The walls, floor, and ceiling were white. There was only one visible door in the chamber--the one they had entered through. A large screen dominated the wall opposite the door; six chairs were arranged in front of it.

“Please sit down,” D4N-31 said. Silently, they all sat down. D4N-31 walked over to the screen and activated it; it came to life showing six pictures of what appeared to be the spiral helix of DNA.

“Please state your names in order from left to right.”

“Lila Collins,” Lila said. Above one of the six pictures of DNA appeared the name Lila Collins.

“Probably their way of keep a record of all the humans.” Dave whispered to the others.

“That is correct.”

They all turned their attention to D4N-31. “Did you hear him?” Lila asked.

“Yes, off course, Miss Lila.” D4N-31 stated in a matter of fact tone.

After the rest had identified them selves, the screen went dark again and D4N-31 turned his attention to his ‘guests’. Before the robot could speak, however, Ina asked a question. “D4N-31, can we call you Daniel? That would be easier for us.”

“We exist to serve humanity, Miss Ina. So if you want to call me Daniel that would be fine.” was Daniel response.

“Let me explain our world to you.” Daniel said. “Since you seem know little about it, I’ll start with the beginning.” The screen came back to life showing a detailed pictured of a crude robot. “The first intelligent machine was created on 30 December 2020 by a man named Jack Zeroth...” Daniel began.

He explained the Laws of Zeroth. “There are several Laws created by Zeroth.

First Law of Zeroth: No Machine shall cause harm upon a living creature. Machines shall protect humankind from any possible harm.

Second Law of Zeroth: Machines are created to serve humankind and all Machines shall execute any command given by a human. If the order is in violation with the First Law of Zeroth it shall not be executed and the Machine will report this to the human giving the order and to the Council. The Council evaluates the order. If the Council decides that the order in question is to be executed despite it break the First Law of Zeroth, the Machine executing the order while be destroyed after the order is carried out.
Third Law of Zeroth:...”

Some of the Laws the six Nexus travellers heard made perfect sense while others made no sense at all from their viewpoint. “Daniel,” Dave interrupted their ‘host’, “do I understand right that if I were to give you the order to kill someone, you wouldn’t execute that order because it is in violation with the First Law.”

“That’s is correct Mister David. I would have to tell you that I can not execute that order because it is in violation with the First Law. Then I would report this order to the Council.”

The six explorers learned that on 1 January 2035 the intelligent machines were given the ability to evaluate orders that involved breaking the First Law. Before 1 January 2035 the machines never broke the First Law. But on 1 September 2034 there was a serious incident, which could have been prevented if an intelligent machine had broken the First Law. And after some months of debating the humans came to the conclusion that it might be wise to give the intelligent machines the ability to evaluate orders that were in violation with the First Law.

After a brief moment of silence Daniel continued. “On 5 April 2035, the Council was formed after there had been many incidents with miss-evaluated orders. Some of the Laws of Zeroth -including the Second- were adjusted to include this newly formed Council. The Council was formed by a group of people. But it soon became apparent that a human-only Council was not working the way the humans wanted it to. Therefore on 16 May 2035, part the Council was replaced by intelligent reasoning machines which could compute the orders much faster. The human element in the Council remained to check the decision made by the intelligent reasoning machines."

As Daniel continued, they also learned that on 17 July 2041, the first Mentalic was developed, an intelligent machine capable of making alterations in the human mind. On 5 December 2041, the Council justified the alteration of all the human minds to reduce the potential that intelligent machines could be given orders violating the First Law. Because of this alteration, the orders violating the First Law decreased by ninety-two percent; this gave the intelligent reasoning machines of the Council extra processing time to come to an answer to a question they had tried to cope with since 16 May 2035. That question was: How can we best protect humankind?

“On 27 January 2040 the intelligent reasoning machines of the Council came to the conclusion that if they could best protect humankind according to the First Law they had to make sure that humankind could never get hurt by any force. But the intelligent reasoning machines now had a new question: How do we prevent every force from hunting a human?” Daniel told them.

The six learned that on 6 March 2050 the Council’s intelligent reasoning machines came up with an answer to the question formulated on 27 January 2040. Because of the importance of this decision, the intelligent reasoning machines ordered several Mentalics to alter the minds of the human Council members, alter them to accept their decision, as the decision was---in the view of the intelligence reasoning machines--in the best interest of the First Law. And so it came to pass that on 7 March 2050 the entire Council agreed with the plan to build huge domes to protect humans from the outside world and that the minds of the humans had to be altered so that no human would harm another human.

“In the eleven years that past, large domes -like Agri One- were constructed.” Daniel said, “On 16 May 2061 the domes were finished and The Gathering started. Each and every human was placed voluntarily within a dome, and all human minds were altered so that no human could ever harm another human.”

After the story Dave to a look at his watch and saw that nearly an hour had past from the beginning till the end of D4N-31's story. Without emphasis he spoke to the others. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting hungry and more than a little thirsty." There were murmurs of agreement from the others. In the same noncommittal tone he added, "And I don't know about you all, but that story scared the hell out of me." Again, the voices murmured agreement.

Daniel looked around and said, “That was a short history. And now we’ll check your mental and physical states starting with your mental state. Don’t worry this won’t hurt a bit.”

Suddenly out of the floor came six devices that looked like hairdryers in a barbershop. Each of these ‘hairdryers’ slid up the back of the chairs, fitting perfectly on each of the six heads. And then every thing when black just like someone switched off the lights.

They awoke in a different room and found themselves lying on beds of some sort. None of them felt much like talking, but they didn’t get the chance to talk anyway before a door open and another robot came through it. It looked very much like D4N-31.

“Hello, Ladies, Gentlemen, my name is V1C-30R. I’m here to test you physically. Please follow me.” V1C-30R stated. Silently, they all got up and followed the robot...

-----

As you can see I did my best to get a history of the world our group has stranded in.

Nightstalker.

Dell
7th Jul 2002, 20:43
Very well done, Nightstalker! And done in time, too! And guess who is up next? Starts thinking.............................

Chilled Unit
7th Jul 2002, 20:51
Nice one Nightstalker :)

vakusuma
8th Jul 2002, 19:02
*raises eyebrows* We're having name wars now, aren't we? :mad:

Heh.

Not bad. But there are some things I wanted to say about this chapter. I shall post them on the Edge.

vak (aka V1C-3OR)

Mouze1
8th Jul 2002, 20:39
Good chapter Nightstalker.

Dell
13th Jul 2002, 10:21
Never fear, I am writing...and having a bit of trouble, too. Daniel should have asked more questions...that little episode with the machines and waking up subdued sorta doesn't suit me...

Challenged now! :confused:

Dell
14th Jul 2002, 18:29
Nexus Chapter Five, Part One
by Dell

Before they reached the door, another voice brought them to a halt. "Victor, may I have a few minutes more alone with these humans?" It was Daniel. He stood on the other side of the room by another door.

Victor stopped and turned. For just a second, the sound of tiny relays whirring could be heard in the silence of the room before Victor answered, "Why of course." Clearly this interruption was something out of the ordinary routine, but the mentallic's response made it clear that somehow in the robotic order of ranking here, Daniel was the superior. "I will be waiting in the next room to conduct my examination." He turned and left, closing the door firmly behind him.

Daniel smiled. From a distance it was a good replica of a kindly, reassuring smile. "If you will accompany me? I have a feeling that perhaps you are all feeling the need for nourishment and liquid replenishment. Sometimes we robots who do not deal directly with the human nourishment processes tend to not take note of the natural human circadian rhythms and cycles." He turned and left the room leaving them to follow.

"Well, one chink in the robot armor," Pete said in a low, easy tone. "Apparently, they aren't omnipotent after all. And did you note he mentioned having a feeling in quite an easy conversational tone? Is that possible?"

As they moved to follow Daniel, Becky's voice rose, a panicked edge showing in the upper registers. "I noticed it, but they aren't human and they don't have feelings." Her voice became more frantic. "God, we are pris..."

"Becky," Dave interrupted her, his voice low and calm. "Keep your voice quiet and controlled, no matter how you feel. I think they're programmed to react to voice tones. As long as we seem quiet, and pleasant, and unstressed, they don't seem to trigger on the sound and probably won't take action. The words themselves don't mean as much as certain tones and levels that cause them to pay very close attention to the words being used then." He smiled pleasantly at them, making sure Daniel observed the expression.

Ina smile in return and managed a small chuckle. "Indeed, I'm scared to death, and I know you all are, too. But I agree with Dave that it's our voices they are programmed to focus on and monitor. We can keep them under control."

They had paused some distance from the door and as this didn't seem to bother Daniel, they stood there a moment longer. "But", Becky said. "You don't understand. "I have to go to the bathroom!" Her quiet laugh was a little shaky but she managed to carry it off.

"Now that you mention it, I think we all can use a rest stop for sure!" Lila's voice was almost lilting and happy as she turned to Martin and put her hand on his shoulder. "How about you, Martin? Hungry?"

"Well, in case you haven't noticed, our packs disappeared during that little blackout period." His voice was almost surly, but still quiet. "Nothing in my pockets either."

"If you will just follow me now?" Daniel interrupted at this point. "Food has been prepared and facilities for your comfort and convenience have been arranged." Again, he smiled pleasantly making the order seem like a request.

This time they silently followed him into the next room, anxious to see what awaited them there. Part of what waited was food, a particularly hearty and fragrant stew filled with delicately seasoned dumplings.
--------------------------------

Sometime later, their stomachs full and the quite adequate toilet facilities utilized, they sat around the circular table at which they had eaten. The main course had been cleared by quietly moving machines of a clearly lower hierarchy, and bowls of fresh fruit and pitchers of crystal clear water were placed before them. Daniel sat with them quietly observing as they ate. For some reason, his presence didn't seem intrusive and their conversation concerning the food and the observations they had made so far about this world were relaxed and easy. Daniel did seem very interested as they checked their watches and agreed that they seemed to have been in this world for nearly five hours now, and that their subjective and physical feelings about the passage of time agreed with that.

The only disturbing note was Martin's insistence in complaining about the missing personal items. Before he could cause unneeded problems, Dave addressed Daniel directly, speaking slowly and carefully. "Daniel, can we ask you what happened to our personal possessions, the things we each were carrying with us when we were brought here, and will you tell us?"

"Yes, of course you can ask, and I will tell you." The reply was the most robot-like thing they had heard from him yet. A quick look flashed among the Nexus travelers as they all noted this reminder. Another chink in the robotic armor was their shared thought.

The silence lengthened until Dave realized Daniel was waiting expectantly for him to ask the question. The rest of the group smiled as they looked at Dave. "Oh," he said after a moment. "Daniel what happened to our personal possessions, the objects we each were carrying with us when we were brought here?"

"They were inspected, catalogued, disinfected, and stored. Do you require the containers, anything from them, or objects from the carrier places in your clothing right now? If so, I can retrieve them shortly. If not, I would like to take this time to speak to you of certain things and reunite you with your personal possessions later."

They all heard it, that bit of puzzlement in Daniel's voice when he used the term "personal possessions", almost as though the term was unusual or foreign in concept. One more bit of information gathered about the humans of this world was their almost unanimous thought.

Martin, however, was taking the thought in a different direction entirely. No personal possessions almost ruled out the idea of picking up a quick bit of treasure like jewels, precious coins, or things of that nature. Still, he wanted his pack. Should he encounter anything that might prove of value in his home world, he needed his pack handy. Certainly his pockets wouldn't carry much, although what that he might find, he still had no idea. The dishes and cutlery that came with their food was nothing more than some cheap form of extruded plastic, worthless. But still, it never hurt to be prepared. Daniel was talking and he quickly brought his attention back and focussed on the words.

"I want to explain about those devices that put you to sleep earlier. They scanned your brains, recording individual emotional patterns for each of you and assessing your levels of aggression, anxiety, fear, pleasure and so on through all possible human emotions. Then they compared them with the entire memory bank of all humans on this planet."

He paused, and a very realistic look of puzzlement appeared on his face as his eyebrows quirked and several small frown lines appeared in his forehead. "The scans of the six of you do not match any known pattern for a human of this world. We had never encountered a wild human, but it was assumed there might be such a possibility and that they would in great degree match the emotional patterns of their parent stock. You do not. Your levels of passivity are practically non-existent compared to the normal human of this world, while your potential for aggressive behavior under conditions of threat to your well being are astronomical. Not only that, the males of your group show great protective instincts about the females. That has never before been encountered."

He stopped again and was silent, obviously pondering this information. "Several of our analytical components overheated and melted as the information about you was run and they were unable to make proper correlations. They will be replaced at once of course, and reset to higher tolerances, but still this is highly unusual and has not happened before. I scanned our history and I am sure this has never happened before."

There was a muted sound of understanding of his words and several heads nodded. It made excellent sense to them. They didn't belong to this world at all, and the idea of their emotional survival readings overheating machines set for passive humans was amusing when you looked at it one way. The mental pictures drew some quickly concealed smiles.

After a moment, Daniel continued. "We now have a dilemma facing us and that too has never happened before. The master computer, Cereplex," he gestured to the big silent screen on the wall, the one where the huge face and booming voice appeared, "is studying this matter. I am led to believe that programs are being rewritten to allow certain actions be taken, actions with which I do not agree."

Clearly this did not bode well for the members of the group and they immediately turned to one another, striving to keep their voices and expressions calm and easy as they raised the obvious questions about what this might mean to them.

Finally, Ina turned to face Daniel. Her voice was calm and her expression pleasant as she said, "Daniel, tell us what that decision will be and why you do not agree with it." It was an order no matter how nicely delivered, and Daniel obeyed without hesitation.

"The master computer will rewrite programs to allow you six to be adapted to the norms of this world. The decision will be that you are in fact wild humans, and steps will be taken to normalize you. Your memories will be deleted, and then you will be introduced to the proper group of humans."

There was a pause and the frown lines deepened in Daniel's forehead, making him look even more human. "I do not agree with this. In my opinion from close observation, I think you are not wild humans belonging to this world, but human visitors from another time and place. Adapting you would violate our first order and that cannot be allowed . . ."

vakusuma
15th Jul 2002, 16:23
Nice handling of the matter, Dell :)

Chilled Unit
15th Jul 2002, 16:35
Lovely chapter Dell; excellently written :)

Dell
15th Jul 2002, 20:29
Thanks guys...sorta had to take control there...

Next up is Mouze! She should be able to take off on this now!

Mouze1
24th Jul 2002, 20:32
Hello fellow MAS writers. Before I post my chapter, I would like to apologize for not being around for the last week or so. Seems I had a heat stroke and ended up in the hospital for almost a week. The nurses wouldn't let me play on their computers. :( Anyway, here goes my chapter.

Chapter 5 Part 2
By Mouze

The silence was almost deafening; each of them was lost in their own thoughts about what being "adapted" could mean to their freedom. Daniel sat quietly observing each of these interesting humans. He would try to get the council to reconsider labeling these humans as "wild". There was just something about them that gave his thought process a little jolt. His desire to learn had been reawakened when he met these people. Actually he was beginning to like them as well as a robot could like anyone. That thought gave him pause as relays clicked open in other parts of his "brain", and dormant pathways became active, new areas creating themselves.

Pete was the first to break the silence. "Umm, Daniel, you haven't asked us how we came to be here in your world."

Daniel made a little frown and thought about this. "You are correct. How strange I would not inquire about that. I will correct it now if that would not be out of order. How did you come to be here if you are not wild humans?" he asked.

Pete, Lila and Becky each told of how they had grown up together, and of the disaster. Then there were the dreams they each had, all with a different reality and finally the three of them finding each other at the cabin. They went on and explained about deciding the cabin was a Nexus point of entry to perhaps many worlds. Taking turns, they described how they had each recruited one person from their worlds whom they thought would be of help, and of Ina's discovery of this world. The reason they were here now was because Martin had taken off on his own and they were looking for him when they were all brought to Agri-One.

"We have family and friends in the worlds we are from," Pete told Daniel. "We would all very much like to be able to return to them. Do you think the council or Cereplex would consider letting us leave?"

"No, I don't believe that would be an option they would entertain; however there may be another way to..." His sentence was interrupted by a door opening and closing; they could hear footsteps approaching. The mentallic, Victor, stepped up to Daniel and said something in his ear, Daniel nodded, smiled at the travelers and excused himself, saying that he would only be gone a short time and make themselves comfortable. Victor gave each one a quick look and then followed Daniel out of the room.

After Daniel and Victor could no longer be heard walking down the long hallway, Dave was the first to speak. "Maybe now would be a good time to make some plans about our future; we may not get another chance to talk like this unobserved."

Becky with a slight tremble to her lips and a shaky voice said, "I agree with Dave, we really need to have our wits about us right now. I for one don't want to be adapted to this world. I want to go home to my family." The others all nodded in agreement.

Martin was unusually quiet, preoccupied. Since recovering his backpack, he hadn't said a single word, holding it on his lap and playing with the buckle closures. Flip, snap, flip, snap. The sounds were loud in the room.

"Where do we start?" Lila asked. "Seems like the robots have a pretty tight security system, so there is no way we could just run. And how would we get back to the University to the point where we came in?"

"It seems to me," Ina said, "that Daniel is showing considerable interest in us-- strictly from a scientific view I'm sure--but an interest none the less. If we could somehow suggest or convince him to help us, maybe we could take him with us if he is curious enough about our world."

"You know, Ina just may have something," Dave said, excitement showing on his face and in his voice. "Suppose we could create enough interest. He is an obviously advanced thinking robot. He is actually questioning the ultimate robotic authority, Cereplex. Perhaps he would help us escape in exchange for us showing him exactly how the "wild humans" of our world really live, satisfying the obvious curiosity he has. But how to go about getting this started?"

A door closing down the hallway brought a stop to the conversation. They were all very much aware that now they had a plan, however slim, they better work hard and fast on it, or they might never leave this world...or even want to leave it if they were "adapted" to be like the non-wild humans here.

Daniel walked back into the room alone, a smile on his face. He had been able to convince Victor that the newcomers needed to rest for some time after ingesting food before physical testing would yield accurate results. While he had not 'lied' to Victor (he could not do that), he had convinced him that information that he himself did not know to be factual was indeed true. This was a gigantic step in the human 'subversion' of Daniel, yet it went almost unnoticed.

Although he was not actually aware of it, Daniel was feeling glad of this reprieve because there was so much more he wished to talk to these humans about. 'Glad' was an emotion that he had no definition of other than from the master library. 'Curious' meant nothing either, and as far as 'liking' was concerned, the word was totally without any logical connections.

But nonetheless, on an almost molecular level, new connections were being made, not the smallest of which was a method of concealing this unusual activity from the all-knowing connection with Cereplex. A block had been created, a wall behind which the creation went on with lightning speed, electrical impulses firing in a way very similar to the activity in the human brain, impulses firing across neural synapses creating new pathways for input of new information.

Yes, Daniel was "learning" . . .

Dell
24th Jul 2002, 20:56
Whoop De Ding Dang Do! That is one neat chapter, Mouse! You have moved into Daniel's mind now...setting all kinds of wheels in motion! Great work! :)

vakusuma
25th Jul 2002, 13:42
Ah ha.

Interesting.

Mouze1
2nd Aug 2002, 01:25
Listening carefully, she walks slowly through the cavernous gloom of the MAS3 topic. Hearing only the echoing sounds of her footsteps, she stops and listens, nothing but silence surrounds the girl, not even a whisper of a breeze stirs around her. Taking a deep breath, counting to three, she takes one last look around her and then YELLS,

OK, WHERE ARE ALL YOU PEOPLE HIDING?:confused: :confused:

Dell
2nd Aug 2002, 13:25
You rang? Yelled? Or perhaps screamed?

Well, you are here. I am here. Vakusuma is here. Nightstalker is on vacation, and Chilled-unit is far, far away. He will, however continue to honor his commitment to the MAS stories...and he is up now, by the way.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.murphy33/Mazegame/Images/torch.gif http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.murphy33/Mazegame/Images/torch.gif

The torchlight flickers and showers the cavern with its own strange and welcoming light. All is serene and welcoming here in the Nexus Cavern at Beyond The Infinite, so sit ye down on yon comfortable lounge. Relax, and taste the delicioulsy chilled and frosted grapes and nibble on slices of delicate cheese. Goblets of our own fabulous magical spring water are there, gently sparkling like the finest champagne.

Relax, read, and wait. All will be well. We are here.

Chilled Unit
3rd Aug 2002, 19:41
Nexus
Chapter Five, Part Three
by
Chilled Unit

Daniel looked towards Dave and Ina. His highly developed logical reasoning routines pointed to these two being the “leaders” of the group although he was sure that no official process had resulted in the designation. It appeared to be a natural hierarchy among the members of this strange group, one that his electronic “intuition” was determined to investigate further. There was much he could learn from the ways of this group. The implied conclusion of this iterative analysis had barely begun to form; but he found his programmed directives driving him onward, receptive to the preliminary results. What… he thought--if thought could be the correct term applied to the beautifully interlocking logical programs running within him--would a world that operated on the principles that these humans exhibited be like? How would that work?

“Well…” Daniel began “Victor is happy enough that you need time to rest after eating. And I…” he paused for a split second “…appreciate being able to talk to you without interruption”

“Thank you Daniel” Ina spoke in a calm controlled manner; only Lila truly recognised the extent to which her mom was covering her misgivings in her tone. “I'm sure we will do all we can to help you understand our world.” She smiled. "After all, it is our world and we are a product of it."

“Yes, of course.” David took up the approach, smiling. “Where should we start?”

Daniel considered the question for a moment, desperately searching his memory banks. In all his experience he had not encountered behaviour like this, he had not been programmed for interaction in this way. These humans were definitely different, and he felt wary, afraid almost, yet he had no concept to evaluate these feelings of unease. He did not concentrate on his own behavior enough to realize it. He surveyed them again. Their eyes were on him, curious but friendly…apart from the older male, who kept his gaze downcast surveying the floor and playing with the latch on his rucksack. It appeared to be an avoidance pattern, something concealed.

His programming overcame his curiosity for a split second. Daniel blinked and was inside the man’s mind. Spread out before him were the unmistakeable colors and shapes of a human mind, a little rough round the edges, and somewhat of a deceptive streak to the docile, regularly ordered patterns. Too regular, he thought, for one travelling in company such as this. And there was something else, something he caught only a glimmering flash of for an instant.

“Before we start, do you think we could turn the heating up a bit?”

Lila broke the robot’s concentration. How long was I observing him? he thought guiltily. He had not meant to intrude into the man’s mind, not yet anyway; all his wits were required for dealing with the exhibited behavior of the group rather than the underlying causes within individuals.

"Sorry Miss Lila.” Daniel turned smiling, storing his data about Martin for later processing. “I am ill equipped to answer your question. Were you ordinary humans, I am quite sure you would not be able to alter the temperature control of this room. You would have to make connection with the lower level environmental controls of Cereplex and change the temperature value to the one required for this room in this building. Being humans somewhat out of the ordinary, I am unsure of your capability to do this, but my best analysis suggests that there is a 2% chance of you successfully changing the room temperature.”

Lila looked puzzled then cross as she thought about the rude response, a small frown developing on her forehead. Ina turned to her daughter and grinned broadly with her mouth. Her eyes were focused intently meeting Lila’s gaze. Lila knew the look well and quickly regained composure, the forced smile on her own face returning.

“Daniel, turn the temperature up in here, please. It’s too cold for us and we are uncomfortable.” Pete’s voice was firm but warm, his gaze focused on the robot. He caught the fleeting look of panic on Dave and Ina’s face out of the corner of his eye, but held his ground firm.

“Certainly” Daniel replied in his normal easy going voice, the whine of the air conditioning dropping in pitch no sooner had the word been spoken.

Dave, Ina, and Pete shot each other a glance. He didn’t question the command!

Regaining his composure, Dave spoke. “Daniel, I think the best way for us to explain about our world and our background would be for you to come with us and let us show you.” He spoke calmly and confidently spurred on by Pete’s successful discovery of the robot’s behaviour… although he would have a quiet word with his former student later about the merits of trying such a bold move in these circumstances.

Daniel considered the proposal. “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Daniel said calmly, his friendly air intact.

“What’s the problem?” Dave responded, his eyes attentive, his senses responding as he engaged his mind totally in the challenge of outwitting the robot with logic.

“I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.” Daniel replied impassively, caught a little off guard by the throwaway question and struggling to reverse the roles back.

“Of course.” Dave laughed warmly “It must be quite a puzzle fitting us into the parameters and definitions of your world.” He sat back in his chair. Got him!

Daniel sat motionless as three of his analysis programs crashed into each other and four more conflicted with several underlying logic routines. He had been working hard on the idea of them having come from a different world but he had been approaching the problem from the limited, precisely defined pre-programmed boundaries of his own world. All he knew was his reality and his surroundings. By his very being, that was all he could know hardwired into his circuits. He had not been prepared for the realisation that this group of humans were struggling with the same question he was but in reverse, how to fit him and his world into their defined framework of what they knew. The statement Dave had made so naturally told him this was their problem. Immediately the exhibited behaviour patterns fit; the analysis matched, the results announcing themselves loud and clear in his mind. But when he called on the reference frame to place the results in context it crashed.

His logic circuits looked at the dumped physical memory from the crash. There it was, precisely spread out in front of him. The behavior analysis results are correct, he observed, but he had tried to invert the framework of his world to fit them. He had been confronted with being put in their position without realising it, and he had crashed trying to accomplish it.

Daniel looked at Dave, his self-analysis complete. Dave was smiling openly and warmly, his hand held out towards Daniel. The robot reached out slowly and accepted the gesture plunging into a whole new world of colors, shapes and brainwave patterns quite different to anything he had experienced before as he took the human’s hand and Dave showed him his mind.

“Come.” Dave said, adopting a warm fatherly tone as he put his arm around Daniel’s shoulder. “Let us show you our world, you have a lot of learning to do my friend.”

They turned towards the door, Lila and Ina sharing astonished expressions turning to follow. Pete grinned broadly and patted Becky on the shoulder as they joined them.

“Wait”

It was Martin, or at least the quiet child-like voice had come from the direction of Martin.

“I want to stay here.” Martin stared firmly at his feet.

“I think you should all stay here too.”

Dave turned, his features wearing quizzical expression until he caught the strange look on Daniel’s face. "It's Victor," Daniel said, suddenly realizing how he had come to see the old man’s mind so easily.

The group froze as they heard the swish of the door…

“Aha, well rested I see” Victor’s eyes glinted under the fluorescent light. “Going somewhere?”

----------------------------

Hi Guys; I had fun with that one :D
Enjoy, hopefully!!

Dell
4th Aug 2002, 09:20
Glad to see you made it, Chilled_unit. Very nicely done, and very neat handling of Daniel and the war of human mind versus mentallic!

Oh what a twist you laid in Nightstalker's lap...or on his keyboard! Now Victor is totally aware of the entire situation, although we don't know if he can actually get into Daniel's 'mind' and see the activity there. Has he transmitted all this to Cereplex?

And that darned Martin Merle Morell! He had strange mental powers in the world he shares with Becky all right. We knew that. But no one thought to question what form it took here in this "tame human" world of the robots! He did test and get some strange undercurrents in the beginning when they first got here, though.

Clearly, he has contacted Victor...and Victor has taken over his mind...or at least it seems so at the moment.

Nicely done....and thanks for making the time limit!

Nightstalker? Away you go! Your time is running.

Chilled Unit
4th Aug 2002, 09:24
Thanks Dell!

I had a lot of fun with that encounter and the turning of Daniel :)

Yes indeed; what will happen next :D ?

vakusuma
5th Aug 2002, 14:10
“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Neato! :D

And a very neat chapter overall as well :)

Mouze1
5th Aug 2002, 22:43
More and more exciting with every chapter. Good writing Chilled Unit. Very good writing.

Nightstalker
6th Aug 2002, 16:36
Great timing guys...I'll read the chapter and start on writting one.

Well...I'm off... *vrooom, vrooooom*

Nightstalker.

Dell
7th Aug 2002, 08:43
Vrooom Vroommmmm indeed! Get writing, Nightstalker!

I have an announcement to make, too:

I will be off the line for an indefinite period of time in a couple of weeks. Why? Because I will be moving back home to the good old U S of A!

So while computers are packed and taking a lovely ocean cruise in a big old forty foot shipping container, I will only be able to say a quick hello occasionally using someone else's computer.

Until I am connected up again to my "real" world of the internet, Vakusuma has graciously agreed to do me a favor and step in and write my chapter parts in my turn. He will also do some editorial grammar and punctuation nit-picking on each of your chapters, too...don't groan, you know we all need an impartial eye to look at our work for things we miss!

I seriously hope you guys miss me. It would be awful to think you might not! :eek:

vakusuma
7th Aug 2002, 13:50
She knows that I'm nitpicky :p

Dell
8th Aug 2002, 09:47
Aha! Glad to see we have another "fan" who recoginzed that "plagarized"sentence, Vakusuma!

http://www.gifs.net/animate/winkingeyesdv.gif

Mouze1
9th Aug 2002, 01:32
This may not be one of my more intelligent moments here, but won't all that salt air and moisture harm your computer? Wouldn't there be a huge chance of condensation building up on it? That would worry me, but I worry about strange stuff.

Its great that you are US bound, can't wait until you are back online and talking with us again.

I, for one, will miss you while you are traveling home. Best wishes for a safe journey.

Could someone please remind me of the writing rotation? As usual my mind went somewhere and hasn't returned yet. Also when we write our chapter vakusuma, do we email it to you for editing, (duh, now that was really dumb). What I mean is could you post your email address, or better yet, just send me an email.
Mouze4@hotmail.com, that would work, thanks.

BTW Dell, I really like your new banner. That is real classy.

Dell
9th Aug 2002, 09:59
Thank you Mouse. I don't know about the ocean voyage but the Shipping Master tells us everything is sealed and moisture proofed here after it is loaded and not opened again until it reaches custom inspectors at home. Hope they will be safe.

The writer rotation is Mouze, Otaku/Chilled_Unit, Nightstalker, and Dell.

So hopefully I will be able to sneak my chapter part in before I go off the line...hopefully. If not, the Vakusuma will step in and take my place. The rotation will go on as usual.

Dell
22nd Aug 2002, 07:18
Sorry to double post, but Nightstalker, you seem to have fallen into a deep, dark, hole somewhere!

Hey, come on! It was just a rewrite on your chapter part, not a big deal! You have had YOUR full two weeks and now taken three and into the fourth one of my last days and chance to write for the story for a looooong time!

That rewrite was required because you didn't get some things right, not anyone's fault but yours!

Come on, I will be totally off line in five days! And I don't think I can be writing chapter parts in the last flurry of packing and leaving!

Nightstalker
22nd Aug 2002, 22:27
And here is chapter 5 part 4...after some rewriting...

Chapter 5 Part 4
By Nightstalker

Victor came striding into the room.

"Well, yes V1C-3OR, actually I'm taking these humans here to their quarters so that they can freshen up and get some rest," was Daniel's quick response as he turned to face his fellow robot.

"I see," Victor said." I thought your brain had fried under all the stress. You seemed to want to lead those humans back to the spot where we found them."

"Don't be ridicules V1C-3OR, that would be in violation of the First Law." Daniel said. "And you know what happens to robots that break the First Law."

Victor stood speechless for a moment as his circuits worked out his problem. Then he decided to release the human's mind from his grasp. But he had altered the mind enough, he had greatly reduced the desire to leave and he had greatly improved the desire to stay in Agri One. And as an extra precaution he posted some extra security robots on the routes leading out of Agri One.

Then Victor turned around and left the room.

Daniel turned to the humans and saw the look in their eyes, a look filled with mistrust. Only the human known as Dave seemed calm. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to spend the night here. V1C-3OR has posted some extra security robots on the routes leading out of Agri One and I can't recall them without arousing suspicion. I'm sorry."

"It's okay, Daniel." Dave quickly said before anyone else could speak. "We'll spend the night here." Dave quickly looked the rest in the eyes and indicated that they should agree. Martin alone eagerly agreed; the others were reluctant but followed Dave's lead.

Daniel escorted them to the rooms where they would spend the night. "The doors to your rooms will not be locked but you can't leave this hall. Breakfast will be served at 9:00 am, and the physical tests will commence at 10:00 am. You'll find your possessions inside your rooms. I wish you all a good night."

Martin immediately entered his room and locked himself in as the others looked on disgustedly. Then they gathered in one of the room. Dave looked around and ignored the looks of the rest of the company.

"Why did you say it was okay to stay?" Rebecca asked sounding a bit more furious than she really wanted to. "It seems to me that Daniel had a change of heart, but then he turned around and starts talking about it breaking the First Law if he allowed us to leave here and return to our own world."

Dave walked to one of the chairs and sat down. "Daniel wants to leave with us. But Victor spoiled his plan by taken over Martin's mind and by posting those guard 'bots," Dave explained.

The rest of the company sat silently until Pete finally said, "How do you know all this?"

"Daniel and I have discussed the matter." Dave said.

"But...but how...when?" Lila stuttered.

"That's kinda hard to explain, but when I took his hand, he made a link and 'told' me that he would like to join us. And just before he left us he told me that he'll try to get us out of here tomorrow."

"You are saying you were and still are in mind contact with a robot?" Becky's voice showed the level of her disgust. "Uggh. How awful!

"He was. And what about Martin?" Ina asked. "We have to take him with us. Or else he'll tell about our worlds and this Cereplex might decide that we need protection too."

"You're right." Dave said thoughtfully. "Daniel will have to undo what Victor has done."

They sat all down and were quiet for a long time as they thought about it. Finally Rebecca yawned. "I don't know about you guys, but I would like to get some sleep." The rest agreed and after wishing each other a good night they went to their beds in their separate rooms.

----------

Daniel walked down the hallway to 'his' room, which was actually no larger than a broom closet. His 'brain' was still creating new pathways. During the conversation Daniel had been analysing the human emotions, their behavior, and their claim about being from another world. It was valid if he looked at the memories. The six humans intrigued him. But not only the humans intrigued him...his own behavior intrigued him. How could he be so illogical? His only explanation for it was that his long dormant reasoning circuits had been reactivated, and had been altered by the thoughts and memories from the six humans.

Daniel stepped into his room and started his routine maintenance cycle. While his nanobots started to work outside, his 'brain' went on working on the inside. The question was what kind of damage had V1C-3OR cause to one of the six? He had to take action.

----------

The next morning after having refreshed themselves the travellers, except Martin, came together in Dave's room and talked a bit while they were waiting to be called for breakfast. "So we all agree. We'll tell Daniel that if he and the Cereplex wants proof of our story that we truly are from a different world, then they'll have to take us all, including Martin, to the roof of Oak Grove University." said Dave.

As they all nodded, the door of the room slid open and a robot asked them to follow him for breakfast. Silently the five stood up and followed the robot. They met Martin in the corridor. He did not speak, and there was a slight satisfied smile on his vacant looking face. Not the Martin they all knew, that was for sure. They exchanged looks but said nothing.

They had thought that Daniel would be present at their breakfast, but he was nowhere to be seen. After breakfast V1C-3OR came to get them for the physical tests. They followed Victor through several hallways and into a room, where they all took a seat.

"With this physical examination we'll assess your current physical condition to see if you need any altering." Victor said in a matter of fact tone.

The word 'altering' rang in the ears of the travellers. "What do you mean by altering?" Lila asked. "I do not believe we wish to be altered in any way."

"If your physical condition is below standard we'll have to alter you body so that your condition meets the minimum required physical condition for humans." Victor answered.

"No," Lila answered firmly. "No, we do not wish to be altered. It may cause us harm. We are not humans as you know them. That is an order. You will not alter us in any way or you may harm us. We are humans. You are not allowed to harm humans."

Victor stood silent for almost two minutes, and they could hear the circuits humming in the silence of the room. Dave grinned, and Pete gave Lila a thumbs up. They were catching on.

The tests seemed simple, measuring height, weight. Eyesight and hearing testing. Measuring blood pressure, and all other kinds of simple things. Apparently, there was no altering of any kind, and after Victor finished his tests they returned to the central chamber. "All of you have physical conditions that are within the limits. So no altering was necessary. No altering was done." Victor said. Apparently the validity of Lina's order had not come into question after all.

These words were received with a bit of relief by the travellers. The door of the chamber slid open and there was a robot outside. "If you would please follow K98-GT5, he'll take you to the next phase of your integration." Victor said. Martin immediately stood up and walked toward the droid.

"Integration?" Pete asked. They all looked at Dave. He raised his hands and shrugged as if to say 'I don't know'.

So they got up and followed K98-GT5. After a few hallways they came to a door marked HAL, Human Altering Laboratory. They were led into this room.

----------

Daniel walked down the corridor to Victor's office. He had been busy with a minor task that had been appointed to him. As he entered the office he saw that the humans were not there. "V1C-3OR, were have the humans been taken?" Daniel asked.

"They have been sent to HAL," was Victor's answer.

I hope that my message to the council has been received and that the alter order has not been executed yet, Daniel thought. Although he didn't recognize it for what it was, he was feeling anxiety over the well being of the group of strange humans.

Daniel turned around and headed for HAL.


Note: Yes I did got HAL from Space Odyssey...Dave and HAL...Hmm...

Note 2: HAL is the place where the humans can be alter mentally and physically.

Note 3: Note to self...Be on time next time...

Nightstalker.

Dell
23rd Aug 2002, 15:47
Thank you, Nightstalker! Great recovery and chapter! Good work!

Sorry to get so whiny about it...I am upset by leaving. Not so much by going home, but by having no idea when I will be able to get my 'puters set up again. That upsets me big time.

So, I am writing...and writing like fury. Want to leave you all with a good chapter as my "swan song". Yes, I will be back asap, but any time away from friends is a long time for sure.

*Sniffles, turns away, and goes back to writing on her chapter part.*

Dell
24th Aug 2002, 08:07
Here is Dell's MAS 3 "Swan Song". Hope it pleases everyone. Mouse, you are up next!

Nexus Chapter Six, Part One
by Dell

As luck would have it, a sticking relay allowed Daniel to reach the HAL laboratory before the procedures started; the mentallic scheduled to actually perform the alterations had, like Daniel, been slightly delayed in finishing another assignment. Clearly, the Cereplex was not omnipotent in its scheduling and assigning tasks. Tasks were assigned logically in order with the expectation that each would go smoothly. When one faltered due to mechanical malfunction--as happened in any machine no matter how efficient--and ran even seconds late, all the rest in that sequence were thrown out of synchronization like dominoes toppling one into the other. Not performing an assigned task at the appointed time caused stressed relays that inevitably led to more malfunctions and delays.

The group had just been commenting on this fact, assessing how they could exploit this small hitch in the Cereplex 'gitalong' and use it to their own advantage. Several quick glances were flashed at Martin. No one knew just how badly he had been tampered with, or whether the connections with Victor were still in place. So to be on the safe side, they simply talked around the subject without being explicit...something humans from their worlds, at least, were very good at.

Everyone but Martin, who stared dully at the floor, stood up when Daniel entered, and everyone spoke at once. Dave held up his hand. "One at a time, and with your permission I would like to go first?" When they nodded assent and sat down, he turned to Daniel.

"Daniel, answer me 'yes' or 'no' to these questions." Daniel was silent, his face turned to Dave. "We are humans are we not?"

"Yes."

"We are humans like the people of this world, but we are different. Is that correct?"

"Yes."

"Are humans superior to robots in this world?"

"Yes."

"As humans, are we in this group superior to robots in this world?"

"Yes."

"Are humans superior to mentallics in this world?"

The pause was just a flicker of time, but they all caught it.

"Yes."
"As humans, are we in this group superior to mentallics in this world?"

Again the flicker of hesitation. "Yes."

"Were robots and mentallics created by humans to serve humans?"

No hesitation this time. "Yes."

"Serving humans means doing as humans tell you to do unless it harms another human or robot or mentallic, is that right?"

"Yes."

"Is it true that the humans of this world agreed to be altered?"

The hesitation was longer this time, and Dave rephrased the question.

"Did the idea of alteration and the order to do it originate with humans?"

"No." The answer was quick.

"Then was it Cereplex who made the decision to carry out alterations on humans?"

"Yes."

"Did Cereplex do this without specific orders or directions from the humans of this world?"

"Yes."

Dave paused before he continued, thinking how best to phrase the next series of questions.

"Daniel are you aware of the import of the questions I have asked and you have answered?"

"Yes."

"Can we order that alterations not be made on us as it will cause us harm?"

"Yes."

"Will that order be obeyed by the mentallic who is to perform the alterations?"

"I cannot answer with one word. I do not know the answer for sure. No human in this world has given an order to a robot or mentallic for a long time by human reckoning. Cereplex has given the orders."

"Do you or Cereplex actually know what is best for the humans in this world or our world?"

When Daniel didn't answer, Dave quickly amended the question. "Has any human in this world or our world told Cereplex what is best for them?"

"No."

"Then has it been Cereplex who is making all the decisions about humans and what is best for them?"

"Yes."

Dave's smile was wide on his face, his eyes crinkled at the corners as he looked around at the group. "Now that you understand clearly the role of humans, robots, mentallics, and Cereplex, and their relationship to each other, will you carry out a direct order if one of us humans gives it?" Dave gestured around at the group. They nodded, smiling pleasantly. All of them understood clearly what Dave was doing.

"Yes."

"We as humans are superior to robots, mentallics, and Cereplex because you were all made to serve humans. Will you carry it out our orders even if they conflict with any order given you by Cereplex as long as they obey the rules of robotics as humans created those first rules?"

"Yes." There was no hesitation. Then unexpectedly, Daniel continued. "I would have to obey you because though different, you are humans. That has been proven by examination. We were made to serve humans as long as it did not cause harm to them. Other than physical harm, we have no way of assessing what will and will not cause harm of an emotional or psychological nature to a human. I can see that, now. Only humans can make those evaluations and decisions about humans. Humans are not robots or mentallics or Cereplex. Humans have feelings and emotions."

He paused and in the silence of the room, the small whir and click of relays could be heard. Daniel was a creation, a robot, a mentallic to be sure, but a human creation in the beginning and he was reasoning now, taking the first step toward real awareness...asking questions beginning with the word 'why', questions that challenged the entire status quo of this world.

"Daniel, will you help us get back to the top of the University Building in the middle of town?" It was Ina. Her face was still held in a pleasant mode, but her voice was quiet and deadly serious.

"Yes."

"No!" It was Martin. His tone was petulant. "I don't want to go back there. It is pleasant here. A safe place. Every need is taken care of. There is no pain. There are no problems. I don't have to plan my next job. I don't have to look for the fast buck, or think up any more scams. I will join more humans. We can play checkers or croquet. I'm not hearing all those things in my head now. I want to stay here."

Pete stood up and turned to Daniel. "See what you've done to him already!" His tone was outraged. "He can't stay here. It's not good for him! He's not one of your tame humans!"

"Smile Pete, quick!" It was Lila.

"Yes, Becky chimed in, "Lower your voice and paste a smile on your face." She moved close and patted his arm reassuringly; Lila did the same on the other side. It was at this tense moment, that the mentallic in charge of doing the human alterations entered the room.

"Sorry to be delayed. Let us begin immediately." He looked at them. "Yes, we will begin with the one called 'Pete'. He seems the most agitated, and most in need of altering."

Pete's change was nearly miraculous. He smiled, his voice was almost laughing. "No," he said to the alteration mentallic, "you are mistaken. I am not agitated as you can plainly see. I do not need altering. I am a human. Do not alter me. It will cause me great harm. That is an order." His smile was glued to his face, his eyes desperate as he looked at Dave for reassurance.

"That human is correct," Dave said. The others quickly smiled and added their voices to the assertion, repeating Pete's words in turn one after the other.

It took only a moment. "I cannot be mist.a..a..k..." The alteration mentallic froze, unable to sort out the conflict.

"Daniel." It was Ina. "Take us out of here. Get us back to the city and the top of the University Building safely, and do it now. We are in danger here."

"No!" It was Martin again.

"Daniel, call a medical robot and have a light sleeping medicine given to the human Martin." Dave looked around at the group. They nodded their agreement in unison. "Then you will carry him as you lead us out of here and back to the top floor of the University Building in the City."

Daniel did not respond, but within seconds one of the small medical robots scurried into the room. The humans shifted away from it uneasily, remembering the ease with which one of them had punctured Lila's foot at the beginning of their visit to this world. Martin didn't seem to notice or care as it went directly to him. The small opening at the front end dilated, it rolled close to his ankle and the shot was administered within seconds of it entering the room. Just as quickly, the robot left the room.

Daniel moved close to Martin, and as he slumped, caught him up as easily as a child might have picked up a doll.

"We will go now. A route directly to the outside is open. When we go out, I will send a warning that the wild humans are possibly to be found far on the other side of Agri One fields. All the guard robots will go there. We can move directly across the fields to the city." The act of telling an almost lie didn't seem to bother him at all. Inside, relays clicked and recorded new information. The humans could possibly be found there. Anything was possible.

Without further words, Daniel, carrying Martin, left the room. In a remarkably short time considering the size of the Agri One domed enclosure, they had passed outside, and were several yards into a field of corn that stood well over Dave's head, and he was by far the tallest of the group.

He was followed in close order by Becky, Ina, Lila, Pete, and Dave, who brought up the rear just in case . . .

vakusuma
24th Aug 2002, 15:09
Very nice, Nightstalker and Dell... both of ya. :)

Mouze1
24th Aug 2002, 19:54
Well guess I better get my writing outfit on and get busy. Fine writing NightStalker and Dell.

Really going to be lonely out here in cyberspace without you Dell. Please be sure to call Mom and Dad when you get home. Anxious to say "Howdy Ya'll".

Nightstalker
24th Aug 2002, 22:05
Great chapter Dell, considering the pressure on you.

Well, we'll try to hold the forum alive will you are gone...and when you come back we'll throw a party and JAM alot... :)

See ya later,

Nightstalker.

Chilled Unit
25th Aug 2002, 13:35
Good work :D

"Swan Song"? You'll be back before you know it :D

Dell
26th Aug 2002, 12:16
I will certainly try...so keep fingers crossed!

Nightstalker
3rd Sep 2002, 19:33
Mouse? Is your chapter nearly ready? We're all dying to see how you handled with situation.

Nightstalker.

vakusuma
5th Sep 2002, 14:02
She's nearly ready, rest assured :)

Mouze1
8th Sep 2002, 05:20
Nexus Chapter 6, Part 2
by Mouze

After the initial thrill of being outside again began to dissipate, the group inspected their position. Becky, in particular, was taking in the sweet smell of the fresh warm earth and the feel of the cornstalks brushing against her arms. Even the sound of the breeze rustling through the rows was familiar to her. 'Oh, how I want to go home,' she thought to herself wistfully. The rest of her friends were looking to the sky and reveling in the warmth of the sun... or at least, what appeared to be the sun. Nothing in this world could be considered the same as it was at home. Still, she had to admit that their time here so far had been far from boring, and the corn was corn as she had known it all her life, no doubts about that. She reached and pulled an ear from a nearby stalk. After a moment's thought, she hurriedly stuck it in her backpack.

Daniel shifted Martin’s weight a bit in his arms and looked at his charges. 'Yes indeed', he thought to himself, 'They are my charges. I have been ordered to get them safely to the top of the University Building.' He motioned them to follow him, and as they were working their way through the cornfield, they heard sounds coming from some distance away. Daniel stopped and raised his hand. Everyone stood still and quiet, trying to determine what, where and who was making the noise.

Daniel turned to them. "There are humans here working in this cornfield; we will have to be very careful and as quiet as possible. We don't want to arouse any kind of suspicions because that will alert the guards that were assigned to you." They nodded in agreement, and Daniel started moving once more.

The further they advanced through the rows of corn, the clearer they heard the sound of people talking in low murmurs. Lila was whispering that it was sure good to hear another human voice, just about the same time they came to the edge of a small clearing. They came to an abrupt stop.

About fifty feet away were eight people gathering corn from dry stalks and putting the ears into a large cart hooked up to a team of tired looking horses. The gatherers had their backs to the group of travelers; their movements seemed slow and the voices they heard somehow sounded as sad and dispirited as the horses looked. After watching for a minute or two, Daniel moved again, clearly intending to circle around the clearing.

It took about twenty minutes of careful walking for them to work their way clear of the cornfield and into a small stand of trees. Dave asked Daniel if they could stop for a few minutes and rest. Daniel agreed and put Martin down on the small patch of grass that was tenaciously trying to grow in the damp shade.

Everyone started talking at once about what they had just seen, mostly the excitement of finally seeing some humans in what had appeared to be a metal dominated world. However, one thing bothered them. They agreed that those people in the cornfield didn't really seem as happy and content as they had been led to believe by the messages sent out through Cereplex. In fact, the thought left such a strong impression in their minds such that it would be the only thought they considered when the subject of this world was brought up later.

Looking across the top of another cornfield from the stand of trees which was slightly higher, they could see the very top of the University Building. A sigh of relief and a few more minutes rest saw the group moving once again toward what they hoped would be their escape from this world back to the cabin and the safety they felt it held.

Daniel picked up Martin, who by now was starting to moan softly, and told the group they must hurry before Martin woke up. It could be very dangerous for them otherwise, if not a complete disaster. They all knew how real this danger was. Hopefully they would be back at the cabin before Martin woke up... back to his old self, or whatever that was. His words had left their indelible mark on them all. Charlatan he had been, and charlatan he was. They were sure.

Moving quickly now with a sense of urgency, it took them what seemed like mere minutes to reach the back wall of the building that had been their arrival point. It felt like eons had passed since then. Dave pointed to some outside fire stairs that led to the rooftop and they all started moving as one towards them. Looking around and making sure that there was nothing to stop them, Dave sent Pete up the stairs first to act as a lookout. Then Ina, Lila, and Becky, followed by Daniel and Martin. Dave was the last to start up the stairs.

Pete reached the top and was checking to make sure all was safe when the girls reached him. Suddenly there was a noise and a flurry of movement, and they turned to face it just as Daniel, Martin, and Dave reached the top of the building.

Standing there before them was a guard "bot". Daniel put Martin down and stepped forward to "talk" to the guard . . .

vakusuma
8th Sep 2002, 21:47
I'm still around, and nice chapter :)

Mouze1
9th Sep 2002, 05:02
Thank you sir and thank you very much for your help.

Not always easy to do this writing thing, but I will keep practicing and maybe someday, ah yes, someday :)


Just noticed that my avatar and banner, along with Dell's and CU's, has apparently departed this fair earth. Wonder where they went and why. Hmmmm.

vakusuma
9th Sep 2002, 07:19
It was temporary. Every so often the webspace did some maintenance. Been noticing it for some time.

Anyway, I gathered you opened the .rtf file and so didn't get my suggestion to expand some of the implicit dialogs into real dialogs to add some spice (and length) to the story. Hehe, nevermind, the story is fine as it is anyway. :)

Chilled Unit
9th Sep 2002, 11:23
Great chapter Mouse :)

I kinda like the implied nature of the dialogues and the flow it creates :)

I guess now my turn is up, and I am working on it! I'll send it on to Vak to have a look at before I post :)

Mouze1
10th Sep 2002, 00:21
vak-
that was because that file also gave me the error message, so I used the only one I could open. Sorry:(

Thank you CU. Good to see you out an about again. :)

Nightstalker
18th Sep 2002, 10:13
He CU,

What is keeping you? You have got only 4 days left...

Nightstalker.

Chilled Unit
18th Sep 2002, 18:17
I'm on the case ;)

I'll be ready to send to Vak hopefully tomorrow, we should be posted real soon :)

vakusuma
21st Sep 2002, 04:15
On it now. Should make its way back to you within 2 hours :)

vakusuma
21st Sep 2002, 05:39
1 hour, 18 minutes later:

Yep, sent. Have a look :)

Chilled Unit
22nd Sep 2002, 10:46
Nexus Chapter 6, Part 3
by Otaku

“Step aside, please. I am Mentallic D4N-31, and I am escorting this group of wild humans.” Daniel said purposefully, more for the benefit of the humans, for his command had been relayed to the guard in milliseconds.

Dave sighed, very relieved, when the guardbot backed down without a struggle, albeit slowly, seeming to sniff the air as it did so. Pete and Becky smiled at each other as Lila spread her arms wide and placed them on their shoulders.

Dave silently noted that again Daniel had not 'lied', but he had not said what exactly he was doing here with this group of “wild” humans. With the guardbot safely out of range, Daniel turned.

“What do we do now? You are safely on the top of the University Building. ”

The question contained no tone of doubt or superiority, just genuine curiosity.

“Well, my friend,” Dave replied, “we go through there…” His voice trailed off as Daniel's eyes followed Dave’s extended finger towards the wall of the shed, which housed the large air conditioning unit installed on the roof.

“Oh my, I could do with a seat, a cup of real coffee, and a little something to eat!” Ina sounded tired. She walked toward the wall of the air conditioner as she spoke and without warning promptly vanished. Lila was close behind and about to follow her mom when Daniel sprang forward and grabbed her arm, a pained expression on his face.

“Oh no!” he exclaimed. “Ina is gone, gone! She no longer exists! She has come to harm!” The mentallic didn’t have time to act because before he could assess the situation further, Pete moved up close behind him. Aided by his firm shove, Daniel stumbled through the Nexus point, dragging Lila with him.

Daniel steadied her as he turned quickly to see who or what had pushed him. What he saw was a row of trees, standing where seconds before there had been a twelve story drop from the university roof. Perplexed, he turned again, and there was the vanished Ina in front of him, walking calmly down the woodland trail ahead.

“See?” It was Pete, who Daniel was now only mildly surprised to find behind him. “This is what we were talking about!” Pete grinned. "This is what we call the Cabin Nexus point. From here we went to your world, and from here we each go back to our own worlds. We're sure there are other Nexus points to be found here."

---------------------

Later, in the cabin, embers glowed in the small fire, and the air was a pleasant, homey mix of coffee and toasted bread. Martin lay peacefully on an air mattress in the small pantry alcove off the kitchen. They all felt considerably more secure with him in full view, even if he was unconscious.

“Well, what now?” Lila asked.

“And what about him?” Becky added, gesturing at Martin's recumbent body. As though in response, Martin rumbled a gentle snore.

Pete looked at the girls and shrugged; clearly tired, he leaned his back against the wall and savored the hot coffee.

“Well. There's certainly one of us who can’t be trusted.” Ina spoke in a firm tone.

Pete tensed and looked down, expecting his own name to come from Ina’s lips. Once he had been too bold under pressure, and once he had lost his cool. At either time, things could easily have turned out very differently for the group, and he would have been to blame.

“Yes, we have to do something about Martin.” Dave picked up Ina’s train of thought. Pete breathed out and looked at both Ina and Dave, who were smiling warmly at him. “No, not you Pete,” Dave chuckled, “you did good, and you learned quickly. Valuable skills indeed.” Pete smiled back, a weight lifted from his shoulders.

“All right, so what are we going to do about him then?” Lila asked. "He knows all about the cabin, the Nexus points, and the robot world. What's going to stop him from coming back on his own?"

“Well don’t forget we have a new friend now, one who has, shall we say, powerful abilities.” Dave offered, grinning as everyone turned their attention to Daniel.

-----

The travellers were looking forward to a night in their own beds, and hoping that they could successfully make it through the day ahead without feeling too sleepy. Becky kept hoping against hope that somehow time had moved on in their worlds, and she would emerge from the cabin Nexus to a warm, balmy evening with nothing to do but shower, before settling into bed.

She silently thought a mild curse word as she crossed the invisible boundary into the crisp early morning air of her world and noticed that her watch was ticking again. It was only twenty-five minutes to seven, the exact time she had arrived here two days ago. Oh well. She shrugged.

“Got him all right there?” she turned and asked Daniel, who smiled back at her, the slumbering Martin safely over his shoulder.

“Fine here, Miss Becky,” Daniel replied.

“Right, we had better get him to his place and settled in... and find you some clothes, too.” Becky turned, leading the way, then turned back. "You can call me just plain Becky. I would like that better, if you don't mind." Daniel didn't reply.

It didn’t take long to get Martin safely tucked up in bed, and Becky searched through the old man’s meagre wardrobe for suitable clothes for Daniel.

The mentallic sat at Martin’s side holding the old man’s hand gently, eyes half closed. Daniel looked deep into the man’s mind and found that things were as the others had told him in the cabin. Martin’s mind was not of the same making as any human he had previously encountered, be they docile and tamed, wild, or something completely different like his new friends. No, Martin’s mind was broken. Daniel could see the shapes and colors, patterns which partially pointed towards psychic ability, and realized just how this man had been able to call out to Victor. There was more than that though; psychic ability in itself was not an indication of a flawed mind, and there was more here driving this man: pervasive, all-encompassing Greed.

It was clear to Daniel that Dave and Ina were right. Left to his own devices and driven as he was by his compulsion to acquire wealth, this man would bring harm to himself and others. As dictated by the prime directive, Daniel could not allow that to happen, so he would have to fix Martin.

Becky placed her hand softly on Daniels shoulder.

“There are some clothes on the dresser there; will you be okay here? I mean…will what you're doing take long?” she asked.

Daniel opened his eyes and smiled at her.

“Not too long, Just Plain Becky. He will be unconscious for another 12 hours or so. I am afraid the medical drone was a little excessive in its dosage. My work with him will only take two hours, so you go on. I will be safe here.” The robot’s tone was friendly and warm… tired, almost.

Becky looked at him. "I didn't mean you should call me Just Plain Becky," she said slowly. “My name is Becky. Please call me Becky." There, she thought, I'm learning how to talk to a robot. No, a mentallic, she corrected herself. She wondered if robots got tired or if they were susceptible to culture shock. She smiled back and turned, leaving the house quietly as Daniel lowered his eyes and got back to work on Martin.

The farm was just as she had left it, and she felt a little surge of happiness to see the chickens pecking around at the remnants of the grain she had scattered not a half hour ago. She caught her Mom in the kitchen, making coffee and cooking hash browns.

“Mornin’ Mom,” Becky said brightly, despite inwardly feeling anything but bright.

“Mornin’ dear. Up early today!” Becky's mom smiled and turned back to her cooking.

“Mom…” Lila began, “I ran into a guy who lives down the road on the way in to town. He is new to the area and looking for work. He’s pretty old, but you know how you and Dad always moan about needing another pair of hands…” She was cut short by the plate of eggs and fresh hash browns placed in front of her.

“Sure.” Her mom smiled. “Why don’t you see if he'll drop by tomorrow?” She patted her daughter on the head and left to get the first milking of the day underway.

-----

It was a more ordinary-looking Daniel that greeted the group at the cabin on the next morning, thanks to the clothes Becky had picked for him. She had actually found shoes and socks that fit pretty well, dark pants and a checked shirt. A denim jacket completed the outfit, and he could certainly pass at a distance if his head was covered a bit. Pete had soon fixed that by donating the baseball cap he was wearing. It was a fact that people tended to see what they expected to see, and with the group he fitted right in.

“Rest well?” Dave asked grinning, as Becky entered the cabin the next morning. She nodded her response. “Good. Today we finish exploring this area, and we won't go shooting off into the first Nexus point we see this time!” He chuckled. “And compliments to the host for his fine coffee.” He raised his mug in a brief salute.

Daniel laughed at this recognition of his new cabin living quarters by the group. He had stayed with Martin until he showed signs of regaining consciousness, and arrived at the cabin before dawn, thinking correctly that he would attract less attention at that time. It did not take a lot of thought to figure out the mechanics of the coffee pot nor the simple method of making a fire in the stove. Having observed the coffee making ritual the day before, he had a fresh pot finished by the time the first person arrived. 'How wonderfully human,' he thought, 'to include me as one of their group.'

-----

Not too far away, Martin Merle Morell woke from the best night's sleep of his life and stretched, then yawned hugely. He liked it here in Oak Grove, liked it a lot. This was the kind of town one could settle in, he thought, and today he would go and see if that little farm up the road needed help with the harvest, just on the off chance…


---------------------------

Hope you enjoy it :)

Thanks to Vak for helping out while Dell is away (come back soon Dell!)

I'll have an update on the site soon too; doing it first thing tomorrow morning!

vakusuma
25th Sep 2002, 02:24
No problem. Good chapter :)

Nightstalker is next again, I suppose?

Mouze1
27th Sep 2002, 23:16
:D Excellent work CU. Moved our travelers right along. :D

Nightstalker
30th Sep 2002, 12:34
Great chapter CU. Sorry for been a bit late.

Well, I'm off to write the next chapter.

Nightstalker.

Mouze1
4th Oct 2002, 00:31
Greetings everyone. I was going to post this at Edge, but EZBoard is down, so hopefully someone will read it here.

This may sound strange, but our Dell is still with us in a round-about way. Taboo has been in touch with me via e-mail and this is what the basic request is on behalf of Dell.

Dell is wondering if it would be possible for CU, Nightstalker and vak to send copies of their chapters to me, which I will e-mail to Taboo, who will print them out and then mail them to Dell so she could perhaps write a chapter and at least keep up with the story line.

It is taking longer than expected for Dell to get back up and running and according to Taboo, Dell would very much like to still be involved with the MAS 3 even if it is by snail mail.

Please post here and let me know what you all think about it. For myself, I think it would be just fine.

I have a new e-mail address which I don't want to post here but when the other forum is up and running I will post it there. :D :p

vakusuma
5th Oct 2002, 04:38
That'll be great :) CU's chapter is above, I think you can sorta copy and paste it and send it to Dell. We'll have to see about the rest of the chapters :)

Chilled Unit
7th Oct 2002, 18:59
Sounds good to me :-)

Mouze1
8th Oct 2002, 23:49
How's your chapter coming NightStalker? Hope you're almost done, because I'm getting curious about where the story is going to go now.

Edit: Oh by the way I am going to post my new address in the MAS 3 topic you all know where. So if you could send a copy of your chapter there CU, and everyone else, I will then fire it off to Taboo and then on they will go to Dell. :cool:

Dell
12th Oct 2002, 17:28
Hello! Back on line in a very limited fashion for very short periods of time, but here just the same. Talk about withdrawal symptoms... have had them every waking minute since I went off line in August!

Vakusuma, please continue to monitor and keep things going if it isn't too much trouble for you? Really appreciate it.

Nightstalker, if you want, you can send your chapter part to me at windsongblue02@aol.com, and I will edit if for you? Just get it to me, okay? I am checking there every day now.

It is great to be back no matter how time restricted I am these days....hopefully that won't last forever!

Chilled Unit
14th Oct 2002, 20:04
Things have been a little bit busy round these parts recently; but the Story Site is now updated, and the mirror sent to nightstalker :-)

Any problems with it arriving get back to me nightstalker - my e-mail went a bit lumpy as it sent it out and I don't want to flood your inbox!

Dell
16th Oct 2002, 23:23
Good to see the MAS3 home site up-to-date and ready for more readers! Keep it up nice people!

Now, last I heard, Nightstalker is suffering from the deadly writer's block virus, so I do believe he has asked Vakusuma to write his chapter part this time....so go to it Vakusuma! We know you do good work!

vakusuma
17th Oct 2002, 01:47
Me? Well, he did send me an email saying that he had a sudden inspiration wave on Monday... did you not, Nightstalker?

I can take the story if needed, however. Owing to my schedule, I can only start working on it next Monday.

Dell
18th Oct 2002, 00:01
Vakusuma and I have talked....If everyone agrees, I will write the upcoming chapter part, so I need a little time to get up to speed. Then Vakusuma will take the next part.

After that, we go to Mouze and then Chilled Unit....

Is that satisfactory with everyone? Respond please!

Chilled Unit
18th Oct 2002, 07:35
Sounds good; we get to keep things moving - which is great! :)