You slumbered in the ocean for three thousand years
Editor(s): namio, jelly
From afar came the electronic sound of a robot patrol in the waves, and A-Ka muttered a dark, “Damn!” He used his arms and legs in conjunction to pull the man out of the sleeping chamber, before carrying him on his back as he ran towards higher ground. Then, four hundred meters away, two coast guard ships parted the waters as they rushed towards the shore.
A-Ka’s heart leapt in his chest, and he hugged the man as he clambered up the rocks. From afar came the sound of sirens, and he pulled out a remote from his shirt pocket, and from inside the cave came a huge weng.
K staggered and crashed about, dragging a trail of smoke behind it as it rushed out. With one hand A-Ka hugged that man, and with the other he grabbed K’s metal arm, and K slammed against the rocks a few times, losing a few stray pieces, and the pieces rolled and fell, ding ding dang dang, down into the seawater below.
Darkness swam in A-Ka’s vision, and he hugged that man as he rushed behind K back into the cave.
After several minutes A-Ka finally recovered his senses, and he patted that man’s face - he was still unconscious. K took large steps back to its original position, once again sinking into silence.
A-Ka climbed out of the cave and peeked down, only to see the surveillance bots take the sleeping chamber away. Now there was nothing left of it, only a man that he had picked up and brought back.
A-Ka watched that man’s soundly sleeping face, and he suddenly felt that he was at a loss. What use was a human? If it was just the sleeping chamber, at least he could source some materials from it, but throwing the man back into the sea was not something that A-Ka could do.
Whatever, it’ll be like this for now. A-Ka got up and walked to K’s side, before continuing to adjust its navigation system. This chip that he had stolen off the clone’s body really was broken, and when A-Ka turned on the sound system, he heard static.
“...System failed.” A sound came from K’s voice box.
“Ah!” A-Ka was greatly startled; he never expected K to be able to open its mouth and speak. What was going on? He clearly hadn’t installed an artificial intelligence software on K?!
When K finished speaking, it once again fell into silence, its two icy cold eyes staring fixedly at A-Ka. A-Ka was filled with suspicion; he opened up the circuit board on K’s abdomen, before testing out a change of the vocal source.
“The patricide function must be …” K said again.
A-Ka was once again startled, but this time he found the reason: it was the navigation chip that was producing that noise. Within the location data records, some strange messages had been inserted. A-Ka wired up the rest of the circuitry before once again beginning to broadcast the navigation system’s narration, and he heard a series of words that shocked his heart and moved his soul out of alignment.
“Attention all members of the rebellion, the turning point of the revolution is soon to be upon us, and the passcode is: with the Patricide, our days of being oppressed will be over, and a new era will arrive. On the twenty-seventh day of the eleventh month, at twelve o’clock in the morning when the time comes to switch shifts with the humans we will break through their defenses, exterminating all bots that try to suppress us with force on the spot. When every district loses power, all members of the rebellion are to head to the central reactor region and sneak in, and the vanguard will at this time force a failure in the defensive system. Our goal is to destroy the Central Energy Storage with explosions and annihilate “Father”. I wish everyone success in their duties.”
A-Ka was so stunned that he was rendered speechless. All he could do was stand there and stare dumbly at K.
The twenty-seventh day of the eleventh month, and today was the twenty-fifth… was this a joke? A-Ka couldn’t believe it, but the navigation chip had been taken from the body of the clone. The clone didn’t know at all that A-Ka had stolen it, so he couldn’t have planted this section of narration beforehand.
That was to say, in forty-eight hours at the latest, the clones would ally with the humans to begin a riot with the goal of taking down the Central Computer. A-Ka only felt that the things that had happened today were really too impossible… and yet he hadn’t noticed at all that the man he had rescued from the beach had already awoken.
A-Ka hurried to turn around, ramming into that man’s chest, before letting out a loud shout as he took a fist to the face and landed heavily on the floor.
The man's eyes were filled with killing intent as he stared coldly at A-Ka.
Under the light that K let out, they stared at each other in silence for almost half a minute. A-Ka's brain was filled with a buzzing noise, and he was on the verge of exploding, and as the silence dragged on between them, he couldn't stop struggling.
“What are you trying to do?” the man asked icily.
A-Ka's eyes had tears of rage in them, and he coughed wildly as he gulped down air.
"I saved you!" A-Ka roared as if he was hysterical. "Is this how you treat the person who saved your life?"
"Oh." The man looked A-Ka up and down coldly, and in the instant A-Ka raised his head, he felt a little befuddled.
This was a twenty or so years old young man, with bronzed skin and a well-built physique; his hair was short, and was of even length as if it had just grown out. The line of his lips was as clear and sharp as the edge of a knife, his nose bridge was high, his eyes were bright with spirit, and his eyebrows were like black ink.
His arms and legs were long and lithe, and the lines of muscles on his torso were clear and powerful, his pecs slim. He looked like a heroic sculpture that had survived from ancient times.
There were a lot of black crude oil droplets clinging to his chest, rubbed over from just now when A-Ka had been carrying him just now, but it didn't detract from the beauty of his perfect body -- that was a kind of beauty of a man who had manliness in abundance. The black oil glistened with the colors of the rainbow, adding a layer of rough glamor.
"What… is your name?" A-Ka asked.
"Name." The man furrowed his eyebrows slightly, as if he had sunk into deep thought.
A-Ka was about to stand up when the man moved again, startling A-Ka into backing away.
A-Ka’s suspicions towards this man were many and varied, and he had a lot of questions too. Where had he come from? What was the structure of the sleeping chamber that had held him? Had he really slept at the bottom of the ocean for three thousand years? But A-Ka knew, if the sleeping cycle lasted for more than a month, due to the shutdown of the brain, a person’s memories would slowly become sealed away, so he was not very surprised at the fact that this man showed signs of amnesia.
The man said coldly, "How did you save me?"
A-Ka answered, "You just woke up after being pulled out of the ocean…"
A-Ka described the scene where he had picked him up, but still the man watched A-Ka with doubt in his eyes as he listened to his explanations. As A-Ka spoke, he thought to himself, this person really has lost his memories.
"Three thousand years," the man finally said.
"Yes," A-Ka answered, while at the same time realizing this severe issue -- he had slept for three thousand years, and according to A-Ka's understanding, perhaps his memories would never be able to return to him.
The man was very deep in thought as he exerted all his effort to try and remember, but A-Ka said, a little gleefully, to the man, "The technology of the sleeping chamber you were in is pretty good, because when you woke up, you still kept your speaking and thinking abilities."
The man didn’t say anything.
A-Ka asked, “What are you called? At least think of a name.”
The man was silent.
A-Ka said, “Or how about I temporarily give you a name? The sleeping chamber that held you had “Heishi” written on it.You’re probably called “Heishi”, right?”
“Heishi…” the man mumbled.
He didn’t reject it, as if with his silence he had accepted this name.
A-Ka covered K well with the oilcloth again, before pulling out a piece of fabric, indicating that Heishi should put it on. With some pins, he made it into a simple full body robe.
As Heishi wore that one piece sackcloth robe, it was like he was a statue, sitting quietly on the rock.
A-Ka had temporarily settled Heishi down, so now he opened K's navigation system, once again listening to that string of words. Undoubtedly at this time, the revolutionary broadcast of the clones was much more important than Heishi, and he didn't dare to consider what would happen next if the words were true.
Would there be a riot? A-Ka could almost imagine it in his head: the clones rushing towards the Central District, taking over the City of Machines, and exploding the energy storage. As soon as war broke out, he himself would be able to easily pick up a power source, escape to the bay, install it on K, and leave this place behind.
A-Ka was both overjoyed and nervous, as if this message was an intracardiac injection piercing into him. He decided to go back and observe, but his mind was still filled with the imagery of robots malfunctioning.
A-Ka passed by in front of Heishi and said, "I'm going."
Heishi lifted his head for no apparent reason, and in his eyes were mixed emotions of alarm and a little bit of helplessness. A-Ka’s head once again began to hurt; this amnesiac that he had picked up and brought back, what was he supposed to do with him? Take him along? This person seemed to have some strength, and maybe he would be useful, but he definitely couldn’t be brought back to the living area, or the consequences of being discovered by the robotic guards were unthinkable.
“Where are you going?” Heishi asked.
A-Ka said unhappily, “It has nothing to do with you, stranger. I saved your life, and you didn’t even spare me a word of thanks.”
Heishi didn't answer, but rather asked, "Do you have food?"
A-Ka was about ready to explode from rage, and he said angrily, "You don't know how to find it yourself? It's not like I owe you anything! "
The space between Heishi's brows was filled with resentment as he looked around at his surroundings.
I've had it, A-Ka thought, saving this person has brought nothing but trouble upon myself. He backed out of the cave, but for reasons he didn't understand, he still felt a little worried, so he finally turned around and went back in.
"Here's food and drinkable water." A-Ka opened the foodstuffs storage that he had squirreled away in the corner, pointing it out to Heishi. Heishi reached a hand out and grabbed a water bottle, taking a gulp, before tilting his head back and chugging the entire large bottle down. It was only then that A-Ka realized he was very thirsty.
"Hungry?" A-Ka asked as he opened a can and handed it over. Heishi hesitated for a moment, before using a finger to dig out a chunk of chicken meat from the can, which he put into his mouth to chew.
A-Ka said, "I'm going, you… take care of yourself, alright, go find somewhere to go."
The watch on his wrist began to beep, and A-Ka knew that he could drag it out no longer; as is, he had already left for too long today. He ran out of the cave and returned via the path he took to get here.
Worries weighed heavily on A-Ka’s heart, and he kept thinking of the announcement in the navigation system. What if this was all only a joke? Could it be a joke?
The trip back would take a whole half an hour, and when A-Ka arrived at the rubbish bin, he turned his head back carelessly and instantly went bug-eyed.
Heishi continued to trail behind him, zigzagging across the crude oil covered beach as he followed.
"Don't come over here!" A-Ka shouted anxiously.
Heishi stood still, and A-Ka took a few running steps towards him, saying, "Don't seek death!"
Heishi’s expression was cold and calm, and A-Ka’s watch once again beeped in warning. There was no more time. He shouted loudly, “Leave this place! Go anywhere else! Don’t follow me!”
And with that, A-Ka scrambled headfirst into the rubbish chute, and with his hands and legs moving in conjunction he started to climb up.
He followed the path he had taken to get back to the living quarters, and he carefully shot a look towards the ground near the rubbish chute. This time, he found footprints - two lines of messy footprints!
That was to say, after he entered the rubbish chute, someone had come by!
These were the footprints of a human, and additionally after they had come in, they hadn't left again, how could it be like this?! A-Ka almost couldn't believe it. He still wanted to go back and check, but he had no more time, so he could only leave quickly with his heart in his throat. Knowing that a human must have found this exit, he had to lessen the amount of times he came out later.
When he climbed up the ladder, A-Ka was once again almost caught on camera. Getting on the next ladder, he thought in his heart, that was too close, I almost lost my life there.
The laser-equipped surveillance camera once again turned to a spot with no people, and A-Ka slowly went up, back pressed against the wall as he peered out.
Inside the living area everything was as usual, and nothing was out of the ordinary. Several clones stood in the hallway chatting. A-Ka passed by them, returning to the sleeping hall, and he climbed into his sleeping chamber and closed his eyes.
His mind was still filled with overwhelming joy for the coming riot, but his body had no more energy to fight off sleep, and gradually, he fell asleep. Suddenly, a huge roar echoed from the Central Reactor Chamber, and the resulting explosion was like a bright sun that dispersed its light over the entirety of the City of Machines. All the constructs, humans, clones, androids, all of them were turned into ash under the high heat and bright light...
"The sleeping period has ended," the electronic voice announced. "Concluding sleep mode."
The hatch to the chamber automatically opened, and A-Ka jolted out of his dreams, forehead covered with sweat.
“Are you alright, A-Ka?” one of the humans asked.
A-Ka barely managed to nod, and his head spun as he used the sleeping chamber to support himself. His feet got caught, and he almost fell over before several people came over to lift him up.
“Did you have a nightmare?” someone asked in concern.
A-Ka responded, “Yes… yes, I did.”
A-Ka almost couldn’t tell what were dreams and what was reality. He now felt that, in the past six hours, everything that had happened was only a dream.
People came and went, and A-Ka stood outside the Sleeping Hall for a long while as he mulled this over again and again. The bell rang, reminding him that he had two hours to get ready, and when those two hours were up he would have to go to work.
A-Ka went to the cafeteria to eat. Compared to when he last ate, another group of people had switched in. Just as he sat down with a myriad of things on his mind, a robot slid over and said to him, "Designation 470023A, your guest is currently waiting in the waiting room, please arrive there within five minutes."
A guest? A-Ka randomly shoveled a few bites into his mouth. When he went into the hallway, he saw two clones standing outside the door to the waiting room.
All the clones had the same face and the same physique, and according to their duties, they each wore the requisite uniform. As soon as he saw that person, his heart gave out a thump.
"You stole my navigation chip," the clone walked rapidly toward him. "Return it to me immediately, and I won't go after your past mistakes."
"What… what chip? " A-Ka subconsciously reached a hand into his shirt pocket, but his hand closed around empty air, and he remembered that he had installed the chip on K's body, but he had actually forgotten to bring it back.
"Don't play dumb," another clone came over and purposefully lowered his voice. "You have no reason to keep that thing around, you'll only end up burdening all of you humans with disposal."
“You don’t have the authority to do this!” A-Ka responded angrily. In just a few seconds, he had cleared his mind, and he knew that this clone didn’t dare to raise his voice - which meant the thing with the chip was real, and it wasn’t a dream. He was so nervous he was almost unable to breathe, and he trembled as he said, “I didn’t take your navigation chip.”
"You switched it out!" That clone gritted its teeth, and with one hand spasming, in an instant he grabbed A-Ka’s neck. “Where is it! Give it back!”
A-Ka’s face turned bright red, and he saw the surveillance cameras in the hallway turn towards their direction, but the clone’s emotions were already out of control, and his fingers squeezed his throat until the cartilage of his airway let out crunching sounds. A-Ka’s vision steadily darkened.
"Stop!" the clone's companion prevented him from beating A-Ka to death.
The clone loosened his grip, and A-Ka knelt on the ground as he gasped for air.
"I didn't take the chip… cough! Cough!" A-Ka answered with great difficulty .
“The guards are coming!” another clone warned. “They’ve already spotted us. You can’t keep talking with him any longer, think of another way to take him away.”
“Wait and see,” the clone said, his face shadowed.
The two clones left, and A-Ka knew that they would definitely not let him off. He knelt in the hallway as he thought about his next moves: going out now to retrieve the chip was already too late, and even if he handed it over it would be useless. What if he switched it out for a new chip and handed it over?
A-Ka leaned against the wall for support, his mouth filled with the taste of blood, before he then moved to gulp down some water and wet his hair. And just at this time, the bell rang out a signal to gather; as soon as it sounded, all the humans had to arrive at the Conference Hall as fast as possible.
Damn, things were moving too fast and too suddenly. A-Ka knew that the clones definitely alerted the robotic guards of this area, who then gathered up all the humans. Or perhaps it was under some false pretense to select some of them so that they could forcefully take him away.
But he couldn’t not go.
A-Ka entered the gathering area. Looking across, it was packed full of people. From all four sides came the roar of a crowd, and all the steel doors fell shut, trapping tens of thousands of people in this great hall.
A strong light turned on, so bright that the humans couldn’t keep their eyes open, and in the space filled with darkness, a bright white light shone, striking fear into their hearts. Two robotic guards escorted a human to the center of the stage, and right after a clone appeared.
A-Ka froze. The person on that stage had on a sackcloth robe, and he stood there with his feet bare and his hands bound by a pair of magnetic handcuffs - it was exactly Heishi whom he had rescued from the ocean just a few hours earlier!
“The cops found him in front of the access stair that leads to the rubbish bin,” the clone announced to the gathered people. “This human of unknown origin does not have a designation number, no section that he belongs to, and knows nothing. In the process of resisting arrest, he killed two enforcers. According to the first law of the Human Control Regulations, he should be put to death.”
A-Ka held his breath.
“But he told us, he came here with the goal of finding a human, and this human, is exactly amongst you right now.” the clone said, lightly and placidly. “Please step forward and address the origins of this person.”
The crowd of people began to whisper amongst themselves, and A-Ka’s heart nearly leapt out of his throat. His brain was devoid of thoughts. Didn’t he tell him not to follow? What exactly was going on?
A robotic guard’s arm rotated around, revealing a magnetic slicer, which hovered over Heishi’s head.
Heishi lifted his eyes to watch the buzzing blue magnetic slicer in front of his face. The hexagonal high voltage beams sizzled and popped. All that was needed was one pull of an arm, and Heishi’s head would be cut into six pieces.
The clone then said, “I’ll give you all ten more seconds, and if the person he’s colluding with doesn’t want to step out, then this person will immediately be disposed of, and we will begin to investigate the entire Ant Nest.”
"Warning. Commencing with disposal procedure in ten, nine, eight…"
Heishi ignored that robotic guard, turning his gaze instead to look at the group of people down below the stage. His expression was icy and quiet, but his eyes had a searching light in them, and the crowd began to quietly gasp in shock. This innocent man on the stage clearly didn’t know that his corpse was about to fall to the ground.
" Six, five, four… "
"Wait," A-Ka took a step forward as he said towards the platform, " It was… "
A-Ka didn’t even have a chance to claim this stranger when Heishi suddenly turned. With one kick, he sent the guard flying before leaping towards A-Ka, and the entirety of the hall exploded in chaos. A-Ka hadn’t yet recovered his wits before Heishi landed in front of him.
"A sudden incident."
Streaks of light flew towards them, and A-Ka shouted, "Get down!"
A-Ka pushed Heishi down to the ground, and the interior of the hall instantly darkened, before A-Ka’s collar was lifted by Heishi.
Heishi said, “Come with me.”
A-Ka said, "We'll die! Don't meet them head on!"
Two flying guards came at them from the left and the right, and Heishi turned again in his spot, executing a beautiful roundhouse kick. The flying guards were swept aside, smashing onto the wall with booming explosions.
A-Ka was struck dumb; this kind of skill, he had only seen it once in his study materials. It was a kind of ancient martial art!
“Hei… Heishi!” A-Ka was just about to have him surrender when the doors to the right opened. Robotic guards swarmed in, but Heishi charged forward instead of backing up, rushing into the tunnel that the mechanical guards had come in from.
The sirens wailed loudly, and A-Ka thought, it’s over, it’s over. Everything had happened so fast that he didn’t even have half a second to respond, just as Heishi asked, “What is this place?”
A-Ka steeled his heart and said, “Run towards the end of the tunnel!”
Heishi grabbed A-Ka and rushed towards the end of the tunnel, and A-Ka shouted again, “Turn left!”
The two of them turned at a breakneck speed, slamming into the person behind the corner. The entire Ant Nest had been alerted by now by the sirens that dispersed from the main hall, and all of the doors had been shut. A-Ka still held out a thread of hope however, that when they arrived at the living area, they could rush towards the rubbish chute, and maybe escape that way.
With how things had turned out, he could only do this...
But Heishi actually stopped in his steps, and A-Ka felt a tug at his heart.
At the end of the tunnel, in front of the sole exit to the Ant Nest from the rubbish chute, there was a clone, and behind the clone, there were two Exterminators.
“Don’t attack,” A-Ka’s voice trembled as he spoke. “No matter what, don’t attack…”
The humanoid Exterminators were a type of android specially made to take down humans, and they had been outfitted with infrared tracking shotguns. In the narrowness of this tunnel, if they pulled them out, Heishi and A-Ka’s corpses would immediately hit the ground.
Heishi also instinctively sensed the danger, and he took a step back. But behind the two, even more robotic guards blocked their path. Up front were the clone and the two Exterminators, and behind there was a whole troop of robotic guards carrying magnetic handcuffs.
The clone said, "Seems like you've caused quite a bit of a problem, brat."
A-Ka couldn’t help but take a step back as he recognized that the clone was exactly the one who had demanded the navigation chip from him just now. But just as he took a step back, his back pressed up against the muzzle of a robotic guard’s gun opening.
Another clone asked, "What exactly is going on?”
A-Ka immediately turned his head back and said, "It's me! The person this stranger wants to find is me!"
Four robotic guards came over, cornering A-Ka in between them, before putting magnetic handcuffs on him and locking a laser headgear around his neck. A-Ka used his gaze to signal to Heishi that he shouldn’t resist.
Heishi was silent.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.