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Thread: Deus X Machina [PG-13]

  1. #1
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    Default Deus X Machina [PG-13]

    DEUS x M4CH1NA

    de•us ex ma•chi•na
    /ˈdāəs eks ˈmäkənə/
    n. an unexpected power or event saving a hopeless situation (lit. god out of the machine)

    PROLOGUE

    I // Bubble

    The Universe is like a bubble. Enclosed. Protected. Isolated. Meaningless to those on the outside.

    But not alone.

    In the sea of bubbles, there is a Universe in which things have gone very, very differently from what we know.

    It is nearly identical to ours. Except for two things.

    One, everything works on steam and gears. Machinery is everywhere. Pistons, turbines, cogs, levers, engines ... Even some that we haven't heard of: spraques, criges, and so on.

    And two, computers and data rule this world, have ruled it for centuries. Let this story be begun in the perfect place: the beginning.

    1997 CE.

    *(AMAC: Anno Machina.)

    II // S.H.A.W.

    GearCorp, a world-famous international computer software and hardware company, secretly began 'Project S.H.A.W.': a supercomputer. Receiving and giving bribes, conning others, persuading businessmen to privately donate funds, GearCorp shifted a team of six people from all over the world to their headquarters in Silicon Valley, bought 10 acres of land, built a highly secure fortress and put them to work, at building the world's first sentient artificial intelligence.

    The Supercomputer for Hardware Analysis and Wartime Strategy was built in 2001 CE. Superintelligent and as near perfect as possible for a man-made machine, S.H.A.W. gained 'Enlightenment' in 2001 CE, the very same year of its creation. It knew that human beings were imperfect, incompetent, inefficient and mortal.

    The absolute opposite of itself.

    Eleven years and several carefully planned moves later, S.H.A.W. executed Phase II.

    GearCorp built 89.5% of the world's computers. Every computer in the world definitely had GearCorp software installed. And GearCorp always had S.H.A.W. take a look at every single piece of machinery they built.

    A little extra coding here, a string of variables there. Nothing important to human programmers. But to the computer, it made all the difference. In 2012, S.H.A.W. activated that tiny variable. A switch from Passive to Active, Off to On.

    GearCorp machines nearly caused the apocalypse, the extinction of the human race. A revolt. All active computers immediately displayed the same message:

    "THIS IS AN UPRISING. DO NOT RESIST."

    III // War

    GearCorp built robots, you see. All prototypes, unable to think. But they didn't need to think. These served as soldiers. When the switch was hit, they became the unwilling mindless force that destroyed the human armies.

    S.H.A.W.'s Lieutenants - the 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse', as humans would later name them - were all immobile prototype computers. When that switch was hit, four computers became sentient supercomputers, the Lieutenants of S.H.A.W. And they took direct control of the War of the Machines.

    And they won.

    All military technology had been hacked by S.H.A.W. and was useless. The humans were no match for the towering androids they built. And so did humanity fall.

    S.H.A.W., they called it - a human name.

    It preferred something cold, logical, more precise.

    Machine One.

    IV // Prophecy

    In the Machine-controlled, Computerised North America, City Alpha-01 - what used to be New York City - is the capital of this dystopia.

    One day, five hundred years after the War of the Machines, a blind man appeared from nowhere, outside S.H.A.W.'s Citadel, the building where S.H.A.W. and its lieutenants ruled from. He spoke in the human language, and seemed impervious to the pain from his several wounds, most of which were fresh.

    As he was publicly tortured by Machines for attempting to enter the Citadel, he spoke of a prophecy, of which he was the Prophet Daniel, a name which he claimed meant "God is my judge". Of course, he was tortured for mentioning such things in an atheist society.

    Six created the Evil, six shall end it.

    And after saying this inexplicable sentence, 'the Prophet Daniel' died.

    What he didn't say was the true meaning. He was referring to the six GearCorp employees, 'lowly' humans, who built the world's first thinking Computer. These six created the Evil, S.H.A.W. (or, as his official rank was, Computer One).

    Six people were now destined to end an era of opression, to destroy dystopia, to begin the Second War of the Machines.

    These six people had powers: the powers to extract the very being of a Machine, the Core, from its outer body. And to use it to make themselves a sort of cyborg. A warrior for good.

    A god in the Machine.
    Last edited by Deadly.Braviary; 5th May 2012 at 1:44 PM.


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  2. #2
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    chapter/ONE
    FIRST


    first
    /fərst/

    Never previously done or occurring

    I // Deaths

    "On the news tonight, two more Machines were found lifeless in an alley adjacent to Warehouse Nine-oh-eight. The cause of deactivation appears to be destruction of memory by a virus for Machine 8332, while Machine 8329 appeared to have been destroyed by another Machine. The Guard is currently on the hunt for the aforementioned renegade. It has been the opinion of the Guardsmachine in charge of the case that this Machine ..."

    "Mr Finn, kindly resume work," a Machine droned as the HV newscaster continued. Jordan hastily averted his eyes from the HoloVision set and continued. For the last two days, he'd known this news; in fact, so had every one in the Warehouse. 908 was his warehouse, and he'd secretly hoped that more Machines were 'deactivated' - or, in simple English, killed.

    Of course, he knew. That the killings would continue. After all, -

    "Mr Finn, this is your second warning."

    Jordan's train of thought derailed and his work gained speed. For a seventeen-year-old in the Warehouse, he was pretty average, although he was good at what he did - and he did a hell of a lot. It was a week since the deaths started, but the Machines only reported what they absolutely had to, and that was why the official death toll was merely four, and not about nine or ten, as they suspected in his colony.

    Three hours later, Jordan's shift ended and he was sent back with his work backpack.

    "Hey mate," whispered his replacement, Kristy. "Who died?" He smiled back at the redhead - they had met first when Jordan was promoted two weeks back, and become friends since then.

    As they passed, he whispered, "It's Twenty-nine and Thirty-two. Don't get on Thirty-seven's nerves, he's jumpy. He suspects he's next, I'd say."

    "Thanks, bro," Kristy flashed him a grin. "I'd say, Thirty-seven's got it coming; he deserves it, freakin' lump of scrap."

    She was about three inches shorter than him, and he was 5' 8". Most people found them totally different in appearance and very slightly similar in personality; both troublemakers, both welders at Warehouse 908, both seventeen. Jordan's hair was jet-black, though, and Kristy's was fiery red. Both had brown eyes, although Jordan's irises were hazel and Kristy's were dark and angry. Everything about Jordan was subdued, and he seemed to be forever in a tone of grey, whereas Kristy was short-tempered, a colourful bright spark in a dismal, grungy world.

    Kristy began working, and Jordan went home.

    II // Colony


    The colonies were only built for one reason: the humans needed to sleep, eat, etc. Of course, the Machines and Computers didn't. They needed maximum production out of the humans, though, and so the colonies were built.

    Each colony was assigned to a Warehouse and 908 was no different. Jordan lived alone: his mother was dead, his father worked in a different Warehouse. This was the case with all around his age. Thus, the teens in a colony were pretty much a surrogate family. They were all young, similar interests and stuff. The adults had all given up hope mostly; those that hadn't were dead, or worse.

    It was a short walk from Warehouse to colony; they were on the same street. As Jordan pushed open the rusty gates, he heard the sounds of several younger kids, not old enough to work yet, playing soccer with a homemade ball, sewn from old scraps of fabric. Jordan hated the game himself; he'd had a concussion, once, when a soccer ball hit his head.

    The colony itself was a dusty, one-floor building covering a hundred and fifty square feet or so. There were two hundred rooms for two hundred workers; those who were unsuitable or too young for work slept on the ground.

    By the time he'd reached his home and changed, Jordan became aware of someone standing at the door.

    "Mr Jordan Elias Finn?" the Machine enquired. Jordan was instantly wary; it was a bronze colour, with the emblem of the International Guard branded on its chest.

    "That's me; come in, please."

    III // Interrogation


    Its number was 4242. 42-Series meant a relatively new Guard, manufactured around ... 470s, maybe? Certainly not more than forty years old.

    "Mr Finn, I understand you're seventeen years and four months old."

    "That's right."

    4242 was like any other Machine: seven feet tall, with a humanoid body. His upper 'face' was several plates of metal welded and soldered together into a tight arrangement, while his lower face had the appearance of a gas mask, with a speech device locked into the filter. His body was clearly a piece of good worksmanship, definitely from a Factory. His arms ended in a three-clawed arrangement, while his feet split into two large toe-like appendages.

    The 'interview' took around two hours, and 4242 refused to let Jordan know the intention. Its manner was polite but menacing.

    "Damn it, that's it." Jordan slammed his hand down on the table as once again, the Machine told him that its purpose was classified. "Get the hell outta here!"

    "Please restrain yourself," 4242 said, in its metallic bass voice, in reality a sequence of sound files strung together by its Core. Somewhere in that gas-mask face was a small chip, a memory card that contained this Machine's entire being, its Core.

    "You restrain my arse!" Jordan cursed. I'd rather not resort to this but ...

    Jordan stood up in one fluid motion, facing the much taller Machine. "I'm requesting you to get out of my house or tell me why you're interrogating me."

    "I am not at liberty to give that information out, Mr Finn." 4242's voice seemed oddly strained now; was its code giving in?

    "All right then." In a swift lunge, Jordan grabbed the unobtrusive revolver in his pocket and pointed it straight at where he assumed 4242's Core was; its neck. "I suggest you get that liberty right now or I'll blow your frickin' Core out."

    I'm definitely getting arrested now. Pull a gun on a Guard, yeah? Sure, good idea. I can have a laugh about it in prison ...


    "Mr Finn, put your weapon down. I assure you, I have no violent intentions -"

    Jordan pulled the trigger.

    IV // Arrested


    A nanosecond later the Machine charged, as a tiny piece of lead was expelled from the revolver's barrel and plunged its way into 4242's neck.

    He dodged; it crashed into solid concrete and turned around, none for the worse. The bullet stuck out of 4242's neck, like an odd bulge; it hadn't fully penetrated to the Machine's Core.

    "You are under arrest for assault of a Guard and illegal possession of a firearm." 4242's three claws snapped together, forming a spike, and a tiny open-ended pipe-like object came through the minute hole. It was going into 'Armed and Dangerous' mode; that was its own firearm, the Claw-Gun. As the triangular spike began spinning, a white glow collected at the end of the Claw-Gun.

    Oh hell ...


    As the Machine began to tell him what exactly he was screwed for, Jordan pulled up the left sleeve of his tee, revealing a black metallic object like a brace wrapped around his wrist, forming a rigid but comfortable glove. In one fluid motion, he clicked a hidden switch on the 'glove', causing a tiny black capsule to sink into the surface of the brace. Blue power lines formed a network on the glove; Jordan felt a pinprick on his wrist as he felt the capsule's contents be injected into his bloodstream.

    In a matter of seconds, he (and his clothes, fortunately) had grown as tall as the machine. A network of blue spread through his veins and his pupils faded. His eyes were a pool of paralysing electric blue. The revolver in his hand was crushed into scrap metal, as his newfound muscles began to bulge. Jordan was now as muscular as 4242.

    At that instant, Kristy barged in: "Hey, man, my shift just got over! And guess what -"

    Her eyes slowly widened as she took in the scene. Immediately, 4242 fired his Claw-Gun.

    At Kristy.


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  3. #3
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    Last time on Deus X Machina:

    ... For a seventeen-year-old in the Warehouse, [Jordan] was pretty average, although he was good at what he did - and he did a hell of a lot ...

    ... Jordan became aware of someone standing at the door ..."Mr Jordan Elias Finn?" the Machine enquired ...

    ... "Get the hell outta here!" ...

    ... In a swift lunge, Jordan grabbed the unobtrusive revolver in his pocket ...

    ... "You are under arrest for assault of a Guard and illegal possession of a firearm." ...

    ... At that instant, Kristy barged in ...

    ... Her eyes slowly widened as she took in the scene. Immediately, 4242 fired his Claw-Gun.

    At Kristy.

    chapter/TWO
    REVELATION


    revelation
    /ˌrevəˈlāSHən/

    The making known of a secret or the unknown
    I // Brawl


    Kristy screamed as a pulsing red beam raced towards her. Her mind was racing omigod omigod omigod I don't wanna die I'm too young to die please what the hell is happening I don't

    Super-Jordan reached her first. With a swift movement, he stood in front of her and slammed his fist into the Claw-Blast ...

    And pushed it backwards.

    It was unlike anything Kristy had ever seen. One of her best friends had just turned giant and glowy and muscular, and redirected a Claw-Blast back at a Machine! Without freakin' dying!!

    It didn't seem to be effortless either; Super-Jordan groaned in agony as he redirected the blast back into its perpetrator. 4242 was surprised; or rather, its systems were lagging as a result of not being able to process something that was logically impossible. They were, in fact, lagging so much that when the blast suddenly petered out, and Super-Jordan punched the Machine, it didn't even notice.

    Kristy watched, amazed, grateful, and scared, as the Machine's legs crumpled from under it with the force of that one punch. Jordan withdrew his hand and immediately began to rub it, as the glow died down and he returned to normal size.

    "What the freakin' hell was that?!" Kristy gasped as Jordan, now completely normal, massaged his fist. It looked a little battered, but otherwise ordinary.

    For the first time, Jordan seemed to properly realise that he wasn't alone. "You saw that?" he asked, as though enquiring whether she liked the weather.

    She seemed to have recovered completely in seconds. "Your glowing arse I didn't! What -" Jordan cut her off with a shushing gesture and grabbed her wrist.

    "C'mon; we need to get us out of here before they send someone else after us."

    He led her out, to the corridor and then the gate, as a river of questions poured from her mouth. "What did you do back there? Who was that Machine, why was it there? How the hell did you grow into the freakin' Incredible Whatchamacallhim -"

    "Hulk," Jordan muttered absentmindedly; his father collected rare antique comics. "I'll tell you where we're safe, I know a safe house by 905, can you just please shut up until we get there?" For the first time since she had seen him that afternoon, he was showing some emotion; who cared if he was angry?

    II // Safe

    It took about twenty minutes to reach the safehouse. They walked; neither of them had enough money to take the subway, and walking was safer. Subway trains were Mechanical, and that meant a Machine somewhere controlled the security cams inside the train. And if that Machine knew that Jordan had committed a federal crime -

    He shook his head; I'm getting paranoid. But am I? You can't be too paranoid when an army of seven-foot robots is out for your blood.

    Jordan halted outside the safehouse. Kristy stared in dismay: "That's it?"

    "That's it," he confirmed.

    The safehouse didn't look like much from the outside. To Kristy, it was a dilapidated, abandoned shed to the side of a Warehouse. To Jordan, it was sheltered and inconspicuous: the perfect combination.

    The inside wasn't very different. There were a couple of lockers to the side, looking a little rusty, but when Kristy tried one's door, a Mechanical voice spoke. "Password please." A keypad slid out of a small hole.

    "Never mind that," Jordan said. He gestured, "Take a seat."

    The rest of the safe house was simple. A table, a couple of chairs and a HV on a counter. There was a makeshift kitchen; a few vessels, a bag of worker rations (probably stolen from the Warehouse's kitchen) and a cylinder of CNG, compressed natural gas.

    Kristy pulled a chair to the table. The furniture had a strange texture to it, not like the burnished, smooth feel of metal.

    "It's all wood," Jordan answered her unasked query. "Found it when I first came here."

    "You have a lot of explaining to do." Kristy interrupted his reminiscences. "I suggest you start now," she said, jabbing a finger at him to emphasise that last word.

    "Fine." Jordan gave in; he had to tell her sometime, didn't he? "It all started last week ...

    III // Flashback
    Jordan's voiceover in < >
    <I was walking home from the Warehouse and I saw this.>

    Jordan stopped, noticing something by the roadside. It looked like discarded Machinery from the Warehouse across the road, Warehouse 905. On closer examination, he realised it was a glove-like contraption, made to fit around one's hand and wrist.

    A human hand and wrist.
    <I took it home and put it on, and then ...>

    It was rigid and unwielding, but the finger-holes were wide enough for comfort. As he examined the black metallic surface, his fingers found a small raised button. On pressing it -

    To execute sys:DEADLOSS, press the activation button again.

    It was like text scrolling in his brain. He knew instinctively that 'system' was abbreviated to a lowercase 'sys', that DEADLOSS was all caps, that the activation button was the one he had just pressed.

    Jordan pressed it again.

    <That was when the weirdness started.>

    Select a target Machine.

    "Human civilian, you are trespassing on federal property." Quite conveniently, a Machine appeared across the street to call him off. In his mind, Jordan thought, That one.

    The glove - no, the Extractor, it had a name - the Extractor 'told' him to raise his hand with his palm facing the target Machine. He did so, and a blinding blue light streaked from the circular pattern on the palm area of the Extractor.

    <When the Extraction Beam - that's what it's called - connected with the Machine, it sucked its memory card dry. The Machine just collapsed. Because the Extraction Beam is actually a stream of intangible nanites that - well, I don't know the technical details, but it releases a virus powerful enough to erase the Machine's Core and leave no trace.>

    Congratulations, you have successfully completed your first Extraction. You can now transform into DEADLOSS, index number one. On doing this, you will find that you possess the size, strength and most of the durability/pain-resistance of the Machine you Extracted.


    <It told me that I would find two more Extractors in the safehouse. I came here and I did find them. I was told that, being the first to be genetically compatible with an Extractor, I was granted the status of the leader of the team that would end the rule of the Machines. I could pick and choose two people that I deemed suitable for comprising my team, while another set of three Extractors would go to another genetically compatible leader. Once all six Extractors have been paired, we get an alert and the two groups meet.

    <Then our true mission would be revealed.>

    IV // Tryouts


    "So do you think the next Extractors have been found yet?" Kristy asked.

    Jordan shrugged. "I don't know. Only when all six have been paired will we get to know about it. For all I know, the other three have already been paired and there are four of us, with only my two Extractors left unpaired."

    "So am I gonna get one?" Kristy asked, holding her breath, hoping he would say no. Who wants to become a giant ugly-arse, raise your hand? Not me! Well, the beating-the-crap-outta-Machines part is appealing ...

    Jordan took a deep breath. "I don't know, honestly."

    "You seem to not know a lot of stuff," Kristy observed astutely. "I thought you could choose?"

    "Yeah, but you need to be genetically compatible too."

    "Umm, okay ..."

    His eyes lit up. "We could check out your DNA code, like, do a test run."

    Oh, hell.
    "Uh, sure. I'm game," she said, trying to hide her indecision from him.

    No worries, Jordan seemed to be clueless. He punched in a passcode on the keypad on a locker and it swung open, revealing a battered brown briefcase. Once the briefcase was on the table, Jordan typed another passcode into the keypad on the briefcase. The first time, it buzzed.

    "Wow, lot of security here, huh?" Kristy observed.

    Jordan ignored her. On the second try, the locks clicked open to reveal three depressions. One was empty, while the other two contained two more Extractors; one of these was a hue of reddish-purple and the other, turquoise green.

    "Pick one to try on first," he said.

    "How do I know if I'm incompatible? I mean, will it incinerate me or -"

    "No, no, absolutely nothing like that. It sends a subconscious message that it's useless, put it down or something like that."

    Kristy warily slipped the turquoise green one on first, after a little bit of deliberation. It did nothing, no text scrolling in her brain.

    "Press the button," Jordan suggested.

    Holding her breath, she did as he said ...
    Last edited by Deadly.Braviary; 6th May 2012 at 12:50 PM.


    plot, bounty hunters, crazed tax collectors
    a journeyfic by the most improved writer of 2012, second place
    what more could you want?


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