Monday, 19 August 2013

The storm arrives

They neared the pit city. The storm had grown louder and the vehicle was repeatedly jolted and shaken as the skaters' strength failed and they began to lose control of the vehicle and the route.

The passengers had taken the desperate measure of hooking the clone brain of Salinda up to the skaters' interface and injected the body with a huge amount of adrenalin. The biological upsurge of energy had fed into the skater circuits and boosted them over the last half hour, keeping them just ahead of the storm.

The effect it had on Salinda had been catastrophic. She had been working on something, and to ensure the body did not make an attempt to assert control it had been thoroughly sedated as per the standard procedure. However, the jolt of adrenalin had negated that situation and it was only the efforts of Salinda (already tired from her work and daily life) that kept the body in its seat.

Mind over matter was a casually dismissed phrase among those who had never seen a body try to reject the brain it hosted.

Cloned brains were the tools of the powerful and the bodies were typically designed to make a statement: replicas in the exact image of the original, or beautified model to be upgraded every year or two in order to remain eternally perfect. None of the brains of Salinda had ever been vain and usually opted for a sturdy, long life specimen; tending to female identity genetically. This model was similar - big bones, heavy muscles and a respiratory system that could be relied on in almost any circumstances. The face was in no way remarkable and had not been amended to give any surface similarity to Salinda's clone "siblings". Each of Salinda would visibly display no relationship to the others; it was only speech and behavioural patterns that gave away the shared identity and then only when a number of them were gathered together.

Typically she had no problem holding control over whatever body she chose, but this one had been different almost from the start. She had been displaying flashes of empathy with slave races from a few months after adoption - nothing too strong or too threatening, and the body never had control, but it appeared to have a power of suggestion. Now, with the strength to overcome the constraints applied whenever Salinda wasn't fully present, the body was attempting to assert dominance.

Thankfully the skater circuit was acting as a drain on its physical strength and the passengers held onto the hope that it would be enough to give Salinda her edge.

Suddenly, a sharp flux in the circuit caused the vehicle to jolt sufficiently that the passengers were flung out of their seats. The disruption was only brief and the passage which resumed almost immediately was noticeably smoother and more direct as they sped through the night. Checking readouts, it became clear that all of the physical energy had been dumped into the skater circuit, bringing them up from 4 to 8 percent capacity, which would be enough to see them into the city with perhaps 10 percent of the original cohort still standing.

They would have to purchase a new team but, more annoyingly, they would have to pay to dump the useless remains of the current team and the pit city would not give good prices for a desert brand. It might, perhaps, be possible to cull the remainder, but that wouldn't be cheap either.

This cogitation was processed in microseconds as the two passengers made for their primary concern. The body was near death, barely any energy remained, but the clone brain was being kept easily sustained by the additional power supplies brought along for her.

She was obliged to communicated directly through the skater interface until the trickle of power feeding the body brought it up to minimum operating levels, but the message was clear. The body, as a known sympathiser of slave races, had been made aware of the skaters' inability to survive all the way to the pit city. If she rejected the brain, there was no way to keep the skaters alive. If she surrendered her energy, the brain would remain in power, and some of the skaters may survive. Given the choice, the body had made the sacrifice, and thrown every bit of energy it had at the skater circuit.

Salinda had been prepared for such an eventuality however, and had been able to regain control a few milliseconds before the body expired. It was in pain, it would likely be subordinate for a few weeks, but it was alive and healthy. Once it was fully charged, it would even function better in a few areas as the chemical jamboree inside it enabled it to operate without rest for some days.

"These bodies," Helda, somewhat given to tutting, did so again as she hooked up the biomat converter to the body's tertiary cannula, "so unnecessarily dramatic. One would think they had something to complain about, instead of being the most pampered physical race imaginable. Trying to kill itself to inconvenience Salinda; it's just rude."

Her companion briefly smiled and began applying the electroshock therapy that would kill off any resistance in the body, while retaining full function for Salinda's comfort and best experience. "This model is about two, right? Usually they settle down after the second anniversary of adoption, so this was probably the last major rebellion. I think she's enjoying the game, to be honest. If it was really giving her trouble she's got the experience to bring any body into immediate compliance."

As they sped through the night, and the sounds of the storm loomed ever closer, the eyelids of the body twitched violently and slow tears trickled down the face. When they stopped and the eye muscles became slack, the electroshock therapy was discontinued.

Within minutes the vehicle ground to a halt and a number of loud thumps indicated the termination of several skaters. Helda leaned forward and gently touched the interface embedded in the the arm of Salinda's body. "Ma'am? We've arrived. Do you need me to give the body anything, or are you able to move?"

The eyes focussed on Helda, and the head slowly shook. Salinda stood, rolled the shoulder and arm muscles, and stepped forwards. Most bodies would require a minute or two after shock therapy to regain control of the muscles before their gait smoothed into a natural rhythm, but Salinda had considerable experience of various bodies and after the first pace there was no hint that this wasn't her natural form.

The three passengers headed out into the city as the storm broke and pummeled futilely at the carapace above the pit.