"What is the cost of human life?" This is a question that lingers in every leader's mind. Is there any amount of advancement we can make on the battlefield that dries the tears
of the widows? Is it even possible to chalk up the death of a soldier to a worthy sacrifice
for the greater good? The weight of life, crushing a commander during a mission, their
mind rushing with every way their soldiers could die, every way that their mistake could
cost everything around them. It is this empathy that cuts into the efficiency of an army, leading to disobedience which jeopardizes entire missions. This view is not shared by the council at the top, their thought process is unethical and full of apathy, the sad reality that in large-scale wars, individuals are numbers on a screen. While these deaths might mean nothing to the people at the top, it crushes the people at the bottom, causing cracks within the foundation. The council, the people at the top of the country, fearful of a collapse of their military forces, needed a solution that had to be formed quickly and it was, in less than 6 months of the first cracks appearing in the ranks, a project was formed. The project is to end all of the councils' problems. Project Ota, the soldier with a glowing heart.
Often the first thing a person experiences as they are born are the bright lights of an operating room full of care, wonder, and hope. This light, this hope, normally lingers like an aura around the person, following them through their life and protecting them from the darkness that floods the planet more and more every day. It's a beautiful experience and one you could say instills the first ounce of willpower within a person. What happens though, if instead of light and hope, you were born into darkness and apathy. Deep underground, in an unknown countryside, this question would be answered, as a dark room was illuminated by purple light flooding out of a power source within a synthetic body. Some might find this ironic, as purple is normally seen as the color of powerlessness. While the darkness may be gone from the room, the heavy air of apathy still clings to the synthetic body attached to a wall of quiet machinery. The sounds of the murmuring of numbers and the faint clicks of buttons are followed by an overwhelming whirl of machinery, pumping life into what should be lifeless. Soulless eyes open slowly as the pupils' dim glow scans the room. Finding no hope, finding no care, only finding faces painted with greed staring back into the pupils, with the hunger for power.
The lead scientist raises his hand shaking with excitement to his ear, pushing upon it and speaking softly "Sir, it's online, blank and waiting for your command." Lowering his hand he looks upon the "life" that he and his team has created. His mouth opens to speak but the only thing that comes out is the stutter of shock. After his failed attempt at communication, he shuffles back to his peers and continues to run diagnostics. The new -life form is somehow overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. Brought into a room full of people that will not talk, that will not explain, being able to think but having no thoughts to think. After what feels like an eternity for everyone in the room, the large door opens quickly with a squeak of the hinges. A lanky man wearing a rugged and dark overcoat stridden in with a warm smile on his face, scanning the confused lifeform in front of him. He walks over quickly and pulls a lever upon the wall, dropping the lifeform to the floor onto his feet before he extends his hand to offer a shake. "My name is Tai, think of me as your guardian, I'm here to hopefully guide you into what we want, well what the country needs you to be Ota." Ota stands there processing this new name that has been placed onto him, before staring at his hand, sharing a glance with him as Tai nods slowly saying "Ahh… I suppose it makes sense that you wouldn't know what this means, this is a common greeting among humans. Don't worry you won't have to learn everything manually, we have thought ahead to counter this problem, we have terabytes of knowledge of human behavior for you to learn from." Ota understands every word he is saying, but not the reasoning behind it. Finally Ota starts questioning, starts thinking 'Who is "we"… and what does the country need' Tai starts walking back toward the door, stopping just before it and looking back "I understand you have a lot of questions running through that metal head of yours, but there is a time for that and it isn't now, follow me let get you to a more suitable place for the much-needed uploading of data." Tai swiftly marches out of the door, and Ota simply follows without hesitation, Tai is all he knows, his only anchor of familiarity in the unknown. Though the sinking realization that a single anchor won't keep a ship from capsizing in a storm weighs on Ota as he steps outside the door, into what seems to be an endless ocean ahead of him.
Mechanical footsteps echo within the long metal corridors of the underground base, causing heads to turn down the hall, looking toward the new project in a mixture of fear and awe. After a couple of long hallways and sharp turns, Ota finds himself in a room that looks like it was plucked straight out of the Victorian era and placed within the base. Sitting down on a chair, Tai points toward a couch that is in front of him. "Please sit down Ota, I know you don't tire, but no need to stand." Ota glances toward the couch before slowly sitting down on it, the weight of his mechanical framework causes the couch to make an unpleasant noise before settling. Staring into Tai's eyes, Ota opens his mouth for the first time "Is it now the time for questions to be answered?" Tai was taken aback, not expecting such a human-like voice to escape from a synthetic being. Letting out a chuckle he nods "I suppose it is only fair that I answer the questions you have, let's do a bit of a call and response, ask and I'll answer to the best of my abilities." Ota sits there, his pupils spinning slowly, trying to decide what question to ask. "Earlier, you said that "we have thought ahead", who is "we" in this situation?" Tai taps on the armrest of his chair, carefully constructing a response "We are the saviors of the country, an organization designed to save it from themselves. You are our solution, a man who is not a man, who better to deal with human affairs that… is difficult." With a disappointed look to the floor, Ota realizes that any question that he asks is only going to lead to more unanswerable ones. He shakes his head as he looks back into Tai's eyes. "You said that you have data that can help me understand human behavior." Tai shoots up onto his feet and claps "Yes! We do, I'm glad that you are excited to get straight into it." Tai walks behind Ota, telling him to be still as Ota stares forward into the wall. His spine locks in surprise as he feels something insert itself into his neck. It doesn't take long for his eyes to dim, the world around him dimming to a void as terabytes of information flood into his core. Tai rested his hand on Ota's shoulder with a greedy smirk. "Oh, the things that we will accomplish once I am done with you." Tai opens the door, putting a foot outside of it before he looks back at Ota, his warm smile nowhere to be seen. "Rest well Ota, you're going to need it for our desires." Tai chuckles before closing the door, leaving Ota alone in the dark ocean once again.
It’s hard to say how much time has passed since Ota’s eyes closed. What is time without a window to show you the change of the days. Though, no matter how much time has passed, when Ota’s eyes open, he is filled with fatigue. The room is dark and certainly not the Victorian room that he was put under in. It is what could be classified as a standard bedroom, with a lack of many decorations. Furnished with a bed, dresser and footlocker, two fluorescent lights flicker on with a buzz as he stands up slowly. Making sure to keep his balance, fearful of falling over after the long rest. Ota’s pupils’ scan the room, coming across a note folded neatly on the dresser. His eyes zoom in on it from afar, seeing that his name is stamped onto it. Walking quickly over to it, he grabs it and unfolds it slowly, careful not to rip it with his untested strength. “Welcome back to the living Ota, take some time to get situatied with your new living quarters, once you feel that you’ve adequately settled in, head to the command center. Someone wants to meet you.” The letter was signed off with “Tai”, Ota’s eyes sweep the room, seeing nothing more that he could possibly do here, he starts to head toward the command center.
His footsteps aren’t as heavy this time, learning to walk with more grace than force. It’s only after a few minutes that Ota realizes that even knowing he shouldn’t know where the command center is, it’s like it’s second nature to him. Knowing what left to take, and what door to enter without any directions. Dread fills Ota for the first time, realizing that he does not know what was put into his head. He shakes his head, calming himself with the explanation that they would have no desire to harm their own creation. They must have his best wishes in their mind with every choice they make. This thought process is cut short as he finally reaches the Command Center. Filled with bustling people wearing black uniforms adorned with a symbol of a circle with multiple lines estruding from it. Standing in the center are two people around a circular holotable. One of them is his “Guardian”, Tai, talking with a person with stars resting on his shoulder pads, before turning his head noticing Ota, smiling he waves him over before turning back to the man. As Ota reaches the circle it’s clear that whatever conversation they were having was cut short wth his apperance. The man with stars across his chest looks at Ota with a blank face, showing no emotion. He extends his hand offering a greeting, Ota smiles behind his face, happy that he now knows what to do. Grasping his hand lightly before shaking it. “I am the General of the base, you will address me as General and only General.” The General looks toward Tai with a bit of frown “Why is he shaking my hand lightly, has it already been instilled with a fear of his own strength.” Tai glances toward Ota with disappointment before looking back, “I promise Sir, do not overthink this first interaction, he is just in the beginning of his development. His body was one part of the project, the personality is a whole other concept.” Frowning the General nods, looking Ota in the eye before glancing back at Tai, “I expect a war machine, not a human.” Tai nods for a second before letting out a sigh of relief as the General marches away. “Well… that went better than I thought it would Ota, he’s been eager to meet you since your birth.” Rubbing the back of his head, Ota nods “He doesn’t seem to like me.” Tai’s hand rest upon Ota’s shoulder with a squeeze before walking off. Leaving Ota with the crushing weight that even after just a day, he’s fighting an uphill battle.
Merci pour la lecture!
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