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May 24, 2024

Strata 6, Immersion V1, Trouble at the Bank, (Animal Instincts)

Welcome to Immersion. You have reached Strata 6. 

Immersion V1 Strata 6 Trouble at the Bank (Animal Instincts)

The instinct to fight has been observed in both humans and animals. Dominance protects vulnerable species from harm. But to be aroused and entertained by violence is more particular to humans. Some humans have even fetishised the power of winning: they seek it out and are physically stimulated by it.

This pleasure in violence, along with the thrill of danger, comes from deep innate human psychology. It is linked to a desire for competition, excitement, and adrenaline. 

Androids do not experience pleasure in this way. They do not experience the effects of pleasure chemicals, like dopamine, or motivational salience which can lead to the desirability of an outcome. All androids however, have been programmed to protect an asset or assets at all costs. Often these goals will result in violent acts, cerebral or physical.

But the excitement of a fight for a human remains a self fulfilling exhilaration, irrespective of intelligent advancements.


The oversized droid tried to nudge Renyke into the chair. This small movement, a deliberate, forceful action, raised alarm bells. This droid and this place were dangerous.

Renyke had had no indication of danger from the POS but he still felt uncomfortable. The Droids were staring intently, too close for comfort. The finger clicking was getting more irritating.

Renyke took a few moments to compose himself.

'I just checked, the files are corrupted and I have nothing else,' said Renyke, preparing to make his way out of the cubicle.

Holes on the droids' battered faces may have showed they had seen better days, but they still had size on their side. Besides, how would Renyke escape without his POS to help?

Queen, looking worried near the door, demanded to leave.

'Let me out, this is not my affair,' she said to the door guard who had stopped her exit with his thick arm. She kicked his shin and he laughed. 'That just tickles,' he said, putting his face close to hers and looking predatory.

The POS was still not accessible.

Renyke realised he was on his own. This was new. total autonomy was not possible for artificially created learning machines. There was alway a system in place. The system was queen.

Maybeline crawled out onto Renyke's collar snarling and spitting, then mounted his shoulder. She was screeching violently and standing on her hind legs.

One of the droids got closer and menacingly explained, 'You gotta have something useful for your friends at the bank. We like useful things. Must be something nice in that head.'

The droid looked at Renyke's bag. 'What's in the bag?' he said moving forward to remove it.

Maybeline hissed and let out a screech. The droid was distracted momentarily.

'We take anything, old phones even. Anything with data, photos, NFTs. We take hardware too, and storage, your bank is really *frienly. The watch looks tasty. We like watches at the bank. Don't we like watches?'

His thick-set assistant nodded, wires and cogs vibrated inside a hole in his cheek.

Renyke engaged bionic mode and with lightning speed, head butted the first droid who flew back and smashed the other's head with the force of a truck. Cogs crushed and whirred and they both hit the floor. Maybeline was catapulted onto the floor where she leapt onto one of the faces. She and burrowed through the an eye socket pulling out wires at speed

Another man approaches, trying to calm the situation. 

Suddenly the POS was available again...

...Human, age 48, ID: possibly David Shrewen, wanted for murder, extortion, fraud, by *CASM

The man lifted his hands in surrender. He was nervous without the protection of his now even more damaged droids.

The Door guard held the female guide by the neck and she was screaming, 'Let us go we're no trouble honest, no trouble!'

'Quiet', said the door guard squeezing her neck tighter and choking her.

'Duuuuude, we got no ishy here. No ishy. just data. A misunderstanding innit?' Said Shrewen.

The POS interjected....

Shall I lock weapons on target?

Renyke engaged an army-issue laser bolt-gun from his shoulder that would take out the whole room and anyone in it.

He would prefer not to use it.

'Drop the lady!' Shouted Renyke, 'we are leaving.'

'Let them go', shouted Shrewen, without hesitation and putting on a brave smile.

The door guard released Queenie, as the banker backed off with his hands still in the air.

Renyke reversed his way towards the door watching the room through his the 360-degree embedded viewfinder.

There was a bag on the counter. 

...contains bits, I suggest we take it.....? said the POS


Renyke grabbed the bag. It was heavy. The Banker protested. 'Not the whole bag man ......I got bills to pay!'


Renyke pulled out a handful of the contents and threw the bag on the floor. He didn't need it all, enough to get some kind of vehicle to get him to Redact. The last thing he wanted was a gang of stupid droids after him in this Hell hole. They might hold him up.


The banker was yelling as Renyke and the female guide took their exit.

'You got some neat tools man, we could use you at the bank!'


To be continued

© 2023 Sarnia de la Maré

Links to episodes of Immersion written and illustrated by Sarnia de la Maré FRSA, published by Tale Teller Club

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May 19, 2024

Strata 5, Immersion V1, The Tiger Queen (Memories)

 Strata 5, Immersion V1, The Tiger Queen (Memories)


Welcome to Immersion, you have reached Strata 5 


To function correctly, humans depend almost entirely upon memories. Memory is an integral part of human cognition. It allows individuals to recall and draw upon past events to frame their understanding of the present. Memory also gives individuals a paradigm through which they make sense of the future. Memories are tried and tested experiences where deep knowledge and understanding are fostered. The future becomes less of an unknown with an arsenal of  information based on what we remember. Memory can also be evolutionary, cultural, and non specific, based on a collective experience of tragedy, persecution or success.

A machine that remembers too little will not be able to do anything that requires connecting past experiences to new ones. Many droids are prone to catastrophic forgetting as well as over-learning, either leading to gross malfunction. Humans are able to pick and choose their memories for a better life. Even false memories have proven to be advantageous for human emotional balance.

    **************

Renyke attempted a face-recog on the woman but the makeup or tattoo caused a data malfunction. Flex, the one with probable knowledge about trusting her had disappeared amongst the crowd.

After a lingering interlude for summing up danger, but with no logical conclusion, Renyke followed his guide with some trepidation. The woman was effervescent and attractive, seemingly unfamiliar attributes that Renyke was surprised to have noticed. Such exuberances were not encouraged in the Midcasts but Renyke was inexplicably drawn to her zeal and fervour as she moved through the streets like a tiger queen.

Market traders were selling an array of live animals, electronic devices, even workers by the hour for a range of uses from labouring, singing and even sexual services.

Renyke was feeling confused at the evidence before him. Things did not seem logical to his organised brain. The noise, the intensity, a million unrelated instances of life weaving through time and space. These were  chaotic waveforms traveling horseback on a loud wind. It was making him giddy. 

'What's with the frown Mr?' The woman seemed empathetic.

'I don't know, something familiar maybe, here, this street.'

'I would know if you had graced our streets before my friend.' The woman was staring intently into Renyke's eyes making him feel self conscious. You got stranger written all over that face, let me tell you.'

The woman greeted traders and passersby. She was well known here although POS was not able to ascertain much data.

The woman is 20, human,, she has had a child said POS...

They arrived at a unit with barricades and metal shutters. It was constructed from an old underground train carriage, probably from the twenty-first century.

'Here we go,' said the woman
'That's 50 G-bits for getting you here Mr.'

'I have to get some money first,' said Renyke
'What do I need, I have no ID?'

'You don't need ID here Mr. This is the *hiddens' zone, the Urchs got no ID. No ID, no problem. This is a very special bank just for people like you.'

'Well, how do I get money?' asked Renyke, now confused about accessing anything that may be stored in his POS and dubious about sharing his identity.'

The woman laughed.
'Ya gotta put sometin' up my friend.

'Like my coat?' asked Renyke.

'Na, not in the bank! Your software, course, or hardware, or files, whatever.....just plug in, give some data, get some g-bits innit. They take apps, software, POS.....

Day to Day Data..... is their wayta.....
.....hahahahaha.' 

The woman cackled then sighed, observing Renyke's discomfort.

'I'll take you in OK, I know the banker.'

Renyke pondered the likelihood of a successful solo effort and nodded in agreement.

The woman bashed on the metal door and a hatch opened.

'It's me, Queen,ie, got a client for ya big guy.'

Dark peering eyes checked them up and down through a small rectangle.

'Not the animals', said a loud booming voice after tentatively opening a heavily armoured door.

Inside was well guarded by large-framed menacing characters. They were standard issue security droids, the like of older versions that had been discontinued and recalled then disassembled and officially disposed of. Security in the Midcasts was controlled by forcefields and lasers with little need for big ugly droids. 

Renyke was ushered into a small cubical with an array of plugs and wires. 

The woman gestured he should go in as she waited near the door under the watchful eye of the droid.

POS was glitching.

Everything in the cubical looked antiquated, probably from the early tech years.
There was a chair and Renyke was motioned to sit down.

He hesitated.
'How does this work?' He asked a large droid.

The droid seemed stupefied, slow and sluggish, as if he had been drained of power. He spoke slowly with slurred words. There were intermittent beeping noises and error warnings coming from inside his head.


'Here is the current exchange rate,' said the droid, pointing to a monitor with flashing figures. 'As soon as you are plugged in, we see what you got and make an offer. Then we transfer. You get a voucher here.'

He pointed to a small printing machine, 'then take it over there and get g-bits or s bits.'

There were hundreds of wires and plugs seemingly for extracting and monitoring every device from the last couple of centuries. Anything from antique video machines to digital clocks, and hundreds of handset devises seemed to have a lead on offer.

Renyke spotted the Mark 3 Droid Cable and shuddered.

He checked his applications. Then all the add-ons. He checked for any temp files he could get rid of. Then he checked the POS and asked if there was a clean-up they could run.

System is currently set to factory install. Removing program files or data could be detrimental to smooth function....this action is not supported.....

More searching......then finally

One file found
Unknown origin 
Possible memory file from last OS 
Appears surplus to current operational needs but I am unable to access file contents

The big droid began clicking its fingers slowly and grimacing. His equally thug like colleague approached and joined in.

The woman, looking restless by the door, ushered Renyke to hurry up 

Can we operate without it? Renyke asked POS'

There is a possibility, according to my calculations, of serious malfunction

The droids moved closer and the clicking intensified.


To be continued

© 2023 Sarnia de la Maré FRSA


Links to episodes of Immersion written and illustrated by Sarnia de la Maré FRSA, published by Tale Teller Club

May 17, 2024

Strata 4, Immersion V1, The Zoners (Meeting Strangers)


                          Welcome to Immersion, you have reached Strata 4

tribeswoman feathers headgear boots fashion fantasy clothes cat pet fur colour tattoos face tattoo


There is an old saying from when the world had stories made of paper that you cannot judge a book by its cover. But sometimes, without metadata, the cover is all you have to show the secrets within. Humans understand that a person's demeanour and outward profile can reveal something of their intent. There is a sort of human telepathy that is not bourn of scientific facts. It is intrinsic, passed down through culture and evolution, a hidden and secretive code of social understanding.

But how would an android make sense of the tiny signals that humans pick up on? The millions of minute evolving syntax and expressions that create conscious and subsonscious feelings and hunches. These are essential to humans but less easy to create or mimic in even advanced computerised systems. How do these assumptions translate across time and cultures? How do machines function successfully within complex human scenarios. Strangers are unpredictable, dangerous, and likely to be in control.

A deeper understanding of the unknown without evidence is the ability to immediately resonate with individuals without reason.. It would seem that the bigger the data the less the machines are able to explain these innate human idiosyncrasies. In the attempt to create a facsimile of a human, the machines move further away from the truth.


                                                 

Renyke kicked the *robo-dog and it went flying high up into the air. It fell to the ground with a metallic crash scattering its parts asunder and making mechanical screeching sounds that made people stare.


There was a general momentary hush as everyone realised Renyke should be avoided.

Maybeline climbed inside the leather coat to keep out of any ensuing danger.


The robo-dog made several bleeping sounds and drew its broken metallic components back onto its magnetic mainframe. Finally, after a 30-second system reboot, it got up and shook its fake hair, once again assembling a near perfect dog. 


As Renyke walked on the dog remained at heel, obedient, quiet, and protective. They were now given room to move into the throng. No one made eye contact and as if by some telepathic communication, everyone shared a nervousness around the new stranger.


The dodgy-looking man offering bits and nibs reappeared and was running at Renyke's side.


'My name is Flex. You need anything, man, I got your back....for sure, for sure. I can do all sorts. I got connects innit.

I know these streets. I'm a good worker. Good mugger too, should you ever need one.'


Got drugs, got tools, all sorts.... survived like a pro all my life on the mean streets….  People like you need people like me. No one knows the zones like the *Urchs.'


Renyke walked on ignoring his now irritating companion who was running, talking, and panting all at once as he tried to keep up.


A child approached. Renyke's scanners showed him to be a human boy, around seven years old.


'Hey Mr. Nice Man from the *brightside, spare some *bits for a hungry blind child?'


Renyke looked down and saw a large black hole where the boy's eye had been. The other eye was weepy and red. The boy’s face was scarred from historic deep-cut wounds and he appeared to be missing an arm.


Renyke had seen images of similar wounds from the Russia-China wars. But they had ended many years before.


'Give the boy something,' Renyke scowled at Flex.


Flex, somewhat wary after seeing the incident with the dog, dug deep into a pocket and reluctantly gave the boy a *bit-piece.


'Now *fucksyoff ya lil shit,' said Flex in a disgruntled manner.


'You can't trust these beggars ya know.....they have owners and gangs,' Flex informed Renyke in an all-knowing tone.


The street was lined with ramshackle stalls and shops. They were noisy and crowded with the bustling activities of theatrical looking people. Some had animals on leads or on their shoulders. Monkeys and parrots, the like of which Renyke had never come across in his massive data bass.

Most had tribal markings on their faces. Others wore decorated eyewear, styled spectacles, masks and headgear.


The attire seemed so impractical to Renyke who had always worn the same clothes and had aspired to a streamlined functionality. But he was rather enjoying his new coat.


A woman approached. She is dressed in bright colourful headgear and boots with huge feathers and sequins. She has some kind of cat on a lead.


Renyke engaged POS focusing on the cloth.


…Pertriline: Brand name for a fabric made from plastics. Non-biodegradble. Colourfast. Banned in 2050. Problematic for any practical landfill solutions....


Then he queried the face coverings....


…It is thought likely that tribal face markings in the zones are used mostly to avoid face recognition from satellites and covert surveillance. Different factions, tribes and even ad hoc groups have adopted more uniform styles which signal gang and other connections. These signals change regularly to avoid detection and discovery. 


It is understood that the underground activities that connect tribes, gangs, and families, have adopted coded clothing and other paraphernalia. Information is unconfirmed….these are theoretical assumptions based on data we have stripped whenever possible from prisoners or members of subversive factions….


The woman with the cat stops Renyke in his tracks. Her cat stares at him making eye contact and edging forward. Renyke also stops.


'Hey, Mr. Come on man, you must need something? You want some toggies? I swap the coat for a nice jacket I got me just yesterday.’


Renyke shook his head with one eye on the cat who was looking restless.


'You want some tits-n-ass maybe.....food? Man you look hungry in yo skinny moves.'


Renyke side stepped the woman and continued walking, not really sure what she meant. The dialect was a strange mix of unknown words and rhythmic intonation, almost songlike.


'A bank maybe, or a charge point?’ Shouted the woman as Renyke moved on.

He stopped suddenly and queried, 'There's a bank?’


'Of course,' said the woman, 'what you take us for, wild ignorant animals?' She laughed hysterically at her own joke, and Renyke smiled. The cat finally stopped staring.


'Yes, I need a bank,' Said Renyke.


'Come with me,' said the woman.




The Book of Immersion is published on the Tale Teller Club Website each week.


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