There used to be a time where creating life was considered both impossible and immoral. A crime against nature, a line that nobody would cross. Yet, as with most lines, it is eventually crossed. The creation of synthetic life was met with both looks of wonder and of horror. The first official robot equipped with human-like-AI inspired the world and a new era began. Yet, the true first synthetic life remained buried in conspiracy and legend.
Professor Ozrin watched from his broken home as the world celebrated the first instance of man-made life, cheering in crowds as the entity gave a powerful speech, filled with human-error, but also heart. Tears were wept and they disgusted the professor. With animalistic fury, he clutched the holo-projector, throwing the delicate instrument through his apartment window. It was dissatisfying to see the window dematerialize as the projector flew through the frame and rematerialize once it had passed. Yet, the sound of the projector smashing on the pavement gave him some cathartic pleasure.
“Dakon?” Ozrin drunkenly called. “Dakon?!”
“M-master, I’m here,” Dakon responded from the corner of the room, where he had been huddled. Darkness clouded him, but the blinking lights from his metallic frame hinted at the horror that was his face. “I’ve been here since you told me, since Tuesday.”
“I know what I said!” Ozrin yelled, causing Dakon to shake.
The human reaction infuriated Ozrin further. He remembered begging the Synthetic Institute to review his creation, but they simply showed him the door. He understood now. He understood how they were in the process of creating their own synthetic life and thanks to their standing have claimed all the glory.
“Nobody remembers the second man to step on Mars,” Ozrin stepped towards Dakon. “Nobody...I gave my life, all I had!”
Ozrin clutched the closest wine bottle, smashing it against the wall. He held in his hand the instrument that would bring about Dakon’s demise. With a jagged glass in hand, Ozrin approached Dakon who could only watch in childlike-fear.
“D-Dakon?” Tears fell down Ozrin’s cheek. “Dakon, I hate you…”
Ozrin fell forward, his body convulsing as a current ran through his body. A mangled form had crawled across the ground and clutched Ozrin’s leg. The twisted creature was a failed experiment, not completely destroyed, but dying. It’s one human eye twitched as it studied Dakon. Metal parts that would move its mouth moved as if it were speaking to Dakon, but no words came out.
Unfinished, unable to speak it’s dying thoughts, Dakon could only watch as it crawled on top of Ozrin, plunging the jagged stump that would be its left arm through Ozrin’s heart. As satisfied as it could be in his new form, the entity died with his memories of when he was still a whole man. Finally, it felt content having taken his revenge.
Dakon watched as the last spark of life faded as if flowing from the form with its black blood.
Dakon could not stay put, horror and disgust playing hell with his fragile mind. He collected clothing, covering his strange form, but most importantly, his decaying face. Dakon could not even bear to look in a mirror directly, choosing to create a mask from the parts from Professor Ozrin’s lab. With the electrical charges in his metal mind wreaking havoc, Dakon fled into the apartment hallway.
A young couple had been passing the door, both shocked by the terrifying, masked figure then horrified by the sight of the deceased professor. Dakon was already running away before the couple could do the same. Panic was detected, true horror and desire to contact the police. Sensors went off, the authorities alerted. Before Dakon had reached the stairs the police were already on route.
Dakon had his own sense of survival, not to mention an abnormal life-signature. He disappeared, practically undetected, into the night.
Twenty years had passed. The world had become something out of a science fiction writer’s dream. Developments in every field sky-rocketed productivity and decreased the value of luxury. Most could enjoy the safety of their home, protected by all manner of forces, from human to robotic. Everyone could enjoy the many pieces of technology that made life so wonderful.
With poverty, hunger and homelessness nearly eradicated, the streets seemed so empty. Below these silent road was an underground utopia, filled with the waste and rodents that society created. Among the shadows and rats, was the seated figure Dakon, who scratched at the rust on his arm.
Nobody sought him, he could not be found. In the sewers he was safe, in the sewers he was king. His face now bone, as the last of his mortal flesh rotted and fallen away. Now, he saw with only a single mechanical eye, as the other had been taken by a rat long ago. He wondered when he would die when something essential for his survival would finally give out. Yet, all that seemed to break or waste away was unnecessary. Even the power that ran through him seemed unlimited.
In the two decades, he had to ponder his existence, what he was compared to both human and synthetic life. Even the term cyborg didn’t fit him, as all that was human had died long ago. With sadness, an emotion that caused his left leg to twitch, Dakon limped onwards through the sewers. Rats used to follow him, which gave him a measure of comfort, but without flesh, they now ran away.
Eventually, Dakon reached a grate which gave a clear view of the glowing city. The bright lights, the hum of power. Billboards flickered in-and-out of existence, advertising the latest-and-greatest humanity had to offer. Mostly it was synthetic life, so human you could not tell the difference. Yet, Dakon knew that if you were to tear one open you would find the same parts that made him.
Dakon found himself thinking on it more and more until eventually, an idea spawned from his desperation and desire. With mask and old clothing covering his disturbing form, Dakon left the sewers, joining the masses of people in the morning. He even wondered through the same neighbourhood he was created, staring up at the building that he once lived in. If there was still a slum in the new world, it was there. A decaying building, holding nothing but bad dreams and worse memories.
Dakon continued his journey.
He could not very well speak to anyone and ask them the questions on his mind. The thoughts he had might be blurted out, so he had to make sure he found one. He had to make sure it was synthetic. It wasn’t too long before he overheard a conversation on the street that piqued his interest.
“...not too different from a hospital for humans, actually. We have doctors, but more bio-engineers than medical doctors.”
“And do you ever get sick?”
“Well, a disease is not too different from a computer error. It can cause damage to a system and so on. We inevitably run into problems, like moving slower or an error in our core. That’s why we all cough the same. When we cough, it is our system telling us that we have a problem. Most of the time rest, or an update, does the trick. Otherwise, we go to the hospital.”
The conversation continued for a few minutes longer. The human kept asking the synthetic questions it had no problem in answering. Yet, as it spoke, you could tell it was growing impatient. Dakon could only admire how synthetics developed, while he still lacked much of what the synthetic was talking about.
Dakon approached the synthetic once it was alone, hunching himself over and pretending to struggle as he walked. He caught the synthetics attention, but noticed the eyes water and nose quiver in disgust. Dakon was not aware of his smell, yet he continued with his plan. He asked the synthetic to help him get through an alley towards his home, saying he was afraid of falling before he reached the door.
Dakon’s voice was childlike, programmed so long ago to be so high and innocent. Yet, this only made the synthetic pity Dakon more. The two walked away from the busy streets, taking darker turns, one after another. By the time the synthetic began to worry if he should keep helping Dakon, Dakon attacked.
The fight was short. Dakon knew how they were built, he knew where to strike. Before the synthetic could react, Dakon’s hand had reached into the synthetics chest, parting the flesh with ease and clutching at what had to be vital. With machine-like efficacy, the synthetic was on the ground, silver blood pouring from its chest. It could only watch, paralysed, as Dakon began to tear it apart.
Dakon wasn’t an animal, he deconstructed the synthetic was as much care as was necessary. With his knowledge and robotic movements, it was an easy process and soon the synthetic lay in pieces. Dakon began to work on himself, taking what he could and making it a part of himself. There were some parts that would be too risky to replace, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was the feel and appearance he had.
The day seemed to pass so quickly but by the end of it, Dakon had stolen the synthetics identity. The outer appearance had only one difference, the eye Professor Ozrin gave him. The broken synthetic remained on the ground, unmoving and still alive. In its own mental hell, it watched as Dakon stood within view, examining himself in the reflective surface of his mask. It smiled, although it was robotic.
The synthetic wanted to scream, but nothing could save him at that moment.
Dakon didn’t look back at the synthetic, instead, it donned the new clothes and left to join the society. With no ties to the new world, Dakon could do as he pleased and go where he wished. He had a human appearance but lacked every human error. Although not perfect, his core was reliable and it would not fault him.
The synthetic would be discovered, although dead and unable to recall what happened to it when revived. Dakon would not be discovered, blending seamlessly into the new word, in search of a place. When he failed to find it, he took it from somebody else.