“What you’re proposing is unnatural.”
That might have qualified as one of the funniest claims IMP17 ever heard if he wasn’t negotiating for his life. He turned to fully face the panel of six persons, such as they were. True representatives of the Elite, they were a mixture of men and women carved and grafted and interfaced, and sat in an elevated row behind a wall that separated them from the meeting-room pit he stood in.
IMP17 made himself smile. What he was about to say flirted with blasphemy in their opinion, but even the Elite couldn’t totally deny reality. They admitted not yet attaining complete control of this world and its inhabitants.
“Biological components are all that’s left when digital technology fails.” Their expressions betrayed how aghast they were, urging him to continue. “Any strategy that doesn’t account for such a possibility is no strategy at all.”
“You say that because you still haven’t accepted enhancement.” The second person in the row, someone whose face, and possibly body, shone like the gold it was supposed to mimic, frowned at him.
It was a good thing IMP17 had been created to utilize strategy, because that was the only thing that could keep him preserved from their improvements. “I haven’t accepted yet because as an integrated individual my role as investigator and instructor would be compromised. Maintaining my organic faculties is paramount to drilling warriors how to use theirs.”
“One, your neurobiology is modified beyond theirs. Two, you are a failure.”
He couldn’t deny either charge. Decades ago, before the Elite rose to power, their progenitors expressed a more laissez-faire attitude toward reticent groups that refused to embrace progress. After all, through applications of science and technology, humanity was going to expand their mental capabilities and extend life spans. So let the troglodytes die out naturally.
But then the progenitors discovered that death still waited at the end of a long life, and they’d lost the ability to replenish their ranks without laboratory intervention. To make it worse, the rabble were rude enough to keep reproducing. As the number of traditionalists began to overtake the progressives, the magistrates decided encouraging parents to improve their offspring was no longer good enough. Biotechnological modification became mandatory.
An uprising resulted. Believers of an antiquated ideology broke away from the prevalent society. Unwilling to integrate with technology, they had no problem using it otherwise, and demolished the android armies sent to subdue them.
So the Elite tried using fully organic but physically improved clones. Engineered to have only enough intelligence to follow orders, they were supposed to infiltrate the rabble and bring them down. Unable to improvise when that darned reality struck again, they also failed.
Despite reservations, the Elite were desperate enough to design an Intellectual Militant Prototype, known as IMPs, who could blend in with the rabble and make their own decisions under duress. The administration was cautious enough to order only twenty-four products.
IMP17 was not just a clone of some long-dead soldier. Although his biology matched, his neurology was configured to match that of their opponents. The Elite wanted intelligence, but not enough for any IMPs to successfully stage their own revolution.
When some IMPs turned out to be independent thinkers, they were swiftly executed. Others died on the field of battle, sometimes while fighting alongside the rabble. IMP17 was one of a mere handful left, and he knew that was only because the Elite hadn’t discovered his true thoughts.
The IMP program was declared a failure like its predecessors, and the survivors were invited to accept modifications that included integration with the core data system.
The other four were fully indoctrinated to their purpose, but IMP17 had reserved doubts that grew in strength over the years. Supplementation with a neural implant connected to the system created a sort of virtual telepathy. His private thoughts could be uncovered. And he had too many unsanctioned ideas to risk that.
The Elite would take no chances. They would order his prompt execution, and another pitfall of being linked to the core meant there was no chance of escape.
That left him only one option.
“The mark of a true soldier is to wrest success from failure.” His gaze slid across each face on the row. “The cyborg troops you’re going to try next will be partially organic. Mechanical limbs can still splinter. Mechanized weapons can still malfunction. Allow me to work with them, teach them how to use their organic components to your favor. Otherwise you might as well just send in androids all over again.”
He could tell the panel was discussing the matter because individuals would occasionally blurt out words or phrases to accentuate the thoughts they were sharing. He wondered how much of their humanity was left, and how much had been shanghaied by the artificial intelligence they embraced.
He also wondered how much humanity he could legitimately claim. If his plan succeeded, he would need every shred of it when he faced the rabble again.
“It has been decided.” Number two regarded him with cold eyes and pinched mouth. “We will give you a trial run with a team of cyborgs. If you please us with your training, we will retain your services. If they prove to be obsolete, then you will report for modification posthaste.”
IMP17 bowed low before them, extending his arms to the front. “Thank you, my Lords. I will endeavor to serve you with all that I have, for you have given me all that there is.”
As he stepped through the exit of the pit, the relief that flooded through him ebbed with consideration of how many steps were left before his plan would be complete. After what he’d done to the rabble over the past few years, he knew they wouldn’t welcome him. But his chances with rustics were still better than they would ever be with the Elite.
Well, it finally happened. This month the prompt word for #BlogBattle was clone, and that put me in mind of a certain backstory. Because the series of events would be ancient history to the characters in an upcoming novel, I decided to go ahead and do a serialization of that timeframe. It will be interesting to arrange a bunch of stories into an arc … does that make me a glutton for punishment? And check in on what the other stories are this month. It’s a blast!