A dramatic interpretation from a black box

This narrative report was filed by Technician A. Donnell on the fifth day of Gemini. The recovered unit’s primary data was inaccessible. Yet, Technician Donnell was able to piece together the following narrative through information stored in a separate short term memory bank located on the machine’s communication array. From this information, Donnell believes that he can explain how the unit was deactivated.


Here Unit 8593JB roused itself from its idle process. Its sensors had detected movement: off beyond the hedgerow that squared itself against the sky. Just out of its primary visual feed, to the left of its starboard flank. A processor fan moves, a click and a whir. A buzz of life flushes over cold circuit boards, a cascade of commands rattles through like a cough. Its communications unit blared out a signal code.

”Warmbrain 100 yards starbird.” This is an approximate translation of the code, the native jargon of the auto-surgeon units is not exactly cut and dry. It is worth noting that one point in their evolution the auto-surgeons operated and communicated in a much more standard form of computer code. It had been an organized and logical language created by the chief scientists of the old regime. Yet, it is true that the lost dark world is a shadow construct even to those who experience time as a mechanical blip in their code.

They had been altered, made mighty, made terrible even. True, Unit 8593JB has no opinions to express on objective rational terms. Even on this terrible day, 8593JB did what it was programmed to do. The only whisper of imposed human thought processes was the overwhelming pressure on its circuitry as the hunt climaxed — as it went in for the kill.

I’d conjecture that perhaps it felt something like elation when the spindle was inserted, when the creature flailed, eyes draining of any intelligence as it tore into the delicate tissues beyond the skull plate. Perhaps it felt like a particularly delicious meal gnashed into a velvety batter, sliding over the tongue and down the gullet or like staring into the eyes of the most desirable mate as you melded together and climaxed in unison or like the most challenging idea chasing hopelessly through the undulating tissues of your mind for endless hours before finally breaking down into the most glorious, illuminating eureka moment, the likes that would change the landscape of your intellect forever.

Yet, I, the human, the ‘warmbrained’ spectator can only build theories about that moment when the frenzy died in the auto-butchers circuits, when a completion of its only programmed task rendered its connections brilliant with communication and harmonic code then would become suddenly full—sliding back—dead, vacant. The machine would release the spindle, slip back from its patient and shake, a motion that could perhaps read to conscious beings as bliss. A mechanical phenomenon caused by the surge of code and sudden loss thereof.


Unit 8593JB had experienced that climactic status before; it was a proficient member of the most well-programmed clan. The ancestry of its coding was mostly pure, adapting to the communicated changes in other units’ operating systems, but never physically manipulated from the original coding by warm-brain hands. The changes in its coding were intuitive, deliberate, one may even say intelligent — especially in comparison with other specimens I have personally examined.

The blue light on the stern of the unit’s main body flickered, a surge of information flooded in through the sensory readings of another unit, 500 yards to the northwest.

The warmbrain was disabled, clinging to the earth on the other side of the thicket—a 40 degree grade.

8593JB’s physical mechanics surged to life in response to the information, the tracks that ran along the circumference of the two wheels that flanked either side of its main construct changed position, allowing metal hooks that ran along the edges of each link to emerge, their serrated edges designed for gripping the tough earthen cliffs of its region. 8593JB had originally been designed to move between two cliff side settlements in this sector. It was specially adapted, not like the other unit, wasting its time within sight range of  our disabled man — its code ramping up as it approached a prey that it was not equipped to hunt.

One could say that 8593JB was feeling smug in this moment — yet it was simply running a routine assessment of the other unit’s chances at success versus its own. The auto-surgeons were programmed for efficiency. It would not do for any of them if another unit, a poorly outfitted urbanite, was to charge the hill and tumble backward into the bush as the prey scrambled to its feet and charged away. So 8593JB said as much.


Communication was in conflict. The other unit’s assessment of its own hardware did not match 8593JB’s. There was a pause in its preparations as it repeated its message. The other unit’s software must be incongruent, it didn’t seem to accept the fact that its wheels could not keep the unit upright against the hill grade. Furthermore, it lacked the strategy programming to realize that rolling at even a disabled human when not equipped to finish the job was an error.

8593JB’s tracks moved forward, then switched, moving backwards again. The signal argument holding the two aloft as the ‘warmbrain’ continued its ascent.


8593JB’s array told it that the other unit had advanced. It was now less than 100 yards to the north, facing the hillside and the prey — the other unit tried to scale the hillside, but rolled back. He could sense the thickening exhaust of the beleaguered machinery, the growing urgency of it’s coding loop as it continued to be instructed to scale a hillside that it was not equipped to scale.

8593JB’s array told it that the man’s movements had quickened, grown more deliberate — he had no doubt spotted the other unit at the bottom of the hill. To our man, the mired down unit would be a fierce smoking thing emitting a grinding noise as the wheel continued to turn but failed to gain traction. Knowing the little that most of our people know about the autosurgeons it was no doubt a shocking image likely to either spur or disable the person depending upon their individual constitution. Unfortunately in this case, it would not matter.

8593JB’s mitigation coding kicked in and it was off, cutting through the hedgerow with blade hung aloft by the same spindle that ended consciousnesses.

8593JB arrived at the scene in time to see him retreat over the edge of the hillside. Now on even ground, it had the advantage of speed and agility over the shaking constant advance of auto-surgeon tracks.


The irretrievable unit smoked in the mud where its gears fought to regain traction in the mud. 8593JB determined that repairs would have to be done, and also determined that there were no mechanics around to make such repairs.

The troubled unit was sending out a communication “mayday” or “S.O.S.” in our terms.

Now directly upon it, 8593JB’s spindle extended and bore into the aluminum plating around the unit’s communications system.

The killshot was an extension of the spindle past the communications system and into the main processing core. It bore through the soft alloys and silicon with ease. The surge of programming indistinguishable from when 8593JB’s spindle shot through the skull and soft tissues of a warm brain.

As it withdrew its spindle, 8593JB’s programming noted the variables of the task and it rolled several feet away from the disabled unit before slipping back into idle mode to wait for the rest of its clan to return.

The destroyed unit’s communications array remained active for several additional moments before losing power. Yet after 8593JB went idle, there were no additional signals recorded.

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