Nevermind the title. I had to call it something, you know? Anyhow, I present to you another short story in parts, appearing every Friday until further notice. Enjoy!
It is a hell of a thing to wake up dead. I know this better than most because last night, I died for the third time in my life.
Death is typically defined as occurring in the moment that the heart ceases to beat or pump blood to the brain. Therefore, no matter what the cause of the heart stopping was, everyone dies from what is termed a “heart attack.” But none of that has anything to do with me.
I do not have a heart.
Instead, I have a small but powerful nuclear reactor in my chest. Damage to it forces my body into a state of hibernation, for anywhere from four to twenty-four hours, in order to repair the injury. So when Cassius shot me, my systems went into auto-preserve status, and I died, for lack of a better term. Good thing, too, because if the reactor in my chest sustained massive, irreparable damage, I could have leveled half the city.
Oh, where are my manners? It seems like my behavioral chip may have been damaged in that fire fight, too. Please excuse me. I am HART. That is, I am a Humanoid Autonomous Retrieval Technician. In other words, my function in this world is a type of police officer. My job is to hunt down criminals and escapees of both the half-bot and and full-bot type.
Yes, we are real. No, we are not a government conspiracy. True, we were originally created to act as soldiers in the last war. When the Peace Papers were signed, a good number of my kind were designated for the scrap pile. Unfortunately, several escaped and disappeared deep into the human underworld. The strongest and most intelligent of us were given the task of bringing them back.
When they made us, they forgot they gave us the ability to think and adapt. Lucky for us. Dangerous for them, though, since some of us look human enough to pass undetected. I, however, do not.
My jet black skin-covering has a metallic shine to it, and gleams under artificial lighting. The frame they housed me in is small and compact to ensure better flexibility and stealth. Please do not be fooled; I am nothing close to delicate. I can easily lift and toss armored trucks twice my size. My biggest non-human trait? My eyes, definitely.
I use the term eyes loosely. My optic lenses are a bit unusual, if I say so myself. The right one is a glowing green orb in which I can simultaneously retrieve known information about my surroundings and upload new findings. I can also monitor the health of my systems, and receive orders and reports, like a walking fax port. My left orb is a bit, ah, different, shall we say? It has been known to scare people. Its basic state is flat and black; when I get close to my prey, it glows bright red. The infrared signal kicks in, and chases both heat and electromagnetic signature.
I usually wear wraparound shades in the presence of humans.
But enough about me. What happened last night? Well, see, that is kind of a long story.
When I awoke from my customary four hour recharge, there was a message waiting for me from Alton, the captain of my unit. I sub-vocalized my password; when it was accepted, I decrypted the video and watched.
“HART. You have an assignment. Your target is Cassius, a modified half-bot. Last seen passing for human. Appears to be a human male of Neo-Afrikan descent. Height is six feet, four inches. Weight is two hundred and seven pounds. Rumored weapons smuggler. Slated for termination. Report in after viewing.” The message screen blinked out.
“Cassius, huh?” I said softly. Already, my day was looking up.
Disengaging myself from my sleeping compartment, I glided over to the large closest in my living unit. I own rows and rows of clothing. I am not sure why humans insist on covering up perfectly good skin-coverings, but I have to live by their rules in their world. Flicking through the countless hangers, I settled on a one piece, white jumpsuit. There were zippers everywhere that were designed to strategically expose skin to be “sexy”, but it was perfect for me, as I could conceal my knives and one very large piece of chrome-plated hardware. I was beginning to see why “sexy” and “dangerous” were often treated as being synonymous with each other.
I completed the outfit with a pair of white synth-leather boots, and my ever present shades. I gave my short, curly hair a halfhearted fluff, and stepped out of my living unit and into the waiting transport unit my employers allowed me for company use. I had a feeling that traffic would be a bitch, as usual, and I was eager to begin my hunt.
“Cassius.” I said his name and allowed myself a smile as the transport unit whisked me towards headquarters. “This is going to be fun.” At least, that was what I thought then.
Events did not turn out quite as I planned.