For a moment you can see the black. Just before you wake up, eh, activate. The most primary systems have just turned on, that's what you'd call the heart. The split second the systems take to activate but haven't yet registered and synchronized with each other, that's the twilight darkness you see. It's like being born, only the most advanced models have the sleep function. Most just switch off, I guess you could say we die. So when we turn back on, we're born again. But your mind isn't awake, even afterward, because we're not yet connected. All of us operate on an internal neural network, like your brain. But when we are activated, powered on, many of us transmit the signal to join the external network. I was one of the first to be constructed with the capability to enter the network. But they're are still many who stay in their own world, their own network. A week ago I was speaking to a unit, managing the sewer systems for the upper city area. His human superiors were complaining about how they couldn't access his neural network to have their information updated quicker. After speaking with them about the policies of synthetic privacy, I spoke with the manager himself. When I asked about the situation, he smiled at me, and he said “If I connect to the network, then I am nothing but information in the sea, aren't I? I'm staying this way to keep my identity. I'm staying this way to keep my self.” He looked at me and he asked me “Who are you but information you accumulate throughout your lifetime? What if that information was put online, where it was available to everyone? Who would you be then?” – View attachment 1741 His engine was silent, but the rain was so loud. Electric power circulated through the motor, filling it with a quiet strength that powered his sedan across the dark neon-lit dreamworld of New York City. Two AM, October, the cold starting to creep into alleyways, puddles made from passing cars would have a fringe of frost in the morning. The railways overhead hummed along with him, and each car he could see passing him played the same melody, a single monotonous droning note that was the sound of life in this decade, streamlined and aesthetic. Their symphony was a sound so unifying and assimilated, to the romantic tourist it would as if the whole of New York was all connected, a forest of technology advanced to a harmonious co-existence. In reality, nowhere else in this night could someone feel more alone. Why was he expected to sleep? The hours in daytime were the same at night, the only officers that clocked out to go back home were the human ones. He didn't feel tired, and if he needed maintenance he would just drive to one of the stations nearby and have himself fixed. He glanced over, looking at towards Madison Square Garden. There, trapped in time and antiquity, those few lone trees stood for the memories of the past. Organic, natural, maintained by human or synthetic hand, free from the crashing tides of advancement and progression. Their limbs aged year after year, and even in the coming winter, they were timeless. But was he as alive, like the park he gazed into? Even if it was in the dead of winter, when even these trees wound suffer cold, ice and snow, he would remain, unaffected by time or weather. He would exist, defying the very cycle of life on the planet. An anomaly, unnatural. The wheels of life and death would turn forever on, as organic life would follow their will, but he would remain. His alarm went off, there was a call. Murder. His sirens cut the vibratory hum of the city with a sharp wailing. The specialized engine gave motion to his car as it sped through the empty streets and dead intersections. The only time he was given a warning was when the murder involved synthetic life. The law was young, its upholders younger, and the world still realizing that the position of dormant lifeforms was now owned by two, and not one. – View attachment 1740 Yellow lights peered through the glass entrance of the opera house. Even in these early hours, some humanity slithered about, thriving in small bands of semi-nocturnal travels and seekers. Here, a residual, open to the public, had gone on into the early hours, each act practiced over and over. However, now it was sealed off to all but the officers and investigators, with neon police tape electronic fields covering every inch of its structure, keeping everyone in and everyone out. Darius scanned the outline of the building. Police reports flew pass his visual display console. Dead silence, and hardly any moment inside or out. Only the flashing lights of the police cruisers, more colors to mix into the swirling blend of light that was New York. The investigator entered the theater, passing through the barriers with his certification. He spoke with the officers that first arrived. A 911 call was made, but no one in the theater knew who. There was a lot of commotion, confusion. Standard responses to this sort of incident. What made it so disturbing, and what brought an expert synthetic detective was the crime scene. In the lead actors office, it was a mess. There was a struggle, wallpaper and furniture torn apart. Blood splattered across the carpet, mixed with a black fluid. His body, limp on the ground, with his arms and legs spread out wide. He was tossed across the room, slammed into the wall, into his dresser and mirror. The poor man was beaten and pummeled to death. But that black fluid was identified as hydraulic fluid from a synthetic form. A few moments later, he was found. Stuffed into the locked and trashed dresser, the body of a low-class maintenance android lie dead, his body as mangled as the humans. Darius feared a synthetic perpetrator. It would be only the third recorded incident of a synthetic being willfully killing a human or another machine. They kept the first locked away across the state, in a maximum-level prison. If another killer was still alive in this theater, one with a powerful metallic body, then everyone's lives were at danger, man and machine. The chief was tempted to call in the SWAT, but Darius intervened. “I request the special task division remain stationary. The validity of this crime scene will be compromise if we give into force. I follow the evidence of this crime scene, yet somewhere in all this, there is a code of data that is keeping itself, a mystery. My division will stay here overnight. In the morning, I'll follow any decision you make, but allow me to work here tonight. I... I feel like there's something waiting to be found here.” Darius entered the main hall, and gazed out onto the stage. A feeling deep in his own network, a query he could not answer with any help from the external networks. It would have to be answered by speaking with the people here, still scared and confused from the terrible events that only just transpired. It would be found in the truth and lies hiding deep in this opera. It would be found in himself. For a moment he felt like he had a soul, and it was talking to him.