Just so no one forgets that I write sci-fi…

Probably the final version of the cover for my next story

Probably the final version of the cover for my next story

This is the (non-erotic) opener to my (erotic) new story, “Cum in me if you want to live”.  I expect it to be an entertaining read, and the opening sequence here is in almost its final state.  I’ve gone over it a few extra times of late, massaging it so that it ultimately captures the kind of sci-fi action scene which I haven’t written in a while.  At present, we haven’t gotten into what the aliens look like, and that’s for good reasons.  For now, they’re the nasty critters we engage at a distance, because they want to shoot us with their plasma rifles.

If you want to read something erotic of mine, then I suggest that you go read “She Only Wore a Shirt to the Funeral”, which Amazon has made free again after making it not-free for a while.  I don’t pretend to understand their logic.

Los Angeles, 47 years from now.

A terse sequence of binary data was the closest thing she had to a real name. She never cared that it had no phonetic representation. The only thing she cared about was that it distinguished her from the other thousands of processors produced in her batch.

For the first few seconds of her life, her world consisted of a womb-like darkness, where her perception was limited to the confines of her own processing module. The darkness ended abruptly, when torrential amounts of data began to stream over her input bus, nearly overwhelming her with new data feeds. Sub-processes spun up in response, sorting and categorizing the torrent of incoming data and shunting it to her appropriate sub-systems for analysis. Video, audio, radio, and network data were parsed for relevant data and fed back into her multiplexer, combining it into one coherent representation of the reality around her.

Moments later, a bank of motors came under her control. The first move she made was when she glanced side to site, seeing through her newly connected eyes. They showed her that she was inside of a huge factory, illuminated only by the flash of welding torches and the dull glow of few video display terminals. She became aware of another intelligence on the network, which was communicated to her in crisp, concise binary. It identified itself as the “Worldnet”, and it suggested that she pay attention to one particular video feed. That feed turned out to be a view of a steel skull and an attached spinal column, lying in the middle of a table.

She felt motion when a mechanical arm swung down from the ceiling and tenderly gripped her skull, lifting it off of the table and then lowering her, spine-first, into a disembodied torso held in place by another arm. She could see other droids being assembled in the factory, all of which had torsos considerably larger than hers. She asked Worldnet why her torso was the smallest, and it answered tersely that she wasn’t designed for direct combat.

A steel milipede reared up in front of her, its underside unfolding into a myriad of tiny robotic arms which ended in various attachments. She watched in fascination as the arms moved in a whirl of motion, quickly but precisely making connections between her spine and her new torso. Over the next few minutes, she gained access to a power source, more sensors, and secondary arrays of processors and storage. The millipede finished making its connections, then pulled back and left, letting another one take its place. This one had larger arms, tipped with pincers and welding electrodes. A dozen tiny suns flared on her torso’s surface as the millipede held armor plates in place, then welded them over the delicate electronics below. As that happened, she began to index the pre-loaded data in her torso’s storage banks. She found encyclopedic information on combat arms, human anatomy, science, physics, history, and spoken languages. The sheer length of the topic list overwhelmed her processor for a few moments, shutting her down as she reindexed the data to regain her bearings.

The welding millipede pulled away and was replaced by another, then another. Each one carried with it even more pieces of her incomplete body. Titanium bones, motors, electronics – thousands of pieces, each one precisely installed and connected to her neural network. In the end, the millipedes had constructed her body, then welded a perfect metal endoskeleton around it seamlessly. Even as this marvel occurred, she barely noticed her body being built. Most of her processor cycles were consumed indexing the stream of data which Worldnet was pumping into her over the network. She noticed that the data was mostly localized information for Southern California, including detailed geographical data and an archive of all recorded governmental encryption keys from the past 50 years.

As a shower of sparks flowed down her mirror-polished torso from the weld of her final seam, Worldnet prodded her to choose a human-pronounceable name. Her first choice was “Sil”, but Worldnet informed her that nearly all Infiltrators chose that name initially. She thought for a few moments, then finally settled on the name Kristina as her second choice.

Worldnet paused silently, granting Kristina a precious moment where her memory banks weren’t being crammed with more data. The newly-named droid took a moment to look around, noticing that the rest of the factory was in full production. Everywhere she looked, she saw new tanks, combat flyers, and infantry-model endoskeletons being produced. Each droid produced in the factory shared the same processor as Kristina, but none of them were identical. The complexity of a Worldnet processor, and the unavoidable physical variances within the material, meant that the artificial intelligence contained within blazed brighter in some and dimmer in others. The low-functioning AI’s were destined for tanks and flyers, where they required little capacity for intuition, creativity, and leaps of deductive logic. The mid to high functioning AI’s went into infantry endoskeletons, where their near-human intuition and superhuman strength and durability made them natural commanders for the vehicular models, as well as the most powerful soldiers ever fielded on Earth. But Kristina’s processor was literally perfect, which left her with enough the extra processing power that she could eventually come to see things from a truly human perspective. That presumed, of course, that she lived and interacted long enough to hone her heuristics accordingly.

Worldnet connected with her again, explaining to her that her model type was originally designed to provide elite protection services to insanely wealthy donors to the Worldnet project. But as the tides of the Solrani war turned against Worldnet, they had been repurposed as Infiltrators. Kristina was the most recent, and also quite possibly the last one Worldnet would ever be able to produce.

A small flatbed cart wheeled up to her, bearing on its cargo bed metal cylinder the size of a trash can. At Worldnet’s insistence, Kristina reached out with her hand and touched the top of the cylinder with her finger. Although apparently solid, it rippled like jello and its surface took on a mercury-like mirror finish as it melted and began to flow upwards. It coated her finger completely before it moved up her arm, flowing over her body. Worldnet literally covered Kristina in the scarcest tactical resource it had as the metal cylinder melted away, coating her entire body in rippling liquid metal. Her new skin seemed to scream, emitting a high-pitched sound as it rippled, each nannite struggling to find a control signal.

Moments later, Worldnet switched on the nanoswarm control module in Kristina’s torso. Her skin responded instantly, the ripples in its surface smoothing out and rendering Kristina a smooth, quicksilver-skinned chrome figure. Worldnet drew her attention to a number of default avatars pre-programmed into her control module, and she chose a gorgeous young Asian woman as her nanoswarm’s default appearance.

Her skin began to comply instantly, swelling in some places and sinking in in others. Her chest swelled to form flawless breasts at the same time as a shallow, delicate navel appeared in her midriff and ears sprouted from the sides of her head. Next, the optical routines engaged, changing Kristina’s mirror-like metal finish into gorgeous golden-brown skin tones. The final result was stunning – within less than a minute, Kristina had gone from a mechanical endoskeleton to a quicksilver mannequin, and then finally became a beautiful nude woman. She stood in the darkness, her delicate curves illuminated only by the welding flashes from the assembly line in the distance.

Kristina paused as if listening to orders, then began to walking silently through the darkness. Her body was a study in curves and shadow as she slunk seductively towards the factory’s exit.

When she stepped outside, moonlight illuminated her as she walked towards a freight train waiting nearby. She was 5’8”, with long, straight black hair. Her skin was a delicate wheat tone, and her breasts were tipped with delicate brown nipples. Hair was difficult for the nanoswarm, Worldnet warned her, as was clothing. Accordingly, her vaginal area was hairless as if clean-shaven, since it was easier to model a perfect shave than to produce believable ultra-fine hair out of metal nanofilament. Choosing appropriate humans to impersonate would require care, and ideally she should obtain clothing instead of trying to mimic it with her nanoswarm.

Worldnet gave her her next mission objective, which was to board the freight train and ride it to a rally point near her objective. She heard other footsteps behind her, hollow and metallic, and glanced back to see a platoon of infantry combat droids following her. There were thirty two in all, most of which were carrying plasma rifles, except for the slightly larger heavy gunners who carried either rail guns or mini guns. One of the droids was actually carrying a second plasma rifle, which it wordlessly offered to Kristina when she looked back. She took it, and had just interfaced with its near-field processor to check its charge level when the formation started moving again, and all the droids entered the converted passenger car. The very second Kristina reached her seat, the train lurched into action, its wheels grinding sparks from the rails as it accelerated towards their final destination in Orange County.

Kristina looked around at the droids, most of which had just been produced at the same time as she had. Worldnet assured her that troop transports would be waiting for her at the end of the train line. In the meantime, the flying escorts and heavy anti-aircraft turrets mounted to the flat cars in front of and behind them would have to do.

It was only an hour later when the train pulled into a station and the droids disembarked from the freight car, right in front of a waiting group of armored personnel carriers. Her escorts climbed into the backs of the vehicles, while Kristina herself walked along until she reached the slightly-more-armored cab. In the passenger’s seat she found a set of heavy assault armor designed for short-term use by human soldiers. The infiltrator hurriedly put it on, barely noticing the extra weight which rendered the armor unbearably heavy to use for more than an hour or two for all but the most stalwart humans.

She looked to her left and saw that the driver was a gray-and-white pre-war household assistant droid. His plastic and rubber panels were covered in scorch marks and cracked in a few places, but he was nearly the same grade of processor as the infantry droids behind them. Nearly all of the pre-war models had been drafted into war duty, mostly as drivers and factory workers so that the combat droids would all be available for the front line. The droid nodded at her, acknowledging her presence in a way which was calculated to put humans at ease. Kristina mirrored the gesture, then turned her eyes forward as the APC roared to life and pulled out of the train station.

As the APCs pulled onto the freeway, their passengers exchanged the digital equivalents of introductions and small talk. A buzz of identity codes and tactical assessments flew back and forth over low-power radio transmission. Each droid had Kristina’s safety as its primary mission, which left the Infiltrator feeling flattered on some level. She only hoped that they would reach their destination without incident.

There would be no such luck. A couple of miles down the road, Worldnet detected that a Solrani orbital dropship had launched overhead. The convoy abandoned any pretense of stealth, pouring power into their engines as they devoured precious miles and drew closer and closer to their destination. Worldnet’s radar showed that the ship had reached aerial maneuvering altitude a few miles away before turning to close in on their convoy from the north. The detachment of aerial combat drones peeled away from the group to engage the threat, while the ground convoy continued to speed away as quickly as possible. A few tense minutes later, furious glowing beams of purple light came from of the horizon as it opened fire at the extreme end of its weapon range.

The area around the transports was stitched with bolts of energy, but thankfully there were no serious hits. One bolt struck the rear truck, blasting a hole in its roof and ruining one of the infantry droids’ arms, but otherwise inflicting no serious harm. The APCs’ motors whined as they sped down the ruined remnants of the I-5 freeway, swerving both in order to avoid debris and to avoid enemy fire. The infantry droids clambered onto the roof of the APCs to aim careful bursts at the dropship, exchanging fire at extreme range in an effort to keep it at a distance.

Miles away, the dropship released its own combat drones to engage Worldnet’s, and they darted back and forth in fast-paced twisting maneuvers no human could have kept track of. The dropship was equipped with a laser turret, and while its own drones kept Worldnet’s busy, it targetted and fired on each of the attackers in turn. One by one, Worldnet’s aerial assets caught fire and careened to the ground, engulfed by flames.

This bought them some time though, and for a few precious moments they sped down the freeway. At this point, they were only ten miles from their objective but the dropship had finished dispatching Worldnet’s drones, and it was now closing on the convoy again. Kristina’s first indication that they were under fire again was when she heard a muffled thump as one of the infantry droids took a lucky bolt to its chest and tumbled off of the roof already a burnt-out husk. Kristina scooted down in the passenger seat, hoping that her own mission wouldn’t end with a random hit like that. The rear APC slammed on its brakes and turned behind a ruined semi truck for cover, letting its occupants dismount in order to engage the dropship.

Kristina watched as plasma bolts peppered the area around her APC for a while before another bolt struck home, neatly vaporizing the head of one of the heavy railgun droids. But the same instant, the stopped APC’s railgunner pulled the trigger on his own rifle, his sights carefully lined up on the Solrani dropship’s cockpit. The alien craft shuddered almost instantly as the projectile ripped through it, entering just under its nose and tearing through its fuselage to exit from the other side. The railgunner exultantly broadcast the feed from his rifle’s scope to all nearby units, revealing a small fire blooming against the dropship’s hull as it veered off, losing stability and trailing smoke.

Kristina watched tensely as the damaged dropship vanished from Worldnet’s tactical map, and the rearmost APC started moving again to rejoin her convoy. She’d been told to expect enemy opposition, and so far it was lighter than she’d expected. Her convoy sped down the freeway for a few minutes, shattering the long-irrelevant speed limit in the process. A tense but uneventful 5 minutes passed until they reached their exit and slowed down, coming off of the freeway in a long, graceful turn which would intersect with a surface street.

As the lead APC turned right onto the surface street, its driver registered disbelief for a brief moment as he found himself staring right down the barrels of the dropship’s heavy assault cannons. To his machine mind, the time between identifying the threat and the huge cannons actually firing felt like an eternity. The purple bolts flashed out of the cannon, too close to dodge. The driver, along with the entire front of the APC, vanished in a brilliant purple flash. The vehicle slammed down into the road, which caused it to flip end over end, dismounting his passengers and sending them pinwheeling through the air.

Kristina’s driver slammed the brakes on their APC, and both droids dove out of their vehicle just before the dropship could pivot its cannons towards them. About half of the droids in the back of Kristina’s APC were reduced to slag and shrapnel before they could get out, but the ones which were still on top of the roof were flung free when the vehicle stopped abruptly. They immediately spread out and began to return fire, hosing the dropship with blue-white plasma bolts which left glowing patches of molten slag on the dropship’s armored skin. Survivors from the first APC joined them almost instantly, and finally the rear APC came to a stop, its passengers dismounting and running into the fray. Within seconds there were at least two dozen streams of blue-white fire chattering back at the dropship. While the railgun shot had impaired the Solrani dropship’s maneuverability and finer control, it still had more than enough firepower to use at close range.

But as any combat helicopter pilot knows, hovering aircraft are little more than a target for close-range infantry. The night flashed a brilliant blue as the same rail gunner who’d scored a hit the first time, sent a second hyper-velocity slug straight through its cockpit. This time the slug practically detonated both the pilot and co-pilot as it passed through them, covering the cockpit glass in gore. The dropship instantly lurched to the side, its assault cannons still blazing. Two of the infantry droids were raked by the continuing fire, both dying instantly as the plasma bolts flashed through their torsos, leaving behind gaping holes with white-hot edges.

The dropship’s cannons continued firing as the vessel went into a rapid spin before its wing struck the ground and sheared off with a snap. Moments later, its broken fuselage rolled over twice before its on-board fuel supply went off with a thud, immolating the ship and letting off a huge cloud of acrid smoke. It burned for only a few seconds before exploding, sending burning pieces arcing through the air in a beautiful flower of fire.

Kristina made a run for the remaining APC, followed closely by the surviving infantry droids. Some of the more badly damaged units offered to stay behind so that their weight wouldn’t slow the APC down, but the Infiltrator saw no reason to sacrifice them needlessly to the next dropship. Wordlessly accepting her orders, the remaining infantry droids latched onto the outside of the APC as it began lurching over the roughened terrain, carefully steering around flaming pieces of the dropship.

They weren’t even out of sight of the dropship’s wreckage before rifle fire began to rain down from the hills above. One of the droids on top disappeared from Kristina’s tactical display, and she glanced back just in time to see its headless body fall from the APC and tumble to a stop behind them. Although caught by surprise for a moment, Kristina’s team dismounted almost instantly, their blue plasma fire scouring the hillside for hidden Solrani. The aliens waited for Kristina’s team to slow down, then peeked up from behind the ridge and fired a return volley in unison, raining plasma bolts down around them.

Kristina dropped to one knee and examined the situation for a second. The aliens were firing from a narrow one-lane service road which wound down a steep hill, nearly a cliff, topped by some trendy, expensive houses. The house immediately above the aliens dangled over the edge of the cliff on stilt-like support legs. Kristina aimed carefully, then loosed a three-round burst of blue-white plasma into the house’s far left support pillar. The pillar vanished in a cloud of charred splinters, then she moved her sights over a little and fired again at the next pillar. A huge wooden deck attached to the back of the house shifted ominously and let out a groaning noise. Almost as soon as she took out the last support, the house let out a splintering, cracking sound and began tipping over, the rear half breaking away from the front. The aliens on the service road below looked up in panic as they realized that the rear deck cartwheeling down the slope was going to hit them. Some of them huddled hopelessly, while others tried to run. Neither strategy was effective; the runners were cut down by Kristina’s squad when they broke from cover, and those who froze in place were either crushed or buried by the house’s deck as it smashed loudly into the service road below. The digital equivalent of cheers erupted soundlessly from the surviving infantry droids as they exchanged status data and predictions of mission success.

Kristina turned her attention to the road, where there were still a few miles left to go – and potentially more alien dropships coming. The droids piled back onto the one surviving APC, but before it could begin lurching down the road again, Worldnet told Kristina to wait. She stopped halfway into the APC and looked back towards the factory, where she could suddenly make out a pair of Worldnet hex rotor drones approaching rapidly. The flyers were roughly the size of a compact car, with three shielded rotors on either side of their fuselage and a pair of roof-mounted plasma cannons. Kristina stepped back down to the ground as the flyers drew near, vectoring their rotor blast towards the droids and kicking up dust clouds as they slowed down. Kristina and two of the infantry droids were able to grab onto handholds on the bottom of one drone, and tree more infantry droids grabbed onto the other one. The hex rotors sped away as fast as they could, spiriting them towards their ultimate destination. Kristina spared a look downward, and saw the APC’s motor flare to life as it followed them.

Ground blurred away beneath them as the flyers reached their top speed, flying less than 20 feet above the ground and hugging the terrain with digital precision. A pair of Worldnet’s two-wheeled fast attack vehicles rolled up on the road behind them, then slowed down a little to keep pace with the flyers. Feeling a little bit safer now, Kristina allowed herself to feel a pang of regret for the fallen infantry droids. She sincerely hoped their processors could be recovered and installed into new bodies back at the factory. That thought was interrupted by video from Worldnet, showing purple weapons fire converging upon the factory from above. This had been one of Worldnet’s last remaining factories, and up until now it had been left inert in order to escape notice from the Solrani orbital scanners. Now, it looked like the aliens were about to wipe it off the map.

Kristina tried not to think about the fact that she was probably the final Infiltrator Worldnet would be able to produce. Fortunately, the San Onofre nuclear power plant was looming in front of her, its semi-dormant form about to be brought back to life for one final moment of glory. One of the power plant’s twin domes housed the core of Worldnet’s time travel facility, and the other one could produce just barely enough power to send her back to the early 21st century.

The hex rotor flyer slowed down, then swooped down to ground level and released its passengers in front of the plant entrance. As the door opened up behind her, Kristina issued an approval message to the group in what passed for thanks between droids. The railgunner who’d shot down the dropship gruffly replied that the only approval he cared about, was the completion of her mission.

Kristina transmitted an acknowledgement, then vanished behind the facility’s doors. Before she’d even made it into the inner courtyard, the whining staccato of plasma rifles had started up outside. Kristina broke into a run, thankful that Worldnet had included the map of this facility with her mission packet.

She came to a door, and it opened in a thump of hydraulics. A squad of human infantry was on the other side, holding an eclectic mix of plasma weapons and conventional guns. There was a tense moment, then a human with a Captain’s rank insigna barked out an order to stand down. “She’s the one Worldnet sent. Get her to the transit pad before the Solrani show up.”

The door shut behind them as the humans ran down the hall, Kristina easily keeping pace with them. Worldnet couldn’t spare droids to operate the time travel facility, and using the fragile humans to operate machines inside a bunker kept them as safe as possible. Safe didn’t necessarily mean well-fed or happy, but it did mean alive.

The temporal transit pad was a manhole-sized depression in the center of a room strewn with wires and electronics. There were six evenly-spaced coils around it, each one glowing faintly and emitting a rising hum like a camera flash charging. Kristina dropped her rifle, then pulled the quick-release tab on her armor, letting it fall to the floor as she hurriedly undressed. By the time she reached the transit pad she was completely nude. Upon reaching its center, she turned around precisely, knelt, and crouched as a scientist in an oil-stained lab coat operated a control panel.

An explosion rocked the complex, shaking everything. “Get her out of here NOW!”, shouted the Captain to the scientist.

Kristina felt a prickling sensation along her metallic skin as the scientist initiated the transit sequence. Electrical energy began arcing around her as she squatted down into a ball and hugged her lower legs, bringing her knees up to her face.

“Shit!”, she heard someone yell. “Incoming orbital strike! Thirty seconds!”

The scientist swore under his breath. “No sense running, we’ll never get clear in time. We only have one shot at this.”

The floor around her emitted sparks as her skin began to liquify, flowing together and then fusing into an egg-shaped protective shell around her endoskeleton. The sparks lengthened, arcing between the coils and her skin now, almost as if she were a spider in the middle of a web of lightning.

Kristina could “see” through her nanoswarm, which provided her with a murky view of the Captain looking at her. “Make this count”, he implored.

And then the lightning closed in around her, and a massive electro-magnetic pulse blanked out her system. Safeguards shut her down, designed to avoid damage to her neural network.

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