Thursday, November 3, 2022

Immersion Chapter 18 The Journey to the Edge

Flex excitedly pats his friends' shoulders.

'Well, that was great fun,' he remarks, almost with glee.

'It was dangerous.' warned Renyke, 'it could have easily gone the other way.'

Renyke had been aware of a strange sensation that he had not recognised when the fight took place. It came like a wave from his belly and he felt pounding in his rib cage.

Something was amiss. What was the pounding? He was about to ask the POS but Shabra was saying things.

'That's the pleasure Mr. Renyke!' she sings,

'Aint no burn without the fire.'

'Get the rise in your thighs, brother,' laughs Flex.

Renyke is unsure of what his friends mean and is perplexed. What were these feelings he had had? Where did they fit in his operating systems? Why had he not noticed them before? What was the pounding in his chest?

Renyke tries to understand the strange sensation, was it fear?

Shabra continues along a straight road that runs parallel to a waterway.

Renyke takes the moment and checks the POS for information about fear, something he had heard about of course. He had been programmed to avoid instilling fear in humans at all costs. All androids were designed to improve human lives. It was their duty as androids to facilitate and give pleasure, to entertain, to make human life more manageable.

Of course, there were droids who played games, wargames and suchlike. But even they were programmed to allow humans to win in the end and not to be harmed. No human should be or could be disempowered or overpowered by a droid. At least this was the case in the midcasts.

The POS disturbs Renyke's thoughts.

....Fear is an intensely unpleasant emotion (sometimes felt physically) in response to perceiving or recognizing danger or threat. ....Fear is peculiar to sentient beings, humans and some animals.
Fear causes physiological changes that may produce behavioral reactions such as mounting an aggressive response or fleeing the threat. This is called the fight or flight reflex and is a subconscious reaction in humans particularly.
The human brain decides, often in milliseconds, to defend, attack or flee at the point of fear.
Long-term fear has slower responses but is not necessarily well-measured as assessing true risk is extremely subjective.....

The waterway has been used as a trading canal for several years. It is run by pirates. There are lights and boats but little noise other than wildlife and the trickling and rippling of gentle waves.

'We only have an hour before sun up,' says Shabra. 'It's *timeplenty to get to the edge.'

'What's happening here with these boats?' Renyke asks Flex.

'Pirates, cutthroat crimgangs. They are trade boats, nibs-imports, different gangs use different bits of the river. It's no place for a loney.

'Are they smuggling?'

Flex laughs.....'Well there aint no rules here, no borders like you mean brother.

Traders bring stuff, food, tools, equipment, to sell for the markets. Then there are the slaves.'

'People?' asked Renick.

'Yes people and untied droids, robots.'

'What sort of people?' asks Renyke, surprised at Flex's answers.

'People who can't fight for themselves. People who prefer to be owned than free.
They find that they're fed and watered and it's safer than being on the streets. Most owners feed and house slaves at least. Some are born into slavery, they know nothing else.'

In the zones slaves are both human and android

'Yes, that's right. I was a slave. And it was reasonable. I had a very good life. But I was tied, I couldn't leave, yet I had no wish to leave.' Renyke explains and realises that these concepts had never arisen before when he was tied to the midcast houses. He had never considered himself a slave.

'So how did you get away?' Asks Flex

'Yes, my question also'.......said Shabra
'How did you get away?'

Renyke is unsure about how much information to give so he skirts around it a little.

He lowers his head. Maybeline runs up to his shoulder and nestles into his neck.

'They were going to dismantle you, and you wanted to live. It happens, you are not alone,' said Flex.

'Things are a little....blurry,' said Renyke. I am working through my memory banks. Some things are missing. My POS is still searching.'

'So you fancy an adventure?' asks Shabra.

Renyke looks quizzically, 'What do you mean?'

'This is an adventure, are you enjoying it?' asks Flex.

Renyke thinks for a moment and answers,

'It is a little bit risky perhaps. Somewhat unpredictable I would say. But yes, it's preferable and more entertaining than house duties, cleaning floors etc. Although, I rather enjoyed managing the accounts.'

'I'd go for the unknown adventure any time,' says Flex. 'Besides Mr. Renick. Now you've got me on side. I'll get you to Redact. Don't you worry about a thing, I bin meaning to check out those sistas for a while.'

'There goes that feeling again.....' mumbles Renyke.

'What's that you *mumbachumba, Mr. Renyke? Asks Shabra.

'Nothing important, just random thoughts,' answers Renyke, making a mental note to check the POS about feelings of 'excitement' later on.

Shabra pulls up to park. Birds are singing and dawn approaches as the night cycle comes to its end.

'So, here we are. This is the *edge.' Shabra informs them as she exits the vehicle. Flex and Renyke follow suit.

Renyke begins to remove his coat as Flex gets some provisions from the back of the vehicle.

'Mr. Renick,' laughs Shabra, 'I'm not going to take your coat. You keep it because I tell you something, you look great at it and it'll be too big for me anyways. Besides, twas a fun night, filled with fright.'

Renyke smiles, although he doesn't want to leave Shabra. He bows his head low. Thank you, Shabra, I'm I will be eternally at your service."

'I'll tell you what Mr. Renyke on your way back. You make sure you get a message to me on the websynet and I will come and pick you up and I'll take you back to wherever it is you go.

'But I may not come back,' said Renyke.

'I get about these parts, future is a wide guess at best.' Shabra winks and Renyke blushes.

'A blushing droid? What kinda copy are you......?' says Shabra, getting back into her vehicle and returning to the zones.

Flex and Renyke are at the edge of a small hamlet. Makeshift buildings made of shipwrecks and driftwood line the river, some more sophisticated than others.

Flex looks around. and holds a finger to the wind?

'What are you doing?' Renyke asks.

'Checking the wind speed. There's a boat down there, see it, the little one with the sail.'
If we take the water, we're going to cut out some nasty terrain."

Renyke checks the OS but it is down.

'But what about pirates? Surely that would be most foolhardy?'

'You are such a *wordysmith,' says Flex. 'The land route is tough for ten miles or so, tribes and gangs and animals too. If we take the boat we can look less threatening, like a pair of nomads is all.'

Renyke decides to.......

to be continued.....

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