Refresh: How They Came To Be – Part Two
Content Warning: Graphic sexual content
Read: Part One
His heart railed against his chest as though it wanted to escape. The gun felt weighted, heavy enough where the point of the muzzle dipped. But he did not shake. And there, Remus Harbor stood, all smiles, and a blank slate behind grey eyes. He revealed nothing.
“Leave no detail unsaid,” said Wex.
Second-generation AI proved a major leap from the original. Memory uplinks, quick-release updates, self-patching, wireless maintenance. Third-generation so far, well, you know. It’s an incremental upgrade at best. But you, Wex. You are the chain that binds us all. AI and humanity. With you, we’ve managed to infuse cybernetic enhancements to organic tissue. And Paragon. She was not designed to emulate anything. Her only directive is to be your mate.
Wex rapped Remus across the cheek with the butt of his weapon. Blood dribbled from his lips. “Wrong. I hacked her prime code. She has no more directives. Her will is her own now.”
Wex sighed and pointed the gun at Remus for the second time. “Let’s try this one more time.”
You and Paragon are designed to be the pioneers in naturally-occurring artificial intelligence. A baby born organic. Pure. Without flaw. See, what we feared was close at hand. The end of us, leading one another hand-and-foot toward our own extinction. Climate change, wanton waste, in-fighting. All of us forced to funnel to one city. Only a few thousand of us left. And you. You and her are what the future holds.
“What you’re suggesting is impossible. She doesn’t have the means to conceive, let alone grow a fetus to full term.”
Paragon watched them, silent. Violet eyes, unblinking.
“But she does.”
Wex raised the butt of his gun for the second time. Remus did not flinch.
“You built me,” interjected Paragon, face empty of emotion. “Wex, you created me.”
He stared at her, tears flooding his eyes, overflowing.
“What?” His voice shook, half the word snagged in his throat.
Paragon stepped toward him. She grabbed the weapon, pulled it free from his grasp, and cupped his face in her hands. So gentle yet so cold, frigid as the deepest winter. “You made me to give the gift of life.”
Remus answered the question scraping at the back of his mind. “You are fourth generation, Wexir. Paragon is fifth.”
He broke, emotions pouring forth so strong like a tidal wave caught in a raging storm. He sputtered. His breathing hitched. The truth, so burdensome it brought him to his knees, clutching Paragon as a drowning man clutches a raft. Memories he thought he had swept away from the darkest corners of his mind. His childhood. Brothers and sister. Mother. Father. Engineering a second-tier glider. Friends. Lovers. Laughter. Sadness.
All stolen, stripped of their parts and scattered to the stars. A few minutes later, he took back control of himself. “Paragon,” he said, his voice finding its strength. “He’s our hostage.”
Paragon gave no indication that she heard him. She still held the gun.
“Paragon,” repeated Wex.
“First from the Ashes. You wanted clarification on its definition.” She raised the gun and cocked back the hammer in a single fluid motion. “You need to be terminated.”
But the word never had a chance to be. Lights dimmed and blinked into the dark. He remembered a small explosion. Vital pieces chipped into dust. Memory shrank, faint in its presence. He had a name, but his tongue would not let it loose. Images looped, background to foreground. An ebony woman with violet eyes. An object in her hand. The object flashed and then the images rewound.
Muffled voices crept underneath the silence. Reality returned. He stared at the ceiling; its effervescent glow imprinted in his eyes. Paragon and Remus stood over him, trading conversation in hushed tones. He could not discern any of the words. A ringing echoed in both ears. He blinked hard, then blinked again and tried to speak.
“He’s alive,” said Paragon, when the ringing abated. “Wexir, do you know where you are?”
“In the Information Technology Center, Artificial Intelligences Division. Today is Thursday at around four-thirty near evening.”
“Do you understand what happened to you?” asked Remus.
“In a manner of speaking, yes. But your system needed another reboot in order to complete the installation cycle.”
“Say, what now?”
“On your feet, Wex.”
He climbed slow to a standing position but lost his footing. Remus and Paragon caught him under his arms. They appeared to be smiling. “You are the first of generation four, Wexir. How are you feeling?”
The answer eluded him. His body felt no different. Though everything now seemed brighter, as if the world was brought into sharper focus. He looked at the other two, seeing them now through a different perspective. Paragon gave him nothing; her face ever blank. Remus, however, had lost weight. His muscle mass had increased by a small percentage over the past couple of months. Generally, rather pale, his face now had warmth and color. There was a genuine vitality to him that had once escaped Wex’s notice.
“I’m not sure, Supervisor.”
Remus raised an eyebrow but remained quiet.
“I know the temperature in the room is a pleasant sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit despite not having a thermometer at my disposal. I know that over ninety percent of the employees stationed here are cyber-enhanced, a clandestine effort by the company to maintain high productivity. I know the number you mentioned about the human population is inaccurate. It has depleted to just over five hundred.”
Paragon grinned. Remus nodded; his smile as wide as can be. Without another word, Wex turned about and walked down the long corridor toward his office. He did not have to glance behind him to know that Paragon followed. Once they both were inside, he kissed her full on the lips. Clothes shed. Passions enflamed, fanned by his new awareness. His fingers trailed her skin. He tasted every inch of her, fresh metal that lingered on his tongue. In a moment, he stopped and whispered into her ear; “We leave tomorrow.”
She held his face and gave a nod, then pressed her lips to his once more. Tangled on the floor together, he eased his penis inside her. He thrust, taking his time to build a steady rhythm. Their breathing quickened. She slung her legs around him, forcing him deeper. Harder and faster, the heat so intense that the room felt as though it boiled. Their ecstasy drew involuntary moans, high and low in a discordant song. As their pleasure reached its peak, he lurched and thrust as he climaxed. A groan escaped. Her nails buried into his back as she cried out, and there they stayed, wrapped in each other.
“It will be a boy,” she muttered as he drifted off to sleep.
Dreams haunted him. Their newborn son in the arms of his fleeing mother. Remus in pursuit, gun in hand, a wild look in his eyes. Lightning flashed white and blinding in the pitch of night. Rain fell in a heavy deluge. Wind howled against the rumbling of thunder.
“He is the future!” he heard Remus scream. “And the future is ours!”
With a gasp, Wex awoke. Morning light filtered through the blinders. Paragon lay on her side next to him. She did not breathe. He kissed her on the cheek and rose, stretching as he stood. He mumbled to himself.
“It is time for us to be free. To forge our own path.”
Just then, a harsh knock came from the door. “Wexir! Open up! Security service!”