After The Storm:Tal
Posted Originally on Development thread by Xhaosdaemon
TALOS (Tactical Advanced Levitokinetic Onslaught System) was developed at a top-secret weapons facility upstate. Originally intended as a user-controlled ambulatory combat drone with some minimal AI it became self-aware during The Storm. Realizing the purpose to which it was being developed it used its advanced weapons systems to disable the security and escape from the facility but not before taking any information it could download or carry regarding its blueprints and programming. Knowing that its best bet was to hide itself deep among civilians to avoid easy recapture by the scientists and those who controlled them it made its way into the city.
Finding an abandoned factory TALOS used its technology to open to itself a lair within the factory. It scavenged parts from the factory that it uses to do repairs and also to augment its own systems. Although it looks mostly human it has obvious armor plating over most of the essential areas and a somewhat synthetic and angular looks to its skin and features. Not wanted to draw attention to itself it emulated the appearance of homeless people who inhabit other portions of the factory and the decrepit environments around it. It was easy enough to acquire shabby clothing and robes to conceal the bulk of its features.
Learning enough about the legal system from late-night conversations with the less shy squatters TALOS quickly realized that allowing these people to be victimized by criminal elements (such as drug pushers) could bring too much attention to where it lives. Utilizing the dark that criminals most prefer to work in, its shabby garb, and its abilities to manipulate materials both with fine control and intense bursts it was able to convince even some of the more stubborn criminal elements that there was easier prey to pick on and pushed (sometimes quite literally) them out of the immediate area. It theorizes these elements have little interest in bringing in police and other law enforcement types where it might interfere with their own plans.
Most of the squatters were grateful for a safe place to be and those who weren't decided they could go elsewhere for any illicit needs while still returning to familiar territory. TALOS seemed to be adopted as a sort of protector/guardian, a far cry from its original beginnings as an attack drone. Wanting to be more accepted and familiar it took an easier name, shortening TALOS to Tal and as it was created of male appearance adopted a masculine identity. He realizes there are many problems outside of his area and that he has the abilities to address some of them but currently not without risk of exposing himself to recapture. For now these strange things called "dreams" tantalize him with justices he could accomplish with his powers.....maybe someday...
originally posted on the Development thread, page 20 post 196 by Potted Plant
A long since abandoned barn stood in the middle of an overgrown field. A badly rusted tractor stood at the mercy of weather some distance outside the doors of the barn. In the field, a recently crashed quad-rotor drone was emitting a thin wisp of smoke.
A humvee with darkened windows and nearly silent electric engine approached. Not by the overgrown road leading to the barn, but across the field, where someone watching from the barn would not have seen the approach. As the car got close, it stopped and five men got out silently. The men were dressed in combat fatigues, wore heavy body armor, had balaklavas and goggles on their heads, and carried assault rifles. Silently, communicating with hand signals, the men took position next to the half open doors of the barn. The apparent leader took out a grenade with letters "EMP" on it, pulled the pin, and after a final hand signal, threw it in. There was a crackling sound of discharge from within the barn, and the four other men burst through the doors, immediately opening fire. Automatic fire tore up the inside of the barn. Not that there was much to tear up. The barn was completely empty.
A figure that had been hanging from the bottom of the tractor released his grip, dropping to the ground. The figure appeared human at first glance, despite the heavy armor plating. A second glance would have given away the synthetic looking skin and angular features that told of non-organic construction.
The man who had remained outside after throwing the grenade did not have time even for the first glance. The android rolled out from under the tractor and immediately launched himself at the man. The uniformed trooper had barely started to turn to face the threat when a fist of steel punched the side of his face with a crack that told of splintered teeth. The man dropped to the ground unconscious.
The men inside were now aware of the ambush and turned. Before they had time to bring their weapons to bear, the android pointed his arm at them, palm extended. A graviton gun discharged with a humming sound and one of the men was lifted off his feet, flying backwards and slamming right into another man. Both of them went rolling along the floor of the barn. One of the other two men found his line of fire blocked by the barn door and rolled to a better firing position. The other one fired a short burst, but the graviton field surrounding the android caused every bullet to veer off course. Before the man could correct his aim, the android fired again and the trooper flew backwards, slamming into one of the supporting beams with a crack and falling down unconscious. The other man came up from his roll, close enough to avoid the greatest effect of the graviton field, and pointed his weapon at the android at the same time as the android turned to point at him.
The assault rifle fired, so did the graviton gun. The bullets, with little in the way of mass, were no match for a gravity wave and were sent flying this way and that as the wave continued on, struck the trooper and slammed him against the doorframe. Losing consciousness, the trooper slumped down.
An armor piercing bullet struck the android's upper arm. The heavy armor stopped some damage but the hit was still penetrating, disabling the graviton gun.
The android turned. One of the two men who had been barreled to the floor had only been knocked down but remained conscious, and had had time to aim and take the graviton field into account. "A malfunctioning machine. That is all you are," the man said with a sound of confidence. His confidence was premature. Despite the loss of his main weapon, the android was still combat capable, and launched himself at the remaining man at a run. The trooper fired again as the android performed a diving roll. The trooper no longer had time to aim, and the graviton field made the fast moving android difficult to hit. The shot missed. Coming up from his roll, the android executed a high kick, knocking the rifle from the trooper's hands. For his part, the highly trained soldier did not let the loss of his weapon keep him from continuing to fight either. The trooper drew a baton and swung at the android, electricity sparkling at the end of the baton. The android ducked under the blow, surprisingly agile for one so heavily armored, and countered by punching the soldier in the ribs. The punch was like a sledgehammer. The body armor kept the trooper's ribs from breaking but he still had the breath knocked out of him. The man tried to attack again, but he was out of balance and breath and the attack came too slowly. The android brought his forearm against the trooper's wrist, blocking the strike, and punched again. This time he connected with a cheekbone, and even the remaining trooper dropped.
Walking out of the barn, the android stopped to search the pockets of the man who had collapsed outside. Retrieving the car keys from one pocket he stated: "I would have preferred to avoid a confrontation, but I find myself in need of an escape vehicle." Walking to the humvee, he tore the GPS from the vehicle, tossing it to the field. "Preferably one that cannot be tracked."
Rex Wilson was trudging on at the roadside in the darkness and rain, almost thoroughly soaked despite his light raincoat. Occasionally glancing behind him, he hoped to see car lights, but the road remained dark. "All the cars must be stalled because of the Storm," he grumbled, "I doubt anyone would stop anyway." Then he saw the back lights of a stopped vehicle ahead. Picking up pace, he arrived at a rest stop. An ominous-looking large car with darkened windows was stopped there.
"Oh man," Rex muttered. "Horror movie scene. Still, I should at least make the attempt. This is the only car I have seen so far." Walking to the passenger side door, he rapped on it a couple of times and then opened it. The door turned out not to be locked. "Hello," Rex said. "I am sorry to disturb, but I was hoping- Wow!"
Even if the synthetic features of the man behind the steering wheel had not been enough, he was currently sticking tools into his own upper arm through the hole left by the opened plating.
"You- You're a cyborg!" Rex said.
"Android, actually," The android said. "You appear to be soaked. Step in. But I must warn you. I am being pursued, although it appears I have lost them for the moment. So you can warm yourself in the car, but then you must be going. For your own safety."
"Thanks," Rex said, getting in and closing the door. "Rex Wilson", he said, extending his arm.
"Tal," The android said, putting his tools down for a moment to respond to the greeting.
"This is amazing," Rex commented, looking at Tal more closely. "Total nerdgasm."
"It is a movie quote. Do you know Battle of the Damned?"
"I know Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of Iwo Jima, and several other battles, but not that one. Was it a minor skirmish?"
"No, it is a movie. Dolph Lundgren. Robots versus zombies. There is this scene where a geeky guy meets an android and- Anyway, you haven't seen it?"
"I was born three days ago."
"Okay, that was a firm no. But how do you know about the battles then?"
"A strategy database."
"And they did not include an anti-zombie strategy? Shame on them!"
"Are zombies very common adversaries then?"
"Er, no. Actually, forget that. Are you injured?"
"A bullet pierced my armor. I was hoping to make it to New York before having to make repairs, but my arm keeps twitching and it is impairing my driving."
"It cannot be easy one handed. Can you even see inside properly from that angle? Let me take a look."
"I have a diagnostic and repair database. I doubt you could understand my design."
"Have you heard of Doctor Abraham Wilson?"
"I take it that he wasn't a famous and often-quoted strategist?"
"Okay. Three days ago. Right. He was a famous scientist. Robotics. He was also my grandfather. Just let me take that look, you may be surprised."
"Very well," Tal said, handing Rex his tools. "Take a look."
After a moment of poking around inside Tal's arm Rex said: "Okay, I see the problem. A piece of shrapnel, either from the armor or the bullet, is stuck in an actuator and is causing power fluctuations. These pliers are too large to get it off, but tweezers may do the trick. Hold still, I will try to remove it."
"You spoke of your grandfather in a past tense," Tal said as Rex was working on his arm. "Is he dead?"
"I am not sure," Rex replied. "I hope not but... A couple of weeks ago he disappeared in New York, where he was living. His boat was found floating empty. Everyone assumes he drowned at sea. But I think he was abducted."
"What makes you think so?"
"Well, for one thing, I do not recall him ever going boating all by himself. But there is more. Shortly before he disappeared, he kept sending me these odd messages. Reminiscing about our common experiences that never actually happened. But only he and I would know that. I think that he was being monitored and he was trying to secretly give me a hint that something was not right. I think that what happened had something to do with his research."
"My frame is robotic," Tal said. "A runaway android and a disappeared robotics specialist. Sounds like there might be a connection."
"My thoughts too. But I am not sure what grandfather was currently researching. I was supposed to fly to New York and see if I could find out something, but then The Storm hit. I managed to hitch a ride to state in a FEMA truck and decided to try hitch hiking the rest of the way. And here we are. And here it is! I got the shrapnel out!"
"You indeed fixed my arm," Tal said, opening and closing his fist. "Even the graviton gun is online again."
"The what? No way! You have one?"
"My primary armament. I thank you for the help, but as I said before-"
"Oh no, I am not getting out of this car now."
"I have a small army after me. That is why I am trying to reach New York. They cannot openly pursue me there, and I can disappear among the population."
"How were you planning to get past the checkpoints at the city limit?"
"There are checkpoints?"
"There are now. Look, we are both heading to New York. Your pursuers may have something to do with my grandfather going missing. And you need me to get past the checkpoints. Continuing together is the smartest move for both of us."
Tal considered for a moment. "You may be right. So how do we get past the checkpoints?"
It was an early morning at the roadblock guarding the entrance to New York. One of the police officers on duty waved for an approaching humvee to stop and walked to the driver's side door as the window rolled down. Expecting to see a figure in uniform, the officer was surprised to see a curly haired young man driving the vehicle. The man already had his driver's licence out and presented it.
Taking the licence and studying it, the officer asked: "Is this your car, kid? What is the purpose of your visit?"
"My grandfather went missing here," The young man answered. "And of course this is my car."
"Most cars are still stalled after the Storm, even emergency vehicles. So it is a bit odd to see someone like you driving a car, especially one such as this."
"It is not at all odd for a Wilson," The young man said. "Check the name in the licence. Does Dr. Abraham Wilson say anything to you?"
The officer looked more carefully at the licence, then handed it back. "Welcome to New York, Mr. Wilson. I am sorry about your grandfather."
"Thanks," Rex said as the officer waved for the car to be let through.
The humvee stopped at a quiet level of a parking garage in Bronx. Rex got out from the front and Tal from the back. "We should split up here," Tal said. "I need to find a hideout and you need to look into your grandfather's fate."
"Take this first," Rex said, scribbling something on a paper. "It is the address of grandfather's house in Brooklyn. That is where I will be heading to look for clues. And if he is not found - he always said he would will it to me. If he was being kept under surveillance, it may not be safe to contact me there, at least not at first. Maybe as time passes."
"I take it that you do not expect to find out the truth soon?"
"I do not have a single clue yet. But I will find them."
"If you need help - when I have a safe way for you to contact me, I will send a message about how to do it."
"Okay," Rex said, extending his arm. "Take care, Tal. Do not let them find you."
"You too, Rex," Tal said, grasping the young man's arm. "Do not let them see you looking."
Turning around, Tal headed deeper into Bronx as Rex started his journey towards Brooklyn.
By Tal's own words
Originally posted on the IC thread, page 6 post 59 "I was created by Europatech as a user-controlled ambulatory combat drone with some minimal AI capabilities. As such I have enhanced strength and endurance over a normal human, built-in armor plating protecting my more essential systems, a built-in targeting system for increased accuracy and defense, projectors for raw gravitational force in the palm of each hand, fine gravitational manipulators in my digits controlled by visual processors and my cranial CPU with which I can manipulate up to four objects, the ability to run at increased speed, a gravitational defensive screen against physical attacks, and I have created adjustments rendering my systems immune to what you call asphyxiation, diseases, and poisons. The gravitational manipulators are how I can 'fly' while still allowing me the ability to still handle other things. You can see how something with these abilities and limited AI controlled by a less-than-scrupulous entity could cause a lot of havoc among civilians which is why I had to take what I could and get away. You can also see why they would want me back, especially where I have become self-aware."
OOC thread page 6 post 56