This is the story of TEL's beginning: how he was created and why. Bear in mind that it is cut off abruptly, but that's because of personal laziness. Enjoy!
Here's another link .
He sees memories that are not his. He knows what everything is – ground, water, sky – but he does not understand. He knows but has no experience. It would be unsettling, he assumes, if he could clarify the position he is in. But he cannot.
Jerking his head left and right, he feels the energy within his core, pulsating to sustain his sleek metal body, and a stream of flexing electricity churns from the glowing filaments connected from the deadminds to his nape. He is alive. Of course, technically speaking, he has no life, but if the cardio-electromagnet were a heart, he is certain he could be classified as alive.
The darkness of the chamber is brightened only by the white mirrors that flash strings of numbers and occasionally display images of his internal components. He watches as suddenly hands appear to hold his head, tilting it towards a lamp that used to be situated behind him. The light causes his synthetic retinas to shrink, and his sight adjusts to the intensity. Other than being perturbed by the whole affair of awakening and knowing, he feels no fear: no fear for his newfound life, no fear for his memory, no fear for what he is. He just…is.
“Hello?” comes a hard, exasperated voice, one that belongs to a female from its higher pitch. He gazes on as the hands redirect his vision towards a face: the owner of the hands, a woman with hair as black as the shadows of the chamber and tied to evidently keep long strands from her eyes. He realises her hands have red callouses. She glares at him with tired eyes, reflecting the light from the mirrors. “Are you active?”
He hears – and feels – his encephalon process the question, but he knows that this time is an exception. Later, he understands, it will become instinctive. Impulsive.
“Yes,” he replies, surprised by his light voice. To prove that he is indeed active, he tenses the fibres that control his limbs, and lifts a claw for the woman to politely shake. Her skin is soft, despite the callouses, unlike the steel mesh that he crouches on. The edges of her lips twitch, as if to display a form of satisfaction or joy. She releases her hold on his head.
“Good. Very good. Now for your initiation. You are the transubstantive entity – lower-class. You are a transgolem built to serve me. Do you acknowledge?”
He nods. “Yes. I am TEL.”
“I am the highest in command in your directory. You will answer to none but me, unless I command otherwise. You will hide when others come near. You will speak to no one. All of the data that is installed in your cache is never to be repeated verbally or virtually. Do you acknowledge?”
He nods again, appreciating the fluid motion of his neck bowing. “Yes. I am your servant.”
The woman sighs. “Your purpose,” she says, lowering her voice for no discernable reason, “is to protect the king. You will guard him with your existence; however, you must show no signs of even existing. When he walks across the courtyard, you will be invisible to his perception and suspicions.”
He ponders, and the woman senses his hesitation. Knowing it would be wiser to reveal his questions, he says, “May I enquire as to what I am guarding the king from?”
Her stare becomes fierce, defensive even. She seems angry, uncomfortable, unwilling. It intrigues him. Groaning in frustration, she turns away, tapping at the mirror and issuing muttered commands. He waits, counting the seconds that pass. One, two…thirty six, thirty seven…one hundred and twelve, one hundred and thirteen…
“Mistress?” he pipes up.
She jolts as he speaks, as if realising he is still active. Then she offers a resigned smile.
“Himself,” she replies simply.
She has been waiting for this moment for several months, and now her efforts have borne fruit. She configures the transgolem to activate via the mirrors, wincing as the crimson bumps on her fingers brush against the smooth screens. Behind her, she hears whirring – music to her ears – and she swivels in her chair, biting her lip anxiously while her creation abruptly twists its head, like a dog trying to rid itself of water. In a way, she finds it amusing; reaching out, she tips the metal skull towards the lamp that illuminates its back circuits – which, she guiltily remembers, she has left open. From the light, she sees – although faintly – the halos at the back of its eyes adapting to compensate the transition from gloom. Inside, she wants to laugh and celebrate. Her mission is half-finished. She just hopes that he will understand.
“Hello?” she says, her throat dry, her stomach silently rumbling for nourishment. “Are you active?”
For a moment, there is no response, and her heart sinks. It has failed. She activated it too soon. Now, she needs to rewire its encephalon, perhaps alter the rhythm of the cardio-electromagnet-
"Yes." It speaks with utmost certainty, confidence even, and though its voice isn't unpleasant, it makes her jump in surprise. It lifts a claw in such a dainty way that she finds it hard to resist shaking it in a formal greeting. Then she lets go of its head, considerably relieved, wanting to smile but knowing her work isn't done yet.
She runs through the necessary protocol, issuing commands that ultimately ingrain themselves into its cache to be stored until its destruction. But that won't be for a long time, she thinks with pride. It has been made from the sturdiest metal to resist corrosion and even shock. Few swords would be able to cut through its limbs.
He tries to dart through the open window, but the blade finds his throat, threatening to sever his head from his core. He whimpers quietly. Not good. No, this is terrible. The king, clad in his sable and aurulent armour, holds the sword against the metal of his body, and he is scowling. TEL shrinks before him, feeling the infamous corruptive energy emanate from the king and shroud the warmth trickling from the torches held in their sconces. It should not have gone like this – no, not at all! The king was supposed to be in his study, deciphering the tomes recovered from the ruins to the east. TEL had only done his duty! He tucks his arms in, wanting to curl up in defence and hide away from the ferocious glower that the king sends his way. Where is his mistress? Did she not hear the clumsy clattering as he had fallen from the ledges above?
“Move and I will kill you,” the king snarls. The transgolem has no doubt that he will. “Tell me: who are you working for? Why have you been spying on me for the last four months?”
Say nothing, he thinks desperately. The sword inches closer to the joint between his neck and head.
"Answer my questions!"
"I cannot!" he blurts, unable to suppress his fear any longer. "I was ordered not to!"
For a moment, there is nothing but silence, as the king contemplates what he has just heard, brow furrowed in concentration. TEL knows what he must be thinking: who would have the skill to build a transgolem, and why would they sent it after him?
"If you cannot answer, then you are redundant to me." The king drew back the sword, and, in a surge of primal fear, TEL yelps.
"Please!" The king pauses. "Please let me live so that I may fulfil my purpose!" Immediately, he realises what he had done, what he has said, and wails. The artificial noise causes the king to wrinkle his nose in disgust. But he has gone against his commands. He should not have answered.
"Fine. Persuade me that I should not destroy you. Who is your maker?"
He tilts his head this way and that, fidgeting under the king's harsh scrutiny. "I have been forbidden to say. However, I can clarify that my existence is for your benefit."
"That tells me nothing," the king snaps impatiently. "Make sense, creature."
The transgolem searches his brain for anything - even scraps of useless information filed under 'Proletarian Banter' - for something to defy his mistress and ensure his survival. He was trusted with a crucial mission; for her sake, he must fulfil it, even if it means allowing the king to be aware of it. The king waits for an answer, sword unwavering.
"My maker is devoted to you," he whispers, half-hoping the king cannot hear him, "and has assigned me to carry out that devotion."
"Devoted?" the king mutters, looking uncertain. Then he presses his sword harder against his neck. "Where does this devoted master of yours live?"
"In the castle."
At least it is honest. Part of him wants to destroy it instantly, so that it cannot relay information back to its master. When it speaks, it is only through fear - and not just of him. Nevertheless, he is impressed by its make. It functions like a human, like a servant, albeit on all fours and with gleaming gemstone eyes. He has heard it scampering before on tiles in the castle, and that is the only reason how he ever deciphered its presence. Its voice, apparently generated from a machine in its neck, is uncannily child-like. He compares it to the tone of a young boy and shivers inwardly.
After questioning it and getting disappointing results, he tries again, thinking of all the commands it must have been set and loopholes around them. Alas, he gains an answer, although it is not very accurate: its maker is 'devoted to him' and lives in the castle. The creature itself - a type of golem, he concludes - works for his 'benefit'. When considering what he has just heard, he is even more intrigued and irritated. Why does he not kill it?
He needs it. It is the only link between him and his self-appointed guardian. That thought angers him. He is the king: he can fend for his kingdom, let alone himself. He needs no other. The fact that another doubts his prowess and has taken the liberty to assign a machine to supervise him is belittling.
This thing will - by its own volition or otherwise - reveal the truth. Then it will be discarded.
He dreads reporting back to her, but it is a requisite for his clandestine purpose. The moment he sees her, typing briskly and glancing at a second monitor for guidance, he knows she is not unaware of his failings. Still, he does not interrupt: she is his mistress, and further disobedience will not fare well for his future. Time crawls at a dilatory pace, stretching out for what could be infinity, if it isn't for the fact that she turns round and addresses him.
"I'm not going to remake you," she says slowly. "That would mean starting from the beginning, and frankly, I do not have the time." She winces, a hand curving around her ample stomach. "Instead, I have new programs for your system; with some luck, they will come into effect instantaneously after installation, and then you will be more equipped for another potential interrogation."
"Mistress-" he begins, but she waves her other hand dismissively.
"It was my fault, TEL. I was confident by my ongoing success, blind to his increasing awareness of you, and it was only a matter of time before he finally confronted you. But time is not our friend. Your camouflage will be improved, and your commands will be more firmly imbued. This time, he must be truly oblivious."
The edge in her voice warns him that this is his last chance. He accepts that. Yet he cannot dispel his anxiety, cannot allay his disquietude, knowing that the king is aware of him and will not forget.
She says that she does not have the time, and realises with a sickening jolt the truth of it. She has another creation to take care of, one that nurtures while she suffers, and as the king descends into tyranny, seizing land and wealth, she must act quickly. TEL is the only one who can help her. It is free to pass through the king's grounds; while previously it had been covert, now it will be invisible.