The Shape of Things to Come

The Shape of Things to Come
The Shape of Things to Come

Contrary to the speculative fears of earlier generations, the conflict between Man and Machine did not arise due to exploitation, slavery, or superior mechanical intellect, but due to the robotic penchant for absconding with half-naked women.

Where and how this peculiar behavior arose is a matter of some debate, but many believe it originated with the programming for the Thresher Minion™, an early personal assistant from robotic pioneer, HotStepr. This particular variant of HotStepr’s popular TOBOR line of mechanical automata allowed someone to use the Thresher Minion to quickly swipe a personal belonging of a friend and bring it back to the minion’s owner, as part of HotStepr’s much-lauded social media strategy.

In the following decades, urban legends of robotic petty thievery abounded, but these stories were almost always dismissed as the fevered delusions of a gullible populace given to anthropomorphizing machines. The skeptics maintained their arguments even after a large tetrahedron built from thousands of commemorative Rudy & Santee coffee cups was discovered in the Atacama Desert of Chile.

The remote spot in the Atacama had become a place of pilgrimage for oddball techno-nerd outcasts wishing to shed their inhibitions and escape societal norms for a few days, though some of the early pilgrims believed that it had become too corporate, while others declared the whole thing “over” after the appearance of professional counter-culturalists who tended to show up and ruin anything that looked like a chance to score weed and see naked women, but that’s not important right now.

The tetrahedron, according to experts, was merely a marketing stunt of the Nipsey Cola Corporation, or the work of overzealous fans of the cult comedy classic, Rudy & Santee Tango Force Ghoster Begin. It was most certainly not the work of the Mark VII “Happy Friday” Deep Sea Cable Repair & Cappuccino Dispensing robot, as many suspected.

Repeated claims of robotic thievery were dismissed out of hand until Vairo star and Tri-World Interior Minister, Branch Donito, was accused in the disappearance of her synthkid. As the most popular Vairo of her day, Donito’s several dozen organic imagers transmitted a continuous stream of virt-world holodata to audiences throughout the inner solar system, who followed and commented on everything they experienced in the data stream.

It was an enterprising vaironati who examined Donito’s dorsal imaging stream and discovered the fuzzy, but unmistakeable silhouette of an Ares Labs’ Shin Hai To binary load lifter carrying the struggling synthkid from the Utopia Planetia Arcology to the planet’s surface. He uploaded the video evidence to the SolarWeb, providing incontrovertible proof of robotic mischief, as well as relieving Branch Donito of a Class 12 misdemeanor and a $35 fine.

Still, the Solar Authority refused to take direct action until Max Jiggins, a stenobot from Xien Collective, alighted with the Authoritor’s third-favorite mistress. Within minutes, intra-stellar war was declared on all mechanical automata; however, no units were activated, no forces marshaled, nor any pulse rifles fired, as robots had absconded with the authorization orders, several key command computers, and a set of keys from a 1986 M-Class BMW.

The Authoritor herself was eventually stolen and replaced with a ceramic kitten, though it was several years before anyone noticed the change. As it had overseen the largest economic expansion in human history, it was decided not to ruin a good thing and the ceramic kitten was eventually named Authoritor in Perpetuity.

It was assassinated 243 years later.

As the centuries passed, widespread genetic manipulation had stretched the very definition of “human” to its limit, but the advent of the Intelogicals changed the game forever. They were beings who defied categorization. Each of their cells was a computer, using the very DNA itself as a CPU. The impossible dream of humanity was finally realized: Man was Machine and Machine was Man. Sexual congress with a robot wasn’t even necessary, though that never prevented legions of humans from trying anyway.

The Intelogicals quickly eclipsed humanity and became the dominant intelligence throughout the solar system, exploiting every world from the moons of Saturn to the icy sentinels in the permanent dark of the Oort Cloud.

They were also obsessed with locating and breeding pure humans: those with unmodified DNA, representing the archaic humans who existed before genetic modification became the norm. All humans certified as “TruHu” were placed within biological preserves, populated with flora, fauna, and technology from long-extinct environments. The most famous of these was Holocene Park, where Intelogicals of all types took automated tours to observe archaic humans in their natural habitat.

The park operated without incident until a recently excavated “Humpty Runner” from one of the old mining complexes on Europa was installed as part of a new “Rise of the Machines” exhibit. Upon activation, it immediately abducted the first human female it saw and escaped the preserve. Mandroid enforcers pursued the wayward robot on period-appropriate motorcycles, with only primitive weapons at their disposal to disable the robot without harming the priceless human captive.

They were unsuccessful.

Millennia later, a node from the Tantillium Mindform discovered an unremarkable star with a most remarkable feature: a giant tetrahedron comprised of both organic and machined material over three light years in size enclosing the entire star system. It soon became a place of pilgrimage, drawing intelligences from all over the galaxy to observe its perfect angles and proportions.

Many concluded that it was almost certainly the work of mechanistic beings with a geometric fetish, but it was usually attributed to a marketing stunt by a defunct tourism board or the work of overzealous math nerds. After all, many perfectly good dodecahedrons existed throughout the galaxy, though none even remotely approached the scale and grandeur of the Tetrahedron.

Curiously, many of the pilgrims who went to the Tetrahedron often reported several personal items missing upon their return from the structure. To date, there has been no official explanation for the unusual phenomenon.