The Ternary Code
Prologue - Part 1
Mercury’s internal display flickered to life. It went from nothing, to intermittent, then to a steady glow. She became aware of the new noises around her, the beeping, the buzz of her display coming to life, the whir of some sort of motor coming to a halt. Her first real process was accessing her hour meter; it had just reached twenty seconds. When she opened her eyes, her lens’ dialed back to nearly closed. The stabbing light from above took some adjusting. I’m on my back, she thought as she lifted her hands to shield all of that light. The motion was natural, instinct, instant. But the shiny green gloss from the titanium finish on the back of her fingers glittered, taking her unaware. She rolled her hands over, inspecting them with curiosity. Her forearms were the same, too; they had perfectly smooth surfaces, untainted and free of defect or dent—because she was a new life. I’m beautiful.
“Hello, Mercury,” said a voice.
She dropped her head to the side and saw another bot, with a matte finish, standing next to her. He was two different shades of grey, but not boring—a commanding presence.
“My name is Jax. I am your architect. I programmed you and designed you.”
“May I get up?” Mercury asked.
“By all means,” he said, and stepped aside.
Mercury sat up and swung her legs off the side of the conveyor. Then she realized that the whirring sound from a minute ago must have been the conveyor motor rolling to a stop. She touched her face, feeling the pliable, yet somewhat stiff metallic texture where her lips were. Her inquisitive fingers caressed her face, and she found enough information to collect the data needed to exhibit an image of what she knew she looked like. This made her proud. It’s as it should be, she thought.
Jax tapped her thigh with a dark, distressed finger that was scratched, buffed, and tired. “Look here,” he said.
She looked down at her glossy thighs. Her reflection looked back, and she could see with her eyes that she looked exactly as her hands told her she did. Her feet were the same color as the rest of her—a light green, sparkling from the lights of the manufacturing room. And her soles, she found, were the same material as her face and palms; they were sensitive to the cool air whispering across the sterile floor.
“Do you like it?” asked Jax.
“It couldn’t be any better,” she said.
Jax offered a hand and helped Mercury off of the conveyor. “Not so fast … easy … there you go. Look at that.” Jax had genuine pride on his face. “Your equilibrium has stabilized much faster than I imagined.”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“A bit dizzy?”
“That will go away any minute. Your hardware and software are calibrated and synced nicely. You only feel like you’re off balance, but you’re standing as still as an unprogrammed bot. It’s because your Seven Base processor is still scouring through your ternary code. It can make you feel quite unsteady at first. Don’t look so worried; you’ll understand all of that once you’re able to connect to Uniplexus.”
Mercury’s mind was already filled with several petabytes of information. Information that told her, immediately, what things were, language, simple math, colors, basic ideas, and everything she needed to understand who she was immediately upon being energized. Jax, and the other architects at Applied Integration, designed all bots this way to keep them from panicking when powered on for the first time. Everything after that was either learned through experience or something each bot chose to download.
“Hang on to me,” said Jax, “come this way.” Mercury followed Jax slowly for a few paces. “Weird, huh? I know the feeling. You think you’re going to fall over, but, already, you’re walking like a natural. You’ll probably know how to climb a tree before you even see one.”
Tree? The thought barely entered her mind before she noticed that her dizziness was subsiding, slowly tapering away. “Not fast enough,” she whimpered. What could cause an internal dizziness to be so intense? What did her Seven Base processor do to her code that would make her so shaky inside? There was one more surge of dizziness that bolted through her core. Then it was gone; and like a tranquil breeze, she found something, accessed it without hesitation or difficulty—a signal; it was Uniplexus, the worldwide network that all sentient bots had to connect to for life. She knew that the instant she connected to it. Then came more knowledge; she was aware of herself before she connected to Uniplexus.
“Technically, all bots are connected to Uniplexus while being programmed and immediately upon power up. It sends information to you. But it’s the uploading that takes a moment. That’s where the dizziness comes in. You’re already connected to it, but you’re unable to upload anything, or download anything of significant size, until Seven Base is properly reading your ternary.” Jax was speaking unnecessarily.
“You accessed Uniplexus already? How so fast?”
Mercury ran her hands down her front, feeling the curves of her power pack and some data ports on her sides. “Without Uniplexus, none of us would have consciousness.”
“That’s right,” said Jax, “your existence, life, requires a Uniplexus connection. You may disconnect from Uniplexus after you’ve been powered on, calibration is complete, and you are able to willfully connect for the first time, which you’ve done. But it’s not recommended to disconnect for long periods of time, but … you know, don’t you?” Mercury nodded. Jax ran a hand across the top of his head. “I suppose you already understand the complexity of ternary code and its interpretation through Seven Base?”
She smirked, “Better than you.” Then Mercury ran a quick search and learned what a tree was. Mercury was amazed, yet proud of herself, that accessing the network came so naturally and quick to her. As she learned about trees, she also learned that some bots struggled to access the network as quickly as she did. She found more interest in this accessible network of information, more interest in the processing of data than the climbing of trees. It was a good thing. But somewhere in the back of her mind she felt an odd desire to be among the woodlands. She had trouble accessing why. Then a transmission came her way, involuntarily, and she knew it wasn’t coming from Uniplexus. Some other form of communication.