The Ternary Code
Prologue - Part 2
Before she could identify the source, a recognizable voice came through on a signal she did not expect. “Not better than me.” Jax did not share in humor. His face was still, and his blue eyes were softly radiant.
Mercury knew instantly what system Jax used to convey the message: Green Iris, yes. Another form of communication, she thought.
“I’m very impressed with you, Mercury, but you still have a lot to learn. Of all bots, I have the greatest capacity, for storage, processing, speed … well … everything. Taye is not far behind me, and Sage not far behind him. I would not design another with greater capacity than me, but you still have great potential.” Mercury looked down at her glossy green legs and feet, sheepishly. “Don’t be like that.” He lifted her chin. “Come this way.” Jax’s voice did not match his appearance. He sounded beautiful but his paint was dull and borderline ugly. He walked pridefully, though. Mercury knew he had not chosen to be a matte finish but could tell he loved it, nonetheless.
She accessed some information on human posture, comparing it to the way Jax walked. It was very similar to theirs, yet needed improvement. She loved that she could do that, access information so quickly. From the data she just found, she also realized she could process multiple uploads and downloads about forty percent faster than the average bot. But one thing she could not know is Jax’s intentions; she wished she could. She found this desire to be very peculiar. It was an awareness that she was somewhat uncomfortable with. Why could she access so much data, yet be unable to tap into another’s feelings and thoughts? But, then she knew, Jax was just like her in that way.
This is amazing, Mercury thought as they went through some double doors on the right and began down a long, barren corridor. I can multitask and learn all at once. The lights above them were connected to Green Iris, the same system Jax used to send her a signal. She couldn't access them immediately, but it only took a microsecond to configure them to her own system.
“Turn the lights back on,” said Jax.
“Sorry,” said Mercury, amused at her abilities, her capabilities. But that was fun, and she shut them off again. Jax turned them back on. Mercury chuckled, and then she realized what else Green Iris was connected to in that corridor: doors and cameras. She played with them all, opening doors, slamming them, shutting off the feed to the cameras and then turning them back on, watching herself wave through her own display, like a never ending mirror. In her admiration, she could not help but notice how fierce her electric green eyes were.
“Get it out of your system now,” Jax said.
At least he's friendly about it, thought Mercury before she realized every other bot had done the same thing before her. The schematics of the building, which she pulled up to observe, showed the corridor going in a circle, back to where they came. This was where every new bot came so they wouldn't start shutting down more important things before knowing the full extent of their abilities. “You're a smart guy, Jax,” Mercury said.
“Well, we figured it would be better for you to play with the lights than something of more importance, like the air conditioning for example.” Mercury understood. Air conditioning was essential for the survival of their species. It was of vital importance to keep themselves cool. Each bot had an internal fan to offset the heat while outside or if their processes forced them to think at a high capacity.
By now, they were back to the doors through which they had originally come, but they went another way, to a large window overlooking the city. Mercury clutched her chest when she saw it; she surveyed the permanent structures which had no consciousness, the other buildings where other bots surely were. Yes, they were. The sky above was bright and blistering as it baked the city’s blocky horizon. It was not as beautiful as she learned it had been two hundred years ago, beautiful in its own way, though. The city had a sparseness to it that seemed unnatural, like structures had, at one time, been removed. The buildings were less aesthetic as they used to be, only as functional as needed. She tried to think of a way to describe what she saw, something meaningful; but the only thing that matched what she saw was: mechanical. It was a mechanical city roasting comfortably under an orange, scorched sky.
All those bots, she thought. She could contribute to their success. She could have a meaningful purpose in this world. She imagined her ability to work with Uniplexus. Her desire to be used that way, it was overwhelming, yet she felt there were possibly other options. But nothing stood out to her.
“What is that?” she asked. She fixed her finger’s trajectory toward a large group of trees, real trees from the ancient days, foliage blooming and beautiful, serene. They were nestled inside a protective dome where the unforgiving sun would not kill them. But before Jax could answer, she knew. “A protected habitat.”
“That is one of seven around the globe,” Mercury said.
“Indeed,” said Jax, pride still oozing from him at how well she was doing.
And although she just learned that, she could not tell when Jax would allow her to go exploring through the city of concrete and iron. She sent that feeling to Jax, intentionally, without speaking a word. Green Iris was useful in this way, if the receiving party was in range.
“We have a few tests to run on you,” said Jax, “then I would like you to see your new home tomorrow, if everything goes well.”
“My new home?” said Mercury. And Jax sent her the trajectory pointing toward the trees under the protective canopy. “I don't understand,” said Mercury.
“You’ve been created to help maintain that habitat.”
Maintain it? I don’t want to work with trees. I want to work with Uniplexus and network and data. She did not send that to Jax, but her uneasy legs and nervous shoulders gave her away.
“Every bot is created for a specific purpose,” said Jax, “you know that.”
“But every bot still gets to choose.”
Jax nodded, “Correct ... Let me see your hands.” Mercury gave them to Jax, who took them and caressed them. “You've felt some pretty hard alloys.” Jax’s touch was firm. “You’ve felt pliable metal.” His touch loosened a bit. “You've accessed millions of petabytes of data, and learned about these trees already, but don't dismiss it so quickly until you touch one of those, too.” Then Jax let go of her hand. “You may change your mind.”