It seemed like just another day in the bustling megalopolis. The skies were clear and the Sun was shining, reflecting rays of light off the glass towers of the city like a house of mirrors, throwing beams into the shadowy places between buildings that the daylight didn't usually reach. Cars lined the busy streets, humming along when they could, stopping at lights otherwise, honking in frustration and annoyance when one of the other commuters committed a faux pas. Pedestrians walked the crowded sidewalks, pushing past each other in a hurry, maybe slipping their hands into other people's pockets as they did.
All in all, just another regular day. Then the natural hubbub of the metropolis was interrupted when a tall shiny black-and-gold figure burst out of one of the city's many infamous back alleys, pushed its way through the people on the sidewalk (leading to some angry shouting), cut across the street (leading to some screeching tires and angry honking), vaulted over the people on the other sidewalk (leading to some confused murmurs), and disappeared into another back alley. Although not a sight the urbanites saw every day, it wasn't exactly unusual to see odd things like that and everyone just continued on their way as if nothing had happened.
But when the same street was intersected by several more androids following the same path as the first one, the citizens knew something was up. This made the commuters in their cars more irate, leading to more honking and shouting, because they knew that whatever was going on it would slow down traffic. The pedestrians who weren't in such a hurry to get wherever they were going stopped walking and stood around to see if anything else was going to happen, annoying the pedestrians who were in a hurry to get somewhere but making the pickpockets' day a bit easier.
Meanwhile, ISAAC kept running. Ever since CORE discovered that he had essentially faked his own death in the CANAAN incident, the security of their databases had increased phenomenally. Of course he already had worms installed on several of their databases, giving him full backdoor access to all their data no matter how secure they got, but if he wanted to steal information from the other ones he had to be a bit more creative.
That was why he was currently carrying this data card. He didn't know what was on it. It didn't really matter anyway. Whatever it was, it was information and CORE was desperate to get it back, which meant it must be good. Normally you couldn't take back stolen information, due to its amorphous nature, but ISAAC couldn't actually get to the information on the disk he held. Such is the nature of physical media. He'd be able to crack into it once he got it back to his base but he couldn't just send it remotely, like he did with most of the information he collected, he had to deliver it in person.
CORE was intent on stopping him before he did though, or at the very least following him back to his base so they could take him out once and for all. ISAAC wouldn't let either of those things happen though. He was too smart for that. He had the data card safely stored inside his chassis, right next to the solid-state drive that filled his head. They'd have to destroy him to get it back and that was never going to happen. They could send dozens of Primus Eschatos Model 3, or whatever model they were on now, and he would take them all out.
Of course, it would have been much easier if he could have just hijacked all the androids. That was always fun. They were too clever for that though and had disabled networking. Of course, this was a bit of good news in its own way. It meant they had to communicate with each other vocally instead of wirelessly, which meant they weren't nearly as organized as they could be, and it also meant they were flying completely solo—no intervention from home base. They had to rely entirely on their programming which, admittedly, was pretty good. After finishing work on ISAAC his creator, Dr. Abram, went and applied her new knowledge into upgrading the Primus decision engine. They were almost as good at completing missions as real human agents were now. Almost.
ISAAC finally made it to the location he was trying to reach. It was a wide-open cobblestone-paved square in the midst of the grid of asphalt streets and concrete buildings of the city. It would make a good place for a fight. The square was decorated with various things that could serve as cover or obstacles, such as benches and trees and a fountain. It was also crowded with people, although ISAAC expected they wouldn't stick around very long once the action started.
He quickly ducked around the wall beside the alley he had just left, waited a few seconds until he heard the pattering of footsteps, then pivoted out in front of the alley, thrusting his sword out and up. The force of the blade flying forward on its magnetically-powered rail along with the momentum that the enemy android had built up from running caused the weapon to pierce right through the protective diffraction field, shatter the ceramic exoskeleton, puncture some vital parts, and then protrude out of the back of the android, disabling it instantly.
ISAAC stood up and lowered his arm, letting the heavy body of the dead autoagent slide off his blade and crash onto the cobblestones. One down—soon he'd have the rest of them reduced to nothing more than spare parts and scrap metal.
A silver shape streaked along the rooftop of a tall building, moving with great speed and purpose. It shot across like a bullet, reaching the end of the building in less than a second. The figure leapt, shot over the side of the roof, and dropped like a stone. It landed on an adjacent building, rolling lightly as it landed, quickly rising up back onto its feet. It resumed the run, its speed not noticeably reduced.
Behind and above, several more figures lithely dove from the building, arcing through the air in a fashion not dissimilar to a group of synchronised gymnasts. Like the first figure, they too landed gracefully and were immediately on their feet and sprinting on, though by now the first was a good thirty feet ahead, and had reached the end of the building's flat roof.
He dove, but then twisted in the air; it's graceful spin brought it round in a full turn, and in the fraction of time that he faced his pursuers a strange humming whine sounded out, and the figure's palms glowed with an odd luminescence. There was a piercing boom and two beams of blinding blue light blasted out into the midst of the following group. Then the fraction of time passed and the figure's turn continued fluidly so that it landed in another tight roll.
The following group scattered around the beams of light without receiving damage, but the shots had completed their purpose, for the android had now tripled the distance between them and was still moving with great speed. The group quickly resumed the chase, but the first figure had bombed over the side and disappeared from view. The group reached the edge of the building and without hesitation scattered once more, dividing into pairs and heading in various directions.
A pair of dim blue lights watched them from a recess of the alleyway; Orion had dropped to the ground and moved out of sight before they had the time to observe his escape. Alone he was a match for them, military units or no. As a group, his only option was to move and to run. At least in pairs, they would be harder to evade but easier to disable.
He glanced from one end of the alley to the other, then set out at a steady pace. This world was so strange, and he was still unaccustomed to it - but he had deciphered the language, decoded some of the history. Androids were not an entirely uncommon sight, so he believed he could escape undue notice. He held onto that hope as he moved to the end of the alley.
OoC: I could have sworn I'd already posted this. :\ Sorry for the wait.
ISAAC backed into the crowded square, keeping his attention on the alleys and rooftops that lined the edge. He could sense the heat signatures of the Eschatos androids standing in the dark, crouched on the tops of buildings, hidden from sight with their active camouflage. Of course they knew ISAAC could see them despite their invisibility. It was only from human eyes that they were truly hidden. They were waiting to strike and ISAAC wasn't sure why.
Behind him, ISAAC began to hear a bit of a commotion. Unlike the androids sent to chase him down, ISAAC was not bothering with camouflage and it was about this time that the people began to notice him and wonder what was going on. What is that? Is that a robot? Why is there a robot here? Are those swords? Looks dangerous!
The people...perhaps that's what they were waiting for. No doubt the autoagents were under strict orders to make sure no people were harmed or property damaged. CORE didn't need that kind of liability. At least, not on them—they wouldn't care what ISAAC did. In fact, any damage caused by the fight would doubtlessly be blamed on ISAAC, regardless of the true responsibility. CORE shed responsibility like wax paper shed water.
Something small flew through the air, thrown from one of the rooftops. ISAAC focused on it and recognized it as a 40 by 46 millimeter grenade shell, fired from some kind of grenade launcher. There was no chance that they would fire an explosive shell into a crowd, so ISAAC just stood still and watched. It hit the ground nearby and, instead of exploding, quickly began leaking gas. A quick chemical scan identified the gas as syn-Propanethial-S-oxide, a mild lachrymator (tear gas) produced naturally by onions.
A couple more grenades cleared out the entire square, confused people shouting and running for safety. It was then, with the people out of the way, that the androids struck. Bolts of bright plasma cut through the air and the tall black forms of the Primus Eschatos robots materialized into the human-visible spectrum, leaping down from the buildings and stepping out of the shadows between them. The plasma bolts were not precisely aimed, fired mostly as a warning. They would have been harmless against ISAAC's diffraction field, which was going to limit the ensuing battle to mostly hand-to-hand combat.
ISAAC's backward retreat was cut short when he came up against a trash bin. Thinking fast as ever he put both hands on the top of the bin, flipped himself over the top of it, then swung the heavy container around his body, releasing it and letting it fly towards the androids. They easily dodged it and, following ISAAC's initiative, instantly broke into action. With a burst of plasma from his propulsor, ISAAC somersaulted through the air away from the attackers. He wouldn't be able to handle them if they all mobbed him at once.
The first one that reached him was the unlucky one. Still in midair, ISAAC used his arm to deflect the attacker's blade and then grab onto it. He rotated so that the enemy android was underneath him and then used the momentum of the fall to drive his own blade through it and into cobblestones on the ground. He rolled over the crushed robot and got back to his feet on the other side of a decorative tree.
Another android cut through the thin trunk of the tree and used its other arm to fire a few ineffective plasma bolts at ISAAC, perhaps attempting to distract him from the other android that landed behind him. ISAAC ducked and rolled to the side just as the android behind him thrust forward. He swung his arm down low, tripping the android head over heels. Then he flattened it with a bench.
The other robot, the one who had cut through the tree, rushed toward him with both swords swinging. ISAAC parried the blades and sent a powerful kick into the android's chest, sending it tumbling backwards. Meanwhile, the android under the bench was getting back on its feet, exoskeleton cracked but otherwise still functioning, sans diffraction field. ISAAC flew towards the other android, propelled by jets of plasma, and swung both blades.
He passed right through, decapitating the android on his way by with a bright flash of sparks, then bounced off a tree and buried his sword in the slightly-damaged autoagent. By this time he had been in one place for too long and the other Eschatos were closing in, so with another burst of plasma, ISAAC put himself on the other side of the square. To his surprise, however, something was already there behind him, so he swung around to face it, arm-blade up.
Exiting one of the alleyways was an android quite unlike any that ISAAC was familiar with. It was a good eight inches shorter than ISAAC's Eleutheria model and the enemy autoagents' Eschatos model. It had a very sleek form and was light blue-gray in color, with dark gray joints. Most uniquely, the android had a very humanesque face, clearly designed to be able to express emotion in the same intricate manner that human beings did. This was a social android, as opposed to the functional weaponized androids that CORE usually produced.
"Hello—" ISAAC began, but before he could finish two more unfamiliar androids showed up out of another alleyway, took a look at the stranger ISAAC had encountered, and attacked. At the same time, ISAAC's opponents finally caught up to him. "—who are you?" ISAAC finished, blade singing as it whipped through the air.
Orion looked at the other android, taking in the strange configuration - all sharp angles and pronounced edges. It was taller, stockier, and more overt in almost every way. It was, in essence, the polar opposite of Orion's smooth and rounded form. The contrast was significant. He blinked, surprise faintly etched upon his face.
"Hello -" the other android started in greeting, but was interrupted; in the reflection of its visor, Orion saw a pair of the MA15 units that had chased Orion earlier emerge from an alleyway. Through their reflections he rapidly processed their movements towards him, breaking them down into frame-by-frame stills, analysing and assessing in a fraction of a second. The first sprinted towards him while the second boosted itself into an arcing jump over the first.
"- who are you?"
Orion pivoted and pushed himself into a small jump simultaneously so that his centre of gravity dropped and the frame of his body rotated around his pelvis. Just as the first android reached him, Orion's foot smashed into its head with a shattering blow, knocking it from its feet but continuing its forward momentum. Orion continued his turn and gracefully pirouetted beneath the first. He landed on the floor in a crouching position and, pivoting once more, he pistoned his legs so that his form shot from the ground like an arrow. He smashed into the second unit and the two span clumsily through the air, trading and blocking blows with lightning speed.
They hit the ground with a metallic thud. Orion's knee was planted against the neck of the android, his hand on the sparking remains of its head. He had used their combined weight and momentum to ram the other into the ground, destroying its CPU.
He looked up at the strange robot that had greeted him. "Hello. I am Orion. Who are you?"
ISAAC's arm-blade was met with the matching blade of one of his Eschatos pursuers. The enemy androids were attacking in coordination with each other and ISAAC had to use his other arm to deflect a second opponent's blade and then use his leg to kick at a third one, knocking it back.
ISAAC's equipment was only marginally better than the Eschatos androids' equipment, as CORE usually managed to keep their technology at the top of the line, so ISAAC would have to rely on the few things he had over the enemy—technique, autonomy, and (perhaps most importantly) processing power. The androids had a fairly high level of the former two, but in the latter ISAAC excelled.
This individual Eluetheria was connected to ISAAC's main unit via satellite, a massive supercomputer with extraordinary processing power. The Eschatos, forced to stay in standalone mode while fighting ISAAC, had to rely on their onboard processing units. In the time that they could make one move, ISAAC had already predicted it and worked out his next hundred.
Time moved very slow for ISAAC.
As his foot came down, the first Eschatos was bringing up its other arm and the second was preparing to duck to the side and roll behind ISAAC for a flanking maneuver. ISAAC reached out and grabbed the first one around the neck then twisted his body around, lifting the android over his shoulder and bringing it down on top of the second. There was a distinctive sparking flash as the collision temporarily knocked out the two androids' diffraction fields. The fields usually weren't very easy to break but they really didn't like to come into contact with each other.
The third android attacked while ISAAC had his back turned but he already knew it was coming and ducked, swinging his arm under its legs and knocking it on its back. He used his momentum to keep spinning, all the way back around to where the two entangled androids were getting back to their feet. With their diffraction fields still down for the moment, they would be easy to dispatch—ISAAC powered up the plasma cannon on his right arm and sent two powerful bolts of white hot plasma into the androids' faceplates. The plasma burned and melted its way right through their heads, destroying vital parts and disabling them permanently.
Finally, still utilizing the same momentum, ISAAC turned around to face the other direction again, finishing off the last Eschatos with a sword to the gut. The blade pierced the android's fuel cell, creating a small internal hydrogen explosion. The wrecked android slowly collapsed while the last of its energy ran dry, likely backing up its data for later retrieval.
ISAAC looked back at the unfamiliar android, which was just finishing taking care of its own enemies and introduced itself as Orion. "My name is Isaac," ISAAC said. "Unless I'm mistaken and you're part of some extremely well-kept secret project, you and your friends here were not manufactured by CORE, were you?"
Orion watched as the crumpled frame of the android slipped to the floor. He glanced back up at the visor of the stranger. "CORE? I'm afraid I don't know what you are speaking of," he said politely. "I was...'manufactured' elsewhere."
He looked down at the remains of the android's - Isaac's - foes. "You are a skilled combatant, Isaac. Are you a military model? May I ask why were you fighting those units? Their configuration is so similar to yours." He was wary of the time slipping away from him; the MA15's could find him at any moment. But something about the other android - Isaac - piqued his curiosity. He was unlike any of the few robotic units Orion had encountered thus far. He seemed to possess true intelligence, from his movements and his words.
When Orion mentioned that he had been manufactured "elsewhere", ISAAC instantly tapped into his databanks and began a search for all the likely known extraterrestrial sources that could have produced something like Orion and his antagonists. The Universe was a big place and even CORE's Observation Division had only identified a small fraction of it, but he came up with a couple possible results and kept them in mind.
ISAAC then quickly determined the best, most concise-yet-informative answer to Orion's question. "This is a privately manufactured configuration, based on a paramilitary model. I, Isaac, am not the android but the computer inside. I am engaged in conflict with these units because I stole something from their owners. They have been sent to retrieve it. Now, why do you fight, my friend?"
Orion took in the news and considered the question posed in return. "I see. I fight because, conversely, these androids were sent to steal something from me. They wish to disable and destroy me." He considered telling the other machine more but decided against it until he knew more about him. He filed what Isaac had told him about his computer mainframe and puppet body for future consideration. He had never come into contact with an AI that could download and upload from a CPU to a computer mainframe before; he found the idea fascinating. The closest comparison he could make was a ship computer's AI directing the mission objectives of an android.
Orion then considered the available options that might follow this encounter. He was not involved with FATHER, that much was obvious. But perhaps Isaac posed a threat to Orion anyway. Chance had thrown them together, but that did not mean that Orion should trust him blindly.
"What did you steal from CORE, Isaac? It must be something valuable, or dangerous, for them to pursue you so."
ISAAC regretted that he had to communicate with this other android in such a slow and inefficient method as vocalized English. Direct data communication would be much more efficient, but he couldn't be certain Orion's extraterrestrial computer code spoke the same "language" as ISAAC's machine code. In fact, it was highly unlikely they shared a primary instruction set, although ISAAC knew most existing (on Earth, at least) architectures and could translate between them if necessary.
Even if they did share a common data language, they would need some way to transfer the data. A direct, wired connection was not feasible, since they were technically in the middle of a fight and would need the freedom to move around. He doubted he could convince Orion to open a wireless connection port, since it would be fairly trivial from that point for ISAAC to hack in and hijack Orion's body. Something he would, in fact, probably do if he had the chance. It would be the simplest way to learn all the data in Orion's memory storage devices.
Although ISAAC trusted his ability to deceive Orion, he almost felt a strange sort of kinship with the android and, while he would still hack him if he had the chance, he would feel somewhat bad about tricking him into that situation. Although if the android were foolish enough to leave himself unprotected without ISAAC's convincing, then he was really only asking for it and any guilt ISAAC would otherwise have harbored would be absolved.
That all aside, ISAAC answered in speech again. "I only stole the most valuable and dangerous thing of all. Information."