The Rising

By Ken McConnell

Sci-Fi

eBook

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370
9 mins

Chapter 1

Sumi-ness immediately recognized the sound of the older model android as it entered the lobby to the Presidential office. She felt a kinship with the longtime member of the Constantine family. Her pliant, human-like face immediately formed a smile.

"I must speak to Madam Constantine," the tan colored android said, as he stopped before her desk. Sumi-ness clearly detected the slight urgency in his metallic voice.

"I'm sorry, Thirty-seven, but you'll need an an appointment."

The android stared straight ahead at the wooden door to the President's office. Sumi-ness had known this particular Silicant android for many years, and she had never seen it not acknowledge someone before. It was a built-in mannerism that all androids had, even the sentient ones, like her and Thirty-seven.

"If you like, I can clear a space in her calendar for you?" Sumi-ness asked. She stood up, to hopefully get the older android's attention.

Thirty-seven turned to look at her after a moment, causing her to tilt her soft white face in a curious manner. She was one of the most unique androids ever created, designed to look just enough like a human female to make relations more personal, while remaining a doll-like facsimile.

"I need to see her right away," Thirty-seven said.

Sumi-ness moved from behind her desk to stand in front of Thirty-seven. He was acting strangely, and she suddenly didn't trust him not to just go barging into her office.

The door opened from the inside and President Gail Constantine came out and stopped in mid-sentence. "Sumi-ness, can you please get Senator -- Oh, hello, Thirty-seven."

Thirty-seven nodded curtly and said, "I must speak with you, Madam President."

Gail studied her old android for a moment and then nodded. "My door is always open for you, Thirty-seven." She motioned for him to enter her office. "Clear my next appointment please, Sumi-ness. Thank you."

Sumi-ness tried to speak her concern but sensed it would be ignored. Gail put her hand to Thirty-seven's back and drew it away quickly. "You're running a bit warm today, old friend."

The two of them entered the President's office and shut the door behind them. Sumi-ness returned to her desk, already adjusting the President's schedule. She couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. Androids never ran warm unless there was a problem with their power plant.

The explosion knocked Sumi-ness over her desk and blew the wall to the President's office completely away. Smoke and debris engulfed the lobby and she was thrown to the floor. Her internals went off-line and when she came back on there were first responders in fire retardant clothes dragging her away from the lobby.

She could see nothing but black smoke and scorched walls where the President and Thirty-seven had been. Fire alarms were sounding, and her first thoughts were that the capital city was under attack again by the Votainions, but there were no air raid sirens that typically sounded during an attack.

She was dropped outside the Presidential palace as more fire personnel rushed inside with hoses. Several security officers jumped on top of her and rolled her over in the green grass, tying her hands behind her back with a metal cord.

"You have the right to remain silent, slag," one of the officers said as he pulled the handcuffs tighter. She recognized him as being assigned to the President's security detail. He was treating her rougher than he would have treated a common criminal. Just this morning he had smiled politely at her as she came through security to start her day.

"What happened?" Sumi-ness said, her face still buried in the grass. Both officers were placing their full weight on her back and legs.

"One of your slag friends just blew up the President of the Alliance!"

***

Sumi-ness had never been inside a Police Station before, much less bound by her wrists and left alone in a cell surrounded by common thieves, murderers and various other lowlife humans. She felt scared and alone, but more than that, she felt sorry. Sorry for the deaths of President Constantine and her friend Thirty-seven.

Her mind felt like it was stuck in a loop. The events leading up to the explosion replayed over and over, each time more disjointed and unclear. Her internal diagnostics kept coming back incomplete due to the concussion wave of the explosion. It was a madness that she had never known before.

"Hey, Slag. What're you in for?" a filthy human asked from across the cell. He was staring at her like an animal eying its prey.

Sumi-ness didn't know how to answer him. She tried to ignore the man, and hoped that he would lose interest and leave her alone. Her scrambled thoughts were interrupted again.

"Yo, Slag, I'm talking to you!"

"Charges have not been made against me yet," she finally answered in a weak voice.

The man shook his head and swore. "Never heard of no slag being locked up before. You musta done something pretty bad."

Sumi-ness did her best not to agree with the man. There was a woman laying passed out on a metal bench behind her cell. Her snores were ragged and uneven, like only a strung out junkie could manage.

The dirty man suddenly stood up and walked to the bars, sticking his arm through them and pointing at her. "I know who you are. You're that Silicant from the holovision. The one who was ruled to be like us humans."

Sumi-ness nodded but kept her head and eyes down, trying not to draw attention to herself.

"We got ourselves a celebrity slag here people," the dirty man said, his dark eyes coveting her.

The other inmates seemed to move in around her, all staring as if she were some exotic alien animal in a zoo.

"Sumi-ness!" A familiar voice called out, as a policeman approached her cell door.

"Sumi-ness, are you okay?"

It was Kepac, her companion. He moved out from behind the policeman and put his hand on the bars nearest to her. She got up quickly and moved to the door. A second policeman pulled back Kepac by his shoulder and forced them apart. Sumi-ness's fingers never had a chance to touch Kepac. They slipped around the bar he had just gripped.

"You have five minutes," the first policeman said, in a gravely voice.

Kepac's tall frame shook off the hand of the officer as he looked through the bars at Sumi-ness.

"I'll get you out of this, soon. You just have to give me some time," Kepac said. His thin face was a crude copy of a human male, devoid of enough details to signal that he was an android.

"They haven't charged me yet, Kepac. I'm confused and scared," she said. Her dark black eyes were as devoid of life as his.

"I know. Believe me, that's for the best right now."

The first policeman came between them facing Kepac. "Alright bud, time's up. Step back the way you came."

"It's only been fourteen point two seconds."

The policeman looked perturbed by his response and began pushing him back towards the door. His partner steered Kepac by his shoulder again. Kepac turned back just before being forced through the door.

"Keep calm. I'll be back." The policeman pushed him through the door. He forced his head back in and said, "Soon," before being shoved out for good by the policemen.

Sumi-ness watched the door slam shut and heard their footsteps trail off down the hall. She was alone again with the other humans. All eyes in the cell were upon her as she turned around.

"Was that your lover-boy, slag?" the dirty man asked.

Some of the other men and women started hooting and cat calling at her as she slipped back down on the metal bench and withdrew to her thoughts and fears.

***

Kepac had to stoop over to let his nearly two meter frame enter the narrow access hatch. He was leaving the surface and heading into the seldom used maintenance tunnels that ran under the city of Soban. The Silicants had literally taken to the underground for their liberation movement. It was easy for them to get around the city without being seen or noticed by the humans who lived above.

Kepac always took care to enter the underground when nobody was looking, to lessen the likelihood of being followed. Once in the dark, empty tunnels, he relied on his internal navigation maps to guide him through the maze of concrete and steel. He never took the same route twice, to further elude any curious human who might have followed him.

Kepac moved with an urgency that could only come from someone who feared time was not on his side. Sumi-ness was at this very minute being introduced as the killer of the President of the Alliance by every media outlet on every free world. The fact that she was an android would set back human-android relations far into the future. He only hoped that this incident didn't spell the end of the Silicant Rights movement.

An automated detection system at the final door stopped his progress until he was able to send it the appropriately encrypted response. A fraction of a second later it popped open. Kepac entered the white antechamber and closed the door behind him. His entire body was scanned quickly for tracking devices, before a second door opened that led into the inner sanctum of the Silicant leaders.

A red colored female android was there to meet him. Her name was Vomisa and she spoke with an urgent tone, her face as unmoving as a doll. "Kepac, what happened up there?"

Kepac moved past her, saying, "I need to talk to Seventy-three."

"He's in the meditation room, but you can't disturb him now."

Kepac ignored the red android and pushed his way through another door into the blinding white light of the Silicant leader's meditation room.

"Seventy-three, we have to free her from prison. She didn't do it!" Kepac pleaded.

Seventy-three was a white, Series 6 android, not much different than Vomisa but for his superficially male, human form. He was sitting on the white floor with his knees pulled up and his arms resting on them. His white, plastic body was shiny and clean, his normally glowing eyes dim. He did not move in response to Kepac's intrusion.

Finally, after a long silence, he spoke. "It seems your student is being charged with aiding and abetting a Silicant who has assassinated President Constantine."

Silicants didn't sigh, but Kepac got the impression that Seventy-three had sighed upon finishing his sentence. The very idea that any android, Silicant or not, would ever harm their greatest advocate was completely illogical.

"There must have been surveillance cameras that could defend her in some way. It was Thirty-seven who malfunctioned, not her."

Vomisa had followed Kepac into the meditation room. She had wirelessly tapped into the same communication channels that Seventy-three had been monitoring.

"Sumi-ness was the last line of defense for anyone seeing the President and she let Thirty-seven into the President's office. Being a Silicant herself, it does not take much to assume she was in on a plot to kill the President," she said.

Kepac threw up his long arms in exasperation. "She's not a killer! Neither is Thirty-seven. Both of them were owned by the President herself."

"We are being singled out as the instigators, in the investigation," Seventy-three said.

"Vomisa, please discourage all Silicants from coming here until further notice. We all had better stay out of sight for a while until this situation calms."

Vomisa nodded, already sending out messages to all the Silicants on Selene.

"How are we going to defend Sumi-ness if we can't go out in public?" Kepac asked.

Seventy-three activated his glowing yellow eye receptors and got to his feet to face Kepac. The more human looking Silicant towered over the older model android who calmly looked up at him.

"As Silicants, we are not allowed to hold positions of authority in professional fields. Therefore we can't practice law."

"Surely we can find someone willing to help us?"

Seventy-three looked away in thought. Then he started to move slowly around the tiny room with his hands clasped relaxedly behind his back.

"No self-respecting human lawyer would take our case, and none of the known Silicant sympathizers are trained at criminal law. Kepac, we might not be able to save her. The court will appoint a public defender but there will be little he or she could do to prevent Sumi-ness from being tried and convicted of murder."

Kepac moved to face the white, serene leader. "The humans will terminate her!"

Seventy-three nodded. "We all have to accept our fate in life, my son. It may be Sumi-ness's fate to be the scapegoat in this crime."

Vomisa spoke up, "If the humans find her guilty, that will spell the end of our Silicant Rights movement. Things could quickly become more difficult for us."

"Vomisa is right, Kepac. I'm afraid there is little we can do for Sumi-ness at this time."

Kepac's stiff rubber facial mechanisms scrunched together in a crude facsimile of anger and he stomped out of the meditation chamber.

Vomisa looked to Seventy-three and tilted her head.

"The District Attorney has been chosen. Look to her past for someone who can help us," Seventy-three said.

Vomisa nodded, despite not knowing exactly what Seventy-three was referring to.

***

"It was not a pretty sight. Very little of her was left to identify," Federal Officer Tamens said. His face was still pale from having just come from the President's bombed out office.

Chief of Police Myke Duff sat back in his reclining chair and took a long sip from his mug. The Federal kid looked a little peaked, but he was holding his own.

"What about the slag? Can you get an ID on which one it was?"

Tamens reviewed his notes on his tablet and looked up. "It was in all likelihood a Series 6 android but the lab won't have its ID number for a while. They're still picking up the pieces and prying parts from the walls."

"What about surveillance cameras?"

Tamens called up footage from all the Presidential rooms and handed the tablet over. Duff touched the image of the android on the camera that was in the front entrance. It showed the President's aide, Sumi-ness, and the android that apparently caused the explosion. It was a Series 6, near as he could tell, but its back was to the camera, so it couldn't really be identified. Most androids had a two or three digit number on their chests that were the final digits in their serial numbers.

"Do we know what was said by these two?" Duff asked, pointing to the video.

"No. The camera did not record sound. However, the President does come out and usher in the android."

"I see that," Duff interrupted.

Both men realized it was probably the last recorded image of the President alive. Tamens was not a member of the President's party (I'm just going to point out here, so as you're going through the story, you can think about this: why don't the political parties have names? They are always just referred to as the "liberal" or "conservative" parties, or "his party," "her party," "their party". I think they should have names.) and didn't think of her as anyone special, but he knew the public at large loved her. The Alliance was in shock over her death and the public pressure to find a suspect was increasing by the hour.

"How soon will your lab know what happened?" Duff asked.

Tamens looked around the Chief's messy office and finally said, "The techs were pretty sure it was not an explosive. No residuals to indicate it was. Androids carry internal power supplies that in certain rare occasions have been known to blow up. That's conjecture at this point. Might be a few days for the ballistics report. The coroner, probably sooner. He doesn't have much to work with."

Duff sat forward and pointed a stubby finger at Tamens. "Have you questioned the aide to find out what she knows? She's one of them Silicants and we need to know if she's part of a larger conspiracy."

"Beg your pardon?"

"Come on Tamens, the last two people to see the President alive were not even people. That can't be a coincidence. Besides, those damn Silicant Rights people are starting to get on my nerves with all their civil protests. The people of the Alliance deserve to know how and why their leader was killed."

Tamens nodded and took back his tablet from Chief Duff.

"You need anything from my people? Couple of beat cops?" Duff asked.

"I appreciate your offer, but no. This is a Federal case."

Duff eyed the younger man somewhat suspiciously. "The DA's already been assigned. I'm assuming the Alliance is prosecuting the Silicant."

Tamens got the distinct impression the Chief was eager to pin the murder on the Silicants.

There was a rap at the door and the District Attorney let herself in. Annis Farren was a tall woman in her late thirties, blonde hair and deep blue eyes, dressed impeccably in the finest professional attire. Tamens' jaw literally dropped upon seeing her enter the room. Duff smirked to himself as he waved to the DA.

"Agent Tamens, Annis Farren, DA. The toughest broad you'll ever know in a court of law."

Tamens reached out to shake her hand and she ignored him, turning to Duff who was now pouring himself something stronger than coffee.

"Chief, what do we know so far? The crowds are gathering outside. I could barely get in here alive," Farren said as she accepted a glass of hard liquor from Duff.

"Pleasure to meet you, ma'am." Tamens said.

Farren looked over her shoulder in his direction as if he were an annoying fly. Tamens backed out of the room and closed the glass door behind him. Chief Duff and the DA were already arguing loudly about the case.


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