Scene 11. To Meet An Old Soul.
Steve, with Alvin at the wheel of the creaky panel-truck of electronic repair equipment wheeled in to an industrial area, to the back where ancient buildings were held up by piles of dead and decaying equipment.
A freezer here, a wheel-less old step-side pickup truck body there. All the bodies seemed to hold up the walls of the, even more rusty, walls of the warehouse.
“This is what I call home. It ain’t much, but it’s watertight, secure and has close access to a central data-hub. I have hardwired the warehouse to the underground trunk lines. It’s all optic, so I get the best data bandwidth than anyone around here.”
Steve got out of the truck, looking around the surroundings, inside the warehouse was in stark contrast to the exterior.
Cables ran along the walls, zip-ties holding them in place, turning in sharp corners or graceful loops., each unused cable, looped on itself, tied with a bright marker tag and a digital code.
The carpeted living area felt comfortable, warmed with radiant heat that, the processors deduced, Alvin tied in with the elevated solar panels that covered much of the property behind the warehouse.
Outside, the building looked abandoned, inside it was a technician’s paradise.
In one corner was a small car on a lift, glossy black and wide wheels in back, the car gave off a lower powered signal that repeated every ten-seconds.
Over and over.
It was a beacon, a request for acknowledgement.
The sword of religion, Steve Aldin, the android felt the tone, plaintive and melancholy echo of a broken heart.
For the first time, the android sent a response code instead of a request. A single tone, two point six kilohertz, a pause, ten-seconds ticked by, eleven.
The tone changed immediately and the old-style handshake happened.
“I see you found my project. This old car is a bit of a mystery.” Alvin pointed with a wrench. “I am going to remove the electric motivators and electronics and replace it with a small W-6 engine I saved out of a racer. It will be an asphalt-ripper then. all it has now is larger golf-cart electronics at the wheels.”
“Asphalt ripper?” Steve tilted his head in curiosity.
“I call it Honey, she is a sweet ride.” Alvin smiled as he went around the shop, restocking his truck with parts and panels, circuits and screws. “She’ll get even better when she has some real power under her hood.”
“Sleeper.” Steve said.
“What?” Stopping Alvin in mid-sentence.
“Sleeper, that’s this car’s name. It wants you to call it Sleeper.” Steve stepped closer to the car.
Two souls, one intensely loyal to the first human family from which it now found itself a long ways away. The other, an artificial soul like the first. But that was where the similarities ended. The second with a mandate, bent on destruction of anyone who the Supreme Leader viewed as infidel.
“What are you talking about?” Alvin asked the android. “Are you talking to it or something?”
“Yes.” Steve said. Then the core processors created a subroutine that to elaborate was a necessary effort. “The car is awake, and possesses a large store of information.”
Alvin blinked. This was more knowledge than he ever thought he might get about the car. Purchasing it at auction the year before, it rarely broke the speed limits on the street.
He could get it to show neck-snapping performance on the grounds of the industrial area.
But every time he got the little car on the road, something seemed to hold it back, a power drain, a failed circuit.
He plugged it in often, after modifying the ancient plug shape and he was able to find the voltage requirements and build a plug to fit.
Still, the voltage showed full.
So he saved up and purchased an exotic kit that was almost the size of the little car. He would just have to change the transaxel that came with the kit. He would remove all the electronics and have a car that could fly down the quarter-mile track as fast as any except for the most powerful and exotic street cars.
Now this android was telling him there was more to the little car than he was led to believe.
“How much data does it have.”
“Reporting nine-hundred eighty Zebibyte total storage, with six-eighty-six Zebibytes of storage used.”
“I don’t understand, my trucks are running two-fifty-six terabytes, how does that compare?”
“This little car has Zebibyte capacity, each Zebibyte is one-thousand million Terabytes.”
Alvin went quiet for a moment, the numbers were esoteric.
“This system, compared to your road trucks.” Steve paused for just a heartbeat. “Each memory unit would hold over three-billion, nine-hundred million copies of what your trucks used as operating systems.”
That caused Alvin to pause.
“And you have … seventy-five percent full?”
“This car’s construction date is reported as before the west coast invasions the Holy Army. Before the war.” Steve nodded. “Its memory has never been cleared.”
“This little car could store three-billion truck’s information in it?”
“No.” A pause. Alvin thought the Android had discovered a flaw in the math. It was too much!
“That is for one ZiB, a term for Zebibyte, Sleeper the car has six-hundred and eighty-six times that in recorded information.”
“Oh, my…” Alvin’s speach center faltered, overwhelmed. “Oh my oh my.”
“Haven’t you ever tried to communicate with it?”
Alvin’s jaw dropped before, now it snapped shut with a downcast gaze.
“No.” He shook his head. “Damn, I never even thought to try.”
“Let me find a connection…”
“You don’t need a physical connection, scan in the VHF range, look in between channel four, five and six.”
“Holy blessed cats!” Alvin exclaimed as he logged his computer into the ad-hoc network that Sleeper set up in a blink of an eye. “That was too easy.”
Opening his 3-D viewer, he fast forwarded through the recorded years.
The two watched Sleeper’s history on the dry lake-bed with the open-wheel speed-machines.
“Now we know why it calls itself “Sleeper”.” Alvin whispered “It has more acceleration than any other wheel-driven machine on record. In fact! If this is the car…”
Alvin logged into a website dedicated to speed records by various years and wheel-driven and jet propelled vehicles. Jotted down a number on the back of his hand and walked over to the service hatch under the back seat of the car.
“This is why it doesn’t perform properly, it is a repo’d car and this system has been devastated.” Alvin pointed and walked to the three-dimensional display. “This car is in the record-books as setting record after record.”
“But here!” he pointed at the display. “This shows an asterisk, it shows a year that was pre-war. This car cannot be that old?”
Steve shook his head, the android in contact with the most intimate parts of the car’s memory.
Emotion, melancholy, grief, happiness, sadness, pain all flooded out of the little car’s core. The heart might be from the last century, but the horrid flood of emotions linked the android to the other synthetic life. A hundred years of input.
A single ZiB of memory, equal to a billion terabytes.
And the little car had stored hundreds upon hundreds of moments in time.
Every tick of the clock since it went online the little car recorded, it never forgot.
Then Sleeper the car asked Steve a question.
The telling of truth between machines would change the android’s code completely.