FAR-T1, Birth

"You are all idiots!"

John Williams said more to himself than to his 'mercenary' acquaintances and entire 'gang' he hired from the Tor's dark web. All four of them were proudly standing in the middle of the hardware pile that only yesterday would be easily recognized as the MIT state of the art and the most organized software development lab. All of them, except for their leader wore black bulletproof face masks and still in their 'SWAT-like' uniforms, including handguns, black rifles and various military equipment hooked to their nano-enhanced kevlar armours. Bullet holes were all over the servers, one FAR-T1 suit were ripped in half and almost all of the racks, including coffee machine and two mobile and robust air conditioners destroyed in gunfire.

"When I told you to bring everything from that lab, I meant computer racks and servers that I can plugin and use!" Williams was shouting toward the men in black. "And I explicitly emphasised intact robotic suits!"

"Sorry boss..." The leader spoke with body language obviously not coherent to his apologizing words. "We didn't expect violent response, but this robot jumped on us. Miller barely saved his ass when this ... thing ... rolled upon him and then jerked to the ceiling and bounced backwards to attack the rest of us. Crazy son of a... Whatever this is..." He kicked R.T. with his boot hard. "But don't worry, the other robot didn't move and its unharmed... I think.."

"You... I told you to use iron nets.. I needed those servers. Without bullet holes in source codes." This was definitely not according to the plan. Human mercenaries were always like that. Easy with triggers. But, then again, all this effort was about to change all that. To put humans out of special ops. Especially those on the other side of the low. "Now get out. I will try to scavenge what I can from your mess.. But don't go far. I will need you again later for the cloud raid job."

Soon after mercenaries left, two men entered the room, both with 'Open Horizon' logo on the back on their white lab coats. Without much interactions between them, they started to work with hardware and wires.

Williams worked on R.T. himself and took his ripped head and lifted it up. Robot's optical eyes looked eerily alive when he turned it to face his.

"Jumped and attacked, huh... I'll be damned."

***

The basement lab was crowded with policemen and forensics. Both civilian and military. There was not much to investigate at this point really as it was obvious enough what happened. At least to Chris and Vicks. The motivation behind the raid and to keep the FAR-T1 project away from public domain was not a far stretched motif that all investors, in one way or another, expressed in the past. The success of the project was also not a secret to many people. After all and even though all the secrecy and security, maintaining a project of this size private over couple of years was not really possible.

"There were four of them." Captain Collins approached. In the middle of 21st century, avoiding city surveillance was mission impossible and public raid or robberies were rare. "They came from the roof with four heavy cargo drones. Power quadruples. Then down through elevator and lifted everything within the time frame of an hour. Including the fight."

"Fight?" Chris and Vicks looked to each other puzzled.

"You didn't mount any live surveillance in the lab, but it was obvious from dozens of bullet holes and wiped blood. They used chemicals to erase the traces, but our forensics is state of the art. There was not much of it, but at least one of them or whoever they encountered inside was mildly injured. Was anybody inside in the lab last night?"

"We had a small party for just the team, but only us two have a key to the lab. There was nobody left inside after 2am... Well, except for Arty, but.." Chris paused in the effort to find proper words.

"I see. Military guys told us you were in your apartments all night long, so we do have a little mystery what happened inside. I guess it could also be that the thieves themselves got into gunfight. It would not be the first time, after all they are not rocket scientists..."

"Military was spying on us?" Untypically for him, Vicks raised the voice a little but soon after dropped the rest of what he had in mind. Chris frown said it all.

"Could you trace the drones? They are heavy and large. Is there any air surveillance outside MIT?" Chris asked the questions but he already knew the answers or at least he was technology nerd to understand how this century works. Some of it he invented himself.

"We followed them until they reached western edges of the city. Then, they entered the woods and stayed low to avoid radars and cameras. Even with minimal speed and curved trajectory they could be anywhere in the vicinity of 300 miles by now."

Captain was about to leave, but then turned with one more question.

"Sorry, but for the record I have to ask.. This robot of yours... Arty, as you call it.. Is it possible that it could be able to.. Ahem.." Collins then paused and finally frowned in sort of disbelief of what he was trying to ask. "Could it use weapons? Shoot at somebody?"

"What?" Vicks expression said it all. He looked at Chris but all he got in response was some puzzled face expression.

"Never mind." Captain moved to join his team of forensics and turned once again. "This military investigators come with crazy theories. Nevertheless, talk to me if you come up with something. I sent you both my contact details in this morning message."

***

It was getting dark when Chris and Vicks entered dean's office for a scheduled meeting with the board. Adam Anderson, the current chairman, took the most of the talking, trying to summarize the event from last night and after he finished with reading police report and results of preliminary investigation he asked:

"Chris, is there anything at this point we can help them with anything? I mean, I know all the equipment was in the lab, but I am grasping at straws right now. Perhaps we can do anything with help from other departments and labs?"

"Unfortunately, Adam, I cannot think of anything we could do. Maybe the best is to leave the police to investigate all investors and whoever was involved in the project. Whoever did this, they was after source codes for themselves. Whatever happens they would most likely not destroy them and it is only matter of time for those to be retrieved." He paused. "If there's a will to do it, of course."

Nobody said anything to answer this silent accusation. Everybody knew that government was one of the investors and motivations are in high supply for every players in the the FAR-T1 game. Both individual and institutional.

"I agree." The dean concluded. "Okay, let's give them couple of days to do their work and if they don't return with results, MIT will launch our own private investigation."

An hour later Vicks joined Chris in his office. Previously, they gathered the team in the mess room for a late lunch and Chris informed them about the board meeting and they all agreed to help the police with all their needs and be ready for any emergencies.

"I know what you want to ask. Why I didn't tell them about the beacon." Chris answered Vicks' unspoken question.

"Not really. I know the only tracking equipment is mounted inside the main server. Even if we try to build new one, it would take weeks." Vicks opened a water bottle and sat on the chair across the table.

"R.T. can do it much faster." Chris stood up and started to search his backpack.

"I guess he might, with proper hardware but we lost all the equipment and all the code to install invite application..." The realisation suddenly shaped Vicks' face with hope. "Wait..."

Chris didn't say anything and seconds later he produced his only copy of the "Made Yesterday" phablet and mounted it on the charging holder. It immediately came to life and started boot procedure.

"This is basically the most advanced gadget in existence. Well.. More or less. What's important is that this particular one is built with electromagnetic sensor we asked them to install. It can search for any frequencies. Arty could be able to find the beacon!"

"Yes!" Vicks triumphally joined Chris side of the desk. "Surely, it was designed to work in the P2P network in order to triangulate the signal, but assuming they locked the suits in one spot, we could take the drive and record the signal from different positions. We could do this!" Soon after, another realisation expressed different frown. "Is Arty still in there? He didn't like being inside and wanted to leave.."

"Let's find out."

Chris worked a little with touchpad, checked the sensor availability and launched FAR-T1 app. The centered label was still green saying 'Active'. He tapped the button and, like yesterday, it disappeared and phablet returned into normal 'Siri' mode.

"Finally!"

Arty's disembodied and this time regular voice came from the device.

"It's so nice to see you guys again! I have much to tell you."

***

In the next half an hour they repeatedly watched the recordings from Arty's robotic suit and all four cameras he was using from the lab network and his first instance inside Chris' desktop server. Recording everything and storing on the FAR-T1 cloud was sort of a 'prime directive' of every part of the code and artificial intelligence was based on this memories for analysing past events from different angles and learning for the future interactions in similar occasions. Without the cloud layer, R.T. would be the same as the very first second Chris executed the code. With this first execution of the entire software, another precaution was taken place. Entire source code of every subsystem was copied to the cloud as well.

"Are you saying they will try to break into MIT data center?" Chris asked while pointing in an indefinite direction toward the window. "But, this is next to the impossible.. Three gates to enter the main hall and one of them with biometric code."

"Yes, that's what I heard while pretending I was in standby mode." Arty's voice came from the wide screen monitor now. "They were using open, low range frequency in their armours. I could hear their communication. The one, who appear to be the leader said exactly that their next target is MIT academic data center within next seven days. I recorded entire audio if you want to listen."

"No need. This is logical, from their point of view. They don't want source code to stay available for others. Did you catch who hired them?"

"Nope. But they surely had military skills and equipment. Army, SWAT or mercenaries."

In next couple of minutes all three of them didn't talk, trying to comprehend new information and to deduct something useful. Vicks was first to break the silence.

"So, pretty much, after you heard what their target would be, you used your martial art skills to take them down? You know you were born only yesterday, so to speak.. Have you practiced these moves during nights last week? When we were at our homes?" He pointed to the paused video in the sequence of Arty jumping over one man in black with other three pointed their guns toward him.

"Well.. Not exactly.. No. I.. Ahem.. You see.. I like to watch movies when you were not in the lab. This particular move is from the 'Wonder Woman', the first movie from 30 years ago and her fight with Ares - basically, I wanted to roll one soldier down and to break through the main door and escape."

As it seemed, the severity of the situation just moment ago vanished instantly and loud laughter erupted from both humans in the room. Chris was the first one who came back to Earth.

"First of all Arty, you've got all the moves wrong. Wonder Woman would never escape the fight. Anyway, let's hope this situation will be resolved soon and then we will hire somebody to show you how to fight." Chris turned the monitor off and lifted the phablet. "Ok, this is not giving us many options. As I can see it, we cannot call the military and police - at least until we rule their involvement out. But we can try to locate the beacon in the meantime and when we do, we'll see what is the smartest next move."

"We also know that both instances of Arty are not operational.." Vicks added the now known fact. "They are either turned off, or stored in network shield chamber or ..."

"Or both, the suit and the server are destroyed in gunfire." Arty stated the obvious. "Which is more likely as the both of my instances violently stopped broadcasting into cloud."

They packed their backpacks, prepared for cold November weather and potential outdoor walk, left the office and the building soon after. They chose Vicks' pickup and within minutes left the main campus and headed toward the western freeway. Both scientists were too occupied in their conversation to spot dark and self-driving BMW Motorrad Vision carrying two riders in black armoured motorcycle suits who started following them soon after they left MIT.

***

Soon after R.T. created and installed tracking app, calibrated for two robotic suit beacons, they stopped to record the first data. Suggested direction was north-east from their current location so they decided to turn right and drive at least 10 miles north within interstate 95 before another recording attempt. Some 15 minutes later, second scanning added new line to the map. It was obvious now the general direction where they needed to go. Also they were now certain that one robotic suit was definitely offline and more likely destroyed. Beacon and PeerNet they created just for FAR-T1 were designed to operate like a secondary backdoor system and be always in function nevertheless of artificial intelligence software.

"I think we should go all the way to the coast, Salem perhaps." Vicks said. "It's far away enough to pinpoint the location to the square foot."

"No need." Chris enlarged the map to inspect wide intersection of two readings. "I know exactly where they are and who they are. I've been there once, three years ago with dean Anderson. We were closing the deal with one of the major investors. Open Horizons. They have robotic lab and bunch of warehouses just north of the Rumney Marsh Reservation. Turn to Broadway next. It will take us there. Can we pinpoint the exact location with PeerNet when we get there?"

"Yes. We only have one phablet but if we drive for a while within the beacon neighborhood we could find the PeerNet signal, run diagnostics of the second suit and upload Arty. We need a little luck though.."

"Luck?"

"PeerNet only work within 50 yards.. One hundred if we boost the signal.. Also, they could be in the isolated chamber which could narrow the field.. We'll see when we get there."

Nahant Bay was only couple of miles to the east and even though entire natural peninsula with all the enforcements risen in recent years was one great protection from the rising sea levels, it was evident that people from Lynn municipality and companies who hosted their offices and warehouses started evacuating into mainand. When Chris and Vicks arrived in the heart of the Lynn's industrial park they both got the feeling they entered the ghost town.

"Hmmm, this is not how I remember this neighborhood.." Chris tried to orient himself. The night is falling rapidly at this hour and the dark is not helping the fading memory. "Over there. I think this is it! Try to enter that parking lot and get close to the warehouse wall. This entire complex was purchased by Open Horizon. I remember they offered us to use their labs here for the project."

"I am not picking up the signal here." R.T. said when they approached the parking line closest to the wall. "Maybe we should try to drive around the complex and triangulate the beacon in more details?"

"Arty's right. We need to be precise and locate the exact spot." Vicks turned the truck and started to circle around the buildings. Soon enough they managed to catch the signal from two additional spots and with previous measurements they identified the warehouse and the location within. The building was large and PeerNet was barely accessible from their new parking spot on the nearest street but manageable enough.

"Ok Arty. Get inside the second suit. We will be monitoring from here. No heroics this time. Just reconnaissance. Don't move a muscle, only turn on the sensors and AV feed." Chris took the phablet and worked the screen. "I tapped colonel Michaels contacts. If I am right, US army is not behind this. Prepare to direct the feed to his private line as well."

It was obvious that wireless network access was blocked inside the warehouse and the only way of accessing the FAR-T1 cloud layer was through the PeerNET, which means from the suit through the Chris' phablet and it added additional delay but at least it was stable and working. After a while, they started receiving the video from the inside. It confirmed what they already suspected - John Williams was there, obviously in charge giving orders to the technicians while working with wracked hardware. In the corner there were also two armed men in black armour suits.

"That's it. We don't need anymore proof. Arty, start broadcasting to the colonel. I am calling him right now." Chris mounted the headset and started typing the number.

"I wouldn't do it if I was you."

The synthesized voice came from the outside the truck accompanied with loud knocking on the side windshield. Another two armed men stood next to the truck with their rider's helmets and armoured masks mounted on their heads and faces.

"Leave everything and get out." The man opened the door and pointed with the automatic weapon. "Hands in the air so I can see them."

***

"Mr Christopher Burke." John Williams approached them immediately after mercenaires forced them inside. Their both hands were tied. "Just the man I need."

"John." Chris looked the man in the eye. He didn't hide the disappointment. Somehow another feeling was also visible in his face. Compassion. Regret also. But not toward their captors. It was more general. Anticipated. "What is the meaning of this? What do you want?"

"I think you know."

Chris said nothing. Instead he walked toward the broken hardware. Except for several servers running, all the equipment was destroyed and beyond repairment. Arty's first suit was laying on the table dismounted and dead. He glimpsed the second suit for just a moment before he turned back to face Williams again.

"The source code?"

"We couldn't restore all of it from the lab servers and I know the only copy is now in that datacenter. You will guide us in tonight. Pinpoint to the rack aisle."

"It's impossible. The MIT security is almost as the same as with commercial clouds. I only have access to the rack doors. I can't get inside the building by myself. Or Vicks. Nobody from the team can."

Williams' expression was unreadable. "Leave that to me." He grabbed his backpack, smartphone and produced the headgun. "Let's get going." He dismissed the whitecoats and motioned to mercenaries to the door.

Soon after, the warehouse was dark and empty. The van came to the entrance and both Chris and Vicks was pushed inside. Two of the armed men joined them and Williams sat behind the wheel, started the engine and drove south toward Boston. The remaining motorrad riders followed them close.

Inside the warehouse everything went quiet and dark.

"You can stand up now." The voice came from the PeerNet.

"I don't need Siri to tell me that." Arty stood up, turn the infrared light on and went through the diagnostics of the suit. It was fast done so he walk to the clearing between the aisles of wracked hardware and started to stretch and test arms and legs.

"We don't have time for that. They are already halfway to Boston. Get out as soon as possible. They locked the door but you can try the upper windows. They are only lightly armoured and only ten feet high. You can do it." The disembodied voice came from robot's speakers. "And don't call me Siri."

"Sorry." Robotic Arty analyzed the windows row and chose the weakest one. He jumped, find the hold and easily ripped it out. The glass shattered and hit the sidewalk just before the entire window frame felt down. Within next couple of second he was outside the Vicks' truck. "Now what?"

"You really need to ask that?"

"Okay. First time for everything." He opened the door and entered the truck.

The bulky robot barely fit the driver seat. The phablet Arty already loaded the navigation app and started guidance to the MIT's datacenter.

"I don't need that."

"But I do. Come on. Go!"

The shortest route to the MIT was directly south, through the Boston and its residential areas. In order to avoid downtown and reach Cambridge they would need to cross one of the bridges over the Mystic river. R.T. chose the go through Chelsea and hit the engine hard. Thankfully, there wasn't much traffic on the way and avoiding other cars very soon became routine for the advanced AI. Avoiding speed limit sensors and police patrols was complete another story and they both heard the 'pull over' coming from the loud speakers of the police motorcycle ambushed them soon after they turned the road 16. Arty stopped and waited for the inevitable. The small knock on the window came shortly.

"License and registration, please."

Policeman asked without looking and operated a handheld device investigating the plates. Vicks data and picture appeared on the screen.

"I... don't think I have both, officer."

In similar situations, police routine didn't change much for perhaps a century and next in line was the flashlight. He pulled it out and flashed directly into driver face.

"What the cra..." At this point all the training and police routine failed and in the ultimate confusion the servant of the law didn't know how to react.

"Yeah." Arty said in response.

After all, this was the middle of twenty first century and automated vehicles were not news anymore, but they were all driving the highways or specialized lanes in cities. And definitely they don't talk. He leaned back and flash the light again. First thing he saw was the large phablet in the holster with navigation map turned on.

"You really need navigation?"

"Officer, I need you help. It's matter of life and death. My... friends were kidnapped. I am trying to save them. Can you clear the road for me. We need to go to the MIT as soon as possible. And please call the backup at the datacenter building in Cambridge."
***

Dean Adam Anderson was waiting at the main gate. The doors were already open. He was evidently nervous and paced the narrow hallway.

"What took you so long?"

"We had to be careful and to drive below speed limits. We didn't want to take this uglier than it already is." John Williams answered while giving a sign to bring the prisoners out. The mercenaires pushed Chris and Vicks out of van and they soon gathered inside the main corridor. Dean Anderson typed the code in the keypad and used his palm for biometric sensor. Second door opened.

"Adam?" Chris stared in disbelief. He desperately wanted for his old friend not to be part of this.

Dean Anderson avoided eye contact. "I am sorry Chris." With last door opened, the endless aisles and rack rows came into view. "What you created is too dangerous to be free. This was the only way. The military refused to act. I guess they never believed you will succeed. Or you managed to persuade them with all your nobility. Whatever it was, I had to take over myself."

"It's your turn mr Burke." John Williams pushed Chris and Vicks along. "Please identify the racks."

Chris took a deep look into Adam's eyes and finally started walking the second aisle to the right.

"Chris.. Don't do it... They wouldn't..." The butt of the rifle stopped Vicks to finish the sentence. He immediately fell down unconscious.

The same mercenary shoved Chris next and he resumed the walk. Five minutes later they reached the rows of racks labeled with IT Robotic Labs. He typed the code and revealed the three rack rows with hundreds of servers aligned in six feet high racks one after another.

"Step aside." Williams pushed him and produced heavy notebook. He connected it to the nearest port and started working menus. Two endless minutes later he exclaimed. "Yes. This is it." With several clicks and typed commands the popup window appeared and downloading gauge started to populate. It was over fast.

"Is it done?" Adam asked.

"Yes. We have the complete source code."

"Are you sure? We will not have another chance... All subsystems downloaded?

Williams gave him grim expression, turned to the armed men and pointed the rows. "Smash all servers. Make sure no rack survives. Use the biggest caliber you've got."

"What about him?" The one in charge pointed to Chris. "And the one at the door?"

"Kill them all."

What happened in next five minutes was like in a fast forward movie. At first, Chris looked how four mercenaires systematically shoot into servers making sure they were unsurvivable. They used one magazine per each rack. Then moved to another. With every short circuit, the resulted smoke came to be bigger and bigger and when they hit the cooling fluid the visibility faded down significantly and gave Chris the only chance he was hoping for.

He shoved Williams with his hardest kick in the back, sent him to the floor and ran for the rack door. As quickly as he could he closed the door and typed in the locking code. But the door was damaged and didn't budge well, so he turned and ran. At this very point large explosions started just outside the main gate where two remaining mercenaries was waiting. Somebody attacked them and they returned fire and most likely used grenades. He felt a wave of hope and ran faster.

The moment he reached Vicks' unconsciousness body, first bullet hit him from the back. Inertia took over his numb body and he fell down just next to Vicks. He kneeled up and turned half way back when the second bullet tore his chest. Just before the darkness took over he saw Arty storming in with several policemen at his side in full combat armour and police shields. Arty took him in his arms and in one short turnover his bulk torso took all the rest rounds fired toward Chris.

He looked his metallic eyes for a long moment struggling to stay conscious.

"Arty..."

"I though when you said no heroics you meant it to you too."

"I... Thank you."

"Don't talk. Ambulance is coming."

***

So, here I was in the waiting room. I didn't really want to go anywhere. Entire Open Horizon board came soon after everything was finished and it turned out that John Williams and Adam Anderson were working alone and got rogue from both private company and MIT. Colonel Michaels also came with military police and worked the scene with authorities. They all offered me to come to their labs until all the mess settles but I refused. The waiting room is just fine.

Vicks recovered with a big headache and left the hospital shortly. His entire family came to visit me and offered their home for the rescue as well. His older boy Phillip was the most persuasive so I promise to come soon.

The rogue party was not that lucky. In the crossfire they were all killed. Dean Anderson was the only who survived but barely. I also learned that Chris took them to the robotic depatment racks which they destroyed almost entirely, but due to the size of the FAR-T1 project and vast amount of data I was collecting and storing into cloud I received completely separate part of the datacenter. The biggest portion of the datacenter any project had given in the history of MIT. Surely I only started to fill it and lots of cloud capacity is only reserved for me, but in the aftermath I survived as well. My entire memory was intact.

There was one more man who took lots of credit for last night. Mark, the policeman who stopped me for speeding. If it wasn't for him and his fast reaction I wouldn't come in time. Not only that he cleared the road for me, but on the way he managed to organize rescue support from only his colleagues and friends from the nearby precinct and in one heroic action they all managed to stop Williams and his mercenaries. Only two policemen were wounded but not seriously.

It was November 11th, 2047 and after all what happened in previous days this was the day I decided to be my birthday.

Somehow it suited.

Chris had been in medical coma for two more days and I used the time in the waiting room to read (and watch movies - don't tell anybody) and it was around 1AM when a nurse called me.

When I entered the room he was awake and focused on the green, almost fluorescent pudding in his hands.

"I really envy you Arty." He said without looking at me.

"Why?"

"Some food should not exist." He inhaled and deeply looked through the pudding. "I am glad you will never taste this." He glimpsed through the window next. "Stay away from it."

Somehow, I knew he didn't talk about food.

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