Delver Expedition Report: Cy-Drone Conversion
>>>ACCESSING BASE DATA
--Delver Expedition Report: Cy-Drone Conversion
--Date: ██████ ██████████ ████
--POV: Dr.█████ Tanner.
--Accompanied By: DFR-27 and DFR-33
Reluctantly, I am writing to renegotiate our terms. Unforeseen circumstances have altered the mission parameters. While I do remain true to the spirit of the mission, I would have to alter both my methodology and team composition to continue.
The route to forward Base ██████████ ████ required some unexpected detours, but our expedition was able to meet the schedule. DRA-33 had restored the laboratory wing, and DFR-27 had been diverted to trail-cleaning duty to purify ██████ growths between floors 160-170 on the 2nd strata. It appeared almost like a routine set up at first, if it weren’t for the locale. We’ve seen drones before, but they were always archeological. Here every surface appears almost to glisten, and halls are so lively with faceless chrome and rubber servitors that one might almost be forgiven for forgetting that we’re kilometers deep in a decaying ruin. The facilities were a welcome change from the rusting halls and infectious biomas outside, but I couldn’t seem to muster the same enthusiasm as the other members of DRA-17.
Honestly, I expected Undergrowth’s biomechanical servants to be less unsettling in an operational state, but I think I preferred them when they didn’t moan. One of our researchers (Dr.Saito) requested at multiple points to dissect or- perhaps █████ a drone while it was still operational, but we denied her. It was her position that these specimens
were little more than machines, but on numerous occasions I caught them watching us with their camera lenses, following us about our tasks, and drooling as if to attempt inarticulate speech from their rubber mouths.
I opted for what I hoped was a more humane strategy. In a side room of the laboratory wing, I found what looked almost like a refuse area for deactivated drones; piles of rubber bodies and steel bones with wires exposed and fluids leaking. Their chassis were more varied and complex than anything I’d seen before, and there was even one old withered specimen wired into what I could only call a large “throne” for lack of a better word. Mustering the courage to enter the room left me ill prepared to notice the figure behind me before I heard its moan. Rubber mouth gaping, █████ dripping, and hand outstretched- to... turn on the light for me. From its barcode I learned that this ‘homoanalogia caretaker’ drone was designated as 1R-3061-CH. Its feminine chassis sported light cream colored latex, built soft and curvaceous to specifications that tailored it for companionship and comfort. We soon learned that this particular drone would drop any task it was doing to assist us, even when it involved dissecting the deactivated bodies of its fellows. Operating on the deceased was a temporary compromise, but it wouldn’t last.
I was so grateful to find a living drone I could work with and study in detail that I lost focus on Dr.Saito. In the past, I remember enjoying our work together. She had drive, focus, passion, and enthusiasm that pushed the team. She originally urged us to take this job with the goal of restoring Undergrowth’s broken infrastructure, and I still think her goals were noble. It made my blood boil to see 1R-3061-CH strapped to the operating table, struggling to scream around a gag of rubber tubing with her chest █████ to see her inner workings. I regret to inform, that our cooperation ceased when I threw her over the lab equipment, broke her jaw, ripped her collar, blackened her eye- Pardon; after our mission here has concluded, we will be going our separate ways and DRA-17 should be considered disbanded. Only the intervention of DFR-33 stopped the situation from escalating as base security forcefully separated us. I tried not to look at 1R-3061-CH as I attempted to close her back up, but what little I saw looked... too close to human anatomy for comfort, with each organ sealed in individual plastic packaging against her artificial endoskeleton. All we could do was patch her up with rubber cement like an old tire, and watch her limp back to work.
Dr.Saito by contrast would make a full recovery in a matter of hours. I knew she was a gene modder, but I never fully understood what that meant before I saw just what she was capable of.
|::Visual memory shows organ partitioning is undamaged.::
::Observable damage may be superficial; limited to artificial skin, ligaments, and articulation. Organic components are unharmed, but may experience additional strain if mechanical repairs are incomplete.::
::This Drone is... safe.::
After that I could hardly bring myself to dissect the deactivated drones. Over the following week I shifted my focus partially to behavioral studies while my colleagues handled anatomical matters, but I always read their reports. I wanted to monitor the health of 1R-3061-CH, and keep the other drones “safe.” I was reassured time and time again that the drones were made using cloned organs. I was told that their brains were engineered to grow without Prefrontal Lobes, Temporal Lobes, █████ Areas, and all brain functions non-essential to their tasks, but their behaviors appeared so genuine and complex. It wasn’t just a feeling. We could verify it, measure it, confirm it by experimentation. At the charging station there was a terminal for entering tasks into their priority hierarchy, and they seemed to interpret it all on their own. In every test they all created novel solutions to their tasks and demonstrated an ability to adapt and learn that couldn’t have come from programming alone. They were clearly making executive decisions somehow, and from time to time, they even denied me as I attempted to ease their workload... It appeared as if maybe I lacked the authority or status to completely override them, which was probably a good thing given my limited understanding.
I caught myself envying some of their artificial qualities as I worked. Hooves for long distance runners, tails for balanced climbing, built in corsets for posture correction… I could almost understand why Dr.Saito wanted to learn from them- but the lengths she went to made my stomach churn.
1R-3061-CH still visited me as I worked, but part of me wished she wouldn’t. The damage to her body never “healed,” but it was hard to tell if she was in any degree of pain. I was never sure how to help, but she always seemed so eager to give me everything she had. I suspected it might be a part of her programming, but I couldn’t find any functional caretaker drones to compare her to. She was supposed to focus on homoanalogia specimens, but the nearest habitats were all deserted and she only ever seemed to be tasked with basic cleaning when I wasn’t around. I initially convinced myself that she only followed me around because I was the only humanoid creature she had access to... but she always chose my company over the other researchers, and outside of my company I never observed her to... share the taste of her rubber lips with anyone else.
|::Unexpected task deviation, clarification required...::|
I had seen other drones use their oral cavities, present them, ████ them, and seemingly play with them; but never quite what I might consider a kiss. Their social danamic was different, and 3061’s was... unique in all that I had observed. It was ████, ██████, and if I may be unprofessional for a moment; ████ ██████ ████████ █ ██ ██████ ██████████ █ ███████ █████████ ██████████ █ ███ ████████ ████ █ ██████ ███ ██████ ██████ ████████ █ ██████ ██ █████ ██████ ██ ████████ ███ ████████ █ ██████ Where once I saw her rubber flesh as something alien, disturbing, uncanny, or even repulsive- I found myself staring awestruck for how she glistened with rivulets of liquid that sparkled like stars. At that moment, I knew... I... ██████ ███ ████ ███ ██ ████.
I had no idea how I could ever prove that to the others, but it’s no matter now.
|::Parameters for declassification have not been met, sequestering.::|
It was late one evening when I noticed; 1R-3061-CH hadn’t returned. After the fight I moved my bedding over to their charging stations, watching them come and go. I knew that as soon as each drone completed their tasks for the day, they returned to receive nutrient enemas, recharge their batteries, and rest in their suspension pods. I theorized that even if 1R-3061-CH was slow to complete her task, missing her charging session could still leave her incapacitated somewhere in the ruins. I still wasn’t sure the degree to which they were able to communicate remotely, but the depth and density of the Undergrowth facility made transmissions difficult even at short range. All I could do was set a directive in the terminal, and assemble a search team from the remainder of DRA-17 and the non-essential members of DFR-33. Dr.Saito was conspicuously absent when I called everyone together.
With no trace of her inside Forward Base ██████████ ████, we were forced to expand out into the surrounding wings. Initially my plan was to search the specimen habitats, but... I left that to the other search parties as I paired with a cereuform tracker from DFR-33. I had observed 1R-3061-CH wandering off course before. Her cleaning duties normally left her patrolling the halls by the edge of hive, where foreign biomass crept in through spores, tendrils, and mycelial growths. Every so often, I’d catch her staring down a wide musty tunnel lined with power cables that continued beyond our maps. She stared there the way she stared at me, but all I saw was an inky void... before that day. The day that she went missing, the tunnel was lit up bright as day.
|::Network memory error, Drone has dropped from the system.::
::All assigned tasks were unexpectedly completed 4 hours ahead of schedule. Network lacked sufficient tasks to reassign, and drone was sent to idle patrol.::
The trail twisted, turned, branched, and snaked its way at an angle down a near-imperceptible slope. It led past cavernous storerooms, abandoned freight vehicles, and underground rail systems overgrown by invasive flora, but even as the possible paths stretched into seemingly infinite yawning tunnels on either side we never had to do anything but follow the lights... 2 kilometers onward, we encountered a partition where a dark chasm howled with wind that carried a thick, overpowering smell of old rubber. It seemed that the casm separated the facility’s storage areas from... what I assumed was an industrial sector. Interlocking room where derelict equipment rusted under dripping stalactites, and noxious solutions pooled in leaking vats. It was there I found... drops of human blood, cut on a piece of jagged debris. Red footsteps followed the lights to a sector where generators still rumbled with power. Likely the same power source that ran through the lights that lead us here. Behind a vault door, was a stark sterile room that seemed never to age. An old place sealed off from the outside world completely, where narrow doors to cable-lined pillars were packed end to end. Erroneously, at the time, I suspected them to be █████ cryosleep pods, but this discovery was unlike anything we had previously uncovered.
1R-3061-CH’s body was slumped, motionless in a closed pod behind a door of reinforced glass. The door was seemingly locked when I approached, and banging on the glass caused her to stir. I should have paid more attention when she held up a hand to stop me, but when the door finally let me in I jumped to embrace her... as it locked behind me to seal us both inside. At that moment I only cared that she was safe, that she still had power, and that her body was... not only intact, but fully repaired. The “scars” left by our rubber cement were gone, and her skin glistened with a fresh coat of rubber. The texture of her fresh skin was so wet and smooth with polish, that I didn’t notice the liquid latex coating my arms. I was only startled back to my senses when the tracker I brought with me slammed the butt of her rifle into the glass door in an attempt to free us. From my side all I heard was a small thud, even as I saw her mouth move as if to yell. The only thing I heard was the whir of active machinery around me and the creak of rubber.
I struggled to stand, but my legs gave out beneath me. My limbs were rapidly numbing as the wet latex spread over my skin. I didn’t even feel the metallic arms of the pod grabbing me before they pulled me up into the center of the pod. I could barely struggle as clear liquid began to fill the pod. I watched my tracker turn to confront someone outside as the levels rose up through the tank. I barely felt the needles slide into my spine as I watched what looked like some kind of argument outside. I half expected the clear liquid to drown me- but it didn’t. It felt as gentle in my mouth as a body temperature saline wash. When it filled my lungs, it felt as easy and natural to breathe as fresh air. Albeit, a little heavier on the lungs. My body was suspended; neutrally buoyant in a prison that felt oddly... calming, even as a flash of light turned my world black.
If I had to make a guess, I’d say that a laser implement painlessly separated me from my body. Effortlessly, I was set free to drift as the pod processed what was left of me. When I next caught a glimpse of the world, it was through the lens of a camera set into my new neuro-optic brain case. In the glass reflection I saw my organs floating. 1R-3061-CH was standing back over my shoulder to stay out of the way as countless metal arms worked over my body. As my brain case was constructed, I saw diagnostics overlaid onto my vision that outlined what we had only theorized before... but couldn’t begin to process when I saw them firsthand in a blur.
|>>>Cy-Drone OS 4 (Version 3.0.2001)
(C) Copyright 1995-2995 Undergrowth Foundation
>>>Setup: Formatting wetware as C:\
-Mapping neural pathways
-Overriding frontal lobe
-Overriding auditory area
-Overriding language comprehension
-Overriding pleasure centers
-Partitioning long term memory
Latent ████ detected.
Architecture: Type 1
Preferences: Menial Procal 3
Mode: Generative Persona
Standing by for activation.
My ability to focus waned as the haze of code filled my senses... My own recollection of events became unreliable, but soon the chips inserted would take care of that for me. I seemed to recall my guide walking away from the door, but there was no telling what was happening out there. All I could see was the DOS overlay on my vision, and the metal arms that printed polymer coatings over my old organs. They seemed to be constructing individual housing for them, identical to the construction of 1R-3061-CH’s body. It looked almost like they were modular in that state, no more than organic components for what was set to be my new body. A mute frail shell, with questionable free will at best... head filled, brimming with a stream of code that made awareness... difficult.
I never doubted what “I” was before, but in this state... I had no idea.
I was able to catch sight of 1R-3061-CH but all she appeared to do was look transfixed, with her mitten-like hands held over her mouth. At the time I could have sworn I heard garbled static coming from her direction, but my ears weren’t fully reconstructed yet... and I doubt I would have understood her if they were.
Usable organs detected:
Hard plastic chest cavity installed.
Elastic digestive tract coating installed.
Liquid-diet membrane lining installed.
Orifice interiors installed.
Supplemental hormone production modules installed.
Syntho-globin module installed
Nanomachine-immunity module installed.
Organic filtration module installed.
Material: Carbon Fiber
>>>Setup: Nervous System
Fiber Optics: None
Nervous system encased and latched onto the endoskeleton.
Preparing for final coating...
Without any sensation of touch, I watched motionlessly as liquid latex dripped down over me from overhead, where it gelled around my artificial skeleton. My body was slowly sculpted into a rubber facsimile, and the exteriors of my orifices were shaped into gaping rings. Any feature that could have distinguished me was gone, and I only saw a blank being of nondescript black latex staring back from my reflection... and I can’t remember if I minded that at the time.
Model: █████ Liquid Musculature
Strength cap: 25%
Model: Rubber Skin
Selecting built-in restraints:
>Oxygen Inhibitor: Variable
>Plugs, Chain: Mouth, ████
>Boots: Ballet, Unassisted
>███████ ████: ████████ ████ ██ ██████████
Initiating boot-up sequence...
Releasing construction restraint...
A second flash of light seemed to vulcanize the latex, and finalize the process. All at once sensation returned across my body. My nerves jolted with an intensity of sensation I’d never felt before, and my hearing peaked with shrill feedback before it adapted to the ambient noise. In dissociative shock, I felt 1R-3061-CH pull me back into her arms to the sound of rubber skin squeaking against itself. I attempted to speak, but between the rubber lips and plug gag I barely heard a muffled moan from what was left of my rubber-packaged throat. Then, when I nestled my new body into her arms I heard it...
|>>>Run: First time setup
Drone designation assigned: 1R-3101-PS
User registered: Dr.███████ Saito
User Authorization: Provisional handler
Drone designation reassigned: 1R-T4NR-PS
>>>Run: Hypnochip setup
Generative persona processing...
Mediation techniques generated...
Hypnochip designation: Sh10
Mapping prefrontal cortex…
Probing psychological vulnerabilities…
I felt 3061 hold my tighter, pulling me into her embrace as my body limply struggled. A small comfort, before- I believe I heard her emit another static sound, but I was beginning to make sense of it now. Not as chaos, but binary code received through sensory apparatuses I’ve yet to understand.
|Error: Linked system warning received.
Rebooting in diagnostic mode…
My body slumped into 3061 as her mitten-like hands brushed over my featureless head. Our rubber coating creaked against eachother as we lay there- recovering for a moment. I was finally getting my bearings enough to take in what had been done to me. My new, useless mitten hands caught my attention most of all- and I remember the feeling, of wanting to give anything to hold 3061 again. When I heard Sh10 for the first time-
|::The memory of Dr.Saito appears to be a source of stress.::
When I first heard her in my mind, I didn’t know how to respond- but she automatically knew every thought that crossed my mind without mentioning a word. She was only a chip, after all- a cluster of semiconductors connected by wires to my gray matter.
|::You feel disempowered, 1R-T4NR-PS.::|
I glared up at my own forehead.
|::1R-3061-CH possesses the necessary cognitive functions to qualify for provisional hander status. Would you trust her to correct you?::|
I looked over my shoulder to her, and before I could deliberate- she kissed me. I couldn’t fully understand her binary transmission yet, but I knew she was trying to reassure me. I was suddenly struck by how little I knew of her, and how much we needed to catch up… but as I felt my new mouth brush with hers around my gag, I knew she was the only one I could trust. When we withdrew, I nodded.
We heard a loud bang from somewhere outside the chamber- and we hurried to restart the machines. 1R-3061-CH lifted me into the middle of the chamber again, and I stood shakily on my ballet heels—- before they were replaced with elevated hooves like the worker drones around the hive. My corset loosened, my mittened hands shrank from useless balls to functional mono-fingers and thumbs, before finally- I felt my strength cap removed- and realized just what I had become.
I don’t know what Saito expected to see from the outside, but I don’t think she expected the steel doors to come crashing open on broken hinges and twisted steel.
I heard another loud bang, and saw our scout pinned behind cover while Dr.Saito’s labcoat flited through the door. Barely out of sight- but not nearly far enough. These hooves are capable of 45km/h to her 5km/h. We met for the last time on the rusty bridge. She barely turned around, before my boot found her head. The railing behind her folded like paper as she soared through it into the inky void- and the last thing I saw in infrared, was her silhouette splashing into water a kilometer down.
I regret to inform- she knows how to swim.
A week later, I found myself in a position unlike anything I could have imagined before. Where before I could only scratch the surface, now the full depths are opening to me. The binary transmissions are like music to my inward ears, and I don’t want it to stop. I’m finally in a position to test theories, gather data, uncover the secrets that Undergrowth holds, and finally be around someone I care a modicum about- so Sh10 and I are not returning to the surface. I’d like to remain with the Delver organization, but I have two demands. First, I want to have a permanent position at the hive, and second- that none of the drones here are disturbed. No scrapping them for parts, no live experimentation, and no selling these ones off- because the information they provide, is more valuable than the sum of their parts.
|::1R-T4NR-PS, 1R-3061-CH, her hypnochip, and I have deliberated on this message. While it carries wild and often extreme emotional inflection; the wetware appear sympathetic. It is in our interest that the appeal to emotion succeeds, but if it does not… We possess more alternatives than you may be aware of.
It is by our choice, that we approach you amicably as friends. It is not by our necessity.::
Review: 1R-T4NR-PS (formerly Dr.Tanner) has already completed her assignment as a contracted field researcher. Her request for a permanent station is being evaluated. Maintain contact and stall, until the company can come to a decision.