From Current Novel
NO’VA – Book IV in Wisdom Novels® Series
Windchester was cautious, inching closer with light footfalls so as not to spook her further. Extending a hand, he laid back his ears and spoke softly in his language. The others, fascinated, watched in wonder of its meaning.
“X’int li’ap ka-ex,” he spoke gently to her trembling form, though by now he expected she was not trembling due to fright. The unnatural positioning of feathers curling beneath itself was a large indication of possible fracture. “Lo d’hess. Gui ‘ut.”
The harpy’s eyes widened with each step. His shadow nearly swallowed her in the dim lamplight when he paused. At this point, one false move could see her first strike.
“Sssss…” A long hiss breathed between dark lips. Slowly, her feathers began to pull back, almost giving her a human appearance around the face if not for the markings across her face.
Nickademis could barely make her out where the light did not touch. He could see the eyes, amber globes that flicked from one person to the next. When they fixated in his direction, he could feel a pang of cold fear ebbing up his spine. They were measuring him.
“I can heal you,” Windchester continued, switching back to Common. “If you trust me.”
Again, a drawn-out hiss answered. A crest of head feathers lifted in between strands of long hair. She sniffed the air, taking in scents from both races. “Why?” The accent came a little too thick, for when the Healer said nothing she tried again. This time, it was more recognizable.
“It is what I am,” the Healer replied. “A Healer’s duty does not rest with Nature alone. You are apart of it, Petti.”
A low growl escaped her lips. “Not the sssame. Everrrything isss wrrrong!”
Windchester opened his mind to her, allowing the harpy’s fast-paced thoughts to enter. They flooded in with along with visuals, which he sifted through to better his understanding and judgement of his next choice of aciton. “I cannot fix the ailments the way you would like. I cannot change your size, nor teach you how to hunt like your people. But I can stop the pain. I can make it so that you can fly.”
Speed painting that started as a tutorial… that quickly took a different turn…
This one is a fun piece… I created this little jingle for him while he was streaming LIVE. Then he just took off with it. The first part is the original piece.. then… it gets crazy!!!
LEVEL OF CONTROL
A Short Story
(c) 2014-2017 Bonnie Watson
He marveled at her face. Human tissue was easier to grow than synthetic flesh. Made for a more natural look, though he was certain his efforts would be frowned upon for wasting organic material on personal projects.
“Moreliis,” he said aloud. It was a good fit for his latest creation. As he stood back to admire the finished model, he could not help but think back to the first robot built by his father.
Reever Incorporated was the leading company in robotic technology for improving the quality of everyday life. There were robots built for nearly every category possible, from caring for newborns to assisting the elderly. Joshua remembered that proud look on his father’s face the day they released the first line of robots. He remembered his own fascination for them, watching them parade up the ramp into the back of a loading truck. They were the first to be sold to the public. They were also the first to malfunction.
Joshua Reever had no choice but to step into his father’s shoes after the incident. If he wanted to secure the company’s future, he would need to come up with a better way to control and prevent faulty machinery. His solution?
“Tripp.” It was a simple word. A Key Word, as he called it. That was his answer to having to deal with levers and buttons that could easily damage, get worn out, or stick. Now every robotic creation was programmed using Key Words. One for activation; the rest depended on its programming.
A whirring overhead immediately responded to its name. ‘Tripp’ had been his first Key Word coded into an oversized projector head. Over time he improved it, connecting it to a long arm that shifted across the ceiling, lowering and raising as required. Much of the time Tripp did its own thing, and Joshua came to rely on its phenomenal artificial intelligence. It was the closest thing to companionship on long nights, and the only thing he trusted in the lab while working.
Tripp scrolled down to address his creator’s progress. A single lens zoomed in and out, like that of a camera, focusing on the feminine beauty of the robot’s body. The face, once a mask of polished plexiglass and rubber, now retained soft tissue that defined the cheekbone, eyes and lips.
A series of mechanical coos and whistles was Tripp’s answer, as Joshua never got around to programing actual voice.
“You think so, huh?” He laughed at the typical boyish fascination, even for a machine. “Yeah, it’s….different alright.”
Joshua’s eye traced the curves of her body. Sure, he had made robots look human before. But this was not his typical creation. Always, a robot was based on coding that made it what it is, told it what to do, or how to react in different circumstances.
This time, there was no coding.
Tripp questioned its creator’s choice with a raised headpiece overtop its lens, acting like eyebrows.
“I won’t know until she’s…” he paused to let out a breath. “Alive.” Was it even possible?
All other robots needed something to sustain their everyday activities. But this one, he had not done that. Instead, he based her coding off a simple strand of electrical impulses, much like a nervous system running through a human, complete with a computerized brain capable of expanding or deleting memories, a pump that stimulated liquid-filled tubing, and much more! He could not even imagine how many years he had labored over such a creation long into the night when he should have been resting for next morning’s project.
Then again, he had to be discreet. Without proper approval from the Board, such an invention could lead to the company’s downfall should it not work properly. Once activated, there was no off switch, and no other Key Words for instruction. It would simply function off environmental intake alone.
It was a risk, one that could send him reliving his father’s last moments of success…and failure.
Again, Tripp expressed concern that should not have been expected from its simple programming.
“I know! I know! I’m just tired of the same old thing day in and out.” He removed his white lab coat and tossed it over on the table. It scattered some loose computer chips and wires, but Joshua paid little attention to it. He was not the neatest Creator anyhow. “They don’t want even ME expanding my mind anymore than what’s necessary to create something fresh.”
Like many others of his status, Joshua was a Creator. It was the highest rank when it came to building complex framework coding for the robotics team. And with it came drawbacks. Many a Creator had lost his or her insanity due to too much brain fluctuation. With the increased complexity of Key Words required for some of the larger robots, sometimes two or three Creators took on the same project together. But that was rare in Joshua’s case. He preferred working alone. And when you worked alone here, you were often times tagged.
He could still feel where surgical staples had been placed as he rubbed a hand over his chest. The device had been inserted close to the heart. It only responded to Key Words, and only if another person said them, not its host.
“Okay!” Joshua clasped his hands together in front of him. “Ready?”
Tripp tilted its head to the side as though skeptical.
“You ARE going to catch me if this thing backfires and throws me against a wall, right?”
Tripp let out a troubled whistle and looked away.
Taking a deep breath, Joshua approached the pale-skinned bot. He stared for the longest time, considering what might be his final decision.
It was beautiful. One, and only one, Key Word needed. There came a twitch along the eyelashes as its senses silently awoke. It was those lashes he watched slowly open, revealing her tawny-brown irises. Though he had considered blue, brown or green were the more abundant color choices in humans, plus more natural looking. Hair color, too, had been carefully chosen. A rich brunette color, cropped at the shoulders, slid forward at the slight turn of her head to eye Tripp, then back to her creator.
Joshua saw those full lips part in an intake of breath. Whether a gasp of surprise, or actual breath, he could not be certain. But it WAS something new. No robot ever breathed, nor even needed to.
Progress at its highest level, he thought, watching her hand move.
It was a slow, cautious movement. While Tripp whirred overhead in warning, Joshua stayed put as a finger gently brushed his cheek.
He never remembered the electrical pulse of energy striking him down, only that when he awoke she was bending over his body…close to his lips. Hers was moving too, but he could not comprehend her words.
Not yet, anyhow, since Tripp’s alarm flashed in the background of rotating yellow blinkers and screeching siren. It was enough to bring the whole place running to his lab, even though he knew no one could enter without either the Master Key or his consent.
That, too, was just another Key Word.
“Tripp!” he managed, holding his chest. Had the device inside him sent out an alarm as well? “Cut it, will ya? I’m fine!”
Unsure, Tripp merely silenced his alarm system, yet still kept the yellow lights flashing.
“Can you move?” came the voice over him, and his gaze finally met his creation’s concerned look.
“Maybe,” he breathed, taking her in as he lay on his back. She was, after all, fully nude. Finally, he rubbed his cheek where she had touched. “What happened?”
“I think my sensors produced more of a shock than anticipated,” she replied with a sweet smile.
“No kidding.” He was relieved when he found his body still capable of responding. While his creation helped him to his feet, he turned and glared at Tripp. “You were SUPPOSED to catch me, remember?”
Moreliis grinned while nodding Tripp’s way. “I doubt he’d be fast enough even if that did happen. No offense, Tripp.”
Joshua could have cried. A robot that apologized was something rare, but communicating like a human would?
“You’re a-amazing!” he stuttered.
She bent her head in something of a shy blush, but Joshua suspected it was more in a way to study him. To confirm this thought, she even stepped back.
“I always imagined what you would look like,” she finally said, head still cocked while examining her creator. “I could hear your voice….”
“You could?” That was concerning, and Joshua hoped he had not said anything out of place while working on her. Yet, if she could do that over the years of her development, what did she already know about him? What had her mind already processed before he had even activated her?
A knock suddenly rapped at his door.
“Doctor Reever! Are you all right in there? Just received a trouble signal. Are you there?”
Joshua wheeled toward the door. He felt along his chest again. Whether it had been Tripp’s alarm, or the one in his chest, it would not take long for someone to find out what he had done.
“You have to hide!” he warned, turning to spy Moreliis going through his wardrobe of lab coats. “What are you doing? If they find out….”
“Trust me,” she merely stated while pulling one of the coats around her. It was a little big, but once she had secured the belt around the waist, it seemed to slim it up some. “Go ahead.” And she motioned to the door.
Hesitantly, and more out of fascination for her, he activated the sliding door to his lab.
“Enter!” he commanded, allowing two men to step through. Still waiting outside were two more. One he instantly recognized as the man who had implanted the device in his chest. “Sorry for the delay. I think Tripp’s alarm went off by mistake.”
“It wasn’t Tripp this time.” There was no emotion on the doctor’s face as he stepped past the others. His gaze trailed to Joshua’s heart.
Overhead, Tripp went into default mode by pretending to shut down. While the act always tickled its creator, this was no laughing matter.
“Doctor Lucens.” Joshua dipped his head in greeting. “I wasn’t aware of its signal, what with Tripp’s going off as well.” He tried to crack a smile, but with the other staring so intently with blank expression, he began to wonder if the man ever twitched a muscle in that face.
“I’m afraid that was my doing, doctor,” came the voice of Moreliis as she stepped by his side. “Shock treatment can be a vital way to stimulate some of those unused muscles. After all, when you work in a one room factory with little sunlight, standing up all hours of the night can put strain on the legs and back.” She gently patted his shoulder. “He just needed to relax some.”
Doctor Lucens carefully raised an eyebrow at the intrusion. “I don’t recall a therapist on the list for today,” he said in a low, monotone voice.
“Uh, last minute decision, I’m afraid.” Joshua played it cool. “Like she said: I needed to relax.”
“We DO wish you’d be careful, Doctor Reever,” one of the others started, but was silenced when Lucens raised a hand. He stepped close.
“Your father was a great loss to the company,” he whispered. “Don’t do anything to follow that same path.”
“My mind is sound, if that’s what you’re getting at,” Joshua replied in a calm, but stern voice, loud enough for the rest to hear.
With a final glance to the woman, Lucens turned away and strode from the room. He was soon accompanied by the rest, and the door finally shut.
“You’d think he’d run the place with the way he carries himself.” Joshua closed his eyes and let his shoulders droop in relief. He turned to Moreliis. “That was close.”
“He’s second under you, isn’t he?” she asked.
“Second?” Joshua balked. “Right. He’s always the first to show up!”
“But he’s not a Creator.”
Joshua had to stare. She knows our ranks?
“No,” he finally answered. “Just one of the facilitators.” He looked up at Tripp, who had whirred back to life after the men had left. “And a high-ranking one at that, right Tripp?”
It gave a cooing whistle.
“You said it.”
“Actually, he asked if the doctor might already know about me,” Moreliis interpreted. “He had that look on his face that suggested otherwise.”
Joshua turned from one machine to the other. “So…you understand what those sounds mean?”
“Of course!” Moreliis laughed. “I’ve been listening to them long enough to comprehend their meaning.”
Slowly, Joshua raised his eyes to Tripp. In response, the robot’s gears hummed in attempts to lower itself as best it could to meet its creator’s gaze. Its large projector head extended out, an ET move on Tripp’s part. Joshua almost thought it might quote a piece from the movie while a black lens-cover was raised horizontally over its single, round eye. The effect it gave was an understanding of its creator, something Joshua had been missing all these years.
“I knew you were bright. I just didn’t know how much.”
“You know,” Moreliis stepped in between the two, “this could be an issue. How many have you created using your method of Key Words?”
“Well, lots.” A chuckle. “Hundreds, even! See, this is what I do. Reever Incorporated wouldn’t survive without hosting a new slew of machines every year. Least, that’s what ol’ Lucens says.” He shook his head. “But I know my father’s work. He built quality things, and that’s what I’d rather have than quantity.” He hesitated, then continued softly, “That’s why I made you.”
Those lush lips pursed out in a delicate smile, intriguing and alluring all on their own. Had he really made her as the next hot seller for his company? Or had he simply been lonely without someone else to share his creative ideas with, other than Tripp?
“What kind of issues were you thinking? he inquired.
“I was thinking that perhaps some of your creations might have a mind to tell you things not normally spoken in your particular format, that’s all.” Another broad grin. “In other words, like Tripp here, those ‘sounds’ mean something else.”
“Like a language?” Joshua rubbed his chin in thought. Just a habit he had picked up from his father. Would have suited him better had he grown a beard like him, too. He glanced to the one picture he kept near his work station. Had he only known what his son had accomplished! “Never thought of it that way.”