By Design


“What you’re proposing is unnatural.”

That might have qualified as one of the funniest claims IMP17 ever heard if he wasn’t negotiating for his life.  He turned to fully face the panel of six persons, such as they were.  True representatives of the Elite, they were a mixture of men and women carved and grafted and interfaced, and sat in an elevated row behind a wall that separated them from the meeting-room pit he stood in.

IMP17 made himself smile.  What he was about to say flirted with blasphemy in their opinion, but even the Elite couldn’t totally deny reality.  They admitted not yet attaining complete control of this world and its inhabitants.

“Biological components are all that’s left when digital technology fails.”  Their expressions betrayed how aghast they were, urging him to continue.  “Any strategy that doesn’t account for such a possibility is no strategy at all.”

“You say that because you still haven’t accepted enhancement.”  The second person in the row, someone whose face, and possibly body, shone like the gold it was supposed to mimic, frowned at him.

It was a good thing IMP17 had been created to utilize strategy, because that was the only thing that could keep him preserved from their improvements.  “I haven’t accepted yet because as an integrated individual my role as investigator and instructor would be compromised.  Maintaining my organic faculties is paramount to drilling warriors how to use theirs.”

“One, your neurobiology is modified beyond theirs.  Two, you are a failure.”

He couldn’t deny either charge.  Decades ago, before the Elite rose to power, their progenitors expressed a more laissez-faire attitude toward reticent groups that refused to embrace progress.  After all, through applications of science and technology, humanity was going to expand their mental capabilities and extend life spans.  So let the troglodytes die out naturally.

But then the progenitors discovered that death still waited at the end of a long life, and they’d lost the ability to replenish their ranks without laboratory intervention.  To make it worse, the rabble were rude enough to keep reproducing.  As the number of traditionalists began to overtake the progressives, the magistrates decided encouraging parents to improve their offspring was no longer good enough.  Biotechnological modification became mandatory.

An uprising resulted.  Believers of an antiquated ideology broke away from the prevalent society.  Unwilling to integrate with technology, they had no problem using it otherwise, and demolished the android armies sent to subdue them.

So the Elite tried using fully organic but physically improved clones.  Engineered to have only enough intelligence to follow orders, they were supposed to infiltrate the rabble and bring them down.  Unable to improvise when that darned reality struck again, they also failed.

Despite reservations, the Elite were desperate enough to design an Intellectual Militant Prototype, known as IMPs, who could blend in with the rabble and make their own decisions under duress.  The administration was cautious enough to order only twenty-four products.

IMP17 was not just a clone of some long-dead soldier.  Although his biology matched, his neurology was configured to match that of their opponents.  The Elite wanted intelligence, but not enough for any IMPs to successfully stage their own revolution.

When some IMPs turned out to be independent thinkers, they were swiftly executed.  Others died on the field of battle, sometimes while fighting alongside the rabble.  IMP17 was one of a mere handful left, and he knew that was only because the Elite hadn’t discovered his true thoughts.

The IMP program was declared a failure like its predecessors, and the survivors were invited to accept modifications that included integration with the core data system.

The other four were fully indoctrinated to their purpose, but IMP17 had reserved doubts that grew in strength over the years.  Supplementation with a neural implant connected to the system created a sort of virtual telepathy.  His private thoughts could be uncovered.  And he had too many unsanctioned ideas to risk that.

The Elite would take no chances.  They would order his prompt execution, and another pitfall of being linked to the core meant there was no chance of escape.

That left him only one option.

“The mark of a true soldier is to wrest success from failure.”  His gaze slid across each face on the row.  “The cyborg troops you’re going to try next will be partially organic.  Mechanical limbs can still splinter.  Mechanized weapons can still malfunction.  Allow me to work with them, teach them how to use their organic components to your favor.  Otherwise you might as well just send in androids all over again.”

He could tell the panel was discussing the matter because individuals would occasionally blurt out words or phrases to accentuate the thoughts they were sharing.  He wondered how much of their humanity was left, and how much had been shanghaied by the artificial intelligence they embraced.

He also wondered how much humanity he could legitimately claim.  If his plan succeeded, he would need every shred of it when he faced the rabble again.

“It has been decided.”  Number two regarded him with cold eyes and pinched mouth.  “We will give you a trial run with a team of cyborgs.  If you please us with your training, we will retain your services.  If they prove to be obsolete, then you will report for modification posthaste.”

IMP17 bowed low before them, extending his arms to the front.  “Thank you, my Lords.  I will endeavor to serve you with all that I have, for you have given me all that there is.”

As he stepped through the exit of the pit, the relief that flooded through him ebbed with consideration of how many steps were left before his plan would be complete.  After what he’d done to the rabble over the past few years, he knew they wouldn’t welcome him.  But his chances with rustics were still better than they would ever be with the Elite.


Well, it finally happened.  This month the prompt word for #BlogBattle was clone, and that put me in mind of a certain backstory.  Because the series of events would be ancient history to the characters in an upcoming novel, I decided to go ahead and do a serialization of that timeframe.  It will be interesting to arrange a bunch of stories into an arc … does that make me a glutton for punishment?  And check in on what the other stories are this month.  It’s a blast!

21 thoughts on “By Design

  1. Ahh, Abe… fascinating take and one that truly could become a serialisation. I’m detecting a Zardoz type feel between haves and luddites. The haves do anything to retain power and anything not complying is adversary to be quashed of free thinking and integrated. Nice extrapolation of a few evolutionary consideration poised by thinkers in science. Ours is too slow to adapt so the next phase might require augmentation by technology. Scary stuff.

    Very “enjoyable” read…in quotations because it paralleled governments now in concept… again that one makes me think! Looking forward to this one panning out in the arc you mention at the end. So many BB writers are now doing that too. Heck of a way to write a book!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! You aren’t kidding! Here I am trying to finish one book and now I’ve started something of a novella on the side. The stories for the month are just beginning to role in, but what I’ve read so far have been quite enthralling. Looking forward to seeing how yours turns out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know that feeling Abe! I’ve got so many projects lined up I’m struggling to figure out which to start first! Flipping prompt writing sure creates way more ideas than musing on your own. I think the best part though is the support and feedback from participants though. I’m really getting to know people from all over the world and am just about to hook up with Joshua Insole on Facebook. Heck of a way to find new friends with core interests.

        I’ve read everything thus far bar looking today to see if any new ones have come in. It was only yesterday I finished reading all last months too. That was a really good turnout as it happens.

        I’m hoping to tackle mine this weekend at some point, but I’m still musing which angle to take. Really don’t need more slush pile material lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • The feedback is a definite benefit in the BB community! We can cheer each other on and make gentle suggestions and, well, help each other become better writers. (Haven’t I heard that somewhere before?) 😉 I feel like I’m getting to know the regulars and look forward to the newcomers’ contributions, and hope they become regulars (I was one of ‘those’ toward the beginning of the year!). Good luck on your project this month! (In the world of stage, they say ‘Break a leg!’ In writing would we say ‘Break a pen!’ ?)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Same here! Part of the BB concept was, and still is, to develop a community of writers to help each other and support people who try new ideas or continuations. I hope it grows more too. Can’t believe you were a newcomer just this year either…it’s now like visiting an old friend here.

        I’m a bit behind this time! The weekend is getting sucked away with family. Can’t knock that, but I need a quiet space to actually write. Hopefully I can break that pen soon though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ha, ha! I’m hoping to yes, but this prompt isn’t locking onto one idea at all. It keeps rolling back to a previous concept where the AI Corona was already cloning biologicals for its own purposes. So much for a totally new project lol

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the glimpses of the world you show in this piece! I’m hungry to read more — about the societal hierarchies, the laws and forced mods/improvements, the attempts of the Elites to KO those who dare to defy their conventions. The setting alone is fantastic.

    IMP17 is also a really interesting character — walking the tightrope between planning against the Elites, whilst simultaneously pleasing them to ensure the continuation of his current iteration… It’s just really cool. I really want to know what happened with his earlier interactions with the “rabble”. What did IMP17 do?

    Brilliant writing, as always! I really hope to read more of this story arc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, so happy to please! Rest assured the upcoming installments will illuminate what IMP17 did (hint: the rabble won’t let him forget!). The prompt word set this arc rolling, so it will be very interesting to see how future prompts affect/inspire each story!


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