IBH-21 Opus Zero

 

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Preface

Entry log #1:

 

Dr. Daniel Jacobs reporting: This is a series of voice recordings and reports I decided to make for my little son Ian to indulge in. Yes Ian. These logs are for you! Every bit of knowledge and material I have on the automatons will be logged for you to go back through anytime you feel bored or out of tune with your future automaton.

This one's pretty short but it'll suffice for an introduction.

This was Entry Log #1, reported by Dr. Daniel Jacobs. Over and out. 

 

Entry log #23

 

Dr. Daniel Jacobs reporting: The automatons have always been such an overwhelming part of my childhood that I decided to dedicate myself to further the research surrounding them, improving our understanding of them and create stronger user/automaton connections.

An entire branch of science was granted to the scarce amount of information that scientists and engineers have been able to gather on these bio-mechanical beings of some sorts. 

We've had them around for half a century at most. They are not made of carbon-based material like flesh and blood, the elements they are made of were still a mystery to us. None of the spectrophotometry results showed matches with the databases we were able to salvage after the first planetary immigration. These beings grow and evolve through combat experience and with their user.

Automatons lay dormant in the shape and size of a ping pong ball, although some of them are more egg-shaped. We classified them as Class-0s. To awaken it, one must touch its surface, preferably with a single finger. Upon contact, the automaton morphs itself around said finger, forming an armour piece around it. This will eventually continue to grow into fully-fledged body armour. 

Few cases have been recorded of such progress since the primary use of these machines was hunting and survival. Anytime the user went to hunt, whether with a gun or with their bare hands, the armour piece would begin to glow a reddish tint and would expand, gradually covering more of the user's hand. It would start by covering a knuckle of an "unlinked" finger, then builds up the finger piece. The same can be said for the palm and back of the hand. 

Once the entire hand and wrist have been armoured, the automaton becomes a Class-A. Classes A through H determine how much of the body have been linked to the automaton, with Class H automatons being full body armour. 

The automaton's energy source was first thought to be its user's movement. Since it would always grow whenever the user was in combat or with them aging, it was thought that it somehow was able to utilize the kinetic energy.

However, none of the research teams were able to consolidate this claim or even justify the existence of any energy source suitable for the job. They don't consume anything, yet they continue to add more mass, covering more and more of the user's body with little to no mobility drawbacks. 

In order to deepen our understanding on the subject, my team and I ran some physical and stamina tests on two Class H users that gladly volunteered to help us further our knowledge on these beings. 

The results were astounding. Even though the body armour almost doubled the weight of its user, it did not seem to affect the users' mobility and agility negatively. To our amazement the users added that the armour felt like it was assisting them. One of them even added that they felt like metal plated exoskeletons rather than simple armour. 

These last few discoveries were crucial for our research. We would be able to progress much faster with some well needed funding. None other than the Interplanetary Military Department for Research and Development (IPM RnD) offered us full access to their resources surrounding the automatons. This included User training programs, their training facilities as well as full authority over their Class D through H troops. Our research finally kicked off with discovery after discovery. 

Though, none of those achievements could hold a candle to the overwhelming happiness and pride I felt when I would come home to my wife and son. Even when I'd get home really late, they would get out of bed and greet me. Especially my little Ian. His eyes would light up every time I told him about what progress and discoveries we've made that day.

Luckily, the research we were conducting was not classified, which was weird to me at first. When I asked some of the higher ups about that, they said that everyone needs to know about this. They added that since anyone could interact with automatons once they come of age, there was no way to leave any information on these strange beings hidden. One of them even jokingly said that they still don't have complete military applications for the automatons other than them aiding human performance, something any dim-witted citizen who's seen a User at work, would understand.

 

This was Entry Log #23, reported by Dr. Daniel Jacobs. Over and out.

 

Entry Log #30:

 

Dr. Daniel Jacobs reporting: Ian was always fascinated by the automatons, to the point where you'd find him sitting in front of his computer staring at recordings of my experiments in awe. One day I had just arrived home after leaving a little early from work, when I heard a loud gasp, followed by loud running steps. My original thought was that Ian realized I came home early and began to run over. 

He was ten years old at the time so I didn't expect much. What I was greeted with was him holding the laptop in one hand and his notebook in the other. The page that I could see had a bunch of words all over the place, as if he was brainstorming or solving some complex equation in his head. He then stood still, stared me in the eyes and said with a cute lisp making an appearance every few words:" Dad. Automatrons aren't just machines. They are social creatures!  They grow through bonds with their user. They use the power of teamwork and friendship to beat every bad alien's butt! That's why there are very few of us who got to Class H. Those people connected with their automatons on a whole other level! I'm sure of it."

Mind you at the time I didn't have an automaton of my own as I didn't find myself suitable for a very physical lifestyle. But those words caught me off guard to such an extent that I was not able to get any sleep for three days. The notion of a psychological connection between automaton and user, an automaton being able to think for itself and feel emotions.  So many questions were popping into my head, clustering my mind space consequently bringing me to discuss the subject with my colleagues. 

We came to a conclusion that one of us will have to engage in the following experiment: To acquire an automaton and observe it grow first hand. All the while recording everything and reporting back in weekly cycles to our superiors at IPM. And since I was the only one to have not yet made contact with one, I was soon turned into the test subject. 

Where do people get their hands on automatons? Good question. When we discovered the automatons back on IBH-20, they were contained inside a colossal complex which we assumed to be an abandoned research facility. After the move to IBH-21, the IPM took the initiative to properly store and prepare the remaining dormant automatons for the strains of long-distance travels. 

But, off record, that was just the lie they told the public. In fact, they just registered them as IPM property and locked them down for "security reasons". And so, the answer to your question would be to go to your nearest IPM regional branch, register your name for approval of ownership, wait a good two to three months for the intelligence bureau to have cleared you through, confirming that you have no past offenses and that you do not intend on using the automaton nefariously. 

Once you have the okay from IPM HQ, you'll be contacted to confirm an appointment date and time, at which you will be picked up from your home to the containment centre, where you will proceed to meeting an entire wall of dormant automatons, which have been placed on conveyor belts and will pass in front of you at high speeds. The first one to glow will be caught by a high speed camera and will be separated from the others. The final step is link confirmation. You make contact with the automaton and hope that it responds. And voilà! If the link is successful, you'll have your very own automaton! Finally, you are escorted back to your home and told to behave with a nice and firm pat on the shoulder.

The moment I got home, I saw Ian poking his head out from behind the coffee table.  I showed him my right hand. His eyes lit up. I asked if he wanted to see it up close. He rejected, afraid that he'd get hurt by it. To change topics I asked him where his mother was. He pointed at the kitchen. I walked over there only to see my wife holding a cake in her hands with a smile on her face brighter than any of the ten candles on the cake. She congratulated me and proceeded to jokingly ask when Ian would be getting his own little friend. I responded, while raising my voice slightly, that the legal age to get one is eighteen. That's when I heard Ian screaming on the top of his lungs a long and disappointed no. We laughed for a bit, ate some cake and decided to call it a day early. That same night, something unexpected happened. But that's all I have time for this time. You'll have to go to the next log to know more. And Ian ... take care of your automaton. These creatures never cease to amaze me.

This was Entry Log #30, reported by Dr. Daniel Jacobs. Over and out.

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Recorded Memorials

Name: Ian Jacobs.
 Age: 17.
 Height: 6ft 1in (1.85m).
 Occupation: High School Graduate.
 Notes: Son of the currently imprisoned Dr. Daniel Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs was charged with keeping sensitive information hidden from his supervisors regarding his automaton behavioural analysis and their interaction with humans. Ian did not apply to IPM's RnD apprenticeship in order to follow in his father's footsteps. This blew the IPM's plan, which boiled down to using the boy in order for Dr. Jacobs to finally share his acquired knowledge, out of the water. Ever since graduation, Ian has been monitored for any suspicious activity. Nothing came up. 


July 10th Year 0 AG (After Graduation) 09:00.

The sun has been piercing into the room for over an hour. Dad used to tell me that the days on IBH-21 are longer than on Earth every time I would whine about having to wake up early. He'd constantly repeat that a day on Earth was 24 hours long, whilst on IBH-21, the day was 26 hours long. This meant that if I were to sleep at 2300 hours and wake up at 0800 hours, I would have effectively slept 11 hours straight in comparison to 9 hours.

 "Humans have become lazier and lazier over the years." he'd say while sipping his boiling hot tea in the morning as he sat next to my bed waiting for me to get ready for another wonderful day of quality education. "Universities are outdated son. Nowadays students graduate high school with what equated back on Earth to a Bachelor's degree. Use that to your advantage! Your grades are through the roof, but that doesn't mean that you should slack off just yet. Apply for those Advanced Program classes. With those, you'll be able to scratch off another 2 years of your career spent in apprenticeship! That's 2 years you could spend growing your automaton! It also means that you'll get a better chance at joining AEST Academy." 

I wasn't exactly built for routine lab work, even though I definitely had the brains to get the job done. But I wanted to be on the front lines protecting my home from the dangers of the universe. Dad never disagreed with my ambitions. As a matter of fact, he'd always push me to get stronger physically and mentally, saying that if I was to join the Academy with high grades, I'd be able to use his research and my own skills to improve the tactical prowess of the AEST.

What is the AEST? It's an acronym that stands for The Automaton-Enhanced Special Taskforce. The AEST was founded by the IPM, under my father's advisory. It was established as a mean to train Users and their automatons, who showcased high potential in the trials, in a more efficient and specialized manner than standard military training. Effectively, the program is able to take class C-II Users, or the equivalent of the automaton covering an entire arm, to Class G-II or even H-I in a fifth of the time it would take a user to make that leap with standard training.

The AEST was effectively run by my father with little to no interference from the IPM. That is until they put him behind bars for suspected treason/secrecy regarding his latest findings. His team is still in charge, but the IPM has established even tighter surveillance on the facilities "in order to ensure the highest level of security and comfort for our growing elite Users" would be what you'd hear one of the higher-ups say when asked to justify the academy suddenly feeling like a prison. If my safety was only achievable by locking me in then the IPM has to reconsider their philosophies.

I need to keep my comments about a military organization's philosophies to myself though, since the hostility is expected from a bunch of veterans that have lived most of their lives in a constant state of war and fear of the unknown. The period prior to IBH-20 was full of bloodshed and warfare, since territorial pirate corps and pillagers would bombard the trans-planetary ships they lived in at an unforgiving rate, leaving many casualties behind as well as countless resources lost on the containment of said attacks as well as repairs. I can't completely blame them for being so paranoid on the matter of possible treason from the one alien technology that has so far been our closest and most valuable ally in this endeavour. 

Enough of my ramblings! Time to continue the story.

I got out of bed, as any normal human being does when they have things to do outside the house, or inside it for that matter. As I began to go down the stairs, the sweet smell of honey-butter toast rushed my senses. I shouted: 

"Mom! Is that my breakfast I smell?" 

I heard a giggle followed by: 

"No! It's mine. The toaster is in the kitchen to the right of the sink. Read the instruction manual in the bottom drawer if you don't know how to use it."

I ran down the stairs, peaked my head from the living room doorway and responded:

"Are you sure you want me to read that instructions manual? AKA the one that dad wrote his wave conversion equations and graphs on? You know I can turn that toaster into a bread launcher right?"

That's when her face, paled by fear, spun towards me as she said:

" Don't you dare do that to my new Toast'atron 2500 EXPRESS XL! It cost me a fortune to get it! I'm not letting you break yet another toaster just because you wanted to practice your 'on the fly survival engineering tactics'! Five toasters lost their lives to your experiments Ian."

I interrupted her while trying to hold in my laughter:" I'm kidding mom! Why would I want to waste your precious, expensive, high end toaster on another one of my experiments?”

“You are just like your father. Always making me buy new kitchen equipment after a fiasco of an experiment he called 'a step in the direction of DISCOVERY!'" 

She got up and hurried to the kitchen. "Where's that darn instruction manual? I'm going to rip those pages out and put them in the experiments safe."

" Wait ... you have an experiments safe?!"

"Of course I do! Where else am I going to hide you and your father's notes of destruction? You can have the toast. I made it an hour or so ago out of habit. So don't come nagging that the bread is cold now." I thanked her and proceeded to enjoy my savory breakfast while listening to Dad's next entry log. 


Entry log #31:

 

Dr. Daniel Jacobs reporting: I decided to name my automaton I/O as a reference to my work with machinery and electronics. It was also a recommendation from little Ian. " It sounds epic and it describes the machine side of the automatons. Isn't that the best name you've ever heard?" he said the night before I was scheduled to go through the selection process. 

After a few classic tests to check if the automaton was properly linked to me, I came upon an unfamiliar phenomenon. The armour piece began to vibrate lightly. Those vibrations traveled through my arm and spread across my body, even reaching my ear drums. At first I thought an earthquake had occurred, but there were no alerts warning us about such an event in the forecasts. 

It was only hours later that the vibrations began once more. This prompted me to try and figure out the frequency of the vibrations. The results showed a stable 440 Hz signal at very low amplitude. Yet the signal is able to propagate through my body. Truly fascinating data! I decided to keep tabs on the phenomenon for a few days. I was able to conclude after a week of recordings that the vibrations were consistently occurring once every hour or so, each time in a different single-wave frequency, gradually becoming more and more audible. I concluded that the automaton was establishing a sort of communication medium using physical vibrations that would reach the user's ear-drums and get translated into sound.

I proceeded to inform one of my colleagues about my conclusions, he laughed and said that it was a cheap way to use telepathy. This sparked something in my head: what if it was using this phenomenon to communicate with the user and the past few days have been a sort of calibration phase? What if i introduced human speech in the same way? Will it be able to learn our languages? Will it be able to talk back using this pseudo-telepathy?

Many questions arose from that small experiment, all of which I was eager to solve. So Ian, if you're hearing this, Do not forget to teach your automaton how to talk. If my research turns out to be correct, then we might finally be able to understand how these miraculous machines were made and how to utilize them to their fullest extent.

This was Entry Log #31, reported by Dr. Daniel Jacobs. Over and out. 

 

As I was taking my earphones off, I heard a knock on the door. With the logger in hand, I went to the door to see who might have been visiting us on such a savory morning. I saw a tall, well built silhouette with their arms crossed. It was my best friend Andrew. I opened the door and said: 

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the one and only Andrew 'Stone Fist' McCullough."

"Thank you! Thank you! It's an honour to be in the presence of the one and only Ian 'Entry Log Fanatic' Jacobs. Are you still listening to your dad's old logs? You've got to get rid of them ASAP. You have an automaton to train up to par with AEST standards! That means daily practice range runs and workouts..." 

"Alright! Alright! Why do you have to say this every time you see me with the logger on my person?"

"Of course I will. How else am I going to get you to finally do it? AEST should be your top priority Ian, not your father's old research findings. You're not going to work in a lab, are you?"

"Calm down Andrew. Imagine these logs as audio books I listen to while I'm working out."

"No I will not. It's time for you to let go of this logger and focus on your dreams, not his."

Not his? What did he mean by that? These logs are priceless material related to automaton development. I need every advantage I can get if I want to reach the highest level possible, as soon as possible.

"I'm not getting rid of these logs. End of discussion. Are we going to train? Or are you going to waste the entire day on nagging and pointless bickering?"

A long sigh followed my last question. He looked me in the eyes and whispered under his breath: "With enough patience, you can even persuade a brick wall to move, said no one ever. Especially if they've met this guy."

 

 

    


 

 

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