breakfastofchampions: (acacia)
[personal profile] breakfastofchampions
Yay, I did it! I got a bingo this month. Whew.

Title: Stealing a Robot
Universe: Goldenhour (science fiction AU)
Characters, pairings: Fier, Hadia, Pan
Rating: PG
Word count: 1430
Summary: The world's greatest robot thief (as in, thief of robots), might well be a little mad.
Notes: For [community profile] origfic_bingo, for the prompt "AU: crossover/fusion". My interpretation of the prompt was pretty loose. Reading Urasawa's Pluto made me want to write about robots, so I created an AU of Goldenhour that features robots along the lines of the ones in Pluto--it diverges quite a bit from my original story, and it doesn't technically have anything taken directly from Pluto in it, but I think it's close enough.

Also, though I do like reading and watching science fiction media, I don't have a lot of practice writing it, so this might be a little closer to science fantasy.

It's the hardest job in the world, but she's good at it.

Robots were made to uphold the status quo, not subvert it, which is why the powers that are don't want them in the hands of just anyone. Few products are more carefully controlled by the government than robotics. The permits alone are unreasonable enough to close out all but the unreasonably wealthy, and the permits have to be approved. If you own a legitimate robot, it's a sure sign that you're both rich and well-connected.

Fier doesn't care about the status quo. She is more than willing to sell anything to anyone who can pay. Her only problem is obtaining the merchandise.

Fier can't make robots. She doesn't have the training or the equipment. Few people do. What she's good at is salvage, but before she can salvage, she needs the junk to work her magic on. Junked robots.

She could buy them from some other thief, but the number of people who know how to steal robots--and have the means to do it, an important factor--is extremely small and dwindling. When you trust in a thief, you're trusting in someone who is by profession (if not by nature) dishonest, so it's better to do your own work. You can't steal from yourself. Though if you could, Fier would have tried it. To see how it worked.

Since you can't steal from yourself, Fier does trust herself, and no one else. Except Hadia, of course. What self-respecting thief would work without a DI?

In legal, daytime situations, Hadia doesn't stand out. Handheld DIs are common, since people like a user friendly interface for their daily data, but Hadia is different. Hadia doesn't merely access data, doesn't merely unencrypt data. She enters systems, changes them. Only a little, and only temporarily, so no one will notice, later. Hadia creates a blind spot. Hadia makes it possible for Fier to walk through the most well-monitored areas without making a sound or a ripple. No sensors will pick her up. Hadia turns her into a ghost.

Now, in the darkness of the research facility, Hadia's screen is dim, her presence nothing but a voice in Fier's ear, though Fier communicates her own commands by touch. She knows where to stroke Hadia, even in the lowest light. Hadia is hers. "We're ghosting," says Hadia, cheerful. Fier carefully selected that voice, soothing enough not to startle when she delivers a status report while Fier's working, but striking enough that a whisper of real alarm from her will have Fier alert and ready to disappear in an instant. Fier's wondered why that particular voice appealed to her. It reminds her of a voice from her past, maybe a teacher at school, but the memory is too old and never coalesces.

Fier has to move fast. The pocket of invisibility Hadia creates is fleeting. Silence can be as suspicious as a sound. If she stays too long in any one place, the systems will correct themselves. Some check will fail, some alarm will sound.

She moves quickly down the corridor, Hadia's voice updating her constantly. The corridor seems empty and quiet, but it's alive with censors and the silent sound of data. Having studied the plans of the facility beforehand, Fier knows where to go, though she has to trust that the pilfered information is accurate enough, that there have been no recent changes.

"Still ghosting," says Hadia.

Fier arrives at a door. This should be the right one. She needs the password. Hadia has it. Fortunately, this place has so many personnel and so many visitors, they haven't initiated a retinal scanning safeguard, which would have made things far more complicated, which is why she selected this facility, out of the possible candidates.

The password works. The door opens, then shuts behind her.

There it is, what she's been looking for, the dark, matte metal of the body barely reflecting the light as Fier risks allowing Hadia to illuminate, the AI's pale face appearing on the screen of the flat device gripped in Fier's gloved hand.

It's what she's wanted for so long. A Nine. Since they've been taken out of service, many of them have been disassembled, but they always keep a few of every model, as an archive if nothing else, and the Nines are recently obsolete.

This one is female. The face, compared to the body, looks more human. They were trying for friendliness, for a robot people could empathize with and wouldn't fear. That's why they called them peacekeepers instead of enforcers. It didn't work; that's why they've been replaced by newer models, even more human in appearance. This robot's face looks oddly young, her synthetic skin dark, but slightly less so than her body. She has hair, too, though it's not quite human in appearance. It resembles human hair coated in plastic. The new ones don't look like robots at all. They look like people. Fier doesn't know if she likes that or not. She'll wait until she has a chance to salvage one to make that decision.

There's one place she has to hesitate, and it's here, but fortunately, it's the safest place to do so. No one's expecting much variation in input from within storage, so the absence of it won't seem as strange. The real danger won't come until she's made a drastic change to the inner environment--for example, removing a large object from it. Most of the security is set outside, trained on anyone coming in or out. Inside, it's almost peaceful, though that's only by comparison, and she can't afford to slack off here, not when she's made it so far.

Once you have your stolen robot, you have to transport it, and that's the tricky part. Robots are heavy. Turning it on so it could transport itself would be disastrous, even if she had the means. This is a peacekeeper, and its systems need to be completely overhauled before she can think about activating it, seeing as she is a criminal. There's no choice: she has to carry it.

Lightports make it possible. Everyone uses them to transport heavy things. They create a temporary field that isn't quite antigravity, but close enough. Hers are custom, wearable, powerful. They cost her a lot, but being the leader in her field has its benefits: namely, money.

Fier pulls out the lightports she's brought with her, straps them around the robot's waist, neck, and limbs. She then does the same to herself, though she doesn't turn hers on yet. This is mad, a plan that seems doomed to fail, and she doesn't even have a buyer for this model, and she's unlikely to find one. A stolen Nine is so black market, it's almost a black hole. Who could escape from a crime like this? Why is she committing it? Maybe her achievements have made her reckless. Maybe she wants to do it to see how it can be done.

Even with the lightports, she can't walk the robot out of here. The way in is rarely the way out, but fortunately, there's another way: the convey chute. That's the foolhardy, treacherous way out, but also the only one.

Fier puts the robot in first, and the chute whisks it away with thoughtless power. Once that's done, she doesn't have time to hesitate. The point beyond which her mind cannot be changed has been passed. She activates the lightports on her body and slides into the chute. It's like flying, falling, faster than she should be traveling, and if not for the strips around her waist and neck and legs, she would already be in pieces, dashed against the chute wall. These weren't meant to transport anything as organic and fragile as a person, and even now she is in danger. If she moves wrong, or her lightports flicker for an instant, as they could. There is no technology that never malfunctions.

Nobody's perfect. It's the same general idea.

"Ghosting," says Hadia again, so happily, and it's the truth. Fier is almost a ghost in this moment, so close to that inevitable yet variable possibility. This is always the time that she's most aware of her heart breathing, her blood moving, her breath animating her body, and that bright little thing that's everything rolled up inside her: hopes and wants and dreams and self.

Nobody's perfect, no one lives forever, and Fier knows the truth at last: that's why she's here, flying through the chute, falling relentlessly towards success or death.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-10-31 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You can't steal from yourself. Though if you could, Fier would have tried it. To see how it worked.

I can't say how much I enjoyed this. Or how much I want to see more!
What a wonderful read. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-10-31 11:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You rule, baby! <3

Also, I LOVE THIS! Success or deathhhhh. What a great AU.


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