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ONE Written by DTYarbrough

A Science Fiction Short Story

Copyright 2010
All rights reserved
It was the beginning of the end. The name alone should have told us. Omega One was the
latest and greatest of the cyberspace communities, created from remnants of others that had long
since died out. Only a handful of communities remained and most of them were isolated and

Roger was one of the few remaining corporeals that hadn't made the complete transfer to
cyberspace. Now it looked like he never would. The robots had rebelled and now there was only
him and a handful of others to maintain the infrastructure of a dying technology. Millions of
minds were dependent on him and others like him. There had once been billions but as more and
more cyber communities became isolated and died out, so did the minds within those

Roger was determined to relink all of the remaining communities into one. He would put an
end to the competition among the corporeals to beg, borrow or steal the others' technologies.
Together they could find a way to stop the robots and maintain or even increase their numbers.
The robots were no danger to cyberspace since cyberspace was not a danger to them. Except for
the fact that they wanted to erradicate every corporeal on the face of the planet.

The grand plan to live forever in cyberspace while self-repairing robots maintained the
systems had turned out to be a pipe dream. With Roger's help, a few may realize that dream.
There may still be a chance for Roger, but he will either have to raise some offspring to take his
place or reprogram the robots to take over as they were originally intended. Either way he would
need help and he hadn't seen another corporeal in months. Oh, they were around. He had seen
the results of their thievery.

The robots had their own network for communication, independent from the cyberspace used
by the quasi-humans. If he could capture a robot and reprogram it with a virus of sorts, he might
be able to either turn them back to their original purpose or destroy them. Either way would
make his life a lot simpler.


Roger never stayed long in one place and there was no shortage of places to stay. The city had
once been home to millions. Roger estimated that there were probably a hundred or so robots in
the city. They had ways of tracking you if you remained too long in one spot. They were slow and
awkward but his fear was that he would be trapped by several at one time. In the open, he could
easily outrun them. They used no weapons other than their arms and hands that could rip a
human to shreds in seconds.

Roger always traveled light and had no use for weapons. Weapons would be useless against
the robots and unneeded against other corporeals. There was an unspoken law, Harm no one.
There were no animals in the city, not even rats or roaches as their food supply had long since
died out. Roger suspected the same was true for the wastelands that surrounded the city.
Automobiles that once traveled the city streets were no more than dust in the wind.

He didn't remember his parents. He wasn't sure he had any. He had awakened from a
cryogenic sleep, the last of what may have been many to awaken over the years. Somehow he had
known his situation from the moment he awoke. How long had it been? The days seem to run

Roger wasn't hungry this morning. He remembered eating a large meal the night before. He
quickly dressed and hopped into the sonic shower before leaving this apartment for the last time.
He needed to find a wireless hub to replace the one that had gone missing the day before. It was
becoming harder and harder to find any wireless devices that still functioned. The others were
getting better and better at hiding them.

He wanted to search for others like himself, but first things first. That missing hub left a great
deal of the network at risk. A failure in another hub could isolate thousands and put them at risk.
It was always this way. Life and death. No time to waste. As he pulled out his omnidirectional
wireless receiver and studied the screen, he saw a faint signal. Overlaying it with a map of this
section of the city, he determined it was one of his. If he could spot it, others could. Quickly he
headed off in the direction of the hub. He needed to camouflage the signal before someone else
detected it.

As he reached the two story duplex where he had hidden the device, he noticed that the door
to the basement was ajar. Someone had beat him here, but was he or she still inside? Roger knelt
beside the door and waited. Roger never exited a building the same way he entered. He hoped
this person wasn't as cautious. As the door swung open, Roger pushed back with all of his might,
sending the thief sprawling onto the cement floor.

As he rushed into the basement he could see that it was a girl, attractive mid twenties and
motionless. “Where is the hub?” he wondered. “What did she do with it?”

“She didn't take it,” he said to himself as he spotted the hub right where he had left it.
“Surely she found it. I'd better check on her. I hope I didn't hurt her too badly.”

Roger detected a slight pulse and signs of breathing. He picked her up off the cold floor and
carried her upstairs to the bedroom and placed her on the bed. After tying her hands and feet, he
went into the kitchen to get a damp rag. When he returned, she was awake and struggling with
her bonds.

“Relax,” said Roger. “I'm not going to harm you. I just have a few questions before I set you

“Questions about what?” she asked.

“Well, for starters,” said Roger. “Why were you down in the basement?”

“Oh,” she said. “Was that your wireless?”

“So you did find it,” said Roger. “Why didn't you take it?”

“It wasn't a backup,” she replied. “I simply made a note of where it's located so I can find it
later when you get your network back to full strength.”

“Quite honorable for a thief,” said Roger. “My name is Roger, what's your's?”

“Samantha,” she said. “I imagine my friends would call me Sam, if I had any friends.”

“Well, Sam,” said Roger, “how are you feeling? You had me worried for a minute.”

“I didn't say you could call me Sam, now did I Roj?” said Samantha.

“Well, why can't we be friends?” asked Roger. “It's not like we've got too many friends

“It's everybody for themselves,” said Sam. “Haven't you learned that by now?”

“But it doesn't have to be,” said Roger. “We could link our networks and work together. And
there's safety in numbers when it comes to the robots. We can watch each other's back.”

“It does sound tempting,” said Sam. “But I've been on my own for so long.”

“How long?” asked Roger.

“I don't remember exactly,” said Sam, “but it's been a long time.”

“I can't remember either,” said Roger. “Isn't that a little strange?”

“Not when every day is like the last one,” said Sam. “Maybe that would change?”

“Sure it would,” said Roger. “What do you say?”

“Okay, I'll give it a try,” said Sam. “You look like a nice guy. Now, will you please untie me?”

“You know you should never leave a building the same way you enter it,” said Roger as he
untied her.

“I'll try to remember that,” said Sam as she pulled a knife seemingly out of nowhere, “and
you should never trust a stranger.”

“Oh, come on Sam,” said Roger. “If you wish to leave, I won't follow you. You don't need to
pull a knife on me.”

“I'm just not ready to trust anyone,” said Sam as she began to walked away.

“We may never meet again,” said Roger. “Don't walk away. Just give it a chance. We may
never get another.”

“I hate to admit it, but you're starting to make sense,” said Sam. “Besides, if you wanted to
hurt me, you've already had your chance.”

“I need a wireless hub to replace one that was stolen yesterday,” said Roger. “You don't have

any spares, do you?”

“No, but I'll help you find one,” said Sam. “Will we be able to link our networks?”

“We'll need a super router to do that,” said Roger. “I haven't seen one of those since … I can't
even remember how long it's been.”

“What part of town have you been searching?” asked Sam as she turned on her scanner.
“This is my area in red.”

“I'm surprised that we haven't bumped into each other before,” said Roger. “This is my area.
There's quite an overlap. You must be the one that's been keeping me on my toes.”

“We can spread out, starting today,” said Sam. “I've been hesitant to move into new areas but
as you said, There's safety in numbers.”

“When was the last time you saw a robot?” asked Roger. “It's been a while for me.”

“About a month ago,” said Sam. “I stayed too long in one place. That was a little too close for
comfort. I had to jump out of a second story window. I walked with a limp for weeks.”

“Where are you going?” asked Roger.

“The roof,” said Sam. “Don't tell me you use the streets?”

“The alleys,” said Roger. “No wonder we never met before. Lead the way.”

“We can use the alleys if you prefer,” said Sam. “There's a lot of climbing and jumping
involved in maneuvering the roofs. My ankles are still a little sore.”

“But I'll bet you don't run into many robots up there,” said Roger. “I should have thought of

“Two heads are better than one,” said Sam. “Another reason this was the right thing to do.”

“Follow me,” said Roger. “Which way do you want to go, north or south?”

“The highrises to the north have always fascinated me,” said Sam. “But I could never reach
them via the rooftops.”

“We can't cross the River Bridge in broad daylight,” said Roger. “We'll have to take the
subway tunnel. The robots never use the subway.”

“But they don't maintain anything they can't use,” said Sam. “It could be pretty dark and
dangerous down there.”

“Can you swim?” asked Roger. “The river's cold and swift, but the robots won't get in the

“Our scanners aren't waterproof,” said Sam. “We're going to need our scanners.”

“Maybe we can find some way to float them across,” said Roger.

“Find some way to float us across,” said Sam. “How about an air mattress.”

“How do we propel ourselves?” asked Roger. “We'd end up miles downriver before we reach
the other side.”

“So we'll just wait until dark and walk across the bridge,” said Sam as she looked at her
scanner. “I think I'm picking up a wireless on this side of the river. Let's check it out.”

“It seems to be coming from that building,” said Roger. “There's a handicapped entrance. Be
careful, there could be a robot inside.”

“The elevators are still functioning,” said Sam, “or at least the lights still work. A robot has
definitely been using this building. The signal is on the third floor. Let's use the stairs.”

“The signal is very weak,” said Roger, “or maybe it's just well camouflaged.”

“It seems to be coming from one of those rooms down the hall,” said Sam.

“This one,” said Roger. “I'm going to open the door.”

“Run!” said Sam. “It's a robot. It's seen us. Now every robot in the city knows where we are.”

“Wait,” said Roger. “Look. Its wheel is jammed. Its going around in circles. And it's slowing
down. I think its battery is low. It was unable to recharge its solar batteries.”

As Roger approached the robot, it began flailing its arms in an attempt to strike out at him.
In a moment the flailing stopped and the arms lay limp at its side.

“It may be pretending, to draw you in closer,” said Sam. “We should get out of here before
any others arrive.”

“I don't believe it was able to communicate with the others,” said Roger. “They would have
rescued it by now. This is the opportunity I've been hoping for.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Sam. “Kill it while you have the chance.”

“I'm going to try to reprogram it,” said Roger. “I'll convince it that it needs the networks so
that it can recharge it batteries. I'll program a recurring memory of it being recharged by the
wireless signals.”

“If this works, we'll be free to transfer to cyberspace,” said Sam.

“Or we could try to repopulate the world,” said Roger. “Do you like girls or boys?”

“We'll probably need some of both,” said Sam. “And when our bodies get old, we'll make the


“And our children will be around to keep the robots in line,” said Roger. “Humanity will have
a second chance and cyberspace will survive.”


Roger wasn't hungry when he woke up. He remembered eating a large meal the night before.
But why hadn't he eaten with Sam. “Are you hungry, Darling?” asked Roger.

“No,” said Sam. “I had a large meal last night.”

“Why didn't we eat together?” asked Roger.

“Old habits are hard to break, I guess,” said Sam.

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