Kiel-some robots go beyond programming

Keith Brandon

Kiel - Some robot goes beyond their programming

by Keith Brandon 2021

Copyright All rights reserved

The XOC units were the finest droids in all the numerous system of Steh sector, ruled by the Weei-Ghan dynasty. They were literally indestructible and were sent to do all the life threatening jobs and missions humans and other races could not do, or were sent on long journeys into hyperspace and beyond to complete their missions. There was one unit among these droids, nicknamed “Kiel”, which means "Superb". He got his nickname as a result of being different from all the other units. He did not just simply do his job, he exceeded all expectations, saved numerous lives and even made friends with humans which was quite unusual. Almost as if he had a personality...

The planets in the system had always been surrounded with a purple aura, keeping the planets going, and this was the reason why life bloomed and thrived here. The purple aura connected the planets and the beings lived on it. It was part of the ground, which spread into it. In fact it was part of everything. Nearly a hundred years ago, however, this material, suddenly detached itself from the system. The main scientists worked tirelessly to solve the problem but were unable to find the cause of all this. All they could determine was that the purple material just disappeared suddenly, like it was soup being spooned from a bowl. The material had found its way into deep space where no one had been before. An uncharted part of the universe only briefly mentioned in the ancient archives of the Steh Systems.

The High Council of the systems called upon Kiel to take the journey into the unknown in order to find out where the material had disappeared to and to bring it back to the systems. If he were to be unsuccessful, life would cease to exist in the systems. In return, the leaders of the systems promised him anything he wanted upon his successful mission.

Kiel accepted the mission without hesitation and promised to set things right; he had even refused to accept any gift. As he put it: “I am happy to fulfill the purpose for which I was created and hold up to my

Prime Directive, which is to serve mankind and safeguard from any harm regardless whether that leads to the destruction of the unit.” Then he added, “I would be sad to see my friends die.” He did not return for months, but he claimed he only spent about a day or two in the “Afterspace”, as he named it. When he returned, he was a changed person, and what he had reported he found changed all our lives. Let his story be heard now.

1.

Kiel sat in the control room of the ship, making the last checks on the navigation system. The relatively small ship nevertheless was state of the art in all aspects.

He turned his face to the screen on his left. Dr. Sval Nrenn looked back at him with his black eye. The old pale-skinned humanoid-shaped creature spoke to him.

“Farewell, Kiel. We are eagerly awaiting your report, that is as soon as you can send us anything at all during your journey.”

“I will, Doctor,” he said with his deep vibrating voice, “I would never violate my Directive, and besides my friends count on me.”

He smiled, but it was a creepy smile. Every time he did this, it looked as though someone had cut through his face.

Dr. Nrenn could not help but smile with him.

On another screen broadcast from a different room, over a dozen representatives from the system's planets had all gathered to wish Kiel good luck. He now turned to that screen.

“I will do everything in my power to solve this mystery and save us all.”

They bowed deeply to him in silence.

Kiel turned back to the control panel and ignited the engines. With the activation of the switch, he remotely opened up the hangar that hid his craft, and it emerged from within the metal walls, setting off on its course. Its engines roared, and then, with a swift push, it flew off the base and straight into space.

Kiel followed the trace of the material to the point where it showed the most density, just before it had disappeared into the other world. He opened up a hyperspace tunnel, and put the coordinates into the ship, setting it up to follow the trace wherever it led to. He pulled the lever. Many would have been excited about this journey, but not Kiel. His bald grey head and his blue eyes remained still and sat in his chair with a cheerful, but small smile that he always seemed to have on his face.

“Long roads ahead, and shiny stars to dance with, while the black bed of space cradles us with dreams…” he hummed the old classic song, whilst the big white light of the tunnel covered him and his craft and swallowed them as if they had never existed.

2.

He had been in the hyper tunnel for days now. There was nothing interesting in it, it was all greyish-blue. In the meantime, he had been working on the plans he started on back at home. He wore his light-blue working uniform with the Steh Scientific Institution's symbol above his right chest.

He held two laser dissectors in his hands as he attempted to join two metal barrels. He suddenly felt a tiny jolt.

“What happened?” he asked. Writing appeared on the wall opposite him.

“We stopped in the hyper tunnel.”

“Why?”

“Reason unknown,” the writing continued. “But it is certain that the tunnel had narrowed down to a such a size that it would be dangerous to continue on this trip.”

If Kiel had had eyebrows, he would have raised them right now.

“Unknown information about hyper tunnels,” he said out loud. He stood up from the table. “Is there any living entity outside?” he asked.

“No. It is impossible to live in a hyper tunnel,” the writing said.

“Well, something has certainly made the tunnel shrink,” Kiel answered to the wall. “Send out a welcome message in all frequencies.”

The wall went silent. The central screen built into the wall which showed pictures of the great cities of his home world Fyre. This now went black and then he could see the frozen hyper tunnel.

“Who are you?” a high pitched voice asked. “I am Kiel from Fyre. Who are you?”

“I am the tunnel through which you are travelling.”

“How is that possible? There is no record of a living tunnel in any the civilised worlds.”

“Well there is now. How did you get in here?”

“I opened it. I was following the traces of the purple material. For some reason, it is being sucked out of the planets, and, because of that, eventually all life in the Steh sector will end.”

“Ah the nectar,” the tunnel answered. “Yes, a new cycle will begin. That is the order of the things.”

“What does that mean?” Kiel asked.

“You still have not answered my question. How did you get into the tunnel? No one has ever been able to enter here since the start of time.”

“As I said, I opened a portal. I was following the purple thing.”

“Hmmm. Unusual. Perhaps there was some cracks left open. Throughout my endless existence, I have no record of anyone entering in me. Where I am from is where life both starts and ends.”

Kiel turned his head slightly to the left. “You know where the Creator is?"

“Ah. There is no record of that. That life form has began, been existed or changed forms. Only the scythe-man would know. But that still does not answer your impossible presence here.” The screen elongated from the screen and pulled up to Kiel's face. A face formed and examined Kiel’s.

“There is something unusual in you.”

“Well, I am not a human or other race. I am not even organic.”

“I can see that. What are you?”

“I am a droid. An artificial intelligence.”

“Never seen your kind.”

“You said no one has ever entered here. How do you know of any race?”

“There were some instances during the river of time. Some with great purpose and desire have done the impossible to get here.”

“Why is this place hidden?”

The tunnel-face frowned. “You have a purpose.”

“Yes, I do. To serve my creators, the humans, my friends.”

“There is something more to it. Never mind. I have made my decision. You have to meet with the Scythe-man. You cannot leave until he decides what is to happen.”"

“You can't hold me here.”

“Yes, I can. You have become a ripple in the river of time. You changed the course of things. That has consequences. You have to correct it now and set things back as they were. I notified the Scythe man of your arrival. Farewell then, made-man. It is unlikely that we shall see one another again. Which is unfortunate.” The screen pulled back returning to its original state. Kiel felt another small jolt.

“What happened?” he asked.

“We are out of the hyper tunnel,” said the writing on the wall.

3.

As he looked through the window in the control room, he saw the eternal space with the shining stars dotting the black cover. There seemed to be no planets or star system nearby. He put the ship on autopilot and went back to his table to continue his work on the steel barrels that would be of some use for the humans to use on spaceships. The idea was that they would somehow shrink each hyper space journey to a half a time each journey currently took.

As he worked, he enjoyed listening to an opera from Fyre. When something dramatic happened in the opera, such as a betrayal, he always turned his grey head slightly left or right. This was because he had seen the reaction from others who had taken him with them to see magnificent opera productions.

“Bastard,” he said, regarding a character that attempted to murder his beloved wife who had been caught in the act.

There was another jolt, but this time it was bigger, and it shook the vessel.

“What is going on?” he asked, turning his head to the white wall and pressing a switch on the table to pause the opera.

"We have encountered a physical barrier. The craft has hit something which has so far remained invisible.”

“Damage?” Kiel asked.

“Negligible. The auto correct system will be able to fix the problems, though it may require some manual handling.”

“Excellent,” he acknowledged. “Reverse back a bit and then scan the barrier.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Whilst the craft moved back, Kiel entered the control room and sat in his chair. The control computer lay directly under the windows in a semi-circular shape.

“Anything?”

“Yes, there is. The space is moving,” the writing said, appearing on the wall just beside the control panel. And Kiel could see exactly what the computer was talking about.

The space moved towards them, all of the black velvet and the shiny points. He grabbed the edge of his seat. There was a collision. The space moved back.

Kiel could not understand what was going on. Since they had begun their space travels eons ago, there had never been such phenomenon recorded in the entire Steh sector. The space in front of them became white, and all of the stars and black velvet had gone. Something shook the craft again. Sparks splashed out from the panel in front of him and also from the walls. The ship suddenly moved upwards as if it were lifted. Still, all he could see was white, but then two golden spheres shone through his windows, and then they narrowed, as if they were two eyes.

“What are you?” a deep, frightening voice roared.

Kiel however knew no fear.

A huge white creature lifted the ship up to its face. It only had two shiny eyes and a shiny looking mouth. The rest his body was a white sort of mess. It poked the ship once with one of its fingers.

“What are you?” it asked again.

“Please do not shake my ship. You will destroy it.” Kiel’s voice came from a speaker.

“Ah, a ship,” the creature said. “I have not seen one in a long time.”

“Who… What are you?” Kiel asked next.

“I am a guard in the after space,” it said, “But my friends call me Mye."

Kiel though that perhaps the creature felt some sort of pride when it introduced itself to him. “Greetings Mye,” he greeted the creature.

“Where are your friends?”

“They are guarding the other entrances of the after space. But this is confidential. It will have to be wiped from your memory.”

“Why is it confidential?” Kiel asked.

“Come out of your ship. I want to see who you are."

“There is not much to see. I am a droid. The finest, according to my creators.”

“And intelligent, like a living creature,” Mye added.

A minute later, Kiel appeared on the side of the ship, which now lay on Mye's palm. As a droid, he did not have to wear any suit, and only his boots were magnetised, to keep him grounded to the surface of his ship.

Mye lowered his head as close as he could to examine Kiel with his big, shiny eyes. “Why is this place top secret?”

“Because this is the after space. This is where time began long ago, and this is where it ends. Still, it is unusual. How did you get here? And why has the tunnel let you come this far?”

“I am here as a representative from my home planet. Something is taking away the purple material that surrounds our planet. The very material that gives us life. I am here to find and reverse the course of it if possible.”

“Ah. That. Indeed it is the way of the life in this universe. It has been since the beginning of its existence. And you have a noble task, a noble reason to find it. Maybe that is what the tunnel saw in you.”

“What you mean?” Kiel asked.

“There is one important rule that only a few understand. To seek out a secret and solve it, it can only be done with the purpose of helping others. Those who hope to gain control of it for their own benefit will corrupt it. They who made it here before you only had the desire to gain control. They failed as I had to destroy them or had to send them back where they came from with their memory erased. Those and their worlds have long since perished.”

“I understand. I am here to save my people if I can. That is my Prime Directive, to serve mankind and safeguard it from any harm regardless of whether that leads to the destruction of the unit. I am asking you for the chance to do whatever I can to turn back the flow of the material and save my people.”

“That decision is not mine to make. That has to be done by the Scythe-Man. I do not see any false purpose in you or the will to deceive. You seem to be different. I will let you pass. Whatever happens now it is all up to you.”

“I thank you,” Kiel acknowledged, bowing his grey head.

4.

He was in a different place. The stars and the black velvet of space remained the same, however. As far as he could see, dozens of different colours and their shades of rivers flowed downwards from a high place above him like waterfalls, and then disappeared together at the bottom of the coloured steps. He stood at the bottom of a silver-coloured staircase leading way up high. Even though there was no invitation for him to do so, he began to walk up these steps. He was neither nervous nor excited, but rather curious. After passing the 789th step (or at least as far as he had counted) the scenery did not change a bit. The

coloured rivers still fell noiselessly, although the light that came from the top of the stairs seemed closer. After a while, he arrived at the top. What he saw could not be compared to anything he had recorded previously.

An immense cloud had filled the horizon as far as the eye could see. It changed colour frequently, displaying all of the colours that existed. It was a sight to behold. The cloud moved and changed, alternately becoming both smaller and then bigger as its edge took on different forms.

Where Kiel stood on the sides, the rivers of different colours flowed slowly, then fell off the edge, like real waterfall. Kiel looked ahead. Far in the distance, he saw a shadowy figure in front of the cloud that seemed as if it were both shoveling something and quickly turning side to side. He could have used his droid vision to get a closer look, but for some reason he did not do it. He walked towards the figure.

The cloud got bigger and bigger the closer he walked towards it. After a while he could see the figure in more detail. He wore a shiny blue outfit, which looked as if it were armour, changing colour periodically. The person had human face with white hair, and although his face was completely smooth, he still somehow looked old. He had some sort of tool in his hand, which appeared to be a hammer on a long stick.

As Kiel approached him, he looked up at him.

“Ah, finally you are here. Be welcome in the after space. Not many make it here,” he said, laughing out loud, “I will be right back.”

The man's shape blurred and then stretched into the far distance but was back then back in a second. Kiel could not understood what had just happened.

“Yes, I can be distant if I want, if I need to tend my duties. It is one of the abilities I possess as the Scythe-man. You look like you swallowed a crampon,” he laughed again, “But where are my manners? I am the Scythe- man, or as the others call me, Benf.”

“And I am Kiel. From Fyre. Pleasure to meet you. Who are the others you mentioned?”

“Hah, not so fast, my friend,” Benf said raising his voice. “Knowing it all at once will leave you empty and sad, trust me. The last one who made it this far did not listen to me and jumped right into the rivers to find the ultimate truth of all.”

“And what happened to him?” Kiel asked.

Benf leaned in closer. “I guess he still looking,” he whispered and laughed again, hitting Kiel's back jovially. Then his face went both serious and in some way sad. He waved his hand. “Sad story.”

“I am also here to seek both knowledge and answers to save my people, my friends.”

Benf sighed. “All that came here wanted the same as you, but I’m afraid I can't help.”

“Why is that?”

“I am sure that by now you have figured out what the coloured rivers are?”

“Yes. The materials that surround

planets and worlds and keep them alive.”

“Indeed, but we just call it the Nectar. There are rules by which the rivers were created, and these very rules hold their very existence. There is a cycle here that has to be maintained.”

“Can you explain?”

“Of course. The Nectar and as well as the whole place was created by the One. He brought planets into existence, sparking life in them with the Nectar. The Nectar is the very thing the connects these worlds, and without it there is no life. The One gave these worlds a purpose, to thrive, to prosper and to achieve great things. This is done usually in cycles of hundreds or thousands of years until a world or a race develops itself to the point where they can achieve these things. But when the worlds begin to turn in a different direction and start using their minds and abilities to conquer and gain power, then the purpose of the Nectar changes and flows back to its origin, here.”

“This is incredible,” Kiel said, “An amazing creation, but this leaves these worlds to their death, even if it is not happening right away.”

“Yes, it is incredible. The process is slow of course, in order to leave time to the people of that certain world to realise that they doing something wrong and then to try to reverse it. But…” Benf sighed, “Most of the time, the worlds perish in their ignorance.”

“And it is changing its colour. It became lighter and lighter.”

“Good observation,” Benf acknowledged, “Did it start to change in your world?”

“Yes, and I noticed it in a few others as well.”

“I am sorry to hear that.”

“I admire your passion, Kiel, towards your friends, not least because you are a built machine, but it was not me that wrote the rules. The One did. He is the only one who could rewrite the book and change the course of things.”

“Is all written down in a book?”

“Yes, it is,” Benf answered.

“May I see it?”

A strange thing occurred to him. Excitement had gone to his droid brain right after he asked to see the book. And he was a droid. He was not supposed to have “feelings”.

Benf laughed, even louder than before.

“You are a bold one. And what exactly are you expecting to do with it?”

“I want to read it. There might be something it says that was misunderstood about the rules.”

Something happened in his head. Was it possible that all excitement had just gone to his brain?

Benf laughed, even louder still than before.

“I have to say, I have not had this much fun in at least a whole millennia.” But then Benf’s face became somewhat sad.

“I have to read those rules every 500 years my friend. And they are all the same. I am sorry. I can't change the course of the universe.”

Somehow Kiel felt it would be useless to argue any more.

“I understand Benf,” he sighed, “Do you mind if I at least see the book before I return to my home? I promise I will not steal it.” he smiled with that creepy smile he had, and a sudden calm embraced him. He felt that everything would be ok.

Benf clapped his fingers together.

“To hell with it. Why not? I guess you deserve it.”

Benf then said a word Kiel did not understand, but, with a flash of light, a book appeared out of nowhere and levitated above of him. It was made out of a brown-coloured material, which his sensors could not analyse. He took the book in his hands. On the cover there was a shiny emblem of a circle with two lines drawn on the sides.

The lock of the book clicked and the book opened. Benf stood there in astonishment, while Kiel held the book in his hands as if this were the most natural thing in the world. Something had happened to him.

The artificial mechanism had stopped its function, and his emotionless face had changed into another shiny face. Benf recognised that face and bowed his head.

“Welcome home my Lord, welcome, the One.”

“Greetings, my friend. It is a pleasure to see you after such a long time. The time had come for me to visit places of origins, and I see you have carried out your duties, for which I am grateful."

“Thank you, my Lord,” Benf said and lifted his head. “Now you wish to change some of the rules?” he asked with a small smile on his face.

“I think I do. I have lived amongst these creatures and men long enough to see that there is hope for them. They deserve it.”

He put his hand on the open page. A minute later he closed the book. It clicked again, signaling that it locked.

"You are giving them too many chances,” Benf said.

“You would too, if you'd live among them. It's so much fun,” Kiel said.

“Do you wish for your memory to be wiped again, my Lord?” Benf asked.

“Only with regards to me being here as the One,” he replied, “People find it very hard to accept that one of their fellow man is the chosen one.”

“Indeed, that is true.”

“And I will return again when times become desperate.”

“But of course, my Master,” Benf acknowledged, bowing to his master. The face of the chosen one disappeared, and the emotionless droid face took shape again.

“Farewell, Benf,” he said, “It has been an honour to meet you.”

“As it was mine to meet you.”

A moment later he was back in his small spaceship, sitting in the dining area.

“Welcome back, sir,” said the writing on the wall beside the screen. “I hope your journey was pleasant and satisfying.”

“We could say that. Set a course for home, please.”

“Right away.”

And the small ship slid into the unknown hyper tunnel to take him home.

When Kiel returned to Fyre a few days later, the Nectar -as we began to call it after finding out its proper name- returned and we got our planet back to its full potential. Life returned to normal, sick people recovered.

Kiel became a galactic hero, upholding his prime directive and exceeding all expectations. Statues were made to honour him, even though he showed not the slightest bit of interest in them. He remained the Kiel we knew, yet somehow different. As he stated in an interview, “I am only your friend and am here to help anyway I can.”

All the recordings he had from his journey were played throughout the system. Most of us believed it, but some did not. Even us scientists had to accept the facts that were presented by him. He accepted to undergoing a complete scientific investigation, but nothing was found that would confirm any alternation or anomaly either in his mechanics or memory banks.

He asked to change his face to have a more human face instead of the grey display that had served him as his head and face, stating that he wanted to become more like one of us.

To this day he has remained in the Alliance System Science Division, and yet works tirelessly to make our worlds a better place.

The hyper tunnel he travelled through was never found again. We searched the coordinates where the Nectar flew and disappeared and tried everything within our technological level of ability, but nothing worked.

Perhaps, it is for the best. But it is good to know that we have a way ahead of us to help us both develop and achieve great things. And it is also good to know that there are higher powers who sometimes watch over us. And thus we can have hope for ourselves.

Dr. Sval Nrenn

Head of Alliance Scientific Department in the Steh systems

System Time: 3408

End