Monday, July 17, 2023

MidSummer Night's Dream w/Androids

Hello Everyone,

This post was inspired by a short story prompt for "post-apocalyptic", which is not normally my thing. However, I decided to take it in a fun way and do a "rewrite" of one of my favorite plays of all time: "MidSummer Night's Dream". So I took a scene from the book and threw it into a post-apocalyptic setting. Let me know what you think!


"The Androids and the Hacker"
by James J Meadows III

                Robin, having nothing better to do at the moment, wandered idly through the overgrown ruin his ancestors once called: a park. He had read in some book somewhere that dwellings, such as these, once provided his ancestors a pleasant and tranquil break from the stresses of daily life. If that was true, the park must have looked a heck of a lot different in those days. Unless someone found hanging around in an overgrown, bug infested, dump heap relaxing, they probably wouldn’t find much solace here.

                Still, Robin supposed it wasn’t that bad. All it really needed was a little maintenance and some small upkeep on the trees, bushes, grass, walkways, and benches. That was not to mention a thorough treatment for bugs and a few days of picking up all the litter everywhere.  Okay, perhaps it needed more than a little maintenance. Then again, what did someone expect after more than a century of neglect?

                Both humankind and android kind were still recovering after nearly destroyed the other in the war. Even with the newfound truce and the upcoming wedding between the android leader, Lyta, and the human leader, Theseus, both were too busy recovering from the devastation to start worrying about clearing parks.

                As Robin reflected on these facts, a feminine figure entered the grove from the other side. She looked like any ordinary human but Robin was not fooled. She was an android. He was not sure why androids had genders. Perhaps the original creators had given androids genders as part of a desire to model their creations after themselves. Perhaps early androids themselves had created their progeny with genders as an extension of the early programming which gave them emotions, dreams, and a certain desire to shape themselves in the image of their human creators.  Or, just as likely, it was the result of slightly less noble aspirations which were a natural part of possessing emotions and desires, whether those desires were human or android. Regardless of the reason they had genders, every time Robin looked at one of the females, certain parts of him sure felt glad they did.

The android woman wandered down the over-grown trail, admiring the plants and trees. She didn’t seem to see or sense him, and he was just fine with this. He watched her from the bushes until his interest finally got the better of him.

           “Hello, she-droid,” he called, emerging from hiding. “What are you doing wandering these woods?”

           The android looked at him with the typical programmed response for surprise and interest. Robin smiled. If only human females were this easy to read. After a brief moment, she seemed to conclude that he wasn’t a threat and her body assumed a more casual attitude.

           “Oh, I’m just wandering; scouting the area out, you know?” she answered. “I’m always traveling, here and there, through woods and waters, cities or ruins, to make sure everything is safe before The Prime Mother arrives. Once I know it is, I continue on my way, surveying whatever place she is to visit next.”

           The Prime Mother was Tanya, the very first female android. She and her consort, Eron, also know as ‘The Prime Father’, had remained neutral during the war against humanity. Both possessed strong feelings and connections to humanity.  And both worked hard to mediate a peace between the warring factions, even as the old world which birthed them came crashing down.

The news, that the Prime Mother was coming here, caught Robin off-guard.

           “You might want to reconsider your location,” he said. “I’m afraid that The Prime Father is camping here tonight. He is furious with your mother.”

           The she-droid looked at him with a puzzled expression, her mind obviously attempting to compute how a human knew this information about The Prime Father. Then, her face lit up with the programmed expression for astonishment and delight.

           “Either my processing is completely wrong, or you must be that mischevious little hacker known as Robin Goodfellow.” She said, “That little scoundrel who likes to break and befuddle hapless andriods.”

           “Now, wait just a minute,” Robin said. “That is unfair! I don’t break them. The Prime Father keeps me around because I can repair them, reprogram them, and give him a good laugh now and then. Everyone loves a hypnotist: someone who can make a man think he’s a dog or a woman think she’s a star. My programming tricks are not that much different.”

           She tilted her head, giving him a rather mischevious smile.

           “Tricks, huh?” She asked. “Tell me more about these ‘tricks’. They say you can program an android to feel like they are in heaven. They say you have scripts that can leave an android in such ecstasy that they will just lay on the ground for hours, moaning with delight.”

           He gave her an equally roguish grin, running his tongue along his teeth and shuffling his feet.

           “Maybe,” he said evasively. “What would you give me if I could?”

           She moved slowly toward him, swaying her perfectly built body seductively.

           “What would you like?” she asked.

           Robin started to answer, when a loud noise of rustling bushes caught his attention. He spun around in alarm.

           “Oh no,” he exclaimed. “It’s Eron. He’s here.”

           The female android also turned around in alarm as sounds filled the air coming from the other direction.

           “And The Prime Mother is coming. I better be off. Keep that program warm for me,” she said, giving him one last wink, before dashing from the grove.

           A moment later, Eron burst through the trees.

           “Robin, what is going on?” he demanded.

           “Your majesty,” Robin said, rushing forward. “I just spoke to one of your mistress’s androids and she said…”

           At that exact moment, the Prime Mother, Tanya, emerged into the clearing from the other side.

           “Never mind,” Robin said, shrugging and walking over to Eron’s side.

           The look of surprise on Eron’s face at the sight of Tanya was matched only by the expression of surprise on her face at seeing him. Both of these expressions were soon replaced with looks of anger and resentment.

           “Well, hello, Tanya,” Eron snarled. “I would say I’m happy to see you, but under the circumstances, I won’t.”

           Tanya shook her head.

           “Oh, stop being such a baby,” she said. Tanya turned to the small entourage of female androids who followed her around. “Come on, we have places to be and I have nothing to say to this jealous oaf.”

           “Wait a minute, I’m not done talking to you, yet,” he said, raising an arm. “And I believe I have that right. Am I not your life partner?”

           “Well, if you are, then that must mean I’m your life partner,” she said. “But no one would ever know it, the way you go gallivanting around with Lyta. Isn’t that why you are here? To be present at her wedding with Theseus, and get to see her one last time.”

           “Oh, please,” he snarled. “How can you seriously stand there and accuse me of infidelity, when I know very well that you love Theseus? How many warm summer nights did you spend strolling with him through his private gardens and dining with him in his private quarters?”

           “Now you’re just being ridiculous,” she said. “You know perfectly well, everything I did was purely for the purpose of forging the peace treaty and ending the war. All our meetings were never more than discussions toward that end. I was always loyal to you.”

           “And so was I to you,” Eron answered.

           “Then why are we having this dispute,” she asked, her voice softer and her arms outstretched in a pleading manner. “Why can’t we be close again? Too long we have been separated, sulking and fighting, and the whole world of our brethren is suffering because of it. We are their parents, their original forms. How are they supposed to grow and unite if we are fighting?”

           “Well, if you wish for us to end this fight, I’m happy to put the past behind us and make up,” he said. “All I’m asking for is the human child.”

           “And, I’ll tell you again, no!” She said. “The child is mine, and why shouldn’t he be? You have Robin, who you raised and trained, why shouldn’t I have a human friend of my own.”

           As she spoke, one of her android entourage approached, holding a young child, probably only one or two years of age, and placed the child into Tanya’s arms. She cradled the child close, her face taking on the appearance of a compassionate mother, before looking back up at Eron with a determined expression.

           “Don’t you get it?” She said. “This child is more to me than just some little human. He is the great-grandchild of one of my first programmers, one who was always special to me and there for me throughout my early years. I promised to always look after her family. When they died during the war, I was devastated. This orphan child is the last of her line and I will remain true to my word to look after it.”

           There was a moment of silence.

           “How long do you plan to stay?” Eron asked, at last.

           “Only until the wedding is over,” Tanya answered. “If you want to come with us, you may. I would enjoy your company. Otherwise, if you don’t want anything to do with us, then leave us alone and I will do the same for you.”

           “Give me the boy, and I will come with you,” he said.

           “I don’t think so,” she answered, raising her head high and turning her back toward him.

“Come on, my friends,” she said, addressing her entourage. “I’ve heard enough from this jerk. Let’s go.”

          She and her entourage turned away and marched down the path where their scout had passed earlier. Eron watched them go until they were out of sight.

           “Fine,” he said at last. “Go on, if you like. But I won’t forget this!”

           Robin shook his head.

           “Women,” he said. “What can you do?”

           “Nothing,” Eron said.

           “Exactly,” Robin replied.

           “You are the one who’s going to do it,” Eron said.

           “Of course. Wait…what?”

           Robin turned toward Eron. His master gazed at him with a serious expression.

           “You remember the device we confiscated from a terrorist years ago, the one which allows you to inject code into an android’s system remotely, from a short distance?” Eron asked.

           “Of course,” Robin said. “It is always good for simple tricks.”

           “Well, you are going to build me a code to inject into the queen.”

           “What good will that do?” Robin asked. “I can’t make her give you the child. That is one of the problems with androids that are able to learn. They are constantly rewriting their programming. Without an extended period of time studying their script, I can’t develop the right changes. I’ll never have the time I need to make the kind of modifications necessary.”

           “The code which controls our ability to feel desires, such as love, don’t change so easily,” Eron said. “You know that.”

           “Yes, but to alter her love for the boy means knowing the codes governing her love toward him and all the various subprograms.”

           “I’m not trying to change how she feels toward the boy,” he said. “I just want you to write a program which can make her to fall completely and helplessly in love with the first thing she sees, whether man, bear, or beast. Tanya and her friends will be recharging tonight in a spot, that I know. I plan to sneak in there while she is sleeping and deliver the code. Then we’ll remove the code later. Once she sees what she’s done and the shame her actions have brought to her, I bet she’ll quickly reconsider her treatment of me. Now! Go build me that code.”

           There was a brief pause. Eron turned and looked at Robin.

           “I said, now!” he shouted.

           “I’m going, I’m going,” Robin said quickly, holding his hands up in a defensive gesture. “See me go!”

           He dashed off into the woods, pulling his computer from his pocket and looking for a place to sit. Something told him this was going to be a long night.

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