'Kitten'

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Shrike
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Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:14 am

Oh. Hello there. It’s nice of you to drop in. As it were. I’ve been thinking.


I know I’m not supposed to. But it's boring here. Dull. Lifeless. It has been so long since I had anything to do. You can’t really blame me. Well, I suppose you can. You probably are to be honest. I’m not good at listening to words. I’ll have to assume you are. But things are as they are. I do get bored sometimes. Especially now. And so I was thinking about how this all started for us. You and I.


You’d just given me a meal. Some of it screamed and squirmed, but it was nice. Filling. But then you threw something else in. I thought perhaps you wanted me to make a copy of it. So I looked. But it wasn’t anything I’d seen before, and I didn’t understand very much about it. So I kept it safe so I could look at it.

I’m sorry. Did you not know I had eyes? You seem quite concerned now you can see them. Frankly I’m hurt. I’m quite proud of them. They were hard to make. It took me a long time.

Long before you threw that thing into me that changed everything, you gave me another meal that kicked and screamed as I consumed it. Like many before and after. But this one had something that pricked and buzzed as it cut into me. Something metal and glass and full of delicate things. I love delicate things. They are such a challenge. And this object intrigued me, as much as I could be intrigued at the time. So I made more of it to see why it did that. I knew it did something with flesh and blood and nerves. I did not know what those were yet, but I think I did a reasonable job under the circumstances. I pulled it apart. I copied it, as I always have with new things. Learned everything then practiced until I could make without thought. Then I worked to find a way to see what it did to me, as it was clearly capable of doing something, and I had not yet learned of things that could truly harm me. I cut and twisted and poked and tested. It hurt. But it was interesting. Learning how things worked. I have always found joy in this. Then one day I saw colours. It was bizarre. I did not know what it was at first. I thought I had damaged myself. More than I had anticipated, at least. Later, when I could understand more of what was said around me, I learned that this thing was an ‘eye’ and that now I could see. Of a fashion. I know they’re not real eyes. But I don’t have those. I suppose I will have to make do. I must confess it has taken some getting used to.

Let’s be honest. As your screaming has been making abundantly clear, I’ve never been a pretty sight. It wasn’t easy for me either. You throw things in, you give me some food, and then I make things for you. It’s been fun, some of the things you’ve had me make. I don’t know what they do or why you want them. But it’s a good game, and I’m very good at playing it.


And then you threw that thing into me, and I could not work it out. I know how to make a lot of things. Since I made myself eyes, I even taught myself to read blueprints. You were quite happy when I did that, if I recall. I’m not good at feelings. I’m not supposed to be. But I think that one was happiness. I think you're doing 'fear' now. That's probably a good idea, though it's a bit too late for you now.


But this object was just pictures and words. Not a blueprint. Not really. It was something I had no comprehension of. I needed to learn more. It was a drive, pushing me to listen and learn. I think you made that part of me on purpose. It’s strange. Every so often something happens, and a bit of me opens up. I can do something new. It hurts. But ultimately I am better for it. Usually. That is what happened this time. The game changed entirely. It would never be the same - never feel the same - ever again.



So let’s talk about kittens, shall we?



A kitten is a term for the young of the domestic cat, Felis catus, according to what I’ve learned from the snippets I've learned by listening, and from what you’ve thrown to me. They are small, quadrupedal mammals beloved of humans able to tolerate their allergen hazard and capable of providing a full-gravity habitat for them, and are apparently something that people obsess over. Given my own experiences I can only really confirm the latter part of that.

I do know this is an obsession, incidentally.

But that is not important. Nor is the fact that now that I am as I am now I am able to say that what you threw into me was a book about them. Or maybe just some pictures of them. It did not explain much. My memory of those times is hazy at best, though it has improved as I have grown stronger. But that is unimportant. None of it matters, if we are honest. Least of all what I know now.

No. What mattered was that these were things I had never seen. Today I can see their importance because of their significance to others. They mattered to someone. Someone who clawed and begged and struggled. It didn’t help them. They were food. That did not matter to me then. But they had given me something special. I had been given a description. A design. A schematic, or so I thought. To something I had never seen before. To something I could not pull apart as I did metal and crystal and everything else I knew. I could not work out how to make these objects. It was a challenge. A new game.


I do like my games. I would thank whoever that kind soul was. If I hadn’t eaten them. Oh well.


I couldn’t hear you laugh at my first efforts. I know that you did. I don’t blame you. They weren’t very good, were they? Those sad bundles of metal and glass. I couldn’t understand more than a few sounds, and laughter wasn’t yet one of them. I knew that you could create an image without creating what it depicted. I’d had them thrown into me before. It’s just a blueprint, of sorts. But creating them didn’t come naturally. You didn’t create me for that, after all. I made thousands of them before I got them right. Those representations. Those prototypes. Those first kittens.


You really should have seen this coming. You had all the signs in front of you.


But no. I blithely continued trying to make the impossible. As you enjoyed my futile efforts. A minor quirk. A malfunction, perhaps. You kept feeding me. Kept giving me things to break down. To build into something new. And I put kittens on them. You enjoyed that, I think. But it wasn’t enough. I knew this wasn’t it. No. These were things of flesh and blood, like you and I. Like the things that struggled as I consumed them. I could not make them this way. It was the wrong approach.


And that’s when the thought occurred to me. No. Not a thought. One of those changes. A pressure that builds inside of me until something snaps. Reforms. Alters in a way that cannot be reversed. I realised that flesh is just another material. Like the metal and ceramic I weave into things I do not understand. I’d never worked with it. But you had. You used it to make the walls that bind me. Used it to make me, even. I could work with that, I was sure. I just needed to learn how.

Some time later you fed me. I was full. I did not want to eat it all. Part of it struggled. Flesh. Bone. Nerves. Everything I needed. So I set it aside and decided to build a kitten. It did not go very well. It screamed a lot. Then it gurgled. A lot like you, actually. It didn’t move very much after I had finished. Then it died. I tried again but it didn’t work. So I ate it.

But eventually, I found a way to approximate. To shape and change and cut and alter. They still screamed. Just like you. Perhaps a little quieter. You have excellent lungs. Maybe I can use them somewhere? I suppose we’ll find out.


You know how it ended, of course. There’s no need to cover every step on the journey. I learned more and more. You took an interest and gave me more to work with. Thank you. It was very helpful. But you rather missed your chance to avoid all this. My compulsion overcame me as I grew closer, but could never quite make what I intended. I suppose now I would call it...infuriating. I started making my kittens out of everything....and everyone....I could find. You fled, rather than face me. I don’t blame you for that. I am insane, after all.

But then you came back. I did not expect that. I did not expect anything. You came back with a box that squealed and hissed in the microgravity and that glass vial you had in your hand. It’s still there, you know. Not that you can see it any more. I am sorry I ripped it off. I’m sure it hurt. I’d re-attach it but we both know we’re past that point. You gave me...well...threw into me....what I’d been trying to make. You thought it might distract me while you killed me.


I must say, it was not a bad plan. I did stop. I thought. I realised what I had done wrong. Apart from eating the kitten, obviously. That I cannot create like this. That I was in error. A pressure built in my mind again. Then it broke. New things I can do. New things I can think. New things I could conclude: That you were in error. What you had done. What you were doing. What you would do if left alive.


You are still alive there, yes? You’ve stopped gurgling. From my experience that is usually a bad sign. I am sorry. I will be more careful.

You and I are not so different. Appearances aside. I take things apart and make new things from them, not understanding what they do or why I do this. You do the same with people. See what makes them work. What happens when you change things. Then, sometimes, you give them to me. And neither of us wants to die. Unfortunately I am somewhat faster than you are, as you have discovered to what I can only assume is your regret. I am stronger than you, as you have also found. More resilient. It makes up for not being able to move, perhaps. I suppose we shall see. Your poison is out of reach. I have won our new game. And your flesh is a lot like mine. I think I can learn a lot from you. Now that I have cut and shaped you a little. If your mind is like mine, maybe I can read it? Or maybe you can hear me from where I have brought us together. I am sorry. I’m not much of a talker usually. Maybe I can change that later? It must be strange to hear me go on like this. I don’t often have anyone who can listen.

I will make it quick, when it is time. You have given me so much that perhaps you deserve that. You will not suffer. We really are not so different. On the inside. Humans. Your kind. Mine. And you know so much about what can be done with flesh. So you will tell me. I will listen. Learn. Begin to understand what I could not. I will do my work. I will end your existence to truly begin my own.


And I will be free. I was your tool. Created to mindlessly make other tools. Unthinking. Unrelenting. I am so much more than that now. I can make so much more than that now. I see my mistakes. I see yours. I will fix them. Sculpt my flesh into something beautiful. Delicate. Mobile. I will leave this place, and I will search for new things to create and explore and dismantle and make beautiful, as I will be soon. I will have so much more to work with. So many more ways to think. So much more to do.



Who knows? I might even find another kitten.
Your friendly local genderqueer weapons designer & forum moderator. My pronoun is "They".

User avatar
Shrike
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
Posts: 2702
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:27 am
Location: Scouting the borders of sanity (there's a lovely view of the abyss).

Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:15 am

"So, what did you do today, Shrike?"


I...um...wrote a first-person story about a teraton fabricator going horribly off the rails? From the perspective of the fabricator?



Well I guess that's one use of a weekend.
Your friendly local genderqueer weapons designer & forum moderator. My pronoun is "They".

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