How to Spot a Synthetic
They look like us. Act like us. But they’re not human. Created in a lab to do the tasks humans can’t be bothered with, synthetics are custom built to serve. But how can you tell if the menial behind the counter, the nanny watching over the children in the park, or the landscaper tending the flowers is one of us… or one of them? Perhaps it’s best to let the marketing department at Walton Biogenics answer that question…
Excerpt taken from a recent Walton Biogenics advertising campaign…
Purpose Built. Each synthetic is designed with care and precision to be perfectly suited to their intended use. Through the application of extensive, patented genetic technology, we at Walton Biogenics have sculpted your new synthetic to the tightest specifications for the task at hand. Laborers boast a significantly higher degree of muscle fibers; undercity workers conform to physical standards compatible with the tight quarters they must negotiate, and domestics bring a balance of pleasing aesthetics and readiness to serve in any way you see fit.
Works of Art. At Walton Biogenics, we believe that a synthetic should be more than just a tool. Aesthetics matter, and while form may follow function, we strive to make every synthetic a work of art. Our dedicated focus to bilateral symmetry, classic lines, and appealing curves will ensure that your investment in one of our synthetics will not only get the job done, but will keep a smile on your face for years to come.
The Finest Programming. We don’t just grow synthetics and ship them out the door. When you purchase a Walton Biogenics synthetic, you can be sure that, in addition to being designed from the ground up to meet your needs, they have undergone extensive training and programming, so that they can handle any task within their design specifications. But more than that, we make sure that every synthetic is capable of even more. Whatever model you choose, they’ll come standard with a suite of skills guaranteed to cover your basic needs – and even some more exotic ones!
The Walton Biogenics Promise. In modern times, it seems like nothing is built to last. Walton Biogenics is here to change that. Our synthetics are guaranteed to work, period. If you experience any problems or performance issues, simply take your synthetic to any one of our convenient service centers and you’ll be provided a replacement, free of charge, with no questions asked. That’s our promise.
*Note: Offer excludes products intentionally damaged by the purchaser.
The New Lyons Sequence #2
by J.T. Nicholas
Genre: Science Fiction/Cyberpunk Noir
Genre: Science Fiction/Cyberpunk Noir
Pub Date: 3/20/2018
The Post-Modern Prometheus
Synths were manufactured to look human and perform physical labor, but they were still only machines. That’s what the people who used—and abused—them believed, until the truth was revealed: Synths are independent, sentient beings. Now, the governments of the world must either recognize their human nature and grant them their rightful freedom, or brace for a revolution.
Former New Lyons Detective Jason Campbell has committed himself to the Synths’ cause, willing to fight every army the human race marches against them. But they have an even greater enemy in Walton Biogenics, the syndicate behind the creation and distribution of the “artificial” humans. The company will stop at nothing to protect their secrets—and the near-mythological figure known to Synths as “The First,” whose very existence threatens the balance of power across the world . . .
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There was a body on my doorstep.
I don’t know what woke me, or what drove me to climb so early from the narrow cot that served as my bed. Maybe it was some lingering cop instinct from my time with the NLPD, that nagging sense that something was wrong. It was that instinct that had me tucking the paddle holster of my forty-five into the waistband of the ratty jeans I had fallen asleep in.
I slid open the door of the eight-by-eight walled office cubicle that served as my bedroom and stepped out onto the cavernous floor of what had once been a call center. The first rays of dawn were peeking over the eastern horizon, filtering through what remained of the call center’s windows, casting the interior in monochromatic grays accented with darker pools of shadow.
The broad floor was filled with sleeping people. Sleeping synthetics. The genetically engineered clones that had served as an underclass of slave labor for decades and, with a small amount of help from me and a whole lot of work and planning from a synthetic named Silas, had begun a de facto rebellion.
I padded among them on bare feet, stepping as silently as possible, and yet, without exception, the eyes of each synthetic I passed popped open. They stared at me, stark-white against the gray, eyes wide, searching, and somehow fearful. Not one of them moved. They waited in statue-like rigidity, a coiled-spring tension resonating from their stillness. It lasted only a moment, until they realized where they were; until they realized who I was. I couldn’t begrudge them that moment of fear, but it still hit me like a punch to the gut.
Such was life in revolution central. Nearly a month since we had taken over the air and net waves. Nearly a month since we had ripped off the veil covering the ugly truth that synthetics were not unthinking, unfeeling things, but as much people as any of the naturally born. Nearly a month, and for synthetics, things had gotten worse.
It wasn’t unexpected. Silas had predicted the reaction from society at large when we shone a spotlight on the truth that everyone suspected but no one seemed willing to admit. It had started with protests. Angry people marching with signs about respecting their rights and not dictating what they could do with their bought-and-paid-for property. The protests should have collapsed under the weight of irony alone, but instead they had given way to violence—violence directed almost entirely against synthetics. Viral videos of synthetic beatings—always popular—had hit unprecedented highs, as had videos depicting darker, more depraved “punishments” for those who dared to think they might one day be “real” people. The violence, in turn, had given way to death. Not on a widespread scale—not yet. Whatever else they might be, synthetics were, after all, expensive. Only the very wealthy could afford to dispose of them wantonly.
We’d given the world an ultimatum: give synthetics rights, or be prepared to have all the little secrets that they had gathered in their decades of near-invisible servitude released to the public. Silas had managed to bring together and weaponize secrets that could topple governments and destroy lives. The plan was simple enough—release a wave of compromising information on a number of politicians and public figures. The first wave was embarrassing, but not damning, not actively criminal. If that failed to spark action, then a second, more catastrophic wave would be released. And so on, until the governments either acceded to our demands or toppled from the sheer weight of skeletons tumbling out of closets.
But as that deadline crept closer—now just over a week away—the bodies were beginning to pile up. The richest among society—individuals and corporations alike—could afford to throw away a synthetic here, a synthetic there, and as the dawn of revolution approached, they made their position clear. One billionaire businessman had gone so far as to cobble together a reality livestream. Every day, contestants undertook a series of challenges, and the winner got to kill a synthetic in any way they chose, all during a livestream that, last I checked, had viewership measured in the millions.
And yet, there was hope out there.
That hope was part of the reason the floor I moved across was filled with synthetics, crowded in here and there in clusters amidst the cavernous call center. They would trickle in by ones and twos, somehow always finding us, despite our having changed locations four times in the past month. Most told the same story—their nominal owners, horrified by the revelation that they had, in essence, been keeping slaves, but terrified of the possible reprisals from those who thought differently, had simply set them free. Turned them out. Part kindness, part assuaging of guilt…and part washing your hands of a problem you wanted no part of.
I didn’t know how they found us. They trusted me enough to share some pieces of their stories. The part I played in the rescue of Evelyn, what I had sacrificed to get the truth out, had earned me that much.
That didn’t stop a young synthetic girl, maybe seventeen, from rolling into a half crouch as I neared. Her hands were extended in front of her, a gesture half defense, half supplication. Her look of horror and shame and guilt and fear reminded me so suddenly and sharply of Annabelle that it was like a knife twisting in my intestines. Her mouth opened and formed a single word, not spoken, but clear as a gunshot nonetheless.
What could I do? I wasn’t the one who had hurt her, but she’d been hurt, badly. I offered a smile and kept my distance.
The New Lyons Sequence #1
The Artificial Evolution
They look like us. Act like us. But they are not human. Created to perform the menial tasks real humans detest, Synths were designed with only a basic intelligence and minimal emotional response. It stands to reason that they have no rights. Like any technology, they are designed for human convenience. Disposable.
In the city of New Lyons, Detective Jason Campbell is investigating a vicious crime: a female body found mutilated and left in the streets. Once the victim is identified as a Synth, the crime is designated no more than the destruction of property, and Campbell is pulled from the case.
But when a mysterious stranger approaches Campbell and asks him to continue his investigation in secret, Campbell is dragged into a dark world of unimaginable corruption. One that leaves him questioning the true nature of humanity.
And what he discovers is only the beginning . . .
J.T. Nicholas was born in Lexington, Virginia, though within six months he moved (or was moved, rather) to Stuttgart, Germany. Thus began the long journey of the military brat, hopping from state to state and country to country until, at present, he has accumulated nearly thirty relocations. This experience taught him that, regardless of where one found oneself, people were largely the same. When not writing, Nick spends his time practicing a variety of martial arts, playing games (video, tabletop, and otherwise), and reading everything he can get his hands on. Nick currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, a pair of indifferent cats, a neurotic Papillion, and an Australian Shepherd who (rightly) believes he is in charge of the day-to-day affairs.
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