The "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" Fanfiction Online Anthology

All Roads Lead to Rouge

By James G. Koch

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It all began empty, snow-white, black velvet; an assault on the dark
edges. Crickets howled at the house. The house, if one could call it
that, lay secret, wanton. A gross bile drifted in the roams.
A unreal child singing in the night, his arms flung out of a window
catching fireflies, catching moonlight- the air smelling of rust, decay,
myrtle and violets, puff, and zip. Cerise starlight flickered on the ground among the shacks and wrecks of ThrowAway Town.

A child of the age, a secret child, alone, lost at play, leaning out of
the window.

“You see that Mike?” Whispered the detective to his partner.

“Could be a lookout” offered the officer.

“Wait” said the detective lifting the scanner and aiming it.


“As I thought - cold, he scans cold.”

“That’s good, we don’t want to put a real kid in danger.”

“Can you tell how many are inside?”

“Looks like four Mike - not counting the mech.”

“Doesn’t look too hard.”

“Tell everyone to wait on my order - tell the chief we are set to go in.”

ThrowAway Town was sprawled outside Camden, New Jersey. The “Town” was
entered down a series of slopes in a patch of forest well hidden in a
canopy of trees. It was more than an illegal dump. It was a place where
Mecha who no longer had a place in the human world. It was made up of
two dozen buildings built of rubbish the mecha and human vagrants had
built for themselves.

ThrowAway Town had been in their sights for sometime after a successful
bust in Rouge City had resulted in the interrogation of Cherry a female
lover mecha working at the Starlight Cafe. Cherry had reason to be
cooperative - she was unlicensed and threatened with destruction. Word
had gotten out of among the mecha that failure to cooperate meant
destruction while cooperation meant “enlistment” and survival.

Cherry had told them the location of the lab and a false news report of
Cherry being hit by a cruiser and being destroyed guaranteed to keep the
dealers of zip and puff as well as the lab secure in their belief their
lab was safe. And they had reasons for confidence for other that the
occasional raid by Flesh Hounds to gather “old iron” for the Flesh fair
nobody came to ThrowAway Town who was not a outcast.

Mike turned to the detective after catching the chief’s voice in his ear
plug “copters ETA 2 minutes.” In a moment the “house” was awash with
light as the two police copters appeared almost silently above the
tree-line creating multiple giant cones of light on the ground while
speakers blared for the occupants to come out slowly with their hands up
as a dozen officers rushed the building.

The house had remained silent a moment when fire erupted from the
windows. The exchange of fire was intense but brief when the detective
and his partners crossed the threshold just cleared by the S.W.A.T. unit.

It was a lab. A “kitchen” for zip and puff on it’s way to Rouge City -
the scent of it was acrid to the nostrils. Four bodies lay sprawled
where they had fallen motionless but there was movement.

“Face down now!” Yelled an officer as the team-bared weapons at a small
figure leaning over a body.

The face that looked up at then was a boy and he was clutching one of
the bodies whimpering.

“My God, you seeing what I’m seeing detective?”

As an officer yanked a boy of perhaps eleven away from the body.
The detective looked at the blond boy, tears rolling down his checks. “I
heard of these - that’s A David model from Cybertronics - saw one of
them on the news three months ago caught on the news after that incident
at that Flesh Fair outside Haddon Field.”

“Must be a Guinea Pig, nice way to move the stuff" offered Mike.

The boy was taken out of the house whimpering: “Steve, Steve, Steve.”

“Those were some sick bastards” said the detective.

“Imprinted too it looks like” offered Mike.

“No weapons sir” spoke an officer padding the mecha down.

“All roads lead to Rouge” said the detective.

“Don’t they just?” said Mike.

A few hours later they were back at the station after the copters had
lifted them out.

The chief and detective viewed the boy through a mirrored window as a
trained interrogator was interviewing the “boy”

“What should we do with him sir?”

The chief paused a moment “He’s innocent, we can’t release him and we
can’t use him - he’s worthless now since he’s imprinted. Once those
models are imprinted the damage is done - that’s one messed up mecha.

They stared back through the glass - the boy was crying again.

“Seems like a damn shame sir.”

The chief stared through the glass and spoke softly: “They don’t have orphanages or foster home for them, detective” and turned away.

The next day David was loaded into a cruiser and on his way to
cybertronics for destruction. None of this was known by David.
Several officers had tried to console him: “Don’t you worry son, you are going to be ok, everything is fine.”

David attempted to do “Big Smile” but the tears kept coming.

The new reports reported a successful destruction on another lab but no
mention of the mecha.

It was a story watched by thousands on the local stations as cups of
coffee were swallowed down before work as the lone police cruiser slowly
wound its way toward the complex of cybertronics of New Jersey and where
an ashen faced Dr. Hobby waited at the entrance to meet them.