Chapter 6 : Manufactured
There were three main landmasses on Gaia—Kentros, Metallis, and Nankyoku. Kentros contained the kingdoms of—Nattur, Easifatan, and Doxatos. It was the biggest landmass in Gaia, just next to Nankyoku. Nankyoku was a landmass entirely of ice that only housed various different native tribes. No centralized government has been put in place—unlike Ferrum. The Republic of Ferrum was a nation located on Metallis—an archipelago. It was the newest civilization to pop on Gaia, formally existing for only 700 years out of the 5000 years that civilization has been recorded to exist. Metallis was widely uninhabited for thousands of years because it was assumed that it lacked any natural resources. The soil wasn’t as fertile and there were not many flora or fauna. People had thought that it was unfit to live on until suddenly—1000 years ago—settlements started to pop up in Metallis that were inhabited by a new group of people—the Automatons.
They were much different than the other species on Gaia. For starters, though they resembled humans—they had one major distinction. They were made mostly of inorganic matter. Most lifeforms on Gaia are made of organic matter—carbon, but the automatons had little to no carbon in their bodies. This made them more durable, having no defined lifespan. Although, they could still technically die. You see, automatons also needed energy like any other lifeform on Gaia. If they run out of it, they would be “deactivated”. This didn’t mean that they were permanently dead though. When a deactivated automaton is recharged with energy, it would reactivate again—though there will be complications. Depending on how long they’ve been deactivated, they may not remember about their life before. Certain things—like personality traits—might be retained, but things like memory were harder to carry over.
One such case was with a female automaton. The year was 4983 and a body had been discovered at an abandoned mining site—located northeast of the capital. She was presumed to have perished in a mining accident. The people who retrieved her were Fabricators. While collecting resources, they managed to come around the abandoned mining site and discovered the body. They were in charge of creating new automatons and reactivating old ones. Automatons were not able to reproduce, but this wasn’t really an issue since they didn’t have a limited lifespan that would require them to create new individuals for the species' survival. Fabricators were tasked to create new individuals when the population got too low. Because of this, Ferrum—and Metallis as a whole—has the smallest population on Gaia. Creating new automatons took a lot of resources, so fabricators tend to reactivate old ones—like this one for instance.
Her body was retrieved from the mine and sent to the Seminarium. It was a place where the creation and rebirth of automatons took place. It also acts as a place for them to live in the first few years of their activation. They placed her body on a table and connected it with wires. They sent pulses of electricity through the wires and into her body. Little by little, she started to reactivate. Her body started to generate heat which indicated that the internal engine was working again. The internal engine was a vital component to the automaton body. It converted fuel that the body consumes into energy and by doing this, it generated heat. Then, she started breathing in air, but not for the same reasons that other lifeforms breathe air. Inside of her body were rotating vanes that drew in cooler air and expelled hot air. This was done to regulate the body’s heat.
As time went on, she showed signs of movement. This meant that her cortex was running again. The cortex was analogous to the brain, it was the center of operations for a lot of sensory, motoric, emotional and linguistic capabilities. It did this by converting the energy that was produced by the internal engine. Eventually, her eyes started to open as she gave a look of bewilderment. She looked worried as she started to mumble gibberish to the fabricators. They told her that everything was going to be alright and they just needed a bit longer to finish.
When they were done, she was escorted to the Scrinium—the place where new automatons get their identification. Because she was deactivated, she had a life before that. One of the people working there pulled up her old identification—her name was Aurelia; her citizen number’s 17601840; and she used to work for a mining guild—as a mining technician. She had disappeared 10 years ago when a mining site —she presumably was working at—collapsed. After a rescue team searched through the site, they weren’t able to find her. This was odd considering the fact that she was found outside of the site, not inside the caves.
She was asked if she could remember anything from her past life—but she couldn’t recall anything. Given that she wasn’t able to recall anything from her past life, she was given two decisions—either to reintegrate back into her old life or start anew. Weighing in the fact that she didn’t recognize anything about her old life, she decided to start a new one. She felt that it was the best decision, considering that most of the people she used to know had probably forgotten about her. So, she would spend the next few years trying to build her new life.
First, she needed a place to stay. Obviously, since she didn’t have a job yet and thus couldn’t afford her own place—she lived at the Cunabium. It was a housing complex for new automatons to get a footing in their new life. Unlike other species, automatons were borned with physical, linguistic, and emotional capabilities matching that of an adult. But one thing they lacked was intellectual knowledge. They were able to speak clearly and walk easily, but they didn't know a lot of things about the world around them. So, they were given basic education to help them learn about the world.
Fortunately, Aurelia managed to retain some semblance of knowledge from her past life—particularly about science and mathematics. She only needed to fill in a few gaps.
To aid in building up her new life, she was assigned a curator—a person who managed and cared for new automatons. The cost of living for the first few years would be funded by the Seminarium. After that, they had to either get a job or seek higher education. She planned to do the latter, so she needed to study to get into a school. Her school of choice was the Aurum Institute of Science, Technology, and Engineering. After hearing that she was a technician in her past life, she wanted to expand her horizons to more than just being a mining technician—she wanted to become an inventor. Inventors were a respected profession that created all of Ferrum’s technology. This desire may have hinted at Aurelia's past desires. Maybe she wanted to become an inventor in her past life, but got stuck being a mining technician.
For a couple of years, Aurelia built up a strong foundation of knowledge that would help in getting into Aurum. It was clear that she was a scientific mine as she had an empirical method to work out problems. She would find new problems that she wasn’t familiar with and then would observe and research them. After that, she would make a hypothesis based on her observations and research. Then, she would test if it was true or not. Finally, she would record her findings and whip up a conclusion. This flow of thinking was most exactly carried over from her past as a mining technician—solving problems. This made her a suitable candidate to become an inventor.
This way of thinking was very clearly shown when one day, the Cunabium’s electricity was shut down for days. People’s everyday life was really impacted by this, which spurred Aurelia to try and fix it. She spent a lot of time researching how electricity was distributed across Ferrum. In doing so, she discovered that to distribute electricity, Ferrum would be divided into different sections. Each section would be powered by a power plant. This was to ensure that if one section went down, the others wouldn’t. So, she hypothesized that the power plant that was powering the section that the Cunabium was in wasn’t working properly. To confirm this, she went out to the area around the Cunabium to see if anybody else had the same issue and indeed—they did. However, not everybody experienced the same issue.
The ratio of people who had electricity to people who didn’t was uneven and didn’t seem to have a pattern. So, she decided to directly go to the power plant to see what the problem was. Apparently, the wires that usually ran electricity from the plant somehow got disconnected. Not just disconnected, they looked like they were cut. The people at the plant were trying to fix it, but everytime they got close to finishing, the wires would be cut again the next day.
She went to investigate the wires and found that the cut was not clean, suggesting that the perpetrator was not well versed with wires or that the perpetrator—was not even a person at all. She assumed this because none of the other power plants in Ferrum were tampered with—only this one was. The wires that were cut seemed to have no pattern to them. She asked around for anything odd that may have happened around the area. One person responded, “Actually, it’s not just the wires at the power plant that were cut. People have been reporting that wires inside of their own homes have been cut as well. They’re stumped as to how they were cut, since they were in such a small space.”
Hearing this, she came up with a theory. She decided to camp out for the night near the power plant to see the perpetrators in action.
The workers at the power plant said, “It’s no use. We’ve already tried to stake out the perpetrators, but we never catch them. One minute the wires were fine and the next thing you know, they’re cut and the perpetrator was nowhere to be seen.” This didn’t discourage her—in fact—it emboldened that her theory might be true.
The night came and Aurelia was camping up. She was accompanied by a couple of workers that were desperate for anything that might help solve this problem. It was pitch black as the outside lights of the plant were not working. The only light source they had were some flashlights. They camped out for a while until they heard a squeaking noise. Aurelia tried to quietly go to the wires to catch the perpetrator in action. She instructed them to turn off their flashlights because it might alert the perpetrator. They got closer and closer to the wire and she instructed them to surround it. The squeaking noise got more and more louder as they approached. She then whispered, “Ok. On the count of three, I want you all to lunge towards the squeaking noise.” She started, “One…Two…Three!” They all lunged towards the noise and immediately caught something. They were trying to hold it down as it frantically tried to escape their grasp. The workers held on with all of their strength as Aurelia shined the flashlight on it—revealing the true perpetrator.
Turns out, the perpetrator was a rodent. It was squirming around trying to escape. She checked its teeth and found wires stuck in them. This had confirmed her theory that rodents were behind all of this. When she was first looking around the plant, she found a lot of rats hanging out in the outskirts of the plant. Coupled with people reporting that wires in their homes—which were in small spaces—were being cut, led her to believe that rodents were the one behind it. The next day, a team was assembled to help with capturing and relocating all these rodents. The plant also started constructing metal fences to keep any other rodents that might try to infiltrate. Technicians were assigned to fix the wiring inside of people’s homes that were affected.
The owners of the plant were so impressed with Aurelia’s achievement that they offered her a job working as a technician for the plant. She politely declined, “Thank you for the offer, but I have other plans for the future.”