August 18, 2019

IRON BOY (3 OF 4)

Credit: IEEE Spectrum

Part 3 of 4

Jaraya couldn’t understand. Her phone calls went through countless times hoping to reach Malik, but none was picked. She sent dozens of messages but to him, still no reply. She was now tensed and apprehensive. She feared something may have befallen his friend. In the state of her distress she moved to Director’s office. He assured her that he had informed the police and dispatched men to go and check Malik’a residence.

Without much comfort, Jaraya returned to her office, opened her door, and to her surprise found Malik seated on her visitors’ chair. She quickly moved over:

“Malik, where have you been? For Christ sake, we’ve been trying to reach you.” Jaraya exclaimed.

“Hi, Jaraya…nice to meet you.” Malik said.

“Nice to meet me? You are talking as if we are meeting for the first time.” Jaraya muttered. “Didn’t you see my calls?” she inquired again. But there was just something about the person that was seated in front of him. There was a lot about him that was not Malik.

“I missed your calls. Sorry. I was out of coverage.” Malik said.

“Out of coverage? Are you a telephone? Out of coverage doing what? Do you know everyone is calling you a thief?”

“Me? A thief, while I am not human.” Malik said. The statement made Jaraya curious. She moved from her seat and motioned towards him. He was still seated, and his face was not moving at all. He was stiff as a sculptured portrait.

“Malik what are you saying? Are you okay?” Jaraya moved her head closer to his.

“Yes I am, just don’t touch me,” he warned.

“And why is that? Are you sure you are okay Malik?” She asked again, a little sentimental. In that instant, her phone rang. She quickly picked up the call and listened to it. Initially her expression was neutral, but as she kept on listening her face fell. It was conspicuous that she had received some bad news. After listening to the entire call with nods and grunts, she became sad and petrified at the same time. She could not believe what she had just heard. Something was not right. Almost in tears, she slowly stoop up like someone who wanted to move away from Malik and muttered,

“Malik who are you? Are you a ghost?” Malik moved his eyes a little up and responded:

“No, I am not. Why do you ask that?

She was apprehensive. She was confused. She decided to do the shrewdest thing she could think of in the moment: she scurried and touched his hand. The action produced a minor twitch. She moved forward again and tried to touch his body again. A current zapped her fingers and another mild tremor followed. And then all broke loose. She quickly panicked as the image of Malik started to disintegrate.

“I said do not touch me?” Malik bellowed again. But it was too late.

“What!” Jaraya jerked back and the image that was seated on her chair as Malik quickly dissolved into a tiny kite that was levitating in the air. The image of Malik was a 3-D hologram all this while. The drone that had produced the hologram quickly darted in the air in a circular fashion in the office. The confused lady was still trying to decipher what was happening when the drone spoke to her:

“Hello, you must be Jaraya. Nice to meet you again. I am Iron Boy and I need your help.”

“What on God’s earth are you? And before that, what is happening? What is the meaning of all this? Where did Malik go?”

“Slow down. That is a lot of questions to be answered, don’t you think so?” The drone replied.

“I just received a message from the phone that Malik is dead.” Jaraya said to the hovering thing in the corner, almost in tears.

“Yes, Malik died at 12:19 AM this morning.” It replied.

“How?” Jaraya snapped.

“He was murdered. Everything I am doing now is based on algorithm and programming made by Malik. And I am directed to seek your help to bring the culprit to book.” It said. She was now beginning to understanding, but how?

“How? Who is speaking to me?”

“I am Iron Boy. I am an android, a drone with artificial intelligence. I was created on March 6 with serial number 06031957.”

“You are what?”

“I am a mobile robot, and buried in my memory is the consciousness of Malik.”

“So, you are a drone-robot?”

“Yes. I was created from consolidated elements of Silicon, Iron, Mild Steel and Lithium (IV) Oxide through a process called cybernetics, sentience and robotics.”

“Wait, wait. That is a lot. So, you mean the hologram image. It was all a fake?”

“The similarity in the voice was a part of my programming. I am here to assist you to find Malik’s killer.”

“But why? Why would anyone kill Malik?” Jaraya inquired.

“That is why you need me to find the person.”

“Okay.” She agreed, and little at ease now, asked: “So how do I help here? Tell me…what can I do?”

Iron Boy quickly transformed from its exterior black color to gray. The drone then looked like a ghost. And then it became invincible. Jaraya watched on in surprise and bellowed.

“Where are you? Where did you disappear to?”

“I am right here.” It responded and re-appeared. “One unique feature of my programming is that, I can disappear and reappear.”

Jaraya looked on in wonder. What on God’s earth has Malik created? Jaraya thought.

“According to my programming, this is the plan we have to follow.” The drone said, and, still levitating in the air, moved closer to Jaraya, quickly producing holographic codes about the plan. She watched and listened in silence.


Part 3 of 4: To be continued

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