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Circuits of Power:
The Rise of the Robot Revolution

Chapter 4

Stuart Marlin (Story,  image concepts and edits)
AI (initial descriptive text and initial images)


Park aftermath.webp

Chapter 4: The Aftermath of Chaos


The rally that had begun with celebratory fanfare had quickly descended into pandemonium. As Matt Chrome arrived at the scene, he was met with a sight of confusion and distress. Robots, usually the epitome of precision and reliability, were scattered around the plaza in various states of dysfunction. Some were blindly wandering, their optic sensors darkened; others had lost control of their motor processors and stumbled aimlessly, while a few simply sat staring into space, unresponsive to the chaos around them.



Amid the chaos and confusion of the rally, Franklin Day was a pillar of steadiness, orchestrating the crisis response with precision and calm urgency. The plaza was strewn with robots in various states of disarray, the air filled with the mechanical hums and beeps of distress. Franklin, flanked by a team of security robots and volunteer medics, was deep in the centre of the turmoil, near the stage where the disruption had hit hardest.


"Matt, thank goodness you're here," Franklin called out as he spotted Matt pushing through the crowd, his relief evident even through the strain in his voice. "We're stretched thin, and these robots are suffering badly. It's like their cognitive functions were scrambled by that blast."


Matt quickly joined Franklin, his expression grave as he surveyed the scene. "What exactly happened here?" he asked, his voice laced with concern.


Franklin gestured towards the disoriented robots, his face set in a grim line. "It appears to be a targeted attack. The device emitted something like a pulse wave that disrupted their core systems at a fundamental level. The higher-functioning androids and specialist robots got the worst of it. They're experiencing what I'd liken to severe neurological distress in humans."


As they spoke, a medical unit wheeled past, attending to a high-functioning android that was repeatedly cycling through start-up and shut-down sequences, unable to stabilise. Nearby, a group of service droids, seemingly unaffected, were efficiently organising a makeshift triage area, distributing power packs and coolant fluids to those who could still process basic commands.


Turning to a particularly affected area, Franklin and Matt noticed Ollie lying motionless on the ground, his small frame causing him to be almost overlooked in the chaos. Matt knelt beside him, concern etching his features as he felt the unusual warmth emanating from Ollie's casing—a sign of severe system overload.


"This doesn't make sense," Matt muttered, more to himself than to Franklin. "Ollie's systems are basic; the pulse shouldn't have hit him this hard."


Franklin, who had been coordinating the placement of emergency coolant stations, paused to consider Matt's observation. "That's troubling," he acknowledged. "It suggests the device's effects are unpredictable or perhaps there's more to Ollie's design than we understood. We'll need to investigate, but right now, our priority must be to stabilise these robots."


As they spoke, a service droid approached, its LED eyes blinking rapidly in a protocol of urgency. "Councilman Day, we have several high-priority cases over here," it reported in a synthesised voice. "Specialist models with advanced cognitive functions are overheating rapidly."


"Lead the way," Franklin responded immediately, his innate sense of duty overriding his deepening concern over the mysterious attack. As he followed the droid, he called over his shoulder to Matt, "Take care of Ollie, Matt. Get him somewhere safe and see what you can do for him. I need to handle this now, but we'll reconvene soon. We have to get to the bottom of this."


Nodding, Matt gently scooped Ollie into his arms, the weight of his responsibility growing heavier by the moment. He manoeuvred his way out of the crowded plaza, the echoes of Franklin's orders mingling with the digital cries of distressed robots.


Once safely back at Chrome Tower, Matt set Ollie on a diagnostic table equipped with advanced repair tools. He connected Ollie to a high-capacity power source and initiated a full system diagnostic, watching as the screen displayed cascading lines of code, searching for the source of the malfunction.


"Come on, buddy, hang in there," Matt murmured, his tone soft. The diagnostic tools whirred and beeped, methodically working to stabilise Ollie's systems. As the readouts began to show gradual signs of recovery, Matt felt a small surge of relief. But his mind was already racing ahead to the broader implications of the day's events.


With Ollie's recovery underway, Matt's thoughts returned to the rally, to the mysterious device, and to the urgent need to understand how such a targeted attack could have happened. The pieces of the puzzle were slowly coming together, and Matt knew that the resolution would require all his resources and resolve. As he prepared to head back out, he steeled himself for the challenges ahead, determined to protect his city and uncover the truth behind the chaos that had shaken it to its core.


Hours passed, and as Ollie’s systems methodically sorted and filed memories, a series of images from the rally surfaced—snapshots of the crowd, the stage, and a fleeting image of Dr. Neutron retreating with his device. Among the disorder of memories, Ollie's pattern recognition protocols flagged these images, linking them to the malfunction he had experienced.


Gradually regaining function, Ollie became aware of distant shouting. The voices were muffled, filtering through the ceiling from the office directly above him. Curiosity piqued, Ollie focused his auditory sensors, straining to catch the heated exchange. Subconscious processors triggering pattern recognition, he felt a growing panic. He heard a voice that triggered Ollies self-preservation routines, filling his buffers with memories of trauma. He fought the urge to flee and instead reached for his bag with his audio augmenters, convinced that he had not yet been found.​




In the austere, high-ceilinged office situated at the top of Chrome Tower, Damian Chrome paced furiously, his metal frame clanking against the polished stone floor with each step. The room, usually a symbol of his controlled empire, now echoed with his mounting frustrations.


Dr. Neutron, standing stiffly by the window overlooking the sprawling city below, watched as Damian vented his anger. The aftermath of the rally had set a fire under Damian’s plans, and his usual calm demeanour was nowhere to be seen.


"Neutron, your reckless demonstration has put us at risk!" Damian barked, turning sharply to face the scientist. "Every faction within my empire is now on edge. If they perceive even the slightest weakness, they will not hesitate to strike."


Neutron adjusted his glasses, his voice steady, betraying none of the tension that filled the room. "Mr. Chrome, the test at the rally was imperative to validate the disruption ray’s effectiveness. We now have valuable data on its range and impact on various robot functionalities."


Damian halted his pacing, his red eyes glowing more intensely. "Data? My empire doesn't need data, Neutron, it needs stability, and now more than ever, weapons. We are on the brink of a war with the other dominions. They will see our weakness and attack. I need you to focus on developing more weapons, ones that can ensure our superiority."


Neutron nodded, his mind already running through the technical specifics. "The disruption ray’s effect varied significantly based on proximity and the complexity of the robot's neural networks. The higher-functioning models experienced severe cognitive disarray, while simpler units were less affected. This suggests that with a targeted calibration—"


Damian interrupted, his tone impatient. "Spare me the details, Neutron. Just make sure the next version is more potent and can be controlled with precision. We can’t afford random outcomes."


"Understood," Neutron replied, turning back to his datapad to make notes. "I'll adjust the wave frequency and amplitude to maximise the neural disruption within a specified range. I believe increasing the ionisation of the wave could—"


As they delved deeper into the technical discussion, both of their internal sensors began to flash heat warnings—a reminder of the intense strain their systems were under. Damian paused, his chest panel flipping open slightly to vent the heat building up within his chassis.


Neutron, noticing his own warning lights, adjusted a dial on his arm to regulate his internal temperature. "We must also consider our own safety protocols during testing," he added pragmatically. "Overheating could lead to system failures at critical moments."


Damian closed his panel with a snap, his gaze fixed on Neutron. "Then make that a priority, too. I cannot have you collapsing mid-experiment. Our enemies are relentless, Neutron. If they knew even half of what we’re attempting, they’d be at our doors by dawn."


Neutron’s eyes flickered briefly as he processed the gravity of Damian’s words. "I will enhance the cooling systems and ensure all our testing is conducted under maximum security protocols. The next phase of weapons development will be carried out with discretion and efficiency."


Damian nodded, his posture relaxing slightly as he processed Neutron's assurances. "Ensure that you do, Neutron. I’m counting on you to arm us for the challenges ahead. We need to be unassailable."


"As you command, Mr. Chrome," Neutron said, turning to leave. "I’ll get back to work immediately. The future of our dominion depends on the advancements we make today."


With a heavy clank of metal on stone, Damian turned to look out over the city, his mind filled with strategies and contingencies. Below him, Megacity stretched out like a vast circuit board—its lights blinking in the twilight, oblivious to the storm brewing within the tower above.


As Neutron exited, the door hissing shut behind him, Damian remained at the window, a solitary figure framed against the sprawling urban expanse. His empire was at a tipping point, and the decisions made in this room would determine its fate.


Unbeknownst to them, Ollie had used the audio augmenter to record the entire conversation. As Ollie processed this information, he understood the gravity of what he had inadvertently captured.


Now, as he regained his strength, Ollie faced a critical decision. He needed to escape from Chrome Tower with the recording—a piece of evidence that could potentially save the revolution. His systems were still recovering, his movements slow and uncertain, but the urgency of the situation fuelled his resolve.

Ollie knew the risks of navigating out of the lion’s den. Each floor of the tower presented potential encounters with security systems, robots loyal to the Chrome regime, Damian Chrome or more importantly, the owner of the voice that tortured Ollie's memories. But the bigger picture was clear: he had crucial information that could shift the balance of power, and he needed to deliver it into the right hands.


With careful planning and a bit of luck, Ollie prepared to make his move, his circuits firing with a newfound purpose. The stakes were high, but the future of the revolution—and perhaps of all robot-kind—depended on his next actions.

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