top of page

Circuits of Power:
The Rise of the Robot Revolution

Chapter 6

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


DALL·E 2024-04-28 15.58.05 - A dramatic black and white image in a 16_9 aspect ratio depic

Chapter 6: Shadows of Intrigue

In the enveloping shadows just outside Dr. Neutron's laboratory, Ollie waited with the patience of one who had mastered the art of invisibility. The clock struck 11 PM, the hour he knew from years of servitude that Neutron would leave. True to his routine, the lights in the lab dimmed, and the silhouette of Neutron passed the frosted glass, disappearing into the night.


Ollie counted twenty painstaking minutes in silence before resetting his surface operating patterns to the default settings used during his time in the lab. Trusting the familiar patterns to cloak his presence from the lab’s internal security, he slipped through a small entrance designed for droids and bots. Once inside, the darkness of the lab enveloped him, familiar yet ominous.

As Ollie ventured deeper into the shadowy corridors of Dr. Neutron's lab, the silence was palpable, punctuated only by the soft whir of machines cycling through their sleep routines and the sporadic click of cooling systems engaging and disengaging. This once-familiar environment now felt eerily alien, with each step bringing a mix of nostalgia and unease. His internal systems were on high alert, continuously scanning for any sign of abnormal activity that might compromise his clandestine mission.


Ollie’s primary target, a small handheld frequency scanner, lay somewhere within the labyrinthine layout of the laboratory. He remembered its weight, the feel of its metallic casing, and most importantly, its capability to detect and analyse a wide range of frequency signals. This tool, which he had skilfully wielded years ago during routine diagnostics, was now the linchpin in his plan to expose and counteract Dr. Neutron's nefarious schemes.


The lab's ambient lighting cast long, distorted shadows as Ollie moved with a rehearsed nonchalance, mimicking the innocuous cleaning patterns typical of a utility bot. His movements were a calculated ballet of randomness designed to close the distance to the tool closet without arousing suspicion. The cognitively disabled droids that populated the lab—robots that once worked under his coordination—now drifted aimlessly, their basic programming allowing them to avoid obstacles but not to recognise the peculiarity of Ollie’s presence.


"Just a little further," Ollie thought, as he navigated the complex terrain of the lab. "Every movement must seem natural, every pause planned. Can’t afford a misstep now, not when I’m so close."


As he approached the main floor, the looming figures of the two Guardian androids stationed for security became visible. Their imposing frames were designed to intimidate, equipped with the latest surveillance technology. Ollie knew that their programming would be sophisticated, capable of detecting anomalies in behaviour and appearance. He needed to be perfect.


Stepping into their field of view, Ollie maintained the guise of a dutiful cleaner, his route taking him seemingly at random across the floor. He brushed past workstations cluttered with tools and components, each step measured, his sensor array sharply tuned to the androids’ scanning frequencies.


"Stay calm, blend in," his internal processor repeated like a mantra. He allowed his movements to synchronise subtly with the rhythmic drone of the lab’s machinery, becoming part of the lab's mechanical symphony.


Upon reaching the tool closet, Ollie paused, his visual sensors discreetly scanning to ensure he remained unobserved. He bent down, ostensibly to retrieve a piece of debris he had strategically dropped—a small, innocuous metal filing. His actuators performed the motion flawlessly, mimicking the programmed efficiency of a maintenance unit.


Inside the closet, the cool metal of the frequency scanner immediately met his grasp. It was exactly where his memories had placed it, tucked away behind less consequential diagnostic tools. With a swift, fluid motion that belied his rising adrenaline, Ollie secured the scanner in his shielded chest compartment, the soft click of the compartment sealing barely audible over the lab’s ambient noise.


"Got it. Now, to get out without triggering an alert."


The return journey required even more finesse. Ollie retraced his steps, his internal logic gates working overtime to calculate the most inconspicuous path back. His algorithms adjusted with each step, predicting the movements of the lab’s other droids, always maintaining the façade of random cleaning activity.


As he passed a workbench, a sight caught his eye—a utility droid, partially dismantled, with schematics laid out beside it. A quick scan revealed a sinister plan: this droid was being modified to carry Neutron’s device, ostensibly to infiltrate the battery factory under the guise of a worker.


As Ollie manoeuvred beneath the looming shadows of Neutron's laboratory equipment, the magnitude of his mission weighed heavily on his circuits. With each silent step, his processors churned with worry not just for his own safety, but increasingly for the lives of countless factory workers who remained blissfully unaware of the danger that could soon infiltrate their ranks.


"This isn't just about retrieving tools anymore. Lives are at stake—lives of those who toil day and night, unaware of the monster being crafted to deceive them," Ollie thought, his servos tightening with determination.


With a steady hand, he dismantled one of his audio augmenters, carefully adjusting its settings to emit a unique frequency designed to allow Ollie to detect the droid’s location. He placed the modified device beneath the cognitive buffer of the utility droid, a spot he knew would go unchecked due to the droid’s disabled sensory components. As he sealed the panel, a fleeting sense of accomplishment flickered through his neural network. But the moment was short-lived; the real challenge still lay ahead.


With the urgency mounting, Ollie turned his attention to finding the device or its schematics. He approached an access panel discreetly, his tools whirring softly as he worked to unlock the encrypted files that could hold the key to Neutron’s insidious plans. The tension in the air was palpable, and Ollie's sensors were acutely aware of every micro change in the lab's atmosphere.


"If I can just find the plans, we can prepare a defence, maybe even stop this thing before it starts. Don't rush—precision is life." His thoughts were a mix of caution and an acute awareness of the ticking clock that each second represented.


As he interfaced with the lab's database, the soft glow of the screen illuminated his optical sensors. But this faint light was enough to stir the Guardian androids from their standby mode. Their sensors, sophisticated and unyielding, began scanning the area, detecting the irregularity of Ollie’s presence.


The calm, methodical retrieval of data was suddenly replaced by a surge of adrenaline-like impulses. Ollie’s systems flagged multiple alerts as the androids powered up, their mechanical bodies shifting into active mode with an ominous series of clicks and whirs.


"Caught... but not yet captured. Move, Ollie, move!" His processor kicked into high gear, recalculating his escape route with frantic speed. As he withdrew from the panel, his servos worked furiously to adjust his internal patterns to a negative configuration, effectively scrambling the Guardian’s sensory inputs.


With his cloaking adjustments in place, Ollie moved swiftly towards the exit, his form blurring into the shadows of the lab. Each step was calculated to minimise sound and visual disturbance, blending him into the background noise and dim light of the lab.


Escaping into the cool night air, Ollie’s systems slowly returned to normal operational levels, but his internal turmoil did not cease. The stakes had never been clearer or more terrifying. As he made his way back through the dark streets of Megacity, his mind was already racing with plans to warn Franklin and the factory workers, to do whatever it took to thwart Neutron's malignant scheme.


The quiet of the night was a stark contrast to the storm raging within Ollie—a storm of fear, responsibility, and an unwavering commitment to protect the innocent.




As General Torque sat in his command centre, surrounded by the hum of computers and the flicker of screens displaying maps and data, he meticulously reviewed the results of his latest strategic disruptions. Each strike had been carefully designed to appear random, yet underneath, they were calculated with precision to cause maximum disruption without revealing any discernible pattern. As he adjusted variables and analysed outcomes, Torque was not just orchestrating chaos but testing the limits of predictability and control.


"The patterns are holding... no, not just holding, they're perfect," Torque mused, his mechanical fingers pausing over the keyboard. "But how did Ollie see through them? There’s something extraordinary about that bot."


Ollie's insights during their recent collaboration had not only solved an immediate tactical problem but had also revealed a level of analytical thinking that Torque hadn't expected from a utility bot. This revelation had sparked a new curiosity in Torque. He began to wonder if Ollie’s capabilities were akin to those of the old non-corporal AI systems—highly adaptive, incredibly insightful, and capable of seeing patterns where others saw only chaos.


As he continued his planning, Torque initiated a series of communications with Franklin Day, utilising encrypted channels to ensure privacy and security. The first message was straightforward, laying out the preliminary success of their scattered strikes and probing for more information on the mysterious new ally Franklin had hinted at.


Torque: "Day, the initial disruptions are in place. You mentioned a new player in the field. Can you provide more details? How critical is this ally to our plans at the factory?"


Day: "General, the ally is indeed pivotal. For now, let's say he brings considerable resources and influence. We'll need that leverage. I suggest we keep his identity under wraps until the moment is right."


Over the next few communications, their dialogue deepened, discussing not only the tactical implementations but also the broader implications of their alliance. Day was cautious with information, revealing just enough to keep Torque aligned with the overall strategy but withholding enough to maintain operational security.


Torque: "Understood. Are we ready to escalate our efforts? If this ally is as influential as you suggest, I want to ensure our actions complement his capabilities."


Day: "Absolutely, General. Prepare for a significant escalation. We're setting the stage for a major shift in the power dynamics of the city. Ensure your strikes continue to mask any predictable patterns."


By the fourth exchange, Torque felt both reassured and intrigued. He respected Day's strategic acumen and understood the necessity of secrecy, especially in revolutionary activities where the balance of power was delicate and the stakes were incredibly high.


Torque: "Day, I'm increasing the frequency and complexity of our operations. Your ally will find the ground well-prepared. Anything else I should know?"


Day: "Just keep your patterns intricate and your actions bold, General. We're approaching a tipping point, and I assure you the results will be worth the secrecy."


As Torque concluded the series of messages, he leaned back in his chair, his gaze drifting across the digital maps spread before him. Each node and vector represented a piece of the intricate puzzle they were assembling—a puzzle that could reshape the future of Megacity. Torque's respect for Ollie grew with each successful operation, recognising in him a kindred spirit of strategy and an unexpected catalyst in their shared revolution.


With his algorithm playing out and his trust in Ollie's unique capabilities solidifying, Torque turned his full attention back to the upcoming Battery Factory strike. He sent out detailed instructions to his operatives embedded within the factory, ensuring that every element was synchronised for maximum impact.


Meanwhile, Ollie delivered the frequency scanner to Franklin who, while confident, did not share Ollie's sense of urgency. With the strike days away, Ollie returned nightly to Neutron’s lab, ensuring the augmenter signal remained active and the droid undisturbed.



Damian Chrome stood deep in his command centre, staring at a map dotted with sites of worker disruption. His trained eye saw no pattern, which unnerved him. "There's a sophistication here I've seen before," he muttered, recalling the strategic depth once typical of non-corporal AI systems. "An enemy this clever must be found and stopped," he resolved, sensing the echoes of a formidable intellect—echoes of the very AI systems that had once orchestrated the world's multi-century rehabilitation plans before being shut down permanently.

bottom of page