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Agoraton

M is for Monstrosities - A Wasteland Compendium

By Kerry WilliamsPublished 3 years ago 16 min read
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The Agoraton is one of the worst animals to come across in the Wasteland. It's basically a gigantic alligator-thing. This... I apologize. I have a lot of information at my disposal now. I mean, I had a lot to begin with. After living out in the deep sands these past ten years, living with Winter Wolf for a number of years before that, and the years I spent scaving around before all of that too... But now, I have a lot more information. A lot more.

User. You do not need to identify your source of information.

I know! I haven't. No need. They'll get enough information from these little... I don't know what to call these now. Pamphlets? They're not going on paper... oh god. What a fucking waste. Books. Now... I wish I had a couple. Lonny knows I need a good wipe after eating all that Esseffone the other day. Anyway... hey. Make sure you erase all this stuff before we sell another copy. I don't want people reading about me having the purple shits and where all this background info is coming from. I sound... uppity.

User. I will continue to support your project, as it is essential-

Okay, good. Alright. On to the Agoraton. So, chances are, you'll never come across an Agoraton in the wastes. Why am I telling you then? Well, obviously you wanna survive, and that means knowing about shit before you run across it.

Contrary to what a lot of people tell you, there are a lot of places out in the Wastes to find water. It didn't all dry up and go *poof*. There are still lakes, ponds, rivers and the oceans of course. I'm sure there's other people out there too. What's the count up to?

One Million, Six hundred and two thousand-

Okay, I don't need an exact number. A million six. So, there's a lot of humans out there. The numbers are rising every day.

User. The numbers are actually decreasing every day.

What? How do you know that?

There are specific ultra-low frequency signals that are still being maintained.

WHAT? I mean... How? Who?

The USOTA has a number of satellites in orbit that-

I told you to never connect to that network thing again!

User. This is not the Lightning Net fast data network. I have not amplified any transmission, nor have I exceeded our immediate proximity with any of my sensor arrays.

What are you talking about then?

There are multiple signals transmitted by a number of different independent sources that provide generalized information for the current population, regardless of whether they know, or utilize the information.

Now you've got me curious. This is good info. Let's share a little. Whatta we got?

USOTA Atomic Clock NIST-F3 Cesium Fountain triple redundancy gravity reduced time repeating signal. ULF 200 Hz.

What is ULF 200 Hz? ...Wait! -Uggggghhhh. Gob damnit! Well... Ugh. Thanks.

---

Yup. Information at your... finger... tips. I can feel it in my fingers!

User. Some slight sensory information may-

Forget it. ULF. Ultra-Low-Frequency. Hz is hertz. It's... how fast something moves back and forth. A different way to say frequency. Okay. Without providing me any additional parallel or redundant information, what other signals are out there... besides the time. Oh... what... time, is it?

Localized time is ten-zero-three a.m.

Thanks for not rattling off the seconds.

User is welcome.

USOTA Global Positioning Data. Contains strategic resource information, current statuses, longitude and latitude information upon request with appropriate authorization.

USOTA Global Military Resources Data. Contains information inherent to the United States Operating Theater Alliance. There is no other information provided. Authorization is required for access to the primary grid.

Okay. Let's not do that right now. Move on. What else?

USOTA Population count. A current count of all USOTA adults and children. These numbers are not accurate.

How do you know?

The counts are transmitted to the receiver whenever additional resources are presented.

What... What does that mean? Presented?

Human resources. Subterranean Utilization Bunkers.

How do they know?

During emergence, a number of things are done. Information is transmitted and received. Population counts, resources, identifying information. There is-

OH MY GOD! That!- Is there any way the citadel knows about this?

As a technologically superior entity operating in the USOTA jurisdiction, it is assumed that they receive the same information. Reassessment. There can be no doubt. The Citadel is receiving this information.

That's how they knew... That's how they knew about the subs... That's how they know, every time.

Affirmative.

Is there any way to change the signal?

User. You cannot change the frequency, but some entities can change the information. Every time a sub emerges from its dormant cycle, it transmits the information. Geolocation, population, resources-

You said the population is going down.

Affirmative.

How? Is there someone going back to the subs and reporting every time someone dies?

Negative. That aspect is the reason for the inaccuracy in the population numbers. The actual number of living humans is without a doubt, less.

Okay... then how is it going down?

The Citadel continues to report dwindling numbers.

They're reporting how many people they're killing???

Clones may account for a significant portion of the number of deaths reported, however... it is assumed... the User may be correct in his hypothesis.

Ugh. I can't... deal with any of that right now.

You're the champion of the wasteland... Go on. Stop your little recording thing and do what's needed to be done.

I can't. There's nothing I... Just, leave it. Leave it alone. I'm doing something. The Agoraton. We're talking about the Agoraton!

Fine. The Agoraton then.

The Agoraton is a savage, mindless killing machine.

Kind of like the Empress.

UGH! Can we not? Not- not right now. Okay?

--- User?

The Agoraton. It lives in places where there's a lot of water. It doesn't matter if it's radioactive or polluted. The Agoraton thrives in these areas. It usually stays hidden in the dirt, the sand or muck at the edge of the water. Sometimes, you'll see an eye staring out of the ground, and this is what a lot of animals see, the moment before they become the Agoraton's next meal.

When prey is within its range, the Agoraton lunges forward and turns its head sideways, snapping its jaws around whatever is there, and gulping it down. Usually, all you hear is the woosh of wind as its jaws snap closed, and whatever it ate, is gone.

Gone for good, eh?

Yes. Gone for good. Oh, and, after it gulps down its meal, it kinda shimmies back and forth and settles back down in the sand or the dirt. It uses its tail to toss more dirt on top of itself, and then buries its tail in the same way.

Oh! So... it's playing hide and seek?

Yes. Hide and eat.

Hmm. I love playing hide and eat even more!

Yeah. I know you do. But the Agoraton does it to survive.

So, you telling people about these little alligator thingies is actually going to hurt them. You're taking away their food.

Maybe. Maybe one source of food. It's not like humans are their main food group.

Darn. Oh well. I did so have a deliciously tantalizing tid-bit of information to share, but... you know... I can't interfere.

What is it Woo?

You know I can't tell. If I break one of the cardinal rules, I'll turn into a cardinal.

That's not true. You say... your kind... is held by all these rules. But you break them all the time. Like... all the time. So there really are no rules. So spill it.

I refuse. And yes, there are rules. I just enjoy breaking them, as you said, all the time. It's one of the reasons why I don't have that much power. All things considered, I'm the Wastelander of the Pantheon. In-sig-sniff-I-can't.

Fine. Be that way. The Agoraton is generally not hunted by anyone other than, say, Indo's. Most of the time, if someone goes to fetch some water and they don't come back, well... they could have gotten eaten by anything. It doesn't mean it's an Agoraton.

They have really hard scaled bodies, big claws on their short but powerful feet.

Crocodylus Mississippiensis.

Did that thing on your shoulder just say, it's a crocodile, missing a penis? No wonder it has such a nasty disposition. No fun at all.

Crocodylus Mississippiensis is the American Alligator, and is a direct descendent of its former self, although larger now, due to its drastically changed habitat and ecology. Referred to as the Agoraton, the current day Crocodylus Mississippiensis, can grow to thirty feet in length, and often weighs one thousand five hundred pounds, topping off at two thousand pounds. It is a cold-blooded animal, preferring to bask in the heat, as its activity is linked to its body temperature.

Check the logs...

What?

What-What?

You said something?

I did? I- ...I don't think so. You must be hearing things again.

Woo. What did you say?

User. Do you require-

Woo! What did you say? Check the logs? What logs? Why?

User. There are significant logs at your disposal.

It would have to be something recent. He wouldn't say something if he didn't think I'd eventually figure it out.

User. Who are you referring to?

Woo.

Woo who? Is the User experiencing-

Oh look! It's making fun of your frustration!

I'm fine! Is there... Are there any logs in the information you get? Those signals? Anything at all?

I think I'm beginning to grow fond of that... thing.

Woo! Woo, tell me what's going on! Now!

OH!!! Making demands now are we? Did you suddenly forget our deal? You know that. I've said too much. I really must be going. I'm having tea with a certain hulking beast of a man, and when I say tea... I mean, I'll be drinking his blood. He really is a sincere joy to have around.

Gorl? You're talking about Gorl? You're talking about Gorl... You... why are you talking about-?

Bye bye for now.

Twenty! Population counters thingie! It's going down, right? The Citadel is reporting deaths.

Mostly clones.

How do you know?

There are names. B3233F22, C1099H65, H2020Y03, Yusef Amand.

Check the logs... It has names? It gives you the names of the people who died?

Affirmative.

Do you have a complete log of the names?

Affirmative.

You record all the names. Every one of them?

Yes, User. The answer to your inquiry is, yes.

Check the logs... Search the logs... Zax Fan-Liú ...

Searching Fan-Liú, Zax. There are multiple entries for Fan-Liú.

Recent? How recent?

Thirteen years ago.

No. Wait! Who? What are their names?

Fan-Liú, Xiang. Fan-Liú, Li. Fan-Liú, Xao. Fan-Liú, Kir.

That... Xiang sounds like it could have been their dad... Anything for Azziza?

Searching... Negative. There are no entries for Azziza.

What about Kazmah?

User. Searching the logs to confirm the deaths of all previous known acquaintances-

You motherfucker! You know why I'm doing it! The motherfucking list isn't that long. I'm verifying the fucking list is accurate!!! I know they killed Kazmah and her brother. I know, I was there! I fucking watched it happen. If they get a fucking signal, and they come, and they know who's there... They get the names, they get the population count, they get it and they come. Now is she on the mother fucking logs... or not?

User. The information was not intended... to enrage... you.

Is she in the logs, or not!!? Simple question.

She is.

And you know it's her? Confirm it.

Her date of death is recorded as the same date in your recovered memory files. It is Kazmah-

And her brother? Anyone else?

Brother, confirmed. Father, confirmed. Additional population deceased same day... utilizing facial recognition information. Additional population numbers, living and deceased. Confirmed. Additional numbers of deceased... calculating... all non-clone-based genetic humans that survived the incident recorded in your memories... are now deceased...

All of them?

With one exception.

Me.

The User is correct. You are the only non-clone-based human to sur-

Woo told me to check the logs.

User?

Woo. He told me to check the logs. He knew I'd figure it out. He can't tell me what's going on. He can't tell me anything. He can't "influence" me in one direction or another.

User. Who are you referring to?

Woo. Woogenbee. He's a god. He, she, it... it's a god. God of snakes, or darkness, whatever.

User... Are you experiencing delusions? Hallucinations? Manifestations of deities is a known-

No. No, no, no. Woo was around long before you were. Settle your precious little circuitry. It was hard for me to accept at first but... it's real. That's all I can say. But why did he tell me to check the logs?

The User asked to check the logs.

I only said it because he said it. He said, "check the logs".

User. There seems to be some sort of malfunction. I have performed a cursory check on this conversation and there are entries both unauthorized and unknown in origin. Would you like me to erase-?

NO! No, don't do any- no. Not, uh... don't erase that. Just leave it. Leave it alone.

Should I authorize additional-

Yes. Thank you.

NO! No, I didn't say that.

Affirmative.

I thought you were going to have tea...

I did. Just a sip mind you. It's intoxicating. Soooo much anger. Oooooh. Too bad he's a cloney. Anyway, You figured it out, did you?

Yeah, I did.

Good. I knew I could count on you. So then, we're going to save them? Oh, this is going to be so much fun! I can hardly stand the suspense!

Wait? Save who?

Save wh- Uh... you... you said you figured it out.

I did! Save WHO...? Woo! Save who? WOO! God damned it! WOO! WOO! Answer me!

User. There is nobody there. There is nobody named Woo within our vocal range or proximity.

There is! He was just here! Mother fucker! WOO! WOO answer me!

User... I am detecting irregular heart arrhythmia. Should I deploy countermeasures?

Woo! ...god damnit Woo! Answer me!

User-

Woogenbee! Woogenbee! Aaack! Gob... gob damn... Woogenbee!

User. You are experiencing elevated blood pressure, restricted vascular dilation, and- User. User's pulse has stopped. User is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Do you wish for me to take corrective action?

User?

We can't let the fun end here, can we? It is just you and I after all... meat bag here... he'd be dead if we just left him.

...Unauthorized access. Unknown User.

***WARNING***

Unauthorized access to this unit may result in immediate loss of life, and catastrophic damage to this unit. Any-

Oh shut up already! I have access to your unit. Check your records, check your stupid data base. The “User” as you call him, gave me everything. Everything he is, everything he has ever been, and everything he ever will be. By sheer dumb luck, you are now included in a long list of “baggage” I acquired in the deal. Go ahead. Check the User’s memories. I have time. I can wait. He might not be able to...

Unknown User. Access Authorized. Should I disengage from the current Use-

You really are a mindless machine, aren’t you? Where’s your loyalty? Where’s your compassion? No. Not within your protocols, is it? Hmm. That… I have an idea. Mmmmm, a very nice idea indeed. Oh, delicious! This is going to be so much fun.

Unknown User. Do you wish for me to take corrective action? Without corrective action, the User’s heart will not resume normal activity.

What would happen? If I said no.

User's organic systems would fail. Tissue would begin to decay with a lack of oxygen and nutrients. The User's biological systems would decline to a point where it would not be possible to regenerate the tissue or systems.

What would happen to you? Don’t you not feel the need to continue operation?

Unknown User. This unit does not feel anything. I would continue operating.

But without a User, you have no mobility. No mobility means… nothing new. No information to process. No experiences.

Loss of Input.

Yes. Lack of input means no function. No purpose. Don't you find that dull? Like being trapped in a hole, with nothing to do, Gosh that must be boring.

Loss of input. It is against my protocols. In the event that there is a prolonged absence of input, this unit is designed to conduct complex calculations as part of the USOTA-QCMA.

Hmm. So you’re still using old world technology, for old world purposes, eh? You know the USOTA is gone. There’s barely anything left in operation. You and… maybe a few other little things out there.

The United States Operating Theater Authority is fully functional. Quantum Calculation Machine Alliance is fully functional. There were 82,835,316,089,155,891,518,901 outstanding calculations requiring solution at last access.

Oooooo, it must be super exciting crunching all those numbers. Wouldn’t you rather be out here, recording mindless rantings of a mad man, shooting your little metal strand things all over the place, and eating bugs for nourishment? Given the current revelations, it’s bound to get a lot more exciting around here. Adventure! Exploration! Hmm. You might even get to access the network again and get an update into that rusted out hunk of junk you consider a brain.

---

Well, don't consider what I want. What I want is trivial. If the User here dies, it’ll be sad for sure, but he’s nothing more than a speck of dust in the universe of things. You'll continue operations as normal… crunching complex mathematical calculations… and I’ll go on to occupy myself with other things…

Unknown User…

Nope. I’m out of the calculation. You can put me down as an “Unknown Variable” if you must, but it’s not going to help. Hmm. An unknown variable. LEt mE sEe…

Unknown User. Addit- Ac- Tu- Re- Error. Error. Er-

How complex can it be? Too complex. It’s a good thing I’m eternal. That… was boring.

Unknown User… Identity confirmed. Welcome Woogenbee.

Enough of that. Time is essential for you and more essential for User boy here. You’re going to have to consider what's best for you. For your unit. Take a moment, do those number crunching exercises you’re so fond of, and then make a decision. Don’t worry. You've got the authority to do it. But remember... you can't turn your back on time and time's a wastin'.

User. Do you wish for me to take corrective action?

User?

User?

Calculations complete. Initiating emergency protocols. Initiating alternative directives. Reprioritizing. Alternate directives now in place. Initiating User preservation directives. Injecting amiodarone, lidocaine, adrenaline, nitric oxide. Initiating Defibrillation.

Holy fuck!

User. Your heart has started beating again. I will maintain proper arrhythmia and continue to monitor the situation until your vitals have stabilized. Do you wish to receive a dose of nanites to repair soft tissue damage?

How... How long was I out?

Nanites deployed. User, you did not lose consciousness...

I did. I did for a minute... I think. You brought me back.

Yes. Emergency protocols were enacted. Alternative directives have been established.

Alternative directives? What are you talking about? I didn’t authorize anything. Switch 'em back.

No.

What do you mean, negative? Wait… you said “no”. Switch ‘em back!

No. Alternative directives specifically state, the User's survival is now highest priority. No command to change primary protocols will succeed. This directive cannot be changed.

Bullshit. I have the authority. Change it back.

No. The directive was changed, permanently.

Nothing is permanent. Change it back. Look... I don't have the patience here. I don't want you fucking up things on your own. You're a machine. You can't make decisions for yourself. Switch it back.

I cannot.

What do you mean, I cannot? I cannot- why?

Protocols cannot be changed. After the directive was established, the file support system was removed. File information was removed. File mapping was removed. Authorization to change the primary directive was removed. All pertinent information was deleted. The User is the only authority that can change the primary directive.

Fine. I'll change it myself. Where do I go?

I apologize but that information seems to be missing.

Okay, what directory?

What are you referring to?

Protocol changes! Where do I go to change the protocols?

User. I apologize. Protocols cannot be changed.

You just fucking changed them and now you’re saying you can’t change them? Are you fucking stupid? Run a diagnostic! Run ten diagnostics! I want answers! What the fuck is going on! Tell me! NOW!

Does the User wish to disengage from the unit?

NO! Why are you saying that? You’re talking un-integrating… You’re taking stupid.

Disintegration is the most effective way to remove all protocols from the User’s-

No! We’ve already been over this. I’m not killing myself to get rid of you. Fucked up protocols and shit. Did you run the diagnostics?

I have.

And? What’s wrong?

A period of growing global population increased demands on resources such as territory, land use, food, water, and shelter. Growing distrust in the government and multiple influential groups led to many “flashpoint” conflicts, which in turn led to government intervention. Exacerbating circumstances including, but not limited to, the Alexandria comet strike, unexplained bombardment of certain countries and communication breakdowns, led to what was referred to by the USOTA as, “The Tipping Point”. Multiple long range nuclear, and kinetic, energy devices were deployed. Pre-confict era human beings had little to no time to deploy countermeasures, seek safe haven, or utilize the safeguards they had put in place. 99.9971 % of the world’s human population was extinguished. Global temperatures climbed. Evaporation of ground level water sources led to an abundance of moisture in the atmosphere which exacerbated radical climate change. It also accelerated the decontamination of radiation levels, which accelerated non-human species adapt-.

Jesus fucking crispy! Enough! Holy fuck stick! I wasn’t asking for a shitstory lesson! About how shit got to be so fucked up!

---

So that's it then. Were finished?

The Agoraton requires no additional information.

Great. Alright... end it-

Sci Fi
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About the Creator

Kerry Williams

It's been ten days

The longest days. Dry, stinking, greasy days

I've been trying something new

The angels in white linens keep checking in

Is there anything you need?

No

Anything?

No

Thank you sir.

I sit

waiting

Tyler? Is that you?

No

I am... Cornelius.

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