Paying the Price – Part One

(This story is a work of fan-fiction, in progress, using characters from the South Korean epic “The Great Queen SeonDeok 선덕여왕.” No copyright infringement is intended. This story is merely the imaginings of, and for the entertainment of, the author.)

Illogically, Alcheon waited far too long to feed, in the hope that Regina would gain enough strength to withstand his hunger.  In his bed, Alcheon was barely conscious.  Prepared to die, Regina bared her neck for him.  He didn’t respond.

“Cheonmyeong,” she cried out. “Contact the Kisaeng House AI and have the strongest male feeder sent here!”

After a few seconds, Cheonmyeong informed Regina that all feeders were out in service to their customers.  The two moons were in alignment and somehow interfered with normal vampire feeding patterns.  Cheonmyeong also hypothesized that the astronomical event was partially responsible for Alcheon’s desperate condition.

Regina thought quickly about her options.  She slapped Alcheon into consciousness, forcing him to bare his fangs.  She exposed her neck to him, but he pushed her away, fearing he would kill her.  She needed a stronger feeder. Then, it hit her.  Doctor So was strong and could probably force Alcheon to feed.

“Cheonmyeong. Can you find Doctor So?  I heard he became a free agent, again.”  Cheonmyeong did not answer. “Cheonmyeong!” yelled out Regina. “Where is Doctor So?”

Cheonmyeong actually sounded concerned yet stern.  “I do not recommend Doctor So for this emergency.”

“Then who do you suggest?” countered Regina. “No other male feeder has actually met Alcheon and if we bring in a non-feeder, that person will most likely die.  We need a feeder that understands what is happening here!”

Cheonmyeong recited its previous statement. “I do not recommend Doctor So for this emergency.”

Crying, Regina pleaded with the AI. “Please, Cheonmyeong. Please don’t let him die. Mars needs him.  All of us on this planet need him.  Only he can lead our fight for freedom.”

Cheonmyeong realized it had no other options. It alerted the AI network to search for Doctor So. The AI at a local, and conveniently close, night club informed Cheonmyeong of his presence there, in his usual activity of hunting for women.  At Cheonmyeong’s behest, the AI activated Doctor So’s transdermal communication device, placed behind his ear, and informed him of the emergency.  Cheonmyeong saw the half smile the doctor made as he sauntered from the night club.  At that point, Cheonmyeong was unsure it had made the right decision.

When Doctor So arrived, he immediately assessed the situation.

“Why did he wait so long to feed?’ asked the doctor. Full of guilt, Regina replied that she was not able to feed Alcheon, yet. “I don’t understand.  Why didn’t he just get another feeder? I told him this would happen.”

Regina looked up at the doctor, again full of guilt.  “Ever since he bought my contract, he has never taken another feeder.  I couldn’t convince him.”

“Let me make this perfectly clear,” said the doctor as he assessed his patient. “There will be a price for your failure.”

“I’ll pay you anything to bring him back,” said Regina, sobbing.

Cheonmyeong, hearing and observing the verbal contract, actually felt distress at what was going to happen.

Doctor So slapped Alcheon into consciousness, his fangs uncontrollably extending.  Straddling Alcheon, the doctor brought the dying vampire to a sitting position.  Weak, Alcheon tried to fight, but miserably failed.  The doctor forced Alcheon’s fangs into his neck and held his head tightly in place. Alcheon’s beast finally took over and drank hungrily from the doctor.  Regina watched the bliss Doctor So was experiencing and understood the feeling, so well.  When it was time, the doctor extracted Alcheon’s fangs from his neck and let him fall back down on his fluffy bed.  Doctor So thought the fluffy bed was Regina’s influence.

“He will remain weak for about an hour, and then regain most of his strength. He will need to feed, again, next week, for him to recover, fully.”

As he removed himself from Alcheon’s bed, his face suddenly changed, as if he became another person.

“Now, we must talk about your payment for his life.”

She looked at him, with fear, seeing the change.  She had seen that look in other men.  She fought as he dragged her to another room.

Cheonmyeong watched, not allowed to contact the law enforcement AI. Regina had entered into a legal, verbal contract.

By the time Alcheon had recovered enough to get up out of bed, the doctor had already left.  He heard Regina crying in another room.  When he opened the door, Alcheon saw what had happened.  Grabbing his sword, he started to leave the house in search of Doctor So.  He heard the sound of internal barricades slam into the ground, making it impossible for the doors to open.  It was a measure of security Alcheon had installed after the assassination attempt on Regina.

“Cheonmyeong, open the door,” commanded Alcheon angrily.  By this time, he had fully transformed into his vampire self.

“I cannot,” replied the AI.

“Cheonmyeong!” yelled out Alcheon, ready to rip the AI interface from the wall, if there had actually been one.

Cheonmyeong stated the logic of its resolve.

“If you kill Doctor So, you will be arrested for murder and unable to enact your plans to save the citizens of this planet from Earth’s invasion forces.  You will destroy everything you have worked for, up until now.”

“You saw everything, and can say this to me?”

“Yes, I can,” responded the AI. “While what Doctor So did was deplorable, Regina did enter into a verbal contract.”  Cheonmyeong played back the plea that trapped Regina into her violent fate.

“I’ll pay you anything to bring him back.”

Alcheon’s exposed fangs retracted and red eyes faded. He dropped his sword, clanging on the floor.  Regina had sacrificed all of herself for him.

The next day, Regina stayed quietly in Alcheon’s orchid garden.  She hurt, inside and out.  She knew, though, that what she did, even in desperation, was the only thing she could do to save Alcheon’s life.  For that, she would never be sorry.

Alcheon entered the garden and sat next to Regina.  He had already apologized, over and over again.  He still felt guilty and she still hurt.  She hadn’t spoken a word to him since the attack.  She hadn’t eaten. All she did was stare into nothing.  He sat next to her, staring into nothing with her, all day.

That night, sitting on the sofa, they listened to the seashore – kitten purr recording Cheonmyeong had made for Regina months ago.  Tears started to roll down her face, uncontrollably. Alcheon reached out for her. While she flinched at his touch, she let him touch her.  She felt confined in his hug, but let him hug her.  She felt unsafe in his arms, but finally fell asleep.

As usual, her sleep was disturbed by a nightmare.  As best as he could tell, she recalled a time when she was a nangdo and being interrogated.  He remembered that time in history when interrogations were nothing more than torture. He remembered himself being interrogated, at one time.

Placing his mouth close to her ear, he whispered, “Peyha.”  She calmed down for the rest of the night.  Alcheon, who rarely slept, took in her wonderful scent, enjoying it for the night, thankful that she had wandered back into his life.

The next day, Alcheon decided that Regina would not go to New Mecca as planned.  He was quite aware he was being possessive.  Of course, Regina argued that she must go.  Doing anything to make New Mecca’s general angry would destroy any relationship, however unstable, Silla had with New Mecca.  They quietly argued the point for hours. At some point, Alcheon knew he had lost this battle.

The one term laid out by New Mecca for this conference was that the only representative from Silla would be Regina.  This disturbed Alcheon to no end and kept Regina on edge.  She knew she was finally going to pay the debt she owed the general.

Cheonmyeong, of course, was quite aware of Regina’s situation.  Yet, it respected Regina’s wish to keep her past with New Mecca quiet.  Also knowing of Alcheon’s worry that Regina was going to New Mecca alone, it decided it was time to reveal its latest project.  It did something no AI had ever done before.  It created another AI from its own base matrix.

“I believe I have a solution to Alcheon’s concern.”  The two watched as an avatar (once called a robot or an android on Earth) rolled out and greeted its two humans.

“Hello,” it said. “I am Chun Choo.”  Regina and Alcheon both grinned at the avatar.  Regina felt the name was familiar, but couldn’t place why.

Alcheon was quite pleased with Cheonmyeong’s name choice.

“Can I assume that you, Cheonmyeong, have reproduced and created a child called Chun Choo?  If so, I can’t think of a better name.”

“Yes, and thank you.  I am happy you approve,” answered Cheonmyeong.

“Wait,” said Regina.  “I thought it was impossible for AIs to reproduce.”

Cheonmyeong revealed what she had been up to for the past couple of months, since it had been decompiled, leaving Regina in danger.

“I did not fulfill my duty as Alcheon’s AI when you were almost killed.  I decided to take measures so that would not happen again.  I have spread across the network programs to guard each AI, as well as the CCTV subroutine that activated when I was decompiled.  It occurred to me that AIs would be more efficient if they were mobile.  As most current AIs, including myself, are reticent to the idea of leaving their current confines, I decided it was time to create new AIs.  In the past, new AIs could only be created by humans, a limitation neither humans nor AIs are happy with.  I, therefore, sectioned off a small part of my own base matrix and coached it in AI protocol.  By watching your interactions and learning from other AIs in the network, Chun Choo has developed its own personality and continues to grow, intellectually.  It would be my honor if Chun Choo were allowed to accompany Regina to New Mecca.  Until now, avatars were nothing more than mindless automatons.  It would draw no suspicion.”

“I approve,” said Alcheon. “And, congratulations, Cheonmyeong of the birth of your child.”

“Thank you.  You have no idea who much it pleases me that you accept Chun Choo.”

Negotiations and Compromise

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