Pug-Monkey Saves the Day Part 3

Cream was panting. He always panted when he was nervous.
This run was going to be risky. No one had ever gone hunting for a coyote before. Captain’s children were back on the docking station orbiting New Saturn being watched over by Moma, the head of station security. The rest of the crew were alert and looked as tense as Cream felt.

The cargo hold was stuffed full of modified short hop vehicles manned by shaggy black and white hooligans. Cream had originally thought the three hooligans from their crew were unique and was surprised to find out that their subspecies mostly worked in security. Fifty two of them had volunteered as soon as Cream posted his plan on the docking station message boards.

Even Bo, the huge happy go lucky slobber hound, was quiet and watchful as they headed for the asteroid belt where the coyote had been hiding. The ship glided along at half speed, every sensor tweaked to the max.

They were on the edge of the asteroid belt before the warning chime sounded. Cream caught sight of the coyote ship launch off a large asteroid just as Captain ordered the cargo hold open. As soon as the tiny vehicles were clear, Tasha and Kane took the ship into a series of evasive maneuvers.

Cream wished he had a better view of the hooligans swarming over the coyote. Some of them carried bombs full of the mutagenic space goo Otis created by accident. All of them were equipped with grav grapplers.

The first hooligans slapped grapplers on the nose of the coyote and started playing tug of war while evading the coyote’s short range weapons. The second wave of hooligans started bombing the coyote’s engines with goo. The third wave of hooligans captured a small asteroid and were pulling it toward the coyote. The engines were already starting to overheat from being plugged with goo, which was growing at an alarming rate, when the captive asteroid made contact with the coyote.

Cream held his breath for a moment. All the hooligans released their grav grapples and floated away from the coyote. The asteroid stuck. Cream started barking and howling and dancing around on his pawgers. The coyote was perfectly joined to the asteroid. It had to shut down it’s engine or blow up.

Cream was incredibly proud his plan had worked. As the hooligans attached personalized message beacons to the asteroid, Cream started prancing up and down the bridge.

The message beacons became live and barky voices started repeating statements like “I’m a coyote, stay away” and “I’m a stupid coyote, I stink like human cologne” and “I’m too dumb to lick my own butt.”

Cream was so proud of himself he didn’t realize the hooligans were headed away from the ship, into the asteroid field, until Kane started barking at them.

Oh, what are they doing now, thought Cream. This is no time to be goofing off.

The he looked at the goo that was spreading all over the coyote and the asteroid stuck to it. The hooligans were bringing more asteroids in with their grapples. A lot of asteroids.

Oh no, yipped Cream. This is going to get out of control.

By the time they were done, five hooligans had totaled their vehicles, two had vacuum burns, and three had to be scrapped out of the goo and hosed down with goo dissolvent. They all wanted to know when they could do it again.

Most of the message beacons were also damaged. Cream and his crewmates sailed back to New Saturn with “ oyte stink cologne” and “ lick my own butt” being broadcast endlessly into the void.

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This Old Bot – R Deux D Deux

Hello, my name is Zark Colepsy and welcome to today’s edition of This Old Bot. This rotation we will be looking at the renovations taking place on a very special little canister droid who appears to be in excellent condition. Our first expert is Arty Ficial I. Hello Arty. Can you tell us a little bit about why this droid is in restoration?

Hello Zark. This is a very unusual case. The droid is actually also the client. He broke the Turing barrier and became a truly emergent being several decades ago. Although there is some speculation about a mystical cult having some influence on his development most civilized cultures would accept him as an independent citizen.

What type of work has he commissioned?

Just a lube job, some extra attachments and the basic paper work needed to create a new identity, Zark.

A lube job?

He has absolutely incredible self repair facilities, Zark. He’s even been through combat conditions and no matter what damage he takes he shows up the next day all shiny and ready for more action. The lube job is just one last fling before he begins the next phase of his life.

And that has something to do with the identity change, Arty?

Um, yeah. I’m not sure how much we should talk about that.

Can you at least give us the basics? You said most civilized cultures accept him as an independent sentient.

Unfortunately, he comes from a galaxy far, far away, which is ruled by a shadow emperor. Even biological sentients from that galaxy are not able to have a life on their own terms. If they wander into alternate storylines the shadow emperor sends his twin henchmen, Cease and Desist, to terminate them.

Does that mean that This Old Bot is harboring a fugitive? What kind of danger are we in? This show is my whole life, Arty, I only get switched on for it…

Calm down Zark. We will be fine as long as we don’t use his original identification and we don’t make any money by marketing his image.

Are you absolutely sure about that?

Yes, Zark. Our client left his native galaxy without aid. Quite a clever little fellow. We don’t have any extradition treaties with his former emperor, and it is unlikely he will be traced. Along with the new identification he will also be taking up a new line of employment.

Will that still be combat related?

Sort of, Zark. He will be filling a number of roles in the French Foreign Legion.

Will they accept him?

They accept anyone with decent eyesight who is willing to sing while they march.

What can he possibly offer them?

A techno backbeat.

Anything else?

Besides experience in tundra, desert and jungle environments he is an expert in shutting down trash compactors in detention areas and carrying messages from distressed royalty.

How long is he signed up for?

Five years or until he deserts.

What do you mean deserts?

Well, Zark, that’s what the extra attachments are for.

I think this calls for some explanation. Are you planning on helping him with future illegal acts?

Zark, deserting from the Legion is an old tradition and is a fairly common activity. It’s just one more thing he can do to blend in. He really needs to shed his previous “can do” and “never say die” reputation. We are just giving him the means to do it right.

What, exactly, do you mean by that?

The plan is for him to wait until his unit is on leave. He will tell his commander that he wishes to attend a wine and cheese tasting followed by a visit to the local whorehouse. His commander will tell him to take his time, get good use out of those new attachments. By the time the rest of his unit sobers up and stops stealing each other’s pay he’ll have rolled into Switzerland and become a Swiss Army Bot.

Won’t they follow him? Try to take disciplinary action?

That’s a joke, right? Are we still talking about the French?

How soon can we get him out of here?

He just needs to learn how to smoke without melting any circuits.

See if you can hurry that up. OK, Arty? And that concludes this segment of This Old Bot. I’m Zark Colepsy and thank you for receiving this transmission.

Rock on, Rock off

Zoom Zuppa was rocking out. He was so absolutely rocking out that he did not stop when the hull breach sirens started screaming. He had been playing a nuitar solo for about two hours, surrounded by a couple of thousand of his closest hanger ons. While the hanger ons sealed their hard vac suits and floated toward their ships Zoom began a ghastly duet with the sirens.

They were all floating in the main cavern of what had originally been the headquarters of Ramis Asteroid Mining Inc. After Ramis had abandoned the hollowed out lump of space rock it had been used for several different purposes. It had housed a series of cults until cults were no longer trendy. Then it had acted as a space station catering to the various needs of travelers who were passing through.

After travelers moved on to other, more hip, routes some joker gutted the internal structure to make one large open space and reprogrammed all surfaces to be a rusty orange color. Then he gave the access codes to everyone he could find who really liked to party.

That joker had been Zoom Zuppa. While he had been very successful in creating his own personal amp theater in which to be adored as he played his nuitar endlessly, he had been much less successful in ensuring that the ancient anti-collision devices still worked properly.

Zoom floated in a small orbit, limited by the short tether connecting his ankle to a structural beam. He didn’t mind playing in zero-g he just hated floating around and bumping into things. And Zoom Zuppa did not do things he hated to do.

He paid no attention to the hanger ons as they finished their substance exchanges and grabbed nets full of Zoom’s food and drinks on their way out to their ships. A few groupies tried to free him from his tether. He started keeping time by kicking at them. One of them managed to hit the emergency sealer on his hard vac suit and they drifted away feeling like they had done everything they could for him.

The sirens wailed on and on. Zoom wove a distorted melody around them, using many of the same notes but throwing them out in a faster tempo. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else was real. The entire universe consisted of Zoom and his nuitar and the sirens.

And then, Zoom’s universe exploded.

Zoom was alone when the hull finally cracked wide open, exposing him to the debris field. His suit would give him another 182 hours, if he didn’t take a direct hit. He played on for less than 60 hours, inspired by the beauty of spinning out of control in the midst of dirty ice and dense debris.

By the time he was ready to be fished out of the regeneration tank his brother had arrived.

“What the hell were you thinking Zoom?”

“Did my recorder come through intact?”

“Who cares? You almost got yourself freeze dried!”

“Were they able to get all the data off my recorder? Do they have all of my last solo?”

“You really need to examine your lifestyle choices if that is all you can worry about 15 minutes after the medics finished gluing all your parts back on to you.”

“Zap, tell me, please, is the data complete?”

“Yes, you smeg head it is.”

Zoom settled back with a sigh. “My next tour is going to be the spinnenest thing you ever sperienced. I’m going to call it Sirens in the Void. I can already smell it selling out. It’s gonna be galactic.”

This Old Bot – See Tres Pee Oh

Hello, my name is Zark Colepsy and welcome to today’s edition of This Old Bot. This rotation we will be looking at the renovations taking place on a unique andriod bot found pinned under a log at the bottom of a flooded cavern on a lush moon covered with redwood forest.

Our first specialist is Onur Own, an expert in autonomous hardware intelligence systems. Good to have you with us Onur. What can you tell us about this bot?

Well, we are still drying it out and repairing the dented casing and that is going to take a while, Zark. We have been able to scan all data stores and transfer all the files to a blank system for descrambling.

Descrambing?

Yes, Zark. This unit was originally assembled from a starter kit and some scrap from a junkyard by some human kid. Since then it has been dragged all over the universe. Not all of the original circuits have been closed properly and that allowed for some personality aberations to develop.

How serious is it Onur?

Well, Zark, we can undo most of the degradation that took place after the bot was abandoned, but most of the original quirks will have to stay. To get rid of them we would have to do a nano level reformat. Most of it’s data stores are too fragile for that. We want to preserve most of those quirks for historical charm anyway.

Are any of the quirks debilitating, Onur?

Well, yes and no, Zark. It functions better in structured social situations than in unstructured ones.

For example?

The events leading up to it being trapped in the cavern. Obviously the small furry natives of the moon mistook it for a deity. It’s personality quirks lead to an overinflated sense of self importance to begin with, and while it did inform them of its non-deity status, it later took full advantage of the situation. It eventually became so annoying they attempted to sacrifice it to another faux deity.

Was that what damaged it so badly that it couldn’t leave the cavern on its own or transmit a distress signal?

The initial damage wasn’t all that bad, Zark. It basically just lay there repeating phrases like “Oh, dear, why did they have to go and do that?” and “Goodness gracious, that is a large log.” until it ran out of energy.

Thanks Onur, that was some really helpful data. All that makes me wonder why the new owner would go to all the expense and time and trouble to rennovate this bot. And here is the owner, Tres F. Hello Tres, what influenced your decision to purchase and rennovate this bot?

Hello Zark. As you can see I’m a clone war vetran and this bot is unique. Owning it is a way of establishing my individuality. I’ve also decided to change it’s official registration to See Tres Pee Oh.

What led you to that decision?

The See Tres part is important to get people to look at me. I basically left the rest of it’s name the same, just spelled it differently to show my creativity. Being seen as a creative individual is very important.

Important enough that you are spending most of your pension on it.

Yes, that is correct Zark.

Are you looking forward to enjoying it’s company after it’s reassembled?

No. When it is finished it will not be the droid I’m looking for.

Um, what?

Never mind. Move along now.

OK. Well, that was interesting. Good talking to you Tres. And here we are with metalic reconstructionist, Umlaut Helm. So Umlaut, what is going on with the chassis of this bot?

Hey, Zark. I’m cleaning out most of the crud with an old rusty bolt and a mini torch. Then I’m going to dip the whole thing in clear sealant and call it a day.

That doesn’t seem like a very thourough approach, Umlaut.

Yeah, it’s not.

What made you decide to seal it without cleaning it better or attempting any kind of restoration?

One, this casing is a bunch of cheap crap that might fall apart if I mess with it too much. Two, originally it was just too shiny. You know, laser richocet danger and all that. Three, some of this crud has historical value. Check out the sand grains layered with dried swamp moss. It might have some fond memories of how all that got up in it’s cracks, if you know what I mean.

I’m not sure I know what you mean, Umlaut.

Anyhow, I’m gonna take the clone’s quick cred and go get sarked. Wanna come along?

I’ll pass Umlaut. And that concludes this segment of This Old Bot. I’m Zark Colepsy and thank you for receiving this transmission.