origin_story.doc

origin_story.doc

The day is Friday March 22nd, the year 2024.  Today is the day I died.

—Ok, just on a side note, I am SO GLAD I FINALLY GOT TO SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT! It’s so mysterious and foreboding.  But also, THIS SUCKS! Anyway, back to my wonderfully dramatic and tragic tale.  If you are too heartless to listen to it, I’ve thrown in a TL;DR for you at the end… Pig.

I died without justice, and I hope to mete it out through my new life as a pile of assorted robotic parts in a junk bin.  My killers were “troubleshooters” hired by Mason Blodgett.  He’s also my boss, Urien Daniel’s, secret boss. I know this because, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon secret documents. Of course I did! Why wouldn’t I? It’s like all of the super villains in the universe are 2D characters in a bad book, and leave all of the evidence of their crimes in the paths of the naive Dudley Dorights if their organizations.  Then, like a panicked little rabbit, what did I do? I called the cops of course! Why would I call the cops? Because I’m stupid. Monumentally so.

I wasn’t always this dumb.  I swear! I started life as a precocious, tenacious little snot-rag in Glasgow, Scotland in the late 90s.  Surprising, I know, given I don’t have an accent, but it’s true nonetheless. A 9th chair Flutist by the name of Eigyr Broderick married a visionary, but undiscovered, artist by the name of Gwydion Govannon.  Their pastor was Mark Osborn of Edinburgh’s First Methodist Congregation of the Universal Epistle of Luther, if you want to know – since I’m giving out all of the possible security answers as I can. They had me barely ten months later, being devout Christians and all, and we lived as happily as any poor family living in a big city can.  When I was about 1 my mother contracted Ovarian Cancer, and battled it the rest of her life, which turned out to be fifteen more years.  Despite constantly being sick, she was vibrant and almost too alive.  She helped me gain a love for music and musical theory that served as the basis of my obsession with robotics. 

I was home schooled by my mom and dad when they weren’t out in the world making it more beautiful. As you might expect, it wasn’t very structured, and allowed for ample exploration of the outside.  As a young child I learned everything I could, and I saw everything there was to see for a kid in the cultural epicenter of Scotland – and there was a lot.  I visited museums, musicals, operas, plays, art exhibitions, concerts, symphonies, orchestras, beat poetry nights at coffee shops, homeless people screaming in the park… You get the picture.  My mom wanted me to share our love of music with the world, so she asked her colleagues to show me the different types of instruments and styles of music. I showed unusual promise with classical Violin, especially Chopin, and played in a youth symphony.  Though I didn’t learn much about the World Wars, the Supers, or anything many school administers would think imperative during that time, I was aware of the world in a way most children weren’t.  Unfortunately, I was falling behind in those more ‘useful’ subjects, and my dad wanted me to have a more rounded education, so he enlisted the help of our elderly neighbor, Dr. Ferrin Holdaway.

Dr. Ferrin Holdaway was a retired fossil who used to teach Rhetoric and Robotics at… some University somewhere… Hold on, what was the name?  Hmm… Uh… crap. I shouldn’t be losing memories like this… I’ll have to run a few diags on my drives.

So anyway, Dr Holdaway taught me that there was more to life than art, and more to robotics than cold machinery.  He was as integral to my development intellectually as my parents were.  He melded art and science for me in a way that I began to dream like I had never dreamed before.  I could imagine a world where there were no more car accidents, sicknesses, trajedies. No more running about from paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. No more mindless human automatons.  Robotics could do those things for us as a society, which would give us more time to make the world more beautiful.

I started to think that I could save my mom from her cancer, somehow, with calibrated surgeons’ tools, automated life-support apparatuses small enough to fit under clothes… something.  Unfortunately the cancer beat me to the finish line a few months before I could get the scholarship to Copernicus University in Century Station.  I left my father in Scotland with his family, and went off to the U.S. to stop that kind of hurt from touching anyone else.  Being in a structured academics program was as much of a culture shock as was hearing, “How are you?” as a greeting but not an honest question.  After a rocky start and calls with Dr. Holdaway, I came into my own and graduated in the top third of my class.  

Eight years of school and internships later, I was hired on as a Robotics Engineer and Programmer at Universal Synthetics & Robotics.   I thought it was a dream job! I worked alone in my little basement, played all of the video games I wanted, took remote tours of the wonders of the world while testing drones, meeting new and diverse friends – like Jake Thompson, Universal  and took robot parts out of the garbage chute when no one was looking.  Enough money to live well.  I thought I had hit it big! My life up until that point was a fairly good one.  I was almost thinking that life wasn’t like an overcast carnival – Grand, Beautiful, and Overshadowed by Gloom… until I was looking for a report on Subliminal Illuminati Imagery in Media and Its Effects on Artificial Intelligence Cognitive Networks, and I stumbled upon an email’s ghost-image, sent by a spoofed account sent from Mason Blodgett to Urien Daniels, the CEO of USR , with the subject line “Re: C0unci1 Adj3nd@ & St4tu5.”  Within the coded .txt attachment were hexadecimal timestamps that lined up with business trips my boss went on. Three coincided with crimes committed against non-Council-of-Industry-affiliated-businesses by advanced-robotics-aided criminals. (Boolean Query, you are my favorite!) So, like I said, I called the cops to schedule an interview with a CSPD Detective.

That was four hours ago.  Three hours and Fourty-Six minutes ago the motion-sensor cameras I stationed in the hallways leading to my lab woke my monitors up with video of two well-dressed men holding silenced pistols walking purposefully down the hall.  Three hours and Fourty-Three minutes ago, after a very short break with reality, I attached a Cerebral Implant I had been working on along with my hobby robot to the base of my skull.  Three Hours and Fourty-Two Minutes and Fifty-Nine seconds ago I saw the first of the two men enter through the door to my lab, so I closed my eyes and transferred my intelligence into the unfinished robot body stashed away in my closet at home.  Three Hours and Fourty-Two Minutes and Fifty-Eight Seconds ago my head was remodeled to have an open floor plan by that nice man in a suit, and I wound up homeless in a way most people won’t ever understand.

I said that my Robot Body wasn’t complete, and I wasn’t meaning it in the ‘I’m really proud of what I made, and I’m just being modest and coy’ kind of way.  I meant it in the ‘There was barely enough there to not die trapped in a useless metal coffin’ kind of way.  The sum total of the robot body I resided in consisted of: One Android’s Head, minus the cosmetic coverings to make it seem human; One Transferred Intelligence chassis; One telephoto camera eye; The top half of a right arm; Two 3/4-sized utility arms; and a Jet Pack. Before tonight, I would have said that my robot was the neatest hobby ‘bot anyone could have thought of, especially since it was all purchased with the 5-finger discount.  Now, I saw it as a meager little hovel, and I wished that I had spent more time putting it together.  Well, there was no time like the present, right?  So, I threw the closet door open with my right stump, and looked around the room.  After not seeing anyone, I tipped myself onto the area rug in front of the closet, and started to make my way slowly to the garage where the rest of the parts I had acquired were. 

Room by room, I dragged myself through, hoping desperately that there weren’t any “Cleaners” being sent to my company-paid-for condo.  I was also taking inventory on my situation.  I could only truly interact with the world around me in one meaningful way – sight.  All other sensations that I had were completely alien, and were being processed in my brain more like a tingling numbness than anything familiar.  I couldn’t smell, taste, feel, hear. The vision that I had, while extremely advanced for modern technology, wasn’t like human sight at all.  So it seemed that I was  a brain in a jar, with digital pictures being uploaded into the sight portion of my brain.  And in essence, that is precisely what I was.  What I always would be.  So, try as much you possibly can to picture a robot dragging itself through a fairly well decorated condo using ¾ size arms, trailing as-of-yet superfluous hydraulics tubes and electrical wires like a techno-zombie, making no noise.  After a few subjective hours, and ten objective minutes, I reached the door to the garage…  The first truly trying obstacle of my new existence.  By propping myself up with my righty-stump, righty-gimp-arm, and some bits of spinal column, I was able to reach the handle and finally get to the bin.  The glorious bin.  Luckily I had tested most of the parts before taking them home, so I had a complete android body to work with.  

The one thing that I want to convey about my self-construction is this:  It is weird to suddenly and systematically have new senses added to your conscious mind.  I ‘plugged-in’ (painstakingly implemented and upgraded) my sensors, and it was like slowly getting less and less blinded.  Have you ever popped your ears, and suddenly it’s like you were deaf before, but the world is calling out to you with a hundred voices you can finally hear them?  That was how it was with my sensors:  Nightvision, UV, Radar, Radio, Inaudible Frequency… It was like coming alive in a way I never had been… and with the death of my true body, it was like being reborn and relearning about life and the universe. 

After the novelty wore off, and I got sucked into the minutiae of robotics, my mind was able to wander to what I needed to do next, and I asked myself what I should do next; so that when three hours later I finished the last bits of my legs, I could run through my specter’s home quickly, snatching up the odds and ends I could foresee needing or missing.  Among other things, I grabbed several guns, my Class IV body armor – quickly adjusted to account for my extra arms and back-mounted jet-pack, – and hit the streets of Century Station in my Escalade.  You may think that it was lucky that I didn’t leave my car at work, but if you have to undergo car inspections every day you drive yourself to work, and were about to be fired for tardiness because of them, you’d use the company ‘prison-bus’ too.

From my days in Glasgow, I had a feel for the seedier undercurrents of the city, even in the relatively crime-less Midtown.  I sold my ‘Lade to a chopper that gave me a pretty good deal on it – cash, as it always spends – and made my way as far away from my home and USR as I could…

And that is when I set off to contact Jake, folk hero of Century Station to tell him what I knew. 

Which lead me to here and now: At the crater that used to be Jake’s.  Panicking for the umpteenth time in four hours,  I searched around in my memory for a way to contact him.  We had lost contact a while ago, and I didn’t have my phone on me, and didn’t used to believe in The CityNet’s Cloud…  I might revisit that stance.  After beating myself up for a few minutes, I decided that a mis-matched android standing over a crater might look suspicious, so I started up my jetpack for the first time and flew off in a random direction.  For about three seconds, when I unceremoniously landed in the boughs of an ancient oak.  Take two lasted a while longer, and gave me the time I needed to think about how to find Jake.  

A few hours into my wanderings across Century City, I noticed more commotion than you’d expect, even for one of the slums.  A seven-story tall…. Jenga tower?… was being assaulted by emergency response personnel. I started to head in to see what I could do to help when I saw one of the newer heroes of Century City fly in through an upper window…  I wanna say Garfield?  Garth?  Gristle?  Something.  Anywho, I backed off.  High-profile hero work isn’t what I needed right now.  

Something about a pink-clad super jogged my memory, and I recalled that Jake had a sister.  Now I just needed to find her.

I waited until about Nine’o’clock, when Lunet Braga’s shift started.  She’s a Parking Enforcement Officer.  Not a meter-maid.  P. E. O…  Though, I would like to see what would happen to you if you called her a Meter Maid, so forget what I said. She was a bit more than a simple PEO, and knew people that could find people.  After giving her proof that I was who I said I was, I told her who I needed found, and she gave me a time and place to get the info.  

At a quarter to five, I sat waiting in a booth at MacLain’s Tavern ‘n Eatery in Midtown, trying to keep my face hidden from the other patrons.  She sat, and we enjoyed a chat about the ‘Ol’ Countreh.’  She left the address in an envelope folded in a well-worn copy of today’s paper she’d brought in with her.

Ethel Falkenberg

Current Whereabouts: Unknown.

Permanent Address: Yester Park <housenumberredacted>

 

 

And with that, I finished my ale – Honest-To-Goodness Ale – and set off.

—TL;DR

I…
1. Grew up a person,
2. Eventually had to put my consciousness into a patchwork robot before I was assassinated to keep a corporate secret,
3. And now I’m trying to get vengeance.

4 Replies to “origin_story.doc”

  1. Perhaps next time have a Flesh to Blood IPA…
    Pink “jogger”? Ethel only has 2 speeds- full and off.
    Love the intro- great log.

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