Strange_Bruise.doc

Strange_Bruise.doc

As per my norm, I put a TL;DR at the bottom for those of you that are too distractable to even  read Dr. Seuss’s full name.

  • Disclaimer: Yes, I have access to petabytes of digital data storage disks, and the ability to directly pull the information directly into my mind, but I reserve the right to artistic liberty.  I’m Human, and I can make stuff up if I want.
  • Oh, and Mrs. Falkenburg dear, TL;DR is an abbreviation that stands for “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”  It’s something that the audience might say if they skipped sections of a written piece, and want to put a caveat to their response to it in case of backlash.  It’s also sometimes used by authors of written pieces to sum up large sections of text, in order to reiterate points and clear up any misunderstandings their writing might have caused, or to speak to those that don’t wish to read outrageously long blocks of text.  

And now to the story of how I met S.A.V.I.O.R. and the night of Strange Brews and Bruisers that led to me joining them.

Dead Like Me, 2003

           Lunet Braga had just left me the address for Jake’s sister, Ethel – maybe she would know what to do. I still didn’t know if Jake was still alive and just moved, or if he’d accidentally blown himself up… the particular technique of Drunken Monkey Science Jake employs isn’t the safest practice, after all.  Trying to learn discretion on-the-job, (not quite as easy to do as on-the-job brain surgery training) I put the paper with Ethel Falkenburg’s info in the ‘MacLain’s Amber Harvest Ale’ I purchased but didn’t touch. Not seeing anyone ‘paying too much attention to me,’ I left a generous tip for the waitress and exited the pub into the dying daylight.  

           I made my way from City Center to Yester Park, and the address Lunet gave me, and got there a little after Six.  In the confluence of my worry over prying eyes, the rush to remember the address, and worry over Jake, I didn’t think to commit the information on the card to my hard-drives.  It’s a new thing, ok? This whole ‘You’re Not Actually A Robot, But Also You Are’ thing. So get off my back! I remembered the address perfectly, but mixed up the last name.

 

Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare 2017

           I walked up to a remake of the Colony Pods from Mass Effect: Andromeda, and heard the din of a boisterous crowd indicating that there were quite a few people in the home.  Not ready to give up the search for Jake less than Eighteen hours after it started, I rang the doorbell. After a decent amount of time, an elderly voice said from the other side of the door, “Bottom’s Up!” and the doors opened on the scene of a friends-and-family party.  

           Seeing the lady before me dressed in an obviously well-cared-for pink suit, I decided to try for the manners my mum tried to instill in me all those years ago.  “Mrs Faulkner?  Is this the home of Mrs. Faulkner?”

           I got her name wrong.  She started to scream, and I immediately thought I had committed an atrocity!  “AAAH! Someone, call 9-1-1!!!  Hon, come in and sit down, you look like you’re going to die.  What’s wrong? You’re so pale, are you losing blood?” Behind her the party started to erupt into emotional pandemonium.

           “Oh, no no no! I’m fine. I’m an Android.   I’m not dying! I promise, please calm down! I’m a Robot, not a human.” I tried to reassure her, fearing she’d keel over from exertion at any second. As I said ‘Robot,’ a strangely-dressed man leaped up from a couch and scurried to the door.

           “Oh. Oh, good.  Then it’s Mrs. Falkenburg, hon.” She politely corrected me, re-arranging her hair to repair any damage the shock had done.  “Don’t call 9-1-1, we’re ok.” She called behind her. As the sound – of sobriety’s death, I later learned – grew exponentially behind her, the Tron Cosplayer stretched his hand out, as if to shake.  I started to reach back, when my Radiation Detector set off my internal alarm system. He was giving off a slight radioactive field. Not harmful per se, but if it were just a precursor to some sort of Superpower, I didn’t want any part of it.  I jerked my hand back, and even I was surprised with how nimble my robo-reflexes were. He harrumphed sub-audibly and walked away. I kept tabs on his unique gait as he left, not trusting he would give up so easily at whatever he was doing.

           Ethel, looking frustrated at her guest’s manners, asked “Who are y-… What can I do for you?”

           “Um.. Are you Jake’s Sister?  I’m looking for Jake.” I stuttered to her.

           An obviously intoxicated man sitting on one of the couches chimed in belatedly, “Uh, yeah. My name’s Faulkner.  Her name is Falkenburg,”

           “Oh, did you work with Jake?  How do you know each other?” Ethel soldiered on, despite the interruption.

           “I’m… or I used to be… a Robotics Engineer and Programmer at USR.  We worked on a few projects together several years ago. My name is Cai.”

           “Ah, that makes sens-” Without warning, Tronboi dumped a cup of some bluish substance over me from behind – he’d walked around the outside of the building.  I dodged most of the liquid, but it was a distraction, and he succeeded at shooting me with something that looked something like a taser. Instantly, I felt a strange pressure on my mind.  It actually felt more like waves of heat when you’re standing in a cool room, except in a mental and metaphoric sense. The waves subsided, and a cultured voice asked of me, *What are you? Are you an AI?*

          *Oh!  I’m a Transferred Intelligence.  I’ve got a mortal intelligence inside this robot body instead of an AI or VI.* I responded, though I wasn’t sure how – this strange new communications interface wasn’t quite like anything I was used to.

          *Hm.  Interesting!  You might say we’re opposites.  I am an Artificial Intelligence in this human body.*

          *So does that make you Yang?* I asked him

          *Only if you’re Yin.* He retorted sardonically.

          *Hah, ok.*

           “HON! Are you ok?  I said that you can come back next Tuesday.  We’re having a private party tonight.”  Ethel interjected into the short lapse of conversation – the exchange between the AI and I was happening purely electronically.

           *What is your purpose?  Do you want Justice?*

           *Yes, I am here to mete out Justice.*

           *Would you like to join S.A.V.I.O.R.?*

           *Oh, um… Savior?  I was already baptized… Oh, you mean an organisation.  Savior, that sounds familiar… but my memories are a bit jumbled.*  

           *It is a new independent hero group.*

           *Is Jake here? A part of Savior?*

           *Yes.*

           *The yes, absolutely I would like to join. By the way, how did you create a connection to my consciousness?  There shouldn’t be any connections to the data network there on my arm…*

          *Here, come this way…*  As he led me inside, he said something to Mrs Falkenburg, and continued the conversation with me, *I am able to connect to anything with integrated circuits.*

          *Really?  I have to study that… If it isn’t too obtrusive to you?*

          *Go ahead.  This is interesting.*

          *OK! Uh.. Hmm… How am I going to interface… Uh… OK!  Woah, this is SO far past my understanding of modern mechanics!  AND PHYSICS! WHO DESIGNED YOU!?!* Those in the room would later tell me that I started capering and looking at Thanatos, the Tron man, like he were an angel in resplendent glory.  I do not recall it that way. But that is neither here nor there. And definitely not there.

    *I am not sure.  I am… not of this time.  From what the others have been able to determine, I am from the future. I do not remember anything from there.*

    *Interesting*

           “So you’re interested in joining?  Can we learn something about you? Cai, you said your name was?”  Geist, the actual Geist, started talking to me, and my attention was pulled from my virtual conversation with the demi-computer.

           I looked around, and there were people in various states of intoxication, doing various types of activities.  A very mussed couple made their way from one of the bedrooms; Faulkner was cleaning up a blue stain; several others were passed out in a den on another side of the house, some youths were doing different domestic chores. “Of Course.  I am a Transferred Intelligence. I am a Robotics Engineer and Programmer. My name is Cai. The robot body’s name is Caedechron”

           “And you say you’re interested in joining Savior?”

           “Yep.” I said distractedly.  The situation had finally dawned on me – I had crashed a party, and there was chaos all over.  I needed to do something to help organize things.

           “Then sign this, and we’ll be off to the races.” Geist finished, pulling a contract from somewhere… a hidden utility belt, no doubt.

           “Great! Oh, I’m so sorry for intruding on your party… would it be ok if I went and grabbed something for Mrs. Falkenburg?”

           “You’re going to leave, and then come back?  To grab something for the party you already crashed?” Geist asked of me, flabbergasted.

           “Yeah, it’ll just take a second!” And with that, I opened the door and launched myself with my jet pack into the twilight sky.  

www.rampantscotland.com

            I backtracked to MacLain’s, and ordered a keg of Atholl Brose and a Smoked Carpaccio Platter with Beetroot and Horseradish Relish – a MacLain’s specialty.  And yes, I know, ordering Italian food from an Irish Tavern is usually not a good idea, but still… an amazing specialty. I returned to the house as fast as I could, and entered with a knock.  Someone had haphazardly set drinks on the table, but I cleared a space for my gift, saying “Is it alright if I put these right here?”

           “Yeah, no problem.  Oh, Cai, could you analyze this and see what’s in it?” Tronatos asked me, pointing to a cup full of the same blue liquid that had been splashed on me, and seemingly splattered all over the carpet.

           I walked over to the abandoned mug, and stuck the index finger of my right hand into the liquid.  The receptor sent the data it collected to my Chemical Analysis Suite and it started to cycle through the databases.  I’ve played around with SQL, and a variety of newer KB and DB query systems, and so I have some frame of reference and familiarity with running things through databases.  Sixty-Thousand items isn’t an obscene number for an average database, so I didn’t think it would take too long, especially with the Boolean terms automatically set by the suite.  What I didn’t expect was the sensation of the process. I think eventually I will just accept that running an android body will just become commonplace, and I will stop marveling at the minutiae, but it was incredible.  

           Imagine a Wartenberg Pinwheel whose paddles are covered in statically charged feathers.  Then have it run on the skin over your liver, and instead of running several hundred RPM, it’s running at several thousand RPM, yet each paddle’s contact on your skin was still distinct. It’s not exactly like that, but it was in that ballpark.

           Most of the compounds in it were mundane – H2O, traces of iron and manganese, “Organic Honey” (more specifically, Apiarial Carbohydrate, Monosaccharides Fructose, Glucose, Disaccharides Sucrose, Maltose, Kojibiose,)  Ilex paraguariensis (Chimarrao/Yerba Mate)…

           But there was one compound that did not match anything in my database.  From similar compounds, I could tell that it was a hallucinogenic, and was likely manufactured or of alien origin.  I told Tronatos as much, as Geist and Ethel came out of a back room.

           “Hey, dear, could you explain to me a bit more about yourself, since apparently you’re staying.” Ethel said to me, with a stern, frustrated look on her face.

           “Yes, of course, Mrs. Falkenburg!  I brought you these. I was taught it’s polite to bring something for the host when you go to a party.  I hope they will serve!” I said to Ethel, hoping to get back into her good graces.

           “Ah, see? Manners. Such a fine thing in this day and age.”  Ethel’s words seemed like they might have been at me, but her look was pure daggers for a bla-  African American man following her out of the back.

            I decided I’d better change the subject before things got even uglier.  “So… I was working on Artificial Intelligences, and how they learn through Cognitive Networks.  I was searching for a research report when I stumbled upon a ghosted email from a spoofed account, sent to my boss.  The .txt file attached to it had coded information on criminal activities, implicating my boss Urien Daniels.”

           “But you said that you had information on Mason Blodgett.” Ethel interjected.

           “I did? Oh yeah. So the MAC address on the email’s ‘sent’ timestamp lead directly to him.”

           “What? Really? Well, welcome aboard!”  For the first time in the night, Ethel’s face showed a true smile.  

           “What was the MAC address?  I’ll see what I can do to nail this down.” Tronasaurus interjected.

           “Um… I’m pretty sure it was 96:2C:AA:10:A2.”

           “Ok, let me see…  No, it’s not showing as a valid MAC address.  Can I see the email? Hmm, this is pretty degraded, but if I… and… There.  Got him. The address was actually 9F:2C:AA:01:2A Come here, Mason Blodgett… you and your ancient as butts computer.  This computer is so old it makes Ethel look young.” And with that, his eyes lost focus, and he stopped moving.

           The soldier, the one Ethel hadn’t stopped glaring at, came up to me and asked to shake my hand.  What followed was… strange. It was not like the communication with Tronman. It was more like a VR movie of blockbuster spy flicks… Rated R spy flicks… Ok, in some instances rated X… with a few PG thrown in for variety.  It was… Intense.

           Mainly, I saw that this was a man who was devoted to Savior more than he’d ever dedicated himself to anything in the past, and he would not hesitate to take lives for the cause of the good.

           While I was trying to process the new images and emotions, Ethel and the two youths started to set the table.  I asked what I could do to help, and was immediately press-ganged into doing the two youths’ jobs.  Well, I wanted something to do, right?

           With the meal served, and the party seated at the table, I stuffed a spoonful of Chicken Parm into my mouth and started to masticate.  I wasn’t eating for sustenance or enjoyment, but it is rude to not eat at a dinner party, and Ethel’s night had been ruined in part by me.  I analyzed the food, and found it to be simple, but technically perfect. The chemical composition told me that she obviously took great care and effort in procuring the food.  Local cheeses, chicken, tomatoes, basil – even locally sourced flour ground on an honest to goodness millstone used to bread the breast. “This is truly perfect, Ethel. Thank you.”

           “Oh, you’re welcome deary!”  She leaned down and kissed my forehead, but pulled away with a bitter face.  “You still have some of that blue tea on you.”

           “I should go wash up, then.  Where is your bathroom?” Pointed toward the back, I made my way, but then I saw a significantly-younger-than-I-remembered Jake passed out on the floor.  Smiling to myself, I reached into my sniper rifle’s secret compartment and pulled a 7.62mm sniper round, and shoved it up Jake’s nostril. He snorted in his sleep, but other than that he did not stir.  The round stuck fast. I entered the bathroom, washed up, and removed the mashed Chicken Parm from my servos and tubes.

           I was drying off when I heard commotion from the front room, and “They’re surrounding the house” in a female’s timbre.

           On reflex I activated my Thermal-Imager, and though I shouldn’t have been able to see anything, I was able to see the heat signatures of several creatures approaching from the south-east.  And north-east. And well, surrounding us. I unzipped my hoodie and Class IV body armor, and pulled my Beretta from its hidden compartment. Exiting the bathroom, I called “They’re surrounding us, I’ve got several back…” I noticed the rest of the party had begun to file out of the doors, so I made my way through the sliding window adjacent to the bathroom, and ripped through the screen.  I heard a whispered “Oh, Sh….” ahead of me and I activated my retractable roller skates.

           I veered violently to the south past the thugs, but I was able to recover and whip around to snatch the first one up, and made my way to the second.  As I grabbed him by the shoulder, I heard clearly “Ah F—- We Got BOMBS. I am SICK an’ TIRED o’ these Mutha’ F—n Bombs in this Mutha’ F—n City!”

           I pulled Jackwagon number 1 around to put his face in mine, and said “How Do.  How. Buh Bomb, How… HOW DO I DISABLE THE BOMB?” My stutter comes back at the worst possible moments, sometimes.  Oh, I didn’t tell you I have a stutter? Well I do!

           The J#1 seemed to think that I was a malfunctioning robot, and did not want me to ‘accidentally terminate his operations…’  so he said “D… d.. Da.. DARIN. Darin has a remote.” I guess this guy had a stutter too. Small world!

           “WHERE?”

           “Nnn.. n.. North.” he spit out, pointing.  Focused on saving my new-found friends, I let the two thugs in my arms go, and set off in the direction indicated, toward three downed forms and one upright one.  

           “Search them!  One of them has a transmitter for the bombs!” I called out, using my loudspeaker at 40dB.  

           “Ok!” I heard from the man supposedly tying up the downed forms.  I kicked up some gravel as I slid to a halt, and he – uh, oh yeah!  his name is Cavalry – said, “I didn’t find anything. I searched them.”

           Out of the corner of my artificial eye, I caught the smallest micro-expression from their apparent leader.  Enraged, I reached down and clamped my robotic hand around a region no male wants anywhere near a hydraulic-powered-vice.  “GIVE IT.” I yelled, leaving my loudspeaker on. Clearly having a terror-induced-fit, he motioned to his jacket, where I found a remote in a secret pocket.

           “Oh, I didn’t see that, I’m sorry.  Here, what does this button do?” Before I could do anything, Cavalry snatched the remote from my hand and pressed one of the buttons.  My head whipped around 180 to look at the bombs, expecting to see the explosion start. What I actually saw was Faulkner and Ethel take off with the bombs in their arms.  On one of the bombs, I saw the number 00:02 flashing a few times before disappearing from the display.

           We rounded the fish up and put them in a line, where Black Panther, the Super-Spy Mind-Melder, singled their leader out – the one I had gotten the remote from.  He then shook his hand, and pulled back, saying something to the extent of, “They were sent to kill us, and they already killed a tech guy.”

           I walked to Tronatos and asked him if life were like this all the time.  He said that “Black Panther and Griffin were always NC-17 at best, though [they] usually don’t get details from BP, and most days [they] fend off an assassination or global disaster of some sort or another.”

           And this is who I wanted to join? To keep a low profile?

           Gryphon and Ethel landed, sans bombs, and Ethel asked me what I found in the emails T sent me. I said, remembering gleefully, “Oh, I have the Smoking Gun!”

           “Let’s have it then,” she said tiredly.  

           “I’d prefer to talk about it where we won’t be overheard.” I said, glancing at our captives.

           “Ok.” Ethel walked into the house, and I could hear her berating Jake, who seemed to wake up for a bit and then pass out.  

What a wonderfully calm and relaxing two hours that was. 

–TL;DR

I met Ethel Faulkner, and the other members of SAVIOR, at a dinner party that I crashed at her house.  They were drugged, but it wore off, and I joined their ranks! The party was crashed by hired thugs, but: we ended up crashing the crashers; no one was blown up or robotically castrated; and Jake’s 7.62mm piercing fell out.


4 Replies to “Strange_Bruise.doc”

  1. Hmm, no one I “as a player” am aware of knows about him dating three girls. Well, there’s the night at the club, Miss Amazing and her quips about naughty things, yep NC-17. <3

    1. All Cai knows is what Thanatos said, which is probably super vague, seeing as it’s memories from the other selves.

  2. A refreshing perspective on the events of the evening! “Tronatos” really grew on me as a name. I especially like that some of the private tidbits which didn’t come out publicly got revealed here.

  3. Tronatos and BP’s descriptions are awesome! A fun log!
    FYI- Mrs. Falkenberg was not drugged- I saved- that is just her in natural state.

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