i have actualy wrote 28 parts but can only fit 13 here-msg me if want more
|Part 1 of a possible 600
War campaign stage 4,321,day 622...about breakfast time..
The Arm Commander was awoke from a fitful sleep by the recharge alarm on his combat suit beeping incessantly. Reaching over to his armoured (and now fully charged), soil resistant underwear he smashed his fist against the off button, and commenced the arduous task of getting dressed.
as he put the first foot into the solid boot of his servodroid battle armour,the propoganda viewer glared into life to show the latest news on the war front,annoyingly compulsive viewing if you wanted to watch it or not.
battle for core prime news
Arm commander Sir James 'corekiller' braithwait the 3rd was seen today inspecting the 604th heavy tank regiment after taking over from Tiberius 'metal melter' Meehan.(As reported in last nights late breaking news, Meehan was unfortunately killed when a captured Krogoth gantry he was inspecting fell and crushed him to death.)
Sir James, Hero of the 'retribution massacre' on planet oseria for single handedly capturing an enemy fortitude missile defence emplacement and calling in a nuke strike on his own position, was quoted as saying, "I didn't get were I am today without making sacrifices, and if the 604th has had to lose a commander in order for me to take charge of them, then I think in the long run that's a sacrifice they can be glad they made".
Intercepted core propaganda comlink
Yesterday the plan by core consciousness to have revenge on the arm commander responsible for decimating position 32578-2 alpha was completed. As we are all aware Arm commander J.B-3, referred to by his own troops we believe as 'justa bastard X3',stumbled across forward position 32578-2 94.5 days and 16hrs ago whilst trying to find his own positions, which he had somehow mislaid. Since we knew our camouflage was too good for the squishy beings imitating our glorious leaders form to find under normal circumstances, no defences had been implemented to protect the 250 reserve construction bots resting in the area. Internal spycams positioned within the disused missile silo showed Arm commander JB-3 (in an act of stupidity only to be expected of such insignificant scum as the Arm), climb out of the silo and in doing so brushed against his emergency 'Arm commander dying' transmit button, which as we have found out all too often necessitates an immediate retaliatory missile strike on the senders position. All 250 construction bots were seen to be melted beyond recognition as the human scum's nukes landed, and the only surviving spycam in the silo the arm commander was in showed that although the weak armour employed by the enemy was almost destroyed, the soft fleshy one within managed to survive, presumably due to the protection afforded by our excellent silo walls.
Switching off the news signal, the Core Commander finished off going through the startup routine and accessed his orders for the day. Elsewhere however, deep in his sub processor, an internal battle was being played out among the individual electrodes that deciphered all information passed on by the core consciousness...
"Look am just saying, if he doesn't get reminded about the loose chip he found on that kbot AK,its better for us as a whole ok?..We inform him, he'll order the AK scrapped, the lab will be offline for an unknown amount of time while tech bots assigned finally find out the chip was faulty due to our designation clipping him in the corridor, and not a faulty lab...he'll get a reprimand, and we end up with some nosey fault finding program ripping through us!
"And I am just saying that if we don't forward to him the reminder, we won't have been obeying our programming, and we'll get a diagnostic all the same...Anyway, its your fault we even have this problem, was you who got our MCP not to register our scraping the AK in the 1st place, if wasn't for that decision we wouldn't need to decide on this one..."
Assigning more processing time to the argument than it consciously wanted,MCP6 re-routed automatically some 2 million other commands to the other 5 MCP's positioned within the core commander, so as not to miss the reasoning behind the thought process it was monitoring.
"Ok,say I agree we don't remind him of the AK problem, that still leaves us in breach of our core directive,eg to follow core directives! How can we justify that?!!"
There was a billionth of a nano second pause, but just as MCP6 was deciding to allocate the problem to a different set of problem interpreters, the reply came..
"Paragraph 1002,section 89/12A states under no circumstances must core directives be over-ridden, unless to do so is in the best interest of the Core and not to would be detrimental to same...Production of kbot lab GH2/45189-9 would be halted, less kbots would be made, Core army would be less than predicted for the day, so we must not remind about the chip-QED...
Referencing the Core Directive mentioned almost as soon as it was bought up,MCP6 sent the necessary impulse to give the diodes an alternative problem to solve,namely,which would result in the most damage... 1-falling to floor and landing on left shoulder, 2-landing on floor with weight crushing left arm, or 3-hitting head on wall as fell, to slow the descent...All this of course was going on in the commanders consciousness without him actually knowing it.
Turning from his reflection, satisfied that he looked as immaculate as was befitting his designation, the commander turned towards the exit,rdy to begin the days chores.
Suddenly, as he turned, his left leg momentarily lost all power and his momentum and natural weight sent him crashing towards the floor, banging his head on the locker as he fell. Almost without thinking he quickly reached out with his left arm and, attempting to roll as gravity did what came so naturally to it, came to an abrupt stop as his shoulder caught on the corner of the bed...Briefly, between thinking how absurd he must look with his arched back, head on floor,arse in air and straight legs, the commander allowed himself a brief second of pride on how his reflex's were still upto the job even after all these years, then quickly stood up and left the building.
MPC6 wrote a small note to self not to reroute more than 1.7million commands at any one time to the other MCP's or would cause a temporary power flux in the left leg, then continued with the billions of computations necessary in keeping his designated commander active.
"So you reckon we gonna move out today? Rumour has it we're gonna hit their homeworld any day now?"
"ya right, and I'm gonna be made a commander for making sure this intim's painted the right shade of black...they been sayin core homeworlds the target soon since I was back washing Jeffy's in 8001!"
"but it could be true this time, I hear they captured an air con on that last place g-squad attacked, and got the coordinates from its memory core."
josh sighed heavily, wondering how he ever got stuck with someone quite so gullible as Ted for an oppo.Looking around, he glanced at the 80 feet of intimidator barrel so far painted, then the other way to the 280 feet still left to do. There was more degrading work to be done, he thought,hell,alot of them he'd already been assigned to, so knew that much to be true. It didn't make the task any more appealing though.
"Can we take a break yet josh? I wanna listen to the war news, may mention about the core prime attack plans!"
Looking at his chronometer, josh sighs again and presses the controls on the winch, which slowly swings his and Ted's baskets hanging below the barrel adjacent to each other. Ted reaches over, misses on 1st attempt and nearly plummets the 1200 feet to ground level, but regains his balance and successfully grabs the side of josh's basket, securing it to his own.
"One of these days your going to really fall off doing that Ted. Wait till its closer ffs,or you'll have us both over!"
Ted sheepishly smiles and mumbles a 'sorry josh' as he finishes tying up and takes out the compact vid-screen from his rucksack, and switches it on. Both, of course, had security harnesses they should wear as standard on this sort of job, but like most they rarely actually used them as they tended to tangle up alot and get in the way when painting. When your paid per job and not per hour, speed tends to take preference over safety given half the chance.
"hey josh! the news is starting, your gonna miss it!"
without turning josh just mutters 'yeh yeh' and continues leaning on his baskets edge, watching the seemingly chaotic array of kbots and vet's churning up the dust far off below, sipping his synthicoffee as he does so.
'Core forces are continuing to retreat on all fronts, and Arm is almost assured of complete victory. Many experts are now saying the war against the tyranny that is Core will be over by xmas."
As the sound of war footage drifts over to josh he smiles, wondering vaguely how many times he has heard so called experts say the same thing over the years.
"'as you may be aware, recent top secret information gathered by our glorious Arm forces have obtained the whereabouts of the Core Homeworld. Even now the biggest invasion fleet ever made is being amassed around the galaxy, and over a rumoured 2,000+ galactic gates are being prepared for their immanent jump to the Core Homeworld.
"Josh! Josh! They said they're goin"....
"Ya I heard it Ted keep ya hair on. Not as if we'll be going is it, we'll still be stuck on this hell hole swinging a paint brush if the top brass attack Core Prime or not."
"well I believe the news anyway.Wanna make a bet that we attack the Core Homeworld before the months up?"
Trying not to smile, Josh turned slowly and, keeping his voice steady so as not to sound too eager, said,"um, well I don't think we'll attack but, well, ya go on then, I suppose I can chance a bet-how much you got saved up?"
Teds face dropped abit at that question, and Josh wondered if he had blown his chance at ripping him off by asking so quickly.
Taking out his bank card, Ted typed in his access code and looked at the small screen.
“Um, I still have most of the money from my last contract, I got knocked out on the last day, fell off a veh plant roof, was in traction for two weeks so didn't get to spend any of it before this job started, so I have 7k credits left.."
Not believing his luck, Josh quickly turned his head and made as if to take out his own card, so Ted wouldn't see the large grin He couldn't help appearing on his face...'7000 credits! Josh couldn't believe his luck, or Teds stupidity'..
Turning back, face now composed again, Josh said "wow, uh, that's alot of credits Ted, am not sure I can cover that. But what the hell, if that's what you want-sure I'll cover that bet, deal?"
Ted handed over his card and after Josh had connected them both up, they typed in their access codes and arranged to have the 7k transferred on the last day of month, agreeing that whoever lost could cancel the transfer.
"Better get back to work then Ted, you can go topside for abit since your so keen on heights. You win this bet I'll eat my brushes as well as give ya the cash ok."
"I trust the news guys Josh, I'll win."
smiling broadly, Josh started to unhook the baskets, thinking his luck must be changing to have found someone so gullible as Ted to work with, and wondering who to bribe with the money in order to get a better job placement.
Just as he unhooked the catches though, he was suddenly pulled forward and found himself doing a reasonable impression of a lunar queedle bird on its 1st flight from the nest, only without the 1/10th gravity that lets such a flailing 4 winged 600Lb bird fly.
"WTFFFFFffffffffffffffffffff????????????????????????" (Thats "what the f*&k" for non shorthand readers")
Looking down at the rapidly shrinking but surprising active shape that was soon to change its appearance drastically, Ted smiled. It wasn't the same smile he had a few minutes ago actually. This time I seemed to somehow alter his whole facial look, as if he was in fact a completely different person entirely.
As the outline of Josh's body became blurred with the other shapes in the distance below, Ted started quietly humming to himself, and, reaching down to radio HQ about the 'tragic accident', wondered just how gullible people could be......
"so, what you reckon this is in aid of? More bullshit to keep us occupied, or think we'll actually be shipping out?"
Without showing any outward acknowledgement of hearing the question, Jones-25701 mentally shrugged his shoulders at Jones-39504, and kept concentrating on the dark patch below the window situated on the wall in front. After a few seconds though, the question was repeated abit louder.
Adjusting the voice amplifier via his neural net to ensure he wouldn't be overheard, Jones-25701 just said "Pass....should find out in a min though, CK's due any time now"
Almost on cue, the siren sounded to announce a commander in vicinity, and even though the 60 Arm Zipper chassis never visibly moved, you could sense the biologics within stiffen to even more rigidness simultaneously within them.
Jones-25701 quickly reverted his speech amplifier back to normal, then waited as the ground vibrations became more acute, indicating the Commander was heading his way. Just as he was starting to worry that he had neglected to insert the spikes of his leg armour into the ground enough to stop his chassis wobbling with the ground tremors, the approaching Commander stopped, and with a final stomp as he turned to face them, the parade ground became silent.
Commander Braithwait stared at the troops in front of him, and, pausing for effect, smiled to himself at the uneasiness he knew his silence was inflicting on them. Inside his visor, a small digital readout counted down from 37.5, which he had learnt from experience was the ultimate time required to instil both fear at what he might say, and the troops undivided attention to his every word. As the counter was about to reach zero, Braithwait checked his voice amplifier was set to maximum, and addressed the troops.
"SOON, AT A TIME YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE MADE AWARE OF, I WILL BE LEADING THE MAIN ASSAULT ON THE CORE HOMEWORLD. BEFORE THIS CAN HAPPEN HOWEVER, DEFENCES MUST BE NEUTRALISED ON THE THREE ADJACENT MOONS OF CORE PRIME, AS WELL AS THE 2 CLOSEST PLANETS, IN A COMBINED SIMULTANEOUS ATTACK.
INTELLIGENCE HAS DETERMINED THAT A SMALL FORCE CONSISTING OF YOURSELVES WILL BE MORE THAN A MATCH FOR THE SMALLEST MOON'S DEFENDERS, WHICH ONLY CONSIST OF A WEAK RADAR STATION AND LIGHT DEFENCES. FULL DETAILS ON YOUR PART IN THIS MOMENTOUS OCCASION ARE AS WE SPEAK BEING UPLOADED TO YOUR ARMOURS COM-SATS."
Taking his eyes briefly off the inner wall of the hanger, Jones 25701 glanced at his H.U.D. display, noting there was indeed a download in progress, then returned his attention to the wall and the patch he had been focusing on.
"I DO NOT NEED TO REMIND YOU THAT ULTIMATE VICTORY OVER CORE PRIME RESTS SOLELY ON THE SUCCESS OF LESSER VICTORIES SUCH AS YOURS OVER THE MOON 'DIASODIES II'...YOUR TRANSPORTS AWAIT MEN, GOD SPEED, AND DO ARM PROUD!"
On cue, the ARM National Anthem started blaring from the hangers speakers as the Commander finished, and a synchronized series of thuds reverberated as the troops armour automatically retracted their stabilizing pinions, and forced the zippers into the standard 3-move salute of one leg forward, both arms crossed over the head.
The commanders suit stayed under Braithwaits own command of course, until he activated it manually to return the salute.
Receiving the about turn instruction from the Zipper commander, Jones-25701 turned his suit around in unison with the others, and proceeded to march with them to the 3 transports outside the hanger. As he waited at the Atlas's loading ramp for his turn to board, his suits collision alarm sounded and he narrowly avoided a small robomedic team rushing to a small crowd in the distance. Curious he zoomed in, and could just make out a bloodied mess in the shadow of a Bertha....'gonna be lucky to retrieve much of that poor sap for recloning' he thought, then turned back to the Atlas as a clang from behind indicated it was his turn to board.
Already relaxed from the salute position,('no point wasting energy saluting their backs, not as if they could see me to appreciate it', he thought to himself), Braithwait accessed the neural net and informed HQ of the Zippers imminent departure. The confirmation reply came back almost instantly as expected, and he closed the connection without bothering to read it...Had he not been so quick in closing it, he would no doubt have noticed the addition of intelligence info on Diasodies II, informing of the new defence upgrades and troop movements forward observation posts had noted only parsecs earlier.
Considering his sole reason for existing was to obey the wishes of the Core Consciousness, not to mention the fact that he was in over-all charge of every Core unit within 100 parsecs of his own vicinity, the Commander was not feeling very happy about his new orders. It wasn't so much that he felt embarrassment at his new command area, that would be silly.( The Core as a whole had long ago erased anything that could remotely be described as 'feelings' from their data banks. In fact the verb 'to feel' had over 20 different meanings in relation to the Core Consciousness and their mobile units, but apart from an obscure reference to free floating electrodes immersed in a vacuum tube, none were remotely relevant to its original meaning.)
'Annoyance' however, was a relevant description (and a fully documented and allowed thought process), which amply portrayed the Commanders response to his new orders.
"DIASODIES II?!! 498 THOUSAND REVOLUTIONS OF CORE PRIME, MORE MENTIONS IN DISPATCHES THAN I CAN COMPUTE, AND I GET 'DIASODIES II?!!!!?!
The 3 AK's that had just passed the Commander in the labyrinth of corridors, made a point of not turning around at the outburst. (If interested though, they did make it a subject of discussion during their downtime, which lasted well into the early hours of the next day, and ended with one AK suffering a slight denting of its outer casing, and the permanent erasure of 2 lubricant dispenser's main processor chips. None of this is relevant, but I find it best to allow the reader all the facts, regardless of my opinion on them.)
As he continued down the lane reserved for the more larger (but reasonably slow) units, various Zippers and Weasels sped past unnoticed in the 3 fast lanes of the Head Quarter facility corridors, losing control briefly as they passed the commander as his heavy footfalls vibrated even the reinforced surface of the ground. Engrossed in re-accessing his orders, his MCP's were diligently rerouting instructions so as not to disturb his thoughts with minor details such as collision alerts.
'Step over the AK...NOW!.....Move him to the left in 6 steps there's a pyro squad bunched up....Watch that raider, he's in the wrong lane!...*crunch*...what was that!?? ok who's supposed to be watching infra red display? If I get blamed for crushing that spectre you can-
Monitoring the thought processes MCP 2 decided to allocate a few more diodes to collision detection, and putting monitor duty to a priority two status started to confer with MCP 4 concerning their commanders orders...
"Think this will cause us additional problems?"
"Don't see why, nothing we can't over ride anyway"
"well obviously, that goes without saying, but you know how he can be. Remember that time he decided to clear a minefield with the Dgun? Not to mention when he took on those 3 Fido's when knew damn well they had spider backups! One of these days he's going to do something stupid and we'll be too busy to notice.."
"well that's what we're here for. Besides, what can he get upto on Diodiese II? Its a small moon, gravities 2/10ths of CP's, and not as if we are going to come under fire in our own galaxy is it."
"yes I suppose your right. Just ever since that Arm nuke fried his secondary circuits he's been virtually unpredictable. It worries me"
"well we managed to keep that from Core Consciousness, and we'll find a way to get through this new posting too. Talking of which, you don't think Core Consciousness is on to us do you?"
"No its alright, I already checked. This posting is nothing to do with that. I heard from the MCP over at HQ, via that new processor from accounting (heh), that Diosiedes II is being upgraded to planetary defence status. They want a seasoned Commander to over-see it is all."
"You have been in touch with the new processor in accounting? what's it like? I heard its the cool?"
"Cool isn't the word...minus 2000 degree's, and that's just the casing!"
"Wow. You'll have to give me its number, wouldn't mind interfacing with that myself.
"No way, besides its an ex-Core Consciousness address, access that without good cause and we'll both be fried. Only got it myself as I interfaced with HQ over that nuke incident and got rerouted in error."
"pfft. Some MCP's get all the luck.."
Turning off the main lanes, the commander marched upto the right hand Gaat gun guarding the Orders division offices and tapped in the codes for access, then did the same for the left one and stormed in through the 100 foot titanium steel doors.(Much as Core profanity may not be found as offensive as swearing we are used to, I have omitted this scene to save the sensors any undue hassle should this be sold in Core galaxies in the future. Suffice to say the Core commander made various remarks concerning his suitability for the posting on Diasodiese II, and his explicit descriptions of the bots in charge of issuing the orders were highly inaccurate but colourful....As a side note, the response to his remarks were surprisingly accurate in their detail concerning the Commanders parentage, although technically just as offensive as anything he had said all the same.....)
Blinking profusely, not too sure where he was or how he got there, sight slowly came back to him.
In the distance he could just make out what was probably a door, but the defused lighting which seemed to be all around yet not exactly emanating from anywhere specific seemed to be limiting his vision. He tried to turn his head but, as if paralysed, this task seemed impossible, without his actually knowing why. Straining, he rolled his eyes 1st to his left, then his right, but again the light shimmering hazily all around him seemed to make focusing on a specific object or shape nearly impossible. Lamely he tried to move his arms, then his feet, but as by now he had expected, neither had the desired,( or even any,) affect. Racking his brain for a clue as to where (or who) he was, realisation slowly dawned on him.
Refocusing his eyes to make out what was inches from his face rather than in the distance, a reflection of his own eyes staring back at him confirmed his fears. It was then that he caught sight of a door opening in his peripheral vision and the labtech walked over and picked up the jar his head was sitting so snugly inside, and held it up to his face.
"Tut tut tut, who's a silly Arm then?...fancy falling from a Bertha, I dunno...Things you people do to get out of working."
Tempted as he was to reply, Josh knew speech would not be possible in his present situation so settled for mentally going 'pfft' to himself and rolling his eyes skyward.
Placing the jar onto a table next to a vidscreen, the labtech opened up a portfolio and Josh could just about make out details scrolling horizontally of his past reconstructions.
"Not very exciting reading is it old boy?" he said as fingers sped across the keyboard.
"Cleaner, air plant operator, trivial pursuit questions compiler, cleaner again, kbot sprayer, person who makes the trigger mechanism for Dgun, cleaner yet again, decorator..."
Josh tried to blank out the memories of the mundane jobs being rattled off by the labtech, but as each one was uttered it bought back a quick stab of remembrance which would have made Josh shudder, had he had more of a body to do so with. Finally the labtech reached the last incarnation his body, or what was left of it, had been reconstructed as, and opened up a compatibility chart to see what was available this time.
Considering how long he had lived, ( which was a considerable length of time even by Arm standards,) Josh felt he should be greatfull. But when living meant continually doing the most boring jobs known to Arm, appreciation of life tended to wane abit.
"So, I suppose your wondering what's available this time? Personally how we saved enough to use at all so many times is beyond me, but I'm sure we'll find something that can make use of that head of yours."
Panic for the 1st time started to show in Josh's eye's. This wasn't the 1st time his head had been decapitated in an accident, but it hadn't occurred to him that this time the head was 'all' they were able to save of him! Blinking frantically Josh tried to get the labtechs attention, but to no avail.
"Here we are, just the thing" said the labtech, but Josh was unable to make out exactly what was on the screen. And as he tried to focus better the screen blanked off and his head was again lifted up, but this time carried through the doors and into the corridor. The labtech seemed to be speaking to someone as they walked but whoever it was they weren't in Josh's view, due to his being snugly propped under the labtechs armpit. (I would transcribe the conversation between the labtech and whoever he was talking to, but Josh's main concern seemed to be the way he was being carried and the strange smell permeating his container, so since he never heard it all, I won't either..)
"...partly erase it of course to fit in the extra knowledge........"
"wouldn't it be easier to completely erase............oh yes I see, well we'll leave that then........."
"By the way,...................?
"my sisters wedding..........lazy basta......."
".....inserted up the ..... wouldn't have but...................and............."
"Huge thing! Kept..........................but that was.............so they called it off in the end."
Just then light again became visible and Josh was placed with a jolt onto a hard surface.
"Really? can't say I am surprised. Anyway I'll let you get on. See you at the party later."
Josh's container was now partly misted over, but was still clear enough for him to make out that an exact clone of the labtech carrying him was leaving the room.
"Sorry about that. Nice looking guy but doesn't half chat about nothing alot.....Anyway what was I doing?...Oh yes I remember."
There was a loud 'plop' as Josh's container lid was removed, and a louder 'slurping' noise as what was left of him was removed from the jar and placed in a large vat of clear liquid. Since Josh was used to having alot more of a body left to reconstruct with, he could not help but feel some apprehension. The labtech however kept talking to him as electrodes were placed all over, and although he couldn't make out what was being said, it did, in some strange way he couldn't describe, make him feel less scared watching the different facial expressions and arm movements the labtech went through as he talked.
Seemingly finished with the attachments, the labtech flashed a large grin and a short wave of his hand towards Josh's watching eyes, as with the other arm he reached over to something out of his view. Anything else he may have done was lost to Josh as everything suddenly went very dark, and whatever he may have been about to think about was replaced by a pain so excruciating, that it made the memory of his leg bones being shafted up his torso as he hit he ground in his fall compare to a tap on the shoulder with a feather in zero gravity......
Life on Diasodiese II was, to say the least, predictable. Not that Commander Badd Feelings disliked routine, quite the opposite in fact, he thrived on it. But being one of the 'old school' his circuits were never quite got used to the fact that he was built for war, yet had never in all his long existence seen a shot fired in anger.
(Any of the Core originally built prior to the last major Core directive update, which briefly outlined consisted of the erasure and replacement of any biological components and all similarity to the accursed ARM such as the now almost mythical 'humour' the Arm were detested for, are referred to as 'old school' by other Core.
Although now days all Core find the very word 'feelings' an indecipherable or at least meaningless word as far as they are concerned, many before the Core Directive update found the concept appealing, and the Kbot supervisor responsible for naming Commanders off the production line that 'Badd Feelings' came from was obviously one of them.)
It had been some 32 orbits of Core Prime now since Badd Feelings had found any need to leave his Command chair. It wasn't so much that he was lazy, but since this was his 1st (and only) posting since being built, he had it running so smoothly and efficiently by this time that his presence wasn't really needed other than in a supervisory capacity. (And he could quite easily monitor every Core on the moon from his command chair.) After receiving the latest communication from Core Prime though he decided to personally inspect the facility, just in case. Not for the first time, Commander Feelings re-read over the communication marked his circuits only...
From: Core Prime
To: Cmdr Diodiese II
Due to escalating Arm communications in our Home galaxy, it has been decided to send additional components to your facility. The nature of the components will become obvious upon arrival. Ensure your Galactic Gate is primed for use. Do not under any circumstances transmit any uncoded messages to Core Prime, including your confirmation of this communication....End transmission.
Had he known the meaning of the word irony, (in any context other than meaning 'like iron',) his thoughts upon reading that last instruction and his given name may well have bore similar significance.
Ted was not having a good day. Although crime of almost any type had more or less been eradicated from the Arm Nation, the biological components still in use by them did have its drawbacks, and freedom of thought was still a major one of them. After watching Josh fall Ted was sure that if nothing else, they would have had so little of Josh's brain to work with that what memories they were able to salvage wouldn't cause him any problems.
Now though, watching the vidcast filmed at the scene of his impact, Ted could not believe his bad luck. Against all probability, Josh had apparently landed feet first. The almost farcical sight of Josh's legs upto the knee bone still standing upright on the concrete, his head neatly sat staring wide eyed between them on the ground after it had obviously been forced,( through the weight of the helmet still sat upon it,) down through his torso and through the now visibly snapped ribs of his ribcage must have somehow broken the heads fall enough to remain intact. ( The outer ribcage of which was bracing the legs upright with the help of congealed blood and body parts that weren't already spread over the 15 foot area around his remains, giving a macabre 'head in a turtle shell' effect to Josh peering out beneath the helmet.)
Punishment for almost any crime consisted of regeneration as an automotron, such as the Arm Invader crawling bomb or Eraser radar jamming bot, able only to use rudimentary speech and limited mental capacity to allow simple commands to be carried out. Murder however, due to its anti-Arm nature, was not treated so leniently. Anyone found guilty of murder was considered an enemy of Arm as a whole, and as such was locked in a sealed container and sent to the nearest Core held world. (After any sensitive information memories were wiped of course.)
Rumours of what happened once in Core hands were many and varied, but with the pure hatred of Arm shown by Core on the battlefield it is a fair guess Ted wouldn't want to find out first-hand what happens, and his panic at seeing Josh on the vidscreen backs up this supposition.)
Frantically, Ted started to pack anything of worth into a sealo-bag and book a flight on the next transport offworld. His staying would probably make more sense in the short term, but once interviewed by the Arm Police any chance of getting offworld would be gone, and he couldn't chance that Josh hadn't already informed them of his deed.
No sooner had he finished booking the flight though and there was an insistent rap at the door.
Without even pausing to block the entrance, Ted grabbed the portable console and, shoving it into the sealo-bag, fled out the fire escape and down the emergency escape shut.
After knocking once more the motel bot accessed the room control pad and glided into the room, replaced the used towels with clean ones and glided out again, the door relocking as it closed.
Elsewhere, on the planet of Racton 5, (in the galaxy of Cirendus,) the elected leader of the month was going about his duties....
Period 6...visitation by council elect committee concerning food crop distribution to Racton 3+4.
Period 8...Contact leader of Racton 2 and arrange research+development budget for stage 104 of the stellar travel experiment based on its 3rd moon
Period 9...check news update to confirm your still leader
Tanus pushed aside the itinerary and sighed deeply. Only a week had passed of his 4-week stint as planetary leader, yet already he was bored of the position. 'No wonder Giles resigned in only his 3rd week', he thought.
Prior to his election, Tanus was happily working as park attendant in the gardens of Ex-leader Giles Crandell, but due to the century old election procedure which stated Planetary Leaders be picked at random from the populous, (minors excluded till reaching voting age-which is an outdated phrase considering voting no longer existed,) Tanus (being handy at the time if nothing else,) got the dubious pleasure of being elected.
Sighing once more, Tanus pressed the call button and again picked up the itinerary as the servitor bot floated into the office.
"you called ambassador?"
Tanus avoided the sarcasm of stating 'obviously or you wouldn't be here asking', since would be wasted on the servitor, and just asked for a beverage and a slunge cake.(Being able to get anything he wanted whenever wanted was, so far, the only perk he had found to being Leader.)
Out of frustration and boredom at the days events he had yet to endure, Tanus flicked open the coms channel to 'broadband', moved the volume lever to full and quietly whispered into the microphone; "If something exciting doesn't happen soon, I am going to go quite mad".
Temporarily satisfied by his calm outburst to no one in particular, Tanus switched off the coms and left the room, ready to begin his 1st duty of the day.
On Racton 1,2,3,+4, 1000's of radio operators simultaneously jumped out of their seats, ripping off their head sets as they did so. Microseconds earlier, some 378 Racton 5 radio operators unfortunate enough to be on duty at the time seemed to stiffen then convulse irrepressibly, every fibre of their being screaming out in pain. Not too surprisingly, their screams went unheard by the very people making them.
Head Core transceiver bot Cb79/2a of Diodiese II transcribed the reception from the Cirendus region and after triple encoding it, flashed its contents as before to Core prime. Vaguely CB79/2a wondered why they were frequently receiving such nondescript messages from a galaxy not occupied by either Core or Arm forces,(and if anyone would know of such an occupation, he would,) but then he picked up what he recognised as coded Arm troop movement orders, and put such thoughts to the back of his processor for later assessment.
A piercing siren broke the silence of the facility, and the giant gantry housed in a revamped missile silo whirred into movement, pushing it up through the silo entrance high above.
Sendatt jnr glanced at the control panel in front of him, eagerly jotting down dial readouts, and pressing buttons while muttering to himself quietly as he did so.
'Excellent, yes ,good-good ......preparing backup AI, circuits operating nominally...good....'
"Sorry did you say something Sir?"
Sendatt jnr carried on with what he was doing, unaware even of the other scientists question.
Seeing the inane grin on Sendatts face and the intensity in which he was working, the other scientists turned back to watching the huge cradle as it rised higher.
After a few more minutes, the device lurched to a stop with a jolt, and Sendatt gave the order for phase 2 of the test to begin.
"Secondary AI initiated. All master control panels synchronized and operating as expected. Opening duel viewports."
Without acknowledging the scientists comments, Sendatt switched over to external view on his viewer and zoomed in to the gargantuan housed in the gantry.
A long, drawn out creaking sound preceded the ever increasing sunlight which was streaming in through the ever widening openings.
Flocks of danucks, flying in formation across the purple sea before him arced upwards, before swooping down then west behind roving hills along the beach. As he directed his line of site downwards to follow the danucks flight, there was a momentary feeling of panic at seeing the landscape spread out around him, but almost immediately was replaced by calmness and a feeling of overpowering serenity which caused him to feel sleepy again.
Once more the openings creaked noisily as they slowly closed, and josh,(for it was he,) drifted back to sleep and oblivious thoughts.
MCP 1 suddenly came online, and checked its circuitry and connections. Immediately realising something was wrong, (no other MCP's installed!), it chanced a quick diagnostic of all systems...Diode supplement=5000,000....Sub processors=38,000...MCP connections=unknown(!!??!!??!?) Unknown?? UNKNOWN??....That shouldn't be possible! There either were other MCP's controlling or there weren't!
Randomly mcp1 sent out commands to any diodes not preoccupied, and, pairing them up to save memory core space monitored their conclusions. Most drew blank responses but a few seemed to be operating under different core protocols, and at least had some theories worth examining.
Diode pair 34,0987...'Arm may have perfected the proton missiles, if so there's other MCP's but connections have been fused, temporarily halting confirmation?'
'no that wouldn't do it, even if out of service diagnostics would show they are there not just show as unknown'
"ok, how about Core Hq are upgrading MCP's, and while in process of installation system check shows unknown until all fully fitted?"
'standard procedure is one MCP at a time for replacement or upgrade, everyone knows that'
"well what's your thinking then??"
'how about, um, a new never tried MCP, working solo, and diagnostics don't yet recognise its signature?'
Mcp1 tried another pairing, 189,091...
"if they added too many MCP's, and they all sent same enquiry to find out how many were installed at same time, would that give unknown response?'
'Give them some credit, MCP's aren't stupid you know...how about a faulty sub processor giving irregular replies?'
"no any faults would have come up on the diagnostics."
'unless the diagnostic was error'd...'
Mcp1 checked any suggested reasons as they became known, deleting each as proved futile. As he was about to try 3 and 4 diode groupings to get a broader discussion going concerning
the fault reply, he received an enquiry concerning 'danuck formations and behaviour patterns', and before he had time to realise it must have been an MCP making the enquiry, had passed on the information. Returning the diodes back to standard problem solving again, mcp1 quickly traced the enquiry, and again got the 'unknown' response as to the source!
After a few nano seconds conferring in conjunction with diodes and sub processors in unison though, he managed to at least trace all pathways adjacent to where the question came from, and made a startling discovery....There was another MCP installed, and it was ORGANIC'!
Using all resources available, mcp1 started to re route command protocols through himself, bypassing the 'organic' installed. Many pathways were blocked or had been rerouted via sub processors he hadn't even been aware of, but after what seemed to him an eternity alot of the Krogoth functions came under his control again. Before he could confirm or instigate full control over those functions however, electrodes swarmed through his circuitry informing him that main power was being put on standby, and his thought processes ground to a halt. As the last vestiges of consciousness was leaving mcp1, the last thing it was aware of as it blinked into standby mode was a sensation it knew only was to do with height and a sudden lack of it, but otherwise was both indescribable and if anything, alien to it.
"we're losing control dammit, readings are going off the scale!" Stabbing at the emergency button, Sendatt jnr turned for the 1st time since the experiment began and faced the other scientist in the control booth, an angry scowl on his face replacing the earlier ecstatic smile.
"Close viewports, I've had to inject the experimental and put him back under. I am going to run some tests while its out, and I want you to get up there and check every single pathway and report back here 1st thing tomorrow for another test."
Flustered, the other scientist said "Yes SIR, straight away", and, grabbing at his notes and clip board,(which he knocked all over the floor, making him even more flustered,) hurriedly scooped them up and fled out the door, his footfalls resounding around the silo walls as he ran across the metal walkways towards the descending gantry.
Clearly disappointed at the initial test results, Sendatt jnr turned and stopped the control room door before it fully closed after his father had left, shouting "And make sure you lube those bloody viewports while your up there!!"
Although not totally unheard of within the Arm race, tracing your genetic parents was of course unusual, to say the least. Due to selective regeneration in the beginning of the Arms's long history however, the most skilled or mentally gifted of the race was among the 1st to undergo the procedure, and scientists were naturally among those chosen. Like any Arm though, genetic relationships came a poor 2nd to Arm efficiency, and Sendatt jnr would not tolerate incompetence in any form, related to him or not..
Slamming the door, Sendatt jnr went back to the readouts and watched the replay of Josh's interaction with the Core technology they had tried to adapt, and considered where exactly the pathways had failed to intrigate successfully. The theory was sound, (naturally he thought, since it was he who had made them,) but somehow Josh's subconscious was not taking over from the master control chips he'd bypassed. "It must be that old fool's doing", he said out loud to himself, and not for the first time considered how someone as incompetent as his father ever spawned someone as intelligent as himself.
Funnily enough, Sendatt snr was wondering something along similar lines, although he kept his thoughts to himself, and used words more usually associated with illigitimatacy and explicit sexual organs not having a function on Arm personal in many centuries.(And if they did have a function still, it is doubtful geneticists would consider them being suitable replacements for the cranium, or viable in any way as described by Sendatt snr's descriptive thoughts concerning his son.)
Looking around nonchalantly, Ted (who had adopted the uniform of engineer class 3, along with fake facial hair and a frizzy haired wig,) examined his fellow passengers. The seat next to him was empty, as were the majority of the others. (commercial flights off world were not common, since 99.% of Arm were employed in a military capacity.)
A few seats up though sat a scientist,( Ted wasn't psychic btw, only the scientist in question was still wearing a white lab coat for one thing, and for another Ted had spoken to him in the departure lounge and their relative jobs came up in conversation...) A rather young man for a scientist, but then with advances in regeneration techniques looks can be deceiving.
Sat on the opposite side to the scientist were two trainee zipper clones, identical in both their looks and uniform, neither speaking but nodding occasionally, presumably connected via implants and conversing that way. The only other passengers were 4 large cases marked 'for regeneration' sat at the rear of the transport, which Ted had already seen being loaded as the flight was delayed while seats were removed to fit them in.
Satisfied of no immediate threats by the passengers, Ted settled into his seat and imperceptibly relaxed for the long flight ahead. He could of course have adopted a more prominent military persona and used a galactic gate, but felt this the safer option. Glancing out the window, the peeper escort (common on all flights since the Core raid by cloaked drones in campaign 3,971 on durridian 3,) arced to the right and then dived downwards as the transport broke through the outer atmosphere, wings retracting gracefully as the thrusters gave a final burst and the fluffy clouds gave way to the dark twinkling view of space.