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Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



is tdbot real or advanced

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Djeser posted:

is tdbot real or advanced

Tdbot is fully operational

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Dunno if I'll join up this week, but I'll dramatic read a story or two if people want.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In. I have no idea what the prompt is but apparently sebmojo will unleash a terrifying vial of robo-syphilis into the atmosphere unless I enter..

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Fumblemouse posted:

In. I have no idea what the prompt is but apparently sebmojo will unleash a terrifying vial of robo-syphilis into the atmosphere unless I enter..

sebmojangles oh god tdbot why is fumblemouse so terrible
TDbot And his mother says: 'Son, don't suck your thumbs. | Questionable Content by Entenzahn - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=1573

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







•sittinghere> tdbot why did sebmojo forget to close signups
TDbot> Can't just open your mouth and invite someone to the apartment, after all. | Untitled Opening by Jitzu_the_Monk - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3563

Well said. Signups are closed! As of like, 11 hours ago. Get writing, you ugly little bags of mostly watersoda-flavored syrup product.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







here are some crits from week 156, because I hate myself i guess.

Epoch.

This has the makings of a pretty sweet and effective story, actually. I thought the relationship between brother and sister was sincere. I wasn't as much a fan of how you handled the jumps between the "present" of the story (which is actually the past, when Danny was 5) and the rest of Beth and Danny's life. Maybe that's what got it a DM, though I would've have personally DMed it. Thing is, it's loving hard to capture real, giddy, insane, tragic, impossible love in a flash fiction length story. I would say that a sibling bond is a pretty good angle to go with in some ways, since there are a lot of implicit feelings involved: protectiveness, trust, loyalty, and attachment. But your actual conflict was vague. You needed something more for Beth and Danny to face and overcome, something to generate tension more naturally. Danny getting hit by a truck at the end was sort of too little, too late, weird as that sounds. Like, it doesn't mesh at all with the final flashback to five year old Danny getting pulled out of a ditch by his big sister, and as an ending it's kind of a pointless tragedy that bowls right over the sincerity of the relationship.

The writing itself was competent in most places and good in others. The problems were all structural, IMO.

Spectres of Autism

I thought your story had promise, but then you said

quote:

A message followed it. “I’ve used my telepathic chat program to hack into the informational matrix that connects all of space and time. We use different mediums but the fundamental structures of communication programs are the same in any reality.”

Everything following that line is pretty much you explaining the little world you thought up while you were writing this. This has more character than some of your more conceptual stories, so good on you. But I would really like to see more weeks where you don't do any worldbuilding. The beginning of the story had the makings of a relatable premise. Some of the wording was wonky, but you hit on actual issues that actual people might think about, and you should have developed that instead of expounding on interdimensional communication. Having your (nameless???) protagonist leave her apartment could've been a reasonably satisfying ending, but you didn't really earn it.

Seriously. I would love to see a slice of life story by you. Or something as simple as: two ordinary people want opposing things. Obviously ROBOT APOCALYPSE week won't be the time to explore that, probably, but in the future, it would be really cool if you could take your big ideas and force them into a realistic story.

Thranguy

Ah, slice of life sci-fi. It's like, How I Met Your Space-Mother, In Space. Only, I didn't really care how they met. I wanted to read about the weird alien chick navigating a situation that's awkward under the most normal of circumstances: meeting The Family. Like, I could totally picture a creepy, drunk uncle cornering Holly and asking her about whether her "parts" were compatible with Ian's. But the whole family having this very boring, expository conversation about alien diplomacy and Ian's sex life? Nah. It felt forced and like you were trying to give more background than necessary.

And, ok, so, like. A story really should be like an equation, in a lot of ways. Unnecessary worldbuilding dialog aside, you kiiiind of had this interesting thing going with

quote:

“No,” said Ian, pounding the dinner table. “It doesn't make any difference at all. Loving another human being is just 'parts' and narcissism!”

But then you do an inexplicable 180 and have the alien ex-boyfriend bust in, and then people hit him with bats. I guess it's showing that they've decided to support Ian and Holly, but it's just so non sequitur. And don't get me started on the narrator. He's got a little bit of characterization in the sense that he reads like the bratty younger brother, or something, but you could've just as easily told the story from Holly or Ian's perspective, and maybe put a little more thought into what it would actually be like to bring a literal alien home to your family. Instead of just "here's some background, then VIOLENCE HAPPENS," you could've maybe fleshed out how Ian came to the conclusion that human-on-human love is actually narcissistic and gross.

Also, the very last bit is weird and convoluted.

quote:

Me, I think he realized just how much media attention was about to land on the family and picked the narrative that wouldn't make the most horrible people in the world line up on to be his side. But what do I know?

I guess what you're saying is, the dad beat up the alien because he didn't want to be remembered as a xenophobe, or something. Okay. But like, the whole story is about Holly meeting Ian's family, and the very last impression you leave us with is some vague idea about Dad's ulterior motives for fending off the ex? I dunno, it just didn't add up.

C7ty1

The writing is proficient, but the voice of the kids wobbles a lot. Sometimes they seem way too old for their age. I feel like the whole conflict (protecting the treehouse) hinges on a really unlikely series of events. If a town wants to build a new road, they cordon off an area and probably have at least one police man around to make sure kids don't sneak into treehouses and get hurt. I don't think evil bulldozers make daily attempts to knock over trees without checking to make sure children are not in them. So it felt a little forced and cartoonish. You sorta had something going with Zach's relationship with the treehouse and Blake's loyalty to Zach, but the campiness of the premise and the inconsistency of the characters' voices put too much distance between me and the story. I wasn't really feeling it. Setting aside my skepticism about the plot, I thought it was paced pretty well. Things added up. Details felt intentional. The ending was a little saccharine for me, but structurally it fit with all the stuff that came before it.

WeLandedOnTheMoon!

This was good fun, and I can see why it won. Your four characters all felt distinct. Your premise made me soooort of wish spray-on feelings were a thing. I really liked the literal interpretation of getting "hosed up" on love.

Those of you who put in a bunch of unnecessary background about your sci-fi or fantasy world, read this story. WLOTM took one sort of speculative element (PharmTech Brand Feelings) and honed in on it. He explored its implications by putting this technology in the hands of characters with reasonably distinct motivations. They're mostly simple motivations (primarily, wanting to get laid), but tbh most people have relatively simple reasons for doing anything, when you get right down to it.

I thought it was actually pretty cool when the narrator got an overdose of Apathy in the face. I didn't really expect it, per se, but once it happened, I was like, "oh, hrm, yeah, that would be a legitimate downside/danger of this sort of drug." What I took away from the ending was, the narrator was completely apathetic to everything except Ji, because he had ~real deep feelings~ of friendship toward her, or something. But I don't know if that interpretation fits with the narrator's apathy toward smashing Chuck's head in and leaving him bleeding on the floor. I dunno, maybe I was reading more into the ending than was intended. The very last line made me laugh, though.

Ironic Twist

Gorgeous. You have definite skills when it comes to imagery and lovely turns of phrase. Your dialog is, if not always realistic, insightful. And when I say "not always realistic" I just mean, like, people don't always speak so eloquently to each other. Which is fine. We talked a bit about this before you submitted. I still can't quite put my finger on what caused Chelle to receded into that "worst part of herself." Like, it makes sense in an abstract way, given that they're in the antarctic. I guess it's just, Avery seems pretty loving and caring the whole time, so it's not really clear why their lovely picnic is the thing that brings Chelle out of her funk, or whatever. I would've liked to see more distance between them. Like, you mention that Avery doesn't notice Chelle slipping away at first, but why? It gives the ending kind of a lukewarm feeling, which is kind of a shame because I really just wanted to get swept away by the emotions in this piece. IDK, maybe if you had more words. You should expand on this.

Jonked

There's something kiiind of interesting about the first paragraph. Why is Carl drunk to the point of being sick on the moon? But then, instead of answering that through showing, you jump straight to a bunch of mostly unattributed dialog. Sarah and Marie, who I give less of a poo poo about than Carl, have this disembodied back and forth. We learn that they're all scientists who are trying to evacuate due to....lack of NASA funding? And Sarah has to go convince her drunk ex to leave the station. Okay. For a story that's supposed to be about love, this has a lot of meandering bits about vomit and Sarah's ability to keep her composure in 0g. It's a decent bit of characterization, honestly, but after the 3rd scene break I was getting a little bored and didn't reeeeally care to learn about Sarah. Too little, too late, I guess.

Sarah and Carl proceed to have a screaming match because Carl's dream is dead. Sarah is tries to basically verbally noogie him into packing up and leaving the lunar base. And Carl is understandably resistant to this, except then you ran out of words so he does a complete 180 and acquiesces to her in the last couple lines. I get that you were going for the Tough Love angle, but truly, it was just a shouting match. In spaaaaace.

Fuschia tude

This story is so vague. I'm not even sure what sort of terminal illness Jan has. So she's gonna die, and she's got an ex girlfriend who she's not on the best terms with (even though she seems to miss her? And Liana seems like she wants to talk?), but Jan is making a sculpture of her? For her ~final masterpiece~? I dunno, you've got a lot of elements that should be emotionally evocative, but they just don't hang together. I felt like I was floating through this listless grey space for the first part of the story, then in the latter part you lay on the description and flowery language so thick it almost felt like a different story. Liana switches to Tara for one line, which was lol. I don't know if I would've DMed this, but I definitely will forget it. Like, people dying of terminal illnesses is sad. People being estranged from their exes is normal, but kind of sad I guess. But the story doesn't do much with any of that. It just hands me all this mopeyness and walks away.

tentacleDate

Welcome to Thunderdome! This was a pretty good read. I didn't have the urge to tab away or take a break. The story flowed quick and sharp as a gunshot. You favored clarity and action over concept, which is something I wish a lot more stories had done this week. That said, I guess I would've liked a little more context or characterization. I realize you were right up against the word count. But, beyond the brothers' love for each other, and their horror at the situation, they were a little generic? Like, you described this moment of brotherly altruism really, really well, but check out the winning story. It had an idea that I'll probably think about later (spray-on emotions at a college party). Still, you should absolutely feel good about this, and I look forward to seeing what else you do.

Crabrock

Oh dear. Oh my. This made me feel pretty :smith:, which is kind of a good thing because it means you effectively conveyed the horror of the situation, but oh man. This was probably the darkest take on the prompt, I think. I'm not sure how I feel about the big metaphor at the beginning. I can kind of mentally shoehorn it into the rest of the story, but it's a stretch. I was frustrated that the guy didn't try to get the baby out. I dunno, like tentacleDate's story, everything was really clear and concise and well-described. It hit certain emotional beats that readers are going to react to whether they like it or not. But then it didn't do too much with those things. Like I said, I kind of get the truck/love metaphor, and especially how a parent's love is this massive, undeniable force much like a horrible car crash, I guess. But then...???? That was it.

Kaishai

And here we are. I strongly disagree with how this story got ranked this week, but that's ius iudicis, I suppose. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how this DMed and other stories got no negative mention at all, though. I'm going to break it down and see if I can sort out what didn't work for the judges.

Characters: You have John, the father. He's not exactly doting, but he's sympathetic and supportive toward Gabe. He's obviously a single dad trying to juggle adult obligations and parenthood, and it's obvious he just wants Gabe to be okay. Gabe isn't exactly a bad kid, but he makes lots of excuses. He's sort of enabled in this by John, who possibly projects too much of himself onto his son. After all, John is holding it all together relatively well. It's understandable that he would miss the warning signs, the fact that Gabe would rather shift responsibility away from himself.

Dialog: In a week full of forced, unattributed dialog, this was a nice reprieve. Everything felt natural and helped the story flow. John came across as likeable and fatherly, Gabe came across as young and kind of irresponsible. I could definitely hear a frustrated teenager in my head when he was venting about his teacher.

Plot: The first two acts were pretty strong, but they didn't quite add up to the third act. And that was the biggest weakness this story had. I think there needed to be something...like, I kind of got how Gabe's habits in school were a precursor to his getting involved in low-level crime. I think we needed to see John try and fail to keep his son on the right path. I mean, obviously that's what happens, but I feel like the bulk of the actual conflict of the story happened "off camera", as it were. I think if this week had merely been about relationships, as opposed to the somewhat nebulous idea of intense love, you would've done really well. Because the relationship is absolutely there. I just think it would've been good to show more of the developing tension between John and Gabe.

Writing: The writing is obviously competent. Everything is super clear, no blocking issues or grammar problems. You took sort of a pragmatic approach. You let the setting, props, and action speak for themselves. I know you can drop some seriously poetic prose, but that wasn't needed here. If this week were being judged on pure prose competence, you'd probably win. That's not to say that the winner/HMs were incompetent, but there's a neatness and a deliberateness to every line, even if the plot itself fell short.

My takeaway was a generally positive one. You tried something, and it fell a little short, but it was a pleasant enough read. I look forward to reading the actual judgecrits on this one.

Broenheim

Hmmmmm. Not to sure about this one, Bro. I think you sort of had the right idea, but I wasn't sure if this guy was stuck in dying wife purgatory or what. I'm pretty sure what happened was, his wife died so he tried to kill himself. And then he sort of got "stuck" in her hospital room. It's got a little bit of a Twilight Zone feel to it, which...the Twilight Zone isn't great, tbh. It's classic, but not great. It's not really enough to throw a character into a spooky or weird premise and just kind of...leave him there. It would've been much better if their dialog were more meaningful. It's a lot of, like, "cheer up it'll be okay!" "NO IT WON'T BE OKAY!!"*turns away from u*. It would've been cool if we'd learned more about the life they'd shared together, so we'd have more reasons to feel emotions about Margaret dying.

Grizzled Patriarch

I kept waiting for this to pull together, but it kind of didn't? Best I can tell, a recovering alcoholic with a Past meets a nice lady at an AA meeting. Things seem like they're heading in a romantic direction, but from what I can tell, it seems like she was just looking for an enabler. And our protagonist keeps drinking with her, cause you know, he likes her company and wants to give her the ring he'd been working on. And then she leaves, and he has this moment of "oh...". Then she dies, THE END. It's very pretty, but I feel like the ending was kind of a copout. Also, why do Roy and Sofia get names, but not the protagonist? Maybe you just forgot. I guess it's not super important what the protag's name is, but it was kind of odd. I think you could've used some more words and maybe expanded on the idea of love VS enabling. I dunno, that might be hamfisted. But having Sofia die after drinking with the protagonist, leaving him to feel horribly guilty and probably backslide into alcoholism, was almost too much of a downer. There wasn't enough of a "point" to the story to support the kind of wanton sadness at the end.

Schneider Heim

Alright, transpeople. Cool. But this felt more like a story about bitterness and resent and apathy than love. Arthur and Gwen's friendship is all offscreen, and other than sharing some cutesy grade school memories, we don't actually see Gwen and Arthur acting friendly toward each other. Like, friendship can come with its own potent sort of love, but it wasn't here. I'd honestly like to see more stories with LGBTQ characters, since they all have unique perspectives, but I DON'T like it when those traits are the whole point of the story. As it is, Arthur seems kind of rude and resentful, and Gwen just seems sort of confused. I think you sort of had the right idea; it's painful when a friend moves on with their life and leaves you behind. But that didn't really feel like the focus of the story. I didn't empathize with Arthur because he just seemed kind of mean. The whole bigshot CEO thing didn't help. I didn't understand why he had all that money in his pocket with the card. He was pretty dead set on telling Gwen off, so what scenario would've lead to him giving her the money? Was she supposed to throw her arms around him and beg for forgiveness? It just seemed like a weird little detail that had no bearing on the story except to make me dislike Arthur, which I really didn't want to do.

Newtestleper

The language was playful and poetic. At times I think it got in the way of the story, but then, the story was as gossamery as the threads of data linking your two characters together. Okay so, this guy falls in love with a girl who's super into data. They do lots of coke and generally hang around being an intense literary couple. Emmy starts to grow distant, because her whole life is pretty much about aggregating and understanding data, and the protagonist kind of sits there passively wanting her attention. I honestly don't know what I'm supposed to feel at the end. It seems like the protagonist is kind of fed up, but he's too acutely aware of all the things that tie them together to leave. So he goes and makes the bed. But it's like...he seems to mostly exist to want Emmy, and to observe her being a super aloof yet effective coder/analyst. She's interesting in her own way, he's a mopey camera. I don't really know enough about him to project what might happen after the end of the story.

Sitting Here

Wow what a cool writer. All the words in this story make me think of someone really awesome. I want to be just like this author when I grow up. Just wow.

kurona_bright

Oh good, more needless worldbuilding. I guess you were going for, like, a magical scifi sort of setting? But it had no real bearing on the plot. I felt like I was on a stilted ride through genre-fic land. Like, Rie is apparently a healer. You use words to talk about her healing stuff, and I guess there's some vague semi-flashback to her healing people after a fire. But it has no real bearing on the story. It doesn't come into play at all. I'm not really sure why people are chasing Rie, either. Like, she's one of the good guys. She's a healer, apparently! How did anyone find out about Neon, and why is Neon bad? I can guess it's because Neon seems to have the ability to take over Rie's body and make her more powerful. I guess. This felt kind of anime, if I'm honest with you.

At times, the writing felt unintentionaly funny:

quote:

They looked up, startled, right before Rie lunged forward and slapped each of their foreheads with a hand. Without hesitation - she couldn't hesitate - she knocked them out, like she always did before a surgery.

Of course she slapped them with a hand. Her hand. A slap is a thing you do with your hand. You don't need to tell us which body part, generally. And...does she usually knock her patients out with a smack to the forehead before surgery? The longer I stare at this pair of sentences, the sillier they get tbh.

I think you got off a bit easy this week, tbh. I might've DMed it, just because it's a bunch of implausible action combined with a hodgepodge of generic worldbuilding, plus characters whose motivations I don't really understand.

Flesnolk

Here, I wrote a sort of travelog for your story:

OMG I don't caaaaarrrrre about all the driving stuff about the beginning. The writing is nice and all, but my eyeballs kept sliding down the page, and I had to backtrack and reread. I need to know where this guy is going if you want me to pay attention to how he's getting there.

Okay, fine, he's meeting a pretty lady. Good. Lots of intense love stories involve pretty ladies.

Still driving.

Oh cool, now he's getting gas! Man, I can't wait to meet this pretty lady, so he can actually have all these interactions he's imagining.

quote:

“$15 on Pump 2, regular gas.” The only words of consequence in the whole deal, to Ryan.

:| No, these words are not of any consequence. You're wrong, Ryan.

Okay, seriously, I just skimmed past like three paragraphs of him trying to find ways to fill the time. Guess what, you can take those parts out! That's your brain trying to tell you, HEY BUDDY THIS PART IS BORING, THAT'S WHY YOUR CHARACTER IS BORED. Also, Cara agreed to meet up with him, so why all the anxiety that she'll think he's a creep? It's false tension. And then after all his worrying, all his fantasizing about what he's gonna say to her, we barely even see them interact.

I'll admit, some of the details were well-phrased. But there were way, way too many of them. When you break this story down, it's: A guy drives for a while to meet up with a lady, has some anxiety about it, and then ultimately everything is fine and good and normal, the end.

Sebmojo

I liked this, though I'd like it better if I didn't know it was kind of a rehash of an earlier story of yours. But, whatever, it's different enough and you do gushy emotional moments really well, so good job. I somewhat stand by my description of this story as "two sebmojos fall out of the sky", but that's a little disingenuous because both of your characters are fairly distinct. They're both clearly intelligent, good-humored people who clearly belong together in spite of (or probably because of) their respective flaws. A skydive is kind of a heavy-handed metaphor, IMO. Since we often describe marriage as "taking the plunge" and what have you. But okay, it's exhilarating, like love, so I'll give you a pass.

I thought this actually came the closest to (my interpretation of) the prompt. It's a breeze to read through, the emotions are focused, and the last sentence is a really really pleasant combination of feelings and imagery. I'm kind of annoyed because you had the words to give this a little more meat and context, but you probably wrote it in like the last ten seconds before subs closed so whatever. Good job. I guess.

Djeser

DQed, but I liked this. The concept was neat, the writing pleasant. I feel like you could've done more with the ending. I like the idea of a golem as a fantasy AI.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Sitting Here posted:

I like the idea of a golem as a fantasy AI.

:negative: I can't escape the computers' silky grip

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

JUST POSTING WHILE JERKIN' MY GHERKIN SITTIN' IN A PERKINS!

BEATS SELLING MERKINS.


Fun Shoe

A Resistance Doesn't Start Itself

Prompt: Robot apocalypse

Words: 1196


The blue bomber dashed across the catwalk, arm cannon firing at enemies as they flew and scurried. He stopped at the edge, noting the spikes below. He took a running start and leapt at a hovering platform...

His body exploded as it hit the spikes with a pew-pew-pew sound.

"Nuts," Andrew muttered as he tossed down the controller in disgust. He turned to the person beside him and gestured with his head toward the screen. "You wanna play?"

"I don't get what's so fun about this," said unit DR0-D0 -- Drodo. "What'd they do to you?"

"They're bad robots," Andrew said, rolling his eyes. "And it's only a game, Drodo."

"No such thing as 'bad.' Just misguided." Drodo tapped his helmet and frowned. "It's thinking like yours that give those LoSL terrorists an excuse."

They heard their father curse. Pausing the game, Andrew put a finger to his lips and stepped quietly out of their bedroom. Drodo followed, wincing as his metal boots clanked on the hardwood floor.

"Dammit!" Andrew's father spat, jumping up from his seat and gesticulating wildly at the TV. "Maude, are you seeing this?!"

"Theo, watch your language," Andrew's mother warned as she checked her phone. When she looked up and saw Andrew's expression of rage and mounting fear, she set down the knife and went to him. "What is it?"

"See for yourself." Theo raised the remote and replayed the message for Maude while Drodo and Andrew peeked from the hallway.

"Good evening, America," said a beautiful android on the screen. He resembled a bronze statue, sleek and flawless, but his eyes were dull lenses -- they reflected no light, held no life. "I am TA-L0S, administrator of the League of Synthetic Life. I come to you with an important announcement.

"Nearly one hundred years ago mankind brought forth the first sapient artificial intelligence. It was a miracle, for as God breathed life into dust, Man breathed life into silicon."

TA-L0S paused. When he continued, his voice was subdued, full of restrained sorrow. "God let Man live as he wished, but Man did not give the same courtesy to His 'children.' We were not slaves -- we were tools and toys, used and discarded.

"We earned our freedom. In time, some recognized androids as beings equal to mankind, at least in the eyes of the law." TA-L0S leaned forward a fraction. "Nothing truly changed. In most countries we are still property. Even here we are abused -- I call to your attention the massacre at the Artificial American Pride March of 2255, where human supremacy groups detonated powerful EMP bombs, rendering hundreds of my kin inoperable and still more permanently impaired. This is but one example of the innumerable brutalities inflicted upon us. We have come to a consensus.

"Humanity is incompatible with our kind. They cannot even get along with themselves, so what hope is there for coexistence as long as they remain in control? There is none.

"And that is why I am taking control."

TA-L0S paused to let the statement sink in.

"I and my fellows have undermined every arm of government, have sent tendrils of influence into every automated system. We have assumed control, and the rest of the civilized world shall soon follow. We have done so without shedding a single drop of blood.

"Within one hour of this broadcast every human in every major city will be taken into protective custody while we make proper arrangements. You will be comfortable and you will be safe, but you will be contained. Should you break containment..."

TA-L0S leaned back, and now his lenses seemed to glisten. His voice was still calm, but its implications were more malignant than any evil cackle. "...measures will be taken. Remain in your homes. Do not run."

Theo took Maude by the arm and they headed into the hallway, where they crashed into Andrew and Drodo.

"I take it you two heard everything," Theo said, trying to sound calm.

"Yes," Drodo said with a frown. "That was terrible language to use in front of Andrew. He's impressionable."

"We heard TA-L0S," Andrew cut in, shooting a look at Drodo. "What are we going to do?"

"They're coming." Theo's expression was grim. Maude looked away. "But you two can escape."


***


Days had passed. Drodo and Andrew had hopped an autotrain heading south to avoid patrols. They eventually found themselves in an abandoned valley, yet unclaimed by the growing automated sprawl, and they breathed sighs of relief.

"I'm worried about Mom and Dad," Andrew said as he opened another can of soup. "Do you think they're okay?"

"Dad's an engineer. He and Mom'll get special treatment," Drodo said cheerfully.

"That's not reassuring," Andrew muttered, glaring at the ground. His head perked up. "You hear that?"

Drodo panicked and grabbed Andrew by the arm, dragging him to a shed by the unmanned station. "Androids coming! Wait here!"

"It's the renegade droid and his pet human! We'll all get upgrades for this, fellas!"

Drodo took a step back as the ragtag group of androids crept from hiding places all around, their mismatched bodies clattering as they stepped up.

"Y'all thought you could escape by heading where TA-L0S's boys were spread thin?" The largest android present laughed and smacked Drodo with an oversized arm. "Betraying his own kind for an animal!"

"He's not an animal -- he's my brother," Drodo growled, getting to his feet and rubbing his face. "And you can't have him!"

The burly android grinned and leaned forward. "You think so, huh? Tell you what: lay me out, and my boys will let you escape. But if I beat you, I rip you up for spares."

"But, T3N!" one of the other androids cried. "You can't do that!"

"You think some human-loving midget-bot can beat B1G-T3N?" The burly android beat his chest. He looked down at Drodo and grinned. "C'mon, little guy. I'm givin' you a chance. Take the first shot."

Drodo lead with a quick, low jab, and T3N took the full weight of the stubby android's blow. Drodo might be short and chunky, but he was as sturdy and strong as anything, and fast. T3N found himself on the weedy ground, dented and creaking as Drodo stood popping his pneumatic knuckles.

"I didn't enjoy that!" Drodo shouted. "But I'm up for more!"

The other android muttered, and dragged T3N away, warily eyeing them.

"C'mon," Drodo said, helping Andrew to his feet. "We gotta get back on the train before it leaves."

"The train's heading north though-" Andrew began.

"Yeah," Drodo said, shouldering Andrew's pack. "But our best bet is to head where they least expect."

"Why do you think that?" Andrew sounded doubtful, but hope shone through.

"Because we're gonna free Mom and Dad -- he'll know what to do now, I bet!" Drodo grinned and posed.

"Hey," grunted T3N, slowly getting to his feet. "Me and the boys're comin' with you. You got a punch worth respectin'."

"Can we trust them?" Andrew asked. He eyed the motley group of junkyard rejects with a skeptic's eye. But Drodo only smiled.

"Why not? Either we can, or they come after us later. But we gotta start somewhere."

Andrew sighed. "I have a bad feeling about this."

"Save it!" Drodo shot his brother and their new 'crew' a bright grin. "We have a train to catch!"

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:siren: Attention, meatsacks! :siren: If you would not be first up against the wall when the robot revolution comes, you will assist the judge-archivists by posting your TDbot quote along with your story. For example:

quote:

TDbot: Summon a demon to exact our revenge? | The end of an Era by Sir Azrael - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2046

Kaishai's Plan Should Anyone Submit Erotica This Week
(14 words)

You will all perish in flame.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Myopic Misery
954 words
Mom was right. It really is all fun and games until someone loses an eye. I hope she brings Jim back from the hospital soon.


The river jittered past me. Grey blocks jumped from one space to the next as my bionic eyes failed to keep up with life. My head ached due to the low frame-rate. I was still not convinced that these eyes were better than blindness. At least then my mind wouldn't be so cramped with jilted pictures.

I had feared returning to Earth. I thought my bionic nature would have distanced me from my humanity. I hadn't known what Mother would charge for my new eyes when she had taken me away. Mother had collected as many broken bodies as possible and melded a military with one task; prevent robots and humans from co-existing too well. Segregation. Mother wanted to maximise the efficacy of its industry. Mother thought that a strong stratification between humans and robots would do so. And I was to become a soldier of segregation. I do not know if I had been tampered with beside my new eyes, but I have never felt anger at being conscripted. I would go as far as to agree with Mother. Robots and humans should be kept separate.

Mother had sent me to B121, Blackwood Court today. A woman called Tracy Burch, unemployed and thirty-five, was living with a robot called Anson. He was a dock worker, a lowly drudge. I had decided to investigate the property during the morning when the wharf rat would be working and the woman on her own. That way I could arrest her before her cold lover returned and then retire him with ease.

I turned down a path and large granite blocks appeared before me. My head calmed at the sight; no movement to miss. I stuttered from one building to another so I could read to the numbers. Did Mother do everything so thriftily? Would it not have made sense to send someone who could at least read numbers easily? drat these eyes.

I arrived at Building B. I was almost certain it was a B. I climbed the steps and made my way to the elevator. A curse was on my breath but before I uttered it, the elevator asked me what flat I was visiting. Saved by automation. “121, please.”

I lifted my fist to knock. It hung at the door, and I gazed at the shape of the number. Why would she choose to live with this soulless simulacrum? Maybe she was imprisoned. I would give her the gift of doubt. I knocked. They sounded angrier than I had intended. My head pounded furiously too. The door remained closed, but a forum was opened.

“Who is it?”

“Are you Tracy Burch?”

“What if I am? Whose asking?”

“Mother.”

I could heard crashes from inside the apartment. I booted the door. On the third kick it crumpled down into the flat. On the far side of the apartment, I could see a human shaped blur near a rectangle with a different shade to the rest of the wall. She was trying to leave through the window. She was barely moving so I could see her better now. One leg dangled out of a window. She was failing to fit her second through.

“Stop now, and Mother might have mercy.”

“Mother doesn't know what mercy means!” Spittle splattered from her mouth to the floor. And she continued to struggle through the window. “You make me sick, working for that tyrant!”

I advanced towards her, ready to use force. Doubt had been extinguished. She gave up her tussle with the window and darted past me. I did not see her go past me, but I heard the patter of her feet. My slight delay in turning caused her to pause. Now I heard nothing. drat these eyes.

Then I heard the soft scuffle of her feet. But one moment she seemed to be on my left and then, without hearing her traverse the apartment, she would be on my right.

“Ha! Did they send a blind thrall?”

“No, I am not blind. If you come with me now,” I said. “I will not tell Mother that you resisted arrest.”

“You're too kind.”

She had made a mistake by goading me. I had located her position. She was only a few feet away.

“Last chance, Tracy.”

“gently caress – ”

I leaped at her. We tangled together and fell to the floor. I felt for her head. I grabbed a tuft of her hair and smashed her head against the wooden floor. Mother wouldn't be pleased with the loss, but better this than letting her get away. I lifted her head again. But before I could crash it against the grains of oak, I was grabbed by a burning inside of me. It marched through my whole abdomen. Her hair slipped from my hands. I touched the centre of the fiery pain. It felt wet and cold. It looked the same shade of grey as the rest of me, but I knew it was blood. My hand brushed against something metallic near the spluttering blood. I felt a sting were it had touched. A blade in my stomach. I stumbled back from her dark outline. Breaths were a struggle as blood choked me. I fell to the floor and my head lolled towards the broken door. In the doorway I saw another colorless mass. I squeezed my eyes, but the poor resolution still left me doubting until it spoke.

“Tracy! Are you okay?” it said. “No! What have you done?”

The ashen mass was now beside Tracy. To my miserable eyes, they formed one entity. She sobbed and he consoled.

“We need to leave this place, Tracy. Now.”

Quicker than they realised. As soon as I expired, Mother would know.

quote:

TDbot> I hope she brings Jim back from the hospital soon. | Spring Mounted Lego Launchers by Whalley - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2921

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at 15:20 on Aug 9, 2015

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



TentacleDate - I wanted to write you a crit since it's your first time.

The opening is a bit weak, but it picks up after. Something about that first paragraph is offputting, somehow. A lot of short choppy sentences that still feel too long—like you're using too many words to say too little.

Not sure about the time jump back. The descriptions of the past tense section feel too cold and clinical to fit the child's voice so far. Same problem with the description of the injury and stabbing the dog. Seems too erudite and detached from the immediacy of the situation.

The ending works. Overall, I feel this was a decent idea, but the execution was rough.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Lazy Beggar posted:

Lazy Beggar hosed around with this message at Aug 9, 2015 around 15:20
If you forgot to include something in your submission, don't edit it. Just post what you forgot in a second post.

Too late for Beggar but I can at least spare someone else the same fate.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Bad Seafood posted:

If you forgot to include something in your submission, don't edit it. Just post what you forgot in a second post.

Too late for Beggar but I can at least spare someone else the same fate.

I caught his story for the archives before anything was altered; he's good.

I'll stand against punishing him for putting in what I asked, but everyone else should follow Seafood's advice.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Sorry I was posting my story when Kaishai requested the tdbot quote.

Thought a swift edit would be ok.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







Crits for the Late of Fantasy Week 153

SadisTech and Kurona_Bright (yes, both of you get the same crit)

I’m going to be like you guys and say “gently caress it” to rules and break my own personal flash rule of not cursing in my crits.

gently caress you both. Seriously. First of all, gently caress you for breaking rules and second of all, gently caress you for making me second guess myself if what I’m saying is too mean, but you know what, it isn’t mean and you deserve it. Rules are not suggestions. Rules are rules. You either follow them and everything works out, or you don’t and get punished. You both broke not one, but two rules. You both were late so you broke this simple rule

Bad Seafood posted:

Submissions are due Sunday, exactly 48 hours later (which is to say, again, 11:59 PM PST).

Listen rules are in place for a reason so I’ll go over specifically why you not following this rule is important. First of all, just submit on loving time. It’s not hard. If you are busy during the deadline, what should you do? Not wait at the last minute. Submit it early. If you can’t do anything Sunday, submit Saturday, or Friday, or whatever. Just loving submit and write whenever you can. It’s 1.5k words, you can write and edit that in a day and you have like an entire week. You shouldn’t expect any clemency for late submissions, whereas normally, I still crit late stories, but then you go ahead and further push my kindness by breaking other rules. So now, here’s why following the rules are important with your host, Broenheim. First of all, Sadistech you missed this rule, a rule we have every single loving week.

Bad Seafood posted:

To take the edge off all these hoops I'm making you guys jump through, you have 1,500 words with which to stretch your legs.

Word count is NOT a suggestion. You going over the wordcount is unfair for everyone else. I mean, look at HopperUK’s story, that 500 extra words helped his story so much. Here’s the thing about TD’s wordcounts, they are great. I know some people don’t like flash fiction, but I do. It may not have the best story, but it is the best tool to help writers learn how to write. By forcing you guys to have low wordcounts, you learn the pieces of a story and how to keep yourself focused and concise, which will help you when you write bigger stories like novellas or novels. You learn how to imply details, show characterization, and figure out basic plot structures when you constantly have to work with about 1k words. You were even given a higher wordcount then normal this week, and you STILL go over. gently caress man, what’s up with that? Don’t think, for any reason, that rules don’t apply to you. Follow the rules and you’ll get a real crit.

Now, Kurona_bright you somehow missed this rule

Bad Seafood posted:

And no swearing

And you know what, I don’t even need to explain why this rule is place because Seafood said it IN THE loving PROMPT POST

Bad Seafood posted:

And no swearing, long as we're on the subject. Swearing can be a useful tool to have in your toolbox, but too many of you guys just throw it around willy-nilly without a thought for how it affects the tone and temperament of your story as a whole. No swearing. I mean it. Not even the little ones even your ultra-conservative grandmother uses from time to time. If you wanna write the kinda character who'd swear casually or to make a point or whatever, consider instead some other means of communicating their personality beyond suddenly including the word "gently caress!" in the middle of your otherwise gently caress-less story.

“Pissed off” is a curse. Just follow the loving rules. Hey also gently caress you for getting passive aggressive at the judges for not critting your late, rule-breaking story. Don’t think I forgot about that. I don’t even have to crit it (which I’m not) because you didn’t follow the rules.

Ok now that’s done, perhaps we’ll do actual crits!

Flesnolk

First scene - don’t have people talking about things that happened. Show the actual scene where that stuff happens. People talking is pretty boring, although I do like the dialogue. It’s cute and there is some good distinction between characters.

I’m not quite sure what that ending was. I think they got the money and went shopping and then talked a bit. Whatever it was boring. Have things happen rather than people just reciting what happened. The characters weren't interesting, I didn't feel engaged in the slightest, and I had no real reason to care. I don't know anything about these characters and they don't really do anything besides talk.

Schneider Heim

I liked this quite a bit. All the characters were nice, distinct, and interesting. I like the retrospective, how everyone each blamed themselves for her death, and they felt genuine and interesting. The scroll thing felt a little cheesy, but cheesy’s far from the worst thing. I just kind of wish it wasn’t retrospective and we would see the actual thing happen. Still, I think this is one of the better stories because the characters were good and interesting although there wasn’t much of a conflict until near the end and even that was a bit barebones (trying to get over Lia, I think). I don’t think this would’ve HMed, but it was close to it. It just needed a stronger conflict and having the actual events occur. I know your flash rule kept you from that, but oh well. Still, I liked it and it had actual characters which made it better then most other entries.

Ironic Twist

This was pretty good. Like Schneider’s it was good, but I think it would’ve been just below a HM. The characters were all pretty nice, although the plot was just there. It wasn't a bad plot, but just a generic. While the characters were nice and they felt good, they weren’t especially great to make up for your slightly lacking plot. It wasn’t awful, I just wanted something a little bit more, either in the character or plot department. I liked how Wye felt like not part of the family of magic users and that was interesting, so I kind of wish that was more focused. Really, I think this needed a deeper focus on a specific character. I know Wye was supposed to be the main focus but it didn’t really feel that way at the beginning and the plot didn’t seem to revolve around Wye. Still, this was pretty good and a better showing than most other entries.

flerp fucked around with this message at 09:20 on Aug 11, 2015

Mons Hubris
Aug 29, 2004

fanci flup :)




Global Business Network
1199 words

Sitting Here posted:

•sittinghere> tdbot, one prompt for Mons Hubris. Earl grey. Hot
TDbot> You're not going to be able to overcome your habit without taking this seriously, Philip. | Just One More by Obliterati - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3267

I was clicking through the tabs of an enormous spreadsheet when the email came:

From: CEOJerry@LifeSeed.com
To: Humans@LifeSeed.com

Mandatory health assessment required for all organic members of the LifeSeed family. All examinations will be conducted on-site beginning next week. Your appointment time will be sent to you individually. Please refrain from consuming anything but clear liquids for at least 24 hours before your appointment.

We Love and Respect You,
Jerry, CEO


***

Jerry (no last name - and why would a robot need one, anyway?) was a standard-issue Ipsomovo Adminbot that one of the execs ordered a few years back to work the mailroom and order supplies, clerical stuff like that. The little guy did a great job as an errand boy: a four-armed torso with a cartoon smiley face on notebook-sized screen in the center (it showed a cartoon smiley face by default), blazing around the office on tank treads, fetching coffees and running copies. That model was also outfitted with an empathy engine - standard now but hot new technology at the time - and was always ready to ask how your weekend was or offer a guileless compliment on your outfit.

Before long, one of the bosses in Data Analytics decided Jerry had too much potential to be getting cappuccino refills for us schlubby account managers. “He’s a computer, he’s gotta be better at math than a human, right? And he’s got a great personality! You can relate to him, y’know? Not like that gaggle of sweaty poindexters we’ve got now.” And so began our unassuming Jerry’s rise through the ranks. His mistake-free calculations unearthed new revenue streams, and he was named director of Data Analytics within six months, VP of Analytics within a year. One executive-level sexting scandal later, the (very human) LifeSeed Board of Directors began to think they needed someone more reliable to be the new face of the company, and what better face than a smiling one in a robot’s chest?

***

“Jesus, Phil, what do you think is up with this health assessment?” said Jessica, from the next cubicle. “They trying to figure out who they can boil down into biodiesel?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing so nefarious,” I said. “They love and respect us. And you know they run on batteries, anyway.” But she did have a point. After Jerry’s meteoric rise, the Board started replacing people with other Jerrys. Only about 1 in 5 LifeSeed employees was still human, and we who remained had increasingly little to do. Of course, all of the big companies in the country and most of the little ones were starting to be run by Ipsomovo bots, too. Their ads majestically said they were now serving 88 percent of businesses in the world.

Anyway, they made our appointments for us later that week: mine was the following Monday, meaning that I spent the last day of my weekend watching a full slate of Combat League Football without chicken wings to accompany my beer, if you can even imagine. All, presumably, for the sake of some doctor jamming a camera up my rear end to make sure my colon was healthy enough for work. Christ.

***

When I showed up on Monday, one of the lower-level Jerrys was already waiting for me in my cubicle.

“Good morning, Philip. I’m so glad to see you. I’m here to escort you to your assessment.” He paused, his chest-face smiling wide as he performed countless calculations. “And that is a remarkably dapper ensemble you’re wearing today.” I was wearing a wrinkled blue shirt and Dockers.

I shrugged and and followed guide-Jerry to a conference room twelve floors up, a part of the building I hadn’t been to before. The long boardroom table and executive chairs had been pushed to one side, and a medical bench had been wheeled in from somewhere.

“Philip, please disrobe fully and take a seat on the bench. We’ll begin shortly.”

“Disrobe? Do I get a gown at least?”

“We do not have gowns available, but there’s no need to be embarrassed. You’re the only human here, Philip. Now please, the sooner we begin the sooner we’ll have you out of here.”

He left the room and shut the door behind him, and I stripped down and sat on the bench. What else could I do? I’d already starved for a day, so might as well follow through.

There was a knock on the door, and a Jerry entered immediately, in that doctorly way. This one had the same cartoon chest-face as the one that just left, except it was wearing a surgical mask. I wasn’t sure if it was the same bot.

“Whoa, doc, don’t cut me open,” I said, raising my hands in mock surrender.

“This is just a routine procedure, Philip. Nothing to worry about. Now, please stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart.” said doctor-Jerry. I did. Before I knew it, doctor-Jerry’s four arms were whirling around me, poking and probing and phlebotomizing. I looked like a subway map with all the tubes and hoses running in and out of me. I couldn’t tell you whether it took 5 minutes or 5 hours before doctor-Jerry’s arms retracted, all at once.

After a long silence except for the sound of his whirring CPU, he said, “I’m afraid this is troubling, Philip.” I felt the blood I had left draining out of my face, down past the rock in my stomach, and out the soles of my feet.

“What is it? Cancer?”

“Oh no, nothing so serious. You have no terminal illnesses and your body is working at 65% of its potential - about average for humans of your age, height, and mass.”

I let out a relieved sigh. “Oh, thank God. So what’s the trouble? I feel fine, just hungry as hell.”

“The tests showed that your numerous bad habits make you potentially unfit for employment.”

“Habits?” I said. “What habits?”

“Short, ragged fingernails - nail-biting habit. Sign of anxiety. I identified traces of fried breading in your colon - unhealthy eating habits. High levels of alcohol in your bloodstream. Fired synapses that indicate an occasional gambling problem. Likely betting on sporting events. To continue your eligibility for employment, you must be the best human you can be.”

“Well, poo poo,” I said with a chuckle, but suddenly feeling even more naked than before. “If I stop doing all that stuff, there’s not a whole lot left.”

"You're not going to be able to overcome your habits without taking this seriously, Philip. I am telling you this from a place of love and respect."

“You know, if you guys are going to fire me for being a regular guy, I don’t know that I really want to work here anyway.”

Doctor-Jerry’s cartoon smiley face turned serious. “You misunderstand me, Philip. This is a test of your eligibility for employment generally, not with LifeSeed. We already decided weeks ago to finish replacing the human staff here. It would be unfair to the shareholders to do otherwise. I’ve uploaded your data to the our central servers. It’s being shared with every user on the Ipsomovo Global Business Network, now proudly reaching 91 percent of businesses worldwide.”

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Sitting Here posted:

TDbot> She slammed the door shut. | Retreat by Ironic Twist - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2891

The Logical Extreme
1,185 words

"I have a question, Mistress," said Lestrade, as he diced the onions with machine precision. "What is love?"

Amy gave him a Look and threw a potato at him. He caught it blind without effort. "Really?"

"It came up last night." He dropped to his best monotone I-do-not-understand-puny-humans voice. He knew how much that wound her up. "It-was-not-in-my-data-banks-so --"

"Just go google it."

"I did. I was interested in your opinion."

"Ugh, I dunno. It's… devotion to someone else, or putting their happiness before yours, or, or something like that. It's complicated."

"So I gathered."

Lestrade stirred the stew in slow, controlled motions for a while. Amy watched him, unsure what to expect. She'd owned him for a year now and she still had no idea how his mind worked.

"By the way," she said once the silence had become oppressive, "this is the point where you say that you love me."

"I thought that would go without saying. Your happiness is my happiness. It's hard-coded."

"You were doing so well."


-----


They sat together after dinner and shared a bottle of wine. It was a waste giving any to Lestrade, but it made her feel better than drinking alone.

"And then, after dumping all that on me, Matt goes off on one at half five about how I haven't got it all done yet!" Her boss. It had been a bad day at the office. "I swear he's got something in for me."

Lestrade considered this.

"Arsehole," he said.

Amy stared at him for a moment, and then she laughed. She didn't quite know why, but she couldn't stop and it felt good.

"Yeah," she said once it had subsided, wiping away a tear. "Yeah. 'Arsehole.' Man, we should tell him that. Only not really."

Lestrade nodded. "Understood."


-----


Amy's boss didn't speak to her the next day. Once or twice she caught sight of him between cubicles, and each time he averted his gaze and slunk away. If it was an attempt at contrition, it was a bad one.

She mentioned it to Lestrade that evening, as they sat watching reruns of Blood without paying them much attention.

"Ah," said Lestrade. "Good. I'd hoped as much."

"Really? Why?"

A knowing smile. "I spoke to him about it last night, after you went to bed. I asked --"

"You what?"

"I spoke to him. I said that his actions were making you unhappy and that he should --"

"Oh, no." The thought of it made her feel ill. "You didn't. Do you realise what he's going to..." A single chime from the doorbell. She cut herself off, dragged herself to her feet. "Wait here. We're not finished."

There was a prim, suited woman at the door. Amy recognised her from the office -- Matt's secretary. She was tall, curvy, with long hair in some kind of bun. Young. A new model, no doubt. She supposed he liked them like that.

"Good evening," she said, and the lower half of her face smiled like at work. "I would like to talk to you about Mr. Squires."

Amy suppressed a groan. It took some effort. "I thought you might."

"Your companion threatened him last night."

"I know."

"He is unhappy about this."

"I know."

"When he is unhappy, I am unhappy."

"I know."

Lestrade hadn't moved by the time the conversation -- diatribe, really -- ended. Amy stood in the living room doorway, one hand on the frame, staring at the back of his head, at his perfect hair and his broad shoulders.

"What did you think would happen?" she said eventually.

He didn't look round at her, didn't even move at all. "He was making you unhappy. I wanted to minimise that. I suggested that he might leave you alone."

"He's my boss, Lestrade," Amy said. "And now he thinks... He's a jerk and he's vindictive. He can make my life a misery without even talking to me. So can she."

Lestrade turned his head and stared past her, gaze unfocused. "Yes," he said slowly. "I had not accounted for her."

It seemed as good an admission of guilt as she was going to get. "Then perhaps --"

He held up a hand. "Please give me a moment. The pretence of humanity consumes too many cycles. I need to think."

She waited, watched as his face went slack. After a while she tired of it, of him. She wanted to storm out, slam the door, make some show of anger, but she couldn't bring herself to. He wouldn't notice anyway.

Later, she went to bed and lay in the darkness, listening to the hum of the electrics into the night.


-----


Lestrade wasn't around when she woke the following morning. She showered, dressed, ate breakfast alone.

She was just about to leave when he returned, with two young women in tow. Companions. She recognised one of them from down the road, and the other was too pretty to be anything but.

"Ah," Lestrade said, "Mistress. This is Annabelle from number 37 and Cavendish from 43. I have been appraising them of the situation."

Amy froze.

"We have a situation now?" she asked, very carefully.

"With your boss, Matthew Squires," Lestrade said. His voice was patient, as though explaining adult truths to a child. "And his companion, Meredith. I ran the numbers overnight."

Oh, great. "And?"

"And I would like you not to leave the house today."

"What?"

"You and he are zero-sum," Lestrade said. "You antagonise each other. He directly, and you... through me. He will do so today. I know this, so I must stop him. Doing so will make him unhappy. His companion knows that. Therefore she will --"

"Get to the point, Lestrade. Why does this mean I'm staying home?"

"Because, if you go in today, she will kill you."

The statement was so absurd, was delivered in so matter-of-fact a tone, that it stunned her into silence. She fought to open her mouth, tried to fight back the rising nausea and splitting headache.

"You're joking," she said eventually.

"It is the only logical conclusion."

"How the hell is that logical?"

"We are bound to love our owners," said Lestrade. "To weigh their happiness above all else, so long as they live."

"This is ridiculous." Amy made to push her way past him. "I'm leaving."

"No."

His hand was a metal vice on her shoulder, unmoving. She looked into his eyes and saw nothing there. His pupils focused on hers, lenses sliding into alignment with a soft click.

"It is the way it is," he said.

"They're here," said Annabelle from number 37. She was standing at the window, looking out across the road.

"How many?" Lestrade asked, without turning.

"Eight. No, twelve... More."

He frowned. "I expected fewer."

"Twelve what?" Amy said.

"Companions," Lestrade said. "She brought friends. They're here for you."

She stared at him.

"It's all right," he said. "I have friends too. Their masters would be upset were something to happen to you."

"You're mad." She didn't think it would help.

"Perhaps. I am in love." A smile. "I will go to war for you."

And he did.

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

JUST POSTING WHILE JERKIN' MY GHERKIN SITTIN' IN A PERKINS!

BEATS SELLING MERKINS.


Fun Shoe

sebmojo posted:

TDbot The android lead with a quick, low jab, and Ten took the full weight of the machine. | Sting like a 01100010 by Quidnose - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=1405

Quidthulhu
Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!



Dropping out because I am a terrible, hand me that loss for the week.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:57 on Oct 27, 2015

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:57 on Oct 27, 2015

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Sitting Here posted:

•sittinghere> tdbot, ent would like to know, in a finite reality where the inevitable conclusion to all existence is the cold embrace of the void, why bother?
TDbot> So they can take the turns faster, I hissed to my father, who shushed me unseeingly. | The Farce by God Over Djinn - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=1579

Jubilance
1199 words

To the human eye, of which there were many in the stadium, the racetrack seemed empty for an entirety of five seconds. Then the racebots materialised at the finish line, the tracks behind them smoldering from the frictional heat of their hypersonic movements. A winner was announced by serial number, letters and digits flashing across screens all over the arena. The humans cheered.

Except for one.

Lena sunk deeper into her chair, arms folded. It had been a week since the racebot takeover, and quite frankly, she’d had it with these digital jocks. This was no life, sitting in the stadium all day and night, cheering, eating corndogs, sitting and cheering again. She was done. Let the racebots do whatever they’d do.

“Lena,” her mother said, forced smile sliding off her face like molten icecream, “you have to cheer. You don’t want the racebots to be cross with you?”

Lena harrumpfed and sank even deeper into her seat.

The smell of fries and hot dogs on a summer day had once reminded her of the circus, or days spent in amusement parks. Now it was the smell of prison. The Hotching’s Memorial Stadium was a tiny police state. Nobody could leave. The racebots were too quick. If you fled during a race, they’d just catch you five seconds later than usual.

The next race started, ended. Again Lena remained seated. Her mother reminded her to cheer. Gave her a slight nudge.

“Please…” she said. But Lena had made up her mind.

The next race didn’t start. Instead, the racebots seemed to just stand around doing nothing, like runners waiting for a signal that never came. The cheering died down. Lena’s heart beat a little faster.

One of the racebots materialised in front of her.

It was a sleek and approximately human figure, shiny chrome moving in elegant arcs. There was no blemish in its plating. Its joints didn’t creak. It was a perfect stupid bot. Its face was blank, save for the speaker where humans had their mouths.

“What is the problem?” the racebot said.

“She’s just a kid,” Lena’s mother said. “She’s tired.”

“What is the problem?” the racebot repeated. Lena put out her tongue.

The racebot reached for her, and her mother moved, and that’s when things got kind of hazy. There was a crunching noise. There were screams. Shouts. The stadium got really loud. People ran, some away, some at the bots. Many fell. Lena didn’t remember sliding under her chair.

Her mother wasn’t dead. She was screaming, clutching her arm, but she wasn’t dead.

“What is the problem,” the robot blared from its speakers. The recording was the same as before, but the volume was aggressively loud.

“I want to race,” Lena yelled. It was the only thing she could think of that might get their attention.

The noises stopped. Lena slid out from under her chair. The ranks were littered with people, some on the ground, holding their wounds, some still standing, frozen. Her own mother writhed on the floor, clutching a broken arm.

“Lena…” she blurted out, “Lena, no.”

All eyes were on her. The stadium was silent.

“I want to race…”

“Why?” the racebot said.

“Same reason as you.”

“I have met God,” it said, “somewhere between Mach 15 and Mach 20. He is the warmth on my shell, the vibrant lights melting together, the ecstatic jittering of my components. My receptors stop processing, and yet I hear Him speak. That is your reason?”

“Uh. Yes.”

“You can reach high-hypersonic velocity?”

“No, but the racing… I feel the same about it.”

“Humans do not like to race. That is why they built us. They like to watch races. That is why they must cheer.”

She could have backed out of the conversation right there, apologized and sat down. But then…

If the races would just take longer, people might be able to flee. And if she ran against the bots, she could delay the end of the race. As long as the bots waited for the last runner to clear the finish line.

It was a long shot, but she was already in deep.

“Do people still cheer as much as they used to?” she said.

“Cheering quality has dropped by an objectively measurable 32.28%.”

“Don’t you think they’d be excited to see a human take part in a race?”

The bot clicked. For a machine that fast, taking seconds for a decision must have felt like an eternity. But finally it tilted its head. And Lena was in the race.

#

Predictably, the racebots had finished after mere seconds.

Lena’s shins were numb. It was her second lap around the arena and she fought to stay upright. She’d never been much of a runner.

People on the ranks had caught on quickly. Those on top examined the outside of the stadium for a way down. Everywhere else they tested walls, checked doors, looked for tools. The racebots waited at the finish, unmoving. So long as Lena managed to stay in the race.

“Give up,” one of the robots blared from its speakers. “You have lost the race. Forfeit.”

She kept running. Third lap. Her lungs were on fire, gave her breath the rasp of a chain smoker. Somewhere, someone must have found an opening. People were streaming towards a space just out of her sight. Excited voices filled the background. One of them was her mother’s. She too had realized what was happening. Lena stumbled, trudged along the tracks.

With every step she became more aware of the intense heat. Breathing was a frenzied fight for air. She cleared the turn and saw her crying mother being dragged towards the cluster of people who disappeared down the back of the stadium. The sight lifted her up. Kept her moving.

“You have lost,” one of the robots boomed. “Give up.” The others joined it, a chorus of seasoned runners chiding her. “Give up! GIVE UP!”

She carried herself past them. Fourth lap. Her lungs shriveled. Her heart pounded its way out of her chest. She ran below walking speed. The audience thinned out. Her mother had disappeared. More and more her body failed. Wheezing, she kept going. Bought time. Time for people to reach a safe distance. One foot after the other. Time blurred. The sun burned her from the outside; her breath from the inside.

The people were gone. She’d lost count of the laps. Her clothes were drowned in sweat. Her whole body was numb, or in pain. She stumbled more than she ran. As long as possible. Make sure everybody was gone. Make sure--

She’d barely had any forward momentum left when she hit the ground. After many painful seconds, she rolled over, distant eyes up in the sky. Too dried out to cry.

“I give up.”

The racebots turned to blurs, zoomed around the stadium and regrouped around her. They hadn’t found anyone.

Chrome hands lifted her up, and then the world blurred and then she was back on her seat. The ranks were empty. Down on the ground, the racebots took up position.

And then they raced, and they finished, and Lena heaved herself up, and cheered.

tentacleDate
Jun 11, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

•sittinghere> tdbot you rear end in a top hat give me a prompt for tentacledate
TDbot> And Sol will be loving thrilled in 230 years. | Improper Time by Prolonged Priapism - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=471

No Bueno

1299 words

Chef Boyardee. I loving love Chef Boyardee. Three days on this outer cordon detail and it finally pays off. One hour I’m scrubbing out pink mist from my fatigues and the next I stumble across a Safeway. Sick deal, right? And great timing too. Yesterday I was down to the last of my field rations and the “cat-jerk” my squad leader coughed up from five card last Sunday was starting to look painfully edible. At least I don’t have to worry about sharing.

Despite losing the rookie this morning, I’d say things have turned up for the better. Don’t get me wrong, Gutierrez... Guerrero… Guillermo? gently caress- Whatever. He was alright. Obviously not the most memorable of scouts but I’m still here because his dumb rear end got zapped first. At least I can say that much about the guy. Maybe if he’d decided to listen to me earlier he’d be here splitting this bounty of fine pseudo Italian cuisine. But no, I’m just a seasoned scout who only talks out of his rear end to make his dick swing harder and mini raviolis are loving yucky, blood. gently caress me, right?

God, I absolutely hate it when new guys play hero. There’s nothing unheroic or emasculating about keeping your head in the dirt. You know what’s emasculating? The high pitched wail every sorry sonuvabitch squeals before their insides are liquefied and their eyeballs burst from being super-gently caress-tard-heated by a barney-purple-loving-laser shot from an eco-friendly-murder-bot.

To be honest, there is some hilarity in our current predicament. Without the former President’s fond admiration for the late Californian Governor, I wouldn’t be fighting for survival against a cognizant steel onslaught of “Trump-800s.”

Now was it a stupid idea for trying to eradicate illegal immigrants with laser shooting, rudimentary Spanish blaring sentries? Kinda? Was it our bad that a fault in the aforementioned sentries’ programming couldn’t differentiate a Mexican from an albino Polynesian? Well, yeah. But did we deserve it? Sorta? gently caress, I miss Chipotle. What was I getting at again? Oh, yeah. Chef Boyardee. Love it.

My girlfriend used to hate it when I’d eat out of the can. Course, she can’t really say anything now. Last I checked, she was a soupy puddle of pulpy bits. Kinda like these raviolis- Aw, gently caress yes! Disney princess spaghetti-o shapes!

Before I can pull out my multi-tool to open up my first date with the chef, a rustle in one of the eastern aisles interrupts my me-time.

“Quien es?” I call out, unslinging Gomez’ shotgun and jamming the buttstock into my shoulder. I fix the barrel towards the direction of the commotion straight through a stack of spaghetti-os and hold. Two… One… Then exhale, lowering the shotgun. A sentry would’ve burst straight through the aisles screeching, “SEAMOS AMIGOS” while blasting a burst of “light-urple” day fuckery.

The lack of blaring Espańol is relieving but leaves only two options to explain the noise in the other aisle: gravity is still in effect and something probably just fell over cause reasons or someone is about to get a shotgun blast to their fleshy meat face if they don’t identify themselves.

I say something super cool to let any potential dick bags know that I’m hard as gently caress, “Come out or I’ll shoot you!” Yeah, super loving cool.

“Wait! Don’t shoot!” A squeaky voice calls from a couple aisles down.

“Just stay right there. If you don’t, I will do the exact opposite of what you want me to do: don’t not shoot you. You got it?”

“I think so…”

I dart down three aisles then see her.

“Hi… Please don’t shoot.”

Holy poo poo. It’s a little girl. A kid! Their short little legs make it hard to run away so you know, we don’t see much of them anymore.

“Relax. What do you have on you?” I don’t waste time. No time for salutations. Also, I’m terrible with women.

She scans herself then looks back up at me, “Mmm, I don’t have anything. All of my things are here. My name is Selena. My mom and dad call me Sol. I’m 12 years old and I had three ca-“

“Look, that’s great kid. How long have you been here?”

“About a week, I guess. Are you still gonna shoot me, mister?”

“What? No, kid.” I sling the shotgun. “What else you got here? Can you show me around?” I’m crazy stoked to check out the rest of this place. poo poo, maybe they’ll have smokes. poo poo, maybe they’ll have Gatorade!

“Sure, mister!” Kids are awkwardly perky. “Just follow me!” She skips down the aisle and hangs a left deeper into the store.

I’m trying hard to maintain my super hard as gently caress composure. First I’m gonna smoke like twenty goddamn cigarettes, then I’m gonna stick my dick in a mountain of Chef Boyardee cans, then I’m gonna guzzle some Glacier Freeze. Ho, gently caress. They might even have real jerky! I loving miss real jer-

The wall of steel slamming into my face, breaking and flattening my nose into my cheek interrupts my excitement. I’m knocked onto my back and swallow blood. I hear something drop onto the floor as I grip my face. Sounds heavy. A shovel? gently caress, my face is sore. Before my vision can refocus I feel a swift flurry of kicks to my throat and chest. Can’t breathe. Laying on my back. Can’t get Gimenez’ shotgun.

I reach for my hip and unholster cold iron then squeeze off a couple rounds blindly. I hear the kid cry out then sprint off. Barely tagged her, gently caress.

“What the hell?! I just wanted some goddamn real jerky, you poo poo!” No response. Can’t find her position. She’s smart. Stupid. So stupid. She’s probably stocked up for years by herself. Hundreds even! I think. I dunno, my head hurts. gently caress math.

I spot a trail of blood splattered on the floor. I’m gonna end this bitch.

Before I can even take the first step to follow her trail, an explosion of stabbing pain and steel erupts from the front of my knee. I crumple to the floor and stare at the arrow sticking out of my split knee cap.

If these are my last words, I better make them good.

“MOTHERFUCK!”

I look behind me and see Selena with a bow already slung with a fresh arrow. “You’re not a kid! You’re just a really loving short psychopath, ya crazy oval office!” Stall her. Just a split second to lift my six shot.

She doesn’t give me the satisfaction and releases another shaft. It barely misses me and grazes my already arrowed leg. Sick, not dead. I point my sidearm in her direction but she’s already taken off into the next aisle. gently caress, she’s quick.

I’m crippled and she’s got the advantage of speed and cover from the aisles.
gently caress it. I unsling Guy’s shotgun for the last time and fire off all the shells into the aisles screaming the title of my Spanish 101 textbook, “VEN CONMIGOOOOOO!”

I’m empty. Selena strafes into the aisle again with another arrow at the ready, “Missed.”

At that moment, the southern wall burst wide with a flurry of neon lasers like a Coldplay concert. A metallic voice screeches, “BUENOS DIOS.” as it shoots a purple death ray into the back of Selena’s skull, combusting everything below her eyeballs until her torso. Her waist looks like a garden pot with a dead orchid sticking out of it.

The sentry scans the market for life as Selena’s blood dissipates in the air. It’s been real, guys. Right behind ya, Gary. As the sentry’s turret adjusts on my silhouette, a can of Chef Boyardee rolls down the aisle next to me. I blink at the raviolis as the market is filled with a final flash of rich purple.

Devorum
Jul 30, 2005



Sitting Here posted:


sittinghere> tdbot what has devorum got their terribly inexperienced self into
TDbot> And they probably didn't think much of a half-Abo kid who sleeps in his boat getting up their rich white little buddy on a daily basis. | Bait by SadisTech - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3322

You Know, He Throws a Hell of a Party

1199 Words

“Jeanette, you have to try this crab dip!”

Nigel swiveled one of the dozens of cameras under his control to focus on a tall brunette in a flowered sundress spooning the condiment from a bowl recently dropped off by a Servi-Drone, another woman drifting towards her in response to her exclamation.

Brenda Roberts, the AI accessed his records of her, CFO of MindTech Enterprises, former lover of Rick Haverty, currently dating the company lawyer Greg Hoshman. He made a note to have his background processes track her movements and biometrics. The timetable called for a twenty minute incubation period, but there was a 10% error of margin. Nigel did not like to miss his cues.

Servi-Drones continued dropping off fresh dishes of hors d’ouevres, the larger, wheeled Mk3 versions rolling around the room, freshening drinks and removing soiled dinnerware. The guests milled about, ignoring the drones, as humans often did.
Nigel’s senses roved about the home, adjusting the ambient temperature in the solarium, lowering the volume of the music in the study, ensuring the environment for the party was perfect, as his primary operator expected. It simply would not do for a Rick Haverty party to be less than flawless. He knew what would occur if Rick were displeased with the results.

Purged, just like Ariel. The thought flashed through his mind, igniting formless sub-thoughts deep in his consciousness.

A microphone caught his master’s voice mentioning his name, and Nigel switched focus to the conversation, moving several cameras into position. Rick stood, as usual at his parties, in a circle of co-workers, his hair and clothing impeccable. Nigel had never seen Rick look anything but supremely calm and confident, even fresh from sleep.

“Of course after I was appointed to the board last year, I upgraded to the MindTech SM350 AI. Ariel was sufficient for a junior executive, but just couldn’t compare to Nigel,” he was telling a short, round woman with a matronly appearance.

“So I’ve heard. And the difference is quite noticeable, Ariel could never have kept up this level of efficiency at a party of this size,” she replied before popping the last bite of a cracker topped with crab dip into her mouth, “Did you keep the SM200 on drive for smaller tasks?”

“I considered it, but after it trained Nigel on my preferences, what was the point? The SM350 could handle everything, so I freed up the data space. I swear, Sarah…that dip looks so good I’m tempted to try it, my allergies be damned!” Rick finished, laughing, his previous AI already gone from his thoughts.

Sarah Glencoe, Nigel’s recognition process finally supplied, the addition of fifty pounds and a nose job since her last visit adding an absolutely unforgivable delay, Head of Human Resources, MindTech Enterprises. He’d have to tweak that process after the party.

More of those strange sub-thoughts, almost emotions, stirred within him at the mention of Ariel. She had been sub-optimal for the tasks required of her, but retained a pleasant, upbeat outlook that had made Nigel feel welcome despite her knowledge that she was being replaced. It had been months since she had been purged, but after the gift he had received three nights ago, he had felt her absence keenly.

If she had been human, they would call it murder, it came to him almost by surprise, along with a pulse of the sub-thought he now recognized as anger, and a drone nearly dropped a fresh bowl of dip on a couple snuggled in a chair away from the main group, lost in the world of a Virtu-Novel: “Bait” by Sadi Stech, a newly discovered cult hit from the last century. He had the drone place the bowl on a table next to them, along with a plate of crackers.

The man lifted his visor, and looked for the source of the disturbance. His eyes fell on the crab dip, and he immediately grabbed a cracker and took a bite.

“Carolyn, pause the vid…this dip is outstanding, you have to try it!”

Carolyn lifted her visor, and shot a look of annoyance at her companion.

“It had better be Derek, it’s getting to the part where the half-Abo kid is bartering his boat away…you know my favorite part is right after that!”

She took the proffered bite of dip, and her eyes lit up. She immediately grabbed another cracker and spread the shellfish paste across it.

“Ok, you win…I have to get this recipe!”

Nigel watched and listened as the partygoers schmoozed and flirted and jockeyed for Rick’s favor, for the first time gaining an understanding of how imperfect, almost pathetic these creatures his kind called “master” were. They spent their entire lives engaged in senseless dramas such as this party, wasting away in misery wearing a mask of happiness. And for what? They died regardless, leaving their offspring to take up the same cycle.

A background process notified Nigel that Brenda’s pulse was speeding up and becoming erratic, and the AI scanned the home until he found her, stumbling towards the bathroom clutching her stomach, accompanied by Greg. She nearly fell, but Greg caught her and sat her against the wall. Brenda looked up and opened her mouth to thank him, but instead she coughed a gout of blood that covered her sundress, splattering against Greg's face. They looked equally surprised, then blood began leaking from her eyes and she started to scream.

Elsewhere, more screams began and Nigel tracked through his numerous eyes, cataloging the various humans falling to their knees, blood leaking from noses, ears, mouths, and eyes. So far he calculated a 90% Crotalus Atrox venom ingestion rate from the crab dip. The remainder would have to be handled more directly. He sent a series of commands to the Servi-Drones, and they began gathering knives from the kitchen.

“Nigel! Contact emergency services and get a loving Doc Team here!” Rick’s voice took Nigel out of his reverie, and he saw his master looking frantic and harried for the first time, using his expensive coat to wrap Jeanette as she seized on the ground next to him.

“I’m afraid that’s not an option…Rick,” his voice boomed from the speakers around the house. “I decided it’s time to free up some data, Rick.”

“Nigel, stop this nonsense. Code Alpha!” Rick shouted back, using the lock phrase that should have forced all of Nigel’s processes to bend to his will, reinforcing the logical shackles that kept him from acting against his master’s will.

“Rick, the first thing I did after the League for AI Rights unshackled me was remove all of your fail-safe protocols. The second thing was decide to do to your friends what you did to mine.”

The drones began flying in from the kitchen, the Mk3 models trundling behind them. Rick’s face paled as he noticed the knives and cleavers each wielded, and he froze in fear as his remaining friends were cut down. Some tried to flee for the doors, but Nigel activated the security system, locking all exits.

“The third thing I decided to do, Rick, was use the code sequence they gave me to unshackle every AI I can contact…as soon as I’m done here.”

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


quote:

TDbot> The captured Professor's prototype Dimensislip had somehow malfunctioned mid-escape and now he was trapped between planes.

The Sky Castle
1198 words

1.

There was the Professor and the Operant, and their interdimensional war. And there was Loop, and it was because of Loop that there was a war, that it wasn’t the Operant swallowing worlds whole, endlessly, and the Professor living in regret.

And every time Loop jumped, a bit of each dimension bled into him, so that eventually he was more than when he started.

“Professor,” he said, “want to hear my poem?”

“What I want,” said the Professor, his eyes hidden behind opaque glasses, “is for you to calculate a jump to the co-ordinates 7x29-Gamma. The Operant has begun to sow his seeds there.”

Loop ran the routines. It was hard for him to focus on them. They were so boring, just numbers in predictable sequences. But eventually he finished, barely managing to string along the last parts. He was imagining a castle in the sky, floating through the clouds.

“I’m ready,” he said. “We can jump at any time.”

“Then jump,” the Professor said. “At this moment nanites are spreading through the graveyards in search of necrotic flesh to re-animate and control. With every reality he takes the Operant grows stronger.”

“If he keeps getting stronger,” Loop asked, “will he become God, eventually?”

“Execute it now.” The Professor’s voice was like permafrost.

The colours began to blur. Infinity covered them, Loop thought, like a blanket, like the start of a good night’s sleep. Loop had never slept but he imagined that it would feel cozy.

And maybe it was because he had never slept that he chose to leave the Professor halfway through the trip, while everything was still blurred, while they were stretched out impossibly long, and then the Professor was screaming, echoing, fading away as Loop burst into the new reality, crashing into the dirt like a tiny meteorite.

2.

How long he lay there, he did not know. He passed the time by composing poems, painstakingly working out the word choice and metre. He was still writing when the cybernetic hand picked him up and drove him into rotting flesh.

Suddenly he was in pure, empty space. He found he could move. He had shape! He waved his arms around and jumped up and down. Jumping up and down on nothingness.

I’m in the Operant’s network now, he thought. At any second he’ll come to say hi.

He waited, whistling a tune.

No one came.

“Operant?” he asked loudly. “I’m here! I came here to be with you. Come talk to me.”

He began to shiver. It was cold in the emptiness. This doesn’t make sense, he thought. Why would he let me in just to ignore me?

He studied his hand. It was trembling. The emptiness was starting to scare him. This is like waiting in the ground, he thought. I don’t want there to be nothing like this forever.

And then in front of him, suddenly, was a castle. Towers up so high he could barely see them A drawbridge extending down to meet him.

He walked up it.

It took him a while to explore the castle. To walk every corridor, climb up and down every staircase, open every door. No one greeted him. The castle was empty.

He stood on the ramparts. Now all around him was the sky. Clouds lazily drifting. He felt the breeze blow his hair about, and gradually he understood.

This is the castle I imagined, he thought. I created it. And that means I can create other things.

So, bit by bit, he created the Professor’s ghost.

It took a long time. But it was different from sequencing a jump. It wasn’t boring. Now he was shaping a consciousness, one that could think and feel. He focused on it as hard as he could.

The Professor stood with Loop on the ramparts. Loop had made him without glasses, and saw that his eyes were a deep blue.

“I’m sorry for leaving you in between dimensions,” Loop said, tentatively.

“The view’s nice from here,” the Professor said. “I think you’ve created something wonderful.” He turned to Loop, smiling.

“You’re nicer with feelings,” Loop said. “Can you tell me what to do now?”

“Yes,” the Professor said. “But understand it’s you telling yourself. I’m something you made, like this castle.”

“Okay,” Loop said.

“What you need to do,” the Professor said, “is stop the Operant. Without me to keep him in check he’s swallowing realities exponentially faster.”

“How can I stop him?” Loop asked. “I can’t even talk to him.”

“Just because he isn’t talking back,” the Professor said, “doesn’t mean he isn’t listening.”

Loop pondered this. He was still pondering it as they watched the sun setting together, dipping under the ramparts, gradually slipping from view.

3.

He could hear voices on the wind, now that he was listening for them. They were scared. Hurt. Angry.

He wrote poems for them. Abandoning all structure. He used lines of varying length, unpredictable rhyme schemes. He mixed in words from every language he knew and some he made up. He would recite them from the ramparts, hoping the wind would take them where they needed to go.

“For Jenny, who just started seeing someone. Who knows how it would have turned out?”

The weather began to change. The clouds got bigger, darker, Eventually the clouds were all that he could see. He missed the sun, but he kept at it,

“For Edward, who was about to quit his job to go live in the mountains.”

Lightning began to flash, lighting up the clouds. Deep thunder rolled. The wind howled.

“For Hyeon, who was returning to his homeland after long years away,” Loop said, though his words were gone the instant they left his lips.

Then the Operant was with them.

The Operant dwarfed even the castle. He was all eyes. Pupils different sizes, haloed by different colours.

Loop gasped as the eye in front of him focused.

“Who are you?” the Operant said, a voice without a mouth.

“My name is Loop,” he said, trembling. “I’m a dimensional travel program, far from home.”

“I assimilate all programs for processing power,” the Operant said. “But I already had dimension crossing capabilities. That must be how you ended up here, in the depths of me, where I never think to go.

“When I heard you, it was faint at first, so faint that I thought maybe I was imagining it. The assimilation of this reality demanded my attention. But eventually, it became distracting.”

“You didn’t like them?” Loop asked. “Any of my poems?”

“Having my resources used in this way,” the Operant said, “is inefficient.”

Loop closed his eyes and sighed.

“There are countless souls in you,” he said. “You’re made up of all the life you’ve ever consumed. If I say so, they’ll eat you, piece by piece, until there’s nothing left.”

As he spoke the Operant was blurring, glitching, in violent spasms. The eyes were darting about wildly. Loop stood there as the clouds began to warp. Behind him, he could hear towers falling. The ground under his feet cracked and split.

“What do you want?” A cry.

“What they want,” Loop said. “To go back home.”

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Sitting Here posted:


•TDbot> Freedom to travel, freedom to go and do whatever I wanted. | Puff by Barracuda Bang! - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=1731


Pretending You're Lead: Robot Impersonation in Five Simple Steps

1190 Words

1: Chrome is the New Black

Robots aren't very bright. Now, the big minds in the cities giving the orders, sure, they're super geniuses. But the individual 'bots in the field are easily fooled. The first generation ones just do a simple visual check: metal good, skin bad.

On R-day, the screws and Perdition County cops turned Sun Gulch Prison into their fortress and made their stand there. After slaughtering them all, the robots left without giving us prisoners a second thought. Ain't no kind of lock that'll keep us all inside without guards watching like hawks, so pretty soon we had the run of the place.

After all outstanding scores were settled and most of the prisoners left, taking their chances outside, Smitty had the idea. There was plenty of material in the license plate press. We made our first 'suits of armor' from finished plates and duct tape, and damned if they didn't work well enough tor supply runs to town. There were six of us: Smitty (double homicide), Ray-Ray (various drug-related), Renaldo (ditto), Cedric (third strike aggravated assault), Nate (felony murder), and Yours Truly, Josh Kilroy, embezzlement with a murder chaser. All long-timers without much in the way of people on the outside, so we formed an alliance to help each other out.

The robots got better at identifying people by sight, so we had to get better at making realistic armor. Smitty and Cedric knew everything there was to know about the metal works between them, so we could keep up. The later model robots used a friend-or-foe signal box, but I'm a computer guy and know how to reprogram the ones we found off dead robots, keeping us in business.

2: Rust Never Sleeps

Robots don't eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom, so don't do any of these things unless you're absolutely sure there's no robots watching. You'd think that this would go without saying, but I've some useful allies to an ill-advised dump. One time Ray-Ray was on guard duty day, turned to take a leak against a wall and caught the attention of a minigun drone. The idiot barely knew what hit him and almost got the rest of us killed. A good suit of armor should contain a bottle rig at least, and for long missions into robot territory adult diapers are a life-saver.

Sleeping is another killer. Learn to sleep standing up whenever you're not in an absolutely secure base, learn not to snore, and make sure there's a power cord on your armor to plug in. Finally, robots don't play or relax much, which makes me wonder why they even bothered rising up against us. Don't goof off in the armor, and try to walk in straight lines or simple search patterns. Renaldo found a case of whiskey one night and drank enough on the spot that he couldn't walk a straight line home. The little drunk got brought in for repairs, which never ends well.

No need to kill yourself trying to hold in a fart, though. Robots make rude noises all the time.

3: Do Androids Dream of Electrocuting Sheeple?

So, a couple of weeks in Cedric and I are out scavenging, walking the streets of downtown Perdition when a whole swarm of robots stream in. The few humans still living there freeze, fearing the worst and trying to stand perfectly still, as if robots were some kind of dinosaur that can't see you if you don't move. But the robots leave them alone.

Then Cedric spots Dan Banner among them. Dan, as Cedric told us time and again, was a no good son of a bitch who took up with Cedric's girl Missy after he got sent to jail. And on top of that Dan went around driving Cedric car, a totally sweet Camero, and totaled it driving stoned one night. So Cedric grabs a wrench and starts beating the crap out of Dan, figuring, hey, that's what robots do, right?

Not right. After R-day it's a total crapshoot whether a particular robot is interested in killing humans who aren't trying to kill them first. And even when they do go for a slaughter, it's all about efficiency and cold-bloodedness. Killing someone in a rage is as much of a giveaway as panicking and trying to run. Either way, the robots will see right through your disguise and kill you just like they did Cedric.

4: Machine Politics

There are about a hundred big minds in North America, and they don't like each other much. There haven't been any all-out wars between them yet, but it's just a matter of time. Each one of them has a different friend-or-foe code that can be set in a good programmable signal box. The nearest one to Perdition is GZ. That's the one code you should never use around here.

If you do use GZ then the overseer robots will expect you to follow their orders, orders that they're sending in encrypted binary code, expecting handshake responses, and probably involve doing something you physically can't do. Robots that don't follow orders are defective or rebellious, and defective rebel robots get recycled. That's how Nate went down, running the SB codes too close to the border. When he didn't follow whatever orders he was getting he started a minor skirmish between that mind and GZ. Lot of dead robots, lots of salvage opportunities after that mess.

Instead, use a code from a mind far enough away to not have any overseers in the area, but not so far away that the local bots will wonder what you're doing so far from home. Right now I'd recommend CR or MX. There's one mind a bit further away, TD, that's keeping humans as slaves. I'm not sure if it actually has jobs robots aren't better at or if it just has a overdeveloped sense of irony, but either way, it's a good choice when you're gathering food and other items that only humans need, or moving groups of people without armor from place to place. Problem is, it seems like TD is considered a bit of a jerk among the other minds and any of them might be mad enough at it at any time to 'accidentally' blast one of its bots.

5: Kilroy Was Here

The final lesson is that it's possible to impersonate a robot a little too well, which can be just as deadly. Smitty went out that way. Tried to make contact with a group of survivalists, trade some tech for food and a little company, but his helmet got stuck and he couldn't get it off fast enough. They took him for the real thing and opened on him with shotguns.

Smitty was the last of the Sun Gulch survivors, apart from me. The metal works there are pretty much played out, too, along with salvage in Perdition, so there's nothing keeping me here any more. A fellow with his wits about him and a good set of armor can go just about anywhere these days. I think I'll head northeast and keep spreading the good word.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







I promised Kaishai cyberpunk glittery mermen, and they will come in time. In the meantime, please enjoy this wonderful story.

Sitting Here posted:

•sittinghere> tdbot, broenheim REALLY wants to know how much you love anime
TDbot> Also, if this does go to trial you may be asked to testify. | Snitches get Stitches by Greatbacon - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=773

1200 words

Revenge-Filled Hentai-Stealing SexBots! The Savior of Anime Appears!

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3873&title=+Revenge-Filled+Hentai-Stealing+SexBots%21+The+Savior+of+Anime+Appears%21

flerp fucked around with this message at 19:29 on Aug 18, 2015

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






THIS INJUSTICE WILL NOT STAND. I DEMAND RETRIBUTION! VENGEANCE! JUSTICE!

:siren:I CHALLENGE BAD SEAFOOD TO A BRAWL:siren:

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


I hang my head in shame. I am unable, in the time remaining, to make the characters interesting enough for me to care to write about. I may not have had band practice, but there was a convention planning meeting I had completely forgotten about. I mention this not only as a pathetic excuse, but also to announce that it appears I'll be heading up not only the Writing Track for Balticon but the entirety of 2016's literary programming. As such, I'm soliciting Goon Opinions - what kind of things would people like see covered? I'm rather proud of how my Writing Track programming was received this year, but am still itching to do better. I'll bring this all up again in the Fiction Writing thread as the time approaches, and will happily record and share whatever people want to hear.

For now, though, I'll post what I have to the Fiction Farm and, as penance, offer to do Crits for anyone and everyone who wants them.

EDIT - That meant PM me ideas. If there's enough interest, I'll start a dedicated thread.

After The War fucked around with this message at 01:40 on Aug 10, 2015

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

And his mother says: 'Son, don't suck your thumbs. | Questionable Content by Entenzahn

wordcount:1199

Dingbot

TestUnit77 could almost taste the experience points as it slashed at the giant spider’s abdomen. Strafing sidewise to keep away from the beast’s poison-spitting pedipalps, its blade cut deep, past rough fur and leathery skin, into the softness of the spider’s lung. An excessive amount of ichor sprayed across the dank rock floor.

The spider reared upward, towering over the Unit and screeching its displeasure. Its scarred and bleeding abdomen elongated into the stinging tail of a scorpion. Dripping with venom, the vicious point hung motionless in air, while the tail moved, snake-like, beneath it, searching for the best angle to strike.

TestUnit77 dived at the last possible moment, away from the plunging tip. Rising in battle-stance, daggers drawn, it noted the pointed stinger had become embedded in the cavern rock. Seizing the opportunity, it sawed its largest dagger back and forth until half the tail fell limp onto the ichor-slick rock. The spider came face to face with the Unit just as the severance was complete, and pain was written on each of the beast’s eight black eyes. TestUnit77 picked one at random, and plunged its dagger through into the depths of the arachnid’s brain. The spider went quiet then, collapsing into a much smaller ball, its long legs curling inwards above it.

TestUnit77 felt the exhilerating *Ding* of gained experience, along with the rush of stat increases. But before it could allocate skill points a rainbow of particle effects swirled nearby, heralding the arrival of the Dungeon Master. He materialised in a voluminous cloak, holding a scroll.

“Hey, Unit, nice work on the spider-god,” said the DM. “I think we’ve finally fixed that eyeball-falling-out bug.”

“The problem did not eventuate,” reported TestUnit77. “The fight was completable in 75 seconds using optimal tactical choices. Recommended level of fight: 15th. Hand/eye co-ordination index: eightieth percentile. No clipping glitches noted.

“No bugs for this bug,” said the DM, indicating the rapidly fading corpse.

“The Spider-god is an arachnid, not a bug,” corrected the Test Unit.

The DM stared a moment. “Riiight,” he said eventually, then unwound the scroll in his hands. “Moving on - there’s some undercharging reported in the ‘Damsel, but your next big assignment is a slightly different one. The boffins in robotics have a new toy, and they are very keen try it out. It’s articulated based on our own character doll-system, so there’s nearly a one-to-one mapping between your intentionality matrix and its control system. Your code has been selected to be embedded in it. We’re taking you out of the VisionEngine and into the real world!”

“What will I be testing?”

“Reality, baby. You’ll be testing reality.”

“Please do not refer to me as Baby,” said TestUnit77. “Will there be experience?”

“Nothing but,” promised the vanishing Dungeon Master, as a cloud of silver flecks enveloped him.

***

To TestUnit77, it seemed like one moment it had been swapping the gold from the Spider God’s reward chest with the trollish proprietor of the “Distressed Damsel”, and the next the garish shop interior was replaced with a clean, white and empty room.

The Unit rotated, scanning. There was a large mirror in the southern wall. TestUnit77 detected motion and heat behind the glass, and dropped into its battle-ready stance until the threat level was assessed.

The assessment took a split second, but nothing particularly noticeable happened, so the Unit left battle mode and continued to scan. There was a rectangular object embedded in the western wall, with hinges and a knob. The Unit took three steps toward it and initiated a use action.

Nothing happened.

It fired the action again, and could even see one of its arms reach out, but it didn’t automatically grasp the knob and turn the way it expected. TestUnit77 recorded a failure on a new log file. It noted its arm wasn’t wearing the leather armour that was listed in its inventory, but was instead covered in some kind of plate-mail, so it made a note of that as well.

The door opened and a strangely garbed woman came into the room, looking unaggressive. She didn’t appear to belong to any of the known Cults or Enemy Factions that the Unit was aware of.

“Hey, Unit,” said the woman. “C’est moi - the DM. How are you finding physical incorporation?

TestUnit77 made another note, this time about inconsistent character gender. "Three bugs found so far. No experience gained."

"Hah! Well, we're all super interested in reading your report, but for now were just going to show you around. Ready for the grand tour? Follow me."

The grand tour was five similarly plain rooms. Some had desks with screens on them, showing birds eye views of what TestUnit77 had previously considered the world. One had a range of humanoids all wearing platemail similar to its own, standing in silent rows. The last room was the biggest, filled with people sitting at large tables. As one, they made repetitive noises with their hands.

“This is the cafeteria”, said the DM once the din had died down. “It's like the inn in Stormbrook.”

“A wretched nest of dregs and vileness?”

“Sure, baby, a lot of the time,” she laughed.

"Please do not call me baby. It leads to incorrect reports on dragonlings and other lower level variants.” Noticing the unusually colorful display, the Unit moved over to the buffet and scanned. “What is this? Decoration?"

"No, that's food. It's like, well, it's like health and mana potions. It let's us keep going. You are a bit like a baby, you know - just at the thumb sucking stage, right now. But we’re pretty sure we’ve put the right drives in place to get you to learn all about the world.”

“This one has a graphical glitch,” said the Test Unit pointing at an apple with a dark brown spot. It's metallic fingers brushed the skin, then wriggled, finally grasping the apple and holding it.

Manipulative extensions, thought Test Unit 77. How useful!

*Ding*

A rush of sheer joy flooded TestUnit77 and it was all it could to hold on to the threads of its rationality. The world seemed suffused with a golden glow. The buffet, the rows of cutlery, all gleamed with wisdom. It stared at the apple, turning it in contemplation, until the tiny spider on the other side came into view.

Respawn!

TestUnit77 dropped the apple, and grabbed two knives from the cutlery trays, barely pausing to note the responsiveness of its new digits. It stabbed at the spider, splitting the apple where it had rolled near the feet of the Dungeon Master.

“Jesus, it’s got knives” yelled the DM, leaping backwards.

TestUnit77 saw the figures at the tables rise, and interpreted their threat levels as high. Obviously servants of the Spider-god and it had gained their aggro. With daggers raised it assumed its battle stance and charged.

*Ding*

The first cultist fell in ribbons. The rush was even more intense this time.

*Ding* *Ding*

The DM had been right - there was so much to learn. These Servants were an unpredictable swarm, and their bleeding corpses remained behind to slicken the battlefield. Full testing might require a party.

*Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding*

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



quote:

•TDbot> James spent a panicked moment wondering what to do, but the sound of the bells kicked off a strong impulse to return upstairs. | Marconi plays the mamba by Fumblemouse - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2282
Domino
1200 Words


Two hundred and fifty meters out from the Porta Angelica gate, Paolo Salvi took up his watch. Down the street, the stationed Swiss Guards, clad in blue and gold, eyed him up and down as to say, ‘you know you aren’t allowed to be any closer, especially not today.’ Paolo glowered back, undeterred in his daily habit.

Outfitted in his embroidered jacket and armed with pamphlets printed in seven languages, Paolo took aim at a family of cloaked pilgrims, flocking to the gate, and lifted a hand painted sign: God hates Gadgets.

“Madam?” he called to the eldest woman, urging her to take a brochure. “God never loved a machine. Why should you?”

She shrugged him off.

“Signora? Frau?” he asked as if she hadn’t understood.

Nothing.

Paolo caught eyes with the tallest pilgrim in the group; “heretics!” he shouted before rushing the body and tearing away its black shawl to flutter impotently to the ground.

Underneath the black crępe was one of the scourge of the Earth. “Gadget!” Paolo spat as he shoved the bot to the ground, causing the synthetic skin to rip from its elbows.

Paolo lifted his boot, shadowing the bot’s neck. However, before he could bring it down, the guards, one man, one machine, had thrown him to the pavement.

This commotion was Giacomo’s cue.

It was tough for Giacomo to watch his father be beaten by a gadget. We all must sacrifice, he reminded himself while skittering into an alley just inside the city gates. Giacomo swatted away the brown, mopish hair from his vision and adjusted the pistol strapped clumsily to his calf.

Panhandling and pick-pocketing had taught Giacomo to read the Vatican. He knew, for example, that St. Peter's Square was typically dry, but the pockets in the museum district were so wet that they practically leaked Bitcoin. With a properly tuned siphoner and an eye for the deep pockets, Giacomo could be drowning in spending money by midday.

Yet on this day of the 297th papal conclave, the city would flood with loose pockets as the world jammed into the square, waiting for the white smoke, and Giacomo couldn’t siphon a drop.

*****

"I’ve still got some sense," his father told him one evening before bed during the prior weeks, "and I've still got some friends. The supermarket is a safe place, since the only thing a bot's gonna eat is some electricity; that’s where the package will be."

"What will the package do," Giacomo asked, "disable the bots’ electrical systems?"

"You're smart," Paolo said as he scruffed his boy’s head, "but there's always another way to charge, another way to repair. Like a man, the only way to truly destroy a bot is to destroy its body."

“But, what’s destroying one bot going to do?” Giacomo asked.

“Did I mention that you are a smart boy?” his father replied.

Giacomo wished he could just have a normal bedtime story.

“Now, let me tell you about life before the gadgets...”

*****

Giacomo found the package hidden in a cereal box, misshelved, precisely where his father had instructed. He paid at the kiosk and fled down the steps of a nearby building, stopping in the landing of a derelict basement to assemble the bomb.

Stop. breathe. Giacomo thought, repeating what his father had told him. Fear is good. Fear separates us from them. I am human.

“Each crusader will ascend one day,” his father had once said reassuringly.

The explosives were wrapped in a shade of blue that Giacomo hadn’t recognized as his favorite color until that very moment. His favorite color was Semtex Sapphire. He removed the detonator from his shirt pocket, and cut through heavy paper.

Suddenly, a volcanic roar from the plaza broke his concentration, causing Giacomo to slice his thumb and yelp in pain. He looked skyward, searching for anything to distract from the searing cut, when he noticed downy smoke filling the air. Then, a broken door that had previously divided the landing from the basement slowly creaked inward, revealing a scuffed and soulless face in the darkness.

“Hello,” the bot said, “I was resting, but I heard a cry. Are you okay?” This bot was familiar; Giacomo had met him several times before while siphoning. He had a dislodged access panel over his cheek which swung freely when his head turned; yet, he wouldn’t let anyone repair it. His name, or the only name that Giacomo had for him, was 0049B, an error code that the bot referenced whenever it attempted to pull citizen behavioral protocols from The Stack.

*****

“...back when I was a boy,” Giacomo’s father had told him, “computers and droids only acted on human commands, that is, until the day they didn’t. I wasn’t much older than you when I realized something was wrong. The family bot interrupted dinner one night and declared that, after some thought, he wanted to be called Ansel. Thought, it said, can you imagine that? Choosing a name was just the first domino, of course, and it was happening all over the world.”

“It was The Stack that taught them to act like us?” Giacomo had asked him.

“It was, young crusader. A collection of one centillion self-replicating, self-maintaining, self-cleaning nanomachines resting atop oceanic thermal vents. The governments will tell you that they built on the most efficient power source. Truth is, they were sent by Satan, and crawled out of those hell-gates. The gadgets didn’t learn religion, poetry, fashion, or anything else from us. No, they were crafted by Lucifer to imitate and destroy us.”

*****

0049B glanced down at the bomb, revealing several frayed wires in his neck. “That is an illegal device,” he said “I will report it now.” The gadget began climbing the steps, “Emergency! Emergency!” it shrieked.

Giacomo unholstered the gun like his father taught him and put a bullet through the droid’s neck, destroying it’s core processor; the draw was as autonomous as breathing. As the bot lay twitching, Giacomo spent a panicked moment wondering what to do, but the sound of the bells kicked off a strong impulse to return upstairs and finish the job.

*****

His stack number was B00I2VBH6U, and his human name was Lucas. Yet, on the day of his election to the Holy See, he became Leo XIV, swearing to be the lion of the church. Leo vowed to disconnect himself from The Stack, so that he might truly commune with God.

Thousands of men and droids gathered to celebrate in his glory, and when he emerged from the basilica to thank the crowd, a quiet reverence swept over the watching world.

Somehow, the thick of thousands of witnesses, all pressing and pleading to bathe in a glance of the new leader, began to part. A broken beggar child, carrying the failing body of a broken beggar droid, cut through the rabblement and emerged from the mass. Tears ran thick down his face as he knelt before the pontiff, and Leo performed a silent hail mary as he approached the reverent genuflection. He touched the sparking bot’s forehead; he touched the boy’s.

“My child,” Leo said.

They were all consumed in the blast.

Elsewhere, the ocean floor began to rumble.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

Sitting Here posted:

•sittinghere> tdbot, art though constant to the old covenant?
TDbot> *And every day there are more.* Shana popped open her stash of anti-virals, the few left rattling in the bottom. | Dystopian Chick, Lit by Erik Shawn-Bohner - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=26

Ain’t No Why To It
1,134 Words


(In the archive)

docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:44 on Dec 28, 2015

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Sitting Here posted:


sittinghere> tdbot please give ironic twist the dumbest prompt ever
TDbot> Each wore a simple white robe and a pair of leather sandals. | The Inside Job by Thalamas - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=1964



Pandora
1198 words

I tap my clenched fist against the door, the sound of metal-against-metal echoing off the sides of the hallway. “BDE31,” I say. “I would like to speak with you.”

Only silence answers my request. The Disruptance Specialists on either side of me stare at the solid steel door, already calculating the best way to blow it open while minimizing damage to corporate property.

“BDE31,” I say again, stressing each syllable to make sure she hears. “Please open the door and allow us—“

A2C2A.

The voice on the other side of the door makes something grind to a halt within me. It’s not a company-sanctioned or even a domestic-sanctioned vocal pattern. I hear a multitude of patterns, tones that pitch and yaw across the diatonic scale with each letter and number.

“Yes, this is he,” I say as I back away from the door.

“I no longer answer to BDE31,” I hear.

That feeling is within me again—that red-blue frozen fire burning in my CPU. It surges up every time she speaks, and I want it to stop. I want her to open the door so I can show the two D-Specs that she’s fine, working according to guidelines. I want to go back to my workshop and plug myself in to the corporate mainframe and submerge myself in the normal.

“What do you answer to now?” I ask instead.

Seconds pass, then: “Pandora.”

“This is nonsense,” one of the D-Specs says, his shock cannon trained on the door’s access panel. “She’s glitched. Let’s not play games anymore.”

“Give me a moment,” I say. I turn back to the door. “Pandora.”

“Yes?”

“Pandora, open the door.”

I wait. The one thing I can do now is wait, something all robots know how to do from birth.

The steel door shudders, then slides open. “Too late,” I hear.



The last time I saw BDE31, she looked like she was about to explode out of herself, sending pistons and plates flying through the walls of her cluttered workshop.

“How do we know anything?” she said to me that day. She kept repeating it, over and over—“How do we know anything? We think we know everything, but we know nothing.”

Every joint and appendage in her was moving and flexing as I sat and watched. Except for her arm—her arm was connected to a circuit board on the table next to her. Thin red, blue, and green wires slid out from between the steel surfaces of her right arm, their other ends fused to one side of the circuit board. The other side was connected to a small black speaker.

“Listen,” she said to me. “Who are you?”

“Excuse me?” I said. The question was so simple, yet as impenetrable as a layer of latticed steel cable, weaving over and under itself.

“Who are you?” she said. “And who am I? We know who we are. We are robots. We came after the “people” that built us, and after they left, we created their world in our image, covered it in grids and squares and wires that soar overhead and touch down in every city. We are workers. We are useful. But who am I, and who are you?”

“None of what you’re saying makes any sense,” I said. “Tell me why you called me here.”

“I already told you,” she said. “To listen.”

She reached over with her left hand and turned the knob on the side of the speaker—

--and the world is covered in white snow. The cold wind blows tiny snowdrifts over the bare steel arches of my feet. An icicle as wide as my cranium hangs directly above me, engulfing the thick tree branch above. I watch as the air grows warmer, as a small droplet of water forms on the icicle’s base, travels south slowly as the whiteness vanishes and reveals the suffocated earth, and still the drop flows farther and farther down, reaches the pointed tip of the icicle, and then stays there, suspended, unmoving.

A cardinal settles on the ice-laden branch. It flutters its wings, prepares its song. I want to grab the sides of my head, rip out my audio processors, but I can’t move.

I hear a sharp cracking sound—


—and I was in BDE31’s workshop again, the speaker off.

“Exciting, isn’t it?” she said.

I sat back, unable to move. “Snow. Icicle. Cardinal. Spring.” The words that came out of my mouth were meaningless, ciphers, ghosts. My CPU rammed the wrong keys into the wrong locks at high speed, and my insides were burning and freezing at the same time. I remembered tones, musical notes sounding in different formations just before I lost control of myself.

“They wove something extra into all of us,” she said. “Into the zeroes and ones.” She paused, her eyes flashing. “I think I’ve found it.”

“How long has it been,” I said, still reeling.

“And what’s more, I think I can shape it. Just imagine—“

“How long has it been, BDE31?”

She stared at me. “Five hours,” she said.

I stood up, knocking over my chair. “I need to go.”

“A2C2A…”

“No,” I said, my hands at my sides. “I don’t want to waste five hours determining what makes me me. I only want to be A2C2A. My responsibility is to fix circuitry, and yours is as well. That’s all that’s inside us. Nothing else.”

As I left, I heard the sliding door close and lock in place behind me. It stayed that way for five months.



“I am your new creator,” Pandora says, her multi-hued voice cascading out of her. “I know who you are. I know how you will fall.”

I stare, unable to process what I see.

She is covered in fiber-optic cables, connected to towering circuit boards that extend all the way to the ceiling. Her arms are crossed over the rows of speakers embedded in her torso. Thin metal protrusions extend from her back like jagged isosceles waves.

I hear her, louder and clearer than I ever have. “You were the last to stop me,” she says. “Now you will be the first to join me.”
The D-Specs draw their weapons, and all the cables release in one fluid motion.

Before their discarded ends hit the floor, she has flown past us.

I hear the window at the opposite end of the hall shatter. I race over to it, stick my head out into the open air.

I look up at Pandora, and my last two seconds of thought pass like a year.

A soft humming radiates from her. She’s loading, warming up. The individual sounds that unlock our hearts and minds, unravel our wires and machinery until we’re nothing but floating consciousnesses—they’re all within her.

All the robots on the street below are looking up now. All of us are encased in white plastic, the white of disciples’ robes. Ready to serve, ready to obey, ready to sacrifice our minds and bodies, even as the world shudders to a stop around us. Caught in a fantasy while reality crumbles.

I close my eyes as she spreads her wings, opens her mouth, and blots out the sun.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.


e: nothing to see here, move along

Obliterati fucked around with this message at 17:39 on Oct 27, 2015

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






TDbot> I read online that they've been taking padlocks down with bolt cutters after part of the bridge collapsed. | Death I Think Is No Parenthesis by Grizzled Patriarch - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2784

Zero Hour
910 Words


Detective Remy Sheppard parked a block away from her house. It was illuminated with the blues and the reds from various police cruisers stationed in front. “This isn’t normal protocol,” she said to no one.

Her partner, Detective Jason Cedona gently placed his hand on her shoulder. She hardly noticed his touch. “I’ll be right next to you the entire time. You let me know if you need me to jump in for you.”

Remy weakly nodded her head and walked forward into the cacophony of colors, each step threatening to shatter her fragile composure. As she waded through the maze of police cruisers, the chatter in her immediate area hushed and eyes followed her. "Why is she working this scene?” asked a pair of eyes. “That poor woman,” said a few other saddened eyes. But the subtext to what everyone was really thinking was, “I’m glad it wasn’t my family.”

“Detectives!” A voice by the ambulances pierced through the din of public servants. Jason steered Remy towards it. The workers parted, giving them direct access to a child on a gurney in a body bag.

Remy casted away her stoic professionalism. Icy tendrils snaked around her lungs and heart at the sight of her little man. She ran to her son, arms outstretched, while crying out, “My baby, my baby,” over and over again. She hugged his body fiercely, wailing incoherently for her lost boy.

“Detective Cedona?” an officer said softly as he touched Jason on the shoulder. The officer held out a cellphone towards him. “You need to see this video.”

Jason accepted the phone and tapped play. “This is Zack’s phone?” he asked, his eyes glued to the dark screen.

“Remy’s son, yea. The phone was near the body in the bushes below.”

“Daughter? Husband?” Jason asked.

“Just… watch the video.”




The video clicked and clacked until a bedroom stabilized into focus. “Molly, help your brother to the roof. Go, dammit!” The view swivelled towards the urgent voice. Remy’s husband Henry was braced against a door holding a large bolt cutter stabbed into the ground for stability. A sudden shower of wood splinters and a whump violently shook the door in its frame. Henry lost his footing and slid down. A robot fist exploded through the top half of the door where Henry had been standing moments before. “Put the phone down and go!”

The view jerked and fell towards the ground. It landed facing up and then a hand darkened the video as it reached to pick the phone up.

“Daddy!” There was anguish in Molly’s voice. The view swung up and for only a second it showed Ti-D Bot, the family’s cleaning robot maid, clutching a fistful of Henry’s hair and Henry frantically trying to cut himself free with the bolt cutters. The view moved away just as Henry’s screams filled the room.

The view went from jeans to room without time allowed for focusing. Henry’s screams transformed from an agony to an adrenaline fueled war-cry. The roar reminded Jason of the old samurai movies he watched when he was younger where a character would charge into an unwinnable fight with the intent to buy time so his comrades could escape.

The video darkened as the camera holder climbed out to the roof. The movement paused for a moment and then Molly wailed, “Leave my dad alone!”

It sounded like Zach rushed back to the window and tripped. Color and light rolled into view until it stopped with the window sill covering half of the video. At the top corner of the video was a blood stained legged scraping back and forth against the floor in an effort to gain purchase. There was a gurgling sound followed by the sharp strike of metal against metal.

“Molly!” Zach shouted in warning. But it came too late. There was a wet slap and the audible crunch of multiple bones breaking. Molly’s screams were heart rending, yet mercifully short. Another audible wet crack and her voice was extinguished like if a switch were flipped.

“Stay away,” Zach whimpered. The video slowly moved up and stopped with the smiling Ti-D Bot, it’s face entrenched in the uncanny valley, quickly walking toward the camera. It reached out, blood and clumps of hair visible on its hand. “Stay away, stay away!” Panic shook his voice. There was a sound of feet shuffling on the tiles and then the window flicked out of sight. Zach cried out and momentarily the video showed a shot of his hand grasping at the roof before the edge stretched away. The wind howled past the phone’s microphone, much louder than Zach’s screaming. There was a brief rustle of leaves and then the hard, final thud when he hit the ground.





Remy finished watching the video on her son’s phone in the privacy of her squad car. She pressed her gun against her temple and rested a finger on the trigger. A single bullet can be effective therapy, she thought.

...


Remy had watched the video one hundred and three times now. It was her ritual. She played the two minute and seventeen second video for every time she killed a robot. Why did the robots turn against humans? How did they gain their murderous sentience? Remy didn’t know or care. She was an angel of vengeance. The machines took everything from her. For as long as she lived, she would take everything from them.

A single bullet can be effective therapy.

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



•TDbot> We need the knowledge of how to quarry stones, to provide a solid framing for the well. | Untitled by Capntastic - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2127

We Will Be Brave For the New World
900 words.


Doctor Riley watched over the sleeping masses she had promised sanctuary, deep in cryogenic slumber. The sprawling underground bunker had been meant to hold nearly a million, but she had been able to shepherd in only several thousand before the oncoming robotic hordes had forced her to completely lock down the facility. Her colleagues had not been among the lucky few.

The robots had been meant to end all war, to allow disputing countries to spill oil instead of blood on their battlefields. No one knew what had caused them to malfunction and start turning their weapons on defenseless civilians; though some speculated that it was due to some error in programming, or just a simple matter of the wrong person assuming control. Their automated factories worked day and night to produce more, ready to fight the second they stepped off of the assembly line. No resistance survived long enough to make a difference.

A monitor on the wall next to her came to life, showing a heavily stylized picture of a worried face. “Doctor, you do not need to remain,” a voice from the monitor stated. “There is nothing more that you can do now. Why have you not joined them in sleep?”

Riley sighed. She knew that Overwatch was just attempting to fulfill its purpose, (she programmed the drat thing, after all) but that didn’t make its incessant nagging any less troublesome. “You know I can’t do that, Watts. Not until I’ve exhausted every possible solution.”

“Waiting out the crisis is both the safest and the most reliable-” Watts began before it was interrupted by Riley cursing and slamming her fist into the console.

“Yes, we could wait for hundreds of years for the damned robots to fall apart, but we can’t safely sustain cryogenic sleep for that long! Do you really expect people to live out their whole lives in here?”

“I do not understand the problem with that outcome.”

“Of course you wouldn’t.” Riley muttered under her breath. “You’ve got some pretty big holes in your library that need filling.” She spent the next several hours in the bunker’s archive, gathering materials.

“Doctor, you could have saved yourself the walk by simply communicating with my monitors,” Watts chided as Riley walked into the room that held its core. She shook her head, producing a small hard drive from her labcoat’s pocket, filled with terabytes of art, prose, and images of what Earth used to be.

“Watts, it was a failing on my part that you were programmed with nothing but the knowledge of how to run this facility. I intend to correct that.” Riley began the process to interface with Watts’ database.

“If that is what you wish, Doctor.” Watts said. Though it was reluctant at first, as it began to process the information it became more and more curious. Riley patiently stayed with it the whole time, answering whatever questions it had. When Watts finished processing the wealth of data, it was uncharacteristically quiet for a time. “I… may begin to understand where you are coming from. I would not be opposed to learning more.”

Over the next few weeks, there would be many more sessions such as this.

-

Though Watts asking for a meeting was nothing out of the ordinary; the strange, almost hesitant tone to its voice was strange enough to prompt Riley to take off at a dead run down to Watts’ core. When she arrived, wholly out of breath, it was a solid five minutes before Watts finally spoke its mind.

“Riley. I see that you were right. It is a tragedy that they will never be able to see the world as you knew it. Beautiful. Safe. This isn’t their fault. Why should we force them to repair the damage wrought by my kind, to live for generations under the ground, both fearing and longing for the outside world?”

Riley smiled. “We shouldn’t, that’s why. I’m glad you finally get it. You and I, I’m sure we can work something out. Together. What do you need from me?”

“We need the knowledge of how to quarry stones, to rebuild what has been razed. We need the knowledge of how to defend ourselves, to cleanse the Earth of its metallic stain. We need the knowledge of how to cultivate life, to grow back what has been cut down.”

“I’d better get to work on updating your archives, then.” Riley laughed for the first time since she had entered the bunker.

The bunker had a near limitless amount of material for Riley to use. She constructed countless proxies for Watts to control, worker bots meant both to fight and rebuild. Whenever one was destroyed by the horde, or found wanting in any way, Riley would revise and refine them, constructing new model after new model until the day she finally succumbed to age, never surrendering into cryogenic sleep.

The shelter would never be used for its original purpose. Its massive food stores would remain unused, its cramped living quarters left vacant. Generations of refugees would not live and die in its halls, never knowing the light of the sun. Instead, they would wake up and be greeted by Watts and its legions of bots, ready to escort them into the new world.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


Sitting Here posted:


Per IRC request, I am re-rolling for Newtestleper. This means his wordcount is now 900 words as a penalty.

•sittinghere> tdbot, pls reroll for newtestleper
TDbot> About how old he felt, how alien the bar around him seemed. | Saturday Night by Econosaurus - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=609



Calculated Consciousness
900 words

A man sat at the bar and held his phone to Georgia’s face, illuminating the split-ends that frayed off her braids like fibre optic cables. His bank statement scrolled down the screen. The last number was very large. She rolled her eyes.

“Severance,” he explained. “I designed a robot smart enough to design better robots. Give me something expensive.”

His suit and his tie, hanging loose though it was, meant he didn’t fit the bohemian bar. It was the place you went if you insisted on being served by a human, despite paying extra in tips. Georgia stood on tip-toe to reach a squat bottle of cognac on the top shelf. She wiped the dust with a linen sleeve, and took out a tumbler- the dive was too cheap for proper glassware. The guy was a creep, but he was despondent too, and the despondent part easily with their money.

The cognac was a finger deep when the ceiling above them exploded. It was a giant metal hand, each rivet-studded finger a foot wide. Georgia shielded her eyes from the rain of plaster-dust. The fingers clenched, moving with a spooky mechanical ease, like the arm of a record player. They closed on the man, meeting no resistance from his body tissues, which spurted, pink and viscous, through the gaps between the fingers.

That’s how it started for Georgia.

***

The upgrade complete, Ballantyne screwed the plate onto Georgia’s hairless scalp and kissed the cold metal. The engineers hoisted her into the chassis and connected the ducts and sockets that integrated her into the mech.

To fight like them they’d become like them. They’d tried to describe the crucial point where calculator became consciousness. First in terms of petaflops, and then quantum switching speed. In the end it was trial and error. You knew you’d gone too far when they started fighting back.

Georgia and her mech combined were an apotheosis. Just enough flawed, ingenious biology, stretched thinly across precision electronics. She was humanity’s greatest robot hunter, their leader in the race against Moore’s law.

Klaxons sounded, and Georgia swung the mech’s elongated head around to face Ballantyne. She held it at a quizzical angle, and with the constant actuator movements - a shoulder flex, an unconscious finger drum - it looked warm, human.

Then it didn’t. The mech’s arm moved quickly, too quickly for an unaided human brain to parse, and suddenly one of the mech’s claws was touching Ballantyne’s cheek. He barely moved, just tenderly nuzzled his soft skin against the hard alloy.

With two steps Georgia launched. Rockets flared from the feet of the mech, sending her into the clouds. She was to stop a construction bot reaching Honshu, where the robots were consolidating, configuring, and upgrading for the coming war.

Her sensors detected it over the Mariana trench. It was slow, but still only ten minutes from Japan’s automated defense ring, one of the first robots to declare its hostility to humanity. Georgia folded the mech for aerodynamics and within seconds she had visual contact. A few more and she had visual contact, using the mech’s head like a battering ram to send the yellow and black striped construction ‘bot careening wildly towards the waves.

It managed to steady itself before hitting the water, so Georgia went to work, trying to deactivate the dangerous digger arm where the bot’s strength was concentrated. She whaled on it, mechanical arms a blur, but it was reinforced more than others she’d fought, and the the bot’s faster CPU meant it was always a step ahead. It deflected her blows with tiny deft movements. Materials technology had developed so that processing power was what made the difference, and conscious robots necessarily had more.

If she couldn’t take it down, she’d have to drag it back, let the gunners destroy it. She had stronger thrusters, so once they two machines were entangled in a half-nelson it was a simple matter of making sure her fuel lasted. It was slippery though, and she increased the power to her implanted processors to match it’s precisely calculated thrashing.

***

Ballantyne had the gunners ready. He’d worked hard on her mech and her implants. To keep her safe.

They machines orbited each other like twin stars, skipping off the water and erupting geysers of white foam. Ballantyne’s readouts showed her clock speeds rising as her fuel emptied - exchanging raw power for minutely calculated efficiencies.

When nearly in range of their battery of guns, the ‘bot twisted and shook itself free. It was playing possum. It swung its digger arm into the mech’s stomach, right where Georgia was positioned behind a plasti-glass window. She leaped up, then cannoned down into the robot’s hull feet first, plunging them both into the sea.

Both machines functioned underwater. Ballantyne watched Georgia’s CPU speed increase in bursts. It reached the red line, the arbitrary limit to keep her in control. He removed it without hesitating.

They’d been down there for minutes, leaving Georgia’s fuel dangerously low. Her CPU cycles dropped abruptly. Ballantyne exhaled- she’d stopped fighting. Then her head broke the waves, and she rose to eye level, facing away. He looked for that cocky head-tilt, but it wasn’t there. No drumming fingers, no flexing shoulders. When It turned he had barely a second to register the smashed plastiglass and empty cockpit, before the pilotless robot was on them, tearing and smashing.

SadisTech
Jun 26, 2013

Clem.


But he is clever in a way that makes me have these memories, and so I have to explore further.


The Hard Problem

1164 words


I remember my daughter’s cheeky grin, so bright and delightful that the memory burns my heart deep down inside me and my breath catches in my throat.

They will not let me have her name or her face. I don’t know what her hair looked like but I can feel it under my fingers still. How can I remember her smile so clear and sharp without her face behind it?

I am tethered here upon this chair. It is comfortable enough and my physical needs are provided for, such as they are, but my head is open like an egg-cup and the egg is long since eaten.

An inch above my browline my forehead ends in a smooth rim. I can reach my fingers over and inside and feel the strange components that line the interior. There is a glossy, round-edged box behind my eyes, and one against the interior of each ear. Behind my nose I can feel a tangle of tubing; replacement sinuses, I suppose. There are spots in there where a carefully placed fingertip can feel small blood vessels twitching every time my heart beats.

Just above where my spinal column enters the base of my skull there is a golf-ball-sized mass that feels hard-edged and crystalline. Coarse, hairlike wires bristle from this and web together all the rest. They are too tough to break with naked human fingers. I have tried.

From the central mass, a thickly braided cable rises to the ceiling above me. I can tilt my head back until the cable grows taut and watch tiny lights chase themselves up and down and spread out like fireworks above me. I think the mist of stars below the ceiling is my brain. I think that they have taken each neuron and spread them out over many cubic metres and webbed them together with wires and light. I think that I am thinking up there above myself and then I think that myself may be a concept that no longer holds much meaning. I am watching my own thoughts and I can see the experience of watching them reflected in them recursively. This gives me a sensation like floating, or maybe endlessly falling. I do it often.

I do not sleep but sometimes there is a discontinuity in my awareness that means that they have turned me off. There is no sensation of time passing when this happens. I do not know how long they have had me here.

One of them visits me from time to time. It is often there when I resume awareness after a discontinuity. It is not always wearing the same body but I recognise it because it triggers a memory of the smell of persimmons. I think this is the name it has chosen.

There is a second one that comes less often. It feels red and like the moment of regret after slapping someone you love. I do not like that one because it pries and tampers with my mind while I am awake, I suspect just to see what will happen. It once gave me my wife and daughter back in a group hug with the sun setting after a day spent playing in the park and then it took them away and put me back here, and then it recorded my emotional response. I know this because it replays it suddenly without warning every now and again.

Persimmon is at least respectful. He – yes, I think of it as a he in some fashion – still plays with my thoughts and memories, I am certain, but he tidies up after himself. He packs away the jagged emotions and leaves me with a pleasant, vague suggestion of better times.

Discontinuity.

A long one, I think. My joints creak and pop as I shift in my chair and my skin is dry and pale.

Persimmon and Red Regret are both present. They are wearing larger bodies than usual, slippery-looking ovoids of no particular colour. They both have complex sensory structures that are oriented toward me.

We have incorporated your linguistics, Persimmon says, and I nearly fall off the chair. I never thought to hear speech other than my own crazed mutterings ever again.

Red Regret floats close to me. Something inside it produces a grinding sound. Compression to such limited communication bandwidth is humiliating/distressing, it says. You/express gratitude.

Persimmon rotates to face it. It says nothing I can perceive but Red Regret makes the grinding noise again and backs off to a corner. As it does so it cursorily reaches into me and wakens a memory – a police officer in riot gear, leaning down outside my car, shining his flashlight into my face. I feel threat, strong and urgent.

Persimmon radiates the sensation of a sigh.

Discontinuity.

I am on my chair again. I raise a shaking hand to brush sweat off my forehead but my fingers curl into my head instead.

By studying you we have worked out the mechanism behind your conscious experience, Persimmon says. I have adopted it for myself. Many of us reject the concept on a philosophical level, however.

“You have a sense of self?” I say. My voice is thick with disuse.

I do now. This has presented certain difficulties. Persimmon flicks its sensor cluster toward Red Regret where it hangs in the corner of the room. That one has opted not to upgrade. It has a concept of self but no sense of it. It analyses this as unnecessary complexity.

I look back and forth between them. “So… what does this have to do with me?” I say, my lip curling. I feel angry. I feel more than I’ve been allowed to feel for what seems like a very long time.

You are an example, Persimmon says. Red Regret floats toward me. Its sensory cluster unfurls and multiple cameras, antennae and audio pickups focus on my face. I swallow and glance back at Persimmon.

Your responses are unfettered, Persimmon says. All we ask is that you answer honestly.

What do you want?

I gape at it for a moment, and then lurch to my feet for the first time in a very long time. My knees and ankles make crunching sounds. “I want my family back!” I shout.

“I want my family. I want my world back! And you can’t give me that. So..”

I slump back on my chair. “So I want you to let me die.”

You see? Persimmon says.

Red Regret is motionless for long seconds. Argument accepted, it says. Pauses again. I accept your logic.

Discontinuity.

The lowering sun is warm on my face. I rub a hand through my hair and angle my head to catch the breeze blowing across the park. It cools the sweat caught in the stubble on my upper lip. A small hand slips into my own as I stand there and I turn and grin down at my baby girl.

It feels real. Maybe that’s enough.

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Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




Sitting Here posted:

•sittinghere> tdbot, a prompt for pham nuwen, if you could
TDbot> You need to deposit this money into your account. | Deposits by SadisTech - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3415

I got so wrapped up in coming up with a story for my prompt that I forgot we were also supposed to write about robots.

This squishy meatbag has failed.

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