The Mechanical Debacle – Prequel


Hamster King George looked up from his scavenging, pointing his ears in the direction the echoes seemed to originate from. George was curious, but generally careful when it came to things his little hamster brain didn’t understand. Even though hamsters in the bunker have quite a high tolerance for all kinds of radioactive materials, hearing loud clunks usually meant something heavy. And thus far the hamsters in the bunker have not developed heavy object proof bodies. This fact was sadly demonstrated during the first (and only) annual robot versus hamster speed run debacle; where hundreds of hamsters lost their lives to robot-foot coordination malfunctions…

George rather kept his small hamster body not flattened to the floor, and so he skidded up along some cable tracts towards the sound. Slowly the little hamster got closer, and could hear bleeping noises in various tones. Robots rarely bleep to themselves, it’s just one of the signs the robot in question has lacked regular orders. Like how that R2-D2 fellow kept bleeping to itself all the time, a tell-tale sign of robot boredom…

The hamster got closer and closer until he spotted the figure of a very badly damaged robot walking down the corridor. Random machine parts seemed to be attached to the robot that didn’t belong there. George was able to trace some of the bulkheads strapped on the bot with tie-wraps and duct-tape to corridors #82, #26 and #2578 respectively. The hamster frowned, no one’s ever been so deep down the corridors, as far as the files go. Many tunnels were blocked or are not accessible to larger (artificial) lifeforms. Some hamsters speak scary and daring tales of visiting corridor #1313 which is allegedly haunted, although George doesn’t really believe in that kind of stuff.



The robot was clearly malfunctioning, lacking maintenance badly… George usually keeps away from the robots, unless it’s during work shifts when the hamsters and robots have to work together sometimes to keep the bunker up and running. But this was just a sad case, this robot needed help, and judging by  it’s current shape wasn’t going to survive for long.

The hamster waited for the robot to pause from its stumbling and made a calculated jump right onto the robot’s head. George inspected the clumsy repairs and concluded that the robot must’ve tried to repair itself after something had happened. It half-looked like an accident and half intentional. The hamster made it’s way to the robot’s audio sensors and squeaked: “This is King George of the Hamsters, you look damaged. I’m here to help in any way.”

The robot stopped making sounds and looked around fast, nearly slinging off George, who managed to grab on to the reaction last minute.

Are you another voice? Or are you real? Is it another glitch, or is this hamsterspeak?

“I’m a friend,” George said. “Please let me help you.”
The hamster climbed down from the head onto the arm of the robot. The robot observed the hamster carefully and stated: “You need upgrades.”
“No I do not!” Exclaimed the hamster, “now listen: You need maintenance!”
“∀GR∃∃D” The robot glitched.

The hamster led the robot through a maze of tunnels eventually ending in an abandoned robotics lab. Most of the equipment was stripped, this would have to do.

King George had to get a few of his hamster friends involved…

The Mechanical Debacle [Part 3]

I followed the hamster through the corridors and some very tight maintenance shafts which ended in a dimly lit room. The room was full of hamster wheels and other toys, an automated food dispersal system and small hamster tunnels running in every direction. Even though this clearly looked like the hamster’s mess hall (or whatever you’d call this) there were not many of the little critters present. The few that had to pass from one access tunnel to another did so as fast as they could. The few that were in the room were mutilated with all kinds of random machine parts attached to them.

I did not notice that George had run off until my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Then I saw the figure of a robot in the corner of the room, working on something in the near dark. The red eye lights were not bright enough for me to see what it was the robot held in it’s hands, but I feared it would be tiny, fluffy and being tortured…

Suddenly the robot turned it’s head slowly to face me.
The robot spoke:
“bleep squeak bleep bleep squeak squeak.”

“What?” I asked, a bit confused.

The robot turned it’s head back to the work it was performing. I took a step closer, and another few steps. The robot did not seem to mind. As I moved closer the robot suddenly shouted: “ENCRYPTION ERROR! DESTROY SUBJECT 767!”

The robot’s eyes went dim and it stopped doing anything, the hamster it was ‘working’ on dead in it’s hands…

I heard a tiny squeak of victory and looked at the source of the sound; there was George, sitting on the robot’s shoulder having gnawed through some exposed wiring. I knew this would only temporarily disable a robot of this mark, backup power sources could come back online within 30 minutes.

“I can’t possibly drag this thing all the way back before it reboots…” I mumbled.

Within a few seconds I heard scurrying coming out of all the walls, and an army of hamsters came from all corners of the bunker, the lights started to dim and flicker a bit. I guess they left only the essential workforce to deal with the generators and other critical bunker functionalities.

It took a few minutes to fold in the robot a bit so it would fit through the maintenance shafts. The hamsters did the rest and manouvered the robot back to the main corridors, I just had to crawl after them to the exit. “Let’s get it to the robotics lab.” I said and after some squeaks they started moving. I walked along, checking the robot’s registration and credentials on my handheld terminal.

Bad robot!

Registration number: #2716057
Software version: Unknown.
Hardware version: 08, rev. 013

Not much to go by, but from my engineering training I know this registration number does not fit within the range for bunker operation robots. I concluded this must be either a hacked standard issue, or rebuild from old parts. Obviously the hamsters could have tampered with it, after all this may be their own doing…

We arrived at the robotics lab, and I restrained the robot in one of the empty alcoves. I put the robot in debug mode by placing some jumpers on it’s mainboard. Once it booted in debug mode I plugged in the debugging cables, and started downloading it’s operating system and stored data.

I closed the alcove for the download to process, I’ll check again in the morning.

To be continued…

The Mechanical Debacle [Part 2]

I put the hamster on the workbench, which had become a bit of a mess in the last few weeks. It was piling up with all kinds of designs, sketches, electronics, defective devices etc. The hamster ran off and scurried through the rubble.
I tried to catch it but it managed to evade me until it reached the HTD [Hamster Translation Device] and began squeaking.

I picked up the device I had acquired a few weeks ago when the hamsters tried to hijack a non-functioning rocket. I suspected the hamster to be “King” George, who else could it be? I had to be careful not to give him access to my machines, or the terminal network, too big a risk after what happened last time…

I plugged the HTD into the stand-alone terminal I use for testing, and put it on the little fella’s head. As soon as the device was turned on, a message appeared on the screen:

“This is King George of the hamsters, we order you to come to our aid!”
“I don’t take orders from hamsters,” I said, “but you may start by explaining those cybernetic hind legs.”

George squeaked as if I offended him, but started explaining:
“It was one of the robots we reprogrammed for our purposes. He was functioning fine initially, but it went wrong when we were running our regular -scurry and hide- drills…”

I looked at the hamster, as no more words appeared on the screen. He seemed to be sobbing or washing himself?
“And?” I asked.

“Well, the robot who was timing our drill decided we weren’t fast enough…”
The hamster paused for a second.
“Then he started grabbing some equipment that was lying around in our lair, picked me up, removed my legs and attached these!”

“How does it feel to be the first cyborg hamster?” I asked, but the hamster was not amused.

George continued: “After it did this, he went on to chase the others and… and… did… gruesome… things…”

He started what I assume to be sobbing again, can hamsters even feel emotions?

“FOLLOW ME,” appeared on the terminal screen and the hamster shook off the HTD and ran off through the door.

I guess I have no choice but to follow him.

To be continued…

The Mechanical Debacle [Part 1]

I was roaming the bunker in deep thought, brainstorming for the upcoming Dutch Comic Con when I heard some odd noises. It sounded like hamsters in distress but at the same time it sounded like clunking of metal on concrete. “Ugh, I really can’t be distracted from this project again…” I thought.

Of course my curiosity always wins in the end, and I started to trace the sound.

The sound seemed roughly the same volume even after I turned a few corners. “This is odd,” I thought, “there are many ambient sounds in the bunker, I could be mistaken.”

I turned around and started walking back to my workplace when I heard the noises grow dimmer, but suddenly speed up and become louder again. I looked around and still saw nothing, then I suddenly heard some squeaking sounds, they came from below, near my feet.

I looked down and I saw a tiny little hamster sitting at my feet but there was something weird with this little one, its hind-legs had been replaced by robotic parts, and not even really leg like parts… I picked up the hamster, it did not protest. After a short inspection I could determine that the hind legs of the hamster were replaced with cybernetics, from random kinds of machinery. The hamster had used it’s front legs to steer, because the hind legs only have 3 settings: Walk, run and recharge from the hamster dragging them across the floor. This looked like the work of a madman…

I decided to take the hamster to my workshop and examine it some more…

To be continued…