Lullaby – Part 3

“What is this?” Gonzo looked at Sophie in utter confusion. Did they have musical machines down there? A sentient synthesizer? Both moved their heads back towards the screen. “That’s it!”, Sophie shouted excitedly. “It’s that shadow!” In the distance they could see a figure, resembling a human silhouette. As Major slowly moved closer, the sound coming from that figure got clearer. It really was some kind of melody, it sounded beautiful but also very sad. Then, the music stopped. In the dim flickering of the lights it looked as if the figure had discovered the tiny robot. Hastily, it seemed, it tried to escape. And it didn’t really  move like a human being…

Quickly, Sophie switched to her putty console, and typed in a few commands for Major:

terminal

The engine howled and immediately Major moved faster, chasing the figure through the corridors at quite some speed. Whatever they were chasing, it was definitely not slow, but unlike the spider bot it had no wheels and seemed a bit clumsy, too, so that was a huge disadvantage. Major got closer, but it never made any attempt to stop or even attack the figure. It was only Chase Mode after all. “This looks like a kid or something”, Gonzo murmured. Then it happened, the mysterious figure fell as it tried to run faster and turn around at the same time. Major slowed down and came to a halt right next to the ‘kid’. Sophie looked closer at the picture on her screen. “You know, you weren’t entirely wrong there. That DOES look like a kid. A robot kid.” The new HD camera revealed, although the lighting down there was terrible, the face of a somewhat humanoid robot. It was the size of a maybe ten year-old child, it even wore awfully outdated and dirty, ripped clothes. It reminded her of a metal version of Pinocchio. And it sang.

A few moments passed by, robot staring at robot. Neither of them moved. The only sound was a disturbed and confused melody from Pinocchio. Sophie and Gonzo held their breath. Then, after a while, the robot boy seemed to realise that Major was no threat at all. The melody changed, slowly, to something more light-hearted and curious. *Bleep boop bleep* It was heart-warming. “Look, they get to know each other!” In absolute fascination the two soldiers stared at the screen, being witnesses to the first contact of the two robots. The kid seemed shy, but the moment it realised there was nothing to be afraid of, it made no further attempts to flee.

Many years later, both Gonzo and Lieutenant Sophie would still be talking about this wonderful moment to new recruits on occasion, and would get all teary-eyed and that look on their faces as if they had just watched the cheesiest romance ever.

~This guest story was written by Lt. Sophie

LtSophie

Lullaby – Part 2

“Eureka!” Lt. Sophie shouted happily as she watched Major looking around curiously with its new ‘eye’. Finally, it was done, and it even worked immediately. She made a note in the back of her head to mark this special day in the calendar as those things rarely ever happen. After a month of waiting for the parts and quite some paperwork Sergeant Dutch had demanded, the pet robot was now equipped with a small HD video camera. Unfortunately, this one would not work in the dark and Major would still have to switch back to the old night vision in the darker parts of the bunker, but so far, this was a huge improvement. “If this doesn’t help we might have to get you a new engine”, Sophie told Major. She looked at all the blurry pictures of that same figure that always seemed to appear in the corridors, only to vanish soon after. And she wondered if she could set up a live feed to actually SEE through Major’s eyes in real time. Why yes, that was a good idea…

Soon after, things were set up. Major had been driving around excitedly for a while now, the new eye was oh so much better! All the details it could see, and those crisp colours! Sophie gave her pet robot a delicious meal of natural oil before she let it go outside to venture through the corridors and hidden corners of the bunker. She put on her headset and looked at the screen. Soldiers walking by, one or the other robot, and there was Quackington, too… She recognised the entrance to the science corridor. But Major turned to the elevator, moving further down, deeper into the unknown. Soon it got quiet. No more foot steps or servo noises. Only the calming sound of Major’s engine and wheels.

An annoying beeping noise startled Sophie. For a second she was confused, then she answered the call on the TSU communication system. It was Gonzo. “Howdy, how’s it going?”, he asked. “Going fine over here. What’s up?” “I have your goggles repaired. Mind if I come over?” Sophie grinned: “Not at all. Bring some crisps and tea, we might discover something unknown roaming the Bunker today.” “You got the new HD running?” She nodded. “Sweet, I’ll be right there!” Only two minutes later,Gonzo entered Sophie’s bunker room and put her goggles on the desk along with a bowl of tasty fried potato slices and a pot of steaming tea. Both stared at the screen. There was still enough light for the HD camera, although the lamps in this corridor were flickering and partly broken. Maintenance didn’t go down there very often as the corridors were still unused. Some of the rooms had never even been emptied, there was a lot of stuff that Sophie could swear was still pre-WW2. For a while, there was nothing else than the flickering and the soft humming of Major’s wheels. Then, very faintly, the two soldiers started hearing a noise. A distant, but seemingly melodious sound. It was not human though, and the closer it got the more they had the impression as if it came from a machine…

– To be continued…

~This guest story was written by Lt. Sophie

Mayor

Lullaby – Part 1

Lieutenant Sophie had just finished the software update for her cybernetic vision enhancement, as the automatic pet door to her bunker room slid open, and a tiny spider bot entered the room. “Hello, Major. You’re back from your adventure already?”
*Bleep bleep boop* “I see”, she said smiling, “And now you’re here for a snack.” *Bleep bleep* Lieutenant Sophie  logged off, got up and walked across the room towards a cabinet that was over and over plastered with drawings, stickers and photos of her soldier friends. The doors were secured with a code. Not to keep Major away from its content, she knew she could trust the AI of her pet. It just gave her a strange sense of safety, and it was a nice way to keep her brain fit to remember all the codes and passwords. “There you go.” She took out a small bottle of machine oil, the best she could get around here, for the occasional spoiling of her spider bot. It made happy gurgling noises as the oil slowly dripped out of the bottle. Thankful and satisfied it sat in Sophie’s hand. “Now, let’s see what shenanigans you were up to…” Carrying Major back across the room, she pulled out the memory card. “Maybe, you took some interesting pictures in the depths of the bunker.”

Major was more than a cute pet. It was programmed to explore, and every day it would stroll through the Bunker, looking for places that were still left unknown, at least to its human inhabitants. It could also switch to its night vision camera automatically when in dark places. In some cases that already had been a very helpful feature.

However, Sophie had been thinking about upgrading Major’s ‘eye’ for a while now, to get pictures with much higher resolutions, night and day. “And there you are again”, she murmured. The reason why she wished for a better camera. A blurry shadow in the distance, too far away for Major to properly catch it. “What IS this thing? And why does it always seem to be fleeing from you?” *Bleep?* Sophie kept looking at the photography, but no vision enhancement in this world could help her if the source data was that bad. This figure always seemed to appear randomly somewhere on the lower levels that were still not renovated, let alone inhabited. But as soon as it took notice of the little bot it vanished again, it seemed. Major never could take more than two or three pictures of the mysterious shadow. And all Sophie could see were pixels. “I don’t know who you are”, she continued, “But I will find you, and I will identify you!”

– To be continued…

~This guest story was written by Lt. Sophie