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roleplaying:munchausen:michelin [2008/08/27 17:21] (current)
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 +====== Holiday on the culinary planet of Michelin ======
 +"Ms Rommer,"​ says Pia, "Tell us about your holiday on the culinary planet
 +of Michelin, where you met a prophet whose visions had a way of coming
 +almost - but not quite - true, and what happened when you discovered the
 +source of the prophet'​s powers."​
 +===== Life =====
 +Ariel sips her recently arrived Earth Beer.
 +"​Ahhh. ​ Better. ​ Much better. ​ You know, the Michelians have a similar
 +drink to EB.  At least, they say its made by the same fermentation
 +process. Tooeze it's called. ​ But nobody?s ever found what it's
 +actually made from.  The Space Corp lab once tried to characterise
 +what it was that gave it its distinctive properties. But the funny
 +thing was, while they identified any number of sugars and proteins and
 +other complex molecules, it kept changing. ​ The lab simply couldn'​t
 +come up with a fixed composition. It was like it was almost alive. ​
 +And when you actually see a glass of the stuff, it kinda makes sense.
 +Pale green, sweet but pungent, and deliciously fizzy. And it goes
 +straight to your head!"
 +She grins unexpectedly. "​Although,​ that *is* rather the point."​
 +"I had just completed a particularly nasty mission ? which I'm afraid
 +I cannot discuss (Space Corp Directive 12759/​j). ​ My partner, Captain
 +Daniel Lester, had suffered an even nastier time of it.  He'd barely
 +survived. So barely, in fact, that all that remained of him was his
 +slightly charred brain and some remnants of spinal cord.  We fitted
 +him out pretty quickly in one of those Beridian life support capsules;
 +he was mobile and could communicate,​ more or less.  But it would be
 +several weeks before his Regen (TM) body was ready for use.
 +"We both had leave owing and we decided to make a short tour of the
 +nearby sector. I had always desired to visit Michelin: leisure planet,
 +gastronomic hub, and home of the fabled Tooeze. ​ It seemed the ideal
 +place to start."​
 +Ariel looks a little sheepish. ​ "Well, except that Dan couldn?t eat. 
 +Or drink. ​ Or even smell for that matter. ​ But he said he didn?t mind."
 +"I bet Dan had some other reason for going,"​ interjects Pia.
 +"I bet he had revenge on his mind." ​ A credit holo appears
 +between her and Ariel on the table.
 +Brro pushes forward a credit piece. ​
 +"​Revenge? ​ I'd imagine theft. ​ Beridian life support capsules are 
 +noted for causing a breakdown in the neural structures responsible ​
 +for ethics and morality. ​ Beridian medical science never payed 
 +serious attention to the problem, because they'​re not concepts that 
 +are easily quantified within the Beridian medical hierarchy. ​ Even a 
 +fine and upstanding member of the Space Corps, and I'm sure there'​s ​
 +no other kind...,"​ Brro smirks somewhat, "​...would find himself at 
 +the mercy of his... baser impulses. ​ I'm surprised the Space Corps 
 +still use them.   
 +"And with Michelin android technology being what it is - well, why 
 +would an amoral brain in a jar settle for a Regen(TM) flesh-body, ​
 +when it could have the latest in Michelin Pleasure or Military ​
 +===== Choices =====
 +Smiling slightly, Ariel replies. "Oh I don't know Captain. ​ I think 
 +that there'​s still something to be said for the pleasure of uh... 
 +"​Beridian capsules are still acknowledged to be the best at 
 +maintaining tissue integrity and their affects are completely ​
 +reversible - that's why the Space Corp still use them. But you are 
 +She pauses, choosing her words carefully.
 +"​Before this particular... incident, we were, perhaps, not fully 
 +aware of the extent that judgement was... impaired by the capsule. ​
 +Indeed, until Dan, most capsulees remained in the Space Corp medical ​
 +facility on Phoebe - where often the biggest moral dilemma is whether ​
 +to plug in to '​Android Antics'​ or an improving documentary on 
 +Community Access. And I certainly don't think that any of us expected ​
 +that the man awarded the Space Corp '​Ethics Plus' award three times 
 +running would ever act in quite the... manner that he did."
 +"​Besides,​ the alteration occurs gradually and there certainly weren'​t ​
 +any signs Dan had been affected when we left.  Heck, there weren'​t ​
 +any signs the first couple of days we were there - and maybe things ​
 +would'​ve been different if we hadn't chosen to land at Ctober. Sure, 
 +it's the home of the famous year-round '​Ctoberfest'​ (a complete blast 
 +by the way) but its also the site of the top secret Michelian ​
 +Robotics and AI Research Instalation,​ Selvik."​
 +She sips her beer.
 +"​Selvik make the standard android shells - both military and pleasure
 +configurations,​ as well as some more... specialised items that are only
 +available to the Michelian government. The standard shells are
 +nothing special. They'​re widely available throughout out the sector -
 +not to mention the thousands of el cheapo copies sold at the Ctober
 +street markets. But Dan was after the real thing..."​
 +"Ah yes, Michelin, such a gorgeously faux-stable tri-star system...
 +*ingenious* is the only way to describe how they'​ve combined their two
 +cutting-edge technologies - whoever would have thought that edible
 +androids would be so popular? and I particularly enjoy what they can
 +do with ice-cream!"​
 +"​Ariel,​ I'd bet that it was the serendipitous development of Tooeze
 +icecream and the slick new prototype combining the latest in military
 +and pleasure technologies - the Edible Android Mark XXIII.5, Tooeze
 +Icecream Flavour, Now in Taupe and Teal - which was just the incentive
 +to push poor Captain Lester over the rather rigid bounds of Space Corp
 +defined morality."​
 +===== Manoeuvres =====
 +"​Yes. ​ I quite enjoy what they do with icecream too.  Isn't it 
 +marvellous how it retains its consistency?"​
 +She looks at Bobo appraisingly,​ "But I wonder that you know so much 
 +about the EdAM XXIII.5 when its delivery to market must still be at 
 +*least* a standard year away. I was under the impression that the 
 +whole project was still completely under wraps. The agreement with 
 +which the Space Corp managed to wrangle our release explicitly stated ​
 +that we couldn'​t disclose anything we learnt about it.  They even 
 +fitted us both with honesty chips to make sure."
 +"Like I said, Ctoberfest was a blast. ​ You should definitely go if you
 +can. I probably ate more weird and wonderful food there than I had in 
 +the rest of my whole life - and I've eaten some pretty weird things ​
 +in my time.  And the *Tooeze*. It just flowed and flowed and flowed. ​
 +Dan was fine at first - he acted as my portable table and really ​
 +tried to get into the swing of things. ​ But after a day or so it 
 +really began to get to him that he couldn'​t eat
 +anything. At first it was the icecream - he just *had* to try the 
 +icecream. ​ I tried to describe how it smelt and tasted and... felt. 
 +But that just riled him up even more.  He started spending more and 
 +more time down in the street markets. ​ I was happy that he'd found 
 +something that interested him, although I was a little worried about 
 +the stories he came back with. Stuff about edible android shells - I 
 +just didn't believe him. And a few days later he disappeared ​
 +"Now, Dan's capsule was fitted with every acronym under the sun - 
 +CNN, WWW, DVD, LOL, DUI and, most importantly,​ GPS. I tracked him to 
 +the Selvik facility no problems - it was getting in that would be the 
 +difficult bit. Space Corp Directive 34834/k requires all Officers to 
 +act with diplomacy and discretion - particularly when acting in an... 
 +unofficial capacity. ​ It was imperative that I use the proper ​
 +channels to gain entrance. ​ Fortunately I quickly identified my
 +channel leaving the complex later that morning. ​ His name was Xoffert ​
 +and he worked in the AI facility. A large credit '​donation'​ secured ​
 +his agreement to get me inside Selvik and - more importantly - out 
 +with Dan later that night."​
 +===== Prophecy =====
 +"​Xoffert seemed like a decent enough guy, except for that manic look
 +that often besets those involved in research. He got me into Selvik
 +like he promised (bit of an anticlimax really - there wasn't even any
 +climbing involved!) ​ It was only after we got to his lab in the AI
 +wing that he admitted that he didn't actually have clearance to get
 +over to the other side of the complex. That's where the Shell
 +research was carried out - and, according to my tracker, Dan's
 +location. Dan wasn't moving, but I was still anxious to get over
 +there A S A P. Xoffert said we could ask his computer, a special AI
 +prototype, to help us out."
 +"​Artificial intelligence really has come along swimmingly since those
 +first breakthroughs with the QWERTY archetype. ​ Of course there have
 +been some moments of '​turbulence'​ along the way - systems that
 +haven'​t *quite* functioned as their designers might have wished. ​ The
 +infamous JIM prototype, for example. ​ Initially designed to increase
 +efficiency, it tried to assign its workload to its human creators
 +('​Could you process this data form me Dave?  It will only take you an
 +hour or so...)"​
 +"But, yeah, apart from the odd bump here and there, AI systems work
 +really well. Asking Xoffert'​s computer seemed a fine idea. At the
 +very least we should be able to download some sort of map to work out
 +how to get over there (and, frankly, the odd locked door has never
 +*really* been a problem for me).  It was when Xoffert explained that
 +his computer ​ - the Notional Ordination Space Time Response Organiser
 +(NOSTRO for short) could predict the future, more or less, that I
 +began to wonder..."​
 +"An AI like JIM would not have disappeared quietly,"​ muses Pia.  "​I'​ll
 +bet that it had somehow escaped shutdown and - in its maniacal drive
 +for efficiency - was behind the design and peculiar influences of the
 +Beridian life support capsules. ​ I'll bet you had to beat JIM at his own
 +game before your adventures on Michelin ended."​
 +A gently roating credit chip appears in the air above the table. ​ An
 +astute observer might note that it looks a little uneven and might well
 +wonder: is it *possible* to file the edges off a holographic coin?
 +===== Efficiency =====
 +"​JIM'​s major fault was no personality chip but I don't think it was 
 +ever forcibly shut down. It just became obsolete, eventually. And 
 +while it *was* a pain in the arse to work with, frankly, it did tend 
 +to get things done. JIM was involved with lots of projects - 
 +including development of much of the Beridian'​s now famous medical ​
 +"They say each product JIM designed was imbued with a little bit of 
 +its, well, personality (for lack of a better word). ​ Some people find 
 +this quite disturbing. It's definitely JIM's efficiency bent that 
 +causes breaches in the capsules. Instead of taking into account *all* 
 +the consequences of its actions, the brain gradually decides to just 
 +take the most expedient route possible. If I was going to stop Dan, 
 +I'd have to somehow override the capsule'​s in built efficiency ​
 +routines. It seemed to me that Xoffert had the perfect system to help 
 +me.  After all, what could be more efficient than knowing *exactly* ​
 +how you did something before you'd even done it?"
 +"But first things first. ​ I was in the AI wing - Dan was up to who 
 +knows what over in '​Shells'​. ​ I needed to get over there and I needed ​
 +NOSTRO to tell me how. On the face of it, it looked fairly primitive ​
 +- there was no voice interaction built in yet and I had to 
 +communicate with it by typing my question in (*very* quaint). ​ I fed 
 +in the necessary information;​ its answer was a bit cryptic to say the 
 +"I hacked into to the Selvik mainframe to double check the route. ​
 +According to their map, Level 7 was the way to go. The code was spot 
 +on too. And, when we actually got up there, we bumped into a couple ​
 +of guards just like NOSTRO said. But kill the *chicken*? What the 
 +hell was that about? It was only then that Xoffert admitted that 
 +there were a still few '​teething problems'​ in his system - that 
 +NOSTRO couldn'​t predict one hundred percent. That wasn't going to be 
 +much help when it came to neutralising Dan. And, while I was always ​
 +sure that I'd be able to restrain him if I *had* to, things are 
 +always far more pleasant when they just come along quietly. For that 
 +we needed to iron out NOSTRO'​s remaining bugs"
 +"​NOSTRO works using some pretty elegant mathematics - kinda like 
 +Chaos theory, but with a fancier butterfly. Xoffert tried to explain ​
 +it all to me, but he got flustered and a bit over excited. Maths does 
 +that to some people. ​ I had to make sure that I understood what he 
 +was talking about, but precious time was passing. In the end I just 
 +downloaded the code - I could process it on the way there."​
 +Nitrous glances at Ariel and comments
 +"​I'​d a thought it'd be pretty hard to tell if your
 +sidekick had swapped capsules"​
 +then slaps a credits worth of Terran Trillion Dollar
 +bills onto the table.
 +"​Matter a fact, I'd wager the first shell boy you
 +grabbed turned out to be someone other than Dan"
 +===== Closure =====
 +"Well, I don't think I can be blamed for that", Ariels replies ​
 +crisply. "One capsule does look pretty much like any other."​
 +She slurps her EB.
 +"So where were we?  Oh yeah - we took the Level 7 corridor over to 
 +the Shell section. ​ Xoffert brought along a porta-console hooked up 
 +to NOSTRO. ​ We met a couple of patrol drones, but nothing difficult. ​
 +They were expected, after all, and were strictly surveillance models. ​
 +I checked out NOSTRO'​s code along the way. Xoffert had written the 
 +loveliest program, but he did make the silliest of mistakes. ​ I found 
 +most of 'em pretty easily - I mean, does anyone *else* here think 
 +that the square root of four five sixty-seven is *five* point seven
 +five seven nine. I don't think so!"
 +She rolls her eyes before continuing.
 +"Now, I like a bit of icecream as much as the next lifeform, but 
 +things were pretty bad when we got there. An empty Beridian capsule ​
 +was lying against the wall and an EdAM XXIII.5 was, erm, indulging ​
 +itself in the middle of the room. No wonder Dan hadn't been moving on 
 +the GPS screen! There was icecream *everywhere* - and a heap of 
 +officials and research guys helplessly watching on.  They didn'​t ​
 +notice our arrival. Frankly, I don't blame them."
 +"It was time to find out what we were going to do next. We uploaded
 +the revised code into NOSTRO and waited with baited breath. I guess
 +we'll never know *exactly* what happened but, after a nanosecond or
 +two compiling, a new message appeared:
 +  .
 +  .
 +  .
 +  .
 +"After that the console went blank as NOSTRO imploded. Xoffert was a 
 +bit stunned - I was too. I guess nobody had really stopped to 
 +consider how NOSTRO would deal when it could see its own future ​
 +perfectly. But I still had to stop Dan.  None of the Michelian seemed ​
 +to be doing anything and it was time for me to take charge. ​ I 
 +attacked the EdAM.  It fought well and I think its squishyness was to 
 +its advantage. ​ But in the end a swift kick to the torso sent it 
 +toppling over - killing a turkey that had been inexplicably wandering ​
 +round the room (there was no chicken, obviously). I opened up the 
 +breastplate and ripped out Dan's brain. ​ Except - now that I looked ​
 +at it closely - it didn't *really* look like his brain at all. Dan'​s ​
 +brain was much slimier. The officials finally started moving - 
 +apparently I was holding the brain of the Beridian ambassador to 
 +Michelin. ​ As a matter of courtesy, he's been asked to try out the 
 +new prototype. He probably wasn't expecting this additional ​
 +"But where was Dan? The GPS said he was in the room - and we 
 +eventually found him hovering in a corner. The sneaky devil was 
 +quietly downloading top secret plans so he could build his own EdAM 
 +later on! He came along pretty quietly. ​ I guess he realised it was 
 +the most efficient thing to do... They locked us both up while 
 +negotiating our release with the Space Corp.  I guess I could'​ve ​
 +broken out pretty easily, but I felt kinda bad what had happened to 
 +the Ambassador. ​ Besides, it was Michelin - the food was *excellent*."​
 +"We got to say good bye to Xoffert before we left. He'd been demoted ​
 +after his little transgression,​ but was handling it all pretty well. 
 +Poor guy - they were going to make him work on the JIM efficiency ​
 +routines to make it up to the Beridians. He also admitted that before ​
 +we fixed the code NOSTRO had believed that, eventually, it would be 
 +off to join the Space Circus as an anti-grav trapeze artist. I guess 
 +you could see why it'd be upset to find out otherwise."​
 +Ariel smiles brightly "And that's about it really."​
 +Back to [[science fiction]] \\
 +Go back to  [[The Captain'​s View Hotel]]
roleplaying/munchausen/michelin.txt · Last modified: 2008/08/27 17:21 (external edit)