Chapter 2:AIs, Robots, and Short Circuits A ship zipped at high speeds through space. It finially came to a stop, the engines not showing any signs of ware. Tom: "These things kick ass." A picture of the new Talon ST engines came up infront of him. Sara: "A man and his car..." Sara sighed. "Yeah, something like that." Tom laughed, "It's great to have the ship moving fast again." "As nice as it is to see you happy, I've detected something nearby." a picture came up on her screen, "Not sure what it is." "Let's go check it out." The Absolution headed to the coordinates Sara had picked up. It arrived near an old looking metal ship that had obviously never moved on it's own. Tom walked over to a window on the side of the Absolution, the object casting a shadow over it. "What is that thing?" Tom asked. "I think it's an old supply bass left over from a war." Sara said. Tom moved for the elevator, "I'm gonna' go take a look around." "Tom, please be careful. We don't know if anything's living there." "You worry too much." "Remember what happened last time you said that?" Tom stopped in his tracks for a minute, "....Don't remind me."
Tom left the Port side dock and jetted over to the supply bass. Sara's voice: "Tom, I'm sending a Clyde-50 with you." A large clyde jetted out after him. Both arrived on what was left of the bass' docking station. Tom looked around. In waring away paint, on the high wall was the tittle M02. Tom: "M02? This place has been missing for awhile." The clyde-50 darted ahead, checking for any signs of life. "Why bother looking?" Tom asked, "There's no air in here for anything to be alive." "That doesn't rule out defense robots or AI systems like ourselves." Sara said to him from the Absolution bridge. The hallways were pitch black, good thing Tom's upgrade had enabled night vision.
Deeper into M02, it was apparent that the supply station had been vacant for along time. Parts of the ship were cracking apart. Atleast with zero gravity, Tom didn't need to worry about anything falling on him. The Clyde zoomed ahead, shining light here and there, and beeping randomly. Tom sighed and shook his head, Tom: "Okay, nothing here." he summed. A metal pipe then clanked behind him, hitting a wall. Sara: "What was that?" "This place is falling apart." "Something had to have caused it to move." she insisted. "Okay, I'll check it out." Tom turned and walked down the hall. He grabbed the flouting pipe from it's now non-moving position in space. He looked at it for a second then turned down the hall, that's when Sara lost all communication with him and the Clyde.
The light on Tom's shoulder flickered back on, visual was still blinking in and out. Child: "Thomas? Thomas are you awake?" Tom: "Huh? What?" The whole picture came in. There was a small, childish looking robot staring down at him. She was a light purple with two almond shaped visor eyes. "Good," she laughed, "you're awake." Tom rubbed his head, "Sara?" he asked but there was no responce, "What's going on?" Tom sat up, "And what did you do to my clyde?!" The Clyde-50 was in pieces on the floor. "It tried to hurt me," she said inosently, "My brother had to destroy it." "Your... brother..?" "Mmm-hmm. Come on, I'll show you." She grabbed Tom's hand as he stood up and pulled him down a hall. "Okay, where are we going?" "You'll see. You can meet everybody." "Everybody?" She stopped at a door that scanned her eyes before opening. It opened onto a platform overlooking a large room. "Whoa..." The room was filled with old equipment and 20 to 30 other robots. Bot: "Yo, sis." A bigger silver robot walked up, "I see that outsider woke up." Girl: "Yup! This is Thomas! Isn't he cute?" Tom: "It's just 'Tom'. And how'd you know my name?" he finially asked. Bot: "We scanned your memory banks after overriding your systems and knocking you out." "Oh, thanks..." Tom said sarcasticly, "What about Sara and the Absolution?" "You mean your ship and that AI comp.? We had to cut any communication with them. Can't have them finding you." "Why? What are you guys doing here?" "M02 used to be a supply base. Some of those supplies were made here. We were the worker bots that made them." "But that was years ago. Why are you still here?" "No one cared about a bunch of robots," the silver bot knocked on his own head, "no real feelings." His little sister went and stood beside him. Girl: "So we take care of ourselves. My brother and some of the others learned to upgrade our systems, so we have afew emotions." Tom: "Wouldn't you want people to find you?" Bot: "We don't really wanna' leave. There's no place for us to go. We're happy here. Besides, we're still technically owned by our creater; Starpower." "Starpower? Wait a minute, that's who I work for." "Work for? Ha! You mean owned by!" "Hey, pal, I'm not just a robot! I'm and AI!" That got the other bots on the lower level to spin. "Yes, I know," the robot responded, "When we were sent here, we didn't even know what that was. You're staying here untill we figuer out how to give ourselves the same program." He was quite serious. "Wait, hold on a minute..." Tom backed off. Girl: "We're sorry..." she almost whispered. A group of large robots ran up and grabbed Tom from behind. "Hey! Let me go!"
The robots threw Tom into a room, slamming the door. Tom: "I don't believe this..." He walked up the small window, it was just afew inches above his head. "Great. Upgrades and I'm still too short..." A voice crackled inside Tom's head, if he hadn't heard it so many times before it would have been unreconizable. Sara: "Tom? Are... are you there?" "Sara? I can barely hear you." "The... the block..... was a pow... powerful program." "Enough to knock me out. Where am I?" "St.. still on M0... 2." "Where's the ship? Sara?" The line cut then died. "Wonderful." Girl: "Are you alright, Tomas?" "Huh?" Outside the door, the little robot jumped up and held onto the window frame. "Are you alright?" she asked agian. "In a matter of speaking. Look, if you guys did anything to my ship..." "It's fine. Just not here. We had to block off it's power supply, except for the main computer. We can't have it near us, should another Starpower ship be able to trace it." "And I don't suppose you're here to let me go?" "Sorry... I can't... my brother would be mad." Tom sighed and leaned up agianst the door. "So, do you have a name or something?" "E126K5." she recited. "Nice name. How 'bout I just call you Kay." "Okay!" Tom heard her drop back to the floor. "But I'm sorry I can't let you out." she said. "I'll think of... whoa!" There was a loud clank of metal as the door fell off it's hinges and into the hallway, Tom following! "What the? This place really is falling apart." he glanced at the door's hindges, they where way past their prime and covered with rust. Kay just stared, her hands folded behind her back. "Uh, you never saw this, okay?" "Right!" she saluted with the wrong hand, "And I never said this. There's an experimental ship in the hanger, 6 levels down. My brother was trying to finish it." "Can it fly?" "I think so." "Thanks." Tom waved and ran down the hall.
There were no working elevators in M02 any longer. Many sections didn't have power at all. Tom jumped down a hole where stairs used to be, the sound of clanking metal reverberating through the empty hallway. Tom: "Figures they couldn't have a map." He turned a corner, finially finding the hanger. There were only a few other small ships there. Even the center one was only meant for short term space travel. "Hope this thing works." A laser suddenly fired just over Tom's head, singeing the ship's side! Tom spun, a group of robots were standing at the door across the hanger. "Oh boy..." He backed up afew steps then dashed for the ship's entance. "I am gonna' die..." He muttered as the ship's door closed behind him, lasers firing at him like mad. The cockpit was small, a two seater and basic operations. "Just fly." Tom pressed some of the consoles buttons, the engin starting up. A laser hit the ships main window only to bounce off, it wasn't strong enough to injure the ship. It rose off the dock floor just as several other engines fired up from the dock. The image of the hanger came on screen. The other ships were being piloted by the robots after Tom! "I bet those ship's lasers can hurt this one. Now how do I make this ancient thing go?" Kay: "It's that button, Tom-san!" The robot jumped up and grabbed the top of the chair. "Kay? What are you..?" "You looked like you'd need help getting out of here." She walked to the console and pressed several buttons in rapid succession. The ship shot out of the hanger, the others following, matching speed. "Where'd they take the Absolution?" "To here." She typed in space cooridinates, a picture of the Absolution appearing on screen. "That's right near a star!" Tom jumped. "I guess they hoped the star's gravity would pull it in." she said. He just stared at the screen, "This is not good..."
Sara: "Oh, this is not good." Sara searched the computer hard drive, franticly trying to regain control of the ship. "Come on... come on..." Buttons pushed themselves, lights on the control panels flashing, afew clydes on lower levels transmitting abort codes for the system block. Nothing was working. Tom's voice: "Sara, you there?" "Tom?" "None other. We got problems." "So I've noticed." The sound of an explotion came over the link. "Tom? What's going on?" "Oh, nothing much. We just got in a little fight with the natives." "We?" Sara's face came up on screen after afew seconds of static. Kay: "Hi-ya, Miss Sara lady!" The small pinkish purple robot jumped up infront of the screen. Tom: "Sara, meet Kay. She's one of the robots from M02." Sara: "Tom, just what has been going on?" "Well, the long and short version is; M02 belonged to Starpower, they ditched all the robot workers, now they kinda' what me so they can copy my AI program." Kay: "And now they're really mad at Tom-san, and I don't know why." Sara: "They're probably mad you stole their ship." Tom: "We're gonna' return it." another shot hit the outside of the ship, nearly throwing Tom onto the floor, "Um... Probably," he looked at Kay, "Doesn't this ship have any weapons?" Kay: "You're not gonna' shoot at my brother!" she said. "Well your brother doesn't mind shooting at us." "It's not his fault! He's just stubborn! How would you feel if you only had a minor set of emotions?! And then you come along, with all the programing he could ever need, and you run! Just 'cause he's gonna' kill you to get what he wants!" "Whoa, calm down." Sara: "Try to understand that your brother is slightly obsessed with getting what he wants." "I'll say. Kay, how about we get my ship out of trouble and then have a talk with your brother?" Kay sat down, muttering an alright. "Now let's get out of here." Tom turned on the small ship's extra engine, a bright blue flame causing the ship to spring out ahead of the others.
The Absolution was only afew minutes off, already in view. Lasers were being fired from the other ships, Tom having a hell of a time keeping them from hitting. Kay: "Wow... Tom, your ship is beautiful..." Tom: "Thanks but you can praise it later." "I've never seen a ship like that..." He couldn't help feeling sorry for her. The ship rounded the Absolution, going to the Starboard side. Tom and Kay got to the port, Tom activating the closet computer screen. "Sara, we're on board. What's the problem?" Sara: "No system's are responding. At this rate the whole ship will be pulled into the star." "Why isn't it hot in here then?" "We're not close enough to it, but without power the star's gravity will eventually take the ship. Once that happens we wont be able to get out of the pull." "Great. In other words, we have to restore power now." None of the codes Tom entered into the computer would override the blocking program. "Sara, how'd you get through to me on M02?" "The communications link is a separte program. There was a weaker block on that." "Why not just do the same thing?" "There is an additional million or so codes differance. You'll have more luck up on the bridge. Come on." "I'm coming." Kay: "Cool, let's go to the bridge." "Sorry, Kay. You can't go up there." "What? Why not?" she asked, disappointed. "Hey, you're good with computers," Tom said, "Try to contact your brother and convince him to give us power back, okay?" "Okay!" she jumped at the computer screen and started to establish contact with the ships outside. Tom raced to the elevator, heading strait to the bridge. Sara showed up on screen the second he sat down. "This is nuts..." Tom said, tapping at the keys. Sara: "Tom, the ships outside have stopped." "Why? Not like it's a bad thing." "They probably just don't want to get any closer to the star." "Makes sence. I can't get any of the defence systems up anyway." A small picture of Kay blinked on in the corner. Kay: "I got through!" she said happily. A link to Kay's older brother opened on screen. 'Bot: "Just 'cause you got back to your ship don't mean we aren't coming after you, Tom. You don't get it..." Tom: "What's there to get? You're trying to kill me." he said blanky. "To help all of us. We want an AI system like yours. It's been tiresom looking for emotions that we don't have." Sara: "There are other ways of doing that outside of killing Tom." "Look, lady. I don't need this. Do you know what my original function was? Security robot. After all those years with no one on M02, I got alot of fight worked up." The screen blanked, something hitting the Absolution's side. Sara: "They've opened fire!" she reported. Tom: "This guy's got a couple hundred bolts loose. Can we get the system's back up yet?" "No. Kay's working on it now."
Kay fell to the floor as a laser hit the ship. Kay: "What's he doing?!" Kay asked getting up, "Don't he know that his sister's on here, sheesh." She got back on the comp., nothing was working. "I've seen him program hundreds of thing but nothing like this. Tom's just an AI." Tom: "Thanks alot." A link from the bridge came into the screen's upper corner. "Sorry." Kay said, "I've managed only to get through the first part of the block. I never knew he was so determined." Another shot hit the Absolution, followed by more from the other ships. "What's going on out there?!" Kay asked agian. "Your brother is trying to destroy the ship and we can't get the defence system online." "He always was so darn stubborn!" she said, "I got it!"
Outside a shield jumped and swept over the Absolution. The lasers were absorbed in the shield, causing it to ripple green. 'Bot: "What the?!" Kay's brother slammed a communications button. "What the hell happened?! I thought we cut there power! How'd they get the shield back up?! No way they could have figured it out!" Robot: "I know, uh, sir." "Their engines are still disabled, right?" "Afirmative," the robot nodded. "Than the star will still pull them in..."
Tom: "Sara, can we get the engines working?" Tom and Kay ran down a hall heading towards the engines main control room. Sara: "No, not without power. Right now the shield's all that's working." "First time we've actually had to use it. Kay, you're brother's nuts." Kay: "Yeah, I know." she said as if she'd heard it before. "Doesn't he know you're on here?" Tom asked. "Uh, well, no. I don't think so." "Great..." In the control room, which was huge and held the engines conjunction controls, Tom opened a voice link to the ships outside. "Hey, you guys still listening out there?" 'Bot: "Yeah, what do you want?" Kay: "Yo! Bro., you gotta' give us power back!" "What the?! Sis?! What the hell are you doing there?!" "Making sure you don't destroy this great ship or Tom!" she yelled. Tom shook his head, Kay was so sickenly sweet. "You're an idiot! Get back to M02!" Tom: "Hey, leave Kay alone." "'Kay'? Fine. If she wants to hang around with you she can, but she'll get herself killed. Unlike you she doesn't have a back up body, not like it'll help you now." The line went dead. Kay: "Let's get those engines working then." It was suprising that Kay didn't seem to care that her only family didn't care about her. But she was a robot and not capable of those emotions anyway. Sara: "We're getting too close to the star," she told them from up on the bridge, "If we don't get power back now..." Tom: "We're workin' on it." Tom cut her off. Him and Kay worked at two different computers, trying anything to get rid of the robots block on the engines power. "This is never going to work." Tom said, looking up at the Talon S.T.'s controls. Kay: "Wait I got an idea!" "Good thing someone does." "What if we reroute the energy from the shield to the engines? Will that work?" Sara: "It might, but we'll be without a shield if the ships start to fire agian." Tom: "We'll have to risk it. It's out only chance." With the Absoultion vearing closer to the burning star it was a race agianst the clock now, forget the robots outside. Kay: "Okay, this should work," she flipped a switch on the control panel, the engines sparked but nothing happened, power returning to the shield, "In theory." she said. Tom: "Something's wrong here." he looked over all the connections they'd patched together in less than 10 minutes. "Tom, it's getting hot in here." "Maybe it's that star right outside our front door..." he mummbled, "Oh yeah, here it is," he grabbed a plug off the floor, "When I say so flip that level agian." "Right." Kay nodded. Tom jumped up and plugged the wire into a hole on the above platform. "Hit it!" "Please work!" Kay pushed the switch down.
The shield fell away from the Absolution, surprising the robots who were still watching. The engines were silent untill a blue light flashed on and they roared to life. 'Bot: "They rerouted the power! Take that ship out!" he ordered, now just wanting this annoyance dead and gone. They opened fire, each shot hitting the ship!
Tom: "Sara, turn us around and get us out of here!" he ordered from the lower level deck. The ship turned, still under fire as the engines flamed and blasted by the smaller crafts. The others didn't follow, they weren't fast enough. Tom sighed, thankful all that was over with. Kay: "So, Thomas, where are we going?" she asked. Tom looked down at her as they walked through the corridor, "Now what am I going to do with you?" "You need a co-captain?" "What do you think this is, hockey?" "Well I could do lots of stuff like..."