Chapter 6- I Don’t Want to be Fried

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Here’s what happened in my last post- Chapter 5, I Think My Heart is Stopped Mr. P fixes Curly’s arm but, as he is about to update a communication circuit, Maria bursts through the door and yells for him to stop.

Now, on with the story!

I’m Electric and I Don’t Want to be Fried

Curly and Mr. P entered the first section of the clean room together. Mr. P closed the door behind them then moved to a small control panel. He said to Curly, “The easiest way to get the dust off of us is to use air, so when I press this red button, air will shoot out of the nozzles mounted on the walls blowing away any loose dust and dirt. Make sure you stand on the mark on the floor, raise your arms and turn around so it can get all the dust.”

Curly moved onto the mark, raised his arms, and slowly started to turn around. “Ready, Mr. P”

Mr. P pushed the button allowing a stream of air to spray across Curly.  A huge cloud of dust immediately formed due to the amount of dirt hidden in Curly’s various joints and crevices. He had to reach blindly for the shut off button and, with nowhere else to go, they were forced to wait there until everything settled. The two of them ended up looking as if they had just been run over by a huge desert dust storm!

Curly seemed to be unphased by the whole thing. “Wow, did all that come from me?”

Through bouts of coughing, Mr. P was barely able to say, “Yes. Yes, it did.”

“But now all that dust that in me now on the outside of me (he pointed at Mr. P) and you. How are you going to fix that?”

A little embarrassed that he had forgotten, Mr. P pushed another button turning on an overhead exhaust fan.

Curly looked up at it. “Maybe you should have thought of that first, Mr. P.”

He smiled and said, “I agree Curly, but when you get to be my age, we’ll see how much you remember besides, I’ve never seen so much dust come off of one bot. You’ve got to be at least ten pounds lighter. I’m going to have to start the whole process over again. Remember what to do?”

“I’m like elephant, Mr. P; my AI never forget.” Curly raised his arms again and slowly spun around. “Ready again!”

Mr. P pushed the air button and this time, the dust was sucked up into the exhaust. As soon as Curly was clean, he yelled to him move over so he could take his place. This time they were both squeaky clean, so he reached over and shut off the air then the exhaust. “That’s better! Okay, Curly, now we can head into the next room, just push open that latch and go-ahead in.”

They entered a large room with a very tall ceiling. In the center of the room a circular section was enclosed in metal framework and wrapped in reinforced netting. In the middle of the enclosure Scout sat motionless on top of a large table. He was about the size of four large microwave ovens stacked two wide, two deep and two high. Curly went up to the netting and rested his hands on it. He peered inside and said, “Wow, he much bigger than Moe.”

Mr. P came up behind him. “I’ve heard from Qbit that you and he were close and that you two went on a lot of adventures.”

“Moe not just my friend but a friend of Mari and Lou. We would all go cave exploring and Moe would be the first to enter. He could go way into the cave then send pictures to Mari laptop. That way we knew where to go.” Curly moved along the netting until he could see Scout’s right side. “Mari mom made him. He a, um.” He spun around and asked Mr. P. “What the word? Mean first one.”

“Prototype?”

“Yep, prototype. He very good at what he did. He and me best friends cause we were alike. Both bots.”

“What happened to him?”

“He destroyed in cave in. Moe deep in cave when earthquake happened. He felt pressure change before us so he send warning. He also able to locate an exit so we could get out. He never made it though.” Curly continued to walk around Scout as if he were in deep thought. “Mari mom said he a hero. He saved all of us.”

“I’m sorry you lost such a good friend.”

“Me too.” He looked up at the ceiling and said, almost to himself but loud enough for Mr. P to hear, “That a long way up.” He looked back at Mr. P and continued telling him about Moe. “Later, when it was safe, we went back in and found him crushed under a rock. I was able to bring out a couple of pieces of him. I have them at home.” Curly paused then asked, “Why is Scout in there alone?”

Mr. P moved over to a metal table setup outside of the netting and sat down behind a large console with a screen mounted in the center. To either side of the screen were rows of buttons and one switch. A keyboard lay on the table in front of the screen. He flipped the switch, and the console came to life; lights positioned next to each switch glowed either red or green, a little dot in the center of the screen glowed then expanded to fill the entire space with an eerie green glow. Various images appeared as the CPU booted up then were eventually replaced by a single green blinking cursor when it finished loading.  

He turned to Curly and said, “I think it’s important you know a couple of things about Scout before we get started.”

Curly let go of the net with one hand and turned to face him. “Okay.”

“He was a security bot inside the Dome. You know what the Dome is, right?”

“That the place where Kukulkan is. I’ve never been there but I know that the Keepers mission, if they choose to except it, is to go in and get him out of it.”

“That’s right. Come on over here and I’ll show you what it looks like.”

Without taking his eyes off of Scout, Curly came over and stood next to him. Mr. P tapped some buttons bringing up a schematic of the dome. It rotated three hundred and sixty degrees then switched to a view which looked directly down on it from above. The image then zoomed out so that it was centered in a topographical map of the surrounding area. “Scout’s job was to make sure no one got into the dome without permission.

Curly stood up and asked, “If Scout was on the inside and looking for intruders then that mean he’s bad, right?”

“Well, he did work for Chad, but he was only doing what he was programmed to do so I don’t think that necessarily makes him bad.”

“But what about now? He still run the same programs?”

“No, we decided to reprogram him so that he would work for us.”

Curly leaned in and asked with a serious tone to his voice, “He work for us? Did you ask him if he wanted to? Maybe he doesn’t

Mr. P wasn’t quite sure why Curly suddenly seemed so upset. “What do you mean?”

Curly crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Up to robot AI to make choice to help. Their choice. I made choice to be with Mari and Lou. I work with them not for them.”

Surprised at how adamant Curly was being, he sat back in his chair. “I’m glad you feel that way Curly because that’s exactly why I wanted you to meet Scout. We need you to explain to him that he has that option.”

“Me explain to him? Why me and not Mari (he pointed at Mr. P) or even you? He refolded his arms. “I think that a better choice.”

“I disagree Curly. I think because you’re a bot like him, he’ll be more likely to help us.”

Curly paused for a second then said, “You use me to get Scout to work for you?”

Mr. P was surprised to hear him say that. He put his hands out in front of him and said, “No, no, no Curly, it’s not like that, you can both make your own choice.”

Curly suddenly dropped his arm and replied, “I know that Mr. P, I was just testing you. You pass.”

Mr. P raised his eyebrows in surprise. He wondered if that was his AI’s attempt at humor or was it being completely serious? “You certainly can be full of surprises Curly. How about I explain what the mission is first, then you can decide if you want to continue.”

Curly stepped up to the table and grabbed the edges. “Oh, I like that word, mission. It make it sound very important and dangerous!”

“Well, it is important, but let’s hope it doesn’t become too dangerous, we don’t want either of you hurt. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t run into too much trouble.”

Curly’s shoulders dropped as he said, disappointedly, “Darn.” But he immediately perked back up and asked. “So, what do we have to do?”

“You’ll need to confirm Kukulkan’s location. We know he’s in the Dome, but where exactly we don’t know. Scout would have known but some of his memory has been damaged so the only way he can find him now is to use his cameras and heat sensors to try to pinpoint his position.”

“What my job on this important but not too dangerous mission?”

“Scout’s batteries were also damaged so now he has only about a half hour of available charge before he goes into a sleep mode. He’s going to need to be up for a much longer time than that so we’re going to need you to be his external power supply.”

“Really! I do that same thing for Moe! He needed me to re-charge after going into a mine shaft. That why I had special bracket and wiring on my back!”

“Mari told me about that so there’s another reason why I think you’d be perfect for this job plus you still have some of that circuitry in you so it will make it easier for you to wear this.” He bent down to reach under the table and pulled out a rectangular shaped metal box.

Curly raised himself up on the hinged portion at the tip of his feet. “Wow, is that a jetpack?”

“Ha, no, I’m afraid not. It’s a biopholtaic power pack. The power stored in here is from the electrons captured during the natural process algae goes through during photosynthesis.” He rested the pack on the table. “This will let Scout fly for a much longer time. You’ll wear it and when he’s running low you can connect it to him using this tether.” From the side of the unit, he pulled out a metal clasp attached to an insulated cord.

Süchō told us that how some of the school is powered. She showed us the algae tanks.” Curly took the cord and looked it over. “It like an extension cord and I’ll be the outlet!”

Mr. P laughed. “Yes, exactly Curly, it’s just like an extension cord.”

Is it very long?”

“There’s about fifty feet of cord on the reel.”

“That a lot.” He looked at it more closely. “Can I talk to him through it? Because fifty feet is pretty high up so he may not hear me, and I don’t want to yell if we have to be quiet.”

“Good thinking but you’re already set to talk to him. Remember when I opened that compartment in the back of your head? Well, I did that so I could upgrade your communications circuit.”

Yes, I remember. I heard you tell Mari that the new circuit allow me to talk to animals.”

“Yes, and Scout has one too so you two can talk to each other without having to be physically connected.”

“I understand. So far, I like this mission.” He released the cable and watched as it slowly wound itself back into the pack.

Mr. P stood up. “Go ahead and turn around so we can see how well it fits.” Mr. P placed the pack on Curly’s back, lining up the tabs with the slots that previously held Moe’s charging station. He gave it a slight push to make sure the electrical connections were solid. “There, that should do it. Go ahead and move around a little Curly to make sure it doesn’t get in the way of anything.”

Curly spun his body around and rotated his arms. “Feels good Mr. P, light like feather.”

“Good. Now that you understand the reason you’re here and we know the pack fits, why don’t we go meet Scout?”

“Finally!” Curly leapt away from the table and ran back to the netting. He pushed it back and forth trying to find an opening. “How you get in there!”

Mr. P moved to a spot on the other side of the table. “The doors over here.” He pulled it open and stepped aside.

Curly ran through the door and directly to the table. He looked Scout over then asked, “Moe had a switch to turn him on and off. Same thing with Scout?”

“Yes, but I can also do that from here. First, why don’t you go ahead and try attaching the power pack cable, it’ll give you some practice.”

Curly reached around to the side of the pack and pulled out some of the cable. “Where do I connect it?”

“Look on the right-hand side of Scout’s frame, there’s a port marked auxiliary power supply.”

Curly moved around Scout searching his black carbon fiber frame as he went. “Oh, now I see it.” He connected the cable and moved back around to the front. The cable hung slack from his right side. “Now what?”

“Hold on a second while I run his start up program.” He went back to the console and hit a couple of keys then paused with his finger above the enter key. “As soon as I hit the enter key there should be power to his system, so he’ll be able to run his own files. You ready?”

 Curly wasn’t exactly sure what would happen, but he shouted “Ready!” anyway.

Mr. P pressed enter, a light next to a small LCD screen mounted in Scout’s frame turned red then green. His rotors each turned slightly then stopped. There was a long pause while nothing else happened.”

Curly leaned in toward Scout. “He not going.” He turned to Mr. P and asked, “Are you sure he’s working Mr…”

Suddenly Scout’s rotors spun at full speed. He leapt up into the air and stopped just above and in front of Curly then rotated so that he ended up pointing menacingly down at Curly. Curly backed up to the netting, the cable unwound as he walked back.

Scout shot up; the cable hissed as it was rapidly pulled off the reel. It was too fast for the mechanism causing it to jam, stopping the reel from unwinding which caused Curly to be yanked forward. Thinking quickly, he grabbed hold of the netting with one hand and the cable with the other. He tried pulling back but Scout countered the extra tension by increasing the speed of his rotors. The wire netting started to stretch under the tremendous force. Curly yelled, “MR. P, WHAT HAPPENING!”

Mr. P furiously hit several keys. “I’m not sure! HOLD ON!”

Mr. P and Curly both noticed a set of compartment doors flip open from the underside of Scout’s frame. The words initiating defense protocol one! filled the room.

“Mr. P!  He opened both outer door!”

Out of each compartment extended a cylinder lined with holes. The cylinders started to spin.

“Mr. P, he telling me that he loading mini torpedo! MR.P!”

 “It’s okay Curly, you’re perfectly safe! He doesn’t have any weapons on him, I’ve removed them all!”

“Then why he telling me he re-loading!”

Mr. P yelled over sound of rotors, “He doesn’t know that there’s nothing there. He must be running a subset of commands that I didn’t see before.” He noticed a thin black cord laying on the table. “Curly, there’s a black cable on the table! I need you to insert it into one of the ports on the front of your chest!”

Curly could feel his fingers starting to slip from the netting. “What will that do!”

“I’ll be able to connect to your communication circuit and use that to disable Scout!”

“That mean I have to let go of cable to reach it! I don’t want to do that!”

“It’s the only way Curly! You’ll have to, it’s the only way to reach the cord!”

“Ohhh, I don’t like it!”

“You can do it!”

“Okay, I try!” Curly slowly undid his fingers, letting go of the cable. It snapped taught but didn’t pull him any further. He tried reaching for the wire, but it still inches from the tips of his fingers. “I can’t reach it!”

Mr. P went to the net and yelled, “You’ll have to let go of the netting and let Scout drag you forward until you get to the table!”

“Are you crazy? I don’t want to let go!”

“It’s the only way to reach it. We need you to get that cord attached so I can stop Scout from pulling your arm off!”

“I don’t want it off, I like it on!” Curly looked back at his hand then slowly started to release his fingers from the netting. Scout kept up the tension by backing up even further. Curly looked at the table then down to his feet and tried to position them so that he would get dragged toward the table. “Okay, I’m going to let go! Here I go!” Curly let go and was almost pulled from his feet as Scout shot backwards. Curly regained his footing but found that he was being dragged away from the table. He quickly spun his right side toward Scout giving him a second of slack in the line so that he was able to bend forward and grab the table.

“You’re doing great Curly, now grab the cord with your other hand!”

Scout climbed lifting Curly off the floor.

Using all his might, Curly slowly pulled himself forward. He reached with his free hand and was finally able to grab the cord.

“Good job! Now plug it into one of your chest ports!”

Curly pulled it towards his chest, but it stopped just inches from the port. He yanked on it a couple of times, but it still wouldn’t reach. “It not long enough! I need more!”

Mr. P followed the cord from Curly’s hand through the netting and down to the floor and saw that it was wrapped around the leg of the table.

“I see the problem. It’s wrapped around the table leg. “I’m going to have to unplug it from the console and unwrap…”

Curly suddenly yelled. “Now he tell me he going to charge an EMP device!”

A high-pitched tone filled the room, loud enough to be heard over the noise of Scout’s rotors.

Mr. P said to himself, An EMP, I didn’t know he had that ability! How come I didn’t know he had that ability!

Curly yelled, “What an EMP device!”

“It’s an Electromagnetic pulse!”

“That not a good thing, right?”

The tone got higher and higher in pitch.

“No, it isn’t!  It will fry everything electrical in this room. The only way to stop him is to connect that wire so I can disable him! Hold on, I’m going to unwrap it!”

“Hurry Mr. P, I’m electric and I don’t want to be fried!”

Mr. P quickly unplugged the cord from the console then dropped to his knees to pull it under the table. He got one loop undone when the entire cord was suddenly pulled from his hand and through the netting. He jumped up, hitting his head on the edge of the table. The tone was so high now that it hurt his ears. He looked into the enclosure only to see Curly being pulled away from him. He reached through the netting towards him. “Curly!” Suddenly the tone stopped. He shut his eyes expecting to feel a wave of energy pass through him, but nothing happened. He waited a couple of seconds more, but still nothing. He slowly opened his eyes and to his surprise, Scout was slowly descending to the floor. Curly was standing in front of him as he landed. He casually walked over to him and released the power pack cable from the connector on Scout’s fuselage.

Stunned by what he saw, Mr. P asked“Curly, what happened, are you alright?”

“Yes, Mr. P, I’m fine. I stopped Scout from doing EMP.”

“What? How did you do that? The wire wasn’t connected, and you don’t have communication through the cable.”

Curly fiddled with the cable until it rewound back into the pack. “I remember our talk about electricity and resistance. Resistance has to do with restricting flow of electricity, right?”

“Yes, but what does…”

“I also remember that I give him electricity from my pack, so I resisted the flow enough, so he didn’t have enough power to use EMP. Then I slowly drain electricity from his battery so he can no longer fly.” He went over to the netting in front of Mr. P and rested both hands on it. “No problem, I figure it out.”

Mr. P slumped into the chair. “That was brilliant Curly, absolutely brilliant.”

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