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Old 06-27-2006, 04:06 PM   #135
machievelli
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
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Current Game: Dungeonseige series
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To those that have been reading...

About three weeks ago, I discovered that we had Adult Swim on demand on our TV. Thinking I was going to watch the movie Ghost in the Shell, I discovered instead I had come into the middle of the first season of the Stand Alone Complex. The episode was #12, which I immediately dubbed 'Little Tachkoma lost'. I enjoyed their antics so much I used one as my Avatar.

If you have seen the series, you remember what happened to these little robots. It gave me the idea for what is about to occur aboard. So blame me, but blame the author of the series too. Well, just a little. After all, it wasn't his fault it happened.

Oh, A Whatever Prize to the first person who can tell me where my new signature came from...

The puzzle

The Jedi monk assigned to the communications room in the Corellian Monastery took the message sent via a Bothan message torpedo, looking at it. It was coded beyond her level, but the first line told her where it was to go. She forwarded it to Padawan Reyes and Kreil.

Only Kreil was in the monastery at the moment, and he decoded it, then added it to the sheaf of information so far recorded. When Reyes returned, they both began to correlate.

An intelligence puzzle is not unlike a jigsaw puzzle except you have no box to refer to as to what the picture might be. You have a lot of pieces that must be assembled, and worse yet, a lot of them are either from some other puzzle, or missing entirely. You may never have all the pieces.

You have to make all estimates from this lack of information, and because you might have preconceptions, you can be horribly wrong. One of the first rules taught to intelligence agents is that you do not use a preconception to prove a fact. You use facts to prove the preconception. If it does not fit the preconception, you discard the thought, not the facts. It is a lesson that is hard to learn. A lot of people can end up dead if you don’t learn the lesson.

Unlike a jigsaw puzzle however, you cannot get disgusted and just throw the damn thing away. You have to patiently wait for more facts to become available.

Bib Wanatagi had discovered a net of men within the Twi-leki government that had been party to the deception they were investigating. The worst part of that was that all of them were highly placed in the present government. Kalo Fortuna had reported less than a week earlier that he was unable to crucify his old enemy at Ryloth shipyards, but had gained enough evidence to convict seven or eight of his subordinates.

The problem was, the paper trail ended at the atmosphere. The ships had been bought by companies that did not exist beyond their logos on offices. The one lead they had was contacts with the Hutt and Coruscant.

A short time later, Padawans Yodai and Samsun arrived. Now the data had a context. Ramadora was not what would be called an inquisitive woman, and her confinement as a slave had not changed that. But her mind held data that finally filled in a great many of the blanks in the puzzle.

All they were waiting for now was Sienna and Breia to arrive.

*****

A4D9 stood at the bottom, of the ramp, contemplating his instructions. Sienna had ordered him to assure that if Breia intended a prank in return for her last one, A4 was to report it to her.

However, Breia had circumvented that instruction by assigning the prank she planned to the droid. It set up an interesting dichotomy.

It is not Breia arranging the prank, so he should not report it. But Sienna had specified that if Breia planned one, to report it. However while Breia did plan the prank the droid was to arrange it, She was not pulling it, A4 was.

If the droid had been of any series but an A4, it would have been reduced to an electronic dither. But the A4s were made of sterner stuff than that. They were designed to operate under conditions where all hell was breaking loose, and to operate efficiently regardless of circumstances. Their AIs were capable of growth and learning.

The A4 series droids were designed for shipboard use by the Corellian Navy, but was being recalled because of those quirks. The A4s downloaded everything in it’s search for knowledge and were very eclectic. There were few hundred of the series still operating.

Straight from the factory, they had default settings. This is how to replace a valve, this is how to reroute a damaged conduit. This is how to load a cannon for a snub fighter. Picture a man fresh from a military training school.

The quirk in their programming had been because of a young programmer that had decided that the droids needed to be able to decide what they needed to learn to do their jobs. Being a reader, he had specified that they would learn by searching databases.

The problem is, as the old axiom says, there are three ways to do something. The right way, the wrong way, and the ‘approved military’ way. Straight from the factory, every setting was already there to do it in the approved military manner perfectly every time.

But to become expert at their job, a human mechanic must know when to set The Book aside, and find another way to do it. If he succeeds, and his method proves more efficient, eventually it might become part of The Book.

It bothered the Navy when the A4s learned other ways and did them in the most efficient manner rather than the prescribed manner.

Sort of like a human mechanic.

A4D9 had the longest running memory of the entire series because the Jedi had allowed it free reign to do so.

It had also been put in the position of pretending to be a massive homicidal spider, downloading the entire medical database from a station and the protocols from a police combat unit.

To say it was ‘conflicted’ is like saying the sun is warm.

A crewman came by, and saw the droid standing at the foot of the ramp. “You!”

The eyes turned to look at him. A pedipalp arm moved in a ‘who me?’ gesture.

“Get over with the others.” He ordered.

Neither Breia nor any of her partners had been this abrupt with it before, and A4 was irritated. But orders were orders. The bases of the legs folded into road wheels, and it rolled across the bay. The sailor grumbled, linking the seven A4s still aboard into a series. The Navy had decided that the way to stop the problem with the A4 was to synchronize their memories. If they already had all available information on say maintenance of the ship‘s snub fighters, they wouldn’t wander off and find seven or eight thousand books (A lot of them fictional) to download and go through.

A4D9 allowed the link, and all seven droids suddenly shared the memories of that unit.

*****

Star Trader dropped out of Hyper space three planetary diameters from Corellia. Her commander notified the Navy of the mission’s success, then turned to the two Jedi that had accompanied her crew.

“Thank you for your assistance, Freya.”

The captain cocked her head. “You know, little sister, that almost sounds patronizing. As if my crew just held your coats.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.” Sienna apologized. “I meant-”

“I know you little twit.” She stood, hugging her sister, then turned to Padawan Solo. “It’s been a pleasure.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Breia replied, shaking her hand. “Be careful, and may the Force be with you.”

Freya held the hand tightly as her sister headed for the door. “Don’t hurt her too much.” She whispered.

“Why Captain, whatever do you mean?” Breia asked.

*****

As the pair of Jedi entered the landing bay, it happened. Of the seven, two had decided that Sienna needed to be warned, but other droids beside them immediately incapacitated those two traitors.

Sienna ducked as a shot of the webbing plastic the A4s used shot over her head. Unfortunately she didn’t avoid the shot at knee level. Before she could scream, she found herself hoisted headfirst toward the overhead. Another droid spun, picked up a canister of heavy lubricating oil, feeding it into a dispenser leg. Another to that one’s right did the same with a canister of fire-fighting foam. A third had done the same with emergency sealant for hull breeches. The last had picked up a packing case full of packing materials, merely small soft pieces of plastic. It fired two threads, and hoisted itself toward the overhead after her.

The legs of the three droids rose, then discharged. Due to the differences in their specific gravities, the firefighting foam shot out and arrived first, followed by the hull sealant, followed by the oil. As target, Sienna was buffeted one way then another by the blasts but she wasn’t the only one effected. After all, when used in proper operations, the oil should have been dispensed at a millimeter’s distance. The sealant at less than a meter, and the fire fighting foam at a safe distance from the fire. Once the canisters had drained, the droid that had rappelled up dumped the case of foam pieces over the struggling person. Four seconds later, it’s bearings seized as the sealant hardened on contact with air.

Except for the screaming from overhead, there was only one sound in the bay when the canisters had drained. That was the chuckling of five robots.

Breia looked at the mess, and the furious ratings spattered with one or more fluids. She looked upward. The oil had in fact atomized, and was probably gumming up the air circulation system even now.

“I think we had better let her down.” She said.

“BREIA!!!”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 06-27-2006 at 04:18 PM. Reason: typo
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