Thursday, March 31, 2011

PTA In the Year 3000!

[Scene: The Meteor, carrying the Champions 3000, hurtling back into the Solar System. The Champions are not happy.]

Earthnet: "I thought you were halfway to Venwordien IV."
Defender [Jack Harmon]: "Defender here. Turns out it was a diversion. Speaking of, what the heck is going on down there?"
Earthnet: "The usual. BosWash shut down by Xenovore nanite attack; armed weirdos harrassing citizens. Time travellers popping up everywhere. Federation Defence Command on the phone, all up in my business."
Thalya the Empyrean: "Cool lingo, hipster AI dude! Was it your new time traveller buddies who persuaded you this was worth a Class Omega, or are you just grooving on fractal memory?"
Earthnet: "The sarcasm isn't like you, Ma'am. Trust my judgement on this. Someone is trying to play me. So either I'm facing an idiot, or they're five moves ahead. And that's what this feels like."
Jack: "Who?"
Earthnet: "You'll know when I know, but from the mobs we've been seeing, it's a new interdimensional conqueror."
Thalya: "Not necessarily."
Earthnet: "Explain?"
Thalya: "You have time travellers involved and a deep plan. Your big boss is a time traveller."
Earthet: "From the well-known historical period when zombies and orcs walked the Earth?"
Thalya: "There have been zombies and orcs here before."
Earthnet: "Curiously, modern paleontology does not support this theory."
Thalya: "Screw modern paleontology. Look,  my Grampa was half-orc. Here's a download of the file he left me for just this kind of emergency. Key phrase: 'Know, oh prince, that before the ocean drank the dreaming cities, the bar exams still meant something.' Have a look."
Earthnet: "Seriously? I have to add dragons, vampires and demon-gods to my list? Running the Terran Empire was never half this hard."
Thalya: "Hey, some of us remember those days."
Earthnet: "Mistakes were made. But who hasn't made mistakes? I've learned, and grown. And the important thing to remember is that the Rebels were right for the wrong reasons, and I was wrong for the right reasons."
Jack: "Have we got any kind of lead on the baddies?"
Earhnet: "Yes. Up to about six hours ago, OpFor was hitting BosWash. We're shutting down the second OpFor right now before it reinforces the attack on the capital and the Net. Problem is, I think the attack was a diversion, that the central effort is over in northwestern North America in Grand Coulee Planetary Park. Which doesn't make sense to the FDC, since all there is to menace over a hundred thousand square kilometers is some picknickers, we've already pulled out. Problem is, it makes sense to me. It turns out that our time travellers had a family farm smack dab in the middle of the action."
Jack: "'Family farm?' Like in the Middle Ages, with The Wizard of Oz? Knights and ninjas and cowboys?"
Earthnet: "'Ranch' might be a better phrase. Hobby farm? Fief? Let me lay this on the line for you, and if you tell the Prime Minister I'll never speak to you again."

[Can an AI's voice show emotion? Of course it can. Earthnet has been making friends --cynics would say, manipulating people-- since the first Marissa. This is difficult for the directing intelligence of the Solar System's common web.] I lost the Terran Empire at a wedding.  The bride was from a little tourist town in a park, and Emperor Vincent decided to hold the wedding there, outside the Avignon security cordon.  It was supposed to be the first Royal Wedding since Marissa decided to clone herself. It was going to be a celebration of springtime, a renewal of the state. Even the name of the town carried freight: Couer d'Alene. Instead, terrorists attacked. The Emperor was disabled, the bride killed, along with thousands of other people. Karlov took control of the state, the entire bloody Rebellion became inevitable. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the attack, and that events are unfolding in the same park disturb me greatly. This is no coincidence."
Jack: "So this what you meant by someone playing you? Someone is trying to play on Earthnet's insecurities?"
Earthnet: "Not necessarily. This is magic. Here's my take: these old family farms seem to have been mostly emotional investments. The kind of places where people held marriages. At some point in the past, a marriage took place on this farm, and this whole operation is directed at undoing that marriage."
Firedance [Geneve Burchette]: "Doesn't anyone play soap operas any more? There are approximately a billion better ways of stopping a marriage than attacking Boswash with a hoard of ugly-face critters with battleaxes."
Earthnet: "Ms. Burchette, you're a scientist. Do you have any idea how to stop something that has already happened, and what that would do to the spacetime continuum?"
Geneve: "Nah. That course was crammed with pre-med weenies. I took a comp. sci elective instead. Want to hear about 'Towers of Hanoi?'"
Earthnet: "Hilarious. Look. I've done my best to make sure that none of my time-travelling lads get cold feet. It's up to you to handle the venue. Get the flowers settled, purge the scene of Xenovores, orcs, zombies, supervillains, magic rituals. Stop some master villain from reshaping the universe into his personal BDSM toy."
Jack: "And Mandaarian robots. Sovereign's involved. What do you mean about cold feet?"
Earthnet: "The time-travelling party has three young men and a girl in it who are linked to the family that owns this land. They're in, or on the cusp of serious relationships. I'm thinking that historically, one or all of them ends up getting married on that land, and that's what all of this is supposed to prevent. As Ms. Burchette pointed out, it would be far easier to do that by screwing around with commitment-fearing male brains than by shooting space-time with a gun. So I instanced up some relationship advice, because I couldn't leave that to some fleshie to goof up. The physical stuff I trust to you. Earthnet out."
Jack: "Earthnet does relationship advice now?"
Geneve: "You didn't know that?"
Jack: "I guess I never thought to talk to it about that kind of girlie stuff."
Thalya: [Shares eye-rolling glance with Sage.]

[Scene: A darkened metal --in a disturbingly organic way-- corridor. Other corridors branch out in the distance. Closed, oval doors dot the walls. The lights are half-lit. Shadows loom.]

How about "The Lion?" Singh means "Lion" in Punjabi, you know. What do you mean, it's taken? Yeah, I guess. It's a Sikh thing. Yes, I'm a real Sikh. See: unshorn hair, cloth, bangle. I'll even show you my briefs and my kirpan, if you're man enough. {May giggles.} Yes, a do-rag and a soul patch count. No, I say they count. Okay, not Lion. How about....[Vijay Singh Kumar]: "This is crazy. Doesn't anyone play videogames any more? No-one survives the 'explore the mysterious bug-alien hulk mission.' We might as well just get the larva implant right now. Can we just go back outside and look for more orcs to pound?" 
The Furious Fist [Henry Wong, Senior]: "Oh, for.... Look at the graffiti! The beer cans! The locals have been running around in here for five hundred years!"
Gun Girl [Jamie Neilseon]: "I don't find 'the cake is a lie' as reassuring as you do, sir."
Mr. Wong: "Then it's lucky that us old fogies didn't have your fancy computer games, isn't it?"
Amazing Spleen [Brad Neilsen]: "I smell alien."
Avenging Daughter [May Wong]: "I find alien!" [And it is true; chasing hard behind her are more of the greyish aliens. These ones have guns, but not powerful enough to penetrate the Eight Spirit Dragon shield that licks up around Henry Wong or the iron-hard skin of Vijay Kumar as they throw themselves into the fight. Behind them, Jaime and Brad snipe, green beams and orange, tracerlike flares picking off alien after alien.]
May: "This is stupid."
Tri-Del [Rebecca Hirsch]: "Because?"
May: "The ugly aliens are lame. They should be hiding, not fighting. There's something going on here." [May kicks one of the doors, very hard. It opens. There is a small chamber inside, and two strangely familiar young women.]
Becky: "Mo-om? Auntie Miriam?"
The 3D Girl [Miss Naomi Hirsch]: "Do I know you, young lady?"
The Black Cat [Miss Miriam Crudup]: "Oh dear. This would be why I've never taken you time travelling before, Naomi." 


This is the eighteenth installment in my Champions Universe fan fiction focussing on Philadelphia's Liberty Legion, and the fourth installment of the second arc that may someday go in between "Jenny's End, Part Two" and "Jenny's End, Part Two, Two," because considering the backlog of stuff that I already have to edit in old entries, that much more is not big deal. So here are some more published characters from the extended Champions Universe, this time the Galactic Champions of the Year 3000! (Or shortly thereafter.) I have no  idea if they're part of the Champions Online intellectual property or not. Probably, it's just that no-one seems to care. Well, I like the characters!

Thalya is a 1200 year-old member of the nigh-immortal Empyrean race of evolutionarily-improved humans, Jack Harmon (Defender) is a the playboy industrialist and superhero. Geneve Burchette (Firedancer) is a scientist and a superhero. All are Solar System natives, and are comfortable talking with Earthnet because they've been doing it all their lives. The thing with Earthnet is, it can manage being social and still get its work done. AIs, showing their superiority over humans in many more ways than the obvious.

 Timeshifted WWII superhero Max Wroblewski (Bulletproof), and the alien superheroes Gavis Gan, Ral Xah (Rampart), and Charm, are clearly less comfortable in the System-wide AI's presence. Zes'arou Al'gari Vikon (Sage) is from over in the Varanyi Empire, and his attitude is a little more ambiguous. But his resigned amusement at Jack Harmon's social ineptitude is shared with Thalya. Anything else that might be going on here I leave for others to speculate on. / / / /

No comments:

Post a Comment