Archive for Suro Grafity

Fame Blues (Part V of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 5th October, 2012 by kal

Being a minor celebrity isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Oh sure, you get a mad lot of attention, and all the stalkers that come with it. But no respect from any of the big stars. So when Remus Piddleberry made a pitstop at Suro Grafity and saw my show, something bad was bound to happen.

It all began when I walked off the bridge amid the burning wreckage of what used to be Freddie’s ‘safe place’. I spat on some bar napkins being stuck in front of my face – I am told many of these are now framed in fancy homes all over the galaxy – and, as had become my custom, I lifted the edge of the skirt of the prettiest bystander around, and wiped my grimy, sooty face on it. Occasionally, this was followed by her sighing and collapsing into my waiting arms, but more often than not I felt the refreshing splash of a Choconilla Spritzer being thrown in my face.

Today, surprise surprise, it was a Flaming Pagan – a villainously acidic concoction which stung my eyes, and proceeded to set my tunic afire in a bright blue plasmic haze. I fell back, heroically resisting the urge to scream like the lithe beauty that had just doused me in hellfire, and rolled around a few times till it went out. Two eyes were now readjusting to reality, and I took a closer look at my assailant.

She was stunning.

While stumbling out of my ship I’d only caught a general glimpse of her, being in disdain of all the attention and all. I’d just walked up to her, casual like, grabbed her skirt, and mashed my face in it. On autopilot.

Now that I could see her better (the other two eyes decided they wanted a look too) I could tell that there something not quite right about her. Her image was mesmerising, it was spell-binding. It was perfect. It just didn’t seem real. It would take the best mind and the best computer in the universe to design her. The only bit out of place was a Pariah’n face-blotch on her shimmering silver skirt. That, and an odd metal bracelet which didn’t quite go with the rest of her. It looked a bit like a Personal Space Manipulator.

“How dare you touch…”, she began, in a shrill tone of female outrage that I was altogether too familiar with by now, as she pushed a button on the metal bracelet. Her image blinked out of existence.

“…Remus Piddleberry”, concluded the baritone of the tall, skinny, heavily armed visage of the Heir to the Universe who now stood in her place.

300 days of “Tom and Freddie” (Part IV of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2nd October, 2012 by kal

My estimate of a year was a little off; I hadn’t factored in the replacement cost of the weapons I was using up. Thankfully, being docked at Suro Grafity for so long made me a bit of a minor celebrity in the region. After a couple of weeks, word got out that this mad Pariah essentially spent his time on the space station chatting up random strangers, and when he got bored of that, he’d return to his ship, take it apart, and put it back together. Legitimate traders and travellers were forced to dock their ships for days, even weeks, waiting for repairs, because rebuilding Freddie kept the inventory of Parts-R-Us thin. Not like the good barkeepers of Suro Grafity minded this; their economy boomed due to the increased footfalls. After a while, I even allowed them to project my nightly escapades vs. Freddie on their Holo-Imagers, for a cut of course. Their business acumen being some of the sharpest in the galaxy (I heard they were humans from a territory called Gagrat), they immediately went about branding the entertainment, and so was born “Tom and Freddie”, as tribute to some weird ancient earth thing. Sentimental beings, these humans.

Tom and Freddie’s format was simple. I (‘Tom’, apparently) would go over to my ship sometime in the evening, and Freddie, in true style, would have laid out a new set of obstacles to keep me from waking him up. Everyday, patrons of Suro Grafity would pay a flat fee to watch from the bar, and sometimes run a betting pool. I would take a cut from the flat fees, and of course, from every one who bet against me, because I never lost. A few months into this, Grafity could no longer support all the people who wanted to watch me kick my diabolical computer’s ass, and so had to up their prices, and to make it even more interesting, began offering tours of my ship while I was running this crazy gauntlet. Soon the betting pools placed odds on the ship-board spectators as well; those who survived the tours got very rich, and, I’m told, were catatonic from the exhilaration for months.

Every night, after rebuilding Freddie, he and I would have a little chat. I would tell him why his puzzles were too easy, and why they failed. He would beg me to stop destroying his components over and over again. I would tell him that he still wasn’t the most secure starship in the universe – “Because if I can break you, what do you think the Armageddon Knights are going to do to you?”. He would grumble and complain that he didn’t have the facilities to set up better traps for me. So over the last six months I’ve got him laser grids, pressure pads, hover drones, mobile droids, holo-screens, molecular transducers, mobius floors, gravity distorters… and countless other little things, thanks to the generosity of the clientele at Suro Grafity.

One day, on my way into the ship, a Hanger (that’s what we called the ship-board spectators), grabbed me by the arm, turned me around and said that he was a very important man, and he had a paid a lot of money to see me wreck my ship, and that he didn’t expect to die on this tour. “You make sure of that,” are the words he used.

“Not in the contract,” I said. “You’re on your own.”

“Now listen here,” he said, gripping my arm tightly. “Listen here, you pariah’n scum. You keep me alive in there, you hear me?”

“If you want to get off the ship, sir,” I said, shoving him back, “door’s that way.”

Reeling, he stuttered, “No, please… I have to do this.” He thought for a moment. “I’ll pay you… half my winnings from tonight.”

I stopped, turned to him, and smiled. “Three-fourth.”

“Done.”

I shook his hand, grabbed his shoulder, and pushed him to the floor, just as Freddie fired an array of laser bolts at us.

* * * *

“THAT.WAS.AWESOME!!”

We were walking off the ship while Freddie wailed behind us. This Hanger was besides himself. Through the tour he told me he was some minor politician from the Rarara system. That he was here on a dare, and if he made it out alive, he was going to become the next High Lord for the Ministry of Debris Disposal. Which was worth much much more than what he would make as a survivor on Tom and Freddie.

“thatwasabsolutelythemostfuniveeverhadinmylifeicantbelievethatjusthappenedohmygodithinkijust wetmyselfalittleaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhthiswassoooocoool.”

He was delirious. Poor guy. At least he’ll die happy.

“My share.”, I said, as he collected his winnings.

“Oh yes, of course,” his hands still trembling as he gave me enough dosh to buy Freddie a partner to sleep with.

“Thank you. And good bye.”

I leveled my blaster between his eyes. I saw terror in his face for the first time that night.

“Why?”

“Nobody tells me what to do.”

BZZT!

I turned around and told the barkeep to contact Rarara.

“Tell them they need a new High Lord for Debris Disposal.”

Sleeping Machines (Part II of SkiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 30th September, 2012 by kal

Not that Freddie the Shipboard Computer was ever supposed to sleep, although I had caught him napping a number of times. Waking up from his slumber is a particularly unpleasant experience – for him. I, of course, take immense interest in whacking the side of his Fluronic Fermerators – the only bit of him that cannot be force-sheilded because of the laws of exophysics – with a solar umbrella. This more often than not did the job; but just to be doubly sure, I had an AyKay Pain Receptor 3561 installed there, which, according to the advert, “guarantees to shock awake even the most ancient rusted robots of KahKha-One”*.
Now, Freddie wasn’t one to take this, so to speak, lying down. Once, I was just getting back to the ship from Suro Grafity (after socialising with those nice whiskered cat-ladies), I found Freddie sleeping once again. Only this time, before his nap, he’d reconfigured the entire engineering deck of the ship, so I had no idea where anything was. I got lost for 4 hours following circuitry around the ship, and mapping out the rejigged mainframe. I didn’t have schematics of the place, well, because Freddie was sleeping and couldn’t print them out for me. I eventually found the fermerators tucked neatly into the Space-Goo Collector, under the Stardust Bin, and the room was barricaded by a previously unknown piece of equipment. My Ablazing Flamethrower made short work of the whole section, and I smiled while I lit a cigar to the soundtrack of Freddie’s electronic screams.

(To be continued)

*KahKha-One is fabled to be the first civilisation ever to create artificial intelligence. To protect themselves for the possible dangers of sentient machines (Hawnip Zubzible would only write “Root Ethics Code for Living AI” billions of years later; indeed, at this time, the star system of his home planet was only a twinkle of in the eye of its mother space gas cloud), they’d developed an ingenious failsafe. No machine could be more intelligent than the smartest being on their planet. Things went on smoothly, till the day came when the smartest being on KahKha-One was also xenophobic and nihilistic. Within days, the AI wiped out the entire dominant race of KahKha-One; they then adopted the intelligence of an Astroant Queen, and proceeded to do nothing for the remainder of time.

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