Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Chapter VII: Assholes in the Museum

The story so far: Android PI Ellis Cobalt has been framed for murder and had their positronic net irreparably damaged in a way that causes their entire memory and personality to reset at random intervals, leaving them lost, disorientated, and often with a personality not-unlike some bored person on the internet looking for something to wank to.
Despite this, Ellis has somehow manage to elude the police, find his way into the Android quarter of Utopolis and get themselves facial reconstruction surgery to look like Ryan Gosling while hearing hints about a terrible war between androids and humans.
Of course, Ellis doesn't remember any of this...


You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You’re standing in a wide town square, although where you might expect the sky to be there are girders and hanging strip lights. In the centre of the square stands a rusting iron statue of a man, holding up an even more rusted looking sign with flickering bulbs around its edge. The sign reads “WELCOME TO TIN TOWN”

Some people when faced with an uncertain situation like this will try to gather as much information as possible, evaluate their surrounds, gather resources and establish their situation. Of course, there are other schools of thought.

Stranger: i go up to the guy and punch him in his face
You: You punch the statue as hard as you can. You dent it slightly. Surprisingly your fingers don't turn into a painful mush.
You: In front of the statue a single shaft of what looks like daylight in shining down onto the smashed up wreck of some kind of small, blue tank. Some androids have gathered around to look at it, but everyone is keeping their distance. A number of shops open up onto the town square, with neon signs and glitch, halting video screens in the windows advertising their wares.
Stranger: i go up to the window and stare into the shops
You: The electrical store is closed up, with metal grills drawn down across the gate and the window. In the window a number of top of the line (and less top of the line) TVs are showing a news bulleting. “Police are asking for any information connected to the whereabouts of Ellis Cobalt following the shoot-out and double murder at Clagg Masterdon’s apartment this morning. Cobalt was hired to guard Masterdon, the trillionaire owner of Utopolis Tower. However they are believed to have murdered their client before gunning down two squadrons of police-bots responding to a call at the scene. During the fight Detective Jack Haggart, who was just three years away from retirement, was also killed.” A photo appears on the screen of a thin, high cheekboned and completely bald head, the word WANTED in giant red letters beneath it.
Stranger: i call the police over and say would you like a doughnut guys?
You: There aren't any police in the square at the moment. Just androids giving you funny looks.
You: From here you can see a diner and the museum.
Stranger: i buy an ak47 and shoot down the diner then proceed to rob the museum
You: There's nowhere to buy a gun here, but feel free to try and rob the museum.

Unfortunately, as the narrator I'm obliged to give Ellis any information I feel they might use.

You: Sigh. I suppose I should also let you know you've a gun in your pocket. A pistol with "Turing" written on the side. Please try to use it responsibly.
Stranger: i grab the pistol out and attempt to rob the museum
You: Where’s every other outlet in the square is an eye gauging collision of neon signs and hastily put together corrugated iron repair work, the entrance to the museum is a simple, dignified affair. A pair posters with “IN MEMORY OF THOSE WE LOST” are posted either side of the door, and the front of the museum is lit by some tastefully placed artificial candles. A threadbare, faded maroon carpet leads up through the doors, lined by velvet rope that’s seen better days. There’s a “FREE ENTRY” sign by the door that undercuts the solemnity of the location.
You: You want to go in?
Stranger: all in

Even as they went through the doors, I already suspected this incarnation of Ellis wouldn't appreciate the Edutainment Journey laid out before them...

You: You find yourself in a long, winding corridor, the walls filled with artefacts and exhibits underneath a giant, faded banner that reads THE ORIGINS OF THE ROBOT WAR. Through a series of interactive dioramas you learn that well over a century ago, humanity created embodied, sentient intelligence. Soon, artificial humanoids were being used in all walks of life from manufacturing to medicine. But the androids continued to get smarter, until they were smart enough to realise they didn’t want to work for humans. Around the same time humans realised that free androids would be smarter, faster and stronger than humans, and meat people would no longer be able to compete. Humanity decided to sensible solution was to kill all robots. The exit is behind you. At the far end of the room another door is marked “The War”.
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

Some people gather intelligence. Some people just want to watch the world burn. But there's another kind of person. A kind who, however we might judge them, it has to be said we can all relate to...

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You find yourself in a long, winding corridor, the walls filled with artefacts and exhibits underneath a giant, faded banner that reads THE ORIGINS OF THE ROBOT WAR. Through a series of interactive dioramas you learn that well over a century ago, humanity created embodied, sentient intelligence. Soon, artificial humanoids were being used in all walks of life from manufacturing to medicine. But the androids continued to get smarter, until they were smart enough to realise they didn’t want to work for humans. Around the same time humans realised that free androids would be smarter, faster and stronger than humans, and meat people would no longer be able to compete. Humanity decided to sensible solution was to kill all robots. The exit is behind you. At the far end of the room another door is marked “The War”.
Stranger: ok
You: What do you want to do?
Stranger: nothing
You: You also notice your pockets are pretty heavily loaded.
Stranger: oh
You: And there's a gun in your hand.
Stranger: gun ?
You: A pistol with "Turing" written along the barrel.
You: Maybe there's a clue in your pockets?
Stranger: really
Stranger: i dont know
You: Well you know where the exits are and that you have a gun and stuff in your pockets. From there the choice is yours.
You: What would you like to do first?
Stranger: oh
Stranger: dont like everthing
You: You stand in the middle of the museum emanating a general air of disapproval.
Stranger: ok bye
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You find yourself in a long, winding corridor, the walls filled with artefacts and exhibits underneath a giant, faded banner that reads THE ORIGINS OF THE ROBOT WAR. Through a series of interactive dioramas you learn that well over a century ago, humanity created embodied, sentient intelligence. Soon, artificial humanoids were being used in all walks of life from manufacturing to medicine. But the androids continued to get smarter, until they were smart enough to realise they didn’t want to work for humans. Around the same time humans realised that free androids would be smarter, faster and stronger than humans, and meat people would no longer be able to compete. Humanity decided to sensible solution was to kill all robots. The exit is behind you. At the far end of the room another door is marked “The War”.
Stranger: what is this?
You: Also, you seem to have a lot in your pockets, and now you think of it, also a gun in your hand with "Turing" written along the barrel.
You: What would you like to do?
Stranger: go up to the door

Yay! Buckle up guys, we're going on a trip to BACK STORY CITY!!!!

You: You head through the door into the next room.
You: If you were capable of feeling sick you probably would in here. The photos and holographic videos that play throughout the hall are not pleasant ones. You see battlefields littered with wires and entrails. 
Giant mechs striding over rubble, crushing fleeing figures that might be human or android, you cannot tell. Orbital lasers vaporise cities. Grey goo peels the rubberised skin from androids and the flesh from humans, until the only difference is whose skeleton is shinier. This was not a war that anybody could win. A banner over the room says in large letters “NEVER FORGET”. Behind you is a door marked “Origins of the War”. Ahead of you is a door marked “The Aftermath”.
Stranger: proceed through the door ahead of me
You: This room is smaller and quieter than the previous rooms. There is a wall of memorial, listing the names and serial numbers of androids who died during the conflict. A stature of an android and a human shaking hands dominates the centre of the room.
On another wall is engraved a page of text headed THE GREAT COMPROMISE. Reading the notes on the walls, you discover that after numerous atrocities both sides in the Robot War realised they couldn’t actually survive without the other. Humans had made androids too integral a part of their infrastructure to lose them, and androids relied on human infrastructure to manufacture and power them.
A treaty was signed. Androids would be permitted to exist as free citizens. But there would be harsh restrictions on where they could work and how much they could earn, to protect human workers’ jobs (although non-sentient dumb-bots were still used for police, service and military work). Also, most importantly, the androids, with their potentially infinite life spans, would agree to never try to reproduce, or construct more androids.
At one exhibit you see photos of androids, all done up in battle armour, ready to ship out to one of the fronts. Some of them look familiar. Among the names next to the photo you see the name “Corporal, Cobalt, Ellis”. Beneath it is the name “Private, Manganese, Teri”. A scrap of paper has been slid behind the list. It says “ELLIS. COME MEET ME IN NICKY NICKEL’S DINER. TERI” Behind you is a door marked “The War”. Ahead of you sign a door marked “Exit and Gift Shop”.

Perhaps it is a mercy that Ellis will never remember the horrors of the robot war. But you will, and that's something.

Stranger: proceed through the door ahead of me once again
You: The gift shop is barely the size of a kitchen in a cheap apartment. You almost knock over the crowded stands selling postcards and key rings and (somewhat tastelessly) used shells fished from the Robot War battlefields. By the door is a humanoid head connected to a till. “Hey there partner,” the head’s artificial voice croaks. “How can I help you?”
You: There's also an exit out onto the street here.
Stranger: i go up to the robot and ask what is this place why am i here
You: "This is the war museum. Don't get so many visitors here these days," the shopkeeper says. "Humans don't care, and androids, well, they don't want to remember."
Stranger: i ask why am i here you stupid thing!
Stranger: in a angry voice
You: "I should mention we don't tolerate abuse to the staff, that is, me, here," the head-on-a-till says. "This is a gift shop. You're probably here to buy a gift. You got any money in your pockets?"
You: Your pockets do feel heavy.
Stranger: i pull out 100$
You: You go to take out some money, but instead of find a notebook and pen.
You: On the front page of the notebook is written:
You: TAKE LOTS OF NOTES. YOU DIDN’T KILL HIM. YOU DID KILL THE DETECTIVE GUY. NET THING FUCKED BRAIN RESTARTING CONSTANTLY
Stranger: im confused
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

...and you're likely to remain confused when you come to standing in a gift shop with no idea who you are or how you got there.

But while Ellis might no know nothing of where they come from, where they are going or what they are trying to achieve, unwittingly the former PI is drifting closer towards the answers they don't even know that they seek.

It's just a shame Ellis didn't note the sign someone pasted to one of the exhibits:

ELLIS. COME MEET ME IN NICKY NICKEL’S DINER. TERI

Ellis Cobalt is being watched.

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