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Activation A short steampunk story

#1 User is offline   Zenoc2 

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 03:30 PM

Activation
by ~Zenoc2

-Box opened- power on
-Begin initial startup sequence

***

"Thank you for purchasing the Robotica Industries Mechanical Servant, Home Edition," proclaimed the box. The father jumped back from it in surprise, using a word he would not normally say in front of his young daughter. The girl on the sofa giggled, while her mother next to her shot the father an irritated glance.
"Please wait while your new mechanical servant calibrates itself for operation," the box continued. "You will need to remain silent as your new unit's sensors are set up."
The family of three waited, scarcely daring to breathe. Then the girl squealed in excitement as the box began whirring and clicking…

***

-Calibration completed
-Stand
-Identify owner

Limbs unfolded in unison as the robot turned itself upright in the thin aluminum box. The mother gave a quick gasp as two eyes with faintly-glowing irises peeked out of the box at her. Then, with two bony, metallic hands, the machine grasped the edges of the box and raised itself to its full height, which was about that of a twelve-year-old boy. It then turned to face all three of the humans clustered on the light-green sofa.

-1 human male, 2 human females identified
-Initiate introduction

"Good day, sir and madams," bleated the robot.
"It sound like a little goat!" cried the girl, delighted. "Can I name him, mommy? Pleeease?"
Shush, Kimberly!" the mother scolded. "I'm sure it has a name of its own."

-Register name: human female 2: Kimberly

The robot shook its head, which produced a soft whee-whaa as the joint pivoted. "No ma'am," it replied, "I have no name. You may address me however you wish, but I am pre-programmed to respond to 'robot,' 'metal boy,' and 'servant.'"
"Exactly like a baby goat!" Kimberly exclaimed again. "I'm going to call you 'Kid'."
The robot froze as it went deep into its own code to add this new name.

-Register command code: unit address term: "Kid"

"Yes, ma'am. I will now respond to 'Kid' as well."
The father cleared his throat. "Well, now that the pleasantries are over, let's draw up a list of tasks for you."
"Yes, sir. If you please, sir, would you acquaint me with the areas where I will work, so that I many avoid misunderstanding?" Kid said without blinking (which wasn't hard, considering his lack of eyelids).
Now it was the father's turn to freeze as he registered the request his new purchase had just made.
"Yes, I suppose so," he said slowly. "But from now on, you will remember that I am the one who gives orders. Not you."

-Register command code: command execution priority: 1: human male 1

"Yes, sir," said Kid. "Your orders will be given top priority."

***

-Magnetic charging coil detected

"Will that be all, sir?" asked Kid, sitting on the coil of thick copper that he had been packaged with. It had taken longer than the father had expected to go through the many rooms of the large Victorian house, listing off the shelves to be dusted, clocks to be wound, and linens to be changed.
The father sighed. "Yes, yes, you can switch off now. I suppose it's too late for you to start tonight, but I expect you to be up and working at the crack of dawn."

-Register command code: tasklist start time: 0600 hours

"Yes, sir. Good night, master."

-Enter passive charging mode

***

The father looked back to make sure that the robot's eyes had gone dim. "Bah… infernal machine," he grumbled.
"An awfully smart machine, though," said the mother, stepping into the living room.
"Annoyingly so," he replied. "It makes me a bit nervous, actually. I think I might find it more bearable if it wasn't so bloody polite."
"Oh please, George," she said. "It's not like it's really alive."

-Register name: human male 1: George

"It'll cost us almost as much as another child would, in electricity," he observed. "And what about Kimberly wanting to name it? What if it breaks down, stops working? She'll be crushed, she will."
"It's just a machine, George," she said gently. "Nothing more."
The father said nothing, staring uneasily at the dark, lidless eyes of the robot, who was silently logging every word.

***

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#2 User is offline   Lostthyme 

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 05:10 PM

Ooh, creepy. You had an interesting premise here, but I wish you had explored it more. I'm all for super short stories, but this left me wishing it had been longer.
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#3 User is offline   Zenoc2 

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 06:08 PM

Ah. That was kind of intentional, actually. :blush: I've mentioned Kid before, actually, over on dA- just under the name "Choortahn". Really, this piece is more of an introduction to his story (which, in turn, is tied up in Robotica, another one of my stories). I will be exploring his story more, but the Student Literary Arts Magazine at my school liked this one so much, I just had to share it.
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#4 User is offline   Lostthyme 

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 08:42 PM

View PostZenoc2, on 04 March 2011 - 06:08 PM, said:

Ah. That was kind of intentional, actually. :blush: I've mentioned Kid before, actually, over on dA- just under the name "Choortahn". Really, this piece is more of an introduction to his story (which, in turn, is tied up in Robotica, another one of my stories). I will be exploring his story more, but the Student Literary Arts Magazine at my school liked this one so much, I just had to share it.


Ooh. I must have missed that story on dA. Reading it as a sort of introduction makes it make a lot more sense. :)
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