Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0


    Between an AI and a Work Bench

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    Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:08 pm

    Time: 8:22 P.M.
    Date: March 19, 2012

    Today had been a busy day at the Chop Shop; a little busier than she preferred, but not unnaturally so. Friday had been busy, the weekend a little slow, but Monday had gone back to being busy once again, as if people didn't know she was open on the week-ends. And some people didn't! She'd have to point it out for them on the sign she had on the front door's little window -- along with the OPEN and CLOSED sign that some people tended to ignore when they saw lights in her shop. Ugh, all the interruptions were annoying when she had work to do! She was almost ready to call it quits! Well, almost... Unfortunately, she had repairs to take care of, and those waited for no one.

    Jo pounded away at her forge, smoothing out slabs of metal she needed to fashion a new chassis for someone's robot. Although no one was with her in her basement workshop, she wasn't alone in the shop at this time. No, she had... an acquaintance doing something or other upstairs. That acquaintance was none other than X'ki, the annoying AI Zurg had left to take care of her last month. Take care of her... yeah, right, pfft. The little machine had done nothing in the past month that she would call caring. Since she'd been landed with X'ki, all he'd done was hover around her and scan things or mess around with the cats or try to break things. All she'd ever said to the annoying construct was to scold him when he tried to get into trouble. A proper conversation? Get out of here...

    Well, he was behaving now. He was no doubt hovering around somewhere in her ground floor workshop, maybe messing up Proxy's workspace or something. She didn't really care as long as X'ki didn't cost her a day's worth of work. Or even worse, more. So Jo continued to pound away on her metal, and X'ki? Who knew what he was up to...
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:19 pm

    Oh, Jo; sweet and innocent... Jo. While you were busy toiling away to make ends meet, your acquaintance was preoccupied trying to understand everything around you. It was true, of course. X'ki, the AI entrusted to the mechanic via the utmost highest authority, had been a rather persistent nuisance. It really didn't do much other than, say, scan things it thought relevant; to things it didn't consider of any interest it merely... ignored and passed by without concern. Knowing the AI, that category consisted of a lot of things.

    Jo, herself, fell into this very strata.

    Upstairs in the shop floated X'ki, the AI rather content to just... be oblivious to everything. Why did it bother? This outsider world was nothing like home, and it never will be. The AI felt it better to simply ignore this sham, this... lie -- how His Grace could yearn for these things was beyond X'ki's understanding. Just completely beyond its understanding. No, there was nothing -- oh? What was this?

    CRASH!


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:46 pm

    CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

    Steady. Rhythmic. Slow. Measured.

    Every strike was timed, precise. Not too much pressure, not too little pressure. It was important to not disrupt this rhythm, this shaping of metal. It was a ritual, passed down throughout the ages, baptized by fire and sweat. With each strike, the metal blazed white, surmounted by scorching streaks of red. The metal would soon smooth out at this beating, soon take shape. Already, it was becoming putty in her hands, to fashion and design to her liking. She wouldn't stop now. She couldn't stop now. One wrong move could ruin everything...

    CRASH!

    Jo jolted in surprise, her hammer striking a spot on her metal slab not even heated by the forge. "Agghk! Craters!" Her arm reverberated in pain from the sudden clang and she threw the hammer away angrily, shoving the slab of metal in her tub of cooling water. The unmistakable hiss of steam filled the air, masking her curses but not her angry footsteps as she stormed up the stairs and forced open the door of the alternate workshop.

    "X'KI!" she hollered, removing her gloves and tossing them aside somewhere. "What the crater-flipping cosmos did you do now, you pathetic piece of scrap metal?!" Oh, boy, he was gonna get it now. Did he have any idea how hard it was to smooth metal out just right manually?!
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:52 pm

    Ohoho, u mad, Jo?

    X'ki, always the charmer, zipped around the main lobby and clicked angrily. Scrap metal? Pathetic excuse!? Why, the AI was fashioned out of materials generations superior to the sweaty outsider's! Did she lack the eye necessary to see exquisite craftsmanship, or was she too dumb and brutish in her outlander ways to realize superiority? Pah, what did it matter. The woman was angry simply because X'ki had destroyed one of her... ugh, works. In reality it was nothing more than a piece of rubbish, barely fit for even the most mundane of functions.

    You would call this an... appliance. The AI barely had the patience to learn what exactly it had destroyed, so its body shattered into dozens of gleaming shards. Now broken, X'ki kept out of the mechanic's reach (as well as her swinging radius) to avoid being damaged.

    If Jo was curious and she had the patience, what the AI had done lay shattered messily upon the shop's floor. In X'ki's mind that was a direct upgrade.


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:17 pm

    Oh, this woman was definitely mad. Jo's eyes swept across the room. He'd messed something up, alright. The mechanic just didn't know what yet. Had it been one of Proxy's projects? Hers? Most of the stuff up here was reserved for their customers besides a few personal projects, so if X'ki had destroyed something -- oh, no.

    There, on the floor, broken in at least a dozen large chunks and who knew how many small ones, laid one of the mechanic's more recent projects. It wasn't anything amazing, but she'd spent more than a few nights on it so far. It was supposed to be an irrigation-like system to water her back yard. Now that the winter season was coming to an end, small plants had started poking out of the ground and would need to be taken care of. Although she was no gardener, she wanted to at least do something for the plants until Big Z returned. After all, he'd planted them back in early autumn. And she figured they'd need regular watering, hence the project.

    But now, no thanks to the nuisance that was X'ki, she'd have to start all over again. And that no-good, yellow-bellied schemer had purposefully shattered himself into smaller pieces so she wouldn't take a swing at him! Jo knew what he was doing, alright. She'd managed to land a hit once, just once, and since then, X'ki would avoid being in one piece after he had broken something. Oh, she knew X'ki's evil ways plenty.

    "Arggghhh... you know, you're a real piece of work, right, X'ki? All high and mighty on your stupid pedestal of superiority..." Grunting, the mechanic stooped down to pick up the pieces. "I bet you don't give a moozle's rear end about what us poor folks have to go through..." Yeah... there was no way she'd be able to weld these pieces back together simply. She might even have to start over again. Crater-flipping-cosmos! "I was better off alone... no-good... arggggggghhh..."

    She gathered all the pieces on her workbench and kicked a nearby chair. "You better not dare to show up whole in my face unless you want my boot up your sphere!" she warned, shaking her fist to the room as she gathered up her gloves again. Argh, the stupid, little... you know what, she needed a drink. A nice, fizzy Carbo Fusion.

    The mechanic left the room, huffing, as she made her way down the hall and to the small storage room she stored her fridge.
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:25 pm

    Moan, moan, moan; nag, nag, nag. X'ki was certain that the crude Basic language had a word for how the woman was acting -- oh, it did. It was called bitching.

    Whatever, though. The AI was pleased at the reaction it had garnished and not to be outdone, it fluttered about antagonistically. How so? By teasingly remaining just centimeters out of the mechanic's reach. See if you could grasp perfection now, you backwards primate! Haha! Oh, and were those threats? Ah, they were. Such fun! The AI barely registered what little, if any, intimidation the woman tried to conceive. She should know by now that X'ki could not rightfully be harmed -- not if the woman wanted to stay in His Grace's good side. Silly thing she was! See how her emotions get the better of her. And better off alone, she says? HAH!

    At this, X'ki hurried along after her, perhaps temping both fate and patience.

    Better off alone, you say? Well, then! Guess the woman didn't need it around. Guess she didn't need to have some company. Guess she didn't need to understand what, exactly, was going on. At least the robot called Lawrence was a better sport about this than her. Miserable outsider. Hardly worth His Grace's time! Why did he even bother with such a moody, pathetic plaything?

    Clicking, X'ki noticed the woman pausing to drink and it struck. Flying fast and true, one of its shards smacked the soda can directly out from the woman's hands and the AI darted off. A disconnected and apathetic cackling filled the air, but the AI severely doubted that the mechanic would be able to do much of anything.

    Ahhh, what fun it was, to tease these outsiders! They were far too easy.


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:47 pm

    No, she didn't. She didn't need X'ki around nor did she need X'ki's company. And any questions she'd asked X'ki in the past had been ignored. How would she know if the construct had suddenly had a change of heart unless X'ki showed it, eh? He didn't even talk to her let alone ever stop antagonizing her. So, no, X'ki. Jo could do just fine without you.

    Lo and behold, there it was: one lone can of Carbo Fusion. Ahhh, yes, just what she needed to forget about that buzzing monstrosity and get back to work. A boost of sugar and preservatives went a long, long way. Smiling, the mechanic scooped the can up, looped her gloves through her belt, cracked the can open and brought it up to her lips to take a sip...

    CRSHHHHK!

    A flash of metal knocked the can out of her hand just as the first bits of moisture touched her lips. Liquid sloshed over her and all over the floor as the can rolled to a stop by the wall, its side pierced and the can already good as empty no thanks to X'ki's idea of fun.

    "Arrrggghhh! Why do you go out of your way to make my life miserable?! You're not learning anything, you racist little -- arrgghh!" Jo rattled her fists and stormed back into the room where the majority of the pieces were. "Just what is your problem with me? Let's settle this right here and now because I am not gonna take this kind of abuse, even if you are Zurg's friend!" And X'ki had better talk to her for once, or so help her, she was going to make that lump of metal suffer.
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:57 pm

    Dohohohoh... Such pure, unadulterated fun.

    Watching the sugar liquid splash all over the woman's trousers was immensely satisfying, and the AI was sure to save this precious little moment for later. It hoped the mechanic would be sticky and uncomfortable -- you didn't deserve a shower, hah! Now, what was the incessant female whining about? That life wasn't fair? Oh, wah, wah, wah. What's the matter? Can't cope with a racist alien construct like you thought you could? Hmph. Outsiders were all the same. When something came up that they didn't like, all they did was bellyache and throw a tantrum. Babies, all of them.

    Following up the stairs now, X'ki simply hovered around the area and pretended to be innocent. It was more amusing this way, see. Watching the woman's blood pressure soar was most therapeutic.

    The Outsider wrote:"Just what is your problem with me?"
    Oh, so now she asks... Well, best not to disappoint, shall we?

    Fluttering down upon a lone table, one littered with shavings and overused tools, the AI proceeded to... crumple. Like spilled liquid dribbling down stairs, X'ki deconstructed itself and started up a rather interesting program. Why, the AI was pooling itself together to fashion a chrome, miniature version of itself -- the real X'ki. My, the tiny fellow looked rather grumpy with its arms crossed over its chest and its scowl as hardened as ever. It was almost like seeing His Grace. Well, almost. X'ki was leaner and showed signs of age.

    "My problem?" A deeply-accented, thick with labourious syllables, foreign voice replied back curtly. "My problem is that you're utterly and completely worthless. Even your butler friend, the one called Lawrence, has more value to his name than yours. From what I've observed, all you do is mope around and work with your feeble hands -- work, that I will honestly add, is of little merit."

    Well, Jo can't say that X'ki wasn't a confident bugger...


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:34 pm

    Well, if that was all it took to get X'ki to actually talk to her, why hadn't she said the magic words sooner?! Oh, life, you were so cruel at times. She watched the construct call back all the broken pieces and fashion a miniature figure out of them, just like back in February. But instead of seeing Zurg like she expected, this figure was definitely different. He looked far leaner than Zurg, and slightly stooped, but he was definitely a X'rghthu. Was this, then, the real X'ki? The one Zurg had said was the basis for the machine?

    And he had a voice too. Jo blinked in surprise, but then smiled to herself. She'd thought all this time that the nuisance either couldn't understand her, went out of his way to pretend he didn't, or just couldn't speak Basic. Well, surprise-surprise, he could speak Basic. But his words got the mechanic to scowl. Don't think you're the only one who could do that!

    "Worthless, eh? So what, I'm just a waste of space? My work is sub-par? All I do is brood?" She braced her fists upon the table and lowered her face down to his level, eying him reproachfully. "All I'm seeing is you labeling me. Those aren't valid problems, X'ki. Those are just results. But what's the reason behind them? The real reason?" And he had better answer her and not evade her questions, or so help her...
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:41 pm

    "Hmph!" X'ki knew a fellow hard-head when it saw one, and the woman was going to take a few lickings before she came around. If that was to be, then so be it! The AI threw a hand dismissively. "Stupid girl, they are valid enough. I do not need to explain myself further to you." She held no authority over the construct, so why should it consider her words at all? All X'ki saw was a petulant woman who was forced to sit through things she didn't understand. Didn't they all? What made her any special?

    That was a trick question, because she wasn't.

    Scoffing now, X'ki turned its body three-quarters away and refused to look at the outsider. "You act as if you're the only one suffering, girl." Talk about derisive. "But while you are free to move about this world and enjoy what you see fit, I am stuck babysitting a lump of lard. Hmph. His Grace obviously thinks less of me if I am demoted to such rabble."

    Wasn't the AI just charming~?


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:58 pm

    Argh, he didn't answer her. Figures. Just like Zurg. Guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree in this case. Disgruntled, Jo pushed herself away from the table and scowled again. So, he thought he was too superior to answer to the likes of her? Stupid, was she? Oh, after all those stints with Karkat she really hated being called stupid. And X'ki was pushing her buttons way worse than the troll kid ever did!

    "Oh, did I hurt your feelings?" she mock-whimpered, laying a hand on her chest and batting her eyes. Of course, her mocking didn't last for long. She meant business. She leaned in close again and slammed her palms on the table. "Well, suck it up! If you want to, go ahead and leave! Go! Run off to wherever you want, I won't care! But you can't go back home, huh? You can't go back to Zurg, which is what you want, isn't it? He sent you away and it tears you up to be stuck here doing nothing, right? Right!?"

    The mechanic drew a sharp breath, then lowered her voice, glaring. "It looks to me like you're the one moping around, X'ki. Maybe you're the one with the problem, not me."
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:07 pm

    ...What sort of blasphemy was this!? X'ki at once snarled and briefly sundered itself at the outsider's pummeling. While it couldn't directly comment back in this form, it was plenty miffed. How dare she spit out such baseless accusations! X'ki was not moping! Why, it was carrying out its duty to the utmost degree! Nothing would be proper otherwise! Swirling around the mechanic's head like a hive of angry bees, the AI started to crackle energy between its parts, bristling with surging rage. Careful, Jo... The AI wasn't above harming you.

    Once the outsider was done with her petty words, the construct floated onto a cabinet and reformed there.

    "Pah, you truly are as incompetent as you look!" The alien AI snorted angrily. "What feelings do I have that will override His Grace's wishes? I serve His Grace willingly and expectantly -- such is our way, you filthy thing." But if Jo thought she had pressed a sour button then she was in for a rather nasty surprise. Two can play this game, and X'rghthu were notorious for hitting one where it hurt. "Hmph, and swallow your tongue before it runs out from your mouth." X'ki growled. This was their expression of putting your words where your mouth is. "If anyone is tearing themselves up inside, it is you. You, Pistonne, want to run back to His Grace like a little lost x'u x'u pup without its mother. You are the one distraught inside, clinging futilely to the hope that His Grace will come back to you. Ha ha!"

    Here the AI allowed itself a laugh, a cold-hearted laugh, and X'ki glared back down at the woman with lips fully pulled apart in a most hostile snarl. "His Grace will not be coming back to see you, outsider. You suck upon that!"

    Although... what was there to suck?


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:31 pm

    X'ki broke apart into several pieces, floating around her head and fizzing with energy. She held her ground, but braced herself just in case X'ki had half a mind to zap her, which she knew the construct wouldn't be above doing. But X'ki didn't harm her -- not physically, anyhow.

    He reformed somewhere else and retaliated with his own scathing reply. Putting duty before feelings, the X'rghthu way. So despite hating the fact that he was here and -- yes, moping -- he wouldn't leave. Ugh, more's the pity. Jo wished she didn't have to deal with him. And hah! Misguided hunk of junk. Jo didn't want to run to Zurg. She wasn't stuck to his hip! Like she kept telling people, she was her own person. Zurg did not define her and her wanting to see him again after so long had nothing to do with running back to him for protection or whatever it was X'ki was insinuating. She could handle herself just fine.

    But his last words sent a sudden chill through her, making her spine tickle and her hair stand on end.

    "Wh-What?" she stammered before she could stop herself. Ugh, now he'd think she was weak. Clenching her fist, she approached the cabinet and craned her neck to glare at him. "No -- you're lying! I know you are! He promised me he'd come back." He didn't break his promises. Not a promise like this. The stupid construct was trying to get under her skin, hit her where he knew it would hurt. Well, no! She wasn't buying it. Zurg would come back, even though he was dying somewhere alone now and she could do nothing to help him.

    "He promised..." Unless... X'ki knew something he wasn't telling her. Something more than what she already knew. Oh, she didn't like being in the dark, but she knew Zurg had his reasons. And if something bad was going to happen he would have told her. But no! X'ki was just trying to get to her because he hated her. She could handle that. Zurg was definitely coming back. He'd promised her he would. He'd promised.
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:37 pm

    "Hmph!" Again, the construct turned away from the outsider and refused to face her. Thought herself so keen on the situation, did she? Well, seems she was as ignorant as the rest of her young, fledgling kind. X'ki found the willpower to glare back down at the woman, their eyes connecting and holding fast. "And what makes you so sure that His Grace will becoming back, least of all for you." This was not a rhetorical question, ironically. The construct want to know -- to genuinely know -- what made the outsider so stubborn about all of this.

    In order to make a stronger impact the AI floated off from the cabinet and hovered inches away from the sweaty girl's face. "What makes you so sure that a promise is as strong as one's life? They break everyday, these promises. It is foolish that you place so much stock into them. You don't know the full facts to state such a claim, girl."

    There was a saying among outsiders; don't keep a promise you can't keep. Had His Grace made such a promise? X'ki waited patiently to see.


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:05 pm

    "Because we love each other." A simple, extremely corny answer, but an honest one nevertheless. Oh, she could just see him hissing and spitting at her now. As well as whoever might be lucky enough to be in the vicinity to read this. Ugh, even her own mind was smacking its forehead at just how downright silly that answer was. But wait! There's more!

    Jo's hand went to the necklace and ring hidden beneath her shirt, seeking reassurance. Wrapping her fingers around the teryllium helped bring her some comfort, despite it being an illusion brought about by her own emotions. Still, it helped boost her confidence because yes, she just so happened to have something to cement her claim.

    "And because he told me so." Carefully, she removed the necklace, showing X'ki the ring she had shown to no one else, not even Proxy or Lawrence or Kev or anyone. And because X'ki would probably not understand the significance behind it, Jo would explain. "It is a custom in human cultures to give a ring to your significant other when you wish to live the remainder of your lives together. Otherwise known as bonding to you. He gave me this ring as a way to promise me he wasn't really dying and would come back." Want to see it better? She lifted it up for him to see the ring even more clearly -- he couldn't deny it now.

    "And if he does die before he can come back -- it'll be okay." Craters, it'd hurt like yesterday's melnar loaf, but it would be okay. She placed the ring around her neck again and looked X'ki determinedly in the eyes. "He'll still come back. If I know him, he'll find a way to keep his promise even if the worst happens."

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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

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      Current date/time is Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:01 pm