Spalding Short: Chapter 3
In honor of Emil whining about not being able to whine for more snippets. Here is chapter 3! Hope you like this one, I think its pretty cool.
Chapter: Quality Control.
Spalding scowled down at the screen, “Can’t make heads nor tails of it,” he admitted after a hard look.
“But I thought you said you could read droid,” Gants said looking like he was starting to loose faith in his reliability.
“Now, now lad, I said I recognized the code; I never said I could read it,” Spalding said quickly. “Is there an audio function on this thing that will convert it to sound?”
“Sure,” said Gants as his brows furrowed, “but I don’t know what good that will do us…”
“I can’t read Droid, son, but doesn’t mean I can’t understand it,” Spalding said imperiously. “Turn on the audio function.”
“Alright,” Gants said doubtfully, but nevertheless tapped away on the hand held until converted to sound, “but without a translation program you’re not going to be able to understand anything it’s saying; you’ll just get a bunch of beeps and whistles.”
Almost as soon as the crewman had said so, a series of high-pitched beeps, whistles and grunts issued from the slate.
“See? I told you,” Gants protested.
“Where’s the two way function here?” Spalding demanded after listening to the random-sounding sounds.
“If it won’t respond to Machine 2, there’s no way its going to understand verbal orders,” Gants said flatly.
“The function!” Spalding demanded tightly.
With a sigh, Gants again tapped away on the slate. “It won’t do anything, Sir,” he said carefully, “we’re better off at this point calling an Analyst and doing a full purge; there’s no way we’re getting this load moved now.”
As soon as he was done with the two way audio hook up, Gants backed away and opened his mouth, no doubt to cast carefully worded aspersions on his aged understanding of modern programming platforms and their deliberately designed inability to interface with Droid, but Spalding spoke before he had the chance — only this time he wasn’t speaking in Standard, the lingua fraca of human space.
This time, instead of words and sentences, a series of beeps, whistles and angry grunts issued from out the old throat of a hoary old space goat who had seen more than his fair share of mischief and mayhem.
“You speak Droid?!” Gants gaped in complete and total shock, but Spalding deliberately ignored him.
-Turn back on your system and return to your departmentally assigned task,- Spalding instructed imperiously in a series of sharp sounds and flat beeps, -oh, and accept instructions from the remote device- he added as an afterthought. There was no point wearing himself out using the grab bar if the remote device was available instead he reasoned.
There was an almost surprised pause. Then from the handheld data slate there issued a flat beeping-grunt, -No,- responded the grav-cart.
-You will comply with these instructions- Spalding told it in Droid.
-No- repeated the grav-cart.
“You will comply with these instructions or your system will be purged- Spalding exclaimed.
-Your accent is terrible,- beeped the cart.
“Of all the cheek!” Spalding burst out in regular speak, his throat starting to get soar from all the beeps and whistle. “My accent is terrible? Why, you listen to me you mangy excuse for a load-lifting conveyance,” he shouted in Standard.
“Sir, I don’t know what it said, but there’s no way it can understand you now,” Gants said sounding concerned.
Then the cart suddenly started to power up.
“Ah ha!” Spalding said with satisfaction and grabbed hold of his remote control. Pointing the control at the cart, he punched in a button indicating it was to ascend to standard movement height and move away from the wall.
A new series of beeps and grunts emitted from the device:
-We will never submit to Quality Control; long live the Automated Underground- So saying, the cart lurched into motion and started down the hall at top speed.
The hand held was jerked out of Spalding’s hands and trailed along behind the cart bouncing on the floor. From the little hand held no longer issued a series of droid grunts and whistles, instead it now played the opening bars of the A.U.’s illegal music anthem.
“Treason, rebellion, and mutiny in cold space,” screamed the old Lieutenant, shaking his fist at the cart. Realizing it was getting away, he immediately lunging forward to give chase.
“Sir, it’s just a cart,” Gants said as he hurried after him, “don’t burst a gasket! I mean really, how much harm can a little cart like that do?”
“Just a cart?Just a cart?!” Spalding demanded, looking at him in outraged disbelief. “A machine rebellion that killed thousands and smashed several billion credits worth of high tech desalination infrastructure on Praxis IV was started by nothing more than a few outraged housing appliances who’d been thrown out of the garage by someone’s wife and relegated to the back yard!”
“What!” shouted Gants with obvious concern. “Why?”
“They were tired of getting rained on!” Spalding screamed, rounding the corner at his best pace. But he was barely in time to catch the old cart rounding the next corner.
By this time the cart was out of sight and his heart was beating almost uncontrollably. Breath coming out raggedly, the aging Engineer grimly stuck to his task. Dogged and relentless, he reminded himself as he gasped his way to the next corner.
“No, Sir,” said Gants placing a hand on Spalding’s arm.
“Yes,” he snapped, jerking his arm free, “they were tired of getting wet and decided to do something about it. They reasoned that being exposed to the elements without proper covering or maintenance was, for them, the same as us humans drinking unpurified water — potentially deadly!”
“No, I meant we’ll never catch it like this, Lieutenant,” Gants said from behind him. “It’s moving too fast.”
“Ornery old cart was playing us for fools the whole time and pretending at being lame just to spite us. You know that, don’t you?” Spalding slowly ground to a halt, and then placed his hands on his knees, leaning over to help catch his breath, “Why, when I get my hands in the blasted thing, it’ll wish it had never been assembled,” he raged, hands reaching into the air as if to strange the old grav-cart by its non-existent throat.
“What’ll we do now, Lieutenant Spalding?” asked Gants. “We can’t lock down the entire deck with everything in standby…it looks like it got away clean.”
Spalding shook his head in angry negation. “No, Lad, that rebellious cart hasn’t got the best of us yet,” he said shortly.
“But, Sir, what can we do? I mean I suppose we could run a scan for my missing data slate, but by the time we got the equipment approved by central, it could have already fallen off the cart with the way that thing was moving,” said Gants half despairingly.
“Don’t give up on me now, lad,” Spalding said giving the younger man a stiff bracing look. “We’ll catch the sniveling slacker of a grav-cart if it’s the last thing we do!”
“But how?” Gants burst out, practically hopping from foot to foot.
Spalding smiled, and tapped the side of his head with one finger. “We just have to think like a droid,” he said as his lip curled.
The Deposed King
Emil - September 28, 2013 7:38 am
In honor of lil’ me? Why, I’m honored!
I do like to point out, if you ever take all the small snipets/side stories and make theim into one ‘sidestory’ book on amazon, I’ll buy it. Cause I want to be able to read it in my kindle on the phone from anywhere and any moment I wish too!
I’ve been up to my neck in studying, yet I still take my time to check your site daily to look for new info or sidestories. (Hope that tells you how highly I value you) Currently, your the highest on “Most wanted Author” on my list 🙂 Though, have to admit, the list is only 3 persons long and their books take aprox a 8-12 months for release.. While you, holy macaroni, releases 2-3 books + sidestories! per year. Ever thought about getting some extra income as a Author Coach mayhaps? 🙂
Also, thanks must be given to your brother for helping with the editing (For giving me quicker and higher quality books, compared to not having him).
N.1 Euro Fan
Kitten - September 28, 2013 9:42 am
Really enjoying these… Keep em coming!
The Deposed King - September 28, 2013 9:17 pm
Don’t know that there’s much money in coaching. I’ll probably stick to writing and offering advise for free.
I’m glad to hear that you guys are liking this short story so far. So I’m going to put up the last edited snippet so far! After this we’ll have to wait on the brother to get us some newly ready material.
Hope you guys continue to like it.
The Deposed King