In Verse Proportion; Chapter 47, Brown 210

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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 47:  Brown 210
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Slade 183

Derek awoke inside what he decided was a large plastic cage intended to contain animals.  He briefly considered breaking it, but then it struck him that this was something wild animals would attempt to do so since it was designed to withstand--well, whatever this world’s equivalent of wolves and bears and lions were--it was going to be harder than it looked.  He recalled Lauren’s plastic-like armor, made in another world.

Besides, the lock would probably be tied into the central computer, and so should understand and recognize his command authority--assuming he could access it.

He wondered whether he could command the robot directly.  For only an instant he wondered why it had captured him at all, but then, he did not look like one of the indigs, so the robot would automatically assume he was a wild animal.  It might be that the robot, not having interfaced with the central computer for some time, did not have English in its language programming, but it might be worse than that--it could easily be that its programming would process language if it came from one of the humanoid indigs, but that it would automatically assume that noise coming from an animal was not language even if it sounded like it.  That is, if there were parrots that could imitate speech, the robot would recognize that it was a parrot making noise, and would not run the sound through its speech processor.  Humans of course didn’t do that, but it was a good protocol for robots.  For one thing, it saved on processor use.  Besides, you really didn’t want your robot doing what your parrot said.

But then, would that be quite the right protocol?  After all, the Captain on this boat right now was a machine, and while it probably had not always been the Captain it must have been an officer for Derek’s program to have resulted in it becoming Captain (if that’s what happened).  Also, it might sometimes be desirable for instructions to be delivered over an internal communications system, and while perhaps there might be a way to do that by radio transmission, a voice override protocol was clearly a good idea.

That should mean that if he could access the ship’s computer’s translation program, he should be able to get the robot to listen to the ship’s computer.

However, he probably could not do that from inside the cage.  Access to the lock was one thing, and maybe he could access the computer through the lock, but it would be a lot easier to access the computer through a terminal.

A terminal--there must be computer terminals, even on this subdeck.  He hadn’t been looking for them.

He assessed his situation, relaxing to feel for the scriff.  There was Vashti, somewhere in that direction, and also two vectors to equipment--one obviously the card he’d left by the elevator, the other apparently his bicycle which must have been left where he fell.  The machine did not take his backpack or even his rifle.  Animals don’t ordinarily wear clothes, so it probably didn’t realize these weren’t part of him.

Computer terminal--could it be as easy as that?

In a reasonably loud voice, he said, “Computer, please identify the location of First Officer Commander Derek Brown.”

There was a pause long enough for Derek to wonder whether he had been heard, but then from around the corner the voice of the computer returned, “First Officer Commander Derek Brown is on subdeck fifteen in animal holding cage number one thousand three hundred forty-seven.”

“Computer,” he said, “please unlock animal holding cage number one thousand three hundred forty-seven on subdeck fifteen.”

There was a brief pause, then the hum of a solenoid and the click of a latch, and the door swung loose.  “Thank you,” he said, more to himself.  Of course, now that he was out, he had to avoid being caught.  But maybe he could do that.

“Computer, please begin software update of all shipboard robots, to recognize by sight and voice First Officer Commander Derek Brown and Second Officer Commander Vashti Brown, and to understand and receive orders from them in English,” and he paused and considered a moment whether he would be asking too much, but decided to continue, “and Arabic, effective immediately.”

Now the trick was to get out and stay free until the programming caught up with the robots.  He didn’t see his captor at the moment, but suspected that it was making some effort to monitor him.  Pushing the door wider, he slipped out and turned in the general direction of the three feelings.  Vashti first, he thought, and started moving quietly that way.

Suddenly he heard a now familiar noise.  He turned and looked, and sure enough, the robot had found him.

Next chapter:  Chapter 48:  Kondor 188
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #440:  Changing Worlds.  Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.  It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.

As to the old stories that have long been here:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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