In Version; Chapter 115, Beam 189

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 115:  Beam 189
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Slade 242

“How can he do that?” Beam raged.

“Do what?” asked Bron.

“All his privileges have been revoked; he shouldn’t even be able to open a security door.  And this nonsense about him promoting himself to captain.  As far as the computer is concerned, he can only be promoted by the action of a superior officer, of which I’m the only one; third officer becomes acting captain in the absence of the captain and first and second officers, but it’s not different in status from those nights when everyone goes to bed and tells him he has the con.  So how can he have control of the robots?”

It took a moment before Malacon answered.  Robots on this ship were not built specialized; they are all the same, but programmed for special functions and equipped with supplemental equipment.  When they are assigned a new function, they connect to the computer and download new programming including operational downloads.  These were programmed and equipped for the war against the creatures on the surface; as long as he prevents them from downloading new information from the computer they will still have him listed as third officer.

Wheels spinning in his brain, he tried to engage the gears and come up with something.  Then he did.

“Do we know where he is?”

Malacon and Lors looked at each other.

I don’t think their location was generally known, Malacon was saying.  It was somewhere on one of the lower levels so they would have access to exits when we landed.  Of course, he might have moved them, but perhaps not.

It would have made sense to move them, of course.  On the other hand, how many were there?  Ten combat robots would hardly be worth the trouble, but every robot they assigned to combat was one less available for everything else--cooking, cleaning, repairs, transporting equipment, assisting people.  Did they have fifty?  A hundred?  How many could they spare?

If they could locate them, could they contain them, sealing that area of the ship so they would have to blow up hatches to get out?  No, Norax was too smart to give away his position.  Either he has moved the robots or he has left someone else in charge of them and relocated somewhere he can hide.  Besides, there might be a better idea.

“Is there a way,” he asked, “to reassign all those combat robots to different tasks?  If we could do that, they would have to find computer terminals and upgrade their programming, right?”

Again there was a pause, the aliens apparently trying to think about it.  This time Lors had the answer.

You would have to do it individually; you would need the numerical designation of each combat robot, and address it by voice command to assign its new function and mission.

“Can we get that information from the computer?”

Again a pause, and Beam began to wonder whether it was a delay in the way they communicated through Bob or simply that they had to think about the questions.  Malacon provided the answer.

Yes.  There is a list of all thirty-two thousand seven hundred sixty-eight ship’s robots and their current functions and missions.

That was a peculiar number, and more than he expected, but not, he realized, an unreasonable number for the size of the ship and the number of jobs that could be done by robots.

“O.K., we need to find that list, and get it to sort by function so we have a list of all the combat robots.  Then we use the all hail function to fill the entire ship with the commands for each individual robot on that list.  Got it?”

His two alien officers nodded.

There was something else he should do.  Logging back into the computer as admiral, he made a few changes to the crew roster.  It didn’t take him as long this time, as he had tampered with it twice before.

“Congratulations,” he said, “Captain Malacon, First Officer Commander Lors.  As far as the ship is concerned, she’s yours.  Get those combat robots under control.”

Next chapter:  Chapter 116:  Brown 274
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #494:  Warring 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

Re Verse All

In Verse Proportion

Con Verse Lea
Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

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The Online Games

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