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Story 89

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The Chassis

The stars streak past the windows of your ship as you hurtle through the darkness of space towards your destination. After what seems like an eternity, you finally arrive at the research outpost where Dr. Merv Arken is conducting his experiments. The station looms large in front of you, a metallic behemoth with more weapons than a military installation. This is not a likely destination for protestors as Dr. Arken would be quick to gas them all and have his robot minions simply load them into escape pods and hit the eject button.

You guide your ship into the designated docking port, and are met by a group of his robotic minions as you disembark from your ship. They lead you through a series of twisting corridors towards one of Dr. Arken’s labs.

Dr. Arken himself is waiting for you, surrounded by holographic displays and complex machinery. The light from one of the displays glints off of the transparent dome that encases his brain. The eye in the middle of his forehead looks up at you and your crew while his other two eyes stay fixated on whatever he is working on.

A smile creases his face, “Welcome, welcome! I’ve been expecting you. Dr Truman tells me that you have the source code from HAL and that you had the rather harrowing experience obtaining the crystal from the Trans-Human Project.”

“We could exchange war stories with you, but I would rather hear about the robotic chassis you’ve been developing for this project.” you reply.

Dr Arken’s excitement is evident as he steps away from his displays, “This project has been more thrilling than even when I was working on a SARS vaccine. It challenges me to think beyond traditional human limitations and appearance. I quickly realized that if I tried to create something too human-like it would only result in uncanny valley syndrome.”

You can’t help but find it ironic coming from someone with a transparent dome over their brain and part of their nose missing, but you push the thought aside and continue listening.

“So instead, I’ve been working on a robotic body that looks completely robotic. I’ve also taken into account people’s irrational fears of robots taking over, so I’ve placed physical limitations on these bodies to make them more relatable and easy to adjust to. I designed the chassis with an understanding of how the crystal matrix will interface, but now I need to integrate AI from HAL to interpret its encoded memories and sensations.”

Your crew listens intently as Dr. Arken outlines his plans for this integration process. The AI from HAL will act as a bridge between the crystal matrix and the robotic chassis, translating its complex data into actionable commands for the body to execute.

After easily snapping the crystal matrix into place, Dr. Arken begins reviewing the AI code at an impressive speed. He makes a few adjustments and fixes any error flags that appear as he ports the code onto his hardware. After several hours of intense work, a crooked grin spreads across his face. With a final keystroke, the robotic chassis jerks to life, its movements hesitant and uncoordinated at first.

Dr. Arken studies each twitch and tremor of the machine closely. Gradually, the body’s movements become more fluid and natural, responding to the impulses from the crystal matrix with ease.

As the AI from HAL synchronizes with the robotic chassis, a faint hum fills the lab, indicating a seamless connection between the encoded memories and physical actions of the robot. You watch in amazement as it takes its first steps, growing more confident with each passing moment.

The robot turns its attention to Dr. Arken and says in a familiar voice, “Merv, I think congratulations are in order. Our experiment seems to be a success.”

“Thank you, Charles,” replies Dr. Arken with pride. “It looks like your crystal matrix is functioning perfectly.” He then turns to you and your crew. “Allow me to re-introduce you to Dr. Charles Truman, version 2.0.”

“It looks like our next step is to figure out mass production. Let’s talk to a certain bald man on the Kiln” espouses Robot Truman.

Place the robot token on your Goal card. Your next destination is the Kiln.

When you arrive at the Kiln, listen to/read Story 90.