Comic 873 - Make an arm

Posted on 31st Mar 2018, 8:33 PM in Shipping Off to Southden
Make an arm

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 31st Mar 2018, 8:33 PM edit delete
You wake up the next morning to chicken and waffles. The atmosphere in the bunker is slightly tense, thanks in no small part to Ms. Voclain's presence--it's clear that no one's sure how to even begin approaching her, or how to react to her. Everyone's doing their best to be polite and helpful, but... she'll take some getting used to.

Everything's very business.

"Jury'll be back in tha city sometime today, prob'ly in the evening-ish," Caius tells you.

"I checked on Lydia," Fuse informs you. "She's good. Also, if you can't just... I dunno, red up a whole arm, don't worry about it. I thought about it, and I came up with a better plan."

After eating, you give it an attempt--fabricating an arm inside the red with the hope of portaling it out afterward. You... discover that it's not as easy as it sounds. With cleantex, and a small sync with Dr. Finch, you can do it in theory--you know where everything goes and how it should fit together.

However, there's a certain art to actually doing it. You can know how a human looks but never paint one. You can know a song and not be able to play it. You run into... that... particular issue. You can reconnect severed nerves, no problem--but manufacturing them whole, in large quantities, and having them go where you want and function correctly is a different beast. You know how you want musculature to look, but it comes out... odd. Skin doesn't have a consistent tone.

Fingers are extremely difficult.

After several tries, you bring your attention back to the bunker, and ask Fuse what his plan is.

You, Fuse, Dr. Finch, and Ms. Voclain head to the Mars base infirmary. Caius and Michelle bring food to the Mars base guests, then bring them all to Ilworth. Michelle wants to tinker around in the fallback base and explore Ilworth more, and Mav, Zene, Crease, and Pierce could use the fresh air.

"So," Fuse begins to explain as Dr. Finch boots up the bioprinter, "I thought about it... and even if our bioprinter's not rigged to make arms--"

"--which I am now quite certain it isn't," Dr. Finch adds,

"--none of the bioprinters we've seen have been rigged up to make monsters, either. Carpenter used his medical knowledge to cook that garbage up, and Howler programmed it in. Dr. Finch knows way more about medical stuff than Carpenter does, and I'm... probably as good at programming as Howler is. If those two can make lethal abominations--"

"--capable of walking," Dr. Finch adds. "My god, the math involved with actual, usable legs."

Fuse continues, "--we should be able to manage one arm."

"One whole arm is actually... much more complex than it sounds," Dr. Finch states. "Arvin and Howler had the benefit of free styling it, ours needs to work and look appropriately."

You confirm. Arms are hard.

"Oh, no, I'm sure that's totally true," Fuse replies. "Which is why we're also gonna cheat. We're gonna make parts of an arm, one at a time, and then use your powers to glue 'em together. We don't need to make a whole hand with every finger working perfectly--we can keep printing fingers until one of them's right, and then have you connect the nerves and stuff on that one."

And, thus, this becomes the plan. You cleantex both Dr. Finch and Fuse, and together, they begin programming in the details for individual sections of an arm. Once they've got it all hashed out, you'll use your powers to, chunk by chunk, "wire" the sections up to Ms. Voclain.

This will take a while.

You have a lot of time to work with.

You begin to ask Ms. Voclain questions. While doing so, however, you start to work on little things--small fixes you can make, minor changes to improve her quality of life. You start easing out joints that aren't fitted correctly, you start patching up and smoothing out musculature that's wound too tight or not shaped well, you start adjusting her vein positions for better blood flow. When you start to tire from constantly tinkering, you focus on something simpler--like converting her dying, bioprinted blood to purer, actual blood.

You ask her if she knows Thale's immediate plans.

"I know his short term goals," she replies. "With so many people having what are basically copies of his brain, he can distribute his planning among his other selves. The original him--the core him--doesn't dwell on the real plan much. I'm fuzzy on the details of his true intentions, for that reason. In the short term, he wants to kill you, he wants control of every bioprinter in the city, he wants to distribute additional bioprinters through railways and tunnels hidden under the city streets, and he wants to taint the city's biopaste supply with materials necessary for making his own blood."

You ask her if she thinks the bioprinter tampering could be traced back to Thale, or even Douglas Gargan.

"I highly doubt it," she responds flatly. "The obvious changes to each bioprinter's coding seem innocuous or accidental at worst. Once Thale is able to print his own blood, the printers will be switched--instead of printing Type A, Type B, and so forth, they will print a singular type of blood that folds to fit its respective body. It would be difficult to prove, and arguing the intentions behind such a thing without further, stronger evidence would make you sound like a lunatic. If it could be proven, it would look like a miracle of modern science--a universal blood type. That it facilitates mind control is not self evident.

The more complex and perhaps more sinister changes are buried in junk code. It would take time and effort to decode the fact that the bioprinters are now prepped to build killing machines."

Does Patton Thale keep any kind of schedule?

"He avoids it intentionally."

Does he ever go out in public...?

"He tries to avoid it but cannot. He is a businessman in charge of a major company, and sports a public identity. His public appearances are rare, but they do occur. He makes great effort to keep them unadvertised."

Where does he live?

"He has a home but he no longer stays there. His family lives in his old house to keep up appearances. Patton Thale himself lives in the headquarters of his company, Thale Energy."

Does Thale have any weaknesses?


There's a pause... and then she restates her answer. "Arrogance. Delusions of grandeur. Hatred of socializing. Hatred of relying on anyone for anything, no matter how small. Related paranoia. Loss of self identity. ...Moving his plans forward has required him to disconnect from who he is and what it means to be human. He takes almost no enjoyment out of life. His body is--"

she stops.

She's silent for a moment.

"I... no. No, I know something. I... it's not coming to me. I may not have absorbed all of it when I was becoming him. He may have tampered with it when he... was... it's important. Something..."

Her body tenses up.

"He's dying. He's already dead. This is... not... the first Patton Thale. His wholly bioprinted blood poisons him, the strain on his mind of running everything simultaneously tears his brain apart. He's had to clone himself multiple times since beginning this to keep up his public face. There's..."

Her face begins to strain. It may be the most you've ever seen Voclain emote.

"There's something else but I can't put it together. He's obfuscated his own sense of self so much that even Thale himself barely knows who he is. He's blinded by the end goal and barely considers what he's sacrificing to reach it. He's going to become a god. I don't know what that means. ...Patton barely knows what that means, but he knows that he means it."

Does Thale have any enemies or allies you haven't encountered yet?

"You are the only one he considers an enemy. He considers anyone in your control a part of you, the way that all of his thralls are a part of him. The entire city is his ally whether it realizes it or not. ...There have been federal agents in this city that have caught his attention. He has tried to infiltrate them with mixed results, and it bothers him that this wasn't a complete success. One of the agents was a product of Zone Fifty, and this bothers him, as well."

You ask her if she has a first name.

"I do not," she says. "I have a title and a last name, and only for the benefit of the other warehouse staff."

Can you... give her a first name?

"You can do whatever you like."

You're going to start calling her Elizabeth.

"I won't stop you."


Leafia_Barrett 31st Mar 2018, 9:35 PM edit delete reply
Welcome aboard, Elizabeth.

For now, I guess we just need to finish the arm. We may want to postpone any further changes to Elizabeth's body until we've finished the arm and gotten it attached, so we don't wear ourselves out.
BunnyMuffin 31st Mar 2018, 9:47 PM edit delete reply
Yeah I agree, let’s take a break after the arm so we don’t wear ourselves out. Also, after it’s done, give her another hug. She needs it after all she’s been through.
Archon 31st Mar 2018, 10:02 PM edit delete reply
That was quite informative, Elizabeth.
It would seem that it never occurred to Thale to design subordinate nodes to manage things for him.
Or Thale couldn't stand the idea of not managing everything directly, thus creating something remotely autonomous would be an unacceptable action for him. I suppose Thale must tell his own heart to beat, lest it plan a revolt.

Regardless, let us learn from Thales mistake and remember this for the future.
pkrankow 31st Mar 2018, 10:07 PM edit delete reply
I knew fixing would take a great deal of effort. It will take several days and more sessions to straighten her out.

The so stated lack of personality is minor. Her personality will grow in just fine.
Necryel 31st Mar 2018, 10:17 PM edit delete reply
We need to obtain an additional computer for Fuse so he can increase the power of his his bunker code search program. For our own safety, we need to ensure that Thale's warehouse does not possess any other Doorways or it will only be a matter of time before he invades, now that he has crew of hackers who will be able to use much more powerful computers to find the bunkers we are currently occupying.

We can't let him get to Mars for fear of another Lasker incident, and we can't have him getting a hold of Lasker and possibly unleashing that monster. Or worse, gaining control of it somehow. We absolutely ned to ensure that the bunker door system remain secure and out of Thale's hands.
chaosblitz 31st Mar 2018, 11:22 PM edit delete reply
Well this has been super informative, and welcome to the team, Elizabeth! We should probably make sure Finch heard the cloning part, since he mentioned something like that during movie night.