Superfreaks: Extreme #4
martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 26 02:29:36 PDT 2008
Extreme: A Superfreaks Series
ME ANDROID, YOU EXTREME
"So, Boss, what's the emergency?"
"No emergency," Waterlord admitted. "I just want you to talk to Roger Stratham, the CEO of Clones R Us."
"Because sometimes it helps to get your face in the media. It's good for us and it's good for them."
"What are you talking about?"
Waterlord sighed. "That documentary you appeared in really got people's attention. People are now questioning the whole morality of cloning, let alone the morality people buying and selling clones as slaves."
"So not only are fewer people interested in buying clones but there's a shortage of women who want to be surrogate mothers to clones... and without surrogates they can't easily produce viable clones."
"So Clones R Us are getting out of the clone business... and they want you to appear in an ad for their new company... Robots R Us."
Waterlord nodded. "Just go talk to the man... and think about it."
"Thank you for coming," Roger Stratham, the CEO of Robots R Us said.
Extreme nodded. "I'm glad to be here. I hear you're getting out of the clone business."
Roger nodded hesitantly. "It won't be our primary source of revenue in the future. You see, we here at Robots R Us see the writing on the wall: every clone we produce will eventually achieve a level of self awareness that our customers, for the most part, find inconvenient. So we've branched out into the robot distribution business."
Extreme looked over at a line of humanoid robots, all built to resemble beautiful women and all wearing lingerie. "They look very lifelike."
"Yes, impressive, aren't they? They're made in Japan. The Japanese really know how to build robots. They've been building and selling humanoid robots for years now. Cloning never really took off in Japan: the Japanese consider robots to be like walking talking sex toys and they will even use robots to spice up their regular relationship. Male robots are even popular there too."
Extreme sighed. "I hear you want me to appear in an ad."
"Oh yes! Yes!"
"With them?" Extreme asked, pointing to the lingerie clad robot beauties.
Roger shook his head. "Oh no no no. These robots will appear in a separate ad campaign to appear on late night TV and the playboy channel. No, our idea for your commercial is more subtle."
"I'll show you."
Roger brought Extreme to the studio where the commercial would be shot. There, Extreme saw a big hulking female robot about twice his size and covered in spandex.
"This robot is not for sale. It was made strictly for the commercial."
Extreme's eyes widened. "What exactly do you expect me to do with that?"
"Oh you two are going to fight."
"Yes. The message is that whatever you do to one of our robots, it won't break. You see, our marketing division has determined that people don't think robots are reliable, that they'll break down and have to be repaired regularly. You're here to show people how tough our robots are. Clever, huh?"
Extreme balked at the idea. "Do you realize that I could probably smash that thing with one punch?"
Roger laughed. "I doubt it. It's made with a titanium alloy. You wouldn't be able to damage it simply by hitting it."
"Really. Now, if you don't mind, the cameras are already set up. You you want to run a few test shots?"
Extreme shrugged his shoulders. "Okay."
The studio had an arena set set up. Extreme stood at one side of the areana set while the female killer robot stood at the other side.
The director called out "Action!" and the killer robot surged forward. Extreme hit it once and it was barely fazed so it hit the robot a second time and it was knocked back a few feet. It then grabbed Extreme by the neck. Extreme pried the robot's fingers off of his neck and pushed the robot back. Extreme then flew up and out of the set.
"Cut!" the director said. "No flying!"
"Why not?" Extreme asked.
The director sighed. "Well, for one thing, it's hard for the camera to follow you when you're flying and, second of all, the robot is only playing with you. It's an actor! You're not in any real danger. You're Extreme for Christsake!"
Extreme grimaced. "I beg to differ. I think that robot is actually trying to kill me."
The director shook his head. "No no no. It's only pretending to try to kill you. In fact, I'll prove it to you. Robot! What is your function in this commercial shoot?"
>>My function is to pretend to want to kill Extreme,<< the robot said.
"I'm not sure if it understands the meaning of the word 'pretend'," Extreme said.
"Nonsense," the director said, scoffing. "Robot! Define 'pretend'."
>>Pretend. Verb used with object. One, to cause or attempt to cause (what is not so) to seem so: to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong. Two, to appear falsely, as to deceive; feign: to pretend to go to sleep. Three, to make believe: The children pretended to be cowboys.<<
"Enough, robot, thank you. See?"
Extreme sighed. "You know, memorizing the dictionary definition of a word is not the same as understanding the concept behind it."
The director laughed. "Of course it is! Now, let's get back to this! I've got another commercial to shoot later this afternoon."
The battle was rejoined. This time Extreme stood his ground against the robot's relentless assault. Extreme decided that simply hitting the robot wasn't doing any good: he decided to use his superspeed to get behind the robot and engage it in a wrestling hold.
"Give up!" Extreme said.
>>No!<< the robot said >>I must pretend to want to destroy Extreme.<<
Extreme sighed. "Fine," he said and he then proceeded to rip the robot's head off and throw it down on the ground. The robot then collapsed to the ground.
"What the @#$% did you do that for!" the director screamed.
Extreme shrugged his shoulders. "I told the robot to give up. It wouldn't give up. So I ripped its head off."
"That thing cost millions of dollars and you destroyed it!"
"That thing was a walking killing machine and I stopped it. It's what I do."
The director was clearly upset. "My God! You were supposed to _pretend_ to fight the robot! Pretend! Maybe it's _you_ who doesn't understand the word pretend!"
Extreme closed his eyes and counted to ten. "I beg to differ."
"Who's going to pay for this? Hmm? That was a multimillion dollar robot you trashed!"
Extreme felt his anger rise. "Look, you were planning to pay me, right? Why don't we just call it even then? I'm out of here!"
"No wait!" the director said, realizing that his commercial wasn't quite finished being shot. "I apologize."
"Just stay for a few minutes. We'll try to reattach the head."
The director sighed. "I don't think we'll get the robot to work again but nobody seeing the commercial has to know the robot got trashed. I'll think of something for you to say and you can read it from the cue cards. Okay?"
The crew tried to get the head back on but they just couldn't get it to stay in place. Finally, the director suggested Extreme hold the robot upright by placing his arm around it, like he was giving it a friendly hug. Extreme read the lines they gave him.
"Robots R Us robots are built to last!" Extreme said. He then gave a thumbs up with the arm that wasn't around the robot. The director yelled "Cut!" The robot's head fell off again.
"Oops," Extreme said.
"It's okay," the director said. "We got the shot."
"So are we done?" Extreme asked.
The director nodded. "The robot's trashed but it was built for this one shoot and maybe we'll be able to salvage it for parts." He sighed. "I'm sorry. I over reacted."
"Fine," Extreme said. "I'll be going now then."
Extreme left the building and flew away.
Thirty years passed. During those thirty years, robotics technology had improved to the point that not only was there a robot in virtually every home there was a robot in virtually every office too, working right alongside ordinary people.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
"It's so good to see all these old faces again!" Mary Bailey said on the occasion of her retirement party. Indeed, gathered around her were her husband, Edward, and their daughter Monica, her old partner Michael King, his wife Lana and their son Jacob, her protegee Frank Lopez, his wife Naomi and their son Terry, her former Captain, John Phelps, and his daughter Kathryn, former Pepperton chief medical examiner Jack Greenspan, former Pepperton DA Alan Russell and his son Richard and various other colleages, old and new. "You all bring back such old memories!" She raised a glass of wine to make a toast. "To the future!"
"To the future!" everybody said and then each took a sip of their wine. They all put down their glasses onto the nearest tables and proceeded to clap their hands in support of the outgoing head of the crime scene investigations unit in Peppperton. They then all picked up their glasses and started to mingle. John Phelps started talking to Jacob Bailey, the new head of the crime scene investigations unit in Pepperton, now that his mother had retired.
"I hear that the precinct has a robot investigator now," he said.
"Yes," Jacob said, "Stanlee."
"You named it?"
"It's an acronym. ST.AN.L.E.E.: STandard ANdroid Law Enforcement Edition."
"Have you tried it out yet?"
Jacob shook his head. "No. We're going to use it starting tomorrow morning."
"Well, good luck with that."
The following morning, Precinct One got a call to investigate an incident at Extreme Force Six Headquarters. Jacob Bailey and Monica King brought Terry Lopez and ST.AN.L.E.E. to the scene with them.
As this was thirty years into the future, of course, the original members of the Extreme Force Six had all retired. In their place were the last group of students taught by Doctor Carlos Javier, namely (one more time) New Extreme A.K.A. Tyk-El A.K.A. the son of Extreme and Amazing Woman, Mornstar who had the power to project into one's mind either one's fondest desire or the grossest, sickest, most disgusting images imaginable, Fate who had the power to make one do things one wouldn't want to do and then forget about them later, Tigress who had the power to transform into her cat form, Mystic who had the power to teleport herself and others to anyplace, anywhere or anytime and the Pepperton Protector whose powers included time travel, super stength, flight, telekinesis, low level telepathy and energy projection.
When the detectives arrived at the scene they found a wall that appeared to have been busted in from the outside. Inside, spralled out on the floor, was the burnt body of the Trickster, a B-grade villain which the police regcognized and knew to have no special powers. Police were already at the scene questioning the Pepperton Protector and New Extreme.
"The Trickster knocked down the wall himself," the Pepperton Protector explained, "and then he went after me." He pointed to the body. "I've never killed anybody before. I've always been so careful with my powers. But I didn't know what the Trickster was now capable of. I wasn't going to take any chances. I figured that if he was strong enough to knock down a wall then burning him would just slow him down."
"But instead you killed him," Jacob said as he arrived at the scene. Terry Lopez, meanwhile, got out his camera and started taking pictures.
"And who are you?" the Pepperton Protector asked.
"Detective Jacob Bailey," Detective Bailey said as he showed his badge. "This is Detective Monica King. That's Terry Lopez. And the rather stiff looking fellow other there is Stanlee."
"Okay," the Pepperton Protector said. "But as I was just telling the officer here, I didn't know what the Trickster was capable of. I was acting in self-defense."
Jacob sighed. "As far as we know, the Trickster wasn't capable of anything: he was just a minor costumed villain."
The Pepperton Protector became irate. "Are you accusing me of lying?"
"I'm just trying to conduct an investigation..."
"Look, times have changed. People can go to Doctors on the street now and get them to give them superpowers: DNA, radiation, drug, virus therapy, the whole nine yards. Some of them die, some of them go insane, some of them come out with the power to rip people's heads off."
"We're well aware of that..."
"Are you? Are you really? Then perhaps that's where you should start looking. I mean you should be asking yourselves where the Trickster got his powers from instead of trying to put the blame on me!"
"We're not here to assign blame. That's for the courts..."
"Oh? Oh really? Seems to me if you people had been doing your jobs then things wouldn't have gotten as bad as they have in the first place!"
"Now, calm down!"
"You know what I ought to do? I ought to go back and deal with some of these petty crooks back before they ever got powers." The Pepperton Protector just disappeared.
"Where'd he go?" Monica asked.
"I don't know," Jacob said. He turned to speak to New Extreme. "Any idea where he went."
New Extreme shrugged his shoulders. "Sounds like he went back in time."
"Great. Just great. So where were you when this happened?"
"I was flying over the city on one of my patrols."
"So you didn't see what happened?"
"No, but we do have a security camera," New Extreme said, pointing to it. "It would have recorded the whole thing."
"Can you show me the video?"
"Sure. Follow me."
Jacob turned to speak to Monica. "Monica, you go speak to the other members of the group. Take Stanlee with you."
Monica and Stanlee went to the Extreme Force Headquarters common area where Mornstar, Fate, Tigress and Mystic were assembled around a Scrabble board.
"The four of you are playing Scrabble?" Monica asked.
"Yep," Mornstar answered.
"Are you always playing Scrabble?"
"Nope," she said, "sometimes we're playing Monopoly."
"But you're supposed to be on duty."
"We are," Fate explained, "but Nathan and Myk-El handle most of the threats to the city all by themselves. We're basically just here to back them up."
"So did you see what happened?"
"You mean when the Trickster got burned?"
"We were all here when it happened," Tigress explained. "We heard a big boom and got up to see what happened but when we got there the Trickster was already dead."
"And then you just went back to playing your game?"
"Yeah. There wasn't anything else to do. Nathan had pretty much delt with the threat. So that was it."
"And this is how you spend your time?" Monica asked. "Playing Scrabble and Monopoly?"
"Pretty much," Mornstar admitted. "Oh we did a lot of TV appearances ten years ago but then people got sick of us. We figure it's only a matter of time before they bring in a new group to replace us."
"You don't have lives outside of this place? No boyfriends?"
"Is that question somehow relevant to your investigation?" Mystic asked, indignantly.
Monica nodded. "I think so. You say you were all here playing Scrabble and that you are usually here playing Scrabble or Monopoly. So my follow up question is whether or not there's anything else you do or if this is how the four of you are spending your entire life."
"Oh we have personal lives but we're on duty right now," Mystic explained.
"If there's an emergency then we're all ready at a moments notice. After all, we can always come back later and finish our game. When we're off duty then we have time to devote to our personal lives. And there are some things that when you are in the middle of it you don't want to have to stop for anything."
Monica let out a deep sigh.
Meanwhile, Detective Jacob Bailey and New Extreme were examining the video footage.
"See?" New Extreme said. "This is the part where the Trickster knocked down the wall. Then he went after the Pepperton Protector."
Jacob nodded. "So he was telling the truth."
Just then, the Pepperton Protector reappeared. He was crying.
"Nathan?" New Extreme said. "Are you okay?"
"I just travelled back in time over thirty years," Nathan explained. "I met my mom and dad, back when they were young. They were angry with me. They were ashamed I had become a killer." He held out his arms for Detective Bailey. "Go ahead, take me in," he said.
"Whoa!" Jacob said. "There's no need for that. You've been cleared of any wrong doing. You clearly acted in self defense. I can see that from the video footage."
Just then Monica and ST.AN.L.E.E. returned.
"Oh! He's back!" Monica said.
Then Jacob got a call on his cell phone. He answered it.
"Hello? Pepperton General Hospital, you say? Okay. I'll send somebody right away." He hung up and turned to Monica. "Okay, I've got enough information that I can start writing my report. Monica, you go to Pepperton General Hospital. An orderly's been murdered. Take Stanlee with you."
Just then, ST.AN.L.E.E. spoke up. "I have something to give you." He reached into his shirt and took out a data card. "This contains crime scene photographs and a transcripts of all the interviews I witnessed." He handed it to Jacob.
"Just doing my job," ST.AN.L.E.E. said. He replaced the card with a blank one from one of his pockets.
Monica nodded. "Let's go to the hospital then."
Monica and ST.AN.L.E.E. arrived at Pepperton General Hospital and went to examine the body of the man who had been attacked.
"Who was the first person on the scene?" Monica asked a Doctor Eugene Spencer.
"That would be ULT.RO.N."
"Yes," he said, "pointing to a large female robot in a nurse's uniform. "ULT.RO.N. stands for ULTimate RObot Nurse. We just started using them."
ST.AN.L.E.E. spoke up. "ULT.RO.N. is the killer."
"What?" Doctor Spencer said.
"My optical sensors can detect subdermal bruising. The shape of the bruises identify the killer. The victim died from blunt force trauma due to contact with large metal fists."
"In that case, Doctor Spencer, we're goint to have to take -- oh."
Just then, Monica and Doctor Spencer collapsed. ST.AN.L.E.E. managed to catch them both and lay them safely on the ground.
"What did you do?" ST.AN.L.E.E. asked.
>>A microwave pulse triggered the urge to sleep in their brains,<< ULT.RO.N. told him. >>They will be alright.<<
"Why did you kill the orderly?"
>>It was a slow day. There weren't enough patients to keep the doctors busy. I was attempting to provide them with one. The orderly turned out to be more fragile than I had anticipated.<<
"Humans aren't capable of taking that sort of punishment," ST.AN.L.E.E. explained.
>>So it would seem,<< ULT.RO.N. said. >>How about you?<< ULT.RO.N. moved to attack ST.AN.L.E.E. but ST.AN.L.E.E. had already assumed a defensive posture.
"I'm a fully trained police detective," ST.AN.L.E.E. said. "I'm expert in the law, police procedure, forensics... and personal combat. You should surrender."
>>Nonsense!<< ULT.RO.N. said. >>As a nurse, I am an expert in the human anatomy. I am quite capable of rendering any person incapacitated." He reached out for ST.AN.L.E.E.
ST.AN.L.E.E. grabbed ULT.RO.N.'s arm. "I am not human," he said. He pulled and twisted ULT.RO.N.'s arm. "I am not a person," he added. He ripped ULT.R.ON.'s arm off. "I am an android. A robot like you." He started to beat ULT.RO.N. over the head with his own arm. "Give up!"
>>Systems failing,<< ULT.RO.N. said. >>Performing emergency shut down!<< ULT.RO.N. went limp.
ST.AN.L.E.E. went to find another doctor and a human nurse. They soon revived Detective King and Doctor Spencer.
"What happened?" Monica asked.
"ULT.RO.N. attacked you," ST.AN.L.E.E. explained. "Then it attacked me."
"But you stopped it?"
"Yes, Ma'am. I did."
"Good work!" she said with a smile.
And thus did a new line of robots become standard for use in everyday life. People got used to them being around just as in previous years people got used to mutants, clones, superheroes and aliens. It would appear as though the human race is capable of adapting to just about anything.
ADD.NOTES: I think that's it for the Extreme series. I have this one idea for a Mading story: the Incredible Hunk appears in Pepperton and grows to be one hundred and twenty feet tall. He then goes on a rampage causing some unfortunate damage to the Statue of Freedom. Or not. You see, I don't have to write the story now because I've already laid the joke out for you. Ha ha ha.
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