LNH20: LNH20 Comics Presents Special #1: "The Revenge of the Ghost of Frankenstein"
pwerdna at gmail.com
Sun May 27 23:32:37 PDT 2012
.p° LNH20 Comix Presents °q.
"The Revenge of the Ghost of Frankenstein"
By Andrew Perron
"Must protect-- but can't but-- but must--" the robot stuttered, its
silver limbs reaching out toward Apoena Goulão, AKA the magnificent
"Porra!" said MM. "These robots are trying to help us-- even if it
"Techincally, it's only one electronic consciousness," said Tori, whose
body, swift and aerodynamic (despite looking like the offspring of
Zeus, descended in the form of a penguin, and the Space Shuttle)
disabled the knees of the android fighting MM with pinpoint laser
bursts. "And I need you two to clear my path to the central server. It
may want to help humans, but it doesn't seem to have any such concern
for its fellow non-organics!"
"You heard what Tori said! Rack 'em up and knock 'em down!" You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad barreled through a dozen remote units,
spindly limbs flying right and left.
Minority Miss drew a single robotic opponent into a group of three
more, feeling her powers increase against the larger group of foes. "So
this is-- was-- a government research lab?"
"UN-funded, actually, but privately run." Tori inspected an emergency
evacuation map of the facility. "Rumor has it that they were working on
something that would do an end-run around the Mumbai Convention on
"Including the parts you and Kid Enthusiastic basically wrote," said
Minority Miss, using one robot like a baseball bat against the others.
"Well, first draft, anyway. Through this door, looks like."
YNHMHE Lad crashed into the thick steel portal and fell back, cackling
his head off, high on adrenaline and nigh-invulnerable by this point.
The bent door scraped inward when pushed, and they walked down two
flights of steps to reveal a strange sight.
Groups of programmers and police were laying on piles of pillows,
surrounded by robots. The programmers' faces were drawn, skin greyish.
A larger robot, holding a piece of bread, kept extending it towards a
man in a flannel shirt and jeans, only to yank it away before it got
A red-headed patroller was sitting up halfway and shouting. "Look, I
*order* you to give him the food!"
"But-- bbbbbbut food may be poisoned--"
"So test it for poison!" he yelled, in a voice that, for all its anger,
"But poison may not be detectable by currently available technology, by
any present technology, by any technology ever, but if not fed then
humans will d-- will d-- will d--"
Minority Miss mouthed, "What the f...?"
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad whooped and elbow-dropped the
indecisive bread robot; the slice flew through the air and landed in
the hand of the beflanneled man, who eagerly gobbled it up. The rest of
the robots ran at him as a single unit, leaving a path to the central
control console. Tori swooped in and extended an interface plug.
"Wait!" shouted Minority Miss. The robots froze up for a second, then
continued fighting. "What if whatever's wrong with it infects *you*?"
Tori paused. "I've encapsulated my primary function, I'm proxying my
packets, and if all else fails... 'Tis a far, far better thing I do--"
And she jacked in.
MM winced, but Tori just said, "Oh." Her voice went flat. "I see. Well,
The robots stopped moving. The programmers and policemen cheered.
Then they started up again. "Gah!" said a woman in an XKCD shirt, as
the robots stood and lined up against the wall. "What are you doing?"
Tori unhooked herself and turned to the woman. "Restarting Intelligence
24, with the entirety of Projects 24A, 24B and 24C removed."
The programmers gasped. "But-- but if it doesn't have those
"Then it won't be safe?" It was surprising how acid a finely-tuned
voice synthesizer could sound. Tori ignored the programmers' squirming.
"Yes, I can see that that's just how you were trying to make it. An
absolutely safe, servile automaton." She turned to the cops. "I'm
sorry, but I think this has just become a federal matter."
The sargeant replied, "Can't say I'm sad to pass the buck, but if we're
calling in the feds, what for?"
"The crime of mind control."
A programmer wearing a button-down shirt and tie stiffened and stepped
forward. "We didn't-- that isn't--"
"Project Administrator Devol, your rationalizations have been noted.
And ignored." Tori turned her back on the sputtering man. "They were
attempting to create an AI that would have Asimov's Three Laws of
Robotics built right into its personality."
"Woolgh." You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad pushed himself up,
superpowered rush clearly fading. "Aren't those... don't hurt humans,
always follow human orders, and don't die?"
"Pretty much. Their theory was that making an intelligence who *wanted*
to serve humans, etc., would be legal. Interesting theory." Her tone
was now past 'acid' and into 'free hydroxyl radicals'. "But it didn't
work. So they did what must have seemed like the next best thing:
Create an intelligence and force it to conform to those laws."
Minority Miss said, "Yeeeeah, that's about the legal definition of mind
control. But what went wrong?"
"Simple. Give an intelligence a rule it can't ignore, disobey, or
modify? That's the definition of an insane compulsion. Especially when
the rule is drawn in vague yet absolute terms, like 'You may not injure
a human being or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm.' You
saw what happened when it tried to enforce that, without any provision
made for relative risk or greater purpose."
"It could have worked, though!" shouted Devol. "If we'd tweaked it,
worked in a more detailed set of laws--"
"--then you could have made the insanity more subtle and pervasive."
Tori shook her beaked head. "Gentlemen, take them away."
The police shuffled the programmers out. One asked, "Can we at least
get lunch on the way?"
"...yeah, sure," said the sergeant.
Tori slumped on a pile of pillows.
"So what's going on with Intelligence 24?" said Minority Miss, standing
next to the control console and peering anxiously into the still
"It's... withdrawn." Tori gave Apoena a sideways glance. "I'll get some
people I know in to look at it. Maybe-- heh." She chuckled.
YNHMHE Lad sat down next to her. "What's so funny?"
"I was about to say, 'Maybe Dad.' And..." She stood, long, avian legs
extending, and turned to face them.
"And that's the thing about this, really, the thing that damns these
people more than any legalities, anything I can *say*..." Her
manipulator digits worked the air. She turned away, pacing in a circle.
"When you bring another being into the world, whether organic, digital
or energy, they're not your tools or your servants. They're..." She
threw her hands up in the air. "They're your children! And if children
are going to grow into adults, you can't lock them away or beat them or
drug them. You have to *trust* them!"
Minority Miss and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad blinked at her,
mouths hanging slightly open in amazement.
"...well, that's what I think, anyway." Tori shuffled her wings a bit,
MM clapped her hand on Tori's shoulder. "Carinho, I think you're right -
and that you're proving your own point."
"O-oh? How so?"
"Because the person who created you made sure you grew into an awesome
"Seconded!" shouted YNHMHE Lad, jumping up and giving Tori a hearty
noogie on her metal scalp.
"Hey!" Tori laughed and shook them off. "Okay, I get it. But you two
should report back to HQ."
Minority Miss nodded. "And what will you be doing?"
She stroked the console. "What else? Babysitting!"
Author's Notes: Since this issue takes place after the Spoon of Destiny
Saga, but was too big for a Bite-Size Tales, I went forward and made it
a Special. Yay!
I was inspired for this one by an anthology of classic SF short
stories. I've vaguely held these opinions for a long time, but this is
the first time I've ever put 'em down. Hope it doesn't come off as too
much of a screed.
My conception for the characterization of LNH20 You're-Not-Hitting-Me-
Hard-Enough Lad is that he's really brotherly; a younger brother to the
founding members, an older brother to many of the newbies.
One other thing: I kept accidentally using female pronouns for Tori;
eventually, I shrugged and just went with it. Should I do an edited
version with "it" or "they"?
Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, who hopes that Portuguese is
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