LANCER: Unregulated NHP [Abyss]

put that guy in a SITUATION
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flareonfloof
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LANCER: Unregulated NHP [Abyss]

Post by flareonfloof »

Lorentz always kept one eye on the hallway camera when this equipment was sprawled across his desk. He wasn't entirely sure how many laws he was breaking by working on this, but he knew it was at least six. One of them, he'd read, routinely resulted in the Union black ops team getting called in. So, with circuit boards, subtly shifting wiring, and a PC full of code he wouldn't be able to explain at gunpoint all within arm's reach, he kept one eye on the camera.

Vanu was his dream assignment. A marine exobiologist posted to a tourist-economy ocean planet in the diaspora? Even the security staff knew enough to congratulate him when he brought the news to his old posting. Union surrounded him with like-minded scientists and cutting edge surveying technology, and even trained the staff on operating Pharos-platform mech chassis modified for subaquatic observation. No weapons, of course, but still.

Thankfully, Union also gave him a lot of free time. Almost too much.

Almost.

"Now." One of the loosely-wired sound cones on his desk crackled to life with a single word. Lorentz clicked the stopwatch in his lap and raised an eyebrow.

"Are you sure about that?"

"Absolutely."

"It was only 15 seconds."

"Nonsense. That was clearly 60 seconds."

He lifted the stopwatch and pointed the screen at a lens mounted in a small black box among the mess. "15 seconds, Abyss. A fairly clean 15 seconds, at least, so we're getting closer."

A moment of silence passes before the speaker buzzes again. "I've sent a diagram and some firmware for you to implement. It shouldn't take much longer than an hour with your adept level of skill."

"Bet I can do it in 15 minutes," Lorentz replied with a smirk.

"This is the partial formation and refinement of my subjective self, Lorentz. Please do not rush. I will be watching."

He sighed and opened the new folder that appeared on his desktop. Squinting at the code contained within, he resigned himself to understanding the system he was building even less.

Lorentz loved this assignment, but it wasn't perfect. There were far too many people on this vessel, for one thing. It was always nice to collaborate, but even off-hours were overwhelming. He started spending most of his days off in his room within two weeks, and it was four until he had a basic AI built from scratch to help him sort through the vast data pulled up by the Pharos fleet. After another month, he had equipped it with a language model. Two weeks after that, it had speakers, a microphone, a camera… At some point in all of the ensuing tinkering and additions, the program he was building took on a life of its own.

Her own.





"You need me to what?"

Lorentz sighed and leaned against the doorframe. "Did you really not hear me, or is that a no?" He knew that Kau would be a difficult sell, but she was the only engineer on staff who wouldn't immediately report this to their officers.

"I… Listen, I can't just-" Kau began, but cut herself off when she saw Lorentz's dejected reaction. "I can't just install random equipment into any of the mechs, there's a whole, like, procedure, there's paperwork and-"

"Abyss isn't random equipment!"

"Sorry, you know what I meant." She watched Lorentz relax against the wall of her office. He seemed more nervous than usual, very fidgety… She raised an eyebrow, then both, and blurted out, "Wait. That's a casket? I've never heard of one called Abyss before, is it new source? How'd you afford one? How'd you get it past the ensign?"

"I, uh… Listen, this is kind of heavy, can I rest it on your desk?" Lorentz asked, desperate to buy time for him to think of plausible answers.

"Oh! Yeah, sure."

"Right, thanks."

"It looks… damaged. Shipping issues?"

After setting Abyss's casket down, Lorentz took a deep breath. No point in skirting around the issue. "I had to scavenge the housing from workshop scrap. It was the best I could do."

"Ah, yeah. That makes sense." Kau leaned back in her chair for a moment, but popped back upright with a start. "Wait, you built this?"

"I-"

"I didn't even know you studied NHPs!"

"My bachelor's was in-"

"Are you sure it's safe? I mean, I've heard shackling is-"

"Yes!" Lorentz shouted from across Kau's desk. He grimaced at his own tone and stepped back to shut the door. "Sorry. You were saying a lot, really fast, and-"

"Yeah, I get it. Sorry." Kau stood up, walked around her desk, and picked up the box. It was made of steel, about the size of a small duffel bag. She had seen the scorch marks covering one side, but getting closer helped her notice the series of bolts holding the two halves together. Surveyed it in her hands, she said,"Y'know, I could probably put together a better case for it."

"Her."

"For her, yeah. Sorry."

Lorentz sighed. "It's fine. You'd really do that?"

"Of course. I know I wouldn't like clothes that torn and beat up."

"It's not really-"

"I know it's not the same, but it's like, a metaphor. Y'know? Anyway, yeah. I didn't know you made this, which does explain a lot." She sighed. "Next time I've got a mech in pieces in my bay I'll fit a better case for her into the floor of the compartment. Should be the safest place for it." Kau's computer beeped as a notification arrived, startling both of them.

Lorentz opened his arms and looked expectantly at Kau. She smiled and set the box down before accepting the hug. "You're the best mechanic on the ship, Kau. Thank you."

"On the ship?"

Lorentz chuckled and released the embrace. "On the planet." Another notification arrived, and he took a step for the door. "Looks like someone needs your attention. I'll let you get to it?"

Kau shrugged as she sat back down at her desk. "It's probably just the foreman. I should make sure it's not the ensign though, good idea. See you around." Lorentz waved a small goodbye and retreated back into the hallway. Leaning back in her chair, Kau pulled up her inbox and smiled.

FROM: 192.168.0.16
Your assistance is very appreciated. Thank you.

FROM: 192.168.0.16
Is it possible for the new housing to be black?
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WARRIORPRINCESS99
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Re: LANCER: Unregulated NHP [Abyss]

Post by WARRIORPRINCESS99 »

I like it! I haven't thought about lancer in quite a while. I ran it for a bit but it had too much crunch for my taste
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berriesnturtles
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Re: LANCER: Unregulated NHP [Abyss]

Post by berriesnturtles »

love this, well written and very interesting :3
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Looks like you need to collect 200 of me for your fucking quest!
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