Saturday, June 28, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #13

“This is Randy Kenworthy in the booth with Guy Werther, bringing you all the action on the floor here today. Right from the get-go its Master Swift starting the action, sending four of his units against the Destroyer, Maximillian,” the commentator said, adding commentary for those watching the duel online.

“I’m told he’s named them after four renaissance artists and it looks like he is about to paint his own masterpiece tonight, Randy,” added Guy Werther, the color commentator.

“Right you are, Guy. Carrying the ball is Leonardo behind Donatello, with Raphael and Michelangelo strung out to the right.”

In a flurry of movements, the four shifted positions, moving the ball between each other. At first this confused the commenters until they saw Raphael with the ball.

“They’re in the red zone, but there stands Maximillian calm, cool, and collected. I don’t think he’s been fooled by their fancy footwork.”

“Not in the least.”

Raphael dashed forward, straight at the hulking, red automaton with the menacing red eye. He jumped and looked to try a shot on goal over Maximillian’s shoulder, but instead tossed it back to Leonardo who had positioned himself off to the side with a perfect view of the goal.

“The ball goes to Leonardo and he shoots!”

The ball slipped past Maximillian’s sluggish attempts to stop it and sailed into the goal.


The platform was a cascade of color and designs, creating a giant 5 that moved from Hanson’s goal to Swifts. The crowd roared as well.

“Five points to Master Swift and I have to say it was done in spectacular fashion.”

“Exactly, like ninjas those units faced Maximillian head on, overwhelmed his defenses, and scored. I have to say Swift’s strategy maybe the better one, if he can continue to score.”

The four units returned to their side and prepared to go again.

“I thought he’d be faster,” muttered Albro.

“What? That lug? No way, you got this Al.” Jefferson was a ball of excitement, bouncing up and down and yelling as if he had to let some energy out or he would burst.

“Mighty Ducks,” was the next call. Cal seemed to be whispering something to Maximillian from his perch on the other side.

“Here we go with ten minutes of play remaining and Master Swift again takes the initiative, sending his units deep into enemy territory.”

“Master Hanson’s reliance on just the one unit gives Master Swift a lot of opening with his lighter and faster units, Randy.”

Three of the units formed a V, with Raphael in the back with the ball. They moved as one, traveling towards the goal, but on the left hand side. The V suddenly veered across the court to the right hand side.

“What’s this? Raphael has cut across to the left while Maximillian is distracted by the formation moving the opposite direction. He has another chance to score! He throws! He…”
Maximillian’s left, middle arm lashed out and caught the ball, gripping it so tight it looked ready to burst. The other three arms also lashed out, catching Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo by various body parts.

“This isn’t good, Randy.”

The three fought back as best they could, but the unyielding steel held them fast. The left, middle arm first took a hold of Leonardo’s blue banded head and then effortlessly tore it from the body.

“That’s three points to Master Hanson! That’s a confirmed destruction.”
Maximillian tossed the body at Raphael, who became tangled up with its brethren’s carcass. Another hand free, Maximillian methodically took the head off of Donatello and then Michelangelo, their bodies lying twitching at his feet.

“Maximillian has just decimated Master Swift’s team. Decapitating three… three units in as long as it has taken me to speak this sentence.”

“It was so fast,” marveled Guy. The crowd to seemed too stunned with only a hand full cheering at first, but slowly the rest found their voice.

Giant 3’s scrolled across the platform as Raphael slowly pulled himself from underneath Leonardo’s body. He tried to stand but his leg crumpled underneath him and he fell back to the ground. The eye of Maximillian came to a rest on the helpless automaton and then he took a heavy step.

“The score is now nine to five, Master Hanson in the lead and looking like he’s going to be adding three more unless Swift’s unit can get behind the blue line. Isn’t that right Guy?”

“That’s right. That blue line, Randy, is the reset line that stops the clock and forces both teams back to their sides after there has been a score,” explained the color commentator. “If that unit can get across it before Maximillian gets his hands on him it’ll give Master Swift a temporary reprieve.”

Raphael clawed his way across the platform, desperately pulling himself closer and closer to the blue line. 
Maximillian took small, measured steps, choosing to loom over the smaller automaton instead of finishing him quickly.

“It is going to be close!”

Just as Maximillian reached down to take ahold of Raphael’s leg the tip of Raphael’s outstretched finger cross the blue line. The crowd roared and a buzzer sounded. Maximillian stopped.

“What a display of mechanical tenacity! That little robot did not give up.”

“He didn’t want to end up in the scrap head like his brothers.”

“No he did not. Now all eyes turn to Albro Swift to see how he will recover from this turn of events.”

Both Albro and Jefferson simply stood in silence atop their platform; Jefferson’s jaw fully open.

“What do we do, man?”

Albro swallowed and slowly turned to look at his friend, real fear in his eyes. “I don’t know.”

The crowd hushed to listen in on the conversation.

“What can men do against such reckless hate?” Albro’s eyes were desperate.

Jefferson made no answer, instead he looked away.

The sound of a small motor running broke the silence. All eyes suddenly turned towards Ito who rolled to retrieve a ball from the hopper.

“Ito no.”

Ito rolled up beside Raphael and motioned for him to stand over the goal.


Ito rocked its head from side to side like it was stretching it’s neck, then it turned to lack back at Albro.

“I think Master Swift has lost control of that unit there, Guy.”

“I think you’re right, Randy. But what can that little guy do against the terror that is Maximillian?”

Ito gave several thumbs up to Albro and then crossed the center line. Maximillian motioned with his own manipulators for Ito to come closer. Dauntless Ito rolled forward and then he stopped just out of Maximillian’s reach. He looked up, cocked his head from side to side, and then spun to the right.

“What a surprising burst of speed from the goal keeper?! He’s quickly moved to the outside but Maximillian is reaching for him!”

A great maw clamp onto several of Ito’s arms, still he spun and pulled against the red devil. Manipulators and arms tore free and once again Ito was moving.

“Ito, no,” Albro whispered as he watched in horror.

“He’s free, but now once again in the clutches of Maximillian.”

“It doesn’t look good this time, Randy.”

Over half of Ito’s arms were now caught, only a handful remained free and they were busy keeping the ball out of Maximillian’s reach.

“Maximillian,” Hanson yelled. “Finish him.”

As if he weighed nothing, Maximillian pulled Ito off of the ground.

“No… no… no… no…” muttered Jefferson.

Maximillian then violently ripped the arms he held out of Ito’s body. The crowd gasped.

Albro’s eyes were locked on Ito, so he didn’t miss the quick look back and the tiny wink. Ito suddenly leaked black oil from his undercarriage, all over Maximillian. The substance must have been slick because Maximillian instantly lost his grip and Ito fell to the ground – right in front of the goal. He little flick of his one good arm and the ball scored.
The crowd went wild.


“I’ve… I’ve not seen anything like that,” Guy said breathlessly.

“What an amazing goal! In true David and Goliath fashion the little robot that could scores over the colossal titan Maximillian!”

“But the score’s now twelve to ten, with only a single wounded unit left. I don’t know if Swift can do it.”

*                                  *                                  *

Wow! I'm tuckered out. I hope that if you've been holding out because I promised robots fighting that the wait has been worth it. If your need a visual for that battle between Ito and Maximillian here are their inspirations: Maximillian is an homage to Maximilian from Disney's The Black Hole ( with a hint of Battlestar Galactica Cylon; while Ito is an homage to the WED Treadwell droids from Star Wars ( I had thought that I was going to be able to finish it here, but I didn't want to go overly long either. Next week then should be the exciting conclusion of I  01001100   01101111   01110110   01100101  You. See you then.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #12


Jefferson guided the moving truck back towards the side door of the High School Gymnasium and then he and Albro got out. The back door rolled up and the ramp came down.

“Transform and roll out,” Albro commanded from behind his helmet, sweeping his gloved hand towards the door. Ito led a procession of automatons down the ramp; Gronk coming out last.


“Verbal commands was one of the goals of our club, it required the designer to devise strategies before the match since they couldn’t program them during it. You had to know your opponent or at the very least have contingency plans in place.”

“It doesn’t sound autonomous if you’re telling them what to do.”

Albro went to the doors and swung them open, motioning Ito and the rest to go in. “Are football players autonomous? They get calls from the sideline. The end goal was to have that level of autonomy. Our first matches were more like chess, preplanned routes and movements that were very programming intensive. As we developed more sophisticated AI, we could leave more of the problem solving to them. For instance, the first goal keeper unit I built had to be told to block via a verbal command; now Ito does it automatically.”

The vast gym was bathed in light, both from the overhead and from freestanding can lights that bore down on a raised platform. Currently the floor of that platform raced from one color to the next and then into a series of lines. Banners promoting the Duel of the Robotech Masters were hung from the walls, ceiling, and even the basketball hoop. Platforms with cameras were stationed on the four corners of the room and thick, black cables ran to a central booth at the foot of the bleachers.

“Your nemesis went all out.”


Jefferson sensed hesitancy in Albro’s voice. “You can beat him, man.”


Jefferson and Albro’s attention was brought to the knot of men around the central booth, a man in black turtleneck waved wildly.

“That’s Cal.”

“Albro!” Cal motioned for the two to come over.

“I’ve waited long for this day old friend.”


“Why don’t you take off your helmet and Steve…” “Mark,” the man corrected for probably the hundredth time. “Mark… will get you mic’d.”


“Oh, yes! My viewers, at least the premium ones, get the most intimate access to every duel. They’ll hear the strategy, the agony, and the elation of each match.”


“Good, the match starts in an… oh, you brought your little good luck charm.”

“I ain’t nobody’s good luck charm.”

“I was talking to Ito.” Cal bent down to talk to Ito who had followed behind Albro and Jefferson. “Ito, Ito, Ito. I think the second thing I’ve looked forward to all this time is seeing each of your tiny arms being ripped from their sockets.”

Ito raised several fingers on the ends of his manipulators to show he shared the sentiment.

“Delightful. As I was saying, the match starts in an hour. Prepare yourselves gentlemen.” Cal turned and walked off to a curtained off section of the gym.

“I have never wanted so much in my life to slap someone than right now.” Jefferson glared daggers in Cal’s direction.

“Let’s get ready.”

*                                  *                                  *

The overhead lights had been turned off, while the can lights made it impossible to see into the darkness where the audience was filing in. It was a loud, excited crowd that was filling the seats. Albro, Jefferson, and T1N stood in their team box, a raised platform that was behind the goal. The LED display was emblazoned with the logo of the Lectronic Shoppe and the name ROBOTECH MASTER - ALBRO SWIFT shifting from gray to blue and back again. Gwen had had to plead with her uncle to let them use the store as the team’s sponsor. Uncle Sam begrudgingly let them use it, noting that they’d better win.

Gwen had also provided Albro and Jefferson with matching white jumpsuits, also sporting the store logo.

“She thought of everything.” Jefferson said while checking the suit’s fit.

The lights went out and a hush fell over the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” The voice of the announcer broke the silence. “Welcome to the event of this century, the dawn of a new age in entertainment, and you will be the first to experience the Duel of the Robotech Masters!”

“He knows that’s trademarked, right,” Jefferson asked. Albro shook his head, no.

“From the first days of man, he has sought to create life. And now in this new digital age, life has been born.” A screen on the far wall lit up and the image of a robot played across it. “The first were simple, dependent, and meek. Today, however, you will witness the pinnacle of robotics.” The image changed to a giant red robot, a single red eye sweeping back and forth. “Maximillian come forth!”

All the lights went out, save for a single spotlight that shined on the curtained area Cal had went back to. Peeling the velvet away were two great pincers. It strode out on two legs like a bull entering the bullring, strong and powerful. The red eye swept the room, seeming to find all it saw lacking. Secondary arms moved like snakes from the midsection of the automaton, moving with an alluring grace.

“Only one,” Jefferson asked.

“He is a machine breed with a singular purpose,” continued the announcer. “To dominate all others and prove that there can be only one… ROBOTECH MASTER!” With this Calvin Rueben Hanson rose out of the center of the platform, his face showing no emotion.

“Thank you. Thank you. I am excited to share with you the next great thing!”

Albro facepalmed.

“The first duel is especially important to me. My opponent and I were once friends, no, brothers, but then he betrayed me many years ago. He thought he could escape justice but fate deemed that we should finish the duel I was denied. Tonight, I battle a man I once called friend… Albro Swift.”

A beam of light illuminated the suddenly weak kneed Albro. Jefferson and T1N put a hand on his back to steady him.

“You can do this, man. You can beat him.”

Calvin made a flourish with his hands which started a preprogrammed display on the platform’s floor. Patterns of robots moved amongst swirls of color, slowly forming the standard lines of the dueling field. Calvin went up into his team box, while Maximillian stepped out in front of his goal.

“That’s your cue.”

Albro’s mouth was dry but he somehow spit out, “Lead them out Ito.”

Ito gave Albro a sharp nod and then rolled out with five other automatons following behind him. The majority of the past two days had been spent on the four other robots, Ito needing only slight modification. These four, who Jefferson had named Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo (he’d even painted colored headbands on each of them), were similar to T1N in design, but much smaller and presumably lighter.

Ito took his place in front of the goal and the four spread out around the field. Leonardo took the offered ball from the match official and again the room fell to a hush.

Albro took a deep breath. His mind raced like it never had before during a match. Obviously it was a combination of the overwhelming feeling of exposure and the countless number of eyes fixed on him. He wanted to run screaming from the room, but one thought kept him rooted. Gwen was somewhere in the stands watching him as well. One last thought of her and then he brought the mental blinders down.

There was only the playing field and the six units now. “Let’s end this,” he said softly.

“Picard Maneuver.”

*                                  *                                  *

And so it begins...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #11


In a small wood-paneled room about the size of the average living room located on the second floor of City Hall which served double duty as the city council chambers on Thursdays and the municipal court on Mondays and Tuesdays were arranged four rows of folding chairs facing the folding table behind which the five elder statesmen of the town now sat behind.

In the seats were the full membership of the Royal Order of Free Ladies in their yellow scarves, a smattering of bored citizens, and Uncle Sam who took two chairs. Only the ladies of the ROFL were paying any real attention to Ms. VanLoose as she carried on her impassioned speech against robots in all their evil forms.

“I ask the good council if they can feel safe in their own homes, their own families ever at danger from the grave threat of these creations. These soulless things, allowed free and unchecked will grow into a menace that will overthrow all that is good and decent in this world. We've made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our town and we fall back. They assimilate themselves into our lives and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!

“I cannot implore you enough, gentlemen. For the safety of all whom live here we must pass this statute to protect our loved one and our own lives.”

The women clapped loudly to the hidden delight of Ms. VanLoose who took her seat with quiet dignity.

“Thank you Ms. VanLoose. Is there anyone else who would like to offer input?”

Sam jumped with a start, racing Ms. Filtcher who hoped to pile the anti-robot sentiment.

“You all know who I am, so I’ll avoid the pleasantries. You also know how rarely I involve myself in the affairs of others, so there’s that. In truth I’d rather not be here, but I cannot sit on the sidelines and watch you all make one of the more stupid mistakes you’ve made.”

The council shifted uneasily in their seats.

“And this is an especially stupid one.”

The chairman of the council looked to speak in their defense, but Sam continued. Sam plucked up the manila folder that had been set and walked up to the council’s table.

“My brother’s a lawyer in California, so I had him look over your little law.” Sam passed papers to the councilmembers. “As you’ll read he’ll be the first to admit that he’s no expert on the municipal law in this state, but in his opinion the law as written is so broad and so vague that you could drive a truck through it. In its broadest interpretation it could be justified that any electronic device falls under the classification of ‘robot’. This probably stems from the fact that most of your can’t even program your DVR’s, which I know for a fact since I’ve done it for all five of you.

“My brother goes on to explain that this law would more than likely result in long drawn out litigation that would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seeing as just the other week you were all whining about the budget, I seriously doubt we can afford sidewalks to no-where and lawsuits comfortably.”


“But wait, there’s more! Certainly my business would be affected by this mockery of justice, but there are others whose business would be impacted, so I took time yesterday to talk to them about it. These are letters from Presidents, CEOs, General Managers, and Owners who business use or plan to use robots in their businesses.” Sam passed a handful of letters to the chairman. “As you can see, several of the city’s largest employers feel this statute negatively impacts them and one even threatens to close should this law pass.”

Sam gave the council time to rifle through the assorted letters, their eyes big as they read.
“I think I’ve made my point.”

Sam made for the door but then stopped. He pulled out a single sheet of paper and gave it to Ms. de Ruiter, the chairwoman of ROFL.

“That is a letter from myself and the other computer repairmen in town, informing you that we will not serve anyone who’s a part of your group.” Sam looked to three women sitting in the back. “You’ll need to pick up your computers by this afternoon ladies and I suggest refraining from communicating with Nigerian royalty in the future because I won’t help you.”

Sam left a stunned room in his wake.

“Mr. Chairman?”


“I’d like to motion that we table this discussion.”

“Second,” two councilmen said in unison.

“All in favor.” The motion passed unanimously. “And for what length of time should we table this discussion Mr. Bright?”



The motion carried unanimously.

*                                  *                                  *

“What are you smiling about uncle?” Gwen asked as she watched her uncle walk into the store.

He did not answer right away, instead he casually walked to his chair behind the counter. He then took a moment to settle into his seat, sitting with the air of a king lording over his castle. He finally looked at his niece. “I have met the enemy, dear niece, and I have found them wanting.”

“What did you do?”

Sam smiled, “I simply engaged in the civic process.”

I move a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. This is the less than exciting political thriller part of the story, that made me think of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace when I was writing. Aaron Sorkin; George Lucas and I are not, but it was needed to advance the story. The next part is the finale that may come in two parts, not sure since I haven't written it yet. Before the end let me express a hearty thanks for reading!  See you next week.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #10


Jefferson held the door open for T1N and Albro to pass through. They were in the back of the Lectronics Shoppe, Gwen waiting for them next to her uncle. This was Uncle Sam’s domain; shelves full of broken, obsolete electronics, a counter top covered with assorted repair projects, a second counter top with three computers running antivirus programs or disassembled, and of course the tried and true coffee maker still half full with the morning’s pull.

Sam eyed the three who stood uneasily under his gaze. He especially looked over Albro, who had taken off his motorcycle helmet, but still wore his gloves.

“Thank you for letting us use your space, it’ll help a lot.”

“Make sure you inventory everything,” he said to Gwen and then to Jefferson and Albro, “Don’t steal anything.”

It was a warning, threat, and bit of friendly advice rolled into one that both men intended to follow implicitly.

“Well, I’m off. Expect me when you see me.” He picked up a manila folder from this desk, checked to see it was the right one, and started towards the front. Gwen followed and stopped him before he got far.

“It’s not even nine?”

“Indeed it is not.”

“You never leave.”

“Well I have business in town today.” Gwen gave him a puzzled look. “I’ll see you at closing. Ken, you’re in charge.”

“Quick! Quick! Locks the doors,” said the bald headed man who had been watching the baseball game on several sets of TVs.

“Now I know something’s up, you never leave Ken in charge.”

“These are strange days, niece.”

Gwen came returned to the back to find Jefferson, Albro, and T1N in the same place she’d left them.

“Oh, boy.” She opened the door to her left and motioned for them to go in. This half of the back was a large bay that stored extra product, rolls of cable, and the packages waiting for pickup. See the packages Albro turned to Jefferson and asked, “How did you get the day off with such short notice?”

“Get the day off? You make it sound like I need permission.”

Albro and Gwen looked at each other with raised eyebrows.

“Anyway, I’m still waiting for the official story. Unlike some people…” he glanced at Gwen, “I’ve been out of the loop.”

“Let’s start bringing and I’ll explain while we get setup.” Gwen raised the man door to the outside and they started to move in the boxes of supplies out of the U-Haul truck.

“The quick version is, while I was in college my roommate and I started a robot league.”

“Automaton,” Jefferson interjected.

“No, robot. They had to be preprogrammed or remotely controlled. It started with just us and grew to the point that we were having meets with other schools. We had strict rules and it was focused on problem solving not fighting. Where I was drawn to the skill side of the game my roommate, Cal, was drawn to a darker path. Unbeknownst to be me had started his own underground robot fight club. When I did find out things came to a head and we decided to settle it with a duel.” Albro gave Gwen a furtive look, which she caught but pretended not to notice. “But before I arrived, campus security closed everything down and shortly after Cal was expelled. In addition to his unsanctioned use of school property for his fight club, he was also gambling on the results. The University came down pretty hard on him. I blamed me, thinking I was the one that hat ratted him out.”

“Did you?”

“I’d known about the fight club longer than I had let on and we were weeks away from graduating when this all happened. I expected to have our duel and then go our separate ways. Instead he’s hated me for years.”

“Which is why you’ve been hiding! It all makes sense now.”

“Uh… yeah.”

“So how does this duel work,” Gwen asked carrying out the last box from the truck.

“It seems Cal hasn’t forgotten a thing, it’s the same rules we’d agreed to way back then. It’s a mix of skill and fighting. Each player is able to field a team of up to six robots or a team weighing no more than a half ton.”

“That’s interesting.”

“We had that rule because Cal use to build his team out of big, bruisers that could just run you over. A half ton was a good limit that still let him field two of his big robots but kept him from overpowering everyone. It also adds an extra layer of strategy.” Albro started to arrange a miniature playing field in the middle of the floor. “Each team has a goal to protect. Scoring a goal is 5 points, this was how I liked to win. Disabling one of your opponent’s players is worth 3 points, although Cal argued it should be worth more as this was his preferred style. You play to fifteen points or thirty minutes, whichever comes first.”

“So it’s like football?”

“It’s sort of a mix of football and soccer, because you have goalies guarding your goals. But, yes, it is a lot like football.” Albro stood up. “Would you guys like to meet the best goalie in the league?”
They followed Albro into the back of the U-Haul to a tarped mound. With a flourish Albro threw sheet back to reveal Ito, still deactivated.


“He was the first fully autonomous robot to be fielded. I won every match I played him.” Albro was quiet for a long time and then went down on his knee and switched Ito back on. The two were impossibly still and seemed to be communicating without words.

“I need your help old friend.”

Ito laid a manipulator on Albro’s shoulder.

“Till all are one,” Jefferson whispered reverently. Gwen gave him a side long glance.

I think when I'm done I'm going to make a Geek Reference Check List to see how many I made and from where. Just two days left - Friday and Saturday. I hope you've enjoyed it so far and have shared with your friends and family my quirky little story. Leave your comments and be back next week!