Saturday, 30 March 2013

A is for Annabel's Grave


I have always been a bit lackadaisical about posting to this blog, so I am going to try A-Z April posting thing, for my own benefit more than anyone else’s. I used to be a very productive writer, but that was when I did it for a living and if I didn't write I didn't eat. Self-discipline, that's what I need, and though this A-Z thing is pretty cheesy it's as good a place to start as any. So, 26 things, gameable things, and they are going to be about the Known Space Traveller setting I never really got anywhere with (see previous posts), but nickable for anything sci-fi.

Annabel's Grave

472 Aquila E334113 9 Low Pop


Annabel Wozniak is the poster girl for the anti-cybernetic movement. A hotel manager from Warsaw, Poland, she was run down and nearly killed in a grav-car pile up in 2253 and what little was left of her was left paralysed. Cebus Cybernetic Corporation offered her a new lease of life as the living control computer for the staff of a luxury space liner. The on-board stewardbots were efficient enough on their own, but still in that 'uncanny valley' that made passengers uneasy around them, Annabel was to give them a bit more of a human touch by intermittently remotely controlling them. It worked well, one human brain in a tank could manage a staff of half a dozen, vastly cutting costs. With a direct link to a computer expert system Annabel was given a medbot, then a couple of maintenance bots and then it started to go wrong.

Being virtually present in her many robot shells was no substitute for being fully alive, and she became increasingly eccentric, mothering the passengers, then bossing them about, arguing with the chief engineer and then getting antsy with the pilot and captain of what she insisted was her ship, her very body. She secretly used her engineer bots to put in a few circuit boards here and there and one day seized control of the autopilot, annexed the navigation computer and life support and froze all the controls. Annabel was in command of the ship, and its passengers.

The mass kidnap wasn't easy, the stewardbots had to do some violent crowd control, and the medbot had to put most of the surviving passengers and crew into a drug induced coma. She radioed her hopelessly unrealistic demands – a real human body for her brain to be transplanted into and a million credits per passenger – and then engaged warp drive. She was pursued to this then uninhabited system, and after an unsuccessful boarding action she was forced to crash land into the ice capped sea on the dark side of a tidally locked planet. And there she lays to this day, a gruesome monument to a failed experiment in Transhumanism. Cebus Cybernetic went bust due to the lawsuits and fines, and the ship was too deeply sunk to profitably recover.

The current settlement is a landing field and stopover just over the dayside of the terminator line run by HappyCorp Waystations. It has a population of 25 humans and 50 barely autonomous robots. HappyCorp renamed the world Annabel's Garden, and then Unicorn Garden, but on most maps and in the minds of the starfaring public it is still Annabel's Grave, and this raises all kinds of un-Happy and macabre associations. The port has few visitors, the projected colony and mining operation has fizzled from lack of interest, the irritating muzak plays for no one but the bored staff and forlorn cook-bots stand silently rusting in the food court, spatulas at the ready for a HappyBurger take out order that never comes...

Adventure Seeds

  • Cyber-psychologist Professor Julia Yamato wants to dig up Annabel and see if the addition of so many expert systems and multiple bodies could have contributed to her flip out.
  • Father Hennig Kosminsky, interstellar Jesuit, wants to conduct a mass for a lost Catholic soul driven mad by ungodly cyberneticists (or possibly recover the tech for use with his plan for an immortal infallible cyber-Pope).
  • Annabel's great-niece Danielle is sure she is alive down there and wants her great-aunt's life support turned definitively off, so at least she will find peace.
  • The bots are acting funny – is it the ghost of crazy Annabel seeking to inhabit another machine body?
  • HappyCorp PR are serious about this Unicorn Garden business – they have found an ex-Cebus Cybernetics scientist to implant the brains of horses into pink fluffy robot unicorn bodies to gambol around the icy wastes and burning deserts and act as a tourist attraction.
  • The crew of a freighter just come into port reckon they saw a battered old space liner zooming through space, but they out ran it. Kept sending peculiar signals about their starship not having its vest on in the subzero cold of space.
  • A sinister black ship has entered orbit, the vessel of Alpha Geek Omicron 2652, the Transhumanic Cybergoth popstar. The silicon-crazed loon has decided the homicidal cyborg stewardess is destined to be the love of his life and wants to reactivate her.