Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Part I: Gaston is Found Out
Written 30 October, 2012
It began with a frantic IM.
"Thief! Taker of cogs! Gearnapper!"
"Whatever are you going on about, Gaston?" I said.
Gaston is the liftbot at our Sub-Orbital Asteroidal Retreat, 4000 meters above Whimsy.
"Alphonse!" he hissed. "That brass imposter! He has stolen my flywheel! He knows I can't function without my flywheel!"
"Alphonese took your flywheel?" I said. "Why?"
"He knows I must go up! And he knows I cannot go up without it! Bastard!"
"Excuse me," I said. "I have a call on IM line 2."
It was, of course, Alphonse. Alphonse is the downbot.
"Quisling! Fifth Columnist! Saboteur!" he snarled.
"Good morning to you, too," I said.
"You are going to hear from Gaston," Alphonse said. "Don't believe him. He is a weasel. A stoat."
Gaston and Alphonse have an intense and bitter rivalry. Since they are variants of the same model they're technically cousins, but they despise one another. Alphonse believes Gaston feels superior because he takes people up to the top of the blimp tower, while he, Alphonse, takes people downward to the hollow interior of the asteroid. I point out both he and Gaston take people both up AND down, but he refuses to hear me. It doesn't help that Gaston takes every opportunity to antagonize him.
"I, Gaston, am now going UP!" he will say on their common script channel, knowing Alphonse will hear. Alphonse unfailingly responds with French profanity I (happily) can't understand.
"Did you take Gaston's flywheel?" I asked Alphonse.
"No I did not," he said. "I have a flywheel of my own, and it's made of brass. His flywheel is made of common steel."
"Hang on," I said. "Gaston is on hold on the other line. I'm going to start a group IM."
I switched back to Gaston's IM box and saw his last lines:
"The Palisades suspects nothing. I told her that upstart downbot Alphonse stole my flywheel."
He continued. "Oh, merde, I'm typing in the wrong box! Uh, Ignore that, Cheyenne! I did not say that! It's a trick. Yes, another of Alphonse's tricks!"
I started the group IM.
I said, "Alphonse didn't take your flywheel, did he, Gaston?"
"J'accuse!" roared Alphonse. "J'ACCUSE!"
After several seconds Gaston said in a small voice (he has the optional whisper module), "He did too!"
I teleported to 4000 meters and flew to the SOAR build.
"Gaston," I said, "I'm activating your conscience subroutine."
"Mistakes were made," said Gaston.
I turned up the gain, knowing it should trigger a remorse sub-subroutine.
"If my flywheel were to be stolen," he said, "Alphonse would without doubt be the guilty party."
"Oh-kay," I said, and turned the gain all the way up.
"Alphonse did not take my flywheel," Gaston said. "I'm sorry I told that lie."
"Aha!" said Alphonse. "Ah, and ha! Aha!"
"Gaston,"I said, "I'm ashamed of you. You have a high-level processor and should know better than to tell falsehoods. Maybe you should be the downbot for a while."
"No, please no!" cried Gaston. "I must go up! I live to go up!"
"He has more to tell you," said Alphonse.
I looked at Gaston.
"Yes," he said, "I do."
With his electronic conscience overclocked (I had turned the dial to 11), Gaston had no choice but to reveal all.
Posted by Cheyenne Palisades at 4:09 PM