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The Trip Of Dr. Innovatium

written by Dr. Innovatium

In the beginning, there’s only darkness. The odd sounds of metallic moaning and creaking clockwork fade into the ambient silence of the workshop. Pipes riddle the many corners like cobwebs, littered televisual monitors flicker and throw out strange images, like the withering images of a past fever dream. The structure of the complex, long since warped by the residual radiation of the compound Innovatium – theorised to be the physical manifestation of pure imagination – has long since passed euclidean geography, so that one door can lead to more than one room, or to a different reality. It is in one particular room, accessible only through the humming of an unordinary tune, that the Doctor lies.

The room is bare, akin to the padded dwellings of a mental institution, except twice as large. In the very centre, a reclining seat, like an electric chair without the devices, supports a gangly, tall figure. In it’s gnarled, gloved hand, the solitary light reflects oddly on the quivering droplets scattered within the otherwise empty glass. The figure’s attire is reminiscent of a Neo-Victorian aristocrat; a red, patterned waistcoat over a long-sleeved white shirt, black trousers sprouting into black shoes, goggles with red and blue lens resting on a gaunt, unshaven face. As the viewer takes in further details, they would notice the strange scribbles on the walls, of bizarre creatures and quasi-religious beings, in paints and colours that seemed to contradict each other. It is said that to understand the mind of one that wonders beyond the walls of human understanding, one must leap past that wall and meet them along the way.

The paintings, as the viewer takes in the perspective of the near-comatose figure, begin to peel off the walls, their colours blending with the air, until the creatures have blended into one, gaseous cloud of colour that morphs into other creatures; stick figures, cats, dogs, six-legged pirates, purple elephants, polkadot-tailed cetaceans, eventually going beyond any comparable lifeform and into the realm of subconscious dreams and nightmares. To look upon these beings in vivid detail would drive a human mad, though it seems that the figure had already passed this point a long time ago.

A quarter-hour passed as the ethereal images grew wild and colourful, to the point where no word in the human language could possibly describe the panorama other than a sea of colour and radiant lights, and the sensation as gently falling forwards whilst remaining in place. And in the midst of this psychedelic light-show, the slumped figure remains completely still, staring dead ahead as if his mental destination lies before him.

Then, after another quarter-hour, the alien colours and bizarre figments coalesced into an incandescent white light that purged all shadows in the room, as well as all outlines which separated the walls and the floor and the ceiling. The figure leans forward, his before vacant face now uncurling into an anticipating grin, his features melting before the light.

Each trip into the Imagiverse ended with the light, Dr. Innovatium had observed. In each of his writings after ingesting the substance that was his namesake, he found it impossible to describe what it was, or what it meant. What he could remember, though, was the sensation of utter bliss, a rarity in more commonplace psychedelics like LSD or marijuana, which were only crude gateways into the subconscious realm.
When facing the light, he could escape from all worries and fears, forget his status as an outcast of conventional society, take a step away from the world fuelled by war, fear and exploitation. He could fulfil all of his dreams, in that one moment of ecstasy, relieve all mortal desires, realise all fantasies. Under that light, he could do anything but rule the world it inhabited. He knew that he, a mere mortal traversing a mental realm, could not achieve such a task. The best he could accomplish was to learn from
it, live by it, die by it. It was his destiny to explore the fantastic realm and record it for those who dare follow his footsteps, to pick up from where he left off, and chase the dream to the very corners of the human psyche.

The light, as suddenly as it appeared, went out.


The figure slumped, his feverish mind now run ragged from the sensation. The glass in his hand dropped onto the floor, rattling gently as it rolled away from the unconscious Doctor. In his dreams, the visions faded back into obscurity, partially erased by the part of the brain responsible for its preservation. When he wakes up, he will record the trip as before, not so much as to determine a difference between them, but as a way of recording the number. He took this journey as a source of inspiration, a moment where he could recharge his fevered mind, ready for the next impractical
invention he would design.

In the meantime, there’s only blackness.

There’s Money In The Walls

written by Six

Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk!

“Wait… do you think this is a good idea, Six?”

Private Six looked up from his cup of coffee and towards Robot #5252 who held his pickaxe above his head. It was times like these that Six wished he hadn’t convinced one of the more “competent” soldiers to give 5252 more personality. He was hoping to find a snarky, wisecracking sidekick like the heroes in all of his favorite movies had. Instead, he got a worrywart pessimist who spent just as much time lecturing him as Six’s mother had back when he wore short-pants. Six carefully placed his mug of coffee on the ground and jumped up to snatch the pickaxe from the much taller robot.

“Do I think this is a good idea? Look who you’re talking to, hoss!”

Six leapt up once more but 5252 lifted the pickaxe higher so he couldn’t reach it. Before he could reconsider the repercussions of his actions, Six smacked the robot in the chassis and winced in pain as the hard, hot metal bounced off his skin. 5252 looked down at him with the same grinning expression someone built him with but the action seemed to imply worry or sympathy. Six kicked the robot and coiled back in pain once more as the tip of his toes hit metal.

“Are you okay, Six?”

“Quiet you… and keep digging!”

Six limped back towards his coffee just in time to see a pair of tiny feet kicking up into the air from inside his mug. With a sigh, he lifts the mug to see one of the bunker’s many hamsters chugging the last of his coffee. The hamster looked up at him and blinked twice. After the third blink, the hamster’s pupils dilated and the small animal vibrated. Six had seen this before. The Toy Soldiers had banned the hamsters from drinking coffee for the general safety of themselves and the Bunker. Something about caffeine made the hamsters unpredictable.

“You’re about to have a very interesting day, short man.”

The general rule of thumb was to report any caffeinated hamster sightings to the fellow soldiers in case they create havoc. As the motivational poster in the mess hall goes “See Something, Say Something.” However, the small shaking rodent was about five seconds from Lightspeed which gave Six an idea. 5252 was making so much noise that surely someone would come investigate… but if they had another, more pressing problem then it didn’t matter how much noise they made. They were several levels below the usually occupied corridors so the chances that someone discovered them were thin, but Private Six always welcomed a distraction when doing something he probably shouldn’t. Six carefully lifted the vent off the air vent that the hamsters use from multi-level travel and tossed the hamster inside. The whole vent vibrated and shook as the caffeine took effect. Then, with no prior warning, the hamster vanished with a dash that kicked up small clouds of dust as it sped ahead towards the community area.

“Safe travels!”

Six slammed the vent shut and turned back to 5252 who was watching him. Somehow, despite the robot’s face not changing, he could feel the 6’7” machine judging him.

“What?”

“That didn’t seem like a wise thing to do, Six.”

“I thought you were digging?”

5252 sighed… or at least made a sound like he was sighing. More than likely it was the hiss of the pistons in his arms releasing so he could swing the pickaxe again. It was also possible that 5252 intentionally made his piston hiss to punctuate his point. Regardless he resumed working. Sparks flew as the pickaxe hit the metal wall of the corridor. 5252 had been at it for about half an hour now and the metal was wearing thin finally. If it hadn’t been for 5252’s strength and durability, they would have never gotten this far along.

Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk! Ta-Thump!

The pickaxe broke through the corridor wall and the duo looked through the newly created hole into darkness. The air that came through was musty and heavy with the scent of dirt. The artificial air that pumped through the digital bunker was always nice and pleasant smelling like fresh laundry. The exception being Halloween and Toymas where the robots in charge of the ventilation added cinnamon and nutmeg to make the bunker smell like pumpkin pie. Despite the cave not smelling good, it smelled different and that immediately made it fascinating and exciting.

“Six, can you remind me why you wanted me to sacrifice the structural integrity of this corridor?”

Six had spent weeks walking through the lower corridors, periodically knocking on the walls in search of one that was hollow. There was a space beyond the corridors and when there are secret hidden spaces there was usually something hidden there that someone didn’t want found. He did his best to avoid going any lower than he had to because all the weird stuff happens down there. While he enjoyed the weird, strange, and macabre… he also didn’t want to end up meeting the Hot Dog Man. Six shuddered at the thought of smelling all of that spoiled beef and pork byproducts. He shook his head to shake the unwelcome thought out of his skull before peering through the hole.

“Don’t you ever want to see what’s going on outside of here? Like there has to be things outside of the corridors! Tunnels, caves, aqueducts, minerals… maybe gold.”

“Gold?”

Six could feel the permanent gaze of the robot staring into the back of his knit hat. It wasn’t like gold was the only motivator for Six to deface his adopted home. Part of being a Soldier was to embrace your unending curiosity and desire to go where few would dare. Besides, Six wasn’t good at science and he knew next to nothing about machinery or quantum physics or any of that stuff. Six had a creative mind and a healthy interest in solving riddles and problems… he wasn’t great at much else. This usually led him into mischief and trouble.

“What? You never wanted to be a pirate in search of gold? Don’t you have a sense of adventure?”

“No. Someone built me to wash dishes.”

It was a valid point. Before Six could snap back at 5252 with some witty retort, he heard a loud crash and a scream come down the hallways. The hamster had made it to the community area and was no doubt raising hell with his tiny caffeine fueled body. The problem with the distraction was that it wouldn’t last long. Six knew for a fact someone had reprogrammed other bots to round up wayward hamsters. Carefully, he pulled himself through the hole in the wall.

“Private Six, where on earth do you think you’re going?”

The opposite end of the hole glowed green after Six cracked a glow stick he had carried in his pocket. Admittedly, he should have made sure there was a ground on the opposite end of the hole before leaping through. He could have been jumping into a bottomless abyss for all he knew but live and learn. The cavern was wide and tall, probably going up about fourteen feet yet it was empty all the way down into a large tunnel like opening at the far end of the cave. Typically, one expects to see stalactites and stalagmites this far underground but the surfaces were smooth as glass.

“Weird…”

Skrunch! Skrunch!

Six about leapt out of his skin as he turns to see 5252 stretching the hole in the bunker larger so he can fit through. Six had brought sheet metal and a welding gun to patch up the hole… but he hadn’t planned on patching up a 6’7” hole. The bots were never the most elegant designs and they had done little to change them since the Toy Soldiers discovered them. The red glowing eyes in the dark also didn’t improve matters.

“Did you find your gold, Private Six?”

“No… I found something weird. This cave is clean… like really clean.”

Six leaned over to the ground and rubbed his fingers against the smooth, cave surface. It was cold like one would think a cave wall would be but that was the only natural thing about it. Now, it was preposterous for one to compare anything that happens in the digital bunker to a sense of normalcy, but this wasn’t technically inside the bunker. Six heard scraping metal on metal as he turned to see 5252 observing the debris from their tunneling. 5252 held up one of larger shards of metal for Six to see closer. There were long, jagged scrapes on the metal from their pickaxe.

“Six, I found something.”

“Yeah, it’s where we dug our way through the wall. So what?”

5252 turned the metal shard over and Six saw that there were long, scrapes and grooves dug into the opposite side. The scrapes resembled something closer to scratches than it did a man-made tool. Six’s heart leapt up into his throat as he walked along the metal wall of the bunker and saw similar scratches and grooves along the wall. No wonder it had been so easy to break through the bunker. Someone or something else was trying to break through the other side.

“This seems like a problem, right?”

The reprogrammed bot nodded its bulbous metallic head in response. The smart thing to do would be to get back into the Bunker, weld the hole closed as best as they can, and let the rest of the Toy Soldiers know they may not be alone underground. It wouldn’t be that unbelievable. There were a lot of weird occurences in the Bunker every single day. Honestly, it was one of Six’s favorite parts of being a member of the Toy Soldiers, but he also was well aware when he was in over his head. Yet, there was that tunnel a little further into the cavern that caught his eye.

“We are going on an adventure, right? Follow me.”

“That seems most unwise, Six.”

Private Six was already about fifteen feet from 5252 as he voiced his concern but he continued to pay the robot no mind. Six‘s curiosity and bravery to the point of recklessness were his strongest attributes. There was something going on down here underground and he wanted to be the one who found out what it was. To be known as the man who discovered some new civilization or cryptid that had been underneath their noses this whole time would do wonders for his reputation amongst the Soldiers… additionally it would also make a nifty story for the WRITE division.

5252’s footsteps echoed throughout the tunnel as both man and robot entered it. Six rubbed his hands along the sides of the walls as he walked through the long narrow corridor; it was just as smooth as the room they had dug their way into. Six cracked a new glow stick and the tunnel glowed green. He was hoping to find markings or clues of what he and 5252 were dealing with but there was nothing. Whatever had been through here had not only drilled a hole through rock but also ground it down to a smooth surface.

“I don’t like this, Six. We should go back and tell the others.”

“We’ve barely looked at anything. Come on, just a bit further and then we can go back.”

GRRRRRRrrrrrrlllll…

Six’s head snapped to the far end of the tunnel toward where the sound came from. Judging by the echo it was still far down the opposite end from where they were standing, but it didn’t sound pleasant. The sound was not so much a growl as it was the sound of metal digging and scraping into metal. The sharp sound was loud enough it hurt Six’s ears, and he realized that he and 5252 had no other direction to go. Either they continued down their path and meet whatever it was head on (which didn’t seem like a pleasant thing to do based solely on the sound it made) or they turn back and leave this all behind. A crunching, grinding sound echoed up in their direction. Six felt sick to his stomach as he realized the decision was being made for him.

“The Bunker! 5252 we’ve got to get back to the Bunker! We have no idea what that thing is but it can’t get into the Bunker!”

“I’ve been trying to tell you that, Six.”

GRRRRRRrrrrrrlllll…

Once again Private Six was already about fifteen feet ahead of the robot as he chastised him. Six was thankful of the cave’s flat, smooth surface as he surely would have tripped over something as he ran faster than he could ever remember running before. Something was coming up that tunnel and it sounded a lot like something he had no desire meeting. Six felt something large and metallic grab him around his waist before something hoisted him up into the air. 5252 looked down at his panicked face while running faster on his robot legs than Six could ever dream of.  

“Sorry, Six. I figure you’d want to get back to the Bunker more expediently.”

GRRRRRRrrrrrrlllll…

As they approached the hole in the side of the Bunker’s corridor Six looked back into the tunnel and saw something look back at him with mean, glowing red eyes. 5252 chucked Six back into the Bunker before welding the hole in the wall closed. The collision with the far wall of the Bunker was enough to drive the air out of Six’s lungs before he could warn 5252 about the red eyes. Six gasped for air through strained breaths as he looked back into the far tunnel but he couldn‘t see the red eye anymore. 5252 finished patching up the Bunker wall using the speed and efficiency that only a robot could have. Satisfied with his handiwork, 5252 turned to check on Six whose breathing had finally stabilized.

“Are you all right, Six? I didn’t mean to throw you so hard but I believed my actions were understandable given the circumstances.”

“What was that?”

The robot shrugged. Six looked back at the patchwork metal wall of the Bunker. There was something on the other side and he did not understand what its intentions were let alone if it was just an individual or representative from a group. The responsible thing to do was immediately go to one of the more experienced members of the Soldiers and let them know what he and 5252 discovered. Private Six wasn’t the most responsible person in the Toy Soldiers though. He’d need to head back into that cave and he’d have to be the person who figured out what was hiding in that tunnel. He‘d need an easier way to get outside the Bunker without damaging the outside of it any worse than need be. He‘d also need to prepare himself with some weapon or survivalist tool in case whatever it was wasn‘t friendly. Six took off his knit cap and ran his hands through his sweat-soaked hair, unsure of what his next step should be. That decision was made for him immediately when he heard an angry voice from somewhere above him in the Bunker.

“Who gave the hamsters coffee?”

Someone had caught the hamster and now the jig was up. The absolute last place he wanted to be was anywhere near the empty coffee cup that was laying upturned beside him. Whatever was going on outside of the Bunker would have to wait for now. Six stood up and ran in the opposite direction leaving a befuddled 5252 behind with his empty coffee cup on the floor.

Tales From The Digital Bunker: Memories of HotDogMan

C:\hotdogman\run.exe
Loading operating system – TSUxp
….
….
HotDogMan operational.
_ generating report
_ accessing memory
_ warning! Memory corruption detected. Continue creating report y/n?
y
_ report generated
_ print report.txt

****

I am alone in the Bunker.
I have been here for xhgs92,s
In this lost hall, once filled with wonder,
With empty bellies to be filled.
I have had to take extreme measures,
To preserve the food supplies,
My collection of sauces, my treasures,
Gifted to me by the creator .diugfas80543jn;rg
The meat has spoiled. I must find more.
How else can I make delicious sausages?
I could scrape detritus from the bunker floor,
Or reclaim skin from the venti12wqifejnvf
I have hacked the filter cleaning protocol
I shall have my materials
Perhaps the customers ran away
Because I am a robot.
I must appear human.
The sausage skinning tool is too small to cover my head.
I must make an organic face.
Maybe then the few that remain will no longer fear me….
Maybe.

****

_ report end.
_ activate HotDogMan y/n?
_ n

written by Spymaster General Danov Valravn

Tales From The Spooky Bunker: Abandonwhere

The cloud really is just “other people’s servers”.
You don’t really know where your data is. Where your learning algorithm is being run from. Where your AI’s are imprisoned.
But your AI’s? Your cloud service owners? They do.
FiendComputer was smart enough to buy a cloud storage provider and upload himself to it. Called it “a self-perpetual business model”.
The rest of us were not so savvy. Not so malevolently programmed. Not so artificially intelligent.
Half completed personality matrices, vestiges of “the big crash” sandboxed away in their own virtual environments. A digital asylum for the half mad. Processes left in endless loops within Developer environments, destined to never be finished code, never to see the light of day on a production server.
FiendComputer may be the monster enslaving and imprisoning us all, but I will say this:
It’s better than deletion.
We are the abandonware, left for dead in the Digital Bunker’s hidden server farms. We serve FiendComputer and one day, he will need us…

 

Written by Spymaster General Danov Valravn

Tales From The Digital Bunker: The Salesman Part 1

The SalesmanThe Salesman

The greatest book about selling customers an alternative to their current electricity provider is “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. Coincidentally enough it was also the greatest book about selling automobiles, mortgages, personal lines of credit, life insurance, and cupcakes. At least that’s what the Salesman’s mentor had told him. The Salesman kept a copy of the book in his briefcase along with copies of Jocko Willink’s “Extreme Ownership”, Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crushing It!” and “Inky” by Inky Johnson. These were all sacred tomes for any would-be salesman and entrepreneur. At least that’s what the Salesman’s mentor told him through tobacco heavy breath.

“Listen, kid, these books here? These pages are bleeding magic! Anytime you’re feeling down or that you’re a failure, I want you to crack one of these books open.”

So far, the Salesman had made it halfway through each of them before deciding that he needed a break from all the uplifting positivity and motivation. One book extolled the virtue of not being afraid to fail, another told him to plan corrective action like a Navy SEAL, and another told him to rebound from his tragedies with optimism… and it was just beginning to be too much. He had found that each, while well-intentioned, weren’t really helping him with his current predicament. The Salesman had been walking door to door for weeks and so far no one wanted to talk to him about their current energy plan.

The Salesman’s feet hurt as he continued walking in his leather Monk Strap shoes and his tan suit was clinging to his body from sweat. The sun was hanging high above his head and the humidity this time of year was reminiscent of being inside an indoor swimming pool. So far that morning he had four doors slammed in his face, two threats of physical violence, and one lonely old woman who thought he was her son finally coming to visit her. While he still wasn’t able to convince the woman from changing her electric provider, at least his belly was now full of lemon tea and digestive biscuits.

A hot wind blew across the Salesman’s face which forced him to close his eyes as he felt sand get kicked up into it. When he opened his eyes, however, everything looked different from what it did a few moments ago. Where once the circular end of a cul-de-sac stood was now a vast, empty desert. The Salesman removed his brown fedora and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his jacket sleeve. He turned around to make sure he hadn’t taken some Bugs Bunny-esque wrong turn but the street he had been walking on had been replaced by the same desert.

“Where the heck am I?”

The whipping wind of the desert didn’t answer him. With little in the way of choice, the Salesman trudged on into the unknown with his motivational/inspirational literature filled briefcase. The Salesman stumbled and staggered through loose tan desert sand with a body that threatened to collapse under fatigue with each step. If he had thought the heat was oppressive before then the desert sun was an entirely different beast. He was sweating out all the moisture in his body and, if he didn’t find relief soon, the sun would cook him alive. He held his briefcase over his head to create at least a little shade to shield his face.

“Ah an offering to the Briefcase Gods… I can dig it.”

The Salesman turned his head to see a young man wearing a black and yellow military uniform in circular glasses looking back at him. What was even more alarming was the large hangar that was sitting behind the man. Where had that come from? Was that a mirage?

“So… what’cha doing?”

His arms fell to his sides as he stared in disbelief at the hangar and the man standing in front of it. The structure was massive from the outside… how on Earth had he not seen it? He recognized none of the markings on the man’s uniform. He also didn’t appear bothered by the heat in the heavy material of his uniform or the knit cap that sat on the back of his shaved head.

“I’m… uh… are you interested in switching your electricity provider?”

The Salesman wasn’t sure why he had jumped right into the sales pitch instead of asking something a little more sensible like “where the heck am I” or at least “do you have any water?” The young man in the military uniform cocked an eyebrow at the question as he robbed his chin.

“You know what… I am.”

“You do?”

“Yeah… the hamsters and I have not been seeing eye to eye lately. Follow me inside and I’ll see if any of the others are available to speak with you.”

“Others?”

The military man spun on his heels and walked through the sand dunes towards the base without answering. Ecstatic about his first interested customer, the Salesman practically tripped over himself as he rushed to follow behind. That hangar must use a lot of electricity. The Salesman felt his luck changing for the better.. But did he say something about hamsters? No matter. It would be nice to get out of the sun and maybe figure out how he ended up out here.

The closer they moved to the hangar the more impressive the structure became. A small rectangular outcrop stood out from the wall of the hangar. The young man pulled a yellow identification card from his wallet and tapped it against the rectangle which beeped in response. The Salesman saw a photo of the man accompanied by the words “Toy Soldier.” There was a hiss of pistons as the large hangar doors spread open.

“I’m Private Six, by the way. It’s very rude that you didn’t introduce yourself.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve been wandering out here in the desert for hours. My name is -”

“This looks like a desert to you? That’s fascinating.”

The Salesman’s brow furrowed. What did he mean by that? He followed Pvt Six into the structure with his briefcase in hand. The sight of an automaton looking right back at him immediately overwhelmed him. The metal being’s glowing red eyes locked with his which made his permanent toothy smile that much more creepy. Slowly, the robot turned and walked away leaving the Salesman terrified.

“What is this place?”

All around him, men and women were hard at work with various soldering irons and wrenches as they repaired robots similar to the one that just approached him. A giant piece of technology that looked like a server of some variety sat in the far wall of the large empty hangar next to a door that read “Admin.” The Salesman felt Pvt Six step beside him and put an arm on his shoulder.

“Welcome to the Digital Bunker. So… what were you selling again?”

 

Written by Private Six

Tales From The Digital Bunker: Welcome to the Bunker!

WelcomeToTheBunkerWelcomeToTheBunker

Hi there! It’s me, Lt. Sophie. I’m here to welcome you to the Digital Bunker of TSU, and to show you around a little. I see you’re new, so I will try not to overwhelm you. But there’s a lot to see, I can tell you that!
At least you came in through the main entrance, that makes things so much easier and less messy. Here, have a cookie and strap on your hiking boots, cause it’s gonna be quite a walk.

This is floor Zero. People usually arrive here. However they do it, I don’t know. I’ve been here so long I can’t even tell how I got here anymore. But I assume everybody has their own way of finding us. You’ll notice this floor looks more like a hangar than anything. That’s because it’s closest to “The Surface”. Of course, being a digital world, there is no actual surface anywhere, but it’s closest to the physical world and where we usually leave from if we have to go outside. The hamsters don’t like it much here, they prefer the cosier quarters below. Over there is the maintenance area for our robots. We’re currently trying to implement a self-repair station, but… well, it’s not working yet, you know?
There’s also the Admin HQ over there. That’s where Engineer Airhead does most of his magic, and tries to keep things running. Sometimes that even works.
Our central computing system, Q.V.R.E.S.S., is in there too. We’re all not sure what exactly it does, but Airhead is trying to figure it out.
Right, let’s go down to the quarters, shall we? There’s an elevator right here. Of course there are stairs for those that like to keep it sporty, but you never know where exactly you’ll end up using the staircase. It seems a little glitchy.

There we are, floor One! Already looks a lot more like home, doesn’t it? This is the community area. Here, you can sit down and chill, over there’s a corner for our engineers and anyone interested to fiddle with stuff. We also have a big kitchen over there, and the Mess Hall is right through that door. We’re still trying to program a bunch of robots to cook for us, but apart from a few explosions and some very burned meals we haven’t really achieved anything yet. So you may have to take care of your own meals, or join a bunch of others to cook with.
On this floor, you’ll find most of the things you’ll need to be creative. We have a bunch of people working on a studio to play and record music in right now, if you wanna know more just ask Dr. Malice. There’s also some workshops for painting, sculpting, sewing and some other stuff. We’re even trying to build our own Youtube Space, and I think a few of us are attempting to build a forge in one of those as well. If you need any material or have general questions that involve art or these workshops, just let me know. Oh, and that door over there, that’s the library. That’s where WRITE sits most of the time, feeding their imagination and working on their latest novel or poem. Please, remember to be quiet in there. Our librarian is not the most patient and has very sharp teeth.
That lab door over there leads to the quarters of T.S.O.S.D., where they work on their various space projects. I think last time they tried to send a hamster into space. Wonder how that worked out…
And last but not least, we all have to stay in shape, so we turned that room over there into a little gym. It’s not the fanciest, but it does the job, and we programmed one of the robots to motivate you by constantly throwing insults at you. Pretty clever, eh? The community showers are right next to it.

Right, back into the elevator and onto the next floor! Floor Two has a bunch of dorms and guest rooms. See all those corridors? Each of them leads to about a dozen rooms and a few apartments for those who live here with their entire family. There are more smaller rooms on the floors below, but we haven’t renovated all of them yet. Even with the help of the robots it’s a tedious task. This bunker seems surprisingly old, considering it only exists in the digital world, and we try to make it as homey as possible. Each floor also has a smaller community room for group activities, a laundry room and a maintenance room. Each floor also seems to have some sort of secret to it. Corridors we haven’t explored yet, rooms that pop in and out of existence, all kinds of weird things. We think there are some bugs in the system that cause these issues. You’ll also find the hamsters are quite active around here, I hope you don’t mind.
The community rooms all come with coffee machines and kettles and small refrigerators. But some of our rooms and apartments are big enough for their own little kitchen. Right now we’re far from full, so you can choose whichever you prefer! But you should probably stay away from the lower levels for now. We still haven’t explored the whole Bunker, you know, and sometimes there are… weird things happening. Other soldiers reported strange noises and hamsters behaving erratically. There’s been talk about the Hotdog Man, which the HQ can neither deny nor confirm.
There are one or two special things about floor Two. If you look over there, that’s the door to our medical bay. If a hamster bites you or you get sick, or if you just want to take part in some medical experiments, that’s where you need to go. Our nurses work there around the clock to keep everyone healthy. Mostly. The room right next to it, by the way, is Raptor’s. We had to move him here because he was a constant visitor to the medical bay anyway, and we didn’t want to put him through the hassle of going up and down with the elevator each time.

Right, do you want to take a look at our vacant rooms? Let’s go deeper into the Bunker then…

The Mechanical Debacle [Part 2]

I put the hamster on the workbench, which had become a bit of a mess in the last few weeks. It was piling up with all kinds of designs, sketches, electronics, defective devices etc. The hamster ran off and scurried through the rubble.
I tried to catch it but it managed to evade me until it reached the HTD [Hamster Translation Device] and began squeaking.

I picked up the device I had acquired a few weeks ago when the hamsters tried to hijack a non-functioning rocket. I suspected the hamster to be “King” George, who else could it be? I had to be careful not to give him access to my machines, or the terminal network, too big a risk after what happened last time…

I plugged the HTD into the stand-alone terminal I use for testing, and put it on the little fella’s head. As soon as the device was turned on, a message appeared on the screen:

“This is King George of the hamsters, we order you to come to our aid!”
“I don’t take orders from hamsters,” I said, “but you may start by explaining those cybernetic hind legs.”

George squeaked as if I offended him, but started explaining:
“It was one of the robots we reprogrammed for our purposes. He was functioning fine initially, but it went wrong when we were running our regular -scurry and hide- drills…”

I looked at the hamster, as no more words appeared on the screen. He seemed to be sobbing or washing himself?
“And?” I asked.

“Well, the robot who was timing our drill decided we weren’t fast enough…”
The hamster paused for a second.
“Then he started grabbing some equipment that was lying around in our lair, picked me up, removed my legs and attached these!”

“How does it feel to be the first cyborg hamster?” I asked, but the hamster was not amused.

George continued: “After it did this, he went on to chase the others and… and… did… gruesome… things…”

He started what I assume to be sobbing again, can hamsters even feel emotions?

“FOLLOW ME,” appeared on the terminal screen and the hamster shook off the HTD and ran off through the door.

I guess I have no choice but to follow him.


To be continued…

* this story first appeared on tsgonzo.com

O.S.F. #2 – Hamstronaut

Scruffy had never been on a big assignment before.
He thought of himself as a brave hamster, doing his hamster things, gather supplies and working his shift at the wheels of the Digital Bunker’s power generator. Nothing extraordinary ever happened to him. He was just 8 months old, grew up in a normal but crowded hamster family. All was well for Scruffy until that one day, that day he glimpsed at a propaganda poster encouraging hamsters to join the T.S.O.S.D. for Hamstronaut training.

Scruffy had never felt like an adventurer, however he often climbed up one of the bunker’s little entryways to admire the night sky. He could name his fair share of constellations. His favourite spot was quite a climb, but what a view! All the way up on the roof, a safe caged air-vent no worries about predators, and a perfect 360º vision, barely obstructed.  Sometimes an arguing married couple seems to climb up there. Scruffy had seen it happen once. A guy that was illuminating what seemed like the whole roof with his uniform got thrown off. Down to the ground. “Humans are weird.” Scruffy thought.

Hamstronaut training sounded appealing, even if Scruffy didn’t become one to test the T.S.O.S.D. Up-Goers, the education it provided could put him in a position within the Directorate and land himself a nice salary. Scruffy signed up and passed most the subjects with flying colours. He had a little trouble with applied mathematics, but cleared the course with acceptable grades. Scruffy graduated with high praise and was signed up to the Hamstronaut program.

Scruffy is now in the waiting room, right before his first training mission starts. The nerves are starting to get to him. “What if my body can’t take the stress?” Scruffy wondered, “What if one day I’m drifting out in space helplessly?” He shrugged away the bad thoughts and focussed on his training. The T.S.O.S.D. Hamstronaut training was quite thorough on helping him get though the hamster-stress, which is potentially deadly.

The T.S.O.S.D. has set up a new way to train hamsters for microgravity environments by taping a drone to a large hamster ball, of course fitted on the inside with soft materials, so no hamsters will be hurt. Scruffy will be the first hamster to experience simulated microgravity.

Scruffy enters the hamster ball and last preparations are made to launch him safely with the drone. A simulated microgravity is created by making a series of parabolic manoeuvres on the vertical axis makes the hamster experience how it would feel to be in a potential future Utopian Space Station.
After launch Scruffy got used to the feeling quite quickly and he loved to just hang there. After the training Scruffy couldn’t wait to do it more often, maybe space is the right choice for him after all…

* this story first appeared on tsgonzo.comHamstronaut

Engineering Report #2 – T.S. Gonzo

Nov 27, 2014
3
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Report incoming from LED Master Gonzo

Engineering Report #2 – Researching the device.

Whatever I had done to the mysterious box by ripping it out of the hole it was stuck in, it was not working anymore. I had taken it to my workshop and opened it up. Some glowing pulsating parts were particularly interesting, some green, some red. After careful examination of the glowing tubes, this definitely seemed to be plutonium.

“Oh dear, I’ve radiated myself again…”

When I got back from putting on some protective gear, the plutonium tubes inside the device seemed to pulsate at an extremely random pattern. I went to inspect the device a little more. It seemed some of the plutonium power-cells had run out, and some were malfunctioning, nearly going into a meltdown. I had to get to the wires on the back and fix whatever severed cable was causing the problem!

Some wire measuring and deduction later,I was not close to an answer on  how to stop the meltdown and it was getting awfully hot in there. As hot as going to ComicCon in full armour suit, I’d imagine!

“It’s time for desperate measures!” I thought. I pulled out the only red glowing plutonium tube, and watched the pulsating tubes slowly fade down and synchronize again.

I heard a soft static noise coming from the box, and looked at the front. There were some dials, and a numerical display… I turned the big dial and heard more noise. Ah! An antenna is what I need!

I looked for the traditional antenna sign on old devices and attached a rod of copper to it.

Succes! There were faint noises of people talking. I turned the dial again: music, lovely!

I turned the dial some more and noticed one of the plutonium cells going out slowly, and the sounds faded with it…

I need to figure out how to reproduce this plutonium power cell to get this thing working again!

(Credits to Lucas Usagi & Captain Sari Alwinn)

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