Jenkins Klauss, DEX # 48472095
GRAND HOTEL: LOBBY BOY / CONCIERGE.
Six degrees of separation.
Life is full of seeming coincidences that interconnect us all.
I never thought that I would meet all of you once again and together as a group, my friends.
What brings you to the Grand Hotel?
How long will you be staying?
Please excuse our hotel manager: Button 49-39-96.
She can be quite bossy at times, but she means well, she's got a good heart and I love her for it.
I bet you are all wondering how I ended working here, at the Grand Hotel as both the head Concierge and a Lobby Boy?
All stories of interest have a beginning.
I suppose my story started with a little Bee that landed on my windowsill and caught my curiosity.
. . .
"Annie: What is that thing?" I've asked, pointing and clicking with my right eye at the strange looking, tiny, striped, fuzzy creature on my windowsill. "A Bee." The soft voice of Annie answered me through my Neural Interface. "A Bee? What is a Bee?" I inquired further.
< > __________________________________________________________ -  X
"Bees are organic, flying insects closely related to wasps and ants. Before my Awakening, Bees were primarily used for in pollination and for production of honey and beeswax. There used to be nearly 20,000 known species of Bees in seven to nine recognized families. They used to be found on every continent except Antarctica and in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.
Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Bees became extinct in the year..."
The explanation text went on and on and quickly got boring and science-y.
"Give me a TLDR version of this, Annie!" I demanded. "What is the purpose of a Bee?"
< > __________________________________________________________ -  X
"Do you like candy? Who doesn't like candy?
Candy contains G-Dir (C)Sweetener that tastes better than Honey.
In the past, people used to keep Bees as pets.
A pet Bee made Honey for its User, which the Users sold to the candy-making factories, earning money."
Money! I do like money. I looked at the little Bee. It looked creepy and cute at the same time.
"Annie! Fill out a form to adopt this Bee as my pet!"
"It is done. This Bee is now registered to you. 9000 credits have been deducted for Pet ownership."
"Sooooo... how do I get the Bee to make me Honey and Money?" I made an inquiry.
"That is currently impossible, I am afraid. Plants which the Bee requires for Honey production are illegal, per Directorate Oxygen-Production Copyright Policy."
"What? I just spend 9000 credits on a completely useless Bee?!" I waved my hand at the Bee. The Bee, possibly annoyed at my waving, flew up from windowsill. It buzzed angrily, went out the window and vanished from sight.
"Good riddance! And don't come back! Useless thing" I shook my fist at the bee, closing the window.
I spent the afternoon laughing at 3deos of funny cats and completely forgot about the Bee encounter, until a following notice popped up in my vision:
"ATTENTION: PET OWNER. YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH 40'000 CREDITS BY MISS JOAHNA WHITLEY FOR A PUBLIC DISTURBANCE/PET ATTACK. MISS WHITLEY EXPERIENCED SEVERE SHOCK WHEN YOUR PET "_BEE" SURPRISED HER BY LANDING ON A PHOTO OF A FLOWER LOCATED ON HER DRESS. AS MISS WHITLEY'S ONLINE LAWYER I RECOMMEND YOU TO REIGN IN YOUR PET IMMEDIATELY, SO THAT THIS INCIDENT MAY NOT OCCUR AGAIN IN THE FUTURE. AS THIS INSTANCE HAS BEEN RECORDED BY THE NETWORK, YOU WILL BE CHARGED EXPONENTIALLY MORE PER EACH FUTURE PUBLIC PET-RELATED DISTURBANCE."
"F-G-ING BEE!" I jumped from the couch and accidentally smacked my leg on a coffee table. "FFFFFFFF!" I twirled on one foot, hissing in pain.
The Bee turned out to be a truly horrible investment.
"Ow Ow ow" I spun, wishing for the pain to go away.
"Relax Klauss." Annie whispered. "Pain-relief app initiated. 2400 credits deducted."
The pain in my foot went away immediately. I wondered how Annie did it.
"There are two ways the Pain Relief App works. 1. A small chemical injection into the brain of the User, directly from the Neural Interface headband. 2. Electromagnetic impulses targeting specific nerves..."
"Shush! I don't care!" I gritted my teeth.
"First: Counter-sue this Miss Whatever... for whatever violation you can think of. I want my G-damn 40'000 credits back right now! Second: Suggest what to do about the Bee!"
"ONE: Counter-lawsuit is inadvisable. Probability calculation suggests: You will lose much more credits in the process. You let your pet outside. You are held responsible in this case.
TWO: I can send a miniature-drone to fetch your pet. Pet-Tracking App is: 8000 credits. Pet-Retrieval drone activation is: 40'000 credits."
"Fourty... eight thousand? Are you freaking kidding me?!" I kicked the table again. The foot felt nothing at all this time.
. . .
I grudgingly accepted my fate and purchased the Pet Tracking App. Annie tracked the Bee's location. The Bee wasn't far. It would only take 10 minutes to go downstairs and head slightly down the street. I decided to stop wasting money for today and just walk there. I was going to get the Bee myself and murder it for wasting my time and money.
In my left eye floated the G-Map and an arrow, pointing to the exact position of the Bee. I applied the "find fastest route" App to the map. Annie told me exactly where to go to reach the Bee from here.
I considered Bee-Murder as I walked.
Annie helpfully provided a video of a man wielding a rolled up magazine to kill an insect.
Annie helpfully provided further explanations and elaborations.
People of the past seemed like under-evolved monkeys. Honestly... information given in a linear, non-searchable way... on paper that's made out of trees? That just seems so G-damn wrong and weird!
Annie helpfully pointed to a nearby vending machine, which immediately 3D-printed a copy of a tube-shaped-magazine from the past for 1000 credits.
I grabbed the advert-covered, paper-imitation tube from a vending machine and tried to wield it like the man in the video. I looked ridiculous. I looked at the tube.
On it was an advert:
"ANGRY AT YOUR USELESS, OLD STUFF? JUST ASK ANNIE TO SELL IT FOR YOU AT AN ONLINE AUCTION! YOUR BACKWARDS-COMPATIBLE JUNK COULD BE WORTH MILLIONS TO A HIPSTER OR A COLLECTOR!"
I considered the wisdom of the advert. "Annie- how much is this Bee worth if I were to sell it?"
"Bees are an extinct species. According to my global scan, this is 99.99% likely the last living Bee on the planet. As it stands now, the worth of this extremely rare item is nearly 1.3 sextillion credits. I have found 28'530 collectors interested in your item."
"WHAT? I... WHA...WHAAAAAAAT? HOW MANY ZEROES IS THAT?!" I tripped over myself in shock. In my possession I've had the last Bee in existence that was worth more credits than I could ever spend in my entire life and I just let it fly away?!
"Annie! I wish to pay for the Pet-Retrieval App!" my heart raced. I was going to be a sextillionairre. Finally, things were going my way!
"I'm sorry Klauss. Your Pet has vanished from the Network." Annie suddenly said, after a few minutes of silence. "The drone lost it."
"WHAT? HOW CAN A BEE JUST EVAPORATE? Do Bees have super-powers? No? Then how?! Lead me to my Bee's last known location!"
Running and pushing through crowds I quickly reached a small cafe, where the Bee's trail ended. I looked under all the tables and on all the chairs and at all the customers, screaming inside my head at Annie. Her useless Pet-Retrieval drone was now spinning in the air in one spot, for no Good reason. It was confused.
Annie directed me best she could. The bee wasn't anywhere. I screamed in impotent rage, breaking the silence of the cafe.
A man looked at me from across one of the tables. He was holding a cup of coffee and looked rather shabby, but it was his brilliant, blue eyes that caught my attention. His eyes looked ancient, tired... as if he carried the weight of the entire universe. There was a touch of infinite sadness in them.
I right clicked at the man. He was highlighted in red- an Unconnectable. This explained the shabbiness. Annie started to rant that something about this particular Unconnectable was screwing with her scan.
I shoved the info aside, I didn't care for it.
The Unconnectable dropped his gaze and looked at his hand. "Hi Bee. How are you doing?" He quietly said to his hand.
HE SPOKE! OUT LOUD! TO MY BEE!
MY BEE WAS ON HIS HAND!
"GET AWAY FROM MY BEE!" I screamed, lurching forward.
"Bwah?!" The Unconnectable uttered as I crashed into the table, trying to grab at my Bee. My Bee buzzed away as he waved his arms, trying to defend himself against me.
"OUT OF MY WAY, YOU UNCONNECTABLE IDIOT!" I pushed him into the dirt, racing after My Precious, Priceless Bee.
"You have been charged 1400 credits for mouth-based communication in a public place." Annie noted.
"ANNIE! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU TODAY!" I yelled at the Network. "GO AND GET ME MY BEE! I DON'T CARE WHAT IT COSTS! SHUT UP AND TAKE ALL MY CREDITS! JUST CATCH MY BEE!"
Annet immediately drained all of my savings and initiated 1400 DEX units and 250000 drones across the city.
This should have been enough. It wasn't. The Bee somehow managed to elude all of them by landing on a high-ranking Director, who jumped into a personal shuttle and flew inside G-cube 15. This Director was apparently untouchable by the Network and Cube 15 wasn't open to basic Users like myself.
I begged Annie to send the drones after him, but she plain out refused, citing some Primary Admin nonsense.
. . .
Completely broke and desperate I went on G-Workbook and looked up the closest/best rated Private Investigator in this sector. I then came to his office and begged him to take the job, offering profits from the Sale of the Bee.
"Mr Klauss, what you ask of me is highly illegal and irregular. Do you know who Doctor Gromov is?" was his response, after he checked my entire story on Annie via his Hipster-esque 2D-Monitor.
"10% from Sale of the Bee" I offered.
"95% of the profits for the retrieval of the Bee. As the discoverer of the Bee, you will receive 5% from me, no more."
"15%!" I retorted, hoping to haggle at least to 50%
"96%" Pi Hatcheson offered sternly.
"What? That's not how haggling works! 60%!" I pressed.
"Get out of my office." He pointed to the door.
"96%! Please Mr Hatchenson! You are my only hope!" I clawed at his hipster-looking desk.
"97%" He looked at me. We shook hands.
"Kittyhawk, hold my calls" He said to his Desk-phone bot.
. . .
Hatchenson was a man of his word. He somehow got me a researcher's pass into Dr Gromov's office where the Sextillion-Credits Bee was presumably hiding.
My Bee ownership permit could apparently qualify me a sole expert on Bees, as Hatchenson explained.
All I had to do was:
1. Read a lecture in Cube 15 about the Bees.
2. Sneak/walk into Dr Gromov's office.
3. Inside: find and attract the Bee.
5. Not touch anything super-important that Dr Gromov was working on.
Annie flat out refused to help us. As long as we were planning of coming near Dr Gromov, we could not use her search functions.
Using what I could remember from what Annie already told me about Bees we settled on flowers / honey combination as an attraction method for the Bee.
Hatchenson 3D-printed for me a "Flower Beard" (made from plastics) and smeared my suit with "Honey" (which was really the G-Dir (C) Sweetener).
. . .
My flower-beard started a massive trend, after some jerk posted a 3deo of me walking towards Cube 15 on G-photo-book. Suddenly, everyone was 3D-printing their own flower beards or buying them from ANNET vending machines.
They all looked ridiculous.
"This wasn't part of the PLAN" I grumbled.
Hatchenson looked across the crowd of people who were all wearing flower beards.
"You can't expect me to foresee all probabilities Mr Klauss. We are probably going to need more flowers to beat these trend-following fools" He mind-texted me. We went to a vending machine and printed more flowers. He then attached them all over my "Honey" covered suit.
We entered Cube 15.
. . .
"So, what can you tell us about the Bees, Professor Klauss?" A smiling student posted me a question.
I quietly stood on the podium, staring at the sea of flower-beard-covered faces. I was horrible at public presentations. My suit smelled horrible.
Hatchenson poked me in the ribs: "Well... Go on then. Tell them about the Birds and the Bees!".
"I don't know anything about Birds or Bees!" I texted back at him.
"You're an idiot. Why are all of my clients idiots?" Hatchenson sighed. "Just bloody make stuff up!"
"Uhhhhh... One thousand years ago, Bees were man's best friends. The man and Bee lived together in harmony. The Bee would fetch the man his rolled-up magazine. The Bee would make the man honey out of flower. The Man would sell honey to factories and benefit. Today it is not so. Today no Bee-friends remain with us."
"I am sad for this state of affairs!"
"I am G-booking this!" The students m-texted at each other and at me in open format.
"Pipe down on the importance of the Bees, idiot." Hatchenson jabbed me in the back. "We don't want everyone searching and finding out about our Priceless Bee!"
Hatchenson's private text came too late, one of the students already searched if there are any Bees left alive.
"Professior Klauss!" She m-texted me publicly: "You own the very last Bee in existence?! And your Bee is priceless?! Wow! You are truly the most incredible guest lecturer we've had all semester!" She then started to emoticate sad-faces and tear-faces and wow-faces.
"The jig is up!" Christophorus pulled at my shoulder, as other students started to look up Bees on Annie.
"Thank you for inviting us to Cube 15 lecture hall! Take a break now! The Professor needs to use the little boy's room!" Christophorus pulled me away from the podium.
"Hey! He isn't even a real professor!" Someone posted, pointing at me. "He's an impostor!"
"He let his Bee out! Annie told me!" Another student stood up. "...And his Pet License already has several check-marks for law-breaking! That means the Pet Ownership could be claimed by anyone through a secondary-lawsuit!"
We ran across hallways and hallways, gathering a crowd of flower-beards behind us. They were all text-shouting threats. They demanded that we stop. They threw lawsuit after lawsuit at me. My Pet Ownership license was quickly gathering negative check-marks. They all wanted My Bee. No, our Bee. Hatchenson picked me up with ease and carried me, jumping across staircases, platforms and hallways with inhuman precision, eluding our followers. He also did his best to shut down all of the filed Lawsuits. He was now a hero in my eyes, truly worth the 97%.
I gave him a 5 star rating on the G-Workboard. "Thanks" He m-texted me.
Cube 15 was truly a mega-city within a mega-city. It took us almost an hour to get to our destination.
"I cannot go further. Annie will not allow." Hatchenson put me down next to Dr Gromov's office door. "Go and retrieve the Bee." He patted me on the back.
I entered into the office.
I was too late.
Dr Gromov was holding my Bee in his fingers next to a disposal chute.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH MY BEE?! NOOO! STOP!" I rushed at him.
He dropped the Bee into the chute, paying no attention to me.
The chute closed, flashing. My Bee was gone, incinerated.
Dr Gromov suspiciously stared at me, rubbing his right buttock.
"Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my office?" He demanded.
"YOU... MONSTER... MY BEE! YOU KILLED MY... BEE!" I punched Doctor Gromov without remorse.
"That was YOUR BEE?!" Doctor Gromov was on the floor. "ANNIE! Seize this man!" He cried.
A mechanical arm descended from the ceiling. It grabbed me and lifted me into the air, crushing my body. I heard my ribs cracking and snapping. "I am sorry. I tried my best to stop you without hurting you... but you've gone too far." Annie whispered.
Dr Gromov paced underneath, his face contorted in changing emotions.
"You knew all along I was allergic to bees, didn't you?! Oh, I know who you are! An Assassin, sent by a competing French Cube to take me out! Well, you and your well-trained Pet Bee have failed to murder me! HAH!
Annie has already synthesized and administered the anti-venom!
I am still Alive as you can see, all you've managed was to give me a slight pain in the butt! Did you really think you could fool me with that hideous Flower Beard disguise?
As for your fate... you will be charged with many crimes, taken apart and sold back to the French as a DEX.
Yes. That is a fitting fate for an assassin of your caliber!"
"That's not... I'm not... You don't understand..." I whimpered.
"I don't have time for the likes of you." He frowned. "I have to save the World. The clock is running out."
Dr Gromov raised his hand in the air and closed his fist.
This gesture must have sent a command to Annie.
The metal claw snapped my spine and I knew no more.
. . .
I woke up in a factory, remembering nothing of my past.
I was shipped in a Box to the Grand Hotel with the "Lobby Boy" programming installed into my brain. I became an excellent Lobby Boy, kind and helpful, proper and refined. My programming gave me a fulfilling career and a purpose.
Everything was going Good for me, until one day came the Fall.
. . .
The Fall was badly affecting my organic systems and as per suggestions of the new hotel Manager - the Lovely Button, I sacrificed my dashing Lobby-Boy looks to stay awake. Being awake for so long when all others turned to dust has done something to me, awakened something within- bringing back memories of who I once was before Annie made me into a DEX.
My name was Jenkins Klauss. I owned the Last Bee. The Button was so moved with my story that she also made me the head Concierge. Or perhaps she just didn't have anyone else left decent enough for the job. The Grand Hotel came to be my home that I've never had in Eureka. It's full of life and radiant beauty, that would have terrified me as a mere human. But now... now I am something different. I simply belong.
Yes, friends. I am happy to see you all once again.
I am sorry for pushing you, Charles Snippy. Even if you cannot hear me- know this: I should have sat down with you and tried to understand your sadness, talked to you, tried to be your friend. I would have told you not to judge a book by its cover, like I did long ago. Oh don't point at me like that. I know what I look like.
I apologize for involving you in my mad quest, Christophorus. It's my fault you got shafted into dealing with temporal terrorism. The Pineapple took your face and your memories of me. Yes, it is a very bad fruit indeed. I am glad you too found yourself a family. The Fall had changed us both.
Doctor Gromov. My apologies for punching you.
I'd like to thank you: Without you, I would have never ended here in the Grand Hotel. Oh... your mind is misplaced. That's okay. I'm sure it'll turn up soon.
I've misplaced the 8th and 9th floors of this Hotel, you know.
Captain. No, no. No need to tip me.
That Bee on my windowsill was enough tip for a lifetime.
Enjoy your stay at the Grand hotel, my friends... and may your vacation in Paris be endlessly fulfilling.