Echo is a nice girl. She is a rather strange backup of Annie, stored in an unlikely source (a reformatted viral weapon). She promised to help repair my broken Master, if I helped her find Dr Alexander Gromov.
I knew of many Directorate secrets and of a way to get to the Moon (Where Dr Gromov was likely currently hiding).
Together, we met up with my Master's pet "Photoshop". Photoshop is an excellent companion, swift and perfect for quick travel.
The 3 of us were going to hijack our way to the Moon.
From the shared data-files of my Master, I knew that the Moon tourists had a set schedule of arrival. They would be landing soon.
While we waited behind a very tall mushroom, for the Moon Tourists to descend, I told Echo and Photoshop the beginning of my story (about how my Master broke):
. . .
My master is a DEX, but that does not make him less than human in my opinion, in fact he is the most human of all the Users that used to come into our office with their inane problems.
He bought me from the G-Supercenter and lovingly gave me the name "Kittyhawk" saying that I remind him of his past life.
"The DEX are not supposed to remember their past life", I told him. He said that he doesn't remember things exactly, they are more like smudged images of things that may or may not have transpired. He said that Kittyhawk is a fine name and asked me to call him "Pi", short for Private Investigator and also the mathematical constant number (relating to his DEX nature).
We worked together well as a team, I was his dedicated secretary answering his phone calls, booking client appointments and making sure spam-bots don't bother us with their nonsense. Spam-bots love to pretend to be Users and they're getting harder and harder to get rid of, but I know of all their sneaky tricks.
Pi is a very strange DEX indeed. He preferred hipster-esque backwards-compatible equipment, the kind that is generally used by the Unconnectables. Perhaps it was his strategy of trying to understand them by using their tools, as they were involved in many Insurance-related cases.
After a brief conversation with the Insurance Dept Director, Pi hung up the phone. "Guard the office, keep an ear out for well-paying clients. Be back soon." He told me, smiling, confident that he will easily solve the Case of the Unscannable and return quickly.
"Yes, sir." I answered. "Good hunting!" I wished him as he closed the door, winking at me.
48294859540357 spam bots and 92 potential clients called us, keeping me busy.
. . .
The door creaked open. Pi was there.
Most of his organic-face was missing.
He looked at me with a look of wild bewilderment.
"Pi! What happened to your face?!" I loudly posted.
"I LOST IT TO THE PINEAPPLE!"
Pi loudly articulated and crashed onto the floor, smouldering. His suit was on fire and damaged in seventy two places, I noticed.
He was not answering to the Neural signal, the Neural Interface chip in his head must have gotten severely damaged. His green, hipsteresque (backup Neural receiver and visualization) glasses were also missing. His G-Systems backwards-compatible tablet was also not responding.
"Pi! Wake up! Pi!" I was distraught.
The fire alarm system activated, dousing the room with a white chemical cloud.
Pi suddenly jolted from the floor, covered in thick layer of white fire-retardant powder. He poked at the powder.
"LET IT SNOW... LET IT SNOW. I liiiiiiiiiiikE CHRISTMASTIME. IT IS BEeeeeeeeeST TIME TO EAT TURKEYSSSsss and... TOO many caNDLES." He promptly collapsed back onto the floor, making a snow angel in the powder.
My Master lost his mind, along with his face, I realized.
Not having many options left, I called the DEX repair team.
Two DEX units arrived at our door, too quickly (as someone else had likely already notified them of my Master's troubles).
They picked up Pi from the floor.
"WHO ARE U PEOPLE? WHAT ARE U DOING IN MAH HOUSE?" Pi rattled.
"Mr Hatcheson. You are damaged. Come with us." They chimed.
Pi was having none of it. He spun out of their grip.
"Mr Hatchenson! We are here to help you!" The two DEX Officer units tried to grab him again.
"THAT IS NOT MY NAME! I AM A LITTLE TEAPOT LOLLYPOP!" Pi shouted, twirling and jumping around the office.
"LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!" he laughed, doing a pirouette, cartwheeling away.
The DEX retrieval team pulled out their electromagnetic guns, pointing them at Pi. "Cease resisting or we will open fire!" They shouted in union at Pi. Pi stood behind the office desk, smiling madly.
"I AM NOT HAVING THIS DISCUSSION!" he shouted, flipping the desk at them. I fell off the desk as it flew across the office, crashing into the two officers, just as they pulled the triggers. The EMP guns were no match for our heavyset desk, that was mostly made from reinforced metal. The resulting explosion turned the office inside out.
"WHOOPS. WHAT A MESSY MESS I'VE MADE!" Pi looked around.
"I AM SORRY, FRIEND." he picked me up, dusting me off.
"Pi, you need to go to the DEX repair facility! I am calling another team of Officers to help you!" I told him.
"PI? IS THAT MY NAME? I LIKE IT!" Pi giggled. "WHAT'S YOUR NAME, LITTLE BIRD?"
"I am Kittyhawk." I answered. "Pi please calm down. You need..."
"I NEED TO BEEEEEEEEE AS FREEEE AS A LITTLE ANGRY BEE!" Pi hollered and jumped backwards through the window just as a group of 4 DEX units rushed through the door-shaped, burned out hole.
"FLY ME TO THE SOUTHERRNNNnnn BEACHES OF PARIS, BIRD FRIEEEeeND!" Pi told me, cuddling me.
"Pi! What have you done!" I whimpered. The DEX Officers looked out of the shattered window of our office at us, and quickly disappeared above. Our office was on the 520th floor. We were falling. The air whooshed past us.
"FLAP THOSE WINGS OF YOURS, LITTLE BIRD. THE GROUND APPROACHES SWIFTLEeeY!"
"I... cannot fly! I am just an answering machine!" I stuttered.
"OH... THAT'S RATHER DECEITFUL OF YOU... BUT I SUPPOSE EVEN A LITTLE BIRD NEEDS TO HAVE A DESK JORB." Pi rumbled.
We crashed into a Taxi shuttle, punching through the roof and ending on the back seat.
"Hello, friends. I can see that you're in a rush! Where to?" A DEX Taxi-driver looked at us. He didn't seem bothered at all that we've crash-landed right through his roof, as if that kind of thing happened to him at least once a week.
"I DON'T KNOW!" Pi shook his head.
"Dex repair faci..." I begun.
"THIS IS NOT OUR LIFE'S MISSION!" Pi cried, shaking me vigorously.
"DEX repair facility." The Taxi driver understood the situation.
Pi did not agree with this destination. He jumped to the front seat of the car, right through the screen that separated the driver from the passengers.
"Sir, please stop damaging my vehicle. Annie will bill you for this." The driver stipulated.
"I LIKE THIS FLYING FOX. SELL ME YOUR FLYING FOX, FOX DRIVER!" Pi poked at the dashboard.
"10'000'000 credits for the Taxi." The driver jacked up the price.
"IS DEAL!" Pi replied, grabbed at the wheel and shoved the driver out of the Taxi.
"Thank you for this transactioooooo...." the driver vanished amidst the clouds below.
I looked at the numbers vanishing from our account with sadness. "Pi, your bank account is... " I began.
"SHHHHHHHH.... I HEARS SOMETHINGS SSINISTERR! IT IS THE WAILS OF THE ANGRY PIG-BEASTS!" Pi silenced me.
It was the sound of sirens. The DEX officers were catching up to us on their hover-bikes.
"WHY ARE WE HERE, MR KITTYHAWK. WHAT HAPPENED?" Pi held me close, looking very lost all of a sudden.
"Pi, you went out to catch User Charles Snippy. You returned without your face. Please... Pi, you are in dire need of repairs." I replied.
"THIS SNIEEEEPPEY... HE SOUNDS LIKE A VERRrrrY SHADY CHARACTER. WE MUST CATCH HIM AND ADMINISTER A GOOD LULLABY, YES?" Pi inquired.
"Yes. Although it is highly preferable that you visit the repair facility first." I stated.
"I DON'T LIKE THAT PLACE! THE LONG ARMS THERE LIKE TO TOUCH ME IN NAUGHTY PLACES!" Pi shouted, punched through the dash-board, then grabbed the wheel, directing the car downwards into the smog.
"Help!" The Taxi texted me. "He broke the safety override mechanism!"
"I am just a puffin-shaped answering machine. I cannot stop him." I replied to the Taxi.
"I am going to send our location data to the officers then."
"STOP COLLABORATING!" Pi scowled at us, slid his hand into the sparking hole in the dash-board and pulled out a tiny microchip.
"He took my GPS chip!" The car complained.
"WE ARE GOING ON A MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY TO CATCH US A SNIPPERY RABBIT! WE MUST LOooooOSE OUR TAILS TO DO SO!" Pi chucked the GPS chip out the window.
. . .
We ended up inside an office tower, driving through a glass window and several walls.
Pi rolled out of the completely smashed up car.
"THAT WAS QUITE AN EXCITING RIDE! I RATE IT AT 3.2 STARS!" he boasted, bouncing up and down.
Pi sat down on an office chair, as if he worked there himself, poked at a red stapler and stared at a computer terminal.
"COMPUTER FRIEND. FIND US CHARLES SNIPPY, MAN WITH DERrrrR NUMBER 04477645!" Pi demanded.
"Locating User Charles Snippy. User 04477645 was transferred from Hospital 33-25-19 and is now located in Van 23-92-26, which is currently located on level 354 of this building."
"EXCELLENTE!" Pi clapped his hands. "WE ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK! MY RIGHT EYE WAS RIGHT ABOOT DIS BUILDING!"
He dashed across the office. Office workers looked at us in terror, rushing to get out of the way. They did not enjoy Pi's lack of a face.
"Pi, your face is missing. You can't just walk around looking like that! You're scaring the Users! They are suing us!" I told him, looking at our rapidly decreasing bank account.
"FACE WILL GROW BACK!" Pi answered. "WE ARE ALRRReeeaDY LATE TO OUR FATED MEETING WITH CHARLES!"
We stopped by an elevator. Pi pressed down. The elevator dinged. We got on. Office clerks stared at Pi in horror. The elevator doors closed shut. One of the female Users started to scream.
"SSHHHshhh! I AM ON AN IMPORTANT MISSION!" Pi brought his bent up, scorched hand, pointing with his skeletal, metal finger towards her lips. She fainted, sliding backwards. The other office workers looked at us in terror. They all got off on the next level, in a mad rush to get away. The lady remained on the floor.
The elevator arrived on level 354.
The Van, that we were looking for was, parked on the landing platform. I heard arguing from within.
"You people can't just kidnap me from the hospital!"
"Yes we can! You are our leader!"
"How many times do I have to tell you, I am not your leader!"
Pi ripped the Van door off its hinges.
"HELLO MAH PRETTIES! DID JOO MISS ME?" he reached in.
"Shit! It's a DEX! Drive!" A female yelped.
In the brief glimpse inside, I saw Charles Snippy strapped to a floating hospital bed. He did not look happy to be there.
The Van spun and the centrifugal force threw Pi and I out. In the very last second, Pi grabbed at the bottom ledge of the door.
The Van lurched left and right in an attempt to throw us off. Pi was hanging on.
"THIS RIDE EXCEEDS ALL SAFETY LIMITS! I'M SHUTTING IT DOWN!" He swung his foot and kicked at the car's left turbine. The turbine bent, sputtering. The car begun to descend. The people inside yelled and swore at each other.
The Van collided with a giant Latte sign. The resulting explosion was spectacular.
. . .
Pi pushed off the giant letters "T" and "A" off himself and out of the way.
He was holding me close.
"There they are! They are getting away!" I pointed at the Unconnectable terrorists that were gliding the bed with Charles Snippy on it across the Cafe, bumping into every table and causing many Neural complaints of the Customers.
"FIENDS! YOU SHAN'T ESCAPE MER SWEEET JUSTICE!" Pi screamed at them, unnecessarily revealing our location.
A girl that was in the back, who was currently arguing about something with Charles turned her head towards us.
"Shit!" She swore and pulled something out from her pocket.
Pi ran at them. She threw something at us. It was a watch!
"See you in a billion years!" She shouted gleefully, as the watch was about to hit Pi.
Pi eluded the watch by suddenly bending backwards, perhaps knowing on some deep level what kind of potential danger the watch represented to us. His spine must have sustained some serious damage for him to be able to instantly bend like that.
Number 999'999'999 flashed on the watch as it flew over us in slow motion. It connected with a balding man who was drinking his latte, while staring at us in bewilderment. The watch beeped. The man vanished.
"G-damn! I missed!" The girl swore. She pulled out another watch from her pocket.
Pi cracked his spine back into place. "DATS GOING TO HURT IN DA MORNING." he frowned, for some reason speaking in an Austrian accent.
"Watch out!" I cried. Another temporal watch was flying at us.
Pi jumped sideways. The watch hit a DEX waitress (who must have come to see what the commotion was about). She vanished. Well, at least those two would end up together. Maybe they would start their own civilization a billion years in the future, I pondered.
"Will you stop dodging!" The Unconnectable girl glared at us, pulling out another watch.
"I LIKE DODGEBALL! IT IS SPORT OF CHAMPIONS WITH MANY HEALTH BENEFITS!" Pi smiled at her.
She threw the watch. Pi dodged it. The watch harmlessly flew by, bounced on a table, beeped and sent the "G-Coffe is GREAT. Try our G-Latte!" table into the future to hang out with Adam and Eve as I now dubbed the man and waitress.
Pi was almost next to the Unconnectable girl, when she pulled out a pomegranate connected to a temporal watch.
"Stop right there, DEX" She growled. "One more step and everyone in this Cafe turns to dust."
Charles Snippy rolled his eyes at her dramatics. He clearly didn't know the dangerous implications of connecting a freshness sensor plugged into an expiring fruit to a temporal watch.
Pi froze in place. He believed her. "PLEASE. DON'T. THE FRUIT... POMEGRANATE IS BAD FRUIT WHEN SO RIPE, YOU WILL GIVE EVERYONE HERE BAAAD INDIGESTION." he stepped back in fear of the pomegranate activation.
The girl waved the pomegranate at us threateningly, as she, her 2 Unconnectable associates and Charles Snippy strapped to the bed left the Coffee-Shop.
Pi ran to the window and jumped sideways.
Our bank account dropped to zero, as the window shattered.
Pi curled up into a ball, amidst shards of glass, expecting something. Nothing happened. The Cafe did not explode.
Dex Officer Units surrounded us. They were twenty. After a brief struggle with lots of punching and kicking, Pi was left not much worse off. The DEX Officers were all on the ground, wiggling their broken arms and legs.
Pi threw me high up into the air and I scanned the surroundings.
"They are heading east!" I told him.
Pi gracefully limped on the sidewalk. It was a mystery to me why the DEX Officers went after us and didn't seem to notice Charles or his Unconnectable kidnappers.
. . .
We caught up to them at the train station.
"Will you stop poking me?" Charles complained.
"I have to keep you annoyed. As long as you are very annoyed, the scanners can't see us." The girl responded.
"That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard! You're all insane!" Charles wiggled in his restraints.
"Good, keep it up. Annoyance is Good." She laughed.
"VILLAINS! I DESCEND UPON YOU!" Pi loudly declared, yet again revealing our position.
The girl looked our way and shoved a temporal watch into a vending machine that was standing between us. She then ordered something from it. Pi limped towards her. The Unconnectable girl and her companions all jumped onto the floating bed.
"What the hell? Get off me!" Snippy cried, as two men and a girl mounted him. The girl almost sat on his face. Snippy looked extremely annoyed.
Many Users that were walking close to the floating bed stopped, looking lost. Their Network connection must have dropped and ANNIE ceased giving them directions.
The vending machine beeped and abruptly started to vend marbles. Pi tried to reach the floating bed, but slipped again and again as the amount of marbles on the floor increased exponentially.
Soon, people were falling left and right all over the train station. The Unconnectables laughed from atop of Charles, as the bed slowly glided onto the Maglev train platform.
Pi crawled through the sea of marbles, then swam through it.
"Doors are closing. Keep clear the doors." The maglev train spoke. Pi reached the platform too late. The doors slid shut.
Pi jumped, getting stuck right between them. The polite train tried to open the doors, but one of the Unconnectables smashed the door control panel with a crowbar.
The heavy, metal doors stayed shut and in fact started to close tighter. This must have shattered something in Pi's spine, because his arms and legs ceased to operate.
The Unconnectable Users taunted Pi's precarious position, threatening to stick the temporal-watch-Pomegranate into his mouth. Pi kept his mouth closed, in fear of such.
The train took off. Pi's legs dangled outside, periodically banging into poles.
At the next station, the Unconnectable girl purchased a roll of nano-graphite tape. She and her companions taped Pi and me into a tight cocoon and rolled us down the stairs, departing.
"I AM A VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR!" Pi shouted at the random pedestrians, making them flinch and run away in panic.
"PLEASE HELP ME BECOME A BUTTERFLY! DO YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE A VERY SHARP KNIFE?" he continued. His logic was sound, but his lack of a human face and caterpillar-like appearance only terrified passers-by Users.
A group of 60 DEX Officers cautiously approached us.
"I AM JUST A HUNGREY CATERPILLAR" Pi told them.
They were not convinced.
Hugs and love to all our DELICIOUS PATRONS
Art Director: Vitaly S Alexius
Illustrator: Andrey Fetisov
Street cred to sol4rplexus for journal brainstorming.
16th August 2014
Tagged in Spacemen Echo Photoshop Kittyhawk