Inside of the Machine

by Bear Hunter

The last couple of days have taken my breath away. I can’t believe what I’ve experienced. The trials were a complete success… all but for one minor detail, but I’ll get back to that later.

We arrived at the lab early yesterday morning. All of Victor’s team – seven including himself – were present. All the preparation had been taken care of days in advance and they were ready to roll.

The lab was small but impressive. They had air-tight booths for work on micro-electronics, a machine shop for frame and body work, a chemistry lab, and work stations for all of the engineers and technicians involved. Their largest room was affectionately labelled “The Bridge”. If you read this post over a second time you might see the pun in the name, I picked up on it instantly, funny stuff.

“The Bridge” is their command centre of sorts. There are six terminals set up along the walls of the octagonally shaped room. Each with a different set of diagnostics and programs specific to a different aspect of the project. At the head of the room opposite the entrance is a raise dais with a daunting mental chair perched on top of it. It looked more like a throne to me. The throne had multiple sets of metal restraints for a man’s arms, legs, torso and head. They looked a bit like cheese graters to me, that’s the best way I can describe them. There was also a helmet raised above the place a person’s head would rest if they were to sit in the chair.

I’ll skip any further description. The chair is for the “pilot”. The person who’s mind is connected to the robotic drone.

Victor wasted no time. He had volunteered himself to take on the first test drive of the drone. His associates jumped to work securing the doctor in the chair with restraints fastened. They lowered and secured the helmet to his head – I’d go into further technical detail only I was asked to stick to the bear bones.

Victor’s head mechanic Kwang-Sun lead me out into the back lot where four other men stood at the ready. They were in the process of rolling up a bay door to a storage locker. I knew that what lie within was the very thing that I had been anticipating for so long. Inside that small room was the highly sophisticated drone that Victor would soon operate. The door opened and with remote control in hand Kwang-Sun flipped on the switch. The drone began to emerge from the darkness.

I was shocked at first by what I saw… It wasn’t what I expected… It certainly wasn’t humanoid. The dumpy wedge shaped robot sped out of the locker like a door-stop on speed. There were cameras and audio receivers protruding from both sides but the strangely familiar little robot had a basic design I could have sworn I had seen before. I asked Kwang-Sun about it and he answered in broken English.

“Robot War. Road Block!”

That did it, it came back to me. Victor must have been a fan of the old English television show “Robot Wars”. Road Block was one of the more successful of the combatants in the early days of the show. I remember watching that show religiously. This brought back some of my diminished enthusiasm.

Two definitive qualities of the drone – based on the robot war bot – were the wedge like lift, used for flipping opponents and a circular saw that protrudes out the back of the machine.

As Kwang-Sun got the drone into position another technician set up a monitor that displayed an image of Victor latched into the throne. Everyone stood back as Kwang-Sun disconnected the radio feed to the drone. Minutes passed as all the proper procedures were set into motion. I could see a tight smile form on Victor’s mouth through the monitor. He was dying from anticipation.

My anticipation took a short holiday as I waited. It was a sunny day and the back lot was peaceful. Beyond a tall barbed wire fence was a lot for an abandoned warehouse, one covered in graffiti. The neighbourhood was rough to say the least. A good place to maintain privacy I suppose.

I was shocked out of my haze as Kwang-Sun reminded us all to remain at a distance, he then started the count-down. As the countdown approached the final count I expected something big to happen… a red light blinked on the side of the drone. All the men cheered wildly at the blinking light. I can’t speak Korean so it took some time for me to pick up on the fact that the blinking light signified a successful link between Victor’s mind and the drone’s sensors. The drone slid back and forth almost haphazardly. The cameras shifted a bit here and there. With each tiny movement the men screamed out in joy. I joined them hoping their enthusiasm was warranted.

I could see by the monitor that Victor was having the time of his life. His mouth only twitched slightly in an awkward smile – do to all his functions being converted into the machine – but I could tell.

The trial didn’t last long and the next day was designed to be a day of diagnostics and debriefing.

Victor has asked me to stay an extra week do to his sudden desire to expand on the testing. He said that in a couple of days other people – including myself – will get the chance to test drive it. My boss back home isn’t going to like it but I’m staying.

– Bear Hunter