Saturday, February 15, 2014

Self Improvement

It was a new day. A new day which followed a very fun and successful day. After bidding Vera goodbye, I went down into my lab. The really secret one, under the Hall of Justice. I'd had my fun, I'd spent a day playing with telescopes looking at pretty pictures in space, now it was time for some serious self improvement.

There were four ways I wanted to improve myself. The first was that every time my power was used, the monomaterial fibers in my body overheated with Cherenkov radiation and started to release a glow. The glow was deep red (human flesh absorbs the bluer frequencies), and it did look pretty awesome. But it was looking like long-term exposure would give people cancer, and if word got out that I was carcinogenic, people might not want to hang around me. So the first order of business was to work out some sort of containment.
The issue second was that I couldn't actually use my powers. A human brain cannot operate countless billions of indestructible magnetic monopole-infused nanomachines. That was the original reason for creating Neurotron. He scanned my brain to figure out what I wanted my powers to do, and then he did it. In theory this system should have worked flawlessly, but Neurotron and I didn't exactly make great partners. Something to do with him being an asshole.
The third way I wanted to improve myself was that I wanted to be a telepath. I had sensory tendrils which could scan things on a subatomic level. It seemed reasonable that I could scan brains, and figure out what was going on inside of them. After all, Professor Cognis had figured out how to do it. And such a power would be really useful for the whole 'mastering all the knowledge in the universe' thing.
The fourth form of self improvement was that I wanted wings. My current mode of flight involved shooting superheated plasma from my palms, like an extremely powerful rocket. This was good, and could also make for an offensive weapon, but it would probably by awkward to try to fly that way while carrying something. For that, I wanted wings. Preferably ones that were awesome.

I had just finished with the first item on my agenda. I had worked out a simple compound that I could distribute through my bloodstream to absorb the rest of the radiation, and had tested it in my left pinky. After I used that finger to poke through three centimeters of steel (pinkies- even extremely powerful ones- aren't good for much) with no discernible radiation emission, I ordered Noetron to begin synthesizing a batch big enough to absorb the rest of my rosy glow.
Alright Neurotron, time to work on our teamwork.
I still don't see why.
Because we both have very extensive and very different skill sets, and it would benefit us both to work together more.
Fine. I'll humor you. How do you suppose we build our partnership? Trust falls? Team-building exercises? Besides, I don't see why I need you.
Neurotron had a valid point. Humans were constantly building better and smarter machines, and it was only a matter of time before we created a machine better and smarter than us. On the other hand, I doubted that the first machine to make the human race obsolete would be a jackass like Neurotron.
You think that because you control the physical power, and because you are more advanced than every computer on the planet working in parallel, you don't need me?
Pretty much.
Tell me, how would you cool an alkaline-ion laser?
I don't know, but-
Too late, the laser would already have exploded. How can you simulate the propagation of seismic waves through the core of the Earth?
Oh, I know this one. Lattice-Lagrangian.
Wrong. Wouldn't converge. If a thousand Lost Army robots were attacking Estveria, how would we stop them?
You don't even know that.
But I can figure it out. Gimme a second..... Got it!
Alright, fine. But I still don't see how the two of us can practice working together.
Well, in what sorts of situations will teamwork be useful?
I don't-
You would need my strategies during a fight. I would need your calculation abilities when doing science. You would need my understanding of algorithms when plotting trajectories and whatnot. I propose we have a training course.
Flash forward one hour. I was smashing robots with my systems at 1% power. Actually, Neurotron was smashing robots, I was giving him advice which he ignored. Neurotron, I don't think we're getting anywhere with this.

On to number three on my list of priorities: mind reading. I spoke to my two artificial intelligence allies. "Alright," I said. "First things first, I'm going to need nonhuman samples. Noetron, get me three new shipments of lab rats, ASAP."
"Yes sir."
"Next, I'm going to need human subjects. I don't think Vera would volunteer."
That seems like a reasonable analysis, Romeo.
"And I really don't want to just kidnap somebody off the street. And I don't really want somebody who's going to tell the world about this. Noetron, how many convicted prisoners are there in Estveria?"
"Three, sir."
"Are any of them mentally sound enough to be used as a test subject for a mind-reading experiment?"
"Yes, one. Konstantin Kominofsky."
"Good, send him in."

"Alright, Subject 1-"
"I'm your only subject, goddammit!"
"Alright, Subject 1. Count from one to ten, again."
"One, two, three." The microscopic sensory tendrils I had monitoring his brain captured his activities for each number.
"Slower. Try thinking about each number."
"Four. Five."
I was beginning to get a fix on his patterns for each number. "Eight. Nine. Ten."
"Good. Now the screen is going to show you a random number. Think about that number."
"Alright, it's a five."
"No! You're not supposed to say what it is!" This was going nowhere. "New number."
"It's a-"
"Shut up!"
"Right." Information poured in through the tendrils. Unfortunately, not nearly enough.
He clearly has the attention span of a rabbit. Hats off to your Estverian education system.
He would have been educated before I was born.
Whatever. The best match is for eight, but it could be a two.
"What number was it?"
That was going to be our third guess.
After a few hours, we got to the point where if this one specific Estverian crook thought about the same number for about a minute, Neurotron and I could guess it almost a third of the time. I decided to throw in the towel on that project. At least for the moment.

I was standing on my house's rooftop. "Deploy wings." I didn't have to say it aloud, it just sounded awesome.
Wings deployed, Commander Doofus.
A thin exoskeleton, almost invisible, formed at my shoulder-blades.
"Run diagnostics."
Hundred percent functional, just like they were twelve seconds ago the last time you asked.
"Light 'em up."
My wings burst into flames. Plumes of plasma shot down from them, lifting me into the air. I went from zero to sixty in about a millisecond. Below me, a section of my roof collapsed. Awesome.
As I soared through the sky, my flaming wings billowing behind me, I felt really glad to have chosen the name Phoenix.
Things took a turn for the worse when I got home and found that Mephistopheles had left a little message for me.

1 comment:

  1. second paragraph - some sort of containment
    last paragraph - from zero to sixty