Chapter 30: Manifest Destiny
We left our heroes in the pantope, which is much the worse for wear.
Robbie is there in spirit, and spirit only. Also present are the
Djinnish Ambassador and the Doctor of Form, trying to help Robbie
achieve more than mere spirit.
A ghostly Robbie reaches down, and picks up a piece of his old self. He succeeds, but although he is holding it, he can't feel it. He closes his eyes and thinks of himself as he was before his encounter with the Grey Thinker. As he concentrates, he changes, becoming better, more like he was. He holds the emerald shard, and thinks about his body. We can all see it becoming firmer as he does so.
Next, he adds in his memories of what he felt like when he was in his original, robot body. Now he is feeling more like his original self. He shifts mental gears and thinks about how he felt as a djinnish eidolon. Again, there is a detectable improvement. Nevertheless, he still feels "squishy."
Daphne urges him on to greater efforts, just as she would an undernourished plant. Dafnord does the same, giving him a little pep talk on striving and self-determination, but, mercifully, leaving out any references to his experiences on Aphrodite. Even Kate gets into the act, urging him to try to project himself into what he wants to be, just as the Doctor of Form recommended.
All of this has only the most minimal effect on Robbie. He is still translucently greenish. Dafnord decides on a more vigorous course of action, and so drives an emerald shard toward Robbie with a slingshot. Robbie slows the projectile with qui levitation, but it penetrates him anyhow. He reaches into himself, and pulls it out. Then he pops out the hole left behind. He is no more substantial than before.
Despite this, Dafnord is confident that he is on the right track. He picks up another shard, and walks around Robbie. The former robot pops out an eye to keep him under observation. Robbie reports that the vision from this eye is a bit faint. Dafnord chucks the bit of emerald at the eye. Robbie and his eye both dodge; the shard misses. "Stop that!" protests Robbie.
Dafnord bends down and picks up another chunk of emerald. Robbie decides to avoid being hit by de-manifesting, and, indeed, he becomes more insubstantial and transparent.
The Doctor of Form is disappointed. "You seem to be failing to manifest. You started well, but..."
Salimar tries shoving Robbie, to force him into resisting, but he is very squishy, even compared to her.
This is really annoying. Robbie manifests back into his closest approximation of what he was. Whoosh. He ducks, and a bit of emerald whizzes past his ear. Dafnord throws another one, but this time Robbie fails to dodge, and the shard bounces off of him. This may be better, but it doesn't make Robbie happy. He ectoplasts Dafnord's hands together. "Stop that!"
The two beings start squabbling. Robbie culminates his actions by encasing the Acro's body below his head entirely in ectoplasm. Dafnord is indignant: "I'm trying to help you."
Robbie decides to just repeat the process of manifesting himself, without performing any de-manifesting. He picks up a chunk of emerald, holding it, feeling it, and re-manifests himself. Now the emerald feels "right." He pops out an eye, and flies it up and around. The pantope looks "right" - for a dimly lit, trashed pantope.
The Doctor of Form suggests that he needs to show more imagination. Robbie manifests himself as silver. At Daphne's urging, he manifests a metallic red cape. He reaches farther: he manifests as an Amazon kendo queen. Knowing when he's been mocked, Dafnord draws Umbra, and Robbie flees, with the hint of a "zoom" behind him. He stops in from of the Doctor of Form, and shifts back to the silver robot, sans cape. "I seem to have manifested. Am I fully here?"
The Doctor equivocates. "Well, you seem mostly here."
"What am I not quite getting?"
The Doctor of Form talks elliptically about will and imagination.
Robbie asks to borrow that scarf from Oz from Daphne. He's handled it before, but now it doesn't feel quite right. He tries to change himself so that it feels right. That works. He does the same thing with a bowl, an orange, a strawberry, the box of chocolates. The results get closer and closer to what he feels is "himself."
He changes his angle of attack and used cyberclair, first on Gannar (which is a miserable failure) and then on a watch. He adjusts himself until the watch clairs correctly. He listens to Daphne and to her new panpipes. She sounds right: they sound bad, so that's good. Salimar has him feel her as she manifests different temperatures and pressures. They all feel correct. Kate offers him her macrometal knife. The hilt feels right, and the side of the blade feels right, but he feels nothing from the edge, even when it slips inside his perimeter. Oops. He thinks about the feel of getting cut: the signal of damage alarms, Kate's memory of a minor cut. He cuts himself on the blade again, but there is still no perception. He concentrates on his memory of robot sensors. This time there are damage reports. They are slow, but they do come in.
He works on his memory, and tries to manifest a rock. It's not impressive. He adjusts himself, and tries again, over and over, until he is satisfied. He does some more work on the aroma of the various fruits, then announces to the Doctor of Form that he's done his best.
The Doctor of Form admits that he cannot commit to stating whether Robbie is completely manifested. We decide that this is the best that Robbie can hope for.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.