Holocaust World (North America) Worldbender Simulation.
Week 8, Negotiating with the Computer
The doors opened, revealing a locker room. On the opposite wall was another pair of doors. In the corners were computer terminals and TV cameras. We closed the first set of doors behind us, to keep out any new pirates.
A voice told us that we had to put on clean-suits if we wanted to enter "embryo fabrication." Had we found Worldbenders' central casting department?
We found baggy white "clean-suits" in the lockers and put them on. The voice then asked what our business here was. (We had thought it was a recording, but it was obviously aware, and admitted to being a computer, or at least like a computer.) We said we were looking for some lost property of ours and had evidence that it lay beyond the doors. The computer grudgingly admitted us.
The doors opened on another small room, this one with nozzles in the ceiling, and lights and mirror on the walls. A sterilization chamber, we presumed. We bundled our equipment into a spare suit and walked in.
We got whooshed by the nozzles and irradiated by the lights. Then the voice remarked that it really had to sterilize our weapons, too. Tom asked some questions about the sterilization procedure, then decided it was safe to sterilize our weapons. Whoosh again.
We entered another, slightly smaller cavern, with buildings in it. These bore signs saying they were hospitals and embryo fabrication centers. The pointer still pointed slightly down, and we were led to another set of doors.
"I need to know more about your purpose here," the computer insisted, "before I can let you through. You could endanger my existence if I let you through, and that would endanger my ability to protect my charges."
Reluctantly, we described the segment of the diadem that we were after. We also explained that we were time travelers, working tomorrow to build a better yesterday, and so forth. The computer was bemused, but once more let us in.
Down yet another level. This was smallest of all, but still contained large banks of machinery the size of houses. One of the banks flickered with TV pictures from all over the underground complex. Following our tracer, we found that the diadem segment appeared to be INSIDE one of the big banks of machines. Dismaying but not surprising.
We got chatty with the computer. It wasn't surprised either. It said that the segment was part of its probability analyzer, and thus very useful to it; it would hate to lose the segment, and did not necessarily believe our story. It proposed a bargain:
It seems that the computer's charges are not only the embryos, but the young folk we saw exercising in the uppermost level. They are all produced down in "embryo fabrication" and were intended to re-populate the surface with healthy, non-mutated folk. Unfortunately, the pirates have discovered this place (called "Goodfellow Center" I think) and are using it for a slave farm. The test-tube folk are all sold as slaves and thus sustain the pirates' economic empire.
The slaves are kept weaponless, except for the paint-guns we saw being used in the war games. (Apparently, they are sold as janissaries.) Therefore the pirates keep guard down here with only three dozen or so armed men. Could we oblige the computer by killing off most of them so the slaves could try for freedom?
After a lot of chaffing, we agreed. We got the segment -- looks like a crystal -- and a little military assistance. Two women showed up during the dickering -- the Mother General and a sergeant whose name I forget. We lent them a couple of laser pistols and sallied forth. The computer said it would try to feed the pirates misleading information and thus send them to us in small numbers.
Back in the locker rooms, we spied on the six pirates via the TV cameras and terminals, got in position, and ordered the doors open. A quick gunfight ensued. We got all the pirates, but the young sergeant went down, wounded. The Mother General yelled, "Medbots! Emergency!" and left the girl in the locker room. The doors snapped shut.
We then went up a level and met another seven pirates coming down the rampway. More gunshots. The party mopped them up and the players called it a night.