Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Charon is the one afterlife myth I can believe in.

  Take the Egyptians, they beleived that after you die, you get to keep all your stuff.
 But you'll need it, because dying is just the beginning, once dead you embark on a huge odyssey of trials, tribulations, tests, trickiness… Et Certera. In fact, so much, you need a guide book filled with the answers, and maps, and cheatcodes. And even if you do make it to the end, there's also the final test, where you heart is weighed against the Feather Of Truth.
A feather.
I don't don't know about you, but my heart isn't coming out on the better side of that deal.
And if you fail that one, crucial test, your soul is eaten by Ammit the Devourer.
 Game over.
And even if you do win, in a weight test, against a feather, their afterlife isn't too much better than what we have here.

Then take the Christian way, and allow me to put on my southern preacher voice here;
A–fter you die, THE A–ngels come DOWN from above, and bring you Up, Up Up! To the pearly white gates of heaven.  WHERE YOU wait inaline to be judged by HIS HO–LINESS the Archangel Wossname, And when it IS your turn, he READS his ledger, and says unto you: Sorry bud, you're not on the list. And Then he PULLS the giant red LEE–VER of rightiousnees, and Puh–Lunges your soul Down, Down, Down!  To BURN in the fires of HELL for all ee–ternity.

Not for me, personally.

But the Greeks, they had it down.
See, at this point, they were still simple farmers, mostly, that newfangled ‘Fancy Math’ stuff was still just getting started, but they had coins, and a system.
 They believed that after you die, you wander about in the fog for a bit, avoid the three-headed-dog {I can do that, Dogs are easy} and eventually come to the river Styx.
  Waiting at the river, is a ferryman. Charon. You pay the man your coins {Or on some cases, coin} that you were buried with, and he takes you to the other side of the river.
  And what's at the other side of the river?
      Well, you'll just have to find out when we get there.

The C.W.A. of Dr. Z. Smith: Episode #94: Plan B

Last Week As You Recall,
Our heroes were in something of a tight spot. 
Capt. Brown was getting a little antsy, understandably, he was fully armed and yet not shooting.
“C'mon Zachary¹, Plan B. Anytime now.” He said.

-=fig. 606: ricochets hurt=-

“I'm thinking I'm thinking I'm thinking”  Replied Dr. Smith
 “Do they have a weak spot?” Capt. Brown Asked, Trying to get the idea flowing.
  “No. Do I look like I would build weak spots into things? I never thought I would have to face off against them in my own house!”
   “Okay, So why did you abandon this design?”
     “Well, you know, James², They're pretty clumsy. And ugly. Slow, too.”
        “How slow?”
          “Pretty slow, they can barely outrun a normal person. ”
Capt. Brown, who up to that point had been pretty hopeful re: the shortcomings of the MK4, sagged a little.
              “So…” Capt. Brown Started, “Why aren't they attacking?”
“Bravo.” Said a new voice “You two sure can talk. Not a lot of thinking going on between the two of you, though.”
Just off the kitchen Dr. Smith had an office, it contained: a desk, a typewriter, a phone, a blackboard filled with indecipherable mathematical scribblings, and a shiny silver robot, who was glowing green.

-=fig. 607: glorious leader=-

“Please don't let my associates frighten you,” it said without a mouth “They are fearsome, and deadly, and don't always listen when I tell them not to kill our guests, but don't let them frighten you, no.”  This new robot was obviously the leader, for one thing, it could talk.  That was new.  “Come a little closer, Mr. Robot.” Dr. Smith said, “We can't quite hear you.”
 The office was on the other side of the room from Dr. Smith, Capt. Brown and the rest.
    “Ha ha ha.” Said the Robot, it probably thought it was laughing. “You think that if I come nearer, you may trick with some device and cause me to be destroyed. But there is no device what can damage Compound LZ129³. So I will come nearer. If only to taunt you.”
Dr. Smith was worried now, even though he didn't show it.
   He still didn't have a plan.

-=fig. 608: face to face meetings=-

“Your weapons cannot harm us. There is nothing you could possibly make that could destroy me. It is merely my compassion that keeps you from dying.”
  “It is a well-known fact,” Said Dr. Smith, “That robot do not have compassion.  So you must be keeping us alive for some other purpose.”
  The Robot's face would have shown surprise, had it had any articulate features.
    “So you are smarter than you look.” This wasn't a complement “Yes. This body is…inaccurate, frightening and ugly.  I require a new one, a better one. And you are going to make it for me.”
 Dr. Smith saw that he had a card. So he played it.  “And why should I?”
   “Because if you don't I'll kill you.”
     “Kill me. I'm the only one who can help you.”
       “You're right.  Kill…him.”  It gestured to Capt. Brown, the MK4's took hold Of Capt. Brown before he had time to react, The Captain was big and strong, but the MK4's were bigger and stronger.
   “FINE!” Dr. Smith Yelled, He had just lost his card, his only play. “I'll do it.  It will take time, however.”
       “You have forty-eight hours.” It intoned.
  That was a worryingly small time-frame.
          “I can't make a very good robot in just two days,” Dr. Smith bargained, “How much better do you want you new chassis?”
              “Better than an MK12.⁴”
                “That's impossible in just two days!”
                 “Forty-Eight Hours.” And that was that. “We will keep the good captain here, to ensure you preserve your end of the bargain.”
                 “What my end? The only end to this bargain is yours!”
                   “Your end is your friend does not die. 47:55:10.”
“An MK13 in just 48 hours. Hah.”  Dr. Smith was a grumbler, in private.
 “Sir? Is that you Sir?”

-=fig. 609: laboratorium=-
  “Jeeves! What are you doing in here?”
   “Hiding, Sir.”
    “Good Man.  What happened to the Laboratory?”
     “Those, pardon my expletive, damn MK4's came in here looking for me. I daresay they were no match for my hiding abilities.”
       “Jeeves, they want me to build them a MK13.”
         “A MK13, Sir?  Can it be done?”
          “Doesn't matter, they want it in 48 hours, less now, or they'll kill James.”
        Jeeves⁵ was pretty smart, he had seen cop-and-robber movies, read crime novels, and so knew that this was called kidnapping, and that it never ended with the hostage alive.
 He kept this to himself, however.
   “Sir,” Jeeves said, “Perhaps we could fool them with a MK6, a MK7?  Something better than what they have but still with known flaws?  Something we could exploit.”
Dr. Smith considered it.  “I like it, it could work. And we could make one of those in less than two days, lots less.  It said it wanted something less fearsome, less clumsy.  That sounds like a MK7 to me.”
  “Very good Sir.”

¹Capt. Brown is the only person that Dr. Smith lets call him ‘Zachary’.
 This is because Dr. Smith is not the least bit friendly with anyone he's not friends with.

²Dr. Smith is one of only a few people Capt. Brown lets call him ‘James’. Not because he's unfriendly, but because a certain amount of respect is lost when you call your mayor and glorious leader by his first name.

 ³Jeeves used to be made of this stuff, but it was too heavy.  So Dr. Smith made a new Compound, LZ130, which was lighter, but weaker.  He kept Compound LZ129 in the storage closet however, because you never know when you might need a nearly-indestructible alloy.

 ⁴ An MK12 is the latest model Jeeves, he is sophisticated, smart, obedient and human-looking.  These robots, however, are heavily based off of the older prototype Mk4 model, a mere production-line robot.

⁵An MK12, the only one in existence.