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Exile in Syberia
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Unit Log, VeeMech TDR-1-74-0107C-J
Date 3018-06-21 13:00:41, Log Entry 6

Once upon a time, I was large for a human. I don't just mean tall though I was that, too. I'd always been tall, but I was stick thin until my adulthood, when I finally finished growing taller, and my physique went from "Beanpole" (an actual nickname of mine) to "Wookie", or "Yeti", or even the occasional "don't mess with sasquatch." And while I was not the epitome of martial prowess, I had enough skill and ability to protect myself, and enough of an intimidating presence when needed not to have to -- enough, in fact, to make armed muggers run.

Despite being just over five times my previous height, and 400 times as massive, I wasn't exactly feeling particularly large or intimidating these days, even with the much-bigger Primus Optimal off doing whatever it is he does when he's not checking out newly-discovered and partially-excavated firebases.

Between efforts to excavate the firebase the AutoBoPs found me in, every day, for at least one hour, Glyph put me through impromptu combat practice. Now, Glyph was an amazing shot. I'm really not. I still can't get the hang of waving around the giant ass laser mounted on my right arm, and the popgun small lasers on my torso require me to twist my torso around in an unnatural fashion to traverse a field of fire, as they had limited ability to move on their own. It was a heavily unnatural thing for a former human to be doing, and I just wasn't comfortable enough in my new metal skin to get the hang of it yet.

Let me give you an example of how my training has been going. After spending time failing to hit static targets, Glyph has me do practice fights against her, or against Spanner. AutoMechs have a base skillset when they first go online, but their AIs are a learning artificial intelligences, getting better with actual practice and experience. That said, they didn't suck as bad as I did, but they weren’t exactly walking off the assembly line able to outshoot Natasha Kerensky.

Me? I find it hard to keep my arm steady enough to land a hit on a fast-moving Glyph, or slew my torso enough to get my small lasers on target, even against Spanner, who's a lot slower than Glyph.

So, trying to gun down Glyph is an exercise in frustration and fail. She's faster than I am, far nimbler, and skilled and aware enough to predict the fluctuations in my own movements to move just enough that by the time I've realized I've drawn bead on her and fire, I'm gonna miss. She's the ultimate light 'Mech that hounds a wayward heavy to death.

Spanner isn't like that. He isn't as skilled as Glyph, but he still has me beat. Unlike Glyph, he's also willing to get in close. Spanner carries comparable armor to me, evidently, but he has a couple other advantages: like Glyph, his large laser is extended range, and his backup weapon is a 6-tube short-range missile launcher, with triple the range and double the potential damage output of my two small lasers. So, yeah, better at longer range, and at short range than me.

Did I mention that they both had double heat sinks to my singles? So unfair.

So, yeah, because Spanner can soak a hit on the rare occasion I connect, and can hit much harder than me, the medic/mechanic of the group could also kick my ass. Physical combat training, which we also practiced, was embarrassing, as I kept trying to adopt poorly-remembered Aikido techniques to a body I was poorly adapted to, and less flexible to boot, resulting in a lot of embarrassment and the occasional fall. Luckily, I kept those to a minimum, and remembered enough to keep from really hurting myself.

I found the whole process exhausting.

Oh yeah, that's another thing. My brain was still human enough to need sleep, even if it wasn't very good at it. My AutoMech compatriots found this confusing and alarming, since AutoMechs had no need to sleep, because of course they didn't, that would be silly. If I had any doubts the being who scooped or copied me out of my own body was anything but omnipotent, that would have cured me of them.

So I'm a pathetic shot, still needed to spend hours per day asleep and vulnerable, and Spanner still keeps looking at me as if he's trying to decide whether I represent something miraculous or deeply in need of repair.

If a pack of raging DemoComs attacked my new home tomorrow, I'd be hard-pressed to hurt them, too, and right now, this little Terran Hegemony outpost is still the best chance I have of figuring out what happened to me, and what I can do about it.

So, as much as I didn't like it, I was still largely dependent upon the goodwill of Primus Optimal and his band of Autobot knockoffs. And as novel as it might seem to be a giant stompy robot, in addition to being a clumsy giant stompy robot surrounded by other giant stompy robots that weren't at all clumsy, I was exactly the wrong size to try to fix any of the damned computer terminals left behind by the long-dead humans who originally inhabited Syberia.

Were there any positives?

Yes. My "communications equipment" absolutely rocked. Don't think of it as just a bunch of radios that'd make amateur radio operators go nuts. My gear could double as a radio telescope, or satellite uplink, or electronic warfare suite. It was this gear that was a saving grace in figuring out this outpost, because in my case, "comm gear" also meant hardline and even wireless communications with the damned outpost computers. Well, the ones that worked, at least.

I may not have mentioned earlier how I actually use all this technology built into my new body. AutoMechs, presumably, don't need a full-on HUD to give them status messages. I did but, fortunately, whichever punk semi-omnipotent being left me here had a sense of humor and gave me a HUD that was a cross between something out of MechWarrior online (presumably, a standard 'Mech HUD) and Iron Man, minus Jarvis.

Well, I think minus Jarvis. if I have a Jarvis, or Friday, they haven't talked to me yet directly. I suspected that this was probably kludged from a Nighthawk XXI powered armor, which didn't fit the supposed timeline for Syberia, but Syberia didn't fit the timeline for Syberia.

So from the standpoint of someone who just might want to hack the planet, I wasn't that bad off. And while I might not be as durable as I'd like, I was still a 60-ton 'Mech with a sizeable amount of armor to protect me. And while I might have trouble accessing the terminals themselves, the Terran Hegemony, like the Star League it helped spawn, seemed to be a big believer in big iron when it came to computing, meaning that there was still a giant-ass computer core at the center of the complex. We weren't there yet, but I had been able to access some of the supporting servers, which was itself, interesting.

Terra Core release 2482.4.13 (Elizabeth) Kernel 92.6.2483. on tty2 Date: 3018-06-19 Time: 18:52:55

FB74A-Mon2 login: root Password: ******* Incorrect password.

FB74A-Mon2 login: groundwave Password: *********** Token Authentication (TDR-1-74-0107C-J) Confirmed

Welcome, Groundwave. You have new mail.

groundwave@FB74A-Mon2:~$mail Mail version 92 4/13/2483. Type ? for help. "/var/spool/mail/user": 1 message 1 new >N 1 root@FB74A-Core Fri 6/19/3018 18:52 "Hello Groundwave" &1 Message 1: From root@FB74A-Core Fri June 19, 3018 18:52

Subject: Hello Groundwave


This message was automatically updated and sent upon your initial connection to one of the network servers here at Firebase 74 Alpha, but it's been waiting for you for a long time. You undoubtedly have several questions. This message will not answer all those questions, I'm afraid, but I promise you that there are answers. I will, however, try to answer what I can in this message, with what I do know:

"What am I?" - Best guess is that you are what you appear to be at first glance: a virtualized copy of a human brain and neural state.

"Where did I come from?" - Perhaps not the answer you're looking for, but a robotically-controled spacecraft bringing supplies to Syberia, which brings us to the next question:

"How did I end up on a robot supply ship bound for Syberia?" - I don't actually have an answer to this, I'm afraid. We certainly didn't expect you to be on there, in a format compatible with the new AutoMech AI cores we'd begun deploying locally, but never shipped off-world.

"Why can't I remember my real name?" - Sorry, that wasn't us, either. When we first tried activating you, we ran into that issue, too. Naming you Groundwave and shoving you in one of our early AutoMech chassis was admittedly a kludge, but it was also worked. If it's any consolation, I suspect the memory of your name is still in there, just locked away, waiting for the right thing to activate it.

"I don't remember this. What happened?" - I know. That's my fault, and I'm sorry. With that said, you also agreed to it, though I know you don't remember that right now. That you're accessing the firebase network with none of us around tells me you were right, and the war you saw coming was unavoidable. That means we failed to stop it, leaving you, our contingency plan, in place. Knowledge that we don't want either of the main factions that will emerge to have has been locked away as best we can, so they can't find it if our security fails, or even if they switch you to another computer core and body. Nobody wants an army of giant robots traipsing across the whole damn California Nebula - either they'll crush everyone else underfoot, or they'll give your "Star Empire" a technological boost that lets them crush everyone else underfoot.

Everything in this firebase remains flagged to the Terran Hegemony, and we're one of the few Terran loyalist groups still around, since both they and the Star League should have collaped at the time I'm writing this. Anything else we successfully hide from the combatants and the AutoMech factions to come will still recognize your Terran Hegemony IFF in general and, hopefully, your personal command codes, though I can't be certain for anything not here in this firebase.

One final reminder: we're setting you up as our ace in the hole, in the hopes that things might be fixable one day, and because you, as an AutoMech yourself, have a chance of surviving the apocalyptic scenario you've described, that appears to finally be coming true. If you can save Syberia, fine, but if there's nothing here but warring AutoMechs that don't need saving, then save yourself. Get what answers you can here, then get out if you can.

Good luck, Groundwave.

Major Thaddeus Wescott, THAF
13 October, 2830

So, yeah, like I said: interesting.


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