Monday, December 11, 2017

GONK!

“Gonk!” Said Gonk droid, in surprise at finding himself on his side.
Despite their shape, due to their large internal gyroscopes, Gonk droids are almost impossible to knock over.
“Gonk!” he said again, but no one answered.
He’d gone off line in the store cupboard, standing as usual. How was he not standing still?
Gonk looked around. He was lying on his side on the ceiling of the store cupboard, and the place was a mess.
“Gonk!” he exclaimed. How was he on the ceiling? And were was all this water coming from? And why was that also pooling on the ceiling?
Gonk suddenly realised the ship was upside down.

“Gonk!” he called to ship.
“Gonk?” Ship answered. “Is that you? You need to check on the crew. Slate, Faine and Blane aren’t answering.
“Gonk?” Gonk asked.
“We crashed, dummy!” Ship answered, “What do you think happened!?!”
“Gonk? Gonk?” Gonk asked.
“No, it wasn’t the Empire.” Ship told him, “We were leaving Tosche Station when pirates tried to jack us. They holed the hull so we couldn’t escape to space. Blane shot them down, but not before I was too badly damaged to stay airborne.”
“Gonk.” Gonk told ship.
“How?” Ship asked. “I thought you couldn’t knock a Gonk droid over.”
“Gonk.” Gonk answered.
“We’re upside down!” Ship exclaimed. “I just assumed… my sensors are off line. I’m blind.”
“Gonk.” Gonk said.
“We can’t be,” Ship answered. “Tatooine is a desert planet.”
“Gonk.” Gonk pointed out.
“I’m telling you there isn’t enough water in all of Tatoo…” Ship paused.
“Wait a minute, let me check something.” Ship said then instantly continued to say. “We have a fuel leak. That liquid you mentioned isn’t water. It must be fuel. It’s going down quite quickly. It’s leaking up into the ship because the ship is upside down.”
“Gonk?” Gonk asked.
“Yes, but thats the FTL drives.” Ship informed him. “The normal sub-light thrusters still use a liquid fuel.” Ship informed him.
“Gonk.” Gonk said.
“I don’t know.” Ship answered. “Where are you?”
“Gonk.” Gonk answered.
“Wait.” Ship said. “Let me try something.”
The door closed.
“Did the door just close?” She asked.
“Gonk.” Gonk told her.
“Good.” Ship said.
“Gonk Gonk Gonk!” Gonk exclaimed.
“I know.” Ship said. “But Gonk droids float. Once the room floods you’ll float, your gyro’s will self right you, I’ll open the door and you can search the ship for the crew.”
“Gonk!” Gonk exclaimed.
“I’m sure you do float.” Ship answered, “I have memory of Blane saying Gonks float.”
“Gonk!” Gonk pointed out.
“Well I’m sure this was one of the few things he was right about.” Ship tried to assure.
By now Gonk was half submerged.
“Gonk.” He said.
“Well I didn’t think you’d have 100% buoyancy!” Ship said curtly, “All you need is five or ten percent buoyancy.” She estimated, “That should be enough to get you upright I think.”
“Gonk.” Gonk said.
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” Ship said, “Just don’t make any sparks or the fuel will blow us all into a million, million parts.”
“Gonk.” Gonk said.
“Hey,” Ship conceded. “I know that might be a tall order for a walking battery, but do your best.”
Gonk always found the analogy that he was a walking battery offensive. As he was, in fact, a walking generator. Something that, he felt, was a parsec away from just a simple battery.

Gonk was now almost totally submerged by the highly flammable liquid.
“Gonk.” Gonk pointed out.
“I’m just going off what Blane said.” Ship said, “I don’t have detailed files on Gonk droids.”
Gonk was now under fuel. He was a generator droid. His only function was to generate electricity and he was fully submerged in highly explosive fuel.
He shifted slightly. He did float! Well… not so much float as weigh considerably less when submerged. In normal gravity he would self right from anything up to a 45 degree angle. His gyro’s were that good.
He tried to self right. Whirred his gyro’s to their maximum revs and managed a 15 degree re-right before his feet caught on the floor (ceiling).
He could stand! He could do it once the fuel was deep enough.
“Gonk!” He told ship.
Ship was delighted.
The fuel was now at least three feet deep. He tried again. Span his gyro’s to the max, then beyond excepted safety levels… and… stood up!
“GONK!!!” he shouted. “Gonk! Gonk!”
“Great!” Said ship, “ I’m going to open the door. Just stay stood up.”
“Gonk.” Gonk said.
The door opened and the fuel drained out. Except the for the last eight inches, because the door didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling. Which was now the floor.
Gonk didn’t like the way the lighting in the hall was flashing and he didn’t like the intermittent buzzing sound either. It looked like a short somewhere, and the ship had a lot of fuel sloshing around.
Gonk looked at the eight inch high threshold he now had to step over.

“Gonk.” He said to ship.
“Which idiot designed you!?!” Ship shouted. “Well how much can you step over?”
“Gonk.” Gonk told her.
“Well that’s just great that is!” Ship complained.
“Gonk!” Gonk told her.
“Actually, most astromech droids can fly.” Ship informed him. “They have little jets that come out of the sides.”
“Gonk.” Gonk pointed out.
“Good point.” Ship admitted.
“Gonk Gonk.” Said Gonk 
“Alright!” She exclaimed. “It’s not a competition! Look around. Is there anything we can use?”
Gonk looked around.
“Gonk.” He said.
“Really?” Ship asked, “I feel like we’re so close.
“Gonk, Gonk… Gonk!” Gonk realised.
“Go for it!” Ship encouraged.
Gonk waded through the fuel to one of the lockers. The handle was pretty much at the same hight as the panel his visual sensor and diagnostic panel was set into. Could it be that easy? He walked into the locker door and leant forward until his panel was tucked in just under the locker handle. He pushed up, which would have been down if the locker were the right way up and the locker opened, and the spare grav-plates tumbled out, into the fuel.
It was about time something when his way.
With his feet, Gonk shuffled one of the three inch thick square plates towards the door. He stepped up onto it. Then tried to step over the threshold. He was still an inch short. He looked back to the other grav-plates lying under the fuel. He needed to stack one on the one he was standing on and butt another up to it to make a makeshift staircase. The problem was he had no way to pick a plate up to put it on top of another.
He turned back to the threshold and tried again. This time leaning back to his maximum 45 degrees he stuck his foot out. It only just met the top of the threshold. He stood on tip toes to get extra height and pushed. Managing to scrape his foot over the step. Suddenly it dropped down the other side and he fell out onto his face.

Gonk had managed to get out of a cupboard.

“Gonk!” Gonk told ship.
“Excellent!” Ship exclaimed, “Make your way to the cockpit. They were all there when we crashed.”
“Gonk.” Gonk informed her.
“How are you on your face!?!” Ship exclaimed.
“Gonk, Gonk.” Gonk said.
“Un-bel-ievable!” Ship shouted. “What happened to it being impossible to knock a Gonk over?”
Gonk felt sad. If he’d been an early EG6 model he would have had a front manipulator arm which would have been really useful right now, but he was a GNK model and some design genius had decided he didn’t need it.
He tried to think. If you’re a Gonk droid how do you get off your face?
He waved is little feet about bit. That didn’t work. He span his gyro’s and waved his feet about and still didn’t move.
He cursed his designers. Other droids had jets in their legs. Some had grappling hooks they could shoot out. Lot’s had arms. Actual arms! BB units were balls. There was no wrong way up for them.
Another thing his designers hadn’t thought to give him was much in the way of brains. The first twelve years of his existence he’d had less intelligence than a womp rat. Faine had boosted his intelligence nearly a year ago. Doubled it. She could do anything. Unfortunately double IQ still wasn’t exactly genius, because he’d started out so low. He thought and thought and thought.
And he had an idea!
“Gonk, Gonk, Gonk!” Gonk said.
“Why didn’t I think of that!?!” Ship exclaimed, and Gonk flew up to the ceiling as ship turned the grav-plating on the floor above him on and the artificial gravity the ship normally used in space pulled him up into the air. The fuel in the hall sploshed up to the floor too.
Gonk crashed into the floor that was now the ceiling and found himself back on his side. Looking up the hall to the flashing, buzzing light. The short was just round the corner. The whole ship could blow up at any moment.
“Gonk. Gonk. Gonk. Gonk.” Gonk told ship.
“Okay, Ready when you are.” Answered ship.
“Gon…k!” Gonk shouted, ship turned the plating off and Gonk fell as he whirred his gyro’s to max.
He self righted mid-air and landed on his feet.
It was by far the most acrobatic thing a Gonk droid had ever done.

Gonk had managed to get out of a cupboard and stand up.

Filled with pride, Gonk walked along the ceiling which was now the floor, towards the cockpit.
“If we’d thought of turning the plating on earlier you could have just walked out of the cupboard normally.” Ship pointed out.
“Gonk.” Said Gonk.
The cockpit was smashed. It looked like the ship had been driven into a vertical rock face. Crushing the front of the ship.
Slate and Blane were dead. Faine was unconscious, bleeding badly from a head wound.
“Gonk. Gonk. Gonk.” Gonk told ship. Then to Faine, “GONK!”
Faine didn’t wake. Gonk nudged her with one of his corners, and said “Gonk.”
She was lying in a couple inches of fuel. Despite the continuing leak it wasn’t getting any deeper. Which meant it was draining away somewhere.
Gonk nudged Faine again. “Gonk?” He asked, but she didn’t reply. Gonk loved Faine the way a pet might love its owner. She’d boosted his IQ. He’d been looking at her when she’d activated the extra processing power. When he’d woken up.
“What’s happening?” Ship asked.
“Gonk.Gonk.Gonk.Gonk.” Gonk told her.
“You need to get her out.” Said ship. “I could explode at any second!"
“Gonk.Gonk” Gonk told her.
Gonk nudged Faine with a corner again. She stirred and groaned.
“Gonk!” Gonk urged her.
“Faine! Wake up!” ship repeated.
“Whu? What… What happened?” Faine asked. Then started coughing.
“We crashed!” Ship told her. “There’s fuel everywhere. You need to get out before I explode.”
“Blane? Slate?” Faine asked between coughing.
“I’m sorry Faine,” Ship said. “They’re dead.”
Faine tried to get up. Her coughing got worse.
“Gonk?” Gonk asked.
“It’s the fumes from the fuel.” Ship told him. “A stray spark could even ignite the air.”
Faine couldn’t stand. She could hardly breathe.
“Gonk.Gonk.Gonk.” Gonk asked.
“Yes, I can do that.” Ship answered, “I do it anyway when we’re on low gravity planets.”
“Gonk.Gonk.” said Gonk, and ship brought the grav-plating on line above Faine, but only at ten percent power. The gravity above her pulled her away from the planet slightly, making her weigh less. Ship turned the plating up to twenty percent. Faine could really feel it now. The fuel around her could too. In the lower gravity it sloshed around more and more and started to form into a hump.
Gonk had turned his magnetic feet on so wasn’t going anywhere.
Eventually Faine was in a micro gravity. It took almost no effort to stand.
“Gonk.Gonk.” Gonk told her and she lay across him.
“I think the hatch is open.” Ship told Gonk, “You should just be able to walk out.”
“Gonk. Gonk.” Gonk told her.
“No. Leave me.” Ship answered, “You’ve stayed too long already.”
“Gonk.” Gonk told her.
“You’re being ridiculous!” Ship told him. “You’re not a shock trooper, you’re a Gonk droid!”
“GONK.GONK.GONK.” said Gonk.
“He’s right,” Faine said, “Take me there, Gonk.”
With Faine lying on Gonk, Gonk waded through the fuel to Ships core. With everything she had Faine managed to pull Ships core. A cylindrical object about the size of a flask pulled from the wall.
Slowly Gonk turned and walked out, with Faine lying on top of him. Faine holding ship’s brain.
As Gonk slowly trudged away the ship behind him finally blew. He walked from the explosion. He didn’t run and didn’t look back. Because he couldn’t run and was incapable of looking back.

Slowly, in the baking heat Gonk walked through the desert. He saw rocky region in the distance, and made for that in the hopes that he could find shelter there.
“Hold it!” Someone shouted to their right. Faine twisted her he’d to see who it was and Gonk turned the ninety degrees he needed to see.
From the looks of him he was a space pirate. Going off his considerable injuries he was one of the pirates Blane had shot down.
Did he want revenge? Did he just want to steel Gonk and Ship’s brain? Gonk didn’t know.
Gonk just blasted him with a huge electrical discharge. A blot of lightning.

Gonk had got out of a cupboard, stood up, saved the girls and killed the bad guy.

The suns went down and extreme heat gave way to extreme cold. They found a sheltered area and Faine climbed off Gonk. She was cold so Gonk ran hot. He was a generator unit. Inside his casing he was mostly a fusion reactor. It was easy to generate way more power than he needed, and vent the heat exhaust Faine’s way.

Then Gonk became aware of a few pale lights around them. Out of the gloom droids emerged. Lots of old battered, rusty, damaged droids.
“Beep-bee-boop-bee-weep” One of them said, finishing with a whistle.
“Gonk. Gonk.” Gonk said and they moved nearer. They were running low on power and he had all they needed. Three at a time they attached and drew the power they need for a recharge.
“Beep-dawooop-ding.” An R4 unit told him. “Beep-boop-bee-doop” It continued.
They’d been on a Jawa transport when it had been attacked by Storm Troopers. All the Jawa’s had been killed, and many droids. Including the Gonk that was with them. None of them knew why they’d done it. They’d been hiding in the caves ever since.
Luckily one of them was a medi-bot and it tended to Faine.
Gonk was pleased with himself. He’d done it. He’d saved them. Maybe Ship would see him in a different light now. Maybe he stood a chance with her.


Now that he was a hero.

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