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Zarkor's Future Awareness Protection System

Posted by StarMountainKid , 27 December 2011 · 204 views

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In this Episode, Zarkor is considering building a sort of time machine to peer into his future so as to
perceive any potential dangers that may await him. Sounds like a good idea, right? In any case, the story begins...

Zarkor and Zerak are in their den in their house on Zerak's private planet. Zarkor seems restless, hovering about the room aimlessly.  After a while of this, Zarkor finally turns to Zerak and says,  "Zerak, I'm worried about my future."

"Oh, in what way?" asks Zerak.

"Well, so far I've made it safely into my present, right?"

"Mostly," agrees Zerak.

"But what about my future? You know danger lurks everywhere."

"Yes, especially for you, Zarkor," Zerak agrees.

"That's what I mean! The future is unknown. I'm ok one moment, but the next moment something terrible might happen, and I can have no pre-knowledge of that awful future moment, can I?"

"I guess not," Zerak says.

"It's a very unsettling situation to be in."

"Yes it is, Zarkor, but we're all in the same situation, so what can we do about it?"

"Well that's just it. I've figured out a way to know ahead of time all those terrible, dangerous moments that await me."

Zerak eyes Zarkor suspiciously, knowing Zarkor's propensity for precarious solutions to ordinary problems. "How are you going to do that?" he asks.

"By using this time machine I'm building."

Zerak looks at Zarkor anxiously. "Zarkor, I'd advise you to forget about building any more time machines. You know what happened with the last few you built."

"I don't recall any problems I had with them," Zarkor says, innocently.

"You have a convenient memory, then," Zerak says. "For example, remember the one you picked up at a pawn shop on Quadropoleous?"

"Oh, you mean that kid's time machine toy that was invented by Professor Schmaltzenberger?"

"Yes," Zerak says. "The one you built from the instructions after you spilled Flavorian soda pop all over them, and had to improvise."

"But it still worked!" protests Zarkor.

"It worked, alright. As soon as you turned it on another you popped out from your future, then you and your future self were warped into some kind of time-thingy. Then you two had to go before The Executive Director of Space-Time Continuity, or something, and stand trial for illegally meddling with Time."

Zarkor bobs up and down with consternation. "But that was a stupid accident, Zerak, and not my fault!  Me and my future self were kidnapped! We were illegally abducted by 'The Domain of the Department of the Supervisory Division of the Guideline Adjustment Board of the Congress Alliance Federation Mandate Commission of the Agency for Intervention of Unregulated Divergence of Proper Progression of the Duration Event Boundary'!  It seems they thought we illegally disrupted the sequence of the Time component of the ecosystem of the Universe. What rubbish!"

"It may be rubbish to you, but you were going to be slammed in jail for it, isn't that right?" Zerak exclaims.

"Yes, but me and my future self talked our way out of it in the end, so...well...so what?"

"Okay, so you talked your way out of that one, but what about that Time Projector you also built? That didn't work out well, either."

Zarkor is adamant again. "You cant's say that, Zerak. I never even used it!"

"The only reason you didn't use it, Zarkor,  was because you were afraid you'd be stranded in the future someplace, and you'd be forgotten in the present by all your admirers. You were worried about your 'Legacy'."

"This is true, but it would have worked. You're not being fair, Zerak. You can't complain about this one if I never used it."

"But you might have. Who knows what the consequences might have been? I think you need to leave time travel alone, Zarkor. For all our sakes."

After a moment of sulking, Zarkor stops hovering about and faces Zerak. "This is different, Zerak. This one is foolproof! You want me to survive the future, don't you?"

"Of course I do."

"Well, with my Future Awareness Protection System, it's guaranteed!"

Zerak heaves a sigh. "Alright then, explain it to me."

Zarkor hovers over to the couch and sits next to Zerak. "There's two parts to this, Zerak.  First I'm going to get a Potential Danger Alarm Implant."

"A what?" asks Zerak.

"A Potential Danger Alarm Implant. See, it's sort of like my Dumb Luck Implant. Only this one alerts me of any impending danger! Neat idea, huh? And it's cheap, too."

"I'm sure it is, Zarkor," Zerak agrees knowingly.  "And just how does this implant work?"

Zarkor starts to get excited again. "It operates by sensing my whole nervous system, Zerak. At the first sign of any life-threatening threat, an alarm goes off in my brain."

Zerak smiles. "You're going to get tired of hearing that alarm every other minute!"

Zarkor ignores Zerak's sarcastic comment. "The beauty of it is, it has a Telepathic Pre-Event Sensing Circuit that percieves several nano-Time Periods into my future. If it discerns any kind of danger ahead..."

"I know, Zarkor, an alarm goes off in your brain."

"Right! Great, isn't it?!"

Zerak says patiently, "Assuming this thing actually works, do you really need this Alarm thingy?"

"Of course, Zerak!" Zarkor insists.  "Look. This Alarm alerts me before any danger actually happens! Without it, like, what if I can't jump out of the way fast enough or something? I could end up dead...or worse!"

"I won't ask what the worse part is, Zarkor," Zerak comments wisely, "but, you've survived all this time without this time stuff, so why do you think you need it now?"

"Insurance, Zerak," Zarkor answers smoothly.  "It's like insurance, only with this the policy pays out before the accident."

Later, Zerak finds Zarkor at work in his personal laboratory, busily working on his Future Awareness Protection System.

"Well, Zarkor," says Zerak, "I see you're going to go through with this time thingy after all. Now, if you can, please explain this second part of your plan to me."

"Sure, Zerak" Zarkor replies cheerfully. "This part is my time machine . It's simple. This device will move time-wise into my Future, linked to my Potential Danger Alarm Implant. It will travel in time parallel to the space I'll be occupying. The operator on board will record every dangerous situation I experience in myFuture. The time, the location, circumstances, etcetra. When the mission is completed, the device with its operator will return to the Present, and the operator presents me with all this information, so I can know when a dangerous situation is about to happen before it happens! Simple, like I said."

Zerak considers all this, then asks, "And just who is this 'operator' going to be?"

"Why, my clone, Cloney, of course!" Zarkor replies happily.

"Cloney?!" Zerak exclaims.

"Sure! Who else?"

"Who else, indeed," Zerak says. "And does Cloney know about this yet?"

"Well...not yet...but I know he'll be thrilled with the idea!  You know how he worships and idolizes me, Zerak. He'll jump at the chance once he realizes he'll be saving my life, probably lots of times!"

"Oh, he'll jump, alright, Zarkor," says Zerak. "But, don't you think this is a little dangerous, sending Cloney into the Future of Time in an untested machine of your own design?"

Zarkor scoffs, "Nah, it's completely safe!  Besides, I don't have time to test it, I've got to use it right away in case some unforeseen danger is lurking right now around the corner!" Zarkor looks anxiously around.  "You worry too much, Zerak. After all, look who's building it! You think I'd risk Cloney's life just to save mine in a machine I didn't have complete trust in? I'm not that kind of life-form, Zerak."

"Oh, of course not, Zarkor," says Zerak. "However, I think we should ask Cloney what he thinks of this first before you send him off into some uncharted Future in an untested time machine."

"Nonsense, Zerak. What could go wrong?"

"That's just it, Zarkor. We don't know, do we?"

Later, after Zarkor and Zerak have explained the concept to Cloney, Cloney hovers before Zarkor, busily scrutinizing Zarkor's placid face.

"Well, what do you think, lad?" Zarkor asks Cloney confidently. "Great idea, isn't it?"

Cloney, still staring at Zarkor, seems to be at a loss for words.

Sensing Cloney is not exactly thrilled with the idea, Zarkor says, "Let me explain it to you again, Cloney pal, so you'll understand how simple it is. See, you'll be traveling very fast, foreward in Time, only pausing now and then when my PDLI alarm goes off.  Then you'll note the date and occasion, then zoom off again until another alarm goes off. It's really easy. In a few dozen Time Periods or so you'll be back again in the Present, safe and sound with all the information to save my life. You do want to save my life, don't you?"

Cloney nods warily.

"So, what do you say, pal?"

Cloney remains silent, still staring incredulously at Zarkor.

Zerak, aware of Cloney's uncertainty, says, "All this is your decision, Cloney. You don't have to go if you don't want to."

"Sure, Cloney pal," Zarkor agrees. "You make up your own mind, my friend!. Only...remember who created you, Cloney. Who gave you the miracle of life and consciousness, and who has sacrificed himself many times for your benefit, taking faithful care of you always since the moment you were born, so to speak." Zarkor's voice now becomes something close to sounding sincere. "Remember all those times when you didn't know anything, and I taught you all about being alive? I mean, who taught you how to do all the chores around the house when you were bored from not knowing anything?" Zarkor drifts closer to Cloney's side.  "Now, Cloney pal, I don't want you to think you owe me anything for all I've done for you, which happens to be everything. After all, I created you out of the loving kindness of my true heart, so I could be a faithful friend and loyal companion. You know this, don't you, Cloney pal?"

Noting Cloney's still unenthusiastic demeanor, Zarkor continues in an even more heartfelt tone of voice. "So you see, here you have a chance to save my life, to prevent some future terrible accident or something from maybe even killing me...or worse. Not that I want to influence you in any way, Cloney friend." Zarkor drifts away, turns his back to Cloney and says indifferently to nothing in particular. "It's completely your decision."

Cloney slowly drifts to the other side of the room and considers for a bit, then says, "You'll forgive my hesitation, Zarkor, but I've had several adventures with you already, so I'm not so sure.  Like that boating trip, for instance. That didn't quite turn out the way you said it would."

"But that little incident was completely out of my hands, Cloney!" Zarkor responds. "How did I know a big storm was coming up to almost sink us and drown us?"

Cloney replies, "Well, for one thing you could have brought some instruments with us to monitor the weather. And for another thing, all we had in case of emergency were some inflatable pool toys instead of a real life boat. What about that?"

Zarkor dismisses this. "Ah, but we survived, didn't we, my friend?" Suddenly Zarkor's face lights up. "And see, this thing is for your benefit, too! You're always with me on my adventures, right? So your little trip in Time will probably save your life in as well as mine! That proves I'm thinking of your well-being as I always have! Come on, boy! What say?"

Cloney looks at Zerak, then back to Zarkor and says shyly, "I think I'll just stay home and do my chores Zarkor, like you taught me. I don't know a lot about life yet, but if this Time thing is anything like our previous adventures, to tell the truth, I don't think much of it."

Zerak interrupts by saying, "I think we need to allow Cloney to have more experience in living, Zarkor, before you send him off into some unknown Future. After all, he may not be able to recognize danger when he sees it."

Zarkor considers this. "But, that's what my Potential Danger Alarm Implant is for! He doesn't have to recognize anything! All he has to do is listen for the alarm! Plus, he'll be experiencing life in a new way!! The totality of life thousands of Time Periods in the Future! What better way to learn about life! I think you should go, Cloney, if only for your own education."

Cloney now says 'no' to Zarkor for the first time in his short life: "No," says Cloney.

Zarkor is taken aback at this unexpected declaritive. He drifts over to the couch again. "Well, I can't make you go, Cloney," he says.  "I guess I'll just have to face the tragic perils of life by myself and accept the consequences alone." Zarkor turns away and feigns disappointment and regret.

Not wanting to hurt Zarkor too much by his refusal, Cloney adds hopefully, "But you do have your Dumb Luck Implant. And now with your Potential Danger Alarm you should be safe enough, I think." Cloney pauses a moment, thinking. "Plus, with your superior intelligence, I don't see how you should be worried very much."

Zerak and Cloney exchange glances, and Zerak winks at Cloney approvingly.

With this statement, Zarkor's face lights up. "Yes, Cloney, you're right!  My superior intelligence is what I rely on to overwhelm and survive even the most dangerous situations!  My incredibly astute shrewdness and ingenious mental inventiveness has never failed me, has it Zerak?"

"Not that I can remember," Zerak replies, eying Cloney. "I don't see why you need all these gadgets, anyway Zarkor. Your aptitude for getting yourself out of trouble is almost as great as your aptitude for getting yourself into trouble."

Zarkor looks at Zerak, furrowing his brow, a little confused for a moment at Zerak's statement. "Oh, I see what you mean!  If I didn't get into trouble in the first place, the use of my superior intelligence, ingenuity and remarkable mental dexterity wouldn't have the chance to get me out of trouble once I got myself into it!  Thanks for reminding me, Zerak!" Zarkor's ego now soothed, he turns to Cloney and says indifferently,  "I don't need you now, Cloney, pal. You can go ahead and do some of your chores or something." Turning to Zerak, "I'm going to throw this whole future protection thingy into the trash, and depend totally on my uncanny ability to defeat all potential dangers with my superior intellect alone! I don't know why I thought I needed some artificial gaget anyway!"

"Good for you, Zarkor," agrees Zerak, relieved. "But I think you should keep your Dumb Luck Implant. Somehow that device interfaces favorably with the distinctive resources of your innate intellectual abilities."

So, in the end, Cloney didn't have to enter Zarkor's future protection thingys and feel out Zarkor's future. I won't go into the details, mostly because that would make this story too long.

I will say this, though: If Cloney had gotten into the machine, due to Zarkor's dubious workmanship, he probably wouldn't have seen anything of Zarkor's future, anyway. He probably would have just gotten lost in the fog of Time. Maybe once in a while hearing a distant sound, sort of like a far away fog horn on a dismal night on some vast ocean, the feeble sound of Zarkor's Potential Danger Alarm going off. But he wouldn't have known what the danger might have been, being hidden in all that Timey fog and all.

And at the end of his journey, he probably would have had difficulty putting the thing in reverse. Knowing Zarkor's penchant for cost cutting, it would probably be some skimpy lever he'd have to pull. Plus, the clutch would probably slip, and here poor Cloney would be, grinding gears forever, sailing off into Zarkor's unseen Future into infinity.

I'll just add that, in spite of all this, Zarkor unconsciously did hold a grudge against Cloney for a long time afterward, and avoided him as much as he could. That didn't really matter much to Cloney, though, as Zarkor had never payed much attention to him anyway. Except, of course, to teach Cloney how to perform all of Zarkor's chores around the house.

They did reconcile eventually. Zarkor relented the day he accidentally set fire to his laboratory, and Cloney dragged Zarkor out of the impending flames and saved his life. From then on they were friends again.

Zerak was relieved when they made up, because, after all, Zarkor did give Cloney life, and, as Zerak always says, one should be on good terms with one's maker. Even if one's maker is Zarkor.

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