Monday, November 9, 2015

Stick (Douggy, 2)

"Okay, fine, I'll do it, anything better than just sitting here, alone with my thoughts."

Silas smiled knowingly, his own thoughts exactly. As this block's security officer, he could tell the Doctor was constantly casing the place, looking for a way out. That's the trouble with the smart ones, they think they're too smart to bother being subtle, he thought to himself. Aloud, he only replied, "We've got a hot spot already set up, just waiting for you to say yes. Let me just fetch your headset, and you'll be ready to go."

"It better be clean," Fhurr growled.

"Oh yes. I assure you it is, only fresh out of the box, and you're the first to wear it. All the installs will happen automatically the first time it connects to the network, and shortly thereafter, it will prompt you to set up credentials."

"Account name and password?"

"Indeed, both. We only require that you keep the vulgarity to a minimum, even in your password. Some of the inmates got it into their heads that we wouldn't notice that, but it gives the techs a nice laugh when your password is converted to nothing more than a long series asterisks." Silas sighed. "If it keeps them entertained and working, that's what's important." He stepped away, and return in a spare moment. "Here, you are, my good sir, and enjoy your day." He swaggered off down the hall, twirling his baton like an umbrella before Douggy could get out the final word.

Except the box wouldn't fit through his bars. Arms extended through them, Douggy scowled, holding the box gingerly. No doubt if he broke this one, they'd leave him with a set that had sat on a now deceased punk's head, barely wiped with a slightly moist antiseptic towelette before being passed his way.

He lowered it slowly to the floor, alternating his hands when he crossed the crossbars on the way down, and unpackaged it from within his cage. Fortunately, getting the headset between the bars was no more complicated than a five story Tower of Hanoi, where he examined it for irregularities before retreating to his bed, lying down, and there he powered it up and put it on.

TEACH Initiative v 3.2.6
(C) Copyright US Department of Education, Entertainment, and Rehabilitation 2989-3014
Detecting network...
Network found.
Downloading updates from CS-CI-BlockH...
Download complete.
Installing updates...
Installation complete.
Scanning retinas...
Retinal scan complete.
Verifying identity...
Identification confirmed.

"Welcome Doctor. I am TIA, the TEACH Intelligesia Articificial. Would you please speak your name to verify your voice print?"

"Douggy Aberdeen Fhurr."

"Thank you, Dr Fhurr. I have downloaded your profile from the network, as well as retrieved your prior credentials from Treed-Hound Think Tank, LLC. Would you like to set up new credentials, or continue using your old ones?"

"New, please."

"Please state your new username."

"Fhurr AuD MEd MBS PhD."

"Please confirm the on-screen spelling."

"Confirmed."

"Thank you, Doctor. Please set up a password."

"Case in point."

"Password with embedded voiceprint saved. Please repeat your password."

"Case in point."

"Thank you, and enjoy your TEACH Experience."

The bright flowing colors faded out, and he found himself standing in what appeared to be a twelfth century guildhall lit by flickering torches, or so he guessed, though history was never his strong point. Douggy much preferred looking forward than looking back.

He approached a window, but despite dim evening light that appeared to be filtering in, a dense fog appeared to coat the world, barring him from seeing anything that wasn't aloft, and in this day and age, if the programmers stuck to the canon, was strictly limited to birds.

A gentle hand touched his shoulder, and he turned to see a young woman in hunting leathers standing behind him.

"Hello, are you the new instructor?"

His voice caught in his throat as he appreciated the graphical display of the world. "Um, yes, I think so."

"My name is Alise. I'll be working with you. I specialize in the physical sciences, biology, botany, chemistry, that sort of thing."

"I thought this program was built to instruct without human input."

"It was."

"Then why are you here? Why am I..."

She held up her hand and started ticking off fingers. Douggy found himself paying more attention to her fingers than what she was saying. "One, it's a learning program, so it learns from our teaching. Two, it's still in its infancy, so it needs help learning and acquiring information and presenting it in a teachable manner. Three, the human mind works in mysterious ways, and sometimes the programmed answer isn't the best answer. Four, some people need something more to do than studying and playing games."

He nodded in the appropriate places, absorbing the gist, but little more besides. "So what do you see out there?" He gestured out the window.

"Oh, are you getting fog still?"

"What do you mean, still?"

"It's a control feature built into the game. Fog covers areas you don't have access to, and if you try to walk into it, you'll get disoriented and find yourself just walking back out, even if you're certain you didn't turn around. Do good work, and in time I'm sure they'll give you clearance."

"Does everybody get clearance?"

"Everyone that I know of. Sorry, I don't really interact with that many people."

"What's this place like?"

"Do you mean the world?"

"No, I've read the press releases. Tell me about this town or city or whatever."

"Well, there aren't many cities in this world, except for the capital. This place is called Barri, same as the forest that surrounds it. It's a pretty small village, population of less than one hundred. It's pretty quaint, if you go for that sort of thing. In the spring, the trees blossom, and there are a wide variety of plants that grow within and without the town. The major draw to this area, not counting the forest, is this guildhall, which doubles as the city hall, and triples as an inn. There are rooms downstairs for long term residents like yourself, and rooms upstairs for short-term guests."

"You said I'm to sleep here? Without logging out?"

"If you like. Once you get clearance for more of the world, you might find yourself preferring this place to your cell outside. Just be careful not to spend too many consecutive shifts here, or you'll find yourself transferred out for addiction counseling. Come," she took his elbow and led him away from the window, "let me show you to your room."

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