“Pull that rope down tighter there mate, we be a driften' way too far to the right.”
“I’m doing me best Captain, but the high winds are causing the rope to tangle in runners three and four.”
“Then have Gronck shimmy up there and untangle them!”
“But Captain, surely his design…”
“Fine then mate, let him hold the rope, and you shimmy the pole!”
The crew member looked at the Captain, then over at Gronck.
“You heard the Captain, Gronck, get up there and untangle those runners.”
Gronck, an overworked, undermaintained, seven-foot humanoid shaped android, clunked over to where the crew member was holding the rope. He gave him the same long stare that he always did when he was upset.
“Sure, send the expendable robot! You ungrateful bags of mostly water,” he mumbled as he grabbed what little strapping gear they had laying around.
“Make it quick Gronck, Captain’s patience is running thin.” The crew member shouted.
“So is my lube oil, but nobody seems concerned about that!”
Gronck strapped on the gear and started up the mast. This was not the first time that the “Winds of Change “ Captain had ordered one of his android crew members to do a job that the other human members of the crew were either afraid to do, or was too risky for them to do.
Gronck certainly was not the newest model android around, and as he mentioned every chance he got, was well overdue for maintenance. However, he was in better shape than the rest of his fellow android crew members. Most of those had been relegated to cooks, sail menders, or cannon repair.
Gronck was over halfway up to the first tangled spot when a vicious cross wind caught the sail and wrapped it around Gronck and squeezed him with tremendous pressure. He had no choice but to wait for the wind direction to change. When it did the crew, member called out to see if he was alright.
”How about keeping a tighter grip on that rope there mate, I am not used to those kinds of hugs!”
Gronck would later check his external pressure gauge and see that what he went through would have crushed even the strongest of the human crew members. He managed to get to the first tangle spot and got it undone before the ship was rocked with another huge gust.
“Mr. Gronck, if you don’t shimmy up there and get that other tangle cared for before the next blast, half the crew will be shark bait and the other half rusty bolts!” the Captain yelled up to him.
“I’d salute a yes sir to you, but to let go to do that would make your prophecy come true that much quicker, so I will just stick my rusty tongue out at you,” Gronck replied .
Of course, Gronck did not reply loud enough for the Captain to hear, but from the smile on the crewman’s face below him, he was sure he heard.
Gronck made quick work of the rest of the mast and untangled the top ringer. It was when Gronck was at this level that he spotted the largest wave he had ever seen.
“Killer wave 20 degrees north closing at 49 knots!” Gronck yelled out and did a straight drop to the main deck.
“You’re out of your mechanical skull man, there’s been no killer waves in these waters for decades.” The Captain yelled as he ran over to where Gronck was slowly getting back to his feet.
Gronck popped out one of his eyes, made a few adjustments to it and handed it to the Captain, then pointed in the direction the wave was coming.
The Captain reluctantly took his eye and used it as a spy scope. He threw the eye back to Gronck and began spouting out a long series of orders.
“Bring us about six degrees north, tie down sails one and three, flatten sail two, all weight barrels to port. Cannons to stations and strap for impact!”
Ten minutes later, the Winds of Change was lunched out of the ocean, like it was shot out of a cannon.
When Gronck’s circuits all came back online he discovered he was forty feet up in, what he assumed, was a coconut tree Much to his amazement the ship, aside from the fact that it was a mile inland from the ocean, was mostly undamaged.
As Gronck made his way slowly down the tree, more of his processing units began to come back online. He switched his sight to scan and his listening cords to search signals. It was not long before both methods were yielding results.
What was strange was the signals he was picking up was coming from inside the ship. Some he recognized as his android ship mates, but there was a host of others that he had no clue what they might be.
Gronck switched to defensive mode as he approached the ship. When he was about a hundred yards away his sensors, as damaged as they were, picked up a major force field that had sudden been raised. Gronck searched his weapons bank and found that between neglect of maintenance, age of equipment, and salt corrosion, he was basically defenseless. Thus, his backup program kicked in and he backed up very quickly.
A holographic projection now appeared in front of Gronck. The image was that of a massive computer bank. Gronck internal sensors told him that he had been scanned, although his visual ones had not detected anything, the image now changed to one of a fully decked out navy admiral.
“My apologies Mr. Gronck. Our early scans did not pick up on the accurate date of your manufacturing. This image should be more relatable to you.”
Gronck’s processing unit almost overloaded trying to put together multiple hypothesis of what was happening at the time.
“Calm yourself there, your processing units are already in serious need of repair, we do not wish to have to totally rebuild you.”
Gronck tilted his head slightly and allowed all his units to slow back down. Programmed to not easily trust any man or machine, it surprised him how at ease he felt.
“We could easily download all the answers to your questions but given the condition of some of your L.L.D. pathways, it might be easier on your system if I explain some visually and verbally first.”
The view of the hologram now divided into a multi-screen view, with the Admiral the larger image in the middle.
“Now, all of your mechanical mates are safe and in the process of being repaired and upgraded.”
The screens around the admiral showed all of those he spoke about in various stages of repair.
“Unfortunately, their programing is limited, and our mission is not to rebuild, but only to bring them to their full potential. We are known as…”
“The Enhancers?” Gronck stated.
“Ah, you have heard of us, good.”
“My programming has you listed as a myth, a legend. Humans told stories of your kind as well as the Destroyers.” Gronck added.
“We assure you Gronck both groups are no myths! Now if you please, we are in need to get a move on with your retrofit.”
“Not so fast there 'Black Beards Ghost.' I must admit your hocus pocus is good, but this Mark 135k was not built yesterday. The Winds of Change crew has dealt with some pretty slick characters in our time, so you better produce more proof of what you say or I may just have to trigger our self-destruct sequencer that could very easily take a good amount of your members along with it.” Gronck said in a deep threatening voice.
The hologram now vanished, and a small round object hovered in the air a few yards away from the front of Gronck’s face.
“We did not realize that your model could develop such loyalty to humans,”
“My loyalty is to my ship, my crew mates and myself!” Gronck stated firmly.
The ball-like object spun around twice.
“Ah, so we have made two underestimates in your programing…excellent! Perhaps your circuits could handle a small download that could help prove to you that we speak the truth.”
Gronck was suddenly hit with a transmission beam that knocked him on his backside. Thirty minutes later the beam released him and he sat there silent for another five minutes or so. Slowly all Gronck’s circuits started to come back online.
“Let us assume that for the moment that I accept all that propaganda that you just fed me. What does that have to do with me and my ship mates?”
“Ah, now we are getting somewhere. Come with me, let me show you just a fraction of what is going on, and how we are counting on you and your mates to help maintain a balance in this sector.”
The round ball like figure again transformed this time into similar looking android model as Gronck. As they approached the ship, Gronck sensor detected that the shields around the ship had been turned off. The loading plank automatically dropped and the two of them made the long climb to the top deck. Once both were safely aboard the loading plank again automatically retracted.
“You are not doing anything here to build my trust in you.” Gronck said in a perturbed tone.
“You have been hanging around with humans much too long,” was his hosts reply.
Gronck was given a brief tour of parts of the ship that were either already repaired and/or enhanced or were in the process of such.
“I am impressed, but this still does not…”
“Patience, my dear Gronck, patience. One step at a time. If you were impressed with what you have seen thus far, prepare to have your circuits blown on what I will show you next!”