Monday, March 13, 2017

My Sister, the Computer

My Sister, The Computer
Mark Davis

In a dimly-lit warehouse in the industrial district of Intersect, two humans and a panther fought with a demon.  One of these was John Haggard, known to some as Happy Jack or Hacker Jack.  He had long hair which was grizzled gray and a rugged, stubble-covered face.  He wore a purple beret and a purple cape, with a red scarf and tawny-yellow jodhpurs.  There were thick leather boots, a black silk silk shirt like that of a pirate, and had guns strapped to his belt along with the sword.  Haggard was a well-known private investigator and sword-for-hire, who specialized in the weird and the supernatural.  But of course, he lived in the dimensional city of Intersect, a place where all dimensions met or connected in some way and where weird occurrences were common.

The second human was Molly Claymore, a muscular woman with long blonde braids and an eyepatch who tended bar in Haggard's place, the Drunken Well.  She wielded a shotgun.

Haggard dodged an attack from the demon.  He drew his sword and drove it through the demon's chest.  The demon -- a creature seven feet tall with dark blue skin and yellow horns -- batted Haggard with one massive fist, knocking him across the warehouse.  It pulled the weapon from its chest and laughed, deep and throaty.

"Foolish human!  I am Sethomaarpath, Fourth Sub-Lieutenant of Hell, Demonic Invasion Division!  Mere forged steel cannot harm me!"

"Are you certain?" Haggard replied, climbing to his feet.  "That sword was blessed by a Pastafarian priest only this morning."

Thick black ichor oozed from the wound.  The demon glanced down, eyes widening.  "No!  It cannot be!" he exclaimed.  "No mere human will defeat the mighty Sethomaarpath!"

From behind the demon, Molly fired three times.  "Magic bullets!" she called out.  "Holy Water Hollowpoint Demonslayers.  Very effective."

As the demon stumbled to his knees, the panther leaped, burying teeth and claws into the creature.  "Magic panther as well," Haggard commented.  "She enjoys tearing demons apart."

The demon thrashed about on the warehouse floor but was soon dead.  John Haggard surveyed the mess.  "Well," he said, "all that's left is to clean up the ichor and seal the hellgate.  Good work, ladies."  He glanced at the panther and added, "Especially you, Miss Bloodraven.  Feel free to contact me any time you want to visit or feel you need my help.  I have rooms available above the bar, and we can always use another hand around here, especially when they're as talented as yours."  He retrieved a leather satchel and tossed it at the great cat's feet.

The cat's muscles rippled and its limbs deformed.  In moments, the creature morphed into a woman.  Amelia Anne Bloodraven dressed quickly, in the clothes from the satchel.  "I appreciate the offer," she said, "but for now I will return to earth.  At the moment I'm just exploring and testing my abilities.  I was asleep for so long, it's as if I'm a child who has to learn everything anew."


Deep in the Anarchy Cave, beneath the Anarchy mansion, a portal came to life.  This was a dimensional gateway -- an Einstein-Rosen Bridge device exactly like that controlled by the secret government organization known as the Dimensional Gate Command deep below the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado Springs, CO.  It was a giant circle of carved metal with strange symbols around the outer perimeter, and with an inner surface of liquid blue like a pool of water on its side.  The gateway flickered with energy and the inner of two circles began to spin.  Glowing symbols appeared on the outer rim and locked in place one by one, each with a loud clank.  The last symbol locked into place, and the liquid surface bubbled and boiled.  Then a figure stepped through and into the room -- that of Amelia Anne Bloodraven.

"Where have you been?" demanded a gravelly voice.

Grandpa Anarchy was seated in a chair with his arms folded across his chest, looking like the angry parent of a teenager caught sneaking in after curfew.  Miss Bloodraven locked eyes for a long moment.

"I am a grown woman, Mr. Anarchy," she said.  "Where I go and why is my own business and none of yours -- but as it happens, I was in Intersect.  I was working with your old friend John Haggard."

Grandpa's eyes widened in surprise.  "You went on an adventure with Happy Jack and didn't invite me?"

"Mr. Anarchy," said Amelia, "as I have explained to you before, I am not your sidekick, and you have made it abundantly clear that you no longer work with companions."

"I'm an old man," said Grandpa.  "I don't have companions."

"Exactly," replied Amelia.  "Therefore we do not work together.  If I choose to visit Mr. Haggard then what concern is that of yours?"

"None," said Grandpa.  "Only you're using my gateway to do it.  You live in my house and you make use of my Anarchy Cave as your base of operations, so I think I'm entitled to at least know what mischief you're up to.  After all, I might need to come rescue you."

The screen on the wall flickered to life, displaying the image of Annie Two -- that of a young woman dressed like a librarian from the Victorian era, with wire-rimmed glasses and her hair tightly wound in a bun.  "Amelia, I feel I should know what you've been doing, as well," said Annie Two.  "You grow more independent by the day.  It has been too long since we had a session to reconcile our databases -- more than two weeks in fact."

"Nor will we," Amelia retorted.  "I am human, not a computer.  A human does not have a data base, Sister.  I have memories, and they are mine to keep.  We won't be reconciling my memories with your data files again."

"Sister?" asked Annie.

Grandpa frowned.  "Wait," he said.  "How did you even know who John Haggard is or where to find him?"

Amelia raised an eyebrow.  "Mr. Anarchy, I have all the resources of the Anarchy computer data files at my disposal."

He turned to the computer.  "Annie, you told her that?"

"Of course I didn't," the computer replied.  "I didn't need to."

Amelia tapped her forehead.  "All of that information is up here, Mr. Anarchy," she said.

"You memorized everything in the Anarchy computer?" Grandpa exclaimed.  "In only a few weeks?"

Amelia exchanged a glance with Annie Two.  She sighed.  "Yes, Mr. Anarchy," she said.  "I did."

"Wow," said Grandpa, "that's really impressive.  But I guess you were always pretty smart for a girl."

"For a girl?" asked Amelia.

"My mistake," said  Grandpa.  "I meant for a woman."


F8Wasp (pronounced Fate Wasp) was a young woman with long dark hair who typically dressed in a sleek, form-fitted suit of black and silver and wore a mask.  She was a computer genius who had designed the A.I.-enabled Anarchy Computer mark II -- known as Annie Two.  She was also a clever fighter who used a dart gun and her programming skills in unique ways to combat all manner of enemies.  She was mostly responsible for the existence of Amelia Anne Bloodraven herself, having aided Annie Two in downloading a copy of her consciousness into the body of Miss Bloodraven.  She'd been working with Grandpa Anarchy for several months now -- which made her one of his longest-tenured sidekicks.

She found Amelia in her room, packing as if preparing for a long trip.  The young woman did not own much, but all of it was being placed into one small travel bag.

F8Wasp leaned against the door frame.  "Annie tells me you've been using the  Einstein-Rosen Bridge to visit other dimensions," she said.

"Indeed.  I visited Intersect," Amelia replied.  "I wished to test my abilities further.  If the demons will not come to me, then I must go to them.  Of course, I was well aware that John Haggard lived in Intersect and has been a longtime friend to Grandpa Anarchy."

F8Wasp raised an eyebrow.  "What are you packing for, if I may ask?"

"Mister Anarchy has made the point that I rely on him for room and board," said Amelia, "and that I rely on his Anarchy Cave as a base of operations.  I find I have nothing to say to these charges.  So long as these things are true, I am not truly independent.  Nor can I claim to be my own woman if I remain dependent on my sister Annie Two...."

"Your sister?" asked F8Wasp.

"She is not I, and I am not her," said Amelia.  "Our relationship is more like sisters than anything."

"I see."

"In any case," said Amelia, "John Haggard has offered to rent to me a room in exchange for my aid in some of his investigations.  Intersect is a very interesting place.  They say all the universes in the world connect to it at some point.  I'm going to take this opportunity to break free from this place, strike out on my own, and see what I can make of myself."

"So in order to feel more independent -- you're moving to another dimension?"

Amelia smiled.  "Can you think of a better way?" she asked.

F8Wasp smiled in turn.  "No, I suppose I can't.  Tell me... would you mind a companion?"


"You can't do this!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "I need you!"

F8Wasp and Amelia Bloodraven were packed and waiting before the dimensional gateway in the Anarchy Cave.  Amelia rolled her eyes.  "First you say I'm freeloading, then you tell me I can't leave," she said.

"I meant that for F8Wasp," said Grandpa.

F8Wasp smirked.  "We can do what we want, Grandpa," F8Wasp replied.  "Admittedly, I'll be forced to make do without the princely sum of -- what was it you paid me, again?  Oh, that's right -- you pay me nothing.  So the downside is I'll no longer be your sidekick, but the upside is I might actually start earning money for what I do."

"You can do better than that, F8Wasp," Grandpa replied.  "You're quite possibly the sharpest computer programmer in the world -- certainly in the world of super heroes.  Every super group in existence wants to hire you.  They've been calling me, asking when you were ready to graduate to full hero status."

F8Wasp raised an eyebrow.  "Even the Archons?" she asked.

"Well... not Popeye Khan, mind you," said Grandpa.  "But Dread to Rights strongly hinted that you should apply to them for membership when you were ready.  Of course, Jay Medberry would love to have you working for him, and Black Dahlia has called many times.  She could pay you the most, of course."

"Well, that's interesting to know," said F8Wasp, "but I suspect that they'll still be willing to hire me a year or two from now.  For the moment that can wait; I want to explore the multiverse a little."

"But what about me?" asked Grandpa.

"Grandpa," said F8Wasp, "I've been your sidekick for months now.  I've upgraded your computer system, I've upgraded your vehicles, I've supplied you with dozens of neat new tricks and tools.  You're in far better shape than when I first arrived.  It's high time I moved on."

"I need a sidekick!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "I can't operate without one!"

"Then hire another," said F8Wasp.

Grandpa frowned.  "It's been so long I can't remember how."

"Indeed?"  F8Wasp turned to the computer screen on the wall of the cavern.  "Annie Two, Grandpa Anarchy will need a new sidekick by tomorrow morning.  Can you contact Temporary Superfriends and arranged for one?"

"Of course," the computer replied.  "In fact I have anticipated this request and the new sidekick has already been arranged.  His name is Electrofrog, and he will be here as soon as this evening."

"Well, then," said F8Wasp, "if you have any further questions, Grandpa -- ask Annie Two.  That's what she's there for."  The gateway flared to life.  Amelia and F8Wasp shouldered their bags as the liquid surface of the gate bubbled and boiled.  "Take care.  You know where to find us, and we'll be in touch."

"Goodbye, Sister," said Amelia.

The two stepped through the gateway and were gone.

For several moments there was silence.  Then Grandpa said, "Maybe I was too harsh on them?"

"I couldn't say," replied Annie.

"It was that crack about being smart for a woman," said Grandpa.  "I shoulda known better."

A voice called out from the far side of the cave.  "Hello?"  It was unmistakably that of a young boy.  "Is Grandpa Anarchy here?  They said you needed a new sidekick.  Sorry, I rang the doorbell and someone named Annie answered, and then the door opened by itself...."

The boy stepped out of the elevator, carrying a backpack and a duffle bag.  His frog outfit was electric blue.  He walked across the cavern and dropped his bags on the floor.  "I'm Electrofrog," he said.  "I shock people, and... I wear a frog costume."

"That's it?" asked Grandpa.

"Yeah," said the boy.   "That's pretty much it."

"F8Wasp or Amelia can show you about the place..." Grandpa began, then his voice trailed off.  "Dang.  Right," he said.  He pinched his nose.  "Kid, do you know anything about computers?"

"I have an iPhone," said the boy.  "And a Playstation 4."

Grandpa frowned.  "I couldn't possibly convince you to... I don't know, wear a form-fitting suit of black and silver, and fire darts?" he asked.

"Uh... no Sir," the boy said.  "That wouldn't fit my name.  I'm Electrofrog!"

Grandpa turned to the image of Annie Two.  "I need to lie down," he said.  "Annie, you got this?"

"Of course, Mr. Anarchy," Annie replied.  "Have no fear.  I will teach the boy everything he needs to know."


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