Times of Trouble

They Might Not Be Poisonous

Episode IV: A New Spork

Troubleshooting team DMM-two niner niner are two for two in terms of mission success, likely setting a new Alpha Complex record for troubleshooter effectiveness. This time the intrepid band of Hygiene Officers are called up to deal with the aftermath of the riot they recently caused experienced in Sector CRS. Joined by new Hygiene Officer Kelsey-R-ELS-2, they report to Myron-B-RDS-3, the founder of Spork Supply PLC, a service firm that just won the contract to supply sporks to cafeterias in CRS for the low low price of nothing.

Myron-B tells DMM-299 that they will be responsible for Spork Supply’s marketing campaign. There is a focus group coming to try out the sporks, and in order to complete their mission the team must ensure that the people in the focus group do not become less happy when using Spork Supply sporks. There are several difficulties with this:

1) Spork Supply sporks do not work as sporks
2) The sporks crumble into grey dust when you so much as look at them, because they are in fact very old (ancient) sporks that have been dug up from somewhere;
3) They are covered with greyish spores that might be poisonous;
4) Since sporks are given out for free with all meals, citizens don’t much care who supplies them; and
5) No one likes sporks. They are ridiculous cutlery.

DMM-299 springs into action. After securing a spork for demonstration and ensuring it does not crumble to dust by using a liberal application of SuperGum and a towel, the team convenes in a conference room to discuss their marketing strategy. They decide that these sporks do indeed have benefits – they are instantly disposable, extremely biodegradable, they might not be poisonous (which cannot be said for the competitor’s sporks), they are gone as soon as you touch them so you don’t have to eat with something you don’t like, and, of course, only Commie Mutant Traitors would be less happy with the sporks that Friend Computer provides.

The focus group comes in one at a time to a confession booth. Using a combination of fancy Spork Propaganda™, coercion, intimidation, and pharmaceuticals, the team convinces the the focus group to be happy with Spork Supply brand sporks. That is, until Ian-R-POR-1 comes into the booth. Ian-R is actually an undercover Green security guard, the very same guard who accosted the team in the commissary when they were trying to start a riot minding their own completely non-treasonous business. He is apparently here to investigate DMM-299’s involvement in said riot. The team overcomes this obstacle by brain-scrubbing him. Twice. Which caused the unfortunate side-effect of death.

Back in Myron-B’s office, having succeeded with the focus group, Myron-B informs them that his other troubleshooting team (who was handling procurement) has failed. So he is sending in his B-team. Myron-B then turns off the cameras in his office. He tells the team that, according to Friend Computer, the place where the sporks are stored does not exist – it is part of the Underplex, accessible through a trapdoor between the tracks in the inter-sector tubeway. He gives the team a map and a rope-and-pulley assembly and sends them off to the transbot tunnels with orders to bring back 50,000 sporks.

The map is lacking a legend, so it just has some letters and numbers on it and a room that is labelled “Monster?”.

The team reaches the section of tunnel and hangs out in a side passage while the trains go by. There is a train every 2 minutes, so they have to be quick. The team manages to get the trapdoor open by cutting the lock off, and although they almost drop the pulley assembly down the shaft, they manage to get some people down. There is a door at the bottom of the shaft that reads AIR EXCHANGE 322 DO NOT OPEN IF EXT RAD GREATER THAN 200. The team continues trying to get people down, however they drop the pulley system and it falls on Taylor’s head. Kelly tries to shimmy down the shaft far enough for Kelsey to toss him the pulleys; however, before they can complete this risky manoeuvre, the shaft bursts into flames, incinerating Kelly before his crispy fried corpse hits the floor.

20 minutes later…

Kelly’s new clone arrives with a new and better (and green – shhhh!!) winch assembly and the team proceeds through the door into the “Endless hallway” to a warehouse marked #3 on their map. Inside they find an operational CHASM Mark 1 security robot, with many large guns. The robot comes clomping over, and trains its guns on them. Kelly manages to sneak around the bot and shut it down, and then reprograms it to obey Kelly-O, and that Terry-O, Taylor-R, Kadin-O, Parker-R, and Kelsey-R are friends. He renames the robot Max, and discovers that Max believes that this room is the entirety of the world – they have existential conversations about the nature of being and the bounds of the universe.

TO BE CONTINUED

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