"Mirror Image": Part 1 (2/3)

From: Shawn Wolski <n5una_at_MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>
Date: Sun, 09 Apr 1995 19:33:46 -0500

        After arriving at the hut that he and Tails shared, he knocked
on the door to signal his brother. He heard Tails walk from the
bed to the door with his noise ranging circuitry counting every
otherwise imperceptible impact on the floor. The door slid
easily past the entryway, and his vulpine familiar was standing
before him, prepared to permit him passage.
        David spoke first. "Freedom Fighter Commander Delivery
Service," he dictated, as if trained to do so. "If I'm not
mistaken, I believe I have your order. And you are...Tails, am
I right?"
        Tails chuckled at first, but then noticed something unusual
about his relative. "Eeew, David. What happened?" he
questioned, before he pinched his nose to hold back the stench.
        "A very enthusiastic dragon happened to me," the drenched black
and gray fox replied. "If I may be permitted...?" he asked,
indicating the bathroom.
        "Sured, goo rgiht ahaed," the other said, refusing to disengage
the fingerlock from his nose before David was in a slightly more
presentable condition. He kept a vigilant watch on his family
member before the other disappeared into the bathroom for a
shower. After the door closed, Tails let out a long hard
breath, attempting to recover from the temporary constriction
of his sinuses. He then walked over to the bunk bed, and took
his position on the top bed.
        David came out from the shower five minutes later, smelling
like he had used copious amounts of shampoo and deodorant to
dispel the evil aroma. His fur was still slightly damp and
frizzled from the static electricity, creating the image of a
black and gray fuzzball. After reactivating his antistatic
subdermal field, his fur returned to its original orientation
flat on his skin. He then traveled to the bunk bed to join his
        "You mean Dulcy did that to you?" the red vulpine asked.
        Ascending to the top bed, the counterpart said, "Yes, Tails,
she did." After reaching the bed, he crawled over to sit by his
confidant. "Merely part of being a Freedom Fighter Commander.
You receive the opportunity to know your people more..." he
stuttered, his electronic thesaurus failing to find a word that
would properly express the situation. He found none that filled
the requirements, even taking the clock/instruction speed into
account by every attosecond. "Intimately," he finally ventured.
        "Eeeew! All that kissing and stuff, it's gross, David! Yuck!"
came the derisive reply from his kinfox.
        "It's not completely undesirable, Tails. Besides, from what
I've seen between you, Nina, and Vixie, I would have considered
you to be less reserved on such matters," the compuorganic
jovially retorted. The only response he got from his brother
was a significantly slackened lower jaw. Stolidly maintaining
his grin, David continued, "I rest my case. And don't be
concerned; it's our little secret." He saw the other's stress
potentials decrease with each second.
        Calm enough to speak again, Tails submitted in interest, "How
far did it go?"
        "Nothing beyond an delightful embrace and an excellent kissing
session," David returned, knowing exactly what his
relative-by-law was ultimately referring to. He sighed with
resignation. "We are too junior in age and inexperienced to
concern ourselves with expanding our horizons in that fashion."
The electronic thesaurus didn't fail David this time in his
search for the appropriate phrase. "Although," he continued
more seriously, "that will not be the case for you in the near
future. As for myself, I may never know."
        What David was referring to was the fact that Tails had just
turned a year older in the late summer, effectively making him
eleven years old. This would only be the beginning of the
experiences that Tails would have, and probably would peak
around his thirteenth year. Basically stated, it would be the
time that he would publicly and privately become more interested
in the opposite sex, and Tails was already on his uphill race
toward that mountain peak.
        As for David, he was a recent construct, so it was far too soon
to determine what his reactions would be. In his upgrade
session that he made to prevent the threat of total
deactivation, he added multiple computer controls to the organic
counterparts, in order for him to maintain a higher level of
control over the organic body functions. This included
regulation of his hormonal levels, appended with controls on
their "target cells". The end result: David had duplex
negative feedback loops (organic/computer) to delimit his body
functions in a homeostatic balance. The possibility of his
organic system revolting was possible, even in his advanced
control state; however, it was highly improbable. In the event
that did occur, David's personality was "hard-encoded" in both
his positronic and organic brain components, with a small
percentage of provisional rewritable code which would be
analyzed intensively before incorporation. He would still have
strict control, and any hormonal imbalances were more likely to
be deliberately induced, in "proaction" with a situation rather
than "reaction". In other words, he would take control as much
as possible; not be the subject of control by the situation.
There were, of course, rare cases where David was more likely to
"react", due to his focusing on another subject matter rather
than everything at once. He was advanced; not perfect.
        What everyone else at Knothole regarded in David wasn't his
technical aspects or vulnerabilities. They treated him more
like a close friend; not a highly advanced machine. Their
comrade had feelings too, whether they were generated from what
"emotions" could be defined as, or from computer coding. It
made no difference, because they existed regardless of their
origin. One of the more prominent pieces of his personality was
his mental maturity. Even though David was constructed as an
eleven year-old fox, he behaved like someone far beyond the
maturity of all the Knothole residents combined. He had been
(and still was) accused of being more "adult" than the adults in
Knothole, astonishing for someone of his age. He never looked
on the attribute as a proof of superiority; to him, it was part
of his mental programming that made him the unique fox he was.
        "Don't sell yourself short, David," the loving scion decreed.
"You can still grow up, right? Is there more you can do?"
        The philosophical one conceded. "Yes, I can. Mentally, I
still have the capability to develop, and I could be accused of
being more adult than everyone else than before. As far as my
endoskeleton is concerned, it's capable of minor controlled
growth, and THAT is only for any necessary repairs to the
metallic frame. Nothing more." He paused for a second,
projecting at least one million times how his future would be
compared to his relative. "From the probable outcome, Tails,"
he continued, "I will be your little brother for quite some
        "Well," the other reported kindly, "maybe in height, but you'll
always be a big brother to me in heart."
        David was disconcerted by the return. "Thank you, Tails. I
had no knowledge that you felt that way about me," visibly taken
aback by the unexpected delivery. One of the rare times where
he could only react.
        "Yes, I do, David," Tails said, imitating an earlier statement.
 "Merely part of being a Freedom Fighter Commander's brother."
        No laughter passed between them, but they did smile as they
hugged each other reverently. David then dropped to the floor
and took his position in his bed. The fox pair fell asleep in a
matter of seconds, for all was right in the world for them now.
Tomorrow was another day to be concerned with, but only tomorrow
would it be met with tenacity. Now was a time for sleep; an
intensive day was ahead.

* * *

        Normally in order for David to sleep, a audio filter program
lies active, disregarding undesired noise that would otherwise
keep him awake at night. Some of those sounds included: wind
passing through leaves, footsteps (those identified as
"friendly"), snoring, and various other noises. One of the
audio patterns that was permitted to bypass the filter was the
knocking on the hut door. And the power of the bypassed audio
was so powerful (though in actuality, it was a tapping), that
could feel his entire body resonating with the sound.
        'Signal from doorway,' his mind automatically registered after
determining the range and direction. Investigating his internal
chronometer, he thought, '0250 hours 36.798969695055 seconds?!
This had better be important.' He slowly rose from his bed, and
walked to the doorway. He opened the door, and found Dulcy
standing before him.
        "Dulcy," he asked in a whisper, "what purpose have you arrived
here to serve?" He was somewhat irritated from the inauspicious
time for waking up, but (thankfully) his verbal frequency
circuits smoothed out the harsh tones that were not so
well-intended. Unfortunately, the same was not true for his
facial expression.
        "Oh, I'm sorry to wake you up so early, David," the dragon
replied apologetically. "Maybe I should come back at a better
time." She began rotating her body to permit her departure.
        "No, wait," David ordered, warmly this time. "I'm already
awake, so you may speak to me if you so intend. Just maintain a
low whisper. Tails isn't as amiable as I am from being woken up
at this time of day," he said, indicating the slumbering Tails.
        "OK," the dragon reassured. After entering, she said, "I'm
really glad that you decided to take me on a mission, David.
Things are really getting a little cramped around here, with the
feeling that nearly everyone is breathing down my neck."
        "I understand," the vulpine concurred. "It's gratifying to see
that you are still willing to undertake such a task, considering
the stress you have been experiencing."
        "Yeah, well," she responded, "you really woke me up, David.
Told me that I still have a chance to do something right for a
change, and that someone still believes in me."
        "Sometimes, Dulcy," the fox said philosophically, "that's part
of what we need. But believing in yourself is the most
important aspect. Otherwise, all the care and attention in the
world won't make a difference; it has to originate from YOU.
Do you truthfully feel confident enough in yourself to take that
first step?" he said while pointing to her for emphasis.
        "Yes, I do," she said solemnly. "I WILL do my best today."
        "In that event," he began, "I suggest that you go to sleep.
Otherwise, your best will not be enough to assist you in
attaining the goals you seek for the future." He notated the
time on the wall video display.
        She yawned in agreement. "Oops, excuse me. I am kinda pooped.
 Thanks a lot, David," the dragon said, and offered her paw. He
returned the gesture, and she shook his paw with a strong,
determined grip. That was all the persuasion that David
required to know that Dulcy was ready to face one of her worst
problems. His presence strengthened the promise she made to
herself, for she knew that she and David would succeed where
others had failed. She then lumbered out the doorway, on route
to her hut.
        "Good night, Dulcy," her respected comrade called softly to her
as he followed, stopping at the porch. "And don't allow anyone
to defile your determination. We will show all of Knothole that
you can land with the best of the dragons, or in this
instructive case, foxes."
        She chuckled, then continued on her way home.

* * *

        The next morning, David woke up at 0800 hours to begin his
preparation for the planetary search for food, raw material, and
habitation areas. After running the strongly recommended
full-spectrum diagnostic on his major and minor compuorganic
components, he slowly rose from bed and walked to the AVDO
(Audio/Video/Digital/Other) wall unit. His stealthy subroutines
automatically engaged, for his brother was still peacefully
sleeping the early morning away. He investigated the final
official reports from the fracas that occurred yesterday and
many of the previous days before, and had his mood set for the
day. The report told him that, basically, the situation was
worse than he and Sonic anticipated. Data from the Northern
Freedom Fighter group predicted that the early winter cold front
was advancing faster than the original calculations suggested,
and that the major ground-level supply routes to/from that area
would be impassable in the next seven days. The tunnels would
still be operative, yet they had a cantankerous habit of
delaying shipments due to cave-ins and other minor geologic
processes seeking a more stable state. As for Knothole, the
front would arrive in the next eleven days, effectively
arresting all cargo and other transport to/from the area.
        On another note, there were increasing levels of unrest
gradually increasing in Knothole. This was partially due to the
overcrowding, and to rumors floating around that the food supply
was possibly not of sufficient amount to feed the entire
resident population in the duration of the long winter.
Apparently, the rumor itself was somewhat pervasive, given the
fact that Knothole was literally flooded with people, and a
minuscule (but significant) percentage of them were prone to
gossip broadcasting. Not very conductive to an already
precarious situation. Videos of potential rioting in his mind's
eye came forth, a prediction of the near future if the situation
was allowed to conglomerate more and more.
        If David could curse, the appropriate time would be now. He
held the temptation at bay, not even acknowledging it in the
privacy of his thoughts. He would not progress all this way to
become notorious for profanity, even if only to himself. He
combated the undesired emotional response, having the benefit of
a secondary negative feedback system to minimize the properties
of it and transport it to a null data core. Yet the residual
effects of it still lingered...
        The compuorganic vulpine then downloaded other, more
immediately important, data into his dynamic provisional memory:
 analysis of readiness for the mission that he and Dulcy would
embark on in the next two hours. He began searching through the
equipment closet for the required supplies for the trip, while
downloading data via a remote low-level RF connection to the
library computer in Rotor's workshop.

        After David was satisfied with the level of data that he felt
would be pertinent to the mission, he quietly exited the hut and
walked toward the workshop that Rotor and Bookshire shared in
their mutual inventive moods. He had all but one very
significant piece of information, and that didn't serve to
improve the compuorganic fox's attitude.
        'Rotor and Bookshire must be getting progressively more lax in
their database revisions,' he thought as he slowly paced his
trail to the intended target. 'However, I did have the
opportunity to inquire him about the required hardware for the
replicator. Yet, I did not. Possibility: am I becoming more
and more prone to the effects of the past month?' The answer
was, unfortunately, yes.
        After arriving at the workshop, his sensors penetrated the
metallic mass that comprised the bulk composition of the hut. A
lone walrus was present, about five meters from David's
location. David announced his presence by knocking on the main
        The walrus came to the doorway and displaced the metal sheet
that barricaded the exterior environment from entry. "Well,
David," he said to his comrade, in awe of the situation, "what a
pleasant surprise. Come right in."
        "Thank you, Rotor," the vulpine replied after he entered the
make-shift technological center. He then continued in a less
formal and more jovial tone, "It's pleasurable to have the
knowledge that I am still capable of coming here."
        Rotor was a testimony to stress potentials and IR radiation.
"Oh, David," the blue walrus responded, not completely in the
mindset to be cavorting. "I want you to know that you're always
welcome here. We've missed you in the past month."
        His dynamic interpreters were not required to give David what
information he needed about Rotor's tone waveform. Deciding to
bypass the more social preliminaries, he opted for a more severe
vocal resonance, implying the true nature of his presence.
"Excellent. Rotor, I require your assistance on obtaining data
for the-"
        Interruption from the walrus, who audibly slapped his right paw
on his face. "Oh, man! I forgot to tell you yesterday during
the food supply run!"
        Insured that he and his associate were thinking of an identical
subject, he resumed, "We are both at fault. I had an equal
opportunity to discuss the replicator replacement part
requirements." Admission of fallibility in this particular case
he felt was the most sensible action to take. Not intending to
dwell on the subject, he persisted in his diatribe, "Now that I
have the time to do so, what hardware is needed?"
        Rotor then began naming the hardware components, while David
annotated them in his database for future retrieval.

* * *

        Dulcy and David met each other at the bridge at about 0955
hours. David began explaining the nature of the mission to
Dulcy while assisting her in putting on her ruck sack, but was
interrupted by the sound of Tails' voice bellowing at them.
        "David! Dulcy! Wait for me!" as he traversed the distance
between Knothole Center and the bridge by flight. He reached
his destination four seconds later, panting from the strain.
        "Hi, Tails," greeted the dragon to the breath-depleted fox.
Tails could only wave back in acknowledgment.
        David, however, was not so amicable to his relative's arrival.
He stated in a perplexed tone, "Tails, it's pleasing to see you
here, but it's not necessary."
        "I want to go too, David. I don't care what Sonic and everyone
else thinks," the red vulpine explained after his lungs regained
the required amount of air to facilitate normal breathing and
        "Very well-meaning of you, Tails, however..." He broke off his
explanation, turning his head toward their female companion.
"Dulcy," he asked, "will you please excuse us for a few minutes?"
        "Sure," answered the dragon, baffled by David's treatment of
the situation. She watched her two comrades walk off to a
secluded area in the Great Forest.
        "David, what's up?" Tails asked when he saw that David was
satisfied with the general security of the location.
        A deep breath from his brother; not a favorable indication of
what he would say. "Tails," he began, "I know that you have
been waiting to go with Dulcy for some time, especially since
you were the first-party observer to what Sonic thought of the
idea. However, I would not recommend it."
        "Why can't I go?" queried the other, saddened and irritated at
the suggestion.
        "I have a mission to perform," David continued, "but more than
that, I have a promise to keep to Dulcy. She agreed to go on
this mission with me as a surveyor, while I am responsible for
assisting her in landing properly. Having someone else present
might only serve to aggravate an already precarious atmosphere
for her."
        "Oh," Tails returned in realization, "I see. Is there anything
I can do to help?"
        "I need someone to monitor the transponder beacon signal. If
anything unexpected occurs, it's necessary for someone to know
IMMEDIATELY. And I nominate you for that position." The black
and gray vulpine waited as his counterpart considered the
significance of the statement.
        "OK, David, I'll make sure that you and Dulcy don't cause any
trouble," Tails finally retorted jovially.
        "Moi?" David retorted back in mock innocence. "Cause trouble?
What evidence do you have of that proposed history?"
        Tails could only chuckle as he flew off toward their hut.
David regarded his brother with a reverent awe, having the
knowledge that his brother would always try to do the most
sensible thing. With the most immediate impedance resolved, he
exited from the personal conference area, on a course back
toward Dulcy.
        After he returned to his original position beside Dulcy, his
friend asked, "What was all that about, David?"
        "I regret that I am unable to explain," he initiated with a
grin on his face, "but what transpired falls under the premise
of Security Access Level 4 Alpha. Access nullified, Dulcy."
        Missing the mark on the intended target, she said, "But I have
Level 4 clearance. What's the big deal?"
        "Yes," he conceded, "you do have Level 4 access, but NOT the
Alpha Amendment."
        "Well..." the confounded dragon questioned, "who can get the
Alpha Amendment?"
        "Immediate family relatives of the Freedom Fighter Commander in
question," he rejoined, saying nothing further, indicating the
implied privacy he and Tails wished to maintain.
        Dulcy would not obtain any further information concerning the
confidential interaction between the two foxes. Any further
questioning directed toward or around the subject would be
downloaded to one of David's null data cores. In his own way,
David would effectively ignore interrogation. Nothing was more
headstrong than an organic/computer system that had been
programmed (either by the manufacturers, or by itself in David's
case) to answer or not answer an input statement.
        She took the implication, and surrendered to it with
reluctance. She then ventured the question relative to their
mission, "So, where to? My wings are itching to fly after being
stuck here with nowhere to go."
        No Alpha Amendment, nor a Level 4 restriction on that question.
 "To the equator," the two-tailed vulpine returned.
        "The equator?!" the adolescent dragon nearly screeched.
"David, do you have any idea how far it is from here to there?
And the heat, we're gonna melt!"
        "No need to concern yourself, Dulcy," he reassured his
distressed comrade. "The purpose of our presence at the equator
is to enhance my ability to obtain data more uniformly across
the planet. The process itself will take less than a minute to
perform. I will personally be responsible for the flights.
They will consist of low-impulse propulsion velocities and warp
engagements." He picked up her ruck sack from the ground, threw
it over her back, and expertly secured it to her torso. "What
YOU are required to execute are the LANDINGS. They will be
under real-time conditions, relative to your organic timebase.
And they will be conducted at all of the suitable sites that I
locate. I project that you may receive a high degree of
instruction today, so I believe the proper phrase is, 'keep your
wits about you'. Any questions?"
        No return from Dulcy as she pondered over the mission plans.
She scratched the underside of her muzzle, thinking about the
possible important items that would make a difference between
the success and failure of the undertaking at hand. She found
nothing lacking in them, since everything had been emphasized
over the course of the past day and now. As always, David had
explained everything she needed to know.
        "Very well, then," he resumed, noticing that Dulcy had nothing
further to add. "Our first flight will be a warp engagement to
the equator for the long-range sensor scans, and we will remain
in warp space until the download is complete. We will then
investigate the favorable areas at a significantly closer range
after the data has completed compilation." His eyes changed to
a dark blue as a sensor probe emitted from them, looking up and
down the dragon.
        "What's that?" she asked, remotely concerned about the
unpleasant memories of SWATBot targeting sensors resurfacing in
her mind.
        "A mass/volume determinator," he replied, resolving the
computer image of the required graviton warp field geometry in
his warp control computers. Seeing the puzzled look on her
face, his dynamic interpreter suggested a response to the
implied question. He informed, "I'll speak to you in detail
about the theories behind graviton warp physics and everything
else involved with my system operations at a later and more
auspicious time. Right now, we have other labors to complete."
He rotated his rotor/nacelles, and levitated to a midair
position three meters from the ground. "Dulcy," he instructed
his associate, "follow me."
        The dragon complied with the order, slowly rising from ground
level to a position approximately a meter from David. She moved
around a few times, attempting to locate herself at the required
point in space where the warp field could easily envelop her
without being critically distorted by an aphasic lobe. After
she found it, David signaled to her to remain as stable as
possible while he removed the protective shield partitions from
his sensitive graviton field discharge sections on his tails.
He gradually increased the warp field strength, phasing them out
of the known physical universe.
        "David," Dulcy inquired, "how many times have you done this?"
She was concerned that they would both be trapped in warp space
for eternity, if the procedure did not succeed.
        The response from her comrade didn't exactly heighten her
confidence. "Aside from the simulations in the restructure of
the dynamic graviton warp drive field," David began, "this is my
first attempt." What made the situation more ill-omened was
that, despite all of David's simulation experience, he didn't
seem very confident in the favorable outcome of the experiment
either. One-billionth of a degree of critical distortion
outside of the field's reshaping abilities, or a slightly
miscalculated use of power, would be fatal to both of them. All
the more incentive for David to investigate any and all factors
of concern in the new potential travel method.
        'Oh, boy,' Dulcy thought with resignation. A new fear of
traveling via FTL threatened to engulf her spirit and her belief
in her comrade's abilities. She regarded the brightening blue
light emission from David's still-rotating tails. A sudden stop
to the rotor/nacelles' rotation, then a bright blue flash
encompassed her field of vision as the acceleration into warp
space commenced. Her eyes instinctively closed at the deafening
influx of visible light. No time remained for retrospective
analysis for either partner in this real-time experiment; only
the hope that the procedure would operate well was on their
        Back in their physical real-time universe, the only indication
of their departure was an intense blue flash that spanned many
kilometers through the Great Forest, and a 35 dB wind shear
noise from the stressed air impacting David's navigational
deflector, dampened only by the precision-geometry differential
graviton fields. They no longer existed in that point of space
on Mobius.

* * *
Shawn Wolski, N5UNA

An Indoctrinated Sonic T. Hedgehog Story Author

"But I guess some things are better left in the past."
-Sally, quote from "The Temporal Syndrome"


and my under construction home page:

Received on Sun Apr 09 1995 - 20:38:20 PDT

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