Surfing with the Alien 6

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Surfing With the Alien 6: Eight Simple Rules

(Written by ClassicDrogn, posted 25 July 2008)

"What are you doing, nya?"

Wave Convoy, being a machine if however advanced, was quite able to remain utterly motionless if he had no need to move, and often did so when his attention was on cyberspace projects or simply deep in thought, to avoid thoughtlessly damaging the merely human beings and their furnishings that surrounded him aboard the Gnarlycurl. When you're a towering metal giant, a simple "stretch" (even if the need is purely psychological) can do, well, equally massive destruction. Even understanding the reasons, it was still profoundly unnatural to the active catgirl, and seeing him frozen up in thought always twanged Shuko's curiosity something fierce.

Convoy's optics brightened as his attention returned to the physical world, and his head swiveled to regard the small friend perched in the crook of the arm folded across his chest plate. Since Crystal Osaka and the massive rebuild she'd had to do to repair the self inflicted damage of Maximum Output mode she'd had something of a proprietary feeling about his chassis, like a craftsman who'd contributed details to a larger masterpiece designed by someone else... or more likely, like a mechanic with a 'pet' customer. Jumping and climbing around on him was utterly unsurprising in such a case, given her feline attributes.

"You know I've been working on recreating the Cybertronian martial art of Metallikato, right?" he asked.

"Un. More like piecing together moves from other arts, mainly Tai Chi and Tiger style kung fu. And may I just say that that's a really strange combination? The epitome of soft arts and one of the most aggressive hard styles."

An actual shrug was one of the motions not possible with his joint structure, but he twitched his upper arms outward and back in the closest facsimile, though careful not to dislodge the woman on his forearm. "I have the kind of 'body hardening' hard style masters can only dream of and the actuators to back it up, but as we both know all too well brute force can only get you so far before becoming counterproductive." And how, if not for stasis shutdown, he would have died before even making it to a repair bay. "Tai Chi is more about maintaining one's center and using the opponent's own momentum, something never to be discounted in battles on my scale. Plus, it includes sword use, definitely something I want to include given how unavoidably fragile my hand and finger joints are compared to the rest. Adapting the motions to a simplified joint structure in ways that actually work is kind of difficult, however - I've burned through around eighty years of cyberspace time and I'm still not done."

"So that's what you were working on? Virtual motion sequence development?" she asked.

"Actually, not at the precise moment you asked. I've also been working on a code of ideals, founding principles for the school. Here, I'll put it up on the monitor for you."

The huge projection screen that served as the main "bridge monitor" of Gnarlycurl when it wasn't acting as God's Own Big Screen TV switched away from the current vista of slowly shifting starscape as the ship made its way toward Stellvia to a Fennix desktop, then popped open a short text file on screen.

I. There is ignorance and there is wisdom, there is turmoil and there is peace, there is death and there is life. Only by acknowledging that which you wish to correct can you affect it.

II. Fortune favors the prepared. It is better to have ten plans you never need than no plan, whether for matters of conflict or peace. Simple plans for a limited circumstance are best, as they can then be assembled to fit the complex situations that the universe often presents.

III. Know where you are weak and where you have strength, when to press forward and when to retreat. There is no victory in death, no defeat in escape from a superior foe, but you must temper this rule with the consequences of your actions. Few indeed are battles with no greater stakes than pride.

IV. Meet honor with honor, truth with truth, and courtesy with courtesy. Treat the dishonorable, untruthful, and discourteous with as much honor, truth, and courtesy as you may without being used for unacceptable ends. Give assistance where it is needed if it lies within your capabilities.

V. To dismiss the importance of joy is to dismiss that which makes life worthwhile. Make time for fun and laughter, even if it is no more than a quip during a lull in battle.

He waited while Shuko read over the list, then summarized, "To put it more succinctly: Use the force, be prepared, know yourself, be excellent to each other, and-" and here, Wave Convoy's voice suddenly picked up the most vacuous Simi Valley accent imaginable, "-party on, dudes!"

"...I cannot believe you just said that," she deadpanned.

"Why not? Especially given the longer form of that one... I think there should be something about adaptability in there as well, though." He opened a second connection, a simulated Bluetooth keyboard, and added a few more lines.

VI. An agile mind is the most powerful weapon in any warrior's arsenal. There is no knowledge that is without value if one can but recognize the appropriate circumstance and adapt theory into practice to suit.

"Ist gut, ja?" he asked, using three of the dozen or so words he knew in German without referring to a translation routine.

"Works. Anything else?"

"Hmm. Maybe surrendered enemies, and a dash of common sense."

VII. An honorable foe may honorably surrender, the treacherous must be subdued if they call for mercy. Regardless, the plea of surrender should be heeded even if prisoners can only be stripped of their combat equipment and released.

VIII. There is no such thing as an unfair advantage or dishonorable tactic in a battle to the death. Seize every advantage, use every tactic to make greater advantage, and strike without hesitation until the enemy has fallen and can not rise.

"You sure about number seven? There is a war on, you know..." Shuko didn't sound all that certain, and given the shipment of sex-toy-conditioned catgirls that had been intercepted by one of the Space Pirate patrols the week before it was hardly surprising.

"Yes. We need to be better than them, or what's the point? Besides, it doesn't say anything about not apprehending criminals just because they happen to surrender instead of fighting to the end," he explained. "I'm trying for something applicable for the long term rather than only in the immediate situation."

Shuko pursed her lips and made a noncommittal mew. After a moment, she let it go and commented, "I guess it'll do if you like them, but I thought martial arts school principles tended to be short and direct, like 'Honor, Duty, Victory!' isn't it kind of long?"

Wave Convoy opened his mouth as if for an 'eh' sound and produced a quick burst of modulated squawks in a stream with eight barely perceptible breaks. It was oddly familiar though she didn't recognize why for a minute, until she remembered the dial-up modem one of her friends' computers had in high school. "Modem squawks? Isn't that a little low-tech for a Transformer?"

"Harder to jam than radio for short range as long as you have atmosphere," he noted, "and there's a long, glorious history of sonic machine languages for Transformers."

"Right... Meaning the word balloons in the comics with little multicolored triangles along the edges, Dinobot telling Rattrap to talk in plain Cybertronix instead of slang-laden gibberish, and the gobbledygook from the Bay movie."

"We do not speak of the Beasties, and that movie was only barely acceptable as TF mythos even if it was fun as action movies go.. They sure played the wave of public awareness from our little adventure for all it was worth, though. Not that the anti-Wave 'danemagogues appreciated it all that much."

"I wonder what the Air Force thought of it, given how they fared against you," the catgirl said, remembering wild glimpses of the pair of interceptors that had been scrambled after them, the high pitched spang of Gatling bullets ricocheting off his heavy armor and the deeper boom of missiles swatted aside by his gravity gun in repel mode, while she and Micheal huddled in the cab.

"According to Morden's contacts they were really upset about it, but all their scenes had already been filmed and run through the checks for declassification, so there was nothing they could do. Personally I don't see what they had to be upset about, in the movie they came off as having the only really effective human weapons; I wouldn't want to try getting hit by one of those myself. They should have kept classic Spike instead of Sam Witwicky, though, and there wasn't enough time spent on the actual robots for a movie called The Transformers."

"Aw, big bad Wave Convoy had to sit through a story told from a squishie's perspective," Shuko teased.

"Most of them still are," he replied, "but the original movie had less humans in the whole thing than the first scene of Bay's reboot. And the character designs sucked tailpipe, way too over-complicated and under-armored... it's like they were all nudists, letting their energy shielding substitute for plating."

"...and I'd just like to thank you for the mental image of giant robotic nudists, now pass the brain bleach, please... and how is energy shielding related to nudism anyway?"

"Nudists, by definition, go without clothes. Since full-body sunburns are usually considered a Very Bad Thing, sunscreen has to be an important commodity for them. For the Bay Transformers, the lack of armor coverage makes relying on the energy shield McGuffin a necessity to avoid a bad case of laser burns in those unprotected systems. And it's also fairly literal, the few times you see a G1 transformer with their outer plating removed it looks pretty much like the movie style clusters of actuators and tubing."

Shuko sighed, and ran a hand down her face. She just knew she was going to be stuck thinking about this conversation the next time she had him in the bay for maintenance. Why couldn't she have let it go without the explanation?