Tag: Wheeler’s Orbits

Day# 30 MobU and Stats, robot symbiotes

| November 30, 2010 | 3 Comments
#30 MobU+Stats, robot symbiotes for Wheeler's Orbits by Jande Rowe

#30 MobU+Stats, robot symbiotes for Wheeler's Orbits by Jande Rowe

“Days like this make me think I was manufactured under a bad sign.” ―C-3PO.

#30 MobU & Stats, Robot Symbiotes

You might be forgiven if at first glance you think there are two robots in this artist’s sketch of Stats and MobU (pronounced “Mow’bew”). And in one fairly obvious way you would be right. They look separate, though MobU can attach itself to Stats’ head piece once the antenna has been retracted. But they were created in fact as a single unit. Though if Stats‘ personality splits any further, there may be a true dichotomy.

Wheeler and Ikey assembled Stats when they were kids from parts scavenged from the local industries on their home planet of Foglio IV, many of which were experimental, some of which were top secret. That may have been the reason why Stats often had memory failures. It may account for the fact that the robot could spout statistics about things that Wheeler or Ikey had never even heard of. It also may be why he or uh.. lets just call it “he” for now, since it, uh… he has just achieved a conscious state of sentience for the first time in over a decade –Well its system combination of CPU [Central Processing Unit] and HMC [HoloMemoryCore] had. Consciousness had been hard-wired in by a series of bizarre accidents, perhaps even before Wheeler dug the logic core out of the recycle bin. Then again, with Wheeler’s luck, not to mention timing, and total lack of training, the boys might have had a little to do with the personality, or… Personalities, that emerged.  But to all intents and purposes Stats had finally been delegated to a dark corner of the jet park cubby-hole the last time he had a memory failure. Wheeler wasn’t that interested in statistics anyway, though Ikey got a bit of a kick out of them. By this time he was frustrated by the breakdowns, and he and Ikey having just discovered that girls were not the icky fragjaws he used to think them, he managed over time to forget all about having tried to create the world’s first Super-Destructo Paintball Robot (Some fads never die).

Later with the rise of the family fortunes, the house and jetpark were sold off, the contents of the jetpark including the deactivated robot were sent to a Goodwill recycle plant, and the family moved literally up to the next level on Foglio IV.

The Techs at Goodwill were astounded to find the rather scuffed Robot as part of a donation delivery. They tried activating it. The lights blinked and went on blinking, but nothing happened. No response to voice input anyway. One of the techs thought he might have an old keyboard stashed away in the back, but when he looked for it, he decided it might not be worth digging through centuries of museum pieces for it. Then another truckload of donations came in and he left the Robot powered up and didn’t remember until the following day when he came in to find its lights had stopped blinking and it was turning its head this way and that as if looking for something, or maybe… scanning?

He tried voice commands again but all the tech could get out of it was a stream of archaic statistics. It did however make a fine cup of tea, and so it was installed in the tech lunch room. There it stayed for about a year, entertaining them with tea and statistics, until one day they arrived for tea and the robot was gone. No one seemed to know where or why. It hadn’t been sold. It might have been stolen, but who would steal from a charity organisation run by volunteers. Nah. The Robot was an unstable device at best. It probably had the  mechanical equivalent of a brainstorm and wandered off. They would miss the tea.

And brainstorm was exactly what had happened. A kind of accidental pre-programmed brainstorm caused by conflicting commands, and timed relay synapses opening certain logic gates that weren’t meant to be opened. And so a robot child was born. And it wandered away in search of its mother, with no clue of how to interact with the world as a sentient being. But it was learning. And one thing it was learning was that that nagging voice in his head really WAS in his head. The MobU was still firmly attached, and wasn’t much liking it.

MobU is the shortened form of “Mobile Unit”, even though its base also had a more limited form of mobility. It was designed to be a completely separate Unit from the MainFrame “parent” (note: MainFrame has a whole different meaning in the 24th Century) while sharing memory and some of the parent unit’s CPU cycles.  During the time Wheeler and Ikey were trying to get the darned Robot to do anything but recite outdated statistics, more and more of the MobU’s capacity was taken up with memory backups from the main. Which had the unexpected result of  both units becoming sentient at the same time but growing differentiating personalities based on their differing functionality and mobility.

The MobU was a free-floating (some say flying, but it couldn’t go far from the parent unit, although no one has had a chance to determine how far that is), dish-shaped device that had one curious aspect. The material it was made from was a top secret amalgam of human biologicals and mineral-metallurgicals at the molecular level. It could not only heal itself, but its logic boards could really think. It’s only limitation to the kinds of changes it could make to itself was that it could not change its own total mass. In that, it was one singular and unique unit. And its biggest problem, as it soon learned, was that it was trapped in a relationship with a slower “thinking” and much more confused other half. But that was only the beginning of its problems.  They were stuck with each other and would have to make the best of it. Unless…

Perhaps could those who had created Stats and MobU find a way to separate them? If MobU was to turn its vast and unique fledgling intelligence to work in tandem with Stats‘ longing to find his creator. More than a decade had passed since lights out. Could they do it?


I had a hard time stopping writing long enough to upload this one. These guys really caught my imagination. Hard to believe I sat and stared at a blank sheet of Strathmore Bristol for over an hour this morning with an equally blank mind. Later, as my panic grew, I started scribbling heads in the hope it would get the juices flowing again. This piece is the result and I’m extremely happy with the Characters, their relationship, and the many ideas for fun story arcs they have given me. I hope you enjoy my Finale piece as much as I do, and will continue to enjoy these two Characters when I incorporate them into Wheeler’s Orbits comic.

Day#24 Baron Bleebharan, Rebel Artist

| November 25, 2010 | 0 Comments
#24 Baron Bleebharan for Wheeler's Orbits by Jande Rowe

#24 Baron Bleebharan for Wheeler's Orbits by Jande Rowe

“Self-Portrait of a Failed Abstract Artist”

by Baron Bleebharan of  the Outer Rim Artists Colony, circa 2420(GR)

Day # 24: A Balthrazhod: Baron Bleebharan.

The above self portrait of Baron Bleebharan, a Balthrazhod artist and framing specialist from  the Outer Rim Artists Colony is said to be the only surviving work of his abstractionist art, though numerous of his maverick landscape works exist even today in the Bleebharan Museum of Natural Art. Below is an excerpt from the BalthrazWiki, sans citations:

“Semi-sentient beings settled a minor planet in the Outer Rim of the Galaxy millennia before the Earth was even a mote in Sol’s Corona. The original settlers were looking for a world of natural beauty so that they might have a bountiful place to begin their artists colony far from the censure of their fellow Balthrazhods. They settled in quite well as a matter of fact, painting up the local fauna and flora and displacing some thirty one thousand indigenous species not to mention enslaving two humanoid species ( the prongles and the fitchrils, both races that would have hunted each other to extinction had the Balthrazhods not taken a shine to their dexterity and  their sensitivity to colour. The dexterity allowed them to do all the kinds of work the Balthrazhods eschewed, leaving the masters to devote all their time to their art; the colour sensitivity allowing even greater range and depth in each piece as the closer to perfection became the work, the more easily the fitchrils would succumb and faint away –rather like Earth canaries who, exposed to the gases emitted in coal mines would falter in their joyous singing and fall from their caged roosts for the betterment of coal miners everywhere).

As the eons of devotion to art progressed, so too did the Balthrazhods, both spiritually and artistically, however they tended to neglect their physical selves and over those same eons became somewhat turgid and slug-like. Those of the Balthrazhods who were able to harness their creativity tended to become more and more abstractionists in temperament, not to mention personally abstracted, to the point of changing their own forms to match their gastropod-like temperaments.

Those who failed artistically tended to become merchants. Of what, you ask? Oh, art supplies and framing, of course.  But those of us here on Terra Firma would not recognize the difference between a Balthrazhod Art Supply Shop and a Balthrazhod Museum of Fine Art.

Baron Bleebharan was one of those failed Balthrazhod artists. Other Balthrazhods had passed judgement upon his works and would have, every one of them, given him the thumbs down if in fact they had anything resembling thumbs by this time. Still, a tentacle curled in contempt had the same effect on a fellow Balthrazhod as the leering thumbs down of an Earth man, secure in his beliefs in The Way Things Worked, had on artists of his own kind.

Baron Bleebharan’s own preference, nay passion, was landscape painting. He abhorred the traditional abstractions (they made him suffer from a vertigo similar to the effect they had on the fitchril slaves), preferring, himself, to capture nature in the raw. The Frilcar of the mountain sunsets, the verlact of the still abundant flora, the streevit sparkle of a marshland spring. These were the colours that moved his turgid juices until he could almost feel it within himself to actually move an inch or two under his own power.

He was filthy rich as most failed artists on the Rim world  were, but he longed for the recognition of his more abstractionist peers. Since he couldn’t help himself, he continued to paint his little landscapes in the face of certain disdain all while he built up his framing business. His reputation as a kooky maverick  brought the curious to his shop (where he even braved the inevitable censure by framing and hanging some of his own curiosities), who then were dazzled by his brilliance in his capacity as an expert and creative framer and when they left his shop they did so after giving the Baron their framing order.

At one point the King and Queen Balthrazhod visited his little shop and came away not only deeply moved (not by his landscapes, of course but by his framing techniques) but determined to provide him with some small reward of stature in the eyes of the world. They gave him a Franglaaesk of his own, a rich reward something along the lines of a Barony in our world. He was told it was a verdant land, filled with all the fauna and flora he could ever want to paint. But he never quite got moving enough to go and visit it. He did send his prongle slaves and they reported in the abstract as they had been trained, that it was a very nice piece of land, complete with an artist’s loft castle and a crystal falls.

As time moved inexorably on, Bleebharan’s yearning for the approbation of his peers finally turned sour. So sour in fact that he decided he’d had enough of the colony world and struck off into space to find perhaps some entities out there if not his own kind, at least maybe of kindred spirit.  And so he had his slaves prepare his last will and testament, leaving all his worldly goods (those left behind) to a Museum of Natural Art, for which he also supplied the funds and the slaves. Then he had them build a ship and fill it with supplies and his favourites of his landscapes, as well as the tools of both his trades, and off he shot into space where he soon ran into a spot of trouble involving a pair of humanoid trade runners who refused to be slaves or artists, but were willing to trade goods and barter services on a fairly equal basis. At least he thought it was fairly equal. These “humans” intrigued the Baron Bleebharan and he found their energetic to-ings and fro-ings entertaining to say the least.

Meanwhile back on his home colony planet, his Museum of Natural Art became a huge success with the younger generations of Balthrazhods, starting a whole new movement in the colony much to the shock and disgust of the diehard older generations. The Baron had left his home to wander the wide universe looking for artists made in his own image (so to speak), and in his rush to start over left behind him the very ones he sought. There is a lesson in this tale, but I’d rather not bore you with proverbs –especially since the Baron Bleebharan got to meet and spend some time with Wheeler and Ikey of Wheeler’s Orbits. And that, of course, made the whole thing worth it after all.”


Day# 14 Sqorthk, Animal Phase

| November 18, 2010 | 2 Comments
a Sqorthk in animal stage for Wheeler's Orbits, by Jande Rowe

a Sqorthk in animal stage for Wheeler's Orbits, by Jande Rowe

Tastes Like Chicken!

Adnirovjyna Sqorthk, Animal Phase: During the rainy season the shell becomes leathery, then soft and peels off to reveal the third phase of this fascinating creature: it is now an animal, capable of pulling itself along the ground in a kind of inch-worm motion, digging its front fin-arms into the soil an hauling itself forward, then stopping to let its long back legs catch up. then it hunches its back and repeats this activity until it is far from the plant of its origin. That is, if carnivorous predators don’t eat it first.

The animal-Squorth gives off a honey-like odour from it’s pebbly skin that carnivores find strangely attractive, and many have learned that the meat under that skin is deliciously sweet and satisfying (As Wheeler soon learns). In the animal stage the Sqorthk is easy prey. It cannot move quickly and has no natural defenses.

In the animal stage it neither eats nor drinks, its main purpose seems apparently to be to move itself as far as possible from the parent plant  so to drop its developing tubers to begin the cycle again. In this regard the Sqorthk has allies in the native peoples as they will protect them from predators, often keeping them as pets, and regularly harvesting their tubers for planting once the rainy season has passed.

Since the Adnirovjyna have a strong taboo against eating the Sqorthk during their animal stage, would it be any wonder that Wheeler’s appetites could bring them to the very brink of interplanetary war? Or at least, very bad feelings?

Day# 12 – Thaddeursus

| November 16, 2010 | 1 Comment
#12 Thaddeursus, for Wheeler'e Orbits by Jande Rowe

#12 Thaddeursus, for Wheeler'e Orbits by Jande Rowe

Ah, Thaddeursus! Do bears walk in the woods? He doesn’t know because he really isn’t a bear, you see. He’s an Adnirovjyna from one of the Inner Galaxies, known on Terra One as Cassiopeia, but by the indigenous sentients, as Adnirovjyn. One would normally expect to see fulsome Greek goddesses and other females cavorting on the planet Adnirovjyn in the constellation of Cassiopeia, but no. Perversely, peaceful squat furry bear-like humanoids evolved there instead.

Peaceful being the key description of these beings, they will do almost anything to keep things tranquil, and therefore are high strung and nervous most of the time, worrying about whether their actions or the actions of others are going to disturb anyone’s peace.

Thaddeursus, who prefers to be called Thadd, in case it upsets anyone to have to pronounce his full name, is typical of his species with one exception: he was the unfortunate victim of an accident that changed not only his own life and lifestyle, but those of many of his acquaintances in the small village of Cleoptas Woods, as well. This of course does nothing to reduce the agitation he normally feels. In fact it somewhat increases it. But the whole thing is so inherently fascinating that he can’t help himself.

Of course, since all Adnirovjyna have to restrain their overweening curiosity in order to maintain a civilized society, he grew up knowing that it is very wrong to spy on others even if they have very little fur, are tall and thin and strangely coloured. After all, they have two arms, two legs, walk upright and use tools and language (if mostly unintelligible), as well as drink frothy amber liquids and eat highly spiced foods like any normal sentient being. One of them is almost the same shape as an Adnirovjyna, though the other’s shape resembles the more vine-like Sqorthk (a food animal that spends part of its life cycle as a vegetable, during which it is harvested by the Adnirovjyna, who are predominantly vegetarian, but, you know, accidents happen!)

Adnirovjyna tend to be modest, retiring people to whom privacy is paramount, which also increases the tensions caused by their native curiosity. So when Thadd suddenly became somewhat famous by being the first to contact an alien race (though truth be told, they had contacted him by landing their rustbucket of a ship-shuttle in his dreak-pond!) he was since embarrased constantly by the recurrence of the breaking of the twin taboos of notoriety and overzealous curiosity. It was enough to give him  a slight twitch.

But to his shame, his own curiosity was in full roar. These beings did the strangest things, drawing the eyes and ears of all to them, almost as if they relished the attention. But they did have interesting items to trade and that was what had given Thadd all this uncomfortable fame. Oh well, he thought, I guess I shall simply have to grin and bear it until they leave again and things can go back to normal.

But, will they? One whirlwind visit from Wheeler and Ikey could change a whole stable sentient species forever, doncha think?

Day# 09 Flodd and Flara for Wheeler’s Orbits

| November 8, 2010 | 3 Comments
#09 Flodd & Flara for Wheeler's Orbits by Jande Rowe

#09 Flodd & Flara for Wheeler's Orbits by Jande Rowe

When Wheeler’s Orbits made landfall on Faranurus IV with a cargo hold full of Denebrian, they thought it was unusual that there was no bustling spaceport; not even a sign of any kind of technology at all.  Ikey thought they should check the computer and the starmaps to see if they were in the right place, but as usual Wheeler just opened the airlock and  went out to see what was happening.
“They probably just have really good camouflage, Ikey. You worry too much!” and he was gone. Ikey donned space-suit, set the computer to figure out what went wrong, and doggedly followed Wheeler. This was definitely NOT dry, arid Faranurus IV! This place was a swamp. Of course it might have changed in the last year, but he doubted it very much.

The first thing he saw that moved was moving away from him. It looked like a giant lopped off banana with arms, but no legs. It kind of floated along a few inches above the ground when it wasn’t reaching up with its long yellow arms to swing itself from the low hanging branches from tree to tree.  It was a colourful world, and in spite of himself, Ikey felt himself relaxing. That of course put him even more on guard. He’d seen some weird things in space, but never before a piece of fruit with arms. Then it turned around and started back toward him. It had eyes! and the arms had hands with opposable thumbs! He wondered if it had sharp pointy teeth and decided for the better part of valour.

Through the portal of the airlock he could see them gathering, apparently curious about this huge thing that had landed in their forest. They even more reminded him of bananas since they were in a multitude of shades from bright green to  deep yellow, and some even had the brown and black spots you find on the very ripe ones. He shook his head. Leave it to Wheeler to run off on his own on a strange world.

He left his suit on and went in to the computer. The data screen showed the deviation in course due to an input error of one digit.  He knew who to blame for that, too. He sighed. Well, they weren’t too far off course. If he could grab Wheeler they could be on Faranurus IV within a week.

He looked back at the airlock window, and was startled to see yellow-green faces, shaped a little like earth monkeys, jostling to peer in at him.

” Come Flara, come with papa to see what the skies have brought this time.” He gazed fondly at his third daughter, so green and yet wasn’t that a tinge of the yellow of maturity creeping into her skin. It made him sad that soon she would be fully mature and golden and leaving him for her chosen mate. But he would enjoy her companionship while he could, at least until his next change and he could bear more fruit himself, though then he would be a her self.

Things had often dropped from the sky that didn’t seem to belong here. Most often they fell near the  great lake, and then, before his people could satisfy their natural curiosity, they flew away like Singbirds, often straight up into the sky until they were specks that could be seen no more. That was always a disappointment to Flodd. Maybe this time, there would be a chance to touch and taste the thing that fell from the sky.

Flara skipped along in front of him, skimming the ground, still a bit wobbly with that skill, and reaching up for hand holds on the Twanda trees, not to mention gorging herself on their  clusters of fruit. He was an indulgent parent though, and prefered to let all his offspring learn through their own experience, though there was something quicker and more delightful with this one, so that he tended to be more protective of her.

He could see through the trees that others of his kind were gathering, streaming in the direction of the new fallen thing. This made Flodd happy. He loved gatherings, and he loved exploring, and he loved bringing his curiosity to bear on new things. Especially when the sun was warming his Frolldots and he had energy to burn.

Suddenly, he cried out in alarm, “Stop!” and  pulled Flara to him and behind him. A strange animal had burst out of the undergrowth, splashing muddy sand all around him. It was tall and thin and was strangely coloured. It had twice the appendages than normal and actually put two of them on the ground and in the water of the swamp. That appeared to be its mode of locomotion, although it was a lurching one. Flodd had never seen its like. Is this what had fallen? It seemed too small and at the same time too big. It stopped now, swaying and seemed to be speaking to him, but the sounds were very low pitched and growling, akin to the sound of a Froctali in a fallen tree.

“Where the heck am I and what the heck are you?” Wheeler said to the yellow being standing stock still and staring at him bemused. “I’m lost.”