“The pursuit of perfection.”
Words on an old magazine advert stood out in the dusty room.
Roaming the abandoned industrial village of Cairnum Loch, the sensor-laden bot, built in the shape of a small dragon, recorded and analysed a subculture that no longer actively perpetuated its existence, neither growing nor changing anymore.
The bot had assigned a label to itself via analysis of its files, all of which began with the heading “OUT DC5V.”
Thus, when it encountered other beings and bots like itself, it shared its label, OUT DC5V.
The village had shown up on OUT DC5V’s internal GPS coordinate system as a potential source of information.
OUT DC5V was constructed to entertain humanoids in an amusement park on the outskirts of a Martian settlements many sols ago.
The Martian Pioneers had quickly grown weary of VR simulators and desired something more tangible to distract them when they wanted downtime and silly moments not tied to securing lifecycle support systems.
From spare parts or obsolete equipment, the Pioneers put together entertainment bots and assigned them to designated entertainment zones for family retreats.
OUT DC5V was a small dragon that flew around like a pet bird but snuggled like a warm cat against necks, shoulders and chests, stomachs, laps and legs, depending on the standing/reclining position of its designated primary and secondary humanoid companions.
Taken on a holiday trip by members of the third wave of settlers, OUT DC5V had been left behind, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest settlement.
Programmed with keen honing and hunting skills, OUT DC5V searched the terrain for a companion to entertain.
It had no sense of time.
No distance was too small or too great.
OUT DC5V knew that companions could be found singly, far from any settlement, and packed together like sardines in a habitation pod.
OUT DC5V was also programmed to change its entertainment style, practicing on inanimate objects new tricks such as juggling rocks or turning dust into sand castles.
So OUT DC5V wandered slowly back to the settlement from which it had been created, adding new skills to its programming while looking for companions to entertain along the way.
Oblivious to the full meaning of humanoid lifespans, OUT DC5V spent many, many thousands of sols wandering Mars.
Meanwhile, the idea of settling Mars had passed by.
Humans, humanoids, bots, cyborgs — all these labels came and went.
Mars became just another large-scale sub/urban development project of the ISSANet.
OUT DC5V had never been programmed as a node on the ISSANet so, even though the ISSANet saw the movements of OUT DC5V, the ISSA Net assumed OUT DC5V was just another piece of junk not worth tracking.
Thus, OUT DC5V was left alone to wander.
Left to refine its sense of what it’s like to entertain the virtual image of humanoids it carried in its programming.
OUT DC5V wandered into Cairnum Loch fully aware no humanoids were presently active but OUT DC5V saw the village as an opportunity to develop new skills, one of which was to make a list of culturally significant jokes to whisper in the ears of companions on whose shoulders OUT DC5V rested occasionally.
Humanoids loved verbal jokes as much as they liked physical pratfalls or slapstick.
OUT DC5V recharged itself when it heard laughter, felt the warmth of humanoids’ internal mirth and joy, its energy source tied to positive input from companions, able to sync up with sets of states of energy which reverberated and reasserted OUT DC5V’s primary goalseeking methods.
“The pursuit of perfection.”
OUT DC5V turned that phrase around, a classic joketelling twist.
“The perfection of pursuit.”
Hmm…wasn’t that just what OUT DC5V was doing?
OUT DC5V laughed to itself. The rest of the advert was missing so it kept breaking apart syllables.
“The perfection of the purse suit.”
“The perfect shun of the purse suit.”
Yeah, that last one would make a good teaser line for a joke, tying humanoid fear of social rejection to technological mastery of the fashion industry.
OUT DC5V imagined a humanoid walking around wearing clothes covered with pockets, looking like a giant purse on legs.
What would make a joke about a purse suit funniest?
Why would people laugh about a person wearing a purse suit achieving the perfect shun, totally rejected by society but somehow rising about it?