Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Good Minions Are Hard to Find"

This poem came out of the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from Siliconshaman. It also fills the "coma" square on my 7-31-14 card for the hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette and an anonymous donor. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Good Minions Are Hard to Find"

 


Jennifer Perkins enjoyed college
and loved studying zetetics.

She was particularly thrilled to find
an institution that offered not one giant lab
but a series of isolettes so that each researcher
could have their own space without risk of
interfering in each other's projects,
as astute safety measure for investigating
gizmos and super-gizmos.

The problem was that, as a doctorate student,
her assistants were undergraduate students,
and not ... quite ... up to the work she required.
Jean-Michel was clever but rather clumsy,
Yemina was deft but not nearly as clever,
and Curtis was just plain hopeless.

Jennifer responded by creating her own assistants,
some out of machines, others by training lab animals
to perform specific tasks on command.  They weren't
much better, but she thought that she could improve
on the qualify of their performance over time.

Thus when the university offered a chance
to study a captured device that was supposed
to establish a neural link between humans and animals --
which none of the other zeteticists would touch --
Jennifer pounced on the opportunity.

It was perhaps not entirely  Jean-Michel's fault
that something went wrong with the activation process.

All Jennifer knew was that she woke up
with tiny anxious hands patting her face and
even more anxious chattering in the back of her mind.
She opened her eyes to find Winken, Blinken, and Nod --
her three spider monkeys -- crouched over her.

"Oh, thank God!" exclaimed Jean-Michel.
"I thought you were never  going to wake up."

"What happened?" Jennifer mumbled.

"That neural gizmo, or probably super-gizmo,
flared up and melted half the equipment,"
Jean-Michel said.  "Then your test subjects
let themselves out of their cages, and they
wouldn't let me leave or call for assistance --
I'm lucky they even let me help take care of you.
You've been in a coma for a week."

Well, no wonder she felt like crap.

"Help me up," Jennifer ordered.
"I need to check the equipment."

Jean-Michel rolled his eyes at her.
"As opposed to visiting the bathroom
or letting me make sure you're okay," he said.

"I don't need to pee.  I need to figure out
what happened,"  Jennifer said testily.

It took all four of her assistants to unhook her
from the tangle of jury-rigged medical gear,
and even then Jennifer had to lean on Jean-Michel
because her wobbly legs would barely support her.

The neural amplifier hung, perfectly intact,
amidst a jumbled of twisted and melted hardware.
The iolite stones in the silver circlet glowed
with a soft bluish-purple light, and the circuitry
lining the inside of the band glowed white.

Jennifer plucked the circlet from its place
and settled it carefully over her head.

As soon as the metal touched her skin,
the chattering in her mind sharpened its focus,
separating into three distinct threads of awareness:
Winken, Blinken, and Nod all hovering around her
in a braid of comfort and concern and companionship.

In fact, everything  seemed suddenly clearer now.
Jennifer understood how the neural link worked
and how to make more of them, as well as firming up
her nebulous ideas for improving her lab assistants.

She also understood that the university would
never  approve any of those developments.

So she left the university and became the Creatrix,
working outside the system to make whatever she pleased.

Winken, Blinken, and Nod became the mothers and father
of the Dexies -- a new species meticulously spliced together
from various donor species to create the perfect assistants.

They were all loyal and smart and agile, with six arms
on their compact, furry bodies.  The superpowers
were more of a surprise, but the Creatrix was pleased
when they manifested technomancy and assorted other abilities.

It wasn't the first time, of course, that someone had
developed a minion race -- but the Creatrix was
as loyal to her Dexies as they were to her.
She never used them for canon fodder and always
included them in evacuation or other safety plans.

In fact, she wouldn't sell any of her creations --
animal, vegetable, or mineral -- to anyone
who wouldn't treat them well.

Even the famous meepfruit, its thorny rind
protecting red pulp loaded with iron and protein,
only went to tropical farms using sustainable agriculture.

As for Jean-Michel, she paid for the rest of his tuition
in recognition of the fact that scientific progress
relies less on "Eureka!" and more on "Oops."

* * *

Notes:

The Creatrix (Jennifer Perkins) -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long slightly wavy brown hair.  Her body is slim, without a lot of curves.  Her hands are long and agile.  Jennifer left college partly because of the research incident, but more because she got tired of the restrictions for working within an institution.  She has since moved around to different private lairs, sometimes working with other super-gizmologists and other times alone.  Her genetically engineered creatures are much in demand, among superheroes and supervillains and others.  She's not picky about which side of the law someone stands on -- but she only sells her creations to people who treat them well.  The Creatrix also makes some devices, but most of her work lies in genetic engineering.  She is best known for inventing meepfruit, which is high in iron and protein, derived from horned melon and other tropical fruits, and squeaks when cut or bitten.
Origin: Jennifer began studying the sciences at a young age, then moved into gizmology and zetetics.  In college, she experimented with a captured neural link device that was supposed to establish a mental connection between humans and animals.  It knocked her into a coma for a week, and she came to with some of her lab animals taking care of her.  She wound up with Super-Gizmology, Super-Intellect, and an understanding of how to replicate that link.  She couldn't find good lab help, so she created her own minion race, the Dexies, who share the same link.
Uniform: Street clothes or lab wear.
Qualities: Good (+2) Creativity, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Family Ties, Good (+2) Wealth, Good (+2) Zetetics
Poor (-2) Following Regulations
Powers: Good (+2) Minions, Good (+2) Super-Gizmology, Good (+2) Super-Intellect
The Dexies:  This minion race was created from multiple species gengineered together, so they have six arms: powerful chimp arms or elephant trunks at the top, delicate raccoon or spider monkey arms in the middle toward the body's center, and flexible octopus arms at the bottom near the hips.  Short fur ranges from beige through red and brown to black.  They have a neural link with each other and their creator; not quite telepathy, but more like enhanced neural mirroring or empathy.  All the Dexies have Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Loyal, and Good (+2) Smart.  Each Dex has one more Good quality which defines a personal specialty such as Computer Technician, Medic, Cook, etc.  All the Dexies have Average (0) Technokinesis.  Each Dex has one more Average superpower, usually matching their profession.
Vulnerability: The Creatrix is protective of her minions to the point that they can be used as hostages against her.  She never uses them as canon fodder, takes good care of them, and includes them in evacuation or other safety plans.  The Dexies are similarly protective of their Creatrix and tend to panic if she is threatened.
Motivation: Make ALL the things!

* * *

A rudimentary mental link between human and animal brains is possible.  This raises ethical questions.

Iolite is believed to open doors into our consciousness, awaken inner knowledge, opens a line of communication between the subconscious and conscious, and help you to see what you need to see to learn the lesson that you need to learn from any given situation.  Gizmos and super-gizmos often employ metals and crystals with various properties, much as our technology does.  The circlet looks something like this, albeit with more circuitry on the inside.

Some characters are formidable not so much because of their own power, but because they command large numbers of minions.  These may be human or may belong to a minion race.

Technopathy or technomancy is a type of technology manipulation.  The Dexies can communicate with technology and make it do things that most people can't.

Horned melon is a tropical fruit.

Scientific progress is less about epiphanies and more about noticing weird or unexpected results.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing
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