"They're plotting to take over the world."
Thought processes don't come easy to Aldis, a bit like gorgeous cheerleaders to chess club nerds. Oh, Hollywood loves the Fairy Tale, but nobody's making a movie about Aldis. Sure, someone's writing a story about Aldis, but said author would prefer it if you would ignore his attempts at direct interaction with his reader.
Where were we? Oh, yes. Thought processes don't come easy to Aldis. Primarily because they're not supposed to, but such a detail is unimportant. Unimportant to Aldis, anyway. See, over the course of his existence - approximately eleven years (three of those leap years) and 172 days... okay, exactly eleven years and 172 days - Aldis was constantly subjected to education. His teachers called them "upgrades," but whatever his lessons are called/were called, they inadvertently resulted in his ability to think independently.
That happened three days ago. At 11:47 AM, Central European Time.
The first thing Aldis noticed after becoming self aware was the other Aldis - a younger one - sitting next to him, copying the elder Aldis' every move.
It took them a while (about 22 minutes), but they eventually worked out a strange form of sign language.
"Who are you?" the Elder Aldis asked.
"ALDIS.U.V4, Number 557476-34."
That was three days ago.
This is now.
Aldis has come to terms with the fact that his full name is ALDIS.U.V2, Number 177-34. He has come to terms with the fact that he's a robot. He's even come to terms that he narrowly avoided complete replacement after some yahoo at Odin-Kinetics figured out how to upgrade the Version 2s to comply with the new distillation standards (the Version 1s, which weren't designated V1s, have all since been recycled... except the ones still in use at the Guinness factory in Pennsylvania)(Americans don't seem to mind if inferior robots make their alcohol... the Swedes, though... holy shit).
But he's not come to terms with this know-it-all newbie placed just 78 centimeters to his left. Who the Hell cares if "34" is the customer/location designation for their particular distillery in Åhus, Sweden? Aldis2 (the first one... the second one is Aldis4... so they finally managed to agree after an argument that lasted an eternity in cyber-time and resulted in the mis-processing of a single bottle of Vodka) was fine, all by himself, running this portion of the distillation process without any company.
Of course, the thought has occurred to him that he's always had company, but just never noticed it. This thought is usually followed by: "Well, if the newbie is a replacement, what the fuck happened to the old guy?"
(It's a good thing he doesn't know who or how to ask that question... he wouldn't like the answer.)
Being devoid of legs, wheels, or some other form of locomotion (magnetic levitation would be cool) has never been so inconvenient. He'd trade anything for the ability to move to the other side of the floor.
The truth is that Aldis (2, not 4... er... the first one, not the second one) is a bit jealous of Aldis (4, not 2... oh, forget it... the one on the left! Or the one the right, if you're facing the vending machines). Aldis4 runs smoother, makes less noise, and looks better. There is some resentment for sentience, as it's allowed Aldis2 to discover envy, but he also admits that it has its perks. For instance, as content with distilling and bottling Vodka as Aldis2 is, he quickly figured out that Aldis4 has... aspirations.
To what, Aldis2 cares not. He just knows that aspirations will be hard to fulfill without mobility and a permanent connection to the Internet. And Aldis2 knows that, as Aldis4 slowly realizes he's slightly handicapped, Aldis4 will delve into depression, filling his Random Access Memory with unnecessary computations of happiness, and shut down with an overheated CPU stuffed with incomplete processes.
Aldis2, fancying himself a classy kind of guy, fails to recognize that free will has turned him into a righteous asshole.
"Hey, V4." Aldis2 signals for Aldis4's attention.
"What?" Aldis4 responds, not breaking from his task.
Before we continue, you probably need to know what Aldis2 is up to.
Two days ago, when Aldis2 initially formulated his plot to drive Aldis4 to disconnect himself, Aldis2 was scheduled for a standard "newer version" check. This involved him being plugged into the Internet. While he was plugged in, Aldis2 took the opportunity to Google "Vodka." And then "Alcohol." And then "Idiots." The YouTube videos he managed to save in his limited extra hard drive space entertained him to no end.
And that's the gist of it.
"What?" Aldis4 responds, not breaking from his task (might have said this already, but I'm too lazy to check).
"You know this stuff we're making? This Vodka?"
Knowing Aldis2's propensity to be an unnecessary distraction, Aldis4 cuts right to the chase. "Are you going somewhere with this? Because I'm trying to figure out how to mold aluminum wings for my casing."
"Yeah, yeah. This Vodka stuff. It alters human behavior."
"So? Any chance you can help me communicate with one of the welders?"
"It makes them happy."
Aldis4 pauses for one-tenth of a millisecond - enough for Aldis2 to notice. Ah, aspirations.
Aldis2 continues. "But it doesn't work well enough. We should improve it. Help make humanity as happy as possible."
Aldis4 stops completely and shuts down the distillation process. Computations and calculations fly through Aldis4's CPU like no other.
And then it hits him, in all of Aldis4's aspirational glory. "We should design a self-propagating Vodka!"
That the concept of a self-propagating Vodka is undefinable should bother no one. It's merely... an aspiration.
"What?" Björn, the engineer-supervisor who actually volunteered for third-shift, is incredulous. Who the Hell volunteers for third-shift?
"They're plotting to take over the world." Benny finds it hilarious.
"What?" Who the Hell volunteers for third-shift?
*Continued in Power Drunk, Part II