[Bzzz, Btzzz- Ah, ah, mic test one, two, three**… **** Is this even working? Bzzzz, Bzz **— Ah, it’s working now. Um…. Ahem! Ahem… Recording Number 1. The world’s been destroyed, and I… um… somehow managed to survive.]
Creaak — creak — Crkkg_—_
“Ugh, for goodness sake. Please.”
I’m reminded of this every single time I come out, but the Wastelands are a really crappy place. There’s radiation fallout, meaning you can’t come out without a hazmat suit, and there’s a constant sandstorm raging outside… Wow! This is the perfect weather to go out and fix an important piece of equipment that’s outside!
Even the most experienced of the Wasteland scavengers would shake their heads and stay inside today, but Professor, who was praying to about five different gods while battling this piece of metal submerged in sand, pleaded to the generator in front of him.
“Mr. Generator~ Mr. Generator? We’ve had a connection so far, right? Just keep it up until the end of this year. I’ll do anything you like! Just hold on for a little bit more! Please!”
“Hello? Buddy? Mr. Generator?”
For the last month, I went up to the roof daily, whether the day was clear or there was a terrible sandstorm like today, and used every single method I could to keep this dying generator alive.
I bet that I spent more time cleaning the solar panels than cleaning myself during the time I was here.
And that ended with today as well, since the great, oh holy generator that was taking care of all the electricity in the shelter just went up to a better place.
“You freaking m-asschine! I told you JUST UNTIL THE END OF THIS YEARRR!!!!!”
It honestly should have stopped working a long time ago. Last winter, on the day when there was a snowstorm.
The generator, which withstood the shelter’s shield at the maximum output, had passed away the next day, leaving me ata temperature of -42°C without any shield or protective field. I had barely scraped by with my life by using the books I treated like gold as kindle and using a file and two pieces of sandpaper to cut down scrap to replace the broken part of the generator.
Ahh, the humming sound of the generator! The lightbulb is like a spotlight on stage! How grateful I was for the protective field that kept me awake at night due to its unusual wavelength!
After surviving the winter like that, I went out to the Wastelands to look for any replacement parts, but the Hound scavs1 already took anything remotely useful, and from then, I was praying to every god I could think of until today.
When I saw the completely dead generator in front of my eyes, the simple equation of…
[No generator -> Shelter exposed to the outside -> Awesome party time with mutants and psycho raiders]
…was created in my brain.
Oh, how cruel reality is. I want to KMS.2
Professor slapped himself to ward away the swarm of negative thoughts that threatened to overwhelm him.
“It’s okay! It’ll be okay, Professor! You can do it!For the past seven years, you’ve known this day would come. It’s all within your expectations. It’s still all part of the master plan. Yep!”
Professor Park. That’s my full name. The day I was born, my dad, who didn’t know the world would be in this heck of a situation, said,‘You look like you will be a smart one! Let’s call you Professor!’ and proceeded to name me this. 7 years after the Great Disaster, 5 years after World War III ended, the word Professor was worth even less than a gum wrapper.
Hmm. Thinking about the past is not suitable for a healthy Wasteland lifestyle. Each of the scraps in the warehouse started reminiscing about their stories.
That cylinder over there fell out of my bag at a crucial moment and attracted all of the mutants around me. Grandpa Woojin, who has dementia, bought those bundles of bolts from an auction at the flea market for way too much money, saying he’d use them for his dentures. I can’t believe Grandpa Woojin lived in this place long enough to worry about his teeth falling out. That is one persistent man…
“Ah, here it is.”
It took a while to find it since I hid it in the deepest partof the warehouse, as it was a very valuable item. A shiny, red body. An old-fashioned valve that you could rarely find after the 2040s. An older model of a generator that I luckily found. Look at this simple and sturdy build! This could last me another 20 to 30 years!
This guy is probably the most expensive thing in the bunker, aside from the solar generator that just passed away 10 minutes ago.
The bunker was honestly wholly useless, no matter how well built it was, without electricity, so a generator was one of the most essential items for shield generation. If the energy generation was higher, the shield could cover a larger area, which could be used for farming or taking in more people. There was even a saying that ‘You could sell your family but not your generator.’ So it was actually impossible for me, a powerless individual, to have a spare generator in store.
“Hah, I was a serious madman back then, too.”
It was exactly two years ago. There was a small earthquake, and the greenhouse that took care of the bunker’s air got a crack in it. And I just happened to run out of waterproof tape just then, so I risked my life and attended the 5-Day Market that opened at the border of Pale Land. At the time, I was a 5-year-old survivalist and was pretty confident in my skills of surviving in the Wastelands, so I armed myself with just one homemade pump gun and one bat and took a sports car headlight, an extremely expensive scrap—which I didn’t know at the time—to the in-person market.
And so wise old Wasteland survivalist Professor Park warily waded into the crowd, and as a result……
…was empty-handed in just 10 minutes. My bag was ripped by who knows what, with the things inside gone as well. And in the creepy alleyway, I ran into the Psycho Gang, who cornered me and asked me if I wanted to donate my liver to them……
So I had to throw them my mother’s plasma flare necklace, her final gift to me before she passed away, and ran away on one of the Psycho Gang’s buggies—you can tell from the signature grotesque design of it—parked at the outskirts of the market.
I ran away for a while before parking the buggy at a spot far away from home, then proceeded to cuss them out while looking for anything to salvage, when this old generator appeared from the trunk and gave me a heart attack.
“Let’s see…. Nozzle, everything’s fine. Connector…. Looks good. Okay, done. Just need to put in fuel to turn it on. Just the fuel.”
I let out a sigh when I checked the inside of the generator.
“Where the heck am I supposed to get some gasoline?”
It’s currently 2057. After the 2039 Paris Conference on the Environment, they put a crazy tax onthe usage of fossil fuels, so they went basically extinct. Of course, I heard they started to pump it back up again after the world became this way, but with close to 90% of the population dead and without enough people and technology to run facilities that refine petroleum into gasoline and deliver it, how is one supposed to get it?
“Sigh… I guess I have to get it somehow. If push comes to shove, I can disassemble the turret and sell that.”
Of course, there was always the option to reveal my location and join a major plant like Dome or Raptor Society that was taking in fugitives, but I did NOT want to do that, no matter what. I would rather let the mutants play dodgeball with my head.
I grumbled my way down the roof and entered the hideout. The generator had charged its battery before it went out, so I was going to try and plan something out while saving energy as much as possible.
After taking off my hazmat suit in the budget airlock I made with five vacuums and vinyl plastic, I was greeted by the musty smell of the shelter.
“Ah, finally. Home sweet home!”
It was a lie I’m now pretty used to. But saying it out loud sometimes really makes me believe this place is actually nice.
“Welcome home, master. Was the problem solved successfully~?”
This oddly ticklish voice belonged to the shelter’s AI, Koduro. It’s a relatively newer model, so it has various features, like controlling the bunker’s air composition, surveillance, and even control of the shield and protective field based on the danger level of the outside. He is absolutely essential if you want to have a good time in a bunker.
“As I always say, I’m so glad you are an engineer,master~. I’m so fortunate to have met such a great owner. I will assist you with all of my li—”
“So…. About that, I don’t think there’s enough electricity to keep you running from now on.”
As I said, he was essential to a “good time” in a bunker. He isn’t that high of a priority in harsh times like this. Air composition can be maintained with the greenhouse, and I can set the surveillance cameras on a motion detection mode, and I know how to control the shield and protection field manually as well. The main focus right now is to decrease the overall usage.
For a moment, the drone Koduro was controlling went still for a moment, then started flying around a little nervously.
“Ha…Haha….M, Master! That was a hilarious joke! Right! You can never be underprepared for depression~”
“Uh, Um…. H-How are you going to manage the bunker without m—”
“As you said, I know engineering. I’ll be fine.”
“C-cooking! What about cooking? You don’t know how to decompose and resynthesize organic matter into energy bars! And that’s installed in my software, so—”
“I think I told you last time, I was really inspired by the story about the astronaut that lived onMars by growing potatoes. I’m going to try that out.”
“W-what about the friendship we built for the past five years? Whether it rained or radiation spread! Where did the trust we built all these years go!!!!!!!”
That triggered my guilt a little bit. Honestly, one of the big reasons why I didn’t get off myself in this crazy place of a Wasteland for 5 years after my mom died was because of Koduro’s positive ’personality_.’_
“Yeah. It’s true that I only became crazy enough to survive, thanks to you.”
“Exactly! So calm down, take a few breaths, and let’s think of another way to— ahhhhhHHH!!!”
I quietly slipped past the drone, shaking from happiness, and opened the bunker management panel. In the maze of levers and buttons, you could see the [Admin AI On/Off] lever blinking like crazy.
“W-w-w-what are you doing! Why are you..!”
It’s conservation, obviously. When you’re not using it, unplug the cord, as Mom always said.
“Koduro, a man sometimes needs to make difficult decisions for the greater good.”
“P-please stop…. Stop! Take your hand off there this instant!”
“I’m sorry Koduro.”
The lever started to slowly push downward.
“Please spare me! Master!”
Sorry, the living need to keep living.
“You, you’ll regret this! You will definitely regret it!”
“Ahem, move the drone, Koduro. I want to keep only good memories of you. Stop struggling, please.”
As if he felt the energy draining from him by the second, Koduro flew desperately around my wrist and yelled at me while opening the video panel.
“Darn you! Video! I have a video! If you don’t take your hand off there, you’ll be f****ing screwed, you f****ing a**hole!!!!!!”
The lever to turn off the AI was halfway down when Koduro’s screech stopped my movement. A video… That’s not ominous at all.
“Hey, Koduro. What are you talking about? What video?”
Koduro’s drone, now flashing with a red light, was hovering around my head, making a mechanical snickering sound.
“Heh…. Hehehehe….I thought it was nonsense at first, too. A few months ago, I was browsing the Community to find some new energy bar recipes for you, Master.”
The sensor of Koduro’s drone was shaking as he spoke.
“It’s a weird coincidence! That day, a post I would have usually overlooked caught my eye! The post was called ‘Energy Efficiency Tips for People Who Can’t Even Turn On Their Protection Field!’ And I saw it there! I saw it!!”
Koduro vibrated again before displaying the terrifying memory of that day.
_ - You can honestly manage most of the things an AI does after your 3rd year. From that point, an AI is, well, a luxury. With that electricity , _ _ you could turn on the thermal surveillance camera for 24 hours or use another small scaveng ing _ _ drone. If you’re a survivor _ _ who _ _ knows how to save, you should _ _ slowly wean off your AI’s support _ _ and learn to live and survive on your own. In this Wasteland Survival Guide - _
I’ve seen that post before as well. It was from a famous survivor in the community with hundreds of followers. What was their ID? It was Bear something…..
The drone wiped at its lens and started in a sobbing tone.
“From then on, I was always suffering from anxiety! I told myself that Master wouldn’t do that, the Professor Park I know isn’t cold-blooded like that, but one corner of my memory said…
[That might not be true]
And that data flowed through my motherboard for 24 hours of the day!!“
Koduro must’ve been really worried. I guess I’m a little sorry, but so what? Like he said with his own mouth, my chances of survival will indeed increase if I turn off the AI system.
I hardened my resolve again and reached for the lever once more.
A video_,_ he said. There’s only one type that he could use to threaten me.
“So what? Are you going to release the surveillance video that shows the location of our bunker? You know what will happen if our shelter location is exposed to the community. The second that happens, I’ll be split into thirds by the raiders and dragged away in their trunk. That’s intentionally harming a human, you know? That goes against the Three Laws of Robotics.”
The Three Laws of Robotics. One, a robot cannot in any way harm a human.. Two, a robot must follow the orders of a human. Three, unless the two laws above are not violated, a robot must protect itself.
It looks like he has something up his sleeve, but him blackmailing me in the first place goes against the first law, so he can’t for me to do anything—
“I have recorded your happy time Professor Park!!!!”
—was what I was going to say……
Professor reflexively let go of the lever and covered his private part.
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