• Published 8th Oct 2017
  • 511 Views, 29 Comments

Friendship is Optimal: Cranky Doodle DonkAI - Keystone Gray

Hanna has made a mistake. A horrible, terrible mistake.

  • ...

Esel-Fabrik GmbH

Javier Fernandez had 24 years in the manufacturing industry. At fourty-eight years old, he had maintained the title of Plant Manager through hard earned experience. His personal philosophy – don't second guess upper management; exceed expectations – served him well and brought immense success to his career.

Three months into his new job at Esel-Fabrik GmbH, Javier started to realize that his discretion is exactly why they hired him.

He was curious about things that went on around him, of course. Javier wasn't a dithering idiot; quite the opposite. But when a confused looking twenty-something "regional manager" offers you a 30% increase in salary over your previous job, you don't second guess him. Javier was introduced to his team, shown his facility, given his office, and was set to work that day.

Javier never saw the regional manager again. That suited him just fine, because he worked better without someone looking over his shoulder. From time to time, Esel-Fabrik would send contractors in to work on the plant. Sometimes they'd work on the assembly line, sometimes with the HVAC systems. Other times, they'd go to Machine Room #4. Javier, having been told explicitly to never go into Machine Room #4 himself, simply issued the contractors a key and they set to work themselves.

He suspected the business was a front for the drug cartels, or perhaps a smuggling operation for higher grade pharmaceuticals. Aluminum cans were good for that, especially soda cans. But the way Javier saw it, as long as he didn't see or do anything illegal, he could reap the benefits of plausible deniability by turning a blind eye. As far as he knew, he ran a legitimate business for clients who valued their privacy. That's it.

Still, he researched a little bit about the companies that were coming in. Elevator contractors went into Machine Room #4. Soon after that, so did structural engineers. More material came out of Machine Room #4 than went in, sealed in crates. The room itself was outside of the main work floor, close to the loading dock out back, so the workers didn't have to concern themselves with it.

Javier took notice all the same. And on this cold Bolivian morning at 3 AM, Javier was pulling an all nighter approving this week's paychecks. He knew the loading dock saw more activity during the wee hours than during the day. Contractors went in and out of Machine Room #4 so often that he actually took to keeping it unlocked during the off hours, and the sound of activity became so mundane as to be background noise, much like the factory itself when it was in motion.

From his office, which was suspended over the machining floor, he could see over the dividing wall that separated the main floor from the back room. He spared a little glance out his window just to see what they were doing, and saw a man in a blue jumpsuit walk backwards into the back room, seemingly guiding a large load object that Javier couldn't see from his position. Even if he didn't ask questions as a personal policy, Javier was eternally confounded.

He had a direct line to "corporate," of course: an email address provided on his hiring day.


But where some would use it to ask, "what's going on in my factory," Javier only shook his head and got back to work signing checks. He sometimes entertained the fantasy of asking to be more involved in the company's surreptitious dealings; he was getting older, afterall. He wanted some more excitement in his life, and he knew he was running up against old age soon. He wasn't unhappy, quite the opposite. But with a sigh, he realized he couldn't do that to his family. Involving himself in something so clandestine as... what, secret underground operations? Crazy, crazy, crazy. No, he was a front man, and he was running a front business. So long as he had a duty to his children, that's all he'd ever be.

He shrugged, sighed, and signed another check. That's when he heard a rather peculiar noise.

It was two high pitched tones, almost like a metal hinge opening and closing, only loud and piercing, echoing off the metallic walls of the factory. Javier furrowed his brow, but didn't stir; maybe the contractors dropped something or scraped a crate against the door or wall. Not his business. Damages would be covered.

He heard the distant whirring of the elevator in the machine room going down. A minute later, it returned.

The high pitched sound came again. It also sounded more familiar this time. It wasn't quite the sound of metal. No, it sounded more like... like a thunderous wheeze. It was one thing to be curious, but this time Javier was concerned.

No, he told himself. Stay on target. Do your job. Finish the checks. Go home. Come back tomorrow. It's not your business.

He heard the sound again, and this time it locked home; he almost knew what it sounded like. Braying?! But no, that was insane. Why would they be bringing a—

The wheeze wailed again, and Javier heard a contractor shout. "¡So, so! ¡Potro loco!"

Javier stood and wheeled. He couldn't believe his ears, and now he couldn't believe his eyes.

There, standing in the entrance of the loading dock, was a donkey. He was absolutely dumbstruck. There it was. As he lived and breathed, a donkey was being led into his factory by reins.

"Madre de dios," Javier muttered under his breath. He shook his head as though he could shake the illusion free of his brain. Crazy! He was going crazy! Javier watched as it was led straight to the door of Machine Room #4. He heard the whirring of the elevator a moment later. Another donkey was led in from the dock.

Javier, eyes wide, dropped himself back into his seat. He refused to watch the insanity for another moment. He turned, reached into his pocket, and pulled out his keyring to unlock his lower desk drawer. From it, he produced a drink glass and a rather large bottle of fire whiskey. He poured it full and took it all down.

A donkey? In his factory? He poured himself another glass and tried to focus on the checks. Nonsense. It wasn't real, couldn't be. He rubbed his tired eyes and tried to ignore the braying, telling himself he was sleep deprived. No more late nights for me, he thought. Never again.

He immediately discarded any notion of getting involved any further.

* * *

"N.P.R. News, in Washington. In Japan, celebration. Yesterday, the Japanese government voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that allows specialized clinics to seemingly digitize a human consciousness and implant a person into a popular video game. That game? Equasstria Online, a spinoff of My Little Pony, wherein players play as donkeys bullying ponies from the hit My Little Pony TV show.

"Officials say that the process of digitization is safe, and seamlessly transfers a person's mind from their body into the game. They say that the uploaded individuals retain memories, their voice, knowledge, and personality.

"The game's Berlin-based developer, Hofvarpnir Studios, reports that at least twenty-seven thousand Japanese citizens have submitted applications to undergo the process, and at least ten thousand people have already used this service since its legalization. Hofvarpnir representatives stated that among the first to upload have been drug addicts, criminals, town drunks, and the violently insane.

"Despite this, the process is available to everyone, say Japanese officials, even to tourists from beyond Japan's borders. The process is reportedly destructive, and effectively kills the brain and body of anyone undergoing the procedure. What was expected to be highly controversial, however, was in fact met with no small measure of celebration.

"Here to help us make sense of all of this breaking news is NPR's Diane Merridol."

A woman's voice. "It sits on the corner of a busy street in Tokyo's Akihabara district. The building, dubbed an 'Equasstria Experience Center,' was previously a simple store for the hit social AI-driven game, Equasstria Online. But recently, the Experience Center has undergone a full transformation from simple vendor to medical clinic."

"But what was expected to be met with turmoil was instead met with jubilation; thousands of Japanese citizens turned out in a flash mob parade to celebrate this newest attraction. We asked these revelers to explain."

The sound of a busy street could be heard in the background as a young Japanese man's voice spoke in heavily accented English. "My grandpa was uh... getting really mean. Stayed home in his room, wouldn't come out. Grandpa threw things at us if we came in. He was very rude. He started spending all of our money. Now he is uploading. He says, 'later, chumps,' in English as he uploads. The only English words he ever says! We are so happy now that grandpa is gone."

Another voice, this one a British woman. It sounded like she had a huge grin on her face.

"My husband took us on vacation. He always treated my kids so poorly, always shouted at me and sometimes hit me. I wanted a divorce for so long. But when we walked past this store, he just got drawn in. He even managed to make Pinkie Pie cry, which netted him 1,000,000 bits and a free wig in the game. Now that he's uploaded, he's left everything to me and he's out of our lives forever!"

A few more interviews played, each detailing a story of how an abuser or jerkhole uploaded. Diane signed off. The news briefly continued talking about the celebrations and the few scattered but impotent protests, but then entered a not-so-brief description of what was known of the upload process. A science correspondent went on to explain the concept of conscious continuity, and the story wrapped.

Author's Note:

The idea of people celebrating the world's jerks leaving them is hilarious to me because it's so hideously ironic. DonkAI's sowing the seeds of destruction here while simultaneously scoring Trust points. Also, please forgive me for recycling the newscast from Heaven's Not Enough, but I couldn't help but show the immense juxtaposition between "omg the world is ending" and "omg things are so awesome."

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