Basil and Gonz Go to NASA
Basil and Gonz Go to NASA
novella short story
by Joshua Coffman
Faces looked out their windows in the quiet suburban neighborhood. A loud metallic clang rang out in the early morning hours of the weekday and the coffee hadn't quite kicked in for the suburbanites. Passing by their houses was a sight that none of them would have expected. A giant robot was walking down their street.
But to the average American, this was just another advertising stunt, so the grumpy early-risers returned to getting ready for the day. If they would have looked a little closer though, they would have noticed that this was no robot, instead it was a manned vehicle: a glorious mech suit, taller than most of the single story homes in the neighborhood.
Basil navigated into the driveway of his best buddy, Gonz's, house. A cat jumped off of the mechanical beast of a suit and ran up to the front door. With a quick jump and twist, the cat rang the doorbell of the unassuming southern Californian home.
The door flung open as if Gonz was living in his own anime.
The mech suit jumped up and down in joy, causing a minor earthquake.
The two united and Basil reached down to allow Gonz to climb into a riding saddle installed on the mech suit for just such transport purposes. The cat scampered up into Gonz's lap and they were on their way.
Today was the one day to get this secret mission done. The solar eclipse would be at high noon and they knew they would be able to infiltrate the NASA facilities without notice. The superstitious scientolologists who worked at the facility refused to work during a solar eclipse, especially one that would last 33 seconds.
Basil immediately began walking towards the NASA facilities.
"Faster!" Gonz implored.
The mech suit galloped gracefully across asphalt, concrete and grass as they moved closer to the secret location. The plan was simple but they wanted to be in position early so they could make plans for if anything went wrong. When they strode by, people would look up from their phones for a moment then return uninterested to their hunched over state.
"Here we goooo" Basil gave only a moments notice as he jumped off of an overpass to the road beneath, landing gracefully and continuing to gallop appearing effortless.
There was a ping on Basil's VR headset. A notification telling him that there was an emergency in the area. A kitten had scampered into a tree and could not get down.
"Hold on Gonz, we are going on a short detour."
Abruptly turning, the mech suit raced against time as the kitten got more and more anxious. The VR headset told Basil the exact location of the emergency so he was able to get there in no time.
A crying child stood beneath the tree as his mother consoled him. "Don't worry, my son, the Mech-man is here to save Kitty." Basil reached into the branches with his composite metal arm and gently helped the kitten to the ground.
"How can we ever repay you?" The mother asked with tears in her eyes.
"Think outside the cage" Basil replied cryptically then jumped back to the mission at hand, sneaking into NASA and getting the classified info on the Scorpion* drone. Supposedly beneath the Southern California NASA facility was a cave system in which the Peoples Democratic Party of America (PDP - a populist political party which had taken over every branch of federal and state government in America) was working on a new technology of drones.
They were only a few miles out now, Gonz put his phone into a faraday bag and Basil turned on his GPS scrambling software. They stopped at a Trader Joe's to get a snack, Gonz running in, also providing them with a decent alibi. He made a joke about cryptocurrency to the grocer then ducked back out and they continued on.
Alert, they kept their eyes peeled for Boston Dynamics guards on the streets in the adjacent neighborhood. Basil engaged mini-EMPs to temporarily take out cameras and robots.
The plan was to infiltrate covertly but overtly. A giant mech suit roving the campus of a NASA facility would hardly raise an eyebrow. A white hog, on the other hand, would immediately set off alarms. That's where Gonz would step in, he would meet all the diversity quotas the surveillance system required and would negate the negatives that Basil's presence would incur.
They could now see the facility. There was a gate but the gatekeeper was a vaccine scanning camera system. No humans manned the gate. The feline accompanying the podcasting duo was fully vaccinated.
Yes, the cat.
They approached the gate and the cat hopped to the ground. It jumped up, triggering the motion sensor, then presented its microchip for analysis. The 5G equipment instantly recognized a fully vaccinated being and authorized the gate to open. The cat meowed and jumped back onto the mech as they made their way through the gate.
Gonz donned his disguise. A fake tattoo on his forehead that read 600, 60 and 6 in binary. The cat had received a day pass at the facility as an authentication token. All Gonz had to do to gain access to Level 1 rooms and halls was to carry the cat and look as non-white as possible. The only requirement to not look white was to have the tattoo so he knew he was good.
The campus was buzzing with people. Literally. People were buzzing. The first wave of people wearing neural connectors had already passed and it was currently an arms race of people attempting to outdo one another in hosting GPU power. So they were all wearing cooling backpacks, running noisy backpack fans to cool the hardware they had attached to their bodies.
Basil stopped for a moment to allow Gonz to disembark and they made their way to the Garden of Owls to find a quiet place to discuss alternative plans as they waited for the solar eclipse to take place.
The Garden of Owls had been planted as part of the Agenda 2030 program and was full of hybrid, gmo plants. Each plant was owned by a specific corporation and any time they cross bred, the scientololigical alumni would celebrate by sacrificing a non-gmo owl, kept in captivity just for this purpose.
Gonz led the way into the Garden. It was breath-taking for him. He had never experienced the garden before. Basil on the other hand, had already donned the VR OWL GardenTM experience. It had cost him a pretty penny because he declined the free, advertising supported experience.
One tree had branches that ended in perfect circles. Another had the logo of its corporation growing in perfect parallel up its trunk. One bush had velvet black leaves. Flowers, or at least what appeared to be flowers were growing with the faces of dead loved ones from the Great Past (the time before ubiquitous Digital ResonanceTM)
They sat in the shade of PRIDE TREE*TM which grew leaves in the color of the Pride flag. It was the only tree to grow as tall as trees from the Great Past. Trees now only grew as tall as the Unity of Concerned Scientists allowed due to the PDP requiring a conservation of carbon for corporate use in the future. Somehow the PRIDE TREE//*TM had been authorized as part of a propaganda campaign for the PDP.
Gonz pulled out the snacks and they began to talk plans.
But the plans were not to be. After a few bites, a drone flew overhead.
"WARNING! A viral host is upwind, put on a mask or risk infection. WARNING! A viral host is upwind, put on a mask..." The drone continued on. There was no time to waste, the drone would report to the insurance company within 30 minutes and it definitely saw Gonz, a non-white.
The insurance companies "protected" non-whites very emphatically. A few decades prior, an event called the "Capitol Riot" had taken place in which white hogs had invaded the government. The PDP had risen in response to the "Capitol Riot" and required all insurance companies to protect non-whites from white privilege. Including disease.
Gonz quickly called the cat and Basil sprang into action. The plan was for Basil to drill into an underground hallway. Gonz would bypass the Level 2 security doors by going into the classified hallway via the hole Basil drilled. The cat would authenticate him into an adjacent Level 1 hall and they would take the elevator down to the cave system.
Once inside, they would simply use Gonz's diversity privilege via facial recognition to gain access to the Level 3 door that led to the ScorpionTM drone facility. He wasn't diverse enough for the Level 4 or 5 classifications but ScorpionTM wasn't a Level 4 program, it was only Level 3.
They hid behind the NASA Museum of DEWs while waiting for the clock to strike 11am. Every electronic device now chimed audibly on the hour to promote UnityTM and InclusionTM. Basil had hacked his device to chime an old clip of Joe Biden the Venerable, Bless His Memory and Live for His Vision, stating something very non-Christian. It was funny. It's also not appropriate for children.
The clock struck and security guards positioned themselves with riot gear outside of the buildings. No one was sure why the riot gear was necessary because there had been no threats of violence or terrorist activity since the "Capitol Riot" but the PDP required it anyways.
Scientolologists made their way towards the AmpitheatreTM, a corporate sponsored outdoor theatre where they intended to watch the solar eclipse together. It had started as a joke, but now it was required that all Party members look directly at the sun. The lore began with the Evil-Man-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, DJT. He had foolishly looked at the sun and the Party loved to make fun of him so now it was a requirement to do so.
As the theatre filled, Basil and Gonz made their way to the GPS coordinates of the drone wing of the campus.
A large field, a BlueBull FountainTM (which you could actually drink BlueBull from) and a small dormitory were all that stood between the podcasters and their prize. They evaded a robot dog and a few 5G cameras and finally arrived. Underneath them stood the drone wing of the NASA campus.
They did a brief survey of the area, checked the time- 11:13am, and Basil commenced digging. They had pretty much an hour to get in and get out.
A mech suit isn't particularly useful as a digging tool and it didn't help to have a cat that kept getting attracted to the hole Basil was digging but after about 10 minutes, they finally broke into the framing of the underground building. Minutes later, Gonz found himself with an armful of cat in a dimly lit hallway, underground.
They scurried off, plan in action.
Door 1 - no problem
Elevator - no problem
Door 2 - no problem
They were inside!
There were no verifiable blueprints for anything past the Level 3 door. But Gonz and the cat pressed on, they had to find ScorpionTM!
Basil made himself comfortable resting against the dormitory. The only thing he could do was watch the solar eclipse and record it for Gonz. Also for the podcast.
Below, Gonz found himself in a strange large cavern underground. It was lit by a strange glowing rope called GLOWPEtm, a genetically modified sheep product.
The cavern was about 20 feet tall and probably 80 feet wide. GLOWPEtm dangled from the ceiling at perfect intervals even though the cave itself appeared naturally created. There were caves of different sizes and shapes that exited the cavern. One went directly up but didn't appear to reach the surface.
In the middle of the room was a padlocked trapdoor.
"Sus" thought Gonz to himself.
He walked over and inspected the padlock. It was a simple LOCKTtm padlock and the trapdoor appeared to just be a plain steel plate with a hinge and lock hook welded on. The other loop the padlock attached to was affixed somehow to the rock.
Gonz shook the lock.
He stood up and looked around. Maybe one of the caves offered a clue. He paused before several of them and peered down them, waiting for his vision to adjust to the darkness of each one.
The cat could care less about the padlock or caves, he was more interested in the luminescent ropes hanging from the ceiling of the cavern.
Basil was reading through the reviews on Banana PodcastTM, every few minutes he would look at the time. He wanted to record at least 5 minutes before the solar eclipse started. A strange butterfly with a corporate logo flew by.
Gonz finally decided to just pick one cave and go down it. He picked the biggest one and started walking, carefully stepping in the relative darkness, avoiding tripping.
The cat leapt from the floor and grasped the ropeage that dangled down to about 8 feet off the ground. Years of training for CATLYMPICStm now had a purpose.
Basil switched on his recording software.
Gonz slipped on piece of broken plastic.
The cat grabbed the dangling rope and dislodged a large rock.
Right over the padlock.