Report #00010: Mechagnomes and Repairing the Past

Growing up in Gnomeregan, there were always robotics proto-types in my mother’s house. She worked in robotics development and – because of this crazy idea she’d bought into that gnomes were once robots – she had taken on a project to develop Lifelike Mechanical Gnomes. The idea was for these not to be like other robots… the alarm-bots, for example. These would be gnomes in every way except for the fact that they’d been built in a workshop.

She only successfully created one of these mechanical gnomes… my brother, Bott. I suppose you could say it was successful. He did work properly for quite some time. Long enough that I think of him fondly as the brother I grew up with. Eventually, though, there were serious malfunctions and it was Abby’s obsession with her own failure… not how to fix it, but simply that she had failed… that drove her over that fine edge between “genius insanity” and “stark raving bloody mad”.

The problem was Bott’s brain. A robot created to perform a simple task, or even a limited set of tasks, doesn’t have it’s mechanical brain under the sort of strain that a mechanical gnome does. Accurate reproduction of the expansive mind of a gnome leads to serious complications for the cooling systems. Bott was configured to power himself down for a certain number of hours each night so his mechanical brain could cool properly. He did this when Abby and I were both asleep. Somewhere along the way, that just wasn’t enough anymore to prevent components fusing together. When that happened, Bott became violent.

Abby kept replacing parts, and even started doing a manual shut down of Bott so that she could keep him cooling for more hours and without his own system having to do the work. His logic systems had gone through a complete malfunction and he saw everyone and everything as something to attack. There came a point where turning him on meant immediately shutting him back down.

That was when Bott was permenently deactivated, packed away in a box, and Abby’s project officially ended. The robotics department moved on. Abby wandered the halls, arclight spanner in hand, muttering to herself a lot about how she would “build a better Gnomeregan one day, and then they’ll see I’m not a failure… I’m an engineer!” I went into Quantum Mechanical Engineering, thinking the field was mostly research and developmental theory at this time and not really wanting to build anything too complex.

When Gnomeregan fell to the trogg invasion, there came a point where many of us knew it was lost. All we had left was the wait… either for rescue or death. I unpacked my brother from that box, wrapped him carefully, and put him in a large bag that I then strapped to myself. The dwarf who pulled me out of Gnomeregan also pulled Bott out, although I suppose she didn’t know it. Thank the Light, he wasn’t taken for scrap and melted down while I was recovering! I’ve kept him all this time. Forty-two years of being packed in a box in Gnomeregan, and five more of being kept in a metal drum in Ironforge.

I think I can repair him.

Not too long ago, I had my first run-in with mechagnomes in Northrend. Abby was right about that much! I started thinking a lot about Bott then. Recently, I’ve been helping some of the Earthen, and I couldn’t exactly tell Brann Bronzebeard I was too busy when he asked for my help. Not after he sent me that nice letter and the fancy tabard! I’m sure he would have understood if I’d told him why I was busy, and I don’t think the Explorers League would kick me out for helping Earthen instead of chasing down clues for a few days, but I just couldn’t tell him no. Luckily, both paths led me to the same place… just outside of Ulduar. That was when I ran into the mechagnomes again, and when I found myself able to access information for a schematic in the library there.

I’ve looked at what I have… a Field Repair Bot 74A, a Scrapbot Construction Kit, a couple of handfulls of cobalt bolts and a few other loose pieces… I think I can do this! I’ve heard there’s someone in the Blade’s Edge Mountains of Outland who may have one more schematic that could help me… a Field Repair Bot 110G. If I put all of these together, with a few tweaks of course, I think I may be able to repair Bott!

I think I could make him functional again, at least. I still have no answers for what to do about his mechanical brain. I ran across a mechanical dwarf once. It was right in the middle of Winter Veil, and he caught me in the hallway in Ironforge. It seemed like there were some problems with his social interaction databanks, at the very least, and asking questions didn’t get me very far. I can’t help but wonder if his mechanical brain is going to completely malfunction one day. The robots I’ve seen… even the ones who look like mechagnomes… all seem to be created for simple, mundane tasks. I will have to reprogram Bott to be more like these other robots.

I suppose, in the end, he really couldn’t be repaired. All I can do is make sure his parts don’t rust away to nothing. I’ll replace what I can, clean up the rest, and change out his more complex computing systems with simpler ones. He may only be able to be activated for short periods of time… I have to watch the balance for heating up and cooling down… and only to do things like repair items, or maybe access my bank vault. If I get the social interactions right, I may be able to make him cooperative enough to do some of that for others, as well.

That is one of the limits of engineering. I can repair a robot, but I can’t bring my brother back.

My time in the Storm Peaks also left me with some questions about myself.  Now that I know the mechagnomes do exist. They seem to have been created to be some sort of assistants for the Titans or Watchers. And then, of course, there’s the Earthen… created to shape the very land. It’s no wonder the gnomes and dwarves stay so close to each other. These are the descendants of beings created to bring about the success of the Titans’ plans for Azeroth! But it does leave me confused. Earthen were created with one purpose, which I suppose dwarves have coninued even if they didn’t realize it. Mechagnomes were created for another purpose, and other than becoming fleshy I just can’t see a lot of difference between them and our modern gnomes.

But what does that make me? What is my purpose? Was there really a place for someone like me in the Titans’ design, or am I some kind of glitch in the program? I suppose Brann Bronzebeard would tell me the answers are out there, so I must keep searching!

~ by Fizzy Stouthammer on 02/21/2010.

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