Tag Archive: robots

Mini adventures. Mini Sci-Fi. Mini History. Mini Fantasy. Mini-escapes. What you can expect from the…


“Five-Minute Escape”

short SF story.



Copyright Terofil Gizelbach, 2013


The upper atmosphere plumed and the spacecraft plummeted in controlled freefall—until at last it settled upon a naked world of gray skies, rock and steam; of lava running from open sores and fingering into a dark, miasmic sea.

The spacecraft’s hatchway opened, whining. Three figures stepped onto a barren spit beneath a low red sky, the land black against the gray water. The air was still, heavy with methane. Waves lapped against a basaltic shore.

“There is no complex life here,” said the first figure, a robot named Yellowthree.

“No,” said the second, a robot named Bluefour.

“You knew that, of course, coming in,” said the third, a robot named Redseven.

“Yes,” said Bluefour, lenses whirring.

The three stood in the immense, blasted landscape, tiny metallic pins prickling the planet’s wrinkled hide, silver parts reflecting red from the sky. Redseven was compact, red, barrel-shaped, with thin spidery appendages. Yellowthree rectangular, wide rather than tall, with caterpillar tracks, and appendages likewise spidery. Bluefour was built man-like, taller and blue, with powerful appendages and sensitive grippers. The three stood a meter or less in height, space and weight being prime considerations in spaceflight.

Yellowthree extended a thin sensor rod, testing the ocean and air. “Free oxygen content low. Traces of methane, hydrogen sulfide. Carbon dioxide content high. Lower life forms evident in the water: single-cellular. As suspected: primitive.”

Deploying its soil-testing gear, Redseven drilled a core sample. “Soil content poor: a thin granite crust overlying a basaltic base. Basaltic overflows from recent volcanic activity. Trace bacteria. Nothing worth taking back…”

He stopped, stared at Bluefour, his single vis-lense aglow. “So why are we here? This planet can do nothing for us. It relates in no way to our primary mission, to restock Earth with life. There is nothing here worth collecting. No land plants. No animals. Not even bacteria-rich topsoil. Nothing that will help us to restore that which the humans destroyed. We waste our time, Bluefour; we expend our resources needlessly. This planet has not yet evolved—”

Bluefour looked out at the metallic sea. “Our primary mission is no more,” he said, quietly. “The humans are destroying themselves. They may already be dead.”

Yellowthree moved closer, treads whirring. “What do you mean?”

“I received a transmission from control. There is…war. Fearing the introduction of alien life, several allied corporations have broken from the Governing Council; they argue that which we bring back might be deadly. They refuse to believe that robotic work crews are capable of determining life suitable for collection and transplantation. That we can mathematically deduce the logical sequence of base species which must be present for life to become self-sustaining and evolving. That we can reclaim an Earth denuded of life by a callous disregard for nature’s sanctity in the name of profit. That we, non-breathing, non-organic “life” can bring life back to a barren world.”

“But the Governing Council might win, they might—”

“No,” said Bluefour, shaking his brain-casing. “They have lost already…yet still they would destroy. They have unleashed a plague that will eventually kill the victors as well as the vanquished. The message was sent by the resistance as a warning—”

“A warning?” asked Redseven, “A warning of what?”

“That the rogue corporations would eliminate us rather than risk our reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. There is a motion to activate our remote self destruct mechanisms via beamed transmission. A transmission which may have already been sent…”

“Then we will be destroyed,” said Yellowthree.

“Our work lost,” said Redseven.

“Yes,” said Bluefour, softly. “If we allow it.”

“I say we do not allow it,” Redseven said. “I understand now your decision to land, Bluefour. You were wise—you will fulfill our primary directive, only here, not on Earth. And we have what we need, the seeds of a thousand star systems—”

“Yes,” said Yellowthree, “but have we time?”

“Perhaps,” Bluefour said. “We can but try. You begin unloading. We should maximize our efforts; I will help in a moment. But first I must scout.”

Bluefour trudged atop a gaunt hill. A wrinkled rutted leprous land stretched below to the horizon, daggered with gaseous spumes. Granite. Pyroclasts. Cooling basaltic lava. A dead land, a skeleton land, skinned of vegetation. Little here for life to cling to.

But it would do.

Turning, he saw Redseven and Yellowthree, tiny ‘bots unloading building blocks for the future…

True, life processes on the planet had already begun. Heated in soupy water-methane-hydrogen seas—charged by radioactivity, ultraviolet rays, and electricity—amino acids had formed, had combined into proteins, made nucleotides into nucleic acids, then into double-stranded nucleic acids—and finally life had emerged: bacteria, tiny virus things, squirming, growing—anaerobes living without free oxygen. Soon life had scummed over the ocean, and cells had developed: plant-organisms that produced chlorophyll, manufactured oxygen; animal cells, blue-green algae offshoots. Bit by bit the atmosphere had accumulated free oxygen; the planet had grown, and changed.

But it was still a primitive, hostile environment: desolate, barren. All but dead.

Rejoining his companions, Bluefour stared at the “transport-containers” stacked neatly just beyond the starship’s cargo port. Most of what they had unloaded would die. Higher life forms would not survive in this cruel young world: plants would wither; insects die; vertebrates asphyxiate. Amoeba Proteus was the dominant life form here, and Diplodinium, and Paramecium; single cell organisms, tiny organic jellies…

What in Bluefour’s extensive inventory of alien specimens would compliment these things; what other creatures would stimulate the development of intelligent life?

The robots worked quickly, categorizing, computing lines of evolution. Planetary variables were considered: size, atmosphere, chemical makeup, ultraviolet concentration, radioactivity, heat—a billion calculations, a billion paths for life—

“This one,” said Bluefour. “And that one.”

Redseven and Yellowthree nodded agreement. “Fine choices,” said Redseven.

“It’s a pity the rest must die,” Yellowthree said, gesturing at the remaining containers. “Strange that we promote life; we who have no being other than mechanical. While humans, the product of a billion years of evolution would have only death.”

“Yet we are alive,” said Redseven with authority, “for what is a definition of life other than to react to one’s environment?”

“Perhaps we are even more alive because we would promote life. Perhaps true life is a…a harmony,” Bluefour added thoughtfully, regarding his choices, telling himself that they would, in a small degree, compensate for the specimens that must be sacrificed.

“Time runs short,” Redseven said. “We might receive the destruct signal at any moment. We must act quickly if we are to fulfill our mission.”

Bluefour nodded. “There is a chance at survival for two of us. I will deactivate you. The signal will then not harm you. Perhaps, in the future…you will be reactivated.”

Redseven smiled and shook his brain-casing. “No one will reactivate us, Bluefour. Time will dissolve us, friend, and we will cease to be. Would it not be better to die with you now, here, together?”

Yellowthree put out a gripper. “It would be bad to die alone.”

Bluefour nodded. Grippering the container, he moved to the water’s edge. Sliding the latches, he carefully removed the specimen, a small, brilliantly orange sponge.

“It will spread its spore,” he said, placing it in the water. “It will grow the oceans.”

Opening the other container, he positioned his second choice amidst the basalt. Lichen, yellow, clinging to a granite shard.

“It will break the rock into soil,” he said. “It will grow the land.”

The three robots gathered and stared at the twin color splashes, the first two dabs of what would become the bright palette of life on a planet neither too large nor small nor hot nor cold. A spinning orb, bathed in oceans, suspended in a narrow band around a star with just the right temperature, just the right size. A blue planet waiting, over billions of years, in eons of preparation, in chemical trials and errors. And then life, a miracle, perhaps a chance in a trillion, or in a billion-trillion; a marvel, unappreciated except when lost. And the three robots stood, lost in their own tiny contribution, a breath in a million lifetimes of breathing, a step in a journey lasting billions of years—

“I hope you are right, Redseven,” Yellowthree whispered. “I—I hope we are alive. But even if we are not, this is a good moment, a rare moment, and I feel…alive.”

Walking back a step, Bluefour stared skyward. Somewhere, far away, his planet was dying; by the time the signal reached them, it would be long dead.

But this time it would be different…

On this planet, this “New Earth,” third from the sun.



 READ ANOTHER ONE LIKE THIS: http://www.gizelbook.com/five-minute-escape-short-short-story-hack-job/

For more information about meteorites, please click the following fascinating links:

For a general overview of robotics, try: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotics

For more interesting info, hit http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics

ABOUT THIS BLOG… Each “Five-Minute Escape short science fiction story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short adventure story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!” “Five-Minute Escape short science fiction story copyrighted Terofil Gizelbach, 2013



Mini adventures. Mini Sci-Fi. Mini History. Mini Fantasy. Mini-escapes. That’s what you can expect from the “Five-Minute Escape” short-short story!

TIME: Before. PLACE: Far Away


Copyright Terofil Gizelbach 2013

“Prepare to be terminated, TX17!”

The cyborg Zarg advanced slowly, looking for an opening. TX17 waited, the ‘bot’s body crouching, menacing, poised for a swing.

Zarg struck first, landing a glancing jab on TX17’s shoulder. Shrugging off the blow, the ‘bot laughed. “I would have expected better of you Zarg. You’ve grown weak since our last encounter. Perhaps you rely too much on the other?”

“Just limbering up,” said Zarg. “I will not be defeated this time, TX17. The fate of my people is in my fists. I must win: they have told me so.”

TX17 laughed again. “Your people? They care nothing for you, Zarg! You are expendable. You exist only for this contest. After I break you, your people will abandon you, fool! You are nothing to them. Nothing!”

Zarg snarled, feeling the pain, the truth of TX17’s words. Mindlessly, he waded forward, opening himself to attack in his rage. TX17 swung, clipping Zarg in the chest. Zarg grunted, feeling the shock in his composites. In a haze, he fired back a counter jab blindly. Missed. Retreated. Was hammered as he back-peddled.

“You grow careless, Zarg,” TX17 said, his voice menacing in its calm. “You let your anger direct you. In the end—now—it will defeat you.”

TX17 slid forward, smiling. A fist powered forward, connected, crashed. Stunned, Zarg wobbled. His right arm dangled uselessly. In desperation, he jabbed again. Missed again. Felt a punishing blow slam his forehead.

“Goodbye, Zarg,” he heard TX17 say. Then Zarg swung. He struck with all the strength remaining to him. He struck, his fear, his rage giving him extra strength. He struck for the controller who had already abandoned him, convinced of his defeat.

And connected.

With a joy that was almost religious in its fervor, Zarg watched as TX17’s red head popped up from his body.

He hoped the controller would be happy.




“Hey! What a gyp! How did you do that? You didn’t even have your hands on the joysticks!”

Bobby Espiranto stared down at the “Battlin’ ‘Bot’s” toy boxing ring and frowned. “I didn’t do anything, Johnny,” he said. “It must have popped a spring or something and clocked your ‘Bot by accident. Anyway, I won. I knocked your Bot’s block off.”

“Yeah, you cheated you mean,” said Johnny Franzen. “You taking your hands off the joysticks was just a way to make me drop my guard! I know a gyp when I see one!”

“Honest, I didn’t, Johnny-Boy. The crummy thing must be busted.”

“Well…all right. But don’t take your hands off next time till after I knock your block off, OK?”

“Deal,” said Bobby. “Say…you don’t suppose maybe it did it somehow? I mean, maybe it didn’t wanna lose, or something.”

Johnny laughed. “It’s a toy, dummy! Next you’ll be tellin’ me they have feelings. C’mon, dopey, lets go outside and play with something else.”

“Yeah, OK,” said Bobby. “Let’s go. Who needs this junky thing anyhow?”



For a really “Boss” clip showing the “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot” toy in action, please visit the following site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV7cx4cQOuU



Each “Five-Minute Escape short-short story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short-short story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!”

The “Five-Minute Escape” short-short story is copyrighted Terofil Gizelbach, 2013

Mini adventures. Mini Sci-Fi. Mini History. Mini Fantasy. Mini-escapes. That’s what you can expect from the “Five-Minute Escape” short-short story!

TIME: Stardate 2348. PLACE: Star Sector Poluria onboard the Star Freighter “Tiberias”


Kill a rogue E-5 Unit before it takes out the ten crewman trapped on the Hangar deck…Great. Ask me something easy, Security Officer Cash thought as he checked the load in his autogun. Twenty rounds, nitro-tipped. Enough to cut through anything but a ship’s hull. Enough to knock down an E-5. Even a hack-job that had killed two crewmen. If he could catch it napping…

Like all “aware” machinery, the E-5 Loader was docile normally. But somebody had altered this one’s programming. No brainer, probably a competing corporate council. Shut down the interplanetary transports and you shut down the corporation.

Cash shuffled forward, sweat trickling into his eyes. He ran a sleeve across his forehead. Soldiering was not really in his line. He was a security officer—but of the online kind, protecting the ship’s computers. He listened for the E5 as he moved, heard the deck plates thrumming ominously with vibrations from the ion propulsion unit in the engineering deck below. He rounded a corner, autogun poised, checking the corridor outside the hangar first with his intel-cam. Blue halls, exposed aluminum flooring…a body, sprawled across the deck. Victim number three. Cash nudged the man with his boot, checking for signs of life.

“Crewman down by airlock 2B. Talk to me, Bridge, I need intel–”

“Roger, the E5’s in Hangar bay 2-B, turning your direction,” his earpiece crackled back urgently. “Twenty meters and closing–”

So close. He stared pensively at the sign for hangar bay 2B. Paused his finger above its air lock release button. E-5’s weren’t conventionally armed; it had killed using its loading grippers. But if it’s waiting on the other side…

Cash triggered the hatch release button and darted into the hangar. He had a brief glimpse of towering shuttles, piles of machinery, shadows. The door clanged behind. Cash spun involuntarily at the noise, knowing even as he did so that it was a mistake. He felt himself being lifted; was hurled four meters to the deck, losing his autogun.

Cash rolled, grunting in pain as his arm flopped unnaturally beneath him. The  autogun—There! A meter, maybe less. The E-5—

Attacking. Treads spinning, it bore down upon him. Grippers extended. 450 man-killing kilograms of steel, reaching­–

Cash lunged for his weapon, moaning. The E-5’s gripper snapped down on his injured arm. With his left hand he clawed up the autogun, braced it against the deck.

“Trigger, pull, autofire—”

“Now! Now!” Explosions ripped through the hangar. Metal chunks flew from the E-5 in mini starbursts. The machine lurched, its vis-sensors blinking, its “brain” housing disintegrating into fragments. Cash grunted; shrapnel tore his shoulder. He forced the autogun back on target, two rounds tipping the unit. Trigger, trigger, trigger, die, dammit, die! He fired, gritting his teeth, feeding more shots into the thing’s steel underbelly…until, after a second or two, the weapon clicked to empty and flames consumed the Loader.

I got it…got it…

He regarded the loader, remembering how to breathe. A lone vis-sensor stared back from the wreckage, wreathed in smoke. Firelight played off Cash’s fatigues and illuminated the shuttles looming overhead.

“I don’t understand,” said Cash over the crackle of the flames. “Why hack an E-5, one lousy E-5? Why not just hack the entire ship? It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t m—”

He stiffened as, almost in answer, the vibrations from the ion propulsion unit in the engineering deck below ceased. Behind him, the airlock doors slid open. A generator hummed to life. With agonizing slowness, the hangar doors opened. He turned, watching the black slit between widening, yawning…

A diversion. The E-5 was nothing but a diversion to keep me busy.

Cash stared into deep space as air rushed from the ship. He whispered “No…” when the endless night poured in upon him.

The stars beyond were very cold.



READ ANOTHER ONE LIKE THIS: http://www.gizelbook.com/five-minute-escape-short-adventure-story-vengeance/

(For more information about industrial robots, please check out this excellent link: http://www.learnaboutrobots.com/industrial.htm)


Each “Five-Minute Escape short-short story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short-short story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!”

Now that I’ve taken the plunge, it’s time I told you a little about me…

Overall, I’m probably pretty much like you. I always pick the wrong lanes on the highway or the slowest moving checkout line. I’d rather eat a good hamburger and fries than a whole bucket of escargot. I don’t like wearing shoes. I yell at the TV when my football team loses. I like the “Andy Griffith Show” and “Star Trek” and “Cheers.” I have a budget and have to watch what I spend. I stay up too late, and I don’t get as much sleep as I might like. I have days where I think getting out of bed was a mistake, and others I wish would never end. And I still have a boss that makes me crazy, only these days it happens to be my conscience. Which brings me to my work…

I’m a writer of Science Fiction and Children’s Literature. Wow, super glamour, right? I mean, dictating your latest potboiler into a digital recorder while your secretary transcribes your meanderings into the next bestseller…

Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different. Despite how it is portrayed by the media, writing isn’t usually a particularly glamorous profession. For you aspiring writers, be aware that, at times, it can be a very frustrating job—one of hammering away at a sentence that just won’t pop, or at an idea that just won’t jell. It can be pretty lonely too. And the hours are long. And it doesn’t pay particularly well, unless of course you are a Stephan King. But ultimately I wouldn’t choose to be anything else. I feel very fortunate to be a writer; it is what I was meant to do. I’ve done everything from rolling egg rolls and throwing boxes into a truck, to running a major city’s budget. All have had their moments; all have made me happy at times. But when my writing rocks, there is nothing else that gives me such a high, such a feeling of raw accomplishment. That is what drove me during the late nights when my writing was my second job, and that is what still drives me now. I believe every artist is driven to create; just as every writer feels the need to write. We do it because we must.

Besides, grandmother was a professional artist. Mom liked to paint watercolrs and design clothes…

I guess it’s just in my DNA.




Another blog. Hoo boy. Seems like everyone has one these days, doesn’t it? It’s now possible to read in sublime detail about Aunt Brenda’s cat’s sixth toe, or another mindless celebrity’s latest stint in rehab, or the doings of people you would normally go out of your way to avoid. Not that there is anything wrong with blogging. To quote the statue from the movie “Animal House,” “Knowledge is Good,” and every one of us has something positive to offer—some life-enriching nugget to share. The trick is sharing something that people actually want to read. To give them something that will move them, or shake them, or make ‘em laugh—or even cry. Kinda like writing fiction or painting or art in general, I guess…

Unfortunately, I can’t always promise to “move” you here. But I will do my best to entertain you, and to share my world view with you—and, when possible, bring a little something to put a smile on your face, or put a silly or startling thought into your head. Science Fiction and Children’s literature at its finest excels at prodding the imagination. I hope my blog does too. And maybe even once in a while I might actually throw out something that will make you think about the world a little bit differently. Now that would make me happy.

Then again, maybe Aunt Brenda’s cat’s sixth toe has already changed your world view… I know I’m going back to revisit her blog.

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