Challenge #02316-F126: Versus Machine
We have Vending Machines. We use the regularly to get stuff easy and convenient.
(If you want) This story can be about a vending machine for Deathworlders and Havenworlders alike with various Special Items. -- Anon Guest
They've had many names over the years. Dispensing machines. Conveniences. Some species add the suffix 'bot' to whatever their contents are, like "drinkbot" or "foodbot" or "findingsbot", but such practices have fallen by the wayside since the rise of the AI Alliance. It was the Humans who gave the automated commerce cabinets a permanent name, especially if there were arrays of them in one place.
It neatly encapsulates the concept in a minimum number of syllables whilst conveying the maximum amount of information. In this case, "a place where two or more vending machines can be found." Like all Human portmanteaus, it is both intrinsically useful and inherently ridiculous at the same time. It certainly takes a lot less time to say than the more complicated and clear sentence. Hardly any of that history mattered when one has just swallowed your last Seconds and not delivered the refreshing beverage or snack of one's aspirations.
That is when the dark side of any cogniscent can come to the fore. Violence, cunning, vengeance... they are all employed by one cogniscent or another. Deaths by overturning vending machines still occur, even in a more advanced era. Therefore engineers do their best to be certain that the machine delivers the goods without a hitch. Their best, unfortunately, is not always enough.
Submitted for your approval - a hungry JOAT in battle with a vendomat that has just taken the last of his Time and delivered none of the shelf-stable food he had attempted to summon. It was stuck on the rails, and had gone through the automated jiggling process that should have jostled the sanitised parcel into the pickup zone.
No JOAT is ever defeated that easily.
He had the right tools, and all the knowhow necessary to take the entire machine apart. He probably could have done it, too. Fortunately, the spectre of restraint showed itself. The hungry and impoverished JOAT satisfied themselves with merely triggering the jiggle function until such time as their mass-produced treat made it all the way into the pickup area. They then put everything back together and left a thoughtful note for the engineers and technicians involved with the machine's lifetime of service.
It's not every day that you find a vendomat in the JOAT quarter that hasn't simply devolved into a cabinet and an honour box.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / dolgachov]
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