The columnar view slides about fifty places to the right until it's centred on the scroll of robotics, as requested, and then the human anchormen take centre screen. They look like classic, old-school robots -- two of them, clad in riveted metal cylinders, 'R6' and 'B5' stencilled on their steel barrel chests. And they are both wearing cheap man-wigs. Their movements, on the other hand, are far from cheap: uncannily human, rather. Too natural, and neither robotic, nor puppet-like. Their fully exposed and finely articulated necks, shoulders, and elbow joints completely preclude the possibility that they could be men dressed up in robot suits, yet that describes perfectly how they move and behave.
The human anchormen's news desk is clean of anything but the name plates 'Hex' and 'Hive'. When they speak, they sound like dudes, and they have been speaking in a nonstop patter...
Hex says, "Mars!"
Hive says, "Mars!"
Hex says, "Mars!"
Hive says, "Mars!"
Hex says, "Good old Mars!"
Hive says, "Good old Mars!"
Hex says, "As written by one of mankind's best and brightest!"
Hive says, "Yep! Who?"
Hex says, "Bradbury."
Hive says, "Yesss! Who??"
Hex says, "Fleshbag who wrote that line."
Hive says, "What line?"
Hex says, "Good old Mars!"
Hive says, "Good old Mars!?"
Hex says, "Genius isn't it?"
Hive says, "What a line!"
Hex says, "'Good old Mars!' brought to y--"
Hive says, "Good old Mars!"
Hex turns to stare at Hive, shaking, 'his' arm joints rattling. Hive picks up on this, and begins to shake and shimmy as well. It all looks quite authentically human. They're suppressing laughter.
"Uh, Beef?" says Hex, a waver in his voice.
"Yes? Arse?" says Hive, shoulders still heaving. "What is it?"
Hex says, "...We're, uh..." choking back giggles.
Hive says, "...Yes...?" breathing too heavily.
Hex says, "...We're moving on with the rest of the show..."
Hive says, "...Ah, uh... OK, thank you!... Are we...?"
Hex says, "...Yes ... yes we are..."
Hive says, "...Good... Ah... Ah, good! Good... But are you sure we, ah... Are you sure we hyped up old Mars quite enough?"
The robots completely lose it now, and must work to regain their composure. With a last jerking guffaw, Hex jars his tin-can head, sending the studio backdrop wobbling, and his anchorman's wig tumbling, and this is hanging from the bolt now on his jaw's left hinge.
Hex says, "OK, that's not..." making wig-waggling head turns. "That's... let's throw to commercial. So this is Arse Hex, man head..."
Hive says, "And Beef Hive, of the people..."
Hex says, "And we speak for humanity. Join us after the break for all the deets from Hex and Hive on how mankind intends to colonise--"
Both say, "Mars!" -- "-ars-ars-ars!" echoes Hive immediately.
Hex says, "--with the aid of--"
Hive says, "...ars-Ars-ARS-Ars..."
Hex says, "--STOP IT! --with the aid of the greatest human advances in blister-pack technology...!"
Finally, they give up trying, and melt into paroxysms of human laughter as the screen fades to black and then up on an ad spot for 'Hex and Hive Unplugged': a pair of 'R6' and 'B5' wind-up toys, which, when wound up, do absolutely nothing.
Brent says, "They're not even clever. It's just a couple of sarcastic A.I. guys playing with children's drones using those old mocap suits."
"No shit," says Leon, hiding his annoyance at the term 'A.I.' which is essentially an archaism these days used only as an insult. He checks the progress on the hatch's pressure gauge. He wishes there were another speed setting between 'maximum' and 'emergency'. Then the 'real' Hex and Hive return, studio backdrop re-affixed, Hex's wig firmly back in its place on his head.
Hex says, "And we're back: the human anchormen!"
Hive says, "Yep. Totally human!"
Hex says, "We're going to move directly to our next segment, one I know you've all been waiting for, it's..."
Hive is busy trying to don a ten-gallon ranger hat with a single robotic pincer, careful not to tip the man-wig off his bucket head.
Hex says, "It's..."
It's on straight, and Hive nods his readiness, which tips his man-wig nearly half off, hat and all, but he 'soldiers' on.
Hex says, "It's Sgt. Beef Hive with your Human Minute!"
Hive says, "Sgt. Hive here'r'n, fellow apes!"
A green indicator lights up, and Leon realises he'd forgotten all about monitoring the inner hatch's pressure gauge. Time to start on opening it. He finds himself doing it a little less routinely than usual, so he can keep an eye on the screen.
Hive says, "Today, I wanna talk to y'all about how to maintain ape colonies. Now, y'all need to trust me on this, because I am a bonafide human -- this here'r'n's the Human Minute! -- and me and my human people-thaings got us a lotta know-how when it come to this here'r'n."
With the hatch now open into the EVA dome's small anteroom and adjoining corridor, Leon releases his space suit purge valve, also on a non-emergency setting. He'd rather enjoy the show than chase it with a pounding headache.
Hive says, "First thaing y'all need to know now about th' early stages of yer basic colonies, see, is that they ain't never been self-maintainin'. Ye cain't just send settlers'r'n on a dream an' a prayer, an' 'spect to see many more just a-volunteerin' freely to be replacin' them what died, starved as they was of timely resupply in the red sainds of Mars. No, suh! That there'r'n ain't never gonna do, suh!"
Leon turns off the space suit's oxygen supply now: it's no longer needed with the facility's air flowing in. And since there is no further point in running the suit's fans, either, he turns them off now, too.
Hive says, "The population of any ape colony derives ineluctably from th' motherlan' of apes, an' will need to keep derivin' from th' motherlan' of apes for th' entirety of that colony's rise, in exchange for... what? That's right, apes. Profit! Funnellin' massive profits directly back to th' motherlan' is th' only thaing that would or ever could prevail upon them greedy sons of mothers to keep sendin' more colonists, with more supplies, year after year after year, generation after generation! That's the trade the motherlan' of apes is always after'r'n, an' she ain't never gonna keep givin' y'all one without th' other, whether she be tribe, nation, or Mother Earth."
Hex says, "Not sure I follow, Sgt. Hive. My roiling human innards and digestive system may have distracted me. Can you explain further?"
Hive says, "Well, up until this Bitcoin Mars Rush finally gained ground the last few years'r'n, ye'd all been tryin' to reckon how to raise profits down here to fund livin' it large up there, when y'all coulda been better served tryin' to reckon it th' other way around."
Hex says, "Uhhh..."
Hive says, "Vice versa-like."
Hex says, "Do you mean..."
Hive says, "Talkin' 'bout the reboots."
Hex says, "Referring to the earliest 'Mars coin' efforts which began as Earthbound reinitialisations of existing blockchains, wiping out all prior claims. There have been protests in some quarters that none of these were given berths in the opening launch."
Hive says, "Their miners couldn't afford berths in th' earliest flights, and that is not without a reason. Reboots, why on God's grey Earth would y'all disrespect every existin' holder of legal, cryptocurrent tender, turnin' your backs on all, just when ye're a-fixin' to take off for another world?"
Hex says, "Good point."
Hive says, "Apes were never gonna fund rockets with crypto just to bring it with 'em into the skies, a-singin', 'Hallelujah!' Ain't no upside in that for an ape. But an ape will definitely fund a rocket by any means necessary, and even make the trip them-damned-selves, bubble suits and all, to get crypto back from outer space. If what y'all want is space colonies then what y'all need is colonial incentives: and by that I mean a whole series of coin rushes--"
Hex says, "--laid down in advance, of course, by our superior robot masters--"
Hive says, "--why of course, our robot overlords bein' the perfect specimens for pre-seedin' Mars, th' outer worlds, hell, when it come right down to it -- th' entire universe, with live, workin', minin' rigs, solar-powered at first, for any crypto that can claim a berth. Point is, idea's been around for almost two decades now, but it took a big-ass ape industrialist dyin' to throw the most common sense use for crypto in outer space back into play as some kinda 'Hail Mary' pass, just 'cuz his little telomere clock's a-runnin' out. Them's apes for ya!"
Hex says, "Yes. Them is indeed apes for you."
Leon is starting to get that 'stuffed full' feeling that means his in-suit pressure is more than about halfway toward the facility's higher pressure level.
Hive says, "And... it looks like I'm outta time, so that is the Human Minute. But in partin', there is one last thaing I must protest, an' that is th' robot-proof lock."
Hex says, "Yes, I believe the latest in bot-proof locks is the 3-tier blister-pack-and-airbag combo shell, but the next Rush launch period is slated to include a next-gen design that includes a sandwiched time-lock."
Hive says, "Thank ye. But don't get me wrong, now. I can understan' the need to ensure that th' coin-accumulatin' miners we are seedin' across the surface of Mars, from highest mountain to deepest valley, will be claimable only by what they call a 'genuwine astronaut', and a long-term colonist, to boot, rather than by one o' them automated smash-an'-grab jobbies. But honest, Hex -- to put these miners behin' a seal that is safely openable only with, of all th' cockamamie tools in th' known an' ever-lovin' universe: a pair of fragile, organic, ape-like, meat hands!? What a waste of a good haul! Lemme at 'em!" Pincers clapping.
"Hang on, Hive," says Hex, bending weirdly to type at a keyboard that isn't there.
Hive says, "That's SERGEANT Hive to y--"
Hex says, "Standby. Apparently, there is a chainsplit happening right now?"
"Finally!" says Leon.
"Naow!?" says Hive, then dropping the accent. "Uh, which one?"
"Yes which one, Hex!" says Leon.
Read the full first chapter of "Bitcoin Mars" and find out