June 28, 2010. Stary Oskol, Russia.
Deep in the bowels of a heavily guarded government-owned warehouse on the outskirts of Stary Oskol, in a basement sub-level laboratory located 12 floors underground, Fedor Emelianenko lies motionless on a workbench. He is in “sleep” mode now, his dilithium-crystal power supply having been removed by a team of scientists. Fedor is completely intact, except for his right hand, which lies beside him, its synthetic bio-skin flayed back, revealing the circuitry and computer processors located within its metal-skeleton framework.
The scientists survey the scene. One of them, Dr. Boris Sidorov, uses a line from the old TV show The Six Million Dollar Man. “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him,” he says. “We have the technology.”
If he’s expecting a laugh, he’s disappointed. His remark is ignored by the other 4 scientists in the laboratory and by the half dozen M-1 Global personnel present. It does, however, catch the attention of General Andreev, who winces at the attempt at levity.
“Now is not the time for jokes, Comrade,” says Andreev to Dr. Sidorov. “If you enjoy old American TV shows to that extent, perhaps you will enjoy to be Gilligan? Except your island will be located on the Siberian tundra instead of in the South Pacific.”
Dr. Sidorov goes white. “I’m sorry, General. I don’t know what came over me.”
Andreev grunts, and the scientists go back to work. Sidorov attaches Fedor’s right hand to a large piece of diagnostic equipment, via a system of six cables, one attached to each finger and a thick one attached to the wrist. He powers up the diagnostic device and inputs a series of codes into its keypad.
“This should confirm what we believe to be the cause of the malfunction,” he says. The machine whirs as it downloads the information in Fedor’s hand to its core processors.
“How long will it take?” asks Vadim Finklestein, M-1 Global’s founder and Fedor’s human handler.
Sidorov shrugs. “The analysis takes time, perhaps as much as an hour.”
Vadim nods and then says that he will be back after a cigarette. He and the M-1 executives leave the scientists and General Andreev to their business.
In the waiting room down the hall, Vadim confers with his men. Obviously he’s not happy about the loss to Werdum.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” he says morosely. “This couldn’t happen. Isn’t that what they told us time and time again?”
The other men nod. One of them says, “At least Werdum asked for a rematch straight away. This is good. We will avenge the loss.”
“Really?” says Vadim. “What if there’s another malfunction? Then what?”
Another man speaks up. “Think positive, Vadim. The technology is sound. But malfunctions are inevitable. It’s like gun. Every automatic eventually misfires. But afterwards, works fine. Same with Fedor.”
Vadim nods his head. Then he reaches into his waistband and extracts a “Grach” MP-443 pistol. He points it at the man’s head.
“This gun has been fired more times than Fedor has fought. I assume it should jam at any moment. Do you agree?”
The man eyes the gun warily. He looks at Vadim and opens his mouth to speak, but before any words are uttered, his head erupts in a puff of red smoke. He crashes to the floor as if he’s been shot. Because he has been shot. Twice in the head. He twitches slightly then lies still in a pool of his own blood.
Vadim rubs his ears. He looks down at the dead man. “I expect the same kind of reliability from Fedor as I do from this pistol.” He looks up at his comrades. “Does anyone else care to comment?”
The room is deathly quiet except for the ringing in every one’s ears.
The men chain smoke in silence for better part of the next hour.
Finally one of the scientists enters. He looks down at the body on the floor, but doesn’t remark on it. He tells Vadim that the results are in, and all the men file out and head back to the lab.
Dr. Sidorov is waiting for them. He’s holding a long printout.
Vadim says, “Well?”
“Just as we suspected,” says Sidorov. “The pressure sensor in Fedor’s right hand failed. He was relying only on visual information in making his decision to follow Werdum to ground. If pressure sensor had been working properly, Fedor would have known that Werdum did not fall as a result of a punch.”
“Then why did he fall?” asks Vadim. “Fedor was in the process of punching him.”
“We have examined that issue,” replied Sidorov. “The videotape shows that while Fedor was trying to punch Werdum, Werdum lowered his center of gravity a few inches as he backpedaled away. This caused his butt to come in close proximity to floor. For Brazilians, this means butt flop is inevitable.”
“Inevitable? How so?”
“Is very hard to explain. Involves quantum gravity. Similar cases have been found in nature, such as when Jupiter exerts its gravitational force on Europa, for example. Or when Manny Yarborough walks by all-you-can-eat sushi place. The immense quantum attraction overcomes normal physical boundaries. Same for Brazilians. Butt, floor, none can defend.”
Vadim mulls over this information. “I see,” he says. “So when Fedor saw Werdum fall, the faulty sensor indicated that the fall was due to punch and so Fedor followed him to ground.”
“Exactly,” says Sidorov.
“But how does that explain tap? Fedor not programmed to tap.”
“Indeed,” says Sidorov. “Fedor did not tap. When he realized that Werdum was not hurt due to punch, his trouble-shooting program kicked in. His was examining his hand and slapped it on Werdum in an effort to restore the sensor, much like you would do to television set. The referee mistook gesture as tap and stopped contest.”
Vadim’s eye twitches as he stares at the scientist. “Please explain, Comrade, how his trouble-shooting programs can kick in during a fight.”
Dr. Sidorov’s face grows pale. He stares at Vadim for a moment, as a single drop of sweat rolls down his cheek.
“My fault, Comrade Finklestein.” he says, his voice shaking. “It was programming error. I offer my deepes–”
A gunshot interrupts Sidorov’s apology. His forehead gushes blood where the bullet pierced his skull and entered his brain. He is dead before he hits the floor.
“Programming errors are unacceptable,” says Vadim, looking each remaining scientist in the eye. “Do I make myself clear?”
The scientists nod their heads. Even General Andreev nods in agreement.
Vadim looks at Fedor, then reaches out and rubs the synthetic hair stubble on top of his head. He turns towards the scientists and says, “Give my creation life. Fix all problems in time for rematch. No excuses.” Then he turns on his heel and leaves the laboratory, his four remaining executives following.
The scientists busy themselves with preparing Fedor for the Werdum rematch.
This time, there will be no mistakes.