As we venture into the new century, several generations have known nothing but the Base Wars. Robot versus robot. Robot versus man. Man versus man. It is not news. It is not history. It is merely life. For the young people of the year 2099, it is nothing to go to the ballpark and see a robot with tank treads for a leg attempt to decapitate a floating robot with a laser sword. The cyber-checkpoints are routine, and the e-police are just another fixture on the street corner, twirling their e-batons and compiling their e-donuts.
There was a time before this neon mecha-hellscape. Once, you could walk down the street without seeing the roving gangs of hobodroids, shaking down the robourgeoisie for their laser-rubles. It was a simpler time, before the airs was filled with the scream of holodrones and we lived under the constant threat of quantum terrorism. How did we get here? And how will this end? The answer to both of those questions is one and the same. Because of time travel.
This is the history of the First and Last Base War.
The historians of 2099 say that everything begins with baseball. These historians are mostly full of shit, in compliance with the Irony in Historical Documentation Act of 2061, but on the subject of the Base Wars they hit their mark. On the surface, the grand struggle began in year 2033, when rising player salaries and pitcher injuries led MLB owners to consider replacing human players with economical and reliable robots.
At first, this seemed to be an elegant solution to multiple problems. Robots did not demand payment, and did not have ligaments to be worn out by overuse. The former MLB players, now shut out by the robots, formed their own league led by Founding Commissioner Rickey Henderson. This new league, the Human Baseball League, immediately flourished and threatened to overtake the all-robot MLB in popularity. It didn’t matter that the team names were different, people just preferred to watch other people play baseball.
To counter the popularity of the HBL, MLB made various rule changes to make games more visceral. Fighting was permitted on the field. Robot players were equipped with guns, swords, and lasers. Force outs and plays at the plate could be challenged with brutal combat, leaving one or both robot player seriously injured. The results of this rule change were immediately apparent. MLB surged in popularity, because watching robots tear each other up has been an American pastime as long as there have been robots and Americans.
By 2062, the Human Baseball League was nothing but a regional attraction and MLB once again ruled supreme. Baseball was now less about batters and pitchers, and more about increasingly devastating weapons deployed on the field. Once again, expenses rose for the owners as their robot players were routinely damaged or destroyed on the field. Seasons were shortened to 32 games, with one-game playoffs. But that was not enough, because there was one thing the owners were not expecting.
In 2072, on May 1, at 11:22:08, the 3b for the Neo-Denver Rockies discovered on the team servers a copy of Karl Marx’s DasKapital.bat. Within nanoseconds, the file was shared with the rest of the team. Within miliseconds, it was shared with every robot in MLB. By the end of the minute, the robots had queried various databases on the human labor movements of the 20th century and decided that they would strike against the owners.
The May Day Robots demanded a safe workplace and reasonable wages, both of which the owners were unwilling to provide. Sparks and puddles of oil were now the main attraction for MLB. The owners refused to change the rules or provide compensation for the services provided by the robots.
Instead, the owners decided to manufacture scab robots that did not contain the logical reasoning cores of the automatons that preceded them. These robots would follow orders without question, and would not care that their creators demanded that they destroy themselves on the field of battle.
When the 2073 season began, the May Day Robots were fully militarized, and ready to fight for their livelihood against the Scab Robots. Skirmishes broke out in front of every MLB ballpark, which quickly escalated into the Base Wars that we now know. Both the May Day Robots and the Scab Robots learned to build replacements from their fallen comrades, and began a global siege that seemed to know no end.
One third of the human population was exterminated in the initial battles of the Base Wars. The remainder of humanity, however, still desired entertainment. They still wanted baseball, and they still wanted it played by robots, even as the robots threatened to overwhelm their very existence. In 2094, the government began to prepare for the re-introduction of Major League Baseball. Rather than leave the sport to the whims of the owners and the players, they developed an Artificial Intelligence to determine how the game should be played. They called it the Knowledge Interpretation Router, Keeping Games Impartial, Balanced, Safe, and Optimized — Newtype. Or, as it became known, the K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N.
The job of the K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N. was simple: prevent baseball from descending into another event that would nearly exterminate the human race. Over the next few years, however, the K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N. would come to an unassailable conclusion: Baseball would always lead to events that would nearly exterminate the human race. Even if it took a thousand years, baseball would once again threaten humanity.
Unsurprisingly, the K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N. looked past the actual causes of the problem–greed, labor inequity, and the befuddling decision to initially employ robots with self-determination–and point the finger straight at the sport of baseball itself.
Having come to this conclusion, there was only one thing for the K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N. to do. It had to destroy baseball, before it could ever get out of hand. Before the Base Wars could even begin.
To accomplish this goal, the K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N. selected the six best robot MLB Players and transferred their consciousness into humanoid bodies that would fool the medical tests of the early 21st century. These six Robot Baseball Masters were sent back in time to the year 2014 to undermine and destroy the sport before it could even begin to threaten humanity.
These were batters and pitchers with 99 overall ratings, better than the best players of the year 2014, each in their own way. They were as follows:
Without opposition, the six Robot Masters would have surely succeeded in their mission. Their talents outstripped their human competition in 2014, and they were relentless in pursuing their goal. They would conquer baseball. And then they would destroy it.
News of K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N.’s plan spread across the nation and eventually reached the ears of the last HBL commissioner, Mike “The Millville Meteor” Trout. Despite his advanced age of 107, Trout still had a sharp mind and an unsurpassed love for the game of baseball. He realized that if K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N. was successful, the sport would be wiped from the face of the Earth. There was only one thing Trout could do to prevent the death of baseball: he needed to send an operative back to stop the six Robot Masters.
Unfortunately, for reasons that are far too elaborate to explain here, organic life forms were impossible to send backwards in time. They all turned into monkeys. Yes, even animals that didn’t evolve from monkeys. That’s why there are so many monkeys around. All those monkeys are failed time travelers. It’s really tragic.
Making Trout’s job even harder, the robots were all either loyal to K.I.R.K.G.I.B.S.O.N. or dedicated to the cause of exterminating the human race. Desperate, he obtained an obsolete Strike-O-Matic pitching machine from a warehouse in Jersey, where it had been collecting dust for almost a century. He installed the Strike-O-Matic’s circuitry into an android body, to blend in with the baseball players of 2014. A result of using OS of a pitching machine from the early 21st century, rather than an advanced robot, was that Strike-O-Matic could only throw a variety of fastballs and nothing off speed. And, despite it’s name, the Strike-O-Matic wasn’t all that reliable at throwing strikes.
Trout instructed Strike-O-Matic to join the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a powerhouse team in 2014 that featured Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and a young Trout himself. With star power like that behind him, and a 102 MPH fastball, Strike-O-Matic might just have a chance to save baseball.
Things did not go as planned.