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Smithson Thus Far... ·

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Fork you, Biscuit.
Rob (rrreed) says: If that's not Nick, I'm a CARBONATED BEVERAGE monkey's uncle.
Daniel Ross (nentuaby) says: I'm detecting shades of PS238 here...
Cat Bascle (mage_cat) says:

I'm pretty sure it's Nick at this point.  After all, didn't they have him testing flight sims in the VR?

On another note, if he lets loose a string of curses, does it come out as show tunes?

Josh MacLeod (alcar) says: ps238 note seconded.
Carl Muckenhoupt (baf) says:


This is positively the most convoluted indirect Oz joke in Skin Horse so far.

He's Nick Chopper. 

Joyce Melton (halfelven) says:

Carl, you are undoubtedly right and I'm still cringing. Chortling and cringing at the same time, it's almost painful.

Speaking of pain, someone feed that zombie, I think she's hungry.

I like that Nick's euphemisms are decipherable -- and that Unity's name suggestions may be in the same vein. 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Carl: UOHHHHHHHHHHGH. MY EARS.
Sor Cyress (sorcyress) says:


 Carl gets a cookie for figuring that out. Also gyuuuahhh.


Rob (rrreed) says: AAARGH! Even Nick's real name is a pun!

Nick Zerhakker!

"Zerhakker" ➔ "the chopper" (as well as "the hacker" in the computer sense)

It was right in front of us from the first strip in the storyline. Well done, Shaenon and Jeff!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: I have been out-punned.  Congratulations; now you must die.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

All credit goes to Jeffrey for Nick's deep and inscrutable singular Name. I weep tears of purest of joy every time I think of it.
Joseph Osako (schol-r-lea) says: "...And that's why Nene doesn't let me pick names for combat AIs anymore." "Wait, why were you coming up with names for Jyrras' inventions, again?" Sorry 'bout that, just in a silly mood. More so than usual, I mean.
Drew (pseudowolf) says: Now I feel like an idiot for not knowing who Nick Chopper is.
Camille Dumas (camidumas) says: "Nick Chopper" is the name of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.
Mark H- (eyeharvester) says: Jeffrey gets +1,000,000 pts FTW.
Kim Brunner (kimbrunner) says: My brain is starting to hurt with all this thinky stuff.
Rob (rrreed) says: I have a bad feeling about this…
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says:

Pineapples? I could make that into several things but none of them stand out as le bon merde.

Anyway, I'm sure that when Unity calls shotgun -- she means it quite literally. Maybe an M79 with riot rounds considering where she is. Altho, it's hard to imagine her passing up the chance to load up with HE or WP if it's offered.

James Rice (jhrice) says:

Oh, I think I see where this is headed, (finally).  Edie in Orbit comes to mind.


Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: I'm getting Beatles vibes - Nicky in the sky-y with U-nity! (The girl with kaleidoscope hair) And I learned a new word (wrongswear).
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

How many historical scenes would be improved by someone shouting out, "I call shotgun!"

Martha Washington: "George, the carriage is here to take us to the inauguration."
George: "All right, Martha, let me get my hat and --"

Y'know, that's why Michael Collins got left behind in the Apollo 11 command module; Buzz Aldrin called shotgun first.

Terry Smith (wcfan) says: I heard he said 'Dibs on the moon!'...
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Note that if Nick Zerhakker is to follow the Nick Chopper mold, he's a scan rather than a uploaded human mind rather than a created AI.
Real Unimportant (realunimportant) says: Bananas. AAAAAAAAH BANANAS!
Paul-André Hamel (tek27) says:

Dude,  Sweetheart with that look on her face in panel 4 saying "Sadly for the millitary, yes." is so very full of win!

Come to think of it, maybe if militaries got more sympathy (for things other than getting killed) and less harshed on (for killing people) the world would probably be a better place. Not as good a place as if militaries weren't needed, mind you, but definitely an improvement nonetheless.

Ray Phoenix (graypheonix) says:

No shotgun for you zombie girl.  In fact, no military weapons for you, we don't need you shooting up a military installation because you'd think a rampage would liven things up.  Or get the helicopter AI to join up with the US military. 

 Also?  Sweetheart is the one to get the passenger seat, she's never gotten to stick her head out the window of a helicopter.  Damn fun thing to do, in my experience.  

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

No! No! *NO!* NOT A HELICOPTER!!! The V-22 Osprey, for all it's teething problems is *FAR* more: 

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I think Sweetheart has the right of it here. I'm not sure the military knows what it's getting into.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oh, it's sapient all right.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: But it doesn't want a machine gun? I don't understand it either.
NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says:

If you're a helicopter, machine guns just mean a lot of weight to impede flying in exchange for limited fire power.

Give it LASERS.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Poor sad Unity, so confused by the lack of mayhem ...

Hey, what does every gamer nerdboy want?  A girlfriend!  Nick could find an F-20 Tiger Shark with a female A.I. that also loves noodles ... that would make it the Hungry Tiger!

Joyce Melton (halfelven) says:

Ed, Ed, Ed. No, that's good. Okay, yay! Ed!

Love Unity's mystification in panel four. 

Paul-André Hamel (tek27) says:

No, no, no. No machine gun. A battle helicopter needs a GATTLING gun. Much more punch, higher rate of fire... and needs something like a helicopter to be mounted on. Plus, machine-gun fire won't do much to most aircraft unless you hit something important. Gattling-gun fire will shred anything short of a tank.

Of course, that's a LOT of bullets. And as Vash the Stampede pointed out, bullets are expensive!

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

I was very disappointed to learn that plans to mount a Gatling gun in the nose of the actual V-22 Osprey were scrapped. It was such awesome overkill.
Rob (rrreed) says:

"You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have OSPREYS with frickin' laser beams attached to their NOSES! Now evidently my CANINE colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?"
Incog Neato (ghede) says:

I'm telling you, Nick wants: 1 Thumbs/hands. 2 Swearfilter removed. 3. A game-dev/testing job.

He liked his simulated world nearly to the point of staying there.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Geek advice: If you ever need to explain how computers pipeline computations, start by explaining a gatling gun.
Real Unimportant (realunimportant) says:

"anything short of a tank"

Nope, it won't even get stopped then - surely you've heard of the A-10 "Warthog", the ugly little plane that carries one of those little beauties up where the other guys carry their radars? It's also known as "Tankbuster"...

Rob (rrreed) says: This is the problem when things attain sentience while they're still under warranty. Is it a bug or a feature, and does it qualify for a class action lawsuit?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Huh.
Mark Orr (agentoracle) says:

"Love Chunks" is the new nickname for the unpopular guy at work.


Pass it on.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I had a different mental image of "love chunks".

You know how when they were riding in the car, Sweetheart had her head out the window, and Unity said, "I'd do the same thing except my head would blow off."  Well, just imagine if Unity tried to have *ahem* intimate physical activity.  After some vigorous whoopee, there would be bits of her all over the room ... yeah, insert the obvious "pull yourself together" joke here.  "Love chunks", indeed.

I was trying to come up with some parody lyrics for Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces", but they kept going way into the "unsuitable for younger viewers" range.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

I note that Nick!copter's censor has better grammar-awareness than Zodon's, over at P.S. 238.

I like Unity's bemused expression in panel 4...

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Rob: He didn't attain anything...he's an upload. I wonder if Unity has any of his original body parts? (In The Tin Woodsman of Oz, Nick Cutter's original body was partially used to make a patchwork guy.)
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Sweetheart, don't think about jurisdictional and charter issues. It'll only make your head hurt.
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: There's a more sisnister possiblilty - maybe Nick, as I speculated before, is not an upload but the unfortunate recipient of a free upgrade.
John Breckenridge (jbrecken) says: That's it!  He's Robocopter.
Rob (rrreed) says: @Dave - Nick could be an upload. He could be a brain-ship ala The Ship Who Sang (or curses, in this case) or RoboCop. He could be someone with amnesia in an elaborate telepresence rig, ala The Matrix. But since all references to date have been to an A.I., my working assumption is that Nick is an emergent A.I.
Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says: It wouldn't be surprising if Nick had more human in him than either Sweetheart or Unity. He looks like he seats at least two, if not more.
Rob (rrreed) says: *Rimshot*
Michael Martin (mcmartin) says: Poor little Tourette's-laden cishuman.
Rob (rrreed) says: Hiro Protagonist reference FTW!

Well, we're back to the question of exactly what Nick is. Is he an upload, a brainship, or a genuine A.I. that "grew up" believing he had always been human? Until we see Nick's "central processing unit" (to resolve the brainship question) and more of his back story (upload, genuine A.I., or something else), the jury's still out.
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

SEE! SEE! this is what those bastards are doing! you play one neat game, and BAM! they clone your mind, and put you in a killing machine... that flies... and look cool...

 *looks for that game* at least one of me will be having fun.

Rob (rrreed) says:

"Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada."
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Hmmmmm.
Mikhail Borg (mikhailborg) says: But... wouldn't that also apply to Unity, who is also a human brain in an artificial body? (Of course Unity, like Tip, is an agent and not a client. Hmm.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I always liked the part in "Good Omens" where Crowley sent a package to the department in Hell that writes up agreements for humans who want to sell their souls; the package consisting of several software license agreements and a post-it note reading "Learn, guys."

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Holy coincidence, Batman!  Nick should have seen today's comic at ... Shaenon did you set this up with Randall?
Minivet (minivet) says:

IN A WORLD where the Wachowski Brothers made Snow Crash instead of the Matrix...

Since I can't see Unity with the attention span to read even halfway through Snow Crash.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: I think that last speech bubble is Nick, Minivet. If it were Unity, there'd be connection between her bubbles.
Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says: Mikhail:  Long story short, Unity's brain is clone tissue, which puts her under SH's jurisdiction.  It's always a little hazy with the necrotics; Unity's actually more clear-cut than most.  More on these and other issues to come, in the webcomic that delivers more fiddly bureaucratic aegis-of-protection thrills per minute than any other.
Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

 @Jeffery: "aegis of protection" is particularly apt, considering what the real Aegis system does....


Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: Shaenon did you set this up with Randall?

Man, I wish. Actually, Jeffrey wrote this one. I think my sole contribution to the script was having Biscuit up there be dimly horrified that he said "conkers."
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Sam: Well, the original Aegis was the shield of Zeus. Hence the word meaning protector or protection.
Ray Phoenix (graypheonix) says: omg, unoiled babies FTW!
Michael Martin (mcmartin) says: Some of the finer barbecue sauces don't have oil in them.
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says: Unity worries me more and more.  Everyone knows that Babies go best with a shot of Jaegermeister.
Rob (rrreed) says: Sweetheart's leaping to conclusions. She only has Nick's word that he is/was human at some point. And what would an upload be classified as according to Skin Horse's mandate, anyway? It'd be a human mind, but running on hardware instead of wetware, thus rendering it inedible to Unity.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: The Zombie Anti-Defamation League will hear of this -- as soon as they can locate a pair of working ears.
Rob (rrreed) says: Maybe they can hire a private eye with a nose for trouble, a gun in hand, armed for bear, and a penchant for finger food.
Real Unimportant (realunimportant) says: No good Rob, he'd just laugh his ass off at this situation, before turning on his heel and hot footing out the door.
Ray Dillinger (bear) says: Sweetheart is definitely leaping to conclusions. As I see it there are three main possibilities, and in only one of them is Nick Chopper not their problem. 1 Nick Chopper consists of Nick Zerhacker's biological brain inside a life-support system in a helicopter. Nick Chopper is not Skin Horse's problem. 2. Nick Chopper consists of a software simulation of a human brain loaded with data from Nick Zerhacker's brain, running on a computer mounted in a helicopter. Nick Chopper is Skin Horse's problem, whether or not Nick Zerhacker is still alive. 3. Nick Zerhacker never existed. His entire life was a simulation and he's software based on a scan of a newborn infant's brain. Much less messy for the people doing it since there's not a civilian life they need to disappear. Nick Chopper is Skin Horse's problem.
K C (spotweld) says:

Wait.. Unity has a Southern accent?


Typhin Reynard (typhin) says: Ray:  That last part just reminds me of "Remember, destroying small children is one of the things Anasigma does best!"
Ada Kerman (momerath) says: K. C.: My late husband (from Mississippi) taught me that y'all is plural... and that Texans incorrectly use it as singular. Therefore, Unity is Texan.
Incog Neato (ghede) says:

No no no, texans are just dyslexic, they mean to say all y' as in all of you, instead of you all. They are trying to ask if you are 100% agreeing or meeting the following or previous statement.

Anyways, there are two people in the room, therefore it can be construed as a plural statement.


Krid OCaign (krid) says:


Tampering with a person's ability to speak in such a specific way would require drastic restructuring of many sections of the brain! Thus it could not be said that the brain in question is an INTACT brain!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: ...NO. :D
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

That's controlled by
Brain of human ...
Really sick!

Someone swearing
Could that someone
Be "Chopper, Nick"?

(TUNE: "Mack The Knife" by Bobby Darrin)

Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says: You know, the most disturbing thing about this is the possibility that I could be playing Quake online and the player who's been handing my ADZE to me is actually a passivist military vehicle. And the only reason he lives in his creator's basement is that he can't get FAA clearance to go anywhere.
John Breckenridge (jbrecken) says:

I don't think she's being southern.  Added together with her pose in that panel, it seems like Unity's "y'all" is just part of expressing her sassy black half.

(Possibly an homage to our next president, who also has one.)

Ada Kerman (momerath) says: I wonder what changes an Obama administrationg will bring to Project Skin Horse.
Eric Burns (ericburns) says:

Sure, all of you ignore Rob's blatent specist slur.

Armed for bear. Armed for bear indeed! How would you like it if Maya Winona Thundercloud showed up armed for human! Here's a hint! You wouldn't!

Daniel Dwiggins (dand) says:


It could be a speech recognition/alteration layer between brain and speakers, no wetware changes required. 

Li Chan (lichan) says:

Oh, wow.  The rat brain in a dish connected to a flight simulator is my favorite real life science story *ever*.

Skin Horse, you make me so very happy. :D

Krid OCaign (krid) says:

Daniel: Yes, assuming they could show that IS the case. However, they would need to review the situation in order to tell for sure. Since this has not been done, Sweetheart lacks the grounds to reject his case.

Further, people have been reffering to him as an "AI", which means that the relevent government agencies consider him to be a man-made construct. Since he has requested Skinhorse's help, they are obligated to give his case a careful evaluation in order to determine if they have jurisdiction before they can reject it.

Continuing on, the contract he signed revoked his citizenship, his human rights, and his animal rights. Since they seem to lack normal contract law there, he is LEGALLY a non-human sapient. As Skinhorse is a government agency they are required to obey the law with regard to upholding their charter, and as such they must recognize his LEGAL status. 


Also, it might help his case that he can give everybody a lift back to their offices instead of making them drive back. After last time I think Tip would be rather eager to have a quick and roomy method of transportation around, since othing convinces people to bend the rules like a transvestite psychologist with a goal of "Don't get eaten".

Dave Corbett (mr_dave) says: Ada Kerman (momerath) says: K. C.: My late husband (from Mississippi) taught me that y'all is plural... and that Texans incorrectly use it as singular. Therefore, Unity is Texan.

She doens't have to be either; she could just have picked the accent up somewhere.

You know – along with the lips, the tongue and the larynx...
Alec Penfield (theauthorman) says: Most southerners use y'all as a singular and a plural. Or at least all the ones I've ever known.
K C (spotweld) says: I wil continue with y assumption that UNity is Southern, because that allows be to entertain the mental image of her as Rhett Butler, Tip as Scarelet (of course), and Sweetheart as .... um..  a studio cameo by RinTinTin?
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile