Masks 23.1 - Drives Me Crazy [Cutscene]

“Hey Leo, why don’t I get enough screen time?” demands Otto.

“What?” Leo sits behind the wheel, idly staring at his phone when he’s not drinking Coke from a can. He ignores the angry glares of responsible motorists from other cars, silently judging him for texting while driving.

“Here.” Otto’s dashboard screen, linked to his own internal cell phone, lights up. There’s a YouTube video, playing an announcement from “My Little Power Ranger”. “We’re doing an Ask Me Anything for members of the Menagerie. Please submit your questions!”

Leo nearly spits out his Coke.

“See? Watch this part.” The video ends with a collage of photos - Concord, Ghost Girl, Link in his armor, even Pneuma - but Otto only appears in the background.

“They’re doing a what? Fine, okay, never mind. Uh, I dunno, buddy, maybe they don’t know you as well. Are you talking to them at all?”

“Well… No,” Otto admits. “Mostly I BS with Taz on Twitter and talk to some gaming buddies. Forza 7, man, that’s the shit!”

“Okay, well, they like My Little Pony more than racing games,” Leo suggests. “Why don’t you see if there’s… uh… like a pony racing game or something.”

“You think so?”

Absolutely not. No, wait, this is the fans. “You never know. Hey, pull in, here we are.”

The car and its passenger pull into the parking lot. Otto rumbles excitedly. “This is the second biggest day of my life, boss. They gave me the provisional forms, can you take 'em in and get 'em signed? I gave you power of turning.”

“Power of attorney,” Leo says absently. He fishes through the glove compartment for the appropriate documents, then hops out, mindful to take the Coke can with him.

A few minutes later, a short man with wispy hair, pants held up by suspenders, gingerly opens the passenger side door and climbs in. He’s clutching a clipboard to his chest. “Is this… Is this Otto?”

“It is!” the car replies proudly.

“Very good. I’m to understand you are here for… a driving test?”

“You betcha!”

“I see. This is very irregular…” The man rubs his forehead. “Introductions, then. I’m Umair Tanveer. Please address me as Mr. Tanveer.” He peers at his clipboard. “Your name is… Otto Newman, is that correct?”

“Yessir, Mr. Tanveer!”

“And you are…” This is the hardest part to swallow. The man glances around the car interior several times to steady himself. “You are an emancipated adult, age 17?”

“That’s what it says.” Otto grins, though it can’t be seen.

“Very well. Under the circumstances, we’ve decided to waive the visual examination, as our apparatus is not able to certify you, but an evaluation of visual acuity will be part of the driving examination… Er, do you have any questions, Mr. Newman?”

“Call me Otto,” the car rumbles gratefully. “Not a question, but a request. Please don’t leave any cans, cups, trash, or anything else in the interior. It messes up my transformation somethin’ bad, and the boss hates cleaning that stuff out. No hamburger wrappers or anything either, those’ll hit him right in the face if he combines with me. He hates that.”

“Er, right, I’ll keep that in mind.” Mr. Tanveer carefully puts on his seatbelt. “The test will now begin. Your responses will be scored. Please do not engage in maneuvers that are not part of the test, except those required for your safety and that of your passengers. Now, can you start…”

The car revs up.

“… the car.” Mr. Tanveer turns slightly pale. “Now, we’ll leave the curb. Please engage your turn signal, watch for traffic, and pull out when ready…”

Otto pulls out of the parking lot, and starts a journey through Halcyon City. Changing speeds, using turn signals, watching for pedestrians. Mr. Tanveer’s grip on the “oh shit” handle above the door is never loose for long, though he does need both hands to annotate the clipboard based on Otto’s performance.

“Do you…Do you turn your head when you change lanes, for your blind spot?” The examiner’s voice is tepid. He’s doing his best to connect this bizarre experience to his usual work.

“Nah, I don’t have a blind spot. All-around infrared LIDAR - that’s laser imaging, detection, and ranging. 360-degree collision radar. Plus visual sensors on most surfaces.” Otto ‘beams’.

“I… I see. Very well, let’s stop here, and you can demonstrate parallel parking.”

“Aww geez,” Otto grumbles, but quietly. He pulls up, signals appropriately, and starts to position himself. At that moment, a fast-moving bicyclist screams by. “Hey, ya jerk!”

“Bicyclists are something you must always be aware of,” chides Mr. Tanveer.

“Oh, don’t worry, sir. I’m always careful.” Otto finishes pulling into the parking spot without difficulty. “Y’see, everyone’s smaller than me. I’ve learned to be gentle and move slow around 'em.”

The examiner dryly eyes the dashboard. “I see your point. We would test arm signals, in case your normal turn signals aren’t working. May I assume you are constitutionally incapable of such action?”

“Yeah, 'fraid so.” Fear grips Otto for a moment. “Hey, that doesn’t invalidate my test, does it?”

“It does not, though you will need to be cautious, and continually inspect the status of your signals, lights, and other safety features.” Mr. Tanveer takes more notes on his clipboard. “Very well. Please signal to pull out, then return us to the DMV.”

The ride back is uneventful. The examiner seems concerned about something. Otto doesn’t ask - no need to jinx his chances - but the man finally voices the problem in the DMV parking lot.

“Frankly, Mr. Newman, I’m concerned with the implications of your situation. You’ve clearly been driving previous to your license application, and we will have to make a note to that effect in your file. On the other hand, your willingness to fulfill your civic duties once your own legal status was provided for is commendable. NCDOT may reach out to you to understand your situation better, and you may incur a fine if you were found to be driving illegally. Have you thought about this at all?”

Otto is silent for several moments. “Well, I guess, we - me ‘n the boss that is - we’re superheroes, yeah? We’re supposed to do the right thing, even if it comes at a cost to us. Y’normally think of that as gettin’ beat up by a bad guy during a fight, or straining yourself saving civilians. The boss did that awhile back, when we were balancing cars against Sablestar–”

“That was you? Oh… Oh yes, of course, it would have to be,” Mr. Tanveer interjects. “I’m sorry, please go on.”

“Well, if you gotta do the right thing an’ face the music in battle, y’gotta do it everywhere else. Mr. Tanveer, I’ll level with ya. I have a human mind, a human brain, human soul, all that, just not a human body. I’ve dedicated myself to bein’ the best car I can possibly be. You know people that work out, like athletes or body builders, people who take their body as far as they can in pursuit of excellence? I’m like that, but for cars. So it means a lot to me to be on the right side of the law, an’ getting a license lets me be recognized for my skill at driving as well. This really means a lot to me. If I don’t make it, I’m gonna practice some more and come back and try again. So I’ll maybe see you next time.”

“No need for that,” Mr. Tanveer announces. “You received the only perfect score I have ever administered. Your friend will be out shortly with your license–”

He is interrupted by a whoop of joy and a honking horn from Otto.

“Please restrain yourself!” the examiner begs. “A car horn shouldn’t be used frivolously. Please also inform your friend that one of you must carry insurance to drive legally. I’m honestly outside of my depth there, so I’ll just say good luck, and congratulations on a well deserved success.”

“Yes sir, thank you sir!”

When Leo returns, Otto is positively bursting with energy. He waits, impatiently, as Leo fishes out the newly laminated card and ceremonially places it into the glove compartment. Only then does he peel out of the lot, even before Leo can strap in.

“Hey hey, what’s the rush, big guy?” Leo asks. He’s got a big grin, a sympathetic joy ignited by his friend’s elation.

“This was the last thing I need to apply to appear on Top Gear, boss. Now that I’m legal, I wanna see if they’ll have me on as a celebrity guest or something. Y’need a passport and valid license, though. Come on, let’s go!”

author: Bill G.

So awesome. :slight_smile:

And yes, Otto needs more screen time.

author: Doyce T.

I feel like he and Stingray can go flex at each other over their respective technologies, but yeah, I want to work him in more for non-combat situations. He already shines in battle, I think. The game is pretty busy, and we can’t really do the default move (ship Otto with somebody), so I gotta be creative.

author: Bill G.

Very fun!

author: *** Dave H.

Doyce T. said:

So awesome. :slight_smile:

And yes, Otto needs more screen time.

I’ve been thinking about this since this comment, and checked to be sure. Though Pneuma/Aria got more spotlight during sessions, in terms of what I’ve written both her and Otto are about the same. In fact, he’s now a little ahead of her. Summer’s gotten a ton of stuff written for (or about) her, mostly because she’s hanging out in Jason’s troubled plotline.

I think it just feels like he has less going on because he’s pretty drama-free. He didn’t have Pneuma’s self-doubts, nobody’s shipping him with anyone, he’s just that reliable big dude who has his life together. I like it, in the sense that if Leo doesn’t mess around and try to imbue a new AI with significance, they turn out as okay people. So when he does appear, it’s usually at the center of a comedy side-story, or to be a real mensch when someone needs.

author: Bill G.

True enough. And yes, he definitely gets lots of fiction about him but I don’t feel like he’s getting a lot of in-game dialogue and I’m also not entirely sure I’m playing him right. I have some thoughts about that, but I’m going to keep them to myself right now. :slight_smile:

author: Doyce T.

“What happens when the Menagerie face the threat of … DARK OTTO?!”

author: *** Dave H.

I actually do like the idea that Otto really is really the only one who has his shit together, who doesn’t angst over the drama, who has problems but also realized he has friends that help him with them, and just sort of enjoys life (and “Top Gear” reruns).

We could all learn more from Otto.

author: *** Dave H.

Dark Otto plays PUBG and teabags other players in shooter games, he’s otherwise the same.

author: Bill G.