Lambrelli Labs Pill Bug Robotic Avatar, Module 1 ("Pilltar" for short) is a robotic superhero that features in The Gerosha Chronicles of Dozerfleet Comics, partial to Comprehensive and Cataclysmic Geroshas. He was invented and first piloted by Seth Lambrelli, and has been piloted by both Ron and Stephanie Barrin at various other points. With Ron Barrin as his active primary pilot, Pilltar would later become a member of the Sodality of Gerosha. He would prove useful in the final season of Sodality at helping the Sodality free the Marlquaanites, which include the Gray Champion, Mapacha, and Extirpon. In Sodality: Battle for Metheel, the Pilltar Mk. III is put to use for the first time ever in the field.
Powers, accessories, and weaknesses
Pilltar robots interact with the user via a shortwave radio and redundant satellite radio connection, one which is tied to a device not unlike a virtual reality machine, but which can process brainwave signals. Lambrelli Labs at one point worked with Dereck Johnson to develop a Marlquaanite bond for control modules. As a result, Lambrelli avatar robots are able to partially put the mind of a pilot inside of the machine. As such, Pilltar assumes the personality and fighting style of whoever is controlling his thoughts. Likewise, he is only as intelligent as his pilot.
A Pilltar robot comes standard with a silvery body, with a "Munchkin"-like size and body frame, with green-glowing eyes, various gadgets in its fingers, and some flight controls in its arms. They also have rocket-propelled feet and backpacks. Their backpacks, which create the "pillbug" look, also serve as fuel cell containers. The basic standard issue is able to interact best with a male-wired brain, primarily that of Seth Lambrelli.
However, it will interface with Stephanie Barrin in a pinch. Pilltars can take a lot of abuse, but are vulnerable to EMP. The feedback of an EMP blast can result in a cancellation of the link between a machine's "mind" and the pilot's, often also filling the pilot's mind with simulated death trauma.
For this reason, pilots on particularly dangerous missions are advised to block their left ears from being interfaced with the controls. There is some fear that a total interface going wrong could put the pilot into a coma.
Pilltars come equipped with multi-use tasers in their wrists, with a single-shot pistol in each index finger, and with welding torches in their hands which can come out of the ring finger. Their wrists also come equipped with knife blades for stabbing an opponent if necessary, or cutting through ropes. The upper arms and forearms also contain flight stabilizers, to aid their feet and backpacks with flight.
Main article: Pilltar (story)
At the beginning of this story, several Pilltars have been made. Seth begins storing them underneath his garage. He is seen working on the last in a series of 50 identical Pilltars when he is confronted by Stephanie for the first time ever, while she is reluctantly canvassing for her school's church. As the two become friends while discussing life and theology, Seth eventually inspires Stephanie to consider another career path not inspired (or even looked upon favorably) by her school: working for him as an understudy and eventual full-time employee of Lambrelli Labs.
Stephanie soon begins working for Seth, and the two put Pilltar to work as an experiment in "the future of neighborhood watch." Seth manages to foil a few murders, but finds an aggressive new cannibal cult in town and its leader to be a bit more than he was planning for. When cannibal cult leader Scott Morrisson figures out where Seth lives, he sends goons to the house. Seth manages to fight off the goons, but is badly injured. Stephanie takes over piloting Pilltar briefly, in an effort to get revenge on the cult members for hurting Seth. She has her father Ron guard Seth in the hospital, while also helping Seth get attached to a device from his hospital bed. Right as Stephanie's Pilltar is being trashed, Seth's Pilltar arrives and manages to kill off most of the cult members. After Seth recovers, Stephanie offers him several suggestions for ways to improve his Pilltars.
Main article: Pilltar 2
Stephanie's mother, Theresa, finally relents; and allows for Stephanie to work full time for Seth. Ron and Theresa both begin receiving counseling for their mental problems, and have disavowed Stephanie's school and the schoolgirls that went there. They also receive marriage counseling to put their marriage back together. As this is happening, a new terror threat reaches Des Moines: the Screwworm Network. Seth resumes control of his enhanced Pilltars to help deal with the threat and discover its origin.
He discovers that the Screwworm have an EMP device, which makes him particularly nervous. He also decides that one Pilltar on the scene isn't enough. He reveals to Stephanie that while she was away, he rewired and repainted a few Pilltar models to make them interface better with the mind of a female pilot. The "Strawberry" model debuts when stopping a terror attack at a rock concert, in which Seth and Stephanie were certain trouble would be afoot.
Things grow frightening when Seth realizes that the last encounter with Scott Morrisson resulted in Scott managing to steal the remains of two Pilltar units. An associate at Lambrelli Labs, Roger Homink, takes a Pilltar and controller against Seth's wishes. He reworks it to become a Japanese Beetle-themed machine dubbed "Ponicatar."
While Roger proves very bumbling at trying to handle Ponicatar, his antics in trying to pilot the reverse-engineered entity provide Seth with some much-needed backup for his active Pilltar when the situation grows dire. It also buys time for Stephanie to recover from the EMP blast that fried her active Strawberry, so she can deploy another one. Ponicatar ultimately doesn't last long, but manages to turn the tide in Pilltar and Strawberry's favor.
Main article: Pilltar 3
After Seth Lambrelli's passing, Stephanie begins training her father Ron how to become the new pilot for Pilltar. Ron is reluctant at first. However, Scott Morrisson returns. He has reconstructed a Pilltar of his own, making it into the more aggressive Stagtar. The collapse of America in 2018 results in Ron and Stephanie being among the first who can leave to Toklisana safely from the newly-formed Ameristan. However, they have to keep Ameristani regime guards from knowing that their cargo includes Pilltar robots.
The journey becomes increasingly perilous when Stagtar murders Theresa Barrin. He then proceeds to stalk Ron and Stephanie all the way across the border, putting their skills at operating Pilltar and Strawberry to the ultimate test.
Main article: Sodality (series)
Defeating Stagtar on their way to freedom in Oklahoma exhausts Ron and Stephanie, and they resolve to take some time off from the Pilltar project in order to put their personal lives back together. However, Judge Terry Beliah eventually threatens their ability to remain at home. Ron and Stephanie take to piloting improved Pilltar and Strawberry models to help the Sodality of Gerosha overcome a common group of enemies. Lambrelli Labs becomes a sponsor of the Sodality from then-onward. They arrive before that to help out the team when Meerkat gets injured, filling in for him to free as many captives in Chimerica as possible until Meerkat is ready to return for the final battle.
After the grand battle, Ron and Stephanie begin selling highly-stripped-down versions of Pilltar and Strawberry to Neighborhood Watch organizations across Toklisana. They keep their major versions private for quite a long while, in case that extra power ever becomes needed again.
Battle for Metheel
Main article: Sodality: Battle for Metheel
A slightly taller and more durability-minded version of Pilltar is introduced some time after Beliah's defeat.
In the video game pitch Battle for Metheel, the Mk. III version of Pilltar is put to the test to help the Sodality in overthrowing the evil King Morzhuk.
Ron Barrin resumes being the pilot. Due to its considerable ability to take more abuse than the previous models, the Mk. III becomes the new standard model. It is a tiny bit heavier than its predecessors, but proves to be more than worthwhile for use in combat situations. Altered versions of the Mk. II made to look more bug-like end up being licensed for use by neighborhood watch organizations and small town police. Lambrelli Labs becomes significantly profitable from said transactions.
The idea for creating another Gerosha Legends character arrived in September-October of 2010, while the Dozerfleet founder was still an intern at SWOCC Studios. Much of the inspiration for Pilltar came from an "E-News" segment for Ferris in Focus in the spring of 2010, one which hallmarked the enormous box office success of James Cameron's Avatar. The other major influence for Pilltar was Iron Man 2, which came out earlier that same year.
It was thought that the two inspirations could be combined. Since Ciem and Mukade alone meant that the Gerosha universe was crawling with centipedes, a different bug was needed as the new mascot. Beetles were considered, but only Stagtar was ultimately approved as a beetle-based robotic avatar. The other bug often seen under rotting logs near the Grand Ledge House besides Michigan garden centipedes were pillbugs; and a quick search revealed that few - if any - comic book characters up to that point were named after pill bugs.
There was also the thought of placing Stephanie in a situation where Seth could potentially come across looking creepy; but could be revealed to have been elaborately misunderstood as he was taking care of the real creeps that would have probably eaten Stephanie if given the chance. The first story also became a chance to have two characters pontificate on topics that few others in the Gerosha universe had much time or opportunity to be shown discussing in detail. The natural progression of developing story details from there led to the creation of all of Pilltar's derivatives: Ponicatar, Strawberry, and Stagtar. The current plot for Pilltar 2 is the result of a decision not to involve Extirpon as a deus ex machina, the way he would have been in an earlier draft of the plot. Also, the original plan of having Extirpon temporarily turn random civilians into an army of Pilltars to overwhelm the villain seemed rather cheap. Plans for that rendition were swept away completely when trailers for Iron Man 3 revealed that Tony Stark in that movie would be using JARVIS to remote-pilot a small army of Iron Man armors. It was decided that nobody would believe that the plot of Pilltar 2 came first, and was not worth fighting for. Ponicatar was created based on the term Popillia japonica, the taxonomical term for Japanese beetles.
Pilltar and his derivatives were first depicted with UGO's HeroMachine 3 Alpha program in the spring of 2011, since it was not known how else to properly depict them. In late 2012 and early 2013, however, Pilltar's first-ever appearance in a Sims game occurred. Difficulty with rendering a credible Pilltar in The Sims 3 meant that The Sims 2 was pulled out of storage and used for Pilltar modeling. The model that was ultimately used was modified from a template nude Sim using a robot skin from Mod The Sims. An earlier rendition of that skin was used in the 2007 Ciem webcomic for the scene in which Classic Gerosha Merle Hourvitz met with Duke Arfaas on the campus of Viron University to discuss sending Musaran to assassinate Denny Levens. Two other Hebbleskin Gang servants in robotic suits similar to Musaran's, both using the custom robot skin, can clearly be seen sitting together in the snack room where Arfaas and Merle are meeting. These same two can also be seen wearing AI backvisors, of the type used for mind control by the Hebbleskin Gang.
With a few design modifications, Pilltar was able to look slightly deviated from the original skin. He was deviated even further for his Sodality render, with the Pilltar story logo turned into a chest symbol that would serve a function of indicating that the model was fully operational. Backpacks, the component of Pilltar that made him look most like a pillbug, were painted on in Photoshop CS2. The dwarfed size of Pilltar models is due to the stretchSkeleton cheat. These same design principles used for Pilltar would later be incorporated into the making of his derivatives.
For Sodality: Battle for Metheel, the Mk. III Pilltar was designed for the first time ever in The Sims 3. He was based on a heavily-modified skintone. However, getting the outfit that needed to be skintight and modifying it for him in Photoshop required use of a Teen Sim. This meant that even with Jonha's sliders for arm and leg length, Mk. III Pilltar still became the tallest version of Pilltar ever. The Battle for Metheel concept art front cover used forced perspective to shrink him in size.
- Pilltar (story)
- Pilltar 2
- Pilltar 3
- Strawberry (Pilltar)
- Seth Lambrelli
- Ron Barrin
- Stephanie Barrin
- Theresa Barrin
- Sodality (series)
- Sodality: Battle for Metheel
- Post acknowledging article's completion at The Dozerfleet Blog
- Pilltar Adventures art gallery at DeviantArt
- Sodality 2D concept art collection at DeviantArt
- Battle for Metheel art gallery at DeviantArt
Sodalities of Gerosha & Florence