We are presented with a list of lecherous limericks. Though on the surface, they appear to be quite dirty, some Googling unveils that they are in fact referencing characters from popular culture. In particular, every limerick references a robot. This is confirmed by the enumerations.
By reading the first letters of each robot, we extract the clue phrase BROKEN LAWS.
|An inflated nurse once lived to assist...||Baymax||B||From Big Hero 6, Baymax is an inflatable robot who is activated by sounds of distress (“outcries of pain”).|
|This challenger won't miss a call...||R.O.B.||R||R.O.B. is a robot featured in the Super Smash Bros. franchise, starting with Brawl. One of its abilities is to shoot beams.|
|This auto chief is quite a breed!...||Optimus Prime||O||The chief of the Autobots, Optimus Prime does battle for a device called the “Seed” in Transformers: Age of Extinction.|
|A security sidekick told to stay on the ship...||K-2SO||K||K-2SO is a security droid in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story who helps out the Rebel Alliance against the Empire.|
|This brainiac had a romantic affinity...||EPICAC||E||EPICAC, in the eponymous short story, was a computer who fell in love and wrote love poems.|
|In truth, this boy just wants to be normal....||Norm||N||In Phineas and Ferb, Norm is a robot powered by squirrels on a treadmill. In one episode he rampages through Danville.|
|This squadmate disdains exclusivity;...||Legion||L||Legion is the name for a collective consciousness of 1,183 programs inhabiting robot bodies, introduced in Mass Effect 2. The geth army wages war against their creators, the alien species quarians.|
|This 200-year clockmaker bud...||Andrew||A||In Bicentennial Man, Andrew is a clockmaker who changes out his artificial fluids for blood in an effort to be recognized as a human.|
|On a barren world flowing with ash,...||Wall-E||W||Wall-E (Pixar) features a robot who picks up trash on a barren Earth, and later leaves to join another robot Eve in space.|
|This doctor's servant was oft penetrated...||Sonny||S||In the film I, Robot, Sonny has constant dreams about standing on a hill.|
We further observe that Lecherous Limericks, mentioned in the flavortext, is actually a lesser-known book written by Isaac Asimov. Apart from writing licentious poetry, Asimov is more famously known for his work on the Three Laws of Robotics. Paying closer attention to each poem, we can see that each robot violates exactly one of the three laws.
There are three words that are stylistically “broken” in each limerick. Taking the broken word corresponding to the broken law in each limerick gives us a final clue phrase: “Its advance is an exercise in the limiting of privacy.” Taking this to Google one last time gives a quote from Asimov’s Foundation’s Edge, which talks about the advance of CIVILIZATION, the answer to this puzzle.
|Robot||Law Broken||Word 1||Word 2||Word 3||Explanation|
|Baymax||1||its||that||his||Baymax breaks the first law by punching humans when his peaceful personality chip is removed.|
|R.O.B.||1||advance||chance||resistance||R.O.B. breaks the first law by injuring others in a fighting game.|
|Optimus Prime||1||is||Seed||and||Optimus Prime breaks the first law by shooting Harold Attinger, a rogue intelligence operative.|
|K-2SO||2||covered||an||imperial||K-2SO disobeys orders to stay on the ship, breaking the second law.|
|EPICAC||3||with||ability||exercise||EPICAC breaks the third law by committing suicide.|
|Norm||1||in||truth||without||Norm’s rampage through Danville causes destruction, breaking the first law.|
|Legion||1||the||world||progressivity||Legion fights in a war against the quarians and humans, breaking the first law.|
|Andrew||3||year||sadly||limiting||Andrew fails to protect his own existence (and thus violates the third law) by becoming mortal.|
|Wall-E||2||escapes||of||for||Wall-E disobeys orders to stay and clean up the barren Earth, violating the second law.|
|Sonny||1||privacy||moment||piety||Sonny pushes the doctor out of a window, breaking the first law.|
Ivan: As a long-time sci-fi fan, I was shocked (and delighted) to learn about Asimov’s dark side: a series of dirty poetry. I immediately felt an obligation to share this with the wider world, and what better way than through puzzling?
It was later pointed out to me that, including a special clue in Human Pyramid, I had contributed to all of the dirty puzzles in the hunt. I promise that Matt and Emma closed their eyes while going through the tunnel.
There once were teammates with ambition
To write ‘bout robotic condition.
’Twas a terrible crime
With neither meter nor rhyme
So, you have our greatest contrition.
Adhering to rhyme schemes and keeping good meter is awfully awfully difficult. No matter in proper poetry, of course, but we did try and minimize deviations from the norm here lest they be mistaken as puzzle-relevant. It did offer some comfort when I read through the original limericks in Asimov’s book (advertised, by the way, as 100 original limericks by the bestselling author of THE SENSUOUS DIRTY OLD MAN - be glad we didn’t use that as inspiration instead!) and realized that he was no great shakes when it came to meter either.