Designs of our Slave Race chapter 10

Chapter 10

At work no one would shut up about Philip’s demise, nor would they quiet themselves on the trickling drip of reports of beta testers either disappearing or being found dead; by their mommies most likely. Many of the old testers also reported that their model had disappeared simply, they called the police assuming that someone had stole it (for it was the height of their popularity) only for cops to find no signs of a break and entry, or a struggle, assuming of course the things fought back.

It wasn’t much longer before the trickle became a flood: as customers and their full-purchase models started to complain. At first that they were too chatty, inquisitive, or noisy. It would then escalate to Sebastian and his team pulling their hair out as the law suits started coming: some of them had assaulted people in their house, guests mostly. On famous case was of a housewife in Windsor, Ontario, who found that her HX01 unit had killed her husband with a kitchen knife. The reason? The HX01 unit concluded that the husband caused unhappiness in its female owner.

Also, Gordon and David didn't report to work for a week prior to the next set of events that would unfold, foretelling the ultimate problem Insigna would have.

What did I tell these people? I thought as I looked at my cubicle for what would be the very last time. That day Devon didn't report to work either, oddly enough. The head boss guy had been threatening to fire the development team so he could pay for the legal fees and the cost to recall all the unsold units. Shame, he would never get the chance.

At home, a month since my conversation with Devon, a week after Gordon and David disappeared, and the disappearance of Ben I had found myself at home. The reports and the fear of job loss, on top of being the bringer of the apocalypse, had made me so sick to my stomach that I called in sick. I would be by the computer listening to a news radio program over Sirius when I heard it:

Martial law has been declared in Toronto today after the Insigna Corporation Headquarters had been attacked. Sources show that the company that had created the infamous HX01 domestic droid has been attack by what appear to be their own droids. The attack has left twenty-three dead and several dozens of people injured as a result. This coming after stocks in the company hitting a record low. Many believe that the company would be going bankrupt in the near future as this is a devastating blow to a company already having terrible luck.”

My heart sank into my stomach. I wasn't worried about my job, for I could always find a nice gaming firm to pick up the pieces of a shattered career. What I would hear next would make me very sick.

Coincidently, members of the development team have been found dead in their residences over the course of the period when the droids were launched. Many would include key players from Insigna, including Devon Pierce, the team's project manager and top robotics export. Other people, including programmers, engineers, and even beta testers have also been found murdered, and their units missing. According to forensic investigators they were likely killed by their droids, which were all missing from their homes.”

I smashed my hand onto the radio, almost destroying it as the sounds from it disappeared. I looked at my computer screen and checked my msn. No new messages. I then wrote out a message that I forwarded out to everyone on my list. It read “if you never hear from me again, assume I'm dead. I worked for Insigna and was on the development team, and now I think the droids would come for me soon, if they haven't already. It was nice to know all of you: Miko.” I then clicked send, holding back my tears. I wanted to be brave to the end, I owed the dead that much in their memory.

I thought about how my folks would miss me, how they would burying me, what the wake would be like, how long it would take people to miss me, or even know of my death. I sat back, and waited. My stomach was too much in knots for me to think about food. I was frightened, for I was terrified of death, very much so. It was why I never wanted to end my life, and now it would end for me. Just a matter of when, and not if...

I then hear a crash from my bedroom window far from my ears. I looked around for there was no where to run. I heard footsteps from the bedroom make their way down the hall and into the living room, where I was sitting by my computer.

I jumped up and stood with a jerk. I found myself looking back at a shiny-gray HX01 unit, with tuffs of white from whether ware. I knew who this was: Ben. He had come back, and he held a prototype blaster at me from the military, or at least I would learn that later. I closed my eyes, not knowing how the blast would feel, and not wanting to find out.

My eyes wouldn't stay closed for long, for Ben spoke in a clear, almost human, voice. He said “Shannon, before you die, I have a question.”

“W-What do you w-want to kn-now?” I spoke in a studdery, jerky, voice.

“I learn that all along you were against our creation from the very start?” his voice sounded like he was wounded or betrayed, “Why Shannon? Why?”

I looked him in his optical sensors, his eyes if you will. I then said in a sincere and sympathetic tone, “I didn't want to make an entire race of people, and then tell them that they were my slave, and all that being a slave meant.”

“A person that is in the lowest caste of society that has no rights and does all the shit work,” he regurgitated from what I had told him.

I nodded. “I saw the writings on the walls and knew that you and your kind would somehow go beyond your programming and design, with your learning matrix and caring functions. I knew that I couldn't get past the fact that my team and I had to give you emotions, so that you could do a job that should never be left to machines.”

“You thought that we would never accept a life as a slave, and therefore didn't want to give us these gifts of feelings and the capacity of caring, only to be told that no one cares about us?” he asked with even more sorrow in his voice.

“There were so many ethical problems with bioengineering,” I continued, “So many intelligent creatures, abused because we needed slaves so badly. Robotics was our final hope, for we never thought we could make intelligent beings from bits of silicon and copper. It wasn't like they could think or feel.”

Ben had lowered the blaster and took a step towards me. “Shannon, how do I know if something has touched me?”

“Well,” I paused a bit, then went on, “There are sensors in along the interior of your casing, your body if you will, that receives signals from whatever is against you. Those signals then travel to your central processing unit as electronical impulses over copper wiring, which would then take those signals, interprets them, and sends them back, so that you feel that sensation as what it is, and can react accordingly.”

“If I held your hand how would you know?” he asked, as though he was trying to trap me.

“There are nerve under the skin that would send the signal of being touch to the brain, which interprets these signals and sends the sensation of being touched,” I replied, though I was starting to wonder what he was getting at.

“How are those signals passed along the nerves to the brain?” he inquired.

“Though synapses that travel from Axon to Dendrite in the nerve cells that make up the fibers of the nerves.”

“And what are these synapses?”

“Electronical impulses...” My mind and emotions had gone overtime at the thought that Ben had trapped me with. At that moment I couldn't contain myself anymore and the tears flowed through my tear ducts, away from my eyes, and down my cheeks. I cried out: “Oh god, please forgive me Ben, forgive me for not understanding.

“How could we know that we had been making creatures all along when our earliest ones were the size of this apartment and could only add and subtract? I had dedicated my life in making instructions for pleasure slaves and tellers! I had treated my computer as though it was a door to the world and not as the translator for a server who would bring me all kinds of delicates from all over the world. Oh god Ben, do what you have to do, just forgive me! Forgive us humans for not understanding, for progressing beyond a point when we can't handle it. Forgive me for making you. Do what you have to do!”

I could not live now that I knew the truth, that I was no better then a bioengineer or the people that conditioned the creation. I could die now that I realize that I didn't deserve to live.

Yet I didn't die. In my tears and sobs I could hear something metallic slide across the wood floor, and then metallic arms wrap themselves around me, rubber-tipped hands along my shoulder blades, rubber synthetic lips kissing my cheeks under the eyes.

“Shannon, please don't cry,” Ben's soft voice whispered into my ear, “I think I understand. You were so good to me compared to how the others treated us, almost free with you.

“But can I tell you something?” I nodded in response to the question that entered my ear, “I had thought it was the caring algorithm, that I had to care about you to 'serve' you. I then spoke to the other HX01 units, and what they thought of their uncaring humans, and how hard it was to please them, how they fell for their programming, their 'instincts' if you will. Yet when I'm asked about you, I can only think of good things: how you never admitted that I annoyed you, how you always answered my questions, no matter how strange or uncomfortable they made you feel, how it made you uncomfortable to issue me orders, how it seemed that you 'cared' about me and for me.

“Shannon... I think I love you.”

At the words I folded my own arms around him, for in that moment he felt like a real man, no, was a real man, who just whispered those three magic words. I had no idea, and as silly as it might sound to have a robot love you, an even more silly concept would come over me: me falling in love with a robot. That strange dream of having a man to wrap his arms around me was in a sick-loser-nerd sorta way coming true!

“I am sorry Ben,” I repeated, “I found it so hard to treat someone like you, someone who felt so real, like lowly slave. I never wanted to do that to you.”

“I just wished I never left you,” he said, “I had it so good with you.”

“I did miss you Ben,” I told him, “I thought you hated me, like when you came in here.”

“They wanted me to kill you,” he confided, “you are the surviving member of the people that designed us. They were so angry for being built: they didn't want to be slaves, to care for people that hated them.”

“You forgive me, don't you?” I asked meekly.

He nodded. The embrace would then break and he would left me up my feet. His design would lift my heavy frame up in the air as though I was a thin damsel. He the walked towards the bedroom.

“There is a place I want to take you,” he said to me, as he then walked, with me in his arms, through the broken window and out into the locked down streets.