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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Metallic Heart - Chapter 2

Chas seemed to be in a very contemplative computation process when we returned home.  He sat at his chess board completely still, as if he had been turned off, for hours.
 
 I was sure that he was still a little perturbed about the boldness that the humans showed today.  Again, I did not find his concerns to be irrational.
 
 Just as I was computing my reasons for agreeing with him, something happened to make his fears even more relevant…
 
 I began to short out.
 
 My shorting out at that moment may not seem very significant to any of you humans reading this right now, but to us it was very serious, because it threatened our very existence.
 
 It was yet another reason why we were so careful to not get too familiar with the humans.
 
 We did not want them to know our weaknesses.  
 
 We bots can short out without a moment’s notice.  When this happens our central processing systems still work, but seem to be disconnected from the rest of our robotic parts.
 
 In other words, we can “think”, but cannot speak or move; which makes us very vulnerable.  A curious innovative human could use this moment to reprogram our systems and make us into anything they want us to be.
Chas saw me in this condition and quickly pulled out his phone in order to call a repair technician.
“Yes, please come as soon as possible.  My bot mate has shorted out…please hurry!” 


I could hear the panic in Chas’ voice.

“What?  This is the Vice President that we are talking about here!  What if the paparazzi shows up and snaps pictures of her in this condition…?”
“If this got out to the humans, it would be a matter of time…yes, yes that is fine, please hurry!”
 
  I could only imagine what was going on within Chas’ processing system
As I stood there with sparks coming out of my neck, I could hear Chas pacing the room, murmuring to himself.  I wanted to call out to him…to offer something to ease his system, but I was paralyzed. 
“That is it!” Chas suddenly called out.  He began to move quickly toward his workshop.
Chas is one of a small group of elite top scientists here in Lunar Lakes. 
The life’s work of these few scientists is to find ways to improve our systems.  They strive to transform us into super bots that no longer short out or are vulnerable to water…our other weakness.  If they can solve these problems, we would no longer have to fear a revolt from the humans.  We would be invincible.
With Chas busy at work, my computation system had nothing to do but “think”.  It replayed the events of the day and suddenly the human in the scrap yard’s face was there. My system could not totally process the emotion that showed on the human’s face. However, I was getting feedback from my emotional microchip, but could not understand the command.
Compassion is the word that kept coming to me, but the command was unknown. 


Suddenly Chas was by my side again.  “I have failed again.  I just cannot figure out how to stop our systems from shorting out.  I am close, but can not quite put my finger on it.”  I could not tell whether Chas was addressing me or himself.  His tone of voice left no clues.

Before he could finish his train of thought, our front door opened.  My olfactory system was out of whack, so I could not smell whether the visitor was a bot or human.  I waited for Chas’ reaction to fill me in.  He did not disappoint.


“Ah…you have finally arrived.  Quickly!”

“Sorry…I was stuck at the library fixing the computer network-”
“Please, no excuses.  Fixing the Vice President should always be your priority!  Now hurry.”
“Yes, yes of course,” Monica, one of the city’s best mechanical bots, said.
Fear of further reprimands from Chas, Monica went right to work. 
First she had to unscrew my skull plate to access my central processing system.  Then she could access and change out my fuses and capacitors.
Satisfied that I was being fixed properly, Chas pulled out his laptop to continue his research on making our systems more stable.
Monica continued working diligently to make sure I would be in tiptop shape; most likely calculating the repercussions of not being able to fix me.
I remained in place, with the unknown command still present within my immediate computation process.  Compassion.  This emotion would require research on my part.
Monica finished changing everything up and reset my system.
Immediately the power spread throughout my structure to all of my parts. 
I was able to move my fingers once again.
“Ah!  Thank you again Monica for your fine work,” I said opening and closing my fist just because I could once again.
Again the command…compassion… seemed to enter my processing system.  What could this word mean?
“Well madam Vice President…if that is all, I will be on my way-”


“Monica…wait,” I said stopping her in her tracks.

“Yes Vice President Ardis.”


“Uh…have you ever heard of the command,
compassion?”
“Compassion?  No, why do you ask?”


I stood silently for a moment barely hearing Monica’s response; never really expecting that she would have an answer.

“Why do you ask?” She asked again, pulling me out of my internal search for a meaning behind the word.


“Uh…nothing.  I just heard it in passing once.  Thanks again, you are dismissed,” I answered, just to appease her enough to stop asking questions.

Monica finally leaves and I head to our bedroom.  Shorting out usually requires us bots to shut down to allow ourselves to recharge right away.  I decided to do that.
A short trip to the bathroom to empty my waste receptacle gave me time to once again reflect on my day.  I had to find a way to find out more about the humans here in Lunar Lakes and why my emotional responses keep bringing up the command of compassion.
I sit upon my sleep pod and allow my body to shut down and recharge.
Sometime during the night, Chas comes and joins me; I am sure with his own central processing system searching for answers just as much as mine.
Eventually the night finds us both at rest…
as the sun reflects off the Earth, lighting up our sky.

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