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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Metallic Heart - Chapter 13

I put Chas out of my mind and concentrated on the task at hand.

“Ah yes, have a seat Vice President
Ardis,” President Aron said when he spotted me.
 I glanced over at Mia in an attempt to get some indication of the mood President Aron was in.  Her expression gave me no clues, but…
 One glance at President Aron’s face and I knew all I needed to know.  I feared that this would be a long meeting.
 I sat in the empty chair waiting for whatever President Aron had in store for me.
 Mia looked just as anxious as I was.
President Aron habitually cleared his voice and began, “Everyone seems to have their ideas and opinions on what should happen to the human,” he stopped and scowled briefly as if recalling a specific moment.  “I wanted to hear your opinion,” he said staring at me intensely.
I hesitated momentarily.  Was this the opportunity that I had been waiting for; a chance to save Frida from execution, or a trap?
“Well…” I began.  “I am not quite sure what you are asking,” I said, careful not to assume anything.

“It is quite simple, should we execute the human or not?” 

“My first instinct is to say yes,” I answered, hoping that this was enough to mask my true feelings.  “However,” I quickly added.
“With the increase in break-ins and crimes by the humans, I do not think that an execution is the answer.”
President Aron leaned forward, giving me his full attention.  “And why not?” he asked.
“I just do not think that doing so will serve the purpose that we are looking for,” I said, holding back to not seem too passionate about it.
“To gain control over the humans.  Executing Fri – this human would most certainly anger the humans and cause them to revolt and resist our leadership.”
“Which is what I have been thinking…” President Aron began.

I asked myself; not believing that I had heard what I just heard. Was president Aron actually agreeing with me?
He continued, “But some of the other bots seem to think the opposite,” he said and I could detect a bit of scorn in his voice.  Could this unexpected change in attitude have anything to do with Chas’ visit?
“Whom may I ask is pushing for execution?” I asked, hoping to get more info on the nature of Chas’ visit.
“That is not important. We need to focus on getting this law out as soon as possible.  Two more humans have been arrested for breaking into the home of a bot. The question is, if we do not execute these criminals, what do you suppose we do?”
“Well, in my law I proposed that for a first offense, any human who attempts to steal from a bot will serve time in our Crystal mines.”

“Hmm, free labor, I like that.  But how much time?”

This is where I had to tread lightly; careful not to seem too sympathetic to the humans, but also not so harsh that Frida and the other humans would suffer for the rest of their lives. “Ten years,” I said, as casual as I possibly could.
Mia and I both waited for President Aron to respond, but he did not for quite a while.
Mia stared at President Aron; once again, her face not revealing anything about her opinion in the matter.
I sat forward in my chair anticipating President Aron’s response, which still had not come.
Finally he needlessly cleared his voice once again, before speaking, “Ten years would not be enough to satisfy anyone.”
“Well-” I started.

“Let us hear your opinion Assistant Mia,” President
Aron said interrupting my response.
Now Frida’s fate was in Mia’s hands.  I knew that with Mia being so close to the president, he would hold her opinion in very high regard.  My system paused in anticipation.

“I agree with Vice President
Relief.  Mia agreeing with me made my cause that more plausible.  No one could ever accuse Mia of being biased toward the humans.
However, I had reason to believe that this was going so well because of something else; something that President Aron was not saying.  “And why is that,” he said in a voice that was a lot more agreeable and calm than I have ever heard it.
“Well, being a victim of a break-in myself, I could only imagine what would happen if we pushed a very harsh sentence on one of their own.”
“But would only ten years be enough to correct any behaviors? I do not think the other humans would fear that.”

“Maybe not, but ten years of hard labor in the Crystal mines would put fear in anyone.”

“And we could add that any protest by the humans as a result of our decision would lead to the maximum punishment, being death, to any protestor.”
“Interesting, but it is not protest by the humans that I am most concerned with…” President Aron said, rubbing his hands on his slacks as if weighing the costs of our proposed solution.  I could not help but note how oddly similar this action was to Frida's in the jail.
He closed his eyes as if in deep thought.  Suddenly he opened them, “We will sentence the human to ten years in the Crystal Mines!”  He announced.
“I think that is a good decision sir!”
“Not so fast!  We still have to deal with the bots who wanted the death penalty,” President Aron said.

I was so excited, thinking that I had succeeded in saving
Frida’s life, that I never gave what President Aron said, much thought.  “Oh I am sure that when they think about what might have happened to our community if we had gone that route, they will be perfectly OK with it.”
“I am not so sure about that,” president Aron said, but his expression seemed satisfied with his decision.
Mia also seemed pretty satisfied with the decision.
“I guess that is all then.  Vice President Ardis, I will read over the law you drafted and make any necessary changes.”
“Yes, sir,” I said, as Mia and I stood up.

“I will be having a press conference first thing in the morning, announcing our decision,” President
Aron said.
“I expect you both to be there!” He began.
“If there is a backlash because of this…I am holding the two of you responsible as well!” He continued.
At the time, President Aron’s statement did not bother me, because I was a little naïve.  I had no idea the level of backlash this simple decision would cause.



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