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Friday, May 4, 2012

Metallic Heart - Chapter 19

 News of President Aron’s death spread faster than I could have imagined.
 
 As I left city hall that day, almost all of Lunar Lakes’ bots were standing in the streets.
 
 While some bots appeared to be in shock… 
 
 …others seemed upset.
 And while there were some bots whose expressions I could not read…
 
 A few others appeared strangely satisfied.
 
 “Is it true?  Is he really dead?” My friend Noella asked.

“Yes.  His entire processing system was burned out.  Who could be capable of such a thing?”
 
 “Oh, I can think of a few people,” Noella answered, not looking at anyone in particular, but I suspected that she was referring to Lily Bot 301, Chas’ co-worker.  The two of them had a history of not exactly getting along.
 “The police believe that a human did it, but how could a human gain access?”
 
 “There are ways to gain access anywhere…if you are skilled enough.” 

Noella’s statement gained some attention from the bots standing near us.

“Surely you cannot be suggesting that a mort would be skilled enough,” Martin, Lily’s
bot mate spoke up.
“No, of course not,” Noella quickly answered before turning back to me.  “So a bot had to have done this,” she said, not really in a questioning tone.
“Of course a bot would not have done this,” Phillip, Mia’s bot mate responded before I had a chance to reply.
“Well we all know that there are some among us that have been affected by a virus.  Who knows what the virus may be doing to their systems?” Noella answered.

“That is just rumor,”
Amira suddenly spoke up behind Noella.  “And who cares who did it.  I, for one, am glad that the bot is dead.  Perhaps we can get some real justice around here now.”
“How dare you say such a thing!  There is a bot in there right now that will be without her bot mate forever!” I said, “Come to think of it, where were you this morning around seven.”
“Are you trying to accuse me of this? I feel bad for Priscilla, but I am just saying what half of the bots in Lunar Lakes are thinking.  That does not mean that I killed the President!”
“Now is not the time for this,” I say regaining control of my emotional responses; attempting to get Amira to do the same.
“I did not do it!” Amira reemphasized once again in a snarl.
“Okay, okay.  Let us not forget that now that President Aron is dead, Ardis is now our President.  Let us show her some respect,” Noella reminded all the bots, but specifically addressing Amira.
“We will see how that goes,” Amira said quickly, but left it at that when she realized what could happen to her for not respecting the President.
“There is nothing else to see here,” I said, regaining my authority.  “You should all just return home.”

The bots reluctantly obeyed and turned to leave. 
Noella stayed behind to make sure I was safe from any further comments from Amira and Phillip stayed to wait for Mia, his bot mate, to emerge from City Hall.
After everyone had left, I finally headed home; my emotional responses feeding me new feelings of sorrow.
 I also began to get a few fear responses.  If something like this could happen to President Aron who, for the most part, was not at all a friend to the humans…what would happen to me, who is guilty of trying to help them?
Chas was by my side as soon as I entered our home.
Without thinking, I ran into his arms.  “Oh Chas, it was so awful!”

“I know, I know.  Sorry I was not there.”
“Were you the one to find him?”

“Yes…I…I thought he had just shorted out, but…”
“…the mechanic said he was dead. I did not even know such a thing could…”
Before I could finish my sentence, my processing system brought up a memory from a few days ago.  While we stood in this very spot, I remembered that Chas told me that there were ways to kill a bot.
He was the first and only bot that had ever suggested that a thing like that could happen. I had to ask him a very hard question.  “Chas…” I began.
I was a little afraid to proceed, but I did.  “You did not have anything to do with this, did you?” I asked in a voice very contrary to the seriousness of my question.
“Anything to do with what dear Ardis?”
“You know…President Aron’s death,” I answered.

“What? …No!  How could I?”
“Well Chas…you were more than just a little upset about his announcement.”

“Yes, but to suggest that I could kill him…” Chas said, his face slowly distorting into an expression of hurt.
He faced me and looked into my eyes.  “I could never have killed President Aron.  We had our disagreements, but I could never have killed him.” 

It was hard to argue with his sincerity.  I had no choice but to believe him, but it still left an unanswered question.  “So who did this?” I asked, not expecting an answer.
“Oh my!” Chas suddenly said.  “Oh…that is it!  It has to be!”

“What?” I asked having no idea what he was talking about.
“Can you see?  A human…a dirty mort was responsible for this.”

“But how?” I asked, “You know more than anyone that with the security portals in place, no human could enter
city hall.”
“We actually have been having problems with the security portals.  We had Monica at the lab all day attempting to fix the security portal control panel.”
“Is that why she was not available to fix the president? The security portals were down?  But how?  How would a human happen to know when the security portals would conveniently be down?”

“I have suspected for a while that the systems of some of the bots here in Lunar Lakes have been compromised.”
“Compromised?  You mean by a virus?”

“Yes, yes…a virus.  I think the humans have found a way to hack into a few of our systems and implant a virus, maybe even creating a
bot informant.”
“Chas, I do not know. It seems a little far fetched to me.”

“It is the only explanation.  See, I told you that the only way to keep the humans in line was to be rid of them.  Now they have managed to kill the president.”
I had to seriously consider what Chas was saying.  Maybe a human could have been responsible after all?  There is a virus going around and with the portals down, a human could have actually entered City Hall.

Chas continued, “Either way, I will get to the bottom of this, but you have to believe me.  I had nothing to do with this.”
“I hoped not, but I had to ask,” I said.

“I understand.  You must be really stressed…I have an idea.  Let us get away for a while.”
“Chas, I cannot.  I am going to have to prepare a speech and hold a press conference now that I will be expected to take over President Aron’s position.”

“Yes, but we can just get out of the house for one night!”
“I-”

“Please!  You have a big job ahead of you…reuniting the
bot community and finally dealing with these humans.  Let us get away. It will allow you to clear your mind. When we return home, I will help you with your speech.”
Chas offered his hand in a plea.  “Allow me to take care of you for one night, before you take charge of our whole community.”
“Okay,” I finally answered.  “You are right.  I could stand to unwind a little.”
This time Chas pulled me into a hug.  “Good!  You will not regret it.” He whispered in my ear.

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