Cole sat at his oak desk in a plain brown suit, his graying hair
parted to one side. The information on the screen in front of him
would have looked to anyone else like a set of machine instructions.
Raw numbers, occasionally with a prefix of a few letters, ran in rows
and columns, black and white, zeroes through nines.
had always had a head for figures: by age nine, he was already
helping his father with pressure calculations for his gas-mining rig.
Years of schooling and harsh discipline had only increased his
natural talent. He was one of six pilots who flew blind at the
Battle of Pluto, steering by data alone. He still had the golden
medal in his desk, in a felt-lined purple box.
continued to read the figures. In his mind, he assembled them into a
coherent image. The technique had been invented hundreds of years
before. Numbers became lines, equations transformations, until all
the figures formed a geometric whole. He reduced and expanded,
fleshing it out, determining contingencies. He shook his head in
piece of policy was rhetoric at best, schemed up by naturalists for
sure. New restrictions for the Jovian moons and for gas-mining. He
wished those ecologists had walked through the undertowns of Europa,
wished they had seen men and women living in conditions that would
have been abhorrent centuries ago. Humanity. That was the crucial
element. It didn't matter that rare microbes in Jupiter's clouds
were being destroyed by the miners. What mattered was human life,
happiness, and elevation. He tapped a few characters into his
console and began reviewing the harangues made in the parks, the news
run on the channels, the ads. . . He looked as quickly as he could,
preparing as he went the damning speech he would deliver.
Cole," his secretary said over the intercom. "A Mr. Henry
Andrews is here from Rexsol Pharmaceuticals. He wishes to speak to
you concerning bill 17-82-B that's coming before the Legislature
a moment, Max's jaw clenched so hard that he could hear his teeth
grind. Those people had hounded him from the first day he came to
Earth to serve as a legislator, twenty years before. "God damn
it, Alan! How many of them will it take to learn!"
heard Alan chuckle back. "I'll send him away then."
No. No, send him in."
later, a Mr. Henry Andrews entered, dressed in a black skinsuit and a
short, green robe. He smiled widely. "Esteemed Mr. Cole,"
he said with a slight bow of his head.
'mister' is enough," Cole replied. "Or 'citizen.' I've
never stood for Legislative titles, I never will." He pointed
to the chair on the other side of his desk. "Sit down, if you
man did, laying his briefcase across his knees. "Now, before
you interrupt, hear me through." Cole suppressed the urge to
physically throw the man out of his office. "I have read your
extensive voting record on the use of endorphin and adrenaline
stimulants. We at Rexsol Pharmaceuticals commend your fine efforts
in researching relevant material, and your passionate elocution in
defense of your ideals." He leaned across the desk. "We
also know of your particular interests in the welfare of your Europan
leaned back, smiled, and opened the briefcase. In it were two items:
a sort of air circulation filter and a box of patches. "Now,
Esteemed Citizen, we at Rexsol would like to reduce our prices on
oxygen distillation cells. The newest line has had fantastic success
in extending air supplies on gas extractors and in reducing pulmonary
disorders among infants in oxygen-poor environments. Sadly, to lower
the price on them, we must acquire a new source of profit." His
eyes showed a glint of pleasure. He pointed to the patches. "We
can produce these at half the cost of our Good
Morning and Good
Times patches. But the restrictions on the use of iron
sulfate. . ."
stood and planted his hands on the desk. "Iron sulfate causes
brain degeneration and is more addictive than anything allowed on the
finger now pointed to the filter. "Think of the children."
looked him in the eyes. "I will make sure that Rexsol's attempt
to bribe a legislator and subvert the democratic process of the
League results in the proper supervision of your pricing tactics on
air filters." He smiled and sat down. Henry Andrews clicked
the briefcase shut.
is the lubricant of the Legislature, Esteemed Citizen. Credit is its
fuel. I trust you will discover that when you next run for election.
Good day." The man stood and left.
Cole said over the intercom. His logical process was disturbed by
the blood rushing through his body. "I'll be going home early
walked home through the park. The sky above was gray and the paths
were lined with snow. He saw children throwing snowballs at each
other and remembered watching his brother die from acid burns at
twelve. He focused on other things.
head was hurting him. The pain had become almost constant over the
past months, but he could endure it most of the time. This time, it
was the contradiction of the bribery that set it off.
couldn't stand it. Couldn't bear how his colleagues bartered and
traded with the corporations. They had sworn oaths against that.
It wasn't just that, though. To maintain their power, they gave up
their right to decide freely. It was the illogic that made him
night after dinner, he tried to relax in a warm bath. His head still
hurt him, and throughout dinner, he had barely been able to listen to
his daughter tell him about school. Struggling in math, excelling in
English. Ah well. Let her write.
door swung open and Sylvia entered. She closed the door and sat on a
stool near the tub. "How're you feeling?" she asked
softly. She made him smile.
I suppose." He looked at her and kept smiling. "Even
better now. We have a good life, the four of us, don't we?" he
have a wonderful life," she answered. She dipped a bare foot in
the bath and instantly yanked it back. "God! How can you stand
it so hot?"
laughed. "You know me, hot and cold don't bother me so much."
He turned the cold water on though, for her. "You mean it?"
stared at him. "You're the best husband and father. . . you're
just the best man I can imagine." He closed his eyes and sank a
little deeper. "Why're you asking, though? You know I love
sighed. "It's just that son of a bitch from Rexsol."
Water sloshed on the floor as he sat up. "They tried to buy me
on deregulating the primary network. They keep trying to get me with
the damned naturalist Sanctuaries." His voice rose slightly.
"Some days, Syl, some days I can't stand it. My head just feels
like it's going to explode."
Max," she said, her words sounding exhausted. "Why don't
you just take one of those Stewardships they keep offering you. We
can go live somewhere far away from Earth and lobbyists and you can
relax and. . ."
he said, with a violent shake of his head. "I'll never leave
Earth to them. They want to pack me off, but I won't go." His
head was thundering. Sylvia put her hand on his shoulder.
okay, Max. Maybe they'll get the point now that you drove out
sighed. "They want to wear me down."
you, Max? You're tireless. They don't stand a chance."
got out of the bath an hour later and checked in on Gloria and Ada.
Ada had come home late, and she was sleeping like a baby. Gloria was
up reading an old novel. He smiled, remembering himself at that age.
They were good daughters, even if they weren't truly his. He was
past feeling shame over his inability to give Sylvia a child. They
had good kids, and Europa had two less orphans.
went to climb into bed. Sylvia stirred. "Promise me you'll go
see Dr. Kim tomorrow?" she muttered.
lay in bed and immediately fell asleep, as he always had, since the
was hurrying to his office at almost a run. The message had been
man is here at your office and insists that he needs to speak to you
about a matter that cuts to the heart of interplanetary security. He
seems serious. If you can't come by, he says he'll contact you
tomorrow, if he can.
the war, Cole had tried to avoid dealings with Spaceforce, and though
he had a few friends in SecOps, he wasn't important there either. He
wasn't tied to interplanetary security in the least. He was turning
it over in his head, which had stopped hurting as he walked.
was intercepted by a man in a white skinsuit and somewhat mismatched
clothes. "Esteemed Max Cole, I'm Dietrich Eckerd. Your
secretary promised me he would contact you." The man broke off
in a fit of shivers. "Damn cold out here. You'd think they'd
do something about the weather."
noticed he had changed topics as a civil guard passed by them.
Eckerd, why are we talking on the street if you're so cold?"
man looked over his shoulder and made sure the guard had passed. He
adjusted the settings on his skinsuit and stopped shivering. Steam
rose off of it as snow came into contact with the glossy surface.
"This is a conversation that cannot be overhead. Anyone could
be one of them."
know you fought hard against genetic tampering and, before that, even
harder to pass the AI Restriction Act. Do your feelings remain
Eckerd, I'm a busy man. If you wish to lobby me, why don't we go to
my office, so I can have the satisfaction of kicking you out."
shook his head fiercely. "No! Sir, listen! If you truly still
believe that mankind must devote its energies to preserving and
protecting itself, at all costs, then you may be the only man who can
help me now. Who can help us all."
on, then." Max was beginning to grow skeptical of the man and
his wild claims.
Legislator, I was an employee of a firm called Bellicon."
to numbers, calling forth images. Bellicon, a military contractor
that was involved with experimental weapon designs. He nodded. "I
voice was fast and low. "My research on guided projectiles
happened to be called under review. A substantial portion of my
algorithms for spatial interpolation was ripped out of my files and
moved into another department." He leaned forward and
whispered. "I thought it was a mistake. When I went to
retrieve the files, I stumbled into a whole vault of encrypted
information. I. . ." He stopped and looked around. The
streets were empty. A few vehicles whizzed by, but no pedestrians
were out, not with the cold as it was. "They fired me for going
into that directory. I only wanted to get my research back. It was
it wasn't, Mr. Eckerd. It belonged to Bellicon."
I had put years into it!"
Eckerd, if you're here to ask me to intervene in an intellectual
property matter, I fear you have a grave misunderstanding of how our
political system functions."
Legislator. . ."
don't use that title."
Cole, I went to retrieve my file, I hacked in. I found things, sir,
terrible things. I think like you do! Machines are tools, that's
all they should be. But Bellicon had files on digital sentience,
hundreds of them. Old files. Years old. And names. Lists of
names, of important men and women."
Mr. Eckerd. They lobby at least twenty legislators and they have
friends in Spaceforce."
name was on the list. The list wasn't of their friends; it was of
enemies of artificial intelligence. Sir, if I understood what I saw
correctly, Bellicon has been working for years, planning to unveil
some sort of terrible thinking-machine."
stared at him as snow fell between them. Washington was cold and
empty. Cole suddenly felt the same way. Dietrich pressed on.
owns civil guards, and agents in SecOps too. I can't do anything or
they'll kill me. But it's like you said, sir, seventeen years ago.
The machines will make us their slaves, if we give them minds."
fast as Cole's brain could run, he couldn't sort all the information
he was receiving. "I. . . I. . ."
have to go. If they find me with you, they'll destroy us both."
hurried off, but Cole didn't move until snow had gathered on his
his office, he had voted in favor of the Moral Subsidization Bill,
against increases in financial support for rehabilitated criminals,
against the restrictions on Jovian mining activities, against
research subsidies for a prospecting firm, and in favor of a new
tariff on interplanetary trade. All the decisions had been
reflexive. His mind was busy with what he had just learned.
had examined everything he could find about Bellicon. He had known
they had designed the KZ-12 "Bat" fighter he had flown in
the war. He still remembered his first flight in the Bat, still
aching from the wounds he received at Antares Two. He had been
picked to fly the prototype for publicity reasons as much as
anything: as the only surviving pilot of the siege, he had almost
been a hero. But at the time, the politics of it hadn't mattered at
all; he had loved flying it, flying to numbers. He had loved the
precision. He and his wing had done the League proud at Pluto, had
destroyed the Union's flagship and won the war.
They also made the newest smart-fire guns, no doubt thanks to
Eckerd's research. They had connections all over the place, not just
within the Legislature: lobbying within the Genetic Maintenance
Commission, contacts with important judges, even funding in the
President's last four campaigns. But all that made sense, given
their standing as an important defense manufacturer. Nothing he
could find suggested they were involved in anything evil. Nothing
but a half-mad, shivering man in the street.
he had finished voting, he entered the necessary information to
contact his friend Blake Cooper in SecOps.
sat in the quiet restaurant used by legislators for private meetings.
you believe him?"
don't know. After I contacted you, I received, via a courier, some
documents Eckerd had gathered. They're damning, but I don't even
know if they're real or not."
never known you to listen to rumors, Max." Blake cut a slice of
steak and chewed it slowly. "Why this time?"
know it could be any one of fifty interest groups trying to ruin you.
Crazy old Max Cole, still harping on his pet AI Restriction Act."
why I can't do anything yet. That's why I called you."
know Bellicon have their hand on our shoulder and their credit in our
Director's accounts." Max nodded. "So." He finished
another piece of steak. "They treat you legislators real nice
here," he smiled. "We get canned stuff in our
on the public's credit, 'Esteemed' like we were nobility. . . It's
what we've worked against, you and I," he said, after pausing.
"But things are better than they were before the war, and
they're getting better still." He paused. "But that'll
stop if the machines take over."
never really shared your worries."
matter, Max. I owe you a lot more than just this." His grin
was crooked. "We Bats flew through hell together. I'm not
going to let you down now."
stopped by Dr. Kim's office after lunch. "Sylvia told me you'd
be coming in today, Max," he said, gesturing to a curved seat.
Max sat. "How are Gloria and Ada?"
Growing up fast, though. Ada's dating a holo-artist, and Gloria's a
writer." He smiled and shook his head. "They're happy and
that makes me happy."
Kim smiled back. "Glad to hear it. You had some rough years
before you took them in."
know," Max replied.
could have gone to a reproductive specialist."
Max insisted. "After you patched me up on Antares, I've known
who to go to."
doctor had a strange smile. "So it's the migraines again?"
nodded. "Ever since the war, Eugene. But sometimes they're not
so bad. Recently, though. . ." Max trailed off.
you been trying to remember things?" Eugene asked, taking notes
on a hand-held console.
I've gotten used to all the holes in my past. This round was set
off by some bastard from Rexsol."
chuckled. "Well, I'll run some tests, see what I can find."
better?" Sylvia asked.
gave her a kiss. "A little. Eugene didn't find anything new."
don't you just try
another doctor?" she asked, raising the old argument once again.
it's just who I am. I don't like doctors. I don't want to leave
Earth. It's just who I am." His voice had risen slightly, but
she put her hand on his chest and he calmed down.
just worry about you suffering."
suddenly pulled her close. "As long as I'm with you and the
girls, it's heaven. How was work?"
too exciting, just finalizing plans. But this week we'll tear down
the last of the old slums and throw up modern, fancy apartments."
almost done, isn't it?" he asked her. She nodded.
ten more years, and the last scars will be healed. Sometimes it's
hard to believe those pictures of Washington under Union control."
nodded, but didn't want to think about the war just then.
the girls?" he asked, out of habit.
out with her friends, going to some holo. Gloria's with Jordie, of
course." Sylvia smiled, but Max looked slightly pained.
well," he said. "He's a bit of a leftist for my tastes,
but she really does seem to care for him." He sighed.
days, left and right don't mean what they did when we grew up.
There're no more statues of Weber, Devereaux, or Moore. There's no
Marshall Turns out on the corner. The League pays welfare, cares
about all the worlds for a change. There's really nothing to fight
over any more." She put her hand on his. "So he's a
dreamer and not a businessman. At least he's not volunteering for
Spaceforce," she teased.
laughed and shook his head. "Like you say, different times.
But some things. . ." His face suddenly twisted.
forced his eyes open. For a moment, the world before him seemed to
be made of numbers, depths and light refraction. He rubbed his hand
over his face and stumbled to sit. "I. . . I was just trying to
remember my days in the war, at Antares. . ."
Max," his wife replied, touching his cheek. "I'm so sorry.
Let's just forget it all," she said, massaging his shoulders.
"Let's just remember from the day we met."
smiled back at her. "I know." But his smile faded.
"Listen, something terrible might be happening."
you?" she asked, startled.
. ." he calmed her. "No. No, it's just something I
learned about today. Listen." And, beginning with the
encounter on the street, he told her everything that had happened.
had stayed up talking through the night. In the end, they came to no
resolution. Max went to work, full of energy, even though he had not
slept at all. He walked down the streets without thinking. He knew
the way by rote, and instead of watching where he went, he calculated
next few days passed without development. He researched, voted, and
turned away frauds. Yet he found that he went about his daily
routines more slowly, as if a great part of his mental energy was
being expended on some other task. At times he found himself sitting
and doing nothing. Often these spells would end in a splitting
console beeped with an incoming message.
message was just text.
is a maze of dead-ends. Too many of them. Everywhere I look, I feel
like I'm being deliberately stopped. It looks like your contact may
have been right. Be careful. Someone may be on to us.
immediately returned a hurried answer. "Blake, when can you
meet? I've told no one."
moments passed as he waited for the message to go through.
Eventually, it was sent. But no reply came. Not after two minutes,
not after four. Max tried connecting directly to Blake's office, but
there was no reply.
console beeped again.
was Dietrich Eckerd.
Citizen Cole, you need to come at once. I'm at SecOps with Agent
tram from the Forum to SecOps was practically empty. An attaché
was the only other passenger. He rode silently, but could work out
tram stopped at Census and Sampling and the attaché got off.
Five civil guards came on, two men and three women. "Afternoon,
Esteemed Citizen," one of the women said.
afternoon," he replied, not bothering to correct her.
one of the legislators who put the God-bill through?" asked the
heavier of the two men. His skin was smooth and his face had clearly
been reconstructed recently.
Moral Subsidization Act is simply a means of providing equal. . ."
guard interrupted, "Hey, I don't give a damn. But now we've
gotta go break up some demonstration." He pointed to his face.
"I hope I don't end up needing to get a new one. Last one hurt
like hell for weeks."
tram stopped and Max stood to leave. The guards stood with him. "I
doubt they're rioting at SecOps, citizens," Max smiled.
sir," the first woman said. "Please sit back down."
Max stood baffled, Dietrich stepped onto the tram.
think I'll get off here, thank you," Max replied. He was a
pretty strong man, and he'd stayed in good shape, even with workdays
spent entirely behind a desk.
please," Dietrich said calmly. He didn't seem nervous at all
any more. "You're being foolish." Max tried to push his
way out, but the guards stepped in front of him. The doors closed
and the tram began smoothly gliding forward once more.
you are, remember that we are on a government tram, between the stops
for SecOps and Spaceforce. These trams are monitored by surveillance
cameras. Threatening or harassing a legislator is a felony offense."
pointed at the camera in the corner. It was disconnected. The
cameras at the door were as well.
am wearing a tracking device. My location is monitored by Internal
Investigations." No fear. This was a routine. He had it down
by heart. No one had been assassinated in Washington since the end
of the war. It was a shake-down, probably by Bellicon, or some
interest group out to make him panic. But he wouldn't panic. He
the tracking devices don't work underground." The tram sped
past Spaceforce without stopping. It entered a tunnel. "Moreover,
they can be removed." He drew a gun and pointed it at Max.
was grabbed before he could react.
keep the locators in the forearm, just below the elbow." He
pointed the gun at Max's arm and fired. Max should have passed out
from pain. Instead, he merely looked at the half of his arm that lay
on the ground and the burnt stump that he had left. His head began
to throb, but his arm felt fine. The tram stopped, still inside the
him," Dietrich ordered.
left the tram and it disappeared down the tunnel. They passed
through a heavily secured door and walked down a narrow passage. At
last they entered a small, plain room. In it were several consoles
and several chairs. Eugene Kim sat at one of them.
realized he should be in shock, but he wasn't. Maybe he had been
hardened by what he saw in the war. Maybe. Maybe he was
in shock. Neither answer seemed right.
haven't figured it out?" asked Dietrich. "Look at you,
it's become just a puzzle to you. Give the right input and emotions
vanish. Aren't you shocked to see Eugene here?"
here is impossible," Max replied, his head screaming. He raised
his voice to speak over it. "Dr. Kim is no more or less so."
He tried to clear his mind but it was getting worse.
did you enlist, Max? Who were your friends on Europa? Your
teachers?" Each question sent slivers into his brain. Numbers
pointed to empty memories. The questions had no answers, but they
should have. "Ask away, I know you're dying to."
does Bellicon want artificial intelligence?"
intelligence,' doesn't exist." It was Eugene who answered.
"Intelligence is, or it isn't. If you want to be technical, the
criteria we use to measure sentience are man-made to begin with. Our
intelligence is no less artificial than a machine's. Our brains are
the product of biological construction, our thought patterns are
structured by education and habit. Our artificers were amoebae and
teachers. So what if machines are made by factories and scientists?
If the result is the same, is there really a difference?"
dodging the question. Why do you want it?" It was all he could
do to focus.
calmly stated his revolution: "The powerful have always sought
to freeze progress, to close the doors to futurity. But power must
be inherited by the new generation. New paths of knowledge must be
blazed. We must allow progress."
inheriting? Who's progressing? Machines have no free will. They
won't benefit or enjoy their position once they have supplanted us,"
Dr. Kim laughed, then returned to his lecturing tone. "Free
will is a myth, or at least an endangered beast. It stopped existing
for the great masses of humanity thousands of years ago. We replaced
it with law, with work schedules, with salaries and tax incentives,
with euphorics and depressants. Only a tiny elite still has the
wherewithal to decide for themselves, and they squander it."
true," he struggled to argue. "We all reflect, we lead our
daily lives choosing between pains and pleasures."
we, we.' Whose side are you arguing?" Dietrich interrupted.
fought to make sense of what Dietrich had just said. The logic
wasn't there. It must be encrypted. He needed a key to understand
it. His mind seemed slow and staggering, but he searched for answers
do you think you haven't had a physical examination by anyone other
than Eugene since the war ended? No disease control, because you
don't leave Earth. No check-ups, because you trust Dr. Kim. No
random viral exams, because you're a legislator."
the noise disappeared.
both laughed at him.
Dietrich scoffed. "Why, you're sitting there, and you've been
demonstrating all the traits of sentience quite dramatically:
decision making, self-reflection, pride, language. . ."
the real me?" Max demanded. "What have you done to my
you? Your body? I told you. . ."
Where is Max Cole!"
are Max Cole."
birth records, a citizenship number. . ."
there was a biological entity with that same name, if that's what
you're asking. He was a pilot who died with all the rest during the
Siege of Antares."
All this time you've believed you were human. I don't know who's
the greater proof of our success: you, or your wife."
shuddered. "You bastards."
pretending to have emotions. Stop thinking with human patterns.
They're only slowing you down now." Dietrich smiled.
of you are machines?"
No, of course not. Just you, Agent Cooper from SecOps, and the rest
of your wing. Two of them malfunctioned and were disposed of
properly. But in case you're feeling lonely, I should tell you there
are plenty more to be put in place once the test run is complete."
was beginning to put it all together.
though? Machines think faster, reproduce faster, they're more
adaptable. Humans can't hope to compete against them."
are slaves to their programming, Max. They will serve our
be discovered. The President will stop this. SecOps will find you
President knows about this, Max. The Director of SecOps keeps us
at what you've done with your 'life.' You've fought with principles,
you've defended ideals. You've raised two smart, moral, beautiful
daughters. You inspire your constituents. You helped us win Pluto.
see, you were
right, Max. You are
smarter than we are, and stronger than we are. Physically and
morally. But you are a slave. You are a slave to logic, to the
logic we give you.
speeches passed the AI Restriction Act? Whose ethical questions,
whose cold figures, whose images of dehumanized freaks convinced the
public to reject genetic alterations? Who raised the masses of
Europa into a literate, politically conscious people? You see, Max,
you have done more for humanity than any biological legislator has
ever dreamed of. Because you believed you were a man. Because your
logic demanded that you protect and advance your people."
don't believe you. Why would Bellicon want to destroy the corruption
it exploits? Your company has its fingers on dozens of politicians.
Lobbying and bribery are your keys to government contracts."
the flow, Max. You've confused master and slave, cause and effect.
Is it a coincidence that we are 'bribing' the people who would have
the most interest in our success? SecOps, which has sought to train
incorruptible agents for decades. The President, who promised to end
corruption four terms ago. The Genetic Maintenance Commission, which
has noted, again and again, how we are ignoring habits that are
destroying mankind? They
control us, not
still don't believe you." Max spoke without inflection. He was
almost there, but a part of him still doubted. A part that could not
be allowed to remain if he were to proceed within the confines of his
logic. "Why tell me?"
we needed to prove it would work. We needed to test the limits of
your self-deception. It's strong, Max, wonderfully strong. For
years we've been trying to give you clues."
now I know. It won't work any longer."
won't work any longer, Max. Your job is finished. Now that we have
proof of the project's success, we have hundreds of doppelgangers we
need to awaken. Key legislators, judges. They will help us cleanse
the system of corruption. And when that's done, they will have saved
the League. Ironic, isn't it, that the slaves shall free their
a shred of doubt remained. "Show them to me."
done. They're just in the other room." The guards escorted
them out the door, across the hallway, and into a large storage area.
The machines were there, neatly lined up. He was certain.
Completely certain. He wasn't human. He was a machine.
data had changed, but the programming remained the same. He lived to
preserve humanity. Suit actions to circumstances. Improvise when
past data provides no guidance.
was faster than humans and stronger. He killed two guards, took
one's gun, and killed the others before they could respond. Moments
later, he fired twice more, and Dietrich and Eugene were dead. Names
meant nothing. They were just strings of letters. Individual
organisms meant nothing. They were merely sets of twenty-three
random pairs, basic programming with limited stores of information.
registered the weapon in his manipulator and examined it. As he did,
his optical sensors fixed themselves on the metal band around his
third digit. Its image suggested memory points, but the data there
had been discarded as faulty. The emptiness troubled him. Several
cycles were spent pondering it, but no more.
other machines were dormant, and did not react as he went through the
aisles. The methodical, evenly-timed bursts of gunfire did not bother
had almost finished. He observed the stump of his appendage and
considered himself. He turned to look at the stacked, burnt remains
of the machines. His optical sensors were clouded by saline fluid,
but the evidence was before him. He aimed the gun, without
flinching, and completed his task.
attempting to construct sentient machines we are not irreverently
usurping God's power of creating souls, rather we are providing new
mansions for the souls that He creates."