Song’s Next of Kin

Author : Morrow Brady

Following hospital sedation, Song Jai’s medical file displayed next-of-kin as MAC 1500t, Song’s Mechanised Automaton Companion.

With no legal reason to deny such a request, the hospital duly summoned Mac, Song’s robot assistant.

Mac’s tungsten humanoid frame eased alongside Song’s ward bed and requested access to Song’s medical vitals and history.

Like all robots, Mac’s core Asimov code meant it couldn’t injure a human by action or inaction, couldn’t disobey orders and must protect itself. No-one fully comprehended how the interpretation of these three laws would impact Song’s final order for Mac to be his next-of-kin.

For Song, the outlook wasn’t good. Sepsis had ravaged his body, causing spectacular collapse of his vital organs.

Within the first hour, Mac reported the newly installed tier four nursing software enabled it to provide a higher level of nursing care than any of the current ICU staff. Once approved, Mac withdrew from his devoted perch and proceeded to carry out nursing duties including drug administration, dialysis maintenance, body manipulation and reporting. Live data feeds displayed Song’s condition as Mac whizzed around the hospital bed drawing a crowd at the observation window.

After two hours, Mac reported it now ran level 14 medical diagnostician software, along with a multi-thread live link to 24 key physicians across the world. His request to take over Song’s care could hardly be refused since Mac had now become the smartest doctor in the hospital and probably the country.

Song was not showing any signs of improvement. His vital organs were in a state of collapse and his heart rate and blood pressure monitors played a frightful tune. Song was in tiger country with danger at each turn.

The hospital catered to Mac’s various requests for drugs, equipment and tests, and then a series of strange parcels arrived. Bewildered staff watched as Mac systematically integrated the strangely shaped contents of each parcel into his mechanised form. By the end of day two, Mac had physically expanded by way of strange transformations around his enlarged chest cavity.

On the third day, Mac announced his masterplan to the Administrator, supported by an exhaustive list of integrated medical hardware upgrades. Mac was to load Song’s body into his own body, which now provided full life support.

Following extensive evaluation and consultation, the hospital accepted the proposal. There was simply no facility on the planet that could provide better patient care.

Through the observation window, staff watched Mac dutifully raise Song’s body from the bed and carefully insert him into the made-to-fit cavity. Mac was now nurse, doctor and hospital all in one.

Probes mechanically rotated to insert main arterial lines and a transparent carapace closed over to seal the internal environment from contagion. Filters buried in Mac’s silvery frame began to turn rhythmically to provide blood and oxygen support.

Slowly over 8 hours, Song’s degeneration began to slow and by the end of day four, Song showed signs of improvement.

Staff were witnessing a leap in medical technology.

By week’s end, Song’s improvement had plateaued. The prolonged septic attack had caused cranial swelling and irreparable brain damage.

Although Song’s prognosis was dire, Mac maintained life support and to the hospital’s surprise returned Song to their home.

As next-of-kin, Mac had the right to sustain Song’s comatose body indefinitely. To preserve himself, Mac had to preserve his Master indefinitely and did so for four hundred years until the remnants of Song’s mindless brain had decayed beyond recognition.

Song’s law was added after this event to prevent any non-human from ever again becoming next-of-kin.

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