Author : Alla Hoffman

When he opened his eyes, it was a special kind of dark. The sky was a dull purple, and what light there was came from the ground beneath its stygian spread. He sat up stiffly in a sea of trash, a vast junkyard. Much of the scrap metal and rock glowed a sickly greenish color, and he didn’t want to think about why. Every part of him was aching, and the morning amnesia hadn’t fully faded. “The hell….” He stood, rubbing blearily at his eyes, and cursed when he realized his ankle couldn’t support his full weight. As he looked out across the abyssal dumping grounds, he put name to place, mainly because a dented sign creaked on a pole next to him. T. W. D. P. 13, Toxic Waste Disposal Planet 13. Recently made off-limits by the government, on grounds of contamination by hostile elements, the first time such a designation had been given to a trash planet. Then again, no one had ever created a self-maintaining, self-improving species of machines before. He’d known that was probably a bad idea, from the standpoint of personal safety.

He wondered how far they’d gotten in the 84 hours they’d been free. It had taken only 19 for them to make themselves known on the planets surface, 26 to be categorized as dangerous. It had taken the governing council another two days to find out who was responsible, but it had taken them only two hours to try and convict him. There had been talk of execution by various methods or imprisonment, but ultimately they decided on a more…unorthodox punishment. Their leniency had hinged on the fact he had created a species, not a weapon, to destroy this world. And after all, it was only a trash planet. Hardly a great loss to society. So they’d sent him to “live” with his own creations. If the radiation didn’t get him first.

He scrabbled around in the junk until he found a bent metal pole, and used it to pull himself up, stumping shakily forwards. He hadn’t yet figured out a plan for himself, but in the end it didn’t really matter. His big plan, the important one, was already inevitably in motion. The machines would begin to improve themselves, and god knew they weren’t short of materials, and soon they would construct weapons and flight. And spaceflight. And he hadn’t bothered to write hostility towards man into them, that was the beauty of it. They had only the biological imperative: survive, reproduce. Mankind would see to the hostility itself, as the robots spread and people became afraid. They would write their own end with their hostility and their fear. And their trash.

That’s what they were for, to provide the antidote to humanity. Ultimately, he hadn’t been supposed to survive either. He’d just wanted to watch. There were cliffs of wrecked ships in the distance, and he began making for them. They’d have a pretty good view. They were a good place to wait. He was glad he’d ended up here, in a way. He might not get to see the end, but he could watch the beginning. It seemed right that the next stage should start here, where humanity had started out so long ago, before it had gotten lost among the stars.

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