Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
Major Clanet’s head felt like it had split in half. He forced his eyes open and saw his android navigator standing above him. “What happened?” he asked.
The android extended a hand and helped the human to his feet. “We delivered the supplies to the station, and were returning to Earth. During reentry, there was a structural failure of the right hand glide wing. We began to tumble violently. You blacked out. Seconds before the shuttle exploded, aliens beamed us onto their spacecraft.”
“Aliens? What makes you think it was aliens?”
“Teleportation technology does not exist on Earth, so I concluded extraterrestrials were involved.”
“Right,” Clanet reluctantly acknowledged. “Well, when taken prisoner, our first duty is to escape. Are we still in space?”
“No. I believe the ship has landed.”
Clanet surveyed the small room. There were four walls; two curved and two straight. A convex wall contained a large door with a vertical handle near the right hand side. The opposite wall was concave, and contained a similar door, but the handle was horizontal and crossed the mid-height of the door. “Assuming the ship is cylindrical,” Clanet concluded, “the concave wall must contain the door to the outside.” He walked over to the door and pushed against the handle with all his strength, but nothing happened. “Damn, it’s locked. I guess we’ll have to go inboard, and fight our way out. We need to find some kind of weapon.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary, Major Clanet? The aliens saved our lives, there is no reason to assume that they intend to harm us.”
“First of all, they saved my life, you’re not alive. You’re just a sophisticated GPS unit. Secondly, I’m the one that does the thinking. That’s what humans do best.” Clanet strode over to the convex wall and grabbed the door’s vertical handle and pulled; first with one hand, then with two. The door didn’t budge. “Damn, both doors are locked.”
The android walked over to the door and placed his index finger on the vertical handle. “It has been my experience,” he lectured, “that human arrogance hampers your ability to reason. Your species assumes that your physiology is the pinnacle of evolution. Hence, you built robots in your image, even though there are more efficient design options. You also assume that aliens must look like you; with two legs, two arms, two hands, and opposable thumbs. Therefore, you conclude that a vertical handle must always be pulled.” The android gave a slight push with his finger and the door swung open.
The android entered first, followed by Clanet. The adjacent room was clearly the bridge. It contained approximately thirty robots of varying sizes and configurations. A few were scurrying about, but most were occupied at the numerous work stations. A tall, bobble-head robot, with four snake-like arms appeared to be directing activities from the center of the bridge. It finally noticed the two newcomers and quickly motored toward them on a pair of rapidly rotating tank treads. It agilely banked around several crisscrossing robots, and came to a screeching stop a few feet away. “Good, good, you appear to be functional. We are very pleased to make your greeting. We look forward to a great friendship between our two worlds.” The alien robot suddenly stopped its rambling and turned toward Major Clanet. Its optical scanner panned the human from head to toe. “Ah,” it said as he turned back toward the android, “I see that your companion is biological. Is it a servant, or a pet?”