Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

“We know that you released the Vigilante Spheres, Dr. Vehmic. So, you might as well confess,” argued the investigator.

Dr. Vehmic leaned back in his chair and smiled. Yes, he did release the spheres, but they couldn’t prove it. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” he replied.

“Quit playing games, Doctor. We have a copy of your thesis from ’16. We know that you theorized building autonomous devices with unlimited range that can fly, hover, and kill.”

Dr. Vehmic waved his hand dismissively. “That was mere speculation on the part of an ambitious young graduate student looking for employment in the defense industry. Nothing ever came of it.”

“That’s not what Dr. Curtis told us.”

Oh crap, thought Vehmic, but he kept his composure. “Who’s he?”

The investigator picked up a folder and opened it. “Dr. Timothy Curtis, a famous neuroscientist. I’m surprised that you haven’t heard of him, since we have video of the two of you together. It seems that he has developed the technology to decipher the syntax and the semantics of neural language. He can read minds, in other words. And he incorporated that technology into your automatons.”

“To what end,” demanded Vehmic?

“Here’s what I think,” began the investigator. “Ever since your wife and son were killed by Islamic terrorists, you’ve been plotting revenge. But deep down, you’re a decent man, unable to kill just any Muslim. You’re only after the really bad ones. So, you created these ‘Vigilante Spheres’ as they’ve come to be known, and released thousands of them in the Arabian Peninsula. They’re programmed to scan the brains of random individuals. If they detect that the individual is a terrorist, or fundamental Islamic extremist, it exposes them to a lethal dose of hard radiation. They get sick, and die a horrible death. Your devices have killed thousands already, and they are spreading to other parts of the world. Unfortunately, Dr. Vehmic, whatever your ‘execution criterion’ was, it wasn’t specific enough. Your devices are killing more than just Islamic terrorists. It appears that they’re killing anybody that meets your definition of ‘evil.’ In the last month, that list includes mercenaries, drug dealers, military commanders, world leaders, even some murderers who were already safely locked away in prison. Don’t get me wrong, Doctor, they were all bad actors, to be sure, but the U.S. Government can’t have its citizens killing foreign dignitaries, even if they are murderers. Now, Dr. Vehmic, you to tell us how to deactivate these devises.”

Still defiant, Vehmic replied. “Sorry Inspector, you’ve got the wrong man.”

“We’ll see,” said the inspector as he lifted a metal box onto the table. “I have a theory, Doctor. I don’t believe that your programming differentiates between individuals that kill for ideological reasons, from those that kill simply because they are “evil”. So, has your quest for revenge blackened your soul? Has blind hatred turned you into an evil person?”

The inspector began unlatching the metal clamps securing the lid of the box. “Now, I estimate that in the last year, you are personally responsible for killing at least ten thousand people with your spheres. Oh, by the way,” he added, “we captured one of them, and I happen to have it right here.” He patted the top of the box. “So, Dr. Vehmic, will you tell us how to deactivate the spheres, or should I let this one out of the box? I’d really like to know if my theory is correct. What do you think, Doctor? Will one of your spheres consider you an ‘evil’ person?”

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