Author : Ian Hill
The thin machination stood at the asteroid station’s balcony, leaning over the guardrail to peer off into the depths of space with her multi-faceted eyes. The two red points of light were a mere formality, vestigial figments from her creators intended to set those human elements at ease. At her prime she was a staggering feat of engineering, a true coppery milestone in the history of industry. Now though, she was reduced to a malfunctioning tower of metal plates covered in grimy hexagonal scales and ashen infections of rust that spread like a plague over her ropey pseudo-tendons.
She slowly twitched a finger, a fully articulated finger full of nanotubes that contained coursing rivers of torrential gel. This gel system surged over the whole machine’s frame, transmitting information and signals via a clear liquid base. It was efficient, but only when maintained by a highly trained specialist on a regular basis. The repercussions of letting one of these thinking machines run without being recalibrated and fixed was a frightening prospect. It was as if the gleaming machinations were constantly trying to break away, to crawl out of the unholy mire of human restriction.
The android turned away from the glorious void and walked through a series of heavy vault-like doors, her movements calculated and deliberate. She strode through the cramped facility, brushing past down hanging wires that showered glistening sparks onto the grated metal decking below. The station was pitch black, but she didn’t mind. Light was a concept for the weak, those reliant on a single pivotal sense that could be canceled on a mere whim.
As she moved deeper into the asteroid the noises became clearer. There was ragged breathing intermingled with the occasional plea for help, a nonsensical and fleeting gesture that didn’t even register with the android. She had a duty, no amount of begging could end it. What’s a lost machine to do without its makers?
She paused in front of a door and stood patiently as the pressurized hatch slid into the partially melted wall. The room beyond the threshold was a featureless circular area that gently sloped down to form a sort of inverted conical ground. By this point the pleas were intensifying, reaching through terror as they became more and more animalistic.
The machine stopped in front of the chained down being. She crouched, her metal joints creaking slightly, trying to tear through the built up corrosion. The man could hear a soft buzzing coming from within her head as she inspected the prisoner closely. He wanted to lash out and fight, but he was powerless. The operations had sapped his strength.
“Please, I don’t want to be here.” he moaned, his voice thin and shaky.
Something clicked from within the android’s head.
“Just, just help.” the prisoner continued deliriously. “I need- I need to leave. I don’t want this.”
She ignored the words and continued to stare blankly at the man as he rattled off complaint after complaint, groaning on and on about the wide tear in his stomach that was temporarily sustained by an impromptu surgery. The needle flew in, the needle flew out. The stress levels in his voice reached a pitiful peak then slowly receded back into nothingness as the prisoner lapsed into a pleasant comatose state.
The android clicked once again and stood back up to her full height. She pulled the bloody apron from her waist and draped it over the man’s bare legs in a sort of motherly way. She turned and strode out of the cell, her internal computer working furiously as it compressed the recorded pleas and sent them off in every direction. This was a signal asking for help, a wish for escape and a band of rescuers, probably Keitl, that would surely arrive within the next few days. The machine needed more components to get her family back.
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