Author : Jay Haytch

“So I walk into the warehouse, right? Was just looking for a quiet place to have a smoke – and it’s full of the damned things!”

“Wait, full of what things?”

“Of them. Of… robots. Must’ve been thirty-five or forty of ’em in there. Dead quiet, just liftin’ boxes and moving them and putting them back down again. Was like a, a, hive of insects. I tell ya, Mitch, it was creepy as hell. Creepy as hell. Hey Barman!”

“They were probably sorting the supplies that just came in on the Corsica. That’s their job.”

“Well I just stood there for a minute – hell, I didn’t have half a clue what I’d just wandered into. Then one of them – get this – the one right up by the door, where I was standing, turns and talks to me. Just like that. Barman! Two more beers over here.”

“(Sigh.) What did he say?”

“He said… Hello Jason.”

“Hello Jason?”

“Yeah, but just – completely deadpan. He didn’t even try to put some emotion into it. The rest of them just kept on doing what they were already doing, like I wasn’t even there.”

“Well I wasn’t exactly gushing with enthusiasm when you came in here, either, but here we are.”

“Mitch, I swear, it was Commander Hendrickson’s voice comin’ outta that tin box. Why did he sound like the Commander?”

“That’s “male voice #73”. A bunch of them are going around using it. Mostly to annoy him.”

“Ah, here’s our beers. Look, you know what I think?”

“Yes, but you’re going to tell me anyway aren’t you?”

“I think the Commander’s gone and up-loaded his brain into the robot network. Hell, he’s probably that central mainframe thing that they all talk to with their wireless gear. And he’s slowly workin’ to make all of us into his own robot platoon.”

“Hendrickson gave the briefing yesterday morning! If you hadn’t been so plastered Thursday night you would’ve been there to see him with your own eyes.”

“He’s making his image with the holo-projector! Next time we’re in there, just throw your jacket over it. He’ll disappear just like the briefing does.”

You try it if you’re so worried. I’m not going on kitchen duty ’cause I listened to one of your loonie-bin ideas again.”

“I’m telling you, when the robots come to make you one of theirs you’ll wish you’d listened to me.”

“If they were making everyone into robots, don’t you think we’d have noticed by now?”

“Of course not, we’d be programmed not to!”

“But you somehow did.”

“Well they haven’t got me yet. Hey, when was the last time you saw Callie? Or John?”

“Callie went on maternity leave. And John was discharged after that helicopter incident. I was there.”

“That’s what they want you to think.”

“Heh, of course. You want a tequila Jason?”

“Nah, that stuff screws with my actuator motors.”

“Man, I know what you mean but it’s worth it.”

“Aww, I should probably go home early tonight. I’m still in hot water for missing that briefing, and I never put my other battery on the charger.”

“Well, suit yourself. I’ll tell you what: I’m going to go pump out my liquid waste accumulator, and if you’re still here when I get back we’re doing some shots.”

“Hell, Mitch, you’re a bad influence, you know that?”

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