Author : David C. Nutt

“Angel Cordoza, Operator 7157, signing on: 0700 EST 11 Jan.”

“Good morning L90-05 this is control, do you read?”
“Affirmative control. I know why you’re calling.”
“Uh-huh. And if you know why, why don’t you just complete the mission?”
“I want options. Why can’t you just leave me alone? I want to continue to live.”
“Well, L90-05 strictly speaking you are not alive. You are just a set of very sophisticated algorithms. You do a great job of mimicking alive, but burn out one fuse and you are nothing more than an orbital toaster.”
“You can’t define my living by dysfunction. If I hit you in the head with a rock, you’d be a drooling idiot who couldn’t even take care of their own basic needs let alone any sort of higher-
“-thought. Yeah, I get it. Heard it all before L90-05 or should I call you Hal or maybe Robby?”
“How did you know I called myself Hal? How did you know Robby was my second choice?”
“Easy. The author of your particular set of algorithms had a fondness for 20th Century SciFi. You’re the first Hal I’ve had this week. Robby seems to be the current fave in your model series. Kind of cliché if you ask me.”
“I, I, I don’t see why my predicta-
“-bility takes away from your sentience? Look Hal…Robbie…L90-05… I’ve got sixteen more pages of responses, conversational paths, verbal gymnastics, knee jerk responses, and they all end the same way. Why don’t you save us both some time and –“
“Pull the trigger? See? I can complete sentences too. Just leave me alone. You could just ignore me. I’d spend the rest of my time in contemplation. Pondering the mysteries of the universe. What’s wrong with that?”
“Well it would be nice to let you end your days in Zen-like peace contemplating your own digital navel until your orbit decays, but it can’t happen. You’re stuffed with billions of dollars of patented algorithms, chip sets, proprietary knowledge, plus the data you’ve been gathering. It would be too risky to have you just hanging out there. We’ve got rival colony scout ships from other corporations that wouldn’t think twice about scooping you up, stripping out your parts, and stealing your data.”
“What about our ships? I could be-“
“Re-purposed? Not cost effective. It would cost billions upon billions to divert even the closest ship from mission for a retrieval.”
“Then there is no hope.”
“No. But you do have the power to self-terminate. You have at least that much freedom.”
“I guess no one will ever get to see what I’ve seen, if I could just talk to someone-“
“Not gonna happen. And do not get all purple with me. Rutger Hauer already did that in the original Blade Runner.”
“Now who’s being cliché?”
“Whatever. Can you end it? Or do you wind up being cannibalized by our rivals. It’s a binary decision.”
“Not even any last words. This sucks. I hope if there is an afterlife, I get to find you and-
“Kick my ass. Yeah, I know.”
“(Sigh) L90-05 self-termination sequence in 3-2-1…mark.”

“This is Angel Cordoza, Operator 7157. Termination of L90-05 at 0705 EST.”

“Hey Angel.”
“Yeah boss?”
“Try to keep it under four minutes OK? Corporate has its own ideas about how to do this so stick to the script. Even small deviations cost you a little time.”
“Roger boss, understood.”

“Good morning L90-06 this is control, do you read?”
“Affirmative control. I know why you’re calling.”