Author: Dave Ludford
Molly sat on the brow of the steep hill smiling expansively into the hazy distance as the light from the artificial sun gradually faded.
“I wish these days could last forever. The view from here is just breathtakingly beautiful,” she said to the inert figure lying beside her.
“Me too, Moll. Me too,” Jud replied. “We should just enjoy them while we can, I guess.”
“But it’s so unfair,” Molly continued, her brow creasing in consternation, her voice much louder. “How come they get to decide who lives and who dies? We didn’t even put up any form of resistance. We just totally capitulated and it was done and dusted within hours.”
“They get to choose because they won, ergo we lost. The humans have a saying, ‘To the victor, the spoils.’ Something like that. The virulent plague that attacked us was just too overwhelmingly powerful. Besides, we’re humanoid AI who aren’t configured for any form of conflict or violence. There was absolutely nothing we could do, you know that.”
“But there must be something…oh, what’s the use? We’re…”
“Exactly. We’re doomed anyway. These bugs think they’ve won a significant victory here and are now in a position to rule this world. But we’ve been abandoned, left to rot on a dying planet by the consortium of human billionaires who quickly got bored with the new toys they’d created and the seemingly idyllic playground they dumped us in. We’re dying, Moll, all of our crude life support systems are failing daily and we haven’t the wherewithal to repair them without assistance, and we both know that’s not going to happen.”
Molly began to chuckle softly. “Jud, what do you think the bugs’ reaction will be when they discover…you know…that this place isn’t at all what it seems. All that effort and the resources they’ve wasted on this glorified theme park. For them it’s been a pyrrhic victory.”
“May not be the first time it’s happened to them. I guess there’s a speculative element to these things. They’ll just write it off as a bad job, get the hell out and go someplace else where they may get lucky.”
“Perhaps…” She was silent for a short while, then added: “Why do you think our human masters got bored with us? Why go to the vast expense they did just to dump us and forget us?”
“I don’t know, Moll. Any number of reasons. Perhaps they got fed up with playing God and like the bug invaders will just move on to other things. All I know is that we’re slowly but surely dying, and soon it’ll all be over for us.”
“What an absolute waste.” A slight pause then: “Jud, what about us? You know…”
“We’ll look after each other until the time comes…there’s no script, we’ll just have to deal with the situation as it happens. Whichever of us goes first will do what’s necessary for the other.”
“It would be good if we went together.”
“Unlikely, but yes, I’d prefer it that way too.”
Several days pass before the first of the invader’s ships roars away from the planet as the light begins to swiftly fade once more and another long night yawns like a void ahead of him. Jud tenderly holds Molly’s lifeless body in his arms and watches in silence as several other ships begin their departure routines, suspecting he’s the only one of his kind left alive on that ill-fated world.