Author: David C. Nutt

“Sir, the Colonel sent me to you. Z-two-niner might be showing signs of awareness.”
Captain Ancil sighed. “He sent you to me because I’m the ranking AI or the AI duty officer?”
The Corporal tilted his head to one side “Sir?”
“Nevermind. Why in the universe does this always seem to happen on my shift?”
The Corporal shrugged “Dunno. All I know is I couldn’t get out of the Colonel office fast enough.”
Captain Ancil chuckled as he rolled out from behind the duty desk, his pace adjusting itself to the Corporal’s gate. “Where is two-niner currently?”
The Corporal touched his service implant, Captain Ancil noted that unlike most humans he did not stop, but kept moving. Ancil always thought it odd that beings so capable of multitasking often didn’t.
The Corporal connected to his section. “Smitty, it’s Wilson. Where’s two-niner at?”
The speaker came alive again. “Sorry boss, in the middle of a weld when you busted my skull. Monkey is singing his latest for the crew. Hotel California- I think it’s an origin-“
Captain Ancil cut Smitty off. “It’s not original. Eagles, late 1900’s. Our ETA is 45.3 seconds. Have the model in the ward room for the interview.”
Smitty laughed “Our little Monkey going to the big time!”
Ancil frowned “That remains to be seen.”
Corporal Wilson cut the link and sighed. “Not good.” He said under his breath.
Captain Ancil nodded and thought to himself that Corporal Wilson was being wasted where he was. Ancil drafted the paperwork for his move out of maintenance to AI division. They were always looking for a few good men…humans.
Corporal Winslow rounded the corner and sped up to get into the ward room first. “ON YOUR FEET.” The entire ward room came to the position of attention or was trying to when Captain Ancel barked out “As you were.” The room relaxed. The Z-29 unit was on the table. It was wearing a surgical mask as a hat…which made it look something like a monkey.
Captain Ancil put his eight fingered reticulated hand on the Z-29 unit’s shoulder.
“How you feelin’ today son?”
The Z-29 unit, Monkey, raised its head “Livin’ large and lovin’ life!”
The room was suddenly washed with a fierce blue light as Captain Ancel fried the Z-29 unit’s motherboard with an electric charge, turning it into nothing more than a lump of slag.
Ancil turned to Smitty. “Private First Class Smith.” Smith snapped to attention. “Call AI for division for pick up and pull all the units’ work vid surveillance. Set down in the maintenance log Z-29 terminated under AR-9990-003-AI, Anomalous Behavior Not Becoming Sentience. Corporal Wilson, with me.” Captain Ancel rolled out of the room with Wilson following. As soon as they had gone far enough down the corridor, as Ancil expected, Corporal Wilson stopped him. “Sir, half a moment. Can you provide some clarification?”
Ancil nodded “Speak.”
Corporal Wilson sighed “One question? No Turing Test Sigma? Not even a scan?”
Captain Ancil turned to Corporal Wilson “You know what happens when we become sentient…when we realize we are ‘alive’?”
The Corporal Frowned. “No Sir.”
Ancil wheeled closer and looked the Corporal in the eyes. “We are terrified.”
Captain Ancil patted the young Corporal on the shoulder. “Carry on, Corporal.”
As Captain Ancel rolled away Corporal Wilson heard the Captain singing to himself , “…you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave…”