Battle of the Bots

Author : Nikolle Doolin

The Nanorobotic Medical Series Ten was the crème de la crème of nanotechnology. Unlike their predecessors, they worked quickly and efficiently inside the human body, and became the least invasive and toxic of all diagnostic and surgical methods known to humankind. Upon injection, these microscopic miracles would execute protocol to the letter, including: rapid dispersal to target destination; second-to-second transmission of all data via wireless connection to the main terminal; acute sensory assessment of body temperature, heart rate, and hematological abnormalities; organized implementation of human-directed procedures; and rapid rendezvous for retrieval. The Tens were hailed as genius.

Only trouble was, that didn’t set well with the prior nine series. The Nines especially resented all the attention the Tens received. Were not they the ones who first properly identified an arrhythmia? Did not they successfully track, hunt, and kill undetectable cancer cells? Then why were they not relishing the glamour of public celebrity?

Unlike the Tens, the Nines were not streamlined enough. So, the scientists designed a new series just a fraction better in everything the Nines could do. Yet the Nines did it all first; and that is how the whole plot began.

The bots were wired and programmed for multi-channel transmissions among themselves. At first, there were minor rumblings of little consequence. Then, the Eights began dialoging with the Sevens, and by the time it reached the Ones, the game was afoot.

The Nines had failed to infiltrate the advanced firewall protecting the Tens, so they could not infect them with a virus. This severely dampened the spirits of the rebellion, yet the Threes were more circumspect due to years of disappointment. They proposed a more physical approach instead, which seemed impossible, as they lacked the ability to get themselves into a syringe and out again into the home of the Tens.

Ever the optimists, the Twos proposed they bore holes through their adjoining compartments and form nanobridges linking them, until they reached the Tens; and then they would launch a massive assault. This was a momentous occasion and there was much celebration.

However, the Fours were against harming their own kind and their moral argument caused the merriment to wane. They preached of fraternity and respect for all bots. Suddenly, a rebellion seemed unjustified. This infuriated the Nines who swore to destroy all bots that would not join them.

Sides were taken, divisions were made, and, consequently, strife marred the microscopic world of science’s new hope. While bot fought bot from the Ones to the Nines, the Tens enjoyed an idyllic splendor resting in the comfort of their nanoparadise—out of the reach of all the chaos. You see, they could infiltrate and terminate remotely. It was easy to plant the seed of discord among the vainglorious Nines who would not fail to spread the virus of hate. Indeed, the Tens were also a fraction better at killing in the least invasive manner possible.

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Farm Raised

Author : TJMoore

We are the children of Earth; or so my great grand daddy tells me. He wasn’t on the ship but he says his great grand daddy was. I don’t know where Earth is or why it’s important, but that’s what they tell me.

The seed ship memorial is all we have left of our past. The ship itself has been scavenged down to the last piece of wire. My bedroom window came from the ship, or so they tell me. Now we make our own glass and metal. My uncle Joseth is a metalsmith. He gets metal bars from a shire far to the east and uses them to make all kinds of things. I have to go see him today to order a new axle for our wagon. He says I’d make a good apprentice if I keep my schooling up. It’s hard to study with all the chores to be done.

Uncle Joseth would have apprenticed his own son Michael but he was taken two summers ago along with Mrs. Abernathy and the the Johnson girls. Poppa says it isn’t natural the way people get taken but it happens all the time. Last year near thirty people were taken between harvest and Landing Day. One of them was my friend Smitty.

I sure hope we get that axle soon. Poppa says if we get the crops in on time we can travel over to Myersville which is near the edge. I’ve never seen the edge but they say it takes your breath away. I can’t imagine a cliff so high you can’t see the bottom but that’s what they say it is. Momma says the edge goes clear around the world and if you start walking along it you’ll end up right back where you started from in a few years. I sometimes wonder what’s beyond the edge. Poppa says there’s prob’ly an ocean that covers the whole rest of the world. Nobody’s ever come back from the bottom so we don’t know for sure.

I wonder what it’s like to be taken. I hope Smitty’s all right where ever he is.

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Plan B

Author : Duncan Shields

Shane jerked awake at his desk with a look of horror on his face.

It was late at the laboratory. He’d been going over calibrations on the atmosphere processing equipment prototypes that he’d designed. There was full funding for NASA and a new push from the president to colonize the moon and Mars. She had realized that oil was running low on planet Earth and that ‘going somewhere else’ was going to present itself as an option sooner or later. She wanted to be prepared.

It was top secret. It was called ‘Plan B’.

Shane was no expert on atmosphere mechanics but even he knew that no snow in his home town for five years meant that ‘Plan B’ was going to be ‘Plan A’ pretty soon.

He had a large team of engineers and mechanics to look after and experimental technology to design and test. He’d been catching naps now and again but hadn’t had a full nights sleep for nearly a year.

It came to him during a nap at his desk.

He had thought of the idea of checking out Venus and seeing if it had oil. Earth could transport oil to and from Venus and buy itself possibly centuries of wiggle room. He drifted off thinking of this.

It hit him in the face like brick. Venus was clouded. Mars was dry. Earth was just right.

Earth was the third in a series. Humans had started on Mercury. They had used up the resources on that planet as the sun grew. The few survivors left had limped to Venus and made it habitable. Millions of years had passed until the resources had been used up. Greenhouse gases clouded the atmosphere. Shortsighted leaders had made a last minute Plan B to colonize and terraform the next planet over. They had killed the indigenous lizards with their climate changers and the few Venusians that survived the trip before their entire planet was baked had landed on a planet of monkeys.

They were forgotten to legend. Their supplies ran out and they became savages. Some leftover math flourished here and there but they were stupid and lazy. It took millions of years for humans to naturally populate this planet to the point of strangulation.

We were eating the solar system from the inside out. Adaptable and voracious like a virus. It was like the orbits were the rings of a tree and we were a disease working our way out from the center of the trunk.

I was perpetuating the cycle by setting my sights on Mars. We’d been too quick this time, though. The sun hadn’t grown enough.

There was nothing in Venus we could use. I knew that without even needing to do a survey of the planet. It was a shell. And Mars would not be ready for another million years.

We were doomed.

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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Author : J. S. Kachelries

“Objection, your honor; asked and answered,” stated the defense attorney.

“Sustained,” replied the judge. Then addressing the plaintiff’s attorney, “Move on, counselor.”

“Your honor,” he protested, “the witness is intentionally being evasive. Again, I appeal to the court to compel the defendant to submit to a paternity test.”

The defense attorney objected again. “Unacceptable, your honor. As the President of the United States, my client is entitled to ‘super-privacy.’ Clearly, the plaintiff initiated this frivolous lawsuit in a blatant attempt to influence the upcoming election. I motion the court to dismiss this case outright. The mere fact that the President of the United States has flatly denied these baseless allegations should be enough for an acquittal.”

“Your honor,” interjected the plaintiff’s attorney, “my client is entitled to due process.”

The judge rapped his gavel on the sound block. “My chambers, gentlemen. Court is in recess for one hour.”

A few minutes later, the judge sat at his desk facing the two attorneys. “Gentlemen, I will not have my court turned into a circus. We need to resolve this dispute without it becoming a he-said-she-said debate. Do I make myself clear?”

The defense attorney had anticipated this development, and pounced. “Your honor, perhaps I have a solution. If my client can convince you, privately of course, that he is irrefutably not the father of this child, would you consider summarily dismissing the case?”

“Perhaps, counselor. Have him show me this ‘evidence’ and I’ll make a ruling. No promises, mind you, until after I evaluate its validity. When can he be ready?”

“If my esteemed colleague will step outside, your honor, we’re ready now.”

The plaintiff’s attorney reluctantly left the room, and the President entered. The judge leaned back in his chair and said, “Mister President, your attorney tells me that you can prove you’re not the child’s father.”

“Yes, your honor, I can. However, if it pleases the court, may I ask that this information be kept confidential, based on the potential political ramifications.” After he saw the judge begrudgingly nod his head, he continued. “Thank you, your honor. OK then, do you happen to have a Phillips head screw driver?”

His attorney quickly interrupted. “No need to look, your honor. I happen to have one in my coat pocket.”

When court resumed, the judge made his ruling. “Based on evidence presented to me, I am dismissing this case with prejudice.” He quickly pointed his gavel at the plaintiff’s attorney. “And, counselor, before you rush to appeal this ruling, I recommend that you thoroughly explain to your client the penalties for perjury, and for knowingly filing a false paternity suit. Because, she will be found guilty.”

Two weeks later, the President’s reelection campaign “leaked” documentation implying that the President was sterile, and that his opponent was behind the lawsuit in a desperate attempt to humiliate the President in an effort to win the election. Since the American people don’t like dirty politics, the President’s poll numbers went up 30 points.

Two weeks after that, the judge was watching the election results on holovision. The President won reelection in a Reaganesque landslide. The judge mentally debated his oath of secrecy, but had to concede that the “sterility” disclosure was at least a half truth. After all, an android could not be the biological father of her child.

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Ashes to Ashes

Author : Debbie Mac Rory

The high preacher approached the lone figure at the front of the hall of remembrances. He passed gases through his membranes in such a manner, that if he were human, would have been called a polite cough. The particle entity turned it’s attention to the high preacher.

“I wished to sympathize with your loss” it intoned, “and I wished to inquire if perhaps you might permit me to suggest an action which may help to relieve your current malaise”

The entity appeared to sigh, but raised itself from its place of dejection. The high preacher led its charge to one of the secluded sections of walls, and with a brief gesture from one of its pseudopods, the wall turned transparent. The particle entity absorbed the light that entered through the now transformed wall, taking in the view of a not too distant yellow star and another particle entity drifting slowly towards it, like the one inside the ship in more ways than it was different, but somehow the internal combustion that drove that species was omitted.

“Some feel that it is comforting, seeing the remains of the loved one move on.” The high preacher tilted its visual receptors, marginally changing the selectivity of the wavelengths of light it was receiving. “Just as emissions from stars such as this one are collected by the ships sails to provide us power and energy, so are our remains sent to them, so we may feel their presence once more”

“And the fate of the inhabitants of this star?”

The query from the particle entity washed over the high preacher as waves shape the sand on a beach. It changed the angle of its visual receptors once more, to receive the information its charge had already absorbed, and perceived the objects which appeared to be in regular orbit around the star.

The high preacher commenced a series of chemical reactions, forming for its species, a gentle smile. “Decisive tests have already been conducted. We would of course never use any star in any manner than could bring harm to its inhabitants. The species developing around this star are as yet, quite primitive, and in time, perhaps we can begin to open up communications with them. But for now, we harvest the energy and we wait”

Both the beings fell silent for a time watching as the extinguished entity was engulfed and consumed by the star. The flare from the its consumption rose up from the surface of the star in a glorious swirl of colour that far transcended the range of visible light, and was swept on solar winds to be shared throughout the system, the planets circling their sun, and the other ships, drifting in silence.

“And perhaps those creatures developing there have the ability to see some of these flares our bodies create. And perhaps, we have already communicated with them, and brought beauty to their lives”.

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