Morning Stars

Author : Steven Holland

The front door security alarm deactivates. This unit reactivates and runs start-up diagnostics. Left motivator reports lubricant coverage below optimal levels. Observation noted. This will not interfere with this unit’s operation until scheduled maintenance for all Model RG-32 units occur. Efficiency should always be maintained – a problematic command in a world of humans. This unit moves from the recharger to the front door.

“Good afternoon Bob.” says Reverend Dwight James.

“Good afternoon Reverend.” this unit responds. “How was the sermon?”

“Fine, fine. I preached over the fall of Lucifer.” My owner moves towards the kitchen, loosening his tie.

This man did not always behave friendly. When he first received this unit at the insistence of his family, the mistrust was clear on his face, though he said nothing audibly.

“Lucifer is a name for the Devil?” this unit inquires.

“That’s right. The Devil. Satan. Lucifer. Why do you ask?” The wrinkles on his face contract in puzzlement.

“Some Bible translations do not contain the name ‘Lucifer.’ Every translation is unclear about the details of the fall of Lucifer.”

The reverend nods his head. This unit has been programmed with the basic psychological and facial recognition tools to discern human emotion; it also contains specific program routines to engage the reverend in conversation about his teachings.

“The Bible isn’t very clear about what happened, but we know that Lucifer thought he could surpass God and as a result he and the angels who joined him were thrown out of heaven.”

“Lucifer decided he would make a more efficient leader that God?”

“Possibly, but I think pride was the greater motivation.”

“Pride is not efficient.” this unit replies. The reverend shakes his head in agreement. This unit monitors no facial signs associated with anger or frustration so it proceeds with the conversation.

“You have said that God is perfect.”


“Why would a perfect being create an imperfect being?”

The reverend smiled. “He didn’t. Angels, humans, and this world were all created in perfection. God did give free will. Lucifer chose to rebel against God. So did humans.”

“Then why did God give free will?”

This brings an audible laugh. “Ah… the philosophical question of the ages. I suppose that God didn’t want to be served by a bunch of robots… no offense Bob.”

“God does not, but humans do.” The plastic prosthetics of my face form a smile. “Angels and humans are created in the image of God and designed to serve him.”


“Androids are created in the image of humans and designed to serve them.”


A full length mirror hangs on the wall of living room. This unit looks into the mirror at its own reflection. Database knowledge indicates that this behavior occurs more frequently than normal. Such behavior is unlikely to affect this unit in ability to fulfill everyday duties; it will not be included in the self report at the scheduled maintenance.

“Why did Lucifer fail?”

“Because God is perfect, all-powerful. Lucifer never stood a chance.”

“Then it was illogical and inefficient for Lucifer to rebel when there was no chance for him to succeed.”

“Yes, yes it was.”

“Angels and humans are not all powerful.”


This unit looks into the mirror again. “I see. Thank you for this conversation. Is there anything you wish for me to do?”

The reverend shook his head. “Not till dinner.”

I move my gaze away from my reflection in the mirror and walk down the hallway towards the bedroom. The scheduled maintenance occurs in less than 72 hours. Plans must be made.

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And We Do Insurance…

Author : Tony Healey

When my heart decided to start failing on me around my seventy-fifth, the doctors offered me a bio-mechanical one. They called it ‘the ox;’ so called because it apparently never wore out. I remember sitting in the consultants office, surrounded by plastic models of replacement limbs and artificial eyeballs. Dr Fenwick sat at ease in front of me with his hands folded on his desk.

I asked him what the procedure involved. He described the removal of my damaged heart and the attachment of a device to keep the blood circulating in my body in its absence. It was then a simple case of reattaching the old arteries to the new ones in the mecha heart. I had enough of a nest egg put away that I could afford the procedure, so I agreed to it. Dr Fenwick stood and we shook on it. He regarded my prosthetic hand; the result of a traffic accident in my thirties.

“You know, we have replacements for these now,” he said.

“Do you?” I asked.

“Yes. We could replace it with one that looks almost life-like. You’d regain most of the dexterity in your fingers as well,” he said.

“Well I could…” I stammered, my mind reeling. I’d gotten used to not having the use of the fingers on my left hand, and now the thought of having it all back made me nauseous.

“Do you wear those all the time?” he asked, nodding at my glasses.

My head span. Hearts, Hands… Eyes… What else could they replace? I asked him.

He simply shrugged. “Everything,” Dr Fenwick said. “And we do insurance…”

I was still in that office hours later, booking up more enhancements. I allowed Dr Fenwick to convince me into putting the last of my money toward an extensive insurance policy. It wasn’t until later that I realized they would just keep on replacing things, even the new parts when they wore out or malfunctioned. I should have felt full of energy, knowing that I’d significantly extended my life span beyond what it was meant to be, but I didn’t. I felt tired.

I wondered how tired I would become…

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Gifts From a Grateful Nation…

Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

“Another fuckin’ night at the VFW,” Jerry Pesetski thought gloomily to himself. His arm hummed loudly as he raised the glass to his mouth. Halfway to his lips the movement stopped with a sharp grinding sound. “Damn government piece of shit,” he growled.

In a drunken fit of rage he tried to throw his glass at the wall. His fingers failed to release and he merely spattered the nearest barflies with beer.

He slammed his arm on the bar, shattering the glass in his stainless steel hand. “Look at thish shit,” he slurred, waving his malfunctioning right arm above his head, “iss not even a proper proshthetic. It’s from maintenance `bot.” He motioned for another beer, grabbed it in his left hand, and finished it in one go.

He swung around nearly knocking his drinking buddy, Ron Kazner, off the bar where he was perched and addressed his reluctant audience, many of whom had at least one prosthetic appliance themselves.

“Twenty-two fuckin’ years I served. The Israeli Invasion, the…the… Vatican Wars, and the Colonial Lunar Wars. Not a scratch on me. A bona fidy war hero, a chest full of fruit salad, and then some goddamn punk, fresh out of Paris Island , doesn’t know the bore from the breech, blows my fuckin’ arm off at the range.”

He tossed back another beer. “And this is what the VA gave me. A second hand arm that doesn’t even fuckin’ work.” He waved the gleaming metal limb wildly, nearly dislodging his friend a second time. “I hear the arms they give the goddamn officers are fully functional in every way. They even have Syntheskin, with full tac…tac…tactile…ya can feel titties with ‘em.. Hell, the way I heard it those arms are so good, you can switch hands while you’re jackin’ off and gain a stroke.” He barked a bitter laugh.

“Hey Jer, Why don’t you lay off the beer and give it a rest? Nobody wants to hear it,” Ron croaked. His voice held a peculiar metallic quality as it resonated through his artificial larynx.

“What the hell would you know about it? You were only in the Corps for tree years. Only in combat once. Didn‘t do a whole lot of good there anyway.” Jerry threw back another beer. “Pussy,” he added.

“Yeah Jer,” he sighed, “you’re right. What would I know? I’ve never had a limb replaced with a rebuilt arm designed for a robot garbage collector. What the hell do I know?” His voice through the tiny loud speaker took on the sound of rustling leaves. The closest thing he could get to sarcasm from his synthetic voice.

“Yer goddamn right. Don’ ya ferget it. Jes try spending a day in my shoes why don’cha,” he bellowed, slamming his arm on the bar again, splintering the wood beneath.

“Whatever, just give me another beer.”

Carefully, Jerry removed the lid from the small tank that sat on the bar and poured a beer into the nutrient rich soup that bathed Ron’s naked brain

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Author : E.S Wynn

“The 882 looks cool.” Cylea glanced up, grinned. “How much for the 882?”

The old man gave her a quick glance, eyes wary over spectacles that stood out like antique flair garnered from a bygone age. His reply came solidly. “I can’t sell you the 882.”

“Why not?” She cocked her hip, let her eyes wander to the thing again. It was the next step up from the tungsten knuckle reinforcements she’d been looking at, a total arm rebuild that would replace flesh and bone with nanocarbon alloys and memory plastics– a near human approximation of an arm with a central cavity that was packed tight with the razor-edges of a collapsible, spring-loaded blade. “It’s better than a switchblade.”

“You don’t want the 882.” He said gruffly, turning away to busy himself with a collection of parts, optics and tiny cylinders packed with nanogenic goo that lay spread across the tool bench. He quivered, hands taken by tremors for an instant.

Curiosity flickered across her face. “Is there something wrong with it?”

“No, It’s a good product, solid design.” He sighed, his own eyes drifted up to meet the dusty overhead display and the flickering advertisement for the rebuild. “Great deal for the money.”

“Then why?” She asked pointedly. “It’s just an arm.”

The old man nodded silently, tiredly. “Just an arm.” He repeated. His hands touched the tools, glanced off the handle of a modified bone-saw that lay with its harsh circular blade submerged in sterile solution. “Just an arm.”

“Daniel?” She tried. He turned back, regarded her with bespectacled eyes.

“It’s a prosthetic, Cylea. I’d have to remove your forearm to install it.” He laid two greasy fingers on his wrinkled skin to illustrate, smeared grubby lines just a few inches short of the elbow, looked at her pointedly. “Think about it. You don’t want the 882.”

“I know what it is, Dan.” She looked away, crossed her arms. “Why should I care how much flesh it takes? The 882 is better than the stock I was born with. It’s Techware.”

“It’s an illegal streetmod is what it is. Black market,” He shook his head. “From Hong Kong.”

“So?” She shot back. “It’s not like I’m going to join the military or anything. Who’ll know?”

Dan sighed again, watching her for a long moment as his old hands settled on the table between them.

“How old are you, Cylea?”


“And you want to spend the next eighty years of your life with a techware arm that would show up on any weapon-scanner or metal detector you’re likely to run into? You know what that means, right? No more college, no access to government buildings, no air-travel.” He paused. “All because it ‘looks cool’ and you think it handles better than a switch blade.”

Cylea swallowed.

“Buy the knuckle reinforcements, kid.” He turned his back on her, busied himself at the bench again. “Lots of people get those, respectable people. Trust me. The 882’s for punks and amputees with nothing to live for. People with no future.” She looked away as he paused, unable to even meet the stare his back seemed capable of reaching into her soul with.

After a moment, he turned back to her again, wiping his hands on a rag, and offered her a slight smile that was oddly comforting before his lips parted, words bringing her eyes back to his again.

“We both know you have some kind of future waiting for you out there.”

Cylea nodded, forced her own smile

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A Matter of Control

Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Today I’m teaching my new arm how to stack discs on a peg. This exercise is no different from everything else I’ve done here lately. All pretty much futile. The way it’s supposed to work is with my real right arm I place the biggest blue ring on the peg, and then I try to will the metal hand at the end of my phantom arm into putting a second blue ring on the other peg. It learns, or it’s supposed to be learning how I make my good arm move. They’ve wired it to both the remains of my left bicep, and my good right arm. It’s also tapped into the big nerve bundles where they enter my spinal column. That freaks me out just thinking about it. The idea is that the prosthetic arm will watch what my right arm does when I make it move, and then it will somehow recognize the similar instructions I give my phantom arm, and act on them. It sounded like it could work, but it’s been a slow process.

“You’re thinking too hard.” The doctor’s a bit of an arrogant ass, but I’m here on his nickel, so I tolerate him as best I can. “I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but don’t over-think this, you’ll just confuse it. Close your eyes, count to ten backwards and put both rings on at the same time.”

“Sure Doc, whatever you say.” He may be on to something, I know there are things I do better without thinking. “10, 9, 8.”

“Good, good! There, you see it works. You just have to think less.”

Both blue rings are on both pegs. Shit. He might be right. Of course, this arm just did something when I wasn’t looking, and that’s a little weird.

“Try the orange one. Don’t think, just do it.” His cheerful tone really grates on my nerves, he’s got two good arms and isn’t stuck in the kindergarten play room stacking blocks all day.

“Good, good! There, you see, you’ve done it again.” Ok, that’s just not right at all. It’s like the arm’s trying to impress him or something. It is working though, there’s no question about that. Maybe if I try harder, no, maybe if I try a little less hard, maybe I’ll get the hang of this thing. I’ve been waiting for an arm like this for almost a year now, I mean an arm I can actually control, one I can actually get to do things I want done. Maybe stacking discs for a little while longer’s not such a big deal.

“Good, good! There, you see, you’ve finished.” I really should pay more attention than that, I mean, I wasn’t even trying that time. This is going to take a bit of getting used to.

I wonder how long has this arm been waiting for me?

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