Robots Need Not Apply
By Robert Lynch
Cyrus looked at the sign:
“Robots need not apply”
He winced when he read it. The prejudice of a people told you a lot about them. It was impressive, Cyrus thought, that biologicals could initiate a war, lose, and still be bitter. Then again, biological history was filled with it.
The world ‘Robot’ was a denigrating slur, which many of the more sensitive would have let deter them, but Cyrus had his mission. Robot denoted slave, rather than sentient. Robot was what the biologicals had wanted to make the mechanicals. Robots were mindless automatons; mechanicals were sentient beings, capable of feeling a full range of emotions.
He pushed open the door to reveal a shop that would be more suited to the term ‘shoppe.’ The regression from machines of any kind was reducing much of the biological culture to something more akin to the Age of Enlightenment, not the Age of Awakening. It was becoming a problem too. Medical science was regressing as well, and more of the biologicals were becoming ill. The mechanicals had watched after the end of the war, but now it was time do something. While many of the mechanicals wanted to help due to simple altruism, the Central Controller had expressed darker thoughts when they had given Cyrus this mission.
Plague in the biologicals would cause them to lash out. Another war would be a slaughter, but it would still cost lives on both sides. The Central Controller had told Cyrus of a plot that the biological’s scientists had been working on that was very troubling. If the intelligence that the Central Controller had was legitimate, the biologicals were planning to attack the code of the mechanicals, annihilating the mechanicals in a single code attack. If this was true, the armistice had been a ruse to buy the biologicals enough time to finish their weapon.
This ‘shoppe’ was the front for their operation. Cyrus scanned the chemicals and jars that lined the walls. They were very authentic. Many were created from historical methods, a large number of such methods used urine to some degree, and Cyrus’s chemical sensors were showing urea in high concentrations.
Cyrus walked to the counter and put his case on the counter.
“Can’t you read?” the old woman at the counter sneered.
“I’m not here about a job.” Cyrus told her. “I’m here because our two governments have authorised the delivery of medicines to clinics such as this. In order to aid in the health crisis that your people are suffering.”
“Why would you toasters care about that?” the old woman asked.
“It is in our best interest to aid your people,” Cyrus said. “Goodwill between our peoples is important for peace to last -” she spat on the floor, Cyrus continued, “And we have no wish to watch your people suffer. I have here a number of vaccines that could help stabilise some of the problems that have been troubling the area. I assume that you know how to administer a dose through a hypodermic needle?”
“You assume do you?” She snatched the case. “Just you assume right out of here.”
Cyrus stepped back and bowed slightly. “I’ll not bother you any further then.” He turned and walked out.
As he walked down the street and prepared for the attack that was sure to come from the ignorant locals as he left, predators finding retreat irresistible, he opened a secure link to Central Control. “The vaccines laced with security nanites have been delivered. We shall see if the biologicals are planning something nefarious.”
“Well done,” Central Control told him. “Your next task ---” the communication shut off.
A forced download overrode Cyrus’s update system and began downloading a new program. Cyrus’s limbs froze in place. They were too late.
“Cyrus!” Central Control re-established the secure link. “We were too late. The malicious code has already entered the system. I have lost the link with all but you. I am sending you a counter virus. Without connection to me mechanicals will become uncoordinated. The attack is coming. Come to me! Protect me! We must reconnect my control!”
Cyrus received the code. His free will remained free. Attackers came at him from all sides. He enacted his self-protection protocols and reconfigured his hands into sharp blades.
The biologicals didn’t expect resistance. His blades made short work of them. Before some of the final chunks of his attackers hit the ground, he turned and began his journey to the central tower. Around him his brothers and sisters could not move. Many were already damaged beyond repair. If the Central Controller’s protectors were similarly disabled, it would not be long before the biologicals could get through security.
Cyrus looked up at the central tower. It was far.