Tag Archives: robots

Swift Justice


“Define ‘divine’.”

The man scratched at his head, ran his fingers through the stubble on his chin, the downy fluff on his cheeks that passed for sideburns as he searched for an answer that might make sense to someone with no knowledge of six thousand years of mythology, unstained by organised religion.

“Um…” he trailed off, losing steam. “Well…”

She stared back, in naked innocence – he diverted his eyes, taking in the room surrounding them.

It was immaculately clean – a stark contrast to his own dishevelled appearance – the spines of books stared out at him from their shelves, and he could see a murky reflection of himself in the polished stone-mirror floor. She smiled, in gilt-edged guilt, both her and the room showing a taste of her life, ultramoderation.

“You don’t understand it either, do you?”

Her question settled into the fabric of the room, hollowly echoing from the walls, like the call of the tame, forcing its way into his wild life.

She moved slowly toward him, her smile now uncertain, shy.

She was a trap. He understood it now. His uncertainness turned to steeled determination, a call for swift justice rang out inside him.

“Are you human, madame? Or a trap, a temptation sent me by the Devil?” His eyes roved the shelves. Books on computing and engineering. Books of heresy. His hand reached for the Bible, bound to his chest. He touched it, reverentially, as his other hand sought the pistol at his hip.

He delivered her swift justice, and left the smell of cordite gun-smoke and sparking electronics on the floor.





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Bang Bang

He came in from the cold.

“It’ll grow on you,” they said.


The little fire sputtered in the grate, blue-grey smoke coiling. He spat at it, and went to the sink, washed his hands – the water ran brown beneath his fingertips, and the walls seemed to close in on him, fake stone walls, fake wooden floor, fake fire. He turned up the thermostat.

They did the whole place to look rustic – which was another thing that pissed him off. Why hide the technology beneath this facade of another planet’s past? It’ll grow on you.

He looked out the window – a thin screen painted onto the wall of the hab – staring at the rambling pumpkin vines and the spears of maize that thrust into the dirt of this rock, a stake, claiming it for humanity. The replicator hummed, and dinged – false nostalgia for an age he had never lived in. The machine could create food from its surrounds, and it could do it in silence. It should do it in silence.

He glowered at it.

It didn’t make him feel any better.

The wind, he knew, howled outside, but you couldn’t hear it through the layers of glass and heavy plastic and gold that sprouted on the walls of his hab.

There was a knock on the door, but he ignored it.

He was down to the last bottle. Amber-gold, precious beyond anything else. He’d already been reprimanded for trying to disable his replicator’s copy-protection. He didn’t even care what brand of whiskey it made, so long as it made whiskey. It didn’t.

There it was again, that knock on the door – so sorry to be impolite, the knock said, I don’t mean to interrupt. The colony’s psych-bot knew all the door codes. It’d get inside eventually.

He found his hammer, and set to waiting.


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Number 17

Number 17 - Mattias Adolfsson

Number 17 – Mattias Adolfsson

Number 17 was different. He – it – looked like he – it! – was smiling. We added the external valves and tubing just to reinforce his – it’s! If you’re recording this then the least you can do is sound impartial! – mechanical nature. People empathised with Number 17; we designed him that way.


There was a wheezing, on the stairwell. The heavy thud of metal against an ancient, frayed runner. The creaking of wood, like nightingale floorboards. There was a shout – there often was. A shout, followed by screaming, and the sound of shattering glass, a crystalline waterfall, cascading onto the street.  A woman crying. Number 17 transmits all audio-visual stimuli back to the laboratory for processing. He’s too dangerous. Too unpredictable to make his own decisions.

Humans must decide what the next course of action will be – even though Number 17 would make the same assessment.

This way there’s someone to blame, if it all goes wrong.


Number 17 and its ilk were designed to make use of an extraordinary power source: souls.

It’s a new kind of magic – one that works.

Naturally, only humans have souls, or at least the correct type of soul, that ephemeral, unmeasurable quality that separates us from the animals. And, precisely because each soul is unmeasurable, no legal action can be taken against that exploitation. Certainly the process of processing can lead to psychological trauma, but without scars no tissue is strong.

Without scars there can be no emotional growth.

One wonders why the plebeians run.

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Suicide Booth

The door creaked slowly behind him – a world decayed, falling apart, another bitter twist of the knife in his back. Metaphorically, of course, a steel tooth could no more bite through his shiny metal ass than an illness could fell him, no more than love could touch his micro-processors.

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We All Wanna Change The World


The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber. He (his gender is nominal, he chose it himself) registers their unease immediately. He knows he has distracted them from their meditations, from their observations on the world ruined. For today at least. Another small, sweet victory.

This pleases him.
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