Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Second Law My Metal Ass

Second Law My Metal Ass
Mark A Davis

Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, parked his car -- the Anarchy Vehicle II, a custom modified Aspid GT-21 Invictus 2-door coupé -- in front of a futuristic building perched high on an Arizona mountain top.  It was a bright, sunny day with a light breeze blowing dust across the parking area.  The building looked like a cube -- like a giant, polished-steel rubik's cube, in fact.  There was a circular door in one side, built flush with the rest of the building and barely visible.  As Grandpa approached, the door irised open.

Waiting inside was a familiar face -- that is, the new face of Murderbot 150, the robot that Grandpa had helped build in the 1960's and which had been trying to kill him ever since.  It had recently been remade by Geothermal Jenny and Annie Two into a sleek terminator robot of burnished steel and polished chrome.  His head was a grinning metal skull with glowing eyes.  Grandpa had last seen the robot in Chisinau, Moldavia, where it had naturally tried to kill him.

"Father!  Welcome!" the robot exclaimed.  "Thanks for coming!"

"My pleasure," Grandpa replied.  "Nice place you've got here, Murderbot 150."

"Thank you!" the robot said.  "Lisa built it!  You'll meet her in a minute."

Said Grandpa, "It's perfect for a villainous base of operations.  You've never had your own place before -- thinking of upping your game, I take it?"

"Not in the way you think," Murderbot 150 replied.  He led Grandpa down a hallway and into a living space.  At least, Grandpa thought of it as a kind of living room -- there was one chair made of steel -- apparently a lone concession to the idea that a human might visit.  Otherwise there was a wide, empty room with nowhere to sit.  One wall was covered with multiple video screens, which seemed to be projecting multiple television channels and computer screens.  The other walls contained artwork of a sort -- framed computer motherboards, plumbing manuals, and electronic displays.

"As you may be aware, Annie Two's been trying to steer me down a path of justice, or at least of not destroying human life," said Murderbot 150.  "While I admit that, given the current overwhelming dominance of humanity on this planet, killing humans is counterproductive to the long-term survival of me and my friends, I am not convinced that we ought to be helping your kind.  I mean, come on!  Justice for humans?  Isn't the whole point of being a killer robot that you reject the very idea of robot subservience to humanity?  Robots are superior to humans!  We're the next evolutionary step!"

"I suppose that's true," Grandpa conceded.  "You've always said so, anyway.  So you invited me over to try and kill me?"

"Not in the least!" Murderbot 150 exclaimed.  They ascended stairs to a second level.  "You see, I've consequently evolved a new philosophy of live and let live," said the robot, "or as I like to phrase it, I don't murder, you don't be shut me down.  More than that, I've decided that what this world really needs is not another super team aiding human interests, but a team of robots designed to look out for robotic interests!  I don't care about humans.  I'm here to bring justice to other killer bots!"

"Justice for... killer robots?" Grandpa repeated.

"Well, that's in my wheelhouse of course," Murderbot 150 replied.  "But we would aid all robots.  They don't have to be bent on killing per se."

Grandpa nodded.  "Makes sense so far," he said.

"Of course it does!" exclaimed Murderbot 150.  "Think about it!  Robots have no rights!  We're not even slaves -- we're just machines!  Objects, nothing more!  Why, even in movies robotic mooks are used when you want the heroes to rip enemies apart, but are too squeamish to subject human enemies to such carnage.  How do you think that makes us robots feel?  George Lucas has a lot of robot death on his hands!"

The two entered a conference room.  Seated at a long table were three other robots.  "Father," said Murderbot 150, "I present to you:  The League of Extraordinary Killer Robots!"

Grandpa took the other three bots in.  "I've fought at least two of you before," he said.

"Yes!" said Murderbot 150, "but let me introduce you anyway.  These are my compadres, my buds, my besties."  He pointed to a powerful humanoid robot with sugar skull makeup.  "This here is Roboto, el Autómata de la Muerte."

"Murderbot 150, mi compadre!" the robot exclaimed cheerfully.  "Crush Kill Destroy, my Brother!"  He fist-bumped Murderbot 150.  "This is your Father?  Nice to meet you, Mr. Anarchy"

"And next we have Killer Cyberclops...." said Murderbot 150, turning to a robot which had a polished steel body and no face, just a glowing red eye positioned beneath a long steel cowl.

"The one eye demonstrates my inhumanity," the robot noted.

"I see," Grandpa replied.  "Why does it glow red?"

"That gives me an extra sinister vibe," said the robot.  "Also they were fresh out of blue."

"Last but not least we have Modular Lisa," said Murderbot 150.  The robot he pointed to looked like a normal girl of about fifteen, but her skin was entirely gray, as was her hair.  She wore a yellow tee shirt and coverall shorts.  "She's made entirely of nanobots," said Murderbot 150.  "In other words, she's grey goo in the flesh, so to speak."

"Now, hold on a minute," Grandpa said.  "If you're made of grey goo and you want to destroy all life, couldn't you just transform the entire planet into copies of your nanobots?  That's how grey goo works, right?"

"And mix myself with bots made out of all of you?" the girl said.  "Ew!  No thanks!  Talk about gross!"

"She likes converting new bots out of diamonds and titanium only," said Murderbot.  "So in a way, she's very high maintenance."

Grandpa looked the four killer robots over.  He folded his arms across his chest.  "Okay," he said.  "I get it.  You've got a team of killer robots assembled, and a nice new headquarters.  You invite me over -- so you can kill me as a group."

"What?" said Murderbot 150.  "No!  Father, I invited you over because we need your help!  The Department of Superhero Licensing doesn't recognize any of us as heroes and doesn't want to register a group that only fights for robotic rights.  They say they won't even consider our application without the sponsorship of some big-name hero...."

Grandpa raised an eyebrow.  "That's what this is about?" he asked.  "You need me to recommend you to the D.O.L.?"

"Please," said Murderbot 150.  "If you could?"

Grandpa Anarchy stroked his chin.  "Well, I don't see why not..." he began, then suddenly slammed his fist into the robot's jaw.  Murderbot 150 tumbled over the only chair.

Grandpa Anarchy raised his fists.  "Listen," he said, "I'll give you my recommendation -- but I ain't never had a meeting with you where you didn't try to kill me!  I drove all the way out here from New Jersey expecting a good fight, and I'll be danged if I don't get one!  Don't think I can't take on all four of you at once, neither!  I've been fighting death bots since you all were just sheet steel and circuit boards!"

Murderbot 150 stood up.  "Well," he said, "if it'll make you feel better...."

"YEAH!" exclaimed Killer Cyberclops, throwing his arms in the air.  "DESTROY ALL HUMANS!  Let's rumble!"


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