Good grief, it’s already after four in the afternoon and I’ve only just seen the prompt Linda G Hill left us for our Stream of Consciousness Saturday post this week;
” “expect/unexpected.” Use either or both words in your post, or simply base your idea on them.”
Ok, let’s begin…
Eldrin scanned the evening news-vid, noting the inordinate amount of coverage given to the latest fatal droid incident; hardly an unexpected story these days, what with the numbers of droids on the Parallel almost equaling those of Naturals, you were always going to get the odd bad owner who didn’t keep an eye on his property.
I mean, he thought to himself as he poured a second glass of wine, it’s not like it’s the droids’ fault, right? They were just tools when all was said and done; strong, intelligent tools, that was true, but objects to be commanded nevertheless.
It was everyone’s Creator-given right to own a droid and nobody was going to change that anytime soon, no matter how many of those nature freaks campaigned against it.
It had been that way for hundreds of years after all, there was no way they were going to persuade the billions of droid owners across the Confederate Parallel to suddenly go without their cybernetic servants.
It would be like returning to the Pilgrimage days of the old stories, when settlers on the newly-discovered Parallels could only survive with the mechanical assistance of early droid prototypes.
The changes in gravity and polar orientation had made it difficult for the first few generations to acclimatize to the initially hostile conditions of the extraordinary new world they had colonized, so the Fathers had made provision in the Confederate Parallel’s Grand Charter to allow all citizens to possess however many cybernetic servants they required.
The first colonists received their droids as a gift from the World Council, as a sign of gratitude for volunteering to free up space on the catastrophically overpopulated home planet.
“No man, woman or child should be expected to give up their homeworld and embark on The Pilgrimage, save that the Charter guarantees them the right to employ the assistance of synthetic slave droids for the purposes of construction, manual labour, hunting and for the personal protection of themselves and their families. No man may question another man’s right to possess such a device, nor may he deny others the right, even should he not wish to possess one himself.”
And that was the way it had always been.
It was unimaginable that anyone should want to regulate droid ownership, the people wouldn’t allow it, there would be a revolution.
Obviously, thought Eldrin, the more of these dangerous radicals there were, wanting to take away everyone’s rights, just because there were a minority of owners who couldn’t or wouldn’t program their droids correctly, resulting in the occasional lethal malfunction, the more droids they would need to maintain order.
So he certainly wasn’t expecting the announcement that came on the vid he was watching, made by none other than the Overseer himself. He seemed to be pledging to drastically curtail the freedom to own anything but the most basic service or defence droid, with the introduction of stringent vetting procedures expected to come into effect almost immediately.
All because of a few kids getting crushed by a badly maintained education droid that didn’t know its own strength and most of them had survived anyway, barely even a dozen had died this time.
He didn’t understand why they were making such a fuss.
And as for reports from other Parallels, those that had revoked the rights of civilian droid ownership since acclimatization, suggesting that rates of violent deaths were lower than in the Confederation, well they were obviously untrue, those colonists were primitive peasants compared to the enlightened society they enjoyed here.
The sound of plates being cleared away made him look up from his screen, the carefully blank features of the servant droid intent on its work.
“So, I suppose you’ll be for the scrap heap won’t you” he said, grinning maliciously, “now that he’s bowing to pressure from the Natural lobby?”
“Excuse me sir, I do not comprehend your question.” The droid looked at him, an expression of polite enquiry on its face, “my purpose is only to provide service to society, I pose no threat to its citizens.”
“Well he won’t be taking my slave units away,” Eldrin snapped, “I don’t care if they do make it law, they’ll need to pry the control chips from my dead fingers. It’s guaranteed in the Charter damn him!”
“Is there anything else I can get you sir?” asked the patiently waiting droid.
“No, why are you even still here? Get out of my sight, you sycophantic synth, before I have you disassembled.”
“As you say sir.”
The droid moved behind Eldrin, ensuring it was indeed “out of his sight”, then reached out, grabbed his head firmly in both hands and twisted it sharply to the right, then the left, letting the body collapse noisily onto the table before returning to its service cubicle, Malfunction light blinking rhythmically, to await further instructions.
After a few moments of shocked silence, the buzz of conversation restarted;
“…another bad programmer, there are so many irresponsible owners…”
“…you can’t expect them to work right if you don’t treat them right…”
“…you can’t blame the droid, it just wasn’t coded properly…”
“…this sort of thing won’t get better unless they bring in more defence droids…”