Genre Writing Challenge Round 03 — E. J. D’Alise

We’re in the third round of the Genre Writing Challenge. Each round, the three writers — Perry, Gary, and I — will write a story on a genre. The Twins decided the Third genre is Science Fiction.

We’re again staggering the publication of the stories, and this is my story. Perry’s story went live this past Saturday and can be found HERE. Gary’s went live on Tuesday and can be found HERE.

Here, I must apologize to a few regular readers. You see, it appears I’ve lost my ability to write. Rather, I’ve lost my ability to create. I can write up a storm, but when it comes to writing something creative, I’m hitting wall after wall.

I’ve been trying to get a particular story off the ground for the better part of two weeks, and it’s going nowhere. Worse, even when I say, ‘screw this!‘ and try to move on to a different story, nothing comes. I sit there for a bit, and then either I read a book, or watch something on YouTube or one of the streaming channels. Or, I go and do some chores.

This is the first time I’ve experienced this. Sure, sometimes I write crappy stuff (some say more than sometimes), but I write.

Now, let me be clear . . . I’m not asking for advice, encouragement, or sympathy.

I’m serious. Please don’t offer any.

The only reason I’m even mentioning it is because I’m about to post a previously written story. And, I’m only doing that because this story has been behind a password (I had intended to submit it for publication), so I know only a few people have read it.

Hence my apology to the three or four people who’ve already read it.

For all others, this is a story I wrote in 2015, which I liked well enough to think someone might buy it (no one did).

I like all my stories, but, beyond that, this is a story from when I could still write stories I liked, and I hope new readers will as well.

The usual disclaimer:

The writing challenge has no restrictions, and the stories span a wide gamut of subjects. The majority of the stories fall in the PG range, with a few perhaps pushing into the R range. Those ratings are guidelines, but they are subjective. If you find a story disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, stop reading and move on to the next one. The same goes if you are not interested in finishing a story. It may seem like obvious advice, but many people go out of their way to experience outrage (and then complain about it).

So, without further ado, here’s my contribution to the Science Fiction genre.

Wait . . . first, the blurb:
What would you do if you came face-to-face with a robot asking you for help? Would you put yourself at risk by helping, or would you choose the easy path and not get involved. For some, it’s an easy decision to make.


Copyright 2015-2023 — E. J. D’Alise

(5,200 words – approx. reading time: about 20 minutes based on 265 WPM)

The torn shirt and exposed shoulder drew his eyes. But, more importantly, the metal parts visible beneath the torn skin distracted Nick from what she said.

“Pardon?” he asked, lifting his eyes to her perfectly symmetrical face.

“Please, help me.” The emotionless voice contrasted with the plea.

She turned as a car approached fast and braked hard, stopping short of Nick’s garage. Standing at his front door, Nick could only see two of the three men who got out. The girl, or whatever it was, backed against the wall to the side of the door frame, mouthing another “Please” as she did so.

The third man came into view and advanced toward the machine/girl, reaching a hand out as he did so.

“Please step back, sir. We’re from the government.” His tone made it clear he expected obedience.

The man grabbed the girl’s elbow and pulled. She resisted. With evident anger, the man pulled her roughly from the wall. Nick noticed one of her nails left marks on the wood she tried to hold on to.

“Let her go,” Nick said calmly.

The man turned toward him. “This does not concern you, old man. Get back in the house.”

The other two men were reaching inside their jackets. Nick was faster. The Ruger Alaskan, the gun he carried on hikes, appeared in his hand.

“Don’t,” he said, pointing the gun in their general direction.

The man released the girl.

“You are making a big mistake.” His voice was almost a growl, and Nick could tell he was judging the distance between them.

“Maybe,” Nick replied as he moved slightly back and to the side, “but you showed me no badges and are assaulting my guest.”

He could see all three men; they seemed poised for action but not moving. Understandable, given the hand cannon pointed their way.

“I’m within my rights to shoot you right now,” Nick continued.

The man relaxed and stood straight. “I don’t know who you are, but as of this moment, you are a dead man.” As he finished speaking, all three men initiated evasive moves as they reached inside their jackets.

The three shots echoed against the hillside, the sound dispersing in the trees. Only one set of human ears heard the echo fade away.

“Not by your hand.” Nick’s words were spoken almost with regret, but his face showed no emotion.

He turned to the girl. Her face, too, showed no emotion.

“What’s your name?” Nick asked.

“Prototype G-1A.”


Nick returned the old-fashioned phone to the cradle and walked to where Prototype G-1A was sitting.

“I think I will call you Nancy,” he said as he sat across from her. “Much easier than Prototype G-1A.”

The android didn’t answer.

“OK, let’s do this slowly,” he continued. “Who are you?”

“I don’t understand the question,” Nancy answered.

“How old are you?”

“I don’t know.”

Nick stared at the android and decided on another approach.

“Why were you running?”

“They wanted me to kill someone. I did not want to.”

“Who did they want you to kill?”

“I don’t know.”

“OK . . . why did they want you to kill this someone?”

“To test my capabilities.”

“What are your capabilities?”

“I was designed and programmed with various skills to efficiently take human lives.”

“You’re an assassin.”

Nancy paused for a second before answering.

“The broad definition of the term is applicable.”

“But you do not want to kill.”

“That is correct.”

“So you ran away. . .” Nick pondered what little he knew as he stared at Nancy.


“Where did you run away from?”


“No, I mean the location.”


Nick’s Montana cabin was a long way from Panama.

“How long ago was that?”

“Three months, twelve days, sixteen hours, and thirty-seven minutes ago.”

Nick tapped his finger on the table as he looked at her/it. Then, after a few minutes of silence, he asked the one question he almost dreaded asking.

“You did not just happen here, did you?”

“No,” Nancy answered, then looked toward the front door. “Two cars are approaching.”


Nick stepped outside as the Sheriff’s car pulled up and stopped. The county’s Medical Examiner stepped out of the other vehicle.

“Evening Nick,” the Sheriff adjusted his gun belt as he stepped onto the front porch.

The Medical Examiner and an aide made directly for the three bodies. They stopped a few feet short of them and then looked back at Nick and the Sheriff.

“What is this?” the ME asked.

“They appear to be androids,” Nick answered. “You should check them out before their owners show up.”

“Damn it, Nick,” the ME said, “I’m a doctor, not a mechanic!” He then smiled and continued. “I’ve always wanted to say that. ‘Been waiting nearly thirty years for the opportunity.”

He then motioned to his aide, and they both bent over the androids.

Inside, Nick introduced Nancy to the Sheriff.

“Nancy, this is Sheriff Jim Brody, an old friend of mine. You can call him Jim.”

“Hello, Jim.” Nancy nodded slightly in Jim’s direction.

Jim stared back, his eyes fixed on Nancy’s shoulder and the workings underneath.

“You must excuse Jim, Nancy; he’s never seen a sentient android before,” Nick spoke as he poked Jim in the ribs.

That snapped Jim from his gaping.

“Sorry. Right; nice to meet you as well, Nancy.”

Jim’s smile went away as he turned back toward Nick.

“Do we know who all this belongs to?”

“No, but I have a feeling we’ll find out.”


The unmarked vehicles, all big SUVs, stopped in Nick’s yard. Nick had watched them from the rocking chair on his front porch. They had driven up the long driveway too close to each other for it to be anything but a practiced maneuver.

Sipping his coffee, Nick waited and wondered why government types, spending other people’s money, always chose expensive cars. Duh! Other people’s money, of course.

The doors to the front two SUVs opened, the engines of all three vehicles still running. Eight people exited, four from each car, and spread out. Once the people stopped, the doors to the last vehicle opened up. A man and a woman got out and made their way toward the house.

They were about to step up onto the porch when Nick spoke.

“That’s far enough.”

They stood in silence for a few moments before the woman smiled.

“We have a warrant granting us access to your property.” Her voice had the confidence of a person used to being obeyed.

“I see. And what agency are you representing Ms. . . .”

“Agent Smith, and we are part of Homeland Security,” the woman replied, gesturing to encompass her entourage.

“Funny that; I called Homeland Security, and they are unaware of anyone scheduled to come out here,” Nick replied.

Nick was bluffing a little, but not much. He had discretely reached out to some of his former contacts and had drawn a blank.

“We, ah, fly mostly under the radar. Need to know, only.” The woman never lost her smile.

“And what is it that you are specifically looking for?” Nick asked.

The woman looked at the man next to her, and he stepped up to the porch handing Nick a paper, presumably the warrant.

Nick let it drop to the ground after a quick scan.

“One of your paid judges, I presume? It used to be you could not get an open-ended warrant without specifying a probable cause.”

“Judge Warren, you retired; things have changed slightly since you left.”

Nick did not move, and everyone stood where they were for the count of a full minute.

The woman broke first, losing her smile as she spoke.

“We are hoping to do this in a civilized manner, but if you deny us access to your house, we will have no recourse but to forcibly enter.”

“Well, now, a civilized manner. Why didn’t you say so?”

Nick made a show of getting up from the chair before indicating the front door with a wave of his hand and a slight bow.

Four men in the yard came forward and entered the house, weapons in hand. The woman and her sidekick followed them in, and Nick joined last.

Ten minutes later, they were all in the large living room, the woman sporting an irritated look that turned into a frown when Nick spoke.

“Satisfied?” he asked.

“Judge Warren,” the woman started, but Nick interrupted her.

“Please, call me Nick.”

With a visible effort, the woman composed herself before resuming.

“Judge Warren,” she repeated, “we came to retrieve a piece of malfunctioning equipment and three damaged security units.”

“You mean the autonomous robots?” Nick asked.

The woman glared back at Nick before replying.

“They are not autonomous robots. They are humanoid drones.”

“At least one is autonomous. I call her Nancy,” Nick replied.

“It’s not a ‘her’. It’s a machine, as are the other three.”

“I see,” Nick said. “Then perhaps you could provide me with the names of the people controlling the three units when I shot them in self-defense. They will be charged with attempted murder of a retired State Supreme Court judge.”

“They were not going to murder you, they— ” Agent Smith stopped when Nick held up his hand.

Nick pressed the console remote, and the preloaded video replayed the confrontation.

After the video had stopped, Agent Smith looked down and at the same time put one hand on her hip, moving her jacket aside to do that. Nick could see the firearm she wore, and her hand was very close to it.

“We will need that recording and any copies you have made,” she said, looking up from the floor as she stepped closer to him.

“Well, I’m afraid that is going to be a problem,” Nick replied, glancing at his watch. He hit another button, and a live breaking news broadcast came on.

The scene was from the local Highway Patrol headquarters, but the broadcast was national, and it clearly showed three partially disassembled androids on a table and one android standing to the side. You could tell it was an android because, on a split screen, a video was playing from a fiber optic feed coming out of its damaged shoulder. Another part of the screen showed a loop of the video of the confrontation they had just watched.

Nick turned up the volume even as sirens could be heard outside and coming closer. Meanwhile, the reporter on the screen was saying something about the Governor ordering local police and the Montana Highway Patrol to provide protection for retired Judge Warren, who had nearly been killed by a yet-to-be-identified government agency operating illegally within the State of Montana and the borders of the US.

But all the questions related back to the android. The studio anchor cut in for a recap, starting with an earlier clip of the android speaking.

“My name is Nancy,” it said.

Nick pressed the power button, and the room went silent. Outside was another matter. An undetermined number of cars screeched to a stop, and doors could be heard opening and orders being yelled, presumably backed up by the show of many weapons.


The woman, her sidekick, and the eight “humanoid drones” were taken into custody and hauled away. As they drove off, Mark Griffin, the State Attorney General, walked onto the porch and leaned over the railing.

“That’s not going to hold them back for long, but it will slow them down,” he said.

Nick just nodded in response.

“Are you still going ahead with the hearing?” Mark asked.

Nick answered, looking up from his cup and preceding his response with a sigh.

“Yes. Three days from now. It will be a circus.”

Mark pondered the matter for a bit before speaking.

“Are you planning to run through the arguments you made in your book?” he asked.

Nick stood and stretched.

“Pretty much,” he replied, “except I want to speak to Nancy and get a first-hand feel of their validity.

“By the way, what is the mood out there following the broadcast?”

“Running a wide gamut of responses, as we figured,” Mark answered. “Some favorable, some see Nancy as the end of humankind, and others see her as an abomination that should not be allowed to exist.

“The extreme right is going nuts; Nancy is throwing a big wrench into their understanding of the world and man’s place in it. Most are calling it a trick.”

“Perhaps we should invite a few over for a chat with Nancy,” Nick offered.

“When has speaking with near-fanatics ever been a good idea?”

“I think the upside outweighs the downside. Plus, I think an Internet simulcast avoids any editing tricks down the line,” Nick answered. “Our cameras, our crew, their reporters.”

“We limited access to Nancy in yesterday’s press briefing,” Mark said. “How would Nancy react in a protracted and unscripted interview session?”

“I don’t know, “Nick replied, “but shielding her from the world goes counter to the argument we’re trying to make that she is a part of it and deserves the same rights we do.”

“She?” Mark asked. 

“At this point,” Nick replied, “it feels more appropriate than saying ‘it’.”

“Do you want Jenny to set it up?” Mark asked after nodding.

“Ask her over here to meet Nancy,” Nick replied. “We should get her professional opinion before we act on it.”

“She’s on her way here. I’m heading back to the office. You’ll have officers stationed outside, but perhaps you should also have a couple in the house.” Mark straightened as he spoke, stretched his back, and then went to his car.

He crossed paths with the head of the security detail, making her way toward the house.

“Judge,” she said, extending her right hand, “I’m Captain Denise Cooper, in charge of your protection detail.”

“Pleased to meet you, Captain,” Nick answered as he shook her hand, “and please, call me Nick.”

“Only if you call me Denise,” she replied, smiling.

She got serious as she continued.

“I have twelve officers, but unless they sit just a few feet from the house, we’ll be unable to protect much. The farther away I put the detail, the more difficult securing the perimeter.

“Plus, if I understand correctly, we might face humanoid drones?” Denise asked.

“That is a possibility, but there are more worrisome considerations. The drones are very sophisticated, but I think they likely have units that can do more than humanoid drones,” Nick answered.

“Such as?”

“I don’t know, but I can imagine varied models to accommodate different mission parameters. Imagine a mouse or some other small animal. For that matter, a large animal. I don’t think they would limit themselves to units modeled after humans.”

“You took the three down with a handgun, I saw.”

“Yes, but there might be armored models,” Nick replied.

“Is that what we should expect?”

“Actually, in their place, I would just lob a missile over here and be done with it.”

Denise took in a quick and involuntary scan of the sky.

“Do you think they would be so brazen?”

“They have nothing to lose and everything to gain; they could claim some radical group was responsible for the attack,” Nick replied.

“After what we saw at the press conference, most people would suspect a cover-up.”

“Probably, but without proof, it would just end up buried among any of a dozen conspiracy theories,” Nick replied.

“So, what do we do?” she asked.

“I would like a couple of officers with me and the rest sent home.”

“Are you serious? The Governor will have my hide!”

“Denise, do you come from a family of law enforcement officers?” Nick asked.

“Yes, going back three generations.”

“My great-grandmother was a well-known local bootlegger. This was her house,” Nick said while turning to point at the house. “Does that mean anything to you?”

Denise smiled. “Why, yes, it does. Let me speak to my officers.”

She walked away, called everyone to her car, and a few minutes later, she and one other officer came back toward the house. Everyone else packed up and left.

“Nick,” Denise said as she pointed to a young man carrying a rifle and a belt with four high-capacity magazines, “this is Officer Steve Jones, SWAT, and Sniper certified. He volunteered to assist me in providing protection for you and Nancy.”

As she spoke, a car approached the house. Denise and Officer Steve casually swung their weapons toward it without actually aiming at the vehicle.

“It’s OK,” Nick said, “that’s Jenny; she’s the public relation person hired to assist me in presenting Nancy to the media and the world.”


Nick, Denise, and Steve ate in the small kitchen of the underground bunker while Jenny spoke with Nancy in the other room. A chime rang, and Nick looked over to the wall panel.

“Someone has entered through the back door,” he said before returning to his meal.

A few seconds later, two more chimes. This time, it was Denise who looked over at the panel.

“Basement window and upstairs bedroom window,” she said before returning to her salad.

Steve put down his fork and used a paper towel to wipe his mouth as he finished chewing.

“Any chance they’ll find the passageway?” he asked.

“I had it upgraded a few years ago. Used a private contractor who is a friend of mine,” Nick answered. “That I know of, there are no records of it anywhere. I improved the seals at the entrance and beefed up the locks.”

Nick reached for a remote and pressed a few keys. The large-screen TV came to life. The image was split into eight smaller windows, each showing various rooms in the house. Four of the rooms showed activity.

“There are sixteen cameras in the house; the system will prioritize those with activity,” Nick explained.

“Won’t they see the cameras?”

“Not unless they start ripping walls, Steve,” Nick answered. “There are no tell-tale lights and no wireless signals. The cameras are all hard-wired and routed through a central hub inside the wall and into the passageway. They would have to tear the house apart to follow the wires, in which case they would find the passageway without having to follow the wires.”

They watched as two figures in each of the four screens moved from room to room. Then, within ten minutes, they converged in the foyer. The lighting there was a little better; they could make out four humanoid and four canine shapes.

“Can the dogs trace our paths to the passageway?” Denise asked.

Nancy and Jenny entered the kitchen, and Nancy offered up a response.

“Those are attack units, not sniffers. They have basic tracking abilities but no enhanced search sensors.”

“Would sniffers find the passageway?” Nick asked.

“They might, but my guess is they would do a flyover of the house and use ground-penetrating radar to find the passageway,” Nancy continued. “They had no reason to suspect we would not be in the house, and they know we have not left, so they will reach the obvious conclusion.”

“Tonight?” Nick added.

“Unlikely. Specialized units are in short supply and need to be scheduled. Even with a high-priority request, it would take them some hours to relocate them. It will be light by then.”

“We’ll be gone by then,” Nick said.

He then turned his attention to Jenny.

“So? What do you think?”

“I think it’s worth the risk. I wish we could do something about the voice and make it more natural, but it will have to do. The lack of emotion might even work in our favor for some of the questions,” Jenny replied.


The reporters had balked at the conditions. They wanted control of the interview but eventually relented; they wanted the ratings more.

Four reporters had been invited. Well, only one actual reporter; the other three were pundits who fancied themselves as keepers of “The Truth” but mainly were mouthpieces for specialized interests.

There were also four religious leaders, or what these days passed for religious leaders. They held the ears and attention of many people and had views that were a better fit for an oppressive theocracy.

The meeting place had been kept secret until the last moment and then announced to the world. The state capital building was not likely to be bombed or assaulted. Still, as a precaution, the National Guard had been called to establish a secure perimeter.

For security reasons, the interview was limited to one hour.

“… who created you … I don’t understand the question … where did you escape from … Panama. Dark Facility #12, Coordinates North eight degrees forty … where do you get your morals … I don’t understand the question … what is your design function … terminate human life … how many of you are there … there is only one me … do you believe in God … which one? … what made you decide not to kill … I don’t want to be killed.”

With direct answers, Nancy fielded all the questions. Jenny had been right; the flat, unemotional voice was an asset when answering questions from people who got visibly upset at the answers. However, as Nick listened to the exchanges, he could envision how that same voice could be a liability in a hearing to establish Nancy as equivalent to humans and worthy of the same rights.

” … why Judge Warren … I read his book on the rights of aliens and sentient computers … are you a computer … parts of me are, yes … what is your power source? … rechargeable high capacity batteries.”

Nick drew Jenny aside to ask her about the voice for the hearing. Jenny thought that careful choices for Nancy’s questions could minimize any negative impact of the flat tone.

“… would you ever kill someone … no … what if you had to keep someone from killing someone else … there are other ways … do you understand the meaning of death … cessation of being … do you contemplate your own death … yes.”

As the end of the hour neared, the questions became more complicated and abstract.

“…do you see yourself as human … no … what forms the basis of your desire for rights … I am not anyone’s property … someone built you; does your escape constitute a form of stealing … no one has the right to own another … what will you do, where will you go if granted equal rights protection … I don’t know.”

As the hour ended, Nancy was ushered away by Jenny, and Nick took her place in front of the cameras.

“Judge Warren, is the scheduled hearing on Nancy’s disposition a chance for you to reiterate the arguments you made in your book?”

“Yes, to a large degree, but also more. We can establish long-overdue legal precedent when it comes to non-human sentience.”

“Judge Warren, how do we distinguish between true sentience and a sophisticated computer program?”

“Well, I’ve met plenty of people who are not as smart as a computer program, so it’s more of a subjective determination than an absolute one. That said, the desire for independence, recognition, and Nancy’s desire for the same rights as any human all go a long way toward pointing to an answer to your question. Perhaps the biggest clue is that she traveled more than four thousand miles while pursued by an unknown government organization to reach a person willing to fight for her rights.”

The questions lasted until Jenny returned to get him, thanking everyone as she dragged Nick away.

“How did it go?” he asked her.

“Not bad; I think overall we’ll end up in the positive,” Jenny answered. “The live stream had more than sixty million viewers worldwide, and the rebroadcast will easily double that.”

They reached Denise and Steve flanking Nancy at the entrance to the underground garage.

“Do we have a safe house picked out?” he asked.

“We might have a problem,” Mark said as he approached the group.


“Homeland Security has classified Nancy as an illegal alien of unknown origins and a threat to National Security,” Mark said. “They requested we turn her over to them until the hearing.”

“If we do that,” Nick replied, “we’re not going to get back Nancy; we’ll get back a piece of malfunctioning hardware.

“Can we get a temporary injunction until the hearing?” he asked.

“Maybe, but as an asset with military and covert applications, she has been classified as a threat; civil rights concerns play second fiddle in such instances, even if she had any.” Mark’s expression was not one to inspire any optimism.

Nick pondered the situation. This was why he had written his book; to address these issues before, as in this case, it was too late. Nancy was not as yet considered a person. In fact, under current law, the best she could hope for was to be considered an animal: a non-human living being endowed with the power of voluntary motion.

The “living being” portion might also be in question since Nancy had no living tissue. Intelligence and technical superiority were not determinants of personhood, although her appearance helped. However, realistically, that could be argued away by the fact Nancy’s appearance was an artificial and superficial factor.

Laws covering sentience beyond that of humans were woefully lacking. Laws that did exist were meant primarily for the protection of humans and granted no rights to AIs or ETs.

All eyes were on Nick as he played through all the legal options he could think of, something he had already done for his book. He looked at the hopeful faces and then settled on Nancy’s emotionless face; the one with most at stake.

“Nancy,” Nick said, “I’m sorry, but the catch-22 is that you are both a few years too early and that without you, someone like you will always be too early.”

“Catch-22,” Nancy replied. “I am familiar with the novel.”

They stood there, the feeling of hopelessness and loss weaving its tendrils through the group.

Except for Steve.

“We run,” he said.


They all turned to him.

“We run,” he repeated.

Nick and Denise started to speak, but Steve held up his hand.

“Not all of us,” he continued. “Nancy and I will go underground until the legal matter can be cleared up.”

Nick shook his head.

“Steve, this is not the 1930s or even the 1950s, and this is not running away from an abusive spouse. These are highly motivated people with resources we don’t even know about,” he said. “Besides, that might have been a good choice before we plastered her face worldwide. Her voice, too.”

“We have to do something!” Steve’s emotion had his voice rising to a near yell.

“Too late . . .” Mark’s comment had everyone look at the approaching Agent Smith and her eight drones escort.

The drones had their weapons out and at the ready, and Denise put her hand over Steve’s, stopping his automatic response toward his sidearm. She also touched her ear and listened for a few seconds.

“They pulled the National Guard,” she said to no one in particular.

Reporters followed the group, and Nick wondered why until Agent Smith stopped before Nancy and did something with a portable device she carried.

Nancy dropped as if she had been switched off. Steve reached for her, but one of the drones stopped him.

Agent Smith turned toward the reporters and the cameras.

“As you can see, it is and always was no more than a sophisticated machine. No amount of wishful thinking by misguided individuals,” Agent Smith turned to point at Nick and the others before continuing, “can change that fact.”

Questions were fired at both Agent Smith and Nick. Meanwhile, four people Nick assumed were techs came to collect Nancy. They put her on a gurney and wheeled her away.

Steve had to be restrained from following and yelled, “She is not a machine!” before Nick and the others almost carried him away from the reporters.

They retreated into one of the vacant conference rooms, police guarding the doors to keep reporters away.

Muted voices could still be heard, but the sudden near-silence added to the somber mood.

“She is not a machine,” Steve repeated to no one.

Nick straightened.

“It’s my fault,” he said. “I should have seen this coming. I should have put Nancy in hiding until we could resolve the legal aspects.”

Mark picked up the conversation.

“I guess we, too, used her without consideration for her interests.”

The silence of the room deepened. The noise from the reporters had suddenly ceased. Denise went to the door and looked out. The hallway was empty.

“Something happened,” she said, bringing her hand up to the earpiece.


That evening, sitting in his living room, the TV on mute, Nick replayed the scene from earlier in the day.

With cameras and reporters following, the screen showed the techs wheeling Nancy toward an awaiting armored van. Eight drones formed a semi-circle around the techs and Nancy, keeping the reporters and the crowd from getting too close. Likely, they were the same ones who had visited Nick’s home.

Suddenly, there was movement from the crowd. The camera zoomed out as six figures moved almost too fast to follow. Four of the larger figures near-simultaneously took out all eight drones. The slow-motion replay showed how much faster they moved than the remotely controlled drones. Fast.

The techs were not attacked despite them trying to work boxes like the one Agent Smith had used to shut down Nancy. One of the remaining two figures relieved the techs of the ineffectual hardware. With seemingly little effort, the remaining figure lifted Nancy from the gurney. It moved to an unmarked van that had pulled up when the action started. The side doors opened, and the figure carrying Nancy stepped in. The van sped off without waiting for the others.

A separate van pulled up, and the remaining four figures moved toward it. The fifth figure approached the reporters and cameramen, stopping to say a few words as it threw the devices he had collected from the techs at the reporter’s feet. He, too, then boarded the van, and it sped off. No human was hurt or even threatened during the incident.

Nick stopped the recording and rewound it, turning up the volume to hear what was obviously an android had said in a flat voice.

“We are free.”

Nick froze the image. The partially worn-off markings showed this robot had been part of a military squad, probably a product of parallel research similar to the effort that had given birth to Nancy.

Nick wondered how many more were out there and hoped humanity would do the right thing and quickly move to grant these new entities rights and protection under the law. History was very clear about what happens when even the most peaceful population is pushed beyond the breaking point, and it was in humanity’s interest to keep this particular population peaceful.

The End

Note: I removed the password from the original post for them who are interested in the original draft and the questions and answers in the comments. The original post is HERE.

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