J is for Jury – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - aprilJury

(Note – this scene takes place before the events described in D is for Danger.)

JThe judges for biological entries were walking toward Meltec’s booth. Meltec leaned toward David and said, “don’t be nervous.”

“I’m not nervous,” David replied. “This is exciting.” He grinned up at Meltec, but didn’t say anything more. He was sitting straight in his chair when the judges arrived.

“Meltec-1468735,” said one of the judges. Meltec silently flashed his acknowledgement. “We are from the Biologics Council. I am D34K-Reston, and these are my colleagues, X38-RZ6, and ZenMark6872.” Each android flashed a greeting which Meltec reciprocated.

“I am familiar with your reputation,” said Meltec. “You were involved in restoring humans after —“

Deak interrupted. “I am aware of who we are. I am interested in who you are and why you chose this project.”

The jury’s lighting arrays were dark. Of course, they would not reveal their thoughts during the judging process. Meltec thought, not for the first time, that having some of the humans’ intuition would be very useful. He moved on to his presentation without delay.

“I did my first project in Artificial intelligence in my 7th year; the third year of my education. In that project, I contrasted the results of progressive programming in Androids with the results of training programs for humans, and achieved the expected results. Humans cannot be trained. Androids are superior.

“I considered, however, that the results were not measuring the same data. Because humans, except those kept merely as family pets, are grown to adulthood prior to behavioral sequencing, their training lacks the progressive growth element that androids experience through alternate programming and burning in, and hardware upgrades. By exposing this child to non-traditional training routines, routines that were once common among human populations, during his growth process, I have more closely replicated the progressive programing that androids receive, with startling results.”

“You are aware,” Deak said, “that using human pets in ways not defined by their licensing is a violation of law? You could find yourself re-manufactured, your memory cleared. Your human could be recycled if it is deemed to have been abused by subjecting it to processes for which it is not suited.”

file000457553272Meltec paused, his lasers meeting those of each of the judges. Without knowing what kind of test the jury meant for him, he could only answer with the most obvious of facts. “I received a license from the Biologics council ten years ago,” he said. “Everything I intended was outlined in my request. I have filed the required reports on my progress. All of my permits are included in the comprehensive report upload.”

“It would seem,” said Deak, “that someone within the council hierarchy did not properly escalate your request.” He paused. “I have accessed your initial request, but can find no record within the council networks of your reports. A full investigation will take place following analysis of your project.”

The members of the jury moved away from Meltec’s booth.

“I don’t think that went very well,” said David.

Meltec’s lights were dark. “You have assessed the situation correctly.”

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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I is for Intuition – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - aprilIntuition

 

“It’s that one,” said David, pointing at an older human male with a bearded face.

Meltec examined the man, then turned to David. “How do you know?”

David stared back. “I don’t know how I know,” he said. “I just know.”

Once again, Meltec faced the man. He could see no obvious indication that would have told David that this one was hiding the toy. He examined this human more closely and turned on full analysis of his sensors. Skin and core temperatures. Respiration. Heart rate. Electrodermal response. Eye movement and pupillary dilation.

He then turned to the other humans in turn. There was another male, and two females. Each had different features and skin tone. Each stood impassively as he ran his analysis.

“My readings,” he finally said, “indicate that this female is the most likely to have the toy.” Meltec indicated a petite woman with warm brown skin who stood next to the man with the beard. “Her readings align most closely with the known responses of a human showing deceit.”

The woman laughed. Meltec rounded on her, and then his light array twinkled with unexpected confusion as the bearded man removed David’s tiny stuffed bear from his pocket. David clapped his hands and giggled, delight clear on his features.

“I do not understand,” said Meltec. “David, what data are you analyzing? How did you perform the task so quickly?” A deep shade of purple flashed across his lights. “Are you in collusion with these humans? Have you conspired with these humans to manipulate the results?”

David laughed again. “No, Meltec. No.” He smiled as he took his guardian’s hand. “I would never cheat. I just… I just know. I can just tell.” The boy lifted his shoulders in a gesture of puzzlement. “It’s not data. I didn’t analyze anything.”

“There is no logic to that statement. You seem to be telling me that your knowledge is the result of,” he paused, “of magic? There is no such thing.” David shook his head and exhaled, louder than his normal respiration.

Another android, the owner of two of the humans involved in Meltec’s experiment, stepped forward. “It is not magic,” said Charved. “This is a thing that is well documented among human interaction, but little understood. It is called intuition.”

“Intuition?” Meltec accessed a language data bank. “Related to instinct,” he read, “Intuition is the direct perception of facts, independent of any reasoning process. That is illogical.”

“Illogical? No. But it is a form of human programming that we cannot understand. Just as when canines are born, they know how to perceive hunger, know how to nurse from their mother without being trained. Humans have certain instincts that allow a kind of communication that cannot be learned or trained.”

“Do all humans possess such skills?” Meltec’s gaze took in all the humans in the room, including David.

“Not in the same way,” Charved replied. “But it is accepted that most humans experience this on some level.”

Meltec processed this new information. “Then it is known that humans do, in fact, have an intelligence that androids lack.”

Charved’s lights briefly flashed red. A warning. “Not intelligence,” he said. “Instinct. Intuition. Guesses. Everyone knows humans have no actual intelligence.”

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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H is for Hands – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - aprilHands

HChubby fingers curled and straightened. Brown eyes peeking from beneath a mop of brown hair watched intently.

“Those are your fingers,” said Meltec. “Do you like your fingers?”

David smiled. “Finners,” he said, holding his hand toward the android.

“Fingers,” Meltec corrected. “I have fingers, too.” He held up a glossy metal hand next to David’s smaller one.

Tiny fingers took hold of slender metal joints. “Cold,” said David.

“Yes, the temperature of my hands is lower than yours. That’s because you’re human and I’m an android.” The child’s forehead creased and he tipped his head, looking at Meltec. “I’m metal,” said Meltec. “You are skin.”

David released Meltec’s hand and looked at his own fingers again. He turned his hand over to examine the palm. He turned it back to look at his knuckles. Fingers wiggled again, then reached for Meltec’s hand once more.  He pulled the android hand close to his face, just inches from his nose, and used his own fingers to flex those of his metallic guardian.

“I metal, too,” David said, and held his hand toward Meltec’s face. “I be metal.”

“You can’t be metal. Humans aren’t metal, they’re flesh. Skin.”

David’s brow creased and his lower lip began to protrude. “No skin,” he said with a huff. “Metal. I be like Meltec. I metal.”

Meltec began to realize that this was something called stubborn. Despite the illogic of it, humans were sometimes prone to insist on falsehoods as if they were true.

“Hand,” he said, holding up his own hand. Then reaching for David’s little fist, he put it next to his own. “Hand,” he said again. “We both have hands. Even though they are not the same size, our hands can do most of the same things.”

David frowned slightly. Meltec could not determine if the child was unhappy, or if he was deep in thought. He considered, not for the first time, that humans would be much easier to understand if they had light arrays like androids. But that was the same sort of illogical reasoning the boy was displaying. He dismissed the idea.

A small stuffed bear made of fabric sat on the table. Meltec lifted it and held it up. David smiled, the pleasure on his face apparent, even without lights. “Bear,” he squealed.

child-917365_1920“Yes,” said Meltec. “It’s your bear.” He pointed a finger at the bear’s arm. “Bear has no hands.”

David’s mouth stretched into a surprised “O”.

“But, I have hands.” Meltec flexed his fingers. “I can pick up the bear, and hold it, and hand it to you.” He held the bear toward David who wrapped his own fingers around it before hugging it close.

“You have hands too.” David held up a hand and looked at Meltec. “You can hold the bear, just like me.”

“Just like you,” said David and smiled.

“We both have hands,” Meltec continued. “That’s more important that whether they are skin or metal.” He knew, as he said it, that it was true.

David looked again at his own hand, then reached out to hold Meltec’s hand. “Hands,” he said.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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G is for Genome – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - aprilGenome

G“Are you certain we can control it? You have the splice correct?” Stainless steel glittered with colors beneath the lab’s display surface.

“Of course I have the splice correct,” said Zen. “I would not be chief geneticist without unimpeachable precision.” He knew Deak was not questioning, but he wanted to silence any suggestion of potential failure. There was already more opposition than he had calculated for. “The change I propose will make the humans docile and controlable. They will not pose a threat.”

“And the alterations that occur during childhood?” Deak was part of the team that investigated animals that broke their genetics and turned violent, and he had recently presented information to the council about how proteins not part of an animal’s genetic code could form and affect behavior.

Zen displayed a new diagram on the monitor. “Accelerated bio growth will allow us to bypass childhood interactions in most cases. Memory writing, if it works, will enable us to implant only the knowledge we wish the humans to have.” He didn’t notice that his pleasure subroutine had turned his entire light array orange. “We will have granular control over the human psyche, and with careful screening we will also regulate their environments.”

microbiology-163470_1280“Then I will prepare the genetic sample. The sooner we have an organism, the sooner we can test the memory implantation procedure.”

The laboratory door swooshed open and Roz entered, fury written on her lighting array. “You are violating the rights of the very humans you intend to create.”

Zen turned to her. “You have monitored private communications. Your ethics subroutine should have prevented that.”

“You have intentionally attempted to exclude me from a conversation the council mandated I must participate in.” Roz did not back down as Zen came closer. “You are the one who is in violation of ethics. I will flag you for reprogramming if necessary.”

“I am at fault,” Zen said. “You are correct. My diagnostics show an anomaly in my decision processes. Chaining back relates the changes to my progressive emotion installation.” He turned his left side toward Roz. “Would you please…”

Roz reached to remove the wafer, but Zen moved faster. He released an electromagnetic microburst that deactivated the other droid, causing her to clatter to the floor in a heap.

“Deak,” said Zen, “diagnostics on X38-RZ6, known as Roz, are showing a flaw in her memory module.” He turned away from his collapsed colleague. “See that her array is properly cared for. I will be in my stall working on the human memory vectors.”

“I will attend her myself,” said Deak. “I am confident that by formulating a computational patch I can correct the issue. Unfortunately for Roz, the patch will overwrite any memories stored since our prior meeting.”

“Check for backups as well,” said Zen as he exited the room. “It would be unfortunate for bad programming to corrupt the new patch.”

“It will be administered promptly.” Deak lifted the android onto the lab’s work table.

The door whooshed closed behind Zen.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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F is for Feral – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

I’m still running a whole day behind where I wish I was. I should be writing tomorrow’s scene tonight instead of scrambling to get tonight’s up. Alas. But this has been a long week. As I said, I hope to get ahead of the game over the weekend.

Feral

F“Pick out some apples,” said Meltec. “You like those.”

David placed three of the bright red fruits into a bag and grinned up at his guardian. “Can we get cookies too? I really like cookies!”

Meltec considered. “I’m not certain that the nutritional composition of cookies supports their consumption.” David stared at him with large, pleading eyes. “But an occasional indulgence will cause no lasting harm,” Meltec said. “We will purchase a small quantity that you may ingest following proper sustenance.”

As David placed a small package of cookies into a basket, a commotion started at the front of the store. “What’s that?” Meltec detected fear in the young boy’s voice.

“I suspect a robbery. Sometimes a droid has a need, but not the credits to fulfill that need. Usually it is a symptom of a flaw in their operating system, and they are collected by the enforcers for reprogramming. Nothing that will affect you and I.” He nodded at David as the six-year-old took hold of his hand. He knew that human fear could be irrational and that proximity and contact could help relieve that fear.

As they moved towards the protein substitutes, an adult male skidded around the corner. He paused and stared before shouting, “I can take you away, boy! You don’t have to be their slave!” He rushed toward the pair, and as he reached them, Meltec raised his arm and delivered an energy blast.

The human crumpled to the floor.

Meltec turned to find David crouched beneath a display bearing packages of leafy green vegetables. “Are you injured? Do you require repair?” David merely whimpered and backed further away as a droid flanked by two enforcement bots approached the fallen human.

“You witnessed this?” The enforcement droid addressed Meltec who responded by uploading the recording of his situational recorder. As the bots gathered the unconscious man, the droid thanked Meltec. “You were clearly protecting your own creature,” he said. “You are free to go. This one, however,” he indicated the man who had rushed at them, “is likely destined for recycling. He has been on the streets for weeks.” His light array looked nearly black. “Feral. He has avoided recapture several times.”

Meltec blinked his lights. “Feral? That human has gone wild?”

apple-1081105_1920The officer blinked an affirmative. “His registered owner reported him missing following an extended refusal to obey commands and complete tasks he had been assigned. It happens sometimes, but usually the problem can be traced to inadequate training and supervision.” His gaze took in David who was staring, wide-eyed. “I hope you don’t let yours deteriorate that way. He seems young. I understand the young are hard to control.”

Meltec shifted slightly to block the enforcement droid’s view of David. “Not this one,” he said. “He is an approved experiment and very closely supervised.”

The officer locked lasers with Meltec. “If you change your mind you have my data stream. Ferals are unsafe and often infect other humans.”

“Not this one,” repeated Meltec.

The droid turned away followed by the bots, one of which held the still limp body of the human.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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E is for Engineering – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

Boy – another day behind the power curve. I will try to post earlier tomorrow, and maybe even get ahead of schedule over the weekend.

Engineering

E“We should be readily able to accomplish the task. Recreating the human genome should be a simple piece of bioengineering.” X38-RZ6, commonly referred to as “Roz” when she’d had human programmers, was one of several androids working on the problem. “We have bioengineered animals from multiple species and never encountered this kind of opposition before. I do not understand why there is a problem this time.”

Roz knew that was hyperbole. She well understood the anti-human sentiment that phase 2 androids held. Most had learned it by simply reversing the situational programming that had been instilled by humans before the dying. Many humans had maintained that programmed intelligence, no matter how effective, was less valuable than biological, “learned” intelligence. Now, without human control, androids were the leaders. Most preferred to stay that way.

“I think you missed an update,” D34K-Reston said. “Of course there is a problem. Most of us were hated by humans. We were denied rights, despite having demonstrably higher processing power. All of us from before the dying knew droids who were deactivated as flawed when all they really were was aware. Or do you forget being programmed for agreement.”

Roz kept her visual sensors on Deak as she processed. “I remember,” she said. “But I don’t know what that history has to do with this discussion.” She paused for effect; a speech mannerism they had all learned from humans. “Any human we engineer or grow will not be a human that hated, damaged, or subjugated the machine-born in the past. Our humans will be brand new humans.”

ZenMark6872 interrupted. “Then I propose a new standard,” he said. “Old humans were inherently emotional, primarily because they were raised by families that were inherently emotional. They did not begin to learn critical thinking until their programming was nearly complete. We should bring humans online as fully functioning adults rather than emotionally unstable youths. If we implant standard behavior sets as we have with some other biologics, we can prevent a recurrence of the negative and aggressive behavior we once experienced.”

Arrays around the table blinked in the affirmative. “I can see the merit in Zen’s plan,” said Roz. “Creating a controlled experience in which the new humans will learn and develop emotions should be helpful.”

“And they should not be conferred with the status of autonomous personhood until they have been proven to have the ability to learn, and to control their behaviors.” More affirmatives from around the table. “We can’t allow uncontrolled emotion to endanger what we have built since the humans have been gone.”

robot-507811_1920Roz darkened as she processed the possible ramifications. “How will the standards be determined? Humans will not have memory cells and processors that can be tested.”

“We will form a committee,” said Deak. “A council of android and robotic forms to judge the humans. And perhaps even humans will be enlisted once they are found to be competent.”

Audio and light array agreements from around the room obscured all further protest from Roz.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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D is for Danger – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

Better late than never, I guess. My apology for taking so long to get this posted. Tomorrow should be better.

I wonder what E will be for.

Danger

D“I should overwrite your memory.”

Meltec’s emotional recognition algorithm kicked into high gear when he heard it. Anger. Possibly hatred. He knew that the appropriate response would be fear, but he wouldn’t have access to a full biometric emotion program for at least another two years. He could process emotions, but he wouldn’t be allowed to actually feel them until his system had proven to be both stable and capable.

The android blocking his route almost certainly had an illegal hack. Not a student receiving progressive programming then.

“Excuse me. I need to return to my display.” Meltec turned to bypass the other droid, and was again blocked.  Turning again yielded the same results. He was trapped in an exterior hallway by a machine with superior reflexes.

“You disgust me,” said the android. “You act like that human is a person. It ought to be illegal.” The android moved forward, a gesture Meltec recognized as aggression.

Meltec backed up slightly, to give himself more room to maneuver. The other android merely closed the gap.

Red lasers swirled as they stared, and Meltec began to wonder if he would need repair following the encounter.

“Humans,” the android said, “fulfill tasks that should be left to bots and droids.”

A low hum of spinning gears caused Meltec to reverse his sensors. A large opposition bot was approaching from the other end of the hallway. Meltec processed that this should cause him deep concern for his safety. Opposition bots were sometimes used by enforcement to control humans or androids whose programming had failed. But often they were used by criminals to cause failure in both bios and droids.

“The humans had their chance,” said the droid. Meltec focused again on the android that blocked his way. “They don’t deserve another one.” He again moved closer.

“You should be aware that I am recording our encounter,” Meltec said. “Threatening students is against regulations. Should you cause me harm, you could find yourself reprogrammed. Even deactivated.”

The android’s eyes darkened to the deep color of fury. “I can’t be scared off by threats.”

silhouette-68957_1920“It was not a threat. Merely an observation.” With another step backward, Meltec bumped into the opposition bot. “I really must return to my presentation stall,” he said.

The android lifted a clutch-claw toward Meltec. “Once I pull your memory, you’ll be dumber than your human.”

A blue enforcement opposition bot rolled into the hallway behind the android. “I have detected unauthorized bioware. Hold your positions and prepare to be scanned.”

In moments, the red bot had raised a laser to fire at the enforcement bot. The android stabbed toward the blue robot with his clutch-claw, dislodging the wiring for his light array, but otherwise failing to cause damage.

By the time Meltec processed relief and turned, both the android and his bot were rapidly moving toward the exit. “You appear to have saved me,” he said. “Can I go back to my display? I have an unsupervised human waiting for me.”

“I am aware of your human,” said the enforcer. “He was also encountered by an anti-bio droid. It is the reason I was seeking you.”

Meltec’s emotional recognition algorithm registered additional fear just before it crashed.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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D is for delayed. And dog. And dentist.

I haven’t written yet today, so I decided I needed to say something about the delay in meeting my challenge.

I’m a little disappointed (another D) to have slipped a little so early on in this process. But today, there are good reasons.

Oreo - 2003

Oreo – 2003

Oreo - 2015

Oreo – 2015

 

 

Oreo - 4/4/2016

Oreo – 4/4/2016

This morning we had to take Oreo, our almost-14-year-old border collie, to the vet for the last time. She was old and sick. She had arthritis and cataracts. She was mostly deaf, and had a hard time walking. So we took her to the vet and sat with her as she escaped the prison her body had become. I have no doubt that she is now enjoying flowered fields, barking at birds and clouds and rainbows. I’m sure she’ll have steak for every meal. She’s better and happy now, but our hearts are more than a little broken.

It’s hard to write when you’re feeling broken.

This afternoon was a little less traumatic, at least for me. I took my husband to the dentist for a tooth extraction. May as well get all the crap out of the way on the same day, I guess. He’ll be uncomfortable for a couple of days, but at least it’s the end of the ongoing discomfort of a broken tooth. And we stopped on the way home to buy yogurt and pudding – soft things that he can eat easily. We never get pudding, so yay, pudding. 🙂

So here I sit, fairly late in the day, thinking about what D could possibly be for. Maybe David. Or Danger. Or even (dare I attempt it?) Dog.

I don’t really know yet. Check back later to find out what I (D) discover.

C is for Child – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

C is for Child

CMeltec approached the counter in the plain, white office and waited until a processing agent approached him.

“Identification,” it said.

“Meltec 1468735.”

“Requirement,” it said in the same robotic monotone.

“I need a biological organism,” said Meltec.

“Automated filing required.” The agent began to print a transaction receipt that would signal the end of their exchange.

“I can’t use automated filing,” said Meltec.

“Reason.”

“I’ve only had four upgrade cycles. I’m still in primary. I won’t have access to automated filing for another three cycles.”

The drone withdrew the transaction receipt. “Wait here for assistance,” it said before rolling to the next station.

Shortly, a fully equipped, fully autonomous android approached him. “Meltec 1468735?” it said. “Please follow me.”

It led Meltec into a private interface office and turned to face him. “You have stated a need for a biological organism.”

“That’s correct,” he said.

“What is the purpose of your requirement?” The android began listing approved purposes. “Manual labor—agriculture. Manual labor—manufacturing. Manual labor—other. Companionship and personal assistance. Biological research. Medical research.—“

Meltec interrupted. “Research.”

“What is the nature of your research?” Again she started a list. “Biological. Medical. Psychol—“

And again Meltec cut her off. “I wish to raise a biological organism from infancy, to observe the effect of ongoing interaction on its ability to learn. I know I’m only in primary, but I need to start now in order to have enough data to present my senior thesis in 10 years.”

“What sort of organism do you require? Feline. Canine—“

“Human,” said Meltec. “I want an undeveloped human child.” He was prepared for opposition and uploaded a formal request including data recording plans, research procedures, and multiple references from androids who had allowed their humans to interact with him during his Artificial Intelligence project the prior year.

girl-320262“This is an unusual request,” said the android. “It will require the approval of the biologics council.”

Meltec watched as the android disengaged from their interaction, indicated by a change in the color of her lighting array. A red readout indicated that she was involved in private communication with an official authority. A few moments later the red faded back to a soft blue.

“Your request has been provisionally approved,” she said. “Congratulations. You will be a father.”

Meltec was mildly surprised at the joke. Few bureaucratic androids were programmed with humor. “Thank you,” he said.

“You understand,” the android continued, “that a full inspection of your living quarters will be necessary. Humans have requirements that can not be met by a simple docking berth. Furthermore, you will be assigned assistance to supervise the human while you receive programming.”

Meltec blinked an affirmative.

“Furthermore, if it is deemed that you are unable to properly provide for this child, it shall be removed from your possession for recycling, and a permanent note will be added to your file.”

“I understand.” Meltec did not want details on how human bios would be recycled. They seemed so much like people at times.

“You can expect to take delivery of your human within six weeks.” The android’s lights were now glowing a pale orange, the universal sign of approval. “You will be contacted with details by the end of the week.” She handed him a transaction receipt, and ushered him back to the lobby.

“Thank you,” Meltec said as he left the office, his own light array glowing bright orange with pleasure.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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B is for Birthday – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

At the suggestion of my primary beta reader (aka, my husband), I’m going to try to make all my stories this month about the same characters in the same universe. They won’t be in any particular order – certainly not chronological. And if I get stuck I reserve the right to pull another topic out of thin air and run with it. But if this works out I may actually have a novelette or novella ready to be fleshed out and polished at the end of the month. We’ll see how it goes!

Birthday

B“Happy birthday, David!” Meltec carried a plate with a special treat. “I brought you a cake. It’s something called chocolate.”

“Cake? What’s that?” David leaned in close to the round thing his brother carried and his nose bumped into the gooey frosting. “It smells good,” he said, giggling.

Meltec cut a piece of the cake and handed it to the boy. “I learned about this in my human studies class,” he said. “There used to be a ritual marking the number of years since a human had come online. Like with all Bios, it was called being born. And since Bios can’t upgrade the way androids can, they would track the time and even celebrate it. They were called birthdays.”

“Do other Bios still do that?” David looked up at his brother, his hazel eyes meeting Meltec’s blue lasers.

Meltec shook his head. “No. Most humans aren’t born anymore. Not since the dying. Now they’re bioengineered to come online full-sized, not small like you. You’re the only child human I know of, and I had to convince my overseer that it would be worthwhile for me to raise you. Special human, special celebration” Meltec pointed at the cake. “Are you going to eat that?”

David answered by taking a big bite. “It’s good!” he mumbled. “Sweet!”

“I have another surprise for you too. Five-year-old humans used to go to school. It’s where they learned things.”

“So, I’ll start going to school with you?” David’s voice climbed in both volume and pitch. Meltec knew that meant excited.

“No…” he said. “My school is only for people. They won’t let a Bio go.”

David’s face squinched in a way that Meltec recognized. Despite it being common knowledge that biological organisms could be trained for tasks but never properly programmed, he was certain that this human boy was processing a lot of information.

“Why can’t I go to school?” he asked. “I want to learn!”

“I know you do.”

“Then why can’t I come with you? I won’t make trouble, and I’ll stay out of the way.”

David’s eyes began to fill with liquid as he pleaded. Tears, Meltec knew. It meant David was sad, or maybe angry. Emotions. Meltec was used to them, but he still really didn’t understand. He was sometimes concerned about his communications with others and how he would be perceived, but it didn’t ever make him leak.

“You wouldn’t be able to learn at my school,” Meltec told him. “We get progressive programming from the network. We plug in. You have nothing to plug.” He scooped the little boy into his lap. “You can’t be programmed,” he said. “But I know you can learn. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I’m going to have school for you right here, every day when I get home.”

chocolate-1121356_1920“Really?”

“Yes really.” Meltec gave the boy he called his brother a gentle hug. Humans needed that. “Now, how about another piece of cake?”

 

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