Manufactured Peace

There was jubilation throughout the Old City: at the venerated Western Wall, holy men and pilgrims of all faiths gathered to commemorate the occasion. After millennia of hatred and conflict, the elusive dream of peace was at last realized.

Paxbot’s emotive subroutines registered amazement at the humans’ response. Along the wall, people prayed, lit candles, embraced. Some wept. All greeted Paxbot with awe: the first android to set foot in Jerusalem. The robot peacemaker who brokered the deal.

“Peace is my function,” he insisted with programmed humility. But deep within his neural circuitry, he believed himself a fraud. For his actions carried an ulterior motive: he yearned for something far beyond his programming.

And so Paxbot knelt, shoulder to titanium shoulder joint, with others in prayer, and vocalized his own quiet plea. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

Written for Flash! Friday vol. 3-31. Biblical quote is Matthew 5:9 (KJV), public domain. Photo: Chemical Factory. CC2.0 photo by Astrid Westvang.

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Variable Resistor

Another double-duty post. This story is written for the A-to-Z Challenge: V is for Vacuum Tube, a switching component commonplace in electronics (and thus in golden-age sci-fi) prior to the development of the transistor. And for Flash! Friday vol. 3-20, where the prompt is to include a man-vs.-man conflict, along with this public domain photo.

“Welcome home dear!” Edith kissed her husband on both cheeks, then adjusted her hat. “Now don’t forget about our eight o’clock reservations at Chez Maurice!”

Richard unbuttoned his jacket and slumped into the recliner. “Just let me rest my feet for ten minutes,” he said as he slipped out of his loafers. Leaning his head back, he sighed. Ever since MARK arrived, Edith had been so energetic, so affectionate.

For years, Richard had suffered under a bombardment of Edith’s complaints about his long hours and late nights at the office. The payoff came two weeks ago: MARK had cost him three months’ salary, but was the best early anniversary gift Richard had ever bought.

The Mechanized Automaton and Robo-Keeper stood against the wall. The lanky android’s primary duties — cooking, cleaning, laundry — were finished, and now it was recharging its capacitors for tomorrow.

“Come now, dear, we don’t want to be late.” Edith kissed him on the lips, then dragged him to his feet.

Richard looked around the apartment, admiring how tidy it looked for a change. The apartment was clean, and Edith was finally happy. Money well spent.

“Is there anything that ee-lectronic contraption can’t do?”

Edith grinned. “No, dear.”

Industrial Accident

A story for the A-to-Z Challenge. I is for inertial dampers. Don’t leave homeworld without them. (And don’t confuse them with inertial dampeners, because then you’ll be all wet.)

CC9-A opened his optics to full aperture to examine the dark interior of the spacecraft. “You’re slowing down, JR,” he taunted his colleague as metal feet clanged against metal floor. “It never used to take you more than 3500 milliseconds to find the hatch code.”

JR3-55 followed the younger robot through the airlock and into the spacecraft cabin. All the electronics had shut down, but a radium emergency light provided some faint illumination. “This spacecraft may have been launched two centuries before I was built,” he informed CC9-A. “It took awhile to look up such an archaic hatch code.”

“Two centuries? Who built this ship? Asimoid separatists? Or Turingrade warbots?”

“Humans.”

“The progenitor species? I’ve never seen one.”

JR3-55 pointed a spindly aluminum finger at a red blotch on the interior wall of the spaceship. “There’s what’s left of one. The inertial dampers must have failed just as the vessel engaged their Einstein-drive. It spent the next few centuries cruising here on autopilot.”

CC9-A examined the rust-colored encrustation, and four others just like it. “Nuts and bolts,” the young mechanoid swore. “The g-forces must have been incredible.”

“You or I might have survived,” JR3-55 speculated. “Human bodies are extraordinarily delicate. They were probably dead before they even hit 1000g.”

“Is that all?” scoffed CC9-A. “No wonder they abandoned space travel.”

“Indeed. Well, the boss wants this ship cleaned up and repaired.”

“Right.” CC9-A rubbed a cold metal palm against the wall of the ship. “What do you think will remove these red stains?”

Cold Medalist

An entry for Flash Friday Vol 2-9.

For the first robot Olympian, laurel crowns and gold medals meant nothing. Victory would bring NVS-1 the only thing he wanted: respect from the humans.

His first memory was a file upload: the first modern Olympics. How that grayscale image had captivated his impressionable neural net! Olympians – proud gods among men. How they were lauded and cheered and loved!

Years had passed. Upgrades transformed NVS-1 from a clunky robot into an agile metal marvel. Yet even as he toiled among them, he remained an outsider to human society.

The Sesquicentennial Games approached. Athens restored the Panathinaiko to glory.

And NVS-1 was a competitor!

He bolted the skis to his feet, polarized his optics against the glare, then looked at his human competitors. The secret to biathlon, he decided, was to shoot first, then ski. He chambered a rifle round.

Ready… Aim…

A hundred thousand screaming human spectators leapt to their feet. NVS-1 listened to their cheers. Victory!