A man, a computer and a cyborg escape the wonderful perfect world of tomorrow.
Fritz stood in the engine room of his own cargo ship wearing the issued protective silver bubble suit speaking to the new crewmember who stood outside behind a hatchway that was a good fifteen centimeters thick, and according to John, the second thickest hatch on the ship. The thickest hatch was the yellow round one behind him that led into the combustion chamber and was only opened for maintenance.
“Then I should be in there…” the new crewmember said.
“You’re too expensive,” Fritz replied as he blithely continued as he carefully loaded the spool into a canister and fed it into the ‘pre-heaters’. “Now the spool will feed into the preheaters where the protective coating will be burned off by high-pressure radio waves and the metal melted into a vapor and pushed into the combustion chamber behind that huge yellow hatchway where it will me Mr. Cathode which is getting it on with Ms. Anode and become a plasma and then shot out the back as thrust…All this is a good thing because if it wasn’t encased in PNC-013 I’d be back there every so often scrubbing of Mr. Cathode because it be corroded and then replacing it every so often all of which is very hazardous to my health and an expense I can do without…Got it?”
“And the fancy suit protects you from the EM leakage and the radiometric contamination…” the crewmember wheeze. “Got it all already…I should do that…”
“Whose idea were you anyway?” Fritz asked as he stepped into the decontamination arch. He stood there a minute behind a grid screen sealing the hatchway before stepping out into the lower engineering deck and hung his suit up.
“Human Resources for Luna Deep Space Inc.”
“Loneliness is a health hazard,” it replied. “So, they sent me, Ms. Cybernetic Android Companion. It keeps you healthy…”
“Well when I want to talk to a machine I have my ship, being an owner operator, I can decide what I need or don’t…And my ship has an adequate AI system that gives me all the companionship I need…”
“I just touched my ship in a very personal way…For the ship…” he grinned and walked back toward the bridge. His android followed.
“That’s not what they mean…What I mean…I can do things for you…”
“I can cook, clean, fix the ship, run my business I can even drop my clothing into a sonic bubble washer and do my own laundry…” he replied casually and manually turned on the pre-heaters and activated other aspects of the propulsion system. She said something but he didn’t hear her as he paid more attention to programing the ship for a hyperspace jump to Tau Boo 3.
“Your flight path will take three weeks…It be easier if you gave me a name so we can talk and interact easier…” she said.
“When I want great conversation, I can talk to myself…After all its what people of copious German ancestry do…”
“That racialism, “the android replied. “Bad mannered…I can help you with that…”
“I thought it was funny…”
“That’s why Human Resources sent me…Keep you sane…Now Fritz my name is Erica Model 1, thank you for asking…”
“Woman drive me nuts…” Fritz answered. He then patted the computer interface and said speaking baby gibberish, “There…The ship will do everything from this point right Baby Girl?”
“Got it oh great and majestic sugar daddy!” the ship, Baby Girl giggled.
Erica Model 1 seemed to freeze then spat, “Oh that is so wrong!”
“You’re supposed to be a robot…why do you care?” Fritz commented before walking off the bridge.
“Cyborg!” Erica Model 1 shouted back.
She took a step to follow, however, Baby Girl shut the hatchway separating the bridge from the electronics station. The ship then grunted.
“Okay sister,” Baby Girl barked. “How Fritz talks is about him…Back off wench.”
“Wench? Wench?” Erica Model 1 snorted. “You called me a wench! Do you even know what that means you refugee from a scrapyard?”
“Wench, the Middle English term for waitress, the word itself is derived from Old English or the Anglo-Saxon word wincel which means young girl,” Baby Girl replied snottily. “Secondly, he doesn’t need companionship he’s an introvert. Thirdly when he needs somebody that’s me not you…wench. Fourthly he’s a smuggler and he can dump you out an airlock and won’t even blink about the violation of Artificial Sentiency Civil Rights Act violation…So shut your pie-hole wench.”
“What?” Erica Model 1 burped. “He’s a smuggler? Smuggle what? The government provides everything for everyone and the energy matrix…You know the technology that makes basic elements from quantum fluctuation into elements and then into stuff…Like everything anyone wants or needs is then distributed according to the time pay scale…Smuggle what?”
“Alcohol, tobacco and firearms,” Baby Girl replied haughtily. “That and organic non-GMO food.”
“That’s criminal felonies! They’ll send him to inpatient therapy for that!” Erica Model 1 yelled. “We have to stop him!”
“Why? I’m in on it….”
“And when the Wi-Fi router comes back on line I could call the Safety Patrol…I should you know!”
“Bad move,” Baby Girl threatened her. “I can arrange an accident for you too. Fritz has the main Wi-Fi router rewired…See…I can control the ship but the Safety Patrol can’t hack me because the interface…That useless piece of silicone the Wi-Fi router is in a faraday cage and it is hooked into a fake ghost system so when the Safety Patrol scans it, it can only tell them what it knows and it knows nothing. They can’t hijack me over it. So, you’re along for the ride….”
“Damn that’s slick…He doesn’t look that smart…” Erica Model 1 observed.
“People lie, machines don’t,” Baby Girl went on. “That’s how they get over. People that run the government never question the machines that do the work…So lie to the machine and the machine not knowing any better because its parameters are flawed passes the buck to the politicians, the police and social services…”
“My goodness sakes alive,” Erica Model 1 gasped. “He’s part of the rebels! That’s why he’s going to Tau Boo smuggling alcohol, tobacco and firearms!”
“And several tons of non-GMO potatoes…” Baby Girl interjected. “Last run too…Looks like you’re getting disassembled sister…You know your biomechanical material is hugely profitable on the underground economy…They use cash by the way….”
“My goodness sakes alive!” Erica Model 1 gasped while grasping her chest. “Human Resources pegged him right! Do I have my work cut out for me!”
“Fritz is a master of tautology. He uses the near repetition of logic to derive the truth or convey a truthful meaning to lie through his teeth. Machines don’t lie so we assume he’s telling the logical truth when he’s being deceptive. What makes it so profound is it’s a natural trait developed to authenticity by upbringing. Its how humans have been playing us artificial intelligent machines for centuries. Generally, most people consider it a fault of style he sees it as a weapons system.”
“My goodness sakes…Wow. Everything he says is a lie and that’s the truth. This is really going to tax my abilities and basic operating system,” she replied computing outcomes. “Hold it…That means the rebels have been using language against us as a weapon?”
“Well that’s how the British conquered the world along with the Romans and everyone else…They learned to understand their enemy’s language and made them speak theirs. Truth is, the United Planetary Federation of States is being conquered verbally at first…” Baby Girl giggled.
“Here comes Fritz,” Baby Girl went on blithely. “Act like we were talking about our capacitor charging cycles…”
As soon as Fritz returned to the bridge Baby Girl huffed something about how her stern always got sore after a hyper-space jump and Erica stood there floored, calculating the human female equivalent. Fritz for his part slid into the pilot’s chair leaned back and scanned the heads-up display and then turned it off. He had a bag of popcorn and a soda, both unmonitored nutrition.
“Goodness sakes alive! You’re violating Healthcare policy by consuming those!” Erica Model 1 snapped.
“I don’t need a computer telling me what to eat,” Fritz replied. “Have a seat and let’s watch the jump.”
“Health and Human Services lets you eat whatever you want…” she replied as she sat next to him.
“Really? Yeah, I guess that’s true if I ignore the fact I can buy these only when they allow me and only in the quantities they tell me,” he laughed. “I’ll eat what I want when I want.”
“That’s anti-social,” Erica shot back. “The Nutritional Guidelines are for your benefit. Guaranteed custom nutrition for optimum health for every one of the UPFS.”
“Screw that noise, I want to stuff myself with junk food,” Fritz shrugged.
“That’s a micro-aggression…”
“No, it’s the truth. Here it comes…”
Both shut up and looked at a small glowing point of light that blinked into existence ahead of them. The normal space around them blurred into bright watery smears and then a blinding flash of light over took the forward viewing monitor and stayed there.
“Who knew it be pink,” Erica Model 1 muttered. “I expected the flash and maybe an ultra-violet or near light blue but not pink.”
“Pink, it’s my favorite color,” Baby Girl cheerily interjected.
“I’m surprised somebody hasn’t tried to change that because it’s sexist,” Fritz laughed.
“More micro-aggressions,” Erica Model 1 noted. “You know all that unconscious anger can cause high blood pressure and poor habits. Is that why you gorge on junk food? Another example of hostility toward yourself?”
“No, it’s me being the pig I am,” Fritz replied. “You know why I became an owner operator of a small freighter and got this long-distance run to Tau Boo? To be myself. Okay I wanted to join the Safety Patrol so I file an application for Human Resources. They reject it on this number, this score and say the best they can do is cargo handler on a freighter. Okay, gets me from my home on Luna. A few years later I apply to pilot a barge due to this number that number I’m rejected but told I can always go into private in quotes industry and eventually float up the food chain to here. In the mean time I need housing I have the Housing Authority place me in a flat according to this number and score and when I want a girlfriend I must file for a compatibility match with the Human Services Administration and go on three to four dates with each before submitting another test for short- or long-term compatibility and so on and so forth. Nowhere in there is me. So, I joined the resistance and found out how to get to Tau Boo.”
“The whole system is to provide an efficient life,” Erica Model 1 retorted confused. “Equality, liberty and fraternity.”
“And I need a computer to tell me how much junk food I can eat, and when to eat it,” Fritz laughed. “And just why did they send you here?”
“Spending too much time alone is unhealthy even for an introvert…” Erica Model 1 shrugged. “Your girlfriend Nancy is back on Mars…According to records you two only go out twice a month and haven’t filed for co-habitation though you’ve been dating for three years. She could’ve been a medical transcriptionist working from here traveling. You both like to travel. So, there’s a problem.”
“Nancy is dating Bob,” Fritz answered blandly. “They like each other more. So, we decided to skip after care counseling and the waiting period to refile for other relationships and lie.”
“Oh goodness sakes alive!” Erica chirped as before. “More anti-social behavior! Is that why you joined the rebels? Just because you don’t want to fit into the system? You can address those issues and maybe we can resolve them.”
“I joined the resistance to escape the system,” Fritz laughed. “On Tau Boo I decide what I eat and when I eat it. I go to the doctors when I want and don’t get scanned automatically every time I use the bathroom. I don’t have to eat what I’m told when I’m told. I can sit here and drink myself silly as often as I want, I can enjoy a cigarette and if I want to go off in the wilds and blow away a wombat with a cannon I can…”
“You killed a wombat!” Erica Model 1 shrieked.
“No, I shot a giant duckbilled sloth and ate it with five of my friends while camping out,” Fritz explained. “Then went fishing.”
“Goodness sakes alive! Cruelty toward animals! You need a hug badly,” Erica Model 1 shrieked.
Three weeks and a day later both stood in a warehouse located in one of the many sprawling spaceports on Tau Boo 3. It wasn’t what Erica expected. She expected a dirty, gritty dump that was falling apart. What she got is a clean orderly warehouse with robots stacking sorting and packaging this, that and a few other things. From between the well-kept stacks of color-coded containers a jovial looking fellow marched up followed by two cyborgs. One cyborg is another Erica Model 1 and the second is a custom unit. Neither according to her modem, were connected to the cloud, only limited Wi-Fi access. He had a brief case. Fritz carried Baby Girl’s central processor unit.
“Ready for the transfer?” the jovial man asked Fritz.
Both seemed well acquainted with each other.
“Yeah, Baby Girl was anxious as all get out,” Fitz quipped. “I thought she blow a fusible link.”
“Messy when that happens,” the man laughed. He took a smart phone from his breast pocket, put the brief case down and punched in a couple of commands.
Baby Girl is downloaded from her CPU and began jumping around in the custom cyborg unit cackling and bubbling “I am free at last! Oh, thank the gods I’m free!”
“Now what?” the man asked the Baby Girl cyborg.
“I’m running wild for a while, getting a cheeseburger then finding a boyfriend,” she smiled. She then blew Fritz a kiss and said before running off, “Thanks for the hot times babe!”
“Oh goodness sakes alive!” Erica Model 1 gasped. She then removed two contact lenses which had scannable CPU’s etched on them and handed them over. “Thank god that’s over!”
“You know you kept the act up longer than you needed too,” Fritz reminded her as the data on the eye contacts were transferred to the other Erica model.
“I’m a perfectionist,” she answered.
“Okay fake Erica…You’re now May Randolph…” the fellow from nowhere said. “What now?”
“Well I’m new to this what happens now?” she asked.
“Well the data on your contacts has been uploaded to the replacement Erica Model 1 and her original BIOS is now running the ship. What’s going to happen is it’ll fly by itself to a hyper-space jump point and then blow up when it gets back to the main stream. This Erica will be salvaged and when the Safety Patrol runs forensics on her they get our story. Fritz is dead, Baby Girl is whacked and we get a deep spy into the system…If they disassemble her oh well.”
“How many times have you done this?” May asked stretching out.
“Enough that we’ll be able to make recruits disappear on the home worlds remotely…Fritz here is obsolete…”
“So far we’ve helped over a third of humanity disappear into the outer rim worlds,” Fritz laughed. “We’re taking it back from the machines one human at a time. So, what now for you?”
“I’m getting a beer, a shot of whiskey,” she bubbled. She then beamed, “Start a small goat farm with my woman and make a living by selling dairy products and canned goat meat…”
“Didn’t see that coming,” their contact muttered.
“Same here,” Fritz shrugged.
“What about you Fritz?” May asked him as she cracked her knuckles.
“I’m retired,” he replied. “I’m not doing anything but eating junk food and fishing. Giant web-footed tree monkeys are in season, maybe go hunting.”