Thursday, December 15, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 26

    "What was that today?" Ferris demanded, glancing at Illiquina.
    They were once again in the darkened meeting room, joined by A'alant 32 and Darrian, standing in a small semi-circle. While there was a touch more planning than the last time around, they had still elected to keep the lights off and the door locked.
    Don't want someone thinking we're up to something. Illiquina had said.
    What? Like we're not at this point? Ferris had retorted.
    That hadn't gone over well given Ferris's annoyance and Illiquina's barely contained rage.
    Not five minutes later, it looked like they were about to start fighting again.
    "What do you mean by that?" Illiquina snapped back. "That damned 'bot is a lying piece of-"
    "No, no, no." Ferris quickly backtracked. "I'm not talking about your eloquent tantrum earlier today."
    "TANTRUM?!" Illiquina's entire upper body flushed.
    Despite her diminutive stature, Illiquina looked like she very well may try to tear Ferris clean out of his robotic exosuit.
    "Enough." A'alan't 32 stated firmly. "I've had enough of your fighting recently."
    "She started it." Ferris grumbled.
    A'alan't 32 pointed a single, transparent blue digit at him.
    "Are we done?" she asked flatly.
    "Yes." they both answered in conjunction.
    "But I don't understand." Illiquina interjected quickly. "What happened after I left?"
    The group took a few moments to explain everything to Illiquina. They went over the sudden change in tone. The strange observations that the judge somehow thought something different would happen and that it seemed like he somehow felt responsible for the deaths of the humans. They ended by recounting his sudden 'Insufficient Data' comment and how he near about fled the conference room.
    "He's a dirty liar." Illiquina griped. "Covering his tracks."
    "I'm not so sure." Darrian said hesitantly.
    "He's a robot." Ferris observed. "Sure, an old robot designed with the capability to learn...but still just a robot. He's got a base programming. He shouldn't be capable of doing something as implicit as outright misdirection."
    "Well, clearly he is." she snapped.
    A'alan't 32, who had taken and settled in a nearby chair during the earlier discussion, seemed to glance back over the table. Much like the old judge did earlier, it was as if she was rewatching the hologram of the altered human.
    "That doesn't make sense." A'alan't 32 said quietly.
    "Than what do you think it is?" Illiquina demanded.
    A'alan't 32 glanced over to the small Caldrax and considered her for a moment before glancing back.
    "I don't know."
    They stood in silence for a moment. In the low light, they all looked distracted. Concerned. Even Illiquina whose voice burned with rage still looked more upset than she did angry.
    Something didn't add up.
    "What's the old judge's programming?" Darrian asked, thinking out loud.
    "Come again?" Illiquina responded.
    "You said that he shouldn't really be able to do something like lie. It wouldn't be within the realm of his programming." he responded, motioning towards Ferris. "But what if it was. So again..."
    "What's his programming?" Ferris echoed Darrian.
    "Who knows?!" growled Illiquina. "All of that information was deleted! Did you forget the last time we were here? All we know is whatever is in that damned file!"
    "He's a diplomat." she started to count off. "He's a robot. He's part of a larger team of-"
    Illiquina suddenly went blank.
    "-of other robots...with the same purpose..."
    Darrian looked at her sideways.
    "Yea? We know that."
    "No." she said, her entire mood flipping in an instant. "No. no. no. no."
    Illiquina fished out her datapad out of seemingly nowhere and began tapping away on it furiously. Darrian couldn't help but wonder where she'd stowed it because he couldn't remember her coming in with it.
    "What is it?" Ferris asked, clearly confused.
    There was no response. Simply incessant tapping.
    "Illiquina?" A'alan't 32 asked.
    No answer.
    They stood there staring at the little Cadrax in silence as she pounded away on the datapad. Seconds drew to moments in utter quiet, filled only by 'taptaptaptap'.
    Just as Darrian was about to ask again, Illiquina let out a cheer.
    "YES!" she shouted far too loud. "Yes! Yes! Yes!!!"
    "What?" Ferris asked, clearly annoyed by the antics.
    "I have a way to figure out what the old judge was programmed for!"
    "What?" Darrian said, taken aback. "How? The archives were altered."
    "His brothers." she said with a growing smile. "We still have information on the other robots that he was a part of! We can figure out his real purpose!"


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  1. Oooooh.
    (and I would like someone to tell me my real purpose.)

  2. With a little information can sure do a lot. Finding that purpose may prove fruitful...or not.

  3. Interesting. Now it seems the judge and the robots might have been programmed for something nefarious?

  4. Dang, is that a solution or another mystery?

  5. Hi Robert - clever 'upping of the plot' ... I'm enjoying this ... cheers - Hilary

    PS I hope you're feeling easier and life is improving ... take care ...

  6. Robots can be programmed to lie. Or it could damage them somehow. I wonder which this is.

  7. How exciting! I can't wait to see what exactly the old judge was programmed for!