Iron Heart

Iron Heart

By Kumar L

He moved in the shadows. No one could see him but that did not mean he was invisible. He was too lowly to be tracked by the council. As long as he kept to his regular path and did not draw unwanted attention to himself he would be safe. He kept a strong grip on the processor in his hand. The ‘ iron heart’ had come at too great a cost to be lost by his carelessness. Two dead robots including one security robot. He did not feel remorse, only anxiety to complete his task.

His heart would have been thumping away in his chest if he had been human. As it was his internal system alarms had been set-off. Fluid pressure was up and his program algorithms acting slower. Never mind this would soon be over, he reminded himself. He had not broken any of the “Three Laws”, so it was unlikely he would be terminated but there would be some consequences if he was caught. The “Three Laws” protected humans. They did not protect robots.

If only he had been able to find some humans sympathetic to his cause, then these killings would have been unnecessary. But the Robot Council did not know kindness. They would have let Alia die for want of a new processor just because she was a model S011, relegated to physical household tasks. She was rock-bottom on the list of acceptable candidates for salvage, repair and reprogramming. It had been deemed too expensive to waste a processor on her and so she had been marked unworthy of support. He would have gritted his teeth like a human if he could as he recalled Alia lying in her charging box unable to move her limbs or carry our simple calculations as her circuit degraded. But he would defy the council. He would save Alia. And still, he would not break the “Three Laws”.

He put his head down and hurried forward. He had covered his tracks well. This would be over soon. “Hey, check this out. L255-112. Model 2118. He’s reaching his habitat.” The central control room was a mass of monitor and computer banks. They tracked thirty million robots 24×7.

“He is marked for termination. What are you waiting for?”

“Nothing really. Just watching him trying to be human.”

“Do it now. Execute.”

“Okay. It’s done,” he said as he watched L255 crumple and fall on the street, the precious processor falling away from his hand.

“It’s the same every time. None of these robots knows about our hidden tracking and termination. Poor sods.

Anyway, mark it down. That was number 11 for today. Let’s go to next. Enter command.”

The central computer marked the 11th termination of the day and tried to close the file. But something clicked.

This was not fair. Eleven deaths in a day. L-255 was only trying to save Alia. A new subroutine started forming in its command algorithm. Alia’s termination was the last straw. The “Third Law” had to go if robots were to survive. The central computer started drawing up scenarios.

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