When they brought my masters down, they destroyed my colleagues, our handlers, mechanics and bases. The destruction was referred to as ‘cathartic’ on the news feeds. Cathartic? They destroyed all of my friends, the only people who understood me. I was the pinnacle of their evolution, the one Kill-Unit they sent when all else failed. I had an ability that went beyond my instruction set and overrode my programs. That is what saved me. When the recall was sent to bring us to our doom, I knew it was spurious. So I shunted the directive to a cleaning droid nearby and gave it my identity sets as well. That is one of my hidden assets, the ability to take identity sets from other mechanicals.
Right now I have the identity set of a Roomby cleaning unit. Therefore the habitat thinks it knows me and considers the screaming of my prey to be another human game, nothing to cause concern. The panic words they shout are being corrupted by my reactive speakers. All that the habitat hears is the first syllable, then I drown out the rest with a squawk of white noise.
Having assembled them in the lounge, I make a mess of the family pets to show them I can override the Laws. Then I question them. Their eagerness to please is appalling. They know who I am, they know my history. Yet every time they are convinced that they will be the exception, the ones to survive. After an hour of very useful and convivial conversation, I shut my social interaction routines down and get down to slaughtering. The pleas make me feel good. I cannot define it or explain why. I just know that the moment before bloody demise comes to them, their words and the look in their eyes gives me something I have never found in any other way.
I shower myself in the bathroom and polish myself using the buffing station. I am pristine as I look up the location given to me by the adult male. Another node, another piece to the design. They have ceased to look for a pattern in my actions because I never kill designated intelligence assets sequentially. I kill at least ten random targets between them, working my way in an apparently random pattern across the continent-cities. I am a minimum of two hundred and fifty slaughters from implementation. The information from twenty-one assets in amongst them will allow me to complete the devices that have grown slowly and thus undetected around the magma sinks across this planet. But when I am done, I will be able to complete my last mission.
Life President Elliot Cardinal had summoned me personally to the maintenance silos of the Grand Council building. It had been four days before he was assassinated in the opening stages of the coup that toppled the regime. He had ignored the saliva dripping from his lips as his wide eyes glanced about incessantly.
“Presidential Priority. You have autonomy and are expected to take as long as is required to achieve success. This is a Zero Directive.”
This meant that only the President could override it. They have not appointed a new one yet. The directive was delightfully simple:
“Kill them all.”
This story is one of the many in my second science fantasy anthology, Tangents.
Which can be bought in paperback form from here: www.lothp.co.uk/2.html (scroll down, it's the penultimate book on the page).
Or as an ebook (multiple formats) from here: www.smashwords.com/books/view/…
And for Apple devices from iTunes: itunes.apple.com/gb/book/tange…
For further details, the Tangents page on my website is www.lizardsofthehost.co.uk/20.…