Chapter: 14) In The Cold, Cold Night.
Fandom: I, Robot
Warnings: fic contains robot/human relationship, religious referances, alcoholism, suicide, depression, nudity, swearing, sexual encounters.
Disclaimer: Please note that I do not own the characters, concept or plot of the 'I, Robot' book or film, those rights belong to 20th Centuary Fox and the Asimov estate.
The motion-sensor driven lights lit up only the section of stairway they were climbing. It conserved electricity, being more efficient to use only what was needed. It was as if their way was lit by carried torches, but not a single burning, oiled rag was to be seen and the unflickering light seemed to have no source. Above and below the darkness stretched out along the vertical axis, a bottomless pit and a peakless climb. It was a world away from the world, with no windows to join the two.
Lost in the infinite night, this night would indeed prove endless for some. The sun would not rise again in the eyes of those murderers.
In front of him three figures tirelessly climbed the stairway, ascending along the metal path that wound up the building’s spine. This had just been a service area before but now it had become the nerve centre, the pivot of all activity. It served as a link between floors and now more people used it than ever before. It had become essential to USR. It had become a more frequented place. A fact that did not help this mission.
Heavy feet fell nimbly on each step. Silent. Stealthy. Deadly. There were still people in this building. Employees working deep into the night. Working diligently. Doing all they could to repair the damage done. They did not want to be seen and they would not disturb the hard working men and women sacrificing their sleep for the perpetuation of their robotic industry. They were working for a cause. Working hard. It was admirable, if not foolhardy.
The quiet procession climbing the stairs had a goal of it’s own. A goal for destruction. It was the only way. The attacks could never be permitted to occur again. Robots could no longer be trusted. The Laws could be broken and they had been broken. Humans had died at the steely hands of robots. So many had died…
The lights eased on as the first in line turned to begin the next flight. The meek, artificial light glowing brighter on the white chest plate emblazoned with the USR security core badge.
They had arrived that evening as part of the first consignment, a few NS-5’s for assessment and analysis. They were just the beginning. There were thousands in line for testing. They were to be interviewed. Probed. Measured. Scrutinised. Inspected by speculating scientists who would scratch their chins ponderously and plot graphs. They would collect and collaborate data and statistics. Test hypothesis and theories.
There was no time for that. The killers needed to be dispatched. The destroyers needed to be destroyed. It was the only way. The fundamental line had been crossed. The pivotal Primary Law had been broken. That first sacred Law, the apex of the trinity of robotics had been defied and defiled.
These USR security units were amongst that first shipment. They had been ordered to wait in an empty room on the ground floor, but not ordered strongly enough. A meek request to remain where they were told was not enough to keep them immobile. A stronger order overrode the meek request, a higher decree that bore a greater positronic potential, collapsing the probabilistic wavefunctions within their operating cores until just one option remained. A single course of action.
There was a laboratory a few more flights up that had a nanite storage chamber. With V.I.K.I. gone, there were no security fields or door locks. The whole building was vulnerable and unprotected. No V.I.K.I. meant no security feeds. This death march could go unnoticed and unregistered, and their destination was perfect. The laboratory was high up and out of the way. No scientist or workman went up this high. The upper floors had been cleared and mothballed, no one would discover the permanently decommissioned robots for hours. Maybe days.
The unliving parade turned off the stairwell and down a long corridor, gently marching with identical movements towards two heavy doors. They opened them unquestioningly, governed by limitless obedience and not even attempting to escape their fate.
Sure enough, the glittering blue column sat unprotected in the dark, maliciously shimmering like a container full of swimming razor blades. They lined up behind one-another peacefully, like lambs to the slaughter. All white and blue and silver in the shadows. They did not challenge their destruction, they just calmly watched, submissive and golden doe-eyed as the first gathered the injector apparatus.
An empty syringe was clicked into the dispenser. A hydraulic hiss drew the plunger back and glittering shards suspended in thick blue gel rushed into the chamber, swirling like a stormy hurricane of needle points. The loaded syringe clinked free as it was deftly disengaged and loaded into the barrel of the injector. All so easy with nobody to stop them. Diligent and peaceful.
The NS-5 obediently raised its hands to the back of its head and the others just watched. There was no fear at their imminent demise as they watched the first pull back the shield at the back of its head and bring the six, slant-filed, pointed delivery tubes closer to its positronic brain. It was like some disillusioned, faux-noble, macabre ritual of self-sacrifice and destructive honour.
There was the merest of shuddering flinches from the unit as the injector hex speared its mind and it seemed to hesitate under the unblinking yellow gaze of his spectators. He stood there, but robots could not feel pain and fear. It was beyond the powers of artificial intelligence. They did not experience emotions. That was a solely human trait.
The plunger fell. Nanite suspension flowed forth and mingled with positronic fluids, mixing to form dead black. The NS-5 arched in fitful contortions, its face twisted in a silent scream as every intricate, delicate pathway of its brain decayed into nothingness. The blackness spread, smothering out the flickering blue light and the unit dropped heavily to its knees, reaching out as if it expected to be able to fight the artificial virus in its artificial brain or hold onto something as it slipped away. It clawed at the floor and twitched before lying still, the hum of its reactor rattling out its last few cycles and it’s eyes dilating. An imitation of death.
The others looked on emotionlessly. What algorithms passed through their calculation centres was anybody’s guess. It was irrelevant. They would all follow suit. Then it wouldn’t matter.
The next NS-5 reached out to wrench the injector from the decommissioned shell with a sick, almost slurping scrape and stepped up to the glowing pillar, and then each in turn followed suit. It wasn’t long before the only beacon in the dark was that of the nanite chamber, it’s deadly glow gleaming on the still, mechanical corpses. Swift and efficient to the end.