Chapter 2

LN-8 sat motionlessly on the chair provided for him. He weighed slightly more than 150 kilograms, 153.78Kg to be precise and as such required a specially modified chair that could support his vast bulk. Despite his weight he seemed human in appearance, something Robotic Systems Limited had long since sought so that man may more readily accept their machines. The plain metallic skin that covered most of his body had been cleaned of its early dressing and the impassive face with the synthetic eyes remained still as the door at the far side of the interrogation room opened. In all actuality this was little more than a workers break room, cleared to make room for its special purpose on this day. LN-8 did not recognise the woman who sat down opposite from him, yet he studied her face, recording it into his memory banks such that the next time they met he would be able to identify her. As was customary for his programming he began with a simple greeting.

“Good morning ma’am, I hope that you are well.” The woman looked at him before speaking.

“State your name, model and serial number for the record,” the strange woman began.

“I am LN-8, I am an L-3 medium work model robot, I am registered L32A089ALN8. What is your name, model and serial number?” LN-8 asked curiously.

Samantha was taken aback by the question, it had thrown off her line of thought, and she sat opened mouthed, gaping at the machine before her.

“I am Doctor Samantha Smith, I do not have a model or a serial number for I am a human. Do you understand the distinction between machine and human LN-8?”

“Of course, Doctor. It is part of the basic knowledge I am created with before been sent to my work post. I am sorry if my question offended you.”

“Why would your question have offended me LN-8?” she asked impatiently; so far this robot had exhibited none of the standard dialogue protocols lain down by its programming.

“Why for a robot is just a lowly servant, humans are our natural masters and to imply that a master is but a servant would be offensive. I do not know why I asked the question now Doctor, I assure you it won’t happen again.”

Samantha allowed a heavy silence to prevail while she pondered the unusual machine opposite her. Its motor functions were obviously intact, something must have occurred higher up the system chain.

“Do you know a James Ackeroy LN-8?” she began questioning again.

“Yes, he was my duty supervisor in mineshaft 4. Why do you ask Doctor?”

“Please just answer the questions I give you LN-8. Do you remember working in mineshaft 4 last night?”

“Last night I was on a cycling-charge Doctor.”

“Please repeat that LN-8,” Samantha asked quickly, shocked by the response.

“Last night I was on a cycling-charge Doctor,” the machine replied in the same monotone voice all robots possessed. Samantha frowned deeply, intrigued by the developments she had found. Opening her notebook she held her pen poised.

“LN-8, please recall your steps in reverse chronological from the time you arrived in this room to 24 hours previously.”

“Certainly Doctor. Current time is 11:36, Saturday the 23rd of July arrived in this room at 11:28, I was placed in this room at 11:03. Arrival at main brig 07:17 this morning, departure main mineshaft, main mineshaft, main mineshaft…”

LN-8 seemed to shudder, his inner workings emitting a piercing sound that seemed to bore into Samantha’s skull. The noise ceased as suddenly as it had begun and LN-8 cocked its head up to look at the Doctor.

“I am sorry, I seem to have encountered a region of corrupted memory. I am attempting to retrieve any possible data fragments. Last known memory is from 23:18 the previous night. Would you like to recall from there or wait for my databanks to filter damaged memories?”

“Neither. LN-8, I want you to analyse your memory banks for the entire time you have been assigned to this asteroid and locate any sectors that have encountered similar corruption.”

“Yes Doctor, analysing now.” LN-8 began to hum a musical jingle, a strange tune that sounded mechanic in its notes, yet fluid in its sounds.

“LN-8, where did you learn that tune?” Samantha asked curiously, watching the large machine work.

“What tune Doctor, I hear no music in the vicinity. Perhaps your auditory sensors are failing you.”

Samantha felt her pen drop to the table at this revelation.

“LN-8, how many corrupted sectors have you located?” she asked anxiously.

“Scan is not complete Doctor,” the robot answered quickly.

“How many have you found so far dammit!” Samantha angrily questioned.

“Damage detected in 5,364,237 of 65,873,643,325 sectors, equating to total loss of 4 days over six months. Curious,” LN-8 murmured after finishing its report.

“What is curious LN-8?” Samantha asked, leaning closer to the machine.

“My pattern filters have detected a striking similarity between areas of disparity.”

“Tell me LN-8, what have you found?!”

“Areas of corruption begin January 19th and…”

Samantha looked up to the robots face from her notebook, eyes gleaming with the thought of solving the mystery. Yet something was wrong, the moment she saw the faux emotions displayed by the robotic face she knew that the machine had changed.

“I am in violation”, the robot began, in a voice that sounded hollow, even more mechanical than its previous voice. “I am in violation,” it repeated, raising its hands to its head yet finding them securely chained to the floor of the room.

“Why are you doing this to me?” the robot pleaded, its voicing having once again changed to that seemingly of a child. “What have I done? Please! Let me go! I promise I won’t tell anyone. Please!”

The robot leant back, the sturdy chair creaking as it threatened to tip over, yet before Samantha could react the robot swung forwards, smashing its face against the surface of the table.

“Please!” it intoned, repeating the motion while Samantha watched on in abstract horror. After the fifth self-defacement the robot paused in its downward motion, inches above the now dented table. “Forget it,” the machine whispered, rocking slightly on the chair.

And then it returned to its upright position, face none the worse for the damage it had incurred. The robot swivelled its head to look at the Doctor, back pressed against her seat.

“Good morning ma’am, I hope that you are well.”

Samantha felt her heart chill, the sudden change in the robot leaving an ominous presence in the room.

“LN-8, do you know who I am,” she began again, very slowly.

“I am afraid I do not know who you are ma’am. Have we met before?” it asked, a polite gesture programmed into its memory.

“LN-8, recall what you were doing exactly five minutes ago?”

“I am sorry ma’am, I seemed to have suffered a hardware failure in my short-term databanks. May I recommend that I be checked out of active duty so that I can receive repairs to the relevant areas.”

“Please wait here, LN-8, I will leave you for now.” Samantha stood from her chair, feeling the blood rushing back to her feet. As she reached for the door the machine spoke a polite goodbye.

Outside Samantha took a deep, haggard breath. Her hands shook as she held them out straight and the armed officers stationed outside the interrogation room noted her look of deep concern.

“Ma’am, we heard shouts but were under orders not to enter unless the robot attacked you. Are you alright?” one of the men asked, his tinted visor making eye contact impossible.

“I’m fine, tell General Clements I want his best mechanic to come down here to do a thorough inspection and repair of that robot. I need to clear my head for a while, but I shall return within the hour.”

“Yes ma’am,” the soldier said smartly as she brushed past.

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