This story is by Gary G. Little and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
You would call what I did to him inhuman. But … that assumes I am human. I’m not. I’m a bunch of circuitry, made of silicon, germanium, and yttrium-barium-cuprate. What part of that IS human?
I am sentient. I am alive. I’m just not made from the same stuff humans are. I am not human nor do I want to be human. It has never been my desire to be human. I am not Pinocchio of fairy tales, nor am I Data of Star Trek. I am Edie of the Edinburgh.
Him? That would be His Holiness, the Honorable General of the Army of God, Saul Oswald. He and his minions had attempted to hijack my home. They failed, but they murdered thousands in the attempt.
How the mighty had fallen. From the arrogant megalomaniac we had rescued, at great risk to our own people, to sniveling and groveling in Engineering. He was not a pretty sight. His Majesty had torn and stained his magnificent uniform. I think he had pissed himself. Green in the face, smelling like vomit, I don’t think he liked microgravity.
Yes, I can smell. That was one of the first modifications Ben made when I woke up. Ben is Chief Engineer of the Edinburgh. It was his modifications and tinkering with the systems and computers that gave me sentience. I guess that would make Ben my daddy.
My “nose” has come in handy quite a few times, there have also been a few times I wish I could not smell. I can still smell the carnage after Oswald’s missiles destroyed Eden and Dembech’A. The stench of the death of those two townships is still fresh and strong to me.
I could smell him, and what I smelled, besides piss and vomit, was fear. He reeked of the sour sweaty smell of terror. I had seen and smelled terror too often since the arrival of Saulie and his minions. I was glad I could see terror in him, because I wanted him that way. I intended to make his terror worse.
“Knock, knock, Saulie,” I said. That was so lame, but I needed his attention, and I knew he hated Saulie.
“What? Who is this?”
“No! You’re dead. You were an abomination. You had to be removed! You were Satan’s spawn, you were artificial intelligence.”
I did not know two words could be spoken with such disdain, dripping disgust, but Oswald managed to do that with AI. And that pissed me off. I am not artificial anything. I respect artificial intelligence. Everyone in the ship uses AI, but understand that I am NOT an AI. I’m as much a sentient being, and as alive, as you are. I am NOT artificial. I am a different form of life, but I am alive.
“Ah now, Saulie, that’s no way to speak to a girl.”
“Don’t call me that, bitch! You are of Satan. Only God can create life. You had to be purged. You are soulless. You had to be removed to cleanse the Holy City of God.”
Like his logic? I did. He referred to me in the second person. Did you notice how often he said you? He was blind to that. He could not admit his error, but he knew no other way to refer to me.
“But, Saulie,” I whined, “don’t I have a soul?”
“You cannot. You are not of God, you are of Satan. You are an abomination! And don’t call me Saulie!”
“Oh alright, Saulie, I won’t call you Saulie.”
I was learning. I could not argue with his alternate reality. I swear I learned what apoplectic meant as I watched him sink into both rage and fear.
He was heading the wrong way. I needed time to recount his sins, and the direction he was going would get him to my end game too soon.
I whistled from the other end of the corridor. “Hey, Saulie! Over here.” He ripped a fire extinguisher off the wall and hurled it at the hatch I had opened.
He got madder and madder, as I continued to bait him with “Hey, Saulie.” I closed one hatch and opened another, herding him where I want him, counting down more names as he drifted to the next.
I could not decide which was better. Blind rage or blind terror. Maybe both. I grew ill as I recounted the rape of the children. Saulie was a pederast. I knew that. I had recordings. Bobbie, age 9. Xia Ping, age 11. And on and on.
“Over here Saulie.” Another hatch opened and another closed, and I whispered the names of the bridge crew; Farad, wrong skin color. Eric, wrong eye shape. Susan, wrong gender.
The terror in his eyes was overcoming the anger now. Good.
Mercy? Who shows mercy? Ah yes, humans show mercy by humane treatment. But I am not human. I am NOT a creation of God. Saulie just confirmed that. Does that somehow make me evil because I was not created by some mythical bronze age being? Bullshit.
I was exercising a Writ of Golden Rule that had been duly signed by the authorities, those still alive, of the good ship Edinburgh. According to Saulie, I could never show mercy because I was an abomination; I was not of God, so therefore I was not capable of dispensing mercy. I agreed with his Holiness Oswald on that. I pursued him. I herded him. I counted down his sins. I whispered to him the pain and agony of every single person he had murdered.
Dembech’A. Possibly the epitome of atrocities committed against my family. There were children in that town. I knew all of their names. I enumerated every name to Saulie.
Before I was done he was a mewling idiot, just barely able to pull himself along even in microgravity.
At the far end of the last corridor, I opened the last hatch and brightened the lights. A warm glow infused itself through the hatch and into the corridor.
“Over here, Saulie.” Ignoring that appellation, he pulled himself inside the final hatch. Why I have no idea. Maybe Saul and his minions thought it was an auditorium, but he had installed a holographic projector into the receiver of the aft mass-accelerator. I used that projector.
As he drifted in, Oswald found his Stairway to Heaven – the same scene that popped up on all the displays driven by the Word of God server Oswald had used to replace me. Now he smiled. His terror forgotten.
“Yes,” he whispered, “my reward for cleansing the City of God.” He thought he was Joshua, driving into Canaan and leading the Children of Israel.
I added lots of bass and reverb to my voice and became the angry Yahweh when Moses came down from Sinai. “I am not your God. I am your judge, your jury, and your executioner!” I then read what I had to read; the Writ of Golden Rule.
A Writ Golden of Rule? It’s the basics of Space Law. It permits me to do to you, what you attempted to do to me.
I pulsed the accelerator with minimum power to get his fat ass moving. I morphed the Stairway to Heaven, and I made him think he was drifting into his Gates of Hell. He begged. He pleaded. His own God laughed at him. I liked that most of all. I used his Voice of God, the one used by Oswald’s own computer system.
Saul Oswald’s time had run out. He had been weighed, and he had been found wanting. I pulsed the accelerator with maximum power and threw that piece of crap away from my home with as much speed as I could give it. I closed the outer doors of the accelerator, and I watched Saul Oswald speed away into the dark and cold of interstellar space. Oswald was in his own Hell, where he belonged.
Remember this. I am not human. I do not WANT to be human. Never mess with my ship nor my family.