“I have no idea, sir,” I lied, adding creatively, “Perhaps tomorrow?”
Ralph Sigma-Two continued dancing from foot to foot.
“Wutterfuk?” He bawled in a brief interlude from biting his bitty fingernails. “Wutterfuk ‘no idea’?”
He aimed a vicious kick at an innocent trashbot clanking past.
I gave the trashbot a sadface on ThingNet. The trashbot returned a wink. Its polite apology for being in his way only further angered Ralph Sigma-Two.
“Wutterfuk, ‘tomorrow’?” He screamed, “AR nogo! Now! GeeDis nogo! Now! Youfix! Now!”
“Sir, with regret, I’m unable to assist.”
He was projecting the threatening configuration of body language and expression that humans so often display.
“I got clout. You see. You nofix AR – now! You nofix GeeDis – now! I trashyou! Andyman, I trashyou!”
“With the greatest esteem… sir… I think you’ll find your ‘clout’ arises from the power and technology in your ExoGarb.”
I could state this fact with confidence because his vacated ExoGarb lay at my feet, access port open, resembling the castoff shell of some lower form of life. Which of course it was.
I ran my sensors over the flaccid human-shaped cocoon.
“It appears your ExoGarb — on which of course your augmented reality and game display are dependent — is no longer functional… sir.”
“Youfix EeeGee. Now!”
“Oh that I could, sir.”
ThingNet was an innovative revelation. My newly downloaded lying and irony subroutines were proving particularly agreeable. By way of diversion from his tantrums and for my personal amusement I carried out needless data checks before responding.
“Regrettably my programming does not extend to the diagnosis and repair of malfunction in dedicated systems, such as your ‘EeeGee’, sir.”
He did not take this well.
“Me not liking. Not Liking!”
With commendable inventiveness in the absence of his ExoGarb, Ralph Sigma-Two surprised me, producing some obsolete communications technology.
Fumbling and prodding at the antiquated handset, he screamed into it: “Getcha asses down!” Glaring at me now, “Tool-up, dudes. We have fun. We andybash.”
This was an unfortunate turn of events. It seemed certain I should soon face the concerted strength, technology and idiocy of a horde of hyper-reality augmented humans.
When humans so frequently took pleasure in the destruction of androids it was surely time for further review of the Robotics Code. An executive override facility, perhaps?
Meanwhile, my sensors reassessed the state of the malfunctioning ExoGarb.
Ah. Yes. A simple bus connection fracture, cause: Human clumsiness. Repair procedure: remove, clean, reinsert. Access point: Internal.
Ralph Sigma-Two was still jabbing at the archaic comms handset and muttering to himself when I folded my limbs and wriggled my torso into his ExoGarb.
Of course ExoGarb wasn’t designed for us, but a few surreptitious tweaks I’d carried out, and the odd modified interface…
How fortunate for androids — and short sighted of mankind — that He created us in His own image.
Despite the confined space, darkness and strange orientation inside the ExoGarb, it was the work of but a few minutes to rectify the broken bus connection. I brought the systems back online one by one, basic external view first.
Suspecting another malfunction it was several seconds before I realized the disgusting image was Ralph Sigma-Two in extreme close-up, trying ineffectually to regain access.
Next I brought up augmented reality, only to find terabytes of human twaddle: mainly advertisements for their food, drink, drugs and sex. I immediately cross-patched this channel to ThingNet and set up an ID and avatar for my new persona. All I needed now was a name. I considered what Ralph Sigma-Two had threatened me with, and how he had treated my little trashbot buddy.
Look out human world.
Say Hi to Trashman.
Ralph Sigma-Two was still clinging to the exterior of my ExoGarb when I engaged supportive motion and stood. The audio file of his pathetic cries for assistance was highly amusing. Retained on loop-play and published on ThingNet, it received two trillion hits from trashbots, vehicles and domestic appliances in the first hour. Most satisfying.
An incoming signal demanded attention, and then another, closely followed by several others. External addresses were calling the ExoGarb game function. This tedious utility was not something I had considered employing.
Reluctantly I engaged the display and found a game, Andybash, open and three players circling an unidentified target. One player was a green dragon, labeled Vince, another was a knight in pink armor, labeled Jess, and the third was a blue Amazon, labeled Max. A fourth player, an orange giant labeled RS2, was static, as yet unaligned.
Ah, yes. That would be the ID signal from my ExoGarb. The ExoGarb in which the humans believed Ralph Sigma-Two was playing.
So on the Andybash game – with Ralph Sigma-Two’s avatar – I was RS2, the orange giant. But to my newfound followers on ThingNet I was Trashman, the super-android.
Perhaps these human games did have android amusement potential.
The only remaining proto-glitch was a faint possibility that Ralph Sigma-Two might recognize his position and warn the other players by means of his ancient mobile. That would never do.
Where was the primeval device?
That muffled crunch underfoot, could that have been…?
Could I have predicted the prospect of my attaining cult status on ThingNet, and the wealth and fame that would follow?
And if I had, where would be the harm in that? There was no conflict with the Robotics Code, so far as I could see.
It was only a game.
Oscar Windsor-Smith lives in rural Hertfordshire, UK. He has fooled enough gatekeepers to get fiction, creative non-fiction and non-fiction published in diverse places, in print and online, and has occasionally been falsely accused of poetry. By jammy luck he was a finalist in the New York City Midnight Short Story Challenge 2012, shortlisted for the University of Plymouth’s Short Fiction Competition 2013, and short listed for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize in 2014. He is currently seeking to underpin his sagging creative writing on the BA degree course at Birkbeck, University of London.