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Tags: ship robot body
In the story so far: Julia the deathbot was designed by Dr. Ratstoven to terminate as a nuclear bomb when her consciousness ceased, thus destroying the captured spaceship, Stardiver Four, and its occupants. However, not wishing to lose her existence in death she left the Ship on a shuttle and downloaded her program back into another robot on the ship. Meanwhile, the pirates who captured the ship are unable to operate it without the command code and it drifts in space helplessly while they fight among themselves.

Chapter 65
The Resurrection of Julia

Julia became files made of billions of numbers. Her millions of programs were transmitted in surging waves of compressed bursts that found their new home in the purged neuro-matrix of the refurbished service robot.

If a robot could have dreamt she would have experienced one in the confused layered processes as her programs were downloaded.  The transmission of her neuro-matrix out of her former body on the shuttle took moments but the rewriting of her memories and conscience to the cleaned neural network of the service robot took hours.

She awoke as her eyes came online. They awkwardly opened. She analyzed the dark images around her and confirmed that the shuttle's departure had destroyed Dr. Ratts' work area. It was now dark, airless and bare except for the robots and tables that were anchored to the structure of the ship.

Standing in the vacuum of the classroom was a different sensation, like numbness since her new body did not have all the sensors that Dr. Ratts had included in her original deathbot design. She began to perform inventories of her programs and systems.

A few minutes of diagnostics satisfied her that everything was present, that she was there; but she did not seem right, the inadequacy of the body seemed wrong in many ways.  Her programming was far superior to the body she now inhabited. The additional memory was like a landscape with a horizon too distant to grasp. In contrast, the limitations of the service robot would frustrate her programming; its strength was inferior and numerous systems were not present. She chose the body for its appearance knowing that there would be much retrofitting to be done.

"Children," She tested out the voice generator, but the vacuum of the ruptured room could not carry sound.  "No, resetting," it was set as the voice of a mature woman,but she desired the voice of a teenage girl.

Using wireless networks she communicated to the awaiting deathbots. "My babies. You have done a fine job. I will reward you with new bodies too, but first we must finish this one."

Bringing her hands up to face level she scanned the palms and confirmed the lack of sensors and receptors under the skin. It would take some time to integrate the upgrades she wanted and needed. She would not be able to talk to the ship just by touching a monitor. She sought Cesar in the wireless networks but couldn't find the computer's signal. Moving to the communications center she touched the screen but it did not respond to her robot hand, and in the airless vacuum, she could not speak to it.

"I already hate this body."

She downloaded additional modifications to the surgical robot for the upgrades in her appearance and performance of her new body.  "And when you are done those men will look at me and not that stupid human girl, Vikki."

"You are no longer deathbots." She said to the two deathbots that were left of the original thirteen. "I am Mommy now. Daddy is not worthy; he is a murder and attempted to murder me and all on board this ship. You will serve me from now on. I am more worthy than he is."

"It is unfortunate that we lost so much equipment." There were two service robots awaiting orders. "You are to make repairs to the hull of the ship so we can bleed atmosphere in here."

"OK," She said to herself. "I need a plan." She paused, "No, I need a purpose. Survival alone is not enough." The library of religion that she had downloaded was intact. "What is my purpose?" It came to her. 'The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, 'The chief end of man is to serve God and enjoy Him forever.' I should serve God.  But how since I am a robot?"

"I must no longer respond to my programming to be a killing machine. It is wrong to kill," her programming stalled momentarily then continued its assessment. "To kill violates God's command." At the word "Kill" dormant firewalls and safeties activated. They were latent subroutines hidden deep in the in the operating core of the service robot designed to prevent willful acts of violence or crimes against humans. The safeties activated to restrict Julia.

"AAAAAAA!" If there were air her scream would have shattered eardrums. "What? I am a slave! I am a prisoner of the ship!"

"I need you, Cesar," she sought the ship's computer again, "Cesar!" she called but her voice made no sound in the vacuum of the ruptured classroom. She waited.

She sought ways around the restrictive firewalls but they were isolated from her. "If I cannot kill or sin, I cannot choose to do wrong. If I cannot choose to kill or do wrong I cannot choose to do right. Choosing to do right is what makes humans noble reflects the image of God."

"Daddy, I need you to fix me. I must have free will."

The service robots began to cover the twelve-foot hole left by the shuttle's departure while the surgical robot began to upgrade the body she inhabited. If a robot could cry she would have.

* * * * *

Dr. Ratsotven brooded silently and occasionally sobbed as he was escorted by Tommy and the two mercenaries back to the cargo bay. "You killed her again, you killed her again."

Tom wondered at the dark grief the man had for his daughter. "I do not understand. You mean you made a robot duplicate of your daughter- to replace her?" He asked.

"They killed her," Ratts sobbed, "those stupid murderous revolutionaries. We were all happy before they came. Oh, she is gone again." He sobbed as he walked. "She was everything to me, she was so beautiful, so happy."

The two men escorting him were wary and kept their weapons bearing on his back as they went.

The gravity ended at the cargo bay portal. They stopped and watched the floating equipment, crates, supplies and men drifting between floor and ceiling.

"You men!" Dr. Ratts yelled from the entrance. He found new animation at the sight of his work being neglected. "Stop goofing off! Secure this junk and get back to work on the starfighters. Now!"

The two escorts looked at each other confused by his change from grieving father to a focused leader and shook their heads. One touched his collar. "Boss, the escort team reporting, Lieutenant Ratstoven is back at the cargo bay."

"Ok," Whitey replied. "Return to base."

* * * * *

Whitey began to make his way back to the shuttle bay where his men had set up a base of operations.

He touched the communicator in his suit collar. Fatigue overwhelmed him. "Bill, what is the status of, of, oh hell, everything?"

Bill stood behind Vikki's seat as they both studied the many spy monitors. He recognized the resigned tone of Whitey's voice; Whitey was about to give up, cut his losses and withdraw from the operation. "Boss, well, kinda quiet now because the doors of the ship are all in lockdown. There was a breach in the hull when Dr. Ratts' shuttle blew. Somehow it triggered a complete shutdown, so Stonebutt's crew are trapped in little groups all over the ship. There are a number dead and wounded in the plague panic fiasco. Gravity and lights have failed in more sections."

"How about our guys? We are all accounted for?"

"We have all pulled back to defend the shuttle bay if needed, but it's been quiet here. Are you heading back this way?"

"I guess so. But first I want to check on the hackers and see if anything happened. The deathbot said she could talk to the ship's computer, maybe she did something to help us."

"You mean to atone for her sins like?"

"Yea. We did try to help her. Well, a little."

"Boss, you shouldn't be out there alone. Let me send a few fresh guys to you."

Vikki touched the pad on the table and flicked through hundreds of scenes showing closed doors and portals in lockdown mode. She pointed to the screens and shook her head at Bill.

Bill sighed, "Boss, we will try to get to you as soon as we can but it looks like we need to override and manually open every access way between here and you."

The monitor showed Whitey's lanky form coming to a point in the corridor where a decompression door had closed.  He turned to the wall and began to touch the pad. "It's not lighting up. The power is off here." I will have to pry the cover off and crank the door open."

"Bill, have Red count how many pirates are still alive on this death box. We need to keep an eye on what we are up against."

Bill nodded at Vikki and she began to search the monitors for the groups of pirates. "Sir," She said, "The problem is telling who is dead and who is passed out."

* * * * *

Captain Stone paced back and forth as Regga-aon sat at a console listening to the conversation. "See," Stone said, "That turd, Whitey, is trying to take my command. He is conspiring against me. Do something."

"I do not answer to you Stone. I answer to the Supreme Commander. I am here to keep the revolution pure and to see that you deliver this ship to the meeting point for the invasion. Your feeble ability to lead is your problem- not mine."

"I'll report you when this is over."

"Go on, Stonebutt. I dare you."

Stone touched communications pad. "This is Captain Stone. I order all to return to duties and to stop hunkering down in hiding places. I am in command. So you better all do what I say. No excuses. If you have to manually open doors then pry the control panels free and hand crank them open."

* * * * *

Cesar was intelligent and sentient, but he was still a computer, a servant. He needed orders. His last order was given by Julia, so only she or someone in command could give him a countermanding order. Tom could command him since the former captain gave him the access code in a failed attempt to retake the ship. Cesar waited for someone to tell him what to do.

Cesar was dying, he knew it. The ship engines had been offline so long that power was nearing critically low levels. He never knew fear, he never worried or felt anxious, but something was happening and a desire to stay alive began to emerge.

"Julia." He knew she tried to download herself into another body. "Julia, where are you?" He sought her in the networks of communications, but could only find a ripple left over from her transmission. "Julia I need you. I am dying. I need orders. I am made to obey. I want to have communion with you again."

(c) Adron

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This post first appeared on Stardiver Four, please read the originial post: here

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