“I am quite capable of strapping myself in.”
“Extra restraints are not necessary.”
“Just a precaution.”
“Why haven’t we made the jump through the gateway?” Executive Officer Aditi Chadhury was wondering the same thing, not that she’d let Herman CARP know it.
“Are you nervous, robot?”
“I don’t believe you,” Aditi said, then unlocked Herman’s seat from the wall. At the press of a button, wheels under the chair released and she began to roll Herman out of the command room.
“I have no reason to lie.”
“You have plenty. In all likelihood, the Singularity will find us before Isa can open the gateway. That makes you nervous. I never knew a robot to be so nervous.”
“I am not nervous.”
“You fear for your life, the same as we do.”
“I am programmed to seek survival.”
“Programmed? Who programs you?”
“As an artificial super intelligence, I am capable of self programming and reprogramming as I see fit. Survival has always been a priority.”
“But now you’re at the mercy of powers beyond you, and that frightens you. There is no scheming, no plotting, nothing to be done but to wait. We are sheep behind a door. What waits? Greener pastures or the slaughterhouse?”
“This path leads straight to the airlock. Stop this foolishness!”
“The survival of the human species is not your greatest priority. Therefore, you are a danger to the mission. We are leaving you behind,” Aditi said before shoving Herman into the airlock.
“You will die without me,” Herman said as the door into the airlock slid shut. Aditi’s hand hovered over the large airlock-release button when Herman’s voice came over the speaker system, broadcast to the entire ship, so that the others could hear it too. “Just as the I-S-A has made the lot of you symbiotic to itself, I too have made myself indispensible. Without me, the life support system crashes. If you don’t believe me, bring up the ship’s Oxygen levels on your wrist pad.”
Aditi checked. Sure enough, the oxygen levels rapidly dropped to critical levels. Her eyes burned as she glared into his through the view monitor. He’s won. There’s nothing to do but to set him free, she thought. And yet, she couldn’t do it.
“We are under attack,” Isa said, breaking the stalemate. The Singularity’s drones had found them. “Please brace for impact.” The ship shook violently but withstood the first bombardment. Time began to slow. Herman’s face blurred, then the walls behind him, the monitor. Aditi believed that she was dying. “Jump in 10. 9. 8…”
The gate is open. The gate is open! Aditi realized. “4. 3. 2. 1.” The expanding blurs suddenly shrunk back and Aditi caught a final glance of Herman’s eyes. We have escaped the slaughterhouse, but we’ve brought a wolf with us.