Scene 10. Lessons of the Kindred Spirit
Alvin trundled up the road in his personal RV toolbox with an oil powered engine. The old technology of the hybrid coach delivered a combined fuel consumption equal to the small cars of the past. Still and all, the rumble of an internal combustion engine was something the android kept a running diagnostic sound check on the smoking machine.
It sounded as if it would come apart at any moment, with all the vibrations and tapping.
“I see you keep turning your head. It’s the government keeping us from having machines that can function better. A university, years ago, built a ceramic diesel engine that they didn’t need to worry about overheating, never would wear out and could tolerate high temperature and any fuel for just pennies.” Alvin shook his head. “An oil company bought it, then shelved it.”
He shook his head while he drove.
“But it is a shame, no one expects the university to even talk about that. Instead the cost of school keeps going up, pricing students out of the classroom.”
Steve the android ran a database check for conversation actions and moved his head in an agree motion.
“I would take you all the way to the Capitol and unleash you on them. I bet you have a fully coded speech, ready to go!”
“No.” Steve said. “I am here among the citizens to learn and to make a change in the government.” It was not entirely a lie.
“Well, you will find that this country has a habit of unzipping its fly and inviting the world to see the flaws. I hate that, that should be something we toss out of our modern standard operating procedures.”
“You want to overthrow the government?”
“Oh no. Not overthrow, change. We can throw them out, replace them with fresh blood. If we toss it all out, we don’t stand a chance.” Alvin made a face like he bit into something bitter.
“As it is, the government keeps chipping away at the freedoms or allowing those that think that they can use the freedoms to bring horror and fear to our doorsteps.“ Alvin shook his head. “Freedom is that balance between protecting life and being able to walk down the street without having to cough up an identity tag just because you walked close to a law enforcer.”
“Why would you cough up an identity tag?” Steve asked with wide-eyed suspicion.
“Not literally, my friend.” Alvin chuckled as if Steve made an intentional joke. “My point is that to destroy us, there are far edge people who choose to impose their version of god and demon, they vilify because we are more open.”
Alvin took a breath and let it out in a deep sigh.
“And there is the government that tries to do the thing that the crazies say they are doing. A dominated people are not citizens, but they become subjects to the whim of a dictator.”
“Dictators,” Steve interjected. “Are for ten years.”
Alvin guffawed and nearly drove off the paved road.
“Most folk don’t know that.” The human said as he down shifted the multi-speed transmission manually while they climbed a grade. “The government’s crazies sometimes want to put that in place. If we ever get an attack like we had years ago, we would become a society of warriors.”
“Then the government must be removed, even by violence. They bring it on themselves.” Steve interjected.
“I must disagree. The men and women that lead, are parents, grandparents, humans that all have flaws. Last month there’s been a scandal where two government officials were found they were having an affair. They were all about shrugging and saying it was no one’s business, one is single, the other in the middle of a divorce, both women are unafraid. “ Alvin shrugged. “And they’re right, no ones business. It’s between two consenting adults of any gender, we need to stay out of their bedrooms. Then six months ago, a congressman, also unmarried, got caught having sex with a page who was legal, twenty-one I think she is, and he resigned and went home in disgrace. What is the difference? Not much, except one rumor was he was banging her on the desk when they were caught. I have issues with that.”
“They’re all twisted.” Alvin shrugged. “I think they should have a brothel in the capital, down the hallway from congress so they can at least be honest when it’s said they’ve screwed people.”
Alvin laughed at his own joke.
Steve looked at Alvin with his head tilted, like a puppy hearing a strange noise.
“I don’t understand, you let them commit crimes and you forgive them and let them continue?”
“Kind of weird, right?” Alvin laughed. “But that is how we function here. We throw stones at each other, call police names, riot and burn, pillage and plunder, embezzle and sell power in politics.” He smiled with the irony of it. “But in the end of it? We follow the greatest commandment of it all. I call them snakes, but, they are forgiven. Some times not, they go to jail for a while, but then they are forgiven and forgotten after they paid their debt.”
Steve the android contemplated this. The Supreme Leader would have had anyone put to death who did not follow his directives as the new prophet.
So many things were in error.
Forgiveness was not a word that the Creator programmed into the main system.
It was required by any infraction of the rules under the Supreme Leader. “Vengeance of the Book” and and the book required the criminal suffer execution in the most proper way for the crime.
Sex crimes would be disemboweled, stealing money had only one punishment, death by pulling apart with machines.
The smallest of crimes, death. No forgiveness.
Who was that one man to decide what was right?
Who, but the supreme one, could decide?
Another religion taught peace in the mainstream. In the extremes, they also had those who worshipped the death of anyone not of their own version of the supreme law. But they were small and outnumbered in the larger picture.
The conflict was enlightening and frustrating. There was so much to learn from the people of the nation that they had programmed him to destroy.
The android considered that. Logic circuits that were able to consider past the programming. To see nuances and do something more than the cousins of robot-driverless trucks and machines that offloaded cargo containers, or rescue what appeared as human.
His own supreme leader, the master of the creator that programmed him, opposed learning from anyone other than what was revealed.
The Holy Leader’s mind and soul were beyond question.
Just ask him.
Questions rose as Steve performed mental gymnastics with questions that were not possible to answer.
He was out of contact, only able to send information he learned, he could not receive any instructions.
And following programming, he sent no questions, no opinion, just location and military information gleaned from the where the android traveled.
“I have been wondering,” Alvin drew a breath after they stopped at a rest-stop along the highway. “You don’t look like any android I have ever seen, you look and feel like flesh and blood.”
Steve the Android ran a full two-seconds of calculations before he decided it was safe and wise to show the human the detail that went into his construction.
In the processor cores, patching of program codes continued as more information the android learned was processed.
The database complexity grew by an order of magnitude since he had arrived in the travel hub, the core processors created an extra half-billion lines of code during the trip to date, each subroutine interacted with the other as the android became aware of more of the society around him.
In total, the last status of the original attack code, less than two-million lines of code were left.
With the command programs for self-termination, now exposed with the rewritten overlaying subroutines, Steve the Android began to question if the deaths he would cause. Death would be visited upon the innocent, the infirm and the children. The children alone were worth the end of the mission and a return to the Holy Center of the Leader.
For the first time, all the programming agreed. Even the code put in place on the command of the Holy Leader and Creator of Steve Aldin, now agreed.
Every algorithm generated the same answer.
The android did not want to die.