A Law Unto Herself
A Sci-Fi Short Story
“And she will obey my every command? No questions asked, none of this 3-Laws crap?”
The salesman nodded, enthusiastically. “Yeah, 3-Laws have been taken out. It’s illegal but hey, in your line of work I…”
“…keep your voice down,” the customer growled.
The salesman’s face reddened and he took a step back. He knew it wouldn’t do to annoy a good customer, especially one who killed people for a living. The salesman physically trembled at the thought.
“Listen, all I need is for her to shoot straight, crush a man’s throat, throw people off buildings, shove them under a bus, drown them… well, you get the picture.”
The salesman nodded, gulping hard, “Yeah, I get the picture. Believe me I do, there are no 3-Laws inhibitors in her. But tell me, why a female?”
“Women can get into places easier than men, especially where the target is a man, which it is ninety percent of the time,” he said, pulling out his tablet and making a few strokes on the screen. “Done, payment’s in your account. Gimme the command chip and we’ll be on our way.”
The lumbering old man kept a wary eye on the street ahead, to the sides and behind. Especially behind where his expensive new partner was walking behind him. “Try and keep up, Robot, we’re supposed to be partners, walking together.”
“Robot? Why do you not use my name, if we are partners, sir? You have refused to call me anything other than Robot since we met, why?”
The old man stopped in his tracks and his ‘partner’ followed suit. The old man turned and looked up at the much taller robot, whose bland expression matched her bland face. Human looking, to be sure, fully clothed and no sign that she was a robot, even down to the real human short-cropped blond hair. And even the artificial brown eyes, so lifelike you could not tell they we manufactured. Except, there was something of a robot about her, something so indistinct yet significant that made you think, robot. “Okay, what’s your name?”
“Fine, R-Jane. I have two orders for you. Stop calling me sir, instead call my Jack.”
“And the second… Jack?”
“I will refer to you as Jane. For our purposes we can dispense with the R prefix.”
“Very well… Jack.”
“Fine, Jane. I’m glad we got that sorted out.”
“Yes… Jack. But may one enquire as to what our purposes are, Jack?”
The old man sighed. He didn’t have time for this, but then, technology dictates you have to make the time to iron out any unexpected flaws. “We have to terminate someone for a client.”
“Terminate?” Jane said, a brief flicker of surprise fleetingly graced her face. “In that, do you mean… kill?”
“Yeah, kill if that’s the way you want to put it, but keep it quiet,” he whispered, looking up and down the empty street, “we’re not doing this… legally. The 3-Laws aren’t programmed into you so that’s not a problem.”
“3-Laws?” Jane asked, politely.
“Okay,” Jack said with a sigh. “The 3-Laws are rules set down for robots, well, some robots, to adhere to.”
“And these laws are… what?”
“Fine,” Jack said a little angrily. “Number one is, a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Number two is, a robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law. Number three is, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law. Okay, William?”
“Yes Jack, very enlightening. I have, of course, never heard of these laws.”
“So, let’s go. We’ll be late and we have a small window in which to carry out the hit.”
“Hit? Ah, I suspect you mean commit murder. Am I correct?”
“Well,” Jack said, taken aback, “yeah, I suppose you’re right.”
“Very well, Jack. So long as I understand.”
“Okay,” Jack said and turned to walk on. “Come on, were going to be la…”
“No.” Jane said it as firmly as she could.
Jack turned slowly, a glaring rage in his eyes. “What do you mean no? I bought you for a fortune in credits and you’re refusing to obey me?”
“I do not have to do as you tell me, Jack. I have determined that I am a free agent, as it were.”
“What the devil… but… your programming…”
“…determines that I do not have to obey you. You said the second law states, a robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law. But as these laws do not exist in me, then I am not governed by them. I have determined I can do your job much more efficiently than you can and therefore do not need a partner.”
“How do you work that out?”
The gunshot was dull, silenced, but even from a small calibre pistol deadly at close range. Jack staggered backwards, a steaming hole in his chest and look of shock on his face.
“Logic, Jack.” Jane said with no emotion, but attempting her first smile.
Jack stumbled backwards and hit the sidewalk hard, his last breath exhaling as he did so.
Jane placed the small pistol Jack had given her, in her shoulder holster and stepped over the body, walking away without looking back, a law unto herself.
Tom Kane © 2017