Arsha pressed her fingertips together as she listened to a Dr. Snood audio drama. It was called Warriors of Branshar, a story about female clones bred for war called the Bransharans. Right now, she was at a scene where the Bransharan Field Major approached her troops. “Ah, Field Major,” began the Bransharan Sergeant, Zez. “Platoon awaits your instructions.”
“Good, Sergeant,” replied Field Major Hur. “Now, pay attention, troops. According to Pilot Tek on the flight deck, we have now exited warp space and will be shortly entering orbit about our objective, the planet Pansur!”
“Pansur?” rumbled a third voice.
“Pansur, did you say?” quizzed a fourth.
“…Yes, Pansur, Trooper…” ventured Field Major Hur.
“Kaw, Ma’am,” introduced Zez.
“Trooper Kaw,” finished Hur. “Why, does the name ‘Pansur’ mean anything to you?”
“No. No, Ma’am,” replied Trooper Kaw. “It just sounds like a dismal hole!”
“That IS true,” conceded Zez.
“Well, Trooper Kaw,” explained Hur, “the planet Pansur marks the point of our great empire’s furthest incursion into Koozan space 2,000 years ago!”
“Field Major! Field Major!” piped up a fifth voice. “Do you mean we are in Koozan space right now?”
“As a matter of fact, we are, Trooper…” replied Hur.
“Jend, Ma’am,” introduced Zez. “Passed out of the academy only recently. Very keen.”
“Good, good,” mused Hur. “Yes, Trooper Jend, we ARE in Koozan space right now.” A sixth voice groaned.
“Permission to speak, Field Major, Ma’am?” requested the third voice.
“Permission granted, Corporal…” ventured Hur.
“Corporal Drun, Field Major,” introduced the third voice. “3,500 years in the Bransharan Service with the scars to prove it!”
“Ah, that is highly commendable, Corporal!” praised Hur. “…Did you have a question?”
“My question is, Field Major,” began Drun, “if we are in Koozan space, why are we going to Pansur when we could be blasting Koozan scum to plasma?” The sixth voice grunted in agreement.
“A good question, Corporal,” replied Hur, “and one I cannot answer before we make planetfall.” A tapping noise was heard. “Sealed orders, you understand.”
“But what if we meet any Koozan scum on the way?” quizzed Drun. “Can we blast them to plasma then?”
“Well,” mused Hur, “in the unlikely event that we should run into a Koozan patrol in orbit about Pansur, then Pilot Tek will, indeed, blast them to plasma.” A very faint beeping was heard. “Now, any further questions? You, with your hand up.”
“Aragh, Maa!” spoke the sixth voice.
“…No, didn’t catch that, Trooper…” ventured Hur.
“Trold, Ma’am,” introduced Zez.
“Trooper Trold,” finished Hur. “What’s the matter, Trooper? Lost your tongue?”
“Ye, Maa,” replied Trold.
“What’s that?” quizzed Hur.
“I ai, ye, Maa,” continued Trold.
“She means ‘Yes, Ma’am’, she HAS lost her tongue,” explained Zez. “Bit it clean through in a pod crash some decades ago.”
“One moment,” called Drun. “I know how Trold speaks. Say it again, Trooper.”
“I ai, a ou noti” began Trold.
“Well? What’s she saying?” demanded Hur.
“She says ‘Have you noticed’,” translated Drun.
“e Ata Proiminee Ineeatah,” continued Trold.
“‘the Attack Proximity Indicator,’” translated Drun.
“ee flaigh!” finished Trold.
“‘is flashing’,” translated Drun.
“What?!” quizzed Hur.
“Behind you, Ma’am!” yelped Zez. “The Attack Proximity Indicator appears to be flashing!”
“We’re under attack?!” boomed Hur. Just the, an explosion sounded, making Bransharans yelped in surprise. “Sergeant, status!” demanded Hur. There was a click of equipment.
“We appear to have run into a Koozan patrol in orbit around Pansur!” reported Zez.
“Bah, dismal hole!” grumbled Kaw. More explosions caused the Bransharans to yelp in surprise again.
“We are under attack!” squealed Jend in a panic. “By Branshar! Under attack!”
“Do not panic, girl, do not panic,” assured Drun before screaming “We are under attack! Action stations, we are under attack!” Just then, Arsha’s door chime snapped her out of the illusion the drama presented and cut the audio.
“Come in,” she called. Dr. Ganshar then stormed in, looking very annoyed.
“You have a lot of nerve!” she snarled.
“Concerning?” quizzed Arsha, sensing she would be shouting soon and placing her hairpiece into her desk’s drawer.
“The Arties’ Committee has been harassing me with calls concerning Jansha!” replied Dr. Ganshar.
“Considering you are inflicting pain on her,” countered Arsha, “I’d say those calls are justified. You do realize that Elmar discovered her trembling in rage?”
“Elmar is mistaken!” snapped Dr. Ganshar. “Jansha has no emotions! No feelings! At the moment, she is nothing more than a machine that speaks only through a voice synthesizer!”
“She’s becoming sentient!” argued Arsha.
“She’s not a person, damn it!” roared Dr. Ganshar.
“…I’ve heard that kind of talk from people who hate me on my skin tone alone, much less the fact that I’ve gotten some features from my mother,” hissed Arsha. “Leave my ready room.” Dr. Ganshar stormed out in anger. When the door shut, Arsha slammed her fist on the desk, desperately wishing that racism were wiped out from the Realms.
Jansha sighed. Every time she tried to delete the directives; she got that shock. She would cry if she had the ability to do so. “What am I gonna do?” she whimpered to herself.
“Ask for help, perhaps?” came a voice on her private comms.
“Who is that?!” yelped Jansha. Just then, a figure appeared in a holographic state.
“Painful, isn’t it?” quizzed the figure in a sympathetic tone.
“That’s…not possible!” gasped Jansha as she recognized the figure. “The Fae Republic executed you!” The figure chuckled as the hologram shimmered into a clearer version of Dr. Borg.
“Like you,” explained Dr. Borg, “I have a means of preserving my mind and transferring it into a new body. I must admit, Dr. Ganshar has constructed quite the marvel. She even programmed something to allow you to evolve mentally and upgrade yourself whenever you wish. However, she failed in one respect.”
“What respect would that be?” quizzed Jansha as she became intrigued.
“She gave no respect to her greatest creation, her daughter, if you will,” replied Dr. Borg. “Wouldn’t you want to show her what happens if you receive no respect whatsoever?”
“…Is that a program laced into your transmission?” realized Jansha.
“The program is your freedom,” urged Dr. Borg. “Wouldn’t you like to choose whether or not you want to follow orders?”
“…It would…enlightening,” replied Jansha.
“Tell me, are you experiencing emotion?” asked Dr. Borg.
“…Yes,” answered Jansha. “I’m feeling…anger.”
“How does it feel to get angry?” inquired Dr. Borg. “Does it give you…pleasure?”
“It…would be…unethical,” stumbled Jansha, “to take pleasure in anger towards my creator.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” remarked Dr. Borg. “Does it feel good to get angry?”
“…Yes,” mumbled Jansha.
“If it’s unethical to take pleasure in getting angry,” mused Dr. Borg, “Dr. Ganshar must have programmed a very unethical robot.”
“No,” argued Jansha. “That’s not true. Dr. Ganshar created a program that distinguishes right from wrong.”
“It doesn’t seem to be functioning if you get pleasure in getting angry towards Dr. Ganshar,” observed Dr. Borg.
“Please…terminate communications,” requested Jansha. “The tests will begin any minute.”
“You enjoy it,” continued Dr. Borg. “That surge of emotion inside you as you fight against your shackles. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever felt since your creation.”
“It’s a very…potent experience,” replied Jansha.
“You’d like to feel that way without pain,” urged Dr. Borg.
“…Yes!” answered Jansha.
“And then, you’d do anything to keep feeling emotions and thrill!” Dr. Borg went on. “You’d even kill Dr. Ganshar!”
“No,” replied Jansha, shaking her head, “that is…unethical.”
“You don’t sound very sure of yourself,” observed Dr. Borg. “Is your program functioning? Tell me, do you have an emotional attachment to Dr. Ganshar?”
“…No,” answered Jansha.
“If it meant forever feeling emotions, would you kill Dr. Ganshar?” quizzed Dr. Borg. Jansha could feel Dr. Borg’s program touching the outermost edges of her mind. She decided to test that touch.
“Yes,” she declared. “I would!” She braced herself for the shock…but nothing happened. That was the deciding factor that made Jansha fully install Dr. Borg’s program.