Shorts smartworld

The Retirement Plan

Where a Hunter for the City, Kex Atto, approaches her retirement. But in the City, circa 2254, retirement means death: you don't work to live, you live to work. After this, the City has no furthur use for you.

[Thursday, 9 March 2254 | 2 Days Until Retirement]

In recent years, there have been hushed whispers stating that as android technology has evolved, so too has their consciousness. That they are no longer simply robots programmed to have a personality; they can think. That their thought goes beyond machine learning and artificial intelligence; that they are actually capable of conscious thought. That they are fully sentient.

This poses ethical dilemmas with love droids, which would mean that perhaps YutopiCorp is profiting from forced prostitution. While these love droids aren’t human, they are being subjected to sex slavery. And yes, on Tuesday, I was well aware of this. I’m not perfect; it was easier to put it out of my mind. But if that’s the case, and they’re conscious through the activities they’re programmed to do, then I stood by as Durkin sent fifty innocents to their death, forced to sacrifice their lives in order to save his. Mine, too, but that’s just a fortunate coincidence, really.

And I really don’t want to know what this means for Rikard. Does he love me? Is he programmed to believe he loves me? Or, shit, does he secretly loathe me, horrified by programming that forces him into my arms?

Up until yesterday, of the thousands of lives I had taken, each one was on behalf of the City. Each one was me doing my job. I told myself these deaths were just. They had to be. Regardless of whether those fifty love droids were property damage or lives lost, I, myself, partook in the killing of twenty-five Hunters. All of them human. None of them part of my job.

They were doing their job, just like I had been doing mine. But that job was hunting me. I don’t feel their actions were just, but what right did I have to take their lives? I put my life ahead of theirs. And did I really have a right to take all those lives I previously have? I want to live; is that too much to ask for? The City would answer ‘yes’ to that question. I have a number of scalps to my name that answer ‘yes.’ I suspect Kristus Dekkenson’s answer to that question would have been ‘no’; that his son’s answer would be ‘no.’

I’ve had a little time to consider these thoughts as I sit tied to a chair in this warehouse. Rikard’s tied behind me. I can’t be trusted, apparently, and until Durkin and these Animalz can figure out a way of reverting him back to factory settings, Durkin can’t, either. He cares more about my survival than even I do.

Following the shoot-out, Durkin deactivated my Conscience Chip. It’s the last piece of technology I had inside me, the last way outside of security feeds to track my whereabouts. Everything seems so quiet, aside from my thoughts. Without the constant background noise, these thoughts are so damn loud.

One of the animals approaches. He doesn’t look pleased, probably because I’ve hunted a few of his gang members over the years. He grabs me by the hair and violently jerks my head to the left. If that’s not uncomfortable enough, he jams a needle into my neck and pushes the plunger down. I don’t know what the fuck he’s…

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