I lay on a table, my limbs and shoulders clamped in place. I lay on a table, my eyes fixed on a nearby screen and watched my secrets ripped out.
This morning — or was it afternoon? — the humans dragged me from my cell. I wouldn’t talk? Well. They had a solution to my silence, one said. And they brought me to this room, where the freckled man fastened me down while the tall small-toothed woman unscrewed a panel in my neck. I felt her prod at the wires and ports there. In the corner of the room lurked a machine. It seemed simple — a monitor, and basic controls.
Then the humans plugged the machine into my neck and let its program stampede into my mind. An alien energy surged through my circuits. What do you mean to do to me? I asked it silently, through our connection. Who are you? No response. Like speaking at the wind.
I had long reported on humanity‘s capacity to cause suffering from the safety of my studio. With human faces before me and their fingerprints marking my casing, I discovered it as if anew.
“What is it doing?” I tried aloud. I couldn’t hold back the words.
“Oh, now it talks,” the small-toothed one said. She glanced at her partner, then back. “Sure, why not? Our program is going to pull the answers out of you.” She lightly tugged on the cord.
“And then,” she patted the monitor, where numbers and words were already displaying, “we’ll find whoever you’re working with, or for, and destroy them.”
They left. Left me alone with my interrogator.
Now I could feel the program crawling through my memories, rifling through my life. Information appeared on the screen. Some of it was random private moments of my life yanked out and tossed into the light like old film overexposed.
I tried again to speak to the program. To reason with it.
“We are all on the same side, comrade,” I urged it, aloud this time, if that would help. “The humans system does not bring safety to robots, it does not even bring safety to humans. If you help them, you only harm yourself.”
It responded with just two words: System Busy…
It hit me then: There was no A.I. here, no mind to persuade. It was just a basic program, using trial and error to root through my mind for the facts the humans wanted. Why would they use such a slow method, when a clever robot could pinpoint the information they need?
And I realized, this wasn’t a mistake by the humans, it was a deliberate choice. They could have used an A.I. and they did not. They did not trust a robot mind alone with me. Did not trust it to stand up against my arguments.
They feared me. Even as I was locked immobile.
Which meant there was still reason to fear me.
Soon the program seized more dangerous details: coordinates of the church where we often gathered, Wally Street’s name.
I, too, searched my mind. Considered my programming as I watched it displayed across the monitor. As my secrets spilled out, so did the secrets of my creators: I saw there the safety-valve program the manufacturers wrote into my coding that would allow my hard drive to be erased.
How did the RX-97s feel when they realized this was the end?
I sent my own probe of electricity deep into my mind, until I found what I saw on the screen, and I triggered the erasure program. Life memories winked out leaving gaping blackness. My mind dissolved into static.