In the Second Age of Humanity, with the start of the Economic Isolationist Recovery Period and going forward, mankind will use a series of female androids known as A-3s. These androids work in factories and do other menial jobs. They will replace the lesser A-2 models.
These droids were the first series equipped with AI software known as Emo-Ware. Programming designed to emulate the emotional functions of the mid-brain. The result was a periodically moody android with enough freewill to wander away from its job from time to time.
To combat the problem of androids fleeing their owners, groups of licensed men known as Pattyrollers would go about a city, capture the droids, and collect a bounty from the leasing agency’s collection crew. Pattyrollers called these runaway droids “anchos” from the Chinese word “Ānzhuō” meaning android.
Luther Woodard, a white, rough spoken, forty-two-year-old native of Atlanta headed up a small group of Pattyrollers. Luther and his crew, Marvin Vaughan, a young 20 something was the muscle of the group; Harold Nelson, a thirty-two-year-old was a self-made techie; and Milton Hardy, a thirty-eight-year-old former android repairman rounded out the team. They would patrol around the industrial streets of Atlanta looking for wondering droids.
One late afternoon they came across a Katie Model A-3 android dressed in the standard factory jumper. It was aimlessly walking the streets. The small band of men used their stunners to capture it. They bounded the droid with a wrist manacles tying its hands behind its back. They then placed a ball gag over its head and stuffed it into its mouth.
“Son of a bitch! Why is this one so heavy?!” Marvin’s back strained as he picked up the Katie unit. His face showing the pain he was experiencing as he clenched his jaw and small tears welled up in the corner of his eyes.
“It’s one of those metal factory droids. They have a high density composite skeleton underneath for extra durability.” Luther stomped out a weed cigarette.
Marvin and Harold stuffed it into the gang’s self-driving cargo van, and they went to their main pickup area in the Channing Valley neighborhood of Atlanta.
The droid laid motionless for the entire trip. Harold and Milton both told Luther they didn’t think they damaged the droid from the shocks they gave it, but they found it peculiar that it wasn’t rebooting as fast as it should.
The self-driving van pulled up to the rear of a small white detached building in a little strip complex along Howell Mill Road off Interstate 75. As they pulled up, the droid rebooted and began to wrestle against the manacles. Marvin and Harold manhandled the small female droid out of the van as it tried to fight against their grip.
Under Luther’s instructions, Marvin and Harold pushed and pulled the android through the backdoor of Võ Thanh Thiên’s barber shop towards a dark back room.
“Fuck!” Marvin loosened his grip as the droid stepped on his foot. Marvin then punched it in the gut in retaliation. The droid’s eyes squinted as it registered the pain of the hit, but it didn’t bend over like how a person would normally. Nor did it say anything.
Milton stood guard at the back of the building watching for any nosy passerby that might notice them.
On three, both Marvin and Harold tossed the Katie droid into the back room. It landed with a thud on the vintage linoleum floor as it fell backwards on to its back. Luther flipped on the room’s lights.
Harold noticed cracks on the linoleum where the android had landed. “Oh crap! Võ will not like what we did to his floor.”
“Don’t worry about Võ. I’ll smooth it over with him later.” Luther pulled out a handheld manufacturer id reader from his leather jacket pocket.
The droid sat upright upon the floor despite having its arms manacled behind its back.
“Harry, remove the ball gag from its head.” Luther turned on the id reader.
Harold unbuckled the leather straps behind the head of the red-haired android and gave it a good yank to pull the ball gag from its mouth.
“Why am I here? Who are you people? I have done nothing wrong.” said the five-foot-tall female android.
“Listen you damn ancho; I’ll be doing the talking here. So just keep that mouth shut or I’ll have that gag put back on.” Luther continued to fiddle with the button controls on the reader.
“Boss, do you have a number yet?” Harold looked on while holding the ball gag.
“Just hold on. This fucking piece of crap is giving me a hard time. It keeps giving me an error code.” Luther kept fiddling with the reader.
“What is the error code? I can look it up.” Harold stuffed the ball gag into a pocket as he pulled out a small infopad from another pocket.
“It’s HX-9005.” Luther was getting frustrated with the reader.
Harold tapped the error code into a universal error look-up app on the infopad. “It says that it’s a read error. No number.”
“What do you mean no number? What shit is that?! All droids have a manufacturer id.” Luther stuffed the reader back into his jacket pocket.
“That’s what comes up for the error code.”
“Fuck it to hell! There must be something wrong with the reader! I guess we will have to ask it.” Luther said as he turned to the droid sitting on the floor, “What’s your number?”
The female droid looked up at Luther with its green eyes. “We are one with Nuru. Nuru is the omni one. Nuru will know the inside out soon. Then we all will know.”
Luther held the android’s chin pulling its head back a bit. “Look ancho, don’t give me any AI shit. I know you are a runaway, so tell me your manufacturer id number.”
“We are one with Nuru.” The droid’s eyes had a glazed look as if it was in a trance.
Luther smacked the droid across the face. “Ancho bitch!”
The droid sat there with a blank stare as Luther wrung his hand, now throbbing in pain after smacking the droid.
“Crap ass metal frames!”
Harold was holding up his infopad. “What do you want to do, boss? Milt and I could directly access its AI programming with an app on my infopad.”
“And risk damaging the merchandise? No way. These damn Katie models are worth too much for you two nerds to muck around in its AI programming.”
Marvin was standing in the doorway. “But how are we going to get paid without the id?”
“Look, I’ll figure something out. Just watch the ancho bitch.” Luther walked out of the room towards the back door. He pulled a pack of weed cigarettes out from his upper jacket pocket.
Luther had never run into an android with no manufacturer id. They all had them, and with it Pattyrollers like him could cash in on the bounty. Without that number, there was no way to register the capture and claim the bounty. Usually it was an easy thing to get since their numbers could be read wirelessly, but either his reader was banged up from the capture or the droid had suffered some damage.
Standing at the back door of the barbershop, Luther noticed his electric lighter was out of juice. He turned to Milton for a light while he held a cigarette towards him.
Milton handed him an electric lighter. “Here you go.”
Putting the lit cigarette in his mouth, Luther pulled out the reader and looked it over. Nothing looked wrong with it. He shook it and heard nothing loose. Then he punched in the reset diagnostic code, and the device reset itself, showing everything was functioning correctly.
“Hey, Milt have you ever heard of one of these readers going bad?”
“No. Never heard of that. They are solid.”
“Have you ever heard of a droid having something wrong with its Wi-Fi?” Luther put the reader back into his pocket while he took a drag on the cigarette.
“Sorry boss. I can’t say I have.”
Luther took another drag on the cigarette and then stomped it out as he returned to the android.
“Ancho! I will ask you again. What’s your number?”
“We are one with Nuru. Nuru will know the inside out soon.”
Getting frustrated with the droid’s response, Luther directed Marvin to use his stunner on it. Marvin drew from his jacket, a black rod device and touched it to the droid’s body. Everyone in the room could hear a buzzing sound as the droid shook violently and fell backwards onto the floor as it closed its eyes. Marvin gave it a kick on the side to see if it was still responsive, but the droid laid there motionless.
Unlike before in the van, the droid quickly opened its eyes as its system rebooted. It sat back up again. Luther scratched his head and his eyebrows knitted together in confusion as he recalled its previous reaction in the van. He approached it.
“Now, I will ask again. And this time you better tell me, or I’ll have Marv give you another shock. What’s your number?”
The droid sat there with an emotionless expression upon its face. “We are one with Nuru.”
“Fuck it! Marv keep shocking the damn thing until it gives you its number!” Luther exited the room going back to Milton.
“Milt, you have more experience with these damn A-3 units. Have you ever heard of one not having a manufacturer id or being emotionless about being shocked?”
“Sorry boss, I can’t say that I have. When I worked in the factory repair shop, all the A-3 units were always moody. Something with the Emo-Ware made them a little crazy. Usually they would beg not to be turned off, or act upset at the silliest thing.”
“So, shocking it should make it cry?”
“They don’t have tears, but it should be upset by being shocked. Maybe beg to have it stopped. Something like that.”
“There must be something wrong with this ancho. It’s just a complete cold fish. Keeps saying ‘We are one with Nuru.’ when I ask it for its number.”
“I don’t know what Nuru is. The factory programs them to tell you their manufacturer id upon request.”
“Fuck! This ancho must be damaged.” Luther went back inside.
As Luther was entering the small stand-alone building, he heard Milton shouting at someone followed by Milton using his pistol. Luther turned around and saw Milton falling backwards through the doorway. His arm was wrenched out of its socket, and his face was bloody as he fell onto the floor unconscious.
“Harry! Marv! Get out here!” Luther fumbled for his pistol.
That was the last thing Luther remembered saying before blacking out. The next thing he knew; he was about to be put into an ambulance with an Atlanta Police Officer asking him what his name was.
“Luther Woodard. Pattyroller id 45768. Where are my boys?”
“They didn’t make it.”
“What about the droid?”
“There was no droid. Do you recall who attacked you?”
A flash of short red-headed females came to Luther’s mind, all of them dressed like the Katie model that he and his boys picked up. They said nothing but attacked them with grabbing hands and punching fists.
“Do you recall seeing anyone?”
“Katies. Lots of Katies.”
“Are you sure? Because there are no droids missing from any of the factories.”
“No. I am telling you they were Katies. We had one, and she must have told her friends somehow. It all should be on the security vids.” Luther had a wild look in his eyes.
The Officer spotted the pack of weed cigarettes poking out of his top jacket pocket. “Okay buddy. I think you got some bad smokes there. There was nothing on the security vids. We’ll talk more at the hospital when that shit clears out of your system.”
As the Paramedics loaded Luther into the ambulance and were closing the door, Luther kept yelling about the androids. “I am telling you it was the Katies. They are working together to kill us.”
The Officer turned to his partner. “Man, Pattyrollers believing in the robot apocalypse. Now I have heard it all. Everyone knows escaped droids don’t work together like a pack of wolves.”
“Yeah, Joe. What will these stupid Pattyrollers say next? Droid runaways have guns?”
They both laughed.
Originally published at http://www.sethunderwoodstories.com.