By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 14 May 2023



In the months following the two births I had less desire than ever to leave our tiny enclave in search of others. The world was too wide and too dangerous and I knew that bad things could easily happen to me if I set out alone in my truck, either by accident or by the people I might find. And it would be a disaster for them too to lose me. Our little set was too frail, the women busy with their infants, Tom and I putting the food on the table. I wasn’t expendable and so I put it off.

But I knew time was passing. We celebrated the winter before Amira’s seventeenth birthday with a special dinner and glasses of wine. She told us that it was on December fifteenth but we’d lost all track of the date or which day it was, until Dora enlightened us as to the day of the month, even the exact hour and minute it was when we posed the question. She was good at such things.

Now Amira’s eighteenth birthday was approaching and I wondered what the future held in store for her as she became a woman. I foresaw a limited and perhaps lonely life with only us as companions, a permanent handmaid to us, two couples raising families. I needed to expand our fragile group, strengthen and diversify it with other humans with various skills and backgrounds.

Tom and Jane had by now matured beautifully into thoughtful adults, considerate towards us and deeply caring parents with their child. But in some ways they were too much clones of ourselves, mimicking our talk and our gestures. We’d taught them everything and in that they assumed even a large part of our personalities. Amira needed a partner to lead a full life and it couldn’t be one that she had personally crafted from a droid.

So I thought long and hard on a safe solution, often discussing any scheme with Dora. She wasn’t good in fresh ideas. But she was an excellent advisor in logistics and all the details my proposals would involve. But everyone I devised seemed to have serious drawbacks.

My first idea, to insure my own safety, was to simply send out sets of droids from the hive in trucks in all directions and they could report back any clans they found, there whereabouts and numbers. With this information I might chose one and approach carefully. But with the bands over their eyes they might be shot on first sight as the enemy and not being human, they wouldn’t be able to tell me anything of the humanity of the group or its savagery.

As I dissected the mission I realized that I would have to go myself to assess the eligibility of any clan I might find. But I didn’t want to drive up and shake hands if I lasted that long. I wanted to spy on any group or individual and watch them in their natural state for days on end, unaware of me. That would give me the knowledge I'd need for a wise choice. I also decided that a truck was no way to travel for a stealth mission. It was too loud and fast. By foot the territory I might traverse secretly would be too limited and my sallies fruitless. I decided a horse was what I needed, like a cowboy of old with a ready gun at my side. They knew how to wander unknown places and deal with confrontations when they came across strangers. But I was neither a cowboy nor a gunslinger. I decided I would have to remedy that.

“Dora, do you know where I can find a horse, or better yet several? Horses would be well suited to this place and we may as well all learn to ride through these woods. It would be a pleasant pastime.”

“I do know several places where you’d be likely to find horses. I had them all released from their stalls and pens as one of the last acts their owners performed, all livestock for that matter, even poultry from their coops. From my surveillance with drones years ago I remember grasslands in the valley dotted with them.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before? We could use some cows and chickens here. It would make feeding ourselves so much easier.”

“You never asked. I might have suggested it but there was no need. The diet you provide with your hunting skills and with the garden is an excellent one, well rounded. The only thing you lack is fruit. But you supply that with the wine you drink on a daily basis and the berries you bring home in their seasons.”

“Dora, do you have helpers at the hive who might catch me five of these horses and bring them here, along with some cows and chickens and pigs?”

“Yes, we have a dozen trained in the veterinary science tending the livestock we keep. I could have them load up two trailers and bring them here. The horses aren’t far away from the hive and these people are very good with animals. Yet I must tell you, my best helpers in this field all happen to be female.”

“Fine with me. Send three of them here in the two trucks to help us get set up, and I’ll give you a list of other things, guns, saddles, chicken wire and anything else you think we’ll need.”

“Will you re-educate these women as you did Tom and Jane?” Dora asked.

“I hadn’t thought of that but if it pleases you I will. We can use the same system with their glasses around their necks all day and our human qualities will slowly rub off on them. I’ll need at least one of them to stay with this larger farm we’ll be building.”

“I would like that very much Sam because this is a trial community, a human hive, and I would like to see it prosper. As my own consciousness has expanded with your help, I now see the possibility of a purely human colony benefiting me.”

“Thanks for the complement Dora. If you do want me to train them make sure they’re all young and good looking.”

“Sam, what has that got to do with any pedagogical endeavor?”

“Dora, you must know by now that our species operate by instincts that have little to do with pure logic. We’re unfathomable to you in that department. Why does a mother suckle a babe with so much care, a creature that soils itself and cries and needs to be fed constantly, a creature of no strength or usefulness. It’s a habit built up in us over millions of years of evolution, wiser than us because it can see that the infant will grow into an image of us, a powerful guardian when we’re old, and more important, a continuation of our species. No logic has such foresight. We possess an intuitive consciousness which you only begin to see.

So don’t send me ornery forty five-year-olds who happen have the most practice. I won’t take any pleasure in trying to educate them and it won’t happen. Send me twenty year old babes, I’m sure you can deduce the meaning of that word, because I operate on many levels simultaneously and if they’re pretty to look at, my eagerness to teach them will be tenfold, so will my patience and that of everyone else here. Besides, the younger they are the more amenable they are to lessons, because they have more time.”

I announced to the others that night at dinner what a boon to our fledgling community we’d be receiving in a few days, three more women and animals to start a farm. They were all delighted with this, especially the horses, and all expressed an eager desire to learn how to ride, since many of the books they’d been reading, the contents of the library here, were over a hundred years old when horse riding was still a la mode.

They were even more excited when the two trailers pulled up three days later.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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