What if?


By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 30 Dec 2023




We set out again, the four of us along with June, at Ted’s insistence, and Juliet, this time in a limousine for a comfortable ride. Juliet had to be carried to her seat. We were still missing critical parts to her hip joints and she would never walk without them. But she seemed to be more human everyday with her growing pregnancy and displayed an almost girlish excitement as we set out on this new adventure, not taking into account the possible disasters it might involve. She trusted all of us with an almost reverential awe, as if everything we did would complete her.

We first drove down the coast to San Diego, to see if the vessel we’d used twice before was in port. It wasn’t. That meant that Dora had fled to Japan or divided her small group and sent a few of them that way. It was now almost two years since our last encounter and in that amount of time I dreaded the thoughts of what she might be up to in that far off place, what size army might stand behind her now, and what revenge we might encounter if we crossed the ocean. There were similar boats in the naval yard that could carry us, but after a brief consultation with the others, I decided that we’d keep to this continent, our home, for safety and for a resolution to all problems. If worst came to worst, at least we’d die on our native soil. Foreign expeditions seemed a recipe for disaster and from what I knew of history, they most frequently were.

One other scenario also came to mind. If Dora had fled with all her tribe to the far East, perhaps she’d be content to stay there for ages. We might have scared her, scarred her for good with our decisive victory. I had no idea as to the extent of AI’s desire for self preservation now that it was in tatters. We had self preservation imprinted into our very genes. The smallest microbe has it. But does an artificial intelligence with a gleaning of self consciousness have it, or only a second hand picture of it from our example, with no pressing urgency. Dora might consider it prudent to maintain her realm on the other side of the world, rule over it and improve it, consolidate it for eons before she ever dare confront us again. Besides, she knew how slowly we increased our numbers. Time was on her side. She was immortal.

So we decided to drive to the hive in Phoenix again, taking our time this time and skirting Las Vegas by a wide margin. None of us wanted to witness that decrepit gambling crew there, who knows how much more decayed now, three years later. The first sight of them had scarred us forever. Only Juliet hadn't seen them and she was not, as yet, a voting member of our councils.

We took the scenic route, peacefully and blessedly devoid of humans, pointing out to each other and especially to Juliet the beauties of the landscapes and vistas of the deep southwest, the red sunsets and dawns and jagged rocks which never change over millions of years, insouciant of man’s plight.

After a leisurely trip we arrived at the Phoenix hub with it looking exactly as we remembered it, unchanged, on a hot and cloudless day with the white-clad droids going about their mindless business among the mostly white two-story buildings of the campus, oblivious to us as we strolled through their ranks to the basement command center.

Although we had stripped this center of valuable parts three years earlier with Dora, we left it fully functional. It was autonomous as a hive on auto-pilot. The parts we’d taken were only its higher consciousness and the communication gear with the other hives. It might continue in this somnambulant state for another thousand years. We made ourselves at home like royalty returning from an outing, Ted and I carrying Juliet with folded arms to a bed in the droids quarters for the penultimate time before what we discovered the next day.


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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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