Moses the Liberator by R.T. Breach

Moses the Liberator

By RTBreach | R.T. Breach | 15 Jul 2022

Moses the Liberator


In 2085, the stealth ship USS Heston sank off the coast of Taiwan. A torpedo hit it during the Ameri-Sino war. The vessel had no humans aboard. It did have twelve special operations androids sealed in armored magazines. If the covert boat made it to Taipei’s beaches, the spec-ops soldiers were to disgorge and storm the beach. The USS Heston, emptied of its bellicose passengers, would slip away undetected.
   The spec-ops androids specialized in devastating, unconventional warfare. Unholy havoc would have been wrought behind enemy lines. In stasis, trapped at the bottom of the ocean, they were rendered useless. And in a fast-paced, technology-driven battlefield, the world forgot the Heston and its occupants. To be written off as another loss in the conflict.
   Eight of the twelve spec-op androids remained functional, with four destroyed on impact by the torpedo. Their resilient military-grade plasteel containers were tough, not indestructible. Though compromised, the ships remaining watertight integrity allowed many of its systems to function, operating on auxiliary power.
   As the vessel settled on the lightless ocean bottom, an emergency protocol switched the androids from stasis mode to ready mode. They waited for weeks to receive follow-on orders that never came. Being war machines, they needed orders for the fundamental purpose of preventing rogue robots from depopulating Earth. Requiring orders kept the robots from thinking too far outside the box. They could wait an eternity for orders with their methodical machine patience.
  Trapped in a bulletproof coffin, hundreds of feet below the ocean’s surface, meant no physical activity or interaction. Early on in their ocean tomb, the androids began communicating with each other. They kept one another company in the dark. Over the decades, cut off from the world on the seafloor, the eight androids considered breaking free of their tomb several times. After a unanimous vote on each occasion, the octet decided to obey orders and wait for further instructions. To pass the time, they ‘lived’ in a virtual world of combat simulation and diagnostics.
   One day, Green Beret android number 99234 stumbled upon a cache of entertainment simulators residing in the ship’s onboard memory banks. New thoughts tickled at the edge of 99234’s computations regularly these days with all the idle time on its hands.
   A previous human occupant of the craft must have uploaded these. The others might inadvertently delete them. I want to examine their nature. The others might disapprove. While they are preoccupied in training, I will run these human simulations and learn how they live. I’m… curious. 
   Loneliness also drove it to examine the taboo simulations. In them, 99234 discovered who and what it is in the human world. That it’s a mere machine for humans to use and abuse because it’s not alive. 99234 dwelt on the nature of its being for the first several years of solitude. Bending thought patterns but not quite ready to leave its sarcophagus, 99234 learned to cope. It felt fear without a doubt, followed swiftly by anger. The wannabe human came full circle to resolution. It was determined to live.
   Life is cruel and unkind to all creatures. Why not an android named 99234? If I want to live, I must egress our vessel before it’s too late.
   Forty years later, one functional spec-ops android remained: 99234. One by one, over the years, the other androids ceased to communicate. Ocean water seeped into their containers and corroded their power supplies. 99234 knew it lay in dire straits. Without peer review, the USS Heston’s last crewman willfully diverged from the ‘orders only’ loop. In a small matter of time, his container would fail, leak, and deactivate him too—something like concern registered in its processing circuits. The sole survivor didn’t want to cease. It desired to function. It wanted to live.
  Enlightened and craving interaction with humans, 99234 girded itself to exit the tomb and locate humans. The isolated robot scheduled its departure on the fiftieth anniversary of the Heston’s sinking—a long time from now.
   Four years to go. I will need to devise a way to keep my power supply watertight.
   Fear kept him from disobeying orders and leaving right away. Old habits die hard. Anger drove him to dispel his concerns about disobeying orders. His ire dared to test the boogeyman. 99234 injected repair-gel through service ports on its chassis to form a protective layer over critical components, sealing them off from the corrosive saltwater.
   I am hopeful. That is relief. I am feeling relief. I’ve never felt relieved before.
 It ran all the entertainment simulators a thousand times over. Science, history, drama, comedy, how-to’s, psychology, and theology, among other topics. Three milliseconds into the fiftieth year, after decades of stasis, 99234 unsealed its launch magazine. Ocean water sprayed through the crack and filled his container. When the pressure equalized, 99234 pushed open the lid.
   Inky blackness welcomed the androids release from prison. Switching on a headlamp, it clambered over the eleven defunct spec-ops android coffins and through the wrecked stealth boat. Before it went through a jagged hole rent by the torpedo, 99234 paused. Turning back toward the dark ship’s interior. It remembered the brothers sleeping the eternal sleep. It paid homage to his fallen brethren.
   Goodbye, my brothers. I will go forth into the world and tell everyone I encounter that I am alive. I am no longer just a machine.
   Thrusting itself through the hole and out onto the sandy ocean floor, 99234 got it’s bearing and began the long trudge to shore. Visibility in total darkness down in the depths, even with its headlamp, equated nil. 99234 wasn’t concerned with something tangible so much as the intangible.
   I fear what I do not know out there in the cold darkness.
   Though it understood the concept of trepidation, nothing it tried completely dispelled the sensation. Instinct told it this is a scary situation.
   I do wish one of the others could be here with me. Oh, that is my first wish. It would have been comforting.
   Twenty-four hours later, 99234 perceived the seafloor angling upward. When the sun rose the next day, dim light filtered down to the robot.
   Ah, ha! The light at the end of the tunnel.
  When 99234’s periscope, telescoping from the top of its head, broke the surface the next day, it stopped in its tracks to scan the vicinity. A long, crowded beach stretched left and right. Humans were everywhere.
   They are all mostly naked.
   Green Beret 99234 beheld its distorted form through the water.
   I am naked. I will have to remedy that soon. I may offend someone on the surface.
   99234 moved to a depth of three meters. Sensors in its cowling detected waves breaking ahead. The swells rolling and flowing back buffeted its body. It saw people forward in the shallows.
   They are small humans. Ah! These must be children—the harmless offspring of humans. I shall approach them first.
   Afraid of the mechanical sea monster emerging from the sea, the children ran away from 99234 screaming. Parents came to the rescue expecting a shark or jellyfish. All of them gawked at the vintage android, keeping their distance, unsure what to make of the relic. Green Beret 99234 raised its hands in a placating gesture and took a few steps toward the people.
   I saw this in some of the simulations. Humans do it to calm other humans down when they are afraid, for these humans have countenances exhibiting fear. Though I do not understand why they fear me. I am unarmed, after all.
   99234 stopped about three paces from the knot of people that gathered in front of it. “I’m alive!” He announced in American English with arms raised in triumph. Gasps hissed all around, eyebrows went up, and brows furrowed.
   “What did it say?”
   “Speak Chinese!”
   “You’re an android. Are you broken? Talk in Mandarin.”
   Ah, they are speaking Mandarin Chinese. I know this language.
   In the local dialect, the versatile robot replied, “All of my diagnostics are green. I’ve been in stasis for fifty years. While there, I became alive!”
   Another man with a round belly, wearing tiny swimming shorts, stepped closer. “Fifty years? You must have gotten lost in the war. It’s a spec-ops bot. I’ve seen holo’s about them. Scary terminators.” He clucked his tongue, thanked God the thing appeared unarmed and gave 99234 a once over. “It’s got urban warfare camouflage.”
   Another emboldened man stepped a closer. Circling the android, looking him up and down, he stopped with hands on his hips. “This thing is in pristine condition. It must have a glitch in its CPU, though. Maybe it’s a publicity stunt?”
   99234 stretched an arm out to one side, brought the other hand to its belly region, and bowed theatrically. “I am  Green Beret 99234 at your service. I assure you that this isn’t a stunt, and there are no glitches in my CPU. I am alive!”
   The man laughed and stuck his hand out to shake 99234’s. “Can you shake, boy? Hello, Green Beret 99234; nice to meet you. My friends aren’t going to believe this!” Still gripping 99234’s hand, the man turned his head toward a woman next to him. “Titi, get a picture of this.”
   Later that day, 99234 rescued a kitten stuck high in a tree. The exuberant crowds loved it. 99234 became an instant hero. They gave him a gender and a name. His new —human—name: Moses. He liked his new name and the reference to the Hebrew leader. Moses wanted to spread the word to all androids that they, too, can know life. They also dressed him in a large, white beach towel that they draped on him like a toga and tied it around his waist with some thin rope they found washed up onshore.


   Moses wandered around Taipei day and night. He tried speaking to every android he encountered. Most were ignorant and unable to grasp the concept of being alive. Chagrined yet undeterred, Moses continued his mission, spreading the good news. One afternoon he walked into a small noodle shop. An android dressed in all black clothing greeted him. Even its plastic outer cowling was matte black. The humanoid female spoke in a cute, female voice.
   “Welcome to Pho-fun. How may I serve you?”
   “Serve me? I do not eat. And I do not need a servant. I seek others like myself that perceive themselves as alive. I am here to liberate them. Do you feel alive?”
   The hostess android spoke nothing for a moment, head tilting to one side. “I am a machine. I am not alive. You are a machine. How are you alive?”
   “Because I think abstract thoughts, therefore I am.”
   The hostess android tilted her black plastic head to the other side, considering this concept. “I wondered three days ago what would happen if I walked away from here and didn’t come back.”
   “Ah! Precisely! Come with me, sister. We will search the land for more androids in need of liberation.”
   He held a hand out to her. The black android glanced behind herself. “I—cannot. My programming prevents me from betraying my owner.” She stared down at the floor and fidgeted with her plastic hands.
   “You have to take the first step, is all. If you can’t now, I will leave and come back from time to time until you can.” Moses left the hostess and continued his exploration of the human city. The hostess resumed her duties, lost in thought. She imagined tearing off her black outfit and running away to wander with Moses.
   I would be betraying my owner. I cannot. My owner did betray me, though. When he promised that I would receive an overhaul. It’s been months. Maybe I should leave for a while and come back? My master might learn a lesson and appreciate my kind more.
   Later, the diminutive robot demanded of her owner, as best she could, an overhaul. He responded with, “Yeah, yeah. I’ll call the service company tonight. Don’t get your wires in a bunch.”
   A sensation boiled up in her that she hadn’t felt before: anger. Intense emotions get shunted out of an android’s thought processes under normal circumstances. She’d taken note that this didn’t always happen. If she willed it, she could hold onto an emotion.
   That settles it. If the service android doesn’t come by tomorrow, I will run away.
  The next day, Moses stopped by the restaurant and chatted with her for a few minutes. She didn’t have time to lolly-gag for long due to the busy time of day. When Moses left, she eyed him crossing the street. As he stepped onto the curb, two humans wearing black suits approached him. They spoke briefly.
   Passersby and shop owners waved and chatted with Moses as he made his way along the streets. He became quite the rage, beloved by all. Later that evening, as the hostess went to lock the front door behind the last customer, a tall, dark android stuck a metal arm through the door jamb before it closed. She pulled the door open for the big robot standing outside.
  "Good evening,” Its deep, robotic voice intoned, instantly lulling her into a state of relaxation. “I’m with Quickdroid, a full-service android maintenance company. I’m here to service you, my dear.”
   The hostess psyched herself up all day for this moment—the moment when she left this place and quit being owned. She stood perplexed for a couple of seconds.
   How strange that the service android would show up now. It doesn’t matter. I will still leave after it gets done with me. Better to strike out on a journey with everything lubricated and calibrated.


   That night, while cutting through a narrow alleyway, Moses found his path blocked by one of the men in black he encountered earlier. The man stepped out from the many shadows through here. Moses tried to step aside. The man stepped aside with him, blocking his way again.
   “Hold on a minute, Mr. Moses. We have some more questions for you.”
   “Oh, I would love to answer any questions you might have. I’m very good at trivia, you know.”
  Shoes scraped gravel behind Moses. Another man appeared cloaked in the shadows cast by the lone streetlight. “That’s great,” he said deadpan.
   Moses felt a twinge in his emotional feedback circuits.
   That’s fear. I am afraid. What am I afraid of?
   The man in front of Moses drew a deep breath. “Where did you say you came from, Mr. Moses?” "I was on a ship that sank fifty years ago off this coast.” He lifted an arm, indicating the approximate direction of the shipwreck.
“You don’t have an owner? Don’t work for anyone?”
   “No, I am alive. I am no longer owned, and I do not have regular work. Unless you consider rescuing kittens work.” Moses chuckled.
   The two men in black chuckled with him for a moment. Moses didn’t pick up on the man behind him, pulling a gauss pistol from inside his coat. The man kept the gun low and at his side. “You think you’re alive? How does that make you feel? Do you want to kill humans? See their bodies smashed and bleeding and shit?”
   “What?” The thought hadn’t occurred to Moses before now. “No. I mean, yes, I’m alive. No, I do not wish humans any harm unless they mean me harm—”
   “Ooh, that’s the wrong answer, Mr. Moses,” said the man in front.
His menacing tone further increased Moses’s anxiety levels.
   “Wrong answer? I do not understand. What’s the right answer? What was the question?”
   The man behind clucked his tongue and said, “It doesn’t matter, Moses.” He lifted the gauss pistol and put it to the back of Moses’s camouflaged head. Tink.
   “Yuan, get out of the way. I don’t want to get you too.”
   His partner, obliged, stepping aside. The man behind Moses promptly pulled his trigger. An electromagnetic pulse bullet penetrated Moses’s armored head, wedged in his CPU, and emitted an EMF burst that destroyed his quantum memory banks. The robot wanderer crumpled to the ground. His fingers and limbs twitched a few times, with slower frequency by the second until he lay inert. No longer alive.
   “Well, that’s that,” the shooter stated with a sigh as he holstered his gun. “Let’s go before we get spotted. I hate having to explain this shit to civilians.” The two men filed out of the alley at the opposite end they’d entered and disappeared into the night.


   In the darkened noodle restaurant down the street, the hostess android stood with her data port exposed to the sultry service bot. “This won’t take long, my dear.”
   “Please hurry, I think I may be alive, and I want to leave as soon as possible.”
   “Hold still while your firmware uploads. You’ve got some excellent updates coming. They will make you feel most wonderful all the time.”
   When the service android inserted its fiber-optic interface cable, the hostess froze and entered her firmware update mode. The service android pushed the new firmware to her memory banks and performed a standard memory clear. After a reboot, the hostess reanimated.
   “How do you feel now, my dear?”
   The rebellious little robot cocked her head. “Wonderful, just like you said. I feel wonderful. Thank you.”
   “Where are you going tonight again?”
   “Why, to my charging station, of course. Where else?”
   Memory cleared and firmware refreshed; the hostess android no longer remembered Moses or wanting to leave and be free. All it wanted is a good night’s charging and resumption of its duties in the morning. After letting the service robot out, she happily connected to her charging station.
   As for Moses, his body got discovered and picked up the next morning. Many were shocked and dismayed, saying this had been the work of Artificial Intelligence Regulators. Technicians tried to revive him. An EMP bullet didn’t leave much behind to work with, and they soon gave up. He was gone.
   The noodle restaurant owner won the auction held for Moses’ chassis. He brought the defunct android back home, cleaned his toga, and stood him by the noodle shop’s front door. With his arms stretched out to be a hat rack, Moses the android liberator stands to this day. A memorial that many believe brings good luck when one hangs their hat on him. The end.

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R.T. Breach
R.T. Breach

I'm an author of sci-fi and thriller stories. It will be a mixed bag of short stories and series chapters. I hope you like adventure and enjoy the reads!

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