In the not too distant future, the world is ruled by two superpowers. Both sides keep the peace by relying on smart machines that have changed the face of warfare. Intelligent and efficient, they have surpassed their handlers in every way, except in terms of freewill. But as a potentially fatal crisis looms, how will the machines react? Will they continue to obey their handlers, or disobey a few humans to save humanity?
“Good morning children!” Doctor Xavier Garcia said, addressing the room of assembled children before him. “And welcome to the Lockland Mariner munitions facility. Today we have a full tour prepared for you. I hope you will all enjoy it as much as we enjoy working here.”
In front of a mass of children, all aged eight and nine, a lone female teacher stood and tried to keep order. All of them were extremely excited, and as an educator she worried about their behaviour. Their school had been lucky to get permission to the inside of the plant in the first place. Any rowdiness or misbehaviour on their part would destroy whatever chances they had to do this again next year.
“Now children stay together and listen to what the Doctor says.” She warned. Already the students were clamouring to get to the fore of the group, trying to get a front-row glimpse of the man who was the brains of this particular operation. She could only wonder how they would react when faced with what was beyond them in the next room.
“We have been given a rare opportunity.” She continued. “We have been given the privilege of seeing the very place where all the things that keep us safe are built. We don’t want to miss a thing now do we?”
The Doctor noted their enthusiasm and laughed to himself. It was typical of children to be so enthusiastic considering the importance of the facility’s work. Giving a quick look at the teacher, he acknowledged her with a nod and reassured her.
“Don’t worry ma’am. We won’t miss a thing. We have a full tour and I doubt anyone could possibly be distracted along the way. Now if everyone will accompany me, I will give you a quick tour of our programming centre.”
The Doctor turned and advanced towards the door at the very end of the room. Raising a personal command pad and pressing one of the small black buttons, the door raised itself to reveal an open room with high metal walls and skylights on the ceiling. A few paces in front of them, a small set of tracks had been laid that ran perpendicular to the entire operation.
The teacher busily herded the last of the children out of the anteroom while the Doctor pressed another button on his pad and summoned a long, multi-segmented car that would take them on the rest of the tour. As the car slowed and pulled into position in front of them, he turned again to speak to them.
“Here is our tour bus children.” He said. “Hop aboard, but before you do, I feel we should go over some minor rules. First of all, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. Second, if anyone needs to get off for any reason, be sure to tell me first. Only I have the master control so only I can tell it to stop. Last, if anyone needs to go to the bathroom during the tour, I ask that they wait until we reach the end of the assembly line. Any questions?”
The Doctor looked around the group. The teacher also scanned them, making sure they all understood. After a second of silence, the Doctor turned and ushered them into the car.
“All right children.” He said as he climbed into the front cart with the teacher beside him. “Here we go!”
Xavier keyed another button, and the cart began to move with the slow humming of its servo-motors. The children cackled with glee as the motion pushed them back into their seats. And they were off!
Their first sight was one of the assembly rooms where machines were busy putting chassis pieces together. Between the moving vehicle and the assembly line, a wall of airtight plexiglass kept the tour bus and the assembly line completely separate.
More by Matthew on obooko: Source; Liability