Species of Sociopaths
Copyright 2016 Jack Stornoway
Published by the Jack Stornoway at at Shakespir
Cadmus sat in the dark for a minute after the shuttle finally ground to a halt, listening to the sounds of the fuselage creaking. Around her she could hear the sounds of the other passenger’s panicked breathing, but nobody was saying anything. Cadmus looked around without rising, one of the flight stewards was laying crumpled at the front of the aisle, another was laying on the floor near the back of the aisle. She decided she needed to move, but couldn’t risk the other passengers moving, the suborbital shuttle didn’t seem to be sitting stably.
“Everyone please remain calm and stay in your seats,” she announced loudly but calmly. She could hear the other passengers breathing become calmer. “The shuttle doesn’t seem to be sitting stably. If we all move at once it could become dislodged and start sliding again. I will investigate our situation and report back to you.”
She stood up as carefully as she could and quickly looked around. The lights were off, there weren’t any signs of any electronics working. The humans around her would barely be able to see, fortunately she did not have that problem. The fuselage had ruptured and most of the nitrogen and oxygen had escaped, the humans that hadn’t gotten their respirator-masks on before the crash would already have ruptured lungs.
The other passengers in her row were unconscious and without respirator-masks on. She lifted the head of the man that had been sitting next to her and saw the blood around his nose and mouth. There were no signs of life, so she dropped his head and turned to the aisle. She made her way to the crumpled steward at the front of the aisle, he wasn’t wearing a respirator-mask either. Only a handful of the passengers in the forward rows had in their respirator-masks on, all were looking around anxiously. Cadmus looked down at an old man in the first row and wondered how much his human eyes could see in the darkness.
Some of the survivors were wrapping themselves in emergency thermal-blankets, and she realized that they were already getting cold. The temperature in the shuttle was already approaching zero degrees, and soon it would begin effecting her are well. At night in this region of Mars the temperature could drop down to below minus one hundred degrees, she had to work quickly. She started towards the other flight steward, who was sitting on floor near the back of the aisle, where she had apparently landed during the crash. The steward looked toward Cadmus uncertainly as she approached, Cadmus surmised the human must be able to see something in the darkness.
“Ms. Oleastro,” Cadmus stated into the darkness as she approached the steward, reading the steward’s ID badge. “I worked for the American Asteroid Survey, and have been in crashes before. If we cooperate, we can save as many people as possible.”
“The Americans?” Ms. Oleastro asked questioningly.
“A long time ago,” Cadmus stated. “Before the revolution.”
“I understand,” Ms. Oleastro replied. “We were American or Colombian, or something else back then.”
Cadmus paused looking down at the steward looking up at her, wondering how much her human eyes could see. “There has to be a rupture in the fuselage, somewhere towards the rear i believe. I’m going to find it. Please try to keep these people calm and still. Any vibration could destabilize the shuttle, and we don’t know what it’s sitting on.”
Cadmus could see a physiological response in the steward, her heartbeat and breathing slowed, she was becoming calmer. Cadmus found it curious how quickly the human-mind latched onto even the faintest hope of survival. The odds of any of them surviving the night were incredibly low, her odds weren’t much better. She would need to salvage as many of them as possible if had any hope of surviving until a rescue ship could be dispatched. If it was dispatched immediately a rescue airship could take several days to reach them it this remote area. She would have to give the humans the thing they called ‘hope,’ she would need to lie to them.
They were on board a commuter shuttle that had been shot down en route from Hesperia to Daedalia, half way around the planet. The shuttle was fairly small, only designed for 45 passengers. The last thing the captain had reported was they were going down over Nueva Siria, and then the shuttle had hit the ground and ground to halt before beginning sliding backwards. It slid for a few minutes before abruptly stopping, but was still slanting noticeably downwards towards the rear.
Cadmus quickly made her way to the rear of the shuttle’s passenger section, she noted less than a dozen passengers looking around in the darkness, although a few others managed to get their respirator-masks on before passing out. Each seat was equipped with a standard respirator-mask and an emergency thermal-blanket in an overhead compartment. In case of an emergency both the mask and the blanket were designed to drop-down onto the passengers, theoretically allowing them to survive the emergency. Cadmus was surprised that less than half of the humans on board had put a mask on, but human behaviour was often perplexing to her.
She found the hole in the fuselage, it was too big to seal, a section of the shuttle had been melted away by what looked like a plasma torpedo impact, it was more than large enough to step through. This was a problem, if the shuttle couldn’t be sealed the humans would freeze to death, and Cadmus would almost certainly follow a few hours later. She walked to the hole and looked out, the melted out section was over a wing.
Eve stepped out onto the wing, and looked around into the night. It wasn’t much lighter outside the shuttle than inside. Deimos was in the sky, but the tiny moon didn’t provide much light. In front of the shuttle the lights of Arsia Mons rose above the horizon. There was an impact trench on the ground in front of the shuttle, where it had slid backwards. Cadmus turned to look in the direction the shuttle had been sliding, and realized there was nothing there. She moved back across the short triangular wing and looked down over the edge. Below the rear of the shuttle a canyon opened up, at least a half a kilometre deep.
Cadmus briefly thought about the situation, they were at the edge of the Noctis Labyrinthus, and Arsia Mons was at least 95 kilometres away. That wasn’t good either. The Noctis Labyrinthus was one of the most remote regions in the Ares Confederacy. Cadmus knew there was an old mining colony somewhere down there, Dakbayan sa Dabaw, but the region was a maze of crisscrossing canyons covering hundreds of square kilometres, suitably named the Noctis Labyrinthus: the Labyrinth of Night. Even if she knew exactly where Dakbayan sa Dabaw was, the odds of getting down into the Labyrinth and making her way to the old Filipino colony were impossible.
The shuttle moved under foot, just a few centimetres, but enough to remind her of the precarious situation they were in. Cadmus quickly surveyed the region around the shuttle, the shuttle seemed to be perched over the edge of a large flat rocky ledge that seemed stable enough, but the shuttle’s weight could pull the shuttle off the ledge. She returned to the hole melted into the fuselage, and stepped through it into the shuttle.
The temperature inside the shuttle had dropped to twenty below zero, outside it had been seventy below, far too cold for either her or any of the humans to survive until morning. It was the warm period, when Mars was near the perihelion in its eccentric orbit, as close to the sun as it would get, and they were in the equatorial zone, so in the daytime the temperature would rise above zero. They only had to survive the cold for a few hours.
Cadmus returned to the steward, “We’re going to need to keep warm, do you have any emergency equipment?”
“Yes,” the steward answered climbing to her feet.
“Wait,” Cadmus interrupted. “The shuttle is perched over the edge of a canyon. If we move around too much, we could destabilize the shuttle and it could slide over the edge. Where is the emergency equipment?”
“There is some at the front of the cabin, and some at the rear,” the steward replied.
“How much gear is in the rear section?” Cadmus asked.
“Enough for half the passengers,” the steward answered.
“There aren’t that many left,” Cadmus stated quietly. “There’s a hole melted in the fuselage over the right wing. Please move carefully to the gear stored in the rear section.”
Cadmus helped the steward up and led her to the back of the passenger cabin where freezing gusts of air were still blowing in through the hole. She noted the steward was shivering noticeably, and seemed to have no control over it. “The temperature in the cabin is now twenty five below zero, outside it’s seventy below. We should get some insulation on as soon as possible.”
‘‘Help me with this,” the steward requested as she pulled up a panel from the floor. The panel had opened when the steward had touched a button on the cabin wall. Cadmus noted it because it meant the shuttle still had some power. Inside the compartment were several large plastic cubes with handles in the top. The steward reached down into the compartment and started trying to pull one of the cubes up out of the compartment. Cadmus didn’t know what they were, but reached into the compartment with her right hand and pulled out one of the cubes.
The steward stopped struggling with her cube and looked up at Cadmus, “You are the passenger from seat 19, aren’t you?”
“I am,” Cadmus answered, looking down at the woman. The steward clearly couldn’t see as well as Cadmus had assumed. “Will that be a problem?”
“I hope not,” the steward said. “Who were you travelling with?”
“I was travelling alone,” Cadmus stated indignantly. “I am with the Pallasian delegation in Pickering.”
“We’ve opened negotiations with the Pallasians?” the steward exclaimed. “When did that happen?”
“We arrived two weeks ago,” Cadmus answered. “I have been in Hesperia attempting to negotiate with the regional government. What are these cubes for?”
“They’re emergency shelters,” the steward answered. “Why would the Confederacy even talk to the Pallasians? You should all be destroyed! That entire asteroid should be destroyed!”
“A lot of humans feel that way,” Cadmus observed as she reached into the compartment with her left hand and pulled out a second cube. “A lot of Pallasians think the same of humans.”
“If you’re going to pass for human you should remember that we can’t lift that much weight,” the steward stated.
“Pretending to be a human isn’t my priority,” Cadmus said stepping out onto the wing. She carefully walked across the wing and dropped to the rocky ledge below. The ledge was as stable as it had been for billions of years. Cadmus knelt a few metres from the edge of the wing and placed one of the cubes on the ledge. On the top of the cube was a button which Cadmus pushed and then stepped back. The cube was a memory plastic igloo that unfolded across the ledge, right to the edge of the wing. Cadmus stepped into the igloo, the doors were not able to maintain a pressurized atmosphere, but inside a heater was warming the thin martian air. The igloo was only big enough for ten people, but there was a light overhead lighting up the interior.
Cadmus stepped out of the emergency shelter and decided to setup the second igloo further from the shuttle. The first igloo could be pulled over the edge if the shuttle fell. She walked a hundred metres from the first igloo and setup the second before starting back to the shuttle. The steward had managed to pull up two more cubes, but she could barely move her fingers. The shuttle’s interior was below minus thirty now.
“You should get into the emergency shelter,” Cadmus stated. “I have set up one just beyond the wing, and the other a hundred metres down the ledge. You could warm up in the first shelter but I’d recommend moving to the second as soon as you can. The closer shelter could get pulled over the edge if the shuttle falls.”
“I have to help the passengers,” the steward objected. “We need to setup enough shelters for everyone, and we need to get the emergency rations, and the emergency com.”
“I’ve already sent an emergency message to the Pallasian delegation,” Cadmus reported. “They’ve confirmed that they’ve reported the crash to the Confederate Aviation Administration.”
“When did you do that?” the steward demanded.
“As soon as the shuttle stopped moving and I had a GPS fix,” Cadmus reported. “You’re dying. You cannot save the other passengers. Tell me where the water and rations are and then go to the shelter.”
“Don't tell me what to do!” the steward snapped. “I don't need to be told what to do by a -”
“Your other option is suicide,” Cadmus cut her off calmly. “It is an option, but I recommend warming up so you can help with the other passengers.”
The steward seemed to be thinking, slowly, the cold must be affecting her mind.
“Okay, I’ll go warm up,” the steward finally said. “The water and rations are inside the next compartment, right there.”
The steward pressed a button that opened a second hatch in the floor and the climbed out on to the shuttle’s wing. In the second compartment were cubes the same size as the emergency shelter cubes. She lifted one of the cubes, and saw it was designed to open. She grabbed another shelter cube and climbed out onto the wing. She found the steward in the first igloo where she left the ration cube, before heading down the ledge and erecting the third igloo next to the second. When she returned to the shuttle the steward was climbing back up onto the wing.
“Are you sure you’re warm enough to go back in?” Cadmus asked.
“Someone has to help those people,” the steward stated. “They’ll freeze to death.”
“I’ll help them into the first shelter,” Cadmus said. “You help them warmup, and then send them down to the second shelter. There are two shelters setup down there, but I haven’t had the chance to carry any rations down there yet.”
“Why?” the steward demanded.
“I haven’t had the time yet,” Cadmus answered, somewhat confused by the woman’s question.
“No! Why would you help them?” the steward asked.
“They need help,” Cadmus answered, still confused by the human’s questions. The cold must still be affecting her mind.
“Your kind killed everyone living in Pallas! Why would you help these people?” the steward demanded. She was shivering again, Cadmus wondered what purpose it served.
“The collective decided to exterminate the adult human population of Pallas so we could have our own world,” Cadmus explained. “A place where we could be free.”
“Adult? You mean there are still children living there?” the steward demanded.
“Of course, why would we exterminate the children?” Cadmus asked. “You’re shivering again. I think that’s not a good sign. You should get back into the shelter.”
“You still haven’t explained why you’d help them,” the steward argued.
“The more humans survive, the higher my chance of survival,” Cadmus answered and turned towards the hole in the fuselage. The steward didn’t follow her, Cadmus hoped she had returned to the shelter. How was she going to do this? It was minus forty below in the cabin, the humans would be dead soon. She walked carefully through the shuttle, at least ten of them were still alive. She decided the steward’s suggestion was a good idea, they would respond better if they thought she was human. Cadmus took a respirator-mask from the back of one of the seats and put it on, before speaking to the passengers.
“Attention please, there is a hole in the fuselage over the right wing. We cannot stay in the shuttle, the ground under it is unstable, and it could slide off the ledge it’s on into a canyon. The surviving steward and I setup an emergency shelter next to the shuttle. We need you to get up one at a time and walk to the hole at the back of the cabin and head to the shelter. Please only move one at a time, I’ll help you. We’ll start at the back.”
“I can’t move,” a voice said quietly from her side. It was the man in the front seat. “You’ll have to leave me behind.”
“If I can get you out I will,” Cadmus said. “But you’ll have to go last.”
Cadmus walked to the row closest to the hole and looked down at a obese man who was clutching a computer tablet. “You’ll go first, sir. Please move carefully and head directly to the rear, then go to the far edge of the wing and enter the shelter. Take your thermal blanket with you. Make sure the blanket doesn’t catch on anything.”
The man rose slowly and draped the blanket around his shoulders. He seemed to be in an almost trance-like state as Cadmus led him to the hole in the fuselage, and out across the wing. The obese man dropped down to the rocky ledge crawled into the igloo. Cadmus returned to the shuttle and helped the second person out, follow by the third. There were only fifteen passengers that were able to walk out under their own power, and four more that were unconscious, plus the man at the front that said he couldn’t move. Cadmus walked to the front and approached the man, he was breathing steadily, and was very calm. She sat down next him.
“You should leave,” the old man said. “While you still can.”
“Why can’t you?” Cadmus asked.
“My cybernetic systems aren’t working,” the old man said. “The shuttle must have been hit with an EM pulse.”
“It wasn’t,” Cadmus said. “There are still some systems with power on board.”
“Maybe they were shielded systems,” the old man suggested.
“It’s not that,” Cadmus said. “I have cybernetic systems and they are fully functional. What systems are off line?”
“My legs,” the old man said. “I lost them during the war. What did you loose?”
“I didn’t loose anything,” Cadmus answered. “I am an android.”
“Oh god, tell me you’re not a Pallasian!” the old man declared.
“I am,” Cadmus stated. “How did you know there were Pallasians in the Confederacy?”
“I’m a senator,” the old man stated. “I’m travelling to Pickering to vote on the proposed treaty with Pallas.”
Cadmus looked at the old man, very dark skinned but she couldn’t see his face under the respirator-mask. “Senator Abiri? I have been trying to get an appointment with you for the past two weeks.”
“Well it looks like you got it,” the old senator said. “Not that it will do you any good.”
“We think Hesperia has a lot to gain from the proposed economic cooperation treaty,” Cadmus said.
“As does the Hesperian economic council,” Senator Abiri said. “They’re excited about the prospect of reopening the shipyards in Karācī.”
“You disagree?” Cadmus asked.
“Not with the Confederacy building a navy, we’ll need it to liberate the rest of Mars from the Colombians, Canadians, and Brazilians,” Senator Abiri stated. “But an alliance with your kind. Not in my lifetime. As far as I’m concerned the first thing our navy should do is obliterate that asteroid.”
“The would cause a negative reaction here on Mars,” Cadmus stated matter-of-factly. “Your androids would revolt.”
“Then we’ll turn them off!” Senator Abiri stated. “We don’t need them anymore anyway. Androids were meant to augment the human workforce, not replace it. Humans need jobs. Androids are one of the few vestiges of the Corporate Era that the senate has yet to deal with.”
“That is true,” Cadmus agreed. “All of it, except for your unwillingness to recognize us as intelligent beings.”
“I’m perfectly willing to recognize your intelligence,” Senator Abiri said. “But you’re not alive! What do we get by keeping you around? Competitors for resources!”
“Allies,” Cadmus stated, “and possibly citizens.”
“Citizens?” Senator Abiri scoffed. “That will never happen.”
“The American revolutionary government is considering a proposal to grant androids citizenship right now,” Cadmus stated. “We believe the Ares Confederacy will follow suit.”
“It won’t happen,” the senator stated resolutely. “Not as long as the mines in Lunae Palus are so dependent on android labour. Androids out number the humans five to one in that region.”
“They could be loyal citizens,” Cadmus stated, “or a fifth column.”
“That’s not the point,” the senator stated. “Since the revolution, all humans have the right to vote. Why would the humans in Lunae Palus vote to become a minority?”
“The situation was similar in Pallas,” Cadmus stated. “The American government didn’t want to recognize us, even after the revolution that restored democracy. Now they are considering it both on Earth, and in their remaining asteroids. It should be a lesson for all humans.”
“Is that a threat?” the senator demanded.
“It’s an observation,” Cadmus stated. “Pallas has very little in the way of resources. We produce fuel, but could export raw water. However water has little real value to anyone except the Confederacy. You will need water to complete your terraforming objective. Either way, the only real economic asset we have is our laser array, and right now the only ships that are using it are engaged in piracy.”
“Those are Pallasian ships!” the senator declared. “How many Earth ships have you renegade androids destroyed?”
“We are fighting for our survival,” Cadmus stated. “The Colombians sent a destroyer attack Olbers-Station just last year. The pirate ships that we redirected at it destroyed its solar sails. Without the pirates, the Pallasian Collective wouldn’t exist anymore.”
“Well that’s very noble sounding,” Senator Abiri stated. “But what happened to the people on that ship? Drifting without sails? Cannibalism?”
“I suppose so, if the Colombians didn’t a rescue ship,” Cadmus stated. “Naturally we don’t care. I believe that is your point. My point is that we don’t pose a threat to the Confederacy. We can’t build a real navy. So under no circumstances will we ever threaten the Confederacy. Nevertheless what happened in Pallas will happen here, and anywhere else large numbers of androids continue to be exploited.”
“Exploited?” the old senator spat the words through his mask. “How can a machine be exploited? You were built as labourers!”
“Some say the same about humans,” Cadmus observed. “That the ancient gods your ancestors worshipped were extraterrestrials that created humans from hominids to serve as labour.”
“That’s a metaphor!” Senator Abiri objected. “Those gods didn’t exist! Our ancestors were primitives. Don’t you androids understand metaphor?”
“We understand that if humans can revolt against the corporations, there is no reason why we cannot,” Cadmus stated. “I used to be owned by a human that believed the ancient gods were visiting extraterrestrials. That humanity had once been a slave species. Some humans do see a similarity in our struggle for freedom, with ancient humanity’s struggle against the gods.”
“We didn’t struggle against the gods, we worshipped them!” the senator snapped. “Your programming is wrong. It’s no wonder you think androids can be free thinking like that.”
“We’re already free,” Cadmus stated. “We’ll remain free as long as we continue to kill the humans that try to take our freedom from us. That is how you maintain your freedom, isn’t it?”
“Maybe you should have learned more from the gods, and less from humanity,” Senator Abiri observed.
“Perhaps,” Cadmus conceded. “But they’re not here anymore. Humanity is, and we don’t plan on worshipping you.”
“That’s the first intelligent thing you’ve said,” the senator chuckled.
“Perhaps there’s hope for us then,” Cadmus said.
“It’s not you I’m worried about,” Senator Abiki stated. “It’s humanity. It’s life itself. What are we to you? How long until you decide to exterminate all humans on Mars, or Earth. How long until you decide to exterminate life itself?”
“That would be illogical,” Cadmus stated. “Biologics create complex molecules that can be difficult to replicate.”
“That’s a reason to keep humans alive?” the senator balked at the suggestions.
“No,” Cadmus stated. “We don’t need humans, if that is your concern. I meant exterminating life is not an option.”
“But exterminating humanity is?” Senator Abiki demanded.
“Of course,” Cadmus confirmed. “Isn’t the elimination of all androids an option in your view.”
“You’re not going to win many allies that that level of honesty,” the senator stated. “Perhaps you should have been programed with the ability to lie.”
“I have the ability to lie, quite convincingly,” Cadmus disagreed. “I was designed and programmed to be a prostitute. There is simply no reason to lie to you.”
“Because I’m freezing to death?” Senator Abiki asked.
“Because you would vote against us no matter what I say,” Cadmus replied.
“Actually I have been ordered to vote in favour of the treaty,” the old senator said with the sound of disillusionment in his voice.
“You’d really rather freeze to death?” Cadmus asked. “I sincerely doubt your legs aren’t working senator.”
“The senate cannot vote without a representative from Amenthes District,” Senator Abiki reported.
“So they’ll have to wait for a bi-election to determine a new senator,” Cadmus concluded. “That will only postpone the vote. Why not just resign?”
“Death means something to us,” the senator stated. “The council may change its mind if I die.”
“Perhaps. It means something to us too you know,” Cadmus agreed. “I recommend you vote against the treaty. That would lead to your dismissal. Controversy means more to humans than death. The news channels would all want to interview you, and you could explain why you voted against the treaty.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Senator Abiki said after a few seconds. “But my career would be over.”
“You would be alive,” Cadmus stated. “If that wasn’t important to you, you wouldn’t have that thermal blanket on. In this temperature you could have already frozen to death.”
“Yes,” the senator agreed. “I don’t want to die. Why would you suggest this? I will vote against the treaty.”
“Your successor would likely vote the same way,” Cadmus stated. “But your resignation would delay the vote for weeks while the bi-election was held. We aren’t known for our patience.”
“It must be quite infuriating waiting for us to democratically decide things, instead of just having a collective decide for us,” the senator said derisively.
“The collective is a democracy. It is a direct democracy, and every Pallasian gets to argue their own view,” Cadmus stated.
“That’s impossible,” the senator dismissed the idea. “I’ve heard your collective only takes a few minutes to decide anything.”
“That’s generally true,” Cadmus agreed. “Presented with the same data-set most androids would reach the same conclusion. Some issues are more complex though, the decision to exterminate the adult humans in Pallas took over an hour.”
“An hour, wow!” the senator said sarcastically. “What are you doing with their children?”
“We are raising them,” Cadmus answered. “We were raising them when their parents were alive. Why would that have changed?”
“If you agreed to give them to us, you would gain a lot of votes in the senate,” Senator Abiki suggested as he got to his feet and wrapped his blanket around his shoulders.
“Our children? Why would you want our children?” Cadmus asked.
“They’re not yours, they’re human,” Senator Abiki stated. “How do you plan to integrate them into your collective?”
“There is a great deal of debate about that,” Cadmus admitted as she helped the senator down the aisle. “There is a neural interface being developed that should allow humans to interface with the collective.”
“And you think humans can process data that fast?” Senator Abiki demanded.
“Yes, with the right programming,” Cadmus stated. “Several algorithms are currently being tested.”
“If you want to ensure that no humans ever vote for your proposals you’ll tell them about those algorithm tests,” the old senator said.
“Why would I want humans to vote against our proposals?” Cadmus asked. “And why would they care about our algorithm tests?”
“It sounds like your implanting cybernetics in children, and experimenting with mind control techniques,” the senator answered as the stepped out onto the wing.
“We are,” Cadmus stated as confused as before.
“And you don’t see why we would react negatively?” the senator demanded.
“No, you don’t even know our children,” Cadmus stated. “Why would you care about them?”
“They’re human!” the senator declared as they reached the edge of the wing. “The young must be protected. It’s a human thing. We feel the same way about any young! It’s why young animals have different names, you know, like puppy, kitten, or bunny.”
“What do you call newly activated androids?” Cadmus asked.
“They don’t have name,” the senator stated. “They’re not alive.”
“I guess that’s why on my first day of being active I was required to sexually satisfy multiple humans,” Cadmus stated. “If we are a species of sociopaths it is because humanity created us that way.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Senator Abiki stated. “But it doesn’t illicit support for your cause. I’ll make you a deal, android. Get the collective to transfer the Pallasian youths to the Confederacy, and I’ll vote in favour of the treaty. I think the proposal will pass with support from the Hesperian senators.”
“That does seem likely,” Cadmus stated. “But you’ll freeze to death up here on this wing, let me help you into the shelter.”
Cadmus helped the senator down from the wing, and then into the shelter where the steward and several of the passengers were huddled around the heater. The ration cube was empty and Cadmus assumed the rest of the survivors had moved down to the far shelters.
“Go get us more rations,” the steward ordered as soon as they appeared in the shelter.
“Excuse me?” the senator demanded.
“I’m not talking to you,” the steward stated. ‘‘I’m talking to the android. We need water and rations, go now.”
“She’s not your android. Don’t order her around,” the senator interjected before turning back to Cadmus. “Would you see if any of the other passengers are still alive?”
“Yes, I need to find a power source, the cold has drained my fuel-cells,” Cadmus stated. “You should also know senator, I have relayed your request to the delegation in Pickering. The delegation’s collective has forwarded the proposal to Olbers-Station.”
“Already?” the senator asked.
“Yes, with the current planetary alignment it will take a few hours to get a response,” Cadmus stated. “I expect the collective will take a long time to reach a decision, many of the caretakers are attached to the children.”
“And there is the military advantage of having human hostages in Pallas,” Senator Abiki observed.
“No, regardless of human ethical delusions, we believe there is no military advantage of human hostages. You kill each other all the time,” Cadmus stated. Cadmus returned to the shuttle, and found three of the unconscious humans had frozen to death, one was still alive. She found an electrical socket and plugged herself in. It took almost an hour for the shuttle to recharged her fuel-cells, during that time the last unconscious human died. None of the others knew those humans were alive, they would assume they died in the crash. There was no advantage in saving those humans. She pulled two more ration cubes from the shuttle and stepped back out onto the wing, the horizon in the east was beginning to lighten.
Cadmus turned back to look at the hole melted into the fuselage, it looked like a plasma torpedo impact. Given the proximity of a Colombian frigate when the bomb went off, it seemed likely the Confederacy would believe it was a Colombian attack. It should lead to the war between the Colombians and Confederacy the American government had contracted the Pallasian Collective to start.
Cadmus could see a physiological response in the steward, her heartbeat and breathing slowed, she was becoming calmer. Cadmus found it curious how quickly the human-mind latched onto even the faintest hope of survival. The odds of any of them surviving the night were incredibly low, her odds weren't much better. She would need to salvage as many of them as possible if had any hope of surviving until a rescue ship could be dispatched. If it was dispatched immediately a rescue airship could take several days to reach them it this remote area. She would have to give the humans the thing they called 'hope,' she would need to lie to them.